Ten Questions

I am asked, "A book begins as an idea in the writer’s imagination. Eventually, this grain of sand turns into a pearl. What was the grain of sand that fired your imagination?" I respond: Orwellian signs in the DC Metro: “IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING.” See what, exactly? Commuters staring empty-eyed at phones while … Continue reading Ten Questions

Finding Your Market

This video is about examining your manuscript to find its best market opportunity. For me the process took ten years, failed representation, and an entire rewrite. But it was worth it. https://youtu.be/cQgAu7OX0UU In this segment from my interview with Matthew Whiteside, I share lessons learned from the process of bringing out my first novel. Hint: … Continue reading Finding Your Market

Lousy Book Covers

This clip from my interview with Matthew Whiteside explores the marketing side of writing books, and why a title like Two Pumps for the Body Man can be a real challenge to promote. The cover didn't help, not even when it was featured on a website called LousyBookCovers(dot)com (their snark goes to 11...). Check the design … Continue reading Lousy Book Covers

Peace

All that is left today is to recall those friends who lost their lives, and those who survive with wounds—scars both physical and emotional. In 2004  five zealots attacked our consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. These men left for paradise: Imad, who several times took me in hand, a guide through the complicated process of … Continue reading Peace

Redacted!

Today's news has me thinking about redactions. You know, those heavy black lines that prove there are things we do not know or should not know or cannot know, God save the Queen and long live the Republic. And these known unknowns are significant enough that an unseen hand took the trouble of writing them down … Continue reading Redacted!

Shattered Glass

I picked up Greg Matos’ Shattered Glass—The Story of a Marine Embassy Guard with a narrow purpose. I wanted to read about the December 2004 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. I wanted to know what it felt like to be the Marine standing Post when five heavily armed terrorists stormed our compound, killing … Continue reading Shattered Glass

Jeddah Attack Analysis 2

ABC News details the deadly attack by five terrorists against the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (Read Part 1). Three minutes into the attack---11:19 on Dec 6, 2004---the U.S. Marines bolt from their temporary barracks, unarmed, under fire, to access the chancery through the rear hatch. It happens in a flash. Security camera footage … Continue reading Jeddah Attack Analysis 2

Jeddah Attack Analysis

I'm parsing the script of this 2005 ABC News report this week, analyzing a bad day for diplomacy in Saudi Arabia. Five heavily armed terrorists attacked the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Dissecting security tapes of the attack, Former Diplomatic Security Special Agent has the best lines. So he goes first. The assault in … Continue reading Jeddah Attack Analysis

Blog of the Week

This pleasant surprise came across my desk yesterday. A blogger at The Skeptical Bureaucrat writes: I picked up some nice items at the AAFSW* book fair last week, and one of them was this quirky novel Two Pumps for the Body Man, which the author describes as a soft-boiled diplomatic noir... The story is a … Continue reading Blog of the Week

Diplomatic Training

Sixteen years ago I spent ten months at the Foreign Service Institute training for my first diplomatic assignment to Saudi Arabia. This week I returned to campus with my sons, eight and ten, so they could begin their own indoctrination to the diplomatic life. They were enrolled in a course called Young Diplomats Overseas Preparation. … Continue reading Diplomatic Training