J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the month “May, 2014”

Honoring Veterans on Memorial Day

It has been a long tradition to honor fallen soldiers after battle. In the United States, the tradition began in 1865 following the Civil War. Southern women wanted to honor their soldiers and pay homage, so they designated “Decoration Day” as a day when the South would do just that.

Decoration Day was started in Mississippi by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, as evidenced by a song published in 1867, which was entitled “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping,” and was written by Nella L. Sweet. The hymn carried the dedication: To the Ladies of the South who are decorating the graves of the Confederate dead. After WWI, the name was changed to “Memorial Day,” and in 1971, it officially became a national holiday.

This Memorial Day, please take the time to thank a veteran for the service he or she has dutifully and unselfishly given to us to insure our freedom. Without these brave heroes, we would not be the great country that we are.

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England and the Confederacy

England provided many seacoast guns for the Confederate cause. One of the most formidable guns in the service of the South, as it was called by the historian William C. Davis, was the work of Sir W. G. Armstrong & Company of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.

The Big Gun was capable of firing its 150 pound shells a distance of 4 miles and was one of the most powerful weapons that served the South. The massive cannon defended Fort Fisher at Wilmington, North Carolina until January 15, 1865, when the fort fell during the attack by the Union Army. Shortly thereafter, the gun was brought to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Soon after the end of the war, it was moved to a prominent place on Trophy Point overlooking the Hudson River. There it remained until wind & weather damaged its wooden carriage beyond repair & it fell into storage.

Thanks to the donations of the Military Academy’s Class of 1932, the gun is now back in place & is supported by  a re-creation of the original carriage.

(Information from “The Big Gun,” American Heritage Civil War Chronicles, Summer 1991, Vol. 1/Number 1:38-39)

Confederates Honored in England

Although places in America are protesting the public display of Confederate markers, flags, etc., the exact opposite seems to be happening in Great Britain. According to an issue of Confederate Veteran magazine, a senior Sons of Confederate Veterans member visited Britain only to discover that the country had honored fallen soldiers by placing Confederate flags on their graves. There are several thousand Confederate veterans buried in Britain, as well as in nearly every other country throughout the world. 

During the War Between the States, there was a profound connection between England and the South of which we will probably never know the exact proportion. It is estimated that 200,000 British-born soldiers fought on both sides, and that 141,000 of the South’s citizens were born in the British Isles. 

There are over 1,000 Confederate reenactors and two SCV camps existing in Britain at present. It seems British officials are far more supportive about Confederate events and activities, and recently flew a Confederate flag over a government building – the first time since 1865. This is in sharp contrast to what the U.S. is experiencing. In Richmond, an article ran that blatantly proclaimed Southern ancestors who fought for the Confederacy to be “terrorists.” Unfortunately, nary an SCV member complained, but members in England did voice their protest. In Great Britain, it is considered a privilege to honor those brave ancestors who fought for Southern independence.

Lost Confederate Flags

It is common knowledge that many flags were captured during the War Between the States, with Union soldiers capturing Confederate flags during certain battles and vice versa. Most would assume that after the war ended, the flags were returned to their rightful owners. This was the intention at the turn of the twentieth century, and laws were enacted to ensure that captured flags would be returned. However, over the years, certain flags fell between the cracks and were never returned, even though the states in possession of them were required to do so.

 

One such example is a flag that resides in the basement of the State Capitol Building in Des Moines, Iowa. After participating in a reenactment, my husband and I were told by the Confederate camp that the state had a Confederate flag in its possession. After researching and contacting local historians, we found the rumor to be true. However, Iowa refuses to return the flag because it is a tourist attraction for the state.

 

The flag was captured at Gettysburg, and rightfully belongs to the 17th Mississippi. It is in dire need of repair, so it sits boxed up in the dark cellar of the Capitol Building, waiting for attention. Estimated repair costs range from $5-10,000. The Sons of Confederate Veterans are willing to save up for repairs, but they are having difficulty obtaining the flag.

 

There are other such cases as well. In the process of investigating the Iowa flag, we learned that there are two in Ohio that belong to the Confederacy. Southern states are reluctant to pursue the issue, as it will undoubtedly be a costly venture, and political ambition always seems to prevail. One can only hope that, perhaps someday, the flags will be returned to their rightful places and can come back home.

Author Interview with Margaret Tutor

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I recently had the pleasure of interviewing my friend, fellow author, and UDC sister, Margaret Tutor. Her new novel is entitled “Just Passing Through.” The story is loosely based on her maternal family, and takes place during the 1920’s in rural Arkansas. Margaret’s depiction of the lives of sharecroppers is both heart-wrenching and heartwarming. Her interview is as follows:

Give us a short synopsis of your book. Will and Parthina Ward traveled from cotton field to cotton field, living out of their covered wagon until they became sharecroppers in Dover, Arkansas, in 1926. There, they encountered Mrs. Cartwright and her children, who were left to fend for themselves while Mr. Cartwright took an extended trip to New Orleans. The Ward’s took the Cartwright’s under their wings, angering Mr. Cartwright when he returned to see them thriving without him.

How did you research your story before you began writing your book? “Just Passing Through” is fiction with some non-fiction added for some good ole Southern flavor. I researched as I wrote.

How were you inspired to write this story? I have always wanted to write, but not until I was able to go back to school did I feel I had a talent, and writing is my talent. Thank you, Northwest MS Community College.

What advice can you offer other authors? Someone once said, “Writing a book is the easy part of becoming a published author.” (author unknown) I can now say, this is so true.

Who designed your book cover? Tate Publishing

Are you working on other projects? I do have plans to continue my writing.

What is your favorite genre? So far, fiction.

Who is your publisher? Can you tell us about your publishing experience? Tate Publishing is my publisher. This is my first experience with a traditional publishing company, but I think this is so cool. Up front, I was told never to contact book stores about book signings; that was their job.  

What is your favorite quote? “If you ain’t get’n no boot don’t trade,” by Will Ward.

Tell us about the characters in your book? How did you come up with the setting? The Ward family is based on the real Ward family. The Cartwright family is truly fictional.  Traveling from cotton field to cotton field, living out of a covered wagon with ten children, and trying to scratch out a living is the non-fiction.

 

Margaret Tutor was born and raised in Morrilton, Arkansas. She now calls Olive Branch, Mississippi her home. Raised by a single mother who raised seven children, Margaret finds her inspiration from her mother’s determination to keep her family together.

Margaret writes in a style that is both light-hearted and fun but with serious undertones.

The Ward family had a big influence on Margaret when she was growing up. Will and Parthina Ward with their ten children went from cotton field to cotton field, living out of their covered wagon. They were never in one place long enough for the Ward children to attend school regularly. However, most did manage to get a 3rd grade education.

Learn more about Margaret and her books at:

http://margarettutor.wix.com/margaret-tutor

Author Interview With Pauline Montagna

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Historical fiction is my passion, as is the case for many other authors. On occasion, it is my privilege and pleasure to feature such authors on my blog. The following is an interview I recently  conducted with Ms. Pauline Montagna. Sign up to be on her mailing list, and you can win a free book!

 INTERVIEW WITH PAULINE MONTAGNA

Give us a short synopsis of your book.

The Slave tells the story of Aurelia, the sheltered daughter of Francesco Rubbini, a rising merchant with political ambitions. One day he returns from a buying trip to Venice with Batu, an Asian slave boy to whom Aurelia is inexorably drawn. However, her own needs and desires have no place in her father’s plans. In a bid to win a seat on the city council, Rubbini gains the patronage of the aristocratic de Graziano family by negotiating a lucrative marriage between Aurelia and their eldest son, Lorenzo, a man with a dangerous reputation. Batu insists on joining Aurelia in her new home for her protection, but his presence rouses violent emotions in Lorenzo that Aurelia cannot understand, and which bind the three of them in an inescapable triangle of love and hate. Though little more than a pawn sacrificed to the passions, ambitions and rivalries of the men in her life, Aurelia must find a way to mature into a woman who is true to herself and the man she loves, whatever the cost.

How did you come up with the setting? How were you inspired to write this story? How did you research your story before you began writing your book?

I’ve bundled these questions together because basically the answer for all three is the same – ‘The Slave’ came out of my own life. It’s what inspired me, it’s where I came up with the setting and it’s where I did the research.

Although I was born in Australia, all my grandparents and my mother were born in Italy and I grew up with a strong Italian identity. My mother was born in Basilicata, in a remote village on a hilltop far from the sea. My father’s people came from the island of Elba, off the coast of Tuscany. At university I was eager to delve deeper into my background and leaped on the only two units of Italian history on offer, ‘Medieval Italian City States’ and ‘Florence and the Renaissance’, there I learned that the Renaissance didn’t just materialise as the result of a few coincidences sometime in the fifteenth century, but grew out of the culture of independent, progressive, mercantile cities states that began to emerge from the Dark Ages in Northern Italy, particularly in Tuscany, as early as the eleventh century. All of this went into the novel.

The actual story itself grew out of a romantic fantasy from my university days. In the same year I was studying Italian history a handsome Asian boy was sitting in on our French lectures in regal isolation at the back of the auditorium. I imagined he was an aristocratic refugee from Indochina just wanting to hear a familiar language. I was much too shy to approach him, but in my fantasies he found himself stuck in Medieval Italy.

So, basically, when it came to writing the novel, I already had all the background I needed and only had to research a few minor details as they arose.

Tell us about the characters in your book.

The central character is Aurelia, and in essence the novel follows her coming of age as she develops from a sheltered, naïve, dutiful daughter, to a mature, independent woman holding her own in a world far removed from the one she was born into. Time and again she has to find the strength to face circumstances her upbringing never prepared her for. When given the choice, she chooses a life of hardship with the man she loves rather than return to privileged but unhappy home.

Batu, too, has to come to terms with a new world. We learn little of Batu except for a few hints that he lets drop. He started life as a young warrior on the Central Asian steppes, but is captured and sold into slavery. We can only imagine what kind of abuse he suffers until finally the contents of the galley on which he is imprisoned are sold in the Venetian market place and he is taken into the Rubbini household. At first he is taunted and bullied by the household servants, but when he proves he can stand up for himself, he is not only accepted by his peers but becomes their leader.

Lorenzo, who himself is married to Aurelia against his will, is emotionally isolated from his family since the premature death of his mother which he blames on his father. His cool and aloof exterior hides a torment of anger, fear, shame and desire which occasionally is let loose on his young wife. Yet despite this they develop an understanding which protects both their secrets, secrets which, however, will one day come out with violent consequences.

Who is your publisher? Can you tell us about your publishing experience?

‘The Slave’ is self-published. When I first completed the novel I did try to find a publisher but getting published in Australia is extremely difficult, especially for an historical novel which doesn’t fall into any of the recognised categories. It’s not about anyone famous. It’s too romantic to be considered serious literature. It’s too authentic to appeal to the romance publishers. In the end I decided to go it alone. That was in 2005. Since then there’s been a revolution in self-publishing and online promotion, so I’m giving the book another chance.

Who designed your book cover?

As chief cook and bottle washer, I designed the cover. Since I’m no trained graphic artist, I work on the KISS principal. The cover image is from a painting by Gerard Dou which hangs in the National Gallery in Prague which I visited in 1998. I love visiting galleries when I travel and as souvenirs I always buy a few postcards of the paintings I’ve liked, so I now have a substantial collection. To tell you the truth I can barely remember seeing the original of this painting, but when I looked through my collection this one leaped out at me as the perfect image. Although it was painted after the period of the novel, it is exactly as I had imagined Aurelia, right down to the reddish hair. Just as Aurelia does ‘The Girl on the Balcony’ is looking out onto the world she longs to join but still fears.

Are you working on other projects?

I always have lots of projects on the go. It’s how my mind works, unfortunately. I would so love to be able to concentrate on one thing at a time!

Once ‘The Slave’ is up and running, perhaps I can finally get back to completing my magnum opus, ‘The Stuff of Dreams’, a four volume series on William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe.

What is your favorite genre?

To write or to read? When it comes to reading, I’m not one for genres, but rather for authors or periods. I have been collecting 19th century classics with the hope that one day I’ll get round to reading them. I also enjoy the novels of the thirties and forties, particularly George Orwell, Robert Graves, Graham Greene and Christopher Isherwood. And I love the historical novels of Mary Renault and Ursula Le Guin’s fantasy and science fiction.

As for writing, I think Historical Fiction will always be my first love, but I also enjoy writing in other genres.

What is your favorite quote?

I think my favorite quote is by L.P. Hartley – The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.

I used it as the tag line of a website I once had called The Romance of History. Its remit was to stand up for authenticity in historical writing, be it romantic or otherwise. I had just published ‘The Slave’, which, although a romance, is true to the times especially on the subject of women’s lives and sexual relations and their consequences. However, I found it was being lumped in together with what the mass market publishers call Historical Romance, but which I can only call Erotica in Long Skirts.

My other favorite quote is by Douglas Adams – Don’t Panic.

What advice can you offer other authors?

I really can’t presume to give advice, as I haven’t found the magic bullet myself. It also depends on my state of mind. When I’m feeling negative, I’m most likely to advise you to do anything but writing. When I’m feeling positive, the best I can do is: learn from my mistakes.

However, if I must, I would say to any aspiring author, think carefully before you embark on a writing career. You will be laying yourself open to a life of constant rejection, from publishers if you go that route, and by the public if you follow me into self-publishing. You have to really love writing and have something you want to say. You will also have to be ready to devote as much time to promoting your work as you put into writing it.

Join my mailing list by May 31 to get your own free complimentary ebook copy of ‘The Slave.’

Pauline Montagna was born into an Italian family in Melbourne, Australia. After obtaining a BA in French, Italian and History, she indulged her artistic interests through amateur theatre, while developing her accounting skills through a wide variety of workplaces culminating in the Australian film industry. In her mid-thirties, Pauline returned to university and qualified as a teacher of English as Second Language, a profession she pursued while completing a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing. She has now retired from teaching to concentrate on her writing. As well as The Slave, she has published a short story collection, Suburban Terrors.

Her website is http://paulinemontagna.net/

 

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