On the



John 2

I found a little sheet torn from an old Dutch calendar the other day, sent once by a family member, who passed away a long time ago. It was of the year 1933 (Thursday, October 12). Each sheet had a text with daily food for thought at the back. 

Scancal1 Scancal2

The text contains the following gripping story:

“Around 1688 in a small village of Carinthia a young men lived working as a supervisor in a gunpowder mill. As he needed money, he took his horse to a nearby market and sold it for 300 Thalers. On return he overnighted at an inn and, thinking nobody would see him, went to the stable to pray because he belonged to the suppressed Protestants, who were not allowed to worship in public. A horse trader discovered him and immediately knew he was a Protestant. However, he did not want to betray him because he found it a good opportunity to sell him a book he carried with him, which he knew was highly valued by the Lutherans. It was a large Bible of Weimar. The Protestant was afraid that the horse trader would betray him, but when he saw that he offered him a Weimar Bible that he had never been able to find, he became very interested. They agreed on a price of 30 Thalers. The young man took it home and showed it with much pride to his family. Knowing people suspected him to be a Protestant, he did no dare to read it openly but gathered his family during the night in the cellar and read them God’ s Word from the Weimar Bible by candlelight.”

Single candle flame illuminatied pages from the Book of Psalm in an old bible.

This typifies the religious strife between Catholics and Protestants. Shocking to be remembered of that by a tiny calendar paper that pops up on your desk. And what do we have now in the Middle -East? Christians are being beheaded. Radical Islam (ISIS), which is Suni, murders Shiites as well (similar to the religious battles in Europe).  It takes a long evolution before people become more rational about religion. The Middle Eastern year is somewhere around 1435, the Middle Ages and Renaissance years in Europe, from which emerged Martin Luther and Calvin, and the ensuing religious conflicts. The last one took place in Northern Ireland, some 50 years ago. So if history is any guide, it may take a few more years before Radical Islam comes to its senses. Let’s hope it won’t be centuries.


Brussels: A Cancerous Religion emerges.

Brussels Gr-Place-1


Brussels is again the focus of Islamic radicalism. Brussels is the center of the European Union and has been the center of Europe since the European reunification began after World War II.  I worked and visited Brussels many times for work and pleasure.  Like I mourned with my friends in Paris last November, I mourn with my friends in Brussels now. It is a place with great treasures, such as the Grand Place. Now Islamic Radicalism is overwhelming the city with brutal force to stem the growth of Europe as a symbol of Western Union and Civilization after it stabilized after two terrible wars in the twentieth century and many more before since the Middle Ages.

The issue of Radical Islam has become so predominant in current times that many believe it is something new that only now comes out of the woodwork. In fact, Islam has always been a political movement, starting with Mohammed whose armies swarmed over the Middle East to suppress peoples into submission. Islamic religion, the Quran, has many good thoughts, but it is also a religion of strife. Christ was a prophet of the cross, whose sacrifice we are remembering this week. Yes, many religious and political leaders have also abused and misused Christianity for political purposes. Popes, Emperors, Bishops and priests. Christian fundamentalism in the Middle Ages and many wars between Catholic and Protestant forces caused huge suffering and  destruction for four centuries long. With the last remnants of these terrible fissures finally solved with peace in Northern Ireland only some fifty years ago, Europe no longer has religious wars between their main religious beliefs.

Yet now Europe is again overtaken by Islamic Jihadism. Actually, Islamic strife has never really stopped. The Islamic march to conquer Europe was defeated several times, in 732 by France, in  1492 by Spain, in 1683 by the Austrians when the Turks laid siege to Vienna, and in 1918, when the last caliphate, the Ottoman Empire, crumbled at the end of World War I. But jihadism continued to rumble on after the creation of artificial Middle-Eastern countries from the broken Ottoman Empire, and the birth of Israel. Political Islam has consistently grown. Out of a deep hatred for whatever is “Western” or “Jewish,” activist Islamic groups have been attacking and murdering: Iranian Mullahs, Hezbollah, Hamas, then Al-Qaeda born from Saudi-Arabian Wahabism, and now ISIS and its offshoots. Islamic migration to Europe has been largely unassimilated. Zones of Islamic radicalism are created in Europe where police is not even allowed to set foot.

Millions of people of Islamic belief live peacefully, doing their daily work, growing their kids, going to their mosques, trying to live a decent life. So why is it that many of their leaders continue their strive towards Islamic supremacy?  The killing, at genocidal proportions, abhors every reasonable person, even peaceful Islamic believers. Why do they not stand up against their own?

Rational Muslims must eradicate the cancer in their Islamic religion. Like any cancer, it kills. If the Muslims themselves do not eradicate this built-in cancer of jihadism in their religion, it will ultimately kill the religion itself. So far, few Muslims have spoken out. How many more terrorist disasters must happen before they realize they must put a stop to it to protect their own religion from oblivion? Christian and Western peoples are not going to let themselves be pulverized into Islamic submission. Jihadism will lead to further war, as it has done from the times that the religion emerged in 632. If that is their wish, it will cause Europe and the USA to lean more and more to leaders who will execute a radical counter-terrorist military offensive, and vote out politicians who practice peace, political correctness, and weakness. It will make the life of innocent Muslims more threatened than ever. They will only have themselves to thank for it.

 Vive Bruxelles!






I studied in Paris, have friends there, traveled throughout the country and visited the city many times with my wife and kids. France is a dear friend and I speak its language. When I am there I feel as much at home as in Holland or the USA. I am deeply saddened by the loss of beautiful life, the agony of the people who lost their loved ones, the wounded who are suffering in hospitals, and the depression everyone must feel.

What happened today meant Black Friday for Paris. As 9/11 changed the face of America and the western world, so does this additional heinous murder of Parisian innocents by Islamic fascists.

As this is now an author page, I will not enter into the political aspects of Western leadership and forcefulness to suppress this outrageous religious overkill. The absence of American strength to name a spade a spade has been obvious for the last six years. Now the beast has grown exponentially and it will be so much harder to contain and destroy it.

Untamed religious fanatics are a phenomenon of history. It is cultural, political, and power-based. It professes exerting the will of religious leaders over the flock of faithful believers, and suppression of the infidels. In the West we are coming slowly out of it, but we fought many wars over it. The current Middle Eastern turmoil is not new. For more than 1000 years Islamic and Western Religions have been battling for hegemony. Our societies are diametrically opposed: ours is individualistic, propagating personal freedom, theirs is socially inward, emphasizing submission to the prophet and a strictly controlled family behavior. I have witnessed Islam in my travels and experienced its deep features of belief and close nit family life, which are commendable, but got always struck by its reactionary posture. It’s what destroyed the Ottoman empire, the last caliphate. Its initial supremacy in science, medicine and art was overpowered by the Western renaissance, industrial revolution and scientific inventions.

And now the fanatics want it back their way. Several Middle Eastern nations like Egypt and Jordan that have evolved to a more rational outlook are opposed, but Iran sees an opportunity to put oil on the fire. Their Shiite schism with Sunni Islam is an internal battle for hegemony. It plays out in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. What we must avoid is that we become the battleground of their frictions and shared hatred of Western freedom and society. Paris has already become a battle ground. Throngs of Syrian refugees in Germany and other European countries will only fuel the rifts in the future. The USA with its open border policy will be next. Unless it becomes unanimously serious in preventing this from happening. Today and not tomorrow.

It may already be too late. America will have its own Black Friday shortly if we don’t put the silly politics behind us and take action, finally. And American advertisers better stop using Black Friday as a commercial incentive. The pitch has now acquired a bitter connotation with today’s Black Friday in Paris.


The Writing Game

John 2

So now you have written a BOOK! That’s how all author consultants, advisers, promoters and websites start. A HUGE INDUSTRY! Some are deft predators out to get money from the thin pockets of innocent writers. It’s an industry full of CROOKS and a few genuine operators.

Fun tiger

The Predator in the Book Industry Promising you Millions and charging you Trillions

maestro gufo

The Wise Owl of Good Advice telling you to rewrite, rewrite and persevere!

(A left click on the pictures will enlarge most except those taken from internet sources, then click the back space at the top left and you are back in the blog).

Even the good ones tell you that finishing a book is BARELY ten percent (10%!) of the writing effort and the rest is “marketing.” You have to get “published”, find an agent to represent you (at 15% royalty), assuming you did all the right things such as having attended reputable writing conferences, learned the “craft” by attending workshops, webinars and reading books, joined a writers group to get feedback on your drafts, and written “the best book you can.” Have your work “edited” by a reputable editor, and write 50 to 100 state-of-the art “Query Letters” (that’s a business by itself).  As few authors manage to do all that perfectly but still want to write and publish, they just “self-publish” their stuff and send it to the clouds in e-books. I heard that on Amazon.com some 12 million books are floating in those clouds. Just look at Amazon.com-books and you get the idea. Mostly printed on demand only (POD).

Many books of all literary genres for sale in a bookshop

many books of all literary genres for sale in a bookshop
many books of all literary genres for sale in a bookshop

I am among those 12 million. Who will find me? That’s the question. Going on the street carrying a board on your back displaying your book? Loading your trunk with copies and stand at a farmers market, yelling “Hey! Buy my book?” Have friends advertising for you?

Please buy my book!

Young businessman holding in hands opened book

One wonders why everybody wants to write and why some get so desperate.


Dreaming Romance Author and another with Writers Blog

Overworked, depressed and exhausted businessman at his desk with a pile of work or concept for frustration, stress and writers block

But then, what about American Idol? Everybody wants to sing, too, and only a few get noticed. The law of the jungle.Red Eye Tree Frog on a Pencil

A lot of bad quacking instead of good writing!

So-called Wise People in the industry say, it’s all perseverance, not just talent. Talent is only 10% of the game. Sounds much the same percentage of writing being 10% of “getting read.”

Young funny businessman with opened book in hands

The friendly-looking Predator Promising You the Moon. Write a book in 30days! Only $237! I will promote you for just $14 K!

Go to a bookstore and arrange for a “book signing” hoping that visitors will buy your books with your autograph? I did so recently in Williamsburg in Virginia because my novel Enchanting The Swan starts at the College of William & Mary for the first ten chapters. They wrote an article about it in the Virginia Gazette, even mentioned it on the radio, and I put stickers on W&M boards and had someone announce it on their Law School internal website. I dropped bookmarkers at The Trellis restaurant at the touristic Merchant Square, right at the edge of the W&M campus, with a notice of the book signing the next day. The two main characters have lunch and dinner there from time to time. What more can you do?


The Trellis!

Bookstore Librarian offering your books

The friendly Librarian displaying my dream books

I traveled to Williamsburg in my Jag XK8 (not earned from book writing!), cap down, on October 22, in splendid weather. Still summer, folks! I did a rest stop at a Panera near Fredericksburg to pick up some display boards from my charming publisher and designer, Melanie Stephens of Willow Manor Publishing, one of Some Women I have Known, one of Audrey Hepburn who features in it, and one showing the cover of Enchanting the Swan. I made a second “pit”stop at the Williamsburg Information Center, boasted about my books soon to be signed, and received a sticker “Virginia is for Lovers” in return, which I immediately glued to the back of my Jag. Drivers be better aware of my romantic intentions.

Portrait of young attractive salesperson in own small book shop

The lovely girl wanting to read Enchanting The Swan: “True, Are you Dutch? ” Oh my, if I had just been a little bit younger…I would have read it for her at her bedside.

It was W&M Home Coming weekend starting October 23 on a beautiful warm day. After a quiet but sleepless night at the Williamsburg Lodge, dreaming of throngs of people standing in line for my books,  I settled down at a nicely arranged book signing table at the Barnes and Noble/William and Mary Bookstore. The events manager Beau Carr and his charming assistants Eric and Joanna had done a splendid job.  I even got a free coffee!


 So as of 10 AM I waited for the throngs of booklovers to come in. The first was John Lindberg, of the W&M Department of Music at Ewell Hall, the unsurpassed percussionist, so-called “retired” but still in full action, who is one of the memorable characters appearing in Enchanting The Swan. I had promised him a free copy but he insisted on buying it. Then a charming lady appeared who wanted to buy a book for a dear friend, who also appears in the novel, but whose name I can’t mention as I would betray her gift. And then nothing. As the hour went by, shoppers smiled at me but went for the William & Mary T-shirts, not my books! Finally some buyers showed up, chatted and purchased a few copies of Some Women and Swan, getting my handsome autograph wishing them a good read. The last visitor was Deb Boykin, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs (Campus Living) and Director of Residence Life, with whom I had a most productive interview during my research at W&M. That was a worthwhile close of my book signing! All in all, a little over 10 books sold (about 3 books an hour, which seems to be the going rate according to knowledgeable sources).


W&M Barnes & Noble Bookstore

After 4 hours I had to pack up to make room for another author. It was award-winning Wilford Kale!

Wilford Kale

 A longtime Williamsburg resident and former Williamsburg bureau chief and senior writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, who wrote a magnificent photo book of the History of William & Mary, which I had purchased earlier for my daughter Samantha who studied there. I felt honored to get to know the famous writer. When later in the day I passed by his table, full with W&M and Williamsburg related books, to see how well he was doing, he also complained that everybody went for the W&M T-shirts. Well, if he as an author with much local notoriety did not sell much, I could not feel too sorry for myself.

I left with a last look at the Crim Dell Bridge at W&M. After all Virginia is for Lovers!

Enchanting W&M Crim Bridge 1

Beau Carr of the W&M Bookstore found that I had a respectable showing, despite the surge on W&M clothing! Some did better, others did not. Then I checked back with Judith Briles of the Author University website (http://authoru.org), my favorite, if book signings are a useful marketing tool and the answer was negative. Personally, I believe that seeking your audience through book clubs and speaking engagements increase your book sales more.

All in all, a new adventure. It surely keeps you on your toes!





Flying Horses

Grandfather Hector and son Arent with prize-winning cup Hector v C v Sminia, Buitenhof ca.1943

JS in Petra_crop 3 Sam and Beau jumping_Sept 2014


It’s all in the family: horses front and center. Above left, all Dutch: Grandfather Hector van Coehoorn van Sminia and his son Arent (who tragically died at the age of 23 in a flying accident): admiring their trophy won for breeding the best warmbloods, right the Grandfather on his horse at his estate, below Grandson John on his Arabian in the mountains near Petra in Jordan, and below the great-granddaughter (American born!) Samantha Schwartz, jumping with Beau at her Virginian Misty Farm stable. (A left click on the pictures will enlarge most except those taken from internet sources, then click the back space at the top left and you are back in the blog).

Those were the images floating through my mind when we watched the World Cup jumping concours at the Washington International Horse Show at the Verizon Center last night, October 24.

Three top winners jumping WIHS 2015

It was a marvelous display of beautiful horses with excellent riders, and a prideful winner: Dutchman Harrie Smolders, who won the competition just ahead of American Callan Solem (riding a Dutch warmblood!) and Belgian Nicola Philippaerts (Credit to TimeLine Photos)  It was a challenging but intelligent course designed by Anthony d’Ambrosio (USA), to ensure riders and horses would qualify for the next steps to win the World Cup (Madrid and next year’s prestigious Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final, which will take place in Gothenburg (SWE) on 23-28 March 2016). Even the best horses found it hard to master it to perfection.

Harry Smolders with Emerald

EQWO.net writes: D’Ambrosio purposefully set a demanding course to ensure that the right horse-and-rider combinations would earn the valuable points toward qualifying for the culminating event in the spring.

“I strive to design a course that rewards the riders who are capable of going to the World Cup Final,” D’Ambrosio said. “World Cup Qualifiers have to have a standard that is somewhat similar in consistency. It’s to prepare the horses and riders to have the accuracy to jump the dimensions. That’s an important part of my job.”

All in all it was a delight to see them flying over the obstacles, one after one, in a mighty show of athletic strength. But it was a good feeling to see Dutchman Harrie Smolders fly faultless over them twice with his wonderful horse Emerald (and an emerald he is!). Emerald is from famous French jumping blood Diamant de Semilly, whose father, Le Tot de Semilly was a legend in France. Harrie had won at the Washington Horse Show already in 2006 and had the honor to have his name inscribed on the gold cup for a second time.



Fotos Arnd Bronkhorst (www.arnd.nl)

EQWO.net writes: “This show suits me,” Smolders said. “I don’t know why, but the results are always good. And for our stable, it’s been very successful this week. My student Jos Verlooy (BEL) was fourth in tonight’s class and won the Puissance on Friday night, and is the leading rider of the show. It’s a bit busy with the classes going on and telling my students all the information that I know, but it really worked out.”

Interestingly, Harrie Smolders rides at the Belgian stable Euro Horse, run by Axel Verlooy, whose 17-year old son Jos just lost out (finishing 4th) in the finals of the Washington Horse show but as Smolders says above, he won the Puissance on Friday.

It is interesting to know that Harrie Smolders is Jos’s personal trainer. So Belgian Euro Horse  did very well. Note that the other two riders, Nicola and Olivier Philippaerts of the Belgian Philippaerts stable both made good points at the Horse Show as well, but Olivier’s Legend of Love ended 13th in the World Cup exercise due to two faults in the first round. This was Legend’s first World Cup show and Olivier said Legend needed a bit more experience to win.

All in all: a wonderful evening for horse lovers like me and daughter Samantha! And some good Dutch pride on top of that.

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