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Welcome to Top Secret Washington

Washington D.C. never seems to sleep. 

It’s overrun by tourists, politicians, and diplomats from around the world. While it has a very public side, I’ve been privileged Diana PR Thumbnail phototo be invited into places the average person never gets to see. 

So whether it’s a private play at the Italian Embassy, dinner at the French Ambassador’s home, or a look at the artwork in the highly restricted halls of the Department of Justice, I’d like to show you what is going on behind closed doors in this amazing city of mine. I’ll also be including you in day trips from West Virginia to New York City and taking you on my travels all over the globe — places that have shaped the plots of my books — and letting you share the everyday experiences of my life. 

Will you take the journey with me?

Gaithersburg Davids Crush McLean Goliaths on It’s Academic

Gaithersburg, Maryland is a “New Jersey” sort of town — always having to defend itself, no matter how well it does. It suffers the stigma of being a bedroom community to a large metropolis, nestled between more affluent neighbors, who scrunch up their noses at the thought of living a few miles north or east of their hoity-toity communities. It’s filled with enclaves that would rather be known as Quince Orchard, or Laytonsville, or the Kentlands, rather than resort to the G-word.

Not that there is anything wrong with Gaithersburg. An easy drive to D.C., it has acres of parkland, an Agricultural Reserve, cultural facilities, wonderful places to dine, to learn, history, good schools, good jobs, and absolutely great people. It also has some of the greatest kids on the planet.

It's Academic
Bishop Breton (L), McLean (C), and Quince Orchard (R), on Jan 30, 2016.

Still, it’s hard to compete with the hoopla of nearby communities, laden with Tiger-Moms and desperate over-achievers, they make good and great look like you’re barely coming up to snuff.

This is especially true of McLean, Virginia.

The home of many of the Real Housewives of D.C., McLean is filled with posh homes and mothers who dedicate themselves to driving kids from play dates to piano lessons to Saturday school. McLean High is ranked one of the top high schools in the nation. People are absolutely desperate to live in McLean in order to send their child to that high school. Real estate prices are ridiculous, taxes through the roof, and the tension in the air is so palpable it makes me shiver every time I cross it’s boundary lines.

Under McLean High School’s notable alumni on its Wikipedia post are the former CEO of Time magazine, correspondents for ABC, Olympians, judges, and the daughter of former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. The list seems almost endless. The same category on the Quince Orchard Wikipedia post lists only eight unfamiliar names — 2 rappers, an actor, 4 athletes and a Miss World beauty pageant contestant for Indonesia.

So, when the Quince Orchard High School academic team of Gaithersburg, Maryland soundly trounced McLean, I had to stand up and cheer.

The match took place on a local TV game show called It’s Academic on Washington, D.C.’s NBC4. Similar to quiz bowl, three teams of high school students vie against one another to answer questions in subjects like Science, Art, Mathematics, History, and Current Events.

It’s Academic is HARD. I used to do College Bowl and the questions on the show are as intense as its collegiate cousin. Further, Continue reading “Gaithersburg Davids Crush McLean Goliaths on It’s Academic”

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Is your workspace creating a health hazard?

A terrific look at desk safety and health from the Washington Post and author SA Taylor. Great tips here for all of us.

Sisters of Suspense

I am sure this won’t come as a big surprise to anyone when I say – we sit a lot these days. But did you know the length of time we spend at our workspaces, and how we sit there, can actually create several health hazards?

In an article from The Washington Post, four experts outlined what really happens to our bodies when we sit for eight hours a day. They mentioned a variety of problems including heart disease, an overactive pancreas which can lead to diabetes, soft bones, poor circulation, muscle degeneration, and a host of orthopedic problems like neck and back strain to name a few.

Sitting-2 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/health/sitting/Sitting.pdf

So what’s the solution?

Here’s a 5-tip checklist with several quick and easy solutions to create a “healthier” workspace.


TIP #1: OVERALL SET-UP

  • Is your computer monitor or laptop screen at eye level? Close enough you don’t have to lean…

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Hot Lines Sunday – Scenery, #RSsos #RomSuspense #Writers

I love experiencing all theses vivid descriptive passages with my fellow Sisters of Suspense. Do you have a favorite? Enjoy!

Sisters of Suspense

Hello, Sunday Readers! This week the Sisters of Suspense present…scenery. Learn more about each story and its creator by clicking the book cover or author photo.


Diana PR Thumbnail photoA sudden onslaught of nerves and disorientation brought her to a stop. The business district was confusing and chaotic, jam-packed with people and cars. Overhead, laundry flapped in the wind and yellow, red and green signs in Chinese blasted across the streets.

Diana Belchase, Sister of Secrets and Spies
The Spy in the Mirror (a work in progress)


Jacquie BiggarIt seemed like only seconds later the beam transported him to a textured surface sort of like the topping on his favorite dessert, lemon meringue pie. There were hills and hollows all in creamy shades of tan and white as far as the eye could see. It made him queasy, almost seasick.

~ Jacquie Biggar, Sister of Suspense w/Attitude
Angels Among Us (a work in progress)


Cover-McKennaSinclair-Partners - Odyssey of the Phoenix

The sun’s first rays flashed…

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Sneak a Peek Under The Author Cape

Several of my fellow authors and I got together to share what we’re grateful for. I can think of no better way to start the new year. I’m especially grateful they count me as one of their number and call me friend. Tell me, what are you grateful for?

Sisters of Suspense

Readers seem to want to know more about the person inside the author. So I asked my fellow authors about Gratitude. Do you keep a jar? Do you keep a journal? Could you share just one day’s entry with us?

Kathryn Jane

I make a gratitude post on Facebook every evening. Here’s one from last week.

Gratitude – for the ocean being a part of my life every day,006 for a new home to keep us warm, dry and healthy, for family, and for Bear purring in my lap as I write this post.


Jacquie Biggar

I’m grateful for the gift of living close enough to my grandson Aiden's 2nd place medal for hockey 2016 to pick him up from school and learn about his day as we head to hockey practice. I’m grateful that technology has given him the opportunity to thrive with type 1 Diabetes, and I’m grateful that we live close enough to be an integral part…

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Happy Holidays! A White House Tour

Kiss and Thrill

Democrat, Republican, Independent, naturalized citizen, American-born, permanent resident, foreign visitor, adult, child. No matter who you are, it is always a thrill to cross the threshold into “The People’s House” aka The White House. But during the holidays, it is magical. This year you are greeted by giant penguins as you enter through the East Visitor entrance.

IMG_1619Portraits of First Ladies line the walls as you walk up the steps toward the East Colonnade–Nancy Reagan in her signature red and Bess Truman exuding Midwestern warmth. The first tree you see is the Gold Star Tree in honor of the men and women who gave their lives in service to our country. It is always surrounded by a crowd of people, writing messages of hope and gratitude and remembrance. You, too, can send a message to our troops and their families by visiting Honoring Our Troops on the White House website.

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If you spent the night with James Bond what would you NOT do?

I wanted to do a review of the new James Bond movie … But nobody does it better …than Jo-Ann Carson. 😀

Jo-Ann Carson

Why am I even asking this question?

I just finished watching Spectre for the second time and I loved every second of it. The opening is the best opening I have ever seen. The action sequences are mesmerizing. The plot stretches the imagination, but the actors pull it off. It’s great entertainment.

But one eensy-weensy detail irks me, and that detail has to do with a woman spending a night with Bond.

So what wouldn’t I do if I was a Bond girl?

My top 10:

  1. Phone my mother.
  2. Take a selfie.
  3. Talk politics.
  4. Talk.
  5. Answer my cell phone.
  6. Tell him, “…he’s a kite flying in a hurricane.”
  7. Whisper in his hear, “You’re crossing over to a place where there’s no mercy.”
  8. Order a pizza and a bottle of pop.
  9. Suggest another night would be better.
  10. And here it is – Take an hour to change my nail polish from…

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Fire-Breathers and Criticism: Daddy Long Legs Rules at the Davenport Theatre

“Isn’t it terrific?” I gushed at intermission during a performance of Daddy Long Legs at Manhattan’s Davenport Theatre.

“No less than a creative masterpiece”

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Continue reading “Fire-Breathers and Criticism: Daddy Long Legs Rules at the Davenport Theatre”