Check out this video of me discussing my book, The Baby Planner.

Baby Planner 600w I can talk non-stop about my book The Baby Planner. I so enjoyed writing about my heroine, Katie Johnson. We all excel in at least one way, but we also have our weak spots. Katie's leaves her vulnerable in the one area she thinks she will always be blessed: family. 

Little does she know….

But hey, I don't want to give it way. Listen to what I have to say about it here,

— Josie

Read an excerpt…

 


 

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THE BABY PLANNER

Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books / In stores April 5, 2011

ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY:

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Signed copies from Liberty Bay Books

 

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.

Tome of the Mommy: The Runaway Mom

MotherandChild2 Not everyone is cut out to have children.

Is that a blasphemy to say?

No. Because we all know it's true.

Admit it: Doesn't your belly tighten with dread when you're in the presence of some woman who is visibly annoyed with, or publicly derisive to, her kid, embarrassing the poor thing in front of you or others?

You wonder: "If you can't find a way to say it to your child with respect, you don't deserve him. And he certainly doesn't deserve you."

You're right.

Children deserve parents who are ready to take on the 24/7/lifetime responsibility to feed and nurture, to love and honor, to challenge and inspire them.

Most parents strive to honor this commitment.

But some don't.

And not all of these are deadbeat dads.

Some are runaway moms.

Whereas many of us women act on the yearning to have children, and hold them dear until our dying day, for whatever reason their are others who have made the decision to leave their children, to move on in their lives without them.

One young sister and brother, based in India, is currently suing their mother to come home to them. She moved to Canada. They are being raised by their father, a professional music teacher, who "says the love and affection of a mother are important in the upbringing
of a child and hence the petition aimed to bring his children's mother
back into their lives…"

True, that.

And yet, there are two sides to every story.

Not every woman is ready to become a mother. Not every woman wants to be a mother, even if she finds herself pregnant. 

And not every woman who leaves her children — for a day, a week or two, or even a month or longer — regrets doing so.

But yes, there are some who are. Even if they can't admit it to themselves.

Even if they can't admit it to their children.

The consequences of the runaway mom's decision is felt throughout the lifetime of the children left behind. Life-long resentment is to be expected. Wariness to get into adult relationships because of fears of abandonment is not uncommon. The decision to forgo have children themselves is, sadly, another outcome. Their own role models were awful. They, too, are afraid at failing at this momentous challenge.

Then their are those children, now grown, who use this life experience to better themselves. They become the kind of mother and fathers their own runaway parents never were to them.

They want to prove to themselves that they are not anything like their parents.

The proof comes in the the love and nurturing they provide their own children, and the joy they take in the process of parenting.

Having lived it the hard way, they know best that parenthood isn't a right. It's a privilege.

In this excerpt of my soon-to-be-released novel, SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES, my heroine, Lyssa Harper, happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Because she's carpooling with her new friend, stay-at-home dad Harry Wilder, she witnesses the reaction of Harry's soon-to-be ex, DeeDee, when her thirteen-year-old son Jake, erupts in anger at what he feels is her recent abandonment of him and his five-year-old sister, Temple.

Can there ever be redemption for the runaway mom?

I welcome your comments,

—Josie


Game face.

 We all have one. It takes your
smile and sharpens it into a grimace. Rocked by an emotional earthquake, the
gentle planes of your face shift into stone. The happiness once beaming from
your eyes is now refracted inward: focused, with laser-sharp concentration, on
the dark matter at hand.

 Harry’s is one I don’t recognize.
I’ll admit it: for the past few weeks his dimpled smile and courtly manners
have been the icing on the cake of my day. And while courting the league board,
he was sweetness and light. Now, though, devoid of any joy, it has curdled into
a snarl.

 What I’m seeing now sends icicles
through my veins.

 He is ready to do battle with
DeeDee the Ice Queen.

 Temple won’t be the only
collateral damage. In the side view mirror I see Jake. He sits silently in the
back, just staring out the window, his damp red-rimmed eyes as wide as those of
the ghoul in The Scream. I can only imagine what he’s thinking: that all of
this—not just the lost game, but his father’s fall from grace, even his parents’
breakup—is his fault.

 If I could, I’d reach back there
and hold his hand. And yet, as the mother of one of his friends, the only place
I hold in his life is that of an abstract acquaintance.

 What am I doing here, anyway?

 Almost as if reading my mind,
Harry places his fingers on my arm and pats it absentmindedly.

 That tells me what I need to
know: I’m here because I’m the only friend Harry has in this gated,
well-landscaped corner the world.

 We pull up to the front of
Paradise Waldosorri Pre-School & Kindergarten just in time to see DeeDee
walking out with Temple and Miss Judith, the head of school. DeeDee’s silk
blouse and cashmere slacks look almost militaristic next to Miss Judith’s gauzy
flowing skirt and Birkenstocks. If Miss Judith’s attire isn’t the broadest hint
that she is the community’s one and only hold back from the days in which
Paradise Heights was a hippy commune (hence the first portion of its name,
before being elevated into the economic stratosphere), her head scarf, tied over flowing gray curls, in a dead giveaway.
Whatever DeeDee is saying has Miss Judith shaking her head in dismay. This
causes the beaded fringe on her scarf to jiggle. She glances sympathetically at
Temple, whose eyes are starred with tears, her pillowed lips bitten into a
pout.

The way the car screeches as it
comes to a halt undermines Harry’s attempt at indifference. Jake slumps down
when he his mother comes into view. Either he’s hoping she doesn’t see him and
ask him to recap his inglorious day, or he has his own bone to pick with her.

 “Stay here,” growls Harry. I don’t
know if he’s talking to me or to Jake. But in the mood he’s in, neither of us
plans on disobeying him.

 He’s out of the car in a flash.
Because he’s keeping his voice low and level, I can’t hear every word, but I do
catch the phrases “very sorry” and “won’t happen again.” Miss Judith nods
sympathetically, but tired uncertainty shades her pale gray eyes: it is obvious
that whatever DeeDee has been telling her has colored her view of Harry.

 Temple slips her hand into her
father’s, but does not let go of DeeDee’s either. In fact, she squeezes it even
tighter, as if to prove, if only to herself, that they are still joined in
someway.

 Doing so seems to only amp up
their feelings toward each other—and their voices. “I’ve told you, I’ve got it
under control,” Harry insists.

  “My god, Harry! I
wouldn’t be here now, if that were the case. And if Temple feels more
comfortable going home with me . . .” The way DeeDee’s voice trails makes the
offer seem so inviting. I’m surprised her daughter doesn’t leap at it. When it
comes to their parents, all children possess innate neediness.

 Not Temple. She knows a game is
afoot. Her way to change the rules to suit her needs is brilliant. “
No, Mommy, no! You can just come home
with us,” she states matter-of-factly.

 All three adults stare at her, as
if she’s just landed from another planet.

 Harry’s game face, dampened by
tears he can’t wipe away quickly enough, softens into doubtful hope.

 DeeDee’s on the other hand,
frosts solid with determination. Her teeth are tiny daggers, more a snarl than
a smile.

 “Damn it, Temple!
Jake’s eruption echoes with pain. Opening his car door, his yells, “Don’t you
get it? She doesn’t want to come home. NOT EVER. Aw, just get in the car! NOW!”

All eyes now turn toward us.
Temple’s emotional Geiger counter has picked up on her brother’s anguish as
only a sibling’s can. Unlike the adults, who patronize her with cheery
half-lies that never pay off with the only golden ticket that counts—her mom
and dad together again—Jake’s bellow tells her what she needs to know, even if
it isn’t what she wants to hear:

 Her parents will never love each
other again, ever.

 In Jake’s opinion, it’s all
DeeDee’s fault. Can’t his sister see this too?

 This sudden realization is too
much for the little girl. As if letting go of all hope, a rivulet of urine runs
down Temple’s leg, seemingly at the same pace as the tears streaming down her
face. Despite this, Harry scoops her up into his arms and heads for the car,
Miss Judith clucking soothingly beside him, hoping to hush her student’s heart
wrenching howls.

 All mothers break apart when
confronted with their children’s grief, and DeeDee is no exception.

 Fault lines of anguish transform
her flawless veneer of a face from haughty to sorrowful. She runs after her
child—

 But stops cold when she notices
me in the car.

 DeeDee realizes this battle is
lost. But the war is still to be won. Her eyes narrow and her frown inverts
into a smirk. “You’ve hired some shopgirl from Nordy’s? Oh, now that’s rich!
Why couldn’t she have picked up Temple? Doesn’t she drive?"

 At first Harry doesn’t catch on
that she’s talking about me, but Miss Judith does. Relieved at the chance to
set something straight, she trills nervously, “DeeDee, that’s Lyssa Harper,
Olivia’s mommy—”

 After what I’ve just seen, I don’t
expect a cheery hello. Still, even a stiff nod of recognition would certainly
go a long way to clearing the air.

 But no. DeeDee isn’t apologetic.
She’s shocked.

 Suddenly it dawns on me that
hitching a ride with the soon-to-be ex is not the best way to reintroduce
yourself to a woman who never remembers who you are, no matter how many times
she runs into you.

 From DeeDee’s granite stare, I am
assured she won’t forget me, ever again.

 I can’t help but watch her in the
rear view mirror. She, too, keeps me in her sites.

 DeeDee has a new target.

(c) 2010 Josie Brown, all rights reserved.

 ________________________________________________________________________


Dog-card CONTEST!

Take a picture of you holding a copy of

inside of your local Target,
and I'll enter you to win a $100 Target Gift Card!

Just send the photo to SecretLivesBook@gmail.com

Between now and midnight PT, September 30, 2010

I'll post all entries here, at AuthorProvocateur.com

________________________________________________________________________




BestSLHW Josie' s Most Recent Book: Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

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