Vol. 1 No. 2   February 2017

sf-ii-front-coverThis month’s featured book, Spy Flash II.

Four stories “ripped,” as they say, from the headlines. See how a modern-day spymaster works behind the scenes. (Paperback) (Kindle)


WE WRITE TOOvabook17-logo-2

March 22, 2017
4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
City Council Chambers
605 E. Main Street
Charlottesville, VA

Join me, Susan Lanternman, and Jack Trammell as we talk about writing and work and being part of an anthology. Moderated by Sarah Honenberger.

This panel also serves as the official launch of the anthology, Skyline 2017. The anthology and copies of the authors’ books will be for sale.

Sponsored by the Blue Ridge Writers Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club.

Do you know…

…what the Moscow Rules are?

Intelligence agencies who operated in Moscow developed rules of thumb for spies and others working in that city. The location of KGB headquarters during the Cold War, Moscow was a harsh working environment, especially for spies who were exposed there. The Rules are:

1. Assume nothing.
2. Never go against your gut.
3. Everyone is potentially under opposition control.
4. Don’t look back; you are never completely alone.
5. Go with the flow; blend in.
6. Vary your pattern and stay within your cover.
7. Lull them into a sense of complacency.
8. Don’t harass the opposition.
9. Pick the time and place for action.
10. Keep your options open.

Book Club?

I’d love to chat with your book club if one of my books is your selection. I can Skype, FaceTime, or call in. Contact me at

Help Me Select a Tag Line

For marketing purposes, a novel has to have a tag line, a short, pithy phrase to attract readers’ attention. I’m at the point where I need a tag line for my soon-to-be-released novel, A War of Deception.

Here’s a brief summary: During an investigation into how someone has discovered Mai Fisher’s identity, she and Alexei Bukharin not only uncover a Russian mole in the FBI but also the fact the Russian Mafia is interested in Alexei’s granddaughter, Natalia. The reason for that involves a long-ago decision Alexei made, one he made for the good but which had unforeseen consequences.

Here are a few tag lines I came up with. Send an email with the number of the one you like to–or suggest your own!

1. You can never escape your past.
2. The right decision–unforeseen consequences.
3. The past won’t be left behind.
4. Never turn your back on your past.
5. Past and present. Fathers and Sons. Retribution and Revenge.

Have at it! And after all the numbers have added up, I’ll run everyone’s name through a random selection program, and the winner will get a signed copy of A War of Deception when it’s published. 


The Goodreads giveaway for the novelette, A Face in the Crowd, is open until February 28, 2017. You might win one of five signed copies. Go to to enter.

Cover Reveal!

Here is the cover for the upcoming novelette, Who Watches wwtw-front-coverthe Watchmen?–and a clip from the back cover copy:

As the U.S. presidential election winds down, Mai is caught off-guard when the FBI releases information known only to a few in The Directorate. This blatant attempt by someone in her inner circle to rig an election is a betrayal not only of The Directorate’s highest ideals but also a breach of its protocols.

After discovering the leaker, Mai decides the violation meets The Directorate’s standard for extraordinary rendition and solitary confinement for life.

Someone in The Directorate doesn’t agree.

Read an excerpt from Who Watches the Watchmen? below.

Bonus–Only for My Newsletter Subscribers!

Here’s an excerpt from a novelette I’m working on entitled, Who Watches the Watchmen?

Chapter 7
“Comfort Food”

     Mai Fisher’s driver waited while her UNSECFOR bodyguard accompanied her to the front door of her house. She entered her security code on the keypad, thanked her guard, and wished him a good evening. The guard climbed back into the armored Suburban, and it continued around the circular drive, disappearing down the driveway. Mai entered, closed, and locked the door behind her.
Home. She was home, amid familiar things and with one familiar person in particular.
The concept of home had once meant little to her, but this house, which she fondly called The Monstrosity, had helped make her, Alexei Bukharin, and his granddaughter, Natalia, whom they’d raised after her mother died, a family.
Family was something else she’d considered elusive. Orphaned at five, she had no idea what family meant, other than the dysfunctional examples she’d observed from her place in English society. But she and Alexei had made one of those, too, reluctantly at first on both their parts and probably just as dysfunctional.
They both had also grown fiercely protective of their makeshift family.
The aromas of cooking drew her to the kitchen where Alexei fussed over a pot of something on the stove. Mai’s nose told her it was either marinara sauce or his famous tomato-basil soup.
He looked over his shoulder and smiled at her. “Ah, my lovely wife is home, more or less on time.”
“Will wonders never cease?” Mai replied. “Let me put my briefcase away.”
Another code on another keypad let her into her home office. After she extracted her work mobile and its charger and put all her other electronics to charge, she placed her briefcase in a secure closet, relocked the office door, and returned to the kitchen.
Alexei had poured about three fingers of whiskey in a glass and handed that to her when she sat at the eat-in counter.
“I do like it when you anticipate my needs,” Mai said, winking.
“It’s what I live for, dushenka.”
“What’s for dinner?”
“Tomato soup and three-cheese Paninis on sour dough bread I made this afternoon.”
“How did you know I needed comfort food?”
“I watched the news.”
Mai sighed and took a decent swig of the whiskey. “It’s not so much the news as who leaked the restricted information to the FBI,” she said. “Do you want to know the particulars?”
He’d insisted for years work be left at the office, but on occasion he gave her the benefit of his experience, as he had when they were partners in espionage. Before he responded, she sensed his reluctance.
“Will it help you deal with it?” he asked.
“Then, tell me.”
When she finished, he said, “Shocking, but in some ways not surprising. If I were ten years younger, I’d make him regret the rape comment in some horrific way.”
“I have something in mind,” Mai said, and told him.
Boizhe moi!”
“Really, Alexei. The KGB trained you. You trained me. What other way could I do it? Besides, you were the one who said, ‘All you have to do is make them think you’ll go through with it.’”
He smiled at her again. “You did listen to me. Imagine that.”
Another drink of whiskey, and she said, “I may have, once or twice.”
“Do I owe you an apology?” he asked.
“For what?”
“When I was acting for you a couple of years ago, I’m the one who put the bastard in the job. Obviously, my lecture about loyalty to a new organization was ignored.”
“Obviously, but the only apology I want is from ‘the bastard,’ and that’s not likely to be forthcoming.”
“Have you taken care of it?”
“No. I wanted to wait until I was a bit less angry.”
“Wise move.”
She finished the whiskey while he ladled crimson soup into bowls. He garnished each with fresh, chopped basil and shaved parmesan cheese. The Panini press beeped, and he removed two, thick sandwiches oozing cheese. The sight and the wonderful smells made her stomach growl.
Alexei arranged a sandwich, a bowl of soup, and a soup spoon on each of two large plates, sat one in front of her, and put the other at the place where he’d sit—beside her. When he sat down, he turned to her, and she to him, and he kissed her.
“Hi,” he murmured. “Welcome home.”
“Hi, yourself, and it’s good to be here.”
“Sorry for the tough day.”
“Me, too.”
“Finish your dinner, and there may be a back rub for dessert,” he said, picking up his spoon.
“Only a back rub?”
With a sly smile, he sampled the soup and said, “You never know what might happen.”

Who Watches the Watchmen? – Coming in March.

“History is a much better maker of plots than any novelist who ever lived.”

Author Alan Furst