Enter my contest for The Housewife Assassin’s Guide to Gracious Killing

Guide-to-Gracious-Killing-FinalYippee, skippee, the second book in my Housewife Assassin series has launched: 

The Housewife Assassin's Guide to Gracious Killing

Buy it from 


Donna and Jack are in to all kinds of trouble–the kind of hot mess that can cause an  international incident:

A nuclear arms summit, hosted by a politically-connected American billionaire industrialist, provides the perfect opportunity for a rogue operative to assassinate of the newly-elected Russian president on US soil. Acme operative Donna Stone's mission:

Seek and exterminate the shooter, before all hell–and World War III–break loose.

Not to mention what happens when Donna files for divorce.

Throw in a couple of off-the-map school field trips and a few naughty neighbors, you've got a whole lot of fun.

To celebrate, I'm doing two things:

First, I've lowered the price of 
The Housewife Assassin's Handbook to 99 cents! 

Also, right now I've got a brand new contest going. 
On Midnight PT, on Sunday, December 15, 2012, 
I'll be drawing the name of some lucky winner 
for a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice.

To enter, all you have to do is read the excerpt here, then answer this question:

What is the name of the song Prince Harry is dancing to, and who sings it?

All correct answers, must be emailed to be at MailFromJosie@gmail.com to be automatically be entered.

I'll be posting the potential winners here…

And guess what? 

Gift-cardYou can add bonus points! Each point equals an extra entry for you. Here's how:

– Click the "Like" button for The Housewife Assassin's Handbook, on either Amazon (1 point) or BN.com (1 point).

– If you've read it, give a review for The Housewife Assassin's Handbook, on Amazon (1 point), on BN.com (1 point), and iTunes Bookstore (1 point). Also, you can review it on Goodreads.com (1 point). 

(If you haven't read it already, you're in luck! It's only 99 cents, during this contest period!)

– If' you've read it, give a review to The Housewife Assassin's Guide to Gracious Killing on Amazon (1 point). Soon it will be up on BN.com (1 point), and Apple iTunes Bookstore. So you can do it there, too. Also, be sure to put up a review on  Goodreads.com (1 point). 

– If you haven't done so already, sign up for my eLetter (1 point). If your name is already in my eLetter list, you'll automatically get a bonus point, as soon as you correctly answer the question above.

– Friend me on Facebook (1 point) at http://www.Facebook.com/josiebrownauthor

– Friend me on Twitter (1 point) at http://twitter.com/JosieBrownCA

Remember: each bonus action means an additional point! 

Email me with any bonus points, and I'll be sure to include them.

You. Will. Love. It,

— Josie

*Cover design: Andrew Brown, ClickTwiceDesign.com. Thanks, Andy, for another great cover!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My baby deserves to be loved.

It takes a village to love a book,



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read an excerpt here…


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

Order it here, from


Amazon. uk, only £1.96

Amazon. de, only EUR 2,68!

Amazon.fr, only EUR 2,68!

Hollywood, here I come–with THE BABY PLANNER tour!

27355-Baby-Planner-160x600 I'm ready for my close-up, and so is THE BABY PLANNER!

I'd like to invite you to attend one of my free events, taking place while I'm in the Southern California. Here's the deets:

Posies & Ponies
7449 Girard Avenue, La Jolla, CA 92037
(just south of the intersection of Pearl)

Hosted by baby planner
Heather Atkinson
Baby Bump & Beyond 

RSVP here via email
or RSVP on Facebook


Los Angeles, CA
Sat May 21, 1pm

Children's Wonderland
11726 Barrington Court  90049 

Hosted by baby planner
Denise Xagorarakis

RSVP via email
or RSVP on Facebook


Granola Babies
2346 Newport Blvd., B-1, 92627

Hosted by baby planner 
Denise Xagoraraki

RSVP via eMail 
or RSVP on Facebook


The tour's national sponsors include:

I look forward to meeting you there!

The Baby Planner
[Simon & Schuster/Gallery, in bookstores April 5, 2011]

"Brown (Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives) takes baby mania to its illogical, hysterical extreme in this bubbly romp…. But what begins as a light foray into Bugaboo country turns into something bigger than a satire of status-obsessed Bay Area yummy mummies as Brown takes a dark look at the fears of parenthood and family, with Katie's heartbreaking longing for a child unveiling a disturbing reality about her marriage and family. Still, the message from the somber realities is one full of hope: love makes a family, commitment keeps it together."

–Publishers Weekly


The best gift you can give on Mother’s Day: a donation to your local library. Here’s why…

MomDadReading-withChild Today, millions of children — and adults — will be honoring their mothers in a variety of ways. Some moms will get a soggy French toast breakfast in bed and chow down on it with glee, because it's the thought that counts, not the lack of any golden brown crispness on two slices of yolk-drenched Wonder Bread. Other mothers will be treated to an overpriced brunch at a local restaurant, where they'll wave at the other moms who grace the tables around them who are also surrounded by their adoring broods.

And all mothers will be oohing and aahing over the gifts they'll receive, even if it's yet another bottle of perfume, or trio of scented soaps, or bouquet of roses.

I am a mother of two. Like other moms, I've given no clue as to what I might want on This Day To Pay Me Tribute. Call me humbled. Call me selfless–

Call me a sap! That's only fair, because I'm calling you one, too.

Why? Because all week we've had the perfect opportunity to hint around (make that, command with dire motherly overtones) as to what we really want from our kids. And as is the case with almost everything we ask of them, it's more for their benefit than for our own, even if they don't realize it at first:

We should ask them to donate to their local library.

From the moment we first held our infant children in our arms, we've only wanted the best for them. We wanted them to succeed and prosper; to be happy and healthy.

We encouraged them to be anything in life they wanted, be that teachers or bankers; firemen or gymnasts; ballplayers or doctors. Even president.

Our own lives have shown us that knowledge is power. Generations of mothers before us instilled this into us–

Even those who never had local, free public libraries.

Great societies, like ancient Egypt and Assyria (now Iraq) were built on grand libraries. Even today, with the social turmoil upending the dictatorial regimes that now rule in that part of the world, the citizens who are fighting for their freedom are also standing guard over their libraries.

So, why aren't we doing the same?

Ours are being threatened by the worst economy since the Great Depression. Just a couple of years ago it took an act of Pennsylvania's state legislature to keep the great city of Philadelphia's library system from closing its doors. Scan Google and your find article upon article about closings in communities all over the country; no, make that all over the world.

The digital leap in eBooks may be forcing a move away from paper books, but it won't quell the desire to access knowledge, in any form it may take. I have no doubt that the savvy librarians I've met throughout the country can tell you that there are many readers who don't have a couple of hundred dollars to spend on an eReader or iTablet.

History shows us that a great divide in the haves and have-nots only leads to anarchy.

Once again, it's time that the “haves” come to the rescue.

In 1889, millionaire steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie built the first of 1,689 free public libraries in the United States. He left it to the local communities — usually women's groups — to fund the books that would go inside these grand buildings.

For five generations of Americans, in cities large and small, these libraries were the pride of their communities.

Where is our pride now?

Please don't point to “budget cutbacks” and “austerity plans.”

Libraries are the essence of freedom. They are home to free speech and to knowledge.

They are where a free society learns to read.

Just recently I read a post from a book blogger, Courtney Webb, bemoaning the reduced hours at her local library. What jumped out at me from her plea was the name of her library system: Cobb County Public Library System.

While I now live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I spent my teen years in Cobb County. A couple of its branches — Kennesaw, and Gritters — were second homes to me. They fed my love of books, and my desire to write.

When my own mother was alive, one of her fondest memories of my childhood was how, as a first grader, I'd follow behind her while she mowed the lawn, reading to her. Of course over the din of the mower she couldn't hear whether I was getting every word right, but I was certainly making an effort.

Now, I'm asking you to make one, too: Give something. GIVE ANYTHING. But keep your libraries a part of your lives.

They build minds, and inspire ideas.

As history has shown us, libraries are what make civilizations great.


— Josie

Josie's latest novel is The Baby Planner [Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books]
ISBN 978-1-4391-9712-7


“Brown (Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives) takes baby mania to its illogical, hysterical extreme in this bubbly romp. Thirty-seven-year-old Katie's biological clock is ticking like a time bomb, and she turns her baby obsession into a wildly successful consultant gig planning nurseries for pregnant women too rich, clueless, bedridden, or busy to do the task themselves. Even grieving widower Seth, who works with Katie's child-shy husband, Alex, on a demanding new business venture, needs Katie's services to help him manage his perplexing new role as a single dad. But what begins as yet another vanilla chick lit foray into Bugaboo country turns into something bigger than a satire of status-obsessed Bay Area yummy mummies as Brown takes a dark look at the fears of parenthood and family, with Katie's heartbreaking longing for a child unveiling a disturbing reality about her marriage and family. Still, the message from the somber realities is one full of hope: love makes a family, commitment keeps it together.” –Publishers Weekly



Halloween Horror Story: a Divorce

Scary Pumpkin eats its young! I love Halloween. When my kids were younger, one of the thrills of living right off Caledonia Street in Sausalito, California, was that you were at Ground Zero for the town's trick or treat chicanery. The evening would start with a parade of li'l ghosts, goblins and costumes-du-jour, a costume judging contest, and then a promenade through the grid of streets that flank Caledonia Street before snaking up into the hills of Sausalito's weather-blessed banana belt.

Our street, Locust, was only one long block, filled with small cottages, or duplexes, some on flag lots. We lived there for almost six years. Except for us, the Pierracinnis next door, and one other family, most of those living on Locust were inhabited by people whose children had left the next, or house-sharing young adult renters, so they didn't necessarily see the need for decorating their homes for the occasion, let alone handing out candy.

On the other hand, one street over — Turney — was Halloween heaven. Everyone put out carved pumpkins. Some went overboard, decorating this beautiful street of Victorians with the haute of haunted house accessories. One guy went so far as to deck out his garage as Transylvania, an jump out of a coffin as a vampire. As yo ucan imagine, the line went around the block to enter his freak show.

Not to be outdone, Martin and I would create a diarama by putting scary full-head masks on the heads of  a couple of scarecrows made by stuffing old pants and plaid shirts with plastic bags filled with newspapers. We'd then pose them on a couple of chairs on the porch. They'd be reading THE SIGNAL, the newspaper edited by Martin. Scary music would be emanating from loud speakers perched on the window sills. Coffins of political candidates were in our postage stamp of a yard, underneath the camellia bushes that were so large that they were pruned into trees. Usually a body hung there in effigy.

All in good fun.

So many trick-or-treaters stopped by that we'd go through 500 pieces of candy before nine o'clock. I have to admit that I'd make the kids go through their candy sacks and kick back anything they felt they wouldn't eat, so I could feed the angry mob seemed to never end.

By the time we left Locust Street, I'm happy to report all the neighbors were into decorating on Halloween. Maybe they saw how much fun we'd had, and wanted to get into the act. Or maybe they were tired of Turney being the go-to street, and wanted to show some street pride.

Besides, how do you stop a swarm of trick-or-treaters?

You don't. You just go with the flow.

When I concepted my book, SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES, the one thing I knew for sure was that I was going to start the story on Halloween. Not because the book is scary–although its topic, divorce, is a horror tale for those who live through one–but because, to me, it is one of the ultimate family experiences. By their nature, children love to play dress up. Halloween celebrates that, and parents celebrate any and all things that make thier kids happy and excited–even if it is induced by sugar. Just think of all the pictures we take of them as they go from toddler to teen–or I should say, from cute costume onesies, to some 'ho couture that even Lady Gaga would be too shy to wear (as if).

Yes, a perfect place to start a book about a family–husband, wife, thirteen-year-old boy and five year-old girl–who mask their emotions during the divorce, and their neighbors' fears that their personal failures are somehow contagious.

Enjoy the excerpt, below.

Happy Halloween,


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

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

In bookstores June 1, 2010. Order it TODAY!

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


Order today:

From Amazon

From Barnes & Noble

From Books a Million

From Borders

From Copperfield's

From Your Local Independent Bookstore

From Powell's

From Target



Chapter 1


“Getting divorced just because you don’t love a man

is almost as silly as getting married just because you do.” —Zsa Zsa Gabor

Thursday, 7: 32 p.m.


“You know how I hate to gossip, but . . .”

 That is how Brooke Bartholomew always begins before she launches into a piece of hearsay. She knows and I know (for that matter, everyone knows) that she is the most notorious gossipmonger in our gated community of Paradise Heights.

 So, yes, this will be juicy.

 “Don’t be such a tease,” I answer. “Just spill it.”

 “It’s about DeeDee and Harry Wilder,” she whispers. “They’ve split up. For good!”

Preschooler as Halloween Fairy Her tone has me looking around to see if the leads in Brooke’s drama are within hearing distance. But it’s hard to tell because it is dark, and everyone, even the adults, is in costume. Witches, Harry Potters, Shreks, and vampires zigzag across Bougainvillea Boulevard, lugging king-size 300-count pima cotton pillowcases filled with all kinds of individually wrapped miniature candy bars. For Brooke, it is not just Halloween but Christmas too: her husband, Benjamin, is Paradise Heights’s dentist and will reap what Hershey’s has sown.

 I check to see that my daughter, Olivia, is out of earshot but still within sight. To my chagrin, she and her posse of five-year-olds are racing up the circular staircase of the Hendricksons’ New Orleans‑style McMansion. All the girls are dressed as fairies, which in HalloweeSpeak translates into gossamer wings and long tulle skirts over leotards. It is inevitable that one of them will slip, fall, and cry, so I cannot take my eyes off them, even to gauge the veracity of Brooke’s raw data. For the first time tonight I notice that Temple, DeeDee and Harry’s youngest, is not one of the winged creatures flittering in the crush in front of me.

 The nickname given the Wilders by my very own clique, the board of the Paradise Heights Women’s League, comes to mind: the Perfect Couple. Until now, it fit like a glove. Both DeeDee and Harry are tall, golden, patrician, and aloof. They are Barbie and Ken dolls come to life. Rounding out the family is their thirteen-year-old son, Jake, the star of the Paradise Heights Middle School basketball team. Our oldest boy, Tanner, is part of his entourage, as is Brooke’s son, Marcus. Temple is exactly Olivia’s age. With those gilt coiling ringlets and that dimpled smile, Temple is not just the kindergarten set’s unabashed leader but beautiful as well, which is why all the other little girls aspire to be her.

 While the Wilders seem friendly enough during the social gatherings that put them in close proximity to the rest of us mere mortals, they never engage, let alone mingle. In Harry’s case, I presume he thinks his real life—that is, his office life—is too foreign for us to grasp: he is a senior partner in the international securities division of a large law firm, where every deal trails a long tail of zeros.

But DeeDee has no such excuse. She doesn’t work, yet she pointedly ignores our invitations to lunch, preferring to spend the precious hours between school drop-off and pickup gliding through the posh little shops on Paradise Heights’s bustling Main Street. Heck, even the Heights’ working mommies try harder to fit in. The overflow crowd at the Women’s League Christmas party is proof of that, as are the numerous corporate sponsorships they secure for the school district’s annual golf tournament fund-raiser.

 Proving yet again that mommy guilt is the greatest of all human motivators.

 And now that the Wilders’ crisis has been exposed to the masses, DeeDee’s force field will stay up permanently, for sure.

 “No way! The Wilders?” I say to Brooke. “Why, I just saw them together last weekend, at the club. He didn’t leave her side even once. And I know for a fact that DeeDee was at the school yesterday, for the Halloween costume contest.” Although I wasn’t there, Ted, my husband, mentioned seeing her. I stayed home with our younger son, Mickey, who has a nasty case of head lice, the scourge of the elementary school set. Not fun at any time, but doubly distressing to a nine-year-old boy on a day in which all class work is suspended in honor of a candy orgy.

 To get his mind off what he was missing, Mickey and I spent the morning carving two more pumpkins to join the family of five already displayed on our steps and spraying a spiderweb of Silly String on the porch banister. Ted, who is too fastidious to have appreciated our haphazard handiwork, has elicited promises from us both that all of this sticky substance will be pulled off first thing tomorrow morning, before it has time to erode the nice new paint job on our faux-Victorian.

 Now, as I keep watch over Olivia’s raid on the neighbors’ candy stashes, Ted is at home with Mickey, parsimoniously doling out mini Mounds bars. Despite having purchased forty bags of the stuff, neither of us will be surprised if we run out long before the last trick-or-treater has come and gone. That is the downside to having a house that is smack-dab in the middle of Bougainvillea Boulevard, where all things pertaining to Paradise Heights begin and end. Because of this, poor Mickey will have to share whatever goodies Tanner and Olivia bring home. I don’t look forward to the fight that breaks out over who gets the Godiva candy bar and who is left with the smashed caramel apple.

 “Yeah, well, apparently it happened yesterday morning. From what I heard, he came home early from work so that he wouldn’t miss the Halloween parade—and found her in bed with another man.” Brooke waves her little hellion, Benjamin Jr., on toward his older brother, Marcus, who has been trying all night to ditch the kid. Having been an only child, Brooke cannot accept the notion that a thirteen-year-old wouldn’t want to hang with his only sibling, especially one seven years his junior.

 Frankly, I think all of Brooke’s energy would have been better spent on some therapy over her own traumas. “My god! That’s horrible! Do you think it’s for real?”

 “Who knows? For that matter, who cares?” Brooke arches a cleanly plucked brow. “Anyway that’s the rumor, and it’s too good not to be true, so I’m sticking with it. Besides, Colleen was behind Harry in line at Starbucks. She overheard him bickering with DeeDee on his cell. Seems she’s asked for a divorce, but he’s fighting her for everything: the kids, the house—even the dog! In fact, he also told one of his partners that he planned back cut back his hours at work to prove he should be the one to get full custody. Look, I say ’where there’s smoke, there’s fire.’”

 And they say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned? Bullshit. What guy wouldn’t go for the throat, particularly one who’s just been made a laughingstock in the neighborhood?

 Frankly, I can’t really blame him, since I’d do exactly the same thing. Still, I wonder what he’ll do if he does get it all. I’m of the theory that househusbands are born, not made. And they are certainly not made from high-powered corporate attorneys like Harry Wilder, who live for the thrill of the deal.

 But I don’t say this to Brooke, who wears her sistah solidarity on her silk Cavalli sleeve. If what she says is true, then there is no reason to feel sorry for DeeDee in the first place. Harry is the one we should pity, since he has no idea what he’s in for. I’m willing to bet he’ll reconsider his stance the first time Jake needs to be carpooled to basketball at the same time Temple has to be at ballet and it’s not until they are halfway there that she tells him she’s forgotten her tights.

  “So, who is DeeDee’s boyfriend?”

 Frustrated because her reconnaissance is incomplete in this one very important area, Brooke’s perfect moue of a mouth turns down at the sides. This is what passes for a frown when your social calendar revolves around standing appointments for Botox and collagen injections. “Since neither of them is talking, your guess is as good as mine. But don’t worry, I’ve got my spies working on it.” She winks broadly.

 That trail might be cold right now, but she is a good enough gossip hound that I’ve no doubt we’ll know the answer by the end of the week.

 As we pass DeeDee and Harry’s authentic-looking Tuscan villa, I notice that all the lights are off and the bougainvillea-wrapped wrought-iron gates are locked. The Wilders did not even leave out the requisite consolation: a plastic pumpkin filled with candy and sporting a sign that begs visitors to Take Just One and Leave The Rest for Others.

 Once again, Brooke is right: there is trouble in Paradise Heights.

 (c) 2010 Josie Brown. Published in June 2010 by Simon & Schuster/Downtown 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 Publisher.

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

Doctor_advice Since when is reading better than sex?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'll be testing him later tonight,


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

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

In bookstores June 1, 2010. Order it TODAY!

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

Read, Drink, Schmooze

BartSimpsonReading Despite the fact that I was nervous as all get-out I had a blast at Peg Alford Pursell's WHY THERE ARE WORDS salon.

I made new friends, and saw the faces of many pals (authors Wendy Tokanuga and Kate Perry, to name a few). It's always cool to be in a room where 80+ literati are hanging on your every word (albeit those words come out shaken and stirred — and not necessarily because of the glass  of wine you've gulped down ahead of time, for some liquid courage).*

For the most part, writers aren't natural readers (except for Joshilyn Jackson — who is also an actress. She is AWESOME, so if you get a chance to hear her read, take it). Through the years, I've grimaced through readings that sounded worse than a fifth grade book reports. The authors read too fast, too low, too embarrassed about their words.

If you write and get the opportunity to read out loud, you shouldn't be. You worked hard on your book, so read it loud, read it proud.

Your audience will be listening with bated breath.





T*Thanks, Ed the Hook, for the correction!


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

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

In bookstores June 1, 2010. Order it TODAY!

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

Order today:

From Amazon

From Barnes & Noble

From Books a Million

From Borders

From Copperfield's

From Your Local Independent Bookstore

From Powell's

From Target

Art from the Heart: Housewife, by Duane Hansen

HousewifeDuaneHansen  When reviewing art that uses the American housewife as its subject, I am always in awe at the artists' interpretations of what has been termed "domestic bliss." More often then not, the irony is visualized with the subject in the midst of some act of palpable angst, or perhaps bliss under pressure.

What I love love about "Housewife" by Duane Hansen (1970, polyester and fiberglass, life-sized) is the total air of resignation of his subject.

She's just given up. It's time for a break. Put your feet up, do something to make yourself feel pretty, forget that the kids are driving you crazy and read the latest issue of Redbook instead.

Or, perhaps the hose of her hair dryer has sucked any ability to give a hoot out of her?

I'll admit it, sometimes I feel just like her.

For Mr. Hansen's case, I hope his subject wasn't his wife.

Or his mother.

Then again, he's an artist, and I'm sure anyone who has to clean up his studio would look like this afterward.



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

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

In bookstores June 1, 2010. Order it

"Hollywood's got nothing on the cast of characters living in
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."

, bestselling author of Hollywood Wives and Poor Little Bitch Girl

Art from the Heart: Suburban Kitsch, Immortalized in an ’80s Art Review

Eric_Fischl_Dining_Room_Scene_2_2003 While researching my next novel, EXTRACURRICULAR, I came across a fabulous review that ran in the New York Times about the same time my protagonist in that book would have been growing up and reveling in the kind of life that, she hopes,  moves beyond suburbia and its aspiring classes.

The book warps speeds into the present. Have we really changed that much? If you want my opinion, you'll have to read the book to find out.

Of course, I'll want you to read Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives first.

In the meantime, enjoy this blast from the past: 1989, to be exact. Or, as those of us who lived through it, we remember that it was more than just Madonna, mullets and John Hughes movies that idealized the essence of teendom.

There was Seinfeld too.


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

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

In bookstores June 1, 2010. Order it

"Hollywood's got nothing on the cast of characters living in
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."

, bestselling author of Hollywood Wives and Poor Little Bitch Girl

July 23, 1989

IDEALLY, suburbia is a place that has the benefits of both rural
and city living but none of their drawbacks. Books taking issue with
that run from the socially scientific to the comic, and there are many
of them. But even more abundant is art about the subject, which
invariably takes the form of caricature, be it an affectionately witty
cartoon in The New Yorker or a cruel photograph by Diane Arbus.

But an entire exhibition about suburbia – this is almost unheard
of. Yet, at the Whitney Museum in Stamford, is ''Suburban Home Life:
Tracking the American Dream,'' a show that made its debut in Manhattan
at another Whitney branch.

Assembled by five Helena Rubinstein Fellows in the Independent
Study Program of the Whitney, this selection of roughly 70 paintings,
sculpture, architectural visualizations and video commemorates well
enough the surge to the suburbs after World War II. But the catalogue is
a problem: the discourse is glib and a bit smart-alecky.

Apparently, suburbia is an exclusively American manifestation for
the curator, Miwon Kwon. She writes as if it had nothing to do with the
European Romantic movement, itself a byproduct of and a reaction to the
Industrial Revolution. Nevertheless, she itemizes the familiar pros and
cons: peace and quiet versus the monotony of look-alike housing (as
opposed to the infinite variety of, say, high-rise living in Manhattan);
serenity on the surface versus abnormality below (see Eric Fischl's
painting of hanky-panky by the swimming pool), and so on.

At the same time, Ms. Kwon makes it clear that for all the
criticism leveled at it – mostly by intellectuals and artists – suburbia
continues to flourish. The curator takes the conventional view of the
development as the realization of the American Dream (as if the desire
to own a house and the land it stands on were peculiar to this country)
but does not touch on the almost cicadian regularity with which it is
enacted. After all, countless couples settle in the suburbs in order to
rear children, only to have them bolt for the city at their earliest
opportunity. Those children go back, of course, when the time comes to
rear children of their own who, in turn . . .

In her essay, Sarah Bayliss, a Rubinstein Fellow, probes suburban
domestic life for materialism, hypocrisy and the oppression of women,
citing as evidence advertising from the 1950's on, the photo-realist
Robert Bechtle's painting of an average American family posing with its
Pontiac, and more recent ironies by the photographers Judy Dater and
Sandy Skoglund. All highlight, Ms. Bayliss says, ''the need for an
alternative way to perceive women and home life; one that exists
independently of material domestic conventions.''

Counting the psychological cost of the good life, Christopher
Robert Hoover's essay attributes to suburbia a failing that is endemic
in egalitarian societies: to revere the theory of individualism while
recoiling from its practice. In any case, Mr. Hoover sees proof of the
suburban pudding in movies like ''A Nightmare on Elm Street,''
''Poltergeist'' and ''Dawn of the Dead.'' Five hours of horror
transferred to tape, the films go with the show and, taken with the
tapes by contemporary videoists and a few documentaries, the total
viewing time is close to nine hours. (The museum is open from 11 A.M. to
5 P.M.) Equally obvious is the collective bias of the curators, but
though they are against capitalism, they subscribe to its class system.
For example, there is a model of Frank O. Gehry's house in California, a
large, rambling lean-to where the walls are as likely to be made of
corrugated metal and chain-link fence as of wood. The architect is
quoted expressing disingenuous surprise at the smugness of neighbors who
do not like his structure. He notes that when he points out to them
that he uses the same industrial materials that they keep lying around
their backyards in the form of boats, campers and the like, they reply,
''Oh, no, that's normal.''

Then there is Diane Arbus's famous black and white photograph, ''A
Family on Their Lawn One Sunday in Westchester, N.Y.'' – a litter-strewn
lawn that looks more like a picnic ground. Suburbanites or not, the
movie-star type blonde and her distracted man would doubtless seem as
bored and estranged if they were at Coney Island for the day.

With their poker-faced renderings of houses in color, the
photographers William Eggleston, Tom Bernard, Steven Izenour and Stephen
Shore hold suburbia at arm's length for a more clinical investigation.
The architectural firm of Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown offers color
pictures of Levittown housing with a caption that, in effect, advises
the cognoscenti to grin and bear it. The residents, they say, are happy
with their homes and the improvements they make are consonant with the
designs. Incidentally, when compared with the chip board structures seen
recently by the reviewer in New Jersey, the show's houses look pretty

Outside of Mr. Gehry, the show ignores the suburban upper crust;
splendid villas are nowhere to be seen. Aside from the aerial view of
Levittown taken by an anonymous photographer, beauty tends to be in the
eye of the artist – Ed Ruscha's nocturnal view of a shadowy black
mansion with a large red ''F'' plastered to its facade; the terrace of
toy houses made by James Casebere and photographed by him in black and
white, along with a similarly staged scene of mock toys filling a room.

James Wines, who heads Site, the architectural collective
responsible for the Best Products Company showrooms, is represented by a
mysterious charcoal drawing of skyscrapers standing beside water. The
facade of one has been removed to reveal landscapes within studded
mansions. An architectural whimsy? A proposal for saving nature from
developers by keeping it indoors? Never mind, the image is the ''after''
to Frank Lloyd Wright's ''before'' – two views of an urban fantasy
where the automobiles look like miniature paddlewheelers and the
helicopters like U.F.O.'s.

Doubts as to the show's mission should be resolved by Jeff Koons's
ghastly ''Winter Bears.'' A boy bear and a girl bear carved by another
hand, the two evidently stand for the kitsch preferred by suburbanites.
This highlights the production's greatest weakness, which is to imply
that suburbia is a lower-middle class enterprise when in fact it has all
the usual social gradations.

There is, however, a problem and Mr. Hoover comes the closest to
identifying it when he observes that the planned communities formerly
regarded as an ''attractive alternative'' to rural and urban living are
now seen as a ''homogenizing growth over the entire social sphere.''

''Suburban Home Life: Tracking the American Dream'' will remain at
the Whitney Museum, 1 Champion Plaza, Stamford, through Sept. 6.

Photo of work by Eve Arnold; work by Stephen Shore

The Authors Guild: Advice to Authors on Protecting eBook Royalties

Stack_of_books Sometimes we authors are so desperate to see ourselves in print, that we forget to protect ourselves when it counts most: during contract negotiations.

Truth is, if you don't push back, you can't survive.

Don't be stupid. Take the advice from the Authors Guild that I've reprinted here, below.

Just another reason to join, by the way, is taht there is power in numbers!)



Random House, HarperCollins Look to Lock In Low E-Book Royalty
Rates: 5 Ways to Protect Yourself


March 18, 2010. Random House and HarperCollins are sending
letters to authors and agents seeking amendments to contracts regarding
e-book rights.  These letters, although some suggest that the author's
work was "selected" for digitization, appear to be going to virtually
all authors who have no stated e-book royalty rate in their contracts. 
In some cases, the letters have gone to authors who have never granted
e-book rights to the publisher. 

These amendments should be treated with extreme care.

royalty rates are low at the moment.  Both publishers are trying to lock
in e-book royalty rates at 25% of net receipts.  As we've previously
, we believe this will prove to be a low-water mark for e-book

Authors and publishers have
traditionally split the proceeds from book sales.  Most sublicenses, for
example, provide for a 50/50 split of proceeds, and the standard trade
book royalty of 15% of the hardcover retail price, back in the days that
industry standard was established, represented about 50% of the net
proceeds of the sale of the book.  We're confident that the current
practice of paying 25% of net on e-books will not, in the long run,
prevail.  Savvy agents are well aware of this.  The only reason e-book
royalty rates are so low right now is that so little attention has been
paid to them:  sales were simply too low to scrap over.  That's
beginning to change.

Here's how to protect yourself:

1. Get the absolute right
to renegotiate
  If you accept these low royalty rates, don't lock
yourself in.  Try to obtain the unconditional right to renegotiate the
royalty rate after a period of, say, two years.  If you don't get the
unconditional right to renegotiate, then, at a bare minimum, you should
have the right to renegotiate if industry standard royalty rates change
or if the publisher's standard royalty rate changes.  We can help you
with the contractual language.

2. Negotiate for a royalty
   Insist that your royalty amount (in terms of dollars and
cents, not percentage points) for e-books will never fall below the
royalty amount for the print edition of the work.  It's best to peg the
minimum to the royalty amount for the hardcover edition of your work. 
If not, then have the minimum royalty tied to the royalty for the
prevailing print version at the time the e-book is sold.  This will keep
e-book sales from eroding your royalties.

3. Double-check
your reversion of rights clause
  This is critical.  If your
reversion of rights clause doesn't have sales thresholds in it, your
publisher can argue that availability in any edition — regardless of
the number of sales — means your book is "in print." (We don't agree
with this interpretation of older contracts, but some publishers argue
this with a straight face.)  Take this opportunity to clarify your
reversion of rights clause by inserting a minimum number of annual sales
for a work to be deemed in print.  Again, we can help with the

4. Check your contract; you may control e-rights. 
Some of these letters have gone to authors of books for which the
author hasn't granted the publisher electronic rights.  Others have gone
to authors for books in which all rights have reverted.  Please contact
us or your agent if you have questions about your contract.

If you can't obtain adequate safeguards, you may want to bide your
  The e-book market is still a small, developing market, with
uncertain economics.  Publishers and distributors are fighting major
battles over business models.  For some books (children's picture books,
for example), the market has been especially tiny, although some
believe Apple's new iPad may soon change that.  In any event, e-book
publication isn't a now or never proposition, and signing the contract
amendment will prevent you from seeking e-book publication deals with
other publishers.  Take your time, weigh your options carefully.

always, if you need help evaluating the terms of your existing Random
House or HarperCollins contract to see whether it contains a more
favorable e-book royalty rate or whether you granted e-book rights to
those publishers in the first place, send in your contracts.  We're here
to help.

2010 The
Authors Guild

I Want My Book TV! Using the AMERICAN IDOL Model in Publishing

If the publishing industry is to survive, it has to promote it's products (books and authors) and its brands (imprints — and again, authors).

That's the wave of the future.

And the eBook — the fastest growing distribution method in the publishing industry — ia taking us there, at warp speed.

Sure, technology is the lead horse, but shouldn't publishing houses be grab the reins — and the bulk of sales?

That means more promotion.

And creating more impulse sales.

And opening up point-of-sale in more venues.

Not just publishing houses, but bookstores, too. If they want to survive (let alone thrive) they must must get on the bandwagon . . .

Or go the way of the buggywhip store.

I'm talking bread and circuses here.

Yep, the more, the merrier. Make it a happening, a be-in.

I'm talking a book slam. In person, and in a BIG way.

Big venue, big crowds. 

Then invite the world.

Some booksellers get this.The town in which I was born and raised (as we say in the South) puts on a world-class book fair. The Decatur Book Festival (in Georgia) is something that the independent book stores in the area should be proud of. I know I am.

If the world can't be there in person, take them there, via TV and radio.

Podcast it. YouTube it.

Forget about "American Idol." What about "American Novelist?"

But big ideas take big bucks.

Which brings us to the pub houses — many of which are owned by media conglomerates. So CBS (Simon & Schuster) or ABC (Hyperion) or Fox (HarperCollins), why not devote a
few hours of TV programming each week to promoting your publishing subsidiary, and showcasing
your authors?

Make it an elimination contest. Each week, have the novelist contestants do round-robin reads of 2-3 chapters.

The audience can vote for their faves (via online, where they can also download .pdfs of the chapters they just heard).

You could have your bestsellers serve as judges–and showcase trailers of their upcoming books.


Like most readers, I love any venue that helps me visual what I'm reading. More to the point, I want the readers of my books to visualize my characters and my plots.

But let's be honest: most authors read like frightened 5th graders giving book reports.

Solution: hire up-and-coming actors that act out scenes, or to give table reads.

Afterward, the host talks with the author about plot and character.

The requisite "video bio" of the author will help endear him/her to new fans.

And of course "American Novel" will culminate in a "grand prize": a bigger advance, multi-book contract, and front table status for mid-listers.

Talk about a way to build the brands — and the sales — of your authors


You get the picture.

And yes, I am ready for my close-up,


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

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

Look for it in bookstores June 1, 2010

From Amazon

From Barnes & Noble

From Bigger Books

From Books a Million

From Borders

From Copperfield's

From Your Local Independent Bookstore

From Powell's

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