By Scott Prater
As most Army spouses can attest, life can be uniquely challenging for military families, especially when they must bid farewell to a Soldier leaving home for an extended deployment to a dangerous place.
That’s part of the message Fort Carson Army spouse, Maria Cordova, delivers in her book, “Unsung Heroes,” recently released online and at finer book stores.
“Unsung Heroes” is actually the second children’s book Cordova has published since 2016. The first, “ABCs of the Army,” was a resounding success that landed Cordova on national television broadcasts, sparked a buzz of book signings and interview requests, and even inspired others to pen similar books and articles.
“I never saw myself as a writer,” Cordova said. “I just started writing about my daily thoughts and emotions in a journal. One thing just led to another and my first book was published a year later.”
Though she talked about publishing a book as if it magically happened all by itself, Cordova, mother of two young daughters and wife of Maj. Christopher Cordova, physician assistant for the 4th Infantry Division, endured a lengthy and complicated process to get “ABCs of the Army” into print.
First, she had to figure out just how the publishing process worked.
“I did some research and by chance I saw a pamphlet about Baylor University,” she said. “I thought it was a clever product and looked down at the publishing information on the back, which showed Mascot Books as the publisher. So, I contacted Mascot Books and that was the beginning of my relationship with them.”
As it turned out, Mascot Books specializes in the self-published books industry. Self-published is a bit of a misunderstood term, but basically, it means the author foots the initial bill for the production and printing of a book.
In Cordova’s case, she paid for prints of both books up front and has a stockpile of both books at her home, but both are also now available at major online sites and at larger bookstores.
At this point, she’s sold more than 2,500 copies of “ABCs of the Army,” while “Unsung Heroes” is performing well after the pre-order phase of sales.
Up until 2015, Cordova said the idea of writing a book was one of the furthest things from her mind, but that’s when she looked for books or articles on the topic of military Families; she found little that was interesting or engaging.
“I just wanted to provide a perspective for extended family members of military members,” she said. “I wanted something that would explain some of the acronyms and Army terms that would help provide some insight into the lives of the military community.”
Once published, her first book was an instant hit. Cordova was invited to read the book on Veterans Day during a taping of the Fox Network’s Fox and Friends television show, while studio anchors at CNN and other networks took notice as well.
“Reviews and referrals from Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Jake Tapper (CNN) and Team RWB CEO Mike Erwin helped drive sales early on,” Cordova said. “Reading the book to children on Fox and Friends was really fun, but also scary and a little nerve wracking. I traveled to New York for the show and of course my husband couldn’t go with me because he was deployed. I received a lot of comments saying that what I was doing for the military community was great and that people thought the book was engaging and that the illustrations were perfect for the modern Army.”
Cordova began work on “Unsung Heroes” immediately after the first book was released, but she said the timing of her newest book was more related to her husband’s deployment than anything else.
While “ABCs of the Army” is meant to explain Army terms and such, Cordova said “Unsung Heroes” is a lyrical lullaby about a family and their deploying Soldier.
“I wanted it to capture the essence of military Families saying goodbye during deployments and capturing how they feel at that moment, their perspective and celebrating resilience,” she said. “I read it to my kids every night while Christopher (Cordova) is deployed.”
Christopher Cordova left on another deployment to Afghanistan last month, something Maria Cordova said was particularly difficult for her and her daughters because eight members of Christopher’s unit were killed during a Taliban attack on one of his previous deployments there.
“It’s (saying goodbye that is) extremely emotional,” Cordova said. “You never know what could happen, but you pray for the best and hope he comes home in nine months.”