As I was finishing up my latest book,Mission: Stand Down, I started to go back to an idea that I had come up with after having my first child. I now had a second child, and she was spitting up all the time. My idea was to make a burp cloth that would fit over your hand, so that it would stay put when you were burping a squirmy baby. It also occurred to me that I wanted to try to have it manufactured solely in the U.S.
This was definitely a new world for me – I’ve been active in the online world selling products before, but I have never ventured into having a product manufactured. I soon found out how difficult this is. I didn’t want to lean on China – though that probably would have been much easier.
It took months and months, but I finally had a batch of my very own invention – the BurpMitt! Truly Made in the U.S.A. It is made of a super-absorbent, organic fabric – environmentally friendly and safe for everyone. Turns out it also has other great uses – from polishing cars to dusting countertops – it’s quite useful – and it’s available on Amazon!
Around the same time that I was writing Annie Goes Overseas, part of the Mingling in the CIA series, I also began writing my next full-length book. I say “full-length”, but in my typical short-attention-span-style, it is a fairly short book. Mission: Stand Down is a true-to-life spy thriller and ended up being the hardest to get approved by the CIA’s Publication Review Board. In the end, it was highly-redacted, even though it is fiction. I like to think the black lines give it character though, and I believe it is my best book yet!
Annie 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, the reader will never view the CIA the same way again.
And yes, this is based on an actual real person at the Agency!
The first character I featured in the Mingling in the CIA series was Annie…. Yes, the character is based on the very same Annie from Single in the CIA. You may remember her. She turned me into Security for traveling to visit my forbidden boyfriend in a foreign country, without permission to travel.
Though the novelette is fiction, she is a real person out there who worked with me at the Agency. Scary, right? Oh, if only you knew!
It kind of bothers me sometimes how little people seem to remember. In the U.S., at least, it seems any time an event occurs, it is immediately hyped up as being the first time ____ has ever happened. Just within the past couple of weeks we heard that two hurricanes were heading toward the U.S., one behind the other, and THIS IS THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY THAT WE’VE SEEN THIS!! Surely we all remember a time when two hurricanes happened to be lined up near each other in the ocean and were headed toward the U.S. I remember plenty of times myself. Never mind that usually one of the storms gets downgraded and is no longer a hurricane by the time of landfall. When Irma was heading for the Florida Keys, I saw plenty of hysterical posts on social media about how this was the first time such a strong hurricane had ever threatened the Keys. Seems no one can remember or even has the skills to research a little anymore. In 1935 (just as ONE example), The Labor Day Hurricane caused incredible damage to the Florida Keys. You can still see that damage as you drive down to Key West alongside the railroad that abruptly ends, destroyed by this hurricane and never repaired. Remember Hurricane Donna and Betsy in the 1960s? One of them most certainly was guilty of tossing a Volkswagen Beetle into the bottom of the sea – a creepy shipwreck-like scene that I was fascinated by as a kid swimming in the open ocean.
It’s not only hurricanes and weather events – what about swine flu or H1N1? Does anyone remember that? I do. I actually had the swine flu – in 2009 – and I survived. We didn’t shut anything down for H1N1. We were simply told that if you were sick, stay home. It was a pandemic, just as we’ve had numerous other pandemics. What about SARS? MERS? COVID-19 is not the first pandemic, though the unprecedented freak-out that we have seen in response to it is certainly new.
Terrorist attacks are not new either. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, just as one example, there were numerous plane hijackings. Does anyone remember the Iran Hostage Crisis? Does anyone remember the almost constant news of suicide bombings that we used to hear about on the sidewalks of Israel?
I know for certain that I will never forget September 11, 2001. I had hardly been in the Washington, D.C. area a year when it happened. I had just visited New York the week prior and stood at the feet of the Twin Towers, amazed at how tall they were. I remember how, that morning, I bumbled into the office of the IRS task force I was working for, to see the police officers and IRS agents all transfixed by the TV screen. They were watching planes crashing into the World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York City. I remember being somewhat oblivious as I went with a colleague to pick up snacks for the office and seeing the smoke on the horizon – at the Pentagon. I remember it sinking in as I saw people pulling over on the side of the road to try to make phone calls from phone booths (we still had those) – because if you had a cell phone, they were not working. I remember thinking of my family on the west coast, and worrying that they would be hit next. I remember watching the news coverage of people jumping out of the Twin Towers so they would not burn to death. I remember wondering how it would have been to look out of your office window to see a plane coming right at you and knowing you would die – if there would even be time to think. I remember for days after the attacks how nice people became, and how much courtesy we all suddenly showed each other.
Let’s try not to forget so much. Let’s try to learn from history. Let’s learn how to research again and try to find facts, not just narrative. Let’s remember how to make our own decisions instead of blindly accepting someone else’s. Let’s try not to avoid subjects just because they might be unpleasant or upsetting to talk about or remember. For, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.
Once I had written Single in the CIA, I did something I really hadn’t planned on doing – I wrote the next book. Of course I toyed with the idea of a sequel to Single in the CIA – one day (preferably one day when I am MUCH older and the embarrassment factor would be gone). I instead wrote Mingling in the CIA: Observations of an Underdog. It’s actually what they call a novelette – very short and, in my opinion, best read on an e-reader. Observations of an Underdog was my way of introducing the new series, Mingling in the CIA, where I would take readers into the lives of real CIA officers. It’s kind of a like a bridge between Single in the CIA and the new series. In it, I outline the most common character types present working for the Agency. All based on real people and real events, it’s a quick introduction and was fun to write!
Once I realized the past 8+ years of my work history was a bit of a black hole, I decided to write a book. I had no idea where it would take me, but since I had been a fairly decent writer back in my school days, I decided I would take on the challenge. It proved to be pretty hard to get back into any sort of creative or descriptive writing – I was used to writing cables in the CIA – which is a very robotic style of writing. I spent about a year and a half writing Single in the CIA, through my first pregnancy and into my first child’s newborn stage. I would write on my slow, tiny notebook, balanced on the arm of the rocking chair, while I rocked my newborn son to sleep.
The book was meant to be a fun read, but it also touches on some of the waste, fraud and abuse that was (and I’m sure still is) entrenched in the huge government bureaucracy that is the Central Intelligence Agency. It was truly a swamp! When I worked there, I had no idea how corrupt the government could be – I only knew how vicious the women, in particular, who worked there could be!
I’d like to think my writing has improved a lot since this very first book. It has opened up so many doors for me – from TV interviews to contributor, editor and content writer jobs. It’s even scheduled to become a television series at some point in the future.
Many people ask me about writing books. My advice to anyone who thinks they have a book in them – just write – and keep writing! Nothing is ever perfect – but you have to get started and once you finish – put it out there into the world, imperfections and all!
What does a former CIA officer do once she’s no longer a CIA officer and has a family of her own? She writes multiple CIA-inspired books, invents a baby product, goes crazy with a music album (followed by releasing singles), builds an app and writes children’s picture books, of course!
BurpMitt® products consist of super-absorbent, organic cotton products for baby and home. Mommy’s Gone Mad! is a comical music album for small children and parents of small children. The children’s album led to working on some more adult music singles. Cooking in the CIA is an app with recipes learned from years of entertaining and world travel.
If you would like to purchase a BurpMitt® product, you can find them on Amazon.
As we celebrate our Independence Day here in the US, I think about the freedoms that are very dear to me. My freedom of speech is something I take very seriously as a writer and author. It is also a way for me to make money to help support my family.
I have friends and contacts on social media from all walks of life, from all over the globe – likely one of the most diverse groups of people anyone has ever seen. Most people I know from all of the locations I have traveled and lived have been supportive and open-minded and simply great. If they have not been openly supportive, or do not agree with views expressed in my articles, books or posts, I wouldn’t really know it, as they themselves know enough to just scroll on by. You see, we all used to be able to have different opinions and views yet still be friends – we could still be civil even in disagreement. Sadly, more and more these days, this is not the case.
For those of you who have been supportive of me and my family – thank you. Keep being you and never give up on what you believe in. Share your opinions freely, but realize you are on social media, where most have the attention span of 250 characters and cowardice and narcissism rule.
For those of you who have attacked me – be it by arguing incessantly with my friends and family via comments, blocking or unfriending me personally, or whatever – I have this message for you: I’ve watched some of you change from seemingly happy-go-lucky fun-loving people to angry, outraged trolls. You spout your self-righteous virtue signaling and I see right through it. I have always respected all of your opinions, even if I thought they were misguided and misinformed. I just scrolled on by. But you don’t want to give me the same consideration. Get over yourselves and stop with all the outrage. You are clearly miserable in your life, and you look it too! Get off of Facebook and make a positive change in your life.
I get at least 3-4 messages a week from various contacts who are convinced my posts, articles or books are all about them. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. If you think every post, article or book is about you, then you might be a narcissist.
I won’t be bullied or silenced. Don’t ever try to tell me what I can or cannot say on my own personal page, blog or whatever it might be. I am a writer, I stand for free speech and expression. I’m not sure when cowing to tyrants became the norm, but I won’t be participating in that activity.
A word of caution: be careful of using Facebook as your way to stay in touch with people. I have written articles about this subject. The dangers of thinking you understand where someone is coming from based on a quick Facebook post are numerous. Comments made at the click of the button can be easily misconstrued, by a largely ignorant herd-mentality crowd. Just because you shriek louder does not mean you are right.
And to those dearly departed UNfriends: over the past few years their tolerance for perceived opinions that differ from their own has waned and apparently have warranted swift unfriending! Here’s to you – Happy Independence Day! Your bitterness and hate only leads me to more and more success.