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

 

Texas based author Kathleen M. Rodgers’ poetry featured in new exhibit at The Cradle of Aviation Museum, Long Island, NY

Updated August 1, 2015Aviators, Poets and Dreamers @Cradle of Aviation

Three of my poems from the book Because I Fly (McGraw-Hill 2002, edited by Helmut H. Reda), are on display in this new exhibit which asks the question, “Why do we fly?” Most writers dream of getting their books on bestseller lists or made into movies, but how many authors see their work featured in a museum?

Cradle of Aviation  Museum exhibit featuring A Little Boy's Dream

Aviators, Poets and Dreamers runs from July 18th through Labor Day. The exhibit will then travel to libraries across Long Island. A photo of my husband seated in an A-10 cockpit (circa 1980) appears with my poem, “A Little Boy’s Dream,” penned in 1986 when we lived in Alaska.

Kathleen with her husband, Tom Rodgers (retired USAF Fighter Pilot/Commercial Pilot) and Rod Leonhard, Creative Director at Cradle of Aviation Museum, Long Island, NY. A photo of Tom Rodgers seated in an A-10 cockpit, circa 1980) appears with Kathleen's poem, "A Little Boy's Dream" to the far left of this photo.
L-R With my husband, Tom Rodgers (retired USAF Fighter Pilot/Commercial Pilot) and Rod Leonhard, Creative Director at Cradle of Aviation Museum, Long Island, NY. A huge thanks to Rod for selecting “A Little Boy’s Dream,” “The Searcher,” and “To Live To Fly” for the exhibit. Behind me, friend and former fighter pilot Brad “Booger” Hachat’s photo appears next to the poem “The Searcher,” penned in 1987 as a going away gift.

 

kathleenmrodgers' section @Cradle of Aviation exhibitUSAF Capt. Tom Rodgers featured in Aviators, Dreamers and Poets @ Cadle of Aviation Museum JPG

 

 

 

 

To read more about the exhibit, please click here.A Little Boy's Dream by Kathleen M. Rodgers, right of photo

 

Cradle of Aviation Museum

Charles Lindbergh Blvd.

Garden City, NY 11530

General (516) 572-4111

Reservations (516) 572-4066

Summer Hours

Open 7-Days, 9:30-5:00 through Labor DayExhibit at Cradle of Aviation Musuem

 

 

 

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

#AviatorsPoetsDreamers

“A Little Boy’s Dream”

Posted June 13, 2015

 

"Wings of the City" by Mexican artist Jorge Marin in Sundance Square, Fort Worth, TX. As my husband, Tom (a retired fighter pilot/commercial airline pilot), stepped up and spread his arms out against the sculpture, I thought of a poem I wrote for him many years ago when he was still flying fighters. “A Little Boy’s Dream” captures my husband’s childhood dream to fly.
As my husband, Tom (a retired fighter pilot/commercial airline pilot), stepped up and spread his arms out against the sculpture, “Wings of the City” by Mexican artist Jorge Marin in Sundance Square, Fort Worth, TX, I thought of a poem I wrote for Tom many years ago when he was still flying fighters. “A Little Boy’s Dream” captures my husband’s childhood dream to fly.

 

 

 

“A Little Boy’s Dream”

© Kathleen M. Rodgers From the book, Because I Fly (McGraw-Hill 2002)
© Kathleen M. Rodgers
From the book, Because I Fly, compiled by Editor Helmut H. Reda (McGraw-Hill 2002)

 

 

 

From Fighter Pilot to Book Publisher…RIP Lt. Col. Neil Levin (USMC Ret.)

My former publisher passed away on January 1, 2015, in Oceanside, CA. The day after his passing, I reflect on what this man did for my writing career. Before 2008, I was a longtime freelance writer with multiple credits in national publications. But my one dream…the dream that eluded me for nearly two decades…was to get my first novel into the hands of a traditional publisher, i.e., a publisher who believed in my work enough to invest time and money into my work.

“My favorite TOP GUN, fellow warrior, author, and friend - Neil was truly a man’s man and the very living image of a Leatherneck! He and I had many long engaging conversations over the last decade - about books, the Vietnam War, life, spiritual matters and family. He will not be forgotten by me and those who had the pleasure and honor of getting to know him.” Rev. Bill McDonald, Founder of Military Writers Society of America
“My favorite TOP GUN, fellow warrior, author, and friend – Neil was truly a man’s man and the very living image of a Leatherneck! He and I had many long engaging conversations over the last decade – about books, the Vietnam War, life, spiritual matters and family. He will not be forgotten by me and those who had the pleasure and honor of getting to know him.” Rev. Bill McDonald, Founder of Military Writers Society of America

On June 29, 2008, Neil Levin, Founder and CEO of Leatherneck Publishing, said YES to my first novel, The Final Salute. After sixteen years and over one hundred revisions and that many rejections, I finally found that one person in the universe who believed in my story enough to publish it. The novel was released in paperback that October, just in time for my 50th birthday.

Looking back, I don’t think Neil had any idea what he’d just set into motion.

About nine months after my book came out, Neil decided to leave publishing and closed his business, but he didn’t leave me hanging. He switched from being my publisher to becoming a supportive friend, and my book continued to sell on several online retailers.

"Giving Voice to these ghosts" appeared in all the editions of Military Times. Similar stories ran in USA Today and The Associated Press.
“Giving Voice to these ghosts” appeared in  Military Times. Similar stories ran in USA Today and The Associated Press.

Four months after Neil shut down Leatherneck Publishing, my book won a national book award from Military Writers Society of America. That same year, Army Wife Network selected it for their monthly book club pick. In early 2010, USA Today, The Associated Press, and Military Times carried the story of my sixteen-year journey to bring the novel to life, and the book hit #2 on Amazon’s paid bestseller list for Military Aviation. In 2011, Navigator Books released the Kindle edition with a new cover, and in 2012, the book hit #1 on Amazon’s Top Rated War Fiction. In 2014, my literary agent and I signed a contract with Deer Hawk Publications, and the second edition of The Final Salute once again soared to the top of Amazon’s bestseller charts for several days in December. To date, I have 137 reviews and most of them are five and four stars.

My only regret is that I never met Neil in person. But he knew that I never stopped being grateful. The last time I heard his voice was on my home answering machine last April when he called to check on us after my husband underwent major surgery. I can still hear Neil’s voice in my head. He was a big old gruff teddy bear. He was my hero.

From Neil’s daughter’s Facebook post moments after his death: “Talk about a lovely exit. My sister and I opened a bottle of champagne and went into my Dad's room. Turned on some jazz music and raised our glasses in a toast to Neil Levin and the grand life he led. We left the room for a couple of minutes and when we stepped back in he was gone. Good-bye Daddy Boy, now go dance with your Laurie in heaven!” Debbie Clolinger, Neil’s daughter
“Talk about a lovely exit. My sister and I opened a bottle of champagne and went into my Dad’s room. Turned on some jazz music and raised our glasses in a toast to Neil Levin and the grand life he led. We left the room for a couple of minutes and when we stepped back in he was gone. Good-bye Daddy Boy, now go dance with your Laurie in heaven!” Debbie Clolinger, Neil’s daughter’s Facebook post moments after his death.

Because of Neil Levin, I became a published novelist. He was the catalyst that started everything in motion. My second novel, Johnnie Come Lately, has just released from Camel Press, and I’m currently working on the sequel. When I started my first novel in 1992, I had no idea that a retired Marine fighter pilot would become my publishing angel.

To read more about my work, please click here:

Kathleen M. Rodgers

 

 

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 after the original publication, my little book that grew wings and learned to fly is back in paperback and e-book. 

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

ENDORSEMENTS AND REVIEWS:

“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. The story pulls you in from the very beginning.”

—    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

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping a Fighter Pilot’s Legacy Alive Through Story

Updated February 6, 2016

USAF Capt. Roy Westerfield and his wife, Petey (Maryellen). Roy was killed in a midair in 1980. Petey did remarry and passed away in 2009.
USAF Capt. Roy Westerfield and his wife, Petey (Maryellen). Roy was killed in a midair in 1980. Petey remarried and passed away in 2009.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red, White and True anthology, Potomac Books, Univ. Neb Press, origianl essay kathleenmrodgersEvery Feb. 6, Tom and I remember our dear friend, USAF Capt. Roy Westerfield, killed in his F-111 as he made his final approach into Cannon Air Force Base, Feb. 6, 1980. Roy was a gifted musician, and he played the trumpet at our wedding just a few months before his final flight. His beautiful wife, Petey (Maryellen), took our wedding photos.

For us, Roy and Petey were always larger than life. Petey is gone now, too, but both of them live on in my Air Force Times’ essay “Remembering Forgotten Fliers, Their Survivors” republished in the new anthology Red, White and True  from Potomac Books. Thanks to editor Tracy Crow for including my essay in the collection. In some small way, my story helps keep their memories alive for future generations.

Petey’s poem “Taps” graces the opening pages of my first novel, The Final Salute. She did get to read the book before she passed in 2009. Her poem is a tribute to Roy.

Roy Westerfield’s death haunted me for years. With Petey’s permission, I gave Roy’s first and last name to two different characters in The Final Salute. Tuck Westerfield and Roy “Wheaties” Wheaton carry on the legacy of so many fighter pilots who die in the prime of their lives…while flying peacetime training missions.

 

 

The First Story I Sold To Air Force Times

The first story I sold to Air Force Times…

The first story I sold to Air Force Times, England Air Force Base, Louisiana.
I wrote this while living at England Air Force Base, Louisiana, 1989.. The base served as the setting for my first novel, The Final Salute. The fictional base is named  Beauregard AFB.

This essay first appeared in Air Force Times, 2/19/89. After the story ran, I became a frequent contributor to Military Times. This opened the door for my future work at Family Circle Magazine.

On The Home Front: It’s a sign That Daddy’s in charge

I fear some generals would scoff and full-bird colonels balk if they knew the truth – that Daddy is running their Air Force. At least that’s how it looks in the Tactical Air Command, from the perspective of two Air Force brats.

According to these experts on insignia, my 2-and 4-year-old sons, the blue, red and yellow TAC patch seen everywhere on our base belongs to a Very Important Person: D-A-D-D-Y!  They don’t mind that others are wearing it, but they know that any man or woman in uniform bears “Daddy’s patch.”

Tactical Air Command Patch
Tactical Air Command Patch

Living on base, we cannot walk to a corner without the 2-year-old freezing in his tracks, pointing up to the street sign and firing off a round of  “Daddy’s! Daddy’s!” He continues his verbal strafing until I’m forced to agree that, “Yes, honey, it’s Daddy’s patch.”

Frankly, I never noticed the TAC emblem displayed on every street sign on base until the baby started talking. Before then, I thought he was just pointing up at the birds and clouds and the usual airplanes. Daddy flies them. Every airplane within range is Daddy’s, according to the 2-year-old. The 4-year-old is smarter now. “That isn’t Daddy up there, silly goose! Daddy is fishing,” or home in bed sleeping. On rare occasions, he’s even at the office. By the way, wing headquarters belongs to Daddy, as does any building with a TAC patch displayed on the premises.

My sons playing fighter pilots, circa 1988.
My sons playing fighter pilots, circa 1989.

One day while the boys and I were driving down a street on base, both of them broke out in unison, craning their necks upward and pointing, saying, “Daddy, Daddy!” I was looking out the windows, attempting to keep the car on the road, searching the wild blue yonder for Daddy. The only planes I could see were the ones grounded on the ramp. Then I caught a glimpse of “Daddy’s patch” high up on the water tower. I started realizing then how much that emblem really meant to the boys.

Another example was recently when I rushed our youngest to the emergency room after he tried unsuccessfully to tackle a rose bush. He was distraught, but not from the injury to his eye. He hasn’t been too keen on hospitals and doctors lately because of repeated visits to the emergency room (he has one speed – Mach 1 – and he’s always banging and bumping into something).

England Air Force Base, Louisiana, early sixties
England Air Force Base, Louisiana, early sixties

I tried calming him, rocking him, only to hear him scream at the top of his lungs, “Home! Me go home, Mom.”

I decided then, out of respect for the other patients, to walk him up and down the corridor. “Home, Mom,” he was saying and pointing to the nearest exit when suddenly he changed gears and shrieked, “Daddy’s patch!” referring to a tiny TAC sticker on the hospital wall. That little sticker was my saving grace and his, because from then on, he tried to be a big boy, like brother, braving it out while a med-tech flushed the injured eye with two bags of saline solution.

My respect for the patch rose even higher after that. It makes my boys feel happy and secure – like a small shield of armor in a world built for grown-ups. If Daddy wears that patch every day, then seeing it elsewhere is a good sign that Daddy can’t be too far away.

Tom and Kathy, fighter pilot days, circa 1988, Eielson, AK, on our way to Tom's final assignment, England AFB, La.
Tom and Kathy, fighter pilot days, circa 1988, Eielson, AK, on our way to Tom’s final assignment, England AFB, La.

~  Kathleen M. Rodgers is the author of the award-winning novel, The Final Salute , featured in USA Today and ranked # 1 on Amazon’s Top Rated War Fiction in 2012. The novel has been reissued by Deer Hawk Publications in e-book and print September 2014.  The story takes place at a fictionalized England AFB, La. The base closed in 1992 and was part of Tactical Air Command. Her new novel, Johnnie Come Lately is forthcoming from Camel Press February 1, 2015.

Please visit the author’s website: www.kathleenmrodgers.com