December 26, 2004: Headlines: COS - Ukraine: COS - Turkmenistan: Writing - Ukraine: COS - Turkmenistan: Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier: Ukraine and Turkmenistan RPCV Michael J. Wood's book 'Rise Up the Phoenix' explores corporate fast lane

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ukraine: Peace Corps Ukraine : The Peace Corps in the Ukraine: December 26, 2004: Headlines: COS - Ukraine: COS - Turkmenistan: Writing - Ukraine: COS - Turkmenistan: Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier: Ukraine and Turkmenistan RPCV Michael J. Wood's book 'Rise Up the Phoenix' explores corporate fast lane

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Ukraine and Turkmenistan RPCV Michael J. Wood's book 'Rise Up the Phoenix' explores corporate fast lane

Ukraine and Turkmenistan RPCV Michael J. Wood's book 'Rise Up the Phoenix' explores corporate fast lane

Ukraine and Turkmenistan RPCV Michael J. Wood's book 'Rise Up the Phoenix' explores corporate fast lane

Author Michael J. Wood: 'Rise Up the Phoenix' explores corporate fast lane

By MELODY PARKER, Courier Arts / Special Sections Editor

WATERLOO --- In the novel "Rise Up the Phoenix," Midwestern business executive Jerry Morgan's dream of reaching the highest rung on the corporate ladder becomes a nightmare of corporate greed, backroom politics and the seamier side of life in the fast lane.

Fiction, yes, says author and Waterloo native Michael J. Wood. But his story is based on the hard, cold reality he experienced in 30 years of building and managing businesses around the world.

"The idea came to me about 10 years ago, about money, disillusionment, then trying to find yourself --- all the things people can relate to as they grow older. It's about the human condition and the search for the meaning of our lives. Like Morgan, we've all moved someplace where we hope things will turn out well. Things don't always turn out like we want, so how do we recover? What do we do? How do we go on? All those questions came to me," says Wood, who earned bachelor and master's degrees at the University of Northern Iowa. He is a 1970 East High School graduate.

Released Thursday by Publish America, Wood is preparing for a whirlwind promotional tour which includes 150 Hastings stores nationwide. He will be signing books Jan. 8 at Waterloo's Barnes and Noble.

Wood, now teaching business at Southwestern College in Wichita, Kan., has always burned with entrepreneurial spirit. He sold flower seeds, ran a lemonade stand and had a Courier newspaper route by age 11. In high school, he joined several rock bands. After earning his MBA in operations management and organizational behavior, Wood joined Deere & Company and lead construction and operation of the company's first-ever hazardous waste treatment facility.

He left in 1987 to lead the design, construction and operation of a Frigidaire refrigerator manufacturing complex in South Carolina, then moved on to build and manage manufacturing operations in North Carolina, Indiana and Mexico. He also worked in Sweden and Italy before settling in Charlotte, N.C., and starting his own small manufacturing firm.

"Then four years ago I had what could be called an epiphany. I was 49 and tired of business. I decided to do something really different, so naturally I joined the Peace Corps," Wood says, smiling. He served as a business consultant and community developer in Ukraine and Turkmenistan.

His stint in the Corps also gave him an excuse to shelf a book manuscript. He'd withdrawn it from a publisher because he was unhappy about what an editor wanted to do to the story. Originally, Wood planned to write an autobiographical expose about his work constructing a major manufacturing plant in the South, but an agent "told me I could be sued if I named names and places, so I turned to writing fiction," he recalls, laughing.

Robert James Waller, best-selling author of "The Bridges of Madison County" and a half-dozen other books, offered encouragement as a mentor. The former dean of the UNI School of Business was Wood's undergraduate adviser and the two have kept in touch for the last 30 years.

Returning from the Peace Corps, Wood accepted a teaching job at Southwestern College and pulled out the old manuscript. "I rewrote it, taking a different approach. I guess I had to distance myself from it for a fresh perspective. It flowed more easily this time and everything seemed to fall into place. I landed a book contract last May and it's all culminating with this book tour in mid-January," Wood says.

Almost finished with a second novel, Wood admits he sat down and read his own book several weeks ago. "'Rise Up the Phoenix' has been done for awhile, and I didn't want to get confused with the stories," he says, smiling. "It's a good story --- I don't think I'll ever run out of stories to tell about the human condition."

The book (paperback, $19.95) is available at Barnes & Noble, Borders, independent booksellers,, and


What: Book signing for "Rise Up the Phoenix" by Michael J. Wood

When: 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 8

Where: Barnes & Noble, Waterloo

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

The World's Broken Promise to our Children Date: December 24 2004 No: 345 The World's Broken Promise to our Children
Former Director Carol Bellamy, now head of Unicef, says that the appalling conditions endured today by half the world's children speak to a broken promise. Too many governments are doing worse than neglecting children -- they are making deliberate, informed choices that hurt children. Read her op-ed and Unicef's report on the State of the World's Children 2005.

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Gov. Jim Doyle streamlines state government 22 Dec
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RPCV serves as Ukraine election observer 21 Dec
Christmas Gifts for Peace Corps Volunteers 21 Dec
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Director Vasquez decries racism and discrimination 20 Dec
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Story Source: Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ukraine; COS - Turkmenistan; Writing - Ukraine; COS - Turkmenistan



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