Goodbye August!

I am so glad August is over. I’m not a fan. No offense to those of you with August birthdays, it’s nothing personal, I just find August to be terribly long and boring. It’s still super hot where we live and school starts in early August these days (at least in the last couple of places we have been), so summer vacation comes to an end. With the average temperature where we live ranging from 99 to 108 (sometimes 115!) degrees every day the weather is not conducive to outside activities with small children.

In my mom life I’ve come to look forward to fall, with its cooler temperatures and string of birthdays leading into the holiday season. I used to hate the holiday season – back when I lived on my own so far from my family. I spent many a Thanksgiving and Christmas alone, wishing for the time to pass, first in the D.C. area and later in South Florida. Of course in South Florida that loneliness was accompanied by a beautiful beach view from every window of my condo, and the constant sound of crashing waves, and maybe a bottle of scotch…. But I digress….

How times have changed. I look forward to the holiday season now – I guess having young children does that for you.

Anyway, I have a few projects that should be wrapping up before the end of this year. One is the release of my first full-length book since Single in the CIA. This latest book, a spy thriller full of humor, is set to release in October. Mission: Stand Down is the result of a compromise with the CIA. Apparently it is very controversial. After many appeals, I am very excited to have the green light to publish this one.

Many of you know that I have a page on this site where I post book reviews. Lately I’ve had some authors and publishers send me free books to review, and I’m very flattered by the attention. I only wish I had more time to read – but rest assured, I will get to reading all of them. Soon I will be adding children’s books to my reviews to go along with my CIA officer-turned-Mom brand. Most likely I will stick to “vintage” children’s books – ones I read as a child or were out when I was a kid.

All in all it has been a one-step-forward-two-steps-back kind of year for me. I have a couple more surprises up my sleeve that I was hoping to reveal before the end of 2017. Due to the constant roadblocks I’ve encountered this year I’m not so sure they will all be realized by December 31st, but I’ll keep trying.

There’s always next year, right?


Happy 4th of July!

I hope everyone is having a great summer so far and has a very happy 4th of July!
Just a quick summer update…
As most of you know, my books are available on Smashwords as well as Amazon and many other book retailers. Smashwords is having their 9th annual Summer/Winter Sale beginning July 1st and running through the month of July. All of my books will be 50% off for the entire month of July!
You can’t beat this deal, so check it out on Smashwords.

Lately I have been expanding my own personal brand as a former CIA officer-turned-Mom. This means lots of surprises to come during the next few months. In response to finding myself getting a lot of questions about how to go about self-publishing a book I decided to create a short instructional eBook on how to self-publish on Amazon. It was a little experiment, to see if I could create my own PDF eBook, all by myself. Created for busy moms (or anyone who doesn’t have much free time) who have always wanted to be published authors!
Check out the result on the eBooks page.

Only 99 cents!

Stay tuned in the months ahead! I have lots of surprises in store for you!

European Intelligence Officers and Fluffy Pink Clouds

From the latest in the Mingling in the CIA series – Annie Goes Overseas:

…Andrej poured a glass of wine as he attempted to explain the Basque-French menu to Annie.

Basque? Where is that? Is that some kind of fish?

She tried to disguise her confusion and appear enthralled with every word coming out of Andrej’s mouth. It actually wasn’t difficult; his accent made her feel like she was enveloped in a fluffy pink cloud. She grabbed the wine glass and took a large gulp of the very expensive French wine he had just poured for her. He was so elegant, so charming, so European

Annie Goes Overseas!

From the latest in the Mingling in the CIA series – Annie Goes Overseas:

“But I live on the west coast of Florida,” Rick wrote. The message on her computer screen baffled her.

The west coast? Where is that? I didn’t know there were different coasts in Florida? Isn’t it all one state?

Annie was interrupted by the vibration of her phone. She picked it up to greet the exotic purr of Andrej’s voice on the other end…

Join CIA officer Annie as she continues on her blundering path, dragging national security along with her. From inappropriate relationships with foreign intelligence services to entitled use of government money to fund her love life, you will never view the CIA the same way again! Annie Goes Overseas is now available almost everywhere books are sold!

Thank you.

As I just had my second baby, I haven’t had much time for writing lately and will likely be absent from this blog for a little while. But, I want to thank all of the people who have been supportive of my books so far. It means a lot to me to hear that someone has taken the time to read something I have written, whether they like it or not.
I have a new book in the Mingling in the CIA series ready to go, but am still waiting on the CIA’s Publication Review Board to grant its approval for me to publish the latest in Annie’s adventures. I had fully intended to have the book out prior to my daughter’s birth, but that was not meant to be (sigh). I hope to hear some good news in the near future, and get on with the business of publishing in the few spare minutes I have each day.
Again, thank you to all of you who have been supportive, and stay tuned for more soon.

Five Year Anniversary!

…A feeling of complete emptiness came over me. I was lost. I had no job, no boyfriend, no car, no direction. I began to question all of my recent life choices…

What a difference five years makes! As I celebrate my five year anniversary of leaving the horror of my CIA employment, I cannot believe how much my life has changed post-CIA. A loving husband, a beautiful son, a daughter on the way, a new house, and three (going on four) published books. It just goes to show that risks are worth taking.

Porn-Addicted Boyfriends…

…I was living alone again for the first time in more than seven years, and even though I was much better off, it was quite an adjustment. I suppose I reached a true low point when I started going out for drinks with Annie on weekends. Years of emotional abuse from a porn-addicted boyfriend can do that to you…

I Dodged a Bullet!

“Make love to her right now!”
It was a wild night. I really did not feel like pursuing a relationship with Fiona; I was becoming increasingly creeped out by Archie’s request for me to find a girlfriend. After about the millionth text message pushing me to make out with her, I decided to keep him interested and fed him an imaginative story about how the night was going… He was practically slobbering through the phone…

…Later, Archie cited my supposed inclination toward lesbianism as justification for our break-up…

I dodged a bullet there, didn’t I?!

Intelligence Surges Don’t Work!

…One Friday morning I logged on to find an email stating that as of Monday, I would be reporting to            . This was the new division that had been formed, and they needed people immediately. It was called a “surge”…
I arrived in             to find a very disorganized office. Some of the people in the very large group forced in to these assignments did not even have desks to sit at yet. It was as if no one had planned for this surge of new people who were apparently so urgently needed. I was placed at a desk, but found I had no work to do…
I had absolutely no CI experience, so I was baffled at how I could be chosen for this somewhat crucial aspect of work in this new division…

Your Freedom of Speech…

Be very thankful for your freedom of speech, don’t ever take it for granted.
Below is a book review that I wrote for Barry Meier’s book, Missing Man: The American Spy Who Vanished in Iran. As you can see, it has been heavily redacted by the CIA. While I realize I signed a secrecy agreement when I went to work for the Agency, at the time, at just twenty-nine years old, I never imagined that one day I would be writing books about my experience. It is obviously not ideal to have to send everything I write through the Publications Review Board at the CIA. It adds an extra hurdle to the writing and publishing process and stifles some of my creativity, not to mention it can be frustrating and time consuming. For the most part, I feel they have been pretty fair with me, though sometimes it seems like the criteria for what is considered “classified” changes depending on what day it is. There do not seem to be strict standards that apply to everyone, regardless of whether you are Hillary Clinton or Valerie Plame. I have not seen a lot of consistency in the process. Sometimes I struggle with the question of whether to make a fuss and try to appeal their decisions, but then possibly incurring the wrath of the people who work there, thereby affecting the publication of my future books. I have to believe that they have good reasons for redacting certain words. Even though a sentence itself may not be classified, I hope that the redaction of those words was done with the intention of protecting a life – in this case Bob Levinson, who disappeared from his wife and seven children in 2007.

Please note that the length of the black lines does not accurately reflect the amount of text that was removed from my original book review.

This is an excellent book about the disappearance of Bob Levinson, a retired FBI agent            . This story hits close to home for me, as I was working at the CIA when Mr. Levinson vanished. A lot of the details in the book bring back old memories,            . At the time, I was new to the office I was working in,            . Years later, while posted on a field assignment, I attended a meeting with Senator Bill Nelson. I watched as Senator Nelson asked the very puzzled group about Mr. Levinson. All of the officers in the group were completely bewildered by the inquiry,            . The meeting left me with a very bad taste in my mouth.
Reading this book left me saddened by the disgraceful way that Mr. Levinson’s case was handled by all of the agencies involved.            
The book reads like a spy thriller, including intricately woven webs of deceit and a cast of characters seemingly straight out of a Hollywood film.            
I also truly wish that the story had a happy ending.