J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Guest Post by Suzie Wilson

Read more informative articles on the J.D.R. Hawkins blog today!

Launch a Business and Move to a New Home All at Once

Many people dream of launching a business. This is especially true of veterans; in fact, JPMorgan Chase notes that 25 percent of veterans would love to set up their own businesses. Of course, many people will likely start a business out of their homes. The issue is, if their current house doesn’t have enough space for working and living, that dream can’t become a reality. Luckily, by handling the process correctly, it’s possible to launch a business and move to a new home all at once.

Here’s how, presented by J.D.R. Hawkins.

A Cost-Effective Strategy for Buying a House While Launching a Business

Both starting a business and moving can be expensive. If you need to buy a new home to make your professional dreams a reality, finding a cost-effective approach is a must.

In some cases, buying an existing home can work. However, home values have risen by 15.0 percent year-over-year according to the National Association of Realtors, and projections say they’ll keep climbing.

One option is to keep the cost down by buying a home as-is. By not asking the seller to handle repairs, they may offer a better deal. Just make sure to consult with a lawyer, get a buyer’s inspection, and research land records to ensure there aren’t any issues.

Another option could be to get a custom-built home. With that, you can get a house that meets any unique business needs. Plus, you could make economic choices about layouts and finishes, ensuring you can keep the cost down.

Before doing anything, however, make sure the area you’re moving to suits your needs — especially if you’re moving to another city. For example, if you’re moving to Denver, look into Denver apartments in the neighborhood you’re interested in. This way, you can check out the neighborhood and what it has to offer before making that long-term commitment.

Coordinating a Move Without Breaking the Bank or Derailing Your Company Launch

If you’re starting your company and moving at the same time, careful coordination is a must. Here’s what you need to consider.

Launching Your Business

Many of the steps to officially start your business require little more than a computer or mobile device. You can choose a business structure by doing some research. You can request a federal EIN (and state tax ID, if you need one) online. Similarly, preparing to register your business is mainly computer-based.

Since those activities don’t require much physical space, handling them while you pack up your home and head to your new house is doable. Just make sure to save digital copies of any paperwork and back them up to an external hard drive for safekeeping.

Handling the Move

When it comes to the move, you can schedule most of what you need in advance. Reserving a DIY moving truck online is fairly simple. Just make sure that you compare shops to get the best deal.

Additionally, look for low-cost options for supplies. Find places to get free boxes. Buy packing tape in multi-roll packs to save some cash. Buy thick tip, multi-colored markers for labeling boxes at a dollar store.

If you’re using a full-service mover, you’ll need to gather quotes from several area companies. That way, you can pick one that offers you the best deal.

While full-service movers are more expensive than using the DIY approach, they’ll manage everything. From packing supplies to furniture disassembly/reassembly to recycling the packing materials at the end, they’ll handle it.

Overall, the average cost of a move is about $1,500. However, if you’re using a full-service company and it’s a long-distance move, the price could come out to $10,000 or more.

Take some time to think about your budget and workload preferences. If you want to focus on your business, a full-service move could be a better fit. If you want to save money and don’t mind handling the work, then DIY could be the right choice.

Image via Pexels

What the Hell is Wrong With Virginia? (Pt. 2)

Virginia has definitely gone mad. The latest heinousness is erasing any reminder of Stonewall Jackson from the Virginia Military Institute. General Jackson served as a professor there prior to the Civil War. For decades, a statue of Stonewall stood at the entrance, but was recently taken down. Now they (presumably Northam and Stoney) want to sandblast his name from the front of Jackson Memorial Hall and rename the building. Apparently, Stonewall’s famous horse, Little Sorrel, is still buried in front of where his statue used to be. No one knows what will happen to the remains.

In Fredericksburg, the name of Jefferson Davis Highway has been changed. The process was completed last week. The new name of the highway is Emancipation Highway. City leaders chose the new name because it “promotes our shared values of unity, equality, and a commitment to a better future for all Americans.” But does it really? I seriously doubt that.

The Charlottesville, Virginia city council has given the Charlottesville statue of Robert E. Lee to the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, which plans to melt it down. That will most likely be the precedent for the disposal of the Richmond statues.

From Civil War Talk, Florida Rebel posted this:

“Speaking of monuments and historical landmarks, has anyone been to Washington and Lee Univ. in Lexington recently? Yes, the school’s name has not been changed but it’s all a mirage now. I have been told the Lee Chapel name is no more and many other numerous references to Lee in the chapel have disappeared too. And remember the beautiful marble statue of the great General sleeping on the field? I have been told it is now hidden behind a wall of some kind…. Have been told the museum and main bookstore that used to sell numerous Lee books and other items has changed drastically too. And the school employees, many of the students and faculty, so many have been brain washed on Lee and what a terrible man, slave owner and leader he was. My God, how did this happen in OUR lifetime? Has the entire state of VA and the ‘cancel culture’ gone freaking mad? I sincerely hope someone can visit the school soon and confirm or deny.”

In Richmond, the city council also passed legislation to remove two other monuments: a statue of General William Carter Wickham, and the 1st Virginia Regiment monument. I wonder how the descendants of these people who are witnessing the shameful, disrespectful abolishment of their ancestors feel.

And apparently, the marker in front of Lee’s boyhood home has been removed. General Robert E. Lee lived there when he was four years old. But now, that particular piece of history in relation to the house is being swept under the rug. An article on Yahoo! even mentioned that the house had a connection to a slave owner who fought for slavery, which is a complete lie. To me, this is tragic, because it is just another example of erasing and/or changing history. When a marker is removed denoting an event or a person who was there, etc., history is being removed from public view. Out of sight, out of mind. But once this is done, that priceless piece of history is gone forever, just like it never existed.

So how is erasing one part of American history, specifically, Confederate history, and replacing it with another, specifically black history, going to make our country better? How will it unify us? Will taking the monuments down really make an impact on people’s lives? Or is it merely being done to satisfy the political left and the woke cancel culture? They are coming after our history with a vengeance, and I shiver to think about what they will attack next.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2021/11/05/robert-e-lee-historical-marker-alexandria-removed/

The Smithsonian Institute (which, BTW was started by Jefferson Davis) has an online database of American sculptures that may be queried and limited to Civil War related objects only : https://siris-artinventories.si.edu…l&ri=6&source=~!siartinventories&sort=3100012

What the Hell is Wrong With Virginia? (Pt. 1)

“Any society which suppresses the heritage of its conquered minorities, prevents their history or denies them their symbols, has sown the seeds of their own destruction.”

Sir William Wallace, 1281 A.D.

There has been an assault going on for quite some time on Confederate monuments and markers. The most alarming is what’s taking place in Virginia. Governor Ralph Northam and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney have taken it upon themselves to aggressively go after and do away with any reminder of the Confederacy, even though Richmond was the capital of the Confederate States of America for nearly all of the Civil War. I find this alarming because, even though the political climate has changed over the past century and a half, history should never be erased. It stands as a reminder to what happened in the past, and whether interpreted as good or bad, it is still a valuable part of American history. Germany intentionally has left what remains of old stalags as reminders of the terrible history it experienced under Nazism. I think America should do the same.

This brings to mind the recent desecration of Monument Avenue in Richmond. What used to be a beautiful area in the heart of the city, with its magnificent monuments, has utterly been destroyed. I visited Richmond when I attended the UDC Convention back in (I believe) 2011, and I thought the avenue was absolutely stunning. Unfortunately, last year, Black Lives Matter was given free rein to desecrate the monuments, as well as buildings around them, by any and all means possible. They covered the monument bases with graffiti and were even allowed to chisel away at some of them. As far as I know, no arrests were ever made. What an atrocity, and shameful for the city of Richmond. I, for one, will never visit Richmond again.

It’s my understanding that Monument Avenue was on the National Historic Sites Register, and because of that, it should have been protected. But apparently not, since all of the magnificent statues have been taken down. The last one to be removed was that of General Robert E. Lee. The statue was even cut in half. They are considering giving the Robert E. Lee monument to the Black History Museum, which has said that they will melt the statue down and make it into something else. I can only imagine what that might be.

https://news.yahoo.com/pedestal-robert-e-lee-statue-162639455.html

The Richmond City Council recently allocated $1.3 million to build a national slavery museum.

“The response can’t be to build back up Monument Avenue,” Hones said. “It must be to build back the antithesis of what was torn down. And the best thing to do is to become serious as a council and administration to tell the true story … of what’s in place in Virginia.”

The city of Richmond has received numerous offers for the monuments, which are being stored in a sewage facility. The matter will be decided on January 18, 2022.

The following is a list of groups who wish to obtain the monuments:
1. Liberty Hall Fife & Drums
2. Ratcliffe Foundation/Ellenbrook
3. Shenandoah Valley Battlefield Foundation
4. VA Division – Sons of Confederate Veterans
5. Valentine Museum
6. United States of America Naval History & Heritage Command
7. Fontaine/Maury Society
8. JEB Stuart Birthplace Preservation Trust
9. CSA II: The New Confederate States of America Inc. – Monument Establishment & Preservation Fund
10. Belmead on the James
11. Shannon Pritchard/Hickory Hill/Wickham Family
12. Sumter County SC Sons of Confederate Veterans
13. LAXArt Museum
14. Spotsylvania Historical Association
15. DARNstudio
16 Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation
17. Preserve America’s Battlefields
18. Private individual 1 – David Hinton
19. Private individual 2 – Michael Boccicchio
20. Private individual 3 – Olivia Tautkus
21. Private individual 4 – James Cochrane, Jr.
22. Private individual 5 – Austin Wylam
23. Liberty Hall Plantation

There is no submission from the Black History Museum, but it seems that they will receive legal ownership of most of the monuments and their bases. It also seems that the Valentine Museum will “partner” with the Black History Museum in gaining ownership of the monuments. However, the Valentine Museum has only submitted a request for the Valentine sculptured statue of Jefferson Davis.

https://www.wvtf.org/news/2021-12-30/richmond-hands-monument-process-over-to-black-history-museum

I subscribe to Civil War Talk, and wanted to share some entries.

From Viper 21:

“City and state officials have reached an agreement to transfer ownership of the statue and pedestal of Gen. Robert E. Lee to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, which has also agreed to take possession of all the other Confederate memorials removed from Richmond since last year.

“Under this arrangement, Richmond’s Black History Museum would work in partnership with the Valentine museum — which has chronicled the city’s history for more than a century — and local community members to determine the fates of the stone and bronze symbols of the Confederacy.


“The deal requires approval by Richmond’s City Council. Mayor Levar Stoney — who hammered out some of the details with Gov. Ralph Northam (D) — said in a written statement that the arrangement enables the community to take a deliberate approach in reckoning with such divisive symbols.

“‘Entrusting the future of these monuments and pedestals to two of our most respected institutions is the right thing to do,’ Stoney said in the statement, obtained by The Washington Post … ‘They will take the time that is necessary to properly engage the public and ensure the thoughtful disposition of these artifacts.’”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2021/12/30/richmond-confederate-statues-black-history-museum/?fbclid=IwAR08i4KSdAtBc60efKAARt7ZouUoxsmkgacx6tfep6vMvJIgpW_wsXHko9k

Sgt. Cycom from L.A. summed it up: “The people that are loudest in calling for ‘unity’ and ‘inclusion’ are almost always projecting their own intolerance and inability to compromise. I hope these monuments remain so that I can take my family to see them in a few years. I pray history is preserved and not destroyed. Giving these monuments to people who will continue to desecrate them is disgusting, infuriating and despicable.”

As a side note, the majority of Richmond residents voted for the monuments to remain intact on Monument Avenue.

New Review for A Beautiful Glittering Lie

US Review of Books 

A BEAUTIFUL GLITTERING LIE 

A Beautiful Glittering Lie: A Novel of the Civil War by J.D.R. Hawkins Westwood Books Publishing 

book review by Kat Kennedy 

“It’s the end of all things as we know them.” 

At the beginning of the Civil War, Hiram Summers, a north Alabama farmer and father of three, enlists in the Confederate Army. When Hiram and his best friend, Bud, join the Fourth Alabama Infantry Regiment to fight in a war that many believe will last only a short time, he leaves his wife, Caroline, daughters (Rena and Josie), and son, David, to take care of the family farm. As the surviving son in the family, David realizes the enormity of this responsibility. “He came to the realization that he was now responsible for protecting his family, tending to the farm, and taking his father’s place as head of the household.” Both Hiram and his family soon discover the horrors of war both in battle and on the home front. 

This award-winning novel is well-researched, and the inclusion of historical battles and speeches give it authenticity. As readers follow the story of the Summers family, they are transported to both battlefield and family farm in an emotional narrative. Hawkins’ gift for storytelling is evident in each chapter. Her description of the battlefield and its horrors of war are so compelling that readers can almost smell the gunpowder. “Men dropped around him like flies, the thud of bullets sinking into them before their bodies exploded with blood.” Not only are the author’s descriptions of the devastation of battle intriguing, her attention to detail when relating the dangers faced by those on the home front is impeccable. “Two riders approached up the lane. It was still too dark for her to make out who they were. She rushed over to the gun rack, took down the shotgun, and walked out the front door to the porch.” 

The novel explores the theme of friendship and brotherhood through both the relationship between Hiram and Bud as well as the one between David and Jake. The way in which Hiram and Bud look out for each other on the battlefield is a testament to the love the two soldiers have for each other. “Hiram stopped to catch his breath, watching the smoke clear. He looked around for Bud until he finally saw him walking toward him.” David and Jake also share a close bond, which is evident not only in their banter but also in the way they engage with each other during a trip to Huntsville to check out the location of Northern troops. “David jolted awake, realizing it was daybreak. Chilled to the bone, he shivered as he stood, and went outside. Jake was nowhere to be seen. Alarmed by his absence, he looked in every direction… Jake! Answer me, damn it!” 

With its descriptive narrative, it is no surprise that this novel is the recipient of awards. The work won the John Esten Cooke Fiction Award and the B.R.A.G. Medallion. History buffs will appreciate the attention to detail and the inclusion of actual speeches, battles, and Civil War-era songs. The continuing story of the Summers family can be found in the next two books of the series, A Beckoning Hellfire and A Rebel Among Us, which are also award-winning novels. This is a very good thing because the current book is a novel that engages the reader and leaves one eager to read the next one. 

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

More Reviews for A Beautiful Glittering Lie

The reviews keep coming! Here are a few more for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, which is the first book in the Renegade Series.

Jackie rated it really liked it  

The narration of this book is excellent. It is plain to see that the author has an intense fascination with the American Civil War. Her descriptions of people, animals and places make you feel as though you are there with them. As a non-American I found it a little difficult to keep up with where all the places are (my copy didn’t have a map in the cover, which would have been helpful!) and the names of all the generals were lost on me. I found it a little confusing with the many names of the different sides at first, having never studied American history. However, once I got going I found it easy enough to work out. The book shows the civil war through the eyes of an ordinary Southern family, which is an interesting perspective and does not glamourise the war at all. It is a working class family’s story, which makes it easy to relate to. Be prepared to read the rest of the series – the ending leaves you wanting more!

Samantha Wynd rated it it was amazing  

Although not the genre of book I would normally read I was given the opportunity to read and review this book by the author through Voracious Readers. Looking for something different I jumped at the chance and was glad I did. Hawkins writes in such a way that the reader feels they are part of the story. A novel written about America’s battle between the North and the South the closest I’d come to reading anything around this period was Gone With the Wind so it’s definitely not my normal style. However I saw every battle scene clearly felt every emotion and experience expressed by Bud, Hiram, David, Jake and their families, friends and comrades. I found myself praying for Bud and Hiram’s safe return, internally yelling warnings at the boys, and reaching for tissues when Sally was stolen and Hiram didn’t return as planned. A great book well written and one I’d highly recommend

A rated it really liked it 

The work follows how the lives of a family from a small town in Alabama are affected by the Civil War. I usually steer clear of historical fiction revolving around wars because they’re all battles or overly romanticized. The author of this work does an excellent job at finding a balance; this is one of the most realistic works of fiction I’ve read concerning the Civil War. The author did her research. The characters are also well-written and aren’t static, making the work engaging.
I received a complimentary copy of this work through Voracious Readers Only in exchange for my honest opinion.

https://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Glittering-Lie-Novel-Civil/dp/1643619942/ref=sr_1_1?crid=113PP93DB6Q67&keywords=a+beautiful+glittering+lie&qid=1641421080&sprefix=%2Caps%2C608&sr=8-1

Another Fantastic Review for A Beautiful Glittering Lie

I just received another great review for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. This one is from Pacific Book Review. Thank you, Anthony Avina, for your wonderful review!

Title: A Beautiful Glittering Lie: A Novel of the Civil War (Book One of The Renegade
Series)
Author: J.D.R. Hawkins
Publisher: Westwood Books Publishing LLC
ISBN: 978-1643619941
Pages: 200
Genre: War & Military Action Fiction / Historical Fiction
Reviewed by: Anthony Avina
Pacific Book Review


One of the United States most deadly and harrowing wars fought was perhaps
amongst itself, when the nation became divided and the North fought the
South during the Civil War. Although most of the lessons we learned from this
horrific war center greatly on the battle to end slavery and free those who
sought nothing more than the freedom to exist, the battles itself and those
who were on the front lines face so much death and pain that those issues
seemed like something out of another lifetime, on both sides. As Anthony
Minghella once said, “The only lesson to extract from any civil war is that it’s
pointless and futile and ugly, and that there is nothing glamorous or heroic
about it. There are heroes, but the causes are never heroic.”


In author J.D.R. Hawkins’s historical fiction novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie: A
Novel of the Civil War, the author explores a rarely seen side of the conflict;
that of a lone family from Alabama who’s patriarch went off to fight in the war,
and the brutal realities of war they faced both on the front-lines and at home.
The first in the author’s The Renegade Series, the story focuses on the
Summers family, when father Hiram enlists in the Confederate Army and his
son David must stay behind to help his mother and sisters care for the family
farm. Although spurned on by the idea of patriotism for their Southern states
and ideals, the realities of the war soon come to the forefront for both father
and son. One witnesses the gruesome violence the war brought out on both
sides, and the other sees everything from the grim reality of slavery and the
emotional turmoil and fear that comes with waiting for a loved one to return
home safely.


This is a truly captivating and engaging read right from the very start. The
author did such an incredible job of incorporating both the horrific and
gruesome details of the battles fought during this war and the personal and
heartbreaking realities which families faced at home when their husbands,
fathers, sons and brothers all left for the battlefield. The way the author fairly
examined the history from the Confederate side and the mentality that drove
so many to this path of war while also highlighting those moments when
protagonist David felt guilt and sadness over the conditions and treatment of
the slaves was so poignant and helped showcase that the realities of the
battle and life were often lost in the politics and economics that fueled this
war’s beginning.


The absolute perfect read for those who enjoy historical fiction, especially the
study of the Civil War, this novel is emotionally-driven and does an amazing
job of paying attention to details historically which elevated the characters’
arcs. As a fan of historical fiction, I was fascinated and moved by the voice
and tone the author found for these characters, and highlighted that once war
has begun, the bloodlust that overtakes some soldiers on either side often
leads to violence and dispensable acts that have nothing to do with the
morality of the war’s conflict, but man’s inherent need to fight. For in the end,
as in all wars, no one truly “won” the war, but instead an end to the conflict
was truly found.


If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your own copy of author J.D.R. Hawkins’s A
Beautiful Glittering Lie today, and prepare for a masterfully emotional and
beautifully written narrative with a shocking twist ending that leaves readers
wanting more.

https://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Glittering-Lie-Novel-Civil/dp/1643619942/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1640821177&sr=8-1

Happy Holidays!

I’d like to wish everyone a very happy holiday season! Please keep in mind all of our military personnel who are overseas and missing their families this Christmas. One of my favorite songs is “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” which was written by a soldier during WWII. Listening to it makes me cry every time!

The holidays can be a difficult time of year for some, as the following excerpt demonstrates. Losing a loved one during this time of year is especially painful, and sometimes lonely. I think the first Christmas after a loved one passes away is the hardest. I know from experience, since I just lost my mom last year.

The following excerpt is the opening chapter from my book, A Beckoning Hellfire. It takes place on Christmas Eve, 1862. What should be a joyous time has turned into tragedy. While we celebrate the birth of our Lord, let’s also keep in mind the hardships that many have experienced during Christmas.

But what a cruel thing is war. To separate and destroy families and friends and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world. To fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world¼My heart bleeds at the death of every one of our gallant men.

Robert E. Lee, letter to his wife, December 25, 1862

Chapter One

“Here it is! Come quick!”

David sauntered across the dead grass toward his little sister. Amused by the way she was jumping up and down like a nervous flea, he couldn’t help but grin. Obviously, she was too excited to care that her petticoats were showing from under the brown coat and green calico dress she wore, or that her long auburn hair had broken free from its bondage as her bonnet slid from her head and dangled down her back.

“Which one, Josie?” he asked, stifling a snicker.

She planted her feet and pointed to a small yellow pine near a cluster of sweet gum and ash trees. “Right here!” she exclaimed.

Glancing down at the sapling, he gave her a crooked smile. “Well, that’s a mighty fine tree, but ain’t it kinda scrawny?” He estimated the pine to be three feet tall at most.

Josie frowned at her older brother, who had one eyebrow cocked from under his slouch hat. His hands were tucked into his brown trousers, and his linen shirt hung loosely on his tall, lanky frame. “No,” she said, “ it’s jist right. We’ll string some corn on it, hang some nuts and berries on it, and it’ll look right smart in the corner of the front room.”

With a shrug, he said, “All right. If you reckon this is the one.”

She nodded, her bright blue eyes reflecting her elation.

David relished the moment, for he knew Christmas was her favorite holiday. He had only heightened her anticipation on the way out to the woodlot by reminding her what would happen that evening, how Santa would be stopping by later when she was sound asleep. Of course, he had no explanation as to how eight tiny reindeer could pull a sleigh all the way to Alabama. Josie promptly informed him that she wasn’t a child any longer. She was all of thirteen, and didn’t believe in those farfetched stories anymore, but he knew better. She would be lying in her bed tonight, listening and waiting.

“Well, go on now, cut it down!” Josie insisted.

He put his thumb and forefinger to his lips and gave a high, shrill whistle. Noticing how the gray sky was growing darker, he looked over at the edge of the clearing where they stood and saw the underbrush rustle. Suddenly, two hound dogs bounded out of the trees, followed by a gangly young stallion.

“Come on, Renegade. Over here,” he called out to the colt, who responded by cantering to him.

Josie giggled at the sight. “Your dumb horse thinks he’s a dog!”

“He ain’t dumb. I’ll wager he’s a lick smarter than you are, li’l sister,” David teased.

The horse blew and stomped his front hoof.

“Why, that’s the most ridiculous thing I ever heard of. And not only is he dumb, he looks right silly, too. He can’t decide if he should be spotted or palomino!”

David observed his horse for a moment. Renegade’s face was piebald. His dark chestnut coat was highlighted with white spots and patches concentrating on his underbelly, and his mane and tail were light flaxen. He had white socks up to his knees. His unusual eyes were brownish green. David remembered how he had heard that a horse with strange-colored eyes like Renegade’s was considered sacred and chosen by the Cherokee Indians. Several people had noticed the strange coincidence, and his other sister, Rena, also frequently commented that he and his horse had the same colored eyes.

“I reckon he knows what he is,” David remarked. “Besides, he’s unusual, and that makes him unique.”

“Oh, he’s unique all right,” Josie said, giggling again. She pulled her hair back from her face and replaced her bonnet.

David untied a saw from a leather strap attached to Renegade’s saddle. He knelt down, quickly sawed through the little tree’s trunk, picked it up, and tied it across the saddle’s seat. His two black and tan dogs sniffed around the tree’s sawed off stump. Suddenly, they both lifted their noses into the air with their ears pricked. They bolted across the open clearing, baying at an unseen curiosity as they disappeared into the woods.

“Caleb! Si!” David hollered after the two hounds. “Well, there they go,” he observed wryly. “All right, Renegade, take it on home.” He patted his horse on the shoulder.

Renegade nickered softly, shook his head, and trotted off in the same direction as the two hounds.

Josie gasped. “Look, David! It’s startin’ to snow!” She tilted her head back and stuck out her tongue, trying to catch snowflakes on it.

He chuckled.

“Come on, you do it, too,” she coaxed him.

He obliged his little sister by imitating her.

Josie laughed, spinning around with her arms extended while snow fell silently down around them.

“Oh!” David clasped his hand to his face. “One fell in my eye!”

Josie giggled.

He couldn’t help but smile, although he was careful not to let her see, and snorted to cover up his delight. “Well, I’m right glad you think it’s so funny.” He looked at her, trying to keep a straight face. “Come on, Josie girl. We’d best be gittin’ on back.”

He allowed her to go ahead of him as they started on the bridle path that cut through the woods.

“Let’s sing Christmas carols!” she said. “That new one we heard last year. Jingle Bells!”

“You start,” he prompted.

“Dashin’ through the snow…”

He joined in. Their voices grew stronger in unison.

“In a one-horse open sleigh…”

They came to an empty field, and trudged through, stepping over mud puddles while they continued singing.

“Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way…”

Their house stood quaintly at the far end of the field. Smoke circled from its two chimneys, dissolving into the gray sky. The sweet smell of burning hickory reached out, inviting them closer. From a distance, the structure appeared to be two separate cabins sitting side by side, but upon closer observation, one could see that they were connected by a covered breezeway. Each section contained two rooms and a fireplace. A wide flat porch on the front of the split log building served as an entryway. The tin roof, which seemed to expel heat in the summertime, also managed to repel snow during winter months.

The cold, damp air encroached upon brother and sister. As they sang, their breath escaped, floated out across the fields, and vanished in phantom gusts.

“Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh!”

On the last note, Josie’s voice jumped an octave. They laughed at their grand finale and walked around to the front of the house, where Renegade was waiting patiently for the tree to be removed from his saddle. A buckskin horse stood beside him.

“Whose horse is that?” Josie asked.

“It looks like Bud Samuels’ horse.”

David and Josie looked at each other, wide-eyed. “Pa!” they both exclaimed.

Josie sprang onto the porch, burst through the front door, and went inside while David untied the small yellow pine. He set it aside, pulled the saddle from Renegade’s back, and removed his bridle.

“Go on into the barn, Renie,” he said. “Or you’ll be one big ole snowball in a minute.”

The colt blew and trotted around the side of the house.

David carried his tack into the breezeway. He placed it on a horizontal board, which was supported by a plank on each end. Collecting the tree, he heard the sound of Bud’s voice coming from inside.

“I had some trouble gettin’ here,” Bud was saying as he entered. “But I convinced the Home Guard to follow me home so’s I could show them my furlough paper.”

David produced the tiny tree. “I know it’s small,” he said with a grin, “but Josie insisted, and…” The sight that befell him inexplicably filled him with dread. His smile faded. He looked around at the faces before him and let the tree fall onto the wooden floor. Warmth from the fireplace did nothing to relieve the chill that grasped him. “What is it?” he asked.

“Come in, darlin’, and close the door,” his mother said from her high-backed chair, which sat near the empty corner they had readied for the Christmas tree. Her brown skirt encircled her like a puddle. Her dark brown hair, streaked recently with gray, was parted in the middle and contained in a white cotton hair net. She clenched her hands in her lap, and her lips were pursed. The flickering firelight accentuated the grooves on her face, which, for some reason, David had never noticed before. After closing the door behind him, he looked at Rena, who was sitting beside the hearth. She vacantly stared back, her violet eyes welling up with tears.

“Rena?” he asked her.

She looked away and hugged Josie, who had taken the chair beside her.

David walked across the room to their neighbor, Bud.

“It’s a pleasure to see you again, Mr. Samuels,” he said, shaking the man’s hand. “How’s Pa? Is he comin’ home for Christmas, like he wrote?”

“Have a seat, David.” Bud’s eyes filled with concern. He scratched his straggly, graying beard.

Obeying the command, David slowly sank into a chair, keeping his eyes fixed on Bud’s face.

“I’m afraid I have bad news.” Bud cleared his throat, then slowly, deliberately said, “Your father’s been killed at Fredericksburg.” He looked down at the floor. “A little over a week ago. I know he was lookin’ forward to seein’ y’all. I’m…immensely sorry.”

He pulled a folded piece of yellowed paper from his coat pocket. The gray coat was torn and tattered in places, not at all like the beautiful piece of clothing that had been provided to him nearly two years earlier. His trousers and the kepi he held in his hand were weathered, too.

“Miss Carolyn, Hiram wanted me to give you this here letter…in the event of his death.” He solemnly handed her the note.

Squeezing her eyes shut, Carolyn held it to her mouth. Tears streamed down her weathered face. “Thank you, Bud,” she finally said. “You’ve been a good friend to my Hiram. I know he appreciated you dearly.”

Bud nodded. “Please let the missus or me know if there’s anything we can do,” he offered, and walked toward the door.

“I surely will.” Carolyn wearily stood, followed him to the door, and walked him out.

Bud placed his kepi on his head, untied his horse, mounted, and galloped off down the lane. The rhythm of hoof beats faded.

Turning from the doorway, Carolyn somberly gazed at her children. Her two daughters came across the room to hug her. The three of them burst into tears. Carolyn gazed at her son, who was sitting motionless across the room, his handsome young face drained of color, his hazel eyes growing a darker brown.

“David,” she said, her voice filled with the sorrow that had now overtaken the room.

He looked over at her, his face blank with grief-stricken shock.  Finding no comfort in her anguished expression, he glanced up at the ornately-carved mantle clock, the one his father had given to her as a wedding gift. It read ten minutes past five. Beside it sat a framed tintype of his father, adorned in Confederate glory, ready to march off to victory, but now he was never to return. David’s eyes wandered, and he noticed things he’d taken for granted before: the raised oval portrait of his paternal grandmother on the wall, the paintings of flowers his mother liked so well that hung on the opposite wall, the fieldstone fireplace that his father had built, and the pine furniture that had been there ever since he could remember. Somehow, all of it seemed irrelevant.

Moving numbly, he rose and walked across the room to pick up the little tree he had dropped earlier. A tiny pool of water remained where it had fallen. He carried the tree outside, leaving a trail of moisture that splattered onto the floorboards. The cold winter air, uncluttered with snow, barely whispered, its breath deathly quiet and still. Dusk was rapidly approaching.

David hurled the tree as hard as he could. It landed with a rustled thud out in the yard. Without pausing, he walked into the breezeway past his mother and sisters and grabbed a kerosene lantern. He carried it outside, lit it, and threw it at the pine. The glass shattered upon impact. Kerosene trickled out onto the tiny branches and within seconds, flames engulfed the little tree. He stoically watched tongues of fire consume the sapling. Slowly, he turned to face his mother and sisters, who were standing on the porch, watching him while they wept.

“I reckon we won’t be celebratin’ Christmas after all,” he said, his voice raspy with distress.

Impending darkness engulfed his heart. Feeling the need for solitude, he walked around the house toward the barn, vaguely hearing his mother call out to him. The sky opened, releasing icy rain. He stomped past the pigpen and the chicken coop. Upon reaching the old wooden barn, he went inside and blinked several times before his eyes adjusted to his dim surroundings. He caught glimpses of shadows dancing off the walls and up around the rafters. A pungent combination of dry, clean hay and musty wood enveloped him. The rain rattled down upon the barn’s tin roof and sounded like a thousand tiny drums. Three cows studied him with soft brown eyes. One mooed a welcome as he walked past them.

Sidestepping bales of hay stacked near the stall door, David paused to shake off cold drops of moisture that clung to his shirt and ran his hand over the top of his head, wiping the rain from his dark brown hair. A large Percheron, standing in the stall next to Renegade, gazed at David with his ears pricked.

“Hey, Joe Boy,” David said softly to the tall white gelding.

The draft horse sniffled at David’s pockets but seemed to lose interest and shuffled to the other end of his stall when David didn’t offer a treat like he usually did. Renegade looked up from his fodder and nickered softly. David walked over and gently stroked his muzzle. “I’m sorry I put you through all that trouble of bringin’ home a tree.” Anguish and anger welled up inside him. Searing-hot tears streamed down his cheeks. His hatred seethed. His grief was overwhelming, and he could hold it back no longer. Sobs escaped him. He grasped onto his horse’s mane, burying his face in Renegade’s neck. The colt stood quietly, seemingly to console him.

https://www.amazon.com/Beckoning-Hellfire-Novel-Civil-Renegade-ebook/dp/B09C2HXBZL/?encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_w=S5Coj&pf_rd_p=29505bbf-38bd-47ef-8224-a5dd0cda2bae&pf_rd_r=CE2AMZTMFTYM2Y392VS5&pd_rd_r=d7da3536-eeb5-4d0c-8d3e-525f97a5f395&pd_rd_wg=XFA9u&ref=pd_gw_ci_mcx_mr_hp_atf_m

Amazing Review for A Beautiful Glittering Lie

I just received a very flattering, five-star review for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. This is the first book in the Renegade Series. Thank you, Mr. Todd Price, for your amazing review!

R. T. Price

5.0 out of 5 stars 

Shows the Civil War from the perspective of one family on the Confederate side.

Reviewed in the United States on December 17, 2021

Wow. I loved this story from the beginning. It sucks you in almost immediately. Told from the Confederate perspective, it really puts a personal spin on the war from the POV of one family and the effect it had on them. Not only does it have lifelike depictions of battle, it gives you a vivid picture of what it was like for the people left behind by the soldiers back home. Once the father goes off to war it shifts back and forth between what he experiences in the war and what his family is going through while he is away. The battle scenes are described beautifully and really make you feel like you are in the middle of the battle with the soldiers as they fight. My favorite parts though were the scenes from the family back home and what they went through. I have read many books on the Civil War but none ever really went into what the families left behind had to endure, and you get a great picture of their lives during this time. I will definitely be finishing the rest of the series and can’t wait to start the next one, especially since it ends on a cliffhanger that makes me want to jump back in and continue with the story of this family I came to know and love.

Can’t recommend this book highly enough, especially if you love Civil War stories like I do, and even if that isn’t your thing, the humanity portrayed in this story makes it worth the read alone. You really care for this family and what happens to them. Also, if you know your Civil War history you will recognize all of the usual characters and battles that are seen from the view of the father as a frontline soldier as he enters into them as he is deployed. This isn’t a Shaara book with a lot of background info on the war provided. You see the war as it unfolds to someone in real time as it happened, without a lot of foreknowledge of the what and where they were headed until they arrived. Once they are there, the details are provided to determine the battlefield on which they are engaged, and it becomes clear which battle you are witnessing. To me this made everything more real and immediate, and personal.

I love the fresh perspective this put on the war that so much has been written about. Do yourself a favor and read this wonderful book. You won’t be sorry.

https://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Glittering-Lie-Novel-Civil/dp/1643619942/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1IBKRTHPCYQEK&keywords=a+beautiful+glittering+lie&qid=1640118143&sprefix=a+beautiful+glitter%2Caps%2C581&sr=8-1

More Flattering Reviews

I hope y’all aren’t getting tired of my sharing these reviews, but I’m just over the moon with receiving them! I feel very fortunate that I have been able to receive these reviews for my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, in recent weeks. Here are a few more that I’d like to share with you!

Phil Bolos

5.0 out of 5 stars Great historical fiction
Reviewed in the United States on November 6, 2021
Verified Purchase
A Beckoning Hellfire by J.D.R. Hawkins takes us into the heart of the Civil War and shows us the harsh realities of what it was like to be a soldier in the bloodiest conflict in American history. On Christmas Eve 1862, David Summers finds out that his father has died at the hands of the Union Army. Caught up in rage and seeking revenge, David does the honorable thing and joins the Confederate Army so that he can goes against the Union and get revenge for what happened to his father. But, all honor is quickly forgotten when he is thrown into numerous battles and he sees what war is really like. Revenge begins to fade away as David becomes more focused on just staying alive so that he can get back home again.
I am a big history buff, so reading this was a lot of fun. The author has done a nice job of creating a piece of historical fiction that gives the reader a chance to get a glimpse of what it was like to go through this horrific conflict. I think that fans of history and of fiction will really enjoy this read and the efforts the author took to make this as realistic as possible.


JoJo Maxson

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating novel

Reviewed in the United States on November 8, 2021

Verified Purchase

A Beckoning Hellfire: A Novel of the Civil War by J.D.R. Hawkins brings one of our country’s devastating times to life. David Summers is angry, hurt, and wants revenge. He can’t fathom a war that would have killed the man he idolized. His passion now is to make everyone pay who represented a small part in the death of his father. As he fights this war, brother against brother, father against son, he realizes there isn’t glamour or pride when you win a battle. The destruction and despair are unimaginable.

I found J.D.R. Hawkins a skillful writer as she brings the Civil War alive with a fierce reminder of our country torn apart. A Beckoning Hellfire is well-written and a fascinating novel. The characters are just as you would imagine them with hopes, dreams, and disappointments. They strive to live one more day and to keep their family and friends alive. People will show their true light during their darkest days. History lovers will enjoy this novel.


astrofan
5.0 out of 5 stars A look at what it might’ve been like to be the family of a Confederate soldier.

Reviewed in the United States on November 18, 2021

Verified Purchase

I would say, if you’re going to go into this easily offended by the vivid descriptions of a Confederate soldier and his family, don’t bother picking this one up. But if you want to know what it might’ve been like to be part of a family whose father has gone off to fight for the Confederacy and was killed, this is the book to get. It’s a vivid look at how ugly the war was and what it’s like to have one’s images of glorious warfare and revenge shattered.

Lee’s Sword

I came across this article on Facebook and found it extremely fascinating, so I wanted to share. Let me know what you think.

The Return of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Sword

by Kev Lee

The famous sword of Gen. Robert E. Lee is making news this week because its finally returning to Lee’s place of surrender more than 146 years after the Civil War. Anyone who’s not a history buff might wonder what the big deal is, but for decades, there’s been a myth surrounding Lee’s sword.


Legend has it that upon surrender to Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant after the Battle of Appomattox Court House, Lee gave up his sword to Grant as a traditional gesture, but Grant refused the sword. History has a funny way of making a big circle, as the sword is moving from its longtime resting place at the Museum of the Confederacy in downtown Richmond to a new museum in Appomattox, Va.


Even if you don’t care too much about history, Lee’s sword is a notable and unique French-made sword. The 40 1/2 inch sword has a lion’s head on the pommel (the knob at the bottom of the handle) and an ivory grip. The sword has lost all its gold color from years of polishing and upkeep, but was recently restored so it glows and glitters once again.


There is writing on each side of the blade. One side reads “Gen. Robert E. Lee CSA from a Marylander 1863” while the other side says “Aide toi dieu l’aidera.” That means “Help yourself and God will help you.” The sword also comes with a scabbard made of blued steel, which is partially protected from rust. They aren’t sure who made the sword, but they know it would have been extremely expensive in the 1800s. The sword was only for ceremonial use and there’s no sign he used it in battle.


If you want to look at this amazing piece of history and craftsmanship, the sword will also be visiting two more museums in Virginia.

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