False Buddha

One of the things I’ve done since leaving the CIA was develop my own company. It has been through many phases, but has morphed into a successful content creation consultancy. I continue to add new clients every day. Whether you need content for a book, website, blog – whatever it may be, I can help you. I also do appearances!

You can check out the service here —> False Buddha LLC . Let me know how I can help you!

Turning Lemons Into Lemonade?

My next project was even more fun. I began to write and illustrate my next children’s picture book. I wanted to see if I could still draw at all. The project started prior to the massive shutdowns in California, but ended up being a sort of lifesaver once the real hysteria hit and all the children were yanked out of school. It gave my son a project to do with me, and I began to see his face light up once again. He never seemed to be into drawing or coloring before, but he took an interest in what I was doing and even started making his own illustrations for the book.

The Lemon Seed is a story of thriving in adversity and flourishing, even in dismal circumstances and environments. It has a very handmade look to it, and that was intentional. It wasn’t meant to be a message of the times, but it definitely ended up being one.

Opening the Door to New Opportunities

So, why do all these projects? After all, many authors, artists and creators of all types don’t actually make much more than pennies on the dollar from each “creation” they sell. Everyone takes a cut. [I do actually make some money on them, and it is a constant royalty stream for my children when they are older, but…]

The answer is, writing a book leads to other opportunities.

In my case, one of the first doors that opened to me was the offer to be a contributor to OpsLens Media. OpsLens provides daily print and video commentary on the world’s most trending and critical stories related to national security, public policy and other matters of state through the lens of experience. The staff of contributors is comprised of former intelligence, law enforcement and military operators that have more than 200 deployments to both conventional and hostile areas around the globe performing counterterrorism, counterdrug, counterintelligence, traditional espionage and other unique operations. As a former CIA officer, I fit this description.

I began with a series focused on California called Underground California. This led to more show appearances, building on my first TV experience with Politics & Profits with Rick Amato earlier in the year. You see, no one would have asked me to be on a show prior to publishing my fist book, Single in the CIA. My second ever show appearance was on the Drew Berquist Show. Each of these appearances allowed me to showcase some of my projects and products, and that always helps a small business person.

Fast forward to today, and I am now the Editor at OpsLens Media.

You see, it all began with one book.

**For a great explanation of what it is like to be a CIA officer and also what OpsLens is all about, watch OpsLens founder, Ron Hammond on American Snippets.**

The Proof That Parenting Makes You Insane

After my first children’s picture book, Mommy Thinks She’s a Monster, I discovered a company called Amuse. You see, I had all these crazy songs that I would “sing” to my kids when they were babies, and they were all recorded on my phone. They were all comical and made the kids laugh. What would happen if I released an album of them? Well, I would soon find out.
Amuse is great, and allows people to release their music and keep 100% of their royalties. Being as into passive income streams as I am, it was the perfect match for me.
Mommy’s Gone Mad! was born!

You can listen to it on Spotify, Deezer, Tidal, Google Play Music, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, Napster and more! It’s everywhere!
I surprised my husband with it for Christmas and I’m sure he was horrified. With tracks like I See Your Boogie and Pee On The Potty, it’s sure to be relatable to anyone who spends time with small children. As I see it, if it entertains just one child, or makes one frazzled parent laugh, I have done my job. Plus, my kids love it – they still play the songs and crack up every time.
And, I didn’t stop there. I also released Mommy’s Gone Mad! The Lost Tracks and three music singles that go along with some of my CIA-themed books.
One thing is for sure, my kids will be able to look back on their crazy Mom and laugh, plus receive royalties for the rest of their lives – as they should – after all, they inspired the lunacy.

Appreciating the Moms

Never content to sit around without a creative project, I decided to bring a short children’s story to life in the form of a children’s picture book. I decided to collaborate with a local artist for the illustrations in the book. This part was so much fun! Day after day, I would go back and forth with my illustrator, Paul Kent Sewell, whose comic style I love. He was great to work with.

My daughter, who was two at the time, helped out by viewing each illustration and by giving me the time to work on this project. In the end, it is one of my proudest achievements – Mommy Thinks She’s a Monster is a children’s picture book honoring moms everywhere for the sacrifices they make – the time they take, the professions and careers they put on hold and the mostly thankless work that they do to raise children in this world. It is also a sort of recognition of the issues that many mothers with small children face – whether it is PPD or just not enough time for self care.

Whatever the message you choose to get from it, it was fun to do and I’m looking forward to doing more of these in the future!

Then I Built My Own App

One of the things I wanted to do once I resigned from the Agency was to learn how to build an app. For various reasons, I didn’t get to it until years later. I began by taking some online classes to learn certain computer languages. Then I began building the app. I settled on a cooking app full of recipes that I make all the time. I have to say, I never cooked when I was having fun in my former life – in fact, a prerequisite for a guy hanging out with me was to be a good cook. I NEVER cooked. But I did learn a lot from some very skilled chefs. And, eventually, I realized that I liked cooking – it’s a form of creative expression and you know I love that!

My app, Cooking in the CIA, can be found in the App Store. I personally use it all the time!

You can also check out my cooking channel on YouTube where you can see short clips of the food being made.

Another CIA Co-Worker as Muse….

After the sometimes agonizing process of inventing/creating and manufacturing a physical product, I needed to get back to writing – it’s much easier!

One of my other former colleagues at the CIA was the perfect inspiration – with his backstabbing and douchebaggery – he stuck out in my mind as the perfect lead character for the next in the Mingling in the CIA series. With that, Bloud was born!

In this installment readers continue to get a disturbing view into the daily life of the officers in America’s premier spy agency. Before the swamp was called the swamp, Bloud personified the cheating and fraud inherent in the bloated bureaucracies of the U.S. government. Don’t worry, it’s a fun ride though!

Then I Decided to Make a Physical Product….

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!

Getting Back To Full-Length Books

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 Bumbles On…

I couldn’t just leave Annie at Headquarters! She then gets an overseas assignment and we follow her there in the next installment of the Mingling in the CIA series – Annie Goes Overseas.

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!