New Book Release from Kathleen M. Rodgers

Dear Readers, Friends, and Family,

I’m excited to announce the April 1, 2017 release of my third novel, Seven Wings to Glory, published by Camel Press. Sometimes small towns harbor big secrets. And sometimes things just can’t be explained. Early praises are coming in from top authors around the country. To read their endorsements, please visit my website.

The print edition will be available on Amazon, B&N, and other online retailers April 1. The Kindle and Nook editions are out now.

You can ask your local bookseller or library to order the book. If you’re a member of a book club, I hope you’ll consider choosing Seven Wings to Glory for a future discussion.

The official book launch will be held at B&N, Soutlake, TX, Saturday, April 8 from 2-4 pm CDT.

All the best,

Kathleen

Johnnie Kitchen is finally living her dream, attending college and writing a column for the local paper. She adores her husband Dale and chocolate Labrador Brother Dog, and they reside in a comfortable home in the small town of Portion in North Texas. Their three children are thriving and nearly grown.

But Johnnie is rattled when her youngest boy Cade goes to fight in Afghanistan. The less frequent his emails, the more she frets for his safety. On the home front, Johnnie learns that Portion is not the forward-thinking town she believed. A boy Cade’s age, inflamed by a liberal bumper sticker and the sight of Johnnie’s black friend Whit, attacks them with the N-word and a beer bottle. After Johnnie writes about the incident in her column, a man named Roosevelt reaches out with shameful stories from Portion’s untold history. More tears and triumphs will follow, as Johnnie’s eyes are opened to man’s capacity for hate and the power of love and forgiveness.

 

Author Kathleen M. Rodgers signs with Nine Speakers, Inc.

January 25, 2017

Some good news:

 I’m delighted to announce that Diane Nine, President of Nine Speakers, Inc. based in Washington, D.C., will represent my future work. Now it’s time to get busy and write my fourth novel. A huge thank you to Deborah Kalb for making the connection. Deborah is the author of The President and Me: George Washington and the Magic Hat and Haunting Legacy: Vietnam and the American Presidency from Ford to Obama, which she coauthored  with her father, renowned journalist Marvin Kalb.

Many thanks to all of you who’ve believed in me over the years. The journey continues…

The Final Salute wins Honorable Mention for Military Fiction in the 2016 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards

September 1, 2016

kathleenmrodgers The Final Salute Honorable Mention 2016
The little book that grew wings and learned to fly continues to ride the thermals. Many thanks to Readers’ Favorite reviewer Michelle Stanley for thinking my novel worthy enough for a 5-star rating in 2015. 

Publication History:

First edition released from Leatherneck Publishing in October 2008. Thanks to the late Neil Levin for believing in me and this book which won a Silver Medal from Military Writers Society of America in 2009. Thank you to MWSA Founder Bill McDonald for the stellar review. In early 2010, the book was featured in USA Today, The Associated Press, Military Times, and many other publications.

E-Book released from Navigator Books in 2011 with a new cover featuring a missing man formation of A-10 fighter jets affectionately known as Warthogs. Thanks to Maria Edwards and Jeff Edwards for giving the book new life.

Second edition (print and e-book) released from Deer Hawk Publications in 2014. Thanks to Aurelia Sands at Deer Hawk for giving my book a new home.

A huge round of applause to all of my readers over the years who were kind enough to invite my characters into their busy lives and then went above and beyond by posting reviews on Amazon and Goodreads and spreading the word to friends and family.

The Final Salute is the little book that could…

Buy links:

Amazon

B&N

Walmart

 

Blue Star Service pin

July 29, 2016Blue Star Service pin kathleenmrodgers

This is a Blue Star Service pin. I wore it everyday my youngest son was deployed to a war zone halfway around the world. I proudly display this same symbol on the back of my vehicle. After all these long years of our nation fighting the war on terrorism, it’s sad to know that many Americans do not know the significance of this symbol and what it stands for.

To learn more, click here.

Johnnie On the Spot: Family Magazine features Kathleen M. Rodgers in the January 2016 issue

January 2016

Terri Barnes, author of the book Spouse Calls and a former columnist for Stars & Stripes Newspapers, was shopping at the commisary this morning at Charleston Air Force Base, SC when she spotted the article in Family. She says she stopped by the peanut butter and jelly section to snap this photo.
Terri Barnes, author of the book Spouse Calls and a former columnist for Stars & Stripes Newspapers, was shopping at the commisary this morning at Charleston Air Force Base, SC when she spotted the article in Family. She says she stopped by the peanut butter and jelly section to snap this photo.

So honored to be featured in the January 2016 issue of Family: The Magazine For Military Families. The magazine is distributed free at U.S. commissaries worldwide the middle of each month (500,000 circulation). Family and I have been around since 1958. In 1988 (the magazine’s 30th anniversary), they published two of my short stories, “Happy Landing” and “On Top Of the World.” In 2009, they interviewed me about my debut novel, The Final Salute.

This past July, my husband and I were thrilled to meet the executive editor, Dina Santorelli, and feature writer, Barbara Jarvie Castiglia, when they came to see some of my work on display at the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Long Island, New York.  I’m blessed to have such support from a top-notch publication that gives back to military families by providing valuable coupons for items in the commissary.  This is another full circle moment in my writing career.Dina and Kathleen

With NJ based writer Barbara Castiglia (L) and Long Island based editor/author Dina Santorelli at the Cradle of Aviation Museum, Long Island, NY. Barbara and Dina have known each other for years and we are all Facebook friends, but this is my first time to meet them both in person. Barbara drove two hours both ways to come see me.
With NJ based writer Barbara Castiglia (L) and Long Island based editor/author Dina Santorelli at the Cradle of Aviation Museum, Long Island, NY. Barbara and Dina have known each other for years and we are all Facebook friends, but this is my first time to meet them both in person. Barbara drove two hours both ways to come see me.

https://www.facebook.com/familymagazine

http://familymedia.com

 

 

Camel Press acquires sequel to Johnnie Come Lately

December 11, 2015 (update Dec. 1, 2016)

Camel Press, an imprint of Coffeetown Enterprises, has acquired the sequel to Johnnie Come Lately. The final draft of Seven Wings to Glory is due July 1, 2016. Update: Final draft approved July 25, 2016 with release date April 1, 2017.Version 2

I received this glorious news two days after I returned from the Ozarks Writers League conference where I gave a talk on perseverance and writing through adversity. My publisher offered the contract based on the first hundred pages.

It’s exciting to know they believe in the story, but at the same time the pressure is on to complete a polished manuscript and turn it in on time. My first two novels were written on speculation, and the writing process stretched out over several years. The last time I wrote anything “under contract” was for Family Circle Magazine many years ago.

My husband reminds me everyday that I am living my dream. I have a traditional publisher already lined up and eager to publish my next novel.

When the words, Seven Wings to Glory, woke me from my sleep a few years ago and demanded I write them down, I knew in my heart I had a new story to tell.

seven_wings_300Summary:

Johnnie Kitchen is finally living her dream, attending college and writing a column for the local paper. She adores her husband Dale and chocolate Labrador Brother Dog, and they reside in a comfortable home in the small town of Portion in North Texas. Their three children are thriving and nearly grown.

But Johnnie is rattled when her youngest boy Cade goes to fight in Afghanistan. The less frequent his emails, the more she frets for his safety. On the home front, Johnnie learns that Portion is not the forward-thinking town she believed. A boy Cade’s age, inflamed by a liberal bumper sticker and the sight of Johnnie’s black friend Whit, attacks them with the N-word and a beer bottle. After Johnnie writes about the incident in her column, a man named Roosevelt reaches out with shameful stories from Portion’s untold history. More tears and triumphs will follow, as Johnnie’s eyes are opened to man’s capacity for hate and the power of love and forgiveness.

The sequel to Johnnie Come Lately

 

 

CNN reporter Ashley Fantz interviews author Kathleen M. Rodgers about US troops staying in Afghanistan past 2016

October 16, 2015

CNN reporter Ashley Fantz interviewed me about US troops staying on in Afghanistan past 2016. I’m no expert on the military…just a military mama who cares. Click here and scroll past the video to read the entire story.Author Kathleen M. Rodgers interviewed on CNN about troops in Afghanistan

 

 

 

Johnnie Come Lately by Kathleen M. Rodgers wins Gold Medal for literary fiction from Military Writers Society of America 2015 Book Awards

September 27, 2015

The moment I I learned that my 2nd novel, Johnnie Come Lately, won a Gold Medal from Military Writers Society of America 2015 Book Awards.
The moment I learned that my 2nd novel, Johnnie Come Lately, won a Gold Medal from Military Writers Society of America 2015 Book Awards.
Johnnie Come Lately released from Camel Press, February 1, 2015. The novel took six years to write. I am working on the sequel, Seven Wings to Glory.
Johnnie Come Lately released from Camel Press, February 1, 2015. The novel took six years to write. The sequel, Seven Wings to Glory, releases April 2017.

 

Gold Star Mother and Military Author Forge Friendship

September 21, 2015

I couldn’t stop sobbing after I received a cardinal print from Gold Star mother Beth Karlson of Wisconsin.

Kathleen M. Rodgers with gift from Gold Star mother Beth Karlson

It took me about five mintue before I could even read the inscription on the back. Inscription on back of cardinal print form Beth Karlson

 

Beth’s oldest son, Army SGT Warren S. Hansen, was KIA 11/15/2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Beth and I met on Facebook about five years ago. We have never met in person. After reading my second novel, Johnnie Come Lately, Beth started leaving photos of cardinals on my FB timeline. A cardinal plays an important role in the novel. In a flashback scene in the story, Grandpa Grubbs tells a young Johnnie, “That’s not just any bird, young lady. That’s an angel bird, flown straight down from heaven.”Gold Star Mother Beth Karlson

About an hour after receiving Beth’s gift, I called her on the telephone to thank her. That’s when she told me she’s had the print about fifteen years. She said one day after reading Johnnie for the second time, she walked by the print and thought, that belongs to Kathleen. When I asked her if Warren had passed by the print while he was still alive, she said, “All the time.”10676417_10203286131369662_9211511580700386707_n

To receive a gift from a woman who lost a son in combat…well, you can imagine what this means.

On Point: A Guide to Writing the Military Story

September 2, 2015OnPointCover

By

Tracy Crow

In her poignant memoir, Losing Tim, iconic writing instructor Janet Burroway writes about the death of her son, a former Army ranger and government contractor. “Every suicide is a suicide bomber. The intent may be absolutely other—a yearning for peace, the need to escape, even a device to spare family. Nevertheless, the shrapnel flies.”

A few years ago, I was struck by shrapnel, and I’ve been carrying a heavy chunk of it inside me ever since.

We’re all aware of the startling statistic, twenty-two veteran suicides a day, but the statistic never hit a personal note until the violent suicide of a Marine Corps friend. In the wake of that tragedy, my friend left behind two teenaged daughters and a slew of Marine friends who wondered what we could have said or done that might have made a difference to a friend who had become so disillusioned with his civilian life he ended it with a gunshot.

Eyes_RightHis suicide came shortly after the release of my memoir, Eyes Right: Confessions from a Woman Marine. For several months, I’d been answering a number of emails and Facebook requests from veterans who were eager for writing advice. Everyone has a story, and every story matters, whether that story is written for self-reflection, a family legacy, or for publication.

But after my friend’s suicide, I stopped the cutting and pasting of advice snippets from one email to another and began to develop On Point, the first writing guide for veterans and their families. Frankly, I was searching for a way to make a difference—for a way to reduce that 22-a-day statistic that sent shrapnel flying into the hearts and psyches of twenty-two families and countless friends every, single, day.

It’s no secret that getting an appointment with a health professional at a VA can sometimes take so long that a veteran gives up. It’s also no secret that transitioning from the military into civilian life is more difficult for some. But could a writing guide, I wondered, written by a veteran for fellow veterans and families, fill a gap? After all, most mental health professionals use writing, and other forms of art, in their programs for cognitive processing therapy.

My gut said yes, and here’s why. Writing about our military experiences, even if we decide to turn our true stories into fiction, helps us develop a deeper understanding about our life, our decisions, and the motives behind our decisions because meaningful writing comes from identifying meaningful patterns. Meaningful writing requires a self-awakening. When we write, we’re training ourselves to search deeply for motive behind choices, whether we’re writing about ourselves in a memoir or essay or about the characters within our military short story or novel.

In On Point, Brooke King, a soldier who served in Iraq and who admittedly suffers from post-traumatic stress, shares how writing helps. “It helps to make sense of what is happening to you,” she said. “In Cognitive Processing Therapy, a veteran with PTSD is asked to confront their traumas head-on by writing down the incident, and then connect the feeling associated with it. I didn’t think writing was helping at first, but I kept doing it because it was the only way I knew how to express myself.”

Spring 2014 MWSA Recommended Reading List
Spring 2014 Military Writers Society of America Recommended Reading List

Over time, she said, the nightmares decreased, and the feelings of guilt and shame lessened. “I began to understand that surviving the war was a blessing and not a curse.” Today, King is the author of a chapbook of poetry about her war experiences. Additionally, she has published a short story in the military anthology, Home of the Brave: Somewhere in the Sand (Press 53, 2013), and in my anthology, Red, White, and True: Stories from Veterans and Families, WWII to Present (Potomac Books, 2014).

When I first shared the premise for On Point with friends and fellow writers, most assumed On Point would be a guide exclusively for the military veteran with a war story. Not so. Not every military story is a war story. I never saw combat in the 1980s, but my story of overcoming self-limitations, gender bias, and abuses of power still found its way into the world.

Crow-RedWhiteTrue_high_resOn Point is a guide for writing the military story. If you are serving in the military today, or have ever served, On Point is for you. If you are, or have been, a member of a military family, On Point is for you. In Red, White, and True, I included a number of true stories from spouses and grown children, and their essays are just as compelling as the essays from Iraq War veterans. And if you are the parent of a military son or daughter, you, too, have stories about how military service has affected you; at times you have probably felt pride, worry, fear, betrayal, resentment, anger, and other strong emotions.

On Point may have been born out of grief over losing my Marine Corps friend, but over time, the book grew as a wish to inspire a cross-generational sharing of the military experience–and where needed, a healing.

– 30 –

Tracy's bio photoBio:

Tracy Crow is a former Marine Corps officer and an award-winning military journalist. While assistant professor of journalism and creative writing, her essays and short stories were published widely and nominated for three Pushcart Prizes. She is the author of the first writing text developed for military veterans and their families, On Point: A Guide to Writing the Military Story (Potomac Books, 2015); the award-winning memoir, Eyes Right: Confessions from a Woman Marine (Nebraska, 2012); Red, White, and True: Stories from Veterans and Families, WWII to Present (Potomac Books, 2014); and An Unlawful Order under her pen name, Carver Greene. She can be reached through her website.

 

 

Those Who Wait

August 28, 2015

Joyce’s grandmother, Viola Eacret Plummer, stands between her two surviving sons, Bill Plummer (Joyce’s father) on the left, and Jimmy Dale Plummer. Her eldest son died in New Guinea in 1943.
Joyce’s grandmother, Viola Eacret Plummer, stands between her two surviving sons, Bill Plummer (Joyce’s father) on the left, and Jimmy Dale Plummer. Her eldest son died in New Guinea in 1943.

Those Who Wait

by

Joyce Faulkner

It’s mid-February, 1945.

I imagine her – sitting in a chair by the window.

The cold sun sinks behind the trees outside but she does not turn on the lights. The dark holds no comfort, but it does hide her icy tears. In the gloaming, pictures of her two oldest sons sit on top of the console radio a few feet away. She leans forward and twists one of the knobs. The tubes glow. Before the announcer can say much, she turns it off again. She covers her face and rocks back and forth in her seat. Life was never easy for her – but it had been fun. Now fun tastes wrong. So does love. So does hate, for that matter. They told her to keep her routine – but that doesn’t seem right either. So she sits in that chair every day – waiting.

Joyce's Uncle DG is buried at Fort Smith National Cemetery
Joyce’s Uncle DG is buried at Fort Smith National Cemetery

The condolence letter from President Roosevelt made my Uncle DG’s death official – but not real. He didn’t die in battle – he was run over by a truck somewhere far away with an unpronounceable name. They buried him where he died. There was a war to win before they could send him back to my grandmother.

Nanny’s grief was still new, when her second son, my eighteen-year-old father, entered the war. All she knew was that he was with the Fifth Marine Division – and the Fifth Marines were engaged in a fierce fight with the Japanese on a little island known as Iwo Jima. Newspapers reported heavy losses – thousands killed – many more thousands wounded. With one child dead and another in harm’s way, all Nanny could do was wait – and fret.

So it is again. Anxious families display blue star flags in their windows. They check computers for emails from children who are half-a-world away in towns with unpronounceable names. They program cell phones with ringtones – and leap to answer that special one or swallow back tears when an unfamiliar tune sounds.

They remember cuddling apple-cheeked babies with gummy smiles – or chasing wobbly bicycles on first-day-without-training-wheels rides. They touch prom night pictures with the tips of their fingers and tell stories about the day their children graduated from high school or college. But, sometimes, fear taints the best memories like snow obliterating tender shoots. Will their precious boys and girls be the same when they return? Will the darkness of war blunt their sparkle? Will they come home at all? Torn between devouring and ignoring the news, they wait and wait – and wait.

Not long ago, a man that I have never met messaged to say that his son had died in Iraq. For him, the wait was over. I stared at the IM, wondering what to say. Whatever the reason, however it happens — to lose a child is to lose a dream. I wanted to reach out to him, but sensed comfort wasn’t appropriate. His agony was a bonfire that needed to burn itself out. He just didn’t want to be alone. I waited – an anonymous node on the internet — thinking about my grandmother, sitting in her chair – waiting for her boys to come home.

–30–

Author Joyce FaulknerAward-winning author Joyce Faulkner is the daughter and niece and wife of veterans. She writes about things that move her about life. She is a past president of Military Writers Society of America and is the cofounder of The Red Engine Press. To read more about Joyce’s work, please visit her website at www.JoyceFaulkner.com

 

Kathleen M. Rodgers reads from her novel, Johnnie Come Lately, for The Author’s Corner on Public Radio

Updated August 1, 2015 

“The Author’s Corner® on Public Radio show celebrates new books with brief authentic readings by authors. Enjoy best-selling authors and emerging stars in this fresh nationwide series available free to air on 500 “NPR” stations nationwide, from Maine to Guam.” Click the photo to listen to me read a brief passage from my latest novel, Johnnie Come Lately.Kathleen M. Rodgers reads from her novel, Johnnie Come Lately, for The Author's Corner on Public Radio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why there’s no “happy” in Memorial Day

Updated May 27, 2016

Mama at war memorial by Jenny Zovein (Johnnie Come Lately, published by Camel Press).
Mama at war memorial by Jenny Zovein (Johnnie Come Lately, published by Camel Press).

The following passage is from my second novel,  Johnnie Come Lately.  (Reader discretion advised).

     Johnnie was about to rave on Granny’s baked beans

when Callie Ann piped up, “Hey, D.J., tell everybody what

happened this morning when you went to buy cigarettes.”

     D.J. looked up from his plate. He put his fork down and

cleared his throat.

     “So, I’m standing in line at the 7-Eleven. The guy in front

of me pays for his stuff and says to this young female

cashier,‘Happy Memorial Day.’ Man, I thought that chick

was going to come over the counter. She shoves the guy’s change at him and

snarls, ‘What’s so fucking happy about Memorial Day?’ ”

     Johnnie cringed.

     Before anyone could say something, D.J. picked up his

plastic fork and stabbed at a pile of baked beans. “Sorry about

the F-bomb,” he apologized. “I’m just reporting what I heard.”

     Johnnie took a deep breath and reached for Brother’s head.

As usual, he was at her side, waiting for a scrap to fall. She

needed to hold onto the one member of the family who wouldn’t judge her.

Wouldn’t judge any of them.

     Running her fingers through his soft fur, she said what

needed to be said.

     “Well, considering that my father died in war, I have to agree

with that young lady at the 7-Eleven. There’s absolutely nothing

happy about Memorial Day. It’s a day set aside to honor the

war dead.”

 

Johnnie Come Lately (Camel Press)

 

The author hugging her youngest son, former Army 1st Lieutenant (P) J.P. Rodgers, before his deployment to Afghanistan in 2014.
Hugging my youngest son at Fort Hood before he deployed to Afghanistan in 2014. He earned a Bronze Star for time in combat.

 

 

 

 

 

Author Kathleen M Rodgers welcoming home her youngest son, 1st Lt. J.P. Rodgers, from Afghanistan.
At the homecoming with my youngest son (oldest son to his right). My youngest is now a 1st Lieutenant in the US Army Reserves. In 2012, his roommate from Officer Candidate School was KIA by an IED. Everyday is Memorial Day for the family of 2nd Lt. Travis Morgado. This is why we can never associate the word “happy” with Memorial Day.       

“I’m frustrated by people all over the country who view the day as anything but a day to remember our WAR DEAD. I hate hearing “Happy Memorial Day.” Jennie Haskamp, United States Marine Corp Veteran, for Washington Post.

 

An Interview with Tracy Crow, editor of the new anthology Red, White, & True: Stories from Veterans and Families, WWII to Present

Tracy_Crow_bio_photo_for_EYES_RIGHTI am pleased to introduce Tracy Crow, editor of the new anthology Red, White, and True: Stories from Veterans and Families, World War II to Present (Potomac Books, an imprint of the University of Nebraska Press).

Kathleen: Welcome, Tracy. Please give us a brief description of the book. What is the genre and who is your target audience?

Tracy: Thanks for this opportunity to introduce my newest labor of love!

Crow-RedWhiteTrue_high_resRed, White, and True is a collection of 32 TRUE military stories that stretch from WWII to present. Each story has been written by a veteran or military family member.

I like to imagine the collection as a mosaic – in that individually, each story provides provocative insights about the impact of military experience, whether rendered directly or indirectly in the case of spouses and children or grandchildren – while collectively, they reveal something much deeper – something we’re just now beginning to understand: the cross-generational impact of the U.S. military experience from WWII to present, which includes such things as military customs and traditions, long absences, combat or training deaths, life-changing injuries –the physical and the emotional – and survivor’s guilt.

Most would assume RWT’s target audience is veterans. But because this collection includes stories from families, the audience quickly and considerably widened. As a former professor, I can also envision RWT as a college text for war/literature classes, women’s gender studies, and memoir writing workshops.

KMR: How did Red, White, and True come about?

Jeffery Hess, editor of two anthologies from Press 53: Home of the Brave: Stories In Uniform and Home of the Brave: Somewhere In The Sand
Jeffery Hess, editor of two anthologies from Press 53: Home of the Brave: Stories In Uniform and Home of the Brave: Somewhere In The Sand

TC: A dear friend, Jeffery Hess, is the editor of two excellent volumes of military fiction (Home of the Brave: Stories in Uniform and Home of the Brave: Somewhere in the Sand), and one day suggested that I compile an anthology of military nonfiction. Something about the idea immediately resonated. I began to imagine a volume of noteworthy nonfiction that would portray a no-holds-barred look at the impact of U.S. military service. Not just the impact on veterans but on families, too. I also wanted to approach the idea of how today’s military service might influence future generations.

When I couldn’t find anything on the market like RWT, I was ready to pitch the idea to my editor.

KMR: You have some impressive credentials. Not only are you a former Marine Corp officer, you are an award-winning military journalist and an author nominated for three Pushcart Prizes. What was it like to switch roles from being an author to an editor? Or have you done this before?

TC: Actually, switching roles from writer to editor is fairly easy for me. My writing life began in the late 1970s as a Marine Corps journalist, but during my ten-year career, I was often assigned as press chief or media chief – editing positions.

At the time I began work on RWT, I was the nonfiction editor of Prime Number Magazine, a Press 53 literary journal. I was also teaching journalism and creative writing at Eckerd College in Florida, and working as the adviser to our award-winning college newspaper, the Current. In my roles at Eckerd, I wore an editor’s hat: my job was to lead student writers from their shaky first drafts toward work that was worthy of publication in our newspaper or beyond, and in the case of my short story or memoir writers, several steps closer toward publication in a literary journal.

Eyes_RightKMR: You seem to have a great rapport with the University of Nebraska Press. Did you get to work with the same editor or team of editors that edited your memoir Eyes Right: Confessions from a Woman Marine (Nebraska, 2012)?

TC: I’ll always be grateful to Ladette Randolph who was the acquiring editor at Nebraska Press when I submitted the manuscript of Eyes Right. The day I received her acceptance letter ranks high on my list of Best Days Ever. But a few months afterward, Ladette accepted an opportunity at Emerson. You probably know, it’s every writer’s fear to learn that the editor who loved a manuscript enough to acquire it has left, turning over said manuscript to another in-house editor; I’d heard plenty of horror stories. But I lucked out when Eyes Right fell to Bridget Barry, who delivered unwavering passion and compassion to my project. Bridget’s entire team at Nebraska is top-notch.

Soon after the release of Eyes Right, Nebraska acquired Potomac Books, which is a notable publisher of military titles. When I pitched Bridget my concept for Red, White, and True, she readily agreed the project had merit, and championed it before the board.

Right now, Bridget and I are wrapping up our third project together with the working title, “On Point: A Guide for Writing the Military Story,” in which I attempt to lead veterans and their families through the often emotional process of recording a military experience, whether for self-exploration, a family legacy, or for publication. We’re looking at a fall release for this book, but I’ll share that “On Point” has been the most challenging project of the three because of the mountain of self-doubt that had to be scaled every day. Bridget, thankfully, brought her usual passion and editing chops to the work, and the result for “On Point” is a military writing craft book that’s part memoir, part meditations and musings, and part writing maxims.

KMR: I remember the day I saw your call for submissions on the Military Writers Society of America Facebook page. I fired off an e-mail to you, inquiring if previously published work was eligible. You were quick to respond, and I immediately sent you my essay, “Remembering Forgotten Fliers, Their Survivors.” Did you receive an avalanche of submissions once your call went out? Where else did you place your call for submissions?

Red, White and True anthology, Potomac Books, Univ. Neb Press, origianl essay kathleenmrodgersTC: I knew I wanted your story before I reached the bottom of the first page!

I wouldn’t call it an avalanche of submissions, but the work steadily flowed in for several months. Besides approaching the Military Writers Society of America, I reached out to college writing instructors within Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) programs who were working with veterans, and this step provided a handful of quality essays and easy acceptances. Writer friends from graduate school (Queens University of Charlotte) also helped by spreading the word among their writing circles. I solicited work from writers and writing instructors whose work I knew well and admired – work from Tracy Kidder, Jeffery Hess, David Abrams, Kevin Jones, Lorrie Lykins, Matt Farwell, Kim Wright, and others.

Getting submissions is easy, actually. The two biggest headaches in the process of compiling an anthology, for me anyway, were gaining reprint permissions from book publishers and negotiating the reprint fees, which I had to pay. The latter is probably why you won’t see many calls for submissions that invite previously published work.

KMR: How many submissions did you receive and how many made it into the finished book?

TC: I received about a hundred and fifty submissions. Some were quickly rejected because they were merely bios revealing a laundry list of duty stations and awards; they weren’t storytelling narratives that revealed what William Faulkner described as the “human heart in conflict with itself,” which is what I intended to publish.

While I never had a particular number of essays in mind when I started the project, and neither did Bridget, we did have an agreement on the maximum word count, which was generous. To reach my goal of portraying the U.S. military experience from WWII to present, and from as many voices and perspectives as possible, I needed the thirty-two essays in RWT.

But given a choice, I will always choose even numbers over odd, for some reason.

KMR: Since you are also an author, was it hard to turn away other writers’ work?

TC: At the risk of appearing callous…not really, thanks to a lengthy background in editing. I quickly knew which essays were hitting, or had the potential to hit, their emotional truths and targets…and which essays I could most likely help develop within my deadline constraints. You see, editors have contractual deadlines, too. But as a writer who has experienced a landslide of rejection, I was certainly aware of the tone I wanted to apply within my rejection letters; I wanted to write the sort of rejection letter I wished other editors had written to me.

KMR: Once you made your final selections and sent them to your editor at UNP, did you have much say from that point on? Did all of your selections make it into the final book?

TC: Bridget provided insightful feedback for each essay, and in some cases, the writers and I needed to go back to work to develop even stronger essays. But yes, all my final selections made it, and so did my ordering of the work within the anthology. Even the stirring cover image of the dog tags against a backdrop of the American flag – an image I found online and recommended to the Nebraska/Potomac marketing team – made it!

KMR: As a writer, I am thrilled to have my essay appear in a body of work that includes a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and a novelist with a New York Times Notable book award. That being said, I’m equally honored to appear in a collection where one of the authors is making his publishing debut. From an editor’s standpoint, what is it like to work with all these authors who are at different levels of their career?

TC: Humbling…thrilling…challenging…

But each of the 32 writers rewarded me in some special way, and each continues to reward me with news about how this publication is still affecting their lives months after its release. We’ve become a family now, a forever interconnected community of writers. In November, RWT was invited to the prestigious Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading, and I had the opportunity to introduce a handful of our RWT contributors to a large crowd that came to hear our contributors read from their work and to have them sign copies of RWT. Many other contributors in other parts of the country have also read their RWT essays at writing workshops and veterans’ organizations.

KMR: Since most contributors aren’t financially compensated for allowing their work to appear in an anthology, what do you think is the appeal? Why are writers excited to have their work published in a collection?

TC: Oh, how I wish financial compensation was possible!

One appeal, I think, is the sense of validation. Sure, everyone has a story, but not everyone can write that story in such an artful way as to ensure its place within a publication that will stand the test of time, as I firmly believe RWT will do. Another appeal is the opportunity to lend a voice to the overall conversation – in RWT’s case, the cross-generational impact of military service.

KMR: What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

TC: If I could be granted one wish as a take-away, I’d wish for RWT to inspire its readers to reflect on how their lives have also been affected by military service or by a parent’s or grandparent’s service, and to record those reflections as a way to understand and heal old wounds, or as a way to leave a family legacy. At the Tampa Bay Times event, a gentleman who looked to be in his mid-eighties approached me after the RWT reading on the walk to the book signing, and shared that his daughters and granddaughters had been pleading with him for years to write his military stories “before it’s too late.” Choking back emotion, he added, “I’m finally ready.”

Tracy and her husband, Mark Weidemaier, who is the defensive coach with the Washington Nationals.
Tracy and her husband, Mark Weidemaier, who is the defensive coach with the Washington Nationals.

KMR: What is it like to be married to a major league baseball coach? It sounds so glamorous.

TC: Guess that depends on one’s definition of glamorous! I eat way too many hotdogs every year.

It’s glamorous for him – he gets the best view of each game; awesome dining all day in the clubhouse; chartered flights around the country; his underwear and uniforms washed, folded, and packed for road trips by the clubhouse crew, etc. When he finally comes home, I sometimes have to remind him this isn’t Nationals Park or the Marriott!

I doubt most coaches’ wives would consider our side of baseball life quite as glamorous. For eight months each year – nine if the team makes it to the post-season – most of us live alone, holding together life at the family’s home base, and catching up with our husbands for a home stand here and there, or on the road if the team is playing closer to the family’s home, and for what I jokingly refer to as the conjugal visits. Of the seven years my husband and I have been together, we’ve actually lived together less than three.

Fortunately, I love baseball. I could watch a game every day. Last year, I watched 150 of 162 games because I scheduled my writing time around the television broadcast of each Washington Nationals game. Even though I know every team loses about seventy games each year, every Nats loss still feels like a sucker punch.

The real glamor of this life, for me anyway, arises from the satisfaction of supporting my husband’s passion. He’s as passionate about baseball as I am about my writing life. Besides, all that alone time…for a writer? Now that’s glamorous!

BIO: Tracy Crow is the author of the critically acclaimed military memoir, Eyes Right: Confessions from a Woman Marine (University of Nebraska Press, 2012)—winner of the bronze medal in the 2012 Florida Book Awards competition—and the military novel, An Unlawful Order, released under her pen name, Carver Greene.

Her work has appeared in a number of literary journals and anthologies, and has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. She is the former nonfiction editor of Prime Number Magazine, a Press 53 publication, and is the editor of the military nonfiction anthology, Red, White, & True: Stories from Veterans and Families, WWII to Present (University of Nebraska Press/Potomac Books, 2014).

Crow is a former Marine Corps officer and an award-winning military journalist. As a former assistant professor of creative writing at Eckerd College and visiting instructor at the University of Tampa, she taught basic and advanced courses in all facets of journalism, fiction, playwriting, poetry, and memoir.

Today, Crow and her husband, Mark Weidemaier, who is the defensive coach with the Washington Nationals, live on ten acres in North Carolina with their four dogs, Molly, Cash, Fenway, and Hadley.

http://www.amazon.com/Red-White-True-Veterans-Families/dp/1612347010/ref=la_B002ZNYLMI_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421171636&sr=1-3

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.
Me as I welcomed home my 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.
USAF Lt. Col. Tom Rodgers (Ret) hugging his youngest son and thanking God for his mercies.
USAF Lt. Col. Tom Rodgers (Ret) hugging our youngest son and thanking God for his mercies.
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.
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 me 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  carries his little brother’s duffle bag as we leave the field.