What inspired you to write your first book?
9/11. Patriotism swept the country after the attack and people began thanking me for my service. I felt guilty about this because I was a peacetime soldier. I would respond with, “Thank you but I didn’t actually fight in this war. I was a Reagan soldier. I knew they were sincere and didn’t care when I served, but it bothered me. I was hesitant when my preacher would ask veterans to stand up and be recognized. It was hard attending numerous Veteran’s Day ceremonies at my grandkids schools. I knew this was in my head because I was very proud of my service. I got to thinking there were probably millions of Cold War veterans struggling with this very same issue. So, I decided to write a book about my seven and a half years in the infantry during the eighties. I wrote a very detailed book about the stress and demands I encountered and all the awards I got during my career. This wasn’t to make it an I love me book but to show other veterans that what we did was important. We did make a difference. Our service mattered.
How did you come up with the title of your first book?
The title just hit me while I was writing the book. We may not have fought in a war but we played a huge part in preventing one. A nuclear one at that. We Were Soldiers Too. The subtitle came from my response to people thanking me for my service. Serving as a Reagan Soldier During the Cold War.
What makes the genre of nonfiction history you write so special?
I document the history of the Cold War told through the careers of the veterans who served during this critical time in history. This is a crucial part of our history that is completely overlooked by most historians and teachers.
What inspires you to write?
The Cold War veterans I have met and become friends with because of this project. The gratitude they share because someone is finally writing about how difficult it was for veterans who served then. This is more important to me than any award.
How hard was it to sit down and start writing something?
Surprisingly it was very easy. Book 1 was my autobiography and I just sat down and started typing it.
Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?
I pay someone for the final edit. I write in Microsoft Word which does an amazing job catching many grammatical errors and other issues. I never proof or correct while writing. I go back and do this after the first draft is written. I send it off to be edited once I am happy with everything.
Have you ever designed your own book cover?
I design all my covers. I use the same lady on fiverr to lay it out for digital and print versions but I tell her how I want it.
Do you believe a book cover plays a significant role in the selling process?
For fiction, absolutely. It also plays a key role in nonfiction sales but title is the more important. Nonfiction has a more limited market segment. These readers are looking at titles first to see if it resonates with their reading preferences.
Do you read and reply to the reviews and comments of your readers?
Absolutely. I want them to know I do read them and value their opinions, good or bad.
Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?
Yes, just write! Don’t worry about if you can write. Just write! Ignore all the advice and offers being pushed everywhere to help you write. Just write! And, disregard all the different advice you get. Just write! Get your story written. You can find inexpensive copy editing services to help you clean it up. They should tell you exactly what areas need work and areas you screwed up. Most include a proofreading in their price for after you make changes from the copy edit. Just write!
Tell us about your writing style, how is it different from other writers?
Each chapter in my series is a different veteran. I interview each one by phone about their service and take detailed notes. I put each veterans story/chapter in chronological order by service dates. Then I write the book. I do my research as I write, inserting my references as endnotes as I go. I clean-up all the chapters up and then have each veteran review their chapter. I want to make sure I have their facts correct and I don’t misrepresent anything. I make changes as they recommend and let them review it again. Finally, I combine everything into one manuscript and do a final edit on it before sending it off to my editor.
Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
Book 6 of the series. We Were Soldiers Too; 1983 On the Verge of Nuclear War. People need to know that by the end of 1983 the Soviets were convinced Reagan was going to attack them. They were very close to launching a preemptive nuclear strike that year. 1983 was the closest the world ever came to nuclear war. Even closer than the period of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Who are your books mostly dedicated to?
Cold War Veterans.
How do you see writing? As a hobby or a passion?
I wrote my first book with the intent of it being a hobby. I had many other ideas for books. The response to book 1 was so overwhelming I decided to write a sequel featuring the careers of other Cold War Veterans. I had so many veterans volunteer it became two books, one for those who served in Germany and one for those who served in South Korea and the DMZ. Veteran response and support continued to grow giving me enough volunteers for 12 to 15 books. It is a project of passion for me now. I want to document as much history of the Cold War from the perspective of those who served as I can.
Is it true that anyone can be a writer?
Yes. Just write!
People believe that being a published author is glamorous, is that true?
Not by a long shot. Self-publishing allows all of us to be authors. Being a best seller doesn’t even lead to fame and fortune. Keep writing. Royalties from multiple books add-up. Writing a series builds a loyal following. Especially in fiction. Nonfiction and its specific target audience make it very difficult to earn big bucks.
Have you ever marketed your own books yourself?
I do 90% of my marketing.
Are you satisfied with your success?
I’m satisfied with my decision to take on this project. My success is measured by the number of veteran friends I have made because of this series. You can’t put a dollar amount on this.
Given the chance to live your life again, what would you change about yourself?
Nope. I love my life. I love where I am in my life. I believe the choices we made, including all the wrong ones, were necessary to get where we are. I wouldn’t change anything. I like where I ended up and the person I am.
What is your motivation for writing more?
The support of all my Cold War veteran friends.
Can you tell us about your current projects?
The next 4 books in the We Were Soldiers Too series will be released in 2017. Book 4- Defending the Book 5- Iron Curtain, Inside the DMZ; The Most Fortified Border in the World, Book 6- 1983; On the Verge of Nuclear War, and Book 7- Ghost Walkers of the DMZ. Early 2018 I hope to release Book 8- Nuclear Weapons of the Cold War and Book 9- The Cold War at Sea.
Have you received any awards for your literary works?
11 so far for the first three books.