ROMVETS nurture creativity, sisterhood
Editor's note: Don’t miss Stripes Okinawa columnist Kim Suchek in the Aug. 7 AHRN Webinar: “Military Rental Market Update & Marketing Your Properties to the Military”
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Every now and then a resource comes across my desk that amazes me. I am amazed I didn’t know about it years ago, amazed at the scope of help it offers veterans, amazed at the success its members are achieving and amazed at the trust, comfort and support they provided for each other.
I had the pleasure and honor of speaking with Merline Lovelace a retired USAF colonel (68-91) and one of the first women base commanders. Merline is one of the founders of ROMVETS, an amazing organization that provides not only emotional assistance but an intellectual outlet of expression and healing.
ROMVETS started out as Romance Veteran, a group of women serving, or who had served, their nation in uniform who also write romance. Veterans who wielded the sword of patriotism, who now wield the pen to write creative, inspiring and healing novels. Their scope of genre has since expanded into thriller/fiction, romance mystery, paranormal, erotica, young adult and historic novels.
Many writers highlight military service members as main characters; several show them in smaller parts but just as important. All the writers I spoke with highlight a message or a theme in their stories.
ROMVETS was founded in 2002 by Merline and Lindsay McKenna after meeting several other women during a RWA writer’s conference in Denver. After talking and finding they were all ex-military, they decided to create a way to uplift, encourage and guide other female veteran writers with the experience and connections they have accumulated over the years.
ROMVETS members’ service ranges from World War II up to present day, spanning military and civilian careers including cryptologists, dentists, surgeons, Intel, MPs, aviation, pilots, JAGs and much more.
ROMVETS come from all branches and 5 different countries to include FBI, Canadian Defense Air Force, Royal NZ Navy, Royal AUS Navy, and the Royal British Air Force. Some were or are enlisted and officers, many have been active and seen the horrors of war and the complications of re-integration back into their families and civilian life. Many have served over 20 year careers and others had two or three. A few are disabled veterans.
The point I am trying to make is it really doesn’t matter what time you served, your rank, or what branch you served. Being in the military is a shared, common experience that connects you with other service members and stays a lifetime with an individual. Living in the military framework changes a women’s outlook on how she sees and lives even after she leaves the service via separation or after a military career.
Each ROMVETS veteran is either an aspiring writer or a published author from eBooks big name publishers like Amber House, Harlequin or Kensington. A ROMVETS mission: For its writers to be positive and encourage sharing information, resources, networking, endorsements, contacts and assists with prepping for agents and researching questions plus so much more.
What I find most impressive about ROMVETS is the healing and communication among a group who shares and understands what the veteran has went through and trying to overcome while guiding her to the goal of publication. It’s priceless. While you must be a female veteran with a common goal or experiences in the publication world or writing to join, the membership fee to join ROMVETS is simple: Trust.
ROMVETS members trade information easily. This “sisterhood in arms” is familiar with the importance of “top secret” and understands how to handle personal information in a way to protect the women who are speaking and sharing. The members freely share their publishing experiences, struggles to get printed, agent information, editorial input as well as a hundred different facets of what a writer needs to know to successfully negotiate the publishing realm.
The teamwork cannot be over emphasized as with each job (civilian or military) you have jealously, envy and competition. You won’t find it at ROMVETS as they have each other’s back. What started as a hand full of female veterans has grown into over 171 members (13 still serving) with over 1,559 years of combined service and a total of 1,259 books published to-date. Many are self-published and others with big power house publishers.
These ladies reached for the stars: Five on the New York Times best seller list, 10 who’ve made the USA Today best seller list and many winning writing awards from prestigious Romance Writers of America, RITA and Golden Heart Awards to Romantic Times Best Book, Lifetime Achievement and Pioneer Award. I would say they have reached their goals.
For more information, visit: www.RomVets.com
Blessings from my family to yours,