Love My Rifle More Than You by Kayla Williams

Love My Rifle More Than You by Kayla Williams is about being a young female in the US Army and her deployment to Iraq for a year with the 101st Airborne.

Kayla Williams was an Arabic linguist. Thirty-four years ago, I came off active duty as an US Army officer. Ms. Williams’s book made me reflect back to all the women soldiers I worked with, lead, and knew.

This is a good military memoir. While grit and rough language are on almost every page, what shines through is an intelligent young woman serving her country and putting up with all a woman experiences in the military. It appears little has change since back in my day.

We learn of her role as an Arabic linguist. She tells us how she feels her skills could have been used better with direct contact with the population as oppose to routine intelligence gathering. Particularly interesting are her experiences with leadership while in Iraq as well as her questioning the war in Iraq’s day-to-day conduct without looking at the logic and underlying rationale.

On the light side – her tale of the birth control glasses is funny, but true. Put those military black framed Drew Carey or Woody Allen styled glasses on any man or woman and instantly they are effective birth control. Why? They make people unattractive thus scaring off members of the opposite sex. It is a book worth reading.

Lead by Example

Walk In A Manner Worthy Of Your Call To Write

Text: Ephesians 4: 1 – 6

Focus: Ephesians: 4: 2 – 4

Maybe you are a Christian writer whose drive is sharing Christian themes for the mainstream market. Your goal may concentrate on writing to develop Christian Believers. Whatever your motivation, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,” Ephesians 4:1b.

Ephesians 4:1-6 (English Standard Version) says,

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

These verses give five guidelines that will help you: Walk In A Manner Worthy Of Your Call To Write. Your life or lifestyle should set an example of Christain living..

Guideline One: Humility – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility” – Ephesians 4: 1b—2a

As a Christian writer, you should be full of Jesus, not self. The temptation is to be full of ourselves. When this happens, we are at risk of treating others with contempt.

Guideline Two: Gentleness – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience,” Ephesians 4: 1b- 2a

As a Christian writer, you should be bold, but under control. Being under control does not mean being a wimp. Just as a powerful racehorse is under the control of the jockey, as a Believer we need to be under the control of the Spirit of the Living God. Share the love Jesus and his teachings without beating the reader over the head with the Holy Bible.

Guideline Three: Patience – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience,” Ephesians 4: 1b- 2a

As a Christian writer, we need to trust God believing His word would come true. We need to keep on keeping on. We need to accept the fact that it takes time to develop our writing craft.  “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but wish patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” — 2 Peter 3:9

Guideline Four: Forgiving Love – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,” – Ephesians 4: 1b – 2.

As a Christian writer, we need to realize Christian love covers a multitude of sins. We should write with a love that loves no matter what. We have all heard it said “hate the sin, love the sinner.” That is  what we must do as writers. After all, as a Christian you are, by grace saved through faith … it is the gift of God.  Ephesians 2:8-10

Guideline Five: Unity If The Spirit In The Bond Of Peace – “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:3 English Standard Version

Guideline five is the sum of points one through four. All four points equal a bond of peace. We are bearing one another in love. Our writing should share and bring people to Christ, not drive them from Christ. “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” – Ephesians 4:4-6 (English Standard Version).

We need to realize it is not a geographical or a denominational thing; it is a Jesus and a God thing.

Creative Commons License
Walk In A Manner Worthy Of Your Call To Write by Jimmie A. Kepler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

The Value of Setting Goals

success-259710_640Success or Failure

Did you know success or failure can start with setting goals? That’s right; it can. I’ll explain. It is simple. If you set low goals, your achievement will low. If you set high goals the probability of success and hitting those high targets is great. Set no goals, and you’ll probably maintain the status quo or worse. Here is some widely accepted goal setting principles. They apply equally to the workplace or if you write like me, your writing.

God-given talents.

You have talents. You may not recognize them, or you may ignore them. You have them! Winston Churchill became British prime minister for the first time and started the epic struggle against Hitler. Churchill received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 at age 79 for his many published works, especially his six-volume set The Second World War. He wrote the six volume set when he was in his 70’s without any help or ghost writers. The photo is of Sir Winston Churchill. At 80, Winston Churchill returned to the House of Commons as a member of parliament and exhibited 62 of his paintings. Churchhill didn’t let age get in the way of achieving is dreams.

God-given drive!

I recall when I sold my first magazine article in 1981 the editor saying I wasn’t the most talented writer he had seen. It had an intangible that money cannot buy. I wrote to specification, and I met deadlines. He told me he had a number of Prima Donna writers over the years. They were difficult to work with and missed deadlines. He preferred persons with the drive to get it done and the ability to follow instruction.  Over and over I read “success” does not always go to the most talented but to the one who has talent but doesn’t give up. If you can dream it, you can do it!

God-given challenges

You will face challenges. They may appear as problems, troubles, or difficulties. Only as you work through them will you discover that they really are opportunities to do something constructive, to become a bigger, larger, better person than ever before.

God-given location

Begin where you are. Bloom where you are planted! Some say if only I lived in the right city, had the right job or had a writing room. Start where you are. If you don’t do it now, you probably won’t do it. Don’t be a want to be writer if you desire to write. Start writing!

God-given values.

Will this bring the best out of me and benefit others? Real happiness and ultimate success will only come as you live by the values that God gives. You need to honor Him as you live them!

God-given resources

Consider the resources God has, not those He has given you, but the resources He has! The true optimist is the person who plants a tree under which he will never sit or whose fruit he will never eat.

I can share the principles of success with you. I cannot teach anyone how to be a success overnight or who will not follow these other five principles. Did you know success or failure can start with setting goals? Now you know success or failure can begin with setting goals. Why not set a few and start working to achieve them?

Photo creditCC0 Public Domain.

Intellectual Property vs Real Property

2574549499_74ea92c1d2_zMost people know what real property is. Think of the house you own or the land you own as investment property. It is something tangible you can sell. Intellectual property is another type of property you can sell.

I am a serious writer. Even though, I have a day job, my writing sales and the rate of pay I receive on the magazine article sales meet the definition of a professional writer.

In recent weeks, I have been working on a business plan for my writing business. Writing business? What am I talking about I can hear you ask? I’ll explain.

As a writer, I create things with my mind. Wikipedia explains: “Intellectual property (IP) is a legal term that refers to creations of the mind. Examples of intellectual property include music, literature, and other artistic works; discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs. Under intellectual property laws, owners of intellectual property are granted certain exclusive rights. Some common types of intellectual property rights (IPR) are copyright, patents, and industrial design rights; and the rights that protect trademarks, trade dress, and in some jurisdictions trade secrets. Intellectual property rights are themselves a form of property, called intangible property.” Source:
One of the steps in developing my writing business plan is to an inventory of my intellectual properties. Think of the intellectual property as the inventory I have in my warehouse to sell and re-sell.

Blogs and Websites

I started with my blogs and websites. I have three active sites and a couple of inactive sites with content. The blogs and websites are intellectual properties. The posts on the websites are intellectual property. I have written for a number of websites. I own the rights to the articles I wrote.

Short Stories

I have written numerous short stories over the years. Many have been published. Some have not been published. They are all intellectual property. I can resell some. I can make into short story collections. I can turn them into novellas or novels. I have four in print available on Amazon.


I have written over 1000 poems in my lifetime. They are all intellectual property. I can resell some. I can sell them or self-publish as poetry collections.


I have one book in print.

Books in Progress

I have a completed nonfiction manuscript from twenty years ago I could rework. I have a completed historical fiction novel I am shopping. I am about finished with the first draft of a science fiction novel. It is book one of a four book series. I have a second science fiction book that is based on a series of short stories tied together similar to The Illustrated Man or The Martian Chronicles.

Doctoral Dissertation

I have my doctoral dissertation I could rework into a nonfiction book.

Nonfiction Magazine Articles

I have over a dozen traditional published articles in the print trade journals and magazines. These can be resold or worked into collections, etc.


I found over 250 essays I have written through the years. Add these to the available material I own. I love these works of nonfiction.

Customer Service Articles

I have two dozens plus customer service articles. Can you say future nonfiction book on customer service?

Meet the Pulitzer Prize Winning Poets

I have over twenty blog post that profile a Pulitzer Prize Winning Poet. They could easily be developed into a nonfiction book.

Newspaper and Newsletter Columns

I have over 1500 I wrote in a fifteen year period that I owned the rights. Surely, some can be reworked or redeveloped.

Book Reviews

I have over 250 published. I was syndicated for eighteen months where my reviews were a regular feature in a magazine.

Maybe you are like me and keep everything you write. If so, you have a large collection of intellectual property. You can sell English right, foreign language rights, e-book rights, print rights, audio rights, movie rights, etc. After the inventory is complete, it’s time to go make some sales.

Source of photo: Use is available by Creative Commons 2.0 License.

My oldest son Kris is 38 years old today.

Kris Kepler - High School Graduation Picture - 1995
Kris Kepler – High School Graduation Picture – 1995

I wrote this last year for my son Kristopher’s birthday. I am sharing it again this year. On Monday, January 24, 1977 I was a second lieutenant on active duty stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington. I was serving as the weapons platoon leader (81 mm mortars and T.O.W. missiles) in Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion 47th Infantry in the 3rd Brigade of the 9th Infantry Division.

My unit was training with the 2 Battalion 77th Armor that week. In the early afternoon, I was receiving instruction of tank/infantry tactics when my company commander, Captain John Bratton told me my wife was transported to Madigan Army Hospital to deliver our first child. Diane Davenport the wife of David Davenport the 4.2 inch mortar platoon leader had taken Benita to the hospital. My driver (yes as a mortar platoon leader I had a jeep and a driver) took me to my quarters. I got my car. From there, I headed to the hospital.

Upon arrival, I found my wife Benita, and Diane. Diane stayed until I arrived to relieve her. My wife had her water break about 12:30 PM. Now it was the waiting game at the hospital. It was 4:30 PM when I arrived.

Madigan Army Hospital was a teaching hospital. I watched as over a dozen interns and residents looked at her lady parts and practiced attaching, unattaching, and reattaching a fetal monitor. At one point, she pulled the sheet over her head to hide from the endless eyes examining her.

Madigan was an old wooden frame World War I era facility. The maternity delivery room used the old hospital open ward concept with four delivery tables in the room. My wife was on one table. On another was Brenda Schwarzkopf, the wife of then, Colonel Norman Schwarzkopf. He was then commanding the 1st Brigade of the Ninth Infantry Division. Their son Christian would be born about 2 and one-half hours after our son Kristopher. I like to joke and say I was on a first name basis with future General Schwarzkopf. He called me lieutenant, and I called him sir.

Yes, I was in the delivery room. I helped coach with the breathing as we used the Lamaze technique to help with the delivery. Benita was amazing, brave and yes I watched it all.

Our son Kristopher was born just after 10 PM. I recall how excited I was to call our parents back in Texas. I called Benita’s parents first and then my parents. The time was after midnight in North Texas.With my call, both sets of parents were instantly wide awake. They were excited but not as much as I was.

Just a few days later Benita’s parents came and helped with the new baby. I know Benita was glad to see them and have their help.

Kris has added joy to our lives and continues to do so to this day. He is an outstanding man. I am proud to be his father. The picture is his graduation picture from Denison High School in Denison, Texas where he graduated in 1995.

Twice Armed: An American Soldier’s Battle for Hearts and Minds in Iraq by LTC R. Alan King

While serving as a senior civil-military advisor in Baghdad, U.S. Army Lt. Col. R. Alan King disarmed several potentially dangerous situations with a weapon few members of the Coalition Provisional Authority possessed: quotations from the Qur’ran.

Twice Armed: An American Soldier’s Battle for Hearts and Minds in Iraq begins as the first American forces in Iraq in April 2003. King’s civil affairs unit acted as liaison between the military, civil authorities, and the local population. It was a job with extraordinary challenges – in the early days of the occupation, various Iraqi exiles returned to Baghdad to declare themselves mayor or sheriff, and tempers flared during the endless summer power outages. But King found success through bringing faith to the battlefield. He estimates that he met with over 3,000 sheiks, praying with them and asking for their help to rebuild Iraq. And those relationships earned him a reputation for fairness and respect for Islam that led several people on the “most-wanted” list to seek him out and surrender to him personally; he even met with Muhammad Saeed al-Sahaf, a.k.a. “Baghdad Bob”, the former Iraqi Minister of Information.

But King also writes with pain at the memory of close friends who were killed in combat, both from his battalion and the Iraqis who worked with them, and he reflects with frustration on dealings with military bureaucracy and critical blunders that cost him some of that hard-earned trust.

R. Alan King was awarded two Bronze Stars for Valor, two Bronze Stars for achievement, and the Combat Action Badge. He is currently an active reserve member of the U.S. Army, and returned from his most recent service in Iraq in October 2007. He has appeared on NBC, CNN, Fox News, and other networks as a military commentator.

Twice Armed won the 2008 Colby Award, which recognizes a first work of fiction or non-fiction that has made a significant contribution to the public’s understanding of intelligence operations, military history or international affairs. Named for the late Ambassador and former CIA Director William E. Colby, the Colby Award has been presented annually by the William E. Colby Military Writers’ Symposium at Norwich University, the nation’s oldest private military college, since 1999.

The Rain

Even a kitty loves the rain

I love the rain. Most people hate it. I love it. Why should I love the rain? It’s not easy for people to understand, but I will try to explain.

The rain is a precious gift from God. It falls from the sky. Sometimes it falls in large amounts. Sometimes it comes from the sky in small amounts. Sometimes it doesn’t visit us for weeks or months at a time. When it does visit, it always brings its friend the clouds. The rain can also bring its noisy friend thunder and bright friend lightning.

The rain is like a guest in your home. At first you’re glad to see the rain, but if it stays around too long, it can over stay its welcome.

The rain can be refreshing. It gives the air and the countryside a shower. It washes the pollen from the air. It removes the dust off the cars, sidewalks, and driveways. The rain eliminates the dust from the leaves of the flowers, bushes and trees.

The temperature drops when the rains come. The rain transforms the hot world into a cool, air conditioned environment in the summer and a chilly one in the winter. It helps you appreciate a warm, dry house. It is a muse for Ray Bradbury as he writes short stories about it in “The Illustrated Man”.

The rain also helps a person forget their troubles. You worry less about how you look. After all, the water from the mud puddle may have splashed on you. You enjoy a freedom from irritations. Only those people who need to see you will come see you in the rain. Most gripers and complainers stay away when it’s wet outside. They wait for a less rainy day.

Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese

Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese
Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese

From 1958 to 1963 I called the Phoenix, Arizona area home. Well, I lived in Glendale from 1958 to 1960 and on Luke Air Force Base from 1960 to 1963. The Phoenix area hosted Major League Baseball’s Cactus League every spring. Named for the cactus that were everywhere in the Arizona desert, in 1963 the league hosted Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, Houston Colt .45s, and the California Angels

I’ve said a few times being military brat had many benefits. One advantage was the USO sponsored events with ball players. The big leaguers weren’t too big to come to my elementary school on their off days and work with us on fielding and hitting, the fundamentals of baseball.

In the spring of 1963, we had a big thrill as Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese came a calling. Dizzy Dean had pitched for the St Louis Cardinals. He won over thirty ball games back in the 1930s. Pee Wee Reese was the famous Brooklyn Dodger shortstop and Jackie Robinson’s roommate. They made up the famous announcing team for the Game of the Week. Broadcast each Saturday afternoon, three out of every four televisions in the USA were tuned into the game.

I played Little League Baseball like most boys. I was the third baseman for the Luke Lions that year. I was one of the few nine years old boys to make the Little League Roster. We played a game when old Dizz and Pee Wee were on the air base. What a thrill if was for the players and most of the airman and their families when the announcer pair showed up at our dusty field. The USAF special services people and USO liaison people were there as well.

That night the special services airmen set up special speakers and a public address system. Dizzy and Pee Wee took a seat in front of the microphone and introduced the teams, the players, and I almost fainted when one of them called my name. The same men that called the names of Sandy Koufax, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays called my name. They didn’t stop there. They did a play by play of the game over the PA system. It was just like they did announcing the game of the week every Saturday.

Meeting the ballplayers and getting coached by them was great. But having Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese announce my Little League game was a lifetime memory.

Did you have any similar memories from your childhood? Please leave a remembrance in the comments if you do.

My Father’s Secret War: A Memoir by Lucinda Franks

My Father’s Secret War: A Memoir is the best book I’ve read in a long time. It is written by Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Lucinda Franks. It reads more like a novel than a memoir.The book is both an intellectual search for an understanding of her father’s secret past as a spy in World War II as well as a heart-wrenching story of the complexities of the author’s relationship with him. What makes this book so very compelling is the honesty and poetic telling of naked truths in a real family drama. Everything is here: burning hatred and welcome forgiveness, love’s disappointments, parent’s failings, alcoholism, psychological torture, adultery, rebellion, revelation and resolution.


We care deeply as the author so desperately searches to understand why her relationship with her father had changed from childhood adoration to hatred, because of his alcoholic withdrawal. This is a universal story of every daughter’s struggle to know and forgive her father as he ages and declines. This author’s telling is unbelievably poignant. A must read!



Spring break 1974 was the last time I hitch-hiked. It was still in the vogue. Thanks to movies like the Texas Chain Saw Massacre that came out that year it would soon be in decline. Over the next few years, drivers viewed picking up a stranger as a risk. We learned some people picked up hitchhikers to do harm to them. They would rape and kill them. Had I know that I would have never stuck my thumb up and hitched a ride, but I did. Here is that story.

The story of the last ride I hitched is straightforward. It was spring break 1974. The effects of the Arab Oil Embargo, which were put in place during the Yom Kippur War of late 1973 were taking effect. Due to shortages, cars, and their drivers lined up at service stations to get gasoline. The traditional full-service filling station became extinct during this period. Sometimes you had to wait days to fill up your car’s tank.

March of 1974 found me completing my junior year at The University of Texas at Arlington. Fortunately, I lived adjacent to the campus. This  proximity meant I could walk or ride my ten-speed bicycle to class. More and more frequently, I opted for my ten-speed as my preferred method of transportation.

During this same time, Interstate 20 (I-20) was under construction in south Arlington, Texas. Lake Joe Poole was a future development dream.

I was dating my future wife. She was a senior in high school. She lived in DeSoto, Texas 25 mile away. The Tuesday of her spring break, I decided to ride my bike to her house. I left the campus of UT Arlington and headed south until I ran into the construction on the future I-20. There I went on the new concrete roadway and headed east several miles until I got to Belt Line Road in Dallas County. There I again headed south. Belt Line Road in just a few short years would be under Lake Joe Poole’s water. There was a huge mountain to go up. My ten-speed zipped up with great ease. As I continued riding past all the television broadcast towers in Cedar Hill, Texas, I quickly crossed the then two-lane US Highway 67. Belt Line Road intersected just east of US 67 with Texas Farm Road 1382.

The ride on my ten-speed from Cedar Hill to DeSoto was only five miles. Unfortunately, about hallway between the two towns the rear axle on the bicycle broke. A broken rear axle is bad. It meant I could not ride a bike because the rear wheel would no longer turn.

I had to carry the ten-speed the last two plus miles. It was a hot March day with temperatures in the middle 80 degrees. I was not very smart in my travels as I had only one one-quart canteen of water with me. It soon was gone.

I arrived at Miss Benita’s house. She was happy to see me. Her eleventh-grade sister was not happy I had invaded their space. They could not believe I had ridden my bike 25 miles. They were even more concerned, well at least Miss Benita was, about how I would get back to college. I remember making a fist with my right hand and extending my thumb.

The girls were afraid of hitchhiking. I seemed very scary to them. From 1967 to 1972, I thumbed many rides. It was still an accepted method of travel.

Well, I chained my bike to their chain-linked fence. I walked down to the Fina gasoline station. Joe Castle owned the business. He asked where my car was. I told my sad tale. He carried me to Cedar Hill and wished me luck. He made sure I had a cold Dr. Pepper.

At Cedar Hill, I got out of the Castles old American Rambler station wagon. I took my place at the side of Farm Road 1382 (FM 1382); my thumb extends this time trying to go north when a Jeep stopped and gave me a ride.

The driver was a machinist headed for his swing shift at Ling Tempco Vought (LTV) Aeronautics in Grand Prairie, Texas. He let me out where FM 1382 crossed the Pioneer Parkway that was also called Spur 303. He used to be in the US Air Force. That is where he learned his trade of building airplanes. He tossed me a Coca-Cola as they left me at the side of the road.

I was not waiting even two minutes when a Chevrolet Camaro stopped. As they rolled down the window, two girls about my age greeted me. “Hey, aren’t you in our English class?” were the first words they said. They followed with “You’re one of those ROTC guys, aren’t you?” The both had an open can of Old Milwaukee beer. The hollered for me to get. The girl riding shotgun got out, had me get in, and then sat in my lap. They replaced my Coca-Cola with beer. We zoomed down Pioneer Parkway until we got to Cooper Street in Arlington. We turned north and headed near the campus. They took me to my apartment. They didn’t drop me off. They came in where we listened to the stereo and did what college kids did.

The return trip to my apartment took me about 20 minutes less time than riding the ten-speed to my girlfriend’s house had taken. I still am amazed.

I haven’t hitched a ride since that March day in 1974.