Posts Tagged ‘history writing’

We are about a week out from the launch of my first book, The Things Our Fathers Saw.  It clocks in at 286 print pages, and none of it is filler. Over 30 veteran stories are featured. The angle is new and unlike any other WW2 title out there. I am pretty excited. You get some butterflies, too; you are throwing yourself out to the world and you are going to be judged every time someone picks it up. So, why do it? I’d like to tell you what the experience of writing a first book has meant to me.

First off, I have been planning to write this book for well over a decade. Why?

The Things Our Fathers Saw - Front Cover

Besides the fact that it has been a major portion of my life’s work, I’ll offer up the other cliché that it is ‘a story that needs to be told’. Though I didn’t wake up one day and decide to write a book. The stories have bouncing around in my head for years.  I’ve shared them over and over again in my classes. The men and women who told them to me and to our young people are gone, or sadly won’t be with us forever. And I’m not taking the stories with me when it’s my turn to go. This is my legacy, this is their legacy, and more importantly, if you are an American, it is your legacy too.

And I don’t care how much you know about World War II, or the Pacific War. You WILL learn something new in this book. Not because I am a genius or an expert, but because I thought that I was pretty well-versed on this history, but I learned  A LOT myself in the research and writing of it. And if you are a bit hazy on the subject, or maybe were a wee bit disinterested in it when in school (if you were taught it in the first place), you are about to be blown away-by the writing, I hope, but especially the history.


Here is why I did NOT write the book. It was not about the money, and any author who writes for money, well, that is a book you probably do not want to read. I did not set forth to cash in, or write for “personal gain”. I think my brother said it best, simply, when he told me it is just something that you have to do.

That said, the book did not write itself. It has been in the works on a daily basis for nearly a year now. I’ve gotten up at 1:00 in the morning and worked to 4 or 5 AM, slipping back into the sack for a power nap before charging off again to school. Somedays, it killed me.

The past month, since school got out, I have been glued to this chair. The manuscript that I have been working on has been updated and revised 41 times since final exams wrapped up. I’ve gone back and forth with my beta editors and my mapmaker, Susan Winchell-Sweeney, on at least a weekly basis since April. I spent my school vacations studying, researching, editing and transposing a never-before-published prisoner of war diary, and cross-referencing and tracking down confirmations for the stories that appear in my book.

And I have found out that some super best-selling authors on similar topics should have done a little bit more of this type of homework.

So what you are going to get, is my best.


Some people looked at me curiously when I said I was going to publish independently-mostly people who are caught up in traditional publishing. ‘Self-publishing’ gets a bad rap, gets ‘poo-pooed’-and there is a LOT of dreck and drivel out there. But for me, and for my brothers who are also writers, we just don’t want to deal with the gatekeepers at this time (my brother lost the rights to his first book, watched it go out of print, and had to buy the rights back when the opportunity arose). This allows us the independence to produce the work that we have envisioned in our heads with total control. That is not to say that you don’t seek help in the form of editing, the title, the book layout and design (I even had a contest of sorts on Facebook to refine and select the final cover design, with feedback from hundreds). But I’m told that the first thing a traditional publisher is going to ask today is, ‘how will YOU (the author) market this book?’ What is your following, and where is your brand? Voilà. Woodchuck Hollow Press came into the world.


Final edits coming to you from the Woodchuck Hollow Studios.

Marketing? That is a whole other venture, the business side, I suppose. Personal gain did not figure into the motivation for doing this, but obviously I have incurred expense (that cover cost us a small fortune, but worth it, thanks to Damon Freeman at Damonza.com), and in investing so much of my time, I chose to forgo other opportunities to supplement the family income. I don’t know how to explain it, it is just something that I had to do (though that walk-in closet that I started for my wife last summer still is not done-but we are still married!). If a major publisher or bookseller shows interest, we can talk. But we are not going to lose sleep worrying over the numbers. The woodchucks will handle it.

Built-from-scratch cabinet doors for inside walk-in closet. By scratch means I cut the trees for it. Kinda like building a book. On to the next set.

Built-from-scratch cabinet doors for inside walk-in closet. ‘By scratch’ means I cut the trees for it. Kinda like building a book. On to the next set.

Stay tuned for more details. It will be available on Amazon in print and ebook format, and signed copies will be available via my website (http://matthewrozell.com/) or at local events I may be invited to do. Thanks for following this blog, and you can get more frequent updates if you are on Facebook by following/liking the AuthorMatthewRozell page.

Any others out there who want to share the experience of writing a book? Comments on my comments? Now if you will excuse me, I have to go out and deal with that pesky woodpecker who keeps hammering away at my house. Have a great day!

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