Sunday, December 16, 2012

Day 3: Josie Brown: 12 Authors of Christmas

When Should a Child Learn the Truth About Santa?
By Josie Brown
Author, The TOTLANDIA series

I don’t exactly when remember when I stopped believing in Santa Claus. I’m guessing it was sometime around my tenth birthday. All I remember is that my sister, who was just a year and a few months older, broke the news to me.

Shame on her, right? I guess it was one way in which she could feel superior to the brat sis who was always at her side, like a dark shadow.

Is divulging that secret a rite of passage for older siblings?

I don’t think my mother was too happy about it. But in hindsight, I wonder if it was a relief to my parents to know that I’d quit believing, and they weren’t the ones who had to break the news to me.

My son tells me he was crushed when he found out, from friends, in the third grade. “I’ll never tell my kids the myth about Santa,” he vows now.

Yeah, right sure. We’ll see about that.

My sister was also the child in the family who somehow found the presents hidden by Mom that Santa was supposed to deliver. Once I caught her in the attic, opening one. Yes, I told Mom. A big brouhaha ensued. My sister forgave me, and my mother forgave her. Life is too short to get upset over an obsessively curious child and some torn wrapping paper.

Sibling rivalry? Well, that’s a whole other story.

Even today, my sister indulges her urge to know it all before the rest of us by reading the last chapter of a book before diving into the story.  As an author, of course this annoys me. When I asked her why, she told me she has to find out how it ends.

And no, she doesn’t want to be surprised.

I have a different philosophy on reading. A good book is like an Oreo cookie. A great plot is sandwiched between an intriguing opening and a satisfying closing page. The good stuff in the middle is a mix of sweet characters, and a plot that tantalizes until the last tasty scene.

I’ve had the joy writing the first two books in a series I call Totlandia. Each book is about thirty thousand words, or about half the size of a novel. Four episodes will be released each year, during the season in which that portion of the story takes place: fall, winter, spring or summer, for five years.

Whereas each book stands alone, like a good television show each episodic book allows my characters to grow, and for their lives to change, just like yours and mine.

Who are the women of Totlandia?  They are mothers who desperately want to belong to the exclusive Pacific Heights Moms & Tot’s Club located in a very posh San Francisco neighborhood. Each of the women who have applied for admission to the club’s “Onesies” year has a desperate reason for wanting to join – and a secret that could get them eliminated, since it puts them at odds with both the club’s stated, and its not-so-fair and unwritten, rules.

One of the mothers, Jade, is doing so in order to please her ex-husband, Brady, with whom she desperately hopes to reconcile, so that she can spend more time with her son, Oliver. Another, Jillian, sees it as validation of her role as the perfect wife and mother to twin daughters Addison and Amelia, even as her marriage crumbles around her. Ally, a very successful mompreneur, feels it will assuage her guilt for being a single, working mom. Nothing will stand in the way of her quest to give her toddler daughter, Zoe, the same advantages of children with two parents and stay-at-home moms.

And a fourth woman, Lorna, feels that entrée into the club will prove she is worthy of the family she married into – which includes her sister-in-law, Bettina, who just so happens to be the founder of the club. Bettina is jealous of her mother’s favoritism toward Lorna. But Lorna’s fears that her son, Dante, is learning disabled is a secret she feels she must keep to herself, knowing it’s just the sort of excuse Bettina will use to keep Dante and Lorna out of the club.

Whereas these women are pitted against each other in the competition for membership, they learn to appreciate each other, both as mothers and as friends. In fact, in Book Two, which takes place during the winter holidays, they share the joy – and the stress – that comes during a Thanksgiving with toddlers underfoot, a turkey that was never defrosted, and the discovery of a husband’s infidelity—

Not to mention the myriad of funny and poignant crises that comes with hostessing the club various holiday functions.

What won’t be so easily overcome is the betrayal of one, out of jealousy to another.

Just like real life, isn’t it?

Dear Sis: For once, you won’t be able to read the last chapter first.


Besides the Totlandia series, Josie Brown is also the author of The Housewife Assassin series. Her novel, Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives (Simon & Schuster), is being produced by Jerry Bruckheimer as a dramatic series for NBC-TV.

Totlandia: The Onesies, Book 1 (Fall)

The Pacific Heights Moms & Tots Club is the most exclusive children’s playgroup in all of San Francisco. For the city’s ultra-competitive elite, the club’s ten annual spots are the ultimate parenting prize.

But not everyone is PHM&TC material. The club's founder, Bettina Connaught Cross, adheres to strict membership rules: Moms only. No single parents or working mothers allowed. Membership is an arduous commitment. And there’s no room in the club for scandal, bad behavior, or imperfection...from tots or their moms.

In a world of power and prestige, no one has more than Bettina. And as every mom in Pacific Heights knows, you simply cannot cross her. But this year’s admissions process is more rigorous than ever, pitting prospective members against each other to prove their mettle.

But four of the six candidates vying for the remaining four slots have a secret that would knock them out of the running. Jade is a former stripper and porn actress, who has been absent for most of her son’s life. Jillian’s husband cleaned out their joint accounts and left her for his pregnant assistant. Ally never even had a husband—just a sperm donor—and she’s hiding a high-ranking corporate job. And Lorna fears that her son may have special needs... just the excuse her sister-in-law, Bettina, needs to deny her entry to the club.

Can these hopeful moms keep up appearances long enough to outlast the competition? Or will their chances—and their private lives—go up in flames?

This is the first of four books that follow our heroines during "the Onesies," their inaugural year in the club. Upcoming books—to be released in four episodes each year—will follow subsequent years: the Twosies, Threesies, Foursies, and Fivesies.

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

The Housewife Assassin's Handbook
Murder, suspense, sex-and some handy household tips.

Every desperate housewife would love an alias. Donna Stone has one, and it's government sanctioned. Oh sure, you need to be ruthless to take on Russian mafia bosses, rogue dictators, and terrorists set on destroying the world. But it takes real killer instincts to survive suburbia. Try juggling the fifth grade phone tree during a shootout with skinhead arms dealers, or driving carpool while being chased by Chinese double agents.

Donna's life wasn't always this complicated. Five years earlier she was just another woman with two preschoolers, a baby bump, and an adoring husband, Carl, with whom she lived happily ever after in a McMansion in the Orange County, California community of Hilldale. But Donna's life was changed forever the night she delivered her baby: 

Carl's car blew up on the way to the hospital.

Turns out Carl was a "hard man"-an assassin-for the black ops organization known as Acme Corporation. The hit on Alex was carried out by the Quorum, a terrorist cell he was tracking. The Quorum's motto: "Show me the money." Governments and corporations do as they're told-or suffer bloody consequences.

Carl left something behind that the Quorum wants badly. To protect herself and avenge Carl's death, Donna joined Acme. Whereas her hostessing skills rival Martha Stewart's, her marksmanship is second to none.

A good thing, too, because the Quorum has planted a sleeper cell in Hilldale. For Donna, that's too close for comfort. Will she be able to save her family before the Quorum blows up Los Angeles?

Acme's way of flushing out the Quorum is by "bringing Carl back from the dead." But terrorism makes strange bedfellows. Jack Craig, the wild card Acme operative paired with Donna brings, new meaning to that old adage "Honey, I'm home..."


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