(New York) – Conception is a blessed event, be it a child‘s, or a new book. That is novelist Josie Brown‘s contention. She should know. The idea for her fourth novel, The Baby Planner [Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books]—about a childless woman who channels her nurturing instincts toward her pregnant clients—was born in the reception area of her mammogram center.
I picked up the only reading material available: a local parenting magazine, explains Brown, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. My own children are older, so it wasn‘t necessarily something I felt might interest me.
She was wrong. Brown came across an article about a woman who had started a consulting business to pregnant and new mothers. She called herself a baby planner.‘ That threw me for a loop! I think I actually laughed out loud because I‘d never heard of such a thing.
The first thing that came to mind was a wedding planner. But the article explained that the role of a baby planner goes much further than helping stressed out and overworked pregnant clients set up nurseries, plan their baby showers, or shop for onesies. She is integral in connecting clients with those who will nurture them, from conception through their toddlers‘ first years, explains Brown. If the mother wants to consider a doula or midwife, or if she is clueless about all the baby gear on the market, or unaware of ways in which she can baby-proof or even green-proof her home. And, if the mother asks, her baby planner can even connect her child with playgroups, or find the best match in a preschool.
Right there and then, the concept for the book was fully born: beginning, middle and end. Brown laughs. In fact, the arc of the story takes place over nine months: the time in which it takes to carry a baby to term.
What appealed to Brown wasn‘t just the role her heroine would play in her clients‘ lives, but the place they would hold in her heart. ―Pregnancy is one of the happiest—and one of the most stressful times in a woman‘s life, explains Brown, a mother of a son and daughter. Your hormones are surging. Your body is stretched out, and a living being is moving around inside of you. Katie lives vicariously through her clients.
Like many of the women who have become baby planners, the novel‘s heroine, Katie Johnson, falls into the profession quite by happenstance. She loses her job as a consumer product advocate during state budget cutbacks, Brown says. She would love to have children, but her husband is against it. When she learns that one of her sisters is pregnant again, Katie takes it upon herself to weed through all the products that her sister doesn‘t have time to check into: which is the safest car seat and crib, whether she should use plastic or cloth diapers and much more. When others hear about the service, her reputation is made.But the novel‘s tension revolves around the choices Katie makes for herself.
Not surprisingly, the book is being embraced by those who can relate best to its heroine: baby planners.
In the months since the novel‘s pre-order page popped up in online bookstores, Brown has been contacted from baby planners from all over world. I‘ve gotten emails from cities across the US, Canada, the UK, as well as Brazil, Peru, and Japan even Bahrain. The response has been incredible.
One of the baby planners who connected with Brown is Mary Oscategui, the founder and director of the International Academy of Baby Planner Professionals. Says Brown: ―She was so welcoming of the idea that I offered to give her an advance reading copy.
As it turns out, the women live just a few miles away from each other. Another coincidence: Oscategui was the baby planner featured in the article that had initially inspired Brown. We didn‘t figure that out until after the end of our initial meet up, says Brown. I only realized it when Mary mentioned she‘d once lived in the town mentioned in the article. That was when I realized how much great karma surrounds the birth of this book.
The Baby Planner hits bookstore shelves on April 5, 2011.
Oscategui‘s enthusiasm for the novel led her to rally other baby planners to follow her lead and host Brown at showers at local baby boutiques, where the books will also be sold. A full list of party dates, as well as the locations of participating stores, demonstrators and sponsors can be found on Brown‘s website: http://www.babyplannernovel.com. Cities on the list include Chicago; New York; Hoboken; Washington, DC; San Jose, CA; Walnut Creek, CA; Denver; Seattle; San Francisco; Mill Valley, CA; Los Angeles; Santa Barbara; La Jolla; and Newport Beach, California.
All moms, pregnant and otherwise, are invited to join in on the fun. Just like a real baby shower, there will be wholesome goodies to sample, wellness demonstrations, baby clothes to coo over, games to play And some momsavvy swag. New mothers are an audience which many companies are courting. One of them, Sprout Organic Baby Food, has signed on as a national sponsor for Brown‘s tour. The company was co-founded by celebrity chef, author and father Tyler Florence, and grew out of his interest in infant and toddler nutrition.
Another national sponsor, Wonder Bumpers, the #1 doctor-recommended crib-safe bedding will be giving a prize drawing at each event; and other sponsors include EcoStoreUSA, makers of a line of bio-safe cleaning products; Beaba USA baby food prep; Kiwi Magazine, for parents interested in organic products; Spiffies dental and teething wipes for infants; and SingleMindedWomen.com, which has a channel devoted to single mothers; Shaklee Products; Art Bellies pregnancy portraits; Prince Lionheart rockers; Dr. Karp‘s The Happiest Baby on the Block parenting programs; Minted.com custom invitations; Mother‘s Milk Tea; Bloomin‘ Belly Soaps; and The Eco Breast Pump, an eco-friendly and BPA-free hospital grade product, made by Hygeia.
Of course, Brown will be there to read scenes from her novel, The Baby Planner. Baby planners are embracing me in the same way in which I show my heroine nurtures her clients, says Brown. For an author, this kind of groundswell is a dream come true.
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THE BABY PLANNER Parents Parties Are Taking Place In These Cities:
ILLINOIS / CHICAGO / Mon April 11, 2011 / 11:30am
Bellybum Boutique/ 4347 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60618 / 773.868.0944
Hosted by Teresa Johnson of TheMamaMosiac.com
Click on RSVP on email / RSVP on Facebook
NEW YORK / NEW YORK CITY / Fri April 15, 2011 / 12:30pm
MetroMinis / New York, 821 Park Ave @75th, NY 10021 / 212.313.9600
Hosted by Ingrid Prueher of NYCBabyPlanner.com________________________________________________
NEW JERSEY / JERSEY CITY Sun April 17, 2011 / 1pm
Bambi Baby / 102 River Drive, Jersey City, NJ 07310 / 877.882.2624
Hosted by Nicole Kaduson of Belle Jour Baby Planning
WASHINGTON, DC Tues April 19, 2011 / 2pm / 301.417.9702 Great Beginnings / 18501 N. Frederick Avenue, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20879
Hosted by Robyn Cohen Churilla of Mamaslink.com________________________________________________
San Jose, CA / Wed April 27, 2011/ 6pm
BabyBuzz / 1314 Lincoln Ave, 95125 / 408.885.9870
Hosted by baby planner Carrie Wozadlo of Bright Beginnings BabyPlanner
(Marin County) Mill Valley, CA / Thu April 28, 2011 / 6-8pm
Baby and Kids Company / 12 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley, CA / 415.389.1312
Hosted by baby planners
Mary Oscategui of TheBabyPlanner.com and Emily Schaffer of MarinBabyPlanner.com________________________________________________
Walnut Creek, CA / Tues May 3, 2011/ 6-8pm:
DayOne Center / 1403 North Main Street Walnut Creek, CA 94596 / 925.933.3291
Hosted by baby planners
Emily Schaffer of SFBabyPlanner.com and Mary Oscategui of TheBabyPlanner.com
San Francisco / Fri May 6, 2011 / 4-6pm: San Francisco, CA
Sprout San Francisco / 1828 Union Street 94123 / 415.359.9205
Hosted by baby planners Mary Oscategui of TheBabyPlanner.com and Emily Schaffer of SFBabyPlanner.com________________________________________________
La Jolla, CA / Fri May 20, 2011 / 12-2pm Posies and Ponies/7449 Girard Avenue, La Jolla, CA 92037 / 858.551.0434 (just south of the intersection of Pearl)
Hosted by baby Planner Heather Atkinson of Baby Bump & Beyond /
Los Angeles / Brentwood / Sat May 21, 2011 / 1-3pm
Children's Wonderland / 11726 Barrington Court Los Angeles 90049 / 310.440.9970
Hosted by Denise Xagorarakis of OCBabyPlanner.com________________________________________________
Orange County/Costa Mesa, CA / Sun May 22, 2011 / 11am-1pm
Granola Babies / 2346 Newport Blvd., B-1, 92627 / 800.560.9534
Hosted by baby planner Denise Xagorarakis of OCBabyPlanner.com
Santa Barbara, CA / Tue May 24, 2011 / 4-6pm, CA
Mon Petit Bijou / 1014 State Street, 93101 / 800.945.0015
Hosted by baby planners
Emily Schaffer, of SBBabyPlanner.com and Denise Xagorarakis of OCBabyPlanner.com /
WASHINGTON / SEATTLE / Thurs June 2, 2011 / 11am-1pm
Happy Planet Toys / 2914 NE 55th Street, 98105 / 206.729.0154
Hosted by baby planner Heather Woodruff /
COLORADO/ DENVER / Fri June 3, 2011 / 6:30-8:30pm
Giggling Green Bean / 3929 Tennyson Street 80212 / 720.988.3725
Hosted by professional nanny Juliette Worley /
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To arrange an interview with Josie Brown, contact Kristin Dwyer, Publicity Manager, Simon & Schuster:
at Kristin.Dwyer@simonandschuster.com or 212.698.2295.