Extracurricular: Why it’s timely.

Extra1NewLustOldLoveBest copy.png

My next 3-book women's fiction series, Extracurricular, is being launched just as one of its plot points has caught national headlines: the college admissions scandal.

In my plot, we see it happen in real time when a private high school is caught up in the same exact scheme.

But, like everything in life that never makes it into an attention-grabbing headline, there is a real backstory to the who, what, where, how, and why parents, students, school administrators, and admissions consultants may have gotten caught up in these illegal shenanigans. In Extracurricular, the story begins twenty-two years ago, and envelops two generations of a family in the trauma.

As with most of my books, Extracurricular is sprinkled liberally with satire. Not to worry, there is enough trauma and drama to go around. But, as in all sensational stories, there is a farcical element to the way we live now. I hope I captured it aptly in this three-book episodic series. The first book launches Friday, June 28, 2019. To read an excerpt, click here. You'll also be able to partake in my fun contest celebrating its release.

Enjoy,

—JosieExtra1 Ad TWExtra1NewLustOldLoveBest copy

Extra1NewLustOldLoveBest copy.png

Yep, Jersey Boys, the Movie, is definitely worth seeing.

Jersey-boys-clint-eastwood-530x352

Click here to listen to "Sherry Baby"

Enjoy!

— Josie

 

 

HA1 Handbook 768x1024

THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK
978-0-9740214-0-9

FREE! 
ORDER NOW,  from

Amazon.com (US)  / Amazon.UK 
Also in all Amazon countries!

BN.com (99 cents)

Apple iTunes Bookstore  / Apple iTunes Bookstore (UK) 
In all iTunes countries!

KoboBooks

 

 

We have a homeless guy in our apartment building’s boiler room.

Homeless-teen

Turns out the guy has picked the lock, and made it his home: bedroll, pictures, personal items.

This breaks my heart. I can only imagine what it's like to have to sleep on a cold concrete floor every night, let alone  park bench or a sidewalk. At the same time, should something happen in that boiler room. it affects the whole building, and the tennants in it.

We will change the lock on the boiler room door to a deadbolt, perhaps put a gate in the passageway leading to it as well.

But first we will also box up his belongings.  I will put a few bucks in an envelope, along with a note explaining why he needs to move on. 

Like most homeless, he's not on the street (or in the boiler room) by choice. He's there because, somewhere along the line, he's had a fall from grace. Maybe mental health issues are involved. If so, I truly feel for him, because the governmental safety net for the mentally ill is broken in too many ways.

He is someone's son. Perhaps, someone's brother, father, or uncle or nephew.

He cannot deal with his problems. And his family is probably brokenhearted about it andworried about him, but also weary of the burden of carrying him.

Out of sight, but truly out of mind? We all know that's not the case.

He is the ghost of failure: not his own, but ours, as a society.

He is one of us.

We need to fix it. Whether we want to believe so or not, it is a reflection on each of us

— Josie

My NaNoWriMo Tip #12 is on getting out of a writing rut…

Nano 12a

It's NaNoWriMo Month!

(National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated…)

For those of you who have begun writing your first book, every day I'll repost my fave creative writing tips here, just for you. 

Here's Tip #12, for Monday, the 12th…

The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too.

Here's to your success as an author,

— Josie Brown

Don’t forget to enter my HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S GUIDE TO GRACIOUS KILLING contest, for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice!

 

 

HAH Hanging Man V2Buy THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK Today, on

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Squeeeee! TOTLANDIA is up on Amazon!

Totlandia5_2TOTLANDIA
Book 1: The Onesies

 Coliloquy Books / 978-0-9740214-0-9 / eBook

Buy it NOW, on Amazon.com

Buy it NOW, on BN.com

Buy the Book App NOW, on BN.com

Friendship. Lies. Seduction. Betrayal. 
Welcome to Totlandia.

The salacious secrets of Desperate Housewives meet the aspirational lifestyles of Sex and the City in San Francisco’s most elite mommies group

In this sometimes bittersweet (and always humorous) novel, the friendships among four women who meet in a moms-and-tots playgroup are tested as they address their presumptions, family traumas, love, passion, and the hard realities of parenting their children.

Read an excerpt here…

Author's Q&A here…

Join the TOTLANDIA Facebook Page (Lots of contests and prizes…)

My 10th NaNoWriMo Tip is here…

NaNo10

It's NaNoWriMo Month!

(National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated…)

For those of you who have begun writing your first book, every day I'll repost my fave creative writing tips here, just for you. 

Here's Tip #10, for Saturday, the 10th…

The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too.

Here's to your success as an author,

— Josie Brown

Don’t forget to enter my HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S GUIDE TO GRACIOUS KILLING contest, for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice!

 

 

HAH Hanging Man V2Buy THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK Today, on

AmazonKindleButton 

 

 

 

And then there were five (NaNoWriMo tips)…


NaNo5
It's NaNoWriMo Month
!

(National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated…)

For those of you who have begun writing your first book, every day I'll repost my fave creative writing tips here, just for you. 

Here's Tip #5, for Monday, November 5th…

The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too.

Here's to your success as an author,

— Josie Brown

Don’t forget to enter my HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S GUIDE TO GRACIOUS KILLING contest, for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice!

 

 


HAH Hanging Man V2Buy THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK Today, on

 

 

http://www.authorprovocateur.com/2011/11/nanowrimo_tip_5.html

You can’t just be beautiful. You have to be smart, too. Great example: Grace Kelly.

Grace Kelly reading

 

No doubt about it: reading looks fabulous on everybody.

— Josie


HAH New-Blue Book AHBThe Housewife Assassin's Handbook
Only 99 cents! Buy it from:

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Stranger than Fiction! Prince Harry Displays the Crown Jewels

Harry-walk-of-shameSometimes fate just plays into one's hand.

My opening scene for The Housewife Assassin's Guide to Gracious Killing, (the second in my Housewife Assassin series, to be released on September 30, 2012) starts out with my heroine, Donna Stone*, foiling a plot on Prince Harry's life while he's in San Diego, celebrating the completion of his Apache helicopter training.

I've excerpted it here, below.

Well, whattaya know? Just the other day, Harry gets caught with his pants down (in truth, off, along with everything else) while partying in Las Vegas. He was there for a charity fundraiser for the air force base on which he trained.

It's almost as if Handsome Harry, the cheeky sod, said, "That Josie Brown is a sweet bird. Why don't I give her a leg up on the sale of her new book, let her readers sneak a peek of what they're in for?"

A peek indeed!

As these pictures show, which were first released on TMZ.com, he's got a lot to offer some fine lass…

But I'm glad to see he's holding tight to the crown jewels.

You just can't buy this kind of publicity.

–Josie

Read this excerpt of
The Housewife Assassin's Guide to Gracious Killing,
in bookstores on September 8, 2012.

 

 


HAH-Hanging-Man-New-BlueIn the meantime, order Book 1,
The Housewife Assassin's Handbook
Murder. Suspense. Sex. And some handy household tips.

In the US, just $2.99:

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In the UK, just £1.96(Kindle UK) and £1.99 (iTunes UK) :

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Read an excerpt here…

"This is a super sexy and fun read that you shouldn't miss!"
–Mary Jacobs, Bookhounds

 _____________________________________________

The Housewife Assassin's Guide to Gracious Killing

Chapter 1: Breaking Bad Hostessing Habits

Every woman wants to be the perfect hostess, and frets over
her inadequacies when it comes to the gracious art of entertaining.  Pshaw! A little forethought and a few hours
of  planning makes it easy as cherry pie!

There is, however, one ironclad rule that every hostess must
follow: make all your guests wish they’d never have to leave.

Especially in a coffin. With a bullet lodged in their heads.

 

Harry Happy Hour“You’re quite a saucy
minx!” Prince Harry’s  ale-slurred
come-on can barely be heard over the techno-vibe emanating from a
starship-worthy console of  the Ivy
Lounge rooftop’s head-bobbing deejay. 
“What say you give me a peek as to where that tattoo ends?”

His head is cocked
downward, as if it might give him the ex-ray vision he’ll need in order to see
the rattle on the faux-tatt’ed snake drawn from my belly, which ends
somewhere  in the nether regions that lay
under my thong bikini.

“You’re a cheeky sod. I
do have a face, you know.” I snap my fingers in front of his nose in order to
draw his eyes northward.

I’ve succeeded, sort
of.  But come on, already: the diplomacy
born and bred into the Prince of Wales can’t beat two millennia of innate urges
and four pints of Guinness.

His eyes linger below my
neck, albeit above my abdomen.

When, finally, our eyes
meet, I lean in and whisper, “You show me yours, and I’ll show you mine.”

I’m lying, even if he
doesn’t know it—yet.

His outright laugh is
accompanied with a shake of his head, and a tug at the waistline of his briefs.
“Nothing under these trollies, I’m afraid. Sorry to disappoint.”

I finger his briefs
longingly, then sigh. “I’m sure you’ll make it up to me somehow.”

His smile is his vow not
to disappoint.

God save the queen…

It’s no secret the prince
has been stateside with his Royal Air Force unit, learning the latest tricks
and treats of the AH-64D Apache helicopter: his vehicle of choice for his
upcoming tour of duty in Afghanistan. Tomorrow the soldiers complete their
training and head home. To celebrate, the soldiers are here, in San Diego,
which is just a couple of hours west of their training base, the Naval Air
Facility at El Centro.

Seems some chatter,
intercepted by MI-6, has led the Cousins to deduce that the prince is the
latest target of “the Leprechaun,” a notorious assassin affiliated with the
Irish terrorist cell known as 32CSM. If the Leprechaun succeeds in picking off
the spare to the throne, then once again the always thin strand of peace
between Ireland and Great Britain will be ripped to shreds.

If it happens on our
side of the pond, the U.S. will have mud on its face, not to mention the bluest
of blood on its hands.

So yep, I have to stop
the Leprechaun before he gets lucky.

My employer, the
freelance black ops agency known in the field as Acme Corporation, paid big
bucks to the club owners so that I could be up close and personal with the
prince. My goal is not to shag, let alone snag, Harry the Hottie. It’s to save
his adorable hide from a possible assassination attempt.

The prince leans in,
close enough to ask in a seductive albeit ale-sodden growl, “Want me to sign
your bikini?”

I look down between my
breasts. “Oops, forgot my pen. But you seem to be carrying one, in your pants
pocket. Or maybe you’re just happy to see me.”

He’s laughing so hard
his last gulp of Guinness goes down the wrong way.

“Prince Charming has a
one-track mind.” Jack Craig’s snarl comes in loud and clear through the tiny
microphone in my ear. As the team leader for this Acme Industries mission, he
is close by, but far enough away that no potential assassin can spot him.

Trust me, there is an
assassin lurking nearby.

Jack is also my main
squeeze, which is why he’s growling about my having to play the coquette while
under deep cover (in this bikini, I’m talking figuratively if not literally) as
one of the nightclub’s VIP bottle girls, and more specifically, the world’s
most eligible prince ’s pick-up du jour.

Needless to say, the
club’s real bottle girls are pea green with envy. They can’t figure out how
this newbie became Cinderella of this Century.

If I told them that my
aim and my 1st degree black belt status had something to do with it,
would they believe me? Probably not. All they see is that I’m just this side of
Cougarville, which means Harry is less discriminating than they had hoped.

For once I’m glad Jack
is not here with us, in the cordoned-off VIP section. One involuntary muscle
flex and prince’s all too obvious brawny goon squad—three of his Royal Air
Force mates—would be on top of him, like suds on ale. 

At MI-6’s behest, we’ve
kept that a secret from Harry, for now anyway. Which, I’m sure, is why he feels
so cocksure. This mission wouldn’t have been so hard if the prince weren’t so
insistent about partying “like an ordinary surfer bloke,” is how he so
preciously puts it. 

Thus far the natives
have been awed as much by his title as his regular dude  personality.

Just as the deejay
ratchets up the hip hop club mix, six drunken sorority sisters stroll our way.
One of the girls, a Kate Middleton lookalike, pierces me with a jealous glare.

I stare back and smile,
as if to say Take the hint. Get lost.

Her eyes shift from me
to one of Harry’s RAF buds. She waves coyly at him, and he’s smitten. Smirking
back, he nods her over. She squeals and grabs the hand of one of her
girlfriends.

Harry's haremIn no time at all, she
and her besties have jumped the red velvet rope. They toss themselves onto the
prince’s entourage, who don’t seem to be fighting them off too hard.

In fact, they’re
snapping their fingers at me with drink orders for their new arm charms.

“Not good.” Jack’s
warning in my ear is just loud enough for me to here.

“Tell me something I
don’t know,” I mutter back.

“How about this?” Jack
is now shouting into my earpiece. “You’ve
lost Prince Harry
.”

He’s right.

The prince seems
captivated by a petite, busty blond beauty. Even in heels, she barely reaches
his chest. She had pulled him out onto the dance floor for a throbbing
sex-drenched hip grinder, Andree Belle’s Go Go Gadget
Heart
.

The strobe lights and
smoke machine make it hard to follow them in the crowd. Then I see them,
against one wall. The buxom little tart has draped her arms around his
shoulders and hugs him close, as if she’ll never let him go.

Apparently too close. I
shove my way through the crowd until I’m close enough to I hear Harry’s woozy
cry: “Blimey, you’re no bird! You’ve got
a wanker
!”

Before I can pull him
away, the prince is pricked on the neck with something  his partner has pulled from her cleavage.
Harry’s groan is loud—

Then the smell of smoke,
and the lights go out—

But not before the last
strobe catches the triumphant look on his partner’s face.

 “Oh my God, Jack! The woman with Harry—she’s—not a she! She’s—”

“I know, I saw it, too!
The Leprechaun!”

Proof it pays to hit the
M.A.C. counter before a night on the town.

 And to hang out where the lights are always
low.

Everyone is screaming
and shoving their way to the exits, leaving me room to follow the Leprechaun,
who was shoving Harry in the opposite direction, up against a wall.

“It’s too dark to see
where they went. Does anything show up on the club’s security cams?”

“I’m looking now. In the
meantime, check the wall for a hidden pocket door. The schematic of this club
shows a few of them on every level. I’m sure the Leprechaun had his exit scoped
out in advance.”

While he scans the feeds
from the security cameras, I skim the walls with my hands. Finally I find it: a
tiny catch, waist high.

I pull it open it just
in time to see the Leprechaun heaving Harry down a long corridor.

He may not be used to
running in heels, but I am. If only I wasn’t running in a bikini, too.

“Too many wobbly bits,”
I mutter under my breath.

It is inappropriate for
Jack to be laughing now, but he can’t help it. “Just two. And they’re a sight
to behold. Prince Charming will be upset he slept through it.”

The thought of Harry in
the French-manicured hands of an assassin who can start the United Kingdom and
Ireland down another bloody path of un-neighborly relations has me picking up
my pace. Unlike the Leprechaun, I’m smart enough to ditch my high heels—

But I’m still not fast
enough to reach them before the Leprechaun rolls him into the backseat of a
dark BMW and screeches off.

I can hear Jack slapping
the wall with his fist. “Aw, damn! We lost them!”

“Nope, I slipped a GPS
tracker in the prince’s trollies.”

“You did what?…In his—what?”

“Oh, don’t worry, I
didn’t peek. I’ll meet you around the corner.”

What’s a little white
lie between fake husband and wife?

Before he can say
another word, I snap off my earpiece and run down the block.

(c) 2012 Josie Brown. All rights reserved. This excerpt may not be resold or
redistributed without prior written permission from Josie Brown or
Signal Press Books (info@signaleditorial.com).


Guide-to-Gracious-Killing-v6

The Housewife Assassin's
Guide to Gracious Kil
ling

  In bookstores on September 30, 2012.


In the meantime, order Book 1,
The Housewife Assassin's Handbook
Murder. Suspense. Sex. And some handy household tips.

In the US, just $2.99:

 AmazonKindleButton   Itunes_01 Nook-button

In the UK, just £1.96 (Kindle UK) and £1.99 (iTunes UK) :

AmazonKindleButtonItunes_01

 Read an excerpt here…

Sign up for my eLetter
for a chance to win a Kindle, a Nook,
or a gift certificate to your favorite bookstore!
Details to follow, by September 30, 2012,
with the launch of my new book!

Impossibly Tongue Tied gets its village…in Europe, Australia, and Japan, anyhow.

Impossibly_Tongue_Tied_1024x768For novelists, all of our books are our children. As a parent of nine of them (and counting!), I can honestly say that I don't play favorites, even if one or more has done better than the others.

Until recently, authors shared parenting responsibilities with their publishers. We write the books and in many cases promote them as well, while the publishers edit, create covers, print, distribute and promote the books to bookstores and readers.

Sometimes it's a wonderful collaboration. The book is nurtured by both, and flourishes out in the hard, cold world. But in many cases, the book is neglected by one parent or the other.

Sadly, this was the case with Impossibly Tongue Tied, my second novel. The publisher admitted they had no plans other than to toss the book onto the shelf.

Hearing this broke my heart.  At the time I wrote it, I was going through a family crisis, and put all my energy and angst into creating a fun, dark farce on the world of Hollywood fame and celebrity. I cried and laughed the whole time a wrote it. (Sort of like Diane Keaton, as she processed Jack Nicholson out of her system via her play, in Something's Gotta Give; I've got that clip, below…)

From the letters I received from readers, I was happy to hear I'd accomplished my goal.

Thankfully, the publisher only has rights to the book in North America (for now, anyway; my publisher will only allow me to  buying leftover inventory at a price that is worse than wholesale, and shipping above that; bookstores get free shipping, whereas the authors do not; go figure).

For those of you who live in other parts of the world, I've created a digital eBook version of Impossibly Tongue Tied, and I've priced it at a very reasonably. In Amazon.uk, you'll only pay £1.96 and throughout the other Amazon online stores, EUR 2,68.

If you enjoy it, please do review it within Amazon (it will be up soon, in the Apple iTunes Bookstore as well) and on GoodReads.

My baby deserves to be loved.

It takes a village to love a book,

Josie

Reviews:

"Brad, Angelina, Britney and Kevin may want to check out Josie Brown's new novel, Impossibly Tongue-Tied, for its ripped-from-the-headlines plot that mixes their scandals together…"
– PAGE SIX, New York Post

"Josie Brown gives us another page-turning guilty pleasure." – Marin Magazine


SYNOPSIS:
All over Hollywood, men are dialing O—for orgasms. Her steamy naughty talk fills them with lust and longing, and helps them perform like the studs they claim to be.

In truth, the industry's favorite "erotic phone operatrix" is Nina Harte, a struggling actress who has put her career on hold so that her husband, Nathan, can pursue his own dreams of stardom.

When Nathan's career takes off, so does he, leaving Nina and their four-year-old son, Jake, for his diva costar, Katerina McPherson. Then "Kat 'n' Nat" are crowned the media's newest celebrity sweethearts, and Kat labels Nina an unfit mother in order to win custody of Jake, just so that she can have that highly-coveted celebrity accessory—an adorable child—sans any unsightly stretch marks.

The one person who does care about Nina is Nathan's agent, Sam Godwin. In fact, he's in love with her. And because he has both a heart and a conscience, Sam feels guilty for having put Nat in Kat's path in the first place . . .

So, how will he feel when he learns that Nina and O are one and the same?

Read an excerpt here…

 

 IMPOSSIBLY TONGUE-TIED  (Signal Press, 2006, 2012)

Order it here, from

Amazon.com

Amazon. uk, only £1.96

Amazon. de, only EUR 2,68!

Amazon.fr, only EUR 2,68!


TGIF!

Washington-Square-Park
Today was one of those cinematically picture perfect San Francisco Spring days. Everyone was in sundresses, shorts and camisoles, and flipflops.

The sky was California blue. (Sorry, Carolina folk! We claim it, too!)

Our walk took us from Pac Heights, through Fort Mason Park and down beside Gashouse Cove and the Maritime Museum, cutting away from the tourists into North Beach, in order to score some fresh-baked bread from an Italian bakery there.

Martin likes a bread they make called a "stubby," because it is wide, and just long enough to poke out beyond the bag they wrap it in.

Frankly," I told him, "I think the name is emasculating."

He answered, "Hell, I don't know a man in the world who wouldn't be proud of this as a…."  

SPEAK TO THE HAND.

The route we take drops us into Washington Square, North Beach's premier park. It is flanked by Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church on its north side, which is famous because newlyweds Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe, had their pictures taken on the steps of the church, after a civil ceremony. I'm guessing that the Yankee Clipper's previous marriage and divorce kept them from going down aisle in his hometown parish's church.

Because we the the grandeur and solitude we find there, invariably we stop in and take a few moments to bask in its grace, and to say a prayer or two.

Do prayers work? They do for me. I don't know if it's because the Supreme Being feels my pain and deems it worthy to grant relief, or if it is what the universe had in mind for me all along.

I do know one thing: it's much more than, "Try it, and see what happens."

I'd say it's more like, "Some things we just can't explain…and that's okay."

No doubt about it: where there's a will, there's a way. But when the will isn't enough, I've got all the proof I need that faith picks up the slack.

Yep, thank God! It's Friday!

— Josie

 

HAH Hanging Man V2
The Housewife Asassin's Handbook

Buy it today on…
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What writers should do when they are in the 99% (of publishing’s many norms): stay in the game.

Sfarwabook[1]Because of a very fortunate turn of events this year in my writing career, I was asked to speak to other authors who had been my support system in the ups and downs of my 7-year career: the San Francisco chapter of the Romance Writers of America. This group is filled with an even mix of aspiriting and already published successful writers, all of whom have been there for each other with inspiring words, great advice, and a shoulder to cry on.

Yes, it was my turn to give back.

Here's what I told them (in the few moments when I wasn't dithering off-topic, on such things as house renovations from hell, book promotion, instore co-op and other necessary evils of success for the chosen few–

But then caffeine on a belly of oatmeal will do that to you. Next time: fill the ol' belly with pancakes first. Oh yeah: and look at your notes every once in a while…)

_____________________________________

The year 2011 did not start out well for me. I was one of many midlist authors who had a novel under contract  with publishing house, but then it was dropped as part of a loss-saving attempt in light of the Borders bankruptcy.

I made sure that my own private pity party was short and bittersweet, then turned my attention on promoting the novel which was due out in April. I was proud of the buzz I'd already built prior to its release, which turned into a 10-market tour hosted by women who had the same career as Katie, the heroine in my book The Baby Planner.

As far as my editor was concerned, it paid off — enough for her to ask me to lunch. As we nibbled lady-sized salads at the Bergdorf-Goodman Restaurant high over Central Park, she asked, "So what can I see next?"

This is why it's always a smart idea to promote promote promote your books, no matter what your publishing house is (or isn't) doing for it.

Knowing that you need to publish or perish, I was also smart enough to take the great advice of my writer pal, Bella Andre, who has hit it out of the park indie-pub'ing her re-acquired backlist and some new books. She convinced me that a novel which had had four editors salivating for it- (until it got shot down in committee) was the perfect test for me to indie-publish. The first book in that series, The Housewife Assassin's Handbook, is out now.

Thus far I'm loving the sales. The second in the series, The Houswife Assassin's Guide to Gracious Killing will be out by the end of the month. So yes, authors: Independent publishing is one way to watch your orphans thrive.

Writing novels is not for the faint of heart. I truly believe you need a wonderful agent to match you with the right editor: someone loves your writer's voice and your story, and wants to help make it the best book possible before showing it to the world.

But even a great agent and a superlative editor can't do the one thing that keeps an author writing for a living wage. For that, you need a legion of readers who fall in love with your characters, and wants to see more of them, and of you.

Thanks to my wonderful agent, Holly Root, who saw the potential in my books to translate into different media, my novels were shown to a talent agency which felt that they did indeed have the potential to be adapted into movies or as a TV series.

Secret Lives400Well, they were right. One of Hollywood biggest producers, Jerry Bruckheimer, has optioned one of my books, Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, for a television show that will run on ABC.

So yes: this year has been a rollercoaster. But I was one of the lucky ones.

I'm making  a living wage as a writer.

These readers are out there. I know authors who exhaust themselves trying to find them: touring, social networking, responding to comments and emails.

I strongly feel that, with the changes that are occuring in the distribution of books — the surge of online book sales, coupled with the decline in the number of brick-and-mortar bookstores, not to mention the number of books they take on — will also change the role of publishers:

They will have to  get more agressive — and smarter — in how they promote the books they publish.

I have no doubt that they will soon publish less authors. But in order to thrive, they'll have to make the books they do publish as profitable as possible. This means focusing on marketing and promotion as well as distribution. They need to recognize niche markets for specific authors and their books, and court them…

Something that authors do, now, for themselves…if they're smart.

And could to even better if they had the financial resources and personpower of their pub houses.

Every author writing for that imprint is a brand.

Every book is a product under that brand.

This is, simply, Marketing 101.

Which brings me to you, the author:

If you're a writer, be prepared to spend most of your career in the 99 percent.

Everyone in this room writes, because we must write. This need to write comes from the depth of our souls.

Ninety-nine percent of the world doesn't have this desire. (Thank gawd! Aren't there already enough of us, in this very competitive field?)

So, consider yourself in the one percent.

Already, I applaud you.

A reality we all know: ninety-nine percent of aspiring writers will not get published by a New York publishing house. All the more reason I want to applaud the many I see this room who have made it into the one percent who have been traditionally published.

Of all traditionally published writers, how many have been able — or will be able – to make writing a fully-fledged career that pays the bills and puts food on the table? How many will still be published ten or twenty years from now?

I'm guessing that number is closer to one percent than 99 percent.

And of those who are lucky enough to make writing their vocation as well as their avocation, I'm guessing that 99 percent of them will never have the joy of learning that their book has been optioned and produced in an entertainment medium, such as film or television.

But here's the thing: If you ever want to be in THE 1 PERCENT (of the 1 percent who write; of the 1 percent who get an agent; of the one percent who get a publishing contract; of the 1 percent who can make a living writing; of the one percent who may enjoy watching their characters come alive in the small screen or the silver screen) you have to stay in the game.

You have to write.

Afterward, you have to edit, and re-edit, and edit again, until your manuscript is a page-turner.

Then you have to query a large, well-researched list of agents with your manuscript.

Once you get that agent, you have to to listen to him or her as to what else has to be done to it so that s/he will be enthusiastic when it is sent out to editors (remember: agents work on a commission, so they don't get paid until your book sells; they are putting sweat equity in you as well).

And once your book is published, you have to promote it.

And you have to write more books.

So, yeah: writing is the easy part.

Staying in the game is the hard part.

Last. Author. Standing.

 – Josie

(c) 2011 Josie Brown. All rights reserved.

The top photo is the book cover for Writing Romance: The Ultimate Guide on Craft, Creation and Industry Connections, which is published by the San Francisco Chapter of the Romance Writers of America

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The Help: does the movie’s portrayal of racism ring true?

The-help
I was (as we say there) born and raised in Atlanta. I grew up in the Atlanta of the 1960s. Back then, the mayor, a progressive-minded man named William Hartsfield (and back then, "progressive" wasn't a dirty word) made our slogan, "The city too busy to hate."

Keep in mind that Atlanta was also the home of Martin Luther King, Jr

I was a child of the sixties. I remember segregation and integration, which happened while I was in elementary school. I also remember Dr. King's assassination, in Memphis. At my school in DeKalb County, as we watched the funeral on television, I remember our teacher's prediction: "You will always remember this day."

She was right, although we were too young to understand what it meant.

At one time, it had also been the home of the Klu Klux Klan. In fact, it once stood on what is now the grounds of one of the three elegant churches that grace Peachtree Street at the southern apex of Buckhead known as "Christ Curve." The biggest irony is that the church is a Catholic congregation: a religion that the KKK hated. That the priests decided to invited the Klan's Imperial Wizard to the dedication is proof positive that any piece of land can be sanctified.

Which brings me to the questions being raised by the movie based on Kathryn Stockett's runaway bestselling book, The Help:

First, does it vilify its Caucasian characters? And secondly, does it correctly represent the African-American dialects of the time? And finally, do the African-American experiences ring true?

My own opinion: I loved the book. And my personal take on the first is that Ms. Stockett has been true to the South we both grew up in (albeit a few years, and miles, apart).

Before integration, there was a difinitive separation of classes. Whereas some of it was based on "breeding." (Who was your daddy's daddy, and your mama's people?).

Certainly religion played into it. But mostly, it was based on color.

Integration was resented by most of the Caucasian population. No one who lived through it can deny that.

In many ways Hartfield's Atlanta was a bubble of positive race relations, but no one who lived there during those tulmultious times cannot deny that it had its fair share of racial violence. The 1958 bombing of the Jewish Temple on Peachtree Street in Atlanta's Brookwood neighborhood was one very sad example.

My parents had moved to Atlanta in the mid-fifties, from Manhattan, because of a transfer that my father had agreed to. My maiden name is Martinez, and both my parents had been born in Puerto Rico, albeit raised stateside. Like them–and unlike my older sister–I had thick, curly dark hair and an olive complexion, but also light eyes. I remember a little boy in my class asking me, "What are you?" The question stumped me. I didn't know how to answer! I mean, I was a girl, of course. Wasn't that obvious?

His next question shamed me, because I interpreted it as a slur: "Are you a nigger?"

That was a word we never used in my house. Ever. I had no right to feel ashamed.

I wonder if there was a time, even later in life, where he grew to regret his own use of it.

Had I grown up in the North, I'm sure I'd have heard another taunt: "Spic." But since we weren't the predominant minority in Atlanta, that word wasn't as well known back then. I guess we skirted by. Sure, our name was inevitably mispronounced ("Mart-TEEN-ez" became "Martin-EZZ"). That is a small price to pay for the privilege of being allowed to "pass."

To answer the second question: yes, the South has many dialects, for both the predominant races. When I lived there, I could tell if the person speaking to me was from Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina or Texas by his or her "twang." Then again, I could also tell an Aussie from a Kiwi. I guess I have an ear for dialects. It got me into radio. (The need for sanity got me out of it.)

I moved from the South after marriage, to the San Francisco Bay Area. I married a Yankee: a nice Jewish boy from the Bronx, who had moved to Atlanta after college. As much as I loved Atlanta and had grown up around Southerners, I never got over the presumption that I might be too exotic for any man who drank rum and Cokes, had gone to UGA (University of Georgia, but pronounced "ugga," like the infamous mutt mascot for that grand institution school) and aspired to a partnership at King & Spalding. 

So, yep, I can certainly relate to The Help's heroine, Skeeter. The world is a very big place. That's a good thing for those of us who must question the local customs, or who refuse to conform to society's current norm.

I take it as a good sign that some people who have seen the movie or have read the book are truly appalled at the class divisiveness portrayed in The Help, and the cluelessness of the cruelty demonstrated by some of its Caucasian characters.

They should be. That goes for all of us. Especially those of us who lived through it. 

When my daughter was in the fourth grade and studying the Civil War, she chided me for my Southern roots. "Mom, how could you have lived in a place where Eva and I could not have been friends?" Eva, her BFF, is African-American. 

After reminding her that I was born more than a century after the Civil War, I had to agree with her, and break the news to her that some people still judge others by their skin color. 

I will always consider Atlanta my home. I am very proud of my hometown, as I am sure Ms. Stockett is of hers, Jackson, Mississippi. The reality is that neither of us can change its history. Our memories, our perceptions and our interpretations of the places we grew up — as well as those of others who also grew up in that time and those places – are ours own.If they don't reflect that of others, so be it. The South can be charming. It can also be provencial and cruel.

Then again, so can New York, Paris, and London. 

But I guess if a commonor can marry a king-in-the-wings, the world is changing for the good.

— Josie

 

 

  

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Murder. Suspense. Sex. 
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Tucson Tragedy: It’s Time for Comprehensive Universal Mental Health

Jared-Lee-Loughner The despair felt by the parents of the mentally ill — especially those whose illnesses, such as schizophrenia, manifest into anger and has caused them to do physical harm to others — is unfathomable by the rest of us.

These are not bad parents. They are people who love their children, and have done their best to get medical attention for their offspring, despite the expense (psychopharmaceutical drugs can be as much as $100 a pill, even if needed daily), and the stress of all the red tape traps devised by our American health insurance system–not to mention the lack of comprehensive medical care for the mentally ill, once the financial hurdles have been jumped. 

Below is an excerpt for the Mother Lode column in the New York Times, in which several parents with mentally ill children who have done similar acts give their perspectives on the Tucson, Arizona killing rampage that injured fourteen, including U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and killed six others.

We can't take healthcare off the table now. In so many ways, our lives depend on our society — and elected officials — addressing this topic, and moving forward on workable answers.

 

I've also included a video, from PBS's NewsHour, on the Tucson and the missed opportunities to prevent it by assessing Laughner's mental health situation. Sadly, Laughner was putting his intentions out there with YouTube videos.

The irony: Arizona had cut $65 million from its mental health social services budget since 2008.

Knowledge is power,

–Josie

 

 

MOTHERLODE / Adventures in Parenting / New York Times

January 11, 2011, 3:31 pm

A Killer’s Parents

By LISA BELKIN
A photograph of Jared L. Loughner released by the Pima County Sheriff’s Office.Pima County Sheriff’s OfficeA photograph of Jared L. Loughner released by the Pima County Sheriff’s Office.

With Jared Lee Loughner’s unhinged grin staring out from so many Web sites and newspapers today, parents of troubled young adults are stepping forward, giving glimpses into the pain and impotence that comes when your child has mental illness.

In Chicago, the longtime local CBS news anchor Bill Kurtis shared all that and more with viewers last night, talking publicly for the first time about his son Scott, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and who died in 2009 when he was 38.

In unscripted comments coming after a report on the reasons authorities don’t take action against bizarre behavior before it turns threatening, Kurtis talked of how his son heard voices and suffered from hallucinations, but was not violent. The turn toward violence in the mentally ill, however, can be unpredictable, Kurtis said. “I was told my son went nonviolent, and he was no danger,” he said. “But 10 percent of the crimes are committed by mentally ill people who do turn violent.”

After the newscast Kurtis told the blogger Robert Federer that he decided to speak out because Loughner’s story seemed so familiar. “I never wanted to exploit Scott and the illness, and always thought that if he wanted it to go public, he should be able to make the decision and talk about it,” Kurtis said. “We’d been living with this for so long that when I heard some of the witnesses and observers who came forward Saturday [to describe Loughner], I felt this was the perfect time. In schizophrenia, they say people seem to come in and out. So they can look normal and function normally and go in and buy a gun.”

One can only imagine that Kurtis is putting himself in the shoes of Loughner’s parents and wondering “what if?” That is definitely what Jeannette Halton-Tiggs is doing, and she wrote about it today over on The Daily Beast.

In a column titled “Mother of a Monster,” she describes to columnist Mansfield Frazier how her son, Timothy Halton Jr. was sentenced to life in prison for shooting a police officer.

As she says:

…in truth my Timmy is not, and never was, a monster… what he was cursed to be is one of the literally millions of hopelessly and irrevocably mentally ill individuals in the world today. He suffers from a severe form of paranoid schizophrenia that renders him incapable of controlling his thoughts, emotions or actions when, for a variety of reasons — some beyond his control — he is off his medications. And I did everything humanly possible within my power to keep him on a treatment regimen, but, alas, to no avail.

The reality is, no one can be as deranged as my son, or as Jared Loughner apparently is, without many people being aware of his deteriorating mental condition — yet seemingly no one moved to force him into treatment. The burning question following a mind-boggling incident of this kind should be: “Why do we, as a society, allow known dangerously mentally ill individuals to make their own decisions in regard to receiving treatment?”

There is a powerful contingent of folks in the mental-health care delivery field in this country who posit that no one should be compelled to be treated for their illness unless, and until, they harm someone. This, in itself, is insane … and dangerous to boot. I screamed at the top of my lungs that my son was one day going to hurt someone, or himself, but no one in a position of authority to avert the tragedy would listen or do anything.

That is mostly because Timmy turned 18 and his mother lost legal authority to control whether he took his medicines or was hospitalized or even monitored. Halton-Tiggs cites data which show that “more than 40,000 dangerously mentally ill individuals are roaming America’s streets on any given day, untreated.”

All those individuals are someone’s child.

As Halton-Tiggs concludes: “I’m pretty sure I know what Loughner’s family is going though. The guilt, the shame, the sense of despair.”

Statistics mean that tens of thousands of other parents out there fear one day knowing those feelings as well.

(c) 2010 New York Times.

My relationship advice to newlyweds Katy Perry and Russell Brand

Russell-brand-katy-perry-india Omigod! Who'd have thunk it? Pop tart Katy Perry and comedian Russell Brand went out and got married!

I guess my invitation got lost in the mail.

That's okay. I probably would have gotten lost on the way there, anyway. My cell phone is too old for any GPA app, let alone one that shows some Aman-i-khas resort on the edge of the Rajasthani nature reserve.

Besides, I thoroughly understand it was a small, intimate affair: just those two crazy kids, 85 of their closest friends and family, a Hindu guru,a Christian minister, two elephants named Laxmi and Mala ("Mala is a bit skittish and hates crowds but she managed to behave herself," a source told PEOPLE), a fortune-telling parrot–

Oh yeah: and a tiger that, supposedly, has already killed three people.

I still have a wedding gift for them: a few ground rules for ensuring that their union will be one that lasts forever. Usually I'd give it to them face-to-face (you know, these things are personal) but since I wasn't invited on the honeymoon either, they'll have to read it here:

  • 1. Never go to bed angry. Talk things out first. Then do go to bed. Together. And without the parrot.
  • 2. Don't flirt with others. For Katy, that means no more kissing girls. For Russell, that means no more kissing every other girl, as he learned in sex addiction rehab. For both of them, that means no more kissing the mirror.
  • 3. Don't let your differences get in the way of a good thing. You came from such dissimilar backgrounds. With that comes some heavy baggage. Don't empty it on your spouse when you get scared that things aren't as perfect as you had hoped they'd be.
  • 4. Don't buy into the gossip. Professionally, you are both on top now. That says something about your strength of fortitude, and your ability to achieve your goals. Well, a happy marriage is a goal, too. Don't let the crap you read in the tabloids put it in a tailspin. Just keep trusting and talking.
  • 5. Don't let others get between you. This means fans, publicists, agents, managers and anyone else who wants you to believe that what you have together isn't anything more than a publicity stunt. Prove them all wrong. If not for yourselves, then for the rest of us.

 I've got a premonition about these things: this one's gonna last.

But if it doesn't, I presume I'll be invited to Katy's divorce party. If so, my gift to her will be a little more expansive, and, I'm sure, much appreciated: a copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Finding Mr. Right. 

To use Russell's parlance, it's my very own booky wook.

 Tah dah,

–Josie


(ISBN: 9781439173176)

In bookstores June 1, 2010. Order it TODAY!

"Hollywood's got nothing on the cast of characters living in the bedroom community of Paradise Heights, who have the secrets, sex, money and scandal of an OK! Magazine cover story. Josie Brown is a skilled observer whose clever dialogue and feisty style make for truly entertaining reading." –Jackie Collins, Hollywood Wives

 

 

So Sad: Killer Strollers

Because my next book, THE BABY PLANNER, deals with a woman whose job includes choosing baby gear for her clients (she also previously worked for a state agency dealing with safety product issues), of course this article caught my eye. Please pass forward to your friends who are in baby- and toddler mode and may want to know about this.

Lookin' out for my peeps,

–Josie

BabyPlannerCover In Bookstores April 5, 2011!
THE BABY PLANNER – A Novel

(Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books)
ISBN#: 978-1439197127

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By Dhanya Skariachan Dhanya Skariachan 41 mins ago

NEW YORK, Oct 20 (Reuters Life) – A leading producer of children's products is recalling about 2 million baby strollers sold before 2008 at major U.S. retailers, after four infants died of strangulation.

The news of the recall by Graco Children's Products Inc, of the China-made strollers, comes less than three weeks after Mattel Inc's Fisher-Price recalled some 10 million toys and other items, renewing concerns about safety standards of infant products — a good chunk of which is made in low-cost centers like China.

The latest recall, made along with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, applies to Graco Quattro Tour and MetroLite strollers sold at retailers including Babies R Us, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart between November 2000 and December 2007.

In addition to the four deaths, the CPSC said it was also aware of reports of five infants becoming entrapped, resulting in cuts and bruises, and one having difficulty breathing.

"This recall involves strollers sold as long as 10 years ago, demonstrating the ongoing need for families to remain vigilant about hazardous products lurking in their homes," said Dan Verakis, founder and CEO of SafetyBook.org, which runs a recall-monitoring service for consumers.

Earlier this year, Graco recalled another 1.5 million strollers after the CPSC received reports of children's fingertips being amputated.

 

Lissa Rankin’s WHAT’S UP DOWN THERE? is better than sex. Seriously.

Doctor_advice Since when is reading better than sex?

When what you're reading is ABOUT sex–and you're learning that all the things you thought you knew about it (and your body) could fill, like maybe just one page of a book?

That book would be Lissa Rankin MD's book, WHAT'S UP DOWN THERE? Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynocologiest If She Was Your Best Friend .

Take my word for it., you won't be able to put down.

This is one of those seminal books that we'll all remember when we talk about living in this era, sort of like Helen Gurley Brown's SEX AND THE SINGLE GIRL was for the mid '60s, or EVERTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX, AND WERE AFRAID TO ASK* was for the early '70s.

Knowledge is power. And ladies (and gentlemen), knowledge about the female body is KRYPTONITE.

What Dr. Rankin has done here is give our fear factor about our womanly parts and sexuality a big pink chill pill. Forget your middle school sex ed class. If your teacher was cool, if she read this now she'd be laughing and nodding her head at all the things she knew she couldn't tell you without getting called into the principal's office.

With honesty and unabashed openness (and some great asides, trivia, and first-hand experience, Dr. Rankin answers such questions as "Is it safe to put perfume on your cootchie to make it smell good?" and "Is it important for me to tell my doctor the truth when she asks how many sexual partners I have?" and my husband's personal fave: "I don't even know what turns me on. How do I get in touch with that?"

LOL! Yep, that's right. My husband delved into this book, too. He read to, cover-to-cover. He now considers himself an expert on my "down there."

I'll be testing him later tonight,

–Josie

Josie's Latest Book: Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

In bookstores June 1, 2010. Order it TODAY!

"Hollywood's got nothing on the cast of characters living in the bedroom community of Paradise Heights, who have the secrets, sex, money and scandal of an OK! Magazine cover story. Josie Brown is a skilled observer whose clever dialogue and feisty style make for truly entertaining reading." –Jackie Collins, Hollywood Wives

My R Rated Book Reading: Mature Audiences Only

WomenWhoWrite Women behaving wildly is the theme at Women Who Write, the monthly book salon thrown by memoirist and club promoter Vicki Abelson in Montrose, CA.

In June, I was lucky to be invited as one of the guest readers, along with comedians Marc Maron and Paul Provenza, and musician James Lee Stanley (who entertained us with several of his many hits), and of course Vicki, who reads one more chapter of her work in progress from her fabulous memoir (I got to read a first draft, and I predict best-seller: lots of sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll!)

Vicki tapes every reading. My portion of it can be seen here, below. However, be duly warned: realizing that my co-readers are seasoned performers who knew how to keep their audiences rolling in the aisles in laughter, I chose a funny and somewhat naughty read myself: not exactly R-rated, but a bit more than PG-13. 

So yeah, I'm blushing….and wishing my arms were better toned. ( I'm workin' on that!)

Enjoy!

That's showbiz,

—Josie
http://twitter.com/JosieBrownCA

http://www.facebook.com/Josie.Brown.Author.Page 



  Josie's Latest Book: Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

In bookstores June 1, 2010. Order it TODAY!

"Hollywood's got nothing on the cast of characters living in the bedroom community of Paradise Heights, who have the secrets, sex, money and scandal of an OK! Magazine cover story. Josie Brown is a skilled observer whose clever dialogue and feisty style make for truly entertaining reading." –Jackie Collins, Hollywood Wives


The Secret Lives of My Toyotas

ToyotaHighlanderHybrid My husband and I don't consider ourselves car people. We consider ourselves Toyota people.

Car people are fickle. They want the latest/greatest/hottest/fastest/newest car on the market.

Toyota people are smart. They want reliability, dependability and safety. And they want a great-looking car.

We bought our first Toyota, a Corolla, just a week before our firstborn, our son, was born.

That was a momentous day for two reasons: It was also the day I decided to follow my dream and write novels.

One Toyota (the Corolla) led to another (Camry) and then another (Camry)….

Two kids and a move cross-country later, we are still Toyota people. We went on our family vacations in these cars. We taught our children how to drive in them. We went to every major life event in them: weddings, graduations, funerals.

So you see, it's habit-forming. Something about never having to worry about unnecessary fix-it issues (like my sis-in-law and her Volvo…).

In fact, I love our Toyota so much, I wrote the Highlander Hybrid into my latest book, SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES. You can read the excerpt below.

Oh, and by the way: I'm participating in a Toyota/TwitterMoms campaign, which inspired this
post. My opinions, thoughts and feelings are my own. As a TwitterMom,
I'm eligible for a courtesy gift from Amazon.com of $50.

So, what will I do with that gift certificate? Sharing it with some lucky winner! I'll be sending her/him an autographed copy of my book ($10.20 in Amazon.com), along with a $25 Amazon gift card.

Here's how it works:

1. Read this excerpt, below, that comes from my book SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES.

2. After reading it, answer the question below it, and email me the correct answer to SecretLivesBook@gmail.com; Put “Toyota Excerpt” in the subject line;

AND

3. Comment below about why you love your own Toyota, or something about the excerpt (below) that resonated with you.

BONUS (gets you another freebee entry in the contest!):

4. Give my “auto-biography” a thumbs-up on the Toyota Facebook page, here…

All correct entries received no later than 12 midnight PT on Tuesday, July 20, 2010, will be eligible for the autographed book, and the $25 gift card.

No purchase necessary. You must be over 18 years of age to participate.
This prize is applicable to the US and Canada only.

Good luck, and happy driving this summer,

–Josie


* photo of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid 2010, the car driven by my heroine, Lyssa Harper.


EXCERPT – SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES

Chapter 6

“The majority of husbands remind me of an orangutan trying to play the
violin.”

—Honore de Balzac

 

 

Monday 4 Nov, 10:13 a.m. It is true
that the Highlander Hybrid goes from zero to sixty in around 9.6 seconds.

 

However, the
inverse of that—say, you’re driving at sixty miles an hour down Highway 101 in
a rainstorm when you blow a tire—happens a little slower.

 

I am
experiencing this now, as my Highlander hydroplanes out of control as yet
another rain wave rolls under its chassis.

 

I eat up the
first few seconds with some freaking out and swearing at myself for forgetting
Ted’s warning about going too fast on bald tires. Then, oh possibly another six
seconds goes to slamming on the brakes and praying up a storm as the Highlander
spins out of control. By the time it comes to a complete stop and my heart rate
goes back down to normal, I’m guessing I’ve lost another twelve seconds.

 

Okay, I lied.
My chest is still heaving twenty-two seconds later, when I hear the tap on my
window.

 

“Lyssa, are
you okay?” Harry Wilder’s face stares back at me, blurred and contorted through
my rain-spattered window. It’s
been a couple of days since we saw each other in the park.

I nod slowly
and roll down my window. The cold air feels great on my face because it reminds
me I’m alive. “I—I was very stupid, going that fast.”

 

“I’m just
happy you’re alive. Look, would you like me to call someone?”

 

“No, that’s
okay, really. I have Triple A. I’ve got the card here somewhere . . . ” My
hands shake as I rummage through the deep, unfathomable well of my bag, but I
can’t find it. DAMN DAMN DAMN Olivia’s been playing in my purse again . . .

 

I look up
again just in time to see a raindrop roll off the tip of his nose. “Oh, my God,
sorry! Why don’t you get in?” I fumble with the auto-lock. When he hears it
click, he jumps into the passenger seat behind me.

 

He’s wearing
a rainproof jacket, but he’s shivering nonetheless. With his hair coiled into
damp curls, it strikes me how much more like him his daughter looks than like DeeDee.

 

“Listen, by
the time you find the number, I could have already changed your tire. Do you
know if you have a spare?”

 

“Yes, but—you’ll
get wet!”

 

He laughs
heartily at the obvious. “At this point, I think I’d say that’s a moot
issue.”

I’m happy to
hear no pain in his voice, like the first time we met. Maybe DeeDee’s shopping
spree put things in perspective for him. “Okay, sure, it’s there, somewhere.
Let’s look together. The least I can do is hold the umbrella.”

 

We both jump
out of the car and head toward the hatch. After moving the kids’ basketball and
soccer gear, with some finagling we’re able to shift the backseat forward and open
the compartment, which holds a fully inflated tire, thank God, and a jack.

 

He heaves
both out and crouches down to set up by the blown tire. As I stand over him
with my umbrella, I’m given a different point of view of Harry Wilder. I take note
of how thin his hair is at the crown of his head, and the way in which his
shoulders expand and roll beneath his jacket as he cranks the jack and twists
off the bolts. A few moments later, when he stands up to move the flattened
tire out of the way, he forgets how close I’m standing and bumps his head into
the umbrella. I’m caught off guard and topple backward, but he grabs my arm
before I fall into a puddle.

 

“Sorry!” we
say in unison, then, “Don’t be—” and then together we laugh. That breaks the
tension. But then a mist of awkwardness envelops us again.

 

I find it suffocating.
Apparently he does too, because he clasps my hand with his even tighter.

 

 My hand lingers in his just long enough for me
to appreciate its warmth.

 

And to feel
his wedding band.

 

Yes, Harry is
still in mourning.

 

As
nonchalantly as I can, I take my hand out of his. We stand there in the rain,
letting it pull us back to reality. Finally I realize that one of us should say
something. My attempt is feeble but sincere. “You know, I’m forever in your
debt.”

 

“Don’t be
silly. I’m just glad you weren’t hurt, and that Olivia wasn’t with you, or your
boys. That spinout was pretty scary.”

 

I shake my
head in wonder. “I don’t know what I would have done if I had hurt them.”

 

“We can’t
protect them against everything.” He frowns. “All we can do is make the
judgment calls we feel are best, at any given time.”

 

“But that’s
just it. We’re only human. Sometimes we get it wrong. Sometimes we screw up.
Ted warned me about these tires being bald. I just haven’t made the time to buy
new ones. Well, there’s still a couple of hours before school is out. I was on
my way to the bank, but I think it’s best that I head over to Costco now and
get them changed out.”

 

He laughs. “Hey,
do you think that place has something called Lunchables? Temple is finally
burned out on my peanut butter and banana sandwiches. That’s top of the list of
my household duties today: bring home these Lunchables.”

 

It’s my turn
to smile. “You’ve never been inside a Costco?”

 

“DeeDee did
all the shopping. She even picked out my suits.” He grimaces. “But
hey, I’m game for anything now.”

 

A Costco
virgin? This should be fun. “Tell you what: you follow me over, and while they’re
changing my tires, I’ll give you a tour. And by the way, Olivia loved having
Temple over. Do you think she’ll be up for it again, maybe later this week?”

 

“It’s a deal.”
He reaches out again to shake my hand.

 

I take it
again. But why do I have such a hard time letting it go?

_______________________________________________

 
Copyright
© 2010 by Josie Brown. Published in June 2010 by Simon &
Schuster/Downtown
Press. All rights reserved. Excerpted from SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES. This work is protected under copyright laws
and
reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the
material in
any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher
.

CONTEST QUESTION:

Where is Lyssa headed before Harry comes to her rescue?

Email your correct answer to SecretLivesBook@gmail.com.
Please put “Toyota Excerpt” in the subject line.
Must be received no later than 12 midnight PT, on Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Pulitzer Prize and the Novel TINKERS: What Dreams May Come in Publishing

Tinkers One of the hardest things to do is write a novel. I guess that's why everyone attempts to do so.

Even when you spin prose into gold, like Paul Harding has done with his book, Tinkers, you still have to overcome the reticence of those publishing industry decision makers (agents, then editors) that your book will somehow catch the zeitgeist and find an audience.

Even when word of mouth is enthusiastic, a book has to compete with those tried-and-true commercial (operative word here) bestsellers who come out the same month and also have three very big things working in their favor: "co-op" (the marketing push that gets a book on the front table beside the door, where 70 percent of most books are sold); vast distribution (not just independent bookstores, but large purchases from the chains, Barnes & Noble and Borders Books, as well as, perhaps some big box store sales, from Wal-Mart, Costco or Target; and most important of all author name recognition (James Patterson: I'm lookin' at YOU...)

Needless to say, I'm always happy to read a success story about a book that might have been mired in oblivion if it didn't get that extra push from somewhere. In the case of Mr. Harding, he had an angel of an editor (yes, they do exist: I am proof of that — thank you Ms. M, of S&S!). He also had a sales person on his publishers team who became his advocate in the wilderness; and those at the front line of defense–the independent bookstores–recognized his genius, too. That is to be expected: they love books with a passion, and and always the first to recognize a great one and put the wind beneath its sales (pun intended, thank you).

The New York Times has done a marvelous job of telling Mr. Harding's journey from first book oblivion to Pulitzer prize winner. It is also quick to give a mea culpa for missing out in reviewing the book for its readers.

It's not in 3-D, and there is no three-act arc, but that's okay. I can't wait to read it.

(And maybe that's why),

—Josie

http://twitter.com/JosieBrownCA




SecretLives400 Josie's
Next Book: Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

In bookstores June 1, 2010. Order it
TODAY
!

"Hollywood's got nothing on the cast of characters living in
the
bedroom community of Paradise Heights, who have the secrets, sex, money
and scandal of an OK! Magazine cover story. Josie Brown is a skilled
observer whose clever dialogue and feisty style make for truly
entertaining reading."

Jackie
Collins
, bestselling author of Hollywood Wives and Poor Little Bitch Girl

April 19, 2010



IOWA CITY — Six years ago Paul Harding
was just another graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop with a quiet
little novel he hoped to publish. He sent copies of the manuscript, in
which he had intertwined the deathbed memories of a New England clock
repairer with episodes about the dying man’s father, to a handful of
agents and editors in New York. Soon after, the rejection letters
started to roll in.

“They would lecture me about the pace of life today,” Mr. Harding
said last week over lunch at a diner in this college town, where he is
now teaching at the workshop. “It was, ‘Where are the car chases?’ ” he
said, recalling the gist of the letters. “ ‘Nobody wants to read a
slow, contemplative, meditative, quiet book.’ ”

His manuscript languished in a desk drawer for nearly three years.
But in perhaps the most dramatic literary Cinderella story of recent
memory, Mr. Harding, 42, not only eventually found a publisher — the
tiny Bellevue Literary Press — for the novel, “Tinkers,” he also went
on to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction last week. Within an hour of the Pulitzer announcement, Random House
sent out a news release boasting of the two-book deal it had signed
with Mr. Harding late in 2009. A few days later the Guggenheim
Foundation announced he had received one of its prestigious fellowships.

The early rejection “was funny at the time,” Mr. Harding said. “And
even funnier now.” Mr. Harding, a onetime drummer for a rock band, is
far too discreet to name any of the agents or editors who wouldn’t
touch his work a few years ago.

But he is quick to praise those who helped “Tinkers” become a
darling of the independent bookstore circuit, including Erika Goldman,
the editorial director of Bellevue, whom Mr. Harding described as a
“deeply empathetic reader”; Lise Solomon, a sales representative in
Northern California for Consortium, the book’s distributor, who
passionately advocated for the novel with booksellers; and the
booksellers and critics who embraced the book early on.

Although “Tinkers” sunk under the radar in some quarters (including
The New York Times, which did not review it), it made several year-end
best lists, including NPR’s best debut fiction and The New Yorker
magazine’s list of reviewers’ favorites. According to Nielsen Bookscan,
which tracks about 70 percent of retail sales, “Tinkers” sold 7,000
copies before the Pulitzer announcement.

Now many independent booksellers are claiming Mr. Harding’s victory
as their own. “This shows how indie bookstores truly are the ones that
can be movers and shakers when it comes to a book,” said Michele
Filgate, the events manager at RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth, N.H.,
who raved about the book on Bookslut, a literary blog. As it turns out,
it was Ms. Filgate who first told Rebecca Pepper Sinkler, a former
editor of The New York Times Book Review and chairwoman of this year’s
Pulitzer fiction jury, about “Tinkers” at a book-reviewing workshop Ms.
Sinkler led in Manchester, N.H., last April.

In classes at Iowa Mr. Harding has become an instant celebrity, of
course, but also, a reassurance. Marilynne Robinson, the Pulitzer
Prize-winning author of “Gilead,” Mr. Harding’s former teacher and now
a friend, said last week in her workshop office that she had already
repeated Mr. Harding’s story several times.

“One of the problems I have is making my students believe that they
can write something that satisfies their definition of good, and they
don’t have to calculate the market,” Ms. Robinson said. “Now that I
have the Paul anecdote, they will believe me more.”

Mr. Harding is an avid reader of 19th-century novels, theological
works (Karl Barth is his current favorite) and physics, making it hard
to believe his claims that he was a poor student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he majored in English. The university does confirm that he took six years to complete his degree.

Wearing wire-framed glasses and a white button-down shirt tucked
into Levi’s, he talked effusively, the antithesis of the taciturn
father and son portrayed in “Tinkers,” a novel with sparse dialogue and
large portions set inside the characters’ heads.

Framed partly as a deathbed vigil for George Washington Crosby, a
clock repairer, the book wanders through time and consciousness,
describing in fine-grain detail its rural Maine setting and the
epileptic fits of George’s father, Howard, an old-time tinker who
traveled the countryside by wagon.

The story’s genesis came from Mr. Harding’s own grandfather, who
grew up in rural Maine and whose epileptic father abandoned the family
when he learned that his wife, Mr. Harding’s great-grandmother, planned
to send him to an asylum.

Mr. Harding spent his childhood in Wenham, Mass., a town not far
from where he lives with his wife and two sons, and he went fly-fishing
in northern Maine during the summers. He apprenticed with his
grandfather in clock repair, and after graduating from college he
recorded two albums and toured Europe with Cold Water Flat, the band he
helped form at UMass.

The band fell apart (the usual: creative differences), and Mr.
Harding decided to scratch another itch. He enrolled in a summer
writing course at Skidmore College, where he took classes with Ms.
Robinson.

With his application for the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he submitted two stories, one of which was his first stab at “Tinkers.”

But for most of his time in Iowa Mr. Harding worked on a novel about
a 12-year-old girl who disguised herself as a boy in order to work in a
Mexican silver mine during the 16th century. As he graduated, he
realized the novel didn’t work.

Once again the story of his grandfather beckoned. Turning back to
it, he said, “was just such a sense of relief to not have to go looking
in history books.”

After his first son was born and he was teaching expository writing to undergraduates at Harvard
and creative writing to night-school students, the novel became an
extracurricular project. “It got so it was guerilla writing,” Mr.
Harding said. “I could flip open the laptop and start writing
anywhere.” He wrote on bookmarks and the backs of receipts,
transcribing the scraps into the computer later.

Finally, one Saturday night, he printed out his mishmashed computer
file and laid it out on the living-room floor. Nursing a few fingers of
whiskey, he cut up the document, stapling and taping sections into the
structure that ultimately made it to publication.

Shortly after Ms. Goldman finally agreed to buy the book — paying a
$1,000 advance — things began to go right. Ms. Robinson, who rarely
gives blurbs, gave “Tinkers” a stellar one, calling it “truly
remarkable.” Independent booksellers started to push it.

Meanwhile Ms. Sinkler began to champion “Tinkers” among her fellow Pulitzer jury members, Charles Johnson, the author of the National Book Award-winning “Middle Passage,” and Laura Miller, a senior writer at Salon.com.
“I think that sentence for sentence, it was the most beautifully
written and most gorgeous use of language of any of the books we looked
at,” Ms. Sinkler said in a telephone interview.

Mr. Harding is working on his next novel, set in Enon, the fictional
town where George dies, focusing on one of George’s grandsons, Charlie,
and Charlie’s daughter, Kate.

The Pulitzer may change some worldly things, he said, but not how he works.

“I sort of feel like I know how I got here, every step of the way,”
Mr. Harding said. “Something like this can befall me, and it won’t be
catastrophic success.”



Copyright 2010
The New York Times Company