Here’s wishing a very happy and peaceful Thanksgiving to all!
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s REALLY like to work at the CIA, you will have an awakening when you read my books. My series of short reads, or novelettes, Mingling in the CIA, takes readers into the lives of the CIA officers I met during my time there. You’ve met Annie, you’ve met Bloud…..
This time, join me in Thailand for some debaucherous fun! Are you ready to meet Archie?
…Bloud eventually managed to finagle his way into working outside of the office, instead of being there every day to further poison the atmosphere. It seemed Vicky’s perception of Bloud had changed pretty dramatically and the decision had been made to allow him to become a satellite employee of our office, in preparation for future overseas posting. There were quite a few beach locations that Bloud was proposing as his next assignment, and to my surprise Headquarters was entertaining these requests. For the time being, he was going on very expensive TDYs to different paradises in the Caribbean [text was redacted here]. Written from various barstools in tropical resort towns, his cables never made much sense, just a barrage of babble that someone in our office or at Headquarters had to rewrite. He could not be bothered with actually writing cables documenting his work, a secretary would surely be needed to do this for him. It pained me to see these trips get approved when it was pretty clear they were a colossal waste of money…
As Chief of Operations, Bloud wasn’t very impressive…
…Bloud was in charge while Lawrence was gone, but that was not saying much. He had taken to throwing hissy fits and closing himself in his office any time he received news from Headquarters that he did not like. He would leave the young officers who needed his guidance out in the cold while he sulked behind a closed door. He had also begun a weekly ritual of cooking a slab of meat in a crock pot for the whole office and we were all expected to eat it and listen to him blabber on while the young officers kissed his butt. I dreaded being herded into the office kitchen for these little get-togethers…
…Bloud was an experienced [text is redacted here] officer, in his fifties, whom I had heard much about. Apparently he had done some pretty exciting things years ago and he loved talking about his experiences, holding a captive audience in the young officers surrounding him. He delighted in telling tales of encounters with tigers and serving time in a hole in the ground somewhere in the Middle East. It was hard to imagine this slovenly, obese man doing anything besides eating pork rinds and drinking beer, but the stories were entertaining. He was given the Chief of Operations or third-in-charge position in the office. I did not have many friends in the office and he seemed like an interesting drinking buddy, so one day after work Bloud and I went to a nearby bar for drinks….
Annie strikes again. Your first introduction to one of the swamp creatures in my series, Mingling in the CIA:
…Her whole career was in limbo and she was going through something called mediation with her former supervisors. This was a process whereby she could contest the citation for bad behavior they had placed in her file. In any other workplace I knew of she would have been fired for not calling in when sick, not to mention dropping the ball on some highly sensitive intelligence during a critical time, but in the Agency there really did not seem to be a way to get rid of people who were bad employees. It was called “passing the trash,” and Annie would just be moved from assignment to assignment for her entire career….
…Annie was another of the many women I encountered at the Agency who made me wonder how on earth she passed the psychological exam to get in. She was a masseuse on the side and she often told me stories about giving married men “happy endings.” Some of the men were Agency employees. She seemed proud of this activity. One day, after I had come back from my TDY medical exam, she loudly proclaimed that I could not possibly be done with my medical travel clearance because I hadn’t met with a psychologist yet. It crossed my mind that maybe she should not be so open about this information. Apparently, if you had red flags in your psychological history, the medical office would have you meet with a psychologist before you were allowed to go on even a brief TDY. I had not met with one, but was granted my travel clearance, so I was set to go. Annie was one of the main people who made me question the Agency’s hiring process…
In anticipation of my newest book’s release and launch, I want to highlight some of the swamp creatures we have met so far in my series, Mingling in the CIA. Having spent most of my career in Washington, DC, I’ve had broad experience with many types of swamp creatures. This experience gives me plenty of material for my books.
…Annie was a twenty-something-year-old, borderline obese girl with the mentality of a twelve-year-old. She had been hired into the Agency by way of the Office of Security, where she was sent to training to become a background investigator. Apparently she had some issues while there, and also did not pass the investigations training class, so she was told to find another job within the Agency. At this point in time, the NCS was pretty desperate for SOOs, and Annie got a job there – the NCS, the directorate most people think of when they think of the CIA and national security – the “tip of the spear.” I noticed this happened a lot – when a newly hired officer was identified as having some issues, instead of documenting it or perhaps even terminating the employee, they were just moved to another position in the Agency. Part of this phenomenon was likely due to the high cost of the CIA’s hiring process and clearing someone for access to classified information – Top Secret clearances did not come cheap, nor did they happen quickly….
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.
Happy Reading & Happy Gifting!
I joined Barbara Allen, author of Front Toward Enemy and What Not to Wear to a Murder Trial, on her show American Snippets recently. We talked about all sorts of subjects – my longest TV appearance yet!
I think I’m getting slightly better at them…..
This episode should also be airing on OpsLens TV – which is now available on Apple TV, Roku and FireTV! Stay tuned!