On Sociopaths: I was very, very wrong…

“To admit that some people literally have no conscience is not technically the same as saying that some human beings are evil, but it is disturbingly close. And good people want very much not to believe in the personification of evil.” — The Sociopath Next Door, Martha Stout

I realize that it’s almost Thanksgiving and that what I’m about to write about isn’t particularly very Thanksgiving(ish). Although, in a way it sort of is. In doing research for my upcoming novel, I found a book that I’m incredibly grateful to have stumbled upon. And in fact I feel that it should almost be required reading.

That said, I also realize that not everyone is interested in this sort of thing. To that I say, perhaps (thankfully) those people likely haven’t yet been burned badly enough.

Which leads me around to how once upon a time, I was very, very wrong…

About a year or so ago, I had a conversation with a friend who was describing a person and a situation who had railroaded their life.

Whether I was naive or right in my assertion that this person couldn’t possibly have done the things they did for no good reason—aside for their own gain is for the most part, irrelevant. Not to the person it happened to—and not to me as their friend—but for the sake of this post. 

Still, it was my friends response in part that lead me down the path of exploring sociopaths, psychopaths, skilled manipulators, and extreme narcissists.

“I just don’t understand,” I said.

“That’s because you aren’t like that,” my friend replied.

Afterward I realized (well, after I, myself, had gotten burned again) that I did want to understand. Which is partially how Lydia’s character in Beyond Bedrock was formed.

The truth is, I have known several versions of Lydia(ish) people. A little less extreme, in most cases, and not murders—at least, not to my knowledge, anyway.

In thinking about that and how to avoid similar situations in the future, I came to a place after the conversation with my friend where I wanted to really dig into what made these people tick.

Mostly, I wanted to understand how I could avoid being hurt/let down/ burned again.

Which is in part why I decided to work on Water Under The Bridge, a spin off of Lydia’s story from Beyond Bedrock. 

Several people have asked why I’d want write about a person so… evil.

Readers have told me that I write evil really well…

I’ve been told that Beyond Bedrock was too hard to read. Many people can’t go there.

Which I get. Because for a long time I didn’t like to either…

That is, until I decided I wanted, or rather, I needed answers.

And then long after I’d written the synopsis for Water Under The Bridge and dove head first into research and character development, I realized that there was actually a book out there that would answer the question I hypothetically pose in said synopsis.

What are the odds of a serial killer living next door? 

Well, ok, perhaps it doesn’t answer that question exactly. But it comes pretty close.

According to The Sociopath Next Door, studies show that roughly four out of every one hundred people are sociopaths. Which means they have no conscience—that not only do they not care what’s right or wrong—they cannot care. And, while, thankfully, a large majority of sociopaths are non-violent—this doesn’t mean that they don’t wreak havoc on our lives.

“This difference between normal emotional functioning and sociopathy is almost too fantastic for those of us with conscience to grasp, and so for the most part, we refuse to believe such a hollowness of emotion can exist.”

Reading this book, in doing research for my own, I realized that what I was unknowingly and unintentionally doing to my friend in that conversation by suggesting that they were mistaken about the person they were referring to actually has a term. It’s what sociopaths excel at— and it’s one reason they get away with what they do for so long— in some cases indefinitely. It’s called gaslighting.

“Barbara Graham’s last words—“ Good people are always so sure they’re right”—had a gaslighting effect precisely because the truth is quite the opposite. In fact, one of the more striking characteristics of good people is that they are almost never completely sure they are right. Good people question themselves constantly, reflexively, and subject their decisions and actions to the exacting scrutiny of an intervening sense of obligation rooted in their attachments to other people.”

Why are conscience-bound human beings so blind? And why are they so hesitant to defend themselves, and the ideals and people they care about, from the minority of human beings who possess no conscience at all? A large part of the answer has to do with the emotions and thought processes that occur in us when we are confronted with sociopathy. We are afraid, and our sense of reality suffers. We think we are imagining things, or exaggerating, or that we ourselves are somehow responsible for the sociopath’s behavior.”

Long story, really long, The Sociopath Next Door has been pivotal— not only in my research for Water Under The Bridge but in providing a KEY component for sniffing out expert manipulators before they get too close.

And while I’m not naive enough to think that this knowledge will protect me from every kind of hurt—I do think it has helped to see people and situations for what they are— instead of questioning my judgment. Or my friends. :-/

In any case, it has certainly made me less fearful, more intuitive. It has also given me tools to teach my children about how to avoid manipulation. Tools that I wished I’d had much sooner in life.

Lastly, one common misnomer about sociopaths (and by sociopath I’m referring to the vast spectrum of manipulators) is that they go for easy targets. This is actually, in most cases, not true. Often times, the bigger the challenge one is deemed to be, the more they’ll find themselves a target.

The more you know…

On feeling…

“No matter what challenge has ever come your way I have watched you excel at feeling out the next right thing to do. You don’t ask ‘what now.’ You’re a doer. A feeler. You always have been. And I hope you always will be. So, with that, I will let you go this morning with greater ease than I’d like. I will watch as your little hand slips out of mine, long before I am ready, and long before we get to the place where it’s time to say goodbye. You know what you are supposed to do. And if ever in life you find yourself questioning ‘what now’ or, more importantly, what the right thing is—well, that’s how you know it’s time to let go and feel your way through.” — Britney King, Anywhere With You

This week, pressed for time, and writing from my iPhone, I’m sharing a letter from Anywhere With You. It is a letter written to Jack by his mother prior to her passing.

I’ve heard lots of readers say they aren’t ready to read this one because they don’t want to be sad.

To that I say, sometimes sad is necessary. Sometimes the only way out is through. 

Sometimes just on the other side of sadness, you’ll find understanding. After that, often, liberation. 


Dear Jack,   

You’re sleeping now, your head nestled into my lap. You’ve come down with chickenpox and you’re absolutely miserable. I feel very much the same. 

I hate it when you’re sick. It’s the worst feeling in the world for a mother to watch her child suffer and not be able to fix it. I would do anything to take your misery away and yet I can’t. I know this is just a typical childhood illness and that it’ll pass, but it makes me think of all the mother’s out there who don’t get to be so lucky. 

Watching you suffer makes me consider my own illness and how there are some things in life we just can’t fix. We can only make the best of them.

Someday, and it isn’t a matter of if—but a matter of when— you’ll come across something you want to fix but can’t. Maybe it’s a friend or a girlfriend—or maybe it’ll be your own babies getting sick. So, I want to give you the same advice I need to hear right now. Just sit with it, Jack. Just be there and make the very best of whatever shitty situation it is you can’t fix.

Sometimes just holding that person in your arms is the very best answer. Sometimes, this will fix it—but often it won’t. Hold on anyway. Because what else can you do? Having you has taught me this. It has taught me so many things—and the very best of all of them is the power of love.   

Love you, 

P.S. Hopefully I don’t sound like I’m rambling. This is what tired parents do.

In honor of Friday the 13th…

“I recall that day distinctly. On that particular day, I was husband shopping.”—Britney King, Water Under The Bridge

In honor of Friday the 13th there’s news about stuff I’m giving away at the very bottom of this post. :)

But first, in regard to the psychological thriller I’m working on, I wanted to share a few things…mostly about the cover. I designed this one myself, so I’m partial. :)

Secondly, I have pretty neat plans (I think, anyway) about how to visually bring readers into the story. Without spilling all of my secrets, I’ll just say that it’ll take place over on Instagram and you can follow me there. 

For fellow bloggers… the cover reveal for Water Under The Bridge has been set. You can sign up here. Pre-order links will go out on 12/17/15 along with the cover. ;) It releases on 2/22/16.

Water under the bridge RGB cover reveal

Below is the synopsis. You can add it to your Goodreads TBR here. 

WUTB Synopsis

Also, tomorrow 11/14/15 & 11/15/15 my other somewhat thriller (which attempted to moonlight as a romance novel) Bedrock will be free via Amazon. It is no secret that most one and two star reviews come after a free book promotion—so, I feel that it’s worth saying… you might want to read other reviews to try to gauge whether or not this is a book that’s for you before diving in. Just a fair warning. ;)

Lastly, starting December 1st, if you like free stuff you might want to pay attention to Instagram.

I think that covers it. Pun intended. :)

Two-minute love stories: 1/52. A chance encounter…

“And I fell more in love than I’d ever been in my life. Or so I thought.” — Britney King, Anywhere With You

In my last post I wrote that I had an idea about what to do with this blog, something I’ve been contemplating for a while. I wrote that I wasn’t sure I have time to maintain it on a weekly basis.

Well, this week while I was busy procrastinating on a bigger project…I found some. :)

The idea I spoke of was two-minute, RAW, UNEDITED, love stories.

This one is titled: A chance encounter. But then again, who knows, maybe they all will be. ;)


A Chance Encounter

I first saw you from across the room, slouched in an old beat up metal fold out chair, head down, fidgeting— and most likely, I gathered, on the verge of checking out all together.

You were the most beautiful, out of place thing, I’d ever seen.

I recall thinking that I wanted to know you in a way that I’d never wanted to know anyone.

You met my eye for a few seconds longer than either of us seemed comfortable with. It was you who looked away first.

Later, as we stood side by side, in line, holding our bitter, too hot to drink coffee you asked me if I knew where the sugar was. I smiled and handed you my packet. You couldn’t have known this, it being your first time and all, but sugar packets are hard to come by in places like these. In fact, so much so that they’re practically rationed. After all, every addict has his (or her) secondary vice. They won’t tell you that though. And yet, strip them away, slowly, and then all at once, and coffee and sugar suddenly seem like halfway decent substitutes.

You interrupted my thoughts when you leaned in and whispered in my ear. You were shy and confident and it was hard to place how the two could pair so well together. But they did. You told me that you weren’t really an alcoholic—that you’d found your way into this dank old church by way of curiosity. “So you’re not a drunk?” I asked, surprised by your candor. It sounded stupid I realized as it slipped off my tongue.

But you only laughed and said no, that you were something worse. A writer.

I wanted to tell you that I wasn’t an addict either. At least not really. Only before I had the chance my kid sister interrupted the two of us—butting in, in the usual way that she so casually interrupts my life. You looked from me to her and back and instantly I knew that you’d gotten the wrong impression.

You thanked me for the sugar and excused yourself just as quickly as you had appeared. I’d wanted to follow but Margo needed me in the way that Margo often does. So I didn’t.
I watched you retreat and I hoped I’d see you again. Hell, half of me even hoped you were lying— that you were both an addict and a writer, if it meant I’d get to see you again. In fact, I figured as much.

But you weren’t there the following week.

Or the week after that.

I still wait though.

Most people here think I show up to these AA meetings just so I can drag my sister along. Those people are wrong. They think I come to ensure that she does too. I used to.

But that changed the day I met you.

These days, I show up for you.

I watch the door.

I wait for you to waltz back in.

And I always bring two packets of sugar.

Just in case.

Course Correction…

“Eventually, out of options and out of time, I made a split-second decision that would seal my fate for years to come—if not forever. This was when I did the ‘very bad thing.’ Ironically enough, it was so easy to put into motion, yet impossible to stop once I’d gone through with it.” —Britney King, Anywhere With You

Some things one commits to are like the quote above… but, thankfully, most aren’t. Once upon a time I wrote here that I was going to stop with the more personal posts and focus on other things…one of those being reviewing the books I read. But I lied.

I realized that nope—that is not the direction I want to go in. At all. For starters, anyone who is the slightest bit interested in what I’m reading can check me out on Goodreads. Writing reviews here doesn’t really make sense.

That said, I have an idea of what does make sense… and yet I don’t have the spare time right now to (publicly) commit to actually following through with it. So, we’ll just see how it goes instead. :)

Lastly, my latest book, Anywhere With You, releases tomorrow and I thought I’d share an excerpt that really shapes the story. In many ways, it has to do with commitment— and the reality that few things in life are actually set in stone. Pun intended. There’s almost always room for a course correction. And some times that turns out to be the beauty of it.


“If you don’t want to go, then why are you going?” I asked as we pulled into the airport parking lot. I’d purposely waited as long as possible to ask in order to see if she might bring it up. I wasn’t going to push her to stay. It took forever for me to find an open spot and about as long for her to answer.

As I turned off the ignition, she finally did. She looked at me incredulously. “I have a job.”

“I have one, too,” I assured her.

“You don’t have a boss, Jack.”

“Sure I do. They’re called investors.”

She shot me a look that conveyed annoyance and then she shook her head. “It’s not the same.”

“You can take pictures from anywhere. Why not here?”

“Well, for starters, the magazine I’m employed by is based out of Boston. I have a home there—and a life—”

“I’m not asking for forever. Just a little longer…” And there it was. Even though I’d promised myself I wouldn’t do it. She’d forced my hand. I asked her to stay.

Amelie exhaled and focused her attention out the passenger window. “I’m just not in a place where I can walk away from it all.”

“I’m not asking for you to walk away.”

She turned then. “What are you asking for?”

I swallowed. “I don’t know. Just a little more time.”

“I do love him, Jack.”

“I’m sure you do.”

Her face fell. “Then why are you asking me to stay? Especially, when I’m the one who stands to lose the most?”

“If you want to get on that plane, then by all means go. But—if you’re doing it because you think you have to—then I think you’re making a mistake.”

She sighed then, and I knew the sound. It was a sigh of defeat, mixed with annoyance at my being right.

Amelie stared out the window and neither of us spoke for several minutes until suddenly, I had a brilliant idea.

“What if I drove you back?”

She glared at me, her mouth hanging open, and I recognized it instantly. She liked my idea. Although she wasn’t ready to admit it.

“We can take the long route—a detour.”

“I have to be in Hawaii in fifteen days,” she exclaimed as she pursed her lips.

“So we’ll take fourteen. Or thirteen. Whatever you need.”


“Ah, come on. A road trip…Think about it. It’ll be like old times…”

She cocked her head. “Where will we go?”

“Anywhere. Who cares?”

“Well, for one, my boss will.”

“Make it about work.” I could see her thinking, her mind working hard at fitting the pieces together. But Amelie was too pure to ever be as good a liar as I was. So I decided to just hand it to her. “Tell him we’re going to spread my dad’s ashes and that you’re going to do a piece on the best places across the US to do that sort of thing.”

She frowned. “Your dad was buried. In the ground.”

“Yeah,” I agreed. “But what’s-his-name doesn’t know that.”

She slapped my arm. “You’re crazy, Jack Harrison.”

“There are conditions, though…” I told her as I raised a brow. I said this only after I was sure she was in.

She ran her fingers through her long blonde hair, sweeping it away from her face. “Oh?”

“We are going to make a bet.”

I eyed her as she wrapped a strand of hair around her finger nervously. Then she grinned and eyed me expectantly.

I delivered my answer without skipping a beat. “On this trip, we’re together.”

Her face twisted and she released her hair. “What else would we be?”

“No, I mean we’re a couple. Full out. No bullshit.”

“I’m engaged, Jack,” she scoffed.

“Maybe so.” I shrugged. “But for the next fourteen or thirteen or however many days, we’re going to pretend that you’re not.”

She crossed her arms. “What does that even mean?”

“It means that we’re just together. Whatever happens, happens. We don’t fight it. And we don’t ask questions.”

Amelie threw her head back and laughed. “You’re funny,” she said and then she sat straight up and glared at me. “And then what?”

“And then, at the end of it—if you’re happy, well, then you’ll have the answer to the question you asked about marrying what’s-his-name.”

She watched my face for a moment and then bit her lip. “Do I have another option?”

“Yes,” I told her with conviction. “To get on that plane and spend the rest of your life wondering what might have happened if you hadn’t.



Fire and hurricanes. Poetry and love. Synchronicity.

“But you can’t stop a hurricane. You can only ride it out and then try to make sense of it all, once things calm again. And they will be beautiful again as soon as the storm has passed. They’ll likely be even better. Stronger. You’ll be more prepared the next go ‘round. And make no mistake there’ll be another. There always is.”—Britney King, Anywhere With You

I came across the trailer for this film and it’s seems so very like Somewhere With You and Anywhere With You that I couldn’t not share it. I love it when the universe delivers that way. :)

Touched With Fire. It looks like a great film. Is it February yet? :)

Memories light the corners of my mind…

“I miss her all the time. I know in my head that she has gone. The only difference is that I am getting used to the pain. It’s like discovering a great hole in the ground. To begin with, you forget it’s there and keep falling in. After a while, it’s still there, but you learn to walk round it.”― Rachel JoyceThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

This afternoon I was baking gingerbread cookies with my children (before you get the wrong idea about me, let me say, it was all Betty Crocker) when a memory came to mind taking me back to the time I baked Gingerbread Men, four or five or six Christmas’s ago, for my grandmother, and the old folks who were trapped in the rehabilitation hospital with her over the holidays. I remember lamenting to my husband that I was probably going to get into trouble again because at least half of those old folks (including my grandmother) were diabetic. Which is when he casually made the comment that perhaps I should make them anatomically correct just to ensure my prediction.

Of course, true to form, I took him up on that suggestion—and as usual I took it a little too far. ;) It was mostly harmless…I figured I’d bring a little cheer to what was a shitty situation…

A little back story: The holidays are the loneliest time in those places because family members are often busier than normal and thus make it in to visit less. I knew this from nearly a decade of watching my grandmother go in and out as I was her advocate and made medical decisions for her when she couldn’t—which required that I be there a lot. When old people become ill (my grandma had COPD) and are bedridden for several days they often need weeks of physical therapy just to get back to the norm it takes to be able to live on their own again. Thus the frequent stays.

But, anyway, back to the anatomically correct cookies…most people loved them. Particularly, the old men. There were a few ladies who were appalled—which was to be expected. But the highlight of it all was seeing my grandmother’s pride over her obscene and inappropriate granddaughter—combined with the attention it brought from the old men. :)

It’s a good memory. A holiday memory that finally didn’t completely sucker punch me. It was this thought I was contemplating when my favorite niece called to tell me about her birthday party and to request that I not embarrass her “because there are going to be cute boys there.”

I explained that it is my duty to embarrass her.

What I’d wanted to say was that this is because her dad isn’t here to do it. But I didn’t. It’s not like she doesn’t know. Then she told me about her grades and a letter she received from Duke University but how she already has plans to go to Harvard Medical School so she can become an emergency room physician. I told her how proud I am. I wanted to tell her that her dad would be the proudest of us all— but I didn’t.

I don’t have to.

I know she knows.

Which was the sucker punch I hadn’t seen coming.

Sometimes life is funny that way.

Behind The Scenes…

I wrote a bit here and here about the premise behind Anywhere With You… but for anyone interested I also wrote a guest post over on What Is That Book About in regard to the real-life places that inspired the story.

You’ll find the link below…

It started with a road trip! @britneyking_ takes us behind the scenes of her latest, Anywhere With You! buff.ly/1Ww7HxH

Many thanks to What Is That Book About for having me. 

This is going to get me in so much trouble….

“He’d started this. I would finish it. He took me by the wrist and gently pulled me inside. It was the beginning of a secret. And the end of me.” —Britney King, Anywhere With You

Remember, way back when, I said that a change was gonna come? Well…what I’m about to share below is going to get me in so much trouble. I already know. I can hear it now…

And here’s what I want to say about that…

Don’t read it IF:

  • You’re under 18.
  • You don’t like profanity.
  • You’re related to me.
  • Romance isn’t your thing.
  • You get the feeling you might be compelled to let me know you have a problem with what I write.


Now that that’s been said…this week I’m pressed for time…so I’m going to share an excerpt from my new novel, Anywhere With You.


Water Under The Bridge…

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” ― Stephen King

Last week, I wrote that I was going to tell you about my next project which will essentially be by NaNoWriMo novel this year.

And since today marks the start of National Novel Writing Month…I figured…it’s as good a time as any. ;)

First though, I thought I’d explain a bit about my writing process, about ideas—and where they come from…

For me, each of my novels begins with a question. Typically, I don’t plot much— if at all…I just find new and different ways to go about answering the question as I write the story…

To give you an idea… below are examples of those questions…

Bedrock: What might the dissolution of a marriage look like? How can the two parties involved best go about fucking it up? And what happens afterward? What happens when you let the chips fall where they may?

Breaking Bedrock: A sequel I hadn’t planned to write. The question being: what are the chances a couple who are products of infidelity can make it work? Especially given that statistically speaking the odds are heavily stacked against them.

Beyond Bedrock: This one was for the readers. The question being: Again, what happens after… and how crazy can crazy get? Also, it touches on various levels of intimacy—how far one might go to avoid being transparent and the trouble they find themselves in in the process.

Around The Bend: How far is one willing to go to keep up appearances? What might a portrait of addiction look like for someone who seemingly ‘has it all.’

Somewhere With You: How do loss and grief shape us? Why are we drawn to certain people? And why do we keep finding our way back to them again and again?

Anywhere With You: Coming 11/11/15. Again, for the readers. Because they asked. Where does a love story truly end? When should one raise the white flag and call it a day?

Water Under The Bridge: Tentatively scheduled for 2/22/16. Lydia from Beyond Bedrock is getting her own story. That said, this novel is a standalone (spinoff?) and will not feature any of the other characters from The Bedrock Trilogy. Think Stephen King’s ‘Carrie’ featuring adults. The question being… can one truly transform? Or merely blend?

And with that, below, the synopsis…

I’d wanted to share the cover as I designed it all by myself (a first) and I’m pretty proud—but my publicist says no, not yet. She’s smart and so I listen. :)

Happy November.

Happy National Novel Writing Month.


Water Under The Bridge

My whole life I’ve wanted nothing more than to fit in.

Only my whole life I’ve done anything but.

That’s probably because I’m anything but average. After all—female serial killers seem to be a minority in today’s society.

And that’s ok—because I’ve longed for a change for quite some time now.

Which brings me back around to fitting in.

You know what one has to do to fit in?

I do.

One has to blend.

Which is great news!

Because I realized my clock is ticking, so to speak, and now I want a family. Luckily, I’ve always been good at getting what I want.

So I figure what better place to blend than suburbia?

All that stuff I did before—it’s water under the bridge now. I just hope it’s not too late to change my ways. Here’s to hoping for suburbia’s sake, too.

I mean, what are the odds I could be the girl next door?

Apparently, they’re better than you might think.