Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

Category: War Remains (page 1 of 17)

Yes, You can Judge a Book by its Cover

WR_newcoverYou know the old adage, “you can judge a book by its cover?”

It’s true.

It’s especially true if you are an indie author and you’re trying to fight for a piece of the action in a market that is getting smaller and smaller. If you want your book to get noticed you are going to need a design that speaks volumes (excuse the pun) that’s about the size of a pack of cigarettes (and sometimes smaller).

Book cover design. Can’t say enough about it. There are plenty of freelance designers who can take your ideas and come up with a good design. Sadly, there are some not so good designers who might even use the design for your book for another project. This has happened to two of my writing friends. I hear 99 Designs is a good place to get started. Their rates are compatible and you can choose from several designs.detail of a statue at the Korean War Veteran's Memorial in Washington, D.C.

I’m fortunate that I have my own designer, Anna Takahashi Gargani who works her visual magic time and time again.

Recently, she redid the cover design for my first book, War Remains. I think she did a pretty good job. This was the original design. For starters, it’s a lot stronger and the font and color she uses is both bold and soft. She also was able to bring out more definition from the original photograph.

It’s a sweet design for a very good book and story.


Reviews Do Matter

 I am adetail of a statue at the Korean War Veteran's Memorial in Washington, D.C.lways grateful when someone takes out the time to leave a review for one of my books at Amazon or Goodreads. When you’re an indie writer you need all the help you can get promoting your book and there’s no better way than by word-of-mouth when someone writes an honest review.

Recently, this is what one reader had to say about my novel War Remains:

“This is a story told through letters found 50 years later about the Korean War. So well written you are taken along with those in war and become scared, yet know it was much worse than you could imagine. Ronnie and his son Michael found long forgotten artifacts in a footlocker belonging to Ronnie’s father who went to Korea and fought for South Korea’s freedom. A police state action, not labeled a war, but Bobby never came home and was listed as MIA. This is a story about the journey to learn about Bobby and those who served with him. Makes you grasp for an emotion you may not realize you have inside. I can’t read this without crying and praying for all servicemen and their families.”

Although I don’t have any clear or hard evidence how a book review will drive sales or help me reach a wider market, I am just grateful that my book resonated with a reader and touched them.

“Silent Night, Holy Night” — A Korean War Christmas

koreachristmas2MacArthur said the boys would be home by Christmas.

They weren’t.

KOREA — Christmas Eve, 1950

They clanked their cans together and took a drink of the icy cold beer. It was the first beer either tasted since the regiment withdrew to Chunju. They were about to take a second drink when they suddenly stopped. It had gotten eerily quiet outside and that’s when they both thought they heard what sounded like some far-off singing.

“Did you hear that?” Bobby asked. “What do you reckon that is?”

What Bobby and Harold thought was singing started low, almost like a whisper and had grown louder and nearer. They recognized the song immediately. One by one, the men in the platoon walked out of their tents to find the source of the mellifluous melody, which turned out to be a dozen young Korean boys and girls aged around ten or eleven huddled together with a middle-aged Korean man around a fire burning inside an empty fuel drum. Bobby, Harold and the rest of the men who came out of their tents to investigate, gathered around these tiny carolers and listened to them sing.

Silent night, holy night,

All is calm, all is bright.

Round yon virgin, Mother and Child

Holy infant so tender and mild,

Sleep in heavenly peace,

Sleep in heavenly peace.

It was the first time that most of the men had close contact with any Koreans, especially children. They came across thousands of refugees fleeing burning villages along the Pusan Perimeter last summer and passed thousands on the road to Pyongyang. Seeing all those refugees always put a different perspective on the war for the men, but this was different.

Flames from the fire burning inside the fuel drum danced in the cold night air and illuminated the dirty, rosy-cheeked faces of the children. The girls were bundled up in thick woolen jackets over traditional Korean hanboks while the boys wore similar jackets over baggy trousers. They sang slowly and eloquently, enunciating each word clearly and carefully.

The men stood silent, transfixed by the carolers and their sweet, angelic voices. A few of the men with children of their own back home thought about them and how much they missed them, especially at this time of the year. Those without children thought about parents, brothers, sisters, and other loved ones at home. Almost all of the men were a little misty-eyed, even First Sergeant Marshall, who was never known for showing any kind of emotion in front of the men, looked a little choked up.

After the children finished singing, they all bowed. Bobby and a few other men ran into their tents and returned with candy and chocolate they received in Christmas packages from home and passed them out to the children. The children bowed again and then moved toward another cluster of tents.

The men watched the children leave and then stood around the fire, warming their hands over the flickering flames.

“Don’t you men have anything better to do?” Sergeant Marshall inquired.

A few of the men dispersed and returned to their tents; others continued to warm themselves around the fire.

“That was really nice, wasn’t it, Sergeant?” Floyd Brown, the radioman from Second Platoon said. Brown was another one of the company’s replacements having only been in country for a week. He was the platoon’s third radioman since Kunu-ri. “Sounded like little angels.”

Bobby and Harold also thought so as they gathered around the fire. Marshall, who stood across from Bobby and Harold, stared at the fire quietly. That’s when Bobby noticed Harold was still holding the can of beer. He motioned to Harold to offer Sergeant Marshall one of the last two cans of beer they had in their tent.

“Sarge, would you like a beer?” Harold asked. “You know, it’s Christmas Eve and all.”

“Reyna, where the hell did you get the beer?”

Harold looked at Marshall sheepishly.

“You didn’t swipe them from the jeep that was parked outside the CP this afternoon by any chance, did you?” Marshall asked.

“Let’s just say that I requisitioned them for awhile, until our beer ration comes in,” Harold said grinning.

“Sure Reyna, I’ll have a beer with you and Washkowiak.”

The three men sat in the tent around a small stove fashioned out of a fuel drum. Although the tent was drafty, at least they were out of the raw, bone-chilling cold that would undoubtedly drop even farther during the night. Harold opened another can of beer and handed it to Marshall. Outside they heard the singing of the children serenading another group of soldiers a few tents down from their tent.

Read the rest of it here.

Welcome Home, Sgt. Paul M. Gordon


Another service member from the Korean War will soon be coming home:


Sgt. Paul M. Gordon was a farm boy from Dry Ridge, a top-notch basketball player who dreamed of one day going to Alaska to pan for gold.

He graduated from Crittenden High School when he was 16 and joined the Army soon after, in January 1949.

Gordon was 20 and serving in the Korean War when he died in June 1951 in a prisoner of war camp.

For decades, his family wondered about his fate.

“None of us really knew what happened to him,” said nephew Tony Gayhart of Burlington.

Now they do, and on Tuesday, Gordon’s remains will be brought to the United States, and he will be buried Friday at Kentucky Veterans Cemetery North in Williamstown.

You can read the rest of the story here.

These articles always choke me up because of their connection to my Korean War novel, War Remains. However, this one hits a little closer to home because he was with the 38th Infantry Regiment of the US Second Infantry Division, the same division and regiment that Bobby Washkowiak was with.

Welcome Home, Sgt. Gordon.

Former US Congressman Visits SolBridge

Donald Manzullo 2014 003

A former US congressman visited SolBridge the other day to address the students; a former congressman from Illinois I might add.

Donald Manzullo, from Illinois’ 16th Congressional District. Just up the road a bit from the LaSalle-Peru area. He’s currently the President and the CEO of the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEIA)

We had the chance to talk a little but after his lecture, but he had a train to catch. Fortunately, I talked to one of his aides and sent him some of the photos I took. I mentioned my Korean War novel, War Remains. I hope the former congressman checks it out.

Welcome Home, Cpl. William F. Day

daywilliamjpg-3222261_p9These news stories always choke me up.

Another soldier has finally returned home from a “forgotten war.”

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Cpl. William F. Day, 25, of Hayward, Calif., will be buried April 7, in La Center, Ky. In late November 1950, Day was assigned to Company C, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT). The 31st RCT was deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when it was engaged by overwhelming numbers of Chinese forces. On Nov. 29, 1950, remnants of the 31st RCT, known historically as Task Force Faith, began a fighting withdrawal to more defensible positions near Hagaru-ri, south of the reservoir. On Dec. 2, 1950, Day was reported as missing in action.

You can read the rest of the story here.

Of course, whenever I read one of these stories, I always think about my Korean War novel, War Remains. I am so proud of that book. Although it never became a best seller, I am proud of the story I tried to tell and for those family members who are still waiting for one of their loved ones to come home from the war, the book offered some hope that one day they would finally have their loved one home with them. There are still 7,888 service members listed as missing in action. One day, they will all be home.

Welcome home, Corporal Day.

War Remains — The LaSalle County Link

A Korean War Novel

When I sat down and started to write my Korean War novel War Remains in the fall of 2009, I based parts of the novel on some of the interviews I had with US Second Infantry Division veterans who were at such places as the Pusan Perimeter, Kunu-ri, Chipyong-ni, and Hoengseong.

Then, there was the LaSalle, Illinois link. I never intended to write a war novel; instead, I wanted the novel to be just as much about the war as the war experienced on the home front. Bobby Washkowiak could have been any service member from any small town in America who ended up in the Korean War. And as it turned out, I was a lot closer than I had ever imagined.

One of my friends, Doug Mayes, who lost an uncle at the same battle near Hoengseong, South Korea in February 1951, passed this link along to me. Although it doesn’t say which town in LaSalle County, most likely the soldier who was killed in action was killed at the same battle and the one that I describe in my novel.

Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. In this case, it hit very close to the heart and soul of this novel.

Amazon Book Recommendations

Are You Looking For

This always puts on a smile on my face when Amazon recommends one of my books.

I concur.

Buy this Book!

detail of a statue at the Korean War Veteran's Memorial in Washington, D.C.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice which technically ended the Korean War, though the US and ROK service members and South Korean civilians who lost their lives since the end of the Korean War on July 27, 1953 would beg to differ.

There are still over 7,900 US service members still listed as missing in action from this so-called police action and forgotten war. For all their loved ones, the Korean War has never been a forgotten one.

There is no reason not to buy this book.

There are 7,989 reasons why you should.

War Remains, A Korean War Novel (Kindle)

War Remains, A Korean War Novel (paperback)

July 27, 1953

detail of a statue at the Korean War Veteran's Memorial in Washington, D.C.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War when the armistice was signed at Panmunjom.

For some families though, the war has never ended.

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