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!
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!
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!