Tag Archives: Shelly Mateer

Wanda’s Wish

She stared out the rain-soaked windows of her train car as she zipped through woods and fields lit by a dim grey light. A distinct feeling of dread hung over her – but not the usual blanket of discomfort she usually felt, it was a more smothering dread that she could feel deep into her bones. Along with the dread came the guilt.

Why hadn’t she just sucked it up and gone to Aunt Wanda’s for dinner? Aside from the fact that Emily didn’t know that “dinner” to a southerner meant lunch, she had been too wrapped up in her own daily drama to take the time to clarify the semantics.

Now Aunt Wanda was gone, and she would never get to speak with her again. She would never learn the stories she had promised herself she would put to paper, giving Wanda’s experience a life, beyond her earthly life.

Aunt Wanda was quirky, to say the least. She didn’t seem to get along with anyone, but she had always taken a liking to Emily. Every summer as a child, Emily could remember the obligatory visit to Wanda’s house in Arlington, Virginia. Emily’s parents only suffered Wanda’s company; Emily was the only one who actually wanted to be there. She was fascinated by all the trinkets on display in Aunt Wanda’s house. It had been years since Emily had visited – college and first jobs and boyfriends had consumed all of her time. The dinner invitation had been only recently, and Emily couldn’t help but feel regret at blowing her off, as unintentional as it had been.

Emily wiped a tear from the corner of her eye as the train squealed to a halt. She was there.


Opening the door she was blasted by the faintly floral-scented stale air of Aunt Wanda’s deserted house. She took off her wet shoes and left them at the door. Looking around, she smiled at the familiar curio cabinets lining the walls, filled with figurines – entirely figurines of bulldogs. Aunt Wanda had loved bulldogs, and you could definitely tell.

Emily had vivid memories of staring into those very cabinets with wonder, and then pestering Aunt Wanda incessantly to let her keep a figurine. This would happen on every visit, without exception, and would only end with Aunt Wanda capitulating and giving Emily a trinket to take home with her.

Now she only knew that Aunt Wanda had requested in her will that no one other than Emily should be allowed to come to her house and dispose of all her possessions. No one else had received anything in the will, only Emily.

She had to give it to Aunt Wanda, the house was immaculate. She walked around in silence, accompanied by only her reflection in the mirrored cabinets and hundreds of porcelain bulldogs, all looking at her. What would she do with them all? What was she to do with the property? She really had no guidance – the will only stated that Emily must appear at the house on the date specified.

And here she was.

“What do you want me to do, Wanda? I can’t keep all this stuff in my little studio apartment. It’s cluttered enough as it is,” she spoke out loud to the silence. The bulldogs stared back at her dubiously.

She sat down on the perfect antique fainting couch where she knew Aunt Wanda had loved to write.

But she had never written about herself.

Emily’s eyes fell to the delicate table in front of her. On it was placed a small black book.

Emily picked up the book and opened it. It was blank except for a few lines written in Wanda’s graceful cursive handwriting.

Dear Emily,

Please take care of my Edward. He will be arriving at 2 o’clock. The entire property is left to you, but only on the condition that you keep him safe and happy.

Love always,

Aunt Wanda

Emily stared at the writing. She jumped when the grandfather clock in the hall began chiming. It was exactly 2 o’clock.

Who is Edward?

As the clock stopped chiming, Emily took a deep breath, almost relieved to think that Aunt Wanda must be pulling her leg from her grave, playing one last wacky joke on Emily.

Just then she heard a light tapping on the door. Emily felt the strong desire to pour herself some of the scotch that she knew was in a beautiful crystal decanter in the corner liquor cabinet.

She instead pried herself off of the couch and walked slowly to the front door. Opening the door, she saw nothing but the quiet street in front of her, until she looked down.

There, sitting on the doorstep, was a huge bulldog, tongue hanging out the side of its mouth. Slobber dripping on the red brick. The bulldog stood up and walked past Emily and into the living room, turning to look back at her, wagging its tail.

“Edward?” Emily laughed. The dog barked happily. She kneeled down to pet him and noticed a collar around his neck had a key attached to it. He licked her hand as she fumbled with the key to get it loose.

As she turned the key over in the palm of her hand, Edward started walking toward one of the back rooms. She followed him into a room lit by a bright sunbeam. He sat down next to a rectangular black lockbox. He cocked his head to the side and looked at her.

Opening the box, Emily could not believe her eyes. Inside, a tiny golden bulldog figurine sat, staring up at her with diamond eyes. Emily grinned as she remembered pestering Aunt Wanda endlessly to let her keep the solid gold dog. Next to the dog was a stack of bills – one thousand dollar bills -wrapped with a shiny gold ribbon. There had to be 20,000 dollars worth of them. She wasn’t even sure that bill of currency was printed anymore.

And it’s not.

“Thank you Edward.” Emily patted Edward on the head, laughing so hard she fell over on the carpet. She couldn’t remember the last time she laughed so hard.

“And thank you Aunt Wanda!”

The End

This short story was originally published on Vocal Media.

My Appearance with Kerrin Black of Talent Finders

Don’t believe the doubters ….I always have many, many doubters. No matter how many times I prove them wrong, they still doubt me, but it’s almost like it encourages me to prove them wrong yet again…

I had a really great interview with Kerrin Black of Talent Finders – you can check it out here:

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!