Relationship Survival Guide
for a chance to win a $100 gift card
from your favorite bookstore!
Relationship Survival Guide
Okay, try hard not to hate me, or to think that I've played the worst ever April Fool's joke on you (Tiffy, that one's for you, lol!) but I have to say upfront that we've had some tech issues with launching The Housewife Assassin's Relationship Survival Guide.
The SECOND the glitch is taken care of, we will submit it to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple iTunes Bookstore. And the NANO-SECOND it's up in the online bookstores, if you sign up for my eLetter you'll get a notice from me…
So thank you in advance for your patience (Billie, that's my tip o' the hat to you).
There are a lot of twists and turns in store for Donna and Jack. And one very important character dies (yes, dies!) but you'll have to read the book to find out who.
In the meantime, to celebrate the release sometime this week (from now on I'm putting it that way, until I personally see it up on the screen)the first book in the series, THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK, is now FREE. Please tell your friends, so that they too may come to love the series as much as we do.
And if you're looking for a little taste of what's to come in Book 4, read this excerpt from it , as well as the one below.
Thanks for your patience,
Great first impressions start with good
grooming! Before you open your door to your date, wash and style your hair.
Indulge in a mani-pedi. Put on your face paint, but don’t overdo it. The goal
is to cover up, not to lay it on thick. Wear a flattering dress. And certainly
put on a pair of heels, since they always make a woman’s legs look great, and
give her a slimming silhouette.
A bit of jewelry is like feathers on a
peacock, drawing a man’s eye to the most flattering places: your neck, your
wrists, your waist, your hair, and your face.
Surprise! The best accessory of all: a
Baby Browning .22 caliber semi automatic. Less than three inches and not even
ten ounces, this little gun fits in the palm of your hand (not to mention in a
purse, up a sleeve, or in your bra).
With Baby onboard, any gentleman caller
who turns out to be no gentleman at all but a slob who likes playing impromptu
game of slap-and-tickle will listen when you warn him to move his hand.
Or else lose an eye. Have Fun!
“What’s your weight?” Jack murmurs.
That’s the wrong question to ask a woman as she’s wiggling
into a Spanx Slim Cognito shape slip. “Um…one-o-nine.” I answer him.
Jack’s head whips around so fast, you’d think he needs an
exorcist. He closes an eye and cocks his head to one side. “For real?”
“Yes, of course!” I turn my back to him, so he doesn’t see
that my face is as red as a tomato: not because my circulation has been cut
off, but from my indignation that he’d have the nerve to question me. “My God,
I’ve been answering these silly questions all night! What does it really
matter? According to Arnie, the minute my profile goes live, it will
automatically simulate the desired characteristics reflected in the suspects’
“You know the drill. We still have to fill out the profile
fields, or else Sugar CEO won’t accept your application. There are just a few
more questions, so bear with me. Of course, if you want me to do it without
“Ha! Don’t you dare.”
“Have a little faith! I promise to follow your lead and fill
in a bunch of lies.”
While he taps away on the computer keyboard, I rummage
through my collection of wigs to see what I can salvage from Trisha’s last play
date with her best friend, Janie Breck. Thanks to the girls’ mutual addiction
to sweet pink cotton candy-flavored Bubble Yum, so far three of them need to be
shortened or tossed. I hope I have a few left over so that Jack can take
pictures of me in them. That way, Arnie’s software algorithm will upload the
one that best corresponds with the target’s sugar baby wish list.
“You’re going to have
to answer some true/false, comment and multiple choice questions. Okay,
question number one: If you had a porn name, what would it be?”
“Ha! I’ll just bet they don’t ask the sugar daddies the same
“Good supposition. Let me see.” He opens another screen and
scrolls through the website. “You’re right, they don’t. But they do ask the
dude’s net worth, starting at 25 million and going up from there.”
that evens the playing field somewhat. If I’m going to be someone’s fantasy,
he’s got to make it worth my while. In that case, type in ‘Mila Johannson’ as
my porn name.”
“Not fair. All you did is combine the names of two very
“It’s perfectly fair. Tell me, what were they’re last
“All I remember is that both were squeezed into something
“You’ve just proven
my point. You noticed nothing about these women, either above their lips or
below their knees.”
“And the most desirable feature on your sugar daddies will
be their bank accounts.” Jack snickers as he clicks away furiously on the
computer keyboard. Whatever merde he’s
writing, no doubt he’s laying it on thick.
“We all play to our
strengths. Other than money and temporary security, what else do these jerks
have to offer?” I put down the scissors with a sigh. They’re useless anyway.
Now that I’ve chopped my favorite auburn wig to shreds, it looks worse than
Anne Hathaway’s in her Les Miserable death
scene. “Besides, this mission is quick and dirty, in and out. Prick them with
truth serum, which allows Emma to record their answers. Then use the info they
give me to turn them, and leave.”
He catches my eye in the mirror. “These guys aren’t dummies.
If they get suspicious, they’ll make sure you won’t leave their little love
nests alive. Their battalion of bodyguards will be right outside the bedroom
“Jack, you know I appreciate your concern. I realize I have
eleven chances to screw things up. On the other hand, I have eleven
opportunities to put the Quorum out of business once and for all.”
“It would have been easier with Carl still behind bars.”
“Well, he isn’t, and now it’s make-up time. And besides, you
and Abu will be close by.”
He shrugs. “All I’m saying is be careful, okay?”
I nod. “Okay, I promise. Cross my heart. Now, hit me with
“Are you a cat person, or a dog person, and why?”
“Put down ‘I love it doggy style.’”
“Don’t I know it,” he murmurs. “Now, this next question is
true or false: I want a relationship with no strings attached.”
“Sure,” he says, but at the same time he winces. For us,
role-playing is a way of life.
And of death.
“Next, another multiple choice: I’d rather be (a) at a
disco, (b) at the opera. (c) cheering courtside at a Lakers game, or (d)
sunning myself naked on a beach.”
Now it’s my turn to frown. “Choose anything but the beach!”
He laughs out loud. “I would have guessed that. Okay, now:
If you were a tree, what kind would you be? The choices are (a) Redwood (b)
Dogwood (c) Oak, or (d) Japanese Maple.”
“Make me a Dogwood.”
“Because it’s small and the flowers are either pink or
white. Subliminally, the message here is ‘virginal and girly.’”
“But you’re really an Oak, right?”
“Nah. A Redwood. I’m in it for the long run.”
He knows exactly what I mean.
“Okay, next up: Would you rather date (a) an artist (b) a
banker (c) an entrepreneur or (d) a corporate industrialist?”
“I guess we both know the answer to that one.” My eyes seek
his out. “I only have eyes for you.”
This earns me a knowing smile. “Last question: Where would
you prefer to be kissed, and why?”
“Seriously? They ask something that personal?” I slip behind
him so that I can read over his shoulder. “They make it quite clear what this
is all about, don’t they?….Wait! I don’t see that question here.”
“My bad. It’s my question, not theirs.” He pulls me into his
Sure, I’ll play along. “Want to take a guess?”
He chuckles. “I’m a hands-on kind of guy. How else can I
gauge your true enthusiasm?”
He’s got a point there.
He hits the SUBMIT button, then forwards Arnie my User ID
and password. The photos can wait until our little survey is completed.
We’ve only tested six possible kissing locations when
Arnie’s email pings Jack’s computer. We let out with a mutual groan, then
disentangle ourselves in order to read it:
What Arnie lacks in subtlety, he makes up for with
“But how can that be?” I ask, “We never sent photos!”
“Heck if I know. Let me test your submission with a fake CEO
profile.” He opens one, and types in a wish list with the exact profile I
In no time at all, my profile falls into his email box.
Except that my head now sports long blond hair in coiling
tendrils, has been superimposed onto a body that looks suspiciously like
Jack gives a low whistle. “I’m not saying Arnie can improve
on perfection, but he’s has sure as hell comes damn close.”
I pelt Jack with a pillow.
The next thing we hear is a few bars of “Easy Street” as a
Sugar CEO meeting request drops into my Sugar Babe account.
My very first gentlemen caller has come a’knocking.
“It’s the bewitching
hour,” Jack mutters with a sigh.
The rest of the kissable positions on my must-do list will
have to wait.
I brace myself before clicking onto it.
© 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.
ParTay! For Two Days Only, Nov. 14th – 15th,
Housewife Assassin’s Handbook" will be FREE!
And if you
like "The Housewife Assassin’s Handbook" you might also like these other FREE books:
Action-packed crime thriller of two people forced to work together. By Mimi Barbour.
Little Secrets,” Sex, lies and lethal weapons… By Julie Leto.
Gripping, compelling crime drama—grabs hold and doesn’t let go! By Ray
“Stop the Wedding!”
A man and woman conspire to stop their parents' wedding, and fall in love. By Stephanie Bond.
After a near-death experience, a tortured artist begins to paint the dead. By Dana Marton.
To enter to
win a Kindle and $25 worth of Amazon gift cards,
simply visit FreePartay.com and sign up for the newsletter!
But let me tell you: I wince inside when they add: "My sister [daughter, girlfriend, whatever] lent it to me."
Admittedly, it also hurts a little when they tell me as much they took it out of a library. But because I too love libraries ( besides being a big user, I also support my library during their fundraising efforts, and by donating books I no longer use) I figure, "Okay, well then maybe they'll buy the next one…and the next one…"
I write because I have to. It's my life. It's in my blood.
And I'll do it for as long as others want to read what I write–and are willing to pay for it.
Aye, there's the rub…
I have to tell you: it kills me when I discover my books are being sold illegally on the Internet.
And no, I'm not fond of the fact that people are file-sharing them, too.
You see, not all pirates are Johnny Depp.
Let me explain something: I spend months (and in some cases, years) research, plotting, and writing my books. I see only 8 – 12 percent royalties on books that are published via large publishers.That's only $1.14 per book, and that is after I pay back an advance–in which the publisher subtracts any (gulp) returns from bookstores.
On the books I've published myself and put up as digital files that are distributed by online bookstores, I net somewhere between 35- 70 percent of my reasonabe $4.99-$2.99 retail prices. That's only $3.50-$2.10 a book — and I see that, only after I pay a graphic designer, and editor. Let's not forget my taxes.
And I still have to make my rent. And pay for my own healthcare, like every self-employed person.
So, yeah: I'd prefer if you paid for my books.
As would every other author I know.
This isn't a rant. It's a plea. For the few hours of enjoyment you get, shell out what you would for a lunch. Or for that matter, a cuppa joe.
Call it your cuppa Josie.
In this article, which appeared in the UK Guardian, Lloyd Shepherd, who wrote the wonderful novel, The English Monster, put it quite succinctly to one book pirate.
Click onto the article to read the comments.
Guilt sucks. Here's hoping it also works.
*Picture: Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow, in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN.
When the author of The English Monster found a request to pirate his novel circulating on discussion board Mobilism, he decided to respond himself – and was surprised by the results.
My novel The English Monster was published on 1 March. A week later, a Google alert dropped into my inbox with a link to a forum post on a site called Mobilism, on which a character called "Fe2" was offering a reward to anyone prepared to produce a free ebook version of The English Monster for him to use.
Most books these days are pirated in some form or another, and having worked on the web before I was a novelist I was anticipating that with a fair degree of sang-froid. But this was the first piratical move on my book, and it was also an oddity – more an incitement to piracy than piracy itself.
This, I discovered, is how Mobilism works. The site is essentially an enormous discussion board. It started, as far as I can make out, as a place where people made "mobile" versions of games and other stuff and offered them to each other. It now offers mobile (read: pirated) versions of movies and music as well as games. And books. Lots and lots of books.
However, I need to be careful about my terminology, because Mobilism is very, very careful about its own. It states, often, that it does NOT host any files of pirated material on its own servers; it only links to them. It also provides a kind of currency mechanism for people to reward each other for producing pirated material; you earn things called "WRZ$" by posting on the site, and you earn a great deal more by producing versions of content and making them available for other users.
But – and I am being careful to repeat this – these versions are NOT hosted by Mobilism. All that Mobilism requires is that you put your pirated material at a website address where other users can download it, for free, without registration. Mobilism is like a catalogue of links to other people's warehouses. It's an index, not a repository. It's exploiting a characteristic of the legal arrangements around the internet – that you should be able to link to something without becoming liable for it. This is an essential element of what makes the web work. It also allows Mobilism to create entire cathedrals to pirated content, without hosting any of that content itself.
(As an aside, this legal arrangement is now under some attack. Richard O'Dwyer is right now facing extradition to the US to feel the wrath of the Hollywood entertainment industry for building a site that contained thousands of links to pirated material. It's hard to understand why O'Dwyer is attracting this kind of legal firepower, while no one seems to be extraditing Mobilism's owners. Perhaps because, as far as I can see, no one knows who they are.)
Many writers in my position, I know, have gone into a rage when their books are pirated – particularly those with no experience of the legal ways of the internet. How can it be, they yell, that these clowns are stealing my livelihood? And I felt some irritation, of course. But blind anger wasn't getting us anywhere, and here was an opportunity to ask this guy (in my head, he's a guy, although she may well not be) what he thought he was doing. I went on to the forum to put it to him. This is what I said:
So, I'm the author of The English Monster. Can it be that you're offering to pay someone to create an ebook of the book I wrote? I'd be interested to hear your justification for this. For your interest, this book took me two years to write, and represents (on a rough estimate) perhaps 500 hours of work on my part, not to mention the time and effort put in by others to design, print, copy-edit and produce the final version. And you're proposing to pay someone else – someone who had no part in the making of the book – to produce a copy for you. Is there a good reason why you can't pay through normal channels for my book?
Please understand me – I am genuinely interested in what you've got to say about this. This is my first book, and this is my first experience of someone attempting to produce a pirate version of it (I do not use the word "pirate" pejoratively, mind). Is there any reason why I shouldn't expect to be compensated for the time I have put into this?
To my surprise, this attracted a response.
Mr Shepherd, I can tell by your measured reply that you are trying to be as fair and nonjudgmental as possible, so thank you. I am not sure how to answer you – and our messages will no doubt be deleted soon.
Bottom line is, there is no justification or reason that would or should ever satisfy the author of original content. Anyone that tries to make sense of this process (that publishing houses are greedy; that knowledge should be free … just two reasons that I have seen bandied about) is just fooling themselves. There is also a Robin Hood aspect to this, that perhaps you may understand. Either way, I don't think there is a way of putting this digital information era genie back into the bottle.
I wish you every luck in future.
This was the point at which I did, I confess, lose it for a moment. This was such a stupid collection of cliche and childishness. It's the kind of pseudo-anarchist garbage we've come to expect from the more militantly dumb wings of the anti-copyright campaign. I wrote a long reply (you can see the entire discussion here) which said, in summary, that if authors couldn't get compensation for their work there would be no authors, and didn't he know that Coleridge and Wordsworth only wrote Lyrical Ballads to fund a holiday in Germany, and why was he blaming this "digital information era genie" for his own bad behaviour. But, you know, friendly-like.
At this point, two things happened. First, the mysterious powers at Mobilism moved the forum thread from its original location under "ebook requests" to a new place called "fulfilled ebook requests". Meaning, I suppose, that they had recognised I had a problem with what was going on, but didn't want to delete the topic. For this I give them some credit (perhaps in the form of WRZ$).
The second thing was that "Fe2" sent another reply, which again I reproduce in its entirety.
Mr Shepherd, again I thank you for your considered, elegant reply. I felt replying to you was not only appropriate, but mandatory.
A small note in closing, as the thread has been moved (but not deleted – my thanks to the moderator who made that decision): it was not I who advanced those reasons that you read. I do not for one minute think that any author is being "greedy" for wanting payment for their labour, nor do I think all knowledge should be free. In fact, I cannot fathom anyone thinking that, but I wrote it because I have seen some people in other fora write those very reasons as to why they want ebooks without remuneration. Slavery, which is work without payment, was abolished in all civilised lands a long time ago, so I wish said people would read our thread and understand that.
Me, I have lived in Africa and Asia, in such remote locations that it is difficult to get internet, let alone ebooks, even if locals could afford that. Yet I've met some who try to reach for better things in life, such as current or helpful books to read, and find their options curtailed by circumstance. I know it is no excuse, but since you ask for elucidation, that is mine.
I veered from rage to puzzlement. I even wondered if this post was the product of some kind of bot. The reply did posit a reason for this guy's behaviour. There was a sort of psychology at work. But it was pretty thin: he says, for instance, that "I have lived in Africa and Asia", where presumably ebooks are hard to get hold of legitimately, but he says it in the past tense. He doesn't let on where he lives now. As a friend pointed out, he basically seemed to be saying, "Yeah, you're right, but, you know, what's a guy to do?"
I decided to go into the main Mobilism forums and start a new topic, called "Novelist seeking understanding". I asked people to explain how they justified to themselves what they were doing, or whether they even needed to. I also wondered whether they thought what they were doing would damage the culture in the long run, if authors became disincentivised to write. It's had some pretty interesting responses. The reasons and justifications given for pirating ebooks include:
• that people who travel a lot like the convenience of ebooks, and if they already own the book in physical form they feel justified in getting a free copy;
• that this kind of "free sharing" allows people to sample books (again, it's great publicity, is the argument).
Now, two of these are not justifications for freeloading; they're after-effects. If I let people pirate my book, this argument goes, I get publicity and create a "debate" around myself which gets me noticed. Only one point (the second one) is an actual attempt to justify piracy itself.
But all of the people who replied to my original post denied being "freeloaders" – they claimed to still buy books, as many as they ever did, if not more. Their argument seemed to be that Mobilism provided a platform for discussion and, yes, sharing of books – and that this kept up a high level of appetite for, and interest in, new authors.
Obviously missing on the forum were the voices of those "pirates" I had demonised in my own head: the ones who pirate gleefully and indiscriminately, who host vast folders of free content, who give the finger to anyone in a suit and tie and believe they are changing the world one cracked DRM at a time. You know. Pirates.
I'm not naive. I do believe that in the long run I am damaged by piracy more than I am helped by it. I also know that my publisher, on whom I depend for income, support and promotion, is severely damaged by it. On that level, I want it to stop. This feeling is made even stronger by the realisation that Mobilism can sell advertising (and presumably generate a bit of revenue for someone, somewhere) on the back of well-organised and ongoing larceny. Somebody, somewhere is making money from my own labour.
But I see the sense of what the well-mannered people who responded to my question were saying, and I have some sympathy for what Gaiman and Coelho have been saying about piracy – that the more it happens, the more people find out about their books. Neil Gaiman's recent point – that no one buys their first book, they are given it by someone – is a strong one. But then, Gaiman and Coelho are established authors. Is this kind of free-for-all the best way to launch a new author? I simply do not know.
Whatever my own response, publishing as an industry could respond to this. Is there a mechanism that allows people to discuss and share books, sampling them and even giving them away, in such a way that encourages the social appetite for books and reading? Could there be a platform for people to access books in places where local deals have not made them available through traditional channels; a kind of global meta-copyright which stands where no local copyright licence has taken place? How we do either of those things is beyond me, and perhaps beyond anyone. What I can't deny is that my parley with the pirates was more fruitful than I expected it to be, and there's a lesson in that for all of us.