J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the month “June, 2020”

Home-Made Remedies Rule


I prefer using home-made remedies whenever possible. As A Civil War author, I have studied about herbal remedies our ancestors used, as well as little-known facts that have been eradicated over the years. One such example is the false idea that dandelions are weeds. They are actually related to sunflowers, and their flowers provide antioxidants. Another example is a home-made recipe for weed killer, which consists of white vinegar, salt and liquid dish soap.


Here is a guest post article on home-made home cleaning agents.  I hope you enjoy it!


9 Home-Made Cleaning Agents to Make Your House Spotless-Clean

When it comes to cleaning our house, we automatically assume that it requires a formulated chemical agent to get rid of stains, odor, or infestation of microorganisms. While that may be true; But there are other alternatives to it which surprisingly does the work and produces effective results.

Now, you may wonder what the alternatives are. Well, these alternatives are present in your house so fortunately, you won’t have to make a stop by the supermarket store. All you need to do is make use of it right away. Besides that, chemically formulated agents for cleaning are often not environmentally friendly. Read more to find out about DIY Cleaning products. 

Amazing DIY Cleaning Products for Easy House Cleaning!

Most of the DIY agents are in your house already but to use it as a cleaning agent, you need to formulate a mixture of it with other components. Here are some classic DIY agents that are easy for use:

1. All-Purpose Cleaner

To make an all-purpose cleaner for bathrooms, countertops, or windows, you need a glass bottle that can spray,  2 cups of white vinegar and water separately. In the mixture, you need to add 3 drops of essential oil made of lemon and another 3 drops of oil made of tea tree.

Once you’ve mixed the mixture well, put it in the glass bottle and shake it properly. Now, the agent is ready to clean the countertop and most-touched surfaces for getting rid of residual debris. 

2. Tub/Shower Cleaner

Tired of worrying about molds and germs in the bathroom? Here’s what you can do. Use one cup of water and white vinegar each and then mix them. In the same portion, add at least 3 to 5 drops of essential oil made of lemon. 

Now, stir the mixture well and put them in the spray bottle. The cleaning agent is precisely ready for cleaning the bathtub, bathroom walls, or even showerheads. Additionally, you can use the water and vinegar mixture in a plastic bag and wrap it around the showerhead. Make sure it is touching the showerhead. After a period of time, you’ll see that the showerhead is no longer clogged. 

3. Glass Cleaner

Vinegar and water act as a great cleaning agent for removing layers of dirt and dust on the surface of the glass. It is also helpful in taking out the hard grease stuck on the glass. Simply take one cup of water and one cup of white vinegar. Now, put them together and make a mixture. Once that is done, it would be advisable to use a spray bottle to spray the mixture on the glass or mirror. But, if you don’t have one, then you can use a clean cloth to do the wiping. 

That being said, it is also advisable that you let the mixture remain on the glass or mirror for at least 30 seconds. After that, using an extra clean cloth, wipe out the remaining debris.

4. Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Many people consider bleach to be an ingredient for cleaning toilet bowls instead of sold products. But, you can try something less volatile and more effective. For this mixture, you need a big vessel where you can mix the agents and a funnel to transfer it to an airtight bottle safely. 

Take ¼ of Castile soap in liquid form, use a half cup p baking soda with ¼ amount of hydroperoxide. Now, add one cup of water to it, aligned with ¼ amount of vinegar. And lastly, add at least 10 drops of essential oil made of tea tree. Mix it well and transfer it into the bottle. Now, use the mixture on the toilet bowl and scrub it. Leave the mixture for at least 10 to 15 minutes until you flush it out. 

5. Air Freshener

Have you run out of air freshener and feeling super lazy to go out? Well, you can make one in your house using simple things. Take a large cup and pour one whole cup of baking soda with one whole cup of water. Now, add essential oil worth 5 to 6 drops. Choose a variety of it based on what kind of smell you want. 

Insert the mixture in a spray bottle and shake it. Now, use it around the corners of the room or at the top of the room so that the fragrance spreads everywhere. 

6. Drainage System Cleaner

If you have a clogged washroom and kitchen sink then take a bowl and make a cleaning agent. Pour ¼ amount of baking soda with ¼ amount of sodium chloride. Now, add ¼ amount of tartar cream. Use this mixture on the drain or sink

Finally, add boiling water worth one cup onto the whole mixture. Let it remain that way for a period of time. Soon, you ‘ll see the drain is unclogging. If you see that it did not work, then apply baking soda and vinegar into the drain. Leave it overnight and wash it in the morning. 

7. Oven Cleaner

To easy clean over of stains and food residues, mix ¼ amount of castile soap, half cup of salt, one whole cup of baking soda. This will produce a paste-like texture. Use it inside the oven and apply it all over. Leave it for the night and then using warm water, remove it in the morning. Using a sponge would be advisable to absorb the residue. Finally, use white vinegar to do the last finishing of cleaning as residues can still remain inside. 

8. Sanitized Wipes

Want to make DIY reusable disinfectant wipes? Here’s what you can do. Take an empty container where you’ll put the wipes and dish towels worth 15 to 120 squares. Now, place them inside the container that you will use. 

Using one cup of water with ¼ amount of vinegar, add them in the container. Now, add 7 to 8 drops of tea tree oil, lemon oil, eucalyptus oil. Let the cloth soak in the container for a period of time. Then, you can use them as per your needs. Or, you can re-use them by putting them inside the laundry of clothes. 

9. Dishwasher Agent 

If you want to prepare a dishwashing agent by yourself, take 2  measuring cups glass containers with a half cup of baking soda powder and white vinegar. Now that you’ve repaired the items, remove the dishes from the rack. Using a clean towel, take off the remaining debris. 

Now, use the vinegar cup and place it on the bottom rack of the dishwasher, while placing the baking soda container on the first rack. Now, all you need to do is let the dishwasher run its course. Let the operation be for 20 minutes of the cleaning cycle. 

Once it is over, you’ll see It worked as a natural steam cleaning process. Lastly, wipe away the remaining mixture from the racks. 

Let’s Ease Everyday Cleaning Routine

Even using all the DIY agents, cleaning can be a tough job, especially if you have a busy life. But, there is an easy way to get it done. Getting quality cleaning services from Dubai-Cleaners can make the job easier for you. They have been imparting quality service in Dubai for many years. And, since then have earned immense trust and fame due to their credibility. So, why worry about cleaning when you can easily hire professional assistance based on your convenience. 

(Article courtesy of Mr. Sadat Hossain)

Another Flattering Review

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I recently received another nice review for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. Thank you so much, Ms. Joanne, for posting your review on Goodreads!

Here is the review:

(June 3, 2020)

I had a little trouble getting into this book, but once I did – I didn’t want to put it down.
I have read several books about the Civil War, but written from the side of the North. This novel is written from the point of view of a family from Alabama.
J D R Hawkins’ writing style is such that I grew to feel I knew the family who were the principal characters in the book.
My only complaint, if you can call it that, was that the book ended rather abruptly. There are however, two books which apparently continue the story.
All in all – I loved it! I will place J D R Hawkins on my favorite authors list!

Guest Post Article

As you know, I frequently feature writers who are looking to get their blog posts published. Here is another article I found interesting, especially since my dad was into woodworking and was very good at it. His beautiful creations still grace my home. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this post by James Draper.

Dad 1

Five Reasons Why You Should Get Into Woodworking This Year

Woodworking can be much more than a profession or a hobby. It’s, for a lot of people, an art that has serious impacts on your body and mind! Many people find it a relaxing and productive activity for their overall development. Planning, starting, and finishing a project can be a major improvement for your physical health, as well as for your focus and determination.

If you’re a woodworker already, then you have plenty of reasons for loving your job. If you are brand new, or still thinking about getting into the handy craft world, here are some reasons why you should start this year:

1. Health Benefits 

Woodworking is not only good for your body but for your mental health, as well. If you suffer from stress or anxiety, this activity will certainly refresh your mind. An easy-to-do woodworking project will instantly boost your mind and self-esteem by diverting your attention from destructive thoughts. There are also plenty of studies that show that this art is perfect for slowing down depression related problems. Refinishing, for example, is an easy and very effective solution – from the first sanding process all the way up to completion, you’ll love every moment of it. Coming from a personal side, woodworking can really be a natural boost. 

2. Focus Improvement

It can, sometimes, be a dangerous activity, one that involves complex and strong power tools that require focus and extreme attention. Make sure safety is your main priority – you can easily check for tool options that regard safety and efficiency at the same time. 

But believe me, a simpler and safer woodworking project will greatly improve your focus and concentration, a benefit that will definitely help you in other areas of your personal and professional life. It will also help you gain confidence in yourself and in your skills, and change the way you look at smaller insignificant tasks of your daily life.

3. Better Planning and Organizing Skills

Truth be told, many people are not able to do proper planning of their time, which can greatly affect their quality of life, as well as their health. A woodworking DIY project requires you to follow a step by step process, in order to finish a workpiece. This way, you’re bound to think ahead, from the start, like what materials you should choose, what tools to use, among other things. If you’re able to accomplish simple tasks, you may carry on with more complicated woodworking projects and reach a point where making a wooden chair from scratch is peanuts. Transfer that improvement to your daily life, and you’ll notice how much more motivated you are in tackling boring and monotonous tasks.

4. Helps Replacing Bad Habits

We all know it is very easy to acquire a bad habit but extremely difficult to get rid of it. Since woodworking projects require dedication and a great deal of time, you won’t end up with that much mental space to think about your bad habits. A lot of rehab clinics have introduced woodworking to their patients, showing great results, especially in drug addiction situations.

5. Profitable 

Believe it or not, it’s a tremendously profitable hobby. Since you’re able to build any piece of furniture (with enough practice), you avoid purchasing one at a DIY store for a much higher price. If you build it yourself, the costs are much cheaper, and since it encourages creativity, which allows you to keep improving your skills, you’ll reach a point where the outcome’s quality is so good you can actually sell them! That way, you’ll balance the costs of materials, energy, and time and even get some extra cash. Trust me, you’ll start with a simple chair and in a couple of months, you’ll already be working on a customized table to your sister’s parents-in-law. That will not only bring satisfaction but will keep your creativity alive, so remember, the more art pieces you make, the more creative you become.


In a Nutshell 

There are a lot of reasons for liking woodworking, and there are also many benefits that this hobby brings into your life that you might not really think about. Woodworking can really turn you into a better problem-solver. It’s an activity that will make better use of your downtime, as well as making you capable of giving amazing gifts to people you love! I’m sure they will be received with much love since it comes from your own hands. 

Lastly, there is something amazing about being able to use your mind and your body to produce a project from start to end – almost like the primitive nature of our ancestors. It will surely give you the opportunity to make decisions, think, design, and change a pile of wood into something greater! Once you see that you can produce something of value with your own hands, it will fill you with excitement and the desire of accomplishing many other things. So, one question remains: What are you still doing here?

(Just a note, these are two creations that my dad made.)


Book Tour – A Barren Heart

A Barren Heart

by Shilpa Suraj

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About the Book:

A Barren Heart copy

When having it all isn’t enough…

Aman and Rhea seem to have the perfect marriage. They are madly in love – with each other, with their own careers and the home and life they are building in a quiet Mumbai suburb.

Rhea is a successful interior designer with a thriving business while Aman is a commercial pilot who is at peace with his life, on the ground and in the skies! What could possibly be lacking in their picture-perfect marriage?

A baby.

Like most women, thirty plus Rhea Chakraborty, wants to hold her own flesh and blood in her arms. And Aman too wants the same.

Or does he?

After another unexplained miscarriage that takes a severe emotional, physical, and psychological toll on them, Aman isn’t sure if having a baby will complete them or destroy them.

Suddenly, Rhea and Aman find the fabric of their stable marriage fraying beneath the strain of their failed conceptions. Where once they were a team with a common goal, they now find themselves on opposite sides with shifting goalposts.

A Barren Heart is set in so-called modern India and is the story of the struggle of an affluent, educated couple who are still fighting the shackles of societal indoctrination and expectations and losing each other in the process.

Book Links:

Amazon * Goodreads

Read an Excerpt from A Barren Heart


He powered off his kindle at the sound of her voice. He hadn’t yet made peace with the concession he’d made this morning, but he knew it was the only way forward for them. As a couple. As a family.

“Amannnnn,” she yelled out again. He couldn’t miss the excitement in her voice.

“I’m in here,” he called out. She appeared in the doorway of their guest bedroom a second later. Her hair was a mess, her clothes damp which meant she’d gotten caught in the sudden downpour that had hit earlier that evening and she looked…incandescent. His heart throbbed, the hurt a silent reminder of how much he loved this woman.

“You are not going to believe what happened today.” She launched herself into his arms. He caught her, the motion more reflexive than anything else. Setting her back, he looked at her glowing face. “What happened?”

“Sakshi Garewal, my client from hell recommended me to a friend of hers.”

It lightened his heart a bit to see her so excited about something as normal as a new project. It had been a very long while since she’d found joy in the simple parts of their life. “Congratulations,” he said.

“Guess who it is,” she squeezed his hand.

“Someone famous?” he smiled, her happiness was contagious. “Bollywood or cricket?”

“Bollywood with a bang.” She flopped back on the bed her arms spread out like she wanted to hug the room. “Amyra Sareen.”

“You’re joking!” A low whistle escaped him. “That is the big time.”

“Yes, it is.” She pumped a fist in the air. “I’m going to be designing Amyra Sareen’s apartment. I’ve finally broken into the big league.”

“Congratulations,” he said, again. He was so proud of her. She’d worked her butt off to get to this point.

“We should celebrate.” Rhea shot up from her prone position. “Get ready. We’re going out to dinner. My treat.”

She was halfway to the door when she slowed. “Why are you in the guest bedroom?”

It had taken so long to penetrate. Curiously numb, he watched her as she turned to face him, a frown marring the smooth lines of her brow.


“I just needed a little space.” The numbness was turning icy now that he had finally said the words.

“Space?” she repeated. “Space from me?” Confusion warred with anxiety as she took a step forward. Aman didn’t answer.

“If this is about the appointment with the doctor, we don’t have to go.”

“We do,” he said, gently but firmly.

“Why? It’s obvious you don’t want to go and I won’t force you.”

No, she wouldn’t. Not overtly. She wouldn’t realise it, but it would fester and she’d resent him. And it would kill him to see her love for him turn into something else. To see her turn into a bitter, frustrated shell of the vibrant, joyful woman he loved.

“We’ll go because you want to.” He stood up from the bed and moved towards her. “Set it up for tomorrow. I have a flight to Dubai scheduled day after.”

“No.” She shook her head, tears standing in her eyes, her earlier excitement leaching away. “I don’t want it enough to lose you.”

“You’re not losing me,” he said, his chest feeling like someone had tightened a vice around it. “I just needed a little space to clear my head.” And he couldn’t do that surrounded by her and her emotions all the time.

“I haven’t left home or you, Rhea. I’m right here. Just in another room for a couple of days. I need to think and I can’t do that clearly if we’re in each other’s faces.”

A single tear slipped out, trailing down her cheek. He cradled her face gently and wiped it away with his thumb. “Go get ready. We have to go out to celebrate.”

“I don’t feel like it anymore.” Rhea pulled back, looking lost and confused. “I think I need to clear my head too. I’m going for a walk.” She left before he could say another word. He heard the front door shut a minute later.

Be careful what you ask for, people often said. As Aman stood alone in the silent, darkening room, he realized that he had all the space he’d asked for, but he wasn’t sure he wanted it anymore.

He wanted to call her back. To bring back the excitement, the happiness she’d come home with. He wanted their life to go back to what it had been before this whole baby story began. He wanted his wife back. The wife who’d radiated joy, whose ambition had driven her to reach for the stars, whose love for him had been his anchor.

But he didn’t know how to turn back time. He didn’t know how to recapture that shiny bubble they’d lived in. He didn’t know how to go back to where they’d been before this whole baby story had taken over their life. So, he took the space he’d asked for and used it to think. To figure out where they went from here, because they couldn’t go back to the past and the present was a ticking time bomb.

About Shilpa Suraj:

Shilpa Suraj-2 copy

Shilpa Suraj wears many hats – corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.

An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

Shilpa on the Web:

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

We Can Never Forget

Well, kids, they’re at it again. I don’t know exactly who is behind all this desecration, but the forces that be have decided to attack our beloved American history once more. This round was supposedly brought on by the killing of George Floyd, a repeat offender/drug addict who has become a martyr, crazy as it sounds. So in retaliation for his demise, Black Lives Matter/Antifa has committed numerous murders, looting incidents, and various other crimes. The worst, to me, is their burning the UDC headquarters building in Richmond. What a heartbreaker. The second worst, in my opinion, is their destroying the Lion of Atlanta. And the governor of Virginia has decided to dismantle Monument Avenue, which consists of many amazingly beautiful sculptures. But because they depict Confederate soldiers, they just got ta go.


So many monuments are under attack right now, as is everything else related to the Confederacy. HBO has removed Gone With the Wind from their movie lineup, which is a serious shame, since the movie features Hattie McDaniel, the very first African American to ever win an Oscar. And Nascar announced that the Confederate battle flag will no longer be allowed to fly at events. Like that hurts anyone? Seriously?

Everyone seems to be losing sight of what the Confederacy actually represented…states’ rights. Slavery was definitely part of it, but then, slavery was legal in nearly every corner of the world back then. And it was also legal in many northern states.

Just for an eye-opener, I’m posting this article for us to witness what it was really like to live through such a terrifying, horrific time. This is what the monuments represent. This is what flying the Rebel flag is all about. If we forget about our ancestors’ peril and suffering, we only set ourselves up to suffer the same anguish ourselves. Because if we erase history, we are doomed to repeat it. History has shown us this time and again.

Ole Miss

The Story of One University Gray 

Come on in and wade around in the blood with me. I live with, and deal with, a lot of Ole Miss Civil War dead kids every day. The ones who died of old age, I can handle. The ones who die of dysentery in an overcrowded hospital, or who are decapitated by a cannon ball, or who bleed to death from a wound, all in their early 20’s, bother me. And then there are the sets of brothers who die, anywhere from two to five in one family. When I started all this I was 32, just a pup who was going to live forever. I had seen very little real death. Now, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, and I know it is mortality coming to run me over. I have lost my parents, all my uncles, 4 out of 6 of my best friends, and I have known a bunch of parents who have lost children. I have a much better understanding of the Civil War death that I write about, and live with, everyday. When I work on all this hard for 3 or 4 days, it starts to get to me. Lewis Taylor Fant was in the University of Mississippi Class of 1862. He was from Holly Springs. He joined the University Greys that Spring of 1861, he was 19 years old. He fought through the battles of First Manassas, Seven Pines, Gaines Mill, Second Manassas, and Sharpsburg. 

At Sharpsburg, on September 17, of 1862, Hood’s Division, including Law’s Brigade, containing the 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment, and the University Greys, was called to counter attack in the famous Cornfield, the bloodiest 40 acres in America. Twenty University Greys went into the meadow area below the Cornfield, and then on into the corn. They fought there for less than 30 minutes. Nineteen of the 20 Greys were wounded there that day. Three would later die of those wounds. 

Lewis Taylor Fant was shot in the leg there in the Cornfield. He was captured and he had his leg amputated in a Union field hospital. He was quickly exchanged to Richmond. I knew from his service record that he had died in the hospital at Richmond, but no cause was given. I always guessed an infection killed him. A few years into my research, I was in the State Archives at Jackson going through the Record Group 9 box on the 11th Mississippi. In that box was a roster one of the Greys had typed out, from memory. He had made a few notes for some of the boys, under their names. That afternoon I found out how Fant died. His note said, “fell on the pavement at Richmond, died in 15 minutes from ruptured artery”. They had gotten him up on crutches and he fell. The artery must have retracted back up into the stump and they could not clamp it off. He bled to death, and he lay there and knew he was bleeding to death. I had a long ride back to Memphis that late afternoon. 

Let me tell you about Lewis Taylor Fant’s brothers: 

James (UM Class of 1858, UM Law Class of 1860) joined the 9th Mississippi, rose to Captain, was wounded at Munfordville, Kentucky in September of 1862, and resigned due to his wound. 

Euclid was decapitated by a cannon ball at Knoxville in November of 1863, standing beside his first cousin. 

Selden joined the 9th Mississippi with his brother, at age 15. He survived the War, only to die in the Yellow Fever of 1878. He stayed in town when most men fled. He worked as Secretary and Treasurer of the Relief Committee, until he was stricken with Yellow Fever. 

Glenn was too young to fight in the War, he too died in the 1878 Yellow Fever. He too stayed in Holly Springs to help. He filled the place of the Express Agent when that man died. Glenn finally caught Yellow Fever and died too. 

There you have the story of just one University Grey. I know the death stories of 49 other Greys, plus well over 

one hundred other UM students and alumni, plus at least another hundred Lafayette County men who went to the Civil War. I know a fair amount about their families too, as you see above. 

Now, maybe you know a little more about why their mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, and nieces put a few monuments up to them. Those monuments have nothing to do with slavery and everything to do with the incredible amount of loss those families endured. 

The picture here is the University of Mississippi student body in the 1860 – 1861 school year. There they are, your fellow Alumni. Lewis Taylor Fant is probably there somewhere. 

That is the old, 1848 Southeastern dorm behind them on the right. The building on the left is a double Professor’s residence. The young man on the far right is seated on one of the Lyceum step piers. 

A little over 4 years after this picture was taken, 27% of those kids in that picture were dead. You think about that, and apply that percentage to 20,000 students at Ole Miss, in our last school year. What do you think we would do if 27% of those kids died? Can you envision a monument or two? 

Miller Civil War Tours – Starke Miller

(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452, President Jefferson Davis Chapter Sons of Confederate Veterans, Military Order of the Stars and Bars, Volume 44, Issue #6, June 2020)


Interview With Dixie Heritage Newsletter

Recently, I was invited to participate in a podcast interview conducted by Dr. Edward DeVries, who publishes a weekly newsletter known as The Dixie Heritage Newsletter. I was honored to have the opportunity to discuss all four of my published books, as well as upcoming projects. We also talked about music, the Confederate gold, and several other topics. I hope you enjoy listening to this as much as I enjoyed recording it.

Dixie Heritage Banner

New Cover Reveal for A Rebel Among Us!

I am so excited to reveal the new cover for my novel, A Rebel Among Us! The new cover comes with a new publisher as well, Westwood Books Publishing, LLC. The book is the recipient of the 2017 John Esten Cooke Fiction Award, which is given by the Military Order of the Stars and Bars. This is a very prestigious honor, since the MOSB does not give the award every year, but only to books they deem as worthy of representing the Confederacy.

ARAU Cover

A Rebel Among Us is the third book in the Renegade Series. Two other books, A Beautiful Glittering Lie and A Beckoning Hellfire, are also in the series and have been re-published with Westwood Books Publishing as well.

I’m always fishing for reviews, so if you’re interested, let me know and I’ll send you a PDF copy for review!

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