Kathleen M. Rodgers


Kathleen M. Rodgers –The Final Salute
Kathy’s Website
The Final Salute on Amazon






Today I’m welcoming Kathleen M Rodgers, the second member of this triad of military writers.final-salute-180h

Kathleen M. Rodgers is an award-winning author whose work has appeared in both national and local publications. A former military wife turned military mom, Kathleen is driven to explore military themes in her literary fiction. Her debut novel, THE FINAL SALUTE, focuses on two key themes: How fighter pilots often die in peacetime training missions and how the brass and bad commanders cover up sex scandals in the military. She is nearing completion on a second novel called JOHNNIE COME LATELY.

Deleyna: Welcome, Kathleen! Can you describe your road to publication for my readers. You’ve taken a different path.

Kathleen: Unlike my two colleagues, I chose the traditional route for the paperback edition of The Final Salute. The novel was a sixteen-year effort of more than one hundred revisions, that many rejections, and my bullheaded determination to find a traditional publisher. Many years ago I found an agent who got my manuscript to a major publishing house in NYC. Three weeks later came the rejection, along with advice from an editor telling me what I needed to do to fix the novel. I took her advice and started over from scratch. In the end, my former agent dropped all of his fiction writers and I never found another agent to take me on. I just kept revising and believing that one day I would find someone who believed in my story as much as I did. I kept hearing “all it takes is one person.”

Finally, in May 2008, sixteen years after I started writing the novel, I found my “one person” in the form of Neil Levin, CEO and Founder of Leatherneck Publishing, based in Oceanside, Calif. The book came out that October. Ironically, The Final Salute was their final title. Leatherneck Publishing closed their doors May 2009. In July 2011, Navigator Books, a new publishing imprint based in San Diego, CA, released the Kindle edition. They breathed new life into my book by giving it a striking new cover and includsilver medaling my award and a few blurbs from some of the top publications that reviewed or ran stories about the book.

Deleyna: That sounds like many of my friends’ dream. You have the help of a traditional publisher. That means you’re set, right?

Kathleen: Despite my traditional route to publication, all the marketing and promotional efforts were left up to me. Without the help of an expensive publicist, I used modern technology and old-school methods I learned as a freelance writer to gain national attention for my book. Write-ups have appeared in The Associated Press, USA Today, Military Times, Family Magazine, Mobile Press-Register, Midwest Book Review, Fort Worth-Texas Magazine, the Star-Telegram, and many other publications. In 2012, The Final Salute hit #1 on Amazon’s Top Rated Literature and Fiction (Kindle edition) and #1 on Amazon’s Top Rated War Fiction (both paperback and Kindle). In 2010, the paperback edition hit #2 on Amazon’s Bestseller list in Military Aviation. Army Wife Network selected The Final Salute for their July 2009 book club, and that same year I won a Silver Medal from Military Writers Society of America.

Deleyna: Congratulations! You’ve done a fantastic job with your marketing and with your writing. Can you tell us about your writing process?

Kathleen: Except for the middle section that contains first person letters, I chose third person multiple viewpoint as I had a large cast of characters to juggle, and I needed the reader to get inside the heads of about a handful of those characters. My protagonist is a fighter pilot named Tuck Westerfield, and even though there are many subplots and layers, the story revolves primarily around Tuck and his family. Tuck is a composite of all the pilots I’ve ever known. I drew inspiration for the other players in this tale of military life from people I’ve encountered in my 54 years of living and from people I imagined would make my story a little more colorful. There’s so much diversity in the military among the active duty and their families, and I tried to include that in my authentic tale. I chose past tense because it seemed the most natural form of storytelling for this book.

Deleyna: Thanks for sharing your time with us. I know you are hard at work on your next novel. I’m going to be joining the fans waiting for it!

Kathleen: Thank you so much for inviting the three of us on your blog. I hope we inspire other writers to reach out to one another. In this business, I believe we are stronger working together than we are apart.

Deleyna: Very true!

I want to share an intro to this book with my readers, but first I need to warn you. I read on my Nook. These ladies are all Amazon Select novelists, which meant that in some cases I couldn’t get a copy that would work on my ereader. Kathleen graciously gave me a copy which I downloaded to my computer. I have to confess, I wasn’t happy — eye strain, y’know? So, I figured I’d just skim the novel. A page in, I was hooked. I read the entire thing — on the computer — and had trouble taking vision breaks. I love all of these ladies’ books, but this one caused me to suffer through pain to get to the end. It was THAT good.

Here’s the teaser:

   At a small air base in Louisiana, family man and seasoned fighter pilot, Tuck Westerfield’s life could literally crash down around him. In this business of flying fighter jets, the odds of staying alive are stacked against him.

    Haunted by the memories of dead friends killed in air mishaps, this Vietnam vet and father of three must deal with a devious commander, an animal-crazed neighbor, whose husband hates pilots, a beautiful, but suspicious wife and a rebellious teenage daughter. The last thing he needs is another war.

    But when Iraq invades Kuwait in the middle of a muggy Louisiana summer, duty calls. Tuck and the other pilots in his squadron head to the Middle East.

Back in Louisiana, Gina Westerfield and other military wives learn that war is hell on the home front, too.

    Later, when tragedy strikes, everyone at Beauregard Air Force Base must pull together and live on or forever be consumed with grief.


A Triad of Writers

In my ever expanding quest to share the stories of wonderful indie authors with my readers, I was delighted to find a triad of indie writer friends who were willing to grace us with their presence and their wisdom. They are all doing very well on Amazon. I think this is a great opportunity to share a different point of view on my blog, as I’ve gone on record as not promoting Amazon Select. These ladies are all using Amazon Select successfully, so I’m delighted to show my readers another side of the Amazon experience.


The Genesis of a Military Author Triad

[Editor’s Note: The story is told through the POV of Bonnie Bartel Latino with input from Phyllis Zimbler Miller and Kathleen Rodgers.]

I first became aware of Phyllis Zimbler Miller while viewing sample chapters of the semifinalists in Amazon’s 2008 Breakthrough Novel Award contest. Phyllis’ title “Mrs. Lieutenant” captured my attention because of my personal experience as a military wife.

A review of “Mrs. Lieutenant” also caught my attention. I believe the “review” said Phyllis’ story didn’t ring true. That ridiculous comment ignited my sense of justice. I politely rebutted the review while making my point.

Phyllis thanked me via an Amazon comment. We didn’t cross online paths again until several years later when I saw her on Twitter. We remembered each other and were soon tweet and re-tweet buddies. I quickly realized that Phyllis Zimbler Miller is a multi-talented and strategic online marketer. My respect for her grew even more.

About the same time, summer of 2009, a group of retired fighter pilots were discussing military writers they knew who had written books about their world. One mentioned Kathleen Rodgers’ novel “The Final Salute.”

The other pilot mentioned the novel I co-authored, “Your Gift to Me,” still in manuscript back then. The men put Kathleen, whom I call Kathy, and me in touch. Our friendship was instantaneous.

That fall Kathy went to the conference of the Military Writers Society of America (MWSA). At their annual book awards dinner, my flash-fiction “The Rush of Butterflies” won the 2009 People’s Choice Gold Medal. I wasn’t at the conference, but Kathy was and called to tell me. Even better and bigger news — Kathy’s “The Final Salute” won a Silver Medal!

Two years later Kathy called from the annual conference to tell me my narrative non-fiction “Christmas Whistles: A Swiss Duet” had won the MWSA Gold Medal in the 2011 William E. Mayer Award for Literary or Artistic Excellence competition.

However, there were many long and hilarious phone calls in between and after those two calls.

My growing relationship with Phyllis is much newer. While we’ve never talked on the phone, we exchange a gazillion emails per week. Her energy and enthusiasm are boundless. She thinks outside of that ‘ole clichéd “box” better and more often than anyone I’ve ever known, with the possible exception of my brilliant co-author, Bob Vale, who obviously is not a military wife.

I’m grateful to have Kathy and Phyllis as friends, writing sounding boards, and co-marketers. Some of the readers of their books have read “Your Gift to Me,” often providing astute Amazon reviews.

Kathy says she first heard of “Mrs. Lieutenant” in 2008 via the MWSA Facebook group, but didn’t get to know the author until Phyllis invited her in 2009 to be interviewed on a BlogTalkRadio show Phyllis co-hosted.

Although “Mrs. Lieutenant,” “The Final Salute” and “Your Gift to Me” are radically different, they are all experience-based novels that provide deep and accurate glimpses of what life was/is like for military wives in the eras in which each is set.

As Kathy said recently, “We’re three authors pulling together to promote, but we also enjoy strong bonds of friendship. These kinds of relationships do not come along every day, especially with writers.”

P.S. None of us has ever met in person.

Deleyna: You all write military fiction. I read your books and was delighted to find the theme of strength in the friendships of women that is the theme behind my book. I’ve noticed that you are all listed in the same Amazon lists and that you bump each other for the top slots occasionally. How has this affected your friendship?

Bonnie: We’re no more competitive than that other famous triad of “Sisterhood” fame—Dana, Marie and Lara. Perhaps one of the benefits of maturity is wisdom. In many ways, Phyllis Zimbler Miller and Kathy Rodgers are my two best friends. We understand the complexities of being writers in ways our non-writing friends don’t begin to comprehend. We’ve never met, which seems impossible for us to believe. (I have also never met my co-author Bob Vale, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.)

Deleyna: Thank you Bonnie. I look forward to introducing my readers to you three and your books over the next few days. In the meantime, here is a sneak peak:


KathleenKathleen M. Rodgers –The Final Salute
Kathy’s Website
The Final Salute on Amazon







PhyllisPhyllis Zimbler Miller – Mrs. Lieutenant
Phyllis’ Website
Mrs. Lieutenant on Amazon




BonnieBLatino         Nov 2 2012Bonnie B. Latino – Your Gift to Me
Bonnie’s Website
Your Gift to Me on Amazon