Special Memorial Day Excerpt, from The Housewife Assassin’s Guide to Gracious Killing

Prince-harry-with-shirt

With Memorial Day weekend right around the corner,  I thought you'd enjoy this excerpt from the second book in my Housewife Assassin series, Guide to Gracious Killing. It's a perfectly tasty little morsel because it includes a bit of military derring-do, along with a visit (appropriately timed) by Great Britain's Prince Harry.

Enjoy,

— Josie

Chapter 1
Breaking Bad Hostessing Habits

 

Every woman wants to be
the perfect hostess and frets over her inadequacies when it comes to the
gracious art of entertaining. Pshaw! A little forethought and a few hours of
planning make it as easy as cherry pie!

There is, however, one
ironclad rule every hostess must follow:

Make all your guests
wish they never had to leave.

Especially in a coffin.
With a bullet lodged in their heads.

 

“You’re quite a saucy minx!” Prince Harry’s ale-slurred
come-on can barely be heard over the techno-vibe emanating from a
starship-worthy console of the Ivy Lounge rooftop’s head-bobbing deejay. “What
say you give me a peek as to where your tattoo ends?”

His head is cocked downward, as if it might give
him the ex-ray vision he’ll need in order to see the rattle on the faux-tatt’ed
snake drawn from my belly to nether regions that lay under my thong bikini.

“You’re a cheeky sod. I do have a face, you
know.” I snap my fingers in front of his nose, in order to draw his eyes
northward.

I’ve succeeded, sort of. But come on, already.
The diplomacy born and bred into the Prince of Wales can’t beat two millennia
of innate urges and four pints of Guinness.

His eyes linger below my neck, albeit above my
abdomen.

When, finally, our eyes meet, I lean in and
whisper, “You show me yours, and I’ll show you mine.”

I’m lying, even if he doesn’t know it—yet.

His outright laugh is accompanied with a shake
of his head, and a tug at the waistline of his briefs. “No tats under these
trollies, I’m afraid. Sorry to disappoint.”

I finger his briefs longingly and then sigh.
“I’m sure you’ll make it up to me somehow.”

His smile is his vow not to disappoint.

God save the queen…

It’s no secret the prince has been stateside
with his Royal Air Force unit, learning the latest tricks and treats of the
AH-64D Apache helicopter: his vehicle of choice for his upcoming tour of duty
in Afghanistan. The soldiers completed their training today. Tomorrow they head
home. To celebrate, the soldiers are here, in San Diego, which is just a couple
of hours west of their training base, the Naval Air Facility at El Centro.

Seems some chatter, intercepted by MI6, has led British
intelligence to deduce the prince is the latest target of “the Leprechaun,” a
notorious assassin affiliated with the Irish terrorist cell known as 32CSM. If
the Leprechaun succeeds in picking off the spare to the throne, then once again
the always-thin strand of peace between Ireland and Great Britain will be
ripped to shreds.

If it happens on our side of the pond, the U.S.
will have mud on its face, not to mention the bluest of blood on its hands.

So yep, I have to stop the Leprechaun before he
gets lucky.

My employer, the freelance black ops agency
known in the field as Acme Corporation, paid big bucks to the club owners so I
could be up close and personal with the prince. My goal is not to shag, let
alone snag, Harry the Hottie. It’s to save his adorable hide from a possible
assassination attempt.

The prince leans in, close enough to ask in a
seductive albeit ale-sodden growl, “Want me to sign your bikini?”

I look down between my breasts. “Oops, forgot my
pen. But you seem to be carrying one, in your pants pocket. Or maybe you’re
just happy to see me.”

He’s laughing so hard his last gulp of Guinness
goes down the wrong way.

“Prince Charming has a one-track mind.” Jack
Craig’s snarl comes in loud and clear through the tiny microphone in my ear. As
the team leader for this Acme mission, he’s close by, but far enough away no
potential assassin can spot him.

Trust me, there is a hitter lurking nearby.

Jack is also my main squeeze, which is why he’s
growling about my having to play the coquette while under deep cover (in this
bikini, I’m talking figuratively if not literally) as one of the nightclub’s
VIP bottle girls. More specifically, this is one mission he’d wished I hadn’t
accomplished—become Harry the Hottie’s pick-up du jour.

Needless to say, the club’s real bottle girls
are pea green with envy. They can’t figure out how this newbie became
Cinderella of this Century.

If I told them my aim and my first-degree black
belt status had something to do with it, would they believe me? Probably not.
All they see is that I’m just this side of Cougarville, which means Harry is
less discriminating than they had hoped.

For once, I’m glad Jack isn’t here, in the
cordoned-off VIP section. One involuntary muscle flex and prince’s all-too-obvious
brawny goon squad—three of his Royal Air Force mates—would be on top of Jack,
like suds on ale. 

At MI6’s behest, we’ve kept the fact he’s a
target from Harry, for now, anyway. This, I’m sure, is why he feels so
cocksure. This mission wouldn’t have been so hard if the prince weren’t so
insistent about partying “like an ordinary surfer bloke,” is how he so
preciously puts it.      

Until now, the natives have been awed as much by
his regular dude personality as his title. But just as the deejay ratchets up
the hip-hop club mix, six drunken sorority sisters stroll our way. One of the
girls, a Kate Middleton lookalike, pierces me with a jealous glare.

I stare back and smile, as if to say, Take the
hint. Get lost.

Her eyes shift from me to one of Harry’s RAF
buds. She waves coyly at him, and he’s smitten. Smirking back, he nods her
over. She squeals and grabs the hand of one of her girlfriends.

In no time at all, she and her besties have
jumped the red velvet rope. They toss themselves onto the prince’s entourage,
who don’t seem to be fighting them off too hard.

In fact, they’re snapping their fingers at me
with drink orders for their new arm charms.

“Not good.” Jack’s warning in my ear is just
loud enough for me to here.

“Tell me something I don’t know,” I mutter back.

“How about this?” Jack is now shouting into my
earpiece. “You’ve lost Prince Harry.”

He’s right.

The prince seems captivated by a petite, busty
blond beauty. Even in heels, she barely reaches his chest. She had pulled him
out onto the dance floor for a throbbing sex-drenched hip grinder, Andree
Belle’s “Go Go Gadget Heart.”

The strobe lights and smoke machine make it hard
to follow them in the crowd. Then I see them, against one wall. The buxom
little tart drapes her arms around his shoulders and hugs him close, as if
she’ll never let him go.

Apparently, too close. I shove my way through
the crowd until I’m close enough to hear Harry’s woozy cry. “Blimey, you’re no
bird! You’ve got a wanker!”

Before I can pull him away, the prince is pricked
on the neck with something his partner has pulled from her cleavage. Harry’s
groan is loud. I smell smoke, and then the lights go out. But not before the
last strobe catches the triumphant look on his partner’s face.

 “Oh my
God, Jack! The woman with Harry—she’s—not a she! She’s—”

“I know! I saw it, too! The Leprechaun!”

Proof it pays to hit the M.A.C. counter before a
night on the town.

 And to
hang out where the lights are always low.

Everyone is screaming and shoving their way to
the exits, leaving me room to follow the Leprechaun, who is dragging Harry in
the opposite direction up against a wall.

“It’s too dark to see where they went,” I shout
to Jack. “Does anything show up on the club’s security cams?”

“I’m looking now. In the meantime, check the wall
for a hidden pocket door. The schematic of this club shows a few of them on
every level. I’m sure the Leprechaun had his exit scoped out in advance.”

While Jack scans the feeds from the security
cameras, I skim the walls with my hands. Finally, I find it: a tiny catch,
waist high.

I pull it open it just in time to see the
Leprechaun heaving Harry down a long corridor.

He may not be used to running in heels, but I
am. If only I wasn’t running in a bikini, too.

“Too many wobbly bits,” I mutter under my
breath.

It’s inappropriate for Jack to be laughing now,
but he can’t help it. “Just two. And they’re a sight to behold. Prince Charming
will be upset he slept through it.”

The thought of Harry in the French-manicured
hands of an assassin who can start the United Kingdom and Ireland down another
bloody path of un-neighborly relations has me picking up my pace. Unlike the
Leprechaun, I’m smart enough to ditch my high heels. But I’m still not fast
enough to reach them before the Leprechaun rolls him into the backseat of a
dark BMW and screeches off.

I can hear Jack slapping the wall with his fist.
“Aw, damn! We lost them!”

“Nope, I slipped a GPS tracker in the prince’s
trollies.”

“You did what… in his—what?”

“Oh, don’t worry, I didn’t peek. I’ll meet you
around the corner.”

What’s a little white lie between fake husband
and wife?

Before he can say another word, I snap off my
earpiece and run down the block.

 * * *

The naval base’s commanding officer is cussing
up a storm, something about blue-blooded playboy flyboys and horny co-eds.

When, finally, all the steam is out of him, Jack
says in the calmest voice possible, “It looks as if they’re headed for Mexico,
and they’ve got the jump on us. They’re changing vehicles every ten or so
miles, which indicates they don’t know about the tracker. Not yet, anyway. We
can catch them in a 64D, sir.”

Before the CO can let loose with yet another
tsunami of swear words, I hand him my cell phone. His nods and mutters, indicating
he’s heard Acme’s client—also his boss—loud and clear:

Put whatever we need at our disposal.

We grab Charlie Harcourt-Smythe (he’s the
soberest of the RAF pilots) and head to the airstrip. Because of the
sensitivity of the mission, we’ll keep it to that: no FBI, no CIA, and
certainly no local law enforcement. The prince has had enough photo ops for one
visit.

I’ve traded in my bikini for a snug
wind-resistant flight suit. He never did sign my bikini. Maybe later. If it’s
not too late already. 

(c) 2012 Josie Brown. All rights reserved. This excerpt may not be resold or redistributed without prior written permission from Josie Brown or Signal Press Books (info@signaleditorial.com).

 


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 Haven't yet read Book 1, The Housewife Assassin's Handbook? Get it for free, along with Book 2, in 

The Housewife Assassin's Killer 2-Book Set
Only $3.99!

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Best Daniel Craig Anti-James Bond movie ever: Layer Cake

Layer-Cake This side of the pond may know Daniel Craig as 007, but our British cousins have had the good fortune of seeing him in a variety of great roles that show a softer/more vulnerable/much more ironic side of the actor. 

I'd read some fairly great reviews of his 2004 movie Layer Cake, so I decided to check it out. It did not disappoint. Craig plays a bean-counting cocaine middleman who wants to retire from the dirty biz, but gets suckered into doing one last "favor" for the drug kingpin running him. 

Lots of plot twists: not everyone is whom they portend to be. Great cinematography, too, and a superlative sound track. The bad guys are complex characters. If it reminds one of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, that's because the movies share the same producers.

'Flix it. You won't be disappointed. Daniel Craig is more than eye candy. He's just desserts, too.

— Josie

HAH Hanging Man V2

THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK

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

Signal Press – Digital eBook 

ORDER NOW,  from

Amazon.com

BarnesAndNoble.com

Also in in the Apple iBookstore!

Enter The Housewife Assassin's Handbook Contest to win free movie tickets to AMC theaters, or another theater near you! 

I'm giving away $50 in Fandango Bucks
to some lucky winner who likes thriller movies as much as romantic suspense!

CLICK HERE TO READ THE CONTEST RULES…


 

 

You can’t just write a book. You have to promote it, too Here’s why.

Books
I had a great conversation with freelance editor John Rakstraw, which was broadcasted on is Blog Talk Radio show. (Click the icon below. The interview starts about 6 minutes into it.)

One of the topics we touched on was the fact that promoting the book you've written is very important to its success. Why? because there are 180,000 books published each year. How can readers find your book (on the shelf, or online) if they haven't heard of it first?

I truly believe that to stay in the game, authors have to become strong self-promoters. I also believe that, other than editing, the strongest component a publishing house can offer its authors is promotion. Otherwise, why would an author settle for 8-15% of a book's gross profit, when indie publishing (which takes care of online distribution anyway) allows them to hold onto 70% of it?

Listen to internet radio with John Rakestraw Talks on Blog Talk Radio

 

Hope you enjoy what I had to say on it,

 

— Josie

HAH Hanging Man V2

THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK
Murder. Suspense. Sex. 
And some handy household tips.

Signal Press – Digital eBook 

ORDER NOW,  from

Amazon.com

BarnesAndNoble.com

Also in in the Apple iBookstore!

Enter The Housewife Assassin's Handbook Contest to win free movie tickets to AMC theaters, or another theater near you! 

I'm giving away $50 in Fandango Bucks
to some lucky winner who likes thriller movies as much as romantic suspense!

CLICK HERE TO READ THE CONTEST RULES…


Marilyn Monroe’s little white dress…

Marilyn
They auctioned off Marilyn Monroe's iconic white halter dress from The Seven Year Itch. You remember the one: as she stood over a subway grate in front of the Trans-Lux Theater, it billowed up around her thighs. The way it was written into the movie, the object was to keep her cool–

Or was it to make every guy watching her get hot under the collar?

That was the case with her husband at the time: Joe DiMaggio. Afterward they had a shouting match in the theater lobby. She filed for divorce soon afterward.

The dress went for $4.5 million. It was sold by actress Debbie Reynolds, who, besides starring in several Hollywood classics herself (Tammy and the Bachelor, The Unsinkable Molly Brown) has a true appreciation for Hollywood lore. For years, much of her collection was kept at her hotel in Las Vegas, where she performed. A bad real estate investment forced her to sell off various pieces. This time around she also sold Monroe's red sequined dress from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (it went for $1.2 million, albeit it was projected to bring $200,000 – $300,000), and another of my favorites, Audrey Hepburn's Ascot dress from My Fair Lady, which sold for $3.7 million.

Other pieces sold by the auction house, Profiles in History included:

Judy Garland's blue cotton dress used in test shots for The Wizard of Oz, $910,000 (estimate: $60,000-$80,000)

Grace Kelly's rose crepe outfit from To Catch a Thief: $450,000 (estimate: $30,000-$50,000);

Marlon Brando's elaborate coronation costume from Napoleon Bonaparte: $60,000 (estimate: $60,000-$80,000);

Claude Rains' ivory military suit from Casablanca: $55,000 (estimate: $12,000-$15,000);

ElizabethTaylor's brown period dress from Raintree County: $10,000 (estimate: $10,000-$15,000);

Madonna's black evening gown and shoes from Evita: $22,500 (estimate: $4,000-$6,000);

Mike Myers' swinging '60s  suit from "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me: $11,000 (estimate: $6,000-$8,000); and

– A high-school graduation dress of Natalie Wood's: $4,250 (estimate: $2,000-$3,000).

I had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Reynolds a few years back. In fact, it was my very first celebrity interview. I remember her as gracious, witty, and vulnerable: she is every inch a star, but a sweet human being as well. I could have hung with her all weekend, if she'd have let me. Seriously, she is that much fun. 

And so candid. She answered all my questions, even the sticky ones. If I find that interview, I'll be sure to post it here.

As I was leaving I mentioned that my favorite of all movies was one of hers: Singin' in the Rain. "I'll sign the DVD, if you have it," she offered.

Stupid, stupid me! Why didn't I think to bring it? I never made that mistake again!

Oh, well. In hindsight, I should have asked her if I could try on Marilyn's dress, just once!

Want to see what all the fuss is about? Just watch the video clip below…

 

Enjoy,

–Josie

HAH Hanging Man V2

THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK
Murder. Suspense. Sex. 
And some handy household tips.

Signal Press – Digital eBook 

ORDER NOW,  from

Amazon.com

BarnesAndNoble.com

Also in in the Apple iBookstore!

Enter The Housewife Assassin's Handbook Contest to win free movie tickets to AMC theaters, or another theater near you! 

I'm giving away $50 in Fandango Bucks
to some lucky winner who likes thriller movies as much as romantic suspense!

CLICK HERE TO READ THE CONTEST RULES…


 

 

 

 

 

 

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

All the Great Reasons to Rent a live Christmas Tree

Retro-christmastree Here's one way to keep your Christmas tree evergreen: rent a live one.

According to this article in the New York Times, one very smart Los Angeles entrepreneur, Scott Martin, figured out a business that not only saves trees from death-by-chainsaw, but bonds us to them as well, since you can get the same tree to celebrate around, year after year.

Not to mention, the clean-up is easy, since he and his crew deliver and pick up.


—Josie


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

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

Look for it in bookstores June 1, 2010

Pre-Order at any of the bookstore links in my sidebar…


December
17, 2009 / New York Times

Business
Delivers Christmas Trees for Rent

By JENNIFER STEINHAUER

TORRANCE,
Calif. — It is a nibble weird that a guy who describes his relationship to
Christmas as “hostile” runs around greater Los Angeles in a floppy red Santa
hat and answers his iPhone, “Merry Christmas, this is Scotty Claus!”

But
bummed as false merriment and gift obligations render him, Scott Martin —
landscape architect and tree hugger in a literal sense — was unnerved by the
sight of post-Christmas trees lying about like so much discarded sausage
casing.

What
people really ought to do, he reasoned, was rent a Christmas tree, and return
it, alive, to the nursery once the season was over.

Mr.
Martin’s idea, enabled by a rotten economy that made his free time greater and
his potential labor pool deeper, is now manifest in his new business delivering
live, potted Christmas trees that are taken away once the toys have been
unwrapped and, possibly, already broken, and the New Year’s confetti has been
swept away.

Rentable
Christmas trees, which have been tried in Oregon and a smattering of other
places over the years, are a perfect match for Los Angeles, he said, where
Christmas trees have “an image issue,” and escaping a drive through traffic
with a tree strapped to a car roof is especially welcome.

“You
can try anything here, and no one will tell you it’s a bad idea,” said Mr.
Martin, who is 30 and grew up in the South Bay here, where he delivered trees
as a teenager for the local nursery. “California is more attached to the green
movement so there are more willing to try this service here.”

To
rent a tree, a customer visits his Web site, www.livingchristmas.com,
picks out a tree from among several varieties and then awaits delivery.
Delivery days are determined by geography, to save time and gas. Prices range
from $50, for a two-to-three-foot number, up to $185 for something considerably
bigger. While two weeks is the recommended length of stay for a live tree in a
house, Mr. Martin lets his customers keep them for three weeks.

The
tree is then picked up to join its evergreen cousins; they will summer together
on industrial properties where Mr. Martin rents space for pennies on the dollar
to house his inventory. People who want the same tree next year ask for the
tree to be tagged with their name, so it might return next December, taller.

Extra-credit
groovy points: The delivery trucks run on biodiesel; the trees are cared for by adults with
disabilities; the drivers will pick up donations for Goodwill and used wrapping
paper for recycling; and his Web site also sells eco-friendly, fair trade ornaments.

Mr.
Martin — whose landscape architecture work slowed quite a bit this year, given
that most of it was in Dubai — gets delivery help from some laid-off architects
he knows. “They are willing, for $15 an hour, to put on reindeer antlers and
tell people Merry Christmas.”

Last
Friday, Mr. Martin expertly threaded his truck through the small streets and
secret byways of Manhattan Beach, until he pulled up in front of an old beach
house where, naturally, there was no parking.

“Can
we steal your driveway to deliver a Christmas tree?” Mr. Martin gamely asked a
neighbor, who appeared to find it very hard to say no to a cheerful pair of
guys — Mr. Martin and his helper, Justin “Season” Casillas — in festive
headwear carrying a spruce. Delilah and Charlotte Samuels, the children of the
house, came racing out into the drizzle to check out the incoming tree.

Their
mother, Megan Arquette, buried her nose in the branches. “Ramona, you’re back!”
she said, taking in the tree’s scent. “Ummmm. It smells so good.” The family
was one of last year’s handful of pilot customers; this year, the company has
rented 400 trees and expected to finish the season with 500.

“We
love this,” Ms. Arquette said of tree renting. “It stays fresh, the cleanup is
minimal because it doesn’t drop anything, and it goes away and comes back next
year. It’s kind of like having a little pet.”

The
drive to anthropomorphize live trees seems common. Alice Haliburton, who heard
about tree rentals from a pal in her spinning class, was giddy to see her
“fluffy” tree arrive, so much so that she jumped around a little. “He smells
great, and he’s got a good home!” she exclaimed as Mr. Martin and Mr. Casillas
wedged him into a corner of her apartment in Redondo Beach. “And you can see
he’s happy.

Yeah,
so there can be problems. The guy who was supposed to pick up storage trays for
the trees out in Chino left without them. People get touchy about trees. They
don’t appreciate traffic. “I try to explain it’s Christmas, and it’s a tree,”
Mr. Martin said. “I say: ‘Your temporary Tannenbaum is not there yet? What can
I do for you?’ ”

But
he looks forward to bringing his trees back next year. “Your kids are growing,
your trees are growing, it’s really dynamic,” he said. “We’re breathing new
life into the holiday.”

 

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

 

Trailer Smash: SENSE AND SENSIBILITY – Hope the Book Lives up to the Trailer

P2 Girls I'll admit it: I hate bastardizing classics. Especially those of dead authors who can't defend themselves and their labors of love and hard work.

Lately Jane Austen has gotten the brunt of these types of sequels, mashups, whatever. Some of the authors take wonderful care to get it right: the voice, the cadence, the mannerisms the stories. Yes, alright, the sense and the sensibility of Miss Austen's books. Sharon Lathan is a perfect example of this.

Not to mention that composer Rita Abrams has put Pride and Prejudice to song, in our musical version of it.


But
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? Get outta here.

Having sold enough units of that weak-kneed high concept, now the same pub hosue is mashing up Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters .

Yowch. 

Sigh.

Okay, I gotta admit: the book trailer (see below) is well done. And yeah, I'd see the movie if it came out.

But buy the book? Not on your life.

Although, I'm sure, enough people will.

Poor Jane.

Poor us.

—Josie



SLHW fauxsmall Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives

Simon & Schuster/Pocket

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

Look for it in bookstores June 1, 2010

As Strange as FIction: Hollywood Actress Fights Porn Star for Stepchild

Sandra-Bullock Every now and then real life is stranger than fiction. Ironically this is one of those situations.

Hollywood star, Sandra Bullock, and her husband, the renowned motorcycle mechanic/detailer and reality show celeb, are in a custody battle for for James' seven-year-old daughter with his ex-wife, former porn star, Janine Lindemulder.

Seriously, this scenario could have been taken from my 2006 novel, Impossibly Tongue-Tied, in which a phone sex operator — in this case, a struggling actress — gets kicked to the curb by her hubby, whose own acting career gets kicked into high gear when he stars — and beds — a high-profile Hollywood actress. The actress in my book decides that making the mother of his child look unfit in the press is one way to get the kid she wants, without the stretch marks. In truth, the heroine — the sex phone operator — only took on the job at the behest of her hubby, so that they could make ends meet.

Wanna read an excerpt? Here you go… And btw, you can still order it online at your favorite bookstore, too.

As for this real life case, I can't imagine that Bullock is as mean or as nasty as the actress/celeb in my book. Those that work with her say she's sweet, genuine, and a real pro on the set.

As for the Lindemulder, considering she's done over 100 porn flicks (including Mrs Behavin’,
Sleeping Booty
and Dyke Diner) and has just been released from jail for tax fraud, I'm guessing she's going to have an uphill battle with requesting full custody, more because of her current situation (she makes about $15 an hour, and yet pay back several hundred thousand in back taxes. It's going to be hard to raise a kid that way . . .

Unless she has help with child support from her ex.

In fact, I look at the issue of moms who leave their children in my new novel, Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives. It's due out in August 2010. 

Just do what's best for the child, always,

—Josie


SecretLivesfaux

Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives
Simon & Schuster/Pocket
(ISBN: 9781439173176)

Look for it in bookstores

August  2010

5 Reasons Why Borders’ Sue Grimshaw Is a Romance Writer’s BFF

Readingissexy One of the joys of belonging to my local chapter of Romance Writers of America – the San Francisco Chapter (major shout-out here) is because of some of the wonderful programs they pull together for published authors.

(Of all ilk, really. Yo: mystery, thriller, commercial lit, and lit writers, seriously: it's worth attending these meetings, for the mojo alone.)

Take, for instance, yesterday's speaker: the incomparable Sue Grimshaw, the romance buyer for Borders Books on a national level. I've heard Sue speak at least three times in the past five years, and each time not only do I learn something new, but her message is always up-to-the-minute on industry trends, from the bookseller's perspective.

Besides being one of the most unassuming and gracious book industry people on the planet, Sue is also very open and forthcoming with information from the perspective on how and what makes it easier for her to want to buy your book on a national basis (it all comes down to the writing, folks: character development sells…), and how you can make her phalanx of in-store romance booksellers aware of it, so that they can enthusiastically sell it. (There are 200 of them in Borders stores across the country! Talk about knowing and workin' the genre…)

That said, here are my top five reasons why Sue is a romance writer (and romance reader's) best friend:

Reason #1: Romance books are her focus, day in and day out. A dedicated romance book buyer isn't necessarily the norm in many of the other chain bookstores, or the majority of indie stores. Sue has worked in that capacity at Borders for over a decade, and it has allowed her to analyze sales and reader trends in this book genre.

Reason #2: She works hand-in-hand with publishers of the genre. She lives to give input on ARCs and covers, and to update publishers on sales trends in the romance subgenre categories (historical, contemporary, paranormal, inspirational, etc).

And by the way: According to Sue, in the romance genre, the male torso on the cover still pulls the impulse buy, even more so than a woman on the cover. Both on the cover, done well, works, too.

Does publisher co-op get you more front-of store and end cap placement? Well, duh, yeah of course. But there is still some "store option" on the local level, which brings us to . . .

Reason #3: She encourages you to get in touch — and stay in touch — with her romance booksellers and store managers.
Hey, we're all in this together. Authors have to promote, too. To quote
Trollope (Anthony, not Joanna) it's the way we live now.

To
that end, it would behoove you to walk into your local Borders — for
that matter, every Borders within reach, even (or especially) when
you're out of town — and make it a point to introduce yourself to the
store manager and if they have one, the romance specialist. Yes, you
should drop off bookmarks or advance reading copies, if you have them.
(and if you don't, CREATE SOME.)

Reason #4: She talks to authors. Ask her anything: How is my subgenre doing? What kinds of stories or plotlines sell? What do you think of my cover? She won't hedge. And as we all know, knowledge is power. The best thing about it: although she's in a power position, she's not intimidating. She's just like the rest of us: reserved (okay, maybe not ALL of us) and loves books. Contact her via email: via email at: sgrimshaw at bordersgroupinc.com

Hey you can even find her on Twitter: http://twitter.com/SueGrimshaw  

Reason #5: Sue — and Borders — are doing all they can to get you in front of readers. Truly, that's what you want from any bookseller, right?

To help this process along, email Sue when you have your pub date and blurb and cover. Be sure she gets an ARC as soon as possible. Let her know what you'll be doing to promote the book (online excerpts, book trailer, special promotions). Get quotes and raves from other authors (she says this is something that gets her excited, as a reader, so she presumes it works on other readers, too).

In fact, Borders is one of the sponsors of RomConInc, a humongous romance fan convention and  booksigning, to take place in Denver, Colorado July 9-11, 2010. Here's hoping it's a huge success, and that, eventually, we'll see similar events more frequently, and in various regions of the country. Considering the number of romance books launched each month, there will certainly be a demand for it, by readers and authors.

Another must-do: Create an affiliate account with Borders, and put links to its specials — and your books, of course — on your site. Not only will it make your books more accessible and affordable for your readers, but affiliates get commissions (cha-CHING!)

And yes, feel free to send her your book trailer. Her vlog, which lives at bordersmedia.com/trueromance, is updated daily with all kinds of reader recommendations and other goodies. Who knows? Maybe yours will be one of her greatest hits.

In other words, make Sue and her romance bookseller posse your new BFFs,

—Josie


SecretLivesfaux

Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives
Simon & Schuster/Pocket

Look for it in bookstores
September 2010

The Art of Quilting: JoAnn Somers Does It Right

Vogue-lady I'm working on a book proposal that includes embroidery — which is possibly why it facinates me that many of my friends are into knitting or quilting.

Back in the day, it used to be drinking and carousing.

Okay, and flirting.

I'm not lumping these fabric arts together, but I do see a similarity here: to excel at them, you need patience, as well  a steady hand, and an artist's eye.

Take, for example, the quilt here, created by JoAnn Somers. entitled "Vogue Lady," this quilt is almost complete, and is a perfect example of taking an impressionist work of art and rendering it in another medium:

One that enhances it to new and unique dimensions.

Granted, this project may end up on a bed, but could easily be hung on a well-lit wall.

JoAnn is married to one of my favorite portrait photographers, Alan David. His most interesting subjects have included Ted Turner, Jimmy Carter —

And Josie, Martin, Anna and Austin Brown.

Because family, too, is a work of art.

As is friendship,

—Josie

SecretLivesfaux

Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives
Simon & Schuster/Pocket

Look for it in bookstores
September 2010

Danielle Steel: Aide Embezzled Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars!

Danielle-Steel

Danielle Steel leads the lush life she writes about: gorgeous gowns, jewels, furs, mansions in San Francisco's tony Pacific Heights (the one she owns, the former Alma Spreckels mansion, is one of the city's showpieces) Because I'm all authors grabbing the brass ring and making it big, I applaud Ms. Steel's tenacity, and the body of work and fans that have paid it off.

Even as I walk past her stunning home, I hadn't fathomed just how MUCH money a financially successful novelist can make. I guess because so many of us — make that TOO many — don't make even enough to do our craft full time, if we want to eat and pay our rent, too.

I guess that's why, when I saw this newsbyte, you could have knocked me over with a feather.

With all due respect to Ms. Steel:

Hell yeah, if $400,000 was missing from my account (I'm sure it was taken in bits and pieces: you know, a thousand here, another thou there) I would have figured it out — and fast!

Here's the report from the Associated Press:

Tue Sep 29, 12:46 am ET
SAN FRANCISCO – A former aide to Danielle Steel is facing time in federal prison after admitting she stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the romance novelist.
Federal prosecutors announced Monday that 47-year-old Kristy Watts, who also goes by the name Kristy Siegrist, pleaded guilty last week to one count of wire fraud and four counts of tax evasion.
Prosecutors say Watts admitted stealing at least $400,000 while handling accounting and other duties for Steel.
Watts worked for the best-selling author from 1993 to 2008.
Investigators determined Watts had deposited checks from Steel's accounts into her own account and used Steel's credit cards for herself.
Sentencing is set for Feb. 4 in federal court in San Francisco.

I guess you can be too rich, if not too thin,

—Josie

SecretLivesfaux

My Next Book:

Secret Lives of
Husbands and Wives

Simon & Schuster/Pocket
September 22010