J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the month “January, 2019”

In These Trying Times

The Black AIDS Insitute 2018 Hosts Heroes in The Struggle Gala, Los Angeles, USA - 01 Dec 2018

Early this morning, an actor from the TV show Empire, Jussie Smollett, was attacked, supposedly by two anti-gay racists. This event upsets me very much, and deserves so much more media attention and observance from our social conscience than what other occurrences are receiving. The following article is one example. It’s a shame that so much emphasis is being placed on what kids are wearing to school. Their garb is not vulgar, but some (the minority, BTW) deem it unacceptable. I think our attentions are askew and need to be reassessed. Kids wearing the Southern Cross, or t-shirts that state “History Not Hate” are definitely not threatening. On the other hand, thugs attacking innocent people are very threatening. Whatever happened to freedom of speech? Freedom of religion? And freedom of expression? God help us all.

arkansas flag

ARKANSAS STUDENTS STAND STRONG

Students at Fayetteville High School have been suspended for wearing – and refusing to remove – Confederate flag-themed shirts and face paintings in support of a pro-flag movement called #HistoryNotHate.

Several students showed up to school in Flag apparel and were told by administration to remove it. Those that did not comply received an out-of-school suspension, according to NBC affiliate KARK. Now the teens say they are upset with the way school officials are handling the situation, and they defend their right to dress in Confederate gear.

“None of us are racist. None of us are doing it for hate,” said student Jagger Starnes to KARK. “It’s Southern pride, and we’re not gonna take it off for anyone. This is our flag. It’s Arkansas. This is the South.”

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School officials claim they aren’t taking a political stance and are not trying to impede on anyone’s rights but one teen says that the confrontation between students and authorities got heated. Morrigan White told local news station KNWA he painted the Confederate Flag all over his peers’ hands and faces, “wherever they wanted it” and that during their lunch period they were approached by police, the principal, the vice principal as well as school deans who told them to change clothes and wash the body art “or else.” When the students refused, “I told him I wasn’t going to take it off,” he said to KNWA. “So then I went to the office had a discussion and then the head principal ended up calling me racist.”

The students say that despite the discipline they received, they stand by their convictions and won’t back down from wearing the Confederate Flag. “They’re both going to keep wearing their jackets,” White said of Starnes and another fellow student. “And if I have makeup I’m going to put hashtag history not hate on my hands. I’ll still keep putting the flag on my face.”

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Guest Blog by Natalie Jones

Occasionally, I receive requests to share guest posts by various writers. I love doing this because, as a writer myself, I enjoy sharing other people’s thoughts and insights. This post doesn’t have anything to do with what I usually write about, but it is interesting, nevertheless, and so I wanted to share. I recently went through the experience of purchasing a house. It can be stressful, challenging, intense, and ultimately, rewarding. My husband and I bought a fixer upper. It’s a lot of work, but also fun to transform the house into our own vision. This article is very informative about purchasing a home. And because my husband is transitioning into another career as a realtor, I found it especially interesting.

house

A Team Effort: How Couples Can Avoid Conflict During the Home Buying Process 

Buying a new house is one of the most consequential decisions you and your partner will ever make. It’s not like choosing between a cat or dog for a pet or even what kind of car to buy. It’s probably the biggest financial investment of your married life, which means conflict is a possibility unless both of you are on the same page and remain honest with each other from start to finish. Buying the home of your dreams isn’t worth much if your relationship suffers irreparable harm over an experience that should bring you closer together. 

Get on the Same Wavelength

Couples often have different ideas when it comes to selecting a new home. One of you might be on the same page as far as location goes but be miles apart concerning how much house you can afford. One might want a split level, whereas the other may prefer a ranch-style home. Some couples have different ideas about what to do with a home. You and your spouse may diverge on any number of points, which is why it’s important to have a very open and frank (though respectful) discussion before jumping into such an important, life-changing endeavor.  

Belongings and Storage

Belongings, especially those the two of you can’t seem to agree on, can also be a source of conflict during this process. Your spouse’s grandmother’s creaky old bed may be more valuable as an antique than as a piece of furniture. Either way, consider putting anything you’re having trouble deciding about in storage until you’re both on the same page. Before you make this decision, consider if you have room in your budget to rent one; for example, a five-by-five unit in Colorado Springs costs on average $42.11 per month. You may also need a rental truck to move your belongings, which can run you around $19.99 per day (plus mileage).

Know Where You Stand

Order your credit reports and go through them item by item, checking for inaccuracies that need to be cleared up. Be aware, however, that you may come across something your spouse wasn’t aware of, a financial mistake you made before you and your spouse even met. Remember that what happened years ago isn’t what’s important. Knowing how your credit profile affects you and doing something to improve your standing is what matters. 

Consult a realtor and mortgage loan officer to get an idea of what you should be concerned with (and what items should or shouldn’t be challenged). The next step is to assess your financial position, including debt-to-income ratio, and any additional sources of income. Factor in the cost of home repairs, which you can count on facing at some point, and create an emergency fund. Some experts advise setting aside 1 percent of the value of your home.

An Agent You Can Trust

There’s no substitute for an experienced, sympathetic, and friendly real estate agent. Your agent is an advisor, mediator, and advocate during the home buying process, and a source of valuable information for both of you. A good agent can also act as an arbiter when you and your spouse disagree over some point. Ask friends and co-workers about agents they’ve worked with; chances are, someone can put you in touch with the right person, but it’s important that both of you feel comfortable with whomever you choose to do business. 

A Team Effort

Bear in mind that this should be a “team effort,” not a task for one of you to dominate while the other concedes. You’ll probably live there for many years, and you want them to be happy ones. So, adopt the position that your partner’s wishes and concerns are as much yours as theirs. 

Honesty: It’s the cornerstone of any successful marriage, and it will serve you very well during the home-buying process. Being honest about your finances, wishes, and dislikes will make it much easier to navigate what can be a tense and anxious experience. Remember that finding a home that makes you both happy is your ultimate objective.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

 

New Review for A Beckoning Hellfire

ABeckoningHellfire_MED

A new review was recently posted on Amazon for my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire. The author of the review, An Ordinary Mom, apparently didn’t see the fine print, check out the book on Amazon, or see on the cover that A Beckoning Hellfire is the second book in the Renegade Series. She posted in her review that she didn’t like the ending. But the story doesn’t end there! (Spoiler alert: the protagonist does survive and is a prominent character in the third book.) Here is the review:

December 14, 2018

I really liked the book and I did some fact checking on a couple of things. I was pleased to see that everything I looked up was accurate. However I did not like the end. You spend the entire book getting to know a young man and his struggles and then he just dies at the end? That kind of ruined things for me. Such is war I suppose.

Full Disclosure- I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thank you, An Ordinary Mom, for your review!

In Honor of a Great American General

robert e. lee

As I mentioned last week, one of my favorite people from the Civil War is General Robert E. Lee. Here is an article about his experience at Fredericksburg, as well as an interesting trivia list about his life. Today marks his birthday. He was born on January 19, 1807.

THE NORTHERN LIGHTS – FREDERICKSBURG

DECEMBER 14, 1862

“General Robert E. Lee had a reason for hope at the end of 1862. The Battle of Fredericksburg had given the Confederacy a greatly needed victory. On December 13th, General Ambrose Burnside had thrown repeated attacks against Lee’s impenetrable line on Mayre’s Heights. In ponderous, deliberate waves, the Union troops had charged across a plain and into Southern shot and shell. Casualties were so heavy that the dead lay in heaps in front of the stone wall at the base of the heights. Burnside’s troops had limited success against Stonewall Jackson’s Corps, but were quickly repulsed. Clear days and freezing nights followed, and the field echoed with the pitiful cries of the wounded stranded between the lines. By nightfall on December 14, General Burnside had decided to withdraw his army from the plain and back to Fredericksburg. It was an evening few on either side would soon forget. As Lee’s soldiers worked on improving their defenses, Union troops slowly carried the wounded and dying from the field. At nightfall, the toil of both armies was suddenly illuminated by a celestial phenomenon – the Northern Lights – which cast the Virginia countryside in an unearthly glow. Few men from the deep South had ever seen the Northern Lights, and most stared in wonderment. Was this fantastic display a sign of Confederate triumph?

General Lee and his staff rode along Telegraph Road past Howison’s Mill, where his reserves had gathered before going to Marye’s Heights. The frigid water of Hazel Run cooled the riders while Lee, deep in thought, focused on tomorrow. The night’s chill and splendid display did not distract Lee form his preparation for another day of battle.”

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(Plan for Victory, painting by John Paul Strain)

“In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength. Get correct views of life, and learn to see the world in its true light. It will enable you to live pleasantly, to do good, when summoned away, to leave without regret.” – General Robert E. Lee

AURORA BOREALIS

On the night of December 14, the Aurora Borealis made an appearance unusual for that latitude, presumably caused by a large solar flare. One witness described that “the wonderful spectacle of the Aurora Borealis was seen in the Gulf States. The whole sky was a ruddy glow as if from an enormous conflagration, but marked by the darting rays peculiar to the Northern lights.” The event was noted in the diaries and letters of many soldiers at Fredericksburg, such as John W. Thompson, Jr., who wrote “Louisiana sent those famous cosmopolitan Zouaves called the Louisiana Tigers, and there were Florida troops who, undismayed in fire, stampeded the night after Fredericksburg, when the Aurora Borealis snapped and crackled over that field of the frozen dead hard by the Rappahannock …”

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  • Robert E. Lee was 5′ 11″ tall and wore a size 4-1/2 boot, equivalent to a modern 6-1/2 boot.
  • Two relatives of Lee were naval officers on opposing sides in the Civil War: Richard Lucian Page (Confederate States Navy and later a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army) and Samuel Phillips Lee (U.S. Navy Captain).
  • Confederate Brig. Gen. Edwin Gray Lee, a son-in-law of William N. Pendleton, was Robert E. Lee’s second cousin. Another relation was Confederate Brig. Gen. William Henry Fitzhugh Payne, an indirect relation of Mrs. Lee who was descended from George Washington’s father Augustine Washington and his first wife, Jane Butler.
  • After the war Lee had financial difficulties. A Virginia insurance company offered Lee $10,000 to use his name, but he declined the offer, relying wholly on his university salary.Freeman 1934, Vol. IV, p. 244.
  • Traveller, Lee’s favorite horse, accompanied Lee to Washington College after the war. He lost many hairs from his tail to admirers who wanted a souvenir of the famous horse and his general. In 1870, when Lee died, Traveller was led behind the General’s hearse. Not long after Lee’s death, Traveller stepped on a rusty nail and developed tetanus. There was no cure, and he was put down. He was buried next to the Lee Chapel at Washington and Lee University. In 1907, his remains were disinterred and displayed at the Chapel, before being reburied beside the Lee Chapel in 1971.
  • Lee always said that his true calling should have been in education. Not only did he help bring about reconciliation through his work at Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) but he also promoted new subjects, such as Engineering and even the first Reserve Officers Training Corps (or ROTC). Up until then they were only held at the military service academies. Many students enrolled from both the North as well as the South. The German minister to Washington even enrolled his two sons there.
  • The Lee family line continues today with the Lees in Virginia and the Longs in Tennessee. The Lee family inter-married with the Longs often enough that he named his other beloved horse “Lucy Long” after a young lady he almost married.
  • Although they never became friends, Lee never forgot Grant’s magnanimity and generosity at Appomattox, and would not tolerate an unkind word to be said about Grant in his presence. When a Washington College faculty member dared to do just that when Grant ran for president, Lee’s face flushed. “Sir,” he said, “If you should ever propose to say something disparaging about General Grant again, either you or I will resign from this facility.”
  • The General Lee, the souped-up 1969 Dodge Charger used in the television program in 1979 The Dukes of Hazzard and the 2005 Dukes of Hazzard movie adaptation was named after Robert E. Lee.
  • In the movie Gods and Generals, Lee was played by actor Robert Duvall, who is related to Lee. After the Civil War, as Lee’s legacy grew, many people of Southern origin dug to find possible connection to Robert E. Lee, and such a connection was analogous to the frequent northern claim of being descended from Mayflower Pilgrims.
  • Lee is a character in the Harry Turtledove alternate history novel The Guns of the South.
  • Despite his presidential pardon by Gerald Ford and his continuing to being held in high regard by many Americans, Lee’s portrayal on a mural on Richmond’s Flood Wall on the James River was considered offensive by some, and was removed in the 1990s.
  • A famous Mississippi River steamboat was named for Lee after the Civil War.

(Articles courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Samuel A. Hughey camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans, vol. 43, issue no. 1, January 2019)

 

 

 

New Book Tour

About the Book:

GuardianAngel copy


The Man

Security expert Nikhil Mahajan is in mortal danger. Gravely injured and unable to see, he is in the midst of hostile strangers in an unknown place. Any hope of survival is fast fading away. 

 

The Angel

Should an innocent man be left to die just because he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time? Someone has to intervene.


Book Links:

Goodreads * Amazon.in * Amazon.com


Read Short Excerpts:


#1

He walked across the few yards of the forest toward his freedom, leaving behind his guardian angel. He walked across the road to the army cantonment fence leaving behind a piece of his soul. His chest, it seemed, would explode but for the heavy weight pressing on his lungs.

 


#2

Taking the support of the wall, head bent down, he stood under the shower with the water running down his face, and wept. The adrenaline rush of keeping himself alive receded as he emptied the fears, worries, and helplessness of the past month down the drain with the bathwater. The thought of being able to see his parents soon made him more emotional. He sniffed and sniveled, and resolved to take back control of his life. And most of all, he resolved to do something about those monsters back in the Tral forest.

 

Reviews for Guardian Angel:

 

I couldn’t have begun the New Year with a better read! Thrilling, fast-paced, edgy…Ruchi Singh is on top of her game with this unputdownable book! ~ Adite

 

The build up to the culmination is fantastic – the suspense carries through to the end. The romance simmers and sparkles. ~ Reet Singh 

 

Guardian Angel is a brilliant thriller set in Kashmir in which both the principal characters are in deep trouble. This sets the tone for a nail-biting story. There is no let up in the suspense and the book kept me hooked till the last page. I liked the ending immensely! ~ Jennifer Thompson

 

About the Author:

author

Winner of TOI WriteIndia Season 1, Ruchi Singh is a novelist, and writes in two genres; romance and romantic thriller. A voracious reader, she loves everything—from classics to memoirs to editorials to chick-lit, but her favourite genre is ‘romantic thriller’. Besides writing and reading, her other interests include dabbling with Indian classical dance forms.

 

Blog | Official Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter


Giveaway:

~ 1 winner for 500/- Amazon Gift Card + kindle copy of Guardian Angel
~ 1 winner for 250/- Amazon Gift Card + kindle copy of Guardian Angel

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

book tour banner copy

 

A Grand Review

As I stated in my previous blog post, General Lee is one of my favorite personalities of the War Between the States. In this excerpt from my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, protagonist David Summers, age 18, meets the general for the first time, and is awestruck by his encounter. This event takes place shortly before the Battle of Brandy Station, which took place on June 9, 1863, and was the largest cavalry battle to ever take place in North America.

ABeckoningHellfire_MED

Later that evening, the men were informed that another Review was to be held, because General Lee had been detained from attending the day’s events. The troopers were required to polish their tack and metal two days later for the benefit of the Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.

On June 8, the Review was held between Culpeper and Brandy like before, but no civilians were present this time. General Hood’s infantry came to watch the military exercise. While the cavalrymen rode past to take their positions on the open field of the Auburn Estate, the suntanned foot soldiers jeered at them.

“Come down off’n that horse!” one yelled. “I can see your legs a-danglin’!”

“Come out from under that hat!” another hollered. “I can see your ears a-wigglin’!”

“They’re jist jealous of us because we git all the pretty girls’ attention!” Michael yelled over at David and flashed a grin.

The horsemen reached the open field and lined up in columns, their regimental colors rippling above them. Ordered to halt, they sat with all eyes on their commanding officer. 

General Lee rode the two-mile line at a brisk trot. He searched out saddle-sore horses and deficient carbines, mandating corrective actions as he carried out his inspection. He came to a halt in front of Renegade. 

brandy station

“Is this the little horse that won the race I heard tell about?” he asked.

Stunned that the magnificent general was speaking to him, David’s heart leaped. He found it difficult to reply, let alone comprehend that General Lee was actually addressing him. The general, dressed in flawless brass and gray, his white beard and entire appearance immaculate, gazed at him intensely. He didn’t know if he was required to salute, so he just sat there, stupefied.

“Yessir,” was all he could finally manage to say. 

General Lee nodded, glanced over Renegade once more, and spurred his gray steed away. The cavaliers surrounding David turned to gawk at him. He looked at John, who winked at him. 

“Reckon he’s got plans for you!” Michael said, grinning as he raised an eyebrow.

David wondered what those plans were, and couldn’t help cracking a smile. Although he’d given up on his fantasy of becoming a Pony Express rider, he hoped now to be chosen for some dangerous, daring mission on behalf of the Confederacy, since the adventure he and Jake had dreamed about seemed to have eluded him thus far. His utmost desire was to receive a perilous assignment, one that no one else was willing to take, because he was prepared to lay down his life for his beloved country. If that happened, there would be no doubt that he would acquire exoneration for Tom’s death. He wanted to die in honor and glory, just like his father and Jake had done. But he hoped, most of all, that he wouldn’t be sealed in an unmarked grave and forgotten.

Sitting astride Traveller, General Lee watched from the top of a hillock. General Stuart, with his usual flamboyance, wore a long, black ostrich plume in his hat, and his horse, Virginia, was adorned with a wreath of flowers around her neck. Stuart signaled; the bugles blared. Twenty-two cavalry regiments wheeled into columns of four, and three bands commenced to play “The Bonnie Blue Flag” while General Stuart led the parade of prancing horses. The cavaliers walked their mounts down the length of the field before turning into a trot. An immense cloud of dust billowed up from the ground. There was no mock charge against the guns this time, so following the reviewing maneuvers, the men were congratulated and released.

They led their horses back to camp, and celebrated the splendor of their review. The supply and baggage trains had been loaded, awaiting the cavalry’s departure across the Rappahannock with the infantry, which was now encamped on the other side of a hill. Unbeknownst to David and his fellow cavaliers, however, an ominous presence lurked in the shadows. Morning would come much sooner than expected. 

A Horse Soldier and His Mount

One of the people I truly admire from the Civil War is Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Although the political climate today reflects negatively on him, Lee was, in reality, an amazing patriot, husband, father and leader. His soldiers loved him, and after the war, the entire country did, too. He was given a position as president of Washington and Lee University (then Washington College), which he humbly accepted. Lee only lived five more years, and passed away in 1870. He is interred in the Chapel on campus.

Lee was a dedicated military man, having graduated from West Point at the top of his class. His father was the famous Light Horse Harry Lee, who was a hero in the Revolutionary War. His wife, Mary Custis Lee, was a descendant of George Washington. Lee came from a long line of Virginia’s elite.

When the war broke out, Lee was faced with a very difficult decision. He chose his beloved state of Virginia over the Union, and reluctantly gave up his position with the U.S. military. He released his in-law’s slaves at the start of the war. Always the gentleman, Lee told his soldiers not to take or destroy anything when they entered Northern Territory, and that they should be required to pay with Confederate currency, since that’s all the men had, even though their money wasn’t worth anything.

In honor of General Lee’s upcoming birthday, I’d like to post a few articles about him, his life, and his service. This first article is about his beloved horse, Traveller. Lee had many horses during the course of the war, but Traveller was his favorite. You can read more about Traveller and Lee’s other horses in my nonfiction book, Horses in Gray.

Horses in Gray Cover

There are few relationships more appreciated than that of a horse soldier and his mount. During the American Civil War, over a million horses perished in service to their respective causes. Few of them are remembered and revered today as much as Robert E. Lee’s horse,Traveller. Buried at Lee Chapel, at the same site as his commander, this dappled grey American Saddle bred was known for his speed, strength and courage in combat. Lee acquired him in 1862, and rode him throughout the war and beyond.

In a letter penned during the war, Lee describedhis horse to Mrs. Lee’s cousin, Markie Williams,who wished to paint a portrait of Traveller. Hewrote: “If I was an artist like you, I would drawa true picture of Traveller; representing his fine proportions, muscular figure, deep chest, short back, strong haunches, flat legs, small head, broad forehead, delicate ears, quick eye, small feet, and black mane and tail. Such a picture would inspire a poet, whose genius could then depict his worth, and describe his endurance of toil, hunger, thirst, heat and cold; and the dangers and suffering through which he has passed. He could dilate upon his sagacity and affection, and his invariable response to every wish of his rider. He might even imagine his thoughts through the long night-marches and days of the battle through which he has passed.”

traveller

(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans, vol. 43, issue no. 1, January 2019)

Guest Post Article

The following is a guest post written by Melissa Chan of Literary Book Gifts.

man writing a contract

Pen and Pad or Laptop? Why the Platform You Write On Matters

It is undeniable that much of writing takes place brainstorming, jotting down ideas on fragments of paper, or just working through plots and characters in one’s mind. But when it comes down to getting the words on paper and into a cohesive draft, there are plenty of different ways in which this task can be accomplished. In recent years smartphones and other writing software have the ability to replace even the classic blank page document. Digital computers and the technology within them has come a long way and really made an impact on the ways it is possible to write.

It can be easy to say, “well this doesn’t matter, writing is simply one’s ideas and the way in which you get them out of your head into a book is not of any consequence.” But I’m not entirely sure this is true. Here are a few reasons why I think the platform you write on matters, perhaps they will help you consider how you write and how it might affect your finished work.

The interface

I am personally a fan of paper over the laptop. I’ve not written anything of substance just yet, but on the occasions that I have tried it to do so, I have had much more success with pen to paper. With ink and unlined paper I am seemingly able to get my ideas out faster. Although this may appear counterintuitive since like most people I can type at a much faster rate than I can write with a pen, it is something that works for me. The digital interface doesn’t allow for arrows, scribbling out parts of sentences while leave traces of what was left behind, or doodles on the edges. New writing programs may have advanced features such as notes in the margins, and embedded in-line notes but none compare to the simple ease of pen to paper.

How you write dictates where you write

There are definitely advantages of the laptop or other digital forms of writing. As I mentioned before, typing speed is a given. The computer can check your spelling and grammar as you write. It can also store thousands of pages of research and writings that you can quickly search through on demand. Instead of an entire library of notes, the laptop’s database can be accessed from a coffee shop, on vacation, or even miles above the ground on an airplane. Writing on paper can be portable. Notebooks of course can be carried everywhere and don’t require electricity to work. This I suppose depends on the need of an individual writer. Sitting on a park bench writing in a notebook is a much more different experience than a laptop, even on that same park bench. For those who write on a monitor with full keyboard and mouse at home, a notebook is perhaps the only way that they will be able to write out of the house.

In Conclusion

Before the rise of technology, authors had limited options for writing platforms. I wouldn’t be surprised if many contemporary authors elect to write directly on the computer because of it’s many benefits which include speed and efficiency. The platform in which an author writes is by no means as important as the writing itself, but as I am always interested in craft, and the human experience of creating art, it’s a question I have contemplated over the years. My conclusion is that the means of art creation does have an impact on the final outcome of any work of art, and that certainly includes literature.

I hope that some of my thoughts on writing platforms help you consider the way in which you write and how that influences your work as an author. Thank you so much for listening.

Melissa Chan is an occasional writer and the founder of Literary Book Gifts, a virtual gift shop for book lovers, readers, and writers. The store features authors and titles from classic books for all to appreciate.

How do you get your ideas into a finished book? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

(Special thanks to Melissa Chan for this article.)

 

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