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Mitch Topal

Mitch Topal

Wilmington, Delaware

Mitch Topal is a Public Relations professional who writes and edits content for the media including websites, annual reports, editorials, feature stories and newsletters.

Mitch is Vice President of the Delaware Press Association, a member of The Public Relations Society of America and the American Association of Political Consultants.

This is Mitch's first novel, a non-fiction work about a decorated WWII bomber pilot who beat the odds and survived 25 missions over Nazi Germany. It's named "Against All Odds, The Ray Firmani Story."

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About the author

Born in upstate New York, Mitch graduated from Syracuse University and worked for Donnelley Marketing and in the commercial lithography industry before starting his own company in 1999.

As Managing Partner of Out of the Box Communications, Mitch has spent the last 17 years providing compelling and effective P/R and communications for commercial and governmental clientele. He is an achievement-driven Public Relations and Communications expert with outstanding qualifications in all phases of corporate and government communications.

Mitch writes and edits content for websites, annual reports, editorials and newsletters. He is Vice President of the Delaware Press Association, a member of The Public Relations Society of America and the American Association of Political Consultants.

This is Mitch's first novel, a non-fiction work about a decorated WWII bomber pilot named "Against All Odds, The Ray Firmani Story." A labor of love, this book is the culmination of a life spent surrounded by World War II veterans. These men and women are the only first hand link we have with the greatest and defining event in our global history and we are losing them to the ages. According to the VA, they are dying at a rate of 740 per day. Most are well into their 90th decade and a small handful are fit enough, both physically and mentally, to remember and reiterate their experiences.

Ray Firmani is one of them. His story is no less amazing than that of Louis Zamperini, the protagonist in Laura Hillenbrand's
Unbroken. Statistically, Ray should not have survived the war. He beat those odds, earned the DFC, and went on to have a successful career and family. He has spawned four generations, including grandchildren, great grandchildren and is expecting his first great, great grandchild.

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Success! Against All Odds sold 257 pre-orders by July 2, 2016, was pitched to 32 publishers, and will be self published.

$15 The Digital Pack

2 readers

Receive the "Against All Odds" Ebook Edition (PDF, ePUB, MOBI). This is a special and limited quantity and limited time reward.

1 copy + ebook included

Free shipping

65 of 75 left

$20 Paperback

34 readers

$20 Paperback

Receive your very own Paperback copy of "Against All Odds." For those who want a true to life war story that includes love, danger and the constant threat of meeting a violent death in the sky, this book won't disappoint.

"Against All Odds" is a compelling war story that has just the right amount of historical background to support the narrative.

Who is this reward for?

-Fans of WWII novels
-Individual buyers
-Followers of the book's Facebook page (almost 250 likes, most have
indicated they want to purchase a copy when it's available)
-Members of the Delaware Press Association (DPA - the author is Vice
-Volunteers, visitors and staff of the Dover Air Mobility Command
Museum who've helped us with research and a venue for our video,
and have offered to help market it with a book signing event and
prominent shelf space in the museum store
-Many friends and neighbors who've asked to buy one (50+ of them)
-General public

1 copy + ebook included

$5 shipping

143 of 250 left

$25 Individual Book signed by the author and subject

49 readers

1 copy for individuals priced at $25 signed by the author and Ray Firmani, the subject of the story.

-Book collectors
-Military history buffs
-Collectors of military memorabilia
-Museum staff and volunteers at DAFB
-Airmen at DAFB and the Delaware Air National Guard base
-DPA event attendees
-VFW chapter members

1 copy

$5 shipping

50 of 125 left

$100 Patron Book Sponsor

3 readers

Receive 5 copies of "Against All Odds," and receive special acknowledgement in the book as a patron sponsor. See your name in the printed book and I'll personalize your copies.

-Book collectors
-Military history buffs
-Collectors of military memorabilia
-Museum staff and volunteers at DAFB
-Airmen at DAFB and the Delaware Air National Guard base
-DPA event attendees
-VFW chapter members

5 copies + ebook included

$7 shipping

47 of 50 left

$1000 Corporate Sponsor Package

1 reader

Receive 50 copies of "Against All Odds," for executive teams or employees. This reward includes special recognition in the acknowledgements section of the book and a private session on heroism and to share my story.

-Corporate sponsors that would like to use it for publicity and events
-Institutions of higher education that want to make the book available to
students at a discounted rate
-Non-profit veterans organizations that subsidize historical projects or would like to sell the book to raise money for their missions
-Museum stores

50 copies + ebook included

$15 shipping

4 of 5 left

$2500 Against All Odds Sponsor Package

0 readers

150 copies bundle for those who'd like to sponsor our effort to get this story into the hands of readers.

-Corporate sponsors that would like to use it for publicity and events
-Institutions of higher education that want to make the book available to
students at a discounted rate
-Non-profit veterans organizations that subsidize historical projects or would like to sell the book to raise money for their missions
-Museum stores

150 copies + ebook included +$750 shipping; guest appearance and book signing event by the author and Ray Firmani at no additional cost; private tour given by Ray Firmani and the author of the restored B-17G "Sleepytime Gal" at the Dover Air Mobility Command Museum; prominent mention in the book's acknowledgement section.

150 copies

$750 shipping

150 of 150 left

Against All Odds

The Ray Firmani Story

Against All Odds is the incredible true story of combat, love and heroism in World War II. It follows Ray Firmani, a first generation Italian-American who became the head of his household an early age and rose to meet every challenge life offered. He enlisted in the Army, earned his wings and won the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary heroism.

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History World War II
130,000 words
100% complete
8 publishers interested


The idea for this book was hatched at a Delaware Press Association holiday brunch in December, 2014. While sitting at a table with eight people I hardly knew, a stately older woman introduced herself as Lynn Maniscalco struck up a conversation. After some small talk, we happened on the subject of World War II history. Lynn must have heard the excitement in my voice when I mentioned it was one of my keenest interests – studying, reading and absorbing anything I could about that war. Most of my life I’d been surrounded by the men and women who, either through military service or civilian efforts on the home front, contributed to that great national triumph. Both my father and stepfather served, as did many uncles and friends of the family.

After asking if I would ever consider writing a book about the war, Lynn set the bait that finally hooked me. “I know these two gentlemen. They are close friends, who each have amazing stories.” She explained that one was a decorated lead bomber pilot who flew 25 missions in a B-17 over Germany. The other was an Estonian conscript into the Wehrmacht whose family suffered greatly at the hands of both the Nazis and the Soviets.”  She promised to introduce me to both men. “I think after you meet them, you’ll consider the book idea,” she prognosticated. She was spot on. 

So I set off to research the war and begin the lengthy interview process. Most of these men are in their 90’s, greatly limiting the amount of time that I had to build a relationship with them. I soon realized I had to make a choice. This book could only focus on one man’s story. After talking to a number of potential subjects, I decided to write the book about Ray Firmani, the decorated lead bomber pilot.

The decision was both difficult and simple. I know a number of living World War II veterans, each with a compelling story. But Ray’s, besides being a great story, is the most well documented, which meant that I could spend more time interviewing him and writing as opposed to performing hours upon hours of tedious research. 

Finally, the Estonian conscript, who had an incredible story, declined to participate. After 70 years, his memories were still too painful.

Ray receives the Distinguished Flying Cross:
Ray Firmani today at the helm of a restored B-17:


I.    Preface

A.    Personal notes about the book
B.    Losing veterans at a fast pace – a race against time to tell their stories

II.    Prologue – Introduction of character and setting the tone
III.    Chapter One “Extraordinary Achievement”
A.    Part One – (Meeting Ray for the 1st time)
1.    Ray Firmani: His early life; parents; rough start; Great Depression; Wilmington, DE in the 1930’s
2.    Background – something about Ray’s uniqueness and why; Italian heritage
3.    School, building model planes and protecting his siblings
4.    1st camera
5.    Job at DuPont
B.    Part Two – Wings Across America
1.    Historical Background – Geopolitics while Ray grows up
2.    Development of aviation technology before WWI to 1930’s
3.    Great Depression
4.    Rise of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan
5.    German aggression; American isolationism
6.    Roosevelt’s gambit and Secret meeting with Churchill – Lend Lease
7.    Pearl Harbor; America enters the war
8.    Ray enlists in Philadelphia
C.    Part Three – Growing pains
1.    Ray’s family gets off to rough start
2.    Father dies; mother remarries an alcoholic
3.    Mother gets an annulment
4.    Ray becomes head of household
D.    Part Four – Risk Management
1.    Train to Miami, FL for basic training
2.    CTD-College Training Detachment, Kent State University
3.    First experience with airplane (Piper J-3 cub)
4.    Preflight School SAAC-Kelly Field, San Antonio, TX
5.    AAF Flight Training, Missouri Institute of Aeronautics; Trained in a Fairchild PT-19
6.    Basic Flight Training, Strother Field, Kansas; trained in a Vultee BT-13 Valiant (“Vultee vibrator”)
7.    Advanced Flight Training, Eagle Pass, TX; trained in a North American Aviation AT-6 Texan; P-40 Warhawk
8.    Accidents; dangers
F.    Part 5 - Love Birds
1.    Met Elaine, fell in love as training was ending; quick marriage
2.    Earned wings
3.    Ray ships home for a week on leave
4.    AWOL – bought war bond to get out of it
G.    B17 bomber training
1.    Waiting in Lincoln for crew formation – delays
2.    Disappointment to find out he’d be a bomber pilot – wanted to fly P-51’s
3.    Payroll SNAFU; borrowed money from a banker – personal loan
4.    Crew assignment; sent to Lincoln Air Base for B17 training
5.    Spending as much time as possible with Elaine before shipping out

IV.   Tennessee Bomber Boys
A.    Europe ablaze but allies closing in in May, 1944
1.    Examples of bomber losses – personal
2.    Historical implications behind Ray’s missions
3.    D-Day preparations
4.    Ray’s trip to Dyersburg with wives
5.    Training days in the B-17; dummy bombs; strafing runs at 500’
B.    Deployment
1.    Flight from Lincoln to Goose Bay, Labrador, Wales
2.    Layover in Goose Bay – returning crews shared same space – bad idea!
3.    Funeral atmosphere for rest of trip
4.    Train to Subury, UK

V.     Crucible in the Sky
A.    Settling into Sudbury; local people; bikes because airfield a mile or so from quarters
B. Ray's crew - idiosyncrasies, personalities
C. . 1st Mission briefing; 1st son born while on bombing run
D.    Missions 2 – 25; details, dangers, events
E.    BF-109 attacks
F.    Me-262 attacks
G.    88 mm flack guns on trains
I.    DFC mission
J.    Shrapnel piercing plane, missing crew many times – odds of survival
K.    On leave in London – narrowly survives V-2 rocket attack

VI.    Distinguished Flying Cross
A.    Ceremony; award
B.    Aftermath – shuttling people, food and refugees in B-17
C.    Other non-combat missions

VII.    Going Home
A.    Flight Home
B.    Re-uniting with Elaine
C.    Back home with Elaine in Elsmere

VIII.    Epilogue
D.    DuPont: Groundbreaking industrial photographer for 46 years
E.    Award winning photographer and mentor
F.    Ray today – tech savvy at 94
G.    Looking back at 1944; reflections
H.    End


World War II was the defining event of the last 100 years. Many compelling stories have been written, both fictional and non fictional because of the global implication and vast scope of that war. Yet all this material represents the tip of the literary iceberg. There are many, many stories waiting to be revealed.

Our WWII veterans are in their 90's and dying off quickly.  Many of those who survive suffer from memory issues and can no longer relate their experiences. These stories are precious and compelling, attracting a wide demographic. College history students, baby boomers and anyone who has a grand parent that still remembers the war are interested in reading about one man's experience when the world was on fire nearly 3 generations ago. Today, World War II books and films continue to be produced because of their immense popularity.

Consider books like Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, Flags of our Fathers, by James Bradley. Or movies such as Band of Brothers and The Monuments Men which were released in the last couple of years. World War II continues to fascinate readers 71 years after V-E Day.
Against All Odds isn't just another war story. Ray Firmani personalizes the story, making it easily relatable to all demographics. Mitch made it his goal and mission to relate Ray's story to the world. In a culture obsessed with Kardashians, selfies and sexting, it's refreshing to read about true courage, resilience and devotion to comrades, country and family. As a popular subject among millennials, baby boomers and veterans, this war story is about a freshly minted 23 year old B-17 pilot. Young people today will find an amazing story that is unconscionable in this day and age. Older readers (40 plus) who remember what the greatest generation, perhaps having had a WWII vet as a parent, are eager to know what life was like during that dark time.

Finally, we would not be averse to sanitizing and simplifying an edition for younger readers (see

Hillenbrand's Unbroken sold 4 million copies across a wide demographic. Against All Odds is after the same demographic.


Against All Odds, The Ray Firmani Story on Facebook:

In the first week, it attracted over 100 likes in its first week, with many more clicking the like button ever week. We now have 272. We will continue to build our audience into the future.
The book should have it's own website, with an SEO strategy and possibly pay-per-click advertising program which will be provided by the publisher with supplemental help from Ray and I.

Ray and I will make ourselves available for events such as book signings, award ceremonies and anything else that will give us visibility. When it's complete, I will enter the book into the NFPW writing competition, giving us national press exposure. And we will continue to expand and leverage our networks, as we have in the past, utilizing some or all of the following:

1. Author events

2. Reaching out to indie bookstores (we'll create a media kit for this effort)

3. Traditional and online media

3. Unpaid media - write-ups in the local papers for the Veteran's Day, Memorial Day and V-E Day issues

Though hard work and perseverance, we successfully achieved our Publishizer pre-order goals . Now, we are looking to partner with a publisher that will provide marketing and distribution channels so we can refocus on the completion of this book. We have built a beach head locally and now require a publisher that will promote the book nationally and globally.

Please visit and "Like" my Facebook page ( There, you'll find excerpts, photos of Ray past and present, and plenty of fan commentary.


1. Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand: Against All Odds is a very similar book, except Ray was never captured. His nerve wracking 25 missions are the focal point.

2. Flags of our Fathers, by James Bradley: This story follows the lives of the men who raised the American flag on Mt. Suribachi after the battle of Iwo Jima. It focuses on the event. Characters were brought in based on their participation in that event. Against All Odds focuses on one man, is biographical in nature and details his experiences throughout the war.

3. Catch 22, by Joseph Heller: Is war satire at its best. It starts as a set of paradoxical requirements whereby airmen mentally unfit to fly did not have to do so, but could not actually be excused, so they flew anyway. Against All Odds is not satire, but has humorous moments.

4. Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut: Also great war satire, this book uses flashbacks, freeing the protagonist, Billy Pilgrim from temporal boundaries, allowing him a unique perspective regarding the fire bombing of Dresden. Ray Firmani's Bomb Group did not participate in the firebombing of Dresden, and the book isn't satirical.

5. Band of Brothers, by Stephen Ambrose: An iconic story of the ordinary men who became the World War II’s most extraordinary soldiers: Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, US Army. Ray's story has similarities in that an ordinary man rises to do extraordinary things in the face of adversity and war.

6. A Bridge Too Far, by Cornelius Ryan: Relates the story of Operation Market Garden, the failed attempt ( to break through German lines across the Rhine river. This book centers on one battle while Against All Odds centers on an individual who participated in one of the larges allied bombing campaigns of WWII.

7. Flyboys: A True Story of Courage, by James Bradley: Like Unbroken, Flyboys details the horrific experiences of American aviators captured by the Japanese. Again, Ray was never captured. His nerve wracking 25 missions and near death experiences are the focal point.


8 publishers interested
Agora Publishing logo Agora Publishing

Agora publishing is a Canada based company, founded in 1997 with the aim of making book publishing accessible to all writers across Canada and internationally. Our main goal is to simplify the whole publishing process and help authors to avoid the so called 'publishing gatekeepers' out there so that they can easily publish their work worldwide. We bring the best of both the worlds i.e. traditional publishing and self-publishing. We help writers produce and sell mass marketable books all around the world. Along with publishing, we have a strong channel of distribution and marketing that make us a one-stop-shop for any writer.

We provide you intensive marketing & promotion and make your book available at all the places where your target audience can get their hands on it. Agora publishing provides you the platform where you can show your writing skills to the whole world.

Once you get connected with us, you don't need to worry about anything. Our team will convert your manuscript into a wonderful looking book that match the quality of a million dollar traditional publisher and within a short period of time you'll find your book in leading bookstores & retailers across country. We have an experienced team of editors, proofreaders, designers, and promoters who are always ready to help you and guide you so that you can become a successful writer.

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Hybrid publisher

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Austin Brothers Publishing logo Austin Brothers Publishing

Helping writers realize the dream of publishing a book is the goal of Austin Brothers Publishing. We provide all the services of a traditional publisher, working in partnership with the author, to create the book the author desires.

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Each of our books are designed and produced individually, no templates or computer generated boxes. You will work directly with a real person who shares the same goal, to get your book published in the best possible manner.

Hybrid publisher

Business, Cookbooks, Health, History, Journalism, Lifestyle, Literary Fiction, Memoirs, Mind & Body, Mystery, Politics, Professional, Religious, Romance, Sci-Fi, Science, Sports, Thriller, Travel, Young Adult

United States

i2i Publishing logo i2i Publishing

i2i Publishing was founded by Lionel Ross who is himself the published author of eight books. He knows, only too well, the almost impossible task confronting a new author when he seeks to find a book publishing company. Writers devote months and years of their lives to crafting and creating books devoted to the education and entertainment of unseen others. They then discover that their beloved manuscript is just a piece of often worthless merchandise in the eyes of the vast majority of book publishing companies. New authors receive countless numbers of rejection letters from the mainstream publishers who prefer to play it safe with either established authors or celebrity authored books. Finally new writers turn in desperation to the so-called Vanity market. There they are promised, in return for vast sums of money, that their book will be published.

Now there is another way, the i2i way. We DO ask for a small financial contribution towards costs but only on a SHARED RISK basis. And after that initial payment, the risk is all ours. We know from personal experience that most new authors are not 'made of money.'

We are always open to submissions and promise a quick response, be it positive or negative.

We are NOT a self-publishing organisation - rather a partnership between Author and Publisher and where your book, if accepted, will have an internationally recognised imprint - i2i

If you want to see your book on bookshop shelves and on the websites of electronic booksellers worldwide just ask us to consider your manuscript.

Hybrid publisher

Children's, Fantasy, Health, History, Journalism, Lifestyle, Literary Fiction, Memoirs, Mind & Body, Mystery, Politics, Romance, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Young Adult


Motivational Press logo Motivational Press

At Motivational Press, we believe in making a difference in the lives of others and contributing in any way that we can to help our clients get their message to the world. Motivational Press is the top publisher today in providing marketing and promotion support to our authors. Our authors get favorable rates for purchasing their own books and higher than standard royalties.

Hybrid publisher

Business, Health, Journalism, Lifestyle, Mind & Body, Politics, Professional, Self-Help, Sports, Travel, Young Adult


BookFuel logo BookFuel

From Manuscript to Market.

We help authors self-publish their books by providing the professional services needed to get books into book stores.

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Our unique Boost program allows authors to have their books created for $2,399.

The process is guided by a dedicated Account Manager, who's goal is to produce the book the author envisioned.

With BookFuel, authors retain 100% of their rights, ownership of their files, and all their royalties.

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Mill City Press logo Mill City Press

Mill City Press coordinates distribution, printing and self-publishing services for authors who are also going through a full publishing process with us for their book with one of our publishing packages which include interior formatting, ISBN assignment, bar code, distribution, etc.

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ShieldCrest Publishing logo ShieldCrest Publishing

ShieldCrest are book publishers based in the UK who fill that vital gap for talented authors where mainstream publishers are unwilling to give them that chance. We strive for excellence and invest in our authors and are listed in FreeIndex as the number one independent publisher in the UK for price quality and service rated author satisfaction. We publish books of all genres including; fiction, historical, biographies and children's books.

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Virtualbookworm Publishing logo Virtualbookworm Publishing

Virtualbookworm (VBW) Publishing was founded by a writer frustrated by the long wait time and occasional heartbreak often associated with the publishing industry. After researching the various "alternatives," he discovered a number of subsidy publishers that would publish any author ... for a price. Unfortunately, many reviewers (and readers) thumb their noses at books from such houses, since all it takes is cash to get published by them.

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Service publisher

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  • Ginger Wagner
    on June 2, 2016, 1:14 p.m.

    Good luck to you and Ray!! I can't wait to read it!

  • Ron Sabbato
    on June 2, 2016, 1:30 p.m.

    We just pre-ordered the signed copy of Against All Odds!

  • Karen Heath Firmani
    on June 2, 2016, 5:04 p.m.

    Way to go Papa! We are all so proud of you. Each of your grandchildren and great grandkiddies too will now have a signed copy!

  • Chuck Burleigh
    on June 3, 2016, 7:17 p.m.

    Good luck "Uncle Ray"! God bless and I can't wait to read your story!

    Best Regards,

    Charlie Burleigh

  • Bob Hunt
    on June 7, 2016, 2:16 p.m.

    Ray's life story is a great slice of American history. It shows how a good person evolves, leads a normal life and becomes a inspiration to many others. Bob Hunt

  • Susan Peter
    on June 8, 2016, 2:18 a.m.

    Please consider pre-ordering, my friend, Ray's book. He's a great guy!

  • Ana Muzzi
    on June 9, 2016, 7:38 p.m.

    Looking forward to having the book in my hands.

  • Richard Greenwood
    on June 11, 2016, 1:19 p.m.

    I don't understand the pricing. The site says it's $20 with free shipping; then it becomes $25. It's confusing.

  • Richard Greenwood
    on June 11, 2016, 1:22 p.m.

    Anyone who knows Ray is going to want this book. His story is worth telling and retelling.

    on June 14, 2016, 10:05 p.m.

    Why was final cost $30 when it originally read $25 for paperback signed by author?

    on June 18, 2016, 9:20 p.m.


  • Guy Vincent
    on June 19, 2016, 5:40 a.m.

    Keep pushing towards 250 copies Mitch! We'd all love to see Against All Odds get published, and share Ray Firmani's story!

  • Brett Saddler
    on June 20, 2016, 8:27 p.m.

    I look forward to reading this. My father was a carrier pilot in the Pacific theater in WWII.

  • Bonnie DiMichele
    on June 24, 2016, 12:49 p.m.

    I'm excited to read Mr. Firmani's story. I met Mr. Firmani through Sal and Ann Muzzi. I've been in his company many times and have had great conversations with him.

  • Angelica Dill
    on June 28, 2016, 3:23 p.m.

    Excited to read his story ... He's an amazing American. God Bless you and THANK YOU for your service, Ray!

  • Beverly Bard
    on July 2, 2016, 11:34 a.m.

    Congratulations Mitch!! Living the dream! :)