Why I Wrote “Only by the Grace of God”

My brother Bob died in December, 2013. Three months later my brother Bill died. As I was the executor of Bill’s estate, I had the job of going through all his papers. I found some typed and handwritten pages about our experiences as prisoners of war in the Philippines during World War II. I have no idea why he wrote those pages or what he might have done with them. A little while later, I received an email from my nephew, Bob II, with his father’s memoir covering the same period in our lives. I too had written my memoirs of the same experiences. For some reason, we never told each other what we had done.

About this time there were a number of news reports of mass shootings for no apparent reason. One newspaper report said that the gunman had published three books before he died. Hmmm, said I to myself. “If he can do it, why can’t I?”

I looked up publishers that might be interested in World War II memoirs. None were interested. So then, I started browsing around the internet, reading about self-publishing. Since I have no idea when I will die, like my brothers, I decided to try this route in order to get the book out. The problem was, I had never read a memoir by three people. I had no idea how to go about publishing a book. I had written text books, but the publisher took care of all the details of publishing and marketing. Now I was on my own.

The first thing I did was to share the manuscript with a friend who had just published her husband’s autobiography. What did she think of a memoir written separately by three people? She returned the manuscript to me partially edited. She eventually ended up editing the entire manuscript. Dorci Leara is acknowledged as the support and encouragement I needed to finish the book.

After reading about what many independent publishers offered for author support, I decided to go with Archway Publishing, an off-shoot of Simon and Schuster, simply because of the complexity of the book. I wanted to include pictures, historical documents, and personal correspondence. So, I signed on with Archway.

I think the book is a contribution to the little known history of civilian prisoners of war in the Philippines during World War II.