New York Times best-selling author Kristan Higgins’ eighteenth novel, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT, follows three women—best pals Emerson, Marley, and Georgia—whose lifetime battles with obesity were the bonds that brought them together. The death of one provides the catalyst for self-discovery, change, and acceptance for her friends.
Book 3: The Onesies/Spring
In Bookstores Now!
978-1-937804-16-9 / eBook
To celebrate the launch of Totlandia: The Onesies, Book 3 (Spring),
join me for a fantabulous Twitter party, and a chance to win a free copy of Book 3!
Now is the time to ask me all your must-know questions about
Jade, Brady, Ally, Lorna, Jillian….and of course, Bettina!
I'll also be tweeting some trivia on all the Onesies moms,
and asking your opinion about some of the characters you love…and love to hate!
Looking forward to having you join me!
Spring comes in like a lamb as the exclusive
Pacific Heights Moms & Tots Club welcomes its newest members.
But that tranquility belies a storm brewing,
as new tensions and old rivalries come to a head.
The surviving moms are ready to reap the rewards of membership,
but none of them counted on club founder, Bettina Connaught Cross,
needing a pick-me-up from a bitter betrayal.
While lesser women might cry into their pillows,
Bettina finds comfort in exerting control over her domain.
With Bettina on a rampage, the new Onesies are trying to stay out of sight
long enough to deal with their own issues:
Lorna wants to tell her family about Dante’s autism,
but keeping it on her own terms could be difficult
when her hippie mom and socialite mother-in-law meet for the first time.
Jillian fights to regain her financial footing and confront her own insecurities,
finding comfort in an unexpected place.
And Ally can’t bear the thought of hurting Jade,
so she continues to bury her feelings for Brady.
But when another desperate housewife stirs the mix,
Jade could become a pawn in an even more devious game.
It’s no ordinary spring in Totlandia, as emotions build to a fury and end with a roar.
Friday, 4 January
“What do you mean I don’t qualify for unemployment benefits?” Jillian Frederick’s hand was shaking so hard she could barely hold the phone to her ear.
It had taken her almost an hour to get more than an automated voice on the line, someone who could actually answer her questions about how to file a claim. Within that hour, her cell phone beeped because its battery was low. To top it off, someone had just texted her. No doubt the waiting text was zapping her juice as well.
“Sorry, my dear, but them’s the breaks.” The Unemployment Office clerk practically yawned in Jillian’s ear. “You worked for, like what… two months? And for minimum wage at that. What did you expect?”
“My husband left me and our two babies a few months ago. It was the only job I could find!”
“Seriously, hon, I feel for you. But I’m not Dear Abby, and the Unemployment Office isn’t your parents’ ATM.”
“This is an emergency! I may lose my house! I supported my ex-husband through college, so I’m sure my benefits from back then still count, don’t they? Listen, can you check and see how far back you can go?”
Just then one-year-old Amelia yanked a branch of the Christmas tree so hard that three glass ornaments fell and cracked. Both she and her twin sister, Addison, wailed in union.
As Jillian scooped both girls up into her arms to cuddle them before they grabbed at the glass shards, the cell phone fell out of her hand, hitting the cold marble floor with a loud crack.
“Oh my God! Are you—are you okay?” Jillian could barely hear her own voice over her daughters’ wails.
“I think you broke my eardrum,” the clerk finally retorted.
“I’m so sorry! One of my daughters almost pulled down our Christmas tree.” Jillian was trying with all her might to keep the tears out of her voice. “Listen, isn’t there any way to find out if those benefits are still good?”
“Yeah sure. What’s your maiden name?”
“I’ll check. Let me put you on hold again.”
“Hold? Oh my God, no! My phone battery is dying, and I was on hold for forty minutes before I reached you! Can’t you just all me back? Wait!”
But it was too late. She was being serenaded by a symphonic version of the Black-Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow.”
Frustrated, Jillian fell back onto the couch. The drop in altitude left the toddlers giggling. They smacked Jillian’s face as if that would relieve her too-early-in-the-morning exhaustion. She sighed, forced her lips into a smile and wiped the tears from her eyes before opening them.
Truth be told, even if she hadn’t been canned, Jillian’s credit card bills were mounting so fast that no amount of generous tips could’ve saved her. She was now four months behind on her SUV’s payments. She hid the car in the alley behind her house so she could dodge the repo man who kept knocking on the door. As it was, she barely used the damn thing, except for Costco and Wal-Mart runs. Having rammed it repeatedly into the Porsche of her philandering soon-to-be ex, Scott, her car’s bumper now scraped her front wheels on tight turns.
Last week she had just managed to scrape together the money to pay the gas and electric bill. To keep them under fifty dollars a month, she closed off the vents in every room of her rambling mansion on Pacific Street except for the kitchen and the nursery, where for the most part Addison and Amelia slept and played, or burned used paperbacks in the old home’s fireplaces.
She had traded the convenience of her pricey local Whole Foods and the neighborhood grocery markets on Union, Polk, and Chestnut streets for Chinatown’s vegetable markets, where produce could be purchased for less than half the price.
The thought of collecting unemployment benefits shamed her. But it was going on three weeks since she lost her job, and she had to do something, anything.
She was too proud to give up the home she had so lovingly restored. Further, it would have been one more intolerable defeat at the hands of her two-timing husband.
A commotion coming from the alley behind her house roused her from where she sat prostrate on the couch. She picked up both girls before walking to the window, just in time to see her SUV being hoisted onto a flatbed truck.
She set the girls down in their playpen and ran down the stairs and out the side door. The tow operator, a large bear of a man sporting tattoos on every inch of skin not covered by his jeans or the jacket emblazoned with Bay Area Repo, had already chained down her vehicle.
Jillian grabbed his arm. “Wait! That’s my car! Where do you think you’re taking it?”
The man shrugged. “Back to the dealership. Sorry, lady, three missed payments means they own it again.”
“How will I get around without it? It’s the only transportation I’ve got, and I have two toddlers! Please—”
He looked down at her. “Nothing I can do about it. Here’s a tip, though. Next time, disengage the GPS so we can’t find it so easily. Just sayin’.”
If only she’d known that earlier.
She watched as he backed the truck through the alleyway before gunning it down Pacific Street. Then it occurred to her that she’d left the kids alone inside. Both were now adept at catapulting themselves over the playpen’s side with a kamikaze flip they’d learned from their little gal pal, Zoe Thornton. She ran back into the house.
Too late. The girls were toddling toward the Christmas tree.
She grabbed them just before they hit the field of broken glass.
Now, for her cell phone. Where had she put it?
It took her a full five minutes before she realized she’d tossed it into the playpen with the girls. By the time she did, it was too late. The damn battery had gone dead.
She threw it back down into the playpen.
Big mistake. The girls climbed down out of her arms and into the playpen after it. She was just about to fish out all three one more time when the doorbell rang.
Who the hell could it be now? Jillian wondered. Before she opened the door, she looked through the peephole.
She slumped up against the wall. What the hell was he doing there?
© 2013 Josie Brown. Published in 2012 by Coliloquy Books. 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 Publisher.
In honor of the launch of Totlandia / Book 2 (Winter) , Book 1 (Fall) is FREE, for two days ony on, Amazon!
Book 2 picks up right where Book 1 left off. Now that one mother has been eliminated, the five remaining mommies are just one misstep away from entry into the elite Pacific Heights Moms & Tots Club. Everyone has a scandalous secret to hide, but who will be the next to fall?
As the club's founder, Bettina, ratchets up the stress level with a series of holiday-themed challenges, the cracks begin to show. Jade's past catches up to her in the most unlikely of settings. Jillian's struggles to make ends meet are complicated by Bettina's demands. Ally's work and home lives collide, threatening to expose all of her secrets. And Lorna's already fraying family ties are torn to shreds by a series of devastating events.
With just four spots remaining, will the five remaining ladies turn cutthroat? Or will their newfound friendships be strong enough to help them band together?
Monday, 5 November, 10:23 a.m.
The Tot Tales storytime moderator at the Marina branch of the San Francisco Library certainly had her hands full reading over the bickering pair of three-year-olds whose short attention spans had deteriorated into wrestling in the back of the reading room. Otherwise, she had a captive audience of forty toddlers, including all of the PHM&T’s probationary Onesies—Dante, Wills, Oliver, Amelia, Addison and Zoe.
It had been Jillian’s turn to host today’s Onesies’ meet-up. Now that San Francisco’s weather had turned iffy, the fifty families who made up the Pacific Heights Moms & Tots Club congregated less frequently at Alta Plaza or Moscone or Lafayette parks on its playgroup days (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays). Instead, the club split itself up by tot age—ten families per ‘class’—and met according to that day’s events.
For example, while the Fivesies fed sardines to the recovering seals at the Marine Mammal Center, the Foursies found inspiration at the DeYoung Museum from the costumes worn by the ballet dancer, Rudolf Nureyev. And while the Threesies resisted the urge to swat the butterflies roaming freely through the California Academy of Science’s rainforest, the Twosies squealed in delight at a Disney on Ice show at the Cow Palace.
The Legacy Onesies mothers—those who had older children in PHM&T’s other playgroups—were allowed to take their younger children on their older children’s field trips. To their way of thinking, that was a good thing. Until this ghastly contest was over, they had all shied away from getting close to any of the Probationary Onesies. Making a new friend only to have her exiled from the club two months later wasn’t worth the risk of any future awkwardness in a Whole Foods aisle or in some ladies’ room queue at the symphony’s annual Black and White Ball.
This mindset left the Probationary Onesies to fend for themselves. Whereas all the other playgroups chose an event that required an outlay of cash, Jillian had chosen the tot reading because it was a freebie. Her own financial situation was dire, given her pending divorce. In fact, she was keeping the divorce a secret from the PHM&T applications committee, who would certainly frown upon it. Single moms weren’t welcomed into the club because they made those who enjoyed wedded bliss uncomfortable from all that bitterness emanating from the divorcees. Not to mention events where spouses were included would suddenly seem awkward.
Jillian knew the wisdom of keeping her mouth shut.
From the looks of things, the kids were enjoying themselves. The reader was quite animated. Oliver, Zoe, Dante, Amelia and Addison, as well as little Wills, had crawled on the mat until they were right next to her, enraptured with the way her voice brought the various characters alive.
Their parents, too, listened quietly and happily. Soon though, another presence could be felt in the room. Jillian seemed the first to pick up on it. Glancing behind her, she noticed that Bettina stood silently behind them. From her blank expression, it was hard to determine how she’d rate the event.
Jillian waved hesitantly. Bettina nodded at her, motioning her to rouse the other mothers and follow her into the library’s adjoining alcove.
They were met with a grand smile. “So great to see you and your little ones having such a wonderful time! Who arranged your meet-up today?”
The others nodded or murmured toward Jillian, who practically glowed.
“Well done, Jillian,” Bettina continued. “But sadly there will be points off for the fact that the PHM&T toddlers are being exposed to children outside the club.”
“Why?” Jillian asked, confused.
“These so-called ‘free’ events have their price, too. It is usually an emotional cost. For example, the storyteller’s performance is somewhat uninspired. I’m guessing she has been booed at many a child’s birthday party. Not to mention the exposure of our little ones to the bad behavioral habits of some of the more rambunctious children in the room.”
Lorna laughed. “Okay, so the storyteller will never be up for an Oscar, but I doubt our children picked up on that. All I know is that they’re having a great time. And I’m sure there are just as many rambunctious toddlers in the California Academy of Science’s rainforest—none of whom belong to PHM&T.”
Right then and there, Lorna had made Kelly’s point for her—that she was undermining Bettina’s authority with the other Onesies moms.
“My dear, getting into the Academy is not free. That makes a big difference.” After making her point to her sister-in-law, Bettina’s eyes swept over the other mothers. “You’ve been fairly warned.”
The silence that followed had nothing to do with the fact that they were in a library, and everything to do with the fact that each of them was processing Bettina’s threat.
“On a lighter note, I’ve come up with a wonderful way for you to choose the club-wide event you’ll host.” Bettina pulled out a small-lidded candy dish from her purse. Inside were tiny folded slips of paper. “Each of you will choose one of these. A budget is included. The necessary funds come from our annual dues. Except for the after-Thanksgiving potluck, the budget allows for food and decorations. However, you must decorate, coordinate, and host it on your own. And remember, creativity is key, but organization is just as important. The best part—your event’s success is yours, too!”
What she didn’t say was implicit—fail, and you get axed.
She held the dish out toward the other women.
They exchanged wary looks. Then Ally nodded, timidly reaching into the small bowl. “It says ‘Parents’ Holiday Party, Friday, December 14th.’”
“Wonderful! What could be better? Food, folks, and fun!” Bettina continued, “I’ll email you with the details of the location. By the way, your budget allows for a caterer.”’
After the chastisement she’d just received, Jillian considered waiting until last, but then thought better of it. Picking next would give her more options. She reached in, pulling out a tiny slip. “‘Santa’s Visit to the Children, Monday, December 10th.’” She sighed with relief.
Lorna frowned with concern. “Um…doesn’t the club have a few members who aren’t Christian? How do they feel about Santa?”
“In fact, Jillian, your event should also include Kwanzaa and Hanukkah rites, and some Christmas caroling. In other words, think multi-cultural! But no need for Hanukkah to run the full eight days, since our children’s attention spans are at the most an hour or two.”
Jillian nodded slowly. Everyone was sure she hadn’t been mulling the details of an eight-day extravaganza. Still, it was good that Bettina had spelled it out for her.
“My turn,” Kelly said. After pulling a folded slip, she frowned. “Oh. The After-Thanksgiving Potluck.”
“Easy-peasy,” Bettina assured her. “We hold it at the Presidio Golf Club’s café. No need for a caterer because members bring the food, which you’ll coordinate by monitoring PHM&T’s online dish sign-up sheet. In the last week, you’ll arbitrarily assign a dish category to those laggards who haven’t signed up. And you’ll be in charge of decorating the clubhouse with a Thanksgiving theme. By yourself, of course.”
Kelly’s smile faded. Obviously, she hadn’t counted on a task with so many moving parts.
“My turn!” Jade put her hand into the bowl and pulled out a tiny slip. “Oh! I have the club’s pumpkin patch visit.”
“Excellent,” Bettina said. “I’m sure you’ll do a great job explaining the lore around fall harvest. Lots of hands-on fun for our children, what with pony rides and the cornfield maze.”
“Last but not least, I’m sure,” said Lorna, reaching in for the last slip of paper. “I have the coordination of the Recipe Book fundraiser.”
“Aren’t you lucky! With your top-notch organizational skills, it should be a breeze,” Bettina exclaimed. “Let’s see, that means you’ll be in charge of editing the recipes for our cookbook fundraiser. Just think, Lorna! You’ll get so many great ideas to enhance those tired old standbys you insist on preparing for the holidays! Oh, that’s not to imply that your own culinary skills are lacking in any way. It’s nice to polish up on them now and then. You know, just to keep from getting stale.”
As if validating this premise, Kelly gave Lorna a sympathetic pat on the wrist.
Lorna almost jerked her arm away. She had a niggling feeling she shouldn’t trust Kelly, despite the woman’s numerous attempts to ingratiate herself to Lorna. It was obvious to everyone that Kelly and Bettina were close. And just the other day, after Chakra’s dismissal, Bettina had asked Kelly to stay behind while the rest of the group dispersed.
No, something was not right. She could just feel it. Still, if she acted suspicious of Kelly just because she and Bettina were close, she might be hurting her chances of staying in the club.
Lorna smiled, masking her frustration. “You’re right, Bettina. And since it’s the club’s most important charity fundraiser of the year, I’ll do my best to make it an even bigger success than it’s ever been. It’s raised so little money in the past.”
There, she’d thrown down the gauntlet. She’d best Bettina with her pet project.
Bettina’s worried scowl was priceless.
© 2012 Josie Brown. Published in 2012 by Coliloquy Books. 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 Publisher.
What's the story? I explore the perceptions and deceptions affecting two
Harpers, Lyssa and Ted, are socially entrenched in the tony Silicon Valley town
of Paradise Heights, California, unlike DeeDee and Harry Wilder, who
are admired by all, but politely aloof to their neighbors. Then word
gets out that DeeDee has walked out on Harry and their two children.
Gossip runs rampant through the Heights. Was DeeDee having an affair? Is
it true that Harry is fighting her for everything—even the dog?
Lyssa's friends gossip about the neighbors while ignoring their own
problems: infertility, infidelity, and eating disorders. The truth is,
if the community's “perfect couple,” Harry and DeeDee, can call it
quits, what does that mean for everyone else?
At least one of the rumors is true: to hold on to his children and his
home, Harry, once a workaholic, realigns his life and becomes a
stay-at-home dad. Touched by his efforts at trial-by-error single
parenting, Lyssa befriends him, never realizing the effect their
relationship will have on her close-knit circle of friends—or its
explosive impact on her own marriage.
Just another fun day in suburbia, right?
You know, writing a book is a lot like birthing a baby. The moment you
realize it's actually going to happen, you fall into a euphoric trance.
Sheer bliss. And nothing can take that away from you…
Except the worry that perhaps something bad will befall it while it's
incubating. For an author, that can be anything from the “I'm not
worthy!” to “Will it find an audience?” to “What do I have to say that is compelling enough to hold someone's attention for 300+ pages?”
When this happens, those deep breathing exercises we learn in Lamaze
classes certainly come in handy.
Well, I'm happy to report that I'm feeling no qualms whatsoever. (Liar,
Liar, pants on fire..)
No, seriously, I mean that. I've been through the birthing experience,
four times: two that were the human kind (Austin and Anna), and another
two that were the novel kind (and Impossibly
Tongue-Tied and True Hollywood
During that first trimester, reality sets in. There is so much
preparation before the blessed event: outlining a compelling plot;
creating characters that are real–to you, and hopefully future
readers; making sure the dialogue coming out of their mouths is
something someone would actually say–and that others would respond to.
Is it any wonder you feel nauseous?
By the middle trimester, you're in your groove: pages are flowing,
you're heavy with chapter, edits are coming back, but nothing that you
feel throws the plot baby out with the bath water. (Some analogy, huh?)
In fact, you fall into a complacent routine where everything seems
But by it's delivery date – in this case, TODAY, June 1, 2010 – you are
more than ready to share you bundle of joy with the rest of the world.
Will this book be The Second Coming? I would never presume as much.
(Besides, in the book universe, Harry Potter has already claimed that
title.) Wise parents know that the most they can hope for their
offspring is a long and fruitful life.
And of course, you envision a success future. (Those of us who had
reserved our children's places in their preschools even before they were born know what I mean).
So that my new baby lives a long and healthy life, I'm going to go on
the theory that it takes a village to birth a book. That said, if you're
looking for a great beach read, I think this fits the bill.
Feel free to read this excerpt here on my website. In fact, I'm
running a contest in conjunction with it: just answer the question
correctly, and I'll put your name in the hat for a shot at a $200 gift
card from Target. The drawing takes place on Thursday, June 10, 2010,
while I'm in Milwaukee, at Boswell Books. If you're based in Milwaukee,
I'd love to meet you there.
Thank you again, dear friends, great fans and new readers, for all your support!
Author, SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES
Advance Praise for SECRET
LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES:
“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
“I loved this juicy-as-it-it-is-heartfelt novel about love, marriage,
friendship–and sharp, manicured claws. Could not put it down!”—Melissa
Senate, author of The Secret of Joy
“Poignant and funny! Josie Brown's protagonist is strong, resilient,
and unflinchingly honest: she has all the skills she needs to navigate
the ‘mean streets' of the gated community of Paradise Heights. A great
read!” —Wendy Wax, author Magnolia
“Brown proves that a story with suburban bodies can be just as
suspenseful as one with dead bodies! Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives
is a probing, entertaining fishbowl of married life in a well-heeled,
wayward neighborhood. Loved it!” —Stephanie Bond, author of Body Movers
“I loved it! Josie Brown captures the highs and lows of love, lust and
marriage with heartwrenching pathos. I'm recommending it to all my
friends as the perfect beach read!” —Lisa Rinna, actress, and author of
the novel, Starlit, and the
personal growth book, Rinnavation
Josie talks about the book here: