When I started writing Yesterday’s Tides, which I’ll be pitching at conference IN FOUR DAYS!!!!, I wanted a cool job for my hero. So naturally, being obsessed with Alias at the time, I thought, “Oo, CIA!” But not an operative. Way too cliche (or something, lol). So instead, I thought I’d make him a computer geek.

In typical me-fashion back then, I didn’t actually, you know, look anything up. I relied on TV and logic and maybe a brief glance at the CIA website. Having just graduated from St. John’s, I had a few interesting tidbits of knowledge–like the fact that a lot of Johnnies got recruited for the analytical prowess. (Not that any suits every approached me . . .) So I figured that was good enough for a rough draft;-)

When I was rewriting last year, I decided I’d better check my logic against facts. I’m glad I did. While not totally off-base in some things, I was dead wrong in others. TV has soooooo led me astray! For starters–Langley, Virginia. You know how when you watch a CIA movie, the little ticker across the bottom always tells you you’re in Langley, VA? WRONG! There is such a town, yes. It’s home to such government agencies as a NASA installation. But the CIA? Nope. The CIA headquarters is right outside D.C. The compound is called Langley. It is not in the town that is a few hours south. Which really threw a kink in my plot!

I also discovered that the CIA isn’t really the glam agency we all think of. Maybe it used to be (maybe), but these days the agency has been pillaged, according to Legacy of Ashes by Tim Weiner. Most senior officers were fired in 2004, and the rest of the best talent was lured away by the Pentagon’s intelligence division.

Wreaks havoc on my plot–my hero was supposed to be in a Company family, one where his parents had both been in it before him, where they’re the best, well established . . . I could salvage that, but I had to account for it. Make them loyal and lucky both.

I discovered another book especially helpful for my hero’s computer geek savvy, but I’ll save that for next week. Gotta get to work memorizing my pitch, you know! While I totally sold my socks on it yesterday when I was hanging out laundry, I think the shorts were unconvinced. Better keep practicing;-)

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