MWSA Interview with Coley Tyler

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Date of interview: 25 March 2019

LTC Coley D. Tyler is an Active Duty US Army Officer and former member of the Second Battalion, Seventh Cavalry Regiment (2-7 CAV). He was the Battalion Fire Support Officer during the Second Battle of Fallujah. LTC Tyler has served in many capacities during his service as an Artillery Officer in the First Cavalry Division, Physical Education Instructor at the United States Military Academy, Space Operations Officer in Korea, and Space Integration Officer to the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, GA. He is married with four children.


MWSA: How did you find out about MWSA?

Coley Tyler: Deeds Publishing as a primary publisher of military books recommended joining the organization for the benefits of a welcoming writing community, an honest review process, and help spreading the word about my book.

MWSA: What was your inspiration for your book Ghosts of Fallujah?

Coley Tyler: I was a participant in the Second Battle of Fallujah in Iraq 2004. I felt the historical significance of the battle, our unit (2nd Battalion, 7th US Cavalry), and connections with previous conflicts and leaders [World War II, Vietnam, and LTG (R) Hal Moore, etc.] was a story that deserved to be told. Writing Ghosts of Fallujah was also a cathartic process for me personally to help me deal with my time in Iraq and Afghanistan.

MWSA: How long did it take you to write Ghosts of Fallujah?

Coley Tyler: I started researching, outlining, and putting the Ghosts of Fallujah story together in 2009. It was finally published in 2018, so the process spanned almost a decade. The whole last year alone was for completing the Department of Defense review and approval process. Good things come to those who wait!

MWSA: What do you hope to accomplish with the publishing of Ghosts of Fallujah?

Click to purchase a copy

Click to purchase a copy

Coley Tyler: Very simply, to tell the story of some of the finest soldiers I have every served with and to encourage other combat veterans to share their story also. It is also a legacy piece for my family. Ghosts of Fallujah puts into words thoughts and feelings I have a hard time sharing verbally in hopes I may be better understood.

MWSA: What advice would you give others contemplating writing a book?

Coley Tyler: Go for it! Put your fears of rejection, someone not liking your work, or your ability to communicate in written form aside. I struggled with this kind of apprehension for many years, constantly trying to perfect what I had written. I finally took a leap of faith and only good things have come from doing so. It is not an easy process and it does take perseverance to the utmost, but nothing worth doing is easy.

MWSA: What has been the number one criticism Ghosts of Fallujah has received to date and what would you say about that?

Coley Tyler: The biggest criticism so far has been that there are details of the battle missing from my recount and this is true. Ghosts of Fallujah is my personal experience of the Second Battle of Fallujah, the intricate delicacies of destiny and fate in my life that brought me to that battlefield, and how it has impacted my life. I was not and could not be everywhere, but that was not my purpose for writing the book remember. I want others to fill in those holes with their personal experience. I think much more good will come from that for both the writer and the reader.

MWSA Interview with Mark Mayerstein

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Date of interview: 9 March 2019

Colonel Mayerstein attended Washington and Jefferson College where he played football and hockey. He then attended the Jewish Theological Seminary of America’s Cantorial School and served for a year in a pulpit in a synagogue in New Jersey. After a tour in Vietnam attached to the Army’s 5th Special Forces at Kontum, RVN, which was shortened by injury, he finished college graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education. In 1974 he joined the USAF and, after flight training, was assigned to the Strategic Air Command. At various bases, he was a B-52 bomber crewmember, instructor, and Flight Commander, served in a number of staff positions, was a Squadron Officer School instructor, and was a B-52/KC-135 Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Commander twice.

Colonel Mayerstein finished his 24-year Air Force career at the USAF Operational Test and Evaluation Center, Kirtland AFB, Albuquerque, NM as the Operational Test Logistics Officer for the B-2 Program, and then the Operational Test Manager for the Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle program, and two highly classified, multi-service, cruise missile acquisition programs. Ordained to the Gospel Ministry after retirement, he earned his Master of Divinity Degree. After a 1-year hospital chaplaincy residency, he was a Hospice Chaplain for many years. He is currently writing the dissertation for his Doctor of Theology Degree.

Pastor Mark now serves at the First Baptist Church of Rio Rancho, NM where he was the Director of the church’s 7-year mission to Belgorod, Russia. He teaches a Bible Study class, and leads the annual Messianic Passover Seder. Pastor Mark was a volunteer Chaplain for 5 years with the Albuquerque Police Department. Also, he hosts a weekly Christian commentary radio show. He has written and published four books and is currently writing a commentary on the Book of Ezekiel.

MWSA: How long have you been associated with MWSA?

Mark Mayerstein: For about 6 months.

MWSA: What was your inspiration for your book?

Mark Mayerstein: Because of the impact writing it had on my PTSD, it took 38 years to complete the task. It was actually part of my therapy, but my prime motivation was to enable my family to better understand why I had acted the way I did for so many years.

MWSA: What do you expect to get from your MWSA membership?

Mark Mayerstein: I anticipate that through interaction with other authors and by participating in the competitions, my writing will improve.

MWSA: If someone were to ask you if they should join MWSA, what would you tell them?

Mark Mayerstein: I would reply that if they only joined one writing organization it should be this one, because the potential for improvement and networking are many and varied.

MWSA: How many other books have you written and published?

Mark Mayerstein: Three: Two Bible Commentaries (Esther and Galatians) from a Jewish perspective, and a book entitled Eyes of the Viper that details my personal experiences with PTSD, the therapies I underwent, what precisely I was required to do during that therapy, how I felt, what I thought, and what were my greatest stressors. I was as transparent as I could possibly be, even though some things were fairly embarrassing. It was the cost I was willing to pay for a completely honest rendition.

MWSA: Are you working on another book now?

Mark Mayerstein: Yes. I'm writing a commentary on the Book of Ezekiel, which will be followed by commentaries on the Books of Isaiah and Jeremiah. My goal is ultimately complete a series covering the Old Testament Prophets.

MWSA Interview with Robert Jacob

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MWSA Interview January 2019

With a lifelong passion for history, Robert Jacob has been heavily involved in living history interpretation and reenacting for over 40 years. He has participated in activities covering a wide range of time periods including numerous French and Indian War and Revolutionary War reenactment groups, Western Gun Fighter groups, regularly attending Mountain Man Rendezvous and Renaissance Fairs.  During the past 12 years he has focused on the golden age of piracy with a concentration on Blackbeard. 

Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Robert graduated from Duquesne University with a Bachelor’s Degree in education in 1978.  He taught in the West Point public school district, West Point, VA for five years while completing his Master’s Degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1983.

In 1982, Robert entered the United States Marine Corps reserve and augmented to active duty in 1983.  During his service, he became a military occupational specialty instructor and earned the designation of Master Training Specialist.  Later in his career, he became the Commanding Officer of the Marine Detachment at the same school where he had earlier instructed.  He achieved the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 5 and retired after 31 years of service in 2013.

While researching information on the golden age of piracy, Robert realized that most of the publications on the subject were contradictory and even incorrect.  This motivated him to write his current publication, “A Pirate’s Life in the Golden Age of Piracy.”

MWSA  Why did you become an author in the first place?

 Jacobs I am a living history historian and re-enactor.  In 2006, I became interested in pirates and began to do research.  I was continually disappointed as I read literally every book on pirates that I could find.  Over time, I began to realize that I could do a better job.  That was the start of this book.  After ten years of research and literary composition, my book was published.

MWSA When and why did you join MWSA?

Jacobs Back in August of 2018 just after my book was published, I began looking for organizations to join in order to connect socially with experienced authors and publishers, to learn about the strange and confusing world of marketing literary works, and to network within the publishing world.  In googling organizations, I found the MWSA and immediately joined.

MWSA  Why did you choose to work in this genre?

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Jacobs I have always loved history.  It is the only genre I regularly read.   

MWSA Will you briefly list your other books for us?

Jacobs This is my first one.

MWSA  Tell us a little bit about this book.

Jacobs In researching the historical record of pirates in the golden age of piracy, I quickly realized that many of those books were contradictory, non-factual, or downright wrong.  Even the good ones didn’t tell the entire story.  I have gotten to the truth about all the most famous and important privateers and pirates between 1625 and 1722 and tell their stories in a chronological order, tying in the politics of the day.  I also delve into their daily lifestyles, even describing what they ate and how they dressed. 

MWSA What made you interested in writing a book on this particular topic?

Jacobs As mentioned above, I am a living historian and re-enactor who became interested in pirates.  As I researched the topic, I quickly realized that most of the books on the market were inaccurate, poorly written, narrowly focused, or just rehashes of earlier publications.  There needed to be one book that told the entire true story of pirates in the golden age.  What began as a small historical document I intended to share with my fellow re-enactors, eventually developed into my book, “A Pirate’s Life in the Golden Age of Piracy.”

MWSA  What makes this particular book special to you?

Jacobs In addition to being my first book, it is definitely a produce of intense research over a ten-year period.  Beyond that, it is precisely the book I wanted to read when back in 2006.  It is a work that I am very proud of. 

A Conversation with MWSA Author Julia Dye

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From the Fall 2018 edition of Dispatches

Julia Dye tells stories because she loves to entertain and see a certain secret smile from her readers when she strikes a chord. Julia writes about anything in the human condition that interests her, but she has an affinity for stories with a military flavor. Dr. Dye works as the Vice President and CFO of Warriors, Inc., the entertainment business’s premiere military advising company. She began with Warriors on the film Starship Troopers. Projects since then include Rough Riders, Terminator 2:3D, Star Trek: The Adventure, Wag the Dog, the Medal of Honor series for Electronic Arts, and was Weapons Master on Alexander with Oliver Stone. She served as Adjutant on the maxi-series The Pacific for HBO, and is currently directing a documentary about Marine Corps Combat Correspondents. Her book Backbone: History, Traditions, and Leadership Lessons of Marine Corps NCOs has received critical acclaim and a gold medal from the Military Writers Society of America. She currently lives between Los Angeles, close to the entertainment business, and Lockhart, Texas, close to her heart.

MWSA: Why did you become an author in the first place?

Dye: When I was young, I loved to read anything I could get my hands on. I was fortunate to come from a family of readers, and a huge variety of books were available to me, and no one said I shouldn’t read something because of my age. I remember reading I, Claudius in grade school and being swept away. I didn’t realize that book wasn’t meant for children until I was in high school. Books are magic. Readers can see and experience things we could never do in real life. It starts for me the minute I open the cover. I get so involved I don’t even notice that I’m turning the page. I wanted to create that kind of magic.

MWSA: When and why did you join MWSA?

Dye: I joined MWSA many years ago; I think it was in 2010, while I was writing Backbone. I wanted to be a part of a community of military writers, and I found the idea of a group of writers with similar goals and ideals very attractive.

MWSA: Why did you choose to work in this genre?

Dye: There’s so much going on right now in the world of Young Adult fiction. All the old rules have been thrown out and almost any topic is fair game. And I wanted to feel back to the child I was, who read everything and wanted more…I wanted to provide something for that kid. And I wanted a chance to write from a young girl’s perspective, to give insight to adults about what it’s like to grow up in a military family, especially when a parent is deployed.

MWSA: Will you briefly list your other books for us?

Dye: Backbone: History, Traditions, and Leadership Lessons of Marine Corps NCOs: Noncommissioned officers stand as the backbone of the United States Marine Corps. In this insightful and thoroughly researched book, Julia Dye explores the cadre of noncommissioned officers that make up the Marine Corps’ system of small-unit leadership. To help us better understand what makes these extraordinary men and women such effective leaders, Dye examines the 14 leadership traits embraced by every NCO. These qualities— including judgment, enthusiasm, determination, bearing, and unselfishness—are exemplified by men like Terry Anderson, the former Marine sergeant who spent nearly seven years as a hostage in Beirut, John Basilone, the hero of the Pacific, and many others. To assemble this extraordinary chronicle, Julia Dye interviewed Anderson and dozens of other Marines, mining a rich trove of historical and modern NCO heroes that comprise the Marine Corps’ astonishing legacy, from its founding in 1775 to the present day. Gold medal winner from MWSA, 2014 I also co-wrote with my husband, Captain Dale Dye, the graphic novel Code Word: Geronimo: The leader of SEAL Team 6 uttered, “Geronimo,” and the world let out a sigh of relief. The symbol of ultimate evil was no more. Code Word: Geronimo is the amazing, moment-by-moment story of the clandestine raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Bronze medal winner from MWSA, 2013

MWSA: Tell us a little bit about this book.

Dye: Through My Daughter’s Eyes is a one-of-a-kind, much-needed look at what it means to come of age in a military family today. Our middle school heroine Abbie is wiser than her years—and most of the adults in her life, for that matter. Equal parts Flavia de Luce and Harriet the Spy, Abbie describes her life this way: “My best friend and fellow Army-brat Megan and I had a plan to get through Dessau Middle School (Go Diamondbacks!) by being just good enough to not get noticed and not so good we’d be picked out for any attention. And it worked—for a while.

“Then my dad got deployed—again—and mom fell apart, leaving me in charge of my own life and, it seemed, everyone else’s. When Dad came home after about a hundred-million years, he wasn’t much help, either. I know war is terrible, but it’s not like he talks to me about it, so how was I supposed to know what to do? He’s not even the same dad that left. “I turned to my grandpa for help, but in the end, I had to let go of being the glue that kept everything together. I had to learn to give my parents room to save themselves—and our family.”

MWSA: What made you interested in writing a book on this particular topic?

Dye: War shows human beings both at their very best and very worst. What war gives any given society, or social group, or economic structure, or religious base, or an individual, is an unequivocal stress-test. The true conviction behind the ideals and beliefs of a society is only revealed during and after the stress of something like war. That does not mean that war is a good or positive thing, just that it is a conduit for revealing elements of a society that are otherwise hidden to us. It’s a way to look beyond what a culture says it believes in to what that culture actually does.

MWSA: What makes this particular book special to you?

Dye: About 2 million American children have at least one parent serving in the military, and that number climbs exponentially when you add in other first-responder parents. And that doesn’t include children of veterans, like me. Military children tend to be healthy, well-adjusted, culturally savvy members of our communities. They’re citizens of the world. Remember, these kids belong to other cultural groups, too, and are not just defined by the military. There’s blended families, various religions, all of the possible kinds of families are also military families.

MWSA Interview with Nancy Panko

Date of interview: 19 January 2019

Based on actual events, Nancy Panko’s award winning novel, Guiding Missal, is narrated by a small Catholic prayer book carried in the pockets of three generations of servicemen, beginning in 1942 during WWII and ending in 1993 with the Battle of Mogadishu during Blackhawk Down. It is a tale of faith, family, patriotism, and miracles both on and off the battlefield. The book began as a result of efforts to re-create her father-in-law’s military history as a birthday present for her husband, Butch, on the 50th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. As she held the Military Missal in her hands, Nancy thought, “If only this little book could talk.” In her novel, she gives the prayer book a voice.

The making of Guiding Missal was a May 2017 segment on WRAL-TV’s The Tar Heel Traveler. Nancy and her book participated on Robby Dilmore’s WTRU radio show, Kingdom Pursuits. The Military Writers’ Society of America presented Guiding Missal with the 2017 Silver Award-for Historical Fiction. Guiding Missal has over two dozen five-star reviews on Amazon and has been lauded in the Raleigh News & Observer in Cindy Shaffer’s Book Beat column.

Nancy is a retired pediatric nurse and a twelve-time contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul and Guidepost magazines. She is a member of the Cary Senior Writing Circle, The Light of Carolina Christian Writers’ Group, and The Military Writers’ Society of America.

She and her husband migrated from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania to North Carolina in 2009. They have two children and four grandchildren. They love being in, on, or near the water of Lake Gaston with their family.

MWSA: How did you find out about MWSA?

Nancy Panko: My Publisher, Wally Turnbull of Light Messages in Durham, NC, sent me an email saying he thought I ought to enter my novel, Guiding Missal, in the 2017 contest as a Historical Fiction contender. He continued, ""I think it could win a medal."" I joined MWSA, entered the contest, and won a Silver Medal for Historical Fiction.

MWSA: What was your inspiration for your book?

Nancy Panko: A pocket-sized Catholic Military Missal was returned to my husband in 1994 after having been carried in the pockets of three generations of service members over a 50-year span. It had given guidance and solace to the men who carried it in their pockets during The Battle of the Bulge in World War II, the cold war and building of the Berlin Wall in the 1960s, and during fighting in the dusty streets of Mogadishu, Somalia during what became known as ""Blackhawk Down."" As I held the fifty-year old military missal in my hands, I thought, ""If only this prayer book could talk. I think it was then that the seed was planted to write about it’s journey.

MWSA: What writing projects are you working on these days?

Nancy Panko: I had my tenth submission to Chicken Soup for the Soul published in a January 9, 2019 release, Messages From Heaven. Presently, I'm working on a second novel about a guardian angel who comes into the human realm with a newborn baby and stays to protect the child until her days are done. It is a generational story beginning during the World War II era on a dairy farm in central New York State. I continue to submit short stories to Chicken Soup based on my personal experiences in hopes of reaching the magic number of 20 contributions.

MWSA: Now that you've finished writing and publishing Guiding Missal, what do you know now that you wish you had known before you started?

Nancy Panko: I wish I had had more education in the writing process. When I started Guiding Missal I had only taken a Creative Writing class in my Senior year of high school. I learned that I had some talent to write but life took some twists and turns. As a Registered Nurse, we had training on how to write clear, concise nursing care plans. Twenty-three years of care plans and charting gave me a backgroud of proper grammar and use of the English language, the rest was desire to tell a story. I learned as I went along with the help of great editors, through participating in webinars, and taking advantage of free writing classes at our local colleges and universities. It was a process but I had a lot to learn. The payoff was that I was first published with Chicken Soup for the Soul at age 71 and published my first novel at age 74!

MWSA: How did becoming a Silver Medal Winner help promote your book?

Nancy Panko: The prestige and honor of being recognized by MWSA was respected by folks who looked at my book and made it more likely that they would buy it. The Silver Medal sticker on the book was always an attention getter. I believe being an award-winner has resulted in more speaking engagements. We live in an area populated by military and former military families and the book is very popular with them. I have affiliated myself with a local organization, Military Missions in Action, attending events selling books with a portion of my proceeds going to this worthy cause of helping vets and their families. Everyone always wants to know about the Military Writers' Society of America.

MWSA: How did you get started writing?

Nancy Panko: I loved English, literature, reading and wrote stories and poems for special occasions for my family from the time I was a school aged child. I tried my hand at submission to Reader's Digest Humor In Uniform in the mid 1990s and was accepted. It was only a 400 word count submission but they paid $400! I thought I was ""hot stuff."" The next evening our water heater exploded and it cost us $475 to replace it. I learned quickly not to get too ""puffed up"" because the deflation isn't worth it. Years later, after my nursing career of twenty-three years, I was relating a story of a patient who changed my life. My friend encouraged me to write the story in the hopes that it could help someone reading it. I did. It was published in a magazine in California then in Chicken Soup for the Soul, and finally under a different title in Guidepost Magazine. I had the writing bug from that point on.

MWSA: What was the most interesting part of your writing journey?

Nancy Panko: In order to begin Guiding Missal I had to re-created my father-in-law's military history. Everything he'd brought home from his Tour of Duty, including citations and medals, was gone. A fire in the Army records center in St. Louis, Missouri had destroyed his section of records. After unsuccessfully trying the court house and other leads, I felt defeated.

A week later, a phone call changed everything. My brother-in-law, Pete remembered Dad receiving a yearly newsletter from the secretary of the 289th Cannon Company. He had kept it! It had names, addresses and phone numbers. I felt like I’d won the lottery.

I contacted the gentleman who sent the newsletter. He encouraged me to call others on the list, giving me names. These men had served with Dad and knew stories no one in our family had ever heard. I began personal interviews and received letters from members of the company, men in their eighty’s, who were eager to tell their stories, as well as Dad’s. They gave life to Dad as a soldier. One man sent a booklet of the history of the 289th Cannon Company. Others sent actual war maps detailing their trek across Europe, driving the Germans out of France, the liberation of concentration camps and the surrender of the Germans.

A long letter from Uncle Joe, Dad's brother, gave me much more information and some very funny stories. Both Dad and Joe were serving in the ETO (European Theater of Operations.) It was 1945 in France, and the brothers had not seen each other for two years. As fate would have it, they were reunited when they literally ran into each other in a tent. Both were marking time while waiting to be shipped back to the States. Uncle Joe added humor and laughter with page after page of stories of their antics.

Without the volume of material these men provided, it would have been impossible to tell Dad’s story. I began to compile the information in a notebook. That single notebook grew to three notebooks.

MWSA: What would like us to know about you and/or Guiding Missal?

Nancy Panko: Guiding Missal - Fifty Years. Three Generations of Military Men. One Spirited Prayer Book was an honor for me to research and write. I spoke to many heros and listened to their stories. In tribute to all who served, I needed to get this story right because men died serving our great country. The story is historically correct but the human element also had to be authentic. The men I interviewed made it all possible. Receiving validation from MWSA was a great honor. I am happy to say that through this validation, Guiding Missal has been recently approved by the U.S. Army to be featured in a book signing event at the 82nd Airborne Museum in Fayetteville, NC to be announced.

MWSA: How is your book, Guiding Missal available?

Nancy Panko: It is available in print, digital and audio formats. Through Amazon, Audible.com, and iTunes."

A Conversation with MWSA Member & Author J E Stanton

J E Stanton Bio
J E Stanton writes under the pen name of M H Burton

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Born 1945 in Freeport IL son of a cheesemaker for Kraft Foods. Kraft closed plant in 1950 and we moved to Chicago. Closed that plant in 1958 and we moved to New Ulm, MN. Amazingly the NU plant is still operating. Graduated from NUHS in 1963. Went off to University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Five-year course in Engineering. Was midway through Year Four when my friendly Brown County Draft Board informed me that there would be no Year Five. 1967 was a banner year for the Vietnam War. Great need for “warm bodies and human sandbags”.  Considered going to Canada. It wasn’t all that far away.

Took Army’s language aptitude test and scored high. Enlisted for 4 years with Army Security Agency as translator/interpreter. My choice of languages according to recruiter. Asked for Russian and Chinese. Got Laotian.  Basic at Ft. Leonard Wood. Then to the US State Department’s Foreign Service Institute in Arlington VA.  Forty hours a week full immersion, 49 weeks, no English spoken in class, native Lao teachers. The only way to learn one of the toughest foreign languages in the world. Finished at the top of my class of five.

Stationed at Student Detachment barracks next to Pentagon-now beneath Visitors Center of Arlington National Cemetery. Watched 100 blocks of DC burn during 1968 riots. War protest March on Pentagon passed 50 yards from my barracks window. Resurrection City sprang up next to Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool. 24/7 Protests in Lafayette Park across from White House. Interesting times as in the Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times”.

Then off to Thailand. Top Secret Signal Intelligence base called Ramasun Station. Two plus years there monitoring events in Laos. Married a Thai woman. So did many other Lao “Lingies” as we were called. Still married to her. Back to States and unemployment in 1971. Stumbled into computers and stayed there for the next 30 years as Systems Analyst and Software Developer. Retired and began second career as market gardener, stamp dealer, and eventually-writer.

Why did you become an author in the first place?

Wife and I were in her home in “impoverished NE Thailand” during the winter of 2009-10. Small rural village, not a great lot to do. Got tired of reading so I decided to write something. Wrote a short story I called “Decker and the Dragon” about the spook and spy biz at Ramasun. Liked it so I wrote more. “Decker” got published in an anthology of stories by writers over the age of 50 so I decided to combine a bunch of my stories into a book titled “Tales of Ramasun”. Couldn’t find a publisher for it so I published it myself using Amazon’s self-publishing software. Their software was bug-infested crap, but I figured out how to make it work. It’s much better now than it was in 2012. “Tales” was a modest success. Is still selling seven years later and I’m still writing.

When and why did you join MWSA?

2011. Looked at the stories MWSA was putting out and they seemed to be right up my alley. Still read many of them. Sent my “Tales” off from a review and was pleased with the professionalism of the review and the fact that the reviewer had obviously read my book.

Why did you choose to work in this genre?

My first books were all memoirs and short stories. Easy to write. Little or no research involved. Wanted to do a book about the CIA’s Secret War in Laos. I knew quite a bit about it because I’d “covered” it for more than two years. Also knew that I didn’t know anywhere near all there was to know about it so I decided Historical Fiction would be my best bet. Still did a great deal of research. Much harder than writing memoirs but I enjoyed it and learned a lot.

Will you briefly list your other books for us?

In addition to the already mentioned “Tales of Ramasun” two follow-up collections: “Tales of Ramasun II” and “The Ramasun Files”. A borderline pornographic novel about a golf pro “Sherlock” and his sexy Thai Princess “Watson” called “Mixed Foursome”.   And an historical fiction novel set during the Dakota War of 1862 in Minnesota titled “Dacotah Blood”.

Tell us a little bit about this book.

 In June of 1960 Mike Bauer is a naïve idealistic 22-year-old Minnesota farm boy with a freshly-minted Agronomy Degree who wants to do good in the world and have some adventures while doing it.  “Those faraway places with the strange sounding names” are calling him.  He signs on for two years at $75 a month as an agricultural advisor with a missionary society supported by his church and hits the jackpot.  Laos is almost exactly half way around the world from New Germania, Minnesota, can’t get farther away than that.  Xiengkhouang and Naxaithong and Lhat Houang sound exotic enough for you?  Those are just some of the places.  How about the people?  Is Prince-General Phongphasansak Inxixiengmai enough of a mouthful?  Mike gets what he signed up for, and a lot more. Finds himself posted to a mission at Lhat Houang which is in middle of a war his superiors hadn’t told him about-possibly because they didn’t know about it themselves. That’s just beginning of the craziness, danger and adventure.  He soon begins to call Laos “Alice in Wonderland”.  Things just keep getting “curiouser and curiouser” for sixteen years.

But long before those sixteen years are up in 1976 and Mike returns to his native Minnesota he has become “Mysterious Mike”.  A CIA master spy?  An international drug Lord?  The “Lawrence of Laos”?  A bloody-handed war criminal?  An unsung hero?  Or is he just what he says he is, an agricultural advisor to the Hmong mountain people. The brave men and women (and children) who fought so long and hard and skillfully against the Communist takeover of Laos.  They needed much more than advice on how to improve their crops.  They needed help surviving…and in the end they needed help escaping the Communists and finding a new home…in Minnesota.  Mike Bauer did what he could to help them.  With all of that! 

What made you interested in writing a book on this particular topic?

My military background. What I learned about life in rural Thailand and Laos when I was stationed there 1968-71 and in the many extended visits I’ve made there since. What my Thai wife has taught me over the years. What I’ve learned from the many Hmong and Tai Dam and lowland Lao refugees I’m met in Minnesota.

What makes this particular book special to you?

I have always wanted to write something about what I consider to be my “home town” of New Ulm, Minnesota, but had never done it. I was able to put a lot of New Ulm into this book thinly disguised as “New Germania”.

MWSA Interview with Jim Tritten

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Date of interview: 14 January 2019

Jim retired after a forty-four year career with the Department of Defense including duty as a carrier-based naval aviator. He holds advanced degrees from the University of Southern California and formerly served as a faculty member and National Security Affairs department chair at the Naval Postgraduate School. Dr. Tritten’s publications have won him thirty-three writing awards, including the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award from the Navy League of the U.S. He has published six books and over three hundred chapters, short stories, essays, articles, and government technical reports. Jim was a frequent speaker at many military, arms control, and international conferences and has seen his work translated into Russian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

MWSA: How long have you been associated with MWSA?

Jim Tritten: I first went to the MWSA conference in Phoenix, AZ in 2014

MWSA: What motivates you to write and how did you get started?

Jim Tritten: My first writing for publication was for the high school newspaper. Can’t remember what motivated me, but I suspect it was that I would have a venue for being funny. Or just getting attention. Or perhaps being with the good-looking girls on the newspaper staff. Once I was at work and I learned I could write in an environment where very few had that skill, writing was a way to stand out and make contributions that were frequently recognized. I used every opportunity to write at work and soon found this a good way to get paid to do what I liked to do. When I retired, more than a few people suggested that I should break free of the non-fiction I used to get paid to write and move into other genres. Then I realized it was an excellent way to process trauma and PTSD. That is now my primary motivation to write.

MWSA: What’s most rewarding about writing?

Jim Tritten: When I wrote non-fiction, I would say when I won a prize or my work was singled out for some official recognition. These often led to requests to collaborate, to contribute, or to speak. Now that I have shifted from work-related writing to what I want to write, I feel rewarded when I see that I have caused a reaction on the part of someone who has read my words or heard me say them out loud. For example, if I can make someone cry by just putting some ink on paper, then I feel I’ve mastered the craft. Of course seeing your work in print in a book, magazine, or journal are still good rewards.

MWSA: What has writing taught you about yourself?

Jim Tritten: When I worked and wrote non-fiction, I learned discipline and how to complete tasks. This was a leg up when I stopped working and shifted to totally different types of writing. Since then, I have used my writing to help process PTSD. Learning about emotion and then being able to describe it were integral steps in the recovery process taught by the VA. The next step was to be able to write words on paper that would make the reader feel, see, etc. exactly what was going on inside an individual when faced with a variety of circumstances. When I learned I could do that, I felt good.

MWSA: How has your life experience influenced your writing?

Jim Tritten: Again it depends upon what part of my life. As an academic, your writing is totally influenced by work. As a pilot, I was able to write down what happened so that others might learn. Most of that was telling and not showing. When I switched to fiction and post-work memoir, I used all of my life experiences, my diagnosis of PTSD, flying, etc. and blended that knowledge with what I had to learn about writing in new genres for different audiences. I have learned that writing about what you know does not just mean about things that you did. More importantly it means feelings that you have experienced and can describe so that someone else can experience them as well.

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MWSA: What encouraging advice can you offer new writers?

Jim Tritten: Take every opportunity to write, even if it is not an article or book or something that can be published. Be a recording secretary for a volunteer organization – it will teach you good skills about summarizing what happened. Write experimental pieces that stretch your skills and abilities – my recent experiment in horror was an eye opener. And above all, don’t stop writing until someone pries the pen from your cold, dead hands.

A Conversation with MWSA Member & Author E. Franklin Evans

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E. Franklin Evans is a decorated, retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel who fought as an infantry platoon leader in Vietnam and served in the United States Army for over twenty-six years. Following a tour with the Ranger Department at Fort Benning, Georgia, he departed for Vietnam in 1968.

He also served as a Special Agent of Counter-Intelligence for the US Army. Frank has a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Columbus State University, a Master of Arts in Management and a Master of Arts in Computer Resources Management from Webster University in Saint Louis.

As an adjunct college professor, he taught college courses in Microcomputer Applications for eleven years. 

His first book, Stand To... A Journey to Manhood, was published in January 2008. It won MWSA’s Founder’s Award. He has published two additional books in 2017: Read My Shorts and The Lost Estate: Insurgency in Alabama.

He is married to Pamela Evans and is the father of three grown children, two sons and a daughter.

MWSA: Why did you become an author in the first place? E. Franklin Evans: I’ve always been interested in writing. My desire began in high school where my English and Drama teachers encouraged me to pursue writing. I wrote many contract offers and training manuals while in the army.  Upon my entry into college, my English teacher, who was a successful published author, Dr. Virginia Spencer Carr; The Lonely Hunter: A Biography of Carson McCullers encouraged me to write, and thus began my writing career. My membership with the MWSA jump-started my desire and off I went.

MWSA: When and why did you join MWSA?

EFE: Looking for a respected organization to market my first book in 2008, I discovered The MWSA through a friend. Once I joined, I was thoroughly impressed with the wide range of writers; some were published authors and others were beginning to write. I felt at home.

I have developed many friendships within the membership. In the MWSA, I found professional editors, reviewers, and seasoned assistance in reaching my goal to become a better writer. By reviewing other’s works, I developed a sense of what worked and what did not. I learned what a necessity a professional editor is. My first published book won the distinguished Founder’s Award in 2009.

MWSA: Why did you choose to work in this genre?

EFE: Through my contributions to several MWSA anthologies, I began to develop my own style. Fiction will be my future. I will publish an historical fiction next. Several ideas keep asking me to write about them. My stories seem to write themselves as the words flow.

MWSA: Will you briefly list your other books for us?

EFE: Stand To…A Journey to Manhood (2009); Read My Shorts, several short stories in Dispatches and MWSA Anthologies.

MWSA: Tell us a little bit about your new book, The Lost Estate.

EFE: This is the story of a man trying to fight his demons while personal tragedies keep pummeling him. The onetwo punch of horrifying news nearly devastated New York City detective lieutenant, Mark Saunders. Under investigation by internal affairs for his recent shooting

of a would-be assassin intensified his troubles. The jealous asshole, Decker, passed over for the coveted promotion that he felt Saunders stole from him, was trying hard to incriminate Mark of using excessive force. Alcohol only contributed to Mark’s depression, initially brought on by his two-timing wife of six years. Now, burdened with coping with the grief of family deaths and the estate settlement of the Southern plantation of his childhood, Mark was beginning to allow his stressors to exceed his coping abilities: to put it bluntly, Mark was at the end of his rope. What awaited him in his old hometown was almost too much for this hardened cop.

MWSA: What made you interested in writing a book on this particular topic?

EFE: I wanted to write in this genre and, perhaps, continue this story as a series.

MWSA: What makes this particular book special to you?

EFE: I believe this is my best work yet.

A Conversation with MWSA Member & Author, Dennis Maulsby

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Dennis Maulsby is a retired bank president living in Ames, Iowa. His poems and short stories have appeared in The North American Review, Mainstreet Rag, The Hawaii Pacific Review, The Briarcliff Review (Pushcart nomination), on National Public Radio’s Themes & Variations, and many other journals. Some of his poems have been set to music and may be heard at his website: www.dennismaulsby.com.

As of November 2017, sixty-seven of his poems have been individually published in various journals, forty percent of which have won awards, ranging from honorable mentions to first place. Out of ten separate short stories published, five have won awards. Of his six books published, four have won awards. Maulsby is a past president (2012 – 2014) of the Iowa Poetry Association.

Six weeks before my 1964 graduation at Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa, I received a letter from my hometown Draft Board in Marshalltown, Iowa. They wanted to know what I would be doing after my student deferment expired.

Having no money to continue on to Grad school, and being prime draft material, they told me I should cut a deal with a recruiter. Therefore, I went the way of many of my hometown schoolmates and enlisted in Army Military Intelligence. They liked the fact that Iowa schools required language training.

I took basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Then, true to their word, they send me to Monterey, California for language school. In spite of having a background in French, Spanish, and Latin, they assigned me to Russian. A year and a half later and twenty-two undergraduate credit hours in that language (credited through Berkley) I was in Washington, D.C. taking Russian voice intercept on a modified court stenography machine. After making the rank of Specialist fifth class, I applied for Officer Candidate School and graduated a one hundred and eighty day wonder. After additional cryptographic training, I was sent to Vietnam, being present in that country for the Tet Offensive. We worked under cover as Radio Research units — first with the 25th Infantry at Cu Chi.

For the first six months, I led small units scattered over the countryside intercepting radio traffic and direction-finding enemy units. Our platoon base was centered in the village of Trang Bang. The few of us rapidly became part of village life. The seconds six months was spent with the 175th Radio Research Company at Bien Hoa, A company in name only, it soon swelled to over three times the size of a normal unit.

The real excitement started when we notified General Westmoreland’s folks that the North Vietnamese were swarming down out of their Laotian and Cambodian camps to surround South Vietnamese cities. As frequently happens, we were not believed (see Custer’s last stand, Pearl Harbor, the Battle of the Bulge, the Chinese army secret entry into North Korea, etc.).

MWSA Dispatches: Why did you become an author in the first place?

Dennis Maulsby: A Vietnam vet and a member of the MWSA once told me: “When we returned from Nam, we dealt with our problems with women, drugs, or creativity.” Finding the first two items too dangerous, I choose creativity. Tried many outlets: sculpture, painting, quilting, hooking rugs, and furniture design. They helped, but didn’t last. Finally, I turned to writing, beginning that path almost twenty years ago. It has been very effective in releasing emotions and in creating worlds that you control. American English has over a million words — don’t believe I will run out of them in my remaining lifetime.

MWSA: When and why did you join MWSA?

DM: Can’t remember the exact date I joined MWSA, but it must have been around the turn of the century. It was wonderful to find a writing home, people who appreciated the experience I had gone through, and accepted me unconditionally. This was especially welcome after experiencing the prejudice and hate prevalent at the time against Vietnam veterans. Thank you MWSA for providing a safe place for us.

MWSA: Why did you choose to work in this genre?

DM: My plan was to develop my writing ability by beginning with poetry. Once comfortable with that medium, I would advance to short stories and then to novels. If I could only take the imagery, sensuality, and passion of poetry and bring it into prose… in effect creating a lyrical prose style.

My poetry concentrated initially on themes of war (any war) and after five years, of peace. My first full book of poetry published by Prolific Press entitled Near Death/Near Life takes the reader on the roller coaster ride of war and peace. My prose is ninety per cent science fiction/fantasy and ten percent literary. I was the boy who read all the fifties pulp magazines and sci-fi books late into the night with a flashlight under the covers. Your imagination is the only limitation to the creation and fulfillment of these worlds.

MWSA: Will you briefly list your other books for us?

DM: A. Remembering Willie, and all the others, (war poetry chapbook), NSL Publishing, Second edition: 2005 Military Writers Society of America Silver Medal Award for Poetry; Silver Medal Award 2009 Branson Stars & Flags Award for Poetry.

B. Frissons, first edition 2011 (haiku/senryu chapbook), NSL Publishing.

C. Near Death/Near Life, Prolific Press, May 2015. (Full-size poetry book commercially published). 2016 Finalist Best Book Award sponsored by USA Book News and i310 Media Group in the Poetry category; 2016 Gold medal winner, Military Writers Society of America; Finalist for the da Vinci Eye cover art award, 2017 Eric Hoffman Contest; Finalist International Book Awards 2017 in the poetry category.

D. Free Fire Zone, Prolific Press, December 2016 (Seventeen linked Sci-fi short stories, commercially published). Finalist International Book Awards 2017 in the Sci-fi category; 2017 Silver medal winner by The Military Writers Society of America.

E. Heptadecagon, November 2017, (haiku/senryu with a bonus tanka chapbook), NSL Publishing.

F. Other manuscripts in various stages of completion include another book of linked short stories and five novels.

MWSA: Tell us a little bit about the latest book.

DM: Welcome to Free Fire Zone. In Vietnam, anyone found in such an area was considered hostile, a legitimate target that could be killed on sight. Each of the seventeen stories in this book originate from this zone, any subject, any genre fair game.

Free Fire Zone is a book of linked short stories, each introduced by a mood poem. The stories follow the life of Lieutenant Rod Teigler, from his combat experience in Vietnam through a civilian life plagued with a re-wired brain. A mind now shared with an alternate berserker personality struggling to become dominant. The protagonist, Lieutenant Teigler, links each story but they also cross genres. There is a murder mystery, Gothic horror, war, crime, western, romance, psychological thriller, H.P. Lovecroft monster, kidnapping, and more. I think Mike Mullins, bless him, summed it up best in his review:

Maulsby addresses the demons created by PTSD, but he brings his demon to life, imbuing it with personality and power beyond any description I’ve read before.  One does what one must in war in order to survive and support his warrior brothers. There is heart-rending, heart-changing danger in doing that. Maulsby tackles the topic head on, breathes life into it, even if it makes a reader uncomfortable. By Mike Mullins, MWSA Reviewer

MWSA: What made you interested in writing a book on this particular topic?

DM: Short stories were the next step in my writing career. Their use as a collection allowed me to experience and learn about the various genres of popular literature.

MWSA: What makes this particular book special to you?

DM: This book allowed me to cut my literary teeth on prose. It took seven years to write and three years after to be published. Also, a dominant theme peppered throughout the book deals with veterans and how they adapted both to war and the society, loved ones, and friends to which they returned afterwards. War rewired our brains. I wanted to tell our story from the different angles multiple genres allow.

First appeared in the Winter 2018 Dispatches magazine.

A Conversation with MWSA Member & Author Peter Margaritis

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MWSA: Will you give us a short biography and please send us your photo? Peter Margaritis: I was born in the steel city of Gary, Indiana, but I have lived in Central Ohio nearly all my life. I graduated from The Ohio State University in 1978 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business. I am married, with four children. I served in the U.S. Navy during Vietnam, and later, served another 18 years in the Naval Reserve in intelligence, retiring as a chief petty officer.

MWSA: Why did you become an author in the first place?

PM: I have enjoyed writing ever since the sixth grade. I loved reading all sorts of stories, and began writing short stories that were sequels to some of my favorite movies, projecting me into the story. In my twenties, I became a manager in a firm specializing in aerial lift devices. There, I began writing inspection manuals. I eventually progressed into becoming a

technical writer, deriving a certain sense of satisfaction creating a document that others used in the course of their jobs.

MWSA: When and why did you join MWSA?

PM: I joined MWSA in the fall of 2017, when I first became aware of the organization.

MWSA: Why did you choose to work in this genre?

PM: Ever since junior high school, military history has always had some appeal to me. As a teenager interested in military history, I became fascinated with board war games. Small cardboard counters represented military units that moved through these squares. I became enthralled with the mechanics of warfare, the art of conflict realistically in a game, portraying a large scale of battle over so compact a board. Interest in military history just intensified with my love for this hobby. One day, I read a book that changed my life: Cornelius Ryan’s classic The Longest Day. His account of D-Day brought the characters in the book alive through individual personal recollections, and suddenly a history book became a sort of novel for me. I found that the myriad of human elements in historical events gave the turn of events a sort of unpredictability that had to be dealt with in writing history. I later found out that his works were based on exhaustive research, which I appreciated. Although I worked as a tech writer, my first love was always military history, and after retiring, I began to actively pursue that endeavor. I have ever since.

MWSA: Will you briefly list your other books for us?

PM: PUBLISHED:

Rommel’s Fateful Trip Home: June 4th to June 6th, 1944 (Published June, 2014)

Crossroads at Margival: Hitler’s Last Conference in France: June 17, 1944 (Published July, 2014)

90 Years of History: The American Legion In Central Ohio (Published November, 2010)

COMING SOON: Dissecting a Pyrrhic Victory: The First Marine Division at Peleliu

IN PROGRESS:

The Night the Sky Blew Up: Clan Fraser and the Destruction of Piraeus, 1941

D-Day Countdown: The German Perspective, Vol 1: Der Atlantikwall

D-Day Countdown: The German Perspective, Vol 2: Les Sanglots Longs

Reichsfibel: A Lexicon Containing Military & Political Acronyms and Terms of The Third Reich

MWSA: Tell us a little bit about this book.

PM: Twenty-Two on Peleliu: Four Pacific Campaigns With the Corps (Published July, 2017, Casemate Publishing) is the exciting, true story of George Peto, an “Old Breed” Marine. Growing up during the Depression, this happy-go-lucky kid’s life, like an early day Forrest Gump, touched on so many unique facets of American 20th Century history: From watching dirigibles sail over Akron, Ohio, to fishing and trapping on the Erie Canal near a gangster’s hideout, to working in the CCC out West (where he started a riot on his 16th birthday). And his World War II experiences are even more memorable, fighting in four famous Pacific campaigns with the élite 1st Marines. Even after the war, George seldom lived a dull moment, once fighting for what he believed right up to the Supreme Court. Yes, this was an extraordinary man who lived a life more exciting than four normal individuals. This is the story of George Peto.

MWSA: What made you interested in writing a book on this particular topic?

PM: In the spring of 2015, I entered a U.S. Naval Institute 3,000-word essay contest. The theme was some significant event that occurred in U.S. Marine Corps history. I finally decided on the controversial 1944 Peleliu invasion. A friend suggested that I consult with a local expert, a 93-year old Mr. George Peto, one of the “Old Breed.” George had actually landed at Peleliu, as well as three other major Pacific campaigns. Mr. Peto and I immediately struck up a friendship, and I invited him to co-write the essay with me. We made a good team since I am an experienced researcher and George not only had actually been there, but still retained an amazing memory about his experiences and enjoyed retelling them. During our research though, as I shared lengthy conversations with this charismatic, charming, genial old man, I realized that not only were his wartime experiences remarkable, but there also were quite a number of unusual events that had taken place in the other times of his life. As he told me tales of his youth (again, I marveled at his consistent, detailed memory of things that happened over seven decades before), I realized that a much better book to write would be about his life. He good-naturedly agreed, and so we were off. Unfortunately, after finishing our first draft, Mr. Peto died in his sleep on the 4th of July, 2016. I had vowed to him that if necessary, I would finish the book on his behalf.

MWSA: What makes this particular book special to you?

PM: I am proud of this book because not only did I enjoy writing it with George, but it combines my in depth research in these historical battles with the extraordinarily detailed daily memories of someone who actually fought in them. The icing on the cake though, is in the exciting fine points of his experiences. I had as much fun listening to them as I did writing about them. Hearing him recall many near-death experiences (most serious, some not), I jokingly once remarked that with all the close calls he had faced in his life, he had absolutely no business being alive. And yet, amazingly, he had survived it all with little or no injuries.

I knew that this was a story I had to write, and I wanted the readers, especially those who had known him, to see his life through his eyes. To that purpose, we tried to put the narrative in his own style. I threw in the detailed historical perspective so that readers unfamiliar with this time could follow along. The idea of doing the book just to document his stories (he never gave a hang about money) really appealed to him, and as the project continued, his enthusiasm increased. Sometimes he would muse on who would play him in the movie (as if), and once in a while talk about going onto talk shows (which unnerved me).

George Peto, like so many of us, was just a simple happy guy forced to go to war, an ordinary man who was thrust into an extraordinary life of combat. He not only saw first-hand the horrors of battle, but had to inflict it on others to survive as he watched so many of his comrades perish at his side. He typified the American fighting man. Yet, he also lived an astonishing life.

For instance, George’s daughter Nancy once told me a story about how he had driven his wife Juanita and her out West to Yellowstone National Park to camp and sightsee (he was always wanting to go SOMEWHERE). They had at the time a Ford station wagon. They stopped in the park on a beautiful day for a picnic. George got out, went around to the back of the station wagon, and flipped down the tailgate to set up the food. He started laying out the food on the open door. His wife had gone off into the woods with a roll of toilet paper.

His daughter, about eight years old, standing next to him, saw a big old brown bear approach the car behind them. She called out, “Dad! There’s a BEAR behind you!”

Now George had been teasing his daughter for days about seeing mountain lions and snakes and bears in the park, so he of course assumed that she now was razzing him back (as they so often did). So he commented with a grin, “Yeah, sure.”

The bear came closer. Nancy said it was huge in size. Again she warned her dad. He just smiled at her disbelievingly and shook his head.

Terrified, she took a couple steps back and opened the back door on the passenger’s side. “Dad!” she yelled.

She recalled that he finally got a look on his face as if; hmmm... she can’t be serious, can she? He sighed, straightened up and turned around.

And there it was, reared up on its hind legs, only about ten feet away. George whirled around, his eyes now popped open, yelled at Nancy to get in the car, tossed the food containers into the back end, and slammed the tailgate door shut, propelling the food all over the place. He jumped into the car, they roared over to where his wife was. He rushed her into the Ford, and took off like a bat out of hell.

Nancy ended the story with a smile. “It was always like that with dad,” she said. “We never had a vacation. It was always an adventure.” THAT’S the guy I want the readers to get to know.

First appeared in Winter 2018 edition of Dispatches magazine

MWSA Interview with Richard Marcott 

Date of interview: 23 September 2017

Captain Richard Marcott finished his Coast Guard career in 1986 as the commanding officer of a major training center where 2000 young enlisted men and women a year learned technical petty officer skills. Previously, he had designed the leadership training program for the entire Coast Guard and was the first Coast Guardsman to teach at the National Defense University. Like many in the service, his career was launched by the desire to get an education and see the world beyond his small hometown in Western Pennsylvania.
    His military career began when he accepted an appointment to the Coast Guard Academy in 1953. In his first book, “A View from the Rigging: Memoirs of a Coast Guard Career,” Marcott details his indoctrination at the academy, sailing the tall ship Eagle to Europe, Panama, the Caribbean, and pre-Castro Cuba, where cadets attended a swank party at the home of the American ambassador and had a run-in with Ernest Hemingway. His early career included harrowing sea rescues, boarding Jacques Cousteau’s exploration vessel Calypso and wry stories of training missions gone slightly amiss. A year as the commanding officer of an electronic navigation station in Okinawa, Japan, left him with charming stories of cultural differences.
    In mid-career, he served as the executive officer on the cutter Resolute, which patrolled the Bering Sea to enforce fishing treaties. Marcott learned of the moon landing from Russians while boarding their vessel and survived vodka-laden meetings with his communist counterparts. He later was commanding officer of the cutter Chilula.
    Marcott capitalized on his extensive service experience in training assignments as he transitioned into the civilian world at the Bank of America and the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. He returned to his hometown of Bradford, Pa., where he lives with his wife of 59 years, Carol, and enjoys time with his daughter, Kimberly, and her family. He published “A View from the Rigging” when he was 81.

MWSA: What do you think are the main benefits of being an MWSA member?

Richard Marcott: I feel validated as an writer/author. Excellent feedback from relatives and friends, while nice, is not the same as being selected for an award by a national organization of professional writers. I am absolutely encouraged to continue writing.

MWSA: What prompted you to write your memoirs?

Richard Marcott: I had been fortunate to have a number if interesting assignments that lent themselves to great stories. I admit I love telling stories. After hearing them many times, my daughter kept prodding me to ""write those stories down for the grandchildren."" I suspect many memoirists start that way.

MWSA: What was your process?

Richard Marcott: I worked at this for nearly six years. Of course, that included considerable time to learn how to write. I took a writing course at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford that introduced me to creative nonfiction. The campus literary magazine published my first story, which was about a sea rescue. I was hooked. I did not start to write a book, but wrote one story at a time. After a few years, I began to see how they could evolve into a book.

MWSA: How have people reacted to your book?

Richard Marcott: I am surprised at the number of readers who have written me a letter or sent an e-mail to comment on my stories. Complete strangers, and members of all branches of services have had experiences similar to mine. When they tell me that my book prompted them to sit as a family and share their stories--I have to feel good about that. There were quite a few people, too, who had no connection to the military world who said they were fascinated by it. That surprised me.

MWSA: Were any stories harder to write than others?

Richard Marcott: Most of them were lighthearted and fun to write, but there were specific scenes that writing made me relive a moment that was painful. One was about a day trip my dad took with me when I commanded a rescue cutter, and  I could see how proud he was of me. It made me miss him again. Another was when we nearly lost our infant daughter in surgery. That was a tough day to remember.

MWSA: Did you do much research?

Richard Marcott: Yes. A lot of people ask me, How did you remember that?"" Sometimes I didn't. I wanted to be accurate and researched a lot of details. Train schedules, history of commercial jet flights, routes and mileage between cities, historical dates, that sort of thing. Also old post card photos of our honeymoon motel, and yearbook photos. I made every effort to be accurate. Research enabled me to be more descriptive.

MWSA Interview with Steve Banko

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While philosophers have long written about the might of the pen and the sword. Steve Banko has wielded both in service to country and community.

After 16 months in combat in Vietnam. Steve returned to home where he continued his legacy of service in the trenches and command posts of government at every level. He has served state assemblymen and state senators. a presidential candidate, and a mayor before retiring in 2010.

His first person accounts of Vietnam combat have been published across a broad spectrum of national publications from the Wall Street Journal to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Steve is included in the Marlo Thomas compilation. Right Words at the Right Time. Vol. II. He was a contributor to the National Public Radio feature series “This I Believe.” His writing has been recognized by Writer’s Digest Magazine, the Nelson Algren Short Fiction Competition at the Chicago Tribune, and by Freedom’s Foundation at Valley Forge.

However. Steve is most proud of the 1994 Terry Anderson Award for his courage to comeback from alcoholism and post-combat depression.

Serving in the United States Army in Vietnam. Steve was wounded six times, including four gunshot wounds. He was decorated for combat heroism seven times and his awards include two Silver Stars, the nation’s 3rd highest combat decoration, four Bronze Stars for Valor and four Purple Hearts.

MWSA: Why did you become an author, Steve?

SB: When I returned home from Vietnam. I was one of a few guys in my crowd who actually fought in Vietnam. Most of the rest stayed in school and were never drafted. As a result, most guys didn’t want to listen to my ravings about the war and shut such conversations down almost as soon as they began. I turned to writing about my feelings, my anger, my pride and my frustration. So for almost fifty years. I’ve been writing essays, memoirs, accounts, and opinions about my war and our warriors. I have spoken to scores of audiences across the country about Vietnam and its veterans. That I should write a novel about the war seemed a natural progression from such writings.

MWSA: Why did you choose to join us?

SB: In seeking new ways to discuss my novel earlier this year (2017). I encountered MWSA in an email. I recognized a group of similarly-minded authors as a natural place to talk about my book and to learn about the motives and the research and the work produced by other military authors.

MWSA: Perhaps it’s obvious to many of our members, but we always like to ask, why did you choose this genre?

SB: I have always been counseled and taught to write about what you know. During sixteen months as a combat soldier and a combat leader. I saw firsthand the good, the bad and the ugly of war. As fewer and fewer Americans entertain thoughts of national service and fewer still ever service in the armed forces. I felt it important to get my thoughts about my war into the hands of as many people as possible.

Other books …

Memories of War. Dreams of Peace; Echoes of the Vietnam War. (1998) and For No Good Reason (2016). “Memories…” is a short collection of essays and speech excerpts. But in addition to my books. I would like to mention a speech that I did in 2009 earned the Cicero Foundation’s Grand Award as speech of the year. The speech was about PTSD among combat veterans.

This book …

In the Sixties, simple mistakes could have grave consequences. The central character. Josh Duffy, makes one such mistake and pays an incredible price. One unfortunate encounter with the nuances of higher education realities of the time and he is thrust into an alien world of blood, death, and fire. It is an upside down world where the usual mores don’t function. It is a world where killing is celebrated and compassion scorned. It is a world to which Duffy must adapt if he is to survive.

The book follows him as he struggles with the enemy, with his leaders, and with his conscience as he evolves from reluctant soldier to committed leader.
If you ever wonder why soldiers come back from combat forever changed and irreversibly damaged … if you wonder what causes this post-traumatic stress disorder we hear so much about … if you lived through the Sixties and walked the razor’s edge of conscription, this book might provide some clarity. It is the journey for sanity to the depths of madness and on to a path toward redemption.

So many of the nuances of the military are unknown to the civilian population. One such nuance the rotation of senior officers into and out of combat commands. The purpose of such rotation was to get the coveted combat command on to an officer’s resume as a prerequisite for promotion and career advancement. Duffy sees the affects of this “ticket punching” up close and personal when his unit is led by an officer with his eyes focused beyond battlefield realities. In his haste to secure a reputation for himself, the commander sets in motion events that lead to the needless destruction of Duffy’s unit. Outnumbered and outgunned. Duffy and his men fight a furious battle of survival in the book’s climactic chapter. The valor and the sorrow of men in life-and-death struggles are seen in this chapter. Far removed from the traditional norms of patriotism and nationalism. Duffy and his men fight on for what soldiers have always fought. They fought for each other.

This time Duffy’s wounds earn him his way out of Vietnam but he find he’s not finished with combat just yet. He’s confronted with the anti-war attitudes that permeated the times and the campuses when he uses his real life experience as the subject for his first venture into a creative writing course. He thought he would leave the fools behind but realizes there is no escape.

The term PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder – is bandied about often but understand much less. The journey Duffy takes from sanity to the depths of madness and on to a path toward redemption might make the concept of PTSD a little clearer. It is said that one who has seen war continues to see it. This book tells is why that’s true. The soldier returned from the fight is often told to “forget about it; it’s over.” But for him. it’s over … and over … and over

[Copied from the Fall 2017 issue of MWSA Dispatches magazine]

MWSA Interview with Tim Trainer

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MWSA: Will you give us a short biography and please send us your photo?

TT: My early years were nomadic living in Japan and the U.S. on various army posts and civilian communities as an army brat, the son of a career soldier. I too served in the army (1972-75). Taking advantage of my education benefits, I obtained multiple degrees including studying in Japan in the late 1970s. I am an attorney and have lived in the Washington DC area for the past 30 years. I’ve worked in federal government agencies, a law firm, and a trade association. My work has allowed me to represent the U.S. at international organizations and to participate in government-to-government negotiations. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to approximately 60 countries.

MWSA: Why did you become an author in the first place?

TT: My legal work requires a lot of reading and writing. It provided the fuel to want to write for publication. I had the opportunity to write and publish a number of articles and books related to work. Legal and work related writing and publishing, however, was not fulfilling my desire to write more creatively or to write about other things. Generally. I like the personal challenge of writing.

MWSA: When and why did you join MWSA?

TT: I joined MWSA in 2013. I was not aware of the organization, but it was brought to my attention by a Vietnam veteran who was a member and was or had been reviewing books for

MWSA. After visiting the website and getting information from my veteran friend, it just seemed like a natural thing to do. MWSA: Why did you choose to work in this genre?

TT: I don’t know that I have a “genre” and I can admit that I was not thinking in terms of a genre as I worked on this latest project. My book, The Fortunate Son, which is in the memoir category is, in my view,not a true memoir as many might think. I tried to give voice to the 14 veterans who provided me with their recollections and along the way. I added my own experience from that period. Essentially, the reader learns something about these veterans and me, the army brat.

MWSA: Will you briefly list your other books for us?

TT: In 2013, I self-published a political intrigue novel entitled Pendulum Over the Pacific that takes the reader to both Washington DC and Tokyo. In 2015, a major publisher of legal books published my book, Potato Chips to Computer Chips: The War on Fake Stuff. I’ve co-authored a treatise for the past 12 years, Customs Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (Thomson Reuters).

MWSA: Tell us a little bit about your latest book.

TT: The Fortunate Son: Top Through the Eyes of Others is about 14 Vietnam veterans who were very young men at that time. Eventually, they end up serving with my father, the oldest man in their company and a seasoned combat veteran. The book relates the journey of these young men into the army and their unfortunate plight going to Vietnam, assigned to an infantry company and needing the kind of leadership that will help them believe that they will survive their tour of duty.

MWSA: What made you interested in writing a book on this particular topic?

TT: The book was not my idea. Several of the veterans who served with my father started prodding me to write a book about my father a number of years ago, but I kept refusing to do it. There were reasons for my reluctance: I didn’t have the content. I didn’t want to pry into the lives of these men. I knew my father disliked being publicly recognized and my resistance to taking myself back to that period of time. But, ultimately, I accepted the fact that there were a number of these guys who wanted to acknowledge the importance of my father in their lives and were willing to tell me things about their time in the army and in Vietnam. And the one other thing I realized is that I want my younger siblings, nephews, and nieces to read about their father, grandfather, and great grandfather from the perspective of these men—it’s a gift.

MWSA: What makes this particular book special to you?

TT: The book is special in several ways. The fact that 15 men, including Barry McCaffrey who wrote the Foreword, trusted me with the things they related to me, the things they shared with me. It is special because, to some extent, I was permitted to be their way of communicating to their own families about perhaps the worst times in their lives. It’s humbling to know that I was able to do that for them. And, of course, for them to tell me things about my father that I would not otherwise know. They wanted me to know how important it was to them that he was there helping them through those trying times. The Fortunate Son recounts the parallel lives of an army brat and a group of Vietnam veterans who intersect decades after the war. The veterans open up to me, the army brat, perhaps in a way they never have with their own families. Why? Through my father, Top, their First Sergeant, we have a common link. Over the years, we’ve gotten to know each other. They begin to understand the sacrifices of an army family. But, more importantly, they want me to understand how our family’s sacrifice and my father’s tour of duty in Vietnam with them, in the jungles, gave them confidence to believe they would make it home alive. Fortunate Son is not about a single battle or a single soldier’s tour of duty. You will meet us, learn something about us, and get a glimpse of our lives during the war years. You’ll find out why half a century after that tour of duty ended, we remain bound together. If you’ve ever been in the military or part of a military family, you’ll know that we all are bound together. For those who find the military to be foreign and unknown, our story may help you to understand why it binds so many together. Fourteen of these soldiers have shared their stories. Their stories describe two life transitions—first from civilian teenagers or young men to combat grunts trying to stay alive in the jungle—and then back to stateside life. What happens between these transitions, as they slog through the jungle day-by-day paints their portrait of Top, my father. Now, I appreciate why they remain bound together half a century after their tour ended. Their stories are an unexpected gift that bestows new insight to me on my father. So, as you read and “listen” to these soldiers’ stories, both what they say and how they describe Top, you understand why I’ve learned that I am The Fortunate Son

[Copied from the Fall 2017 issue of MWSA Dispatches magazine]

MWSA Interview with Bob Doerr 

Date of interview: 23 August 2017

Award winning author Bob Doerr grew up in a military family, graduated from the Air Force Academy, and had a career of his own in the Air Force.  Bob specialized in criminal investigations and counterintelligence gaining significant insight to the worlds of crime, espionage, and terrorism. His work brought him into close coordination with the security agencies of many countries and filled his mind with the fascinating plots and characters found in his books today. His education credits include a Masters in International Relations from Creighton University.  A full time author with twelve published books and a co-author in another, Bob was selected by the Military Writers Society of America as its Author of the Year for 2013. The Eric Hoffer Awards awarded No One Else to Kill its 2013 first runner up to the grand prize for commercial fiction. Two of his other books were finalists for the Eric Hoffer Award in earlier contests. Loose Ends Kill won the 2011 Silver medal for Fiction/mystery by the Military Writers Society of America. Another Colorado Kill received the same Silver medal in 2012 and the silver medal for general fiction at the Branson Stars and Flags national book contest in 2012. Bob released an international thriller titled The Attack in May 2014, and more recently, The Group, his second book in the Clint Smith thriller series.  Bob has also written three novellas for middle grade readers in the Enchanted Coin series: The Enchanted Coin, The Rescue of Vincent, and The Magic of Vex. Bob lives in Garden Ridge, Texas, with Leigh, his wife of 44 years, and Cinco, their ornery cat.

MWSA: How long have you been associated with MWSA?

Bob Doerr: I've been an active member since 2010

MWSA: What writing projects are you working on now?

Bob Doerr: I'm close to finishing my third novel in my Clint Smith international thriller series.

MWSA: Who is Clint Smith?

Bob Doerr: Clint Smith is a former Army Ranger with some Special Ops background who was recruited out of the army into a small, ultra secret government agency that identifies and neutralizes, if necessary, imminent threats to the United States.

MWSA: What makes this series different from the dozens of other similar series out there?

Bob Doerr: This small agency operates so deeply in the black that only a couple people in the government are aware of it's existence.  There's no paper trail to their activities, no briefings, and oversight is almost non-existent.

MWSA: How do you get your plots for this series?

Bob Doerr: Current events give me millions of ideas.  This book is based in South Korea and is about a handful of American government officials plotting with the North Koreans to assassinate the President of the United States during a state visit there.

MWSA: Do you see another book in your future?

Bob Doerr: Yes.  I love to write, and I imagine next year I'll either do another Jim West mystery or another book in my Enchanted Coin series.

MWSA: I hear your books have done well in a variety of book contests?

Bob Doerr: Yes, I've been lucky.  No One Else to Kill came in second in the commercial fiction category in the Eric Hoffer Awards for 2013 and several of my other books have won medals in smaller contests.

MWSA Interview with Joe Epley

Date of interview: 4 August 2017

Joe Epley is a guy who has worn many hats over his life -- Green Beret, television journalist,  public relations executive, change agent and now, novelist. 
     Joe led Epley Associates, a successful public relations firm in Charlotte, N.C., and achieved international recognition for his leadership in the field. He was president of the Public Relations Society of America, and at various times, head of its prestigious College of Fellows, Counselors Academy, and the PRSA Foundation.
       In addition to his day job, he continued his military service in the Reserves, mostly in Special Forces units,  retiring as a Master Sergeant.
       He was a co-founder and global chair of the Worldcom Public Relations Group, the world’s largest consortium of independent public relations firms. In addition to lecturing at universities and before professional groups throughout the world, he helped introduce the PR profession to Russia in the waning days of the Soviet Union. During his career, Joe held leadership roles in many organizations. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of The Marketing Alliance, a publicly traded life insurance brokerage firm that serves independent agents nationwide, and the Military Writers Society of America.
     Among Joe’s honors is the Public Relations Society of America's Gold Anvil, the highest award in the public relations profession for lifetime achievement. In addition to his election to the University of North Carolina’s Journalism School Public Relations Hall of Fame and the alumni hall of fame for the Defense Information School, he has been awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest award for noteworthy citizens.
     After selling his business in Charlotte in 2005, Joe retired with his wife to the wooded hills near Tryon, N.C. where he continues public service work in addition to researching and writing about the American Revolutionary War. 

MWSA: How long have you been associated with MWSA?

Joe Epley: I joined the MWSA in 2011.

MWSA: Why Why do you write about the Revolutionary War?

Joe Epley: I've always had an interest in history.  I remember walking the Kings Mountain battlefield as a kid and later, taking my own children on hikes there.  In my Special Forces training, we studied the partisan war exploits of Francis Marion - (AKA The Swamp Fox) who was the most famous guerrilla fighter for the American independence movement.
As I began studying the revolution more closely, I learned that there were more battles in South Carolina than in any other colony, and most were Americans fighting Americans in a bloody civil war that eventually drove the British out of the Carolinas.  Most of the participants were in militia units using partisan tactics employed today. Neither adversary has control of their area and conventional forces were not near. Yet history books have virtually ignored the Revolutionary War in the south.


MWSA: Why historical fiction instead of factual history?

Joe Epley: Several reasons.
 1) I can provide readers with a better understanding of the big picture through a series of human stories that include intrigue, adventure, romance, and day-to-day life in the era.  
2) In much of American history books and articles about the revolution, there are many conflicting facts, misleading statements, and lack of understanding of the people involved who are below the rank of general.
3) I chose to write ""A Passel of Hate"" about the battle of Kings Mountain because it was, as Theodore Roosevelt said, a ""brilliant victory that marked the turning point of the American Revolution."" Yet when most historians wrote about Kings Mountain, they failed to tell the story of the overmountain men, some traveling more than 300 miles without orders from higher authority.  While the story culminated on the battlefield, the real story was in the determination and hardships endured by those 'Liberty Men' who furnished their own horses, weapons, and food and lived in harsh conditions rarely experienced by modern society.  
4) The motivation of the partisans in that war usually was not the simple, noble catch phrases found in most histories, but rather a wide variety of reasons ranging from family influence to personal experiences or for personal gain. It was not unusual for men to switch sides.  
5) Since most of these side stories have not been documented or only partially recorded in family histories and pension statements, I use my creative skills to humanize the events and principals with plausible situations and dialog to supplement the facts that we know about events, people, and situations.


MWSA: You write about brutality on both sides.  Was life that cruel back then?

Joe Epley: As the war progressed,  actions of partisan fighters were motivated more and more by vengeance than by patriotism.  There were no prisons in the Carolina backcountry. If an adversary was captured, he might be turned loose with a pardon and promise never to pick up arms again.  But if the captive were suspected of undue causing harm such as burning houses, killing a friend or relative or another mischief, they would be beaten or executed, usually without trial.  Both sides had their share of rogues. There was little training or discipline in the small units that operated only when they felt there was danger in their region.
     Also, life was harsh back then. Families eked out a living on what little they could grow or hunt. There were no grocery stores.  Clothing had to be made from scratch -- creating the fibers from wool, flax or cotton, spinning thread and using a loom to make the cloth.  Most backwoods families rarely had more than one change of clothing, if that. Rifles were hand made by a few gunsmiths using primitive tools.


MWSA: What new books are you working on?

Joe Epley: There are hundreds of great stories in the Revolution. All require research and attention to detail. Phrases we take for granted today may not have been used back then.  For instance, I can't use 1780 dialog about a 'guerrilla fighter' because the word guerrilla was not mentioned before being used by the Spanish fighting the French in the early 19th century.  
     So to write another book, I have to spend considerable time in research if the finished story is to be true to the era.  To me, research is as enjoyable as the writing; so I take more time that some writers, particularly when I can't find answers to questions that nag me.
     But if the good Lord sees fit to keep me around a few more years, there probably will be another book, probably in the Passel series.


MWSA: How has MWSA helped you?

Joe Epley: I joined the organization initially to see what it was like to be with kindred spirits, and as many, to help promote my first book, ""A Passel of Hate.""  
     Having been in the leadership of the premier professional society for the public relations profession, I understand how a collective thinking of members can produce positive benefits.  MWSA is still in its infancy, but with more members volunteering their time and talents, we can be more than a book awards organization.  I think we can offer our members more regarding knowledge and skills in writing,  publishing, and marketing. 
     With dedicated leadership and motivated members, MWSA has the potential of bringing our kindred spirits closer together and being far greater value to its members.

 

MWSA Interview with Joyce Faulkner

Date of Interview:  4 August 2017

Joyce Faulkner is an author, publisher, graphic artist, and a retired chemical engineer. She is a past President of Military Writers Society of America and past Board member. She is also the past chairman of the Programming committee and with Betsy Beard cochaired the awards committee in 2016. Together with Pat McGrath Avery, she designs, writes feature articles for and produces the quarterly MWSA magazine, Dispatches. Through Red Engine Press, she also designs and produces the MWSA annual anthologies.

Joyce writes in several genres including historical fiction, mystery/thriller, Humor, and history. She has received awards from multiple organizations including MWSA. Her historical novels include "In the Shadow of Suribach,"(MWSA Gold, 2005, Bronze, Branson Stars and Flags, 2014), "Windshift," (Silver, Global ebook Award for Historical Fiction, 2014, Silver, Branson Stars and Flags, 2015, First Place for Historical Fiction, The Author Zone, 2015), and recently released "Vala's Bed." Her mystery/thriller is "Username," which received a Silver Medal for the audio version performed by MWSA member Michael D. Mullins.

She has several collections of short fiction including "Losing Patience," "Chance and other horrors," and "For Shrieking Out Loud," from her humor column on the CelebrityCafe.com, The Weekly Shriek.

Joyce's other works with writing partner Pat McGrath Avery include "Sunchon Tunnel Massacre Survivors," which received a Bronze for History from MWSA in 2008 and a Gold from Branson Stars and Flags, 2009. She has also designed and produced several children's books with Pat that include "Fun Days in South Padre Island, "Fun Days in Pittsburgh," (Third Place, The Author Zone, 2015), and "Fun Days in Kansas City." A children's adaptation of her novel, "Windshift," "Someday I'll Fly" by Rebecca Evans received First Place from The Author's Zone.

MWSA: How long have you been associated with MWSA?

Joyce Faulkner: 2005

MWSA: Tell us about your latest book.

Joyce Faulkner: Vala's Bed is historical fiction about the impact of the holicaust on a German war bride and her children. It was the result of a trip to Auschwitz in 2002. Shocked by own reaction to the events that took place there, I started a seventeen year journey to explore the various sides from the point of view of a child named Emo Johann Hess, who becomes EJ Logan and must come to terms that although he is now American and sees the world through mid-20th century American values, he is the product of Nazi Germany and the values it embraced. 

MWSA: What is your next project?

Joyce Faulkner: I am working on another historical fiction piece, this time set in my own hometown, Fort Smith, Arkansas, in the 1910s, called "Garrison Avenue." Fort Smith has a rich literary background as a frontier town with a "cowboys and indians" culture mixed with tales of the "hanging judge" Isaac Parker. However, "Garrison Avenue" focuses on a different era...when the townsfolk are transiting to a culture of business and theater and law and order. Now they worry about getting grants for their library and design proposals for paved roads and bridges and encouraging investments in electic parks and fancy hotels. And then, what might have been acceptable ten or twenty years before, a lynching, forces the town to look at itself in an entirely new way.

MWSA: What do you enjoy most about MWSA?

Joyce Faulkner: I love the stories. Regardless of genre, MWSA encourages authors to focus on veterans' stories and tales associated with our own history...as a country, and in our relationships with friends and enemies around the world. It also supports writing technique and growth over time. And most of all, the organization provides authors with activities that encourages growth...wherever members are in their writing careers. 

MWSA: What do you hope comes next for MWSA?

Joyce Faulkner: I am hoping we will be able to provide opportunities for our members ...things like learning how to use podcasting to further our storytelling. I love when our events provide us with a better understanding of history or when it gives us a deeper a deeper look into techniques like blogging or short video. 

MWSA: What do you recommend for MWSA writers interested in writing historical fiction and history?

Joyce Faulkner: Travel. One to one interviews. Spending time in newspaper archives. Working with libraries and museums. Creating detailed timelines that combine history and your plotlines.