Dad’s Purple Heart

During World War II, Dad – Simone “Sam” Billuni – was awarded two Purple Heart medals. The first came during the battle on the beaches at Anzio, Italy in 1944. A fierce German counterattack left Sam unconscious from a machine-gun bullet wound to the hip. Left for dead...

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Han Gotje – Dutch Resistance Hero (and my cousin)

If you read my novel, Journey to Marseilles, you will be familiar with Rebecca Smit's family, which includes her first cousin, Martin. These characters were based upon actual people who lived through the hardships and dangers of World War II. But the one true-life...

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Book Review: “The Angel Gang” by Ken Kuhlken

If you like your detective stories “hardboiled,” you must read Ken Kuhlken’s The Angel Gang alongside Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer tales. I do have to take exception with film historian Stephen Bowie’s description of the Mike Hammer stories as “ . . . the trashiest...

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Happy Birthday, Auntie Honey

Gladys Leona Borst Holden was born July 19, 1925 in Chicago, Illinois. When I was a little guy (2 or 3 years old), I couldn’t pronounce “Gladys,” which was my aunt’s name. I heard Mom (Gladys’s sister) calling her “Honey,” so I started calling her Auntie Honey. The...

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Book Review: THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern

To quote a famous sportscaster: “Oh, my!” This fascinating and delicious novel by Erin Morgenstern is a must-read for all lovers of tales that contain wonderful love stories (it has two!); tales of magic and magicians, circuses and carnivals, miracles and murder. It...

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Growing up in El Centro: 1961-63

The summer after our Sophomore year at CUHS was a big one for me. I was chosen to attend a summer Mathematics Program at Oregon State University in Corvallis with 60 students from all over the country. It was quite the experience being away from any family for an...

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Growing up in El Centro – High School

The Fall of 1959 saw the next big step: on to good ol’ Central Union High School and the Spartans. I can remember hearing stories from other kids about the terrible things that upperclassmen would perpetrate upon the new Freshmen, like putting the “newbies” head first...

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El Centro, the “post-elementary years”

When last we talked about my growing-up days in El Centro, I was enjoying 6th Grade with Mr. Blake at Margaret Hedrick Elementary. One memory I have is of the Duncan Yo-Yo Tournament that year. We all practiced and practiced our “Sleepers,” “Over The Falls,” and...

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A Family Project – Interview with Kristy

Just in case you may have missed it, the following is a reprint of an interview that my daughter and writing coach extraordinaire, Kristy (sexygrammar.com), conducted with me after my novel, Journey to Marseilles, was published. A FAMILY PROJECT: INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR...

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“The Edge of Darkness” – Conclusion

Damon watched, fascinated, as the two forward lines glided toward each other. There was no sound until leathery claw met sharp horn and silver lance glanced off dull blackness of armor. The battle seemed strange to Damon, all the fighting taking place at the center of...

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