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



Win a $100 Gift Card to Your Favorite Bookstore!

Stack of books See that smile? See that stack of books? This woman could be you!

All you have to do is read this excerpt of THE BABY PLANNER, and email the following, to

– The correct answer;

– Your name, snail mail address so I can send the gift card to you, if you're my lucky winner; and

– A "nickname" for you, that will be posted on the "Possible Winners" page;

Entries close on Midnight Pacific Time, Father's Day, June 19, 2011.

The winner will be drawn from all correct entries the next day, from my favorite bookstore (Books, Inc., 2251 Chestnut Street, San Francisco) and posted on my website. I'll also email the winner to get the name of their favorite bookstore.

Bonus Points when you do this:

Bonus Point+1: Friend me on Facebook, at, and/or


Bonus Point+1: Friend me on Twitter, at


Additional Bonus Points for doing this, as often as once a day:

Bonus Point+2: Send a friend to this page, and they email back with the correct answer and their pertinent info, along with this line: "(Your Name) invited me to enter your contest."


Bonus Point+2: Tweet or FB up this statement:

I <3 the excerpt of @JosieBrownCA's #BabyPlannerNovel! Read it here 4 a chance 2 win $100 bookstore giftcard:




Baby Planner 600w

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

"The Baby Planner is as a delight.  I wondered, as I was reading it, how I every managed without a baby planner, and by the end I wondered how I ever managed without its author, Josie Brown." 
—Eileen Goudge, New York Times bestselling author of Once in a Blue Moon

"I loved this juicy-as-it-it-is-heartfelt novel about love, marriage, friendship and sharp, manicured claws. Could not put it down!"
—Melissa Senate, author of The Secret of Joy

"Poignant and funny! Josie Brown's protagonist is strong, resilient, and unflinchingly honest: she has all the skills she needs to navigate the 'mean streets' of the gated community of Paradise Heights. A great read!" 
—Wendy Wax, author Magnolia Wednesdays

“Brown proves that a story with suburban bodies can be just as suspenseful as one with dead bodies! Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives is a probing, entertaining fishbowl of married life in a well-heeled, wayward neighborhood. Loved it!”  
—Stephanie Bond, author of Body Movers series

"I loved it! Josie Brown captures the highs and lows of love, lust and marriage with heartwrenching  pathos. I'm recommending it to all my friends as the perfect beach read!"

Lisa Rinna, actress, and author of the novel, Starlit,  
and the personal growth book, Rinnavation


Mother’s Day: What It Really Means to the Rest of Us

MomDancer Two years ago on Mother's Day weekend, I buried my own mom.

It was a bittersweet occasion. She'd been ill for the last two years of her life: with a myelodysplasia, a disease that hinders the longevity of your red blood cells.

The downhill process was not pretty. She was not ready for the abyss of the great beyond, and fought to live until her dying breath.

I'm guessing I'll do the same.

It would be wonderful to say that she had been one of those moms who made every one of her children feel as if they were her favorites, but that wasn't the case. While growing up, winning her approval was a constant endeavor. Even as adults, her three kids tiptoed around any issue that might throw her into a tizzy, or have her worrying to the point that she'd call the other two siblings to espouse her views on the problem child du jour's issue at hand.

Eventually we trained ourselves not to do her bidding: that is, to reiterate her advice to the odd-kid-out—something that we knew she'd already expressed in her very direct manner.

I know her worries on our behalf was her way of staying close to her farflung children. And I have no doubt that it also gave her something to focus on, other than her own problems: specifically her bouts of depression.

Her mood swings were notorious. If one of us had the misfortune to be caught in the black maelstrom of one, all we could do was resign ourselves to wait it out.

Or to disappear from her life, sometimes for months at a time. 

Eventually, each of us came to the decision to live our lives without worrying "What would Mom think?" about the careers we chose, our spouses, and most importantly of all, the way in which we raised our own children.

Our kids also had their learning curves with their grandma. Their attitudes toward her ran the gamut: one lived for her approval. Another realized quickly that there was no pleasing her, and tuned her out completely. The third saw that her love was unconditional no matter what, and learned to laugh through any discomfort her suggestions and declaration caused.

I'd wished we'd all been that smart at that young age.

I don't wish to leave you with an image of a woman who didn't love her children. On the contrary, she loved us all very much: unconditionally in fact, despite her actions that, at the time, had us doubting this. It is why she worked all her life at jobs that didn't give her professional satisfaction, but put food on the table, clothed us, and allowed us to be raised in tidy houses within safe neighborhoods. It's why we all appreciate the need for a good education, even if she couldn't pay for it for us.

It's why we've always felt as if we were "special": a cut above everyone else, despite having no financial legacy, or renowned surname, or obvious talents.

We are special because she told us so, from the very beginning.

And at the end, she realized that we all loved her unconditionally, too.

So yes, everything I am—driven beyond reason, loving every moment of life, prideful of my children, and able to recognize the true love of my husband, Martin—I owe to my mother, Maria, God rest her soul. 

It is a parent's goal to teach their children the lessons they feel are important. What I don't think parents realize is that sometimes the most important things they teach us are what we've witnessed from their mistakes. 

For the most part, parenting is often trial by error.

In that regard, my mother taught me a lot: that in truth, none of us are the embodiment of perfection. Rather, we endeavor to rise above our faults and fears in the hope of making ourselves the very best we can be.

[My mom, at nineteen]


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