Military women who have turned sword into pen
Who expects women in the military to be writers, too? There are more than you think! They have wielded the sword of Patriotism for their country and now have transformed it into a pen to write marvelous stories. Come join us as you learn about women warriors who are also creative authors as well!
ROMVETS was created in July, 2002, by retired USAF Colonel Merline Lovelace and her cohorts. Merline was one of the first women base commanders in the USAF!. There was an RWA conference in Denver. Some of our women vets who attended (and this is not a complete list), were Jo Ann Ferguson, Cindy Dees, Candace Irving, Susan Grant, Pam McCutcheon and Carol Umberger, among others. Jo Ann Ferguson remembers, ”We all were delighted to find each other, because some of us knew some of the people there, but no one had known everyone...or known they were ex-military. We met in a small bar and decided this one get-together had to be part of something bigger and lasting.” Merline formed the loop based upon all the women’s desire to have a place for writer vets. Shortly after that, Lindsay McKenna joined the burgeoning group. The list decided upon a name for their web site two years later, in August, 2004. With the help of Pam McCutcheon, our favorite geek, she created the ROMVETS web site in October, 2004 and we were now online. From that small nucleus of a half dozen or so women vets, ROMVETS has grown to over eighty women! We call ourselves a "company" (because a company is comprised of 120 people) and we’re sure we’ll hit that number soon. This web site and list are exclusively for women veterans who have proudly served their country and who are also writers.
When you are in the military, it is a separate world from the "civilian" one. For one thing, teamwork is stressed over the individual’s merits. Secondly, living in the military framework changes a woman’s outlook on how she sees and lives in her world—even after she leaves the service via separation or after a twenty or thirty-year career. There is a lingo, a unique slang, and a way of seeing the world through the military lens of life that makes these women tigers of a different stripe.
ROMVETS come from the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Army and yes, even the FBI. And, we have women on our list who have served in other countries, such as Carol Spenser, who was in the Canadian Air Force. Or Barbara Phinney, who was in the Canadian Forces/Army, and Judy Gill, another Canadian, who served as a nurse. Some of our writers were enlisted and some were officers. Some are active duty right now and serving over in Iraq. Some had twenty year careers and some had two or three years in the military. It really doesn’t make a difference because being in the military is a shared, common experience that stays a lifetime with an individual. We boast military Academy graduates from the Air Force, Army and US Navy. These women were on the cutting edge of breaking down the male bastion that was entrenched in these academies and consequently, are part of a very rare few individuals who toughed it out to show them women were just as good—or better—than any man in the military. What a man could do, they showed a woman could do. And of course, every ROMVET was saddled with that challenge whether she was enlisted or an officer, also. This toughening up has been a blessing in disguise because as a writer, one must buck the odds, take a lot of rejections and still keep on going—our eyes on the prize—getting published.
One thing they are not different from the civilian populace is the fact that all ROMVETS are writers. Each woman on our company roster is either an aspiring writer or a published author (from ebooks to being published with the big name publishing houses). Because we are teamwork oriented, ROMVETS serves as a highly positive and reinforcing list for all of its members. We trade information easily and with trust among the members. What is said, is kept on the list. Military veterans understand what "top secret" means and they know how to handle personal information in a way that protects the woman who is speaking on the list. This trust comes directly from our military service and indoctrination.
As a result, the members are free to share their publishing experiences, their struggles to get to print, agent information, editorial input information as well as a hundred different facets of what a writer needs to know to successfully negotiate the publishing realm. We rave with joy when one of our vets gets published. We jump up and down in celebration when one makes it on a vaunted list, such as the New York Times Best Seller or USA Today list. We shriek with delight when one of our vets wins a major award at RWA. We do a lot of celebrating at ROMVETS.
The teamwork cannot be over emphasized because it is positive support accorded to each writer on the list. And if you’ve been to writing conferences I’m sure you’ve seen the green-eyed monster of jealousy, competition and envy from certain individuals. You won’t find it at ROMVETS because we have "each other’s back" (an old military terminology which means we protect the person or people we are with). And, because all women on the list have served their country, there is a high regard and natural respect that is accorded automatically to each member, regardless of what branch she served in or whether she was enlisted or officer or academy graduate.
What is also fun and interesting is that each ROMVET has unique knowledge due to her military experience. We have intelligence officers, pilots (3), meteorologists, satellite communications, linguists (Arabic, Russian), medical field (nurse, physician), electronics field, administration, JAG (attorney), sonar, logistics, CID (think: NCIS the television program), surface warfare officer, combat correspondent, supply, military police (MP), aviation machinist, personnel, signal corps, cryptology, electronic intercept, artillery, civil engineering, computer programmer, transportation, Security police K9, command post tech, Communications, surface ships, contracting and OSI. To say the least, when it comes to military jobs, ROMVETS has the field covered!
Best of all, when a writer needs to know about a certain weapon, a flight term, or other in-depth military info for the book she is writing, the ROMVET who has that expertise shares it with everyone on the list. We all grow in our education (and admiration of the ROMVET who has this experience) as a result. ROMVETS has become the military Google equivalent and it has served us well.
The teamwork also has yielded another wonderful dynamic: Merline Lovelace, USAF, and Lindsay McKenna, USN, got together at the Romantic Times conference in St. Louis in 2004 and came up with an idea. They said: “What if we put together a twelve book series concept to help our younger ROMVET writers get established?” They wanted to create a vehicle that could help their sister writers get into a known publishing house by being the co-captains (co-copyright) on their idea. Both writers are USA Today bestsellers and know the industry from nearly two decades of working in it. They came up with the idea of TIME RAIDERS, a paranormal concept, and Lindsay pitched it to Tara Gavin at Silhouette Nocturne. Before pitching the idea, Lindsay asked all the ROMVETS list if they’d like to participate in the concept. About seventeen volunteers did and so for 2004 and 2005, Merline and Lindsay honed the series concept and worked with the interested ROMVET writers. Of course, they couldn’t promise that these ROMVETS would get chosen for the project because that would ultimately be up to Tara Gavin, the editor. The concept, however, was based upon the military mindset of teamwork and that two or more heads were better than one.
The outcome of this is that Tara chose four of seventeen volunteers to write the first four books. Those writers are Lindsay McKenna, Cindy Dees, PC Cast and Merline Lovelace. If the Time Raiders concept and series is a success with the readers, then Tara will go back to the list of volunteers and choose however many more she wants. The books are being written in 2008 and will showcase through Silhouette Nocturne in 2009. Needless to say, the ROMVETS used their collective teamwork, creative ideas and allowed those who wanted to volunteer, to have a chance at writing for this project. There aren’t many other lists who have ever tried this series idea and been successful. But then, military women know how to work as a team and can power through things and get them done when others find the challenges too daunting. It is the can do" spirit of the military running through the veins of the ROMVETS that makes this ongoing series possible.
The first four proposals for Time Raiders has been approved. Lindsay McKenna will lead off with the first book, to set the template, and then Cindy Dees follows with book #2, then PC cast with book #3 and finally, Merline Lovelace will round out the first four books offered to readers of the paranormal. They have collectively come up with the concept—believing that group dynamics and ideas are the best way to go on a project of this size. The more brains and creativity you put on an idea, the better it becomes. And Time Raiders has evolved into a highly unique world building concept that we believe will please and thrill the readers.
And, in the spirit of military teamwork, there are about a dozen ROMVETS who are getting together in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in June, 2008, to spend a vacation together. We intend to be creative and who knows? We might start up another series concept where some of our ROMVETS can get published or show cased. One never knows! The energy and magic of the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks will certain inspire us.
In the end, ROMVETS are like the Four Musketeers: “All for one, one for all,” as we support one another as writers and as military veterans.
WANT TO JOIN ROMVETS? HERE’S HOW!
Are you a woman military veteran? From any country? Are you serving now? Or have served? And you’re an aspiring or published author? Come join us!
Email Merline Lovelace, our "commander" of the ROMVETS list (she attends many writing conferences and you can always see her in person about joining, too).
Copyright 2007 Lindsay McKenna
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