Military Writers Society of America Conference – Phoenix

Welcome to Guest Blogger and Author, Michael Wood

I recently met Michael Wood at the Military Writers Society of America (MWSA) conference in Phoenix. After seeing how well he captured the essence of the conference in words and photos, I asked if he’d be willing to share with this blog’s readers. So please welcome fellow Navy veteran Mike over from his Travel Photo Escapades blog, and enjoy this virtual visit to the 2014 MWSA conference.

 This is my first year attending one of these MWSA conferences.

MWSA founder, Bill, addresses the group on open microphone night.

I had no idea what to expect. I previously wrote about our MWSA trip to the Phoenix VA Hospital and what a great experience that was. I am now going to try and explain my experience with this group of mostly baby boomer highly dedicated people without boring you with the details of a conference. That is a big task!

Ron Moses Camarda reading an excerpt from his  book "Tear In The Desert" and breaking into song!

 

Let me just start off with saying that we had the standard series of speakers and lectures that you would expect with a writer’s group. I do not mean to diminish any of the speakers or lectures topic matter for writers. I would like to explain though that this group of people that do write books both traditionally published and are independent publishing folks are all highly dedicated people that hope to make some money on their hard work but really realize that publishing a book is more a labor of love than of income potential.

Joyce Faulkner, Jack London, Dwight Zimmerman and MariaEdwards with Anthology Book plaques.

 

We have folks in this group that have famous names such as Faulkner and London and we have some folks that have number 1 best sellers on the New York Times best seller list as ghost writers for Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing Lincoln Book”. What has come abundantly apparent is that none of these folks really do this hard core writing for the money but more a labor of love because even the Best Seller’s List folks are not really making gobs of money.

We have had lectures from experts on all the topics of writing but it was not until tonight when we had

Betsy Beard, VP, keeps the program going on open microphone night.

some of them give readings that I realized how much of their heart and soul are wrapped up into what they are writing about. Every author that read excerpts from their book elicited some sort of strong emotions from the audience as they read. It was so moving at one time with the emotional experience that we had to call in comic relief to liven things up. Keep in mind 99% of the folks in this group are all former military and there are all kinds of stories from PTSD causing plane crashes, to rescues that failed or were successful, to mascot dogs serving on a Navy ship. There was one author that is not former military but has gained such trust within the military community that he has written numerous stories about Medal of Honor recipients and Special Operations Forces. He is also the New York Times best seller author the President Dwight Zimmerman. Many of them are fiction novel writers and their stories are incredible. I am biased by the one guys pilot story that involves Navy SEALs.

President Dwight Zimmerman introduces a 92 year ol Veteran from the Phoenix VA to the members.

Here is what I can tell you! This is one of the best group of dedicated people to their craft that I have ever met and they are all supportive of helping their fellow author whether new or established. A Jack London descendent, Jack W. London was a very helpful speaker presenting fiction, establishing  characters, story lines and motivations to help the reading audience to invest in the story.

The majority of folks were Baby Boomers with a few under the age of 50 years old but you would never know they were baby boomers by their performance during karaoke night where we had singers, comics, fiction readers and non-fiction readers as well as poets and memoir readers.

It was an incredible experience and I plan to return next year to Phoenix during this same time frame.

Here is a link to their MWSA web site in case anyone is interested in joining a writers group.

Thank you, Mike! Valerie

Jim Greenwald watches over the mystery boxes to be auctioned off. He is organizations man behind the scenes keeping the conference going. An unsung hero!

Jim Tritten reading excerpts from his very moving book.

Don Henlin talking about writing compelling and believable villains.

Joanne Quinn-Smith previously presented about branding and marketing but now is leading the group in song on open microphone night.

Auctioneer motivates the crowd to bid Bucaroo bucks for the book.

 

9

comments on “Military Writers Society of America Conference – Phoenix”

    1. Mike, great blog! I almost feel like I was there….oh wait, I was.

      It was great to meet you. My first year as well, and I will be back as I loved the people in MWSA.

      One question went unanswered: does MWSA stand for “Magnificent Writers Seeking Alcohol?” Neal

    1. Fantabulous Mike!

      Meeting you on the shuttle from the airplane was a stroke of wonderful luck and blessing! Your blog helps us to feel great.

      I only have gratitude for spending time with you.

      Sharing “Seal” stories was a real plus.

      Ron

    1. Nice job Mike. I look forward to your expert technical assistance on my second mystery – involving Navy SEALs. :-{)

      As for MWSA, it was great to get to know those who were in Phoenix. You all welcomed Jasmine and me like we were family.

      Thanks.

      Jim

Learning Something New Every Day

Being Secretary of the Maryland Horse Council is not always that secretarial. Take for instance, this past weekend’s Maryland Horse Council Annual Barbeque, when I had the opportunity to play polo on the Maryland Horse Council Executive Committee’s team.

Valerie Ormond (left), Grace Fulton (center), and Jaime Navarro (right). Photo by Sue O'Donnell.

Valerie Ormond (left), Grace Fulton (center), and Jaime Navarro (right). Photos and videos by Sue O’Donnell.

Capitol Polo Club graciously provided us the horses, mallets, and brief instruction, so we could provide half-time entertainment in the form of a “celebrity” polo match. Yes, it was a test of my nerves to hop on the most expensive horse I’d ever sat on, ride left-handed, swing a mallet, not get hit, and not fall off in front of 200 spectators. I think the visuals tell a better story.

First, getting acquainted with the pony (um…not a pony at all, a horse) and instructions on the appropriate use of the mallet.

Getting instruction

Jessica from Capitol Polo Club helping with the Argentine polo pony, Sondra, and the mallet.

A very brief practice session with a member of the opposing team in black. And yes, that also happens to be my husband, Jaime Navarro. He was a natural and scored the first goal.

Then to the action.

Team Maryland Horse Trials @ Loch Moy (in black) triumphed over Team State Farm Insurance (in white) in a 2-0 victory. A big thank you to our team sponsors Carolyn MacIntosh and Dale Clabaugh!

The teams in the field

From left: “Celebrity” players Grace Fulton, Jaime Navarro, Guillermo Warley, Dave Taylor, Steuart Pittman, Dr. Peter Radue (DVM), Valerie Ormond, and Stephen Fulton.

It was all in good fun, and goes to show we all can learn something new every day.

The End

The End.

Christmas Heroes

Christmas brings back my last happy memories with my father. Growing up as “Daddy’s little girl,” it was no family secret that we shared a special bond. Dad served in the Navy in my early years, and I enjoyed hearing sea stories and exotic tales of places he visited. One time he brought home from a Navy cruise a three-foot-tall wooden table shaped like a monkey, which my brother and I named “Baboo.” My mother hated it. Mom’s detest for this furniture-creature among our early Colonial style décor made Baboo that much funnier to me, at six-years-old, and my way more mature older brother at seven. Dad’s sense of humor never stopped, and to this day when I think of him, I see twinkling blue eyes, shiny round cheeks, and a grin that made his entire face smile — just like that last Christmas.

Lieutenant Junior Grade Edward J. Ormond, U.S. Navy

Lieutenant Junior Grade Edward J. Ormond, U.S. Navy

Whether consciously or not, I followed in my father’s footsteps and joined the Navy.  Fiercely proud, my dad visited me at every duty station he could. And when I came home, Dad always wanted me to stop by the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Chapter Home, Omaha Beach Chapter Number 7, in Bowie, MD, to show me off to his friends and colleagues in the local veterans’ organizations. Every Christmas, the DAV held a holiday party for the residents of Charlotte Hall Veterans Home. Each year, one of the big highlights of the event for the Charlotte Hall residents was the belly dancer. [Read more...]

Fun With Freedom U.S.A. Tour

 

Billy meets Freedom at Loftmar Stables, Bowie, Md.

Sometimes we just have to have fun. Last week, all the way from Vancouver, Canada, Freedom the “Spokes-character” for Voice For The Horse Foundation Children’s International Writing Competition made his first U.S. stop in Bowie, Md. I’ve been fortunate to work as a volunteer helping coordinate the Voice For The Horse annual writing competition for the past three years and serving as a judge.

I had the honor of being the first to host Freedom Flat Stanley to help promote the horse-themed children’s writing competition. We began the tour at Loftmar Stables ,where our Maryland horses welcomed him. [Read more...]

Writing “Do’s” and “Don’ts”

Storyweaving

As part of a Storyweaving Writer’s Workshop, I chose the following quote from a list:

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
-W. Somerset Maugham

I was then told to write the three rules of writing “dos” that work for me, and the three don’ts (in 15 minutes). So, here goes.

WHAT WORKS [Read more...]

One-Liners

One of my virtual friends, Charlie Bray, began a new series featuring one-liners from novels.

http://theindietribe.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/10-one-liners-from-10-novels-collection-one/

I’m pleased to announce that Charlie chose a one-liner from “Believing In Horses” as one of the top ten in the first collection.

“Ten pairs of eyes in various stages of fear, desperation, and sadness, all watching Sadie, seemingly pleading for her to do something” [Read more...]