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.
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.
A book club founded ten years ago in North Texas (and still going strong) invited me to their January meeting to discuss both of my novels. Many thanks to Elizabeth Tessler for selecting Johnnie Come Lately and The Final Salute for a two book discussion in the warm surroundings of La Madeleine in Arlington, TX. The group was genuinely interested in my writing process, and they seemed pleased that I’m working on a third novel. When I told them I have a tight deadline, they cheered me on with words of encouragement and asked lots of good questions that will help me as I complete Seven Wings to Glory.
Our cashier’s face lit up when she discovered I’m an author. Turns out she’s an aspiring writer with dreams to publish one day. I gave her my card and invited her to contact me. We writers need all the encouragement we can get. Thanks again to “Book Club” for investing your time and emotion in my stories.
From reading passages of my latest novel, Johnnie Come Lately, on “The Author’s Corner” on Public Radio, to seeing my work on display in a museum on Long Island, New York, 2015 proved good to me as a writer. Thanks to each one of you who invested your time and emotion in my writing. I appreciate all the reviews, interviews, blog posts, word of mouth recommendations, book club selections, and sharing your copies of my books with your family and friends. I’m working away on my third novel, Seven Wings to Glory, due at my publisher by July 1, 2016.
I’ll be speaking about perseverance and writing through adversity at the November 2015 OWL Conference in Branson, MO. OWL stands for Ozarks Writers League and has been around since 1983. They welcome aspiring writers to seasoned authors. The conference runs November 20th & 21 at the Honeysuckle Inn & Conference Center.
Johnnie Come Lately’s fictional setting takes place in Portion, Texas, modeled after Grapevine. Anyone familiar with the area will recognize certain locations along historic Main Street, such as the Palace Theater and the corner bank building at Worth and Main. The cemetery along Dooley Street plays prominently in the story, as does the nearby lake.
Johnnie Come Lately deals with the repercussions of a heat-of-the-moment confession, a son’s enlistment during wartime, and many other issues that American families deal with day to day. At the heart of the story is a woman whose mama has been missing for several years and the family secrets surrounding her disappearance.
Johnnie Come Lately and The Final Saluteare available at Barnes & Noble in Southlake, TX (located minutes from DFW Airport). Both titles are upstairs in the Fiction and Literature department.
Johnnie Come Lately is set in the fictional town of Portion, Texas, a North Texas suburb based loosely on Grapevine, TX. The Final Salute is set at fictional Beauregard Air Force Base, based on England Air Force Base which closed in December of 1992.
A few days after my February 7, 2015 book signing at Barnes & Noble in Southlake, TX, I received a surprise message from Dr. Cindy Ryan, a minister at First United Methodist Church of Grapevine, TX. Dr. Ryan read about my latest novel in the Sunday book section of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Feb. 1, 2015), ordered the book, then fell in love with the story. She is an active member of her church’s No Stress Book Club, and she’s picked Johnnie Come Lately for their March selection. On March 25th, I will have the honor of attending their meeting to discuss my novel.
Both books are also available in paperback and e-book at most online booksellers.
A month before the official book launch of my second novel, Johnnie Come Lately, I stopped by the Barnes & Noble in Southlake, TX, to meet with the Community Relations Manager, Casey Dickey, and go over last minute details for the Feb. 7, 2015 event. Not only was this Casey’s second day on the job (she served as the CRM at the Midland, TX B & N until her recent move back to the Dallas/Fort Worth area), she had things under control and made me feel welcome.
What a feeling as an author. To be treated with professional courtesy in a major bookstore, to be considered “good enough” to sign copies of my books, is heady stuff. I’ve been writing professionally for over thirty-five years. For much of that time, I was a frequent contributor to Family Circle Magazine and Military Times. My essays, poems, and short stories have appeared in anthologies published by McGraw-Hill, University of Nebraska Press, Health Communications, Inc., AMG Publishers, and Press 53. Even after my first novel, The Final Salute, won a national book award and was featured in USA Today, I had never been asked to sign copies of my books at a major league bookstore.
After Casey showed me to a table and provided me with my choice of pens, I signed copies of the second edition of The Final Salute, repackaged and released by Deer Hawk Publications. Then Casey placed an “Autographed” sticker on each cover.
Copies ofJohnnie Come Lately should arrive any day now at the store, and I’m looking forward to Saturday, February 7 at 2 p.m., when I’ll greet the public and sign copies of my second novel, a novel that took six years to write.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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).
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.
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.)
I sat through the awards luncheon waiting for the real Kathleen Rodgers to show up. The one that grew up to become the person she’d always wanted to be: a successful writer. The one that smiles big for photo ops and has tried for thirty-five plus years to “make it” as a writer. I sat through a two-hour luncheon waiting for it to feel real. I looked at the other distinguished alumni and kept asking myself “how did I get here?” I can’t even remember my multiplication tables!
Then my name was called. When I turned to see my photo and a sample of my professional credits on the big screen, it started to feel real. All at once I was back in my comfort zone, especially when the president of the college asked jokingly if I brought any books to sign. And then when I took my seat and finally stared at my award:
Tarrant County College Northeast Campus
Distinguished Alumni Award
It was the word “novelist” that cemented the deal for me, and I got to share it with my dear friend, Rhonda Revels (the inspiration behind my character Whit Thomas in my second novel, Johnnie Come Lately.)
* A special note of thanks to my former government professor, Doris Jones, for nominating me. What I respect about Doris is how she respects her students.
See the press release about the Wall of Fame at TCC/NE Campus: