J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the month “December, 2017”

Cover Reveal – The Vengeance of Indra

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VENGEANCE IS A CAGE

FORGIVENESS IS FREEDOM

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In their greed to possess the deadly Halahala, the devas and the asuras have employed every dirty trick against Vikramaditya and his Council of Nine. But the humans are still standing, bloodied but unbowed.

When the wily Shukracharya discovers the secret to breaking the Council’s strength and unity, he forges an unlikely alliance with his arch-enemy, Indra, to set a deceitful plan in motion.

As cracks emerge between the councilors and their king, ghosts from the past threaten to ruin Vikramaditya and Kalidasa’s friendship, signaling the beginning of an eclipse that will cast a long shadow over all that Vikramaditya holds dear. And into this shadow steps Indra, bearing an old grudge — and a devastating new weapon.

How much longer before the Guardians of the Halahala finally fall apart?

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About the Author:

Shatrujeet Nath is the creator of the runaway national bestseller series Vikramaditya Veergatha, a four-book mytho-fantasy arc which includes The Guardians of the Halahala, The Conspiracy at Meru and The Vengeance of Indra. Described as “a new face to Indian mythology” by DNA, Shatrujeet writes for movies and web shows as well. He is also the author of The Karachi Deception, an Indo-Pak spy thriller.

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A Christmas Disaster

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Some people just don’t know how to be gracious, and Maggie is one of them. Here is an excerpt from my novel, A Rebel Among Us. Enjoy!

The little girls were up before dawn, pounding on doors, rousing everyone awake, and gleefully yelling “Merry Christmas!”

David groggily sat up. He heard Maggie’s voice on the other side of the door.

“Where’s the fire?” she asked.

“There’s no fire. Santa’s been here,” squeaked Claudia.

He heard Anna say something and pulled himself out of bed. The group had already gone downstairs, so he followed after them and entered the parlor. Rubbing sleep from his eyes, he saw Sarah lighting a fire.

“What time is it?” he yawned.

“Fifteen minutes past five,” said Grace. She tightened her robe around herself. “Oh! It looks as though Santa has been here, all right.”

The girls ran to the fireplace, yanked down their stockings, and dumped the contents out onto the rug, gasping at the sight of their bounty. Each one had received two peppermints, a gold coin, and a licorice.

Maggie had already started distributing gifts from under the tree. She called out the name on each package while Claudia and Abigail took turns delivering them to their recipients. Handing her aunt the last remaining present, she seated herself beside the fireplace. Everyone began opening gifts.

With a smile on his face, David watched the sisters, Grace, and Claudia exchange gifts with each other.

“Go on, David. Open yours,” Sarah coaxed him.

He drew the boxes toward him and eagerly tore into them. A package from Maggie and Abigail contained new boots. Amazed, he humbly thanked them. Another gift contained everyday clothes Sarah had sewn for him, and still another held a new pair of calf-skin gloves from Claudia and her mother. Anna gave him a book and several pair of socks.

She opened his gift. David held his breath, hoping she would be impressed by his handiwork. He had specially crafted for her a comb and hand-held looking glass made of Cherrywood with intricately carved angels on them.

“Oh, David,” she gasped. “I don’t know what to say.”

He didn’t either, so he nervously waited for her to continue.

“They’re absolutely breathtaking!” She dragged the comb through her long blonde hair, gazing at her likeness in the mirror.

David thought he could watch her do that for hours on end and smiled at his accomplishment. He had managed to impress her. His heart soared.

“Oh, it’s lovely.” Sarah smiled. She held up the broach he’d carved for her. Tiny birds adorned the front of it.

“Glad you like it, Miss Sarah,” he replied with a shy grin.

He gave a similar one to Grace. Abigail and Claudia opened their gifts from him: miniature carousels with interchangeable animals. They happily thanked him and traded animals, seeing if one would fit into the other’s carousel.

Maggie opened the gift he had created for her to reveal a three-dimensional wooden carving of a girl sitting in a chair with a cat curled around her feet. “It’s a girl with a cat,” she flatly remarked.

“It’s beautiful,” Anna breathed, smiling at him.

He grinned back at her.

Maggie turned the wooden carving in her hands for a moment. Glaring at David, she threw it into the fire.

Sarah gasped.

David watched in shock. His jaw dropped in disbelief, and his eyes grew wide. The carving he had spent hours on, created especially for her, was quickly consumed by flames.

“Maggie, how could you?” Anna scolded.

He gaped at her, stunned. Maggie glared back at him. Coming to his senses, he scowled and jumped to his feet. Hurt and anger flared up inside him.

“Pardon me, ladies,” he said, quickly walking toward the kitchen.

He heard Anna holler at her sister. The screen door slammed behind him. Dawn was just beginning to illuminate the yard. Anxious to distance himself, he sprinted toward the barn.

“David,” Anna yelled as she ran after him. “David, wait!”

She screamed. He turned to see she had fallen onto the cold, snow-covered ground. His heart lurched.

“Anna!”

The Decline of Memphis

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Earlier this week, I wrote about how the city of Memphis has been working to remove the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest from a city park (previously known as Forrest park until the city council changed the name a few years back). Last night, after the council voted, the statue was removed. Another statue of Jefferson Davis was also removed. I am heartsick that this has happened. The city council also wants to remove the remains of General Forrest and his wife, which are buried under the statue’s base. It is repulsive and deeply offensive that they would show such a blatant disrespect to the general’s descendants.

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Today, the Sons of Confederate Veterans issued a statement saying they would fight the actions taken by the Memphis city council and would go through litigation to reverse the removal of the statues. Memphis seems to think that they could remove the statues because they sold the two parks where the statues were located for a mere $1000 each, and now that the parks are now privately owned, the new owners can remove the statues. However, this goes against Tennessee law that all historical monuments, names, etc. should remain intact.

Memphis has previously lost every court case, hearing and appeal to remove the statues. So they contrived a back door way of removing the statues and snuck around in the dark to remove them. I find this appalling and disgusting, not to mention illegal. But after living outside of Memphis for years, I totally get it. When we first moved there from Colorado, I was shocked about the mafia-like politics that take place there. It seemed so 1930’s to me, and yet, they frequently got away with all kinds of crimes. Now they have taken the law into their own hands and gone against it for their own behalf. But what does it really accomplish?

When I told a friend last night that Memphis was taking down the statues, she responded by saying, “Are they really still doing that?” I knew what she meant. Is the south still destoying its history? Wasting money that would be better spent elsewhere? I’m glad I live in Colorado now and don’t have to see this desecration. I only hope Memphis learns its lesson the hard way.

Memphis Just Doesn’t Get It

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It amazes me how Memphis just can’t get over its past and embrace it instead of trying to erase it. I always loved living outside Memphis because of all its rich history, including Sun Studios, Graceland, and yes, Confederate monuments. The first time I visited Memphis before moving there, I saw the grand statue in what was then known as Forrest Park, and recognized the man on the horse as General Nathan Bedford Forrest. My son thought I was a total Civil War geek when I saw it and exclaimed, “There’s General Forrest!” Memphis has no idea what gems it has with these Civil War statues. Instead, they have chosen to eradicate them because a few complainers have decided that all things Confederate are offensive. I don’t know how wrong they can be. I’m not from the South, but I did my research, and General Forrest deserves to be celebrated because he was a genius in strategy and was one of the first to set his slaves free (unlike many northern generals). In fact, many of his slaves chose to fight for him by their own accord. It’s sad how history has been twisted and altered, and how people today refuse to educate themselves and read to learn the truth for themselves.

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GENERAL FORREST IS STILL FIGHTING 

The City of Memphis filed a petition in Davidson County Chancery Court on Monday, Dec. 11. Officials asked for judicial review of the Tennessee Historical Commission’s denial of a request to remove the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest from Health Sciences Park.

Protesters have called for the statue’s removal, saying it represents racism and bigotry. City leaders have discussed ways to relocate the statue of Forrest and move his remains, which are buried under the monument.

On Oct. 13, the Nashville-based historical commission denied the City’s request for a waiver to Tennessee’s Heritage Protection Act, which limits the removal or changing of historical memorials on public property. The waiver would allow the City to relocate the statue.

State Law passed in 2013 prevents the removal or relocation of statues or monuments honoring U.S. wars located on public property. The 2013 act also says no statue of a historical military figure may be renamed or rededicated.

In 2016, the General Assembly changed the act. It now prohibits the removal or relocation of any statue or memorial honoring a historic conflict, historic entity or historic figure from public property.

City attorney Allan Wade argues in the petition that Memphis filed its waiver request under the original act, which does not say that statues of historical military figures can’t be removed – only that they can’t be renamed or rededicated. The city claims the waiver request filed March 7, 2016, came before changes made to the act to include language applicable to the Forrest statue went into effect.

“By its express terms the 2013 act does not prevent a Historical Military Figure Memorial from being relocated, removed, altered or otherwise disturbed as long as it is not renamed or rededicated, ” the petition states.

The commission’s waiver denial was illegal and arbitrary, Wade argues. The petition seeks a decree from the court ordering that the city has the right to remove or relocate the Forrest statue.

Commission Executive Director E. Patrick McIntyre Jr. declined to comment.

(Courtesy Dixie Heritage Newsletter, Dec. 15, 2017 ed.)

Debate Continues Over Mississippi State Flag

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Misconceptions about all things Confederate are still flaring up. Last week, protesters showed up on Monument Avenue in Richmond. What they didn’t realize is that the avenue has been placed on the National Historic Register, so if they get their way and have the monuments moved/removed, their taxes will increase dramatically. And, of course, the Mississippi state flag is still under attack. Here is an interesting take on it.

Calling for Change: Gulfport to fly multiple Mississippi flags at city hall

By Renee Johnson, Digital Content Director

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) –

Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes says it’s inevitable that Mississippi will change its state flag to a less divisive symbol, and he has a suggestion: Mississippi’s first official flag, adopted in 1861 – the Magnolia Flag. 

Mayor Hewes announced Sunday that the Magnolia Flag will now fly at Gulfport City Hall, just under the current state flag, “on the chance our citizens can rally around a symbol that has a connection to the past, but represents renewal and promise for the future.”

“This is not about erasing the past,” Mayor Hewes wrote. “It’s about being honest about the present, and working toward a productive future. The reality is that Mississippi’s flag will be changed. The question is when, and into what? What better time to make a statement, than during our Bicentennial observance, as we embark upon the third century of the Magnolia State’s existence?”

The mayor believes one of the main reasons the 2001 state referendum to change the Mississippi flag didn’t pass is that “the alternative symbol never managed to capture the imagination, because it provided no relevant connection for our citizens.”

He believes if the Magnolia Flag had been offered as a historical alternative, the referendum might have delivered a different outcome.

“People don’t typically embrace change for the sake of change. There has to be a compelling reason, desired result, or emotional connection to it. That is one of the main reasons the referendum for a new flag in 2001 did not pass,” Hewes wrote. 

You can read the mayor’s full opinion piece below, and on the City of Gulfport-Mayor’s Office Facebook page where residents are already starting to share their

opinions. 

We are better together.

The holiday season is a time for reflection, as well as a period of preparation for a new year. As we count the many blessings we have, we cannot ignore the generational challenges our state faces, as well as the opportunities to take corrective measures, both great and small.

Just as words have weight, symbols have substance. In a reasonable society, one would expect to encounter a measure of respect and tolerance for differing views, statements and images. This approach does not require a changing of principles or minds, but an understanding that every difference of opinion is not a declaration of war.

The conflict over our state flag continues to stir emotions, and invites debate on the need for change – or not. Like it, or not, what the confederate battle flag might have meant generations ago, has evolved to a point in today’s world where it is largely viewed as a symbol of ignorance, hatred, and bigotry. It is used on both sides of the political spectrum to incite violence.

We are better together.

Opponents of the present flag cite offense at the confederate battle flag emblem (which did not originate in Mississippi), which has largely come to represent a hateful vestige of a distant past and a modern-day extremism. Proponents of keeping the flag provide historical nexus and reference a public referendum from 2001 where an overwhelming sentiment showed most Mississippians had no desire for change. While that should not be ignored, the context of the vote at that time must be considered.

People don’t typically embrace change for the sake of change. There has to be a compelling reason, desired result, or emotional connection to it. That is one of the main reasons the referendum for a new flag in 2001 did not pass. The alternative symbol never managed to capture the imagination, because it provided no relevant connection for our citizens. Had Mississippi’s first official flag, adopted in 1861 – the Magnolia Flag – been offered as a viable, historical alternative, the 2001 referendum might have delivered a different outcome.

Southerners of all races and creeds feel strongly about their heritage, but when an image is used to distort that history, perpetuate cultures of hatred, impede progress, and stigmatize our great State to the point that businesses, developers, and visitors take pause, it is time for us to find a resolution.

This debate is not to inhibit anybody’s right to free speech. However, it is important to recognize that our state flag has been unfairly used to chain us to a legacy we would be better off leaving behind. No revisionist history, but an acknowledgment that today’s Mississippi is much different from generations past. It is one of promise, knowing there will always be work to do, but in a State that places value in the individual, the dignity of work, and the importance of character.

We are better together.

We are past the point in our history where we should be allowing others to tell our story. Yet, with perception driving reality we find ourselves, time and again, like crabs in a boiling pot, where each pulls the others down to die collectively, rather than build upon our assets and educate the world as to the wonderful place and people known as Mississippi. Not that we’re perfect, but that the imagery from long ago need no longer serve to wrongly define the exceptional relationships that have been forged across racial lines over decades.

The hallmarks of decency, civility, and mutual respect hang in the balance in an America where too many are looking for reasons for outrage, rather than seeking common interests and solutions. It seems that, lately, the only thing that brings out the best in us is disaster or catastrophe. Mississippi should stand as an example on how to respond where there is need, and lead where there is opportunity.

A flag change will not totally unify us, but it will help to eliminate a hindrance to our progress as a State. There will always be those who would divide us because of our differences, but instead we should be celebrating our diversity and relishing the common ground that makes up our rich and unique cultural gumbo.

Whether the issue is settled by another public referendum, or by our elected representatives in Jackson, Gulfport will abide by that decision and fly the flag of our great State, as we do today. In the meantime, we will also fly the Magnolia Flag at City Hall on the chance our citizens can rally around a symbol that has a connection to the past, but represents renewal and promise for the future.

This is not about erasing the past. It’s about being honest about the present, and working toward a productive future. The reality is that Mississippi’s flag will be changed. The question is when, and into what? What better time to make a statement, than during our Bicentennial observance, as we embark upon the third century of the Magnolia State’s existence?

When it comes down to it, it’s not so much about what is

on the flag. It’s about what brings us together, or divides us – and how we move forward, together.

– Billy Hewes

http://www.newslocker.com/en-us/region/memphis/calling-for-change-gulfport-to-fly-multiple-mississippi-flags-at-city-hall/view/

(Courtesy the Jeff Davis Legion, Official Publication of the Mississippi Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, December 2017 edition)

Holiday Specials

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My publisher, Foundations, LLC, has just marked the new three-boxed set of my novels from the Renegade Series down for the holidays, and I wanted to share. Until January 1, the boxed set will be sold at 25% off retail prices, which means a huge savings for you! Here is the purchase link: https://www.foundationsbooks.net/book/the-renegade-series/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=holiday_special_addition_from_foundations_llc&utm_term=2017-12-12

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Also, my newly re-published novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, is available for only .99 cents on Kindle. Here is that link: https://www.amazon.com/Beckoning-Hellfire-Novel-Civil-Renegade-ebook/dp/B07846B1CL/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1513141987&sr=8-2&keywords=a+beckoning+hellfire

All three books can be digitally autographed for the holidays. Check out this link: https://www.authorgraph.com/authors/JDRHawkins

Thank you so much for your ongoing support. I am always looking for sponsors to contribute to my art. It isn’t easy being an independent author. If you could commit to as little as $1 per month, it would be greatly appreciated! Here is my Patreon link: https://www.patreon.com/jdrhawkins

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My Author Interview Featured on Renee’s Author Spotlight

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Today I am the featured author on Renee’s Author Spotlight. Renee asked me some interesting questions, and highlighted my new three-book email package, the Renegade Series.

My interview with Renee is as follows.

Why did you decide to be a writer?

I’ve been a writer ever since I can remember, and have written everything from songs to poetry to short stories and novels.

What genres do you write?

Primarily historical fiction, but I have also written children’s books and a nonfiction book.

Do you have a daily word or page count goal?

Five hundred words is a basic goal. When I’m writing a book, though, I shoot for a page a day.

If you could be one of your characters for a day, who would it be and why?

I would be Anna. She is strong and strong-willed, and although she has experienced personal loss, she has big goals and dreams.

What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever researched?

Battle scenes were the toughest. It gave me nightmares! I startled awake one time after I dreamt a bullet whizzed by my head. I drew a lot of description from actual journals and diaries, so the descriptions are real.

What are your goals as an author?

I would like to be an international best seller. I would also like to write three or four more books.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Show don’t tell. I fall into this trap frequently, which is easy to do when writing historical fiction. It helps to have a great editor to point these issues out.

How many books do you have on your “to read” list?

I’m really behind on reading some of the best sellers. I’d like to read The Girl on the Train and A Broken Kind of Beautiful.

Do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and why?

Mostly I write in third person, but one of my books is in first person. They are all in past tense. I thought that would be the most effective way to tell the story.

How do you come up with the titles for your books?

I don’t have a problem with coming up with titles. The first book in the Renegade Series, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, was taken from a quote a Confederate soldier wrote in regard to the Civil War, stating that it was “all a glittering lie.”

Have you ever gotten an idea for a story from something really bizarre?

I wrote a book about my great aunt and uncle, who ran a hotel in my hometown, Sioux City, during the Depression. Supposedly, there was gangster activity going on there, and money was hidden behind the wallpaper!

What inspired your current work?

Seeing the Gettysburg battlefield was awe inspiring, because I had never seen a Civil War battlefield before. It inspired me to write the first book, which turned into a series.

What was the hardest part about writing your latest book?

It was nonfiction, which I hadn’t done before on that large of a scale. There was so much research involved. It was exhausting!

Do you have any advice for other authors?

Write what you love and feel passionate about, and never give up!

Do you have anything specific you’d like to say to your readers?

I decided to write from the Southern perspective because it has nearly become lost to history. Slavery was an issue but it wasn’t the cause of the Civil War. I didn’t understand that because I grew up in Iowa and wasn’t told about the Southern side. So I researched it myself and discovered the truth.

Check out my entire interview here:

https://reneesauthorspotlight.blogspot.com/2017/12/the-renegade-series-beautiful.html

Senseless Actions Explained

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I thought the author of the following article put the issue of destroying Confederate Monuments into perspective, so I wanted to share.

The Danger of Taking Down Confederate Monuments

By Christine Barr

Christine Barr is a Texan from Tennessee writing for the Paris Post- Intelligencer.

She is the mother of four children.

It becomes tiresome pointing out the same old historical half-truths when talking about the War Between the States. So in the interest of not getting distracted from my main point, let’s ignore the many reasons other than slavery behind the formation of the Confederate States of America (CSA).

Why not? Most do already.

Instead, let’s talk about why current politicians’ taking down monuments to CSA soldiers and politicians is far more dangerous than allowing them to remain.

First, a word about symbols. It is entirely possible, and in fact most often the case, that symbols can contain a multitude of meanings. That meaning is determined by the context in the which the symbol is seen, and by the person the viewer of the symbol is.

You may see the U.S. flag, and feel inspired as it reminds you of patriotism and love of country; citizens of other countries often have a far different interpretation.

I see the cross, and am reminded of the inestimable love of Jesus, while non-Christians may have a negative reaction.

And who is to say that one side is wrong?

Symbols do not have meaning separate from the context in which they exist. The meaning is an artificial construct – a red rose is simply a flower until someone from a culture which view both the flower and its color as significant sees it.

That means that it is entirely possible that the person who tells you a Confederate monument or flag represents pride in regional heritage is not in fact racist.

That does not mean that to someone else, the flag or monument does embody racism – usually the argument against the flags of the CSA are predicated on the fact that slavery was an economic issue behind the South’s dissatisfaction with remaining in the Union.

This completely ignores the objective fact that the Union did not disavow slavery upon commencing actions against the CSA, and continued to have slavery be legal in the slave states of the Union even AFTER the Emancipation Proclamation freed some slaves in very specific areas.

It is usually also brought up that racist groups like the Ku Klux Klan have used the flags, again ignoring the role of the U.S. flag in the racist groups’ rallies, etc.

Minus any evidence to the contrary, the fact is that it is the willful ignorance, or conscious ignoring, of these facts that allow politicians and various organizations to manipulate the public through craven appeal to a simplistic understanding.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars – from some unknown source – were used to remove statues and memorials in New Orleans. Now the mayor can gleefully claim to have fought the nasty racists, and undoubtedly those who have rewarded him with accolades and their applause will continue to congratulate him and his cronies on this grand stand against racism.

It’s an easy – if tawdry – way to get a bump in approval. But at the end of the day, how has it made the life of even one New Orleans minority citizen better?

The supposedly private funds used to destroy part of the history of a city with a large amount of historical tourism might have been used to help rectify the housing shortage which continues to burden the largely minority workforce that enables the tourism industry to succeed.

It could have been used to help transform the lackluster public education system, enabling even the poorest citizens to have confidence that their children were receiving the kind of education which would equip them to take their place in society and be the kind of leaders so desperately needed in New Orleans.

Instead, it went to the wanton destruction of items that had no impact on the day-to-day lives of the very population most in need of having the real legacy of racism erased.

The greatest danger in this kind of empty political stunt is the fact it enables smug, self-satisfied Yankees and “progressive” Southerners to once again make the CSA and the South their racial scapegoat.

Northerners won’t have to grapple with the embedded racism that informed their region in the 1860s, and which continues to this day. Those self-hating Southerners can pretend that they have risen above it.

How glorious to be amongst the non-racists of the United States! How grand to know that there is nothing other than removing those statues that need be done!

The hard work of ensuring equality for all requires all hands on deck.

By seeking to alienate a large portion of citizens who rightly wish to preserve their historical heritage and NOT support racism, those who take advantage of the ignorance and easily swayed opinions of otherwise well-meaning liberals do the cause of freedom, justice and equality an extreme disservice.

It also doesn’t serve our nation in the long run to ignore large chunks of our history and pretend that the complexities of our past just didn’t exist.

It doesn’t advance us; it puts us on the level of ISIS and all those who delight in bombing statues, destroying museums and trying to erase that which doesn’t support their agenda.

(Article courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, November 24, 2017 issue)

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