It’s time for my annual self-promotion, hopefully just in time for your holiday gift-giving. If you have any book lovers on your list, try out one (or more) of my books this year! I’ve seen some delays in shipments of hardcopy books, but e-books won’t have any delay and are perfect for last minute gift-giving. I have adult-themed books about my time working as an intelligence officer in the CIA, and I have children’s books that have nothing to do with the CIA – both picture books and a new elementary-grade chapter book series, just begun this year! My books are available online anywhere books are sold, and are likely in some brick and mortar stores (authors always love it if you request their books in brick and mortar stores because then the stores will order copies!).
My first book, Single in the CIA, is a comical memoir of my life in the Directorate of Operations of the Central Intelligence Agency. It takes you through my adventures as a young, single woman in the intelligence world, and focuses only on my personal relationships while I was there – no work talk! It’s meant to be fun, but it ends up being sort of sad, if you realize that the book is set in the “premier spy agency”. Kind of disturbing, actually. This is the book I am most known for, and it began the series of books that I have now written, and continue to write.
My series, Mingling in the CIA, takes readers into the lives of officers in America’s premier spy agency. These short novelettes each focus on an actual real person I knew at the Agency, and takes the reader on a (hopefully fun) journey into their lives. I am currently working on the latest in this series, where you will meet a new character!
Mission: Stand Down, is a true-to-life spy thriller – my most controversial book yet. This one had the censors up in arms! It is highly redacted, but I still think you can get the gist of the book and it is one of my best.
Mommy Thinks She’s a Monster is a touching children’s picture book about moms and motherhood written from the perspective of a young child, who only wants their mommy to be present in their life. This was my first children’s book, and it was so much fun to do. I worked with a great illustrator, Paul Sewell, on this one – he was a delight to work with and he really brought my idea to life.
The Lemon Seed is a children’s picture book about thriving in adversity and flourishing, even in dismal circumstances and environments. This was my Covid shutdown project. In the very beginning, when we were the first in the country to be shut down and masked (Washington state had us beat on the first shutdown), I decided to challenge myself and see if I could illustrate my own book. It might not be perfect, but it is meant to look “homemade” and I’m really glad I did it.
A Manatee Miracle, the first in The Adventures of Shelly Beach elementary-grade chapter book series, takes young readers on adventures in the Florida Keys with a magical paddle boat. This book kicks off my newest series – this time for young readers. With this series, I hope to introduce kids to the wildlife of the Florida Keys that I was so lucky to grow up surrounded by.
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!
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.
I’ve been trying to think of ways I could help someone during this time…. Then it dawned on me that I have taken dozens, if not hundreds, of classes online over the years. I’ve compiled a list of resources for online learning – from resources for teachers and parents to use with homeschooling, to adult-themed subjects – from great sources.
Futurelearn.com – This is a great place to find free classes on just about anything you can imagine. They offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop. They have hundreds of partners from around the world. These include many of the best UK and international universities, as well as institutions with a huge archive of cultural and educational material, such as the British Council, the British Library, the British Museum, and the National Film and Television School. They also work with a range of internationally renowned organizations – from professional bodies such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), to businesses like the BBC and Marks & Spencer, to the UK Government. I have taken everything from a class on Infant CPR given by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to World War 1: A History in 100 Stories, to one I’m currently taking on Rome.
Edx.org – Free college classes. I have taken everything from Harvard classes titled China’s Political and Intellectual Foundations and Buddhism and Its Scriptures to a class on The Spain of Don Quixote given by the University of Madrid, to the Medieval Icelandic Sagas given by the University of Iceland. They have just about anything you can imagine from some of the best schools in the world.
Udemy.com – They have a wide range of classes in subjects ranging from game development to mobile apps to IT certification, to marketing and business. They have Python, ethical hacking, you name it. These have a small price usually, but I see lots of sales going at all times.
*** Update: Udemy.com now has a free resource center. FREE classes!
NASA/Kennedy Space Center – Initially it was announced by some media outlets that they would be having Facebook Live events, but it appears they have been canceled for now. You can still access their online learning links though.
Free education resources from the Nordic countries: Here you have 40+ remote learning solutions from Estonia, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden that you are welcome to use. For kids, preschool as well as K – 12, great resources to include ones for other languages, from all over the world. Don’t let the 99math throw you off – there are resources from ALPA Kids – a mobile application where children can learn colors, numbers, the alphabet by playing with examples of their own culture and local nature, to the Future Astronauts Program – a 12-week program with activities connected to life skills of astronauts. Consists of inspirational Space material and easy-to-introduce activities to support STEM learning. Teachers have curated NASA materials that are relevant and interesting for young children, to Finland Math and it’s digital exercise platform Eduten Playground – an excellent resource for remote teaching and learning. It’s the most popular math learning tool among Finnish teachers, and one reason is that it is very easy to assign exercises for the students, and set and track goals, to resources specifically for teachers’ management of students – I could go on and on this one has so many different resources – all the way through higher education.
Pat Flynn – Smart Passive Income: Online business toolkit. Mr. Flynn is a master of passive income. He offers all sorts of training, lots of it free, on how to successfully work from home, how to create passive income streams that really make money, and more. Ever wondered how to set up and make money with affiliate links? This guy is a master at it.
Graduate School USA (used to be Grad School USDA): Long ago, I took classes on HTML through Grad School USDA. Now, it looks like it is more geared toward the federal workforce, specifically management and human resources. And it looks like they cost a bit to take. But still might be a valuable resource for someone.
Tonya Leigh of French Kiss Life: Ms. Leigh runs a lifestyle brand and global movement called French Kiss Life. She teaches people how to manage their own minds and bring joie de vivre into their daily lives. She does blog posts, podcasts and YouTube videos.
My Life Suckers: A comical YouTube channel and blog run by a mom who used to be a Senior Editor for Nickelodeon’s parenting website for 6 years where she wrote about snot and ear infections. They have put together a great blog post full of resources. Resources ranging from Khan Academy: Excellent free tutorials for all ages in math, science, computing, humanities and more. They have courses from preschool math all the way to AP Calculus to Hike Find Draw: A hiker takes you along with him as he photographs what he finds. He then chooses a photograph and teaches his audience how to sketch what he has found on his hike, there are so many different options.
…Standing in formation at a beginning yoga class that one of his past girlfriends had taken him to, he was admiring the very attractive yoga instructor. The instructor moved around the room assisting the students with each new pose as it was introduced. As the instructor lightly pushed on Jay’s back to guide him into the correct posture, Jay had taken a deep breath and, as she pushed his spine into place, Jay had suddenly broken wind, very loudly. The entire room had gone silent before everyone had burst into gales of laughter. Jay and the yoga instructor had ended up dating for a year after that…
…. he soon came to realize that no one was reading his cables, and he decided to stop wasting the effort.
The beauty of the park was sharply contrasted by the sight of a young teenage girl being questioned by two young men in uniform. Jay stumbled upon scenes such as these quite often, and he identified these men, who were likely only a few years older than the teenage girl, as being from the militia. Jay supposed she was not adequately , or had too much makeup on, and was being harassed for it.
From my book, Mission: Stand Down.
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As we get closer to the 5th year since my first book, Single in the CIA was published, I thought I would take a few minutes to say a BIG Thank You to all of you for your support and to celebrate some of the accomplishments from these past 5 years. I couldn’t have done it without all of you.
And then there is American Greatness. I was honored, and quite intimidated, to be accepted as a contributor for them – as they have some incredible writers. I currently have one piece for them: American Parent.
You give of yourself in your writing. You touch hearts. It’s a rare gift Shelly. — David Kamioner, Writer, Contributor and Author of Prisoner of the Chattering Class
No holds barred, precisely the commentary I’ve heard from others in similar situations. Thank you for who you are and being a role model for others to include our 14 year old daughter. Much appreciated. — Anonymous Reader
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. — Frank Boccia, Author of The Crouching Beast
Thank you so much for being brave enough to show the world this view. You have done society a service with your pen! — Anonymous Reader
And, last but not least, Single in the CIA is being adapted for TV! That’s right – you may be seeing the book that began it all on your television screens!
As you can see, I have LOTS going on, and more to come. Who knows what the next 5 years has in store, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be big. I have fun coming up with new ideas and bringing my creations to life!
Again, I thank you all for the support. I hope everyone has a very happy holiday season. Here’s to FUN and laughter!
I will never forget seeing the burning on the horizon as I drove down the road. The Pentagon had just been hit. The plane had flown right over the road as I was driving. I had just returned to the Washington DC area, where I lived, from visiting New York City and seeing the Twin Towers in person. I was currently working on a HIDTA money laundering task force with local police, DEA, and IRS agents. I was severely underemployed in the position, but I had dreams of working for the CIA one day and, as is my nature, would not stop trying.
The people in the DC area were mostly a miserable, angry bunch. But after the attacks, I noticed an extreme change. People were suddenly being much kinder to each other. People were letting other people in front of them in the gridlock traffic that makes up the Washington DC area. People were courteous, helpful and respectful.
These days, we have gotten so far away from that. We are back to being angry and hostile. Jumping to conclusions about people we don’t even know. Not listening to one another. Making personal attacks simply because we think we know where a person stands on an issue, mostly based on a social media post. We have family interactions through social media, which is sometimes fake and phony and easily misinterpreted.
I will never forget September 11th and neither will my children.