Extracurricular: You can buy it today.

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I used to hate pink book covers.

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

Okay, yeah. Extracurricular is for women. 

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

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

But know others who may have gamed the system.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for taking a chance on my story.

—Josie

Extracurricular-KindleExtracurricular / Book 1

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

amazon-2-icon AppleBooks unnamed kobo-blue

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Extracurricular: Hence, the name of the series

Debate Terminology.png

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

Well, you're wrong.

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

In other words, are they good citizens?

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

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

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

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

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

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

—Josie

Extracurricular-KindleExtracurricular / Book 1

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

amazon-2-icon AppleBooks unnamed kobo-blue

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

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

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

New Season, New Contest, and a New Series!

Extra1 Ad TW

EXTRACURRICULAR – BOOK 1 RELEASE DATE: JUNE 28, 2019. PRE-ORDER NOW!

amazon-2-icon imgres copyNook logo kobo-blue

 

 

Happy Almost Summer to You!

Now that San Francisco's monsoon rains have finally let up, Martin and I have been taking long walks every day. It's great to see flowers in bloom again!

The tulip trees were first, then the daffodils, followed by ice plant and calla lilies. Birds of Paradise seem to hang in there pretty much all year long, as do roses—always a pleasure to see.

Only one thing makes me happier than Spring—and that's BOOKS!
My next series, EXTRACURRICULAR, takes place over two generations and three episodic books.

It's a story about love, lust, and parents behaving badly when it comes to cheating on college entrance exams.

It may sound like a plot ripped from the headlines. Ironically, this was a story I began writing eight years ago…

So yeah, it's been on my mind for quite some time.

If you loved Totlandia or Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, this is definitely the series for you!
The first novel in this series of three books launches on 
Friday, June 28, 2019—
Just in time for the July 4th Weekend.

And of course, to celebrate the heat AND a sizzling new book to read, 
I'm having a launch contest for Extracurricular – Book 1.

You can read about it below. I do hope you'll enter.
In fact, you'll have 6 chances to win.
Enjoy your summer—AND Extracurricular!
—Josie

Prizes

THE PRIZES

5 Contestants Will Win:

:A $10 Gift Card from the bookstore of your choice;

: An autographed copy of my novel, The Baby Planner (trade paperback); and

: A digital eBook of any one of my books (currently published, or a future title).

A 6th Contestant will be drawn as the Grand Prize Winner, and will Receive:

: A $50 Gift Card from the bookstore of your choice;

: A signed trade paperback copy of The Baby Planner;

A signed trade paperback copy of Extracurricular Book 1;

: An signed hardcover copy of The Housewife Assassin's Handbook;

: A digital eBook of one of my books—your choice! (currently published, or a future title);

: A jute tote bag sporting the Housewife Assassin logo—great for the beach or the store! And

: A stoneware ruffled pie dish from Crate + Barrel.

Talk about a fun bunch of prizes!

The contest ends Midnight Pacific Time on Midnight, Sunday, August 4, 2019

Talk about a fun bunch of prizes!

AND YOU CAN EARN BONUS POINTS!

Enter the Contest

Welcome to Author Provocateur Podcasts

AudioListener on Left

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy my author interviews, novel samples, and creative writing tips. 

To celebrate the Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Weekend 2018which takes place on the weekend for Friday through Sunday, April 27—29, 2018—I interviewed some of the 50+ authors who will be attending.

THESE INTERVIEWS WILL LAUNCH SOON.

Each author has such wonderful insights on what inspires them to write—and you'll certainly enjoy what they say about their latest novels and their writing process.

Josie Brown

 

 

 

Money makes any place magical. Proof of this: the dancing bunny of Ross, California.

DancingBunny2

Got to play yesterday a bit in Marin County, California. One of our favorite walks is in Ross, California, a very posh little village, just north of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Behind the stately gate is this beautiful home, a dancing bunny cavorts on the beautifully manicured front yard. You see it there, right? For that reason alone, if I were the owner, I'd smile every time i entered the house. (Okay, that, and the fact that the house is worth an estimated $10 million +).

This bunny is doing a happy dance, for good reason,

—Josie

 

Martin and I found this antique musical Santa snow globe at an old curiosity shoppe.

Christmas Snow Globe 2015

At the time it was a splurge for us—thirty dollars—but how could we resist? Turns out the shop owner had just polished its brass base that very morning before putting it in the shop window. "I knew it would go quickly," he said, chuckling. The shop is gone now. Still, I'm sure he'd be happy to know it's given us many years of joy. Every time I hear its version of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," I have to smile.

—Josie

As I took a shower, I looked out my window and saw large crows gathering on the rooftop…

…of the apartment building behind me. #HitchcockMoment 

Thebirds

Psycho_Shower_Scene

Hump Day Haiku: “The Bald Guy”

Baldmandating

I date a bald guy/

The great news: he's not a creep/

My friends say, "Clone him!"

— Josie

This is how I feel when a reader writes me to tell me how much she loves my books…

Happy-woman
I'm always in awe of those readers who take the time out of their busy days to write me a little note, telling me how much they've enjoyed one of my books. Here's and excerpt of one I got just this morning, for the Totlandia series:

"Hi!  I can't get enough of your books!  Please tell me Totlandia 4 is coming out soon. LOL. I hope you will continue the series after 4, your books are so fun to read, that I can't put them down. It so nice to have something to escape too, when you are a working mom with children!   Love your work!"  – D.H.

Thank you, D.H., for appreciating my characters, and for validating all the hard work I put into my novels. Letters such as this one are why we authors write. You are exactly who I wish to write for, to share time with, and to entertain. 

Truly, it made my day! I feel just like the woman, above,

xoxo

Josie



Totlandia5_2

TOTLANDIA
Book 1: The Onesies/Fall

Coliloquy Books / 978-0-9740214-0-9 / eBook

Buy it now…

Amazon.com (eBook)

Amazon.com (App)

BN.com (eBook)

 BN.com (App)


Friendship. Lies. Seduction. Betrayal. 
Welcome to Totlandia.

The salacious secrets of Desperate Housewives meet the aspirational lifestyles of Sex and the Cityin San Francisco’s most elite mommies group

In this sometimes bittersweet (and always humorous) novel, the friendships among four women who meet in a moms-and-tots playgroup are tested as they address their presumptions, family traumas, love, passion, and the hard realities of parenting their children.

READ AN EXCERPT HERE…

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE…

 

It’s not a party unless you show up…

Tot3 launch party poster

TOTLANDIA
Book 3: The Onesies/Spring

In Bookstores Now!

Coliloquy Books
978-1-937804-16-9 / 
eBook

Buy it on Amazon.com

Buy it on BN.com

 

To celebrate the launch of Totlandia: The Onesies, Book 3 (Spring),
join me for a fantabulous Twitter party, and a chance to win a free copy of Book 3!

Now is the time to ask me all your must-know questions about
Jade, Brady, Ally, Lorna, Jillian….and of course, Bettina!
I'll also be tweeting some trivia on all the Onesies moms,
and asking your opinion about some of the characters you love…and love to hate!

Looking forward to having you join me!

– Josie

@JosieBrownCA

 

____________________________

 

Spring comes in like a lamb as the exclusive
Pacific Heights Moms & Tots Club welcomes its newest members.
But that tranquility belies a storm brewing,
as new tensions and old rivalries come to a head.

The surviving moms are ready to reap the rewards of membership,
but none of them counted on club founder, Bettina Connaught Cross,
needing a pick-me-up from a bitter betrayal.
While lesser women might cry into their pillows,
Bettina finds comfort in exerting control over her domain.

With Bettina on a rampage, the new Onesies are trying to stay out of sight
long enough to deal with their own issues:
Lorna wants to tell her family about Dante’s autism,
but keeping it on her own terms could be difficult
when her hippie mom and socialite mother-in-law meet for the first time.
Jillian fights to regain her financial footing and confront her own insecurities,
finding comfort in an unexpected place.
And Ally can’t bear the thought of hurting Jade,
so she continues to bury her feelings for Brady.

But when another desperate housewife stirs the mix,
Jade could become a pawn in an even more devious game.
It’s no ordinary spring in Totlandia, as emotions build to a fury and end with a roar.

________________________________

EXCERPT

Friday, 4 January

8:14 a.m.

“What do you mean I don’t qualify for unemployment benefits?” Jillian Frederick’s hand was shaking so hard she could barely hold the phone to her ear.

It had taken her almost an hour to get more than an automated voice on the line, someone who could actually answer her questions about how to file a claim. Within that hour, her cell phone beeped because its battery was low. To top it off, someone had just texted her. No doubt the waiting text was zapping her juice as well.

“Sorry, my dear, but them’s the breaks.” The Unemployment Office clerk practically yawned in Jillian’s ear. “You worked for, like what… two months? And for minimum wage at that. What did you expect?”

“My husband left me and our two babies a few months ago. It was the only job I could find!”

“Seriously, hon, I feel for you. But I’m not Dear Abby, and the Unemployment Office isn’t your parents’ ATM.”

“This is an emergency! I may lose my house! I supported my ex-husband through college, so I’m sure my benefits from back then still count, don’t they? Listen, can you check and see how far back you can go?” 

Just then one-year-old Amelia yanked a branch of the Christmas tree so hard that three glass ornaments fell and cracked. Both she and her twin sister, Addison, wailed in union.

As Jillian scooped both girls up into her arms to cuddle them before they grabbed at the glass shards, the cell phone fell out of her hand, hitting the cold marble floor with a loud crack.

“Oh my God! Are you—are you okay?” Jillian could barely hear her own voice over her daughters’ wails.

 “I think you broke my eardrum,” the clerk finally retorted.

“I’m so sorry! One of my daughters almost pulled down our Christmas tree.” Jillian was trying with all her might to keep the tears out of her voice. “Listen, isn’t there any way to find out if those benefits are still good?”

“Yeah sure. What’s your maiden name?”

“McKeever.”

“I’ll check. Let me put you on hold again.”

Hold? Oh my God, no! My phone battery is dying, and I was on hold for forty minutes before I reached you! Can’t you just all me back? Wait!”

But it was too late. She was being serenaded by a symphonic version of the Black-Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow.”

Frustrated, Jillian fell back onto the couch. The drop in altitude left the toddlers giggling. They smacked Jillian’s face as if that would relieve her too-early-in-the-morning exhaustion. She sighed, forced her lips into a smile and wiped the tears from her eyes before opening them.

Truth be told, even if she hadn’t been canned, Jillian’s credit card bills were mounting so fast that no amount of generous tips could’ve saved her. She was now four months behind on her SUV’s payments. She hid the car in the alley behind her house so she could dodge the repo man who kept knocking on the door. As it was, she barely used the damn thing, except for Costco and Wal-Mart runs. Having rammed it repeatedly into the Porsche of her philandering soon-to-be ex, Scott, her car’s bumper now scraped her front wheels on tight turns.

Last week she had just managed to scrape together the money to pay the gas and electric bill. To keep them under fifty dollars a month, she closed off the vents in every room of her rambling mansion on Pacific Street except for the kitchen and the nursery, where for the most part Addison and Amelia slept and played, or burned used paperbacks in the old home’s fireplaces.

 She had traded the convenience of her pricey local Whole Foods and the neighborhood grocery markets on Union, Polk, and Chestnut streets for Chinatown’s vegetable markets, where produce could be purchased for less than half the price.

The thought of collecting unemployment benefits shamed her. But it was going on three weeks since she lost her job, and she had to do something, anything.

She was too proud to give up the home she had so lovingly restored. Further, it would have been one more intolerable defeat at the hands of her two-timing husband.

A commotion coming from the alley behind her house roused her from where she sat prostrate on the couch. She picked up both girls before walking to the window, just in time to see her SUV being hoisted onto a flatbed truck.

She set the girls down in their playpen and ran down the stairs and out the side door. The tow operator, a large bear of a man sporting tattoos on every inch of skin not covered by his jeans or the jacket emblazoned with Bay Area Repo, had already chained down her vehicle.

Jillian grabbed his arm. “Wait! That’s my car! Where do you think you’re taking it?”

The man shrugged. “Back to the dealership. Sorry, lady, three missed payments means they own it again.”

“How will I get around without it? It’s the only transportation I’ve got, and I have two toddlers! Please—”

He looked down at her. “Nothing I can do about it. Here’s a tip, though. Next time, disengage the GPS so we can’t find it so easily. Just sayin’.”

If only she’d known that earlier.

She watched as he backed the truck through the alleyway before gunning it down Pacific Street. Then it occurred to her that she’d left the kids alone inside. Both were now adept at catapulting themselves over the playpen’s side with a kamikaze flip they’d learned from their little gal pal, Zoe Thornton. She ran back into the house.

Too late. The girls were toddling toward the Christmas tree.

She grabbed them just before they hit the field of broken glass.

Now, for her cell phone. Where had she put it?

It took her a full five minutes before she realized she’d tossed it into the playpen with the girls. By the time she did, it was too late. The damn battery had gone dead.

She threw it back down into the playpen.

Big mistake. The girls climbed down out of her arms and into the playpen after it. She was just about to fish out all three one more time when the doorbell rang.

Who the hell could it be now? Jillian wondered. Before she opened the door, she looked through the peephole.

Scott.

She slumped up against the wall. What the hell was he doing there?

© 2013 Josie Brown. Published in 2012 by Coliloquy Books. All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

 

To celebrate Totlandia/Book 2’s launch, Book 1 is FREE! Two days only, on Amazon!

Tot2_6x8_300dpiIf you've read Book 1 of my new series, Totlandia, you know there's a lot of snarky fun and silly shenanigans, and heart-felt drama in this posh moms-and-tots group.

In honor of the launch of Totlandia / Book 2 (Winter) , Book 1 (Fall)  is FREE, for two days ony on, Amazon

Book 2 picks up right where Book 1 left off. Now that one mother has been eliminated, the five remaining mommies are just one misstep away from entry into the elite Pacific Heights Moms & Tots Club. Everyone has a scandalous secret to hide, but who will be the next to fall?

As the club's founder, Bettina, ratchets up the stress level with a series of holiday-themed challenges, the cracks begin to show. Jade's past catches up to her in the most unlikely of settings. Jillian's struggles to make ends meet are complicated by Bettina's demands. Ally's work and home lives collide, threatening to expose all of her secrets. And Lorna's already fraying family ties are torn to shreds by a series of devastating events.

With just four spots remaining, will the five remaining ladies turn cutthroat? Or will their newfound friendships be strong enough to help them band together?

http://www.totlandiatheseries.com

________________________________

EXCERPT

Monday, 5 November, 10:23 a.m.

The Tot Tales storytime moderator at the Marina branch of the San Francisco  Library certainly had her hands full reading over the bickering pair of three-year-olds whose short attention spans had deteriorated into wrestling in the back of the reading room. Otherwise, she had a captive audience of forty toddlers, including all of the PHM&T’s probationary Onesies—Dante, Wills, Oliver, Amelia, Addison and Zoe.

It had been Jillian’s turn to host today’s Onesies’ meet-up. Now that San Francisco’s weather had turned iffy, the fifty families who made up the Pacific Heights Moms & Tots Club congregated less frequently at Alta Plaza or Moscone or Lafayette parks on its playgroup days (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays). Instead, the club split itself up by tot age—ten families per ‘class’—and met according to that day’s events.

For example, while the Fivesies fed sardines to the recovering seals at the Marine Mammal Center, the Foursies found inspiration at the DeYoung Museum from the costumes worn by the ballet dancer, Rudolf Nureyev. And while the Threesies resisted the urge to swat the butterflies roaming freely through the California Academy of Science’s rainforest, the Twosies squealed in delight at a Disney on Ice show at the Cow Palace.

The Legacy Onesies mothers—those who had older children in PHM&T’s other playgroups—were allowed to take their younger children on their older children’s field trips. To their way of thinking, that was a good thing. Until this ghastly contest was over, they had all shied away from getting close to any of the Probationary Onesies. Making a new friend only to have her exiled from the club two months later wasn’t worth the risk of any future awkwardness in a Whole Foods aisle or in some ladies’ room queue at the symphony’s annual Black and White Ball.

This mindset left the Probationary Onesies to fend for themselves. Whereas all the other playgroups chose an event that required an outlay of cash, Jillian had chosen the tot reading because it was a freebie. Her own financial situation was dire, given her pending divorce. In fact, she was keeping the divorce a secret from the PHM&T applications committee, who would certainly frown upon it. Single moms weren’t welcomed into the club because they made those who enjoyed wedded bliss uncomfortable from all that bitterness emanating from the divorcees. Not to mention events where spouses were included would suddenly seem awkward. 

Jillian knew the wisdom of keeping her mouth shut.

From the looks of things, the kids were enjoying themselves. The reader was quite animated. Oliver, Zoe, Dante, Amelia and Addison, as well as little Wills, had crawled on the mat until they were right next to her, enraptured with the way her voice brought the various characters alive.

Their parents, too, listened quietly and happily. Soon though, another presence could be felt in the room. Jillian seemed the first to pick up on it. Glancing behind her, she noticed that Bettina stood silently behind them. From her blank expression, it was hard to determine how she’d rate the event.

Jillian waved hesitantly. Bettina nodded at her, motioning her to rouse the other mothers and follow her into the library’s adjoining alcove.

They were met with a grand smile. “So great to see you and your little ones having such a wonderful time! Who arranged your meet-up today?”

The others nodded or murmured toward Jillian, who practically glowed.

“Well done, Jillian,” Bettina continued. “But sadly there will be points off for the fact that the PHM&T toddlers are being exposed to children outside the club.”

“Why?” Jillian asked, confused.

“These so-called ‘free’ events have their price, too. It is usually an emotional cost. For example, the storyteller’s performance is somewhat uninspired. I’m guessing she has been booed at many a child’s birthday party. Not to mention the exposure of our little ones to the bad behavioral habits of some of the more rambunctious children in the room.”

Lorna laughed. “Okay, so the storyteller will never be up for an Oscar, but I doubt our children picked up on that. All I know is that they’re having a great time. And I’m sure there are just as many rambunctious toddlers in the California Academy of Science’s rainforest—none of whom belong to PHM&T.”

Right then and there, Lorna had made Kelly’s point for her—that she was undermining Bettina’s authority with the other Onesies moms.

“My dear, getting into the Academy is not free. That makes a big difference.” After making her point to her sister-in-law, Bettina’s eyes swept over the other mothers. “You’ve been fairly warned.”

The silence that followed had nothing to do with the fact that they were in a library, and everything to do with the fact that each of them was processing Bettina’s threat.

“On a lighter note, I’ve come up with a wonderful way for you to choose the club-wide event you’ll host.” Bettina pulled out a small-lidded candy dish from her purse. Inside were tiny folded slips of paper. “Each of you will choose one of these. A budget is included. The necessary funds come from our annual dues. Except for the after-Thanksgiving potluck, the budget allows for food and decorations. However, you must decorate, coordinate, and host it on your own. And remember, creativity is key, but organization is just as important. The best part—your event’s success is yours, too!”

What she didn’t say was implicit—fail, and you get axed.

She held the dish out toward the other women.

They exchanged wary looks. Then Ally nodded, timidly reaching into the small bowl. “It says ‘Parents’ Holiday Party, Friday, December 14th.’”

 “Wonderful! What could be better? Food, folks, and fun!” Bettina continued, “I’ll email you with the details of the location. By the way, your budget allows for a caterer.”’

After the chastisement she’d just received, Jillian considered waiting until last, but then thought better of it. Picking next would give her more options. She reached in,  pulling out a tiny slip. “‘Santa’s Visit to the Children, Monday, December 10th.’” She sighed with relief.

Lorna frowned with concern. “Um…doesn’t the club have a few members who aren’t Christian? How do they feel about Santa?”

“In fact, Jillian, your event should also include Kwanzaa and Hanukkah rites, and some Christmas caroling. In other words, think multi-cultural! But no need for Hanukkah to run the full eight days, since our children’s attention spans are at the most an hour or two.”

Jillian nodded slowly. Everyone was sure she hadn’t been mulling the details of an eight-day extravaganza. Still, it was good that Bettina had spelled it out for her.

“My turn,” Kelly said. After pulling a folded slip, she frowned. “Oh. The After-Thanksgiving Potluck.”

“Easy-peasy,” Bettina assured her. “We hold it at the Presidio Golf Club’s café. No need for a caterer because members bring the food, which you’ll coordinate by monitoring PHM&T’s online dish sign-up sheet. In the last week, you’ll arbitrarily assign a dish category to those laggards who haven’t signed up. And you’ll be in charge of decorating the clubhouse with a Thanksgiving theme. By yourself, of course.”

Kelly’s smile faded. Obviously, she hadn’t counted on a task with so many moving parts.

 “My turn!” Jade put her hand into the bowl and pulled out a tiny slip. “Oh! I have the club’s pumpkin patch visit.” 

“Excellent,” Bettina said. “I’m sure you’ll do a great job explaining the lore around fall harvest. Lots of hands-on fun for our children, what with pony rides and the cornfield maze.”

“Last but not least, I’m sure,” said Lorna, reaching in for the last slip of paper. “I have the coordination of the Recipe Book fundraiser.”

“Aren’t you lucky! With your top-notch organizational skills, it should be a breeze,” Bettina exclaimed. “Let’s see, that means you’ll be in charge of editing the recipes for our cookbook fundraiser. Just think, Lorna! You’ll get so many great ideas to enhance those tired old standbys you insist on preparing for the holidays! Oh, that’s not to imply that your own culinary skills are lacking in any way. It’s nice to polish up on them now and then. You know, just to keep from getting stale.”

As if validating this premise, Kelly gave Lorna a sympathetic pat on the wrist.

Lorna almost jerked her arm away. She had a niggling feeling she shouldn’t trust Kelly, despite the woman’s numerous attempts to ingratiate herself to Lorna. It was obvious to everyone that Kelly and Bettina were close. And just the other day, after Chakra’s dismissal, Bettina had asked Kelly to stay behind while the rest of the group dispersed.

No, something was not right. She could just feel it. Still, if she acted suspicious of Kelly just because she and Bettina were close, she might be hurting her chances of staying in the club.

Lorna smiled, masking her frustration. “You’re right, Bettina. And since it’s the club’s most important charity fundraiser of the year, I’ll do my best to make it an even bigger success than it’s ever been. It’s raised so little money in the past.”

There, she’d thrown down the gauntlet. She’d best Bettina with her pet project.

Bettina’s worried scowl was priceless.



© 2012 Josie Brown. Published in 2012 by Coliloquy Books. All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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Totlandia/The Onesies, Book 1 on Amazon

 

Read an excerpt of Totlandia/Book 1/The Onesies, Fall

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