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…

The Long Way Around…

“When it comes to fighting, physical strength really has very little to do with it. One of the tenets that judo is founded upon is “Maximum efficiency, minimum effort.” That has really defined my career. It is the foundation of all the techniques and everything I do. It’s one reason why I don’t get tired. It’s one reason why I am able to fight girls who are a head taller than me, or chicks who are on steroids. People who cheat or dope lack the one thing every true champion must have: belief. No drug or amount of money or favoritism can ever give you belief in yourself.” — Ronda Rousey (My Fight / Your Fight)

First things first, my flash mob idea for the mascot did get approved for the school’s Fall fundraiser dance. That’s the good news. The not so good news is that I missed the memo that being a mascot is apparently like being in Fight Club. The mascot is not to (publicly) discuss being mascot. ;) So while there will be video and photos shared—from here on out— they won’t be coming from me. All I’ll say about that is… image is everything. :) Also, there’s a good lesson out there about trying to be something you’re not… :)

Secondly, I read a REALLY great book this past week. I’d heard about Ronda Rousey’s biography from Brian Johnson, a philosopher I follow who takes great books, on being great, and breaks them down into bite-sized chunks. Something about this particular note he did stuck out at me and so I decided to read the book—despite the fact that I assumed it’d be all about MMA and the UFC, which I’m not particularly a fan of. I’m not necessarily not a fan either— it’s just that watching two people beat the hell out of each other isn’t really my idea of fun. But then, upon digging further, I read that Ronda was a Judo champion. And somehow that made it different. Although maybe it really isn’t. :)

Also, during the first disagreement I ever had with my husband he dubbed me a ‘verbal Judo Master.’ It stuck, and well, I really felt like Ronda Rousey and I had something in common. ;)

All BS and sarcasm aside—apart from the verbal Judo part—(I can go a few rounds) Ronda’s story is pretty amazing and very inspiring and I could not put the book down. Her words made me question a lot about my life in regard to where to be soft and where to be hard. Particularly in the parenting arena. I loved her mom. Although, fair warning, in this day and age her style of parenting isn’t likely to be highly regarded.

In addition, there were great bits of wisdom on vulnerability and passion— and how to use them to your advantage. But my biggest takeaway was something she said about not allowing others to project their insecurities and limitations onto you. This lesson is one that has shown up again and again for me and I’m pretty much past ready to be done with it. So, it was perfect timing. And the perfect book.

Lastly, this is the point at which I should probably market talk about the book I’m working to meet deadline on. Instead, I’ve decided to save that for the newsletter which comes out Thursday. It’ll include a Kindle giveaway, the first chapter of Anywhere With You… and probably a few other things. :)

P.S. One of my favorite passages from My Fight/Your Fight.  

“I lost my second judo tournament. I finished second, losing to a girl named Anastasia. Afterward, her coach congratulated me.

“You did a great job. Don’t feel bad, Anastasia is a junior national champion.”

I felt consoled for about a second, until I noticed the look of disgust on Mom’s face. I nodded at the coach and walked away.

Once we were out of earshot she lit into me. “I hope you know better than to believe what he said. You could have won that match. You had every chance to beat that girl. The fact that she is a junior national champion doesn’t mean anything. That’s why they have tournaments, so you can see who is better. They don’t award medals based on what you won before. If you did your absolute best, if you were capable of doing nothing more, then that’s enough. Then you can be content with the outcome. But if you could have done better, if you could have done more, then you should be disappointed. You should be upset you didn’t win. You should go home and think about what you could have done differently and then next time do it differently. Don’t you ever let anyone tell you that not doing your absolute best is good enough. You are a skinny blonde girl who lives by the beach, and unless you absolutely force them to, no one is ever going to expect anything from you in this sport. You prove them wrong.” — Ronda Rousey (My Fight / Your Fight)

What’s happening…

“We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything, than when we are at play.” ― Charles E. Schaefer


I was just thinking that you should know I did such a good job at playing mascot that I got invited back tomorrow to do it again.  :) BUT that’s not all! I also got “promoted” and I’ll be dressing up as another animal with our local junior high and their cheerleaders next week. When I told my husband about my promotion he asked if I thought I might be taking this whole thing a little too far. It’s the only way, I assured him. And then I informed him (side note: he really is my biggest supporter) that I’ve already been “booked” for the Halloween dance and of my (yet-to-be approved) plans to perform with the school staff. At first, I considered Thriller. But then I got to thinkin’ that this generation likely knows little in the way of MJ and would probably prefer the ridiculous Watch Me Whip/Nae Nae song. I think I can handle it. My kids and I have already got it down.  ;)


In book news…a thing or four:

  1. Bedrock is FREE via Amazon from 9/29/15- 10/2/15.
  2. I’m excited to say that as of October 1st I’ll be joining the Inkslinger family—alongside an impressive list of authors. This is also proof that persistence pays as I have been turned down for representation two times previously. I guess the third time’s the charm.  
  3. I have so many open giveaways I thought it might be helpful to list them in one place— with links. There’s the this or that giveaway on Instagram. The Kindle giveaway for newsletter subscribers. The signed paperback giveaways on Goodreads. And a copy of last weeks read, The Good Girl. 
  4. I”ll be signing at The Texas Book Festival on 10/17/15 at 1PM. Details to come.

51E+UQ4Ld1L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Lastly, this week I am reading After You, the follow up to one of my most favorite books of all time. Written by one of my most favorite authors of all time. After You releases today in the U.S. and I stayed up ’til a very unhealthy hour when my copy hit my Kindle App at midnight last night. I’m 34% of the way in and so far I love it. But then again, I love every. single. thing. Jojo Moyes writes. Everything. Aside from keeping my children alive, completing the writing of my own novel (which btw, have I mentioned is up for pre-order?;), and being an animal— not much else will happen until I’m done reading After You. I know it’s going to be that good.

So, for now, that’s all she wrote.  Hope you have a great week.

What to watch…

“She wanted to see what would happen if she blogged everyday for a week. So she did.”— Me. ;)

Whenever I’m intensely in the thick of the writing process (working on a novel) I watch A LOT of film. I consider it scratching as described in the book The Creative Habit.

One thing that I particularly love above film (and I’m sure there is a correct and proper term—I just don’t know what it is) is its ability to show without telling. It is one thing I’m trying to improve upon in my writing—but find difficult. This is also one of the reasons that most of my novels are written in third person, omnipresent tense. I like to see what’s going on in all of the character’s heads. Not so different than in real life. ;) The trouble is, in my opinion writing this way is much more difficult than writing in first person where it’s more acceptable to hand it over, so to speak.

But I’m not a fan of just handing it over. I want to have to work for it and vice versa. However, I’m not sure that readers always enjoy this. ;) Or if they do—it needs to be done really well.

For example, in The Age of Adaline (which I’m about to talk about below) there’s a scene where the camera pans in on a number of locks on the front door. This very brief scene infers something to those that are paying attention. It shows us insight as to the character— without directly handing it over. This is my favorite aspect of art. To figure out how to do the same with words can be a rather difficult challenge. Still, I try. :)

That said, I thought I’d share a few (or three) films I adored recently:


Oh my, Philomena. What to say? The day I watched Philomena I was expecting a delivery, which as it turned out arrived exactly as the movie was ending. It was both good and bad timing as I answered the door in full on ugly cry. Standing before me was a middle-aged Cuban man who spoke kindly in broken English and was understandably quite perplexed. But for a lover of words this experience showed me the beauty of not using them. I simply moved to the side, pointed to the TV, and uttered something along the lines of ‘that damned movie’ to which he offered a look of understanding and gently patted me on the back. All the things delivery people must see. Ironically enough, just an hour and a half earlier, about twenty minutes in to the film, I had wondered why in the hell I was watching it. But by the end, I recalled and quite unexpectedly I might add what it had been like to be fourteen years old, knocked up, and in the belly of a very old building with an ancient nun teaching class— all the while questioning how in the hell you ended up there. Shame was the answer. If not yours then certainly someone else’s. 

Love & Mercy. 

Brian Wilson’s story, my God… The power of love. The power of loving a person, a vocation—and the perseverance and grit it takes to do both.

The Age of Adaline. 

I loved everything about this movie. The imagery. The absurdity. The story. The history. The messaged tucked neatly within. Loved all of it.

Change did come…

“I think of life as a good book. The further you get into it, the more it begins to make sense.” ~ Harold Kushner

Change did come. As change does…

Actually, I prefer the term evolution. It sounds nicer than the ‘C word’ which many of us (that would be me) are typically so afraid of— if and when it has anything other than what we deem a positive connotation.

That said, I’ve partly decided what to do with this space other than simply share details of my life that get me in trouble write about my life.

For the past several months I have done a really poor job of reading as much as I Iike and/or need to be. I let other things (remodel, summer, life, work, and so forth) get in the way. And it wasn’t good. When I’m not reading… I’m not the same.

Not to mention the fact that being a reader is a huge part of being a writer.

That said, I decided to challenge myself by re-committing to reading a book a week (likely mainly fiction) and blogging a short review here—in addition to other relative happenings in my life. Mostly though, expect more and more book stuff— in the form of excerpts and bad poetry. :)

I’m going to do my best to have the first book review post up later this week which ironically enough is non-fiction and about change. And life-changing it was.

A side note on books I read/review: I personally choose and purchase them. And I’m unapologetically diverse. This isn’t going to become a traditional book review site.  There are so many great ones out there as it is. In addition, you won’t see negative reviews here. If I don’t like a book, I won’t write about it. Full disclosure: This is sort of all about me. :) My intention is not only that I meet my own reading goals—but also that I connect with readers who are on a similar page— as I tend to read books akin to those I aspire to write. Genre-wise, I mean. Not always. But usually. 

Lastly, a few housekeeping items in regard to books I’ve written…

SWY Sale

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ATB Kindle Countdown

  • There are several signed paperback giveaways going on over on Goodreads and a gift card giveaway on Instagram.

Oh and speaking of bad poetry…



I think that just about covers it.

For now. :)

What I learned from being a quitter…

“Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you.” — Orebela Gbenga

I told this story in front of fifty-five women the other day and they seemed to think it was pretty funny so…

This is what happens when a survivalist and a minimalist decide to climb a mountain together:

There will be many “discussions” about why one needs so many items for a DAY HIKE.

Eventually, the minimalist relents because she understands: You can be happy OR you can be right. 

Only, what she should have understood is that if the level of difficulty for a climb is listed as very strenuous, it actually means VERY STRENUOUS. Because if she had, she would’ve certainly fought a little harder about the BS that was being loaded onto her back.

At any rate, eighty-five percent of the trek to the summit turns out mostly uneventful. Except for the fact that the survivalist half of the party likes to annoy the other half by teetering on the edge of a mountain with fifty pounds of unnecessary camping gear strapped to his back. And let’s face it: pretty much no one is going to believe he “just fell.”

They make it to the point where there’s about two hundred feet left to go to summit. This is how the rest of the climb is described:

Follow the trail to the right and back down a few hundred feet before ascending a steep, slippery slope (which can be covered with snow) to a signed viewpoint.

Get ready for some more serious climbing and scrambling through the boulders that make up the summit.  The trail gets faint further up. When in doubt, keep going up. Some rocks will move under foot so be sure to use your hands for balance.  You’ll notice a couple plaques, memorials, and flags once you reach the top.


This is where she decides to quit. For one, she’s carrying too much crap to make it fun. Two, she decides their children need at least one surviving parent.

She tells him to go on and to leave his pack. And for God’s sake to stop teetering on the edge. Or he is going to die. One way or another. He agrees. This is all his fault. But she doesn’t say so. Or maybe she did. She probably did.

She perches herself in a spot that unbeknownst to her seems to be designated for all the other quitters. She meets three people from her hometown and one from the Dallas area. They get to know each other. Turns, out they can’t breathe at 12,000 feet either. This quitting thing is amazing! I mean what are the odds?!?

Two men on their way down access her situation and ask who left her with two packs. You see! Sympathy. This quitting thing isn’t so bad after all! 

Plus, she’s always saying she needs to be more gentle with herself. This was her chance!

She sits there. And weighs her options. She watches him climb. She considers whether or not she’s really done. She thinks she is.

Until two people stop not far from her. She listens as a man consoles his partner. “It’s ok,” he says. “No one will know you didn’t make it to the top. Just say you did.” She watches as the woman nods and appears relieved.

And that’s when it hits her: She’ll know.

Quitting is a bad idea. She might get sympathy. She might even  meet people (nice people!) to hang out with along the way. People who will console her with camaraderie.

But, in the end, she’ll know. 

So she gets up, dusts herself off, leaves those packs where they are, and climbs to the top.

“Where are the packs?” He asks when she reaches summit.

“Down there,” she points.

“You just left them?”

She gives him the look. “I don’t even want to carry those fuckers down. Do you really think anyone else does?”

He smiles.

Because he knows… she’s right.


It’s more fun that way…

“Jack learned that summer – when dealing with women, it’s best not to say everything that’s on your mind. The less you say, the better it is for you. He learned that women do not think like men. End of story.” – Britney King, Somewhere With You

“I know I don’t always like your idea’s upfront,” my husband tells me. “But afterward I’m always glad I went along with them.”

“Not always,” I remind him— as minimally as possible

“No, not always,” he agrees.

“But usually,” I smile. And leave it at that. Of course, I file his sentiment away for a later date, when I will no doubt need it.

That day came sooner rather than later— as they often do.

“Hey,” I say and he looks up.

“I have an idea,” I tell him.

He stares at me. Half scared. Half intrigued, I think.

“I’ve decided on my next project. And I need to do some research.”


“I think we should take a road trip,” I say and I describe the idea very loosely. Mostly, because the idea is just that. I list off the places I’d like to visit and explain the only prerequisite be that neither of us have visited any of the places before. Our children will be visiting their grandparents. He asks if I’m sure I don’t want to bring them along. I assure him that I do not. Not this time.

“Ok,” He says.

“Um… I’m talking about driving four-thousand miles…”

“Sounds good,” He replies and goes back to what he was doing.

Was he even listening? I check the time. And then I wait…

Fourteen minutes later…

“Where are we going to stay?” He finally asks. “Have you even thought this through?”

Not really. But I improvise. “We’re going to camp.”

He deadpans. “You!? Want to camp for that many days?”

I shrug. “Why not? It’ll be fun. We’ll just pitch a tent… wherever we wind up.”

He sighs. “Do you even know how to ‘pitch a tent’?”

“It’s figure-out-able.”

“What you really mean is that you’ll watch me do it…”

Pretty much. That is exactly what I mean. “No, what I mean is that it’s teachable.” 

“Ok,” he says. “But we’ll compromise on the camping. By at least half.”

“We’ll see,” I reply. Even though I know he’s right. And I quote, “I don’t know why you’re pretending not to like my idea’s when in the past you’ve told me you’ve always been glad that you’ve gone along with them.”

He smiles. I think he’s on to me. “It’s more fun that way…” he says.

I answer with silence.

Because I know… and because he knows…

Now, we’re getting somewhere. ;)


That story told, I can’t think of a better time to announce my next book… and show you guys the cover.

Readers asked. I listened…

I’m working on the follow up to Somewhere With You.

The sequel, Anywhere With You is set to release in the fall.

First though, a bit of research. :)

If you’re interested in real-time data… you can follow me on Instagram @msbritneyking

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Adobe Photoshop PDF

P.S. Many thanks to Lisa Jay for her work on the cover design. I sent her a mock up of what I wanted and less than 48 hours later we had a cover. Not only is she great— but she fit me into her very busy schedule and I appreciate both. She has worked on all six of my covers.

You Take The Bad With The Good…

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” ― Aristotle


Once upon a time, I wrote that I’d discuss criticism. How I handle it is probably one of the questions I’m asked most frequently when asked about the writing process.

And likely the best answer is, I try not to. ;)

But it wasn’t always this way…

That said, I do read all of my reviews, both the bad, and the good. As for why I pay attention to the negative… I look to see if there is anything that I can take from them that will improve my work. Sometimes, there is.

Besides, I’m my own worst critic anyway and I will probably always look at my work with an eye for what could have been done better—versus what was done right. I’d like to change this… but that’s me. Oh and for what it’s worth, negative reviews do actually sell books. Just ask E.L. James and a few others…

Speaking of negative reviews, it helps to keep in mind that there are many films, books, and people who I don’t particularly care for— and I say to each their own.

Mostly though, I’m just really grateful that anyone took the time to read and review my work. I figure receiving a negative review is better than none at all— as at least someone is paying attention. :)

Also, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received was, “At least twenty percent of people aren’t going to like you right off the bat. Focus on the other eighty percent. Don’t waste your time trying to convert.”

So, that’s the goal with writing as well. My target audience is not the folks who sit behind the comfort of their computer screen and trash others and their work. As for this type of critic (they’re a special breed), I’ve found that if you ignore them, they tend to go away. Trying to convert that segment of the population (or make them happy) is a losing game. And ain’t nobody got time for that. :)

Lastly, since I have a book coming out next week and I’m shameless about self-promotion allow me to share a few of my most recent favorite reviews, both the good, and the “bad.”

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As for the best “negative” review EVER: 

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A Brief Portrait of Summer.

“Raising kids is part joy and part guerilla warfare.”— Ed Asner

Day One:

5:00 AM Even though there is no where to be and zero reason at all… I am up. Because old habits die hard. 

10:32 AM We take a trip to Home Depot. 1/4th of my waking hours seem to be spent here lately. This is not ok.

11:48 AM We are in the checkout line. Finally. Of course, there are two open for every one hundredth customer. I’m pretty sure I have aged twenty years in an hour and six minutes. I ponder how one store can house so many things. There are gadgets for gadgets. This place is like Toys R Us for grown men. They are in heaven.  It’s astonishing.

11:49 AM An older gentleman taps my husband on the shoulder. He tells him he has made a wrong turn somewhere. When my husband looks confused he points to me and says that I look like I belong in a department store— not this place. He asks how he got me in here. My husband smiles and tells the gentleman he is lucky.

11:50 AM I have made a new friend. His wife died recently. He wants to know what we are working on, I tell him. He says to enjoy it because life is short. It goes by fast. I tell him I know. The last hour and six minutes have practically been an eternity.

12:07 PM We are in the car. My husband tells me he liked the man. He thinks he would make a decent stand in grandfather for our kids. I agree. He says he thought of asking him if he’d like to see “this pretty lady” more often. I explain that sounds like a proposition. An indecent one. And that any illusions I’ve held of an indecent proposal do not occur in Home Depot…

The remainder of the day is so amazing I can’t even remember the rest of it. :)

Day Two:

Today we are lazy. We read. They draw. There’s a fair amount of chess playing. Bickering is minimal.

Is this how summer is going to go?

Surely, this can’t be how summer is going to go.

I should probably plan something for tomorrow…

Day Three:

8:31 AM Phone call number one: What are you doing?

Me: Working.

I thought you were taking time off…

Me: Oh, I am. I’m not working that much…just a bit here and there.

8:34 AM Text number one: What are you doing?

Me: Working.

I thought you were taking time off.

Me. I am.

Do you want to get together?

Me: Yes. In a little bit. I just have to finish this one thing. 

1:52 PM Five hours, twelve texts, and three phone calls later I realize that maybe my definition of taking time off differs from everyone else’s. Whoops.

8:15 PM We take in a film san kids. Which turns out to be terrible. My husband tells me it’s ok that I picked something so bad. He says he was just glad to be with me. I think the two Reposado milkshakes he consumed probably helped. But I don’t say this. We get home after midnight. On a Monday. This is a life I could live.

Day Four:

5:14 AM Pray my children sleep in. Obviously, I am not. 

8:01 AM Notice prayers work. Determine that I’m going to have to wake them. Force myself to do it. It is hard. Very.

10:00 AM Decide I can’t do the whole nothing thing again. Take the kids swimming. It takes 27 minutes to load everyone into the car and drive two minutes to the pool. Come to the conclusion that this time must be beat by at least 22 minutes—otherwise I may not make it through the remainder of summer.

10:35 AM Arrive at the pool, get settled, to discover that only 2 out of 3 kids have functional goggles. You do the math. The world as we know it appears to be ending…

10:36 AM Threaten to pack up and leave. Look around. Similar conversations are abound. Because solidarity.

10:38 AM Threats appear to have worked. After thirty-eight minutes we are finally in the pool and everyone is happy. This had better last. 

10:45 I snap this photo and post it to Facebook to show how amazing it all is. Look! It says, I have it all under control. :) Because that’s just what you do, no? ;) 


The rest of the day is mostly uneventful. Until…

7:15 PM Something happens and suddenly everyone is pissed off. Someone said something to someone and whatever that something was— it was the wrong something, to the wrong someone. Everything has all gone to shit and the worst part is… I can’t even be sure what the catalyst was.

7:18 PM The kids have been “quarantined” upstairs. Meanwhile, I hide in the pantry with homemade peach cobbler and ice-cream. Just in case.

7:19 PM I text a friend. Wait a minute…I have to do this all over again tomorrow? 

7:20 PM I am assured that I probably do.

7:21 PM It’s not too late for summer camp, I reply.

7:22 PM But then they would all be right, I am warned.

7:23 PM Realize that THIS CANNOT HAPPEN. I will do better… tomorrow.

7:24 PM Panic.

7:28 PM Decide to implement a camp of my own. I shall call it: Project Bootcamp. Stay tuned…

To Capture A Mockingbird…

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” ― Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird


I’m not sure how it works with other writers but I want to preface the story I’m about to tell by letting you know upfront that when I’m writing a character (or characters) I tend to take on a part of that persons persona for a bit. Take it with a grain of salt.

These days I happen to be writing a character who is completely and utterly NUTS. And it’s funny how my mind sometimes confuses my thoughts with the ways the various characters in the story think and that  can feel rather shocking when it catches me off guard and/or comes out of the blue.

Which is exactly what happened this morning on my run as I was running down the list of all the things I have to do today…

One of those things being helping my six-year-old print out pictures of Mockingbirds for her Texas project that is due at school tomorrow.

And then it happens…I actually see one. I know it’s a Mockingbird because now that I’ve assisted with the plethora of research a six-year-old must to do in order to give a five-minute presentation on said research, I’m well versed in Mockingbirds as of late. 

Anyway, so I see the Mockingbird and I think wait a minute… Hey! A) Who needs pictures when one could have the real thing? B) I pause and consider how crazy that sounds and C) I ponder just how much time and tears (hers, or mine I can’t be sure) it would save this evening.

And for a quick minute I stand there and seriously contemplate what it would take to capture the thing and haul it into their class all triumphant like … and all of a sudden there’s a movie running in my head (Christmas Story style) and I picture the kids faces, but mostly their teachers. ;)

I imagine myself looking at her, shaking my head, shrugging, and announcing, “This is what happens when you assign projects like these. It should be known that they induce unnecessary craziness upon parents forced to undergo the painstakingly slow torture of understanding how little the term research means to a six year old. I JUST WANTED TO MAKE IT FUN. SEE!”

But, no, I realize that sounds crazy and I snap out of it and consider that perhaps I’m standing in the street pondering what the best way to actually capture a bird would be because I’m writing a character who is crazy and tends to take things one step too far…and I think sure, that could be it…

OR it could be because I’ve considered all of the times in the future my daughter will try and one up me by telling me that so and so’s mom got them this and so and so’s mom got them that— and I know in that moment that so much of my work in the future could be satisfied now

For I would forever more be able to look her in the eye and say “Yeah, but did so and so’s mom ever get them a Mockingbird?!?”

And suddenly it doesn’t seem that crazy at all. ;)