I want to send a huge shout-out of thanks to the Military Writers Society of America. This is an organization that keeps history alive by reviewing and promoting books about all aspects of military history: fiction and non-fiction, biography, young adult, poetry, even children’s books. The society is well-organized and well run, supported by thousands of members and numerous reviewers. Although they get inundated with requests for reviews, they do a good job of staying current and getting the reviews up online as quickly as possible, and to help potential readers wade through the “stacks,” every year they nominate the best of the books they’ve reviewed in a multitude of categories. Along with the traditional categories of military literature, they also nominate the best books in reference, business, humor, spiritual, romance, memoirs, sci-fi and thriller genres.
I was drawn to the MWSA because my most recent book, Marcia Gates: Angel of Bataan, seemed a good fit. I joined the group and requested a review. I received an immediate e-mail that they were backed up due to the volume of requests, but I appreciated the communication. It was about 4 months before my review came up, but well worth the wait.
This is the true story of a nurse, Marcia Gates, during World War II and her experiences during the battle of Bataan and three years as a prisoner of war. But it is more than that because this story also relates how the families at home were feeling–frustrated and concerned about their lack of information about Marcia and her safety.
This book is easy to read and many will find it difficult to put down as one wants to know–does Marcia make it home? The format is also augmented by actual letters written by Marcia, other nurses and from family members to Marcia. It may be difficult for some who are so used to the modern e-mail system to even imagine the problems of letters not arriving home for months and how that affected the family who used every resource they could to get any information they could of their daughter. The author uses these letters to carefully weave a true account of what was happening on both sides of the world.
I found the story exciting, surprised by some of the descriptions of conditions and wondered why I hadn’t heard this story before. The author has brought out one of the untold stories of World War II–about a nurse. I believe this book will have wide appeal to many audiences including: medical personnel, historians, veterans and anyone interested in good story with a happy ending. –Edward Kelly
Imagine my surprise, then, when I was notified that my book had also been nominated for Best Biography of the year! I felt deeply honored to have my book placed in such prodigious company. The MWSA has an annual conference (this year in Dayton, Ohio) where they pull out all the stops for their members and authors. The conference offers a multitude of workshops, lectures, one-on-ones with publishing insiders, social activities and the coveted awards ceremony. They also sell books and offer an anthology compounded exclusively for the conference. It’s one-stop shopping for anyone who loves reading and writing about military history in all its guises.
Unfortunately for me, I was unable to attend the conference. I waited on pins and needles for the awards, however.
It was somewhat of a letdown to find out my book did not, in fact, win the gold medal for biographies, but it was gratifying to receive an Honorable Mention. I am sure the voting was done fairly and the books that won the top awards deserved them. And after all, I never suspected that my slim volume of a very personal, family story would ever receive such recognition. It was exciting and encouraging to have my book so honored, even if it didn’t bring home the top prize.
As a writer, I have found that the MWSA does a tremendous job promoting authors and their books. Not only do they review and showcase the books and give prestigious awards to the best, but they continue to support the author long after the conference is over. I continue to get messages about book promotion sites, about bloggers and radio stations wanting to interview authors and other opportunities to get the word out. Unlike many promotional organizations, the MWSA does not simply post a review and then forget it. It actively invests time and effort into keeping its membership in the limelight. Like the servicemen and women represented in the thousands of books, the MWSA never sleeps. It continues to carry the banner of literacy, history, honor and humanity ever forward.
MWSA, I salute you.