The Week California was on fire.

 

Last week was interesting, to say the least.

When my husband, Martin, woke up before daybreak.

Then he looked at the clock.

Then he woke me up.

Then I got depressed.

The numerous fires occurring right now in Northern California was very visible even seventy-plus miles south: here in San Francisco.

But then I remembered, “People all over my state are burned out of their homes and their towns. They may have lost a friend, a family member, or a pet. I'm not a firefighter who is battling weeks of roaring flames, non-stop. I am lucky.

We have to count their blessing when they come.

A week later, the sky is finally blue again. Still, there are big fires everywhere.

This hasn't been a great year. Still, some good has come from it.

When it's come to my writing, I've kept my head down. Because of it, you'll see Donna Stone Craig go through many trials and tribulations, which, admittedly, is a reflection on our collective year, if not for the same reasons.

And to get out of my head—that is, my character's machinations—I've started my online print bookstore. The details are below. And guess what? You can buy any two books and get another book as a gift from me.

I've been producing audiobooks of my novels. You'll learn more of that by Thanksgiving: just around the time I'll be releasing Assassination Vacation Planner, the 20th novel in the Housewife Assassin series. There's a link below where you can pre-order it.

Talking to other authors also opens up my world. So that it is a part of yours, too, I hope you'll take the time to listen my interview with Robert Dugoni about his latest novel, The Last Agent. I know you'll enjoy our conversation about this fast-paced spy caper. And Robert is always so open about his process as an author. He's a blast to talk to.

The best thing about Fridays: the week is over, and we get to take a few days off. I hope I've given you some great insights, and a few good reads.

—Josie

Photo: The iconic Transamerica tower in a smoke-tinged sky.

Births, Birthdays, and a Free Book

Josie & Austin
Me, holding my first born: my son,  when he was a mere ten days old. He is now an adult. So not only is he one of my first loves, he is also one of my best friends.

In bad years as well as good ones, there will be births and birthdays.

In the past three weeks, I’ve celebrated one of the former and two of the latter.

And before April, my family will welcome a new little being. I cannot be happier. To celebrate:

This weekend only (Fri-Sat, Aug 28-30) the digital version of my stand-alone novel, The Baby Planner, is FREE in Amazon

It’s a story of maternal longing, a marriage at cross purposes, pre-natal angst, and family secrets.

The story came to me in a flash! I felt the pain of my heroine, Katie Johnson, so intensely! She wanted something so badly that this desire changed her life.

I hope Katie touches you as intensely as she did me as I was writing her.

In the book, as in our lives this very moment, no one can change the past. However, the future is within our grasp.

Between now and the wee one's birth, our family will also celebrate eight birthdays. I plan on toasting, lighting candles, eating cake, and making one wish on my loved ones' behalf: that every new year we celebrate from here on out is better than 2020.

I wish that for you too.

—Josie

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THIS WEEKEND ONLY: FRI – SUN, August 28-30, 2020

Little fires everywhere…

Fire

Which, now have turned into large, dangerous, life-threatening infernos—for those who live near them, and those brave men and women tasked with fighting them..

They are all over the state of California, decimating our forests, many of which are old-growth redwoods, some a thousand years old.

My dear friend Emily posted this photo a day ago. It is a smoke plume from a fire burning near the Sonoma Coast.  The color of the setting sun, reflected on the water, is caused by the smoke.

The fires are not just in Northern California. They are roiling through hills, forests and homes in Napa, Sonoma, Solano, Santa Cruz, Alameda, Marin, and Mendocino counties.

The fires were started by lightning, which we rarely see here. And because we get virtually no rain in the summer months our dry forests are always at risk.

Lives, livelihoods, wildlife, have also have been lost or endangered.

It’s been a hell of a year. Northern California did not need this icing on its 2020 crudcake.  🥺😢🥺

You can read about it here…

—Josie

I miss the Oscars! Hopefully, we won’t be missing it next year.

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban copy
Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban (c)2017 Josie Brown. All rights reserved.

A few years back (think LaLa Land) a journalist friend asked me to help him out at the Oscars.

Um….YES! Sign me up!

I'd already written my novel, Hollywood Hunk. There is an Oscars event scene in it, and after being there, I was pleased to see that how I imagined this iconic event was very close to the real deal.

Scarlett Johansson copy
Scarlett Johansson. (c)2017 Josie Brown. All rights reserved.

As someone who'd done celebrity interviews for various newspapers and magazines, I'd already had a few opportunities to interview directors and actors. But this was my first Academy Awards event—and it was INTENSE, to say the least. I got up close and personal with several actors and directors who I admire, and saw their grace, wit, and modesty first hand. It was a thrill and a pleasure to take a few photos up close, and to see them at their best, even if they were anxious how the night would turn out.

In my novel, the heroine—Hannah Fairchild, a daughter of a famous male actor—saw firsthand how her father's vanity and insecurity ruined her relationship with him. But since he's just died and her proverbial wicked stepmother has contested the will, Hannah is down on her luck and needs money. Despite her best judgment, she takes a job as an up-and-coming actor's personal assistant.

Having been the one constant in her father's life, she thinks she can handle Louis Trollope's indefatigable ego, bouts of insecurity, and his incessant womanizing.

Samuel L Jackson copy
Samuel L. Jackson. (c) 2017 Josie Brown. All rights reserved.

In other words, it's her father all over again.

Along the way, she learns what she really wants from life.

I don't know if the Oscars will take place next year. I hope it does because we need things to go back to normal—

Not that walking in a gown and stilettos on a red carpet to accept an award in front of your peers and tens of thousands of television viewers is at all “normal.”

It's the stuff of dreams.

So are books.

And now, more than ever, because we need a break from reality, I hope you enjoy this book—now free.

—Josie

Yes, I took these pictures of

Nicole Kidman and her husband, Keith Urban (above), Scarlett Johansson (right), and Samuel Jackson (left). Talk about up close and personal!

HHunkAmzFreeTWBest copy

 

Smile. Not just for our sakes, but for yours too.

Smile SidewalkSMILE.

It doesn't matter that you're wearing a mask and no one can see it.

And, yes, go ahead and say, “Hello.” Or, “How are you?” Maybe: “Have a nice day.”

Despite our anxieties, we can still communicate kind words and actions: say, a nod. Better yet, a wave.

I've noticed that, since COVID, I've avoided looking others in the eye. I no longer pet strangers' dogs, let alone ask the age of their pet, or complement their pet's pretty coat.

The only positive thing that's come out of it is that, while looking elsewhere, I see some things I may have missed: like the artist Fnnch's honey bears, which have popped up all over San Francisco. They masked in solidarity with the rest of us.

And when looking down, more street art catches my eye, like the lyrics to that great song from the musical, “Annie,” reminding us to smile.

Frankly, I'm glad to be chided out of my anxiety. I don't like the scaredy-cat I've become.

I don't like projecting my fears onto strangers.

It stops NOW.

If you've felt the same way, join me in regaining some of the humanity we're hiding under our masks.

To honor those who are genuinely superhuman—our first responders, the folks in the front lines of serving the sick, elderly, and the neediest among us; and those who keep essential businesses running so the rest of us can try to get through this as best we can— the very least we can do is to be human. Again.

—Josie

 

There’s going to be an evolution…

3BE1E21C-016E-4688-95F4-B9404438AAFC_1_102_o.jpeg

Drove over the Golden Gate Bride this on Friday to get out of  San Francisco's fog and to take a hike. Found this hollowed out redwood tree in Baltimore Canyon, which creeps around the Marin County towns of Larkspur and Corte Madera, right between Mount Tamalpais and King Mountain.

Thousands of years have passed since this was a seedling, which then grew into a giant that towered over this canyon before dying and withering away. All that, just so I could pass it at this very moment: as a shaft of sunlight graces it like a warm smile 🌁

The truth: the world 🌎 does not revolve around me. Instead, we revolve—and, in a good moment, evolve with it.

—Josie

Coronavirus Articles of Interest

My mantra: Knowledge is power.

That being said, here are some websites and some articles (links and pdfs) that may be of interest as we make our way through the Coronavirus pandemic.

Keep safe and sane,

Josie



This Is an Interactive Map of US Coronavirus Case, from the New York Time as of Friday, May 29, 2020.

This is an interactive map that breaks down cases by state, via county. What you should look for here: the colors that chart cases over a day's period. The lighter the color, the better your state or county may be in moving toward—or, hopefully, away—from the pandemic.


Coronavirus “Stay at home” Orders, and What it Means in Your State

PDF: Coronavirus stay-at-home orders_ What it means in your state – The Washington Post

LINK: You're under a stay-at-home order? Here's what that means in your state.

What to look for here:

1: Dividing the number of deaths to cases in your area.

2: Also, number of cases divided by your area's population puts the virus' toll it into perspective.

3: You should also take note as to whether the numbers of cases are going up near you. If so, it's a red sign.


CDC Advice on Prevention

PDF: prevention-H

LINK: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html


Why You Should NOT Try to Infect Yourself
This is a great article as to how doctors view stupid people tricks during the coronavirus pandemic.

PDF: Opinion: Please, Don't Intentionally Infect Yourself With Coronavirus – The New York Times

LINK: https://josiebrown.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Opinion-_-Please-Dont-Intentionally-Infect-Yourself-With-Coronavirus-The-New-York-Times.pdf


New York City during the Coronavirus Pandemic – An Essay
New Yorker's editor, David Remnick, writes eloquently as to how it's affected his town.

PDF: New York City in the Coronavirus Pandemic _ The New Yorker


Coronavirus Seems to Kill More Men than Women.
Does gender play a part in the virus' outcome? Maybe. This explains why.

PDF: All across the United States, the coronavirus is killing more men than women, data show – The Washington Post

LINK: https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/04/04/coronavirus-men/


The Sad Reality of Why Communal Gatherings Must Cease for the Time Being

PDF:  Choir practice turns fatal. Coronavirus is to blame – Los Angeles Times

LINK: https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-03-29/coronavirus-choir-outbreak


Insightful reportage by BusinessInsider.com

PDF: How Albany Georgia became a coronavirus hotspot from 2 funerals – Business Insider


Are you in a state that has yet to issue a “shelter in place” mandate?

PDF: See Which States and Cities Have Told Residents to Stay at Home – The New York Times

LINK: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-stay-at-home-order.html


Here's how the UK Plans to Go from 16,000 Tests a day to 100,000 by the End of the Month.

PDF: Here’s How The UK Plans To Go From 16,000 Tests A Day To 100,000 By The End Of The Month

LINK: https://www.buzzfeed.com/emilyashton/coronavirus-testing-uk-matt-hancock


How long until it ends?

The first state hit, Washington, is thinking that through now.

LINK: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/apr/11/washington-state-coronavirus-crisis


A Coronavirus patient describes what it's like to live through it.

PDF: All systems shutting down’_ Bay Area coronavirus patient details horrors of infection – SFChronicle.com

LINK: https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/All-systems-shutting-down-Bay-Area-15209714.php


YES—It can happen to you too. No state is immune, no matter how large or small the city.

SafeStateNot

LINK: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/20/us/coronavirus-live-news.html


Why we must all play our parts by sheltering in place, walking six feet apart, and masking while in public.

In other words, stay safe.

PDF: How Will the Coronavirus End_ – The Atlantic

LINK: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/03/how-will-coronavirus-end/608719/


Health workers have a few tricks for solving this vexing problem, but it will take trial and error to find the one that works for you.

PDF: Help! My Mask Fogs My Glasses – The New York Times

LINK: https://www.nytimes.com/article/glasses-fog-wearing-mask-coronavirus.html?smid=em-share

 

Fantastic Beasts, and were to find them on TV.

carnival-row-amazon-trailer-release-date-cast-news

As the days get cooler, the nights grow longer, our imaginations run even wilder, especially with All Hallows' Eve right around the corner.

No better time to discover some new fantasy TV series.

Amazon Prime has created a beautiful alternate universe—Burgue, akin to 1880 London— in which humans reluctantly co-exist with fairies (“faes”) and other fantastic beasts: gremlin-like kobolds, werewolves, and my personal favorite, “pucks,” who are saytres (half man, half ram).

These fantastic beasts, called “crits” by the humans, are war refugees in Burgue, which was its ally against the barbarous Pacts. Even so, except for those who have secured jobs as servants, they are confined to a ghetto called “Carnival Row.”

When a renowned Fae is murdered, a soldier-turned-police inspector,  Rycroft Philostrate (“Philo”; one of Orlando Bloom's best roles to date) is put on the case. It brings him in contact with his long-lost love: a fae called Vignette Stonemoss (Cara Delevingne). Both thought the other dead in the last great battle between the faes and the Pacts. Both feel betrayed by the other. Their attraction and animosity for each other ramps up along with the killings of crits by some unknown mystical force.

Great stuff indeed.

Click below to see a trailer.

Or click the photo above to read a Vanity Fair article about the series' shoots-and-ladders journey from concept to greenlight for series.

Another interesting television series on Netflix, The Frankenstein Chronicles, does a realistic twist on Mary Shelley's famous novel.  This is not a love story, but historical crime suspense about redemption for the early 19th Century London police investigator charged with finding a serial child murderer.

FrankensteinChronicles

Or is it?

Starring a Game of Thrones head honcho, Sean Bean, the series takes place in the 1820s (as bleakly post-Jane Austen as you can get), a time when corpses were considered public property and legally dug up by “immortalists” (I LOVE that period-appropriate word for “grave robbers!”) for the scientists and doctors who are pushing Britain's political leaders to approve “the Anatomy Act” so that cadavers can be legally used for medical study.

The world-building is sublimely authentic. Even indoors, the poor actors seem to be freezing, if their chilled breath is any indication.

This show has already gone into a third season and promises more head-spinning plots based on things that go bump in the night.

Click the photo above for a great recap article; or the video box below for a trailer peek.

Scared and Bemused,

Josie

Judy, Judy, Judy…and Renee.

 

JudlyMovie1200

I'm a fan of Old Hollywood. And the fact that Judy Garland's rendition of Over the Rainbow makes me cry every time I hear it was reason enough for me to see Judy, the feature film bio-pic starring Renee Zellweger.

I'm also a VERY big fan of Renee's. As Roxie Hart in the musical movie, Chicago, I thought she knocked it out of the park: she was THE triple threat: singing, dancing, acting.

And it's because of Bridget Jones's Diary that I write humorous women's fiction. (By that I mean the novel, by Helen Fielding, albeit the movie version reinforced my love of romcoms.)

I was NOT disappointed. If you go to see it, I don't think you will be, either.

Can she sing like Judy?

I'll answer that with a question: Can anyone?

What you'll appreciate about Zellweger's performance is that she captures all the gestures, the vocal inflections (Judy's resonance and vocal depth was incomparable), the timing, and the pathos of one of the greatest performers to grace the silver screen, or for that matter a live stage.

I'll be shocked if she doesn't wind the Best Actress Oscar for it.

Below is a trailer of the movie.

Garland once famously said, “If I'm a legend, then why I so lonely?” This is aptly illustrated in the movie. One of the most touching scenes in the movie is how Judy asks two fans to grab a bite to eat with her for just this very reason: with celebrity comes awe, which creates a crevice between the famous and those leading normal lives.

I saw this first hand,  when interviewing celebrities for feature articles.

Debbie Reynolds came to San Francisco, to make the movie, Mother, written, directed, and co-starring Albert Brooks. At that point, and that time in her life, movie roles had essentially dried up for her. She realized it was a great break, perhaps even a comeback role. In fact, it garnered her a Golden Globe nomination.

At the beginning of our interview, she was nervous enough that her hand was shaking as she sipped her coffee.

When she heard that, as a little boy, my son insisted on watching Singing in the Rain over and over again, she kindly replied, “Did you bring a cassette tape? I'd sign it for you.”

Silly me, I didn't even think of doing so.

By the end of the interview, she hinted that she'd like company for a meal. Again, I was so stupidly awestruck that I didn't say, “Sure, let's grab a bite.”

I've always regretted it.

If you get that opportunity, take it.

Here's to those bright lights that entertain us.

—Josie

 

Extracurricular: new, fresh, interesting and original.

ExtraReadingMomMeTw

With so many #books and so little time, it’s always an honor when a #bookblogger discovers you and appreciates your writing voice. Thanks @reading_mom.me for this kind shoutout for Extracurricular!

—Josie

Extracurricular-Kindle

Extracurricular / Book 1

Signal Press (Release Date: June 28, 2019)
BOOK 1 of an Episodic Series of 3 Books
Digital ISBN:978-1-970093-00-1
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-970093-02-5

amazon-2-icon AppleBooks unnamed kobo-blue

It's your child's senior year. 
A private high school's reputation is at stake.
A math teacher refuses to grade his final exams on a curve. 
Students have only one more shot at the SAT before college applications are due. 
And a few desperate parents with much more money than brains are willing to do anything to get their children into Ivy League colleges.

And Audrey's dirty little secret will soon be the downfall of everyone and everything she holds dear: love, family, friends, and her private high school alma mater.

In EXTRACURRICULAR, a dark family secret leads to a college admissions cheating scandal at a private school, setting off a crisis of conscience for the parents, teachers, administrator and the students involved—and a catharsis for one couple's marriage.

Extracurricular: “She managed to kill it.”

ExtraSandyTwBest

When one writes a new series, one tends to be anxious while waiting for long-time readers to weigh in. Needless to say, this review made my heart soar.

Well, Sandy, let me tell you: I always write my books with you—the reader—in mind. If you enjoyed it, if it was the cherry on the cake of your day, then I couldn't be happier.

Thanks for taking the time to find me, and to trust that I'll take you on a journey you'll enjoy.

—Josie

Extracurricular-Kindle

Extracurricular / Book 1

Signal Press (Release Date: June 28, 2019)
BOOK 1 of an Episodic Series of 3 Books
Digital ISBN:978-1-970093-00-1
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-970093-02-5

amazon-2-icon AppleBooks unnamed kobo-blue

It's your child's senior year. 
A private high school's reputation is at stake.
A math teacher refuses to grade his final exams on a curve. 
Students have only one more shot at the SAT before college applications are due. 
And a few desperate parents with much more money than brains are willing to do anything to get their children into Ivy League colleges.

And Audrey's dirty little secret will soon be the downfall of everyone and everything she holds dear: love, family, friends, and her private high school alma mater.

In EXTRACURRICULAR, a dark family secret leads to a college admissions cheating scandal at a private school, setting off a crisis of conscience for the parents, teachers, administrator and the students involved—and a catharsis for one couple's marriage.

Thanks, Julie Valerie, for loving Extracurricular.

ExtraJulieInsta

It’s always great to get a review for a new release from an author you greatly respect. Thank you, Julie Valerie from the bottom of my 💖,

—Josie

Extracurricular-Kindle

Extracurricular / Book 1

Signal Press
BOOK 1 of an Episodic Series of 3 Books
Digital ISBN:978-1-970093-00-1
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-970093-02-5

amazon-2-icon AppleBooks unnamed kobo-blue

It's your child's senior year. 
A private high school's reputation is at stake.
A math teacher refuses to grade his final exams on a curve. 
Students have only one more shot at the SAT before college applications are due. 
And a few desperate parents with much more money than brains are willing to do anything to get their children into Ivy League colleges.

And Audrey's dirty little secret will soon be the downfall of everyone and everything she holds dear: love, family, friends, and her private high school alma mater.

In EXTRACURRICULAR, a dark family secret leads to a college admissions cheating scandal at a private school, setting off a crisis of conscience for the parents, teachers, administrator and the students involved—and a catharsis for one couple about their marriage.

Author Provocateur: Brad Thor Interview

BradThorBacklash

I had the great honor of interviewing thriller master Brad Thor about his latest novel, BACKLASH, his nineteenth novel whose protagonist, former Navy SEAL Scot Harvath, is the iconic Covert Ops bad-ass fixer.

This particular book is a perfect storm of loss, grief, spy games, and epic journey home.

Not to mention a pack of hungry wolves. (I kid you not!)

Feel free to click this link to read it in International Thriller Writers Organization's The Big Thrill

—Josie

—Josie

Extracurricular-Kindle

Extracurricular / Book 1

Signal Press (Release Date: June 28, 2019)
BOOK 1 of an Episodic Series of 3 Books
Digital ISBN:978-1-970093-00-1
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-970093-02-5

amazon-2-icon AppleBooks unnamed kobo-blue

It's your child's senior year. 
A private high school's reputation is at stake.
A math teacher refuses to grade his final exams on a curve. 
Students have only one more shot at the SAT before college applications are due. 
And a few desperate parents with much more money than brains are willing to do anything to get their children into Ivy League colleges.

And Audrey's dirty little secret will soon be the downfall of everyone and everything she holds dear: love, family, friends, and her private high school alma mater.

In EXTRACURRICULAR, a dark family secret leads to a college admissions cheating scandal at a private school, setting off a crisis of conscience for the parents, teachers, administrator and the students involved—and a catharsis for one couple about their marriage.

Extracurricular: You can buy it today.

ExtraLaunch2Tw

I used to hate pink book covers.

I felt they sent the wrong message: “This is a book for women only.”

Okay, yeah. Extracurricular is for women. 

Mothers who have sweated—or are sweating—their kids' path to college, or what they hope is a better life for their children.

And for girls—that is, young adult women—who have dreamed, or now dream about, college. Or those young women who are in college, and worked hard to get there—

But know others who may have gamed the system.

This book is for men too. Because men are also worried about how their children will be educated. They stay up late at nights worried that they won't be able to afford the college tuition for their children.

(And they will read it despite the pink hue of its cover.)

They too dream that their children will have a fair chance to earn a slot at the school of their choice.

But then there are parents who will commit fraud—take a “side door,” as it's called—but justify it because it's for their children.

In the three episodic novels that make up Extracurricular, you'll meet all sorts of parents and their kids. One—the protagonist, Audrey Thorpe—will have a shameful secret. Another, Egan Gable, will be the catalyst for the decisions she makes for herself and her loved ones. 

And all the characters you meet will have personal agendas—driven by pride, arrogance, or greed.

A few you'll cheer for, despite the battles they face. Others, you will hate because how they view their lives, and others whose lives they affect on a daily basis.

Nothing is black and white. Just like real life, there are a lot of variables that affect my characters' decisions, both right and wrong.

In other words, what you've come to expect from a Josie Brown book.

So, yes, a pink cover is right for the very first novel in the series, when, after meeting the FBI team that is leading the investigation, we leap back twenty-two years in the past, when the real story begins: a time of  youthful, exuberant innocence.

Where it ends up? Well, that’s the problem. You see, every deed, good or bad, has a catalyst that began in some ripple of time.

The second novel in the series sports a blue cover. It brings us back to the future, with darker times and more at stake. The last cover is a pale yellow, representing knowledge, or wisdom; the light after the storm.

Be duly warned: there will be many trials and tribulations before our characters get there.

If you've been reading my other blog posts about Extracurricular, you already know that this story has been percolating with me for quite some time now: eight years, in fact.

If you're wondering why, it too me so long to write, it's simply that I got sidelined with other fun characters and their stories. My housewife assassin, Donna Stone, for one, who gets even more complex with every book in her satiric series. And of course, my four lovely Totlandia ladies, (and one who was more difficult to love (ahem: BETTINA). And Ben Brinker and Maggie Vandergalen in The Candidate. 

Before Audrey and Egan, there were Hannah Fairchild and Louis Trollope in Hollywood Hunk; Nina Hart and Sam Godwin in Hollywood Whore; and Lyssa and Harry of Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives; and Katie Johnson and her husband, Alex, in The Baby Planner.

To an author, each story is a puzzle. Each character—every plot point—is just one piece that must fit perfectly with the others to make the story whole.

And now, finally, it's Audrey and Egan's turn. Their story is part comedy, some tragedy, and hopefully a journey that you'll enjoy all along the way. Since I initially concepted it, the world has gotten even more complex. Ironically, the issues they face in the novels—first as young adults, then with children of their own—reflect what we see happening now, as it pertains with college admissions and the lengths those with more money than brains will go to make sure their children get into “the right schools.”

And yes, the foibles of the parents caught up in the current scandals will be reflected in Extracurricular.

Sometimes, you can't make this stuff up. At least, together, we can laugh at it.

Thanks for taking a chance on my story.

—Josie

Extracurricular-KindleExtracurricular / Book 1

Signal Press (Release Date: June 28, 2019)
BOOK 1 of an Episodic Series of 3 Books
Digital ISBN:978-1-970093-00-1
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-970093-02-5

amazon-2-icon AppleBooks unnamed kobo-blue

It's your child's senior year. 
A private high school's reputation is at stake.
A math teacher refuses to grade his final exams on a curve. 
Students have only one more shot at the SAT before college applications are due. 
And a few desperate parents with much more money than brains are willing to do anything to get their children into Ivy League colleges.

And Audrey's dirty little secret will soon be the downfall of everyone and everything she holds dear: love, family, friends, and her private high school alma mater.

In EXTRACURRICULAR, a dark family secret leads to a college admissions cheating scandal at a private school, setting off a crisis of conscience for the parents, teachers, administrator and the students involved—and a catharsis for one couple about their marriage.

 

 

 

 

Extracurricular: Hence, the name of the series

Debate Terminology.png

I know what you're thinking: that I chose Extracurricular as the name of my novel series because it sets up a delicious double entendre, what with it taking place at a private high school and that lust and is front and center with its protagonists, Audrey and Egan.

Well, you're wrong.

Colleges are very interested in the activities that students engage in during high school. These “extracurriculars” show gauge those students who are fully rounded socially; if they can multi-task, and take on responsibilities.

In other words, are they good citizens?

In the novels, Ashbury Academy's debate team is a sought-after extracurricular activity. However, one must earn one's place on it.

And there in lies the rub. If a student is willing to lie, steal, and cheat to make the team, is s/he a good citizen? Is this a pattern of behavior that will continue throughout his or her life?

As the latest college admissions scandals prove, there are ways to fake one's participation in extracurriculars. Some of the fraud revolves around lies involving participation in sports, clubs, and volunteer organizations.

Some college admission slots are precious and few. My research on how parents (and sometimes, with the students' knowledge) will do and say anything to get their children into one of them.

Believe me, this is a time in which life is stranger than fiction.

Enjoy this excerpt. And be sure to enter my contest for books, gift cards, and other goodies.

—Josie

Extracurricular-KindleExtracurricular / Book 1

Signal Press (Release Date: June 28, 2019)
BOOK 1 of an Episodic Series of 3 Books
Digital ISBN:978-1-970093-00-1
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-970093-02-5

amazon-2-icon AppleBooks unnamed kobo-blue

It's your child's senior year. 
A private high school's reputation is at stake.
A math teacher refuses to grade his final exams on a curve. 
Students have only one more shot at the SAT before college applications are due. 
And a few desperate parents with much more money than brains are willing to do anything to get their children into Ivy League colleges.

And Audrey's dirty little secret will soon be the downfall of everyone and everything she holds dear: love, family, friends, and her private high school alma mater.

In EXTRACURRICULAR, a dark family secret leads to a college admissions cheating scandal at a private school, setting off a crisis of conscience for the parents, teachers, administrator and the students involved—and a catharsis for one couple about their marriage.

Extracurricular: An earth-shattering incident

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If you thought it was your last moment on earth, would you tell the one person you'd never admit to loving how you felt?

I put my protagonists in an old elevator during an earthquake. They are quite literally tossed into each other's arms. Their initial instincts to protect each other. The next desire is to comfort the one for which love has never been professed.

Fear finally subsides, as does the desire for the declaration of love.

But there are some primal urges that makes words unnecessary. It's what this scene is about.

When I wrote this scene eight years ago, I thought it would take place at the end of the book. Years later, I realized that it was only the beginning of their story.

All the missed opportunities lead to other secrets, leavened with lies that lead to many live-changing mistakes for them and those they love most.

I hope you'll want to go along for the ride.

—Josie

Read the first-chapter excerpt here, then enter my contest for books, a gift card, and a great treasure for your kitchen: a wonderful stoneware pie plate.

Enjoy!

—Josie

Extracurricular-KindleExtracurricular / Book 1

Signal Press (Release Date: June 28, 2019)
BOOK 1 of an Episodic Series of 3 Books
Digital ISBN:978-1-970093-00-1
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-970093-02-5

amazon-2-icon AppleBooks unnamed kobo-blue

It's your child's senior year. 
A private high school's reputation is at stake.
A math teacher refuses to grade his final exams on a curve. 
Students have only one more shot at the SAT before college applications are due. 
And a few desperate parents with much more money than brains are willing to do anything to get their children into Ivy League colleges.

And Audrey's dirty little secret will soon be the downfall of everyone and everything she holds dear: love, family, friends, and her private high school alma mater.

In EXTRACURRICULAR, a dark family secret leads to a college admissions cheating scandal at a private school, setting off a crisis of conscience for the parents, teachers, administrator and the students involved—and a catharsis for one couple about their marriage.

Extracurricular: School Daze

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A school is only as good as its reputation. 

The variables that take that broad assumption and flip it on its head are the very people who burnish the school's prominence: its teachers, students, administrators, and the families who support it. 

While writing Extracurricular, I took all of this into account. Within the three books in the series, you'll see egos drive actions that produce pain. Sometimes, the motive is pride. Sometimes, it's fear. Sometimes it's cold hard cash that makes a character do something that s/he knows is ethically, morally, and legally wrong.

In this case, a ripple effect of one person's actions can ruin a private school's reputation, perhaps even take it under. This is very true of  youthful indiscretions of my protagonists, Audrey and Egan. Driven by a mutual attraction, their singular misunderstandings will eventually threaten something both love: Ashbury Academy, the school where they first met.

To some extent, anyone and everyone who cares about how the best and the brightest get into their universities of choice should be concerned about the college admissions scandal. What are your thoughts?

As far as Extracurricular goes, I hope you read the excerpt here, then enter my contest for books, a gift card, and a great treasure for your kitchen: a wonderful stoneware pie plate.

Enjoy!

—Josie

Extracurricular-KindleExtracurricular / Book 1

Signal Press (Release Date: June 28, 2019)
BOOK 1 of an Episodic Series of 3 Books
Digital ISBN:978-1-970093-00-1
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-970093-02-5

amazon-2-icon AppleBooks unnamed kobo-blue

It's your child's senior year. 
A private high school's reputation is at stake.
A math teacher refuses to grade his final exams on a curve. 
Students have only one more shot at the SAT before college applications are due. 
And a few desperate parents with much more money than brains are willing to do anything to get their children into Ivy League colleges.

And Audrey's dirty little secret will soon be the downfall of everyone and everything she holds dear: love, family, friends, and her private high school alma mater.

In EXTRACURRICULAR, a dark family secret leads to a college admissions cheating scandal at a private school, setting off a crisis of conscience for the parents, teachers, administrator and the students involved—and a catharsis for one couple about their marriage.

 

Extracurricular: Snowplowing and Cheating

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Is there such a thing as too much love?

Recently, several parents were indicted in a college admissions scandal. They paid, in some cases, over a million dollars to have others fake their children's SAT and ACT tests, or to make them look even more desirable as athletes or humanistic volunteers: both desirable to schools that take pride in graduating the best and the brightest.

To most parents, their child is just that: incomparable. But the need to convince others—be it a college admissions counselor, alumni, or their friends and neighbors—is at the basis of why one would go through with such “side door” antics.

Not that the “back door”—that is, giving some major donation to the school—is any better. But, ironically, it happens to be legal, and therein lies the difference.

In my new novel series, Extracurricular, a few parents whose children are in a prestigious  a San Francisco private high school  and staff members decide to cut a few corners. How if affects the school's reputation, its  other parent supporters ,its student body—and just as importantly, their children—is what this three-books series is about.

The book's protagonist is an innocent victim, but also a perpetrator. A two-decades-old folly is the catalyst for its effect on her family, and the alma mater which is near and dear to her heart.

Reading this excerpt will give you a taste of it, as will the excerpt to be read in conjunction with my contest for a lot of fun goodies: books, a gift card, and a beautiful pie plate.

Enjoy!

—Josie

Extracurricular-KindleExtracurricular / Book 1

Signal Press (Release Date: June 28, 2019)
BOOK 1 of an Episodic Series of 3 Books
Digital ISBN:978-1-970093-00-1
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-970093-02-5

amazon-2-icon AppleBooks unnamed kobo-blue

It's your child's senior year. 
A private high school's reputation is at stake.
A math teacher refuses to grade his final exams on a curve. 
Students have only one more shot at the SAT before college applications are due. 
And a few desperate parents with much more money than brains are willing to do anything to get their children into Ivy League colleges.

And Audrey's dirty little secret will soon be the downfall of everyone and everything she holds dear: love, family, friends, and her private high school alma mater.

In EXTRACURRICULAR, a dark family secret leads to a college admissions cheating scandal at a private school, setting off a crisis of conscience for the parents, teachers, administrator and the students involved—and a catharsis for one couple about their marriage.

Extracurricular Excerpt: The Sting

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I started writing Extracurricular eight years ago. As luck would have it, the recent college admissions cheating scandal made it a timely book to be launch this summer.

The scandal also gave me the impetus to expand the story into a three-book series. Whereas it was always going to be about about the consequence of a young lust that morphed into a three-year obsession and a twenty-two year-old secret, what sets its revelation in motion is a private school's involvement with the same illegal activities we're reading about now. 

As in real life, in this novel series, a few over-anxious parents will ruin not only their own lives, but that of the ones the loves they love most: their almost-adult children whose lives they feel they most micromanage as opposed to letting their children grow and mature through their own life experiences.

In the meantime, the reputations of school are also tarnished.

The excerpt above takes place during the middle of an FBI sting operation. In order to lessen her own jail sentence, a cooperating witness, nicknamed “Maleficent” by the agents because of imperious attitude, is recording two clients who interested in her “special attention” college counseling services.

Does it make it more palatable to readers that they are just as despicable as her? Throughout the book, that won't always be the case.

In Extracurricular, ego, desperation, insecurity, shame, lies, and lust play equal parts in 

Read the excerpt here, and then enter my contest, which has LOTS of goodies to win…

Extracurricular-Kindle

Extracurricular / Book 1

Signal Press (Release Date: June 28, 2019)
BOOK 1 of an Episodic Series of 3 Books
Digital ISBN:978-1-970093-00-1
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-970093-02-5

amazon-2-icon AppleBooks unnamed kobo-blue

It's your child's senior year. 
A private high school's reputation is at stake.
A math teacher refuses to grade his final exams on a curve. 
Students have only one more shot at the SAT before college applications are due. 
And a few desperate parents with much more money than brains are willing to do anything to get their children into Ivy League colleges.

And Audrey's dirty little secret will soon be the downfall of everyone and everything she holds dear: love, family, friends, and her private high school alma mater.

In EXTRACURRICULAR, a dark family secret leads to a college admissions cheating scandal at a private school, setting off a crisis of conscience for the parents, teachers, administrator and the students involved—and a catharsis for one couple about their marriage.

The Odd Couple

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One of the joys of writing a book is not only creating a backstory for your protagonists but also fully outlining your secondary characters. When I starting writing ExtracurricularI realized immediately that I could have fun with the FBI agents who are leading the investigation for the college admissions scandal: Lionel Polk and SallyAnne Jagger.

We meet them at the very beginning of the novel. Their interactions there show how such a seemingly Mutt-and-Jeff team can work in tandem by playing to each other's strengths. At the same time, this dynamic duo isn't immune to each other's weaknesses.

And, as you'll read in this excerpt, an chance exchange with one of the book's protagonists is the catalyst for acting on their mutual attraction.

But, before that can happen, they have to agree on one thing: that their key witness, a.k.a., Cooperating Witness 1, is a despicable character.

SallyAnne has already given her a nickname: Maleficent. Read the excerpt here and find out why…

Extracurricular-Kindle

Extracurricular / Book 1

Signal Press (Release Date: June 28, 2019)
BOOK 1 of an Episodic Series of 3 Books
Digital ISBN:978-1-970093-00-1

Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-970093-02-5

amazon-2-icon AppleBooks unnamed kobo-blue

It's your child's senior year. 
A private high school's reputation is at stake.
A math teacher refuses to grade his final exams on a curve. 
Students have only one more shot at the SAT before college applications are due. 
And a few desperate parents with much more money than brains are willing to do anything to get their children into Ivy League colleges.

And Audrey's dirty little secret will soon be the downfall of everyone and everything she holds dear: love, family, friends, and her private high school alma mater.

In EXTRACURRICULAR, a dark family secret leads to a college admissions cheating scandal at a private school, setting off a crisis of conscience for the parents, teachers, administrator and the students involved—and a catharsis for one couple about their marriage.