Kathleen O'Brien
Kathleen O'Brien


Exercise, family, Jaunty Post, Kathleen O'Brien

You know the old saying about people who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time?  I’m apparently one of them. Actually, I think it’s safe to say I can’t even walk and…well, I can’t even walk.

Last week, when I was power-strolling around the neighborhood, I tripped on a diabolical oak twig shaped like a Lincoln Log and went crashing down onto the asphalt.  The tumble occurred early in my circuit, which infuriated me, so though my arm hurt like the devil I decided to finish up–another forty minutes or so.  The next day, I got an x-ray and discovered I’d broken my right elbow.

Now I suppose this can happen to anyone, but it’s the second time it’s happened to me.  A few years back, also in mid-September, I tripped on a piece of oak debris and broke my foot.  That time I was on a knee scooter for three months.

Frankenstein's foot

If I go far enough back, I can even come up with a third oak-related walking disaster.  When I was in fourth grade, playing around the old trees at recess, I heard Sister Alice ring the bell. Sister Alice wasn’t a woman to be trifled with, so no one ignored the bell, not even for a minute.  I jumped up and hurried toward the school…and tripped over a big, fat oak root.  

kathleen first grade academy

I broke my left elbow that time, in three pieces.  I hadn’t developed my stoic “play through the pain” attitude back then, to say the least. :oops: One of the nuns escorted me, screaming, into the building.  In a classroom way down the hall, my older sister calmly raised her hand.  ”I’m sorry,” she said politely to her teacher.  ”But I have to be excused.  That kid screaming out there?  That’s my little sister.”  The teacher was dubious, but my sister was right.  Apparently my scream is unique. 

So frankly, three times is enough.  I’m out.  I think oak trees are conspiring to take me down.

Bats flying in the night

I also think I shouldn’t be trusted walking anymore, or driving around on errands, or vacuuming and stuff.  Also, I should immediately be released from any mandate to exercise.  Additionally, people should probably wait on me hand and foot, swaddle me in cotton, and let me read books and binge-watch Gilmore Girls until I feel better, or forever, whichever comes first.


Preschool girl  falling down

How about you?  Have you ever broken a bone?  If so, how did you do it?  Something silly like rock climbing or hang-gliding or alligator-wrestling? Or something really dangerous, like strolling around suburbia?

The Billionaire's Secret coverI’m going to be honest with you, friends.  I’ve just started edits for my September Tule novella, THE BILLIONAIRE’S SECRET, which is part of the Amalfi Nights Billionaires series.  And the truth is I’m having so much fun splashing around in these glorious waters with this dreamy billionaire that I can’t even think of a deep topic for this blog. :)

baby whispersSo instead I’m going to settle for telling you five silly, slightly embarrassing disorders I have.  No, I’m not digging up the deep dirt, but I’m sharing stuff I don’t often blab. 

And if you’ll play along and tell me one embarrassing disorder you can’t quite cure, you’ll be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift certificate.  (I usually give away $10 gcs, but I’ve been spending time with this billionaire, so…  8-) )

1960s Ruby Falls

1)  I CAN’T BREATHE: I have what I’ve always assumed was mild claustrophobia.  But one day, when my sister and I were visiting Chattanooga, we decided to tour Ruby Falls.  My sister expressed concern about my, um, condition.  But I was cocky. No problem! After the looooong elevator ride down to the cave, in which yard after yard of impenetrable granite slid past the glass wall, though, I felt my lungs collapsing.  I simply couldn’t step out.  My sister dashed off, eager to see the marvels, but I stood alone with the elevator operator, trying to breathe.  Finally I gasped, “I can’t. I’m having a heart attack.”  She closed the doors, and kudos to her that she didn’t openly snort or roll her eyes. When we got back to the surface, I choked out, “I think I’m fine now,” which was my way of admitting the heart attack thing had been an exaggeration.  

Little Bakers

2)  I LIVE IN FOMO: This is a great acronym my good buddy and fellow Jaunty Nancy taught me.  Fear Of Missing Out.  The problem with that is I sometimes sign up for things I already know in my heart I am not going to be able to do.  I always dream I can make it work.  Because I am the master of my destiny, right?  And because…well, FOMO.  Then reality smacks me in the face, and I have to admit I’m not the master of much of anything.

I suspect I’ve had FOMO a long time.  Probably it’s genetically encoded.  When my best friend and I roomed together in college, she got really sick of coming home from class on Friday to find me curled up on the bed whining, “How am I going to get out of this date tonight?”  I’d say yes to a guy, thinking, well, I’ll probably feel bad if I don’t have a date this weekend, right?  And then, as the day came closer, I’d agonize, knowing I didn’t want to go.  She thought I should just endure the concert, dinner, party, whatever, instead of trying to think of a way to wriggle out.  Eventually, she typed a Robert Frost quote and taped it to the wall next to the phone.  It read:  The best way out is always through.

It didn’t work, just for the record.  And to those very nice guys, I’m really sorry.  FOMO is a disease, not a character flaw.  Nancy said so. ;-)


3) CUE CLOSEUP: I have a melodramatic side.  For instance, when I was a little kid, my mother was killing grasshoppers that were eating her plants.  I wanted to impress her with how sensitive and poetically eco-conscious I was, so I kept saying, “Isn’t it sad when you see human nature die?”  She ignored me for a while, but finally she turned around and said, “Kathleen, don’t be moronic.  Grasshoppers aren’t human.”  I like to think of that as my first science lesson.

graphic mom lectures teen istock purchase

4) TOMORROW?  WHAT’S TOMORROW?: I am also just a touch weak in the long-term planning department.  Case in point:  in junior high school, my friend Mary Lou and I decided to climb out my second-story bedroom window in the wee hours and go see some cute boys.  We were so slick!  No one ever knew!  Until we got back to my house and…oops…we hadn’t figured out a way to climb back up. :(  My cousins lived next door, and one of them was old enough to be coming home very late.  He spotted us there in the alley, trying to devise some kind of pulley or slingshot or rocket launcher out of the seagrape tree.  He helped us up, but he must have told my dad.  The next day my sister came in and said, “Daddy wants me to tell you something.  He says he doesn’t care what you do as long as it’s not dumb.  But that was dumb.”  In our house, stupidity was the worst sin, and I nearly died of shame.  If only my mother had been the one to catch us.  She would have lectured me for an hour, and I would have merrily ignored her.

Two beautiful women in vintage dress

5) OH, MY POOR, VIRGINAL EARS!: I might possibly have just a touch of a prissy streak sometimes, which I blame on my mother, who couldn’t tolerate anything she termed “vulgar” or “tacky.”  Also, I think I read too many Edith Wharton novels.  Anyhow, my family will never let me live down the time I scolded Boychild for saying some kind of food was gross.  ”What SHOULD I say?” he complained.  ”Well,” I said, scrambling, “you could just say, ‘I haven’t cultivated a taste for that yet.’”  You’d be surprised how often the kids find a chance to work that into a conversation, in high-pitched, mincing tones.  Even now, 20 years later, everyone cracks up, every time.

So…what about you? What little quirky traits do you have that embarrass the heck out of you? Don’t forget, you could win that $25 gift certificate! And then you could buy THE BILLIONAIRE’S SECRET. :)




Nancy Robards Thompson
Nancy Robards Thompson


family, Jaunty Post, Nancy Robards Thompson

The Romance Writers of America’s annual conference is right around the corner. I leave Monday for a week in New York with most of the Jaunty Quills and my other writer friends.  I’m really looking forward to it. However, I’m still working on deadlines and packing. I’m a bit anxious about a workshop I’m presenting with my buddy and sister JQ, Kathy Garbera (it’s all together, but I always get pre-presentation jitters). And, of course, I’m wanting to spend time with my hubby, who will be on his own for the week.

Trying to get it all done and not short anyone or anything always leaves me feeling woefully inadequate, like I’ve left someone or something hanging.  So, in the midst of the craziness, I thought it might be a good time for us to talk about the things we do right.

I admit, I had to stop and think hard to come up with this inventory of “good.” So, please put your thinking caps on, because I want to hear your “Right List,” too.

Here’s my list :

I gave up tanning – I grew up in Florida. The beach is forty-five minutes away. I used to bake myself in the sun. We’re talking baby oil on a tanning blanket. But I’ve since seen the light and I stopped doing that about 22 years ago. My legs may be mushroom white, but they’re healthy.

I’ve learned to let go of things that used to drive me crazy – I wish I could say I’ve arrived at a state of Zen, but I’m a work in progress. Along this path, I’ve learned to breathe deeply and the phrase “Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys” has become my mantra.

I’ve learned that I always benefit by planning ahead.  

I make it a priority to get a minimum of 7 – preferably 8 or 9 – hours sleep every night. Of course, there are those times when I don’t get in all my ZZZZs, but I try not to let it happen often because when I’m sleep deprived, the whole world feels like it’s falling apart.

I’ve stopped waiting for special occasions to wear my favorite perfume, use the good china, and buy flowers. Little touches make a big difference.

I know the things that make me feel better when life feels out of control: a hot bath or shower; plenty of sleep (that one’s worth repeating); I clean house when I’m stressed because messiness makes me more stressed and I find cleaning up very gratifying ; I take a hiatus from social media.

I’ve stopped comparing myself to others. Because that just stinks. We all walk different paths. Accepting that has made the biggest difference in my life.

Last, but not least, I’m a good mom. Even though College Girl is away at school, she will always be my baby. 

How about you? Please share so we can celebrate the things you do right.





How to Marry A DoctorNancy’s latest book HOW TO MARRY A DOCTOR is abailable in mass-market paperback and e-book.

Kathleen O'Brien
Kathleen O'Brien


Charleston, family, Food, giveaway, Jaunty Post, Kathleen O'Brien

I just got back from a couple of heavenly days in Charleston, which is one of my favorite cities in the South.

This time, I made the trip because a local community theater was staging one of my daughter’s plays.  That alone is enough to make me love a town, of course.  (Want me to adore you?  Appreciate my kids!)

Irene's story in city paper

But I have so many special ties to this quaint, historic town.  My parents lived there while my dad was in the Navy in World War II.  Growing up, I heard so many stories about Charleston and their love of the architecture and the ambiance.  When they moved back to Tampa, their hometown, they commissioned their architect to renovate their little bungalow to a modified Charleston style, with porches, and a wing that was built perpendicular to the street.  I grew up in that house.

bayshore jpeg 

Still, I’d never known exactly where my mom and dad lived back then.  It was in the earliest days of their marriage, and obviously long before I entered the world.  But recently, when I was cleaning out some old family files, I ran across a notecard someone had sent them when they moved in…complete with addressed envelope! 

 Turnipseed card to momma and daddy in charleston

So naturally when we went up this weekend we had to carve out time to visit that address.  It’s a charming old apartment building between Calhoun and Broad.  

Daddy walks up to Berkley Court

We couldn’t enter to hunt for the apartment, as we didn’t have anyone to buzz us through the locked doors.  But that’s when I really got lucky.  Outside, as I took pictures, we ran into a woman pulling weeds.  Turns out she takes care of the property, and when we explained our pilgrimage she was able to show us (from the outside only, of course) exactly which unit my parents had lived in. It’s the second floor balcony just to the right of the main entrance–and apparently it was super tiny!  They never mentioned that.  Maybe to newlyweds tiny was a happy thing. <3

 horizontal 21 balcony two berkeley court

Finding Berkeley Court wasn’t our only emotional landmark on this trip, though.  We stopped by to share a moment of silence at the Emanuel AME church, where nine worshippers were recently shot as they gathered for Bible study.  The scene was even more moving than I’d expected it to be.  People milled around, probably, like us, trying to both honor and understand.  Flowers and mementos hugged the façade.  And visitors had written their names all over the trunks and branches of the small trees on the sidewalk–an oddly beautiful and powerful sight.  It felt as if everyone who came wanted to leave a little of their own hearts behind.

birds and tree at Emanuel church 

Our visit wasn’t all history and memories, of course.  It was also…FOOD! 8-)   Oh, my goodness, do Charlestonians know how to eat!  After a fabulous Italian dinner, dessert was a carrot cake “deconstructed,” which turned out to signify that cake cubes lay alongside pecans, dried berries, real carrot spirals, and the icing, so that I could assemble every forkful with the perfect proportions!

Dinner carrot cake 

And then there was lunch at the Saffron Bakery (which Boychild and his wife discovered when they were visiting for the play’s opening a couple of days before).  It was almost too good to describe.  Simple—just a grilled cheese and tomato soup, with a side of grits, because Boychild promised me adding grits was worth it.  But delicious beyond description!  And oh, the bakery!

Saffron Bakery 

So, all in all, a wonderful trip, even if I’ll be treadmilling off those eclairs for the rest of my life. :)  What about you?  Have you ever been to Charleston?  What’s your favorite city—and why?  Is it the food?  The history?  Or something else?  I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate to one randomly chosen poster today!



vector lady with pink book hugging istock purchase

His Highness knows what to get me for any holiday.  A bookstore gift card. I always have several in my wallet, always, because I’m really weird about spending them.  (And by “weird” I mean stingy.)

Now that sounds kind of like “he’s got the little woman on a short leash” stuff, doesn’t it?  But that’s not it.  Sure, we’re not Rockefellers, and I’d definitely have to justify budget-busting at the jewelry store.  But His Highness learned long ago that if I can’t get all the books I want, when I want them, without any grief…in fact without any comment at all…I’m not much fun to live with.

 Even so, I hang onto those little rectangles with a gurgling, whispering intensity.  My precious gift cards…  

bn gift cards

 Sometimes, though, that leads me into trouble.   Like this time…

One day, I was homesteading at Barnes and Noble, wandering for ages, reading the first few pages of about a zillion books.  One of them looked great.  I said to myself, “When I have enough gift certificates stockpiled, I’ll come back and buy this.”

Classic rookie mistake, right?   :roll:

question mark over head 

Of course, when I finally went back to that table, everything had been rearranged.  I checked my notes app on my phone, but nothing.  I’d been dumb enough to assume I’d remember the title.

 Nope.  Not the title, not the author, not even the color of the cover.  Not even whether it was a YA novel, or one for adults. All I remembered was that the story started with two sister ghosts betting about some guy dying.  I couldn’t bring myself to ask the B&N guy to track it down with such pitiful info, so I went up and down the stacks, looking at everything.

 Hours later, I’d found some interesting books, but not that book.  I was so irritated with myself.  I went onto Amazon and looked at about a thousand books with ghosts, sister ghosts, paranormal, betting.  Again, lots of good ones.  But not that one. 


 Many trips and searches later, I almost gave up, which I never do. But luckily Girlchild came up with an idea.  Reddit.  You know Reddit…a website about everything for everyone?  I “know” it, but not well.  It wouldn’t ever have occurred to me.  She told her husband, who agreed it was worth a shot. 

 While she and I doggedly scanned the bookshelves, he got on his phone and found a subReddit called “Whatsthatbook?”  He entered my pitiful information and asked for help.

 I appreciated it…but I didn’t hold out much hope.  Then, about two hours later, I got an email from him.  Someone had answered his SOS.  Could it be, they suggested, Lauren Oliver’s ROOMS?

 I looked it up.  It was! 

rooms and bn bag

How’s that for fabulous?   And here’s the nuttiest part: B&N was out of all copies, so I could’ve emptied every stack in the place and never found it.  I ordered it online, got it the next day, and read it that night.

And yeah.  It was a really good book.

But, for me, the hero of this story is that anonymous person who popped onto that subReddit and offered her idea, just in case.  I think that’s absolutely magical, don’t you? Hurray for Girlchild and her great guy!  Hurray for books, book-lovers, and people who will take time to help out a total, goofy stranger.

silly bookmark

 How about you?  Do you use Reddit?  Do you ever forget a book’s title and have to hunt it down the hard way? I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate to one randomly chosen commenter today.



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