My five New Year’s resolutions…

Butternut-squash

Resolution #1:
Stay healthy.
(Note to Self: eat more root vegetables, and less sugar!)

HappyEggs

Resolution #2:
Stay happy.
(Note to Self: much more sex, much less [caloric] sugar!)

I2i_holagraphic

Resolution #3:
Acquire a new language.
(Pig Latin does NOT count.)

Tumblr_lvypsd5Jbc1r03wcgo1_500

Resolution #4:
Experience new things, with total abandon!
(Unless they include black-outs, tattoos, or joining a cult.)

 

 0703_writing_cog

Resolution #5: 
Two thousand words a day! 
(More writing. Note to Self: skipping martini may do the trick…)

Thursday Couple’s Kiss: “Catch and Release”

EmbarrassMeKiss
If she had been expecting his kiss, it would have landed on her lips, as opposed to her eye. 

Or maybe not.

If she'd been expecting it, she might have pushed him away.

Or run in the opposite direction.

Or come up with a million excuses as to why she ducked and dodged him.

"I haven't brushed my teeth," she might have said. Or, "Stop! Someone might be watching!" Or "Not now… not here… not me."

But he took away her option to say no.

Instead, he gave her the option to fall in love.

Then he let her go.

He learned this while fishing. "Catch and release," it's called.

But women aren't fish. They love the chase. They imagine the possibilities. 

They anticipate his next kiss.

— Josie



HAH-Hanging-Man-Oct-5-2012Free!

The Housewife Assassin's Handbook!

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– EVERY DESPERATE HOUSEWIFE WANTS AN ALIAS: Donna Stone has one…and it happens to be government-sanctioned.
– BUT DONNA EARNED IT THE HARD WAY: Her husband was killed the day she delivered their third child.
– TO AVENGE HER HUSBAND'S MURDER: Donna leads a secret life: as an assassin.
– BUT ESPIONAGE MAKES FOR STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: And brings new meaning to that old adage, "Honey, I'm home…"

Hump Day Haiku: “Underwater”

Underwater

 

"It won't last," they said.

"We'll prove them wrong," he promised.

Hold your breath. Dive in.

–Josie

 

 


HAH-Hanging-Man-Oct-5-2012

Free right now!
The Housewife Assassin's Handbook

FREE!  AmazonKindleButton

FREE!  Logo_kobo

 99 cents! Nook-button

FREE! Apple iTunes Bookstore

Read an excerpt…

– EVERY DESPERATE HOUSEWIFE WANTS AN ALIAS: Donna Stone has one…and it happens to be government-sanctioned.

– BUT DONNA EARNED IT THE HARD WAY: Her husband was killed the day she delivered their third child.

– TO AVENGE HER HUSBAND'S MURDER: Donna leads a secret life: as an assassin.

– BUT ESPIONAGE MAKES FOR STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: And brings new meaning to that old adage, "Honey, I'm home…"


Hump Day Haiku: “Verbal Smackdown”

Crying

 

His words hit, like stones.

I pummel him with my tears.

 Yes, it's true. Love hurts

– Josie

 

 


HA-RSG-Final-V2
To celebrate the launch of 
The Housewife Assassin's Relationship Survival Guide
I'm giving away a $100 gift card
 to the bookstore of your choice!

Click here for details…

 

 

 


Hump Day Haiku: “Cross Purposes”

Conflcit

We say the same thing

But we don't hear each other

Let's not speak. Just…touch.

 

— Josie

 

Guess what's free right now?


HAH-Hanging-Man-Oct-5-2012

Free! 
 AmazonKindleButton

FREE!  
Logo_kobo

FREE! 
Apple iTunes Bookstore

 99 cents!
 Nook-button
 

Read an excerpt…

Andree Belle’s “Serial Monogamist” has a Mad Men feel to it, dontcha think?


MadMenWomen
Of course, none of the women of
Mad Men (January Jones' Betty, Christina Hendricks' Joan, and Elisabeth Moss' Peggy) are serial monogamists. They may have started out that way, but life and loss made them jaded, when it came to love.

The chords — and the percussion, too — of the song "Serial Monogamist," by Andree Belle, reminds me of the kind of music coming out of the 1960s, with that smoky vamp-and-dance jazz-salsa feel to it. Don't you agree?

 

Enjoy, 

— Josie

 

 

Pretend it’s the last day on Earth. Now, what would you say?

Old friends
I was speaking to an old friend the other day. She was dreading a very public run-in with some guy she who she had once been attracted to, dated, fell in love with, felt passion for…

Then they broke up.

The break-up wasn't a "good" one. (The term "good break up" has to be an oxymoron, am I right?)

"So, what do I say to him, if he's there?" she asked. "Or should I say anything at all? Should I just ignore him? I'm sure he'd prefer that. I'll bet he'll ignore me, too."

I nodded. "Good question. But everyone there knows both of you. And they know you used to date."

"Don't remind me," she sighed. It's going to be like the OK Corral. Who takes aim first? Who ends up wounded, or dead and buried?"

"But isn't that the point? Wasn't whatever happened between you buried, long ago?"

She shrugged. Obviously not, if she's still digging it up now, so many years later.

"Okay," I said, "Here's a thought: why not treat him as if this is the last time in your life you'll ever see him? If doing so means getting out your feels, so be it. If it means pretending anything he said or did to get you upset is long forgotten, do it. Ask yourself this: do you really need to hold a grudge this long?"

"No, of course not." The tears rolled in even lines, down her face. "We've both moved on."

Next week, she'll have a chance to prove this, to herself, if not to him as well.

Frankly, I hope it begins and ends with a hug, and a chance to catch up on the life journey each took separately, even as their paths cross once more.

Grudges keep us from being happy.

Grudges don't hurt others, only ourselves.

You may not forget, but yes, you can forgive.

And you're not doing it for anyone but yourself.

–Josie

The Housewife Assassin's Handbook

Murder. Suspense. Sex. And some handy household tips.

 

HAH-Hanging-Man-New-BlueThe Housewife Assassin's Handbook

Murder. Suspense. Sex. And some handy household tips.

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"This is a super sexy and fun read that you shouldn't miss!"
–Mary Jacobs, Bookhounds

"…If I was a housewife, I would want to be Donna.  I'm not kidding guys, the girl can shoot, seduce, and kill, all while balancing the demands of carpool and managing the suburban mommies and their opinion of her and her kids.  Her hostess skills are to die for, and many have fallen for her seduction routines.  So what if the neighborhood busybodies think she's cheating on her husband?  The reality is, he's dead, and she can't even mourn him in public.  They can get over it.nter Jack, who is a fantastic and well known agent, and sexy to boot.  The chemistry between the two of them is enough to set water on fire…" — Cat's Thoughts

"This book totally reminded me of the movie Mr & Mrs. Smith. Not that it is a copy of the movie, but that it has all of the thrills and enjoyment of the movie. It's a fast-paced read, the gadgets are awesome, and I could just picture Donna fighting off Russian gangsters and skinheads all the while having a pie at home cooling on the windowsill. As a housewife myself, this book was a fantastic escape that had me dreaming "if only" the whole way through. The book doesn't take itself too seriously, which makes for the perfect combination of mystery and humour…"  –Curled Up with a Good Book and a Cup of Tea

Hugh Hefner and Marriage

Hugh-Hefner-Engaged-to-Crystal-Harris You've got to hand it to Playboy founder/editor-in-chief Hugh Hefner: he makes great headlines.

From that standpoint, it pays to have a journalistic background.

No doubt about it: his third marriage — at eighty-four, to twenty-four year-old Playmate Crystal Harris — is hot news.

Sadly, for all the wrong reasons.

Don't get me wrong. Pesonally, I'm all for marriage. I just feel that the best reasons to tie the knot are emotional ones, like love and commitment, as opposed to upping your Twitter followers, website stats, or magazine circulation.

I guess Crystal is getting something out of it, too — that is, if they are still a legal couple by the time Hef's will is being read. I hate to be so blunt about it, but come on already: if she isn't a gold digger (or as Twitter account @BestWorstAdvice puts it, grave digger), then she's got one helluva daddy complex.

Make that Grandpa complex. If that isn't a cry for help, then I don't know what is.

The absolute best line on Twitter:

@pattonoswalt: Hope when I turn 60 I can think, quietly, "My wife is being born somewhere." #hefner

The most ironic thing I've heard about it came from The Son, who said: "He's eighty-four, and he's been married only three times? Well, I guess that's something."

Interesting perspective. Just goes to show that there's an upside to everything, even this relationship.

Running the original lad mag, there's no doubt that The Hef has certainly slept with enough beautiful women. And certainly progeny isn't an issue, what with golden daughter, Christie, and son David (from first wife, Mildred), and spares Marston and Cooper (from second wife, Kimberley).

So, is it true love? Nah. It's strictly a numbers game.

If you want in on it, here's a heads-up: The New York Stock Exchange symbols for Playboy Enterprises are PLA and PLAA.

Short-term gain, all the way around,

–Josie

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

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

In bookstores now. 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

My relationship advice to newlyweds Katy Perry and Russell Brand

Russell-brand-katy-perry-india Omigod! Who'd have thunk it? Pop tart Katy Perry and comedian Russell Brand went out and got married!

I guess my invitation got lost in the mail.

That's okay. I probably would have gotten lost on the way there, anyway. My cell phone is too old for any GPA app, let alone one that shows some Aman-i-khas resort on the edge of the Rajasthani nature reserve.

Besides, I thoroughly understand it was a small, intimate affair: just those two crazy kids, 85 of their closest friends and family, a Hindu guru,a Christian minister, two elephants named Laxmi and Mala ("Mala is a bit skittish and hates crowds but she managed to behave herself," a source told PEOPLE), a fortune-telling parrot–

Oh yeah: and a tiger that, supposedly, has already killed three people.

I still have a wedding gift for them: a few ground rules for ensuring that their union will be one that lasts forever. Usually I'd give it to them face-to-face (you know, these things are personal) but since I wasn't invited on the honeymoon either, they'll have to read it here:

  • 1. Never go to bed angry. Talk things out first. Then do go to bed. Together. And without the parrot.
  • 2. Don't flirt with others. For Katy, that means no more kissing girls. For Russell, that means no more kissing every other girl, as he learned in sex addiction rehab. For both of them, that means no more kissing the mirror.
  • 3. Don't let your differences get in the way of a good thing. You came from such dissimilar backgrounds. With that comes some heavy baggage. Don't empty it on your spouse when you get scared that things aren't as perfect as you had hoped they'd be.
  • 4. Don't buy into the gossip. Professionally, you are both on top now. That says something about your strength of fortitude, and your ability to achieve your goals. Well, a happy marriage is a goal, too. Don't let the crap you read in the tabloids put it in a tailspin. Just keep trusting and talking.
  • 5. Don't let others get between you. This means fans, publicists, agents, managers and anyone else who wants you to believe that what you have together isn't anything more than a publicity stunt. Prove them all wrong. If not for yourselves, then for the rest of us.

 I've got a premonition about these things: this one's gonna last.

But if it doesn't, I presume I'll be invited to Katy's divorce party. If so, my gift to her will be a little more expansive, and, I'm sure, much appreciated: a copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Finding Mr. Right. 

To use Russell's parlance, it's my very own booky wook.

 Tah dah,

–Josie


(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

 

 

Tiger Woods and Infidelity: You Call that a Confession?

Elin_and_Tiger_Woods Sex. Lies. And yep, here's the video tape.

The Tiger wants us off his back. He's hoping his public confession today will get us to jump off of it, once and for all.

Well . . .

No.

Because actions speak louder than words. At least, that's what my mama always told me, and here it is in pixelated HD TV as proof that she knew what she was talking about.

Because I write novels in which infidelity — and yes, redemption — are major plot points, I can tell you, first hand, that the whole Tiger Woods meltdown is stranger than fiction, to be sure. As a woman, I can't help but feel that his point in apologizing is to appease his endorsement sponsors and his golf fans, as opposed to his wife and family.

If he really wants to say he's sorry, then I hope he's in counseling with his Elin. I hope, when he says he loves his wife, that he respects her wishes that he ends all affairs. Yes, he can have anyone he wants. But if, who he wants is her, he'll have to earn back her love, her trust, and her respect.

But I'm no expert. I'm only a woman, and a wife.

That said, here's what Lee Dixon, an assistant psychology professor and relationship expert at the University of Dayton, reads this into Woods' statement today will affect Woods' relationships with his family, friends, business associates and competitors:

“Tiger acknowledged wrongdoing, expressed remorse and offered compensation, which in this case is treatment and therapy. That's conducive to one being forgiven. He also did a good job helping others feel empathy for him, which aids in one being forgiven as well.

“He really had a tight focus on the people whom he really hurt. If he had apologized to the whole universe, it wouldn't have worked as well. Apologies backfire if they are perceived as insincere or manipulative. He avoided that by apologizing to the people he hurt the most and not everyone in some sort of blanket apology.

“Getting in front of the camera will help for some people like his fans and business partners. But, Elin is right. For her, the rest of his family and those people closest to him, it's going to be about how Tiger lives his life and not what he does in front of the camera.

“I will say, for people who headed into this being skeptical, this probably didn't help Tiger at all. They could say this looked too scripted. But, for people who went in willing to hear Tiger and forgive him, I think this helped a lot.

“Also, in my opinion, I wouldn't read too much into Elin not being there. Because I felt he seemed sincere during the apology, it could be possible that he couldn't have gotten through the statement with his wife sitting there. If you put Elin in front of him, there could have been a meltdown. Also consider that he may be trying to protect his family. It would have been hypocritical to have his family there for a photo-op.”

Here's to walking the walk,

—Josie

Josie's Twitter Page




SecretLivesCover200w 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 Boswell Books

From Copperfield's

From Your Local Independent Bookstore

From Powell's

Tome of the Mommy: The Runaway Mom

MotherandChild2 Not everyone is cut out to have children.

Is that a blasphemy to say?

No. Because we all know it's true.

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

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

You're right.

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

Most parents strive to honor this commitment.

But some don't.

And not all of these are deadbeat dads.

Some are runaway moms.

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

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

True, that.

And yet, there are two sides to every story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can there ever be redemption for the runaway mom?

I welcome your comments,

—Josie


Game face.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 What am I doing here, anyway?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Her parents will never love each
other again, ever.

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

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

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

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

 But stops cold when she notices
me in the car.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 DeeDee has a new target.

(c) 2010 Josie Brown, all rights reserved.

 ________________________________________________________________________


Dog-card CONTEST!

Take a picture of you holding a copy of

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

Just send the photo to SecretLivesBook@gmail.com

Between now and midnight PT, September 30, 2010

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

________________________________________________________________________




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

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

Look for it in bookstores today!

From Target

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

Tome of the Mommy: When to Make a Grown Man Cry

Cryingman I'll admit it, I love to make grown men cry.

On the page, that is.

Does this make me a passive-aggressive bitch? Heck, no!

Say all you want about “alpha” and “beta” males, but bottom line: if you want to make your heroes come to life, you have to do more than just scratch the surface of their characters with a frown, or a grimace, or a curl of the lip. 

At the right time, for the right reason, maybe they need to shed a tear or two.

They're only human, right? Particularly when their marriages are breaking up, and they suddenly realize they can lose all they've taken what they hold most dearly for granted: their wives, their children, their homes.

Their real lives.

In my upcoming book, Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, my heroine, stay-at-home-mom Lyssa Harper, hears a rumor that the neighborhood's “perfect couple” have split up. This is confirmed by the husband in question, a workaholic lawyer named Harry Wilder, whom Lyssa runs into, on the playground. I've got an excerpt for you, below.

Just call me a tearjerker,

—Josie


Harry pulls off his Bluetooth headset for
good to find Temple and my son playing nicely together on the climbing gym.
Mickey has gotten over his wariness of girl cooties (imaginary), and Temple is
reassured that Mickey’s cooties (real, but gone) won’t be invading her full
head of sun-kissed sateen curls. All is right in the world.

Harry smiles his unabashed
gratitude. “Sorry. East Coast,” he says, by way of explanation. “Had to catch
those guys before they go home for the day.”

I nod understandingly, and then
stick out my hand. “Lyssa Harper. We’ve met before.”

Vagueness clouds his eyes. “Sure,
I remember. You’re the Stuckeys’ au pair, right?”

I don’t know whether to be
flattered or miffed. True, both the au pair and I have long dark hair, although
mine is somewhat curlier. Okay, make that frizzy. And yes, it strokes my ego to
be compared to a mere woman-child some ten years younger (not to mention ten
pounds lighter). It’s more likely that he’s suggesting that I don’t seem worthy
enough to live in Paradise Heights—unless I’m in someone’s domestic employ.

Only in my wildest fantasies
would I assume that this is his way of hitting on me. Still, the thought of
being picked up on the playground by the neighborhood DILF (the “dad I'd
like to—.” well, you get the picture) does give me a cheap thrill.

Then it hits me: What if he’s
asking because he thinks he can buy my services, which would leave the Stuckeys
high and dry? Ouch! And those twins of theirs are a handful . . .

Gee, I wonder how much he’s
offering, anyway

Turns out he’s not offering at
all. He just doesn’t remember meeting Ted and me at the Crawleys’ Christmas
party last year. Or sharing a picnic table with us this past summer at the
Paradise Heights Annual July Fourth picnic. Or that we were the ones who found
Lucky after he escaped under their fence in order to chase after the Corrigan’s
tabby.

My God, as oblivious as this guy
is, I’m surprised he remembers his way home.

Then again, maybe he doesn’t.
That might be why DeeDee had an affair in the first place.

“Um . . .no. I'm just a mom
here in the Heights.”

As my black-and-white image of
the Wilders gradates to chiaroscuro in the harsh light of reality, Harry tries
to make amends for forgetting how many times our paths have crossed by
complimenting me on how well my son plays with Temple.

Now it’s my turn to blush. I’m
not used to hearing compliments about Mickey from other parents, only pointed
remarks about how much more “rambunctious” he is than their own perfect
progeny. “Thanks,” I stammer, then add, “I think his patience comes from having
a younger sister.”

“Oh yeah? My son isn’t half that
great with Temple. Of course he’s somewhat older, a teenager.” He gives a
conciliatory laugh. “You know how they are.”

“I know your son.”

Surprised, he
blinks, then leans away slightly. He seems wary of what I might say next, so I
continue gently, “Jake, right? He’s a sweet boy, too. He and my son, Tanner,
play together on the basketball team. Very few of Tanner’s friends let Mickey
join in when they come over to shoot hoops. You know how they can be: snubbing
kids who are younger, or not as well coordinated. But Jake doesn’t seen to
mind.”

Harry nods uncertainly. “Well,
I’m glad to hear he’s not so—so judgmental all the time.”

“I never thought of it that way.
I just think some kids instinctively know what to do with younger children.”
Upon hearing this, Harry frowns. Quickly I add, “I’m not saying that that’s a
good thing or a bad thing. In fact, I think it shows that, some day, they’ll
make pretty good parents.”

Harry stares off in stony
silence. As we sit quietly, I wonder what I’ve said wrong.

On the other hand, what does it
matter? It’s my guess that he will forget our conversation the minute we gather
up the kids and say our awkward good-byes. And the next time we meet, be it in
the carpool line, or at a school function, or a neighbor’s party, he’ll vaguely
wonder what the Stuckeys’ au pair has done with the usually caterwauling twins.

Right then and there I make up my
mind that that is not going to happen, that I’m going to make a big enough
impression on him that my name will finally be emblazoned on his brain, or at
the very least that I crack his typically icy demeanor just this once.

Suddenly I remember another thing
we have in common: our daughters.

“So, you’ve decided to give
Temple a day off from school? In fact, my daughter, Olivia, is in preschool
with Temple. Every now and then I let her do that, too. Kindergarten can be so
overwhelming for little kids, even with a year or two of preschool under their
belts. It’s not like they’re missing calculus, or anything really important,
right? And the trade-offs are some wonderful memories. To be honest, though, I
hate when it’s called ‘quality time,’ don’t you? I mean, every second with your
child is memorable. Even watching them while they sleep is precious–”

I’ve been blathering so much I
hadn’t noticed that Harry is crying.

The tears roll down his face in
two steady lines. He turns his head toward me so that the children don’t see
this, but my look of shock must be just as dismaying to him because he ends up
burying his face in his hands.

And sobs even harder.

Harry Wilder, captain of
industry, neighborhood enigma, one half of Paradise Heights’ Perfect Couple, is
now a puddle of mush.

And it's all my doing.

Out of habit I still carry Handi
Wipes. Although they aren’t ideal in situations like this, I can tell that
Harry is appreciative for anything that will sop up this mess that is now his
life.

When he's able to face me again,
he looks me in the eye. “My wife left me. She’s left
us.”

At this point I could feign
ignorance, but since we’re both striving for honesty here, I have no desire to
muck things up with a polite albeit face-saving (for him) lie, a “Gee! Look how
late it’s getting” exit line, and another year or two of polite neighborly
oblivion. Instead, I nod and say, “Yeah, I heard. On Halloween.
I’m—I’m so sorry about it.”

“You know about it? But I—I
haven’t said anything to anyone, yet! And she’s—she’s long gone, so I know it
didn’t come from her.” He shakes his head at the thought that his personal soap
opera is being bandied about the local Starbucks. “Jesus! And I thought news
moved fast on Wall Street.”

“Yeah, well, you’ll find out
about the Height’s mommy grapevine soon enough. I mean, if you plan on sticking
around—

“I am, for sure. I’m not going
anywhere.” The lines on Harry’s face once again realign into a steely
implacability. “This is our home. My kids love it here. We’ll…we’ll work
through it somehow.”

“Sure you will,” I murmur
reassuringly. “There’s no place like the Heights for raising kids. That’s why
we’re all here. Hey listen, really, I didn’t mean to scare you off. You know,
about the way we mommies talk and all. It was just such a shock to everyone.
The two of you always seemed so—so happy.”

“Yeah. Happy. I thought we were,
too.” With this, his eyes get moist again. This time, though, he shrugs, then
passes a broad palm over them. I assume that he’s decided that the Handi Wipes
give off the wrong impression. “You were right when you said that every minute
you spend with your kids is important. And I haven’t been around for most of
it.”

Well, of course you weren’t, I
want to say. You were out making a living! Bringing home the bacon, playing
this millennium’s version of caveman . . .

And boy oh boy, your stucco
palace has all the bells and whistles to prove it.

Too bad you found another
Neanderthal in there, with your wife.

But I keep my mouth shut. Because
you don’t hit a man when he’s down.

 (c) 2010 Josie Brown


The online magazine, Jezebel feels like I do about men: it's good to seem them being human beings. This article profiles 67 Hollywood movies in which men actually cry on camera (and on cue…)

Here's the video that goes with it. Enjoy!



SecretLives400  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


Art from the Heart: What Does It Mean When Your Wife Wields a Chainsaw?

Task at Hand Ever notice how the end of the holiday season brings out the contrariness in some of us?

Bah humbug, and all that jazz.

Oh, not me. I'm still on a holiday high. In fact, I wish it would never end…

But that's just because I've been procrastinating with a new book proposal.

But enough about me. I about laffed myself silly at this masterpiece (more objectively, it's a “mistresspiece”) by artist Kelly Reemtsen, who shows her work here in San Francisco's Caldwell Snyder Gallery. (FYI: They have a second gallery just north of the city, in the wonderful wine country village of St. Helena.)

It's entitled “Task at Hand.” Hmmmm. Okay, I'll bite. A woman dressed in a chic party frock holds a chainsaw as if it's a Pucci clutch?

Talk about making a statement.

Read into it what you want, but my take on this is that, no matter how we try to hem in our anger, it will show itself eventually.

In her case, fashionably.

But that's just my interpretation. I'd love to hear yours, too.

(If you want to see a larger version, double-click on the photo…)

Periodically I'll turn
this blog turns into an Internet art gallery by uplinking similar pieces by Ms. Reemtsen and other artists, whose works I feel tell a
story similar to what I'll be telling you in my next novel, SECRET
LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES.

Passive is the new aggressive,

—Josie

 

 

SLHWCOVER2010

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

Tome of the Mommy: Ask Yourself, “Why did I Marry Him?”

Sad_bride 01

I've been blessed with a wonderful relationship. My husband, Martin, and I have been together for over twenty years.

I'm always amazed when unhappy couples stay in a marriage. Isn't the  goal to be with someone who makes you happy?

Not because each party feels some obligation to stay in the marriage.

When questioned as to whether they are wasting their time, energy and emotions on a relationship that will never get better, the reasons they usually give for sticking it out never has anything to do with his or her own happiness, but some sense of obligation: to their children, their parents, their perception of relationship success.

I feel sad for them. So much time is spent complaining about the fact that neither can satisfy the other. 

What they don't realize is that either one party has  lost the respect, or trust,  of the other. Unless they take the time to earn it back, no amount of passion will ever make it right again.

My own parents' union was not a happy one. I reveled in the unabashed love both
my mother and father showered on me, and I will always appreciate them
for inspiring me to never doubt my own abilities or my potential. That is all a child can ask of a parent, is it not?

But children want their parents to be happy, too.

As a child, I remember wishing they'd break up, so that each could find the happiness that eluded them in marriage.

When I was sixteen my parents had one particularly raw argument. Afterward I sat on the front porch with my mother during a thunderstorm. As the sky crackled overhead, I asked her: "Why don't you two just get a divorce?"

She paused, then answered:  "Because children should have two parents."

"But we're happy when you're happy. And you aren't happy."

She nodded in response, but my words never moved her to action. She stayed in the marriage until the day he died, some three years later. During that time, she was angry. Nothing he did for her made her happy.

Maybe she was afraid she couldn't be happy without him, either. The devil you know is better than the one you don't. Isn't that how the saying goes?

I've always wondered if, had they made the break, he might have lived longer.

People who are happy don't want to give up on life.

In my book Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, my heroine, Lyssa Harper, ruminates on her own parents' divorce, and how it affected her views toward dating and marriage. This small excerpt gives you a small piece of her backstory, in her own words.

Enjoy, and happy new year,

Josie


I accepted Ted’s proposal even though I wasn’t really sure that he was The One.

I said as much to my mother, the day after he proposed.
“What is ‘The One,’ anyway?” The smoke from her Kool Menthol streamed out from the high corner of her curled smirk and floated toward the ceiling like a serene genie. “Hey, nothing’s perfect, right?”


It wasn’t a question, but a warning. During the twelve years of her own marriage she had assumed my father had been The One for her. I had, too. He’d been my first and only love.


As it turns out, Father wasn’t The One for either of us. He proved it when I was ten. That was the year he left us both for his secretary, the giggly Patti-with-an-i, and the penthouse apartment where he’d stashed her.

Our consolation prize was our two-acre country club estate in tony Atherton, with its over-extended mortgage. But of course we couldn’t afford the house on our own. Within a year we had downsized to a one-bedroom rent-controlled walk-up in San Francisco's Upper Tenderloin—a “transitional” neighborhood—where we crammed in as much of our large overstuffed furniture as we could fit.


The only good thing about that roach-infested hole was that it was a five-minute bus ride to the Saks Fifth Avenue on Union Square. My mother got a job at the cosmetics counter alongside the same women who, when she was married and flush, showered her with Clinique and Estée Lauder samples as she swept by them on her way to the designer showroom. After the divorce, the Puccis, Guccis, Yves St. Laurents and Blasses she wore to the weekly cocktail parties at her country club either subbed as very expensive work attire, or found its way to consignment shops, where they sold quickly at bargain rates. Whereas she was no longer living proof that you can never be too rich, she certainly proved that you could be too thin—if all you could afford to eat is canned tuna on Saltines.


Like a good girl, I didn’t blame my father or complain to my mother. Instead I threw myself into my other love: painting big sad canvases that made people stop, look and react . . .

 Copyright © 2010 by Josie Brown



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

Tome of the Mommy: The Fighting of the Tree

RetroChristmas For some of us, holiday rituals are our happiest memories. For others, they are the flint that sparks our greatest fears.

Perhaps memories of unhappy holidays past haunt us. Or maybe we stress out at the pressure to project "happiness" during this time of year.

If something truly important is bothering us, faking some form of cheeriness isn't going to keep us from gnashing our teeth when another ornament falls and shatters, or when your son yanks a candy cane off your decorated tree —

And the tree tipples over, too.

In my novel, SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES, my heroine, Lyssa Harper, knows her husband, Ted, is angry at her because she refuses to drop her friendship with Harry, one of the neighborhood's stay-at-home dads. She thinks his request is irrational, that he has no reason to be jealous . . .

And yet, it's certainly flattering that he is upset.

But that shouldn't get in the way of the Harpers' annual holiday tree-cutting expedition, should it?

As you'll read in this excerpt, of course it does . . .

Finding the
perfect tree is the Douglas fir is the equivalent of taking down the great
white whale. It must have a thick petticoat of branches rising from the base,
its layers coquettishly shorter albeit in proportion all the way up to its
needled crown. As if projecting his own fears of a thinning pate, Ted cannot
tolerate bald spots between layers. I, on the other hand, abhor crooked bases.
Between three rambunctious kiddies and a clumsy dog the size of a Shetland
pony, our tree can’t have the posture of a tilt-n-whirl. The one thing we both
agree on is that it must stand at least 13 feet tall, so that it is not dwarfed
by the double height of our entryway: the place of honor.

The search for
the tree is a highly charged competition. The winner is the first to be
photographed with it. The photo is then mounted on the first page of this
year’s Christmas photo album, validating a full year of bragging rights.

Tanner is old
enough to carry the bowed safety saw, while Mickey drags the tall PVC pole that
is marked a measuring stick. Every now and then he attempts to pole vault from
one row to another. Olivia is charged with holding the twine that Ted will use
to tie the tree to the sleigh that hauls the tree back to the cashier,
who will ply our children with Christmas cookies, candy canes, and warmed cider
while I peruse the wreaths on display. Eventually I’ll settle on three: one for
the front gate, and two for our doublewide front door.

“Mommy, why not
this one . . .or this one?” Olivia loses all sense of discretion when she’s
within sniffing distance of gingerbread men.

“No, sweetie.
That one is not tall enough, and the other is much too bare on the back side.”

“Hey, Mom! MOM!
OVER HERE!” For this task, Mickey has always had a great sense of focus that consistently
leads him to the right tree. When he was younger, it frustrated him to lose to
his brother. Ted’s way of mitigating it was to lead our youngest son to a
potential winning candidate. Now that Mickey’s developed a connoisseur’s eye,
Ted no longer has to do that.

The tree Mickey
has spotted for us has all the necessary criteria. Ted whistles for Tanner to
trot on over with the saw, but Tanner tries for an end-run. “Wait, wait . .
.what about this one over here? It’s hella taller . . .”

Ted looks down
at his cell phone, for the time. “Nope, we’ve got to call it a day. Warriors
and Lakers tonight, remember?”

“Wait . . .
aren’t we going to decorate the tree when we get home?” Mickey’s look is
incredulous. We all look up and over at Ted.

He knows he's outnumbered.
He smiles weakly. “Sure! Of course! It’s our tradition, right?”

As we head back
to the cashier with our find, I give him a kiss on the cheek. He stops short in
order to draw me to him and give me a real kiss, the kind that should melt away
any lingering doubts about love and fidelity.

His doubts, not
mine.

Copyright © 2010 by Josie Brown

Are the holidays a happy time for you, or just more added stress to a life that seems already too flustered, too out of control?

If so, have you figured out why that's the case?

I'd like to hear from you, be it ho ho ho, or boo hoo hoo,

—Josie


SLHW fauxsmall

  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 Books a Million

From Borders

From Copperfield's

From Your Local Independent Bookstore

From Powell's

Tome of the Mommy: Husbands Who Flirt

Flrtinghusband Having respect for one's partner is the only way a relationship can
survive, let alone thrive. I've watched too many of my friends'
marriages crumble because either a husband or wife didn't understand
that, or just didn't care to deliver it. Their need to be admired by the opposite sex was much more important to them at the time.

In my book SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES, my heroine, Lyssa,
realizes her husband, Ted, thrives on flirting. As you'll read here,
her reaction — and I'm sure it would be the same for a lot of us — is
threefold: denial, resignation, and anger

"Whoa, Tammy, look at those muscles! Flex 'em for me, babe, go on."

Tammy accommodates Ted's demand by taking off the sheer blouse
she wears over her tight tank top, and curling a taut sinewy arm. When
he rewards her with a wolf whistle, she feigns bashfulness by covering
her eyes.

But no one is fooled. This is why she curls 10-pound barbells in
12 reps, four times each arm: so that other women's husbands will
admire her.

Including mine. I hate it when Ted flirts.

It wouldn't be so bad if he wasn't so good at it. Or if he only flirted with me.

But no, that would be too much to ask.

Unlike some husbands who feel awkward in a room full of women,
Ted loves being the cock of the walk. And because he knows I am
completely and utterly assured of his loyalty, he openly flirts with my
friends.

He does it with a certain smile on his face. You know the one. It promises more than he can deliver. I know this first hand.

But Tammy doesn't—until she sees the loving manner in which he
unconsciously strokes my hair while complimenting Brooke on her last
tennis game.

As Tammy follows the other women out the door, she sighs in my ear: "You are sooooooo lucky."

Whereas she is not. Her Charlie's bank account may be humongous, but his sperm bank is all but empty.

This gives her something else to whine about.

It also gives her the audacity to graze up against Ted on her way out the door.

If she thinks I didn't see her, she's crazy. Okay, now I have to be president. Just so I can kick her off the board…

Copyright © 2010 by Josie Brown

Bottom line: it hurts when a significant other flirts.

A gut reaction would be to throw a hissy fit. If Lyssa had, no other wife in the room would have blamed her . . .

But no. She realizes she is not necessarily surrounded by friends.
Had she made a scene, it would give her frenemies something very juicy
to gossip about.

So instead she feigns indifference. Why? Because the sharks are
circling, and she knows it. No way is she going to rock her tiny boat
in this sea of humanity.

What would I have done in this situation? Glad you asked. I would
have waited until we were alone, then honestly and openly told him how
much it had hurt me.

And yes, I would ask him to refrain from doing it again.

And if he forgot, I'd remind him again, in private.

But this time, I'd have a nutcracker in my hand. 'Tis the season, right?

Have you ever been in a situation where your SI flirted in front of
you? If so, how do you handle it? Feel free to comment below…

Inquiring minds want to know,

—Josie


SLHW fauxsmall Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives (From Amazon)

Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives (From Borders)

Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives (From Your Local Independent Bookstore)

Simon & Schuster/Pocket

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

Look for it in bookstores June 1, 2010

Tome of the Mommy: “You Know I Hate to Gossip, But…”

GossipGirls Everyone does it, right? We diss on our best buds, tell tales out of school.

When we're asked to keep a secret, we cross our hearts, hope to die . . .

Instead we spill our guts.

I've always been a social animal. In the human jungle, gossip is the best bait, a tasty fodder that shows we're in the know.

That we're somebody, because we know everyone else's business.

PEOPLE magazine has the highest circulation for a good reason: we are fascinated with others' lives.

Lindsey and Britney are train wrecks which we all craned our necks
over. The divorces of others (friends, exes, celebs) fascinate us. Is
it because our own are so boring—or is it because it's much easier to
pass judgment on others than to critique ourselves and assess our own
actions?

And yet, if we heard others were talking about us, we'd be mortified.

Magnifying mirrors make us wince. Every little wrinkle and pore is
exposed. Is gossip a mirror into our souls? Is what we say of others
really our fears about ourselves?

In my book SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES,
Brooke, the best friend of my heroine, Lyssa, always has the scoop on
everyone else in their tony community, Paradise Heights. Lyssa is just
slightly annoyed by this . . .

But she puts up with it because she would much prefer to be on the
receiving end of the gossip grapevine, as opposed to the topic of
interest.

Wouldn't we all?

What Brooke has to tell her is that the neighborhood's "perfect couple"
has just broken up. Both are enigmas: gorgeous, but aloof. Their
children are adorable and popular . . .

But when the divorce gets ugly, the gossip gets even more vicious.

Needless to say, everyone suffers—including Lyssa, who has befriended
the husband, Harry. He has put his career on pause and has become a
stay-at-home dad in order to prove he deserves custody of the kids.

One of the best lines in STEEL MAGNOLIAS belonged to Olympia Dukakis: "If you don't have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me."

That says it all: impress me with your knowledge. Titillate me. Scandalize me.

Even if it hurts someone. Even if it may not be true. Because that's entertainment . . .

Have you ever been hurt by gossip? If so, I'm all ears,

—Josie


SLHW fauxsmall Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives (From Amazon)

Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives (From Borders)

Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives (From Barnes & Noble)

Simon & Schuster/Pocket

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

Look for it in bookstores June 1, 2010