J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the month “April, 2015”

Confederate Heritage Month


Across much of the South, the month of April has long been celebrated as Confederate History or Heritage Month. Some states have debated whether or not to continue the tradition of honoring their Confederate ancestors due to political correctness. Like everything related to the Confederacy, certain groups are trying to erase history by expecting Southerners to stop honoring their ancestors.

After the war concluded, very few Southern soldiers expressed regret for fighting for the Confederacy. On the contrary, most were proud to have fought against northern aggression. The way they saw it, they were not fighting for the continuation of slavery, but for the preservation of state’s rights. General Robert E. Lee, who was commissioned with the U.S. Army when the war broke out, resigned because he decided it was better to side with his state than to fight for the U.S. government as a whole.

Colonel John S. Mosby was quoted after the war as saying, “I am not ashamed of having fought on the side of slavery – a soldier fights for his country – right or wrong – he is not responsible for the political merits of the course he fights in.” This sentiment holds true throughout the course of time, and is still true today. So who are we to judge the sentiments of soldiers who served 150 years ago? Beliefs were very different then, but they shouldn’t be considered as right or wrong. That is merely the way it was.

On this, the final day of Confederate Heritage Month, we should take a moment to consider all the suffering and sacrifice that Southern soldiers went through to protect and defend their homeland. One hundred and fifty years ago, the war they fought in to preserve their heritage came to a close.  Hopefully, the tradition of Confederate History Month won’t come to a close as well.

Tragedy on the Mississippi


One hundred and fifty years ago today, the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history took place. This little known event happened on the Mississippi River, not long after the Civil War ended. The name of the vessel was the Sultana.

At the close of the war, Union prisoners were released from Southern POW camps. Some of the parolees were transported to Vicksburg, Mississippi, where they awaited their release. Riverboats traveling along the Mississippi River vied for the lucrative opportunity to transport newly released prisoners to their homes in the north, and were paid handsomely by the Federal government. One such vessel, the Sultana, was chosen to transport Andersonville and Alabama prisoners, who were crowded onto the boat, surpassing the 376 person limit.

The boat made its way upriver to Helena, Arkansas, where the above photo was taken. It docked in Memphis, and shortly before 2 a.m., set off for Cairo, Illinois. However, seven miles north of Memphis, the boat suddenly exploded, sending burning prisoners to their deaths or into the icy cold river, which was flooded and swollen with spring thaw. Those who weren’t burned to death or drowned managed to make their way to the riverbanks, and waited for rescue while they watched the unmanned boat spin helplessly in the water, aflame in the night sky. After being rescued, the surviving Union soldiers were taken to hospitals in Memphis. Many succumbed to their wounds, or to their weakened state as POW’s, but some survived. Approximately 1,800 of the 2,427 passengers perished.

Controversy still surrounds the tragedy, including a conspiracy theory that Confederates sabotaged the boat, but this was never proven. It is believed that a faulty boiler actually caused the explosion. Although the riverboat was overloaded, and some people were rumored to have taken bribes, no one was ever held accountable.

Today, there are monuments signifying the event. One is located in Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis. The disaster was overshadowed by President Lincoln’s assassination, as well as the manhunt for his killer, John Wilkes Booth, who was killed the day before in Virginia. The Sultana tragedy was barely reported in newspapers. Americans were tired of war and death, so the horrific event was essentially ignored. It was a terrible ending to a terrible war.

Interview with J.D.R. Hawkins

Interview with J.D.R. Hawkins.

My Interview with Vanessa Kings

Recently, I was interviewed by blogger Vanessa Kings about my novels and my writing style. The interview follows:

Our guest this week is J.D.R. Hawkins she is the author of  A Beautiful Glittering Lie  among other books.

Please tell us a little about yourself and your latest book.
I am an award winning author who has had several titles published. My latest book is A Beautiful Glittering Lie. It is the first book in the Renegade Series.

How did you come up with the title of “A Beautiful Glittering Lie”?
The title is based off a quote from a Confederate soldier who fought in the Civil War. He referred to battle as a “glittering lie.” I loved that reference, so I expanded on it.

What is your favorite character of “A Beautiful Glittering Lie”?
My favorite character is David Summers, the son of a Confederate infantryman. Although he is obligated to stay at home, his longing for adventure leads him into trouble.

What genre do you enjoy writing the most and why?
Primarily, I write historical fiction. It is fascinating to research history and see what ghosts, secrets, and little known facts I can discover.

How would you describe your writing style?
I think my books are fast paced, easy, exciting reads.

What authors inspire your writing? Do you have a mentor?
Other authors who have inspired me include Stephen King, Gillian Flynn, Margaret Mitchell, J.K. Rowling and Charles Frazier. I don’t have a mentor.

What would you like to be if you weren’t a writer?
A musician and/or an artist. (I have music available on iTunes as Julie Hawkins)

What are you working on now?
My nonfiction book about the Civil War, Horses in Gray, will be published in a few months. I also have the third book in the Renegade Series coming out later this year.

Do you have any advice for new authors?
Never give up! Write every chance you get. Take classes, go to conferences and join a writing group. The more you immerse yourself in the craft, the better you will become.

If you have to choose only one book to keep, knowing the others would be destroyed, which one would you save?
The Holy Bible.

Thank you very much J.D.R. Hawkins for stopping by to answer our questions!

Buy J.D.R. Hawkins books using the following links:

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Metro Diaries

Metro Diaries Banner

Here is another book I’m featuring as part of the b00k r3vi3w Tours book tour circuit. This one is titled Metro Diaries, and the author is Namrata. I conducted an interview with Ms. Namrata, which follows:

Give us a short synopsis of your book.

This book is about love and that’s it. Love has various forms, some of acceptance, some of dejection, some of hurt and some of joy – I have tried capturing all these forms in my 20 stories in Metro Diaries.

How did you research your story before you began writing your book?

The research I did was more on the era I have tried recreating in these stories as some are older than me and I wanted to be very accurate with the detailing.

How were you inspired to write this story?

Love, is the inspiration behind it.

What advice can you offer other authors?

Write because you want to and not because you have to. That is what will make the whole difference.

Who designed your book cover?

A dear friend of mine called Sridevi did. She has been with me throughout my journey till her and this was her present to me on my debut book.

Are you working on other projects?

Yes I am currently working on my completely solo novel which is 80% complete. Hoping to scout for publishers too for that one as well.

What is your favorite genre?

Relationships – if there is any like this but even Drama is fine with me.

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

It has been published by Revelations House. It was a challenge definitely as publishing in India is not a cakewalk but the joy of holding your book in your hands I guess makes it all worthwhile.

What is your favorite quote?

If you are crying because the sun has set down then your tears might not let you see the twinkling stars.

Tell us about the characters in your book? How did you come up with the setting?

The characters in the book are very common and simplistic. They could be me, you or anyone of us for some point of time in life we would have loved someone and experienced one of these emotions for sure. As an investment banker I travel a lot and it is during these travels that I started witnessing love stories that touched my heart.

Book Cover (1)

Namrata is a prolific blogger known by the name Privy Trifles in the blogosphere who romances life through her writings and aspires to make love the universal language. She dons various hats between that of a contributing author to 7 anthologies a reviewer for leading publishing houses an editor to various books and a columnist. Apart from that she is also the editor for an online magazine called Writer’s Ezine. Having mastered the nuances of finance till recently she also held the title of an investment banker closely to let it go to embrace her love for writing fully.

Social networking links:

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/wingstomywords

Website: www.privytrifles.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/privytrifles

Email: privytrifles@gmail.com

Namrata Author Pic

Love is one of the most amazing feelings on this earth, one that makes you the most powerful person or the most helpless person in a split second. These stories capture those feelings of despair, longing, love, lust, desire, want, dejection and admiration to create deja vu. Hold onto your hearts as you flip through these pages and take a walk down the memory lane as “Metro Diaries” will revive your innermost feelings and imbibe in you the magic of love. Touching, amusing and deeply moving, Metro Diaries – Love Classics are tales that will hold you from start till end.

Pre-order Links:

Flipkart link: http://www.flipkart.com/metro-diaries-english/p/itme4aevg7v6rthc?pid=9789381841617&otracker=from-search&srno=t_1&query=metro+diaries&ref=1ce7765e-ae42-46a0-b626-8e2002947617

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.in/Metro-Diaries-Namrata/dp/9381841616/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424148571&sr=8-1&keywords=metro+diaries+namrata

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Guitar Girl Interview

TGG Banner

As part of the b00k r3vi3w Tours book tour circuit, I am featuring The Guitar Girl by Aniesha Brahma. Being a guitar girl myself, I can totally relate! A review that I conducted with the author follows:

  • Give us a short synopsis of your book.The Guitar Girl is the story of sixteen year old Rhea Shah, who begins to crush on her brother’s best friend, Joy Fernandez. As the story progresses, she finds that she is unable to tell him the truth but at the same time, she faces pressure to confess before things go from bad to worse 🙂
  • How did you research your story before you began writing your book?I read the diaries I used to write as a sixteen year old. And among all those pages, I found the very lost and confused teenager I had been. Writing Rhea was my chance at making all the things I had got wrong as a teen, right.
  • How were you inspired to write this story?Like I mentioned before, my journals helped me develop the story. With just enough tweaks to make Rhea a teen in 2012-2013.
  • What advice can you offer other authors?The job of the writer is to be writing. No matter what happens, you cannot give up. So, drink your cup of tea (coffee, milk shake – whatever you prefer) and get to work.
  • Who designed your book cover?Kindle 😉 They had the perfect cover for the book and I decided to use it.
  • Are you working on other projects?Yes. I am currently working on a story called Girl Code, the initial chapters for which are up on fictionpress.com, under the penname AnnieStoryTeller.
  • What is your favorite genre?Although it is not considered a genre, more like an age group: Young Adult.
  • Who is your publisher? Can you tell us about your publishing experience?For The Guitar Girl, I am using the services of Kindle Direct Publishing. Before this General Press had published my debut novel. I decided to go indie on this book because no one wanted to take on this project, and I thought I could read a larger audience with the help of KDP :))
  • What is your favorite quote?”Never give up on the one thing that you cannot go a day without thinking about.” ~ Anonymous.
  • Tell us about the characters in your book? How did you come up with the setting?The characters in the book are very much like the teenagers I’ve met in real life or come across. The are believable and act like normal teenagers. They are not blessed with super powers nor do they live in alternate universes. The setting was real life. I wanted to tell a story set in our very real life which would make one feel good.

The Guitar Girl_Cover_Kindle


Sixteen year old Rhea Shah never thought that she would find herself falling for her brother’s best friend, Joy Fernandez, when they come home from college. Because she never thought that the dork who used to go to school with them would suddenly reinvent himself in college.

The only people she’s able to talk to about her absurd crush, are her best friends, Sophie and Arjav. Both of whom at first encourage, and then almost blackmail, Rhea to confess her feelings, which leaves the poor girl more muddled than ever!

Plagued with upcoming Board Examinations along with her friends’ suggestions, Rhea finds it difficult to concentrate, because she’s fallen for Joy, hook, line and sinker. In an attempt to vent to her feelings, she begins a blog, where she publishes all her songs and poems, dedicated to Joy, keeping her identity a secret.

But things do not go quite how she planned when a certain blogger named J. Fern begins to read her blog, and wishes to work with her…

Will Rhea ever confess her feelings to Joy? And will Joy find out the real identity of The Guitar Girl?

Link of book: Amazon.com / Amazon.in


Aniesha Brahma has loved writing since the age of six. She was schooled in Dolna Day School, and then pursued BA honors in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur University, where she went on to complete her MA in the same. Currently, she’s pursuing MPhil in Comparative Literature from the same place. Her hobbies include reading, writing, playing with her favorite pet, Pippo the cat, (and other kittens too), traveling and blogging.She has written innumerable short stories and poems, most of which can be found on her blog and in various magazines and newsletters. Her debut novel was, The Secret Proposal, published by General Press in September 2012. She won the Editor’s Pick for Romance genre in the IndiReads Second Short Story Competition, and her story The Difference, was subsequently published in the anthology, Voices, Old & New. She has interned with www.womanistan.com and www.zapondo.com, as their content writer. She has volunteered at Hope Foundation, Kolkata, teaching the children who attend the Chetla Lock Gate Coaching Center. Aniesha also had a brief stint as a writer for the Kolkata-based travel magazine, Touriosity.

e-mail: aniesha.brahma@gmail.com

twitter handle: @aniesha0912

blog: anieshabrahma.blogspot.in

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aniesha.brahma

facebook page: Aniesha’s Musings: https://www.facebook.com/AnieshaBlog?fref=ts

Aniesha Brahma_Author Pic

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Killing a President


150 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln became the first U.S. president to be assassinated. On the evening of April 12, 1865, Lincoln attended a play at Ford’s Theater titled Our American Cousin with his wife, Mary Todd, Union army officer Henry Rathbone, and Rathbone’s fiance, Clara Harris, the daughter of New York Senator Ira Harris. While they enjoyed the play from the presidential box, actor and Southern sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth, sneaked into the box and shot Lincoln in the back of the head. The president was taken across the street to William Petersen’s Boarding House, where he lay dying for several hours. He expired at 7:22 a.m.on April 13.

Booth escaped Washington with accomplice David Herold. The two men traveled through southern Maryland until they were cornered in a barn in Virginia on April 26. Herold surrendered, but Booth refused and was shot to death. Conspirators of the assassination were arrested, including Mary Surratt, who owned the boarding house where Booth frequented. She later became the first woman in American history to be hung by the Federal government for treason.

The traumatic event left an incredible impact. Mary Todd, who claimed to communicate with her dead husband through seances, was eventually committed to an insane asylum by her oldest son. Henry Rathbone married Clara Harris, and later, murdered her. Rumors abounded for years that John Wilkes Booth had actually escaped and had gone West or to Mexico. The train Lincoln’s body was transported on from Washington to Illinois was seen for many years as a spectral ghost. And the spirit of Mary Surratt haunted the Old Capitol Prison where she was hung until the building was razed in 1929.

National Library Week (Read a Book!)


This week (April 12-18) is National Library Week, which was first sponsored in 1958. According to the American Library Association, National Library Week is a national celebration of the contributions of America’s libraries and librarians, and was established to promote library use and support. The timing for this designation was significant, because studies conducted in the mid-1950’s showed that Americans were becoming more interested in TV, radio, and movies. So National Library Week was invented to bring attention back to books.

Celebrations during National Library Week include:

150th Anniversary of Lee’s Surrender


Today marks the 150th anniversary of General Robert E. Lee’s surrender, and the closing moments of the Civil War. After realizing that his exhausted and weakened army was surrounded, Lee exchanged a series of notes with Union General Ulysses S. Grant. They finally agreed to meet on April 9, 1865 at Wilmer McLean’s home in the village of Appomattox Court House. Their meeting lasted approximately two and a half hours, after which Lee surrendered his troops to Union forces.

This was indeed a sad day for the South, because it meant the end of states’ rights, as well as a more unified central government. It was sad for the country as a whole, because over 620,000 men lost their lives. Freed slaves thought it was the happiest day until they discovered later on that the Federal government had no intention of helping them prosper as a society. Because of this lack of support, many freedmen suffered from lack of food, medicine, etc., and had no other recourse but to return to their now impoverished former owners and beg for jobs. Thus, sharecropping began.

Appomattox Courthouse is now an historic national treasure. Wilmer McLean’s house has been restored, as have several other outbuildings at the tavern, located at a crossroads intersection. The road where Confederate soldiers lined up to surrender their arms still exists.

All of the buildings were in severe decay when restoration began. Mr. McLean lived at the home for five years after the war until his debt forced him to move back to Northern Virginia, where his wife owned a home. From that time until the 1970’s, the house and surrounding buildings stood vacant. Restoration is still in process.

The End of the End


On April 3, Richmond fell to Union troops as Robert E. Lee led his Army of Northern Virginia westward, pursued by Grant and the Army of the Potomac. One hundred and fifty years ago today, General Grant initiated a series of dispatches, which led up to a meeting between the two commanders.

“General R.E. Lee, Commanding C.S.A.:
5 P.M., April 7th, 1865.
The results of the last week must convince you of the hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia in this struggle. I feel that it is so, and regard it as my duty to shift from myself the responsibility of any further effusion of blood by asking of you the surrender of that portion of the Confederate States army known as the Army of Northern Virginia.
U.S. Grant, Lieutenant-General”

Lee promptly responded:

“April 7th, 1865.
General: I have received your note of this date. Though not entertaining the opinion you express of the hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia, I reciprocate your desire to avoid useless effusion of blood, and therefore, before considering your proposition, ask the terms you will offer on condition of its surrender.
R.E. Lee, General.”

It was the end of the end for the Army of Northern Virginia, the Confederacy, and the Civil War.

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