Welcome to Day 12 of #NJ12DaysOfAuthors (May) Series! @Pdoggbiker #Cherries @RRBC_Org @RRBC_RWISA @Tweets4RWISA #RRBC
At the end of this series, 1 lucky visitor will win a (12) Kindle e-book pack which will include a copy of each book featured in this series + a $10 Amazon gift card! Simply leave a comment below to be entered into the drawing!
On the 12th day of the May “12 Days of Authors” Series… Nonnie’s gift to you…
AUTHOR, JOHN PODLASKI!
I served in Vietnam in 1970 and received numerous military recognitions including (Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star, two Air Medals, and a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry). After my military service, I spent 45+ years working in management positions within the automotive supplier sector. My wife, Janice, and I retired in 2013 and live in Sterling Heights, MI. During our retirement, we’re happily watching our only grandchild, 3-year-old Scarlett, while daughter, Nicole Patrick, works. What a joy seeing her grow both physically and mentally every day. I’ve authored two books about my Vietnam experience (a sequel will be published in June) and two well-received short stories.
NJ: And on the 12th day of the series, I get to hang out with one of my two favorite Johns! I saved you for this day especially… it’s Memorial Day, and we’d like to honor you for your service to our country, Sir! So tell us, is your author name a pen name or your birth name?
John: Birth name
NJ: How long have you been writing?
John: All through my management career, I’ve had to write reports, summaries, and business plans which were quite formal. I must credit my wife for edging me on to write. Here is the story on how it happened:
Forty-five years ago, my mother gifted us with a shoe box containing every letter I had written home while serving in the Vietnam War and my personal diary. We read through the many letters and diary – my wife, intrigued by it all, had a hundred questions. She suggested that I make a short outline based upon the letters and diary and then try to flesh it out so her questions could be answered. I started this project on a manual typewriter and carbon paper, intending to write something no longer than a term paper. However, as more questions and requests for clarification came, the “term paper” grew. Editing, during this time, required an entire chapter to be retyped to maintain proper structure. In early 1980, Atari came out with a game console that offered a word processor, the ability to store data on floppy disks and a dot matrix printer. Purchasing this, I spent the next three months duplicating all the keystrokes of the paper into this new computer, then finding it much easier to edit and add to the story.
The manuscript was completed in 1986 and then shopped around to various publishers and entered contests at various colleges; the story was a finalist at Washington State University’s International Literary Awards. I finally located a publisher who was willing to take a chance on my story providing it was rewritten to a third person perspective.
Six months later, the rewrite was half complete and already exceeded the length of the original. I began working a lot of overtime on my job and found that there wasn’t time available to continue my project – this continued for the next year. At that point, I lost interest in the project all together – boxing everything up and moving them to the garage, where they sat for the next twenty years.
In 2009, my wife and I attended our 40th high school reunion – the school was small, and we only had sixty students in the graduating class…at least two thirds of them attended. The last reunion attended was the 20th, and I had forgotten that I donated two copies of my original manuscript for them to read and pass around. So, I was quite surprised when they asked about the status of that manuscript from long ago. When I responded that I gave up shortly after that last reunion, they were relentless in their efforts to get me to pick it back up. This persistence continued for the next two or three weeks before I gave in.
The 8-bit floppy disks could not be converted to Microsoft Word without spending quite a sum of money. My daughter, Nicole, said that if I could print out everything saved, she would get it all into Word. Six weeks later, she handed me a memory stick with both versions.
Nine months later, April 20, 2010, “Cherries” was born as an e-book on Smashwords.com and later as POD on Amazon.com and other platforms.
NJ: I understand that CHERRIES is your favorite. Please tell us why.
John: This book exposes my innermost secrets and shows others what many of us in the Baby Boom Generation had to contend with while growing up. The Vietnam War affected everyone living at the time. My tour in the war changed my life drastically – for the good – and made me what I am today. I am thrilled when others learn from my work and state that it helps family members understand why their soldier was changed when he came home. The soldiers thank me for putting into words what they couldn’t talk about.
In 1970, John Kowalski is one of many young, naive teenage soldiers sent to Vietnam to fight in an unpopular war with only six months of training. Dubbed “Cherries” by their more seasoned peers, these newbies suddenly found themselves thrust into the middle of a terrible nightmare. On-the-job-training is intense, however, most of these teenagers were hardly ready to absorb the harsh mental, emotional, and physical stress of war. When coming under enemy fire and witnessing death first-hand, a life changing transition begins…one that can’t be reversed.
“Cherries” tells it like it is and when finished, readers will have a much better understanding of what these young men had to endure for an entire year. It’s a story that is hard to put down.
NJ: John, where can readers purchase your book and how much is it?
John: Cherries is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Cherries-Vietnam-Novel-John-Podlaski-ebook/dp/B003R4Z5U6
The Kindle ebook version is $4.99, Paperback $11.99, and audiobook $14.99
An ebook version can also be purchased from Smaswords for Apple and other type of electronic readers: Smashwords – Cherries – A Vietnam War Novel – Revised Edition – a book by John Podlaski for $4.99.
NJ: Awesome! I have been in this business long enough to know that quite a few readers have a purchase price point and will only spend so much on an e-book. How do you price your books and what is your logic behind the pricing?
John: In most cases, Amazon dictates what the “lowest” price can be based upon their profit level; authors must comply with the amount they set. In my case, I’m just trying to recoup my expenses for ads, etc. during the year. I have given books away for free online in certain situations, but that’s only for a short period of time. It burns me up how these “well-known authors” sell their ebooks for outrageous prices as compared to us Indie authors. As a result, I had to give them up and have read strictly Indie books during the last few years. As a guide, I try to price mine the same as the majority of other books within my Amazon categories.
NJ: All true. We do what we have to do to stay in the game. John, I got on Twitter many years ago because my social media manager at the time, told me that I needed to be on Twitter. He did not give me an actual reason as to why (I had to learn my “why” on my own), just that I needed to be there. What was your main reason for getting on Twitter? What other social media platforms do you use to market your books?
John: I have been using Facebook, LinkedIn, and email primarily to push my books and website, and a couple of years ago, I decided to ‘learn’ Twitter and join in the conversations. I was surprised to find that most of my website hits were now coming from Twitter as compared to others. Since joining up with RRBC for Twitter OJT, I’m finding much more of my time being spent there and getting much more bang for the buck both for support and fun.
I am not spending much time at all on Instagram and finding my Facebook support waning (I have both a personal page and a business page). Lately, LinkedIn and Twitter are providing most of the comments, retreats, and shares.
NJ: Supporting others is a huge part of my identity. I believe that when you invest your time and support in others, you find that your circle grows by leaps and bounds of others giving the same to you. When I first got involved heavily on Twitter, I was pushing others more than I was pushing myself – I continue to do so. Do you support others on social media? If so, how?
John: Yes, more so on Twitter. It’s easy enough to do as most posts I see share the same interests. RRBC posts automatically get retweeted, then when I’m done, I visit the RRBC, RWISA pages to do the same thing. I also personally thank all those who retreat my posts. I haven’t learned yet how to retweet a post that I’ve already retweeted and look forward to learning that secret.
NJ: Twitter can’t let you have all their secrets at one time, John. You’ll have to wait your turn! LOL! Do you actually take the time to read tweets from others before you retweet them, or do you just hit “retweet” without ever engaging in the tweet?
John: Oh no, I read them first and click on links when they are present to see what is being shared.
NJ: Good for you! I always look for tweets with substance. I don’t tweet out the first tweet I find on someone’s timeline. I want it to mean something to the folks I’m sharing with so I take my time, and find just that. So, if you could map out the perfect way that you would want others to support you on social media, how would you ask your followers to support you? Just imagine that everyone who reads this interview will run out and follow you. How could they best support you? What would you have them do?
John: My biggest passion today is in promoting my website. There are almost 500 articles, dozens of videos, pictures galore, and music of the time. My ‘job’ is to continue the legacy of the Vietnam War and its Warriors. Back then, as a result of the politics, demonstrations, and perceptions of the civilian population, we vets were painted with an unfavorable brush. One that made us out to be baby killers, dope addicts, uncivilized, dangerous, unpredictable, and undependable. We were alienated and nobody wanted to hire us. This caused gaps in resumes and omissions in social circles. Only now is there positive recognition and the majority of the public have learned to separate the War from the Warrior. Schools don’t teach students about the Vietnam War, and we are becoming a dying breed. I post new photos to social media three different times every day with links back to a relating story on my website. However, there are many who are still unaware of its existence. If visitors enjoy the articles, they can link to my books to read about my personal experiences or vice versa. Still need help getting the word out.
NJ: I love your site, John! It does contain a wealth of information and some awesome stories, to boot! We all learn something new almost every day while on social media and I like sharing what I have learned with other authors, in hopes that it will benefit them in some way. Authors are always seeking good formatting services. Who do you use to format your books, and would you recommend them?
John: I have learned to do my own via Derek Murphy. His site also includes free templates for writers.
NJ: Can you share with our audience 2 or 3 of the top methods you use to market your books?
John: I have a subscription to “SocialJukebox” and use it to schedule daily posts every day on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Then I respond to all posted comments.
Drawing people to my website also helps with the articles I post.
I also accept requests for interviews to get the word out. I’ve recently completed three and will post them as they are published (such as this one).
NJ: Yes, John. Some authors don’t realize how important it is to accept requests to be interviewed on other sites. It’s an awesome way to be introduced to readers who might not otherwise know anything about you. What is the one bit of writing advice you would give to any author, experienced or newbie?
John: Go to sleep with a notepad next to your bed. Many ideas come to you while sleeping and you quickly forget unless making note of it. Don’t edit while writing…continue putting your thoughts on paper and begin editing when you are completely finished.
NJ: Is your reputation as a writer important to you, OR might we look up one day and find that you are in a Twitter brawl with someone?
John: I do keep my emotions in check on the internet and don’t respond to sexual or political type posts. I have not and will never participate in a shouting match on social media or my website. I have also learned over time that at least 10% of those people who read your posts and view your actions will disagree with you. You can’t just appease everyone and I take that into consideration.
NJ: In your opinion, what is the biggest difference between the writers you see today around social media, versus the writers of old? (Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, even Stephen King)
John: Today’s writers can receive feedback to their books or work in progress on social media almost instantaneous. The internet is also a great place to get ideas for future work. This wasn’t available back then, feedback from the public took a while, and close friends and family were probably biased.
NJ: And authors of today don’t have family and friends posting reviews of their books… leaving glowing reviews of works they probably haven’t even read? Of course they do! Hahaha. I know one who has a relative who is the first to post a glowing review every time they release a new book. And they are definitely biased reviews as I’ve read a bit from the writer before and I’m being generous when I say the writing skill is at a 2 star level. John, do you value professionalism in the literary arena and worry that the lack thereof makes it harder for those of us who wish to be taken seriously in this business? Or, does the unprofessional behavior of some around social media not bother you at all?
John: I value professionalism. Unprofessional behavior does not benefit anyone and usually sheds that person in a bad light. If writers allow those kinds of comments on their page or website, they are at risk of losing those people who frequent him. Usually, the banter involves comments that are absolutely false and have nothing to do with the conversation, a big distraction. Introducing religion or politics into an unrelated discussion is a good example. I do end up blocking those folks.
NJ: You’re like me, John. I’ve no time for nonsense on social media and am a very skilled professional blocker. If you have ever received any, how do you handle not-so-flattering reviews of your book(s)?
John: Some reviewers are just plain evil and purposely give bad reviews while promoting a different author or book. Nothing I can do about them, but readers who have read the book will overlook those comments. If they are constructive, I will investigate the claim and see if I can correct the issue.
NJ: Those evil folks are called “trolls,” John. Some people live these little sad lives and get satisfaction out of trying to steal the happiness and joy of others. But you know what? Man didn’t give me my joy and man can’t take it away. Troll on! Do you appreciate honesty regarding your writing because you know that only honest feedback allows you to grow as a writer, or are you one of those who would prefer that others lie to you and tell you only what they know you want to hear?
John: Every writer wants to hear positive comments about his work. However, the lack of honest reviews which highlight errors or inconsistencies which were missed might be repeated in the authors next book and eventually turn off readers to future works.
NJ: You’re right, John. But, we both know there are those who love being told those sweet little lies. I’m so happy we don’t fall in that category of writers.
Well, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to promote you on this special day! You’ve closed out the May series in grand style!
OTHER QUICK FACTS ABOUT JOHN…
- Genres are primarily Vietnam War related; two short stories could qualify as partial memoirs
- 4 books published to date, with a 5th coming within the next quarter / CHERRIES is favorite
FOLLOW JOHN ON…
Guests, thank you so much for dropping by to support John on Day 12 of the May “12 DAYS OF AUTHORS” Series! It would be awesome if you would pick up a copy of his book above, and after reading, share your review to Amazon. Ensure that you leave him a comment below, and also LIKE his feature before you leave, for your chance to win the grand prize package listed above! We’d both appreciate it if you would share his feature to Twitter and Facebook, as well.
To follow along with the rest of the features in this series, visit the “12 DAYS OF AUTHORS” home page! There will be a new series beginning in June! I’d also love it if you would #follow my site, as well as following me on Twitter @NonnieJules, as my truest joy is in service to others. I’d love to support you, too!
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