Why do writers write?


Why do they? For the money?

I am sure some do. Patterson, Steven King, J K Rowling, Grisham, and others, all make a good living. These four became multi millionaires from their writing.

Yes, some writers make a living from their writing. However, according to the writer’s guild, 80% of all writers are starving artists. Their royalties amount to a few miserly dollars. They have day jobs and write whenever they can find some time. Some write after work until late in the night. There are young moms that write whenever their little ones take a nap. Others start writing when they retire because now they have the time to do so.

However, if the writer’s guild is correct, only 20% make a living from writing. Does that mean that 80% of all books are trash? No, not necessarily, off course I grant you, there is a share of rubbish floating around. However, a large percentage of books are a good read and don’t get the recognition. The reason for that could be that they self-published and do not have the PR or circulation. Many writers use small-press publishers that do not have the retail circulation that the major ones have. Do to downsizing most publishers leave the marketing and advertising in the hands of the writers who have neither the knowledge nor the time to handle the marketing end of the business. So, why do writers put so much work into a book for a next to nothing-monetary reward?

A book is like an iceberg. When a reader looks at a book, all he/she sees is the tip sticking out of the water. Seven-eighths of it is the work hidden below the water; like Editing-rewriting-more writing-thinking-researching-ideating-and dreaming. Oh yeah, writers dream a lot, even with open eyes. If you ever see an author’s mouths moving, and you hear no words coming out of it, don’t lock them up. They are not crazy. They are just conversing with the characters they created.

So why do they write? If you ask them, I am sure their answers vary greatly. Do some hope to strike gold with their book? I am sure there are those that do. Is it the love of the craft for others? I am positive that many love the writing process. For me, writing a story is like watching a movie. To find the answer, we have to examine when, and how, they decided to become writers. I am sure, some were avid readers in their teenage and young adult years, and advertently became fans of authors that they wanted to emulate.

Others might have majored in writing and started from there. Maybe some picked it up later because they fell in love with the written word. And some got into it by accident as I did. In my case, I never gave writing a thought. In fact, I hated writing in school; I absolutely despised it. So why did I start writing you ask?

I retired in 1998 after a fifty year carrier in corporate life and bought a computer. I played around with it, and after crashing it often enough, I learned how to use it. Creating a family tree was my first project. Since my wife and I are both German immigrants, our children and grandchildren would not know where to find the information of their ancestors. In the process, it dawned on me that the names on the piece of paper would not mean much to them without their ancestor’s stories. That is when I started to write the stories of our ancestors down in a novel format. Much to my surprise, I enjoyed the writing process. So I gave writing a try.

Since I experienced the horrors of WWII, spend two years in the US Army, plus two in the Army Reserve, I could spin enough yarn to fill a few novels. My extensive travels during my carrier to more than 50 countries, gained me an inside into many cultures, and getting to see many sites allows me to write convincingly. That is how I became a writer.

I believe the passion to tell stories is ingrained in human nature. From the time of the earliest human, back in the caves, people had a burning desire to create stories and share them with others. Evolution has not dimmed that need as more authors are stepping forward, attempting to be published.

Albert Camus (Pronounced= al-BAIR_ka-MOO), the French Algerian author, journalist and playwright, who won the 1954 French Nobel Prize for literature said it best.

“Writers write, because they must.”


##### Now available at amazon.com – barnsandnoble.com – omnilit.com #####

Jacob n Jalila-flat

As the Muslim world collides with Jacob’s homeland, friend turns against friend, and love, caught between the two warring Ideologies, becomes a victim.

After Jalila’s family moved from Jaffa to Ramallah, the love of two young lovers is torn apart by a misguided doctrine. Friends turn to enemies when one seeks to restore his family honor, while the other tries to protect a life.

Jacob, an officer in the Israeli Special Forces, finds himself fighting Jalila’s world to protect the existence of his homeland. Pain and sacrifices overshadow their lives.


Veterans flag

419011_348547018503216_They Followed the Call-thumbnail_tmp

As his men advanced in the rugged, barren terrain, the sound of spraying bullets suddenly appeared from nowhere. He froze and stood motionless as he watched the Taliban bullets mow down his men…or were they al-Qaida insurgents?

He had ordered his men into a killing zone and could do nothing but watch. He heard their cries and looked into their pain stricken faces as the bullets minced them into pieces. The demons of war did not let him rest; the trauma of Afghanistan blended now with the horrors of Iraq.

He heard a resounding blast tare open the entrance to the hospital; smoke billowed from the fiery remains of the massive explosion. The smell of tritonal and cordite from the TNT and gunpowder, hung in the air. Spattered body parts, arms, and legs were everywhere. Dear God in Heaven! Was that the decapitated head of Charlie Brown hurling through the air…or was it Marissa’s Charlie? Now he could see Sergeant Washington’s disfigured face sailing across, followed by the shattered remains of Sergeant Walsh…Sergeant Maskin…then Lieutenant Uthman…and Colonel Franklin. His agony was unbearable. But the worst came last. Helplessly, he screamed out in pain as the torn up body of Marissa catapulted through the air with her terror stricken eyes begging for help.

“Lieutenant! Lieutenant, wake up! Wake up son; it’s only a nightmare. Come on, wake up!” From the dark abyss, Sean opened his transparent blue eyes. The face of a colonel, with caduceus on his lapels, looked at him.

The worst was yet to come. The young lieutenant was escorting the remains of Sergeant Marissa Collier Linz, a beautiful, young, single mom, and his fiancé who he loved very much.

The first gun salute ripped him out of the nightmare as he sat in front of the open gravesite. The remaining two gun salutes felt as if they were ripping through his body. Tears ran down his cheeks as the bugler played the final taps, and the officer of the burial detail presented the flag to little Charlie, Marissa’s young son.

“Don’t put Mommy in that hole,” shouted little Charlie. “Pleeeaaase, don’t put Mommy in that hole. It’s cold and dark in there. Seaaan, please stop them. Please Sean don’t let them put Mommy in that hole.”

The cries of the little boy made Sean shiver. They followed him wherever he went.

The Price of Freedom!

Freedom, I gave you my mommy,

You gave me a neatly folded flag.

Oh, what a trade!

Freedom, you took my mommy’s courageous heart,

You gave me a few well-chosen words.

Oh, what a trade!

Freedom, you took the love of my life,

You paid me with a medal on a blue ribbon with thirteen white stars.

Oh, what a trade!

They played taps and lowered her body into a cold grave,

Oh, what a price to pay for freedom.

They called her a fallen hero,

They called me the fallen hero’s son,

Oh, what a price to pay for freedom!

Al Lohn

The Old Lady and the River – A remembrance of love, joy, fear, and pain.


Chapter One

Liesel Halston sat in a rocking chair and stroked the image of a handsome young man with her gnarled fingers. Eighty-four years had put heavy lines into the fine-featured face of Liesel Halston and arthritis had crippled her hands, but her stylish silver-gray hair and clear blue eyes still showed signs of a remarkably beautiful woman.

As she gently rocked, her eyes wandered from the picture in her hand, to the photos on the desk. A sad smile appeared on her face as her eyes roamed from the photo of a young Captain in Marine blues to a young Major in a World War II uniform. With his service cap cocked to one side, the young Major smiled back at her. The dark hair, the same facial features, and the disarming shy smile showed a strong family resemblance to the Marine. With tears in her eyes, she lovingly caressed the pictures on the desk.

When she turned her attention back to the photo in her lap, two tears trickled down her face. She kissed her fingertips and transferred the kiss to the young man in the picture. A Major dressed in desert fatigues. Love emanated from the picture. She prayed silently, “Please Lord keep him safe.”

The horror of Liesel’s past haunted her during her dreams. A cynically smiling SS officer in a black uniform hunted her. She saw him holding a door open to an inferno on the end of the road. He motioned her with his finger to come, but before the flames could devour her, she saw Oma Rachel and Opa Samuel walking into the flames. The devil in the black uniform laughed aloud and held a swastika flag high above his head. He gestured Liesel again with his crooked finger to follow him. However, her Papa swept her up and carried her to safety.

Chapter Two

Liesel lived with her daughter-in-law Kate in Bryn Mawr, a suburb of Philadelphia. The picturesque two-story colonial house surrounded by a white picket fence boasted a wrap-around porch and faced an oak-lined street. Lovely flowerbeds burst with a rainbow of colors in the front yard, bright reds, deep blues, bright yellows, and vivid violets. Clusters of birch, honeysuckle, and a lilac bush filled the air with an intoxicating fragrance. The flowers and trees reached upward toward heaven soaking up a gently falling rain.

A large, wooden, rocking chair held a place of prominence on the porch, as did a white swing suspended from overhead by hooks and chains, the late-summer breeze causing them to sway gently back and forth. In the backyard were signs of a child evidenced by a swing set and slide that stood next to a playhouse. The open door begged a little girl to come and play.

Kate, a widow and a real-estate broker by trade, owned the house. She and her late husband Tom had one son, Bill, a Major in the 3rd Infantry Division. He was currently fighting somewhere in the desert of Iraq. Since Bill left for Iraq, Sandra, Kate’s daughter-in-law, and her four-year-old daughter Christy had moved in, as well.

Christy walked quietly up to her and put her little arms around her Grammy. Nestling her tiny face against Liesel’s shoulder, she looked up with her large brown eyes, and said, “Don’t cry, Grammy. Daddy will come home soon.”

In the adjacent room, Sandra and Kate had observed the gentle assurance the little girl gave her pain-stricken Grammy. Despite doing her best to be strong, Kate couldn’t stop her tears from flowing. She hugged Sandra and gently stroked her back kissing her forehead. They’d not heard from Billy in two weeks. Officially, the US troops had defeated the Iraqi army, but Saddam’s loyalists and insurgent-terrorists were still attacking.

Chapter Three

The photos on the bureau took Liesel down memory lane. She remembered when her sheltered childhood turned upside down and when the losses she’d endured broke her heart.

His life flashed by in front of her when she looked at her grandson’s picture. She saw that cute baby in her arms. His parents were the happiest people on earth. Billy grew up so fast. Before she could blink an eye, he’d entered kindergarten. Then came his first day of school. She remembered the tall cornucopia Kate and her had made for him. They had filled it with treats just as Liesel’s mom had done for her. His first day of school was such a momentous occasion.

The years passed by so fast. Before she knew it, Billy graduated from high school and entered West Point. Dressed in his uniform, he was such a handsome lad. He looked just like his father and grandfather; tall, slim with dark hair, and his beret always cocked to one side. He had that same wicked captivating smile on his face. Handsome Billy and Sandra with her beautiful blond hair, blue eyes, slender body, and only an inch or two shorter than Billy. Together they made such a stunning couple. “Billy, we all miss you so much. If only your grandpa and dad could see that beautiful little munchkin of yours, my little sunshine,” whispered Liesel. “Lord, you cannot ignore this sweet little girl’s prayer. She is asking You to protect her daddy. Please God, bring Billy home.”

Looking at the young WWII Major, Liesel drifted off into the twilight of yesteryear. “Lord, why did You take Tom away from me? Half my heart died with him. Then You took Tom Jr., and the other half died. Why? I lived so long with a broken heart; please take me; do not hurt Kate, Sandra, and little Christy. Gone are so many of my loved ones, Mama, Papa, Opa Friedrich, Oma Anna, Opa Samuel and Oma Rachel. Oma Rachel’s ashes are somewhere; only You, Lord, know where they are; I miss them all so much. I do not know why You allowed Hitler, this barbaric monster, inflict so much pain on so many people. Why did You let him destroy my beautiful country and my carefree childhood? Why? Why? There are so many painful whys.”

Chapter Four

Composed now, Kate and Sandra watched Liesel as she sat in her rocker holding the picture of her husband in her hands. Her face was pain-stricken and her thoughts were far away. They walked over and put their arms around the old woman’s shoulder. They stroked her cheeks and Christy laid her head in Grammy’s lap. A tender smile chased away the pain in Liesel’s face. She looked down on Christy and said, “Thank you Lord for surrounding me with the gift of love. Protect them from all grief and pain.”

“Mom, why have you never gone back to visit Germany?” asked Kate.

“There are too many painful memories.” She shook her head, and said, “So much pain.”

“However, there have to be some happy memories too. Maybe a visit would bring closure to your grief.”

“Yes, there are also happy memories; but…I…I am afraid to open up old wounds,” the old woman whispered.

“Why don’t we go together? I’d love to see where you grew up. And it would be such a wonderful experience for Christy.”

The little girl looked up at her with those large round eyes. Grammy Liesel swallowed hard and caressed Christy’s hair. She said quietly, “I don’t know. Maybe it would help. What happens if it rips open all the old wounds? If it weren’t for those painful memories, I would like to see ‘Meine Heimat’ once more.”

“Mom, if it becomes too difficult for you, we pack up and leave. But I think you should try.”

Liesel looked from one to the other and stroked Christy’s cheek. She had a difficult time deciding. Sandra said, “Grammy, I can make arrangements. You, Kate, and Christy can go, but I want to stay here, in case Billy calls. What do you say, Grammy?”

Christy begged, “Please Grammy; say yes, pleeeaaase.”

Liesel smiled and said, “Okay; let’s try it then. Sandra, Billy will call, and he will come home. We have to think positive.”



Chapter One

Ashley Fay stared at the old man in the wheelchair. He looked so lonely sitting all by himself in the corner of the terrace. He’d his eyes fixed on a cemetery across the valley. Deep lines marred the old man’s face. He paid no attention to the group of happy residents loudly enjoying their games. Nor did he seem to enjoy the beauty of the valley that stretched out beyond the terrace.

“Mr. James Paul Garner. Former mayor of Garners Corner, local plumber, investor, billionaire philanthropist, and once an energetic, kind man,” a voice behind Ashley announced.

She turned around and saw a, somewhat past middle age, woman in a nurse’s uniform holding out her hand in greeting. “Hi, I am Vicky. I am the administrator of the Garner Nursing Home.”

“Hi Vicky! I am Ashley. The old gentleman in the wheelchair looks so lost and lonely.”

“Yes! Mr. Garner harbors a lot of mental anguish hiding in that cocoon.”


They sat down at a table by the glass wall that faced the terrace and beyond. Vickie’s office had a panoramic view of the valley with all its splendor of vibrant colors. The deep gold, bright yellow and rust bathed in the early autumn sun, setting above the evergreens in the background. But, Ashley’s eyes wandered back to the old man in the wheelchair. Vickie duly noticed it.

“You are Dr. Kessler’s wife, right?”

“Yes, I am.”

“What can I do for you?”

“Well, as you know we just moved here. We have a sixteen year old daughter who wants to follow in her father’s footsteps. So, we thought it might be a good idea if she would spend some time as a candy striper. A nursing home would be a perfect fit. Would you have an opening by any chance?”

“We certainly do. Not many young people are interested in volunteering for that those days. Have her come in and see me after school tomorrow.”

“That would be great. Thank you so much.”

“Don’t mention it. You’re doing us a favor… How do you like country living?”

“I love the picturesque landscape. And the town has so much character.”

“Yes, it is pretty around here… I want you to know, I am a big fan of yours. I read every one of your books. But I never thought I would be chatting away with Ashley Fay Thornton, the famous author. How come you don’t write as Ashley Fay Kessler?”

“I had established my writing career before Gus and I got married. You don’t want to change your pen-name once you’re known. It becomes your brand.”

“That makes sense. Do you have another book coming out?”

“Yes! In the beginning of the year, THEY FOLLOWED THE CALL

“I can’t wait to read it. What is it about?”

“It’s about a young single mom that gets called up to serve in Iraq. The story deals with the daily hardship and the pain of being separated from her little boy.”

“Oh, whoa, that sounds like a tear jerker.”

Ashley’s eyes kept wandering back to the old man. She couldn’t help thinking, what it is that that keeps him locked inside this cocoon.

“Ashley, you write great fiction. Have you ever thought of writing a nonfiction book?”

“Yes! I would love to write an interesting biography, a good memoir, or interesting narrative nonfictions. I just haven’t found the right story yet.”

“I can’t help noticing your interest in Mr. Garner. His life would make a great story, but a sad one. Are you interested?”

“Yes, I would be. He strikes me like a fascinating man that is painfully encapsulated in an impenetrable bubble.”

“You have that one right. I tell you what. I am going to be off the day after tomorrow. Why don’t you come to my place for breakfast? Let’s say, around nine. We’ll have some coffee or tea, and something to nibble on while we talk. It probably will take more than a day to tell you what I know about his story and that is not even half of it.”

“Great! I’ll be there.”

“And don’t forget, have your daughter come and see me after school tomorrow. What’s her name?”

“Brooks! She’ll be here.”

Chapter Two

Vickie Lister went to Rose’s Chili Pepper Diner, the local restaurant, and picked up a Chicken dinner for her husband and herself. He walked in ten minutes after she got home. “Hi Babe!” He gave her a peck on the cheek while Vicky set the table.

“Hi Mike! Did you have a good day?”

“Well, no one got killed. I didn’t have to arrest anybody. I didn’t have to use my gun. And I wrote two-hundred-and-fifty dollars worse of citations. So, I guess this was a good day for Mike the sheriff. How about you? How was your day?”

“Great! Ashley Fay, Dr. Kessler’s wife came to see me. Her daughter wants to be a candy striper in the nursing home.”

“Oh well, that’s good. You have been looking for someone for some time. I guess that’s coming in handy. Ashley, eh…that sounds pretty chummy.”

“She is really nice. We hit it off right away.” Vicky held up a book, and said, “You know, she is a writer. She wrote this book.”

Mike looked up at the picture on the back of the book, and mumbled, “Uh-hu.”

“Mike, that picture doesn’t do her justice. She is absolutely beautiful. She is 5’7, slim, but nicely curved, and her auburn hair accentuates her milky white skin. She has beautiful, warm, big, brown eyes, high cheekbones, and nicely shaped, full, lips.”

“Oh, you are signing up to become a judge in the Miss America contest?”

“Oh come on know. She really is beautiful. And she is smart. She writes wonderful novels. I invited her over. She might write a book about Mr. Garner. She wants me to tell her what I know. Of course, there is a whole lot that I don’t know. But you do.”

Mike looked up from his plate and gave her a long look. “Is that so? Well, you know better than to think that I am going to talk about Mr. Garner’s affairs. That’ll never happen.”

“Oh Mike, she is going to…”

“That’s enough, Vicky! This conversation is over!”

Mike picked up the paper and retired into his armchair. Cool air engulfed the rest of the evening.


iraqi war story book cover


As his men advanced in the rugged, barren terrain, the sound of spraying bullets suddenly appeared from nowhere. Sean froze and stood motionless as he watched enemy fire mow down his men.

He’d ordered his men into a killing zone and could do nothing but watch. He heard their cries and looked into their pain stricken faces as bullets minced them into pieces. The demons of war didn’t let him rest. The trauma of Afghanistan now blended with the horrors of Iraq.

A resounding blast tore open the entrance to the hospital and smoke billowed from the fiery remains of the massive explosion, the smell of tritonal and cordite hanging in the air. Spattered arms, legs, and parts of bodies were everywhere. Dear God in Heaven! Was that the decapitated head of Charlie Brown hurling through the air…or was it Marissa’s Charlie? Now he could see Sergeant Washington’s disfigured face sailing across, followed by the shattered remains of Sergeant Walsh…Sergeant Maskin… Lieutenant Uthman… Colonel Franklin. His agony was unbearable. But the worst came last. Helplessly, he screamed out in pain as the torn up body of Marissa catapulted through the air with her teary eyes begging for help.

Chapter One

Marissa sat in her bedroom tightly embracing her five-year-old boy. With tears rolling down her face, she tried to calm Charlie down. But the pressure of his little arms tightened even more around her neck. He held onto her for dear life. Only his pleading little voice broke up his bitter sobbing. “Please Mommy! Please don’t go. Mommy…pleeeaaase stay here. I want you to stay with me.”

Charlie finally fell asleep. Marissa laid him gently next to her. With a heavy heart, she watched him sleeping and deeply engraved every feature of his beautiful little face onto her memory. His looks made her thoughts drift back to Jack. Remembering her husband only added to the pain.

It was Marissa’s last night with her son. She couldn’t block the thought from her mind that she might never hold him again. Charlie had only recently recovered from the loss of his father and now his mother had to leave him, as well.

She finally fell asleep in the early morning hours resting her head on the tear-soaked pillow.

Chapter Two

Little Charlie was the spitting image of his father. He’d his father’s clear blue eyes and athletic build. A lock of blond hair fell down on his forehead, and just like his dad, he’d a cowlick that wouldn’t stay down.

Marissa remembered when she first fell in love with Jack. If only that wonderful, strong man, with those large blue eyes could be with her. She missed and needed him now more than ever.

Sergeant Marissa Collier Linz was one of the unlucky ones called-up for active duty, assigned to the First Cavalry Division as a medic. She’d a morning flight to Fort Hood TX. Her new unit was bound for Iraq. She knew the risks involved. Twenty-four year-old Marissa, a single mom whose husband had died in a car accident four years earlier, was in her third year of nursing school. As a member of the Reserves, the Army paid for her tuition. The additional paycheck from the Army, and working as a nurse’s aide, helped to make ends meet. She’d moved in with her parents after her husband’s death. Her parent’s financial support, and watching Charlie, was an immense help. Her father owned and operated an auto repair shop in Morristown, New Jersey with Marissa’s brother.

Fifty-five year-old Charles Collier was a decorated Vietnam Veteran. He knew the nightmares of battle and had a Purple Heart to prove it. Marissa remembered her mom’s stories about the painful uncertainty in waiting for news. Charles had been missing in action, and had been seriously wounded. He’d teetered on the brink of death when they rescued him.

After a few hours of sleep, a gentle knock on the door awakened Marissa. It was time to get up and head for the airport. She slipped quietly into her uniform. Not even the unflattering fit of the desert camouflage could hide her beauty. She was tall, slender, with shiny black hair that framed her fine-featured face. Her milky white skin accentuated her transparent green eyes.

She joined her parents for breakfast, but she’d no appetite. At her mom’s insistence, she forced down some toast and orange juice. It was a silent breakfast as they wrestled with their emotions. Her grief-stricken face didn’t go unnoticed by her parents. Her dad gently stroked her back. “It’s time sweetheart. We have to go.”

Nodding, Marissa went upstairs and said good-bye to her little boy. As she caressed his hair and gently kissed his cheek, a tear fell from her eye and rolled down his forehead. It broke her heart. Not wanting to wake him, she whispered, “I love you my darling. May Jesus bless and protect you.” She dried her eyes and walked away.

Now it was time to bid farewell to her mother. Marissa held on to her and cried in silence. Mom marked the sign of a cross on Marissa’s forehead, and said, “May the Lord bless and protect you and bring you safely home.” With a last squeeze, Marissa rushed out to the car.

Marissa’s dad parked the car in the long-term parking lot of the Liberty International Airport at Newark. He took the travel pack and walked her to the Continental ticket counter as specified in her orders. Five other reservists were already waiting there.