…While most of the men I encountered in the Agency were a particularly narcissistic and womanizing bunch, the women of the Agency definitely took the cake when it came to viciousness and backstabbing. It was as if destroying your fellow female colleagues was a requirement for success as a woman in the Agency. This was rarely accomplished in public view, it was most often a behind-the-scenes demolition of another woman’s reputation…
I was recently on the show Politics & Profits with Rick Amato to talk about my first book, Single in the CIA. I was pretty nervous, but it was a great experience. I’ve never been a good speaker, and you’ll see what I mean when you watch this. Also, please forgive my recording – my internet froze for a moment while I was taping it.
You can check out my very first media appearance here.
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?
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.
Stay tuned in the months ahead! I have lots of surprises in store for 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.
…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.
…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…
“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?!
…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…
In honor of author Frank Boccia, who passed away last week, I am re-posting an interview I did with him last year. He was a great man, and I appreciated his honesty and that he took the time to speak with me about my first book, Single in the CIA. Frank’s book, The Crouching Beast: A United States Army Lieutenant’s Account of the Battle for Hamburger Hill, May 1969, is available on Amazon, and other places books are sold. He will be missed.
Frank: You write well, economically, clearly. As a professional author, I appreciate that kind of writing.
I can see why the book might have made the CIA squirm a bit, but considering the bad press they get I suppose they’re used to it. And, yeah, the waste of money is disturbing, but then the entire government does the same. I know. I had two separate and brief periods of employment with Uncle Sam and spent most of the time shaking my head.
But I’m left with a question that I hesitate to ask, but must. First, let me make clear that I am not making a moral judgment here; I would be the world’s most egregious hypocrite if I did, because I was an executive in a major corporation and there was a period when I was the Barry or Archie — well, no; not Archie. I could never reach his level of weird hypocrisy — or Jarod. I’m ashamed of it now, but back then — well, there were a lot of attractive women in our company. So, if anything what I did was much less ethical. A young clerk and a middle-aged exec is not a fair match.
So… the question is, how did you come to bare all that you did? I don’t mean for its affect on the Agency, or even your partners — no matter that you changed their names (I know you did because I was forced to change a lot of names in my account, or the lawyers would have hissy fits and massive heart attacks) many of your former colleagues will know who the men were — but so what? They probably did anyway. No, I’m thinking only on how it affects YOU. Did you hesitate at all, for that reason? I understand that this is probably an embarrassing topic, but, you must have known your father and his colleagues and friends would read it. I sat and thought about that after I read the last paragraph.
Regarding his book, The Crouching Beast: Many have remarked on how intimate and revealing some of my passages are, showing things that weren’t necessarily attractive in my character. I wrestled with that, but in the end decided that if was going to be honest, and write about my comrades as I did, then I had to write about myself, warts and all. Again — no moral stance here. Call it vulgar curiosity, or, as I think of it, a professional writer’s research. I will thoroughly understand if you don’t wish to answer, or if you send me a blazing dart filled with names — all of which I’ve been called before, probably deservedly — and suggestions for my future address.
I will say it took courage to do what you did. Sort of like charging a machine gun nest. After the first step it’s too late to back out.
Shelly: To answer your question – I really don’t find anything that I exposed in the book embarrassing… In today’s world, what I wrote is practically a child’s cartoon. I think at the end of the book I clarified that I was never a victim in the situations I was in, I was merely along for the ride. I was actually just as bad as the men I talk about in the book (and I’ll add that Barry and I are still friends). They don’t have a name for the female equivalent of a womanizer… But that’s what I was! I think the book actually delivers a good message in the end – it shows that no matter how much BS you deal with and how dreadful your life can seem (as it did in the Fall of 2011), things can completely change in a very short span of time. Because of the risk I took leaving the Agency my life became 100% better. I am now living happily with a young son, happily married, and doing things I never could – with the help of my book sales! I think the book is more of a triumph than something to be embarrassed about. And as you know, as a writer, you cannot hesitate or censor yourself if you want to write well. I struggled with censoring myself quite a bit while writing it – I left out A LOT of really bad behavior – both on my part and others. That’s the stuff that might actually embarrass me. But, I also know that I wouldn’t be afraid to write a sequel to Single in the CIA, which could include some of the worst behavior that I left out this time around.
And don’t worry, I am not offended by your question at all!!! Hey, I am a 40 year old woman now, whose book is doing well considering the obstacles I have (friends who don’t know how to use the internet, friends who are afraid their CIA cover will be blown if they purchase the book, etc). I’m not easily offended – I kept reading your question over and over trying to figure out what you think might actually offend me!! I can’t find anything. Trust me, the book could have been WAY more intimate – I went light on the sex stuff. I’ve had so many people tell me that I needed to put MORE of the sex in the book – they said it wasn’t sexy enough.
Regarding the changing of names – yes, I did that – but that is more because when you work for the Agency we all get pseudonyms. So half the time we didn’t even know each others’ real names!
In closing, all of the “douche bags” in the book have contacted me since its publication, and none of them are mad about what I wrote – except Archie. But, like I’ve said before, if you don’t want someone to write about your bad behavior one day, don’t act like a douche bag!
The good news – I’ve apparently got a huge following of certain officers in the CIA. Some of them have thanked me for “bringing it all together” for them. They are coming to grips with the idea that they may not be able to get another job when they leave the Agency – their professional life is a big black hole, more so than mine, and they are squirming now trying to figure out what to do if and when they jump ship. Most will stay there until they can retire, living very unhappy lives, because they are, in a sense, prisoners to the Agency.
Thank you for saying it took courage to write it! I always have been a risk-taker, and also a pretty blunt person. Not everybody recognizes that, but I am also a very misunderstood person. That’s ok with me.