The Unplanned Literary Adventure.

Small Press Reviews: Orange Hat Publishing

By Julia Gimbel

About five years ago, I found a 60-page handwritten journal my late father wrote about his experiences in the South Pacific during World War II. 

During the ensuing months, I found myself looking into the topics Dad raised in the journal. My curiosity about WWII became a passion and I realized that other history buffs might be interested in what I was learning. The topics became the links in the story I wanted to tell – the life experiences of those who served and not the battles, dates, and generals we’ve all studied before.

Starting to write is the hardest thing – I didn’t know how to begin so I just chose one of the topics and dove in. I found that breaking down the larger story into manageable pieces and researching them one at a time made it easier to keep going – I had faith that they would gel at some later date. 

A lot of my research came from online sources, and I compared them carefully to glean the most accurate facts. Be skeptical and review multiple sources before you extract any information for your work. I also took advantage of my local library’s collection of WWII books as well as its free access to online programs such as 

The National WWII Museum was a gold star resource for me, both online and in person, so seek out any organizations or archives for your topic that might be relevant. 

Reach out to people involved with or interested in your topic. I met people from the Honor Flight, my local newspaper, and most importantly, local veterans willing to share their stories with me. People will encourage you, introduce you to future contacts, and give you new ideas. 

Join a writing roundtable like I did and think carefully about your peer’s corrections and ideas and how they might make your work better. Stay true to yourself but value the critiques offered by others and remember that everyone wants you to succeed.

I created an author page on Facebook for my work, sharing tidbits of the interesting stories I unearthed while I researched. Invest in boosting your posts and be sure to interact with your followers who will share and recommend your page with others. Agents will take notice if you have a large following on social media.

Over time I wove Dad’s words with my own and before I knew it, I had a dozen different “chapters” telling his story and by extension, the stories of millions of others who served during WWII. I organized  the chapters into a sequence that made sense, adding transitional passages between the sections. 

I never saw myself as a “real” writer who might someday be published, but my dream came true when Orange Hat Publishing saw the manuscript’s potential. “Student, Sailor, Skipper, Survivor – How WWII Transformed the Lives of Ordinary Americans” will be published and released in March of 2020. Holding the book in my hands will be the fulfilling culmination of a fun and challenging research and writing experience. 

I am thrilled to see where the journey that started with Dad’s words will take me next, and I am honored and excited to share his experiences, and by extension those of millions of other WWII veterans, with readers.

Orange Hat Publishing

Orange Hat is an independent, Wisconsin-based publisher that’s all about the dreamers and go-getters. Shannon Ishizaki started Orange Hat in 2011 because she loved the work – reading, amplifying inspiring voices, and helping dreams come true.

Student, Sailor, Skipper, Survivor 

How WWII Transformed the Lives of Ordinary Americans

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Article originally Published in the February/March 2020 Issue “Short Stories”

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