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Once again, I will be serving on a panel during the upcoming Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference, February 8-11, 2017 in Washington, D.C.  This time, I’m looking forward to sharing time with all the veteran writers I met during my last visit to the conference, the writers who prompted me to write the blog post, Finding My People.

Since this time, we’ll be in my back yard, I hope to be assisting in putting together some readings and events to keep everyone entertained. Until then, here’s the description of the panel I will be on:

The Middle Americans: How Flyover Country Responds to War. (Randy Brown, M.L. Doyle, Kayla Williams, Matthew Hefti, Angela Ricketts)

By various measures, rural Americans are more likely to enlist in the U.S. armed forces. Despite isolation from traditional centers of publishing and military power, voices with Midwestern roots have sprung forth like dragon’s teeth to deliver clear-eyed, plainspoken views of war, service, and sacrifice. The civilians and veterans of this stereotype-busting panel of published writers offer their insights regarding themes, trends, and markets in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

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I’m looking forward to being on a panel at the upcoming Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference in Los Angeles this year. The conference, which runs from March 30 to April 2, is massive. I’ve never been to one, but I understand it’s the place to be.

Here’s the excerpt from the AWP conference schedule. Hope to see you there!

Friday, April 1, 2016

12:00 pm to 1:15 pm

Room 407, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level

F180. Unsung Epics: Women Veterans’ Voices. (,  ,  ,  ,  ) As novelist Cara Hoffman observed, female veterans’ stories have the power to enrich our understanding of war and of our culture, art, nation, and lives. Yet their stories are largely absent. Five female vet writers address this narrative gap: How do women veterans’ stories differ from those of men and civilian women writing on war? Can their work have the same commercial and critical success? Do audiences have different expectations? How can these stories help bridge the civilian-military divide?

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The West County Capital Gazette’s Sharon Schultz gave me a great write up for The Bonding Spell in a story called, Local author focuses on women in combat boots.

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Gale Deitch and I had a great time at the Fort Meade Officer’s Spouses’ Club Holiday Bazaar. We met lots of readers, signed lots of books and will definitely be back in 2016.

Holiday bazaar 2015 table2

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An article from the West County Capital Gazette, Aug. 29, 2015

A Tale of Two Authors by Sharon P. Schultz

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Here is an article written recently for the Army Career Program website:

Mary's Author 8x10photoMedia chief writes sleuth stories on the side
Published on 29 Sep 2014.
Writing well is a given when it comes to being a proficient Army Public Affairs careerist.

Knowing how to write press releases, social media posts, feature stories, speeches, and so on is part of the day-to-day work in public affairs offices across the service.

But what about when it comes to writing fiction?

Mary L. Doyle, media relations chief at Fort Meade, Md., has done just that, recently publishing her third book in a mystery novel series that features a public affairs Soldier. Having served as a Soldier and continuing to serve as an Army Civilian in public affairs, Doyle said her career has influenced her fiction writing in every way possible.

“I hoped that by making the amateur sleuth in these stories someone in uniform, I could deliver an intimate look into life as a soldier while entertaining readers with a noir style mystery,” she said. “Master Sergeant Lauren Harper stumbles upon dead bodies and helps sort things out. She’s a public affairs NCO, and she does public affairs things.”

Even though Doyle’s novels deal with themes similar to what she encounters in her career, she does keep her fiction writing separate from her career. Still, there are some points where the two touch.

“I suppose any form of writing improves my writing overall, but I certainly didn’t intend for my fiction or my memoir writing to have any influence on my career as a PAO,” Doyle said. “About the only way the two mix is that I’ll sometimes use names of people I know for characters, and I have taken some real life experiences and turned them into fiction.”

Teamwork is another way writing fiction and working in public affairs is similar, Doyle said.

“You can’t do it alone,” she said. “I’d never write a press release without getting approval from higher, getting others to look at it to get their comments and suggestions. I do the same thing with my fiction. I’d never publish anything without it going through my writing critique group, without getting opinions from beta readers and without it going through a thorough editing process.”

Attention to detail also matters in both, too. Knowing who to talk to about details to ensure accuracy is important, especially for her novels, Doyle said.

“When I want to write about something I don’t have firsthand experience with, I know someone who knows someone I can talk to about it,” she said. “I’ve been known to ask people how someone could die performing a particular task or what skills someone might need to have to perform particular functions.”

The difference, though, is fiction writing allows for dramatic liberties while public affairs work requires truth. But, Doyle still keeps things as real as possible in her novels.

“I’m sure anyone working in CID would have problems with many of the things Harper does,” she said. “That said, I hope that I’ve avoided the cringe factor…that moment when you’re reading a military story and the character does something that ruins all credibility.”

When it comes to writing a book, it takes persistence, Doyle said. Her advice to anyone who wants to write a book is to just start.

“The only way to write a book is to write a book,” she said. “You’ve got to get your butt in the chair and your fingers on the keyboard. Start with a sentence and go from there. There’s no magic secret, no special process, no step-by-step instruction that will ever teach you how to do it.”

To learn more about Doyle’s novels, visit https://mldoyleauthor.com/.

 

I’m excited to say I will have a table at The Rain Taxi Twin Cities Book Festival again this year. I’d love to see you at the Minnesota State Fair Grounds on Oct. 11, 2014. I’ll be selling and signing all of my books. Let’s take a selfie together 🙂

rain taxi book festvial

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I will be speaking at the Annapolis Rotary Club monthly meeting on Oct. 31, at noon.  I’m so looking forward to it!

http://www.annapolisrotary.org/calendar

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Fort Meade employee turns Army service into mystery novels

Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 4:00 am, Updated: 9:02 am, Thu Sep 19, 2013.           

By KATE YOONkyoon@capgaznews.comCapitalGazette.com

When Mary Doyle was writing her mystery novel, even she didn’t know how the story was going to end.

That’s why she likes to read mysteries, and that’s the way she writes them.

“I feel like if I know, then why bother?” Doyle said.

It’s kind of the same thing with her 25 years in the Army as both soldier and civilian spent around the globe.

“I always wanted to write about some of those trips,” Doyle said. “I just didn’t know it’d be a murder mystery.”

Read the full article here.

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M. L. Doyle talks about The Peacekeeper’s Photograph on The Signal

WYPR%202011%20logoHere is a link to my interview with the local Baltimore NPR station, WYPR’s The Signal. The host Aaron Henkin was fun to talk to and it was exciting to be on a show that I admire so much.

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Soldier’s Magazine reporter Elizabeth M. Collins asked me to help her with a story for their Black History month feature. Her indepth interview led to a two-part series that highlighted the experience of Shoshana Johnson and her experience as a POW. Much of the contect of the article came from excepts for our book, I’M STILL STANDING.

Part one the series by Elizabeth M. Collins:

The capture of the first African-American female POW

Read part one of the series here: http://bit.ly/xwP22s
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Part two of the series by Elizabeth M. Collins:

Life as the first African-American female POW

Read part two of the series here:  http://bit.ly/x3ZhvF

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SAVE THE DATE!

Join me for a reading and book signing at the Fort Meade library, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011 at 6:30 p.m.  I’ll read from I’m Still Standing, answer questions about writing and publishing and sign books you bring with you…you won’t be able to purchase the book at the library.  You can order your copy now from Amazon.com.  I might even read a few pages from my unpublished novel.  I hope to see you there!

Here’s how to get to Fort George G. Meade, Maryland and a link to the Fort Meade Library.

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Fort Meade media relations chief nominated for NAACP Image Award

February 15, 2011 | Fort Meade, Maryland

 Mary Doyle, chief of media relations for the Fort Meade Public Affairs Office, approaches the red carpet at the NAACP Image Award s. Her book was nominated in the category of Outstanding Literary Work: Biography/Autobiography. 

By Rona Hirsch

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. — With every chapter she wrote detailing Shoshana Johnson’s captivity in the early days of the Iraq war, Mary Doyle feared she did not adequately portray Johnson’s harrowing ordeal or capture its significance.

Johnson was the first African American woman to ever be held as a prisoner of war, and it happened during the first major ambush of the Iraqi invasion in 2003.

“I was writing pages and sending pages, and she was reviewing them for factual checks,” said Doyle, chief of media relations for the Fort Meade Public Affairs Office. “And the whole time I was thinking it was an important project, that she had a real unique story to tell and a unique perspective. And I knew it was a story that people would read. And the whole time I was scared that I couldn’t do it, that I couldn’t live up to the challenge.”

But less than a year since its publication, “I’m Still Standing,” co-authored by Johnson and Doyle, has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Literary Work: Biography/Autobiography.

“I feel I must have done something right,” said Doyle, 51, who resides in Baltimore. “Shana has always thanked me; she has always been very proud of the final product. But still, I wanted other people to see her story and appreciate it. That’s why this validates it.”

The 42nd NAACP Image Awards will be presented March 4 at the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Center in Los Angeles and broadcast live at 8 p.m. on Fox television. According to its website, “the muticultural awards show celebrates the outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts.”

But the competition for the biography/autobiography category is pretty stiff: Nelson Mandela, Condoleeza Rice, Ray Charles Jr. and rapper Jay-Z.

“It’s an honor to be in their company,” said Johnson from her home in El Paso, Texas. “I’m nominated with Nelson Mandela and that keeps going through my head. He was in captivity 26 years, and I was in captivity 22 days.”

Submissions for all 53 categories of the Image Awards are taken from the arts industry including television studios, recording companies, publishers and agents. This year, there were 1,300 submissions overall. A select committee of 300 chose the nominees in all categories except literary.

“Literary is a unique category,” said a spokesperson for the NAACP Hollywood Bureau. “In the other categories, a singer or actor can submit a nomination.”

Literary encompasses eight categories. Each of those categories has a subcommittee of four to five panelists handpicked by the literary manager and the executive director of the Hollywood Bureau. This year, the biography/autobiography subcommittee selected the top five books out of 15 submitted by publishers. Winners in all 53 categories will be voted on by the entire NAACP membership. The vote closes Feb. 23.

“If we win, Shana will do all the talking,” Doyle said.

A native of Minneapolis, Doyle is a former sergeant first class who served 17 years in the Army Reserve after enlisting in 1979. Her father, former Staff Sgt. Loran Doyle, was a tanker in World War II who served in one of Gen. George S. Patton’s all-black tank battalions and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Her mother, former Sgt. Ruth Doyle, was a medical technologist for the Women’s Army Corps. Her younger brother, Larry Doyle, is a retired colonel in the Army Reserve.

“I enlisted because my brother said I could never make it in basic training and I wanted to prove him wrong,” she said.

Doyle first came to Fort Meade in 2004 as a broadcaster for Meade TV. From 2007 to 2009, she was the command information chief for Armed Forces Network Korea in Yongsan. In 2008, Doyle, who has written plays and short stories, wrote a novel, “The Peacekeeper’s Photograph,” which is set in Bosnia during a peacekeeping mission.

“I shopped the novel around to literary agents and was able to get one interested in the book,” she said. “She discussed it with an editor with Simon and Schuster who was looking for a writer for Shana’s book. Since I write military fiction, and because my main character is a female Soldier, my agent suggested that I might be able to write Shana’s book.”

Touchstone, a subsidiary of Simon and Schuster, had already hired a writer who turned in a manuscript on Johnson’s story. “But they weren’t happy with it,” Doyle said. “The writer was not a woman and had no military background; they had style and fact issues with his manuscript.”

Doyle was given background information and some interview tapes made by the previous writer. Working in Korea at the time, Doyle conducted her interviews with Johnson by e-mail and telephone. After submitting sample chapters in January 2009, Doyle was hired and told to have a first draft completed by August. The publication date had already been set for February 2010.

“So for eight months, every night and every holiday, I just strapped myself to my computer and worked,” Doyle said. “During the process, I’m listening to these tapes and I’m calling Shana and interviewing her via Skype [on the Internet] and over the phone.”

Near the project’s end in July 2010, Doyle flew to El Paso to meet with Johnson, who medically retired from the military in 2003. A former Army cook for the 507th Maintenance Company, Johnson had been shot in both ankles when her convoy, which included Pfc. Jessica Lynch, was taken captive in Nasiriyah.

But the project weighed heavily on Doyle. “I was in Germany when the war kicked off and I remember hearing about the ambush, and seeing the video of Shana,” Doyle recalled. “She looked so frightened. And I remember just feeling petrified for her. … I felt so responsible about telling the story in a way that would do her justice.”

A “nationwide seller,” according to publisher Simon and Schuster, “I’m Still Standing” sold out of the national chains and will be released in paperback next month.

“I’m very grateful to Mary, telling my story the way I wanted it,” said Johnson, a culinary arts student. “She did a beautiful job. She let my voice be heard.”

Currently, Doyle is working on the second novel in her mystery series, “The Engineer’s Tomb.” She was also offered to write a memoir of Brig. Gen. Julia J. Cleckley, the first African American female line officer to be promoted to brigadier general in the Army National Guard.

For now, Doyle is preparing for the Image Awards. “Win or lose, it’s an honor,” she said. “But it sure would be great to have one of those statues.”

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