This Is What Happiness Looks Like…When A Son Comes Home From War

At 6: 45 a.m. on the 1st Cavalry parade ground, Fort Hood, TX, we welcomed home our youngest son, 1st LT J.P. Rodgers, from his deployment to Afghanistan. Instead of my usual gift for gab, I’ll let these photos speak for themselves.

Author Kathleen M Rodgers welcomes home her youngest son, 1st Lt. J.P. Rodgers, from Afghanistan.

Author Kathleen M. Rodgers welcomes home her youngest son, 1st Lt. J.P. Rodgers, from Afghanistan.

Thomas Rodgers tackling his little brother on the parade grounds at Fort Hood. Thomas was the first one in our group to spot J.P. in the crowd.

Thomas Rodgers tackles his little brother on the parade grounds at Fort Hood. Thomas was the first one in our group to spot J.P. in the crowd.

Trinity Jackson moments after her first hug with J.P.

Trinity Jackson moments after her first hug with J.P.

USAF Lt. Col. Tom Rodgers (Ret) hugging his youngest son and thanking God for his mercies.

USAF Lt. Col. Tom Rodgers (Ret) hugging his youngest son and thanking God for his mercies.

Kathleen with future daughters-in-law Brittany McDaniel and Trinity Jackson at Fort Hood Visitors Center.

Kathleen with future daughters-in-law Brittany McDaniel and Trinity Jackson at Fort Hood Visitors Center.

J.P. looking at Trinity's son, Reader, held by his grandpa, JJ Jackson. With Trinity, Kathleen, Thomas, and Brittany.

J.P. looking at Trinity’s son, Reader, held by his grandpa, JJ Jackson. With Trinity, Kathleen, Thomas, and Brittany.

Trinity with her son, Reader, and her mother, Lisa Jackson, at Fort Hood Visitors Center moments before we drove to the parade ground to greet J.P. as he climbed off the bus.

Trinity with her son, Reader, and her mother, Lisa Jackson, at Fort Hood Visitors Center moments before we drove to the parade ground to greet J.P. as he climbed off the bus.

Thomas Rodgers with his fiancée, Brittany McDaniel, moments after Thomas spotted his little brother on the field.

Thomas Rodgers with his fiancée, Brittany McDaniel, moments after Thomas spotted his little brother on the field.

Lt. Rodgers walking toward Trinity's dad, JJ Jackson, as he holds his grandson, Reader.

Lt. Rodgers walking toward Trinity’s dad, JJ Jackson, as he holds his grandson, Reader.

Tom and Kathy leaving the parade grounds. We are feeling pure joy and relief. And grateful to God that our son came home alive from a war zone.

Tom and Kathy leaving the parade grounds. We are feeling pure joy and relief. And grateful to God that our son came home alive from a war zone.

Thomas helping carry his little brother's duffle bag as we leave the field. Trinity is to the left of J.P.

Thomas helping carry his little brother’s duffle bag as we leave the field. Trinity is to the left of J.P.

J.P., Trinity, Reader, Lisa and JJ Jackson, and Tom and Kathy at the Hilton Garden Inn in Temple, TX. The hotel went out of their way to make us feel welcome and the staff greeted J.P. on his arrival into the lobby on his first morning back in America.

J.P., Trinity, Reader, Lisa and JJ Jackson, and Tom and Kathy at the Hilton Garden Inn in Temple, TX. The hotel  staff greeted J.P. on his arrival into the lobby on his first morning back in America. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kathleen M. Rodgers’s work has appeared in national and regional publications and in several anthologies. She is the author of two novels, The Final Salute (reissued from Deer Hawk Publications), and Johnnie Come Lately (forthcoming from Camel Press, Feb. 1, 2015). She is working on a third novel, Seven Wings to Glory, and is represented by Loiacono Literary Agency.

Stars & Stripes columnist Terri Barnes interviews Kathleen M. Rodgers about her new book, overcoming struggles, and more…

 

Terri Barnes, columnist for Stars & Stripes

Terri Barnes, columnist for Stars & Stripes

 

What an honor to be featured in Terri Barnes‘ popular column in Stars & Stripes! After Terri read an advanced reader copy of my forthcoming novel, Johnnie Come Lately, she offered to endorse it and she also requested an interview. We talked for over an hour. Please click the red link to read the story she gleaned from our conversation.

http://www.stripes.com/blogs/spouse-calls/spouse-calls-1.9571/defeating-a-monster-1.307741

 

 

 

 

Terri’s endorsement for Johnnie Come Lately, forthcoming from Camel Press 2/1/15

“The Kitchen family could be any wholesome All-American family, and like any family, they have secrets. In Johnnie Come Lately, Kathleen Rodgers brings to life an extended family that could be yours or mine. Their secrets will draw you into this book, and Rodgers’ characters — from Johnnie Kitchen to her lovable chocolate lab, Brother Dog — will jump off the page, grab your heart, and won’t let it go until the very end.”

Terri Barnes, author of Spouse Calls: Messages From a Military Life and a columnist for Stars and Stripes 

Terri’s full bio:

Terri is the author of Spouse Calls: Messages From a Military Life and is the special projects editor at Elva Resa Publishing. A well-respected columnist, Terri is the writer and creator of the weekly Stars and Stripes column Spouse Calls, which first appeared in 2007. Now published in print editions worldwide and online, Spouse Calls serves as a voice for military spouses and families, through personal stories, incisive interviews, news analysis, and interaction with readers. Terri has been a member of the Washington, DC, press corps and has contributed to several other books about military life. Her work has appeared in Air Force/Army/Navy TimesThe Huffington Post, and Books Make a Difference, as well as newspapers, magazines, and base publications in many of her adopted hometowns around the world. Her other media appearances include CNN Newsroom, Positive Parenting with Armin Brott, and Semper Feisty Radio with USMC Life. 

 

 

The Final Salute lives on in this second edition from Deer Hawk Publications

New back and front cover for 2nd edition of The Final Salute published by Deer Hawk Publications.

For sixteen years I believed in this novel. Snarled at rejection. Revised. Raised two sons. Sold stories to national magazines. Stayed true to my dream of finding a traditional publisher. And then it happened. On my 50th birthday. Then USA Today, The Associated Press, & Military Times took notice. And now almost six years later, my little book that grew legs and took off running and learned to fly is back in paperback and e-book. Who says a little girl from Clovis, New Mexico can’t dream big. ;)

Press release issued by Loiacono Literary Agency:

The Final Salute, a story of honor, integrity, dedication and survival by Kathleen M. Rodgers is now available: Amazon  BAM!  Barnes & Noble Powell’s Books  Wheelers Books

Published by Deer Hawk Publications www.deerhawkpublications.com

ENDORSEMENTS AND REVIEWS

“It’s the details that change your life — Kathleen M. Rodgers’ The Final Salute is a moving, compelling story of military life, yes, but of so much more. Rodgers writes with insight and knowledge of military life and just enough solid, factual detail to enthrall me, to make me feel as if I am experiencing that walking-the-perilous-edge along with the main characters. But it’s the heart-tugging emotions that she weaves through the story that alert me to what a spellbinding storyteller she is. Ultimately, her tale is a realistic yet heartwarming and reaffirming assessment of life and love and dedication by the very people who guard our own lives.”

—    Parris Afton Bonds, New York Times bestselling author of Deep Purple & cofounder of Romance Writers of America and Southwest Writers Workshop

***

“Gripping Insider’s Story of A Fighter Pilot’s Life Out of the Cockpit —Kathy Rodgers’ award-winning novel, The Final Salute, tells the story of Lt. Colonel Tucker “Tuck” Westerfield, an A-10 pilot, career Air Force officer on the cusp of promotion and senior command, loving husband, and devoted father of three who, while struggling to deal with the news of his best friend’s death in an aircraft accident, finds himself in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong person when he stumbles upon his commanding officer in the middle of an affair with his female executive officer. What happens next is a series of escalating and emotionally wrenching actions and decisions that not only threaten Tuck’s career, but also his marriage. Rodgers’ characters are all well-rounded and complex and the story pulls you in from the very beginning. The novel’s climax and its aftermath are one of the most moving and satisfying I have ever read.”

—    Dwight J. Zimmerman, New York Times #1 Bestseller writer of Lincoln’s Last Days, President of Military Writers Society of America

***

USA Today ~ Air Force wife’s novel set at fictional England AFB.

Military Times ~ The Final Salute: Giving voice to these ghosts.

Mobile, Alabama Press-Register ~ Rodgers has created richly layered characters that compel readers to keep flipping the pages.

Midwest Book Review ~ I recommend this novel as a good description of the military life and the inner works of the way things are done, including the cover-up process.

Fort Worth, Texas Magazine ~ Until the very end, readers are intrigued by her colorful cast of characters that bring everything from love to betrayal amid the added struggle of military life.

Winner of the Silver Medal for fiction from Military Writers Society of America

Amazon’s #1 Top Rated War Fiction

Kathleen Rodgers’ second novel, Johnnie Come Lately, is forthcoming from Camel Press, an imprint of Coffeetown Press, 2/1/15. She is working on the sequel, Seven Wings to Glory. Her work has appeared in Family Circle Magazine, Air Force, Army & Navy Times, Family: The Magazine for Military Families, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Albuquerque Journal, Clovis News Journal, and in the following anthologies: Because I Fly, McGraw-Hill, Lessons From Our Children, Health Communications, Inc., Stories Of Faith And Courage On The Home Front, AMG Publishers, Inc., and Home of the Brave: Somewhere in the Sand Press 53. Her essay, “Remembering Forgotten Fliers, Their Survivors” was recently published in Red, White, & True, a new anthology from University of Nebraska Press (Potomac Books). This essay is the seed that grew up to become The Final Salute.  www.kathleenmrodgers.com

 

 

Author Kathleen M. Rodgers chats with Military Mom Talk Radio host Robin Boyd

On Monday, August 25th at 5 pm EST, Rodgers discussed her youngest son’s deployment to Afghanistan and her passion for writing about family relationships.

You can listen to the show’s podcast here:
http://toginet.com/shows/militarymomtalkradio

New back and front cover for 2nd edition of The Final Salute published by Deer Hawk Publications.

New back and front cover for 2nd edition of The Final Salute published by Deer Hawk Publications.

Kathleen M. Rodgers is the author of the award-winning novel, The Final Salute, featured in USA-Today, The Associated Press, and Military Times. The novel soared to #1 on Amazon’s Top Rated War Fiction in 2012 and is being reissued by Deer Hawk Publications Sept. 9, 2014.

 

Her second novel, Johnnie Come Lately, is forthcoming from Camel Press February 1, 2015.

Forthcoming from Camel Press 2/1/15.

Forthcoming from Camel Press 2/1/15.

“With Johnnie Come Lately, Kathleen Rodgers has crafted a story that hits every emotion and is, in many ways, cathartic. This deeply-felt family drama resonates on multiple levels, ultimately leaving you inspired.”  

Angela Ebron, former magazine editor and the author of Blessed Health.

 

Besides writing novels, Rodgers’ work has appeared in Family Circle Magazine, Military Times, Family: The Magazine for Military Families, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Albuquerque Journal, Clovis News Journal, Her War Her Voice, “Spouse Buzz” at Military.com, Women’s Independent Press, and in the following anthologies: Because I Fly ( McGraw-Hill), Lessons From Our Children (Health Communications, Inc.), Stories Of Faith And Courage On The Home Front (AMG Publishers), Home of the Brave: Somewhere in the Sand (Press 53), and Red, White and True (Potomac Books, an imprint of University of Nebraska Press).

The author's sons and the inspiration behind much of her work: Thomas Rodgers, an award-winning artist, and Army 1st Lieutenant JP Rodgers.

The author’s sons and the inspiration behind much of her work: Thomas Rodgers, an award-winning artist, and Army 1st Lieutenant JP Rodgers.

 

She is a recipient of a Distinguished Alumna Award from Tarrant County College/NE Campus 2014. She lives in a suburb of North Texas with her husband, a retired fighter pilot/commercial airline pilot, and their dog, Denton. Her oldest son, a working artist, is a graduate of University of North Texas and resides in Denton, TX. Her youngest son graduated from Texas Tech University and is currently deployed to Afghanistan.

Kathleen is working on a sequel to Johnnie Come Lately and is represented by Loiacono Literary Agency.

Military Mom Talk Radio logo

 

 

 

Military Mom Talk Radio is co-hosted by Sandra Beck and Robin Boyd, hosted by Toginet Radio and powered by Motherhood Incorporated. Military Mom Talk Radio supports and helps bring information to the families, moms and wives of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard and is dedicated to serving our friends and family in the Armed Service. We are proud supporters and members of the Military Writers Society of America as well as proud supporters of Operation Gratitude, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), Shining Service Worldwide, Fisher House and the Girl Scouts of the USA and Boy Scouts of America.

The Lady Let Him Fly … a poem that keeps touching lives

Susan Hunter's first husband, Bruce Netardus, was killed 8/10/92.

Susan Hunter’s first husband, Major Bruce Netardus, was killed 8/10/92. Her mother had it rendered in needlepoint.

I wrote this poem for the wife of a USAF fighter pilot after his plane hit a mountain in Norway in 1987. Over the years, the poem has appeared in numerous military journals and in the book Because I Fly (McGraw-Hill 2002). It’s also depicted in needlepoint and cross-stitch, and I am always honored to learn how it keeps touching lives years after I wrote it. (Click on each photo to enlarge the image.)

The Lady Let Him Fly

 Never once

did she bind his wings;

take away his boyhood

paper-airplane-dreams;

Matt and Amy Netardus at their father's grave in Arlington National Cemetery.

Matt and Amy Netardus at their father’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery.

 

nor try to force him

down to earth

when it was the air and sky

that beckoned his worth.

 

Matt and Amy Netardus as adults revisiting Arlington.

Matt and Amy Netardus as adults revisiting Arlington.

Never once

did the lady

hold him back,

or trounce his joy

for an air-to-ground-attack;

nor weep like a spoiled child

when he ventured into the blue wild.

USAF fighter pilot Bruce Netardus clipped this copy of my poem from the Spring 1992 issue of Daedalus Flyer and stuck it under a piece of glass on his desk. After he died a few months later, his wife found the poem and she contact me 22 years later to tell me her story.

USAF fighter pilot Bruce Netardus clipped this copy of my poem from the Spring 1992 issue of Daedalus Flyer and stuck it under a piece of glass on his desk. After he died a few months later, his wife Susan found the poem and contacted me 22 years later to share her story.

 

In the background she would wait

chasing away twinges

for her fighter pilot’s fate.

 

With wings straight and unfurled

he and the titanium bird

lifted above the runway’s end

seeking freedom on the wind.

And when he did not return

the lady waited proud and strong

knowing he’d been – “happy all along.”

From the book Because I Fly (McGraw-Hill 2002).

From the book Because I Fly (McGraw-Hill 2002).

 

And when the aged hands of Father Time

called him home

beyond the sky,

the young flyer smiled

because the Lady Let Him Fly.

© Kathleen M. Rodgers, 1987 Alaska

After Paul's first husband Mike Ayotte was killed in a plane crash in 1990, she found comfort in reading The Lady Let Hm Fly. A few years later she met Dave Mills and he made her smile again. They are pictured here with their daughter, Maddie.

After Paula’s first husband Mike Ayotte was killed in a plane crash in 1990, she found comfort in reading The Lady Let Hm Fly. A few years later she met Dave Mills and he made her smile again. They are pictured here with their daughter, Maddie.

 

 

 

 

USAF Lt. Mike Ayotte killed April 4, 1990.

USAF Lt. Mike Ayotte killed April 4, 1990.

Paula (Ayote) Mills cross-stitch peom PG

After Paula’s first husband was killed in an A-10 crash over Louisiana, she had “The Lady Let Him Fly” cross-stitched and framed. It hangs in her home today. (Click on the image to enlarge.)

MWSA Dispatches Magazine, November 2011.

MWSA Dispatches Magazine, November 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author BIO:

My first novel The Final Salute is being reissued this September in paperback and e-book from Deer Hawk Publications. First published in 2008, the novel garnered a national book award from Military Writers Society of America and was featured in USA Today, The Associated Press, and Military Times. “The Lady Let Him Fly” will appear in the new edition. My second novel Johnnie Come Lately is forthcoming from Camel Press 2/1/15. I am represented by Loiacono Literary Agency.

Country Music Star Kevin Fowler Presents Signed Guitar to Army Lieutenant Deployed to Afghanistan

Country Music Star Kevin Fowler with a signed guitar for First Lt. J.P. Rodgers.

Country Music Star Kevin Fowler with a signed guitar for Army First Lieutenant J.P. Rodgers, deployed to Afghanistan.  J.P.’s girlfriend, Trinity Jackson, and her parents JJ and Lisa Jackson, are good friends with the musician. When they told Kevin that J.P. is a huge fan of his music, Kevin dropped by the Jackson’s home with this signed guitar. Trinity recorded a short video and sent it to J.P. I hear through the family grapevine from my oldest son Thomas that his little brother was pretty stoked. Many thanks to the Jackson family and to Kevin Fowler for boosting my youngest son’s morale.

You can watch the video here: IMG_5036

To learn more about Kevin Fowler, visit his website: http://www.kevinfowler.com

BIO: Kathleen M. Rodgers’ latest novel, Johnnie Come Lately, is forthcoming from Camel Press 2/1/15. Her youngest son introduced her to Kevin Fowler’s music several years ago. She is represented by Loiacono Literary Agency.

“Remembering Forgotten Fliers, Their Survivors” republished in a new anthology from Potomac Books

Fighter pilots.

I’ve written about them often over the years. About their hell-raising good times at the Officers Club, living life to the fullest…on the edge of the envelope at a speed faster than the rest of us.

I’ve written about them at other times, too, when they have slowed down to a snail’s pace. When a hush goes over a squadron of men like a black veil because earth and sky have collided and one of their brothers isn’t coming home. A young wife is widowed, a child left fatherless, an older couple wandering around confused, their future of grandchildren and the good life destroyed in a fireball. “Weren’t we supposed to go first?” they ask.

So when my essay “Remembering Forgotten Fliers, Their Survivors” first appeared in the pages of Air Force Times, March 16, 1992, I felt a sense of joy mixed with sadness. Joy because I was happy to have another byline in a national publication that treated me like a professional, but the sadness came from the fact that once again I had written about loss­­––the loss of fighter pilots dying in peacetime training missions. This subject would be the driving force behind my debut novel, The Final Salute, first published in 2008.Remembering Forgotten Fliers in AF Times & Red, White & True anthology kathleenmrodgers

Fast-forward twenty-two years later and the republication of my essay in a prestigious new anthology titled “Red, White, & True,” released from Potomac Books, an imprint of the University of Nebraska Press. Edited by Tracy Crow, a former Marine Corp officer and an award-winning military journalist and author nominated for three Pushcart Prizes, this provocative and powerful collection presents thirty-two true stories about the enduring impact of U.S. military service from WWII to present. The writers include a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, a novelist with a New York Times Notable book award for 2012, and a writer seeing his name in print for the first time.

Today, I take pride in the fact that my story made the final cut as it “passed for review” in front of Tracy Crow and her editors at the University of Nebraska Press. Sometimes my job as a writer is to give a voice to those who are no longer living. In my own small way, I help keep their legacies alive. In Chapter 3 on pages 16 – 20 of “Red, White, & True,” I give a voice to the names of too many good men who flew west before their time.

This collection of powerful true stories would make a great gift.

To order, please visit potomacbooksinc.com or call 800-775-2518

Amazon

Amazon Kindle

Barnes and Noble online and in some bookstores around the country:

 

headlines from anthology and origianlBIO:

Kathleen M. Rodgers is the author of the award-winning novel, The Final Salute, featured in USA-Today, The Associated Press, and Military Times. The novel soared to #1 on Amazon’s Top Rated War Fiction in 2012 and has been reissued by Deer Hawk Publications September 2014.

Her second novel, Johnnie Come Lately, is forthcoming from Camel Press, an imprint of Coffeetown Press, February 1, 2015.

Besides writing novels, her work has appeared in Family Circle Magazine, Military Times, Family: The Magazine for Military Families, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Albuquerque Journal, Clovis News Journal, Her War Her Voice, Spouse Buzz at Military.com, Women’s Independent Press, and in the following anthologies: “Because I Fly,” McGraw-Hill, “Lessons From Our Children,” Health Communications, Inc., “Stories Of Faith And Courage On The Home Front,” AMG Publishers, “Home of the Brave: Somewhere in the Sand,” Press 53, and “Red, White and True,” Potomac Books, an imprint of University of Nebraska Press.

She is a recipient of a Distinguished Alumna Award from Tarrant County College/NE Campus 2014. She lives in Colleyville, TX with her husband, a retired fighter pilot/commercial airline pilot, and their dog, Denton. Her oldest son is a graduate of UNT and resides in Denton, TX with his partner, Brittany McDaniel. Her youngest son graduated from Texas Tech and is deployed to the Middle East.

Kathleen is working on a sequel to Johnnie Come Lately and is represented by Loiacono Literary Agency.

Herod’s Babies

Mary Elizabeth Todd was moved to write “Herod’s Babies” after learning that a woman everyone trusted in the animal rescue world was arrested for ill treatment and neglect.

Herod’s Babies

The stories I heard wretched my heart;

The pictures seared my mind, and

The faces of the survivors scarred my soul.

It is the pictures I see when I close my eyes

Of tiny kitten feet lying in the rooms,

Alone and how their mothers must have hurt for them.

 

I saw the eyes of the mothers who grieved their little ones.

The depth of their loss was so deep

I could not perceive.

I thought of a story I heard- some say it is not true,

These forlorn mother cats and their lost kittens

Reminded me of the baby boys that King Herod killed.

 

King Herod heard that a new king was born;

He could not have that happen.

He sent his men to make sure that it did not occur,

For if this king dies as a toddler or a baby.

He could never be crowned king,

But he forgot about the mothers.

 

Mothers can be fierce when their children

Are at risk. The soldiers did not expect this-

Women obeyed and did what they were told,

But these women fought because they were mothers.

We never hear when the story is told

Of how those mothers had fought.

 

Those mothers whose infant sons were ripped

From their arms, and killed before their eyes.

Mothers who died trying to guard

Their toddler sons from the slicing swords of men.

Men who grew sicker of their task,

And just wanted it to be done.

 

When it was done the soldiers rode from town

With images of mothers weeping over their tiny boys,

Of mothers lying dead beside their infant prince

For in a mother’s heart her son is always her prince.

They reported the job was done but in their heads

The images never went away.

 

It is the images of those kitten feet

And the eyes of their haunted mothers

That stay with me and make me wonder- what went on in that house?

 

Mary Elizabeth Todd

July 1, 2014

 

One of the saddest stories is about Big Boy. He was a big white cat from Greenville County Shelter. He was the staff’s favorite and was a big white hunk of love. The officers there at the house heard noises coming from the underneath the house, and they opened the crawlspace door.  Big Boy walked out and fell down. He died in route to the shelter.

One of the saddest stories is about Big Boy. He was a big white cat from Greenville County Shelter. He was the staff’s favorite and was a big white hunk of love. The officers there at the house heard noises coming from the underneath the house, and they opened the crawlspace door. Big Boy walked out and fell down. He died in route to the shelter.

Mary writes: “On June 19, 2014, the trust we had was shattered. Since she has not been convicted, she allegedly neglected the cats in her care and was arrested and charged with a felony act.  From her house 50 plus dead cats and kittens were removed and 32 were removed alive- four of which died since then. They were starved and had no water. Some were never even removed from the carriers when they were handed over to this woman. The others are now in rescue with various degrees of medical issues. 

I saw these Cats on June 26, 2014 at Anderson County P.A.W.S., the shelter that had them at that time. 

 

There was one mother cat whose eyes haunted me. 

I have seen pictures of her from the shelter. She was a protective mother and had lovely eyes. Now she was battle-scarred and losing one of those lovely eyes but the depth of her sorrow spoke volumes. She had no heart to live for. I believe it was broken.  She died over the weekend. 

Ash Truesdale compiled a massive photo album of these poor creatures rescued from shelters of their photos from the shelter.  There was close to 500 photos from at least 16 shelters over the southeast from approximately April 2013 until June 2014.  One friend had been to what most of us call the house of horrors and took pictures the Sunday after she was arrested with the landlord’s permission. The house and its lovely hardwood floors are ruined. 

It is what I saw in these pictures in almost every room (the deceased cats were removed by this time) that has haunted me: tiny kitten feet. 

Many of the rescued cats have medical issues, and the shelters are full. If anyone wants to help, please send me a private message on Facebook and I will get you information on how you can help.” ~ Mary Elizabeth Todd in Starr, SC.

http://www.examiner.com/article/prominent-anderson-county-animal-advocate-charged-with-ill-treatment-of-animals

Bio:

Mary Elizabeth Todd wrote her first poem when she was ten years old. Her father was also a poet, and she remembers growing up observing him composing and reciting his work. Her poem “Hiding Axes” was published in the Oberon Poetry Journal.  Mary is a retired foster care worker with the Anderson County Department of Social Services. She worked in that capacity for twenty-eight years. A 1974 graduate of Erskine College, she began doing cat rescue work in 2013. She lives in the woods in Starr, South Carolina.

Seven Wings to Glory: My bravest novel yet

 

Display of talismans and symbols for Seven Wings to Glory. I draw inspiration from creating a small still life depicting certain aspects of my novel.

Display of talismans and symbols for Seven Wings to Glory. I draw inspiration from creating a small still life depicting certain aspects of my novel in progress.

The premise:

After sending her youngest son to war in Afghanistan in 2009, Johnnie Kitchen finds herself battling a war of racial injustice in her small hometown of Portion, Texas. Will she back down after being threatened for speaking out? Or will she do the right thing and pursue justice? And will her Army son, who took an oath to protect ALL Americans, return home safely to Portion?

A brief excerpt from Seven Wings to Glory:

“The white goblins in hoods and robes had already vanished, taking their evil laughter with them. They’d done their ugly deed and left Santa Claus dangling from a tree, his charcoal body stripped naked, ‘cept for the furry red Santa hat they left hanging from his head. I peeked through the dry brittle vines from my hiding spot in the woods, too scared to breathe and shaking like a rabid dog. The air smelled of smoke and the promise of snow, but the joy of Christmas was gone. I was covered in my own slime from the snot and tears running down my face.

That’s when I saw them. They flew up out of the water where the town of Glory used to be before the lake came in. Like a dark mist at first, they swirled toward the shore and formed a circle around the body. There were seven of them…I’d just learned to count using my fingers. I cried like a baby when I recognized their faces. They heard me and shushed me ever so gently like Mama had done. Then like a gospel choir, they lifted their sweet voices to the heavens and sang Thurman Blue home.”

Roosevelt Hill, 76, retired truck driver and longtime resident of The Pasture, a neighborhood located on the outskirts of Portion. Mr. Hill is a part-time caretaker of Baby Head Cemetery and lived in Glory as a small child. He was five when he witnessed the lynching.Baby Head Cemetery

 ***

After taking a year off from actively working on a new novel, I finally took the plunge from daydreaming and journaling and started writing scenes. About a week ago, I took out my mechanical pencils and a new legal pad, and I wrote the first sentence of the first scene of the sequel to my second novel, Johnnie Come Lately (forthcoming from Camel Press 2/1/15).

While seated in my favorite reading chair, I scribbled for an hour before I moved into my home office. Surrounded by walls of books and meaningful art in the room where I’ve composed two completed novels and numerous articles for national and local publications, I opened a new document and typed the four words that woke me up in the middle of the night two years ago and demanded I write them down:

Seven Wings to Glory

 

An enjoyable lunch in historic Grapevine, TX this past spring with my agent, Jeanie Loiacono, and my dear friend, Rhonda Revels, turned into an impromptu plotting party for Seven Wings to Glory. The piano plays a role in both novels featuring protagonist Johnnie Kitchen.

An enjoyable lunch in historic Grapevine, TX this past spring with my agent, Jeanie Loiacono, and my dear friend, Rhonda Revels, turned into an impromptu plotting party for Seven Wings to Glory.

Once again I am feeling my way through the story, but this time I already know most of the plot. I’ve never written a sequel before, but I’m upping the stakes and headed into some scary subject matter. At least it’s scary for me because I’m writing about issues that matter to me and keep me up at night. I hope they matter to my readers.

After a week of writing, pacing, discussing plot points with my husband Tom, my agent Jeanie Loiacono, and my dear friends Rhonda Revels and fellow author Drema Berkheimer, I took a deep breath and sent Chapter One to my good friend and beta reader, Bonnie Latino, coauthor of the bestselling and award-winning novel, Your Gift to Me. Bonnie wrote back with a few suggestions and her blessings. She said Chapter One was “compelling.”

Feeling brave, I took one more risk and sent the opening chapter to Joyce Gilmour, my trusted copyeditor and owner of Editing TLC. Here’s the informal text Joyce sent after reading the opening chapter:

“Beautiful start to your new novel. Great introduction to your characters. Way to go setting the reader up for tension. The emotions. The dynamics between characters. Well done.”

To clarify, the excerpt I included above appears later in the book and is not from my opening chapter.

An upright piano similar to the one that plays a role in both novels featuring protagonist Johnnie Kitchen.

An upright piano similar to the one that appears in both novels featuring protagonist Johnnie Kitchen.

Bio:

Kathleen M. Rodgers’ work has appeared in Family Circle Magazine, Military Times, and other national and local publications, including several anthologies. Her Air Force Times’ essay, Remembering Forgotten Fliers…Their Survivors, will be republished in the new anthology, Red, White and True, forthcoming August 2014 from University of Nebraska Press/Potomac Books. Her debut novel, The Final Salute, has been featured in USA Today, The Associated Press, and several other publications. Her second novel, Johnnie Come Lately, is forthcoming from Camel Press, an imprint of Coffeetown Press Februrary 2015. She is represented by Loiacono Literary Agency.

 

 

 

 

Stories In Uniform: One Editor’s Perspective on Military Short Fiction

Editor Jeffery Hess

Editor Jeffery Hess

I had the pleasure of meeting Jeffery Hess in 2009 at the annual Military Writers Society of America conference in Orlando, FL. Jeff was there to receive a Gold Medal for his anthology of short fiction  Home of the Brave: Stories in Uniform published by Press 53. That same year he appeared on The Dennis Miller Show. In 2013, Press 53 released Jeff’s second book Home of the Brave: Somewhere in the Sand. An excerpt from my latest novel Johnnie Come Lately appears in this edition. In the following article, Jeff explains his criteria for selecting the stories that appear in both anthologies. 

 

By Jeffery Hess

cg56 moored bowThe proudest moment of my Navy enlistment came on the morning of December 7, 1989 as I stood in my dress blues on the bow of the USS San Jacinto, looking at the row of other ships pier-side at Norfolk Naval Station. Our ship had only been back a few days from a six-month deployment to the Mediterranean and Black Seas. I was due to receive my Honorable Discharge the following week and my task that morning was to raise the Union Jack, which I did, as the sailors aboard the other ships did at the same time. All these years later, I’ve never forgotten that moment. It was a routine, daily task, but one that I’d never been assigned until that day. Even then, I knew it was a way of honoring my service while also honoring every sailor at Pearl Harbor forty-eight years earlier.

As I write this, it is June 6, 2014 and I have a similar honor, because as you may know, today happens to be the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. Instead of raising the Union Jack, I’ve been asked to write a few words about how I came to select the stories included in a pair of military-related anthologies. It’s a fitting occasion to discuss all things military, which I’m always happy to do, in a humble effort to honor and remember everyone who has worn a uniform, as well as anyone who has been affected by someone who has.

press 53 logoThat was my hope in publishing the two Home of the Brave anthologies of military short fiction with Press 53.

As a reader, writer, editor, and teacher, some of the most fulfilling work I’ve been lucky enough to have done involves assembling and editing stories for these two anthologies.

Over the years, people have asked why I enjoy sticking to the military theme. For me, it seems the stakes tend to be higher in stories of this sort. Hemingway said, “War is the best subject of all. It groups the maximum of material and speeds up the action and brings out all kinds of stuff you have to wait a lifetime to get.”

 

2009 Gold Medal Winner from MWSA

2009 Gold Medal Winner from MWSA

I don’t read military journals exclusively, but I do enjoy finding military stories in regular journals and collections. I’m always amazed by the way in which writers interpret the topic.

Writing military fiction, myself, I learned from the stories I read. My stories focus on the Navy, Cold War era, mostly, but as an editor, I was given insight into a world of military experiences I had no way of knowing about first hand. This is another reason people read.

In addition to securing reprint rights to well-known stories by Kurt Vonnegut, Tim O’Brien, James Salter, and Tobias Wolf, I sought out other great stories from writers who aren’t as well known, but should be—writers like Pinckney Benedict, Benjamin Percy, Fred Leebron, Amber Dermont, Tracy Crow, and Court Merrigan, to name a few. But I also worked with up-and-coming writers, some I’ve known for years, many others I’ve never met. For both volumes, I received submissions from all over the country. Not all of them were perfect. Many had potential, but needed polishing. A number of stories I chose needed a lot of work, sometimes, more than I bargained for, but there’s just something magical about the excitement of finding a character in a situation that people need to read, no matter the shape the manuscript might be in, and helping the writer achieve his or her vision and then sharing it with the world.

 

Spring 2014 MWSA Recommended Reading List

Spring 2014 Recommended Reading List from Military Writers Society of America

I put together the second anthology in the aftermath of Seal Team 6’s killing of Osama Bin Laden. There was a lot of “heat of battle” stories flooding in. It seemed battle-front stories were everywhere during this time. But, violence is only one segment of the equation. I’m also curious about the other portions of the conflicts.

Tolstoy famously wrote, “…each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Everyone in uniform has a family and friends and neighbors. I’m interested in a mother’s reaction. In how the wives feel. How new fathers fear what might become of their sons.

During my selection of stories, I recalled favorites I’d read in the past and I contacted the authors to get permission to include their stories, often this involved contacting publishers. I sent emails to every writer I know telling them what I was looking for. Some offered me stories. Others sent people my way. Some did both.

Narrowing the search quickly became an issue. So much material was being generated on this topic, I could pick and choose. My main criteria was based on Interest and Impact.

To gain my Interest, the stories have to convey a sense of authenticity. Whether stories about direct military action or a civilian’s reaction to what they see on the news, I need evidence to prove (or, at least, provide the illusion) that these people and these worlds are absolutely real.

Aristotle said, “For the purposes of story, a convincing impossibility is preferable to an unconvincing possibility.”

 

HOTB:SITS launch party in WInston-Salem, NC. Pictured are: Jeffery Hess, Jim Walke, Paul Strobel, Robert Wallace, Tracy Crow, and Joseph Mills.

Home of the Brave: Somewhere in the Sand launch party in WInston-Salem, NC. Pictured are: Jeffery Hess, Jim Walke, Paul Strobel, Robert Wallace, Tracy Crow, and Joseph Mills.

To make an Impact on me, I have to care about the characters. I look for the stakes Hemingway mentioned, as well as how each character deals with their situations. As this is fiction, I willingly grant creative license, because it’s the emotional truth that we’re after. This requires a connection to the characters, their physical, emotional, and intellectual selves.

The stories that received an automatic rejection were the ones that were faked or half-assed.

Ultimately, I looked at how each story made me feel when I finished—if it made me say, Wow, Damn, or Oh no, or if it just left me shrugging and reaching for another one. And, most importantly, did the story make me think about it after I put it down?

The one element I found in common with all the stories I selected is passion. Whether about a wounded warrior or a worried widow, or about a mother or children, or overcoming enemies on either side of the wire, or any of the other scenarios that appear in these stories, each of them separated themselves from a number of stories that lost out due to the writers having a good idea, but not a true passion for the topic. During the process of finding these stories, I came to learn that the passion for the characters and their situations is contagious.

Tell us something, we’ll forget it. Show us something, we’ll see it. Makes us feel something and we’ll remember it.

This approach isn’t limited to stories about military events. The notions of authenticity and specificity make characters memorable no matter if they’re war heroes, gangsters, housewives, siblings, psychopaths, depressed boomers, or a Harry Potter wizard or whatever he is. My goal, with the forty-six stories selected for inclusion in these two volumes, is that they become memorable to readers for years to come, because, as Calvin Coolidge said, “The nation which forgets its heroes will itself be forgotten.” That won’t happen on my watch.

About Jeffery Hess

Jeffery Hess is the editor of the award-winning anthology Home of the Brave: Stories in Uniform, and the recent follow-up, Home of the Brave: Somewhere in the Sand (both from Press 53). Prior to earning a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte and a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of South Florida, he served in the U.S. Navy aboard the fleet’s oldest and then newest ships. He’s published a number of short stories that recall this period of his life in print and online journals. He’s held writing positions at a daily newspaper, a Fortune 500 company, and a university-based research center. He lives in Florida, where he’s completing a novel and has, for the past six years, led the DD-214 Writers’ Workshop for military veterans.

Helpful links:

-Home of the Brave anthologies website:

http://www.press53.com/HomeoftheBrave.html

-Home of the Brave: Stories in Uniform on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/HomeOfTheBraveStoriesInUniform

-Home of the Brave: Somewhere in the Sand on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/HomeOfTheBraveSomewhereInTheSand

-Home of the Brave: Stories in Uniform – Amazon page:

http://www.amazon.com/Home-Brave-Stories-Jeffery-Hess/dp/0982441606

-Home of the Brave: Somewhere in the Sand – Amazon page:

http://www.amazon.com/Home-Brave-Somewhere-Jeffrey-Hess/dp/1935708856/ref=la_B00DIEBKMM_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1401910392&sr=1-1

-DD-214 Writers’ Workshop website:

http://www.dd214writers.org/

 

Jeff appeared on The Dennis Miller show June 10, 2009 and again on June 4, 2013.

Jeff appeared on The Dennis Miller show June 10, 2009 and again on June 4, 2013.

-Dennis Miller Interview – June 10, 2009

https://www.dennismillerradio.com/b/Jeffery-Hess-Interview/6373.html

-Dennis Miller Interview – June 4, 2013

https://www.dennismillerradio.om/blog?action=blogArchive&blogTag=Jeffery%20Hess

-Tampa Tribune article about Anthologies and Workshop:

http://tbo.com/list/military-news/out-of-navy-veterans-labor-of-love-new-anthology-is-born-20130624/

-Interview with Jeffery Hess

http://rkvryquarterly.com/interview-with-jeffery-hess/

Kathleen's author bio as it appears in Home of the Brave: Somewhere in the Sand

Kathleen’s bio as it appears in Home of the Brave: Somewhere in the Sand

Kathleen M. Rodgers  second novel, Johnnie Come Lately, is forthcoming from Camel Press, an imprint of Coffeetown Press, 2/1/15. An excerpt from the novel appears in the pages of Home of the Brave: Somewhere in the Sand. She is represented by Loiacono Literary Agency.

Two Steps Forward: A Note of Encouragement to Someone Struggling With Bulimia

 As a recovered bulimic going on twenty-seven years, I have a responsibility to reach out to others and offer hope. I wrote the following note after receiving a message from someone who asked for my help.

Family Circle , bulimia kathleenmrodgers

Kathleen M. Rodgers’ article “Dying To Be Thin” (Family Circle 8/9/94), focused on her fifteen-year battle with bulimia and how she overcame it.

It’s okay if you’ve stumbled after going several days without binging. Remember, you’ve simply taken one step back. The situation is not hopeless and you are not helpless. You pick yourself up and take two steps forward.

Don’t beat yourself up. Clear your head and find the good in yourself and others and keep moving forward.

Another tool to getting better is to reach out to others in some way. Service to others is such a healing balm. Maybe check on someone you know who might be lonely. Or have you ever helped serve food at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen?

Serving food to the needy can help you redirect the way you see food. Again, food is nothing more than fuel for our bodies.

It’s when we turn it into a weapon to use against ourselves that our relationship with food gets all twisted.

Today at this moment, regardless of whether you binged two days ago or two minutes ago, pick yourself up and move two steps forward.

You will get there.

You are worth the journey,

Kathleen

About the author:

 

Author Kathleen M. Rodgers, photo by Clovis High Classmate, Barbra Slater Dutton.

 Kathleen M. Rodgers, photo by Clovis High Classmate Barbra Slater Dutton.

 Kathleen M. Rodgers’ article “Dying To Be Thin” (Family Circle 8/9/94), focused on her fifteen-year battle with bulimia and how she overcame it. After the story ran, she was interviewed by New York City radio personality Joan Hamburg of WOR. Kathleen explores recovery and redemption in her second novel, Johnnie Come Lately, forthcoming 2/1/15 from Camel Press, an imprint of Coffeetown Press. She is represented by Loiacono Literary Agency.

Kathleen adapted her Family Circle story for Her War Her Voice:

http://herwarhervoice.com/blog/2011/11/21/dying-to-be-thin-part-i/

http://herwarhervoice.com/blog/2011/11/30/long-road-to-recovery/

Eating Disorder Resources:

http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

http://www.eatingdisorderhope.com

http://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/treatment-for-eating-disorders/special-issues/older-women

 

 

 

Bubba’s Last Walk

Bubba's last walk. 5/13/13

Bubba’s last walk. 5/13/13

The night before Bubba died, he trotted into my office and sat at my feet. The look on his face said it all: “Take me for a walk, please.”

I closed my computer and rubbed the top of his head. “Are you sure you feel up to it?  You’ve been lethargic all day.”Our sweet Bubba 5:14:13

After he wagged his tail “yes” we were out the door. No sooner had we crossed the street when something told me to get out my phone camera and capture this moment. I sent the photo in a text message to both of our sons. Looking back, I realize I was trying to reassure them that Bubba was okay. He was out for his walk which meant everything was fine, right?

The next morning Bubba collapsed on the living room floor after going out with Tom to get the newspaper. We didn’t hesitate. We loaded him into our Suburban and rushed him to Dr. Wied’s office.  On the way there, I sent the boys the following text: “Bubba is in distress. Dad and I are taking him to the vet.  We are doing everything we can to help him.”

My youngest son's Facebook post the day Bubba died.

My youngest son’s Facebook post the day Bubba died.

Bubba died on the table, surrounded by Dr. Wied and his staff. They loved Bubba, too, and they did everything they could to save him. He was nine years old and the heartbeat of our home.

My oldest son's FB post.

My oldest son’s FB post.

 

Kathleen M. Rodgers is an award-winning author whose work has appeared in national and local publications and in several anthologies. Her Amazon best-selling novel, The Final Salute, will be republished in e-book and print by Deer Hawk Publications (coming soon). Her second novel, Johnnie Come Lately, is forthcoming from Camel Press, an imprint of Coffeetown Press, February 1, 2015. The novel stars a Chocolate Lab named Brother Dog. Kathleen is represented by Loiacono Literary Agency.

Kathleen and Bubba Dog.

Kathleen and Bubba Dog.

 

 

 

To read more about her work, please visit her website: www.kathleenmrodgers.com

Bubba’s final gift: We asked him to lead us to a doggie that needed a loving home. He sent us Denton the Wonder Dog. (To read more about Denton click here: http://siteblog.kathleenmrodgers.com/?p=838

Mama’s Last Church Service

From Kathy Rhodes, editor Muscadine Lines (Southern Literary Review)

Young_Elsa

A young Elsa

“A few weeks ago I accepted a story for Muscadine Lines from Joy Ross Davis of Bessemer, Alabama, who writes a bi-weekly column for her local newspaper titled “Mother, Can You Hear Me?” The column chronicles her experiences on retiring as a college English professor to become a full-time caregiver for her mother who suffered from dementia. On April 29, I got a brief e-mail from Joy letting me know her mother had just passed away unexpectedly and then a few days ago, she sent me her column about her mother’s actions at Palm Sunday service and said to pass it along to anyone facing this weekend without their mom, that it might bring a smile. I asked to use her story as a guest blog on Mother’s Day, in honor of our mothers and for all of us — my sister and my friends and Joy and me — who join hands and hearts this Sunday and remember those strong, beautiful, remarkable women who will always be with us in spirit, but no longer live where we can reach out and touch them or laugh with them or call them just to shoot the breeze. “

Mama’s Last Church Service

By Joy Ross Davis

Palm Sunday was a landmark day for my mother. After a year’s absence, she attended church. Now, going to church is not usually something that will fill a person with dread. But remember, I’ve been going to church with my mother for years, and I can tell you that what happens once she steps in the door is always unpredictable.

Since she can’t hear well, her voice is unusually loud, and she gets distracted easily. Peggy, our friend and helper, agreed to bring Mother in her car so that my son Clint and I could go a little early.

Palm Sunday services begin outside at Trinity Episcopal with the reading of the Passion, but on this Sunday, a heavy downpour forced us inside. I wondered if the worsening weather would make Mother change her mind about coming.

The small congregation gathered in the entry way of the narthex to begin. As is our tradition, each of us received a small hand-fashioned cross and palm branch. Our new priest, Father Bush, began with a prayer. Then, the rest of us joined in with a gospel reading.

Mom

Elsa Frawley passed away April 29, 2010

We had said only a few phrases when the large wooden door flew open. Rain spattered inside. My mother appeared and announced in a loud voice, “Hey there, y’all. I’m Elsa Frawley, Joy’s mother. I’m not gonna stand here, though. I’m gonna go sit down while y’all do your thing.”

I glanced at Clint then at our dear friend, Jay Howton. Both were stifling laughs. But Father Bush seemed unaffected. He gently tried to pin a cross on my mother’s blouse. She brushed his hand away.

“Move so I can go sit down!” she said.

He complied and waited for Peggy and Mother to take their seats before he began again. About halfway through the gospel reading, my mother’s voice rose above that of Father Bush’s and drifted all the way to the narthex.

“Isn’t this a pretty church, Peggy? It’s been here for a hunderd years.”

The priest continued. I’m sure I saw him smile as he read.

He finished the gospel. Then, he led the processional down the centre aisle of the sanctuary. Behind him, Jay carried the ornate gospel book. Clint carried the large golden cross on a staff behind Jay.

As Clint walked by, my mother shouted, “Hey honey! You look like a doll!”

I’m absolutely certain that he cringed as he made his way to his seat near the altar.
During the homily, my mother got restless. Just as we began the Lord’s Prayer, she said loud enough for all to hear.

“Hey, Peggy, you got any gum?”

Mother_and_me_in_Mexico

Elsa and daughter Joy in Mexico

Peggy whispered something to Mother. Clint’s shoulders shook as he tried not to laugh out loud.

About midway through the service, I was certain that Mother would want to leave, just as she’d done years ago in a rather infamous event. After listening to a sermon for a little over twenty minutes, my mother got up, glared at the priest, and stuck out her arm. With her index finger, she tapped several times on her watch, turned around, and walked out.

But this Sunday, she sat through the whole service, and I thought we were home free until it came time for Holy Eucharist. When Mother saw the altar being prepared, she nudged Peggy.
“Come on,” she said in a voice that rang throughout the sanctuary. “It’s just Communion. I’m hungry. Let’s go get a hamburger.”

So, as Father Bush was reciting the Holy Eucharist prayer, my mother and Peggy walked down the aisle and out the door. It banged behind them.

At the service’s end, I shook hands with Father Bush.

“Joy, how’s your mother getting along these days?” he asked.

Before I could answer, he laughed out loud and added, “She’s quite a character!”

Amen.

Author’s note:
In memory of our mother, Elsa Frawley, who passed away on April 29, 2010. The Palm Sunday service was her last church service.
Hans Christian Andersen said, “A life is a story told by God.”
When He told yours, he created quite a character! You stepped on toes, made waves, rocked boats…but you were my mother, and I love you. May God hold you in His arms and delight in all your antics.

Bio

me_Mileybright

Author Joy Ross Davis on the steps of the Mileybright Inn

Joy Ross Davis lives in Bessemer, Alabama. A student of the lore and magic of the back hills of Tennessee, she writes imaginative fiction. She has a Ph.D in Creative Writing and for many years, she taught English at a local community college. She retired to become a caregiver for her mother who suffered from dementia. She documented her experiences with her mother in a series of articles for a local newspaper. The articles titled, “Mother, Can You Hear Me?” have also been featured in Muscadine Lines, a Southern literary magazine. For several months in 2007, she lived in Ireland and worked as a travel writer and photographer for Tourism Ireland. She is currently teaching English online for the University of Phoenix. She lives with her son and three rescue dogs.

Joy is the author of the novel, Countenance, released by Ecanus Publishing in 2013 and represented by Loiacono Literary Agency. Her other works include:
Emalyn’s Treasure (Helping Hands Press 2013)
The Transformation of Bitty Brown (Helping Hands Press 2014)
The Sutler of Petersburg (Helping Hands Press 2014)

Please visit the author at: http://joyrossdavis.com

All are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble:

Novelist: My claim to “fame” at the Distinguished Alumni Awards Ceremony at Tarrant County College/NE Campus

TCC:NE Distinguished Alumni 2014I sat through the awards luncheon waiting for the real Kathleen Rodgers to show up. The one that grew up to become the person she’d always wanted to be: a successful writer.  The one that smiles big for photo ops and has tried for thirty-five plus years to “make it” as a writer. I sat through a two-hour luncheon waiting for it to feel real. I looked at the other distinguished alumni and kept asking myself “how did I get here?” I can’t even remember my multiplication tables!

Kathleen on the big screen at TCC:NE campus' Distinugued Alumni ceremonyThen my name was called. When I turned to see my photo and a sample of my professional credits on the big screen, it started to feel real. All at once I was back in my comfort zone, especially when the president of the college asked jokingly if I brought any books to sign. And then when I took my seat and finally stared at my award:

Tarrant County College Northeast Campus

Distinguished Alumni Award

Presented to

Kathleen Rodgers

Novelist

 

(L-R) With former advisor/instructor Anita Peters, best friend Rhonda Revels, and literary agent, Jeanie Loiacono.

(L-R) With former advisor/instructor Anita Peters, best friend Rhonda Revels, and literary agent, Jeanie Loiacono.

It was the word “novelist” that cemented the deal for me, and I got to share it with my agent, Jeanie Loiacono, her daughter, Megan, and my dear friend, Rhonda Revels (the inspiration behind my character Whit Thomas in my second novel, Johnnie Come Lately.)

Rhonda Revels and Kathleen, best friends for 22 years.

Rhonda Revels and Kathleen, best friends for 22 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doris Jones in her office at TCC/NE Campus. Don't you love her bookshelves?

Doris Jones in her office at TCC/NE Campus. Don’t you love her bookshelves?

 

 

* A special note of thanks to my former government professor, Doris Jones, for nominating me. What I respect about Doris is how she respects her students.

 

 

 

 

 

BIO:

Kathleen M. Rodgers’ work has appeared in Family Circle Magazine, Military Times, Family: The Magazine for Military Families, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Albuquerque Journal, Clovis News Journal, and in the following anthologies: Because I Fly ( McGraw-Hill), Lessons From Our Children (Health Communications, Inc.), Stories Of Faith And Courage On The Home Front (AMG Publishers, Inc.) Home of the Brave: Somewhere in the Sand (Press 53), and Red, White & True (University of Nebraska Press/Potomac Books).Kathleen accepting her Distingusihed Alumni Award at TCC:NE Campus

Her debut novel, The Final Salute, has been featured in USA-Today and soared to Amazon’s #1Top Rated War Fiction in 2012.

Deer Hawk Publications reissued The Final Salute in e-book and paperback September 2014.

Kathleen’s second novel, Johnnie Come Lately, releases from Camel Press February 1, 2015. In the novel, protagonist Johnnie Kitchen wants desperately to go back to college, but her hardworking husband worries they don’t have the money.

Kathleen is the mother of two grown sons, Thomas (an award-winning artist and graduate of UNT) and J.P. (a 1st Lieutenant in the United States Army and graduate of Texas Tech). Both sons attended Tarrant County College/NE Campus before earning their undergraduate degrees. Kathleen lives in Colleyville, TX with her husband, Tom, a retired fighter pilot/commercial pilot, and their rescue dog, Denton.

She is represented by Loiacono Literary Agency.

See the press release about the Wall of Fame at TCC/NE Campus:

http://sites.tccd.edu/tccbuzz/2014/05/08/tcc-northeast-campus-dedicates-alumni-wall-of-fame-2/

 

Author Kathleen M. Rodgers named a Distinguished Alumni for Tarrant County College/NE Campus 2014

kathleenmrodgers:2014 Distinguished Alumni Tarrant County Community College

When I walked across the stage at Tarrant County Convention Center in Fort Worth, TX to receive my diploma in May 2007, I felt ten feet tall in my cap and gown. I was also one of the oldest graduates at 48. With my husband Tom, our two grown sons and my mother looking on, I graduated with highest honors, a total victory considering I feared I would flunk college biology my first day in lecture and lab. Most people complete an AA degree in about two years, but then I’m not most people. It took me 30 years to earn a college degree. In that time, I attended one university, two community colleges, recovered from a life-threating eating disorder, wrote numerous articles for national and local publications, completed one novel, followed my Air Force fighter pilot turned airline pilot husband from base to base, and raised our two sons. I also raised one puppy dog and served as a nanny to my three young boy cousins while their mom worked as an attorney in downtown Dallas.

By the time I earned my associate degree, I’d already enrolled in Southern Methodist University’s noncredit novel writing course. With one completed novel The Final Salute under my belt, a second novel began to take shape. That novel grew up to become Johnnie Come Lately and will be published by Camel Press, an imprint of Coffeetown Press, February 1, 2015.

Being named a 2014 Distinguished Alumni for Tarrant County College/Northeast Campus is one more affirmation that I’m on the right track with my new novel. My protagonist, Mrs. Johnnie Kitchen, goes back to college later in life. In my own little way, I’ve tried to shine the spotlight on community colleges. Tarrant County College inspired the fictional Portion Community College in the novel.

Although I didn’t need a college degree to become a writer, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Regardless of my many successes in the writing profession, earning a college degree thirty years after I graduated from high school gave me a boost of confidence like nothing else.

No matter what level of education we all achieve, we are all students of the world. Every day we have a chance to learn something new and to apply it to our lives.

Here’s the announcement I received from the President of Tarrant County College/NE Campus:

Greetings Kathleen Rodgers,

As president of Tarrant County College Northeast Campus, I would like to congratulate you for being named as one of the Distinguished Alumni of the campus for recognition in 2014!

Recognition of graduates who have made a difference in the community is a relatively new endeavor for TCC Northeast.  Twelve years ago I established a committee of faculty members with the goal of developing guidelines for this project.  The committee decided to ask departments to name outstanding former students who had graduated from TCC Northeast at least five years ago with associate degrees or certificates.  In the last few years, we also wanted to include students who had attended TCC Northeast for a substantial portion of their college course work, but who may have transferred to another institution to finish a degree.  Each discipline chose one person to be recognized in a ceremony that will take place on campus in May during the Faculty Luncheon.  As a member of this group of Distinguished Alumni, you will receive a certificate that will be presented during that ceremony.

We have scheduled the recognition ceremony/luncheon to take place in the Center Corner (NSTU 1615A) in the Student Center Building.  You might remember that this is the building with the clock tower.  It will begin at approximately 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 and should be over by 1:00 p.m.

The photo and a short bio will eventually be transferred to our Distinguished Alumni Wall of Recognition housed in the J. Ardis Bell Library on the Northeast Campus.

Again, congratulations, and I look forward to seeing you next month.

Larry Darlage, PhD

President| Tarrant County College Northeast Campus

BIO:

Kathleen M. Rodgers’ work has appeared in Family Circle Magazine, Military Times, Family: The Magazine for Military Families, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Albuquerque Journal, Clovis News Journal, and in the following anthologies: Because I Fly, McGraw-Hill, Lessons From Our Children, Health Communications, Inc., Stories Of Faith And Courage On The Home Front, AMG Publishers, Inc., and Home of the Brave: Somewhere in the Sand, Press 53. Her essay, “Remembering Forgotten Fliers, Their Survivors” will be published in a new anthology Red, White & True forthcoming August 2014 from University of Nebraska Press/Potomac Books.

Leatherneck Publishing released her debut novel, The Final Salute, in paperback in 2008. In 2009 Army Wife Network selected it as their July book club pick and Military Writers Society of America awarded it the Silver Medal. In 2010, USA-Today and The Associated Press ran stories about the author’s sixteen-year journey to bring the novel to life. The novel soared to #2 on Amazon’s Bestselling Military Aviation paperback list. In 2011, Navigator Books released the Kindle edition and the novel hit #1 on Amazon’s Top Rated War Fiction the following year.

Kathleen’s second novel, Johnnie Come Lately, is forthcoming from Camel Press, February 1, 2015.

She is the mother of two grown sons, Thomas (an award-winning artist and graduate of UNT) and J.P. (a 1st Lieutenant in the United States Army and graduate of Texas Tech). Both sons attended Tarrant County College/NE Campus before earning their undergraduate degrees. Kathleen lives in Colleyville, TX with her husband, Tom, a retired fighter pilot/commercial pilot, and their rescue dog, Denton.

She is represented by Loiacono Literary Agency.