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It was a dark and stormy night. . .

Helen Gleason White shakes hands with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright upon retirement from the State Department.

By Dians Britton

Writing murder mysteries may seem to be an unusual avocation for a software configuration manager, but writing has always been the first love of Helen Gleason White, B.A. English '69. White particularly relished the opportunity to study under visiting writer Robert Houston at Mason, then a four building campus "way out in the sticks." "I had wonderful teachers," she says. "And our class had only about 90 graduates, so we were very close knit." White's degree from George Mason College of the University of Virginia helped her get her first job writing and editing for Changing Times magazine, a former Kiplinger publication. "The job didn't pay anything, but I learned a lot," she says. "I learned the lean, mean Kiplinger style of writing." That training put White in good stead for her next job at the American Retail Federation, where she did a lot of promotional writing. It was at her next job, as a tax editor with the Treasury Department, that she got into her current field--10 years into her tenure there. White conducted service studies on hardware, switching to software when she started working for the State Department in 1988. Along the way, she supplemented her education with graduate courses in English and study with popular writer Larry McMurtry, as well as under graduate courses in accounting, computer science, and configuration management. She retired from the federal government and the State Department in November 1997 and, two weeks later, went to work for Lockheed Martin as a software configuration manager. White still manages to find time for writing, however. She has written a novel and two murder mysteries, and is working on her third mystery. She plans to look for a literary agent soon in the hope of getting them published.

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