10 Things You Should Never Say to a Novelist

ApiringWriters_LoRez_colour

(c) 2005 Alex Steuart Williams  (FLIP) and Erica Rothschild

 

I'm being serious.

Okay, here goes:


1. "I'd write, too, but I can't stand the thought of all the trees I'd be killing." 

Yes, I've heard this one. My response back then was, "Don't worry. You won't sell enough books to raze a sapling, because your pub house won't push you that hard to begin with."

Today, I'd add, "And besides, most books are digital, so you can't use the tree-killer bullshit as an excuse not to write anymore."

 

2. "I'd write, too, but I just can't make the time."

Good. Stay busy. The world doesn't need anothor author. Here's a hint: It's not a hobby. It's a profession.

3. "Why don't you kill off your series' villian?" Because then I wouldn't have a series. And if I don't have a series, I don't have the rent money. I'll make you a promise: when and if he quits paying the rent, I'll quit writing about him.

 

4. "Honestly, what do you really do to pay the bills?"

 
I write novels and I'm proof that not all writers live a life of poverty.

Then again, I'm not JK Rowling, either.

If a writer is persistent and lucky, he or she will find that their income is somewhere in between minimum wage and unimagined wealth.

I'm not saying it's an easy way to make a living. It took years to crawl my way up beyond the government set poverty line. To make the rent, I wrote other things: game questions, greeting cards. magazine articles, even horoscopes. (No, I was not a licensed astrologist, just a mom with two growing kids who could go through money like the Pentagon).
 

 5. "The best authors–like JD Salinger, or, say Margaret Mitchell– only wrote one, or maybe a just few, books in their lifetime."

Oh, really? I guess that leaves out Dickens, Twain, Wharton, LeCarre, Dreisher, Trollope, James, Chandler, Christie, and Doyle, to name a few–all of whom are on my favorite authors list–along wtih Salinger and Mitchell.  

And by the way, some of the worst writers only wrote one book as well.

I'd say the odds are with those who get the most chances at the plate. Don't forget, Babe Ruth broke records for hitting home runs and for striking out. 

Not to mention, a writer's skill level rises each time up to bat. 
  

6. "When am I going to see you on the New York Times Bestsellers list?"

Maybe never–and that's okay with me. A Times review won't necessarily pay the bills. 

For that matter, a Times review won't necessarily be a good one. Just ask any author who has been scorched, panned, or ridiculed by one.
 

 7. "When will I see your book reviewed in the New York Times?"

Again, maybe never–and that too is okay with me. I write commercial literature–romantic suspense, funny mysteries, contemporary women's fiction–and those books usually don't get a NYT review unless they're deemed such a cultural phenomenon that even the Times can't ignore them. 

As for those authors who are waiting for some news outlet to review their books, all I can say is, good luck. Even the best New York publishing house publicist rarely scores a major newspaper review for a mid-list or debut author, let alone a segment on the Today Show.  Now, if you're willing to change your first name to Snooki, or your last name to Kardashian, you may actually get that review, or some air time.

It's just the way of the world: a ghosted celebrity can garner more air time for a mediocre book than a gifted author will receive for a notable work. 

So suck it up. 

Better yet, don't reach for the stars when that is not the lasting definition of success. You're better off working the crowd instead of waiting for the crowd to come to you. In fact, I know many authors whose books have gotten better–and substantially more reviews–than those I see in the Times–

From readers.

Rude awakening: many major newspapers have done away with book reviews–and book reviewers–altogether. That being said, the voices that are ever more important to authors are avid readers, especially those readers who are willing to write a review on the websites of the bookstores (both online, and brick-and-mortar) where they buy their books. Even better is when they chat up your books to friends.

In today's book market, a four-plus star reviews by hundreds of readers on an online bookseller's site can generate more sales than a few kind words in a Times review on any given Sunday.

Bottom line: word of mouth means everything.
 
 

8. "You can write more than one book a year? Hmmm. You're not an artist. You're not even a craftsman. You're…a hack!"

Here's the scoop. Even painters have to produce more than one painting in a lifetime–let alone a year–in order to eat, pay rent, and pay for their kids' braces.

The same goes for musicians. They have to play more than one gig. And songwriters have to write more than one song.

No one wants to be a one-hit wonder.

In fact, even one hit is akin to winning the lottery.

As for being a craftsperson: the proof is in the satisfaction of the buyer.

I'm very proud of my body of work. Every book has received an average of four or more stars. And every day, I get  letters from readers who were kind enough to take the time to tell me how much fun they had with my books, or how much they love my characters. I love to hear that it kept them up at night (it certainly did for me when I was writing any one of them!) or that they laughed so loud that it woke their spouses. 

That, my dear friends, is satisfaction.
 

9. "It must be nice to be able to set your own hours."

I write at least ten hours a day.

Believe it or not, some chapters are written in my sleep. 

When I'm not writing, I'm plotting. Or researching.

The creative process is the most important aspect of my profession. But the marketing of my books are just as important. That being said, when I'm not writing, plotting or researching, I'm concepting covers, going over edits from my proofers and editors–

And promoting, promoting, promoting.

In any regard, I'm thinking about my books twenty-four/seven.

None of it is easy. But it can certainly be rewarding. I guess that's what makes it a "job," and not a hobby.

10. "It must be great to have such a fun job."

I wouldn't be doing anything else. And I'll do it, as long as I please my readers–and myself.

But like any job, it's not always fun. Sometimes it's frustrating. Sometimes I disappoint myself with how slow I am at it. It takes time to craft a sentence, let alone a paragraph, a scene or a chapter.

Then you have to do it time and again, until you have a cohesive story. Creating a work that even you enjoy, despite having read it so many times, you want to scream.

I remember the reaction my sister had when I told her I'd sold my very first novel. "In fact, the contract is for two books," I proclaimed proudly.

This was met with a look of horror. "You mean, they can make you write another?" 

"God, I hope so," I declared.

 Eight years and seventeen novels later, I still feel that way. 

And, now a bonus comment…

11. "I've got a great idea for a book! Why don't I give it to you, and we can split what you make, 50/50?"

Ha ha! I get this one a lot! I've even gotten it from my sister.

Thank you, but I respectfully decline your offer. You see, I have so many ideas already, that I wonder if I'll have the lifespan in which to write them all.

And besides, at best, a concept is a one-liner (at the most ten words). Even if it's the best book concept in the world, but then you're leaving me with the heavy lifting–that is, coming up with the other eighty thousand words that makes it a book.

You see, a book may start out as a high concept, but it needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. That's a lot of sweat equity–especially if the concept doesn't resonate enough with you to (a) spend the time to research the era or topic, or (b) create characters who go through the motions to bring it to life–and make readers laugh, cry, or write you to tell you how much your words meant to them.

That being said, go ahead and write it, as only you could do.

And let me know when it's published. I look forward to reading it, and supporting you, just like you read and support me.

 

HA Prequel The-Housewife-Assassin's-Deadly-Dossier-FinalJosie Brown is the author of The Housewife Assassin's Handbook series, as well as the Totlandia series. Her next book, The Housewife Assassin's Deadly Dossier, will be released in June 2014.

Yes, we have a winner in the HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S RELATIONSHIP SURVIVAL GUIDE contest!

Woman-with-ereader
Nothing is more fun than contacting someone to tell them, "You've won a prize!"

No joke. I truly feel that way.

Okay, unless it's to say, "You're the sweetest person in the world, and I want you to know I'm thinking about you today."

My contest for The Housewife Assassin's Relationship Survival Guide Contest just ended, and yes, I have reached the winner for the $100 giftcard, to the bookstore of the winner's choice:

She is ConnieVB.

From the bottom of my heart, I'd like to thank her, as well as everyone who entered.

Here's the part where I say, to each and every one of you,  "You're the sweetest person in the world, and I want you to know I'm thinking about you today."

If I could, I would have picked each and every one of you as winners. (Wouldn't that be cool? Note to self: buy more Lotto tickets...)

But to my mind, you're more than that. You're  kind and generous people who have gifted me your time in order to learn about, and appreciate, my stories.

I also want to tell those of you who went for the bonus points that I truly appreciate the fact that you too the time to write  reviews for my Housewife Assassin series.  In fact, it was ConnieVB's sixth entry that was chosen, via RandomResult.com

I've attached the screenshot of her winning entery, here:


HARSG Winner Screenshot
So you see? When a contest invites you to enter as often as possible, go for it, because you never know when it pays off. 

I'm always in awe of those who take the time to post reviews, even when I'm not running a contest. They do so, just because they enjoyed one of my novels. 

I've put it this message in my books, and I mean it: we authors live and die by our reviews. It is the best way of encouraging other readers to try us, to sample us, to buy us, to read us, and hopefully to love us.  

You see, the more you express you love, the more likely it is that we can keep writing books. Every novelist I know works very hard at his or her craft, not as a hobby, but because it pays the rent and puts food on his or her family's table. Would we quit writing if it didn't? 

I hope I never find out the answer to that question. The Housewife Assassin novels and other books in which I can control the prices are only $3.99 for a reason: Not only do I want to write them, I want to make them affordable enough for you to buy them. Some coffee drinks at Starbucks cost more. Here's hoping the enjoyment you get from my books last longer.

It may take you a few days to read a book, but it takes us months–sometimes years–to write them.We do so because our art and craft  drives us.

 At the same time, it is our hope that it also entertains you. 


HA-Vacation-to-Die-For-v2The fifth book in the Housewife Assassin series, The Housewife Assassin's Vacation to Die For, will be out by August 15, 2013
. The moment it launches in the online bookstores, I'll send out my eLetter. If you aren't already on it, please feel free to sign up for it here.

I'll also be launching a redesigned and updated version of my very first novel, True Hollywood Lies. You'll read about my contests for both books in my eLetter, and here on my blog as well as on my website.

 When I wrote ConnieVB to tell her that she'd won, I also asked her to tell me a little about herself, so that I can share it with you. I've done this with each of my contests because, dear readers, when I hear back from you, I can lift my head from my computer screen and know that I've touched someone, in some small way.

Here's how ConnieVB puts it:

"Okay, so when I read the subject of your email my first thought was not me. Then when I read the note it was shut the front door!  LOL

I have loved talking about your books, all of them, not just the housewife series.  They are so much fun to read!  It makes me glad that I finally broke down and bought a kindle and loaded it with free books. :)  I adore books and swore I'd never go electronic.  There is just something about the feeling of a book and turning the pages.  I have a ton of books that I've read but if someone were to open one up now the spine would still crack, I was that careful with them. :)  I'm especially glad that in turn I got to know you.  You're such a sweetheart!

As far as including something about me in your blog…..well, now I'm speechless lol

I love to read but I also enjoy cooking, baking, and stitching.  All the domestic stuff that no one expects from an opinionated feminist like myself. 🙂

In my free time I'm a domestic goddess taking care of my awesome husband, two children, and our two furry kids.

I enjoy theatre, music, movies and hope to see the world one day."

True-Hollywood-Lies-Cover-FinalThere is a lot about ConnieVB that is just like me (except for the domestic goddess part. I've let that be Donna's role. It's easier to write about it than to be it.)

And I'm sure there is a lot about ConnieVB that is like you, too.

If Donna and her stories have done anything for me, it is that it's created a wonderful community of those of us who share a sense of humor, a sense of books, and a sense of life.

I couldn't be happier than to welcome all of you to my world.

Thank you for making me a part of yours, too.

— Josie

One of my favorite scenes in THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S GUIDE to GRACIOUS KILLING

Zip1Whenever I re-read a book I've written, invariably I'll run across a scene that made me laugh, cry, or shiver with delight as I wrote it.

 This  scene, in The Housewife Assassin's Guide to Gracious Killing (Book 2 of the series) is one of those. And it rated a "shiver with delight." Read it, and then you'll know what I mean.

— Josie

Excerpt

Chapter 4
How to Choose
a Party Dress

When you’re a guest at
someone else’s soirée, your first impression should be also be a lasting
one—and certainly not because you either overdressed, or underdressed, for the
occasion. When in doubt, keep it simple and elegant: black, with pearls.

If the dress code is not
in the invitation, take the time to query your host regarding the proper
attire.

Note of caution: should
your host’s recommendation include, say, crotchless panties, a naughty
schoolgirl plaid skirt, brocade ankle restraints and a head harness with a
muzzle gag, be sure to bring along something you’ll know he deserves, for
getting on your bad side.

A cement overcoat will
do nicely.

 ****

“Go with the backless one. You’ve got the
shoulders to carry it off.”

I turn around to see who’s offering an opinion
on my hunt for the right gown to the Breck shindig tonight. My advisor is a man
who sits on a settee in a darkened corner of the Bergdorf-Goodman couture
suite, just off to the side of the circular bank of mirrors.

While I’ve been scrutinizing my profile, he’s
been admiring my shoulders, supposedly. But only now does he lift his eyes—from
somewhere far below my shoulders—to meet mine.

From the look of his suit (made to measure for a
man whose fit physique would look great in a gunnysack, let alone a
fifteen-thousand-dollar charcoal gray Brioni) he has great taste.

He should. He is Jonah Stanford Breck IV, one of
the wealthiest men in the world.

Sweetly, I smile at him through the mirror. “You
like it better than the blue one?”

His eyes sweep over me, appraisingly. “Much more
so. Albeit the blue sets off your… eyes.”

I laugh at his ridiculous attempt to avoid the
obvious. My eyes are brown. What looks great in the blue dress is my ass.

We both know it.

“Great, then. The blue one’s the charm.”

“You’ll be the belle of the ball.”

“Not a ball, really. Just dinner. In fact, I’ll
be dining at your place, Mr. Breck.”

His eyes, gray like his trimmed sideburns, flash
suspiciously for a moment before dulling into wariness.

“Your wife, Babette, extended the invitation. My
daughter, Trisha, has been playing with Janie all afternoon. I presume Babette
felt the diversion would be welcomed.”

“Ah! How thoughtful of her. She’s right. These
business affairs can be deadly without a few petite amusements.”

  As if on
cue, a woman in a flesh-toned, sparkly low-cut gown walks out of one of the
dressing rooms and over to Breck. She turns her back toward him, just slightly.
“Zip me up, will you, darling?” Her murmur is deep and soft, like velvet.

Slowly, he runs the zipper along the swayed arch
of her back then pats her ass, not so much to let her know he is done with her,
but as a promise that he isn’t.

His eyes stay with her as she makes her way back
to the dressing room. Finally, as if remembering I was still in the room, he
adds, “She’s Babette’s personal shopper. Unlike me, after eight years of
marriage, my wife finds trekking through stores ‘a chore and a bore.’ Marilyn
is exactly her size and coloring, so these little shopping excursions are
win-win for everyone. Beautiful, don’t you agree?”

“The woman or the dress?”

He points to my profile in the mirror. “A
beautiful woman makes the dress.”

I smile my thanks. “Then I presume I’ve just had
a preview of what Babette will be wearing?”

His smile fades. “Don’t presume anything.
Babette doesn’t always agree with my taste.”

“A shame. So fetching.”

It is his turn to ask, “The woman, or the
dress?”

“Since you’re paying, you tell me.”

He laughs uproariously at that. “I always do.
And dearly.”

“Speaking of the dear, will she be joining us
for dinner?”

His smile hardens into a smirk. “Later. Dessert.
I have a voracious appetite, especially for sweet things.” His eyes catch mine
in the mirror. “Remember, dinner at eight. Sharp.”

By the time I leave the dressing room, Jonah
Breck and his personal shopper have already checked out.

When I take my dress to the sales clerk, she
informs me, “Mr. Breck put it on his tab. He asked me to relay his sincere
appreciation for your daughter’s hospitality, and he looks forward to returning
it, personally.”

I guess I can tell Ryan he need not worry
whether we’ll get close enough to the summit’s host. If Breck has his way,
we’ll be up close and personal.

Or at least, I will.

Oh yeah, Jack should love that.

(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).

 


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Guide to Gracious Killing 
(Book 2) Only $3.99! 

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The Housewife Assassin’s Relationship Survival Guide has a Mother-Daughter talk about (Yep, you guessed it) S-E-X!

Nails1

I love this scene because it says a lot about my heroine, Donna's, relationship with her oldest child, twelve-year-old Mary. And since this book is all about the cause and effect of trust and love, it's a perfect scene to share with you.

I hope you enjoy it!

— Josie

 

EXCERPT

“When
did you first start having sex?” Mary asks.

Her
question causes me to swipe the nail polish brush over her pinky toe, and the
one beside it.

It’s
Day Eight of my lockdown. I was wrong to presume that time would pass quicker
if I painted my nails a different color each day. Initially I was able to
coerce both Mary and Trisha to join me for my daily pampering session, but
yesterday Trisha dropped out, despite the fact that the colour de jour was Disney Villain’s Cruella De Vil.

Her
excuse: “Mommy, Cruella is a meanie. Besides, my toes miss being plain old
pink.” That was her way of telling me I need a new hobby.

Don’t
I know it.

Considering
the subject at hand, I’m okay that today it’s just Mary and me. But let’s face
it, she’s asked a loaded question. Girls have sex so much earlier than we did.
(Well, than I did…) If I answer honestly, she may think I was a slut. Or a
desperate spinster.

 Either way, I come off as a loser.

The
GPS security bracelet on my ankle, coupled with freshly painted toes on my left
foot, hobble me as I stumble over to the French doors that separate the sunroom
from the media room. I lied and told the kids the bracelet was from my doctor,
to strengthen my ankle against some imaginary tendonitis.

Now
I have a bigger issue to fib about: Sex.

I’m
closing the doors so that my ten-year-old son, Jeff, and his pals, Cheever Bing
and Morton Smith, can’t listen in on our discussion. If anything can tear them
away from Minecraft, it’s a discussion about S-E-X by two people of the
opposite sex, especially if one is Jeff’s older sister.

I
settle back down onto the couch and try to collect my thoughts before speaking.
“I waited until I knew I was with ‘the one’.”

I’m
lying, of course. Who the hell knows a guy is “the one” when they’re seventeen?
Or twenty-seven, for that matter.

I
guess the proof I guessed wrong was when Carl left me with three kids.

But
yes, I presumed he was “the one.” What I didn’t count on was his also being Public Enemy Number One.

While
Mary tries to find meaning in my dodge, I add, “Why exactly do you want to
know?”

“Because—”
she pauses. “No reason. I was just wondering.”

Ah,
I see.

Mary
is twelve going on twenty, and that freaks me out. Her quote-unquote steady is
a cute kid named Trevor Smith, the captain of the Hilldale Middle School
varsity basketball team. Right now, I want to break both his arms before he
does something to Mary that he’ll regret, and she will, too.

“Sex
is different from love, Mary.”

“Oh,
Mom!” Mary rolls her eyes. “I know that!”

“Okay,
I’ll take your word for it. So, tell me: why are they different?”

She
stops to think about it. Then: “When you date, some guys only want to see how
far they can get with you. You know…they don’t really treat you as a person.”
She shakes her head sadly. “I don’t want to be that kind of girl.”

I
nod, but say nothing. Inside I’m doing a happy dance because she actually knows
the difference.

“But
I think it’s exciting when a boy—a guy—is
just as sweet on you as you are on him.”

“I
can see that.” I try to keep my tone nonchalant as I drench a cotton ball in
polish remover and wipe off yesterday’s sparkly turquoise from Mary’s left
foot. “But love is different, at different ages and stages of life. And so is
dating. That’s why it’s smart to date more than one guy, so you have some other
experiences for comparison. The good guys always show respect, and never push you
to—to do anything that doesn’t seem right.”

“Did
you date a lot, before you met Dad?”

“Yes,
I’d dated some, but I wasn’t that experienced.” I’m sure the color of my cheeks
is almost as dark and purple as the polish I’m applying to her nails. “I was
twenty when we met, and I was in college. We married within a year, after I
turned twenty-one.”

“Did
you feel you should have waited?”

“No.
At least, not at the time.”

“But
in hindsight, would you have liked to have had more experiences?”

“Yes,
I wish I had. It’s hard to know what’s right for you if you’ve had too few
experiences, or have only experienced one relationship that is not really
working for you.”

Mary
looks up sharply. “But Dad wasn’t wrong for you, was he?”

Ah,
yet another trick question. “Dad has changed a lot over the years. Then again,
I have, too. “You see, Mary, not only must you both grow, you can’t have grown
apart.”

“When
Dad was gone all that time, did you grow apart?”

Her
question rips a tiny tear in my heart. Does she suspect that Jack isn’t Carl
Stone, her father?

I
search her face for the answer. What I see is innocence and curiosity.

And
trust.

It’s
why I can answer her from the bottom of my heart. “To stay in love, you need
respect, and passion, and above all, trust. All the time I waited for him, I
trusted he would come home again.”

Carl
never really came home.

On
the other hand, Jack has proven to me he is worth the wait.

Mary’s
comprehension comes with a slow nod. “Mom, I think Trevor likes me as much as I
like him, but sometimes I catch him looking at other girls, and that makes me
jealous. So I don’t know about the ‘trust’ part. At least, not yet.”

“To
find true love at such a young age is a rare thing. If it’s real, he’ll wait
until you grow into the woman you were meant to be, and he’ll grow up, too.
You’ll stay friends, but have other friends as well: people who make you laugh,
and who you can count on to be there for you, and who will prove their
friendship through trust.  If he stays
your friend, he will be all that, and more.”

Mary
waits until her toes dry, then she kisses me on the cheek and murmurs, “Don’t
worry, Mom. I’m not ready for ‘that’ yet. I’m only asking because I know you’ll
always tell me the truth.”

The truth. Yes, it’s what
we strive to know.

I
pray she never learns the truth about her father.

“Besides,”
she adds, “when the time comes, you’ll be the first to know.”

She
kisses me on the forehead then runs upstairs to do her homework.

Lucky
me.

And no matter
where that first boy hides, I will track him down.

HA-RSG-Final-V2

© 2013 Josie Brown. All rights reserved. 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 Author.

The Housewife Assassin's
Relationship Survival Guide

(Book 4 of The Housewife Assassin series) 

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Yep, The Housewife Assassin's Handbook just went free on Amazon, and already it's #18 in the Amazon Kindle eBook Store under "Women Sleuths," and #39 under "Romantic Suspense."

You can read an excerpt, here below.

Enjoy, 

— Josie

 

THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK

Murder. Suspense. Sex. 
And some handy household tips.

Signal Press – Digital eBook 

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CHAPTER 1: Please Read and Follow Directions Carefully….

Any woman can be both the perfect housewife and an accomplished assassin, because both functions require the same qualities: creativity; a never-say-die attitude; and an attention to details, no matter how small . . .

***

All I really needed to know about being a freelance assassin I learned before my youngest daughter, Trisha, started kindergarten.

I’ve come to that realization as I lay naked and handcuffed to the bed of my target du jour, a sleazebag by the name of Yuri Petrovich.

 Yuri has just downed a couple of Viagra with the last of his Starbucks venti-sized non-fat decaf caramel macchiato. This is to ensure us both that his attempt to mount me will have all the gusto of a broncobuster breaking in the wildest filly in the corral before heading on into the sunset. (In truth, we are in a hillside suite at the Chateau Marmont. But considering Yuri’s attitude toward women, the cowboyspeak sums things up quite nicely.)

Believe it or not, everything is going just as I planned, and right on schedule.

ChateauMarmont.JPGAt least, that is what I tell myself as I watch him unzip his rock star-tight leather pants and squeeze out of them as quickly as he can because his erection, which seems to be growing by the nanosecond, has him wincing in pain. (And in Yuri’s fantasy if anyone is going to get hurt, it’s going to be me. The handcuffs are proof of that.)

Like, say, eighty-eight percent of all my targets, this Russian mafia boss, who came here to unload a cache of AK-103s on some Idaho Neo-Nazis, has an obsessive-compulsive personality. In Yuri’s case that means staying in the same suite at the Marmont every time he hits Los Angeles (although his Slavic accent and pockmarked greaser looks has hardly earned him an iota of the ass-kissing accorded aging rock stars, budding celebutantes, or out-of-town British actors); doing the down-and-dirty with some rent-a-whore, both before and after the arms sale; and drinking macchiatos nonstop, even during his favorite sex act, that Kama Sutra position euphemistically called “the ostrich’s tail.” (Don’t ask, because you really don’t want to know.)

Acme Industries, one of the many new post-9/11 CIA-sanctioned subcontractors that handles any and all dirty tricks that won’t pass a Congressional panel sniff test, contracted me to be the honeypot who takes Yuri down. My assignment is as follows: First, I was to stall on the sex until the skinheads showed up. Next, I was to plant a GPS system on one of them, so that ATF can track and apprehend them during the pick-up. And finally, as a show of tit-for-tat diplomacy with Uncle Sam’s publicly acknowledged new best friend Russia, I was to see to it that Yuri never left his hotel room alive.

Oh yeah, and one more very important point: All of this is supposed to be accomplished before three o’clock, the time in which I have to pick up my ten-year-old, Jeff, and a carload of his teammates for an after-school baseball game. Otherwise I’d have to face the wrath of two other mothers for having blown the team’s shot at taking the state title without a play-off game—

This is why I pray that the 405 isn’t a nightmarish backup by the time I head home.

From the moment he landed stateside, Yuri’s cell phone calls were monitored. The one to his favorite LA escort service was rerouted to an Acme phone operative, who scheduled Yuri a date with “Precious” (a suitable alias, seeing how I’m trussed up in a push-up bra, a low-cut tank top, and the tight denim micro miniskirt I’d raided from my twelve-year-old daughter Mary’s closet. My gut told me that Yuri would not have appreciated my own Lily Pulitzer twill.)

The fact that I showed up an hour after the appointed time put me just a few minutes ahead of the Neo-Nazis: perfect timing in my book, since it foiled his plan for a little pre-sale foreplay.

Needless to say, Yuri was miffed at me for ruining his timetable. To make that point, he pushed me up against the wall, kicked my legs apart, and frisked me roughly. Really, it was more of a test-the-merchandise fondle. Anticipating that maneuver, I’d left my trusty 9mm at home. That’s okay. In my hooker get-up there was no place to hide it anyway, which is why these kinds of close range hits are always tricky. But then again, that’s why I get paid the big bucks. For this job, my weapon of choice was a tiny, serrated dagger that is appropriately called the “street assassin.” However, I was willing to bet that Yuri and I wouldn’t be anywhere near asphalt when I struck, but between some very expensive 700-count Egyptian cotton sheets.

What a waste. I wonder if the hotel knows that little trick about using meat tenderizer on bloodstains . . .

Not that I planned on sticking around to find out.

I shrugged off his grope with a giggle. “Yeah, the service warned me how much youlove a little foreplay, so I brought these along.” Still spread-eagled, I unhooked pair of handcuffs from the metal belt slung low over my skirt, and jangled them tantalizingly in front of him, in case he needed additional proof that I was his fantasy fuck. That shut him up. It also kept him from noticing my dagger, which hangs as innocuously as any of the buckles on my belt: a great way to fool metal detectors, which, believe it or not, are sometimes used by the bad guys, too.

Then to make sure I had his undivided attention, I rubbed the all too obvious bulge in his jeans with one hand and nodded approvingly, while relieving him of his Starbucks cup with the other. As I took a swig from it, one of his two goons snickered out loud. Yuri’s eyes blazed at my impudence. He lifted his hand to slap me, but was stopped by a sharp knock on the door.

InterestingThe skinheads. Perfect timing. “Jeez, nobody said it was going to be a party! But hey, I’m open to anything – as long as you cleared it with the service.” I handed the cup back to him, sauntered over to the couch and flopped down as if I owned the place. While Yuri’s goons frisked the two Neo-Nazis, I crossed my legs seductively and leaned over so that my cleavage runneth over in plain view for all to enjoy. No doubt about it, the skinheads were appreciative. The fatter, uglier one even had the balls to ask me if my boobs were real.

“Wanna come over here and find out?” I crooked a finger at Ugly. As he slid me onto his lap, I copped my own feel: under the collar of his military fatigue jacket, where I planted a tiny GPS bug.

Seeing me all over Ugly made Yuri even hotter to be done with the business portion of his trip. He yanked me off his guest and shoved me in the direction of the bedroom. “No party. You wait in there,” he growled.

I pulled him in close for a deep kiss. Then, as a reminder of all the fun and games I had in store for us, I handed him the key to the handcuffs. That was all the incentive he needed to get rid of the skinheads tout sweet. He closed the door fast, which was fine with me. The tranquilizer I’d slipped into his macchiato before giving it back to him – a time-release version of Rohypnol – was to kick in sometime within fifteen minutes. I was estimating that he’d need about ten to get rid of the boys, which would leave me five to stall before he fell on his face, making it easy to slit his throat before hightailing it out of there.

The minute he shut the door, I set up for the kill. First I snapped on a pair of gloves – black lace from fingertips to the elbows. Sexy, for sure (in fact, they match my G-string) but because they are lined in a micro-thin flesh-toned latex, I won’t be leaving any telltale prints. As I expected, the sliding door to the terrace outside the bungalow was locked and the curtains were pulled, which allowed for complete privacy from the outside. After disabling the alarm with the tiny decoder I keep on my key ring, I went ahead and unlocked the sliding door so that when the time was right I could make a quick getaway.

I wasn’t worried about the handcuffs, since they were the kind used by magicians and I’d only need a strategic jerk of the wrist to break free. Even if the Roofie didn’t kick in before Yuri snapped them onto my wrists, I’d be able to get out of them in only a few seconds.

And finally, I slipped the knife under the mattress, near the right side of the headboard. I’d retrieve it when the time was right.

As minute eight slipped by, I heard a door close on the other side and guessed rightly that Yuri had said bye-bye to his new skinhead pals. During Minute Nine, Yuri instructed his homeboys not to disturb us no matter how much moaning I was doing – and he planned for me to be doing a lot of it.

Then, as predicted, Yuri opened the door ten minutes after he’d left me. Locking it behind him, he smilingly approvingly at my state of total undress: my only attire was my G-string, stilettos, and the lace gloves. 

I was somewhat surprised that he wasn’t at least yawning by now. Apparently he has the constitution of a rhino. I was hoping that I wouldn’t find out if he had the staying power of one as well. It was then that I noticed that the Starbucks cup was still in his hand….

Damn! Hadn’t he finished that thing yet? Okay, no big deal. So I’d have to stall for another minute or two…

To put that thought out of my mind, I envisioned the kill instead: watching his eyes grow drowsy from the drug – or if necessary, closed in the ecstatic throes of passion; yanking my hands free, then reaching under the mattress for the knife….

Yuri wrongly assumed that my sigh was in anticipation of what he pulled from his leather jacket’s pocket: my handcuffs. “Okay, bitch. On the bed.”

HandcuffedObediently I dropped onto it and grasped the middle finials on the vine-patterned headboard. As he slapped on the cuffs, he stifled a yawn. (Yes! Yes! Finally!) To keep alert, he took a long sip of his macchiato. Then, as if remembering something, Yuri pulled something out of an inner pocket of his jacket…

Ah, yes: the perfect pre-sex appetizer: Viagra.

Humph. I wondered what effect that might have on the Roofie . . . 

And now that Yuri’s striptease is over, it seems I have my answer: not only does the Rohypnol appear to have been neutralized by his little blue devil, it seems to have accelerated his hard-on –

 And from the look of things, acted as a growth hormone to boot.

Not good. At least, not while I’m in my current position – by that I mean naked, chained to his bed, and about to be mounted like a prize rodeo steer.

Not that Yuri seems in any hurry. Nonchalantly he ambles over to the built-in armoire and takes a two-foot-long velvet box from the top drawer, which he lays down beside me with a smirk. Then, opening it slowly, he pulls out –

 – A riding crop.

Ouch. Seems that the cowboy metaphor is becoming more appropriate by the moment.

Damn it! Acme had implied that Yuri was into bondage, not sadism. There had better be a bonus in this for me . . .

He runs the whip up my left leg until it catches on the thin silky thread that is my G-string. With one quick twitch of his wrist, it snaps right off.

Dammit, that hurt!

Very slowly he slaps precise little welts onto my belly as he works the whip over to my other thigh, but pauses when it reaches what is left of the G-string, so that I might agonize over the pain yet to come. My wince brings a sick smile to his face. Now I’m feeling a bit queasy, even if he isn’t.

Stall! Say anything . . . Do anything . . .

“What, you want the dessert before the main course?’ I taunt him. “Naughty boy…”

That only provokes him into slapping me all the harder. What is left of the G-string shreds into thin air. With a guffaw, he takes its little lace patch and holds it up like a trophy before flinging it across the room. It lands near the door with a skip.

Suddenly I notice that his eyes are crossing. He sits down on the bed – falls down, really –

 – Onto me. All 174 pounds of him.

And I don’t think he’s breathing. So, the combination of Rohypnol and Viagra was a toxic Trail Mix after all.

More like fatal. Still, a hit is a hit is a hit…

I jerk at the trick cuffs, but they won’t open. With Yuri on top of me, I’m angled all wrong to break their hold. With my chest, I shove him as hard as I can, but for some strange reason, he’s not budging. Then I realize why:

The only thing left standing is his erection, and it has him staked between my legs.

Great. Just great.

As I struggle under his limp-but-where-it-counts-most carcass, I hear muffled noises from the other side of the door. It sounds like a skirmish.

The two faint thumps I hear next tell me that something is terribly wrong.

Someone is trying to break down the door. It gives way, and I see Ugly the Skinhead standing there. As Ugly whips out a 9mm, I realize that the thumps were Yuri’s posse being taken out . . .

And now it is our turn.


Even from the doorway, Ugly’s aim is dead on. As the bullet enters the back of Yuri’s skull, the Russian jerks forward and we butt heads. As much as that hurts, it has also saves my life: as my head snaps back, the bullet that just left his frontal lobe whizzes by mine by mere millimeters. Still, that doesn’t stop a geyser of Yuri’s blood and gray matter from spurting onto my face. I freeze in horror.

“Fuckin’ Commie. And fuckin’ Commie fucker.”

Between my temporary paralysis and my Yuri-spattered countenance, Ugly assumes that I’m dead, too, and turns to leave –


Black-g-string-thongBut pauses at the sight of my G-string.

He lumbers over to where it’s fallen and squats down to pick it up. After sniffing it, he stuffs it into his pocket. Obviously he feels that is a fitting trophy for his kill – or, in his mind, two kills.

He stalks out, slamming the door behind him.

Silence.

Shit, I have to get out of here. Now.

But that’s almost impossible to do, what with Yuri still on top.

Granted, the Marmont is used to strange noises from behind its many closed doors. Still, it’s been a while since a dead body was found in one of its suites, let alone three. Of course, I imagine the worst:

That someone heard something, or maybe even saw Ugly the Skinhead leaving Yuri’s bungalow, and has called the hotel’s staff, which will soon come to investigate;

That, after tapping on the door and getting no response, they will burst in, see Yuri’s dead bodyguards and find Yuri on top of me, then call the police;    

That, to my children’s horror, I get arrested for prostitution;

That, to Acme’s dismay, I will be called as a witness at Yuri’s murder trial, which will force them to contract with another assassin to finish the job Ugly started on me.

Worse yet, I imagine my son Jeff’s face when he realizes that he’ll miss his chance to pitch in today’s County title game, which will move his baseball team, the Hilldale Wildcats, one step closer to being the Major League state champs –

And that once again it’s all my fault.

It’s that last vision that does the trick for me.

It has been documented that mothers involuntarily demonstrate incredible feats of strength when their children’s safety is threatened. I am living proof that this phenomenon also occurs when their kids’ championship games are at stake. Defying Yuri’s gravitational pull, I heave myself to a forty-five-degree angle, which finally gives me the leverage I need in order to jerk my wrists free from the cuffs. With my hands now free, I can shove Yuri to one side. 

At least, what is left of him.

I stumble to the bathroom. Leaving on my gloves, I shove my face under the faucet and wash Yuri’s brains and skull off my face and out of my hair before staggering back out into the bedroom, where I retrieve my handcuffs and my dagger from under the mattress. Then I jump back into my hooker attire, which I had dropped onto the plush chair by the bed. As planned, I leave from the terrace door, grabbing Yuri’s cuppa joe with me as I go.

In my now ruined spiked heels, I totter up Monteel, the road that meanders high above the hotel, sprinkling what’s left in Yuri’s coffee onto a thirsty bougainvillea and burying the cup deep inside a garbage can of a neighbor who has left it curbside for pickup. Besides the fact that a mommy mobile like my Toyota Highlander Hybrid minivan would surely stand out in that sea of Jags, Rolls, and Lamborghinis in the Marmont’s lot, in my line of work I can’t allow the hotel’s valet the opportunity to ID me.

Just my luck: my van is sporting a ticket that is not even ten minutes old. I do that math: that means that the job took a half-hour longer than I anticipated. Ah, hell, I’m going to be late picking up the boys for the ball game. The Highlander would have to be the only car on the road (a fantasy in mid-day, mid-week Los Angeles), run every traffic light, and break every speed record known to man in order for me to get to the boys the game in time . . .

I do have another option: call my carpool partner, Penelope Bing, and ask her to cover for me –

Hell no. That would hurt even more than Yuri’s whip. She’s bailed me out twice in less than a month: the time I was late getting back after taking out some hothead set on assassinating the Pope while he was here in LA.; then there was that hit I had in Seattle, when I’d booked United on the return flight. (On that one, I should have known better and flown Southwest.)

If I have to hear Penelope’s smug barbs again, I’ll cry. “Really, Donna, what is it this time? Another tennis lesson? My God, you’d think, after all that time on the court, you’dfinally find your backhand. Maybe you’re using from the wrong pro. It’s Fernando, right? . . .”

The inference being that I’m lying. Again.

And for the wrong reason: that reason perhaps being that I’m two-timing my husband, Carl, with the local country club’s tennis pro. Fernando, with his bulging biceps and swarthy grin, leaves many of the club’s female members panting, both on the court and in the bedroom.

GossipConsidering the number of times I’ve disappeared in the middle of the day, the assumption has merit to Penelope and her gossip-mongering clique. As if I would! As if I even could be unfaithful to Carl . . . 

To hell with her. I hit the road, tossing on a sweatshirt as I drive. At the longest turn-light on Sunset – the one at Beverly – I wrangle on my jeans under Mary’s miniskirt before yanking it off. The trucker to my left hoots his horn loudly to show his sincere appreciation.

Miracle of miracles, I pull up only four minutes late! Relief floods Jeff’s face. The Terrible Two – his buddies Morton Smith and Cheever Bing, Penelope’s little angel – have already had been giving him a rough time. My tardiness is infamous. But now it’s my turn to be smug.

Mary is standing there with them. Usually you would not catch her anywhere near her little brother and his friends, but Morton’s older brother, Scotty, is also hitching a ride to the game, and he’s a hottie, what with all that blond curly hair and those soulful eyes. To keep them peeled on her, Mary tosses her long flowing main whenever he glances in her direction. Watching her, my heart leaps into my throat. At twelve, she’s already a first-class flirt.

 Just like her mother.

The kids clamor into the back of the van and we’re off. Mary, who, on any given day would have taken the passenger seat up front, chooses the two-seat row in the middle instead, with Scotty.

I maneuver around a Porsche going too slow for my taste, and in the process get honked by a bus. The driver is miffed because we’ve killed any chance he has of making the light. “Cool driving, Mrs. Stone,” Scotty’s approval wins me a temporary reprieve.

Then he smiles shyly at Mary. “So, you and your dad will be at the Parent-Student dance this Friday, right?” This eighth grade rite of passage is one of the highlights of the school year. Two years from now, it will be my turn to go with Jeff. Although it’s Mary’s turn, without Carl there to take her, she will miss out.

But Jeff and Mary’s father is never there for them, no matter what the occasion.

 “No way! I wouldn’t be caught dead there! It’s for dorks! ” And certainly not for a girl who hasn’t seen her father in years.

But Scotty doesn’t know this. Seeing his crestfallen face, Mary falls silent. She is angry at herself.

No really, at Carl.

Kid2I run the last light between the baseball field and us. Yes! Yes! We’re only nine minutes late! I’ve won Jeff’s approval. I know this because he stops to give me a quick kiss on the cheek. Then he asks: “So Mom, you brought my athletic cup, like I asked, right?”

What? But I – I don’t remember–” I rummage through the athletic bag that was packed this morning: uniform, hat, glove, cleats . . . but no athletic cup.

 “I – I called and asked you to get it from my underwear drawer! Like, four times!” The caller ID on my cell confirms this.

Aw, heck.

League rules: no one plays without a cup. Not even if you’re the team’s star pitcher.Because of me, Jeff will be benched for this very important game which will decide the champions of the Orange County Major League division title.

 And there is no way I can make it to the house and back in time. We both know that.

Cheever pumps his fist in the air. He is the team’s  back-up pitcher.

A tear rolls down Jeff cheek as he staggers to the back of the van.

“Jeff, I’m so sorry—” I yell after him. But I know he can’t stand to hear my lame excuse.

Why should he? He’s heard them all before.

“Hey, Mom, what’s my denim skirt doing back here?” Mary holds it up to me, accusingly, before shrieking “Ewwwyuck!” I glance over and notice that it is sprayed with some sort of white goo. One of the larger chunks is covered in hair follicles.

Yuri’s.

But that doesn’t seem to bother the Terrible Two. Otherwise they wouldn’t be mimicking Mary’s high-pitched squeal as they toss her skirt back and forth like a hot potato.

Once again, I’m back in the doghouse with my kids.

At least, until I outrun a Ferrari or something.

————————————————-

HAH-Hanging-Man-Oct-5-2012Copyright © 2011 by Josie Brown. Published in May 2011 by Signal Press. All rights reserved. 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 Author.

THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK
Murder. Suspense. Sex. And some handy household tips.

Signal Press – Digital eBook 

ORDER NOW,  from

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Hump Day Haiku: “The Bald Guy”

Baldmandating

I date a bald guy/

The great news: he's not a creep/

My friends say, "Clone him!"

— Josie

#MadMen creator Matthew Weiner discusses the latest episode (#9, “The Better Half”)

MadMenSeason6__Poster
I love this illustration for Mad Men. It's the type of illustration you'd find for ads from that mid-60s era.

Notice that Don Draper is both coming and going. I like that the artist has captured his duplicity, his wanderlust, and the fact that there are other Don Drapers out there. 

There are other Don Drapers inside of Don Draper.

I also hate the fact that this is the last season of Mad Men. I'm sure the show's actors realize it's a career high for them, thanks to all the elements that make a show great: the direction, the period detail via set design and costumes, and of course the writing. Writer-Producer Matthew Weiner has created an ensemble of characters who faults and foibles ring true as the catapault through life in an era some of us remember all too nostalgically. Six years ago, as watched the first episode with my son, I remember him commenting, “Wow, the men were really cruel to the women who worked with them.”

Yes, to a great extent, barbaric.

Truly, it set the tone of what was to come.

We love these characters,and we also hate them.

In other words, we feel for them. 

It's why it's great television, and why it's sublime storytelling.

Check out the show's creator, Matthew Weiner, discussing the latest episode (9, “The Better Half”).

— Josie

 


HA-RSG-Final-V2
To celebrate the launch of 
The Housewife Assassin's Relationship Survival Guide
I'm giving away a $100 gift card
 to the bookstore of your choice!

Click here for details…

 

 

 

 


Love this opening number, in SMASH

Smash-1-02-katharine-mcphee-channels-marilyn-monroe-performs-original-song

I know it's de riguer to diss SMASH this season, but I've got to tell you, I loved the opening musical number on SMASH (week of March 3, 2013).

Tell me if you don't agree that it was a blast. It's called "Public Relations."

Yeah, I can picture this on Broadway…

–Josie




 

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

From the bottom of my heart, thanks for all the praise.


IHEARTU

Every now and again, I'll run across a reader review that makes me proud of the fact that I've stuck it out as a novelist. Here are a few examples.

I just want to say to those of you who have read me and passed along a few kind words about my book: thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I try to write books I would love to read myself, with characters who grab at my heartstrings, too. Knowing that you're along for the right makes it just that much sweeter.

 

— Josie

 

Baby Planner Low ResAbout The Baby Planner:

"Such a great book, found myself not wanting to put it down. I wasn't me anymore, i became the character. I felt what she felt. her pain, her heartache,her longing and her success. I look forward to seeing what else Josie Brown has written." –M,  New Zealand.

 

 

 


Totlandia5_2About Totlandia, The Onesies, Fall (Book 1)

"I first discovered Josie when I read "True Hollywood Lies" (which I could not put down). I'm not a mom but I picked up the Totlandia series because I love Josie's writing and Totlandia definitely does NOT disappoint. It's a good, fun read – the dialogue is entertaining and funny and the characters are relatable, most are likable, and all have a depth to them that is hard to accomplish in a page turner. I definitely find myself having favorites. For anyone worried about the reviews saying that the book ends without resolution, I completely disagree. There is resolution – as one mom does get cut. And there's a little teaser at the end of Book One which only makes me want to read Book Two that much more." — J.K.

and

"I read the first book which was gifted to me…then immediately bought the other 2 books. I couldn't put them down! One review I read said these are better than crack and she was right! I am completely frustrated that I have to wait 3 months for the next one to come out….but that is part of the allure, I guess. Josie has a way of leaving you hanging so you just HAVE TO KNOW what happens next to the characters. Josie Brown has quickly become one of my favorite authors so I am devouring everything she has written. Highly recommend this series, whether you are a mom or not." — A.Z.

 


Guide-to-Gracious-Killing-FinalThe Housewife Assassin's Guide to Gracious Killing
(The Housewife Assassin Series, Book 2)

"I truly enjoyed reading this book. I didn't want to put it down. I found myself thinking about the story when I wasn't reading it, anticipating the next time I'd get back to it. It was funny and engaging." — V

and

"A good writer makes for ease of reading. Fast paced action breaks the mundane day to day life to a whole new level. I laughed, cried and laughed some more. Great read to bring a lighter mood into our hurried world." — D.M., TN

 

 


ITT 200About Impossibly Tongue-Tied

"About a half hour after finishing this book (10 min ago), I came to the realization that this wonderful book took another layer of shine off of movies and Hollywood. People will do some pretty nasty things for fame and the public will still give it to them. Now, it will be hard not to look at acclaimed actresses and wonder if their sweet personalities aren't also an act. Or if my favorite Hollywood heart-throb is cheating on his girlfriend/wife. I would have given this book 6 stars if the author had just provided one or two actors/actresses with sweet and loyal this in the book. Because, like many of my generation, I may not be ready to face what Hollywood has become.
3) The ending was really romantic but I still wish that the author had given us more of a peek into what Nina's future life holds professionally speaking.

I'm sorry for the rant but if you're still reading, this book was worth the disillusionment about Hollywood."  - Z., Florida