Highlights from the 2017 Military Writers Society of America Conference

September 2017

With panelists John Trudel and Dennis Koller (seated L-R) and moderator Don Helin (keeping us in line).

Military Writers Society of America held its 2017 conference at the historic Menger Hotel in downtown San Antonio, TX. The hotel is located across the street from the Alamo and a couple of blocks from the Riverwalk. The weekend was packed with informative workshops led by speakers and panelists on a variety of topics pertaining to writing, editing, publishing, networking, and marketing.

On Friday, I participated on a panel titled “I’ve Written My Book, Now What?” During my ten minutes at the podium, I discussed the pros and cons of working with literary agents and why each writer must find a path to publication that fits his or her needs.

Don Helin served as the moderator. Dennis Koller and John Trudel each discussed their author experiences in an industry that is constantly in a flux. Members in the audience asked lots of good questions afterwards.

With MWSA VP and 2017 conference organizer Bob Doerr.

MWSA Vice President Bob Doerr organized this year’s conference. Bob did an outstanding job selecting the location and hotel.

With MWSA Awards Director John Cathcart and his wife Sandi at the awards banquet.

MWSA Book Awards Director John Cathcart and his team of reviewers/judges selected the top books that received Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medals. To see the complete list of winners, visit the MWSA website.

If you’d like to learn more about Military Writers Society of America, please visit our website. I’ve made lifelong friends since I joined MWSA in 2008. Even my husband, Tom, enjoys coming to the conferences. 

Kathleen

PS: Thanks to Jeanette Vaughan and Sandra Linhart for taking the photos

Seven Wings to Glory by Kathleen M. Rodgers: a Columnist Exposes Her Town’s Racist Past

April 1, 2017

My third novel, Seven Wings to Glory, releases today from Camel Press. The novel is a sequel to Johnnie Come Lately but can be read as a standalone story. The book is available at Amazon B&N and most online booksellers.

Endorsements and additional buying information can be found on my publisher’s website.

#MilitaryFamilies #Racism #MagicalRealism #Faith

 

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, 2017

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.”

***

“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.