MWSA Matters to Branson Stars and Flags
For the last few years, Branson Stars and Flags aka www.starsandflags.com has been represented at the annual MWSA conferences. Most who know me, also know what I bring to the table as an MWSA member (photographer, panel member, reviewer, and judge), and I'm also the owner of www.starsandflags.com Branson, MO, played a very important part in the establishment of the company. The initial name, Branson Stars and Flags, originated from the spirit of Branson’s music stars and its all-year-long tributes to veterans. The thought was to establish a service–type organization that would not only honor veterans, but also those who promote veterans and the military on a daily basis.
During the start-up organization, we realized that not only do the Branson stars promote the military and its veterans, but so do all writers that author books about the subject. We wanted to build our company, promoting both of these concepts.
My background since 2001 was in the newspaper business around the city, where I covered entertainment (somebody had to cover the great shows in Branson!), and also articles about veterans visiting Branson. During a Branson Veterans Week I met Pat Avery, Joyce Faulkner and several of the Sunchon Tunnel survivors at a Korean mini-reunion that I was covering. Besides writing articles, I also did some graphic work on my newspaper photos and other miscellaneous projects. This graphics work led me to a logical product in the business—that of designing Veteran and Patriotic tee-shirts. I am also the vendor for selling MWSA shirts.
My business partner at the time, Pat Avery, also wanted to pursue the creation of an all-encompassing Book Award program for any book written in recent years that had content related to the Military. Through that parameter, she and I created the Stars and Flags Book Award Program. The contest we established in that first and second year has successfully continued on, inviting military book writers from all over the nation to enter their works. The books must have been written within the last five years and must have military–based content. Many of the winning authors are also members of MWSA, some of whom you probably know well—Del Staecker, Mike Mullins, Lynn Salsi, Jim Greenwald, Lloyd King, James Jellerson, Sandy Linhart, and too many more to mention.
Stars and Flags Book Awards, now run solely by me (Pat wanted to pursue more writing), is an independent book contest, different from the MWSA award program. Ours encompasses any author (though I really encourage those non-MWSA members to join by giving a discounted entry fee), and honors various categories with a somewhat different set of criteria. Books may be entered by the individuals, or by their publishers, and are evaluated by a set of usually four judges. The judges are teachers, historians, veterans, veteran family members, and avid readers. Winners are promoted online, with a news releases for their local papers, and anything else I have time to do for them. This year’s first place winners will be eligible for a short, basic book trailer. Grand prize winner also receives a $100 check. This is actually the only national contest where the book content is required to have a military connection (in the MWSA contest, the author must have the military connection.)
Those of you interested in the Stars and Flags Book Award program for 2012 can find guidelines and an application form at http://www.starsandflags.com. You have until August 31 to enter, but the best price for your entry ($36 for MWSA members) is only until May 31. Winners will be are announced during the Branson Veterans Week, Nov. 5-11. See you at this year’s MWSA Conference. I’ll be the one with the camera!