Joanne Patton (daughter-in-law of the WWII general) on Wilber’s War

9/7/17. Joanne Holbrook Patton came to the theatrical reading of Wilber’s War, where I presented her with a copy of Wilber’s War. On 8/24/17, she responded with a most gracious letter, portions of which I quote here, with her permission.

Norma Sparlin Bradt at her new grand piano, about 1937. {Photo: Bradt family)

“I eagerly brought the book home and the next day began to read it. I did not realize what an adventure I was about to take! Thanks to your … candid sharing of your family’s story, I can truthfully say that this was one [of] the most compelling books I have read in some time! The way you have integrated wartime events taking place in Europe, as well as in the Pacific area, interspersing their reports with personal letters and comments is remarkable…. Your book gives the reader the “Norma” story in toto … Your respect for all of your family was always clear, and I came to appreciate each one of them individually.… As a widow whose husband served in the Korean War and three times in the Vietnam Conflict, I am quite familiar of the effect that their combat experience can bring. None of them is immune to residual effects.”

Book talks in IN and ME, revised titles, a hard-covered version, a staged reading

Wilber's War single edition cover9/7/17. I apologize for my long absence on this blog, so here are some brief updates.

– In April, I brought Wilber’s War home to Indiana, Wilber’s birthplace with talks to history classes at Indiana University and to the students of the high school in Versailles. In May, I gave talks in Maine at the University where Wilber taught in the 1930s and at two libraries, in Old Town and Brewer. Both were heart-warming experiences where I connected with many people.

– I have re-positioned my single volume condensation of WW to be the prime product by (i) removing the word “abridged” from the title – see the inset figure – and (ii) by creating a hard-cover version (Ingram Spark, POD). To distinguish them from the trilogy, I now refer to the latter as “Wilber’s War (trilogy).”

– The highlight of the summer, on Aug. 3, was a staged reading of Wilber’s War by the Black Box Lab theater group in nearby Hamilton MA. Two professional actors (T. J. Turner, Patricia Jamison) and a talented director (Myriam Cyr) did a beautiful job of presenting the story as written (synthesized) by me! About 60 people came and were greatly moved by it. We showed 90+ slides during the narrations and included occasional sound effects. I will post a video of it when editing is complete.

Wilber’s War (abridged) is Published!!

 

Photo: Angie Wagg
Photo: Angie Wagg

12/31/16. Wilber’s War (abridged): An American Family’s Journey through World War II was formally published on Dec. 7, 2016! It was also Pearl Harbor Day and my 86th Birthday. We celebrated it all at the Salem Athenaeum where I gave another book talk, in which I told speculative stories of German spies and an impromptu battlefield meeting of opposing commanders.

The new abridged book is a more accessible, low-priced ($14.99), distilled, one-volume version of my trilogy. It is also available as an E-book ($4.99) and as an Audio-book ($24.95 – or less). All are available on Amazon and at www.wilberswar.com. As with the trilogy, it is loaded with maps and illustrations, 95 in total.

It has been well received with positive reviews (5.0 stars on Amazon). (The trilogy has received two Silver Awards and one Finalist Award.) Its juxtaposition of the battles in the Pacific Theater and the challenges on the home front make it a very special story that is highly relevant to military families today. It is an epic tale of duty, heroism, love, infidelity, and the tragedy of suicide.

Here is what one reviewer (Angie Wagg on the blog, Kelly’s Thoughts on Things) wrote:

"Ms Wagg's veteran-husband reading Wilber's War. Photo: Angie Wagg.
Ms Wagg’s veteran-husband reading Wilber’s War. Photo: Angie Wagg.

“My husband — a retired disabled veteran (photo) — did not put this book down until he finished it. I could tell that it touched him and brought on many memories of his own. At times he just dropped his head and times I think I saw a tear fall. For someone like him who understands war, this was a very accurate description of what happens when our loved ones defend our freedom. For me, a civilian, it opened my eyes and gave me an insight into what our military go through to protect us.”

I would greatly appreciate your spreading the word among your friends about Wilber’s War (abridged). If you get and read it yourself, I would love to hear what you think of it. And of course, if you read it, writing a review on Amazon or elsewhere would be much appreciated, even if it is short and not all positive. I published it myself (Van Dorn Books), and hence need ALL the help I can get to call attention to it.

HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL

Wilber’s War (abridged) is Done!

How did we finish up? We of course did not submit the book’s text to my designer, Lisa Carta, until it was “letter perfect,” or so I thought.
Wilber's War Abridged CoverMy “final” version had been edited by my wonderful editor, Francie King, and all her suggested edits incorporated by me before submitting it to Lisa. A month or so later, Lisa finished the layout and sent me the pdf file for the entire book. I printed it out and read it carefully, word for word, finding many additional defects, mostly minor. My editor, Francie King, likewise read it, but on her computer screen, finding her own set of improvements.

After Lisa incorporated our numerous edits, I submitted the pdf to CreateSpace (CS), whereupon we were prompted by their software to fix a few details. We did so and this led to a pdf proof I reviewed on screen. I then ordered four proof print copies of the book, complete with cover. They arrived two days later. They were beautiful, and the quality of the printed illustrations was much better than I expected for Print on Demand printing. Lisa’s cover design is dynamite, very similar but recognizably different than the trilogy cover. Francie, Lisa, and I each reviewed these proof books. I read one carefully, Francie reviewed layout details, and Lisa focused on illustration quality. All this led to corrections on some 60 pages.

Again Lisa made those corrections—with no complaints and great patience. I resubmitted to CS with the vow that I would live with this version, even if my name were misspelled on the cover! The pdf proof looked fine so I ordered five proof print copies of the book, which I am expecting to receive today.

The publication date is the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 2016, a little more than three months from now. In the meantime, I will seek reviews, will modify the wilberswar.com website to incorporate this new book, and will attend to other marketing details. Hopefully it will be possible to pre-order shortly. The book is softcover and very economically priced at $14.99.

Two Silver Awards for Wilber’s War!!

Wilber’s War was a finalist in three of the four competitions it entered and two of those became Silver Winners. Here is the rundown:

HB Silver Winner FR at ALA

Silver Winner: Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Awards: War & Military, Non-fiction
Silver Winner: Independent Book Publishers Association’s Benjamin Franklin Awards: Biography
Finalist: National Indie Excellence Awards: Military, Non-Fiction

 

I was at two of the conventions where the awards were announced (IBPA in Salt Lake City in April and American Library Association in Orlando in June) and was photographed at each award ceremony looking smug. There were lots of winners in each of the about 60 categories in each competition, so I had lots of smug company.

 

Hale Bradt with the Silver Medal plaque at the IBPA "University" in Salt Lake City. April 2016.
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The one volume condensation of Wilber’s War is on schedule for release on Dec. 7 this year. I am very proud of it; it still contains much of Wilber’s writing while still telling the entire story quite effectively and smoothly (the deletion holes are not apparent). I think of the hardcover trilogy as the “publication” of Wilber’s letters, though they are only about 40% of his total extant output. This allowed me to delete lots of excellent material in order to get it down to one volume while keeping the story moving. Rest assured, the best of the best is still there in the single volume.

The single volume contains about 40,000 words of Wilber’s writing and 60,000 of mine in the 100,000-word book. There are 95 photos/facsimiles/maps and 358 pages altogether. It will be paperback only and print on demand, with list price $14.99 if all goes as planned. Its current title is the same, with “abridged” added. Wilber’s War (abridged): An American Family’s Journey through World War II.

Marketing Wilber’s War

 

Hale Bradt with the Silver Medal plaque at the IBPA "University" in Salt Lake City. April 2016.
Hale Bradt with Silver (Finalist) Award at the IBPA “University,” April 2016.

Wilber’s War won a third Finalist Award, this one from the National Indie Excellence Awards in the category War and Military (non-fiction). The winners have been picked for two of the three, and unfortunately neither was Wilber’s War. The Foreword Reviews Winner will be announced later this month. Cross your fingers.

In April, I made three marketing trips for Wilber’s War: to the Independent Book Publisher Association in Salt Lake City, to Maryland where I gave talks in two Maritime Museums (Annapolis and Chesapeake Bay), and finally to the conference of the Society of Military Historians in Ottawa, Canada. The latter was very rewarding, in the contacts I made and in the sights and museums of Ottawa.

I have completed a one-volume version of Wilber’s War, which is destined for POD (Print on Demand) publication, probably on Create Space, hopefully for release on Pearl Harbor Day this year. We are still wrestling with the choice of title for it.

My publicist is being re-activated for a two-week push leading up to Father’s Day. That will mean more radio interviews and one or more op-ed pieces. We are lowering the price to $59 (from $79) for the campaign.

I am going to the ALA (Am. Library Assoc.) conference in Orlando later this month.

Despite all this and excellent reviews, the trilogy sales are slow. When I stir the pot, some sell; when I am not, few do. Altogether, about 130 have sold, which some might say is not bad given its bulk and price. There is much more I can do and will do. Marketing a book was never advertised to be easy, and it isn’t.

Hooray! Wilber’s War is a Finalist Twice!

I have just learned that Wilber’s War, my trilogy about our family in World War II, has been selected as a Finalist by two well regarded awarding organizations:

 

  1. Independent Book Publishers Association Benjamin Franklin Awards (Biography)
  2. Forward Reviews’ INDIEFAB Awards (War & Military)

 

These are like a silver medals. The Gold awards will be announced soon. I have also submitted the trilogy to two other organizations and hope for similar success with them.

Wish the trilogy good luck.

Relive World War II on the 75th Anniversaries

World War II buffs: In constructing my earlier post below “43rd Division Inducted in Army 75 years ago,” I came to realize that, having just finished celebrating the end of the war (70th anniversary of V-J Day last August), we are now approaching the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day. We now can relive the American experience in WW II day-by-day for the next four and a half years as we pass by the 75th anniversaries of the important events. For my Dad’s perspective of those event in the Pacific Theater, see the video here and also www.wilberswar.com. (Use discount code FBWW on that website if you decide to buy the print trilogy, to get 25% off the already reduced price.)

Please forgive the crass promotion of my trilogy. I published it myself, and thus it gets very little exposure. It is a touching, rich, and tragic story that sheds important light on the Pacific War as well as on deeply personal issues that are exacerbated in wartime. Hence I think it deserves more visibility than it is getting. Do help spread the word.

 

43rd Infantry Division Inducted into Federal Service 75 years Ago

News photo of 152nd Regiment officers as they prepare to leave for active duty training. My father, Capt. Wilber E. Bradt  is on the far left,  [Photo: Bangor Daily News, March 15, 1941, front page]
News photo of 152nd Regiment officers as they prepare to leave for active duty training. My father, Capt. Wilber E. Bradt is on the far left, [Photo: Bangor Daily News, March 15, 1941, front page]
The 43rd Infantry Division, with elements from four New England states, was inducted into Federal service on February 24, 1941, for one year of active duty. Europe was an Axis fortress, with only England and Russia free of German Nazi domination. The Germans would attack Russia in June and America would not enter the war until Pearl Harbor in Hawaii was attacked by the Japanese on December 7, 1941.

During early March, the men and trucks and howitzers of the 152nd Field Artillery Regiment left towns all over Maine for Camp Blanding, Florida.  The regiment would not return home until victory 4.5 years later. Capt. Wilber Bradt, my father, a 41-year old chemistry professor was on the staff of the regiment and thus helped organize the departures. He, with the regimental commander and others of the staff, would finally leave for Florida on March 15, 1941. Old movie footage shows the regiment’s departure from snowy Bangor, Maine, and their early days at Camp Blanding, Florida. (My dad appears briefly on the train platform in the background facing the camera at time 3:48 of the nine-minute clip.) In the photo above, taken just as they were departing Bangor, he is the officer on the left end.

By March 15, my mother, my sister and I had left Bangor, Maine, and were settled into an apartment on West 73rd Street in New York City. Thus, just 75 years ago, began the sagas of our World War II experiences, that of Wilber with the army in the Pacific Theater and that of my mother, Norma, in New York City.

My trilogy, Wilber’s War: An American Family’s Journey through World War II, tells the whole story. It has been reduced in price from $125 to $79 and readers of this blog can get it for 25% less than that ($59.25 plus shipping). Use discount code BLOGWW at www.wilberswar.com. It’s a most touching story of jungle combat, intense love, and human frailty. Please consider buying it and telling your friends about it.

Wilber’s 116th birthday, tomorrow, Feb. 1

Wilber, the protagonist of Wilber’s War, was born on Feb. 1, 1900. Tomorrow will be his 116th birthday, hard to believe. Here is a photo taken of him with his grandmother and mother. Decades later, his mother described his birth in a letter to my sister, Abigail. It is a nice bit of insight into life in those years.  Here it is in full except for bits at the beginning and end:

Sunday P.M. Jan. 29, ‘61

Dear Abigail

. . . . . Sixty one years ago at this date, I was expecting Hale’s father [Wilber]. I hope I shall not bore you. We were living on Hunter Ave. in Bloomington on Friday, Jan. 27, 1900. On that day, I had trouble with the heating stove. We were burning coke and using Cannel(?) coal for kindling, but I couldn’t keep the fire going. When Hale [her husband] came home from school, I was sitting behind the stove and there was no fire. He was impatient and said I should be able to keep the fire going when he built it. He had been gone all day as usual on school days. [He was a teacher at the High School.] Took lunch from home. No school lunches those days.

When he rebuilt the fire he found the stove clogged with ashes and coke; it needs plenty of “draft” to keep it burning. Hale came to me and put his arms about me and said he was a beast to scold me. But he spoke too late. My first pain had begun. Neither of us knew anything about childbirth and were so old we were ashamed to ask any questions. I was 24 and Hale was 28.

When the fire was going, Hale had me go to bed and he went to see a doctor a fellow teacher had recommended and to send a telegram to his mother. She had promised to come to us. [Before] Hale left me, he told me I must stay in bed until he returned and I promised I would. There were not telephones near us and it took Hale some time to walk 12 blocks down to the doctor’s and the telegraph office, then back. While he was gone, I heard the fire engine bell come somewhere near; then men’s voices in excitement, and a cow bawling. Then chopping. I heard later that a barn on the opposite corner from us had burned. The owner couldn’t be located and he had t he barn locked, and he was carrying the key. The chopping was to release the cow, but she died. All that time, I stayed in bed where I couldn’t see a thing and no one came near.

I was happy to have Hale come. The fire had frightened him until he was near enough to see it. Just a short time before this, he had been vaccinated and it had “taken.” His arm was badly swollen and painful. Twenty-four hours later, we had an answer from Hale’s mother. She would come soon. I remember how both of us cried. Help was on the way!

Hale stayed with me during the next few days. I don’t remember when Mother came. I was conscious only part of the time, but I knew another doctor was called. (It was Dr. Ernest Holland’s father.) I remember thinking I must be “pretty bad” to have two doctors. I think I thought [sic] I might be going to die and I recalled that Hale’s Sunday pants had a rip in the stride. I thought “He will want to wear them to the funeral and he will find them ripped. Then he will marry some one who keeps the rips mended and he will love her better than he does me.

The days wore along, until the next Thursday, Feb. 1st. Wilber was born at 3:20 P.M. I had never seen a newborn baby. My bed had been moved into the living room by the fire and I saw Mother shaking and spanking and blowing her breath into the mouth of six lbs. of baby whose head was elongated, his skin was almost black. I didn’t know until later that the long labor had nearly taken the child’s life. I like to think Mother saved him.

Hale said, when he went back to school, there was always “Convocation” each morning, with the six H.S. teachers sitting on the platform. When he took his place all the B.H.S. [Bloomington High School] students cheered him and he felt like crying.

Hale’s college chum at Uni. of Neb[raska] was Wilber Elmore. At the time of Wilber’s birth, Mr. Elmore was a Baptist Missionary in India. While we were trying to decide on a fitting name for our baby, we had a letter from him. Hale said, “Let’s name the baby for him”, so we did. Years later, Wilber wrote to his father that Mr. Elmore was in N.Y. City. I am not sure as to whether they ever met. . . . .

Affectionately,

Elizabeth Bradt