J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Stories of Christmases Past

Here are some stories about what the South experienced during the War Between the States. By 1862, inflation in the South was rampant, as the following article describes.

CONFEDERATE PRESIDENT CELEBRATES CHRISTMAS IN MISSISSIPPI

Confederate President Jefferson Davis celebrated Christmas in his home in Mississippi.

“After an absence of nearly two years,” he said, “I again find myself among those who…have ever been the trusted object of my affection.”

But Confederate Christmas celebrations in the area were cut short by reports of Union troop movements on the Mississippi threatening Vicksburg.

In the fall of 1862, Confederate refugees from the fighting in the areas surrounding the capital began to flood into the city. They included those who fled farms and towns now in Union-held territory, wives of Confederate soldiers looking for employment, and the destitute.

This influx of refugees drove rent prices much higher than they’d been previously, and wartime inflation sent prices on everyday goods skyrocketing. In the city, ten pounds of bacon, which cost $1.25 in 1860, now cost $10. Four pounds of coffee jumped from $0.50 to $20.

Richmond diarist and author Sallie Brock Putnam wrote about the sadness of Christmas for families who had lost soldiers in the war:

The Christmas dinner passed off gloomily. The vacant chairs were multiplied in Southern homes, and even the children who had curiously questioned the cause of the absence of the young soldier brother from the festive board, had heard too much, had seen too much, and knew too well why sad-colored garments were worn by the mother, and why the fold of rusty crape placed around the worn hat of the father, and why the joyous mirth of the sister was restrained, and her beautiful figure draped in mourning. Congratulations were forced, and tears had taken the place of smiles on countenances where cheerfulness was wont to reign.

Christmas of 1862 saw an important cultural development with the emergence of the modern image of Santa Claus. Famed illustrator FOC Darley published an edition of Clement Clark Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas (‘Twas the Night Before Christmas) featuring drawings of Santa as a plump man with a pipe, furry coat and pointed hat.

Santa

Thomas Nast, who in the late 19th century produced what came to be regarded as the definitive representations of St. Nick, published his first Santa drawing in Harper’s Weekly, January 3, 1863. “Santa Claus in Camp“ showed a star-spangled Santa in his reindeer-drawn sleigh handing out presents to jubilant soldiers.

Santa in camp

General Robert E. Lee in Gordonsville reported 40,000 soldiers watched a baseball game at Hilton Head, S.C., between the 165th New York Zouave regiment and a picked team from other units. One of the players was Abraham Gilbert Mills, later president of the National League.

Across the South there were movements of troops. Confederate General John Hunt Morgan engaged in his famous Christmas Raid in Kentucky; on that single day, Morgan’s men destroyed everything they possibly could of the improvements that the Louisville & Nashville Railroad had made along 35 miles of track from Bacon Creek to Lebanon Junction.

Robert E. Lee wrote his wife, “What a cruel thing is war. To separate & destroy families & friends & mar the purest joy and happiness God has granted us in this world…. I pray that on this day when ‘peace & good will’ are preached to all mankind that better thoughts will fill the hearts of our enemies & turn them to peace.”

Meanwhile, along the Rappahannock River, the two armies faced each other, probing their opponent’s lines looking for weak spots and capturing prisoners and supplies. Soldiers in both armies did what soldiers normally do during the winter. They rested and refitted. They entertained themselves with games and tournaments. They exchanged supplies with their fellow Americans across the river.

 

(Written by Peter Doré – English Friends of the South)

THE CHRISTMAS GIFT

Time was short as final preparations were underway for General Thomas J. Jackson’s famous Stonewall Brigade. Jackson had received orders from General Robert E. Lee to move his corps east from the Shenandoah towards the Rappahannock River. The Federal army under the command of General Burnside was gathering in great numbers across the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg in an attempt to sweep around Lee’s eastern flank and attack Richmond.

Jackson’s corps numbered over 38,000 soldiers, the largest command he had ever had. Among these troops were his old reliable, tried and true, Stonewall Brigade, also referred to informally as “Virginia’s First Brigade”. Organized and trained personally by Jackson at Harper’s Ferry in April 1861, the brigade would distinguish itself at the Battle of Manassas, and become one of the most famous combat units in the war.

Snow lay on the ground in Winchester at the Frederick County Courthouse as new volunteers were organized and drilled for their march to meet the enemy. A young soldier was given a Christmas gift made by his sweetheart. Like so many couples, they did not know what the future held.

A Winchester resident watching the men pass through the town remarked how poor looking the soldiers were. “They were very destitute, many without shoes, and all without overcoats or gloves, although the weather was freezing. Their poor hands looked so red and cold holding their muskets in the biting wind….They did not, however look dejected, but went their way right joyfully.”

 

THE CHRISTMAS CAROL

The years of 1861 and 1862 had been momentous for Thomas J. Jackson. He had gone from being an unknown VMI professor with a Major’s commission, to the rank of Lieutenant General commanding the II Corps in General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. In battle after battle Jackson’s army had defeated those who opposed them. “Stonewall” was now one of the most famous and feared generals of the war.

Snow blanketed the countryside on November 22 as Confederate divisions gathered in Winchester. General Lee’s communiqués to Jackson made it clear that it was time to consolidate the army, preparing for the Union Army’s next move. Jackson’s Corps numbered 33,000 troops, the largest he had ever commanded. The task of organizing and preparing the new II Corps was daunting, but the General was up to the challenge and kept on the move.

On an early November morning at the Opequon Presbyterian church, members of the choir practiced a favorite Christmas carol for the passing Stonewall Jackson and his men. With the fate of his army and possibly the South to be decided in the coming days, the beautiful melody of a Christmas carol in the distance uplifted General Jackson and his men as they prepared to leave for Fredericksburg.

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“The Christmas Carol”
Opequon Presbyterian Church, Kernstown, Virginia – Winter of 1862
Artwork by John Paul Strain

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“The Christmas Gift”

Men of the Stonewall Brigade, Frederick County Courthouse – Winchester, Virginia Winter of 1862

Artwork by John Paul Strain

(Articles courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Samuel A. Hughey Sons of Confederate Veterans camp 1452, vol. 42, issue no. 12, Dec. 2018 ed.)
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It’s That Time of Year

In exactly two weeks, it will be Christmas! It’s my favorite holiday. Here is an excerpt from my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, the first book in the Renegade Series. This glance into the past shows what a war-torn country was like in December, 1861.

ABGL B.R.A.G. Medallion

The day of Callie’s Christmas party arrived. Rena and Josie had primped for a week, repeatedly trying on the five dresses they owned between them, until they finally came to a decision. David didn’t give it much thought, since Callie’s charms had worn off with time, but he did carve a beautiful broach for her.

They reached the Copeland’s as dusk was setting in. It was an unseasonably warm evening, and Caroline remarked about how the weather seemed to be cooperating with the party. Pulling into the yard, they saw several other carriages and wagons parked outside. David directed Joe Boy to an open area. He jumped down, tied the draft horse to a shrub, greeted Percy, who was tending the horses, and after assisting his mother and sisters down from the wagon, he escorted them up the steps to the house. The stylings of festive violin music floated through the air. Caroline tapped on the door. Momentarily, Mr. Copeland answered, dressed in a waistcoat with matching black trousers.

“Why, there y’all are!” he greeted them happily. “Please do come in!”

Extending his hand to David, the two shook and followed the ladies into the parlor, which was aglow with glittering lights. Candles flickered on brass candlesticks, reflecting off blown-glass decorations that adorned an enormous pine Christmas tree regally standing in a corner. The women were attired in festive, colorful dresses, and the men wore fine suits. David thought the entire sparkling room was enchanting.

Josie and Rena saw some friends, so they went off to mingle. Mr. Copeland took Caroline’s arm and led her over to his wife, leaving David awkwardly alone. He gazed around for a familiar face, and finally found one. Jake ambled across the room in his direction, with Callie on his arm. She was radiant in a shimmering, bronze-colored, hooped gown. Her golden hair was drawn up and confined within a snood that matched the hue of her dress. Jake appeared similarly attractive in his best suit.

“Glad to see you could make it!” he exclaimed, giving his friend a playful punch on the arm.

“Y’all knew we couldn’t miss this.”

“Well, I should certainly hope not!” exclaimed Callie. “Everyone knows mine is the most extravagant party in the county this season. And we have cause for celebration, this bein’ the first yuletide since the start of the war.” Releasing Jake, she clamped onto David. “Jake, would you be a darlin’ and go fetch me some punch?”

“It would be my pleasure, Miss Callie,” he said with a smile. Giving David a wink, he strolled off into the crowd.

“Now, Mr. Summers, if you please, I would like you to come with me,” she said, giving his arm a tug, so he obediently followed along like a puppy.

The violinist, joined by a pianist, delved into a tender rendition of “Silent Night.” Callie stopped momentarily to listen, so David took his opportunity.

“Miss Callie, I made you a token,” he bashfully admitted. Withdrawing a small wrapped package from his pocket, he handed it to her.

“Well, I do declare! David, darlin’, you shouldn’t have!” She tore open the wrapping and pried open the box, revealing the broach he had painstakingly carved for her. “Why, it’s absolutely breathtakin’.” She pinned it onto the front of her gown. “I shall wear it always.”

Taking his hand, she leaned over to give him a gentle kiss on the cheek, barely missing his mouth.

He shied away, embarrassed. Clearing his throat while his face flushed, he muttered, “What did you want to show me, Miss Callie?”

“I would like to present you to some friends who are out back.”

He followed her to the garden, but immediately wished he hadn’t, for as soon as they were outside, he saw several faces he recognized.

“David, you know Owen Ridgeway, and his brother, Lemuel.”

“Hey, Summers,” said Lemuel in a friendly manner, but his older brother only glared.

“Hey, y’all,” David responded genially, for Callie’s sake.

Jake arrived, and handed Callie a glass filled with sparkling red fluid. Seeing the tension, he said, “Zeke, go on in and git yourself some punch.”

“Don’t mind if I do,” he said, taking his chance to escape the scene. He knew Callie was unaware of the conflict, but he was riled, and he didn’t wish to spoil her party, so he went inside to the food table.

The spread temporarily distracted him from a possible confrontation. Ham, turkey, stuffing, cornbread, pickles, garden vegetables, bread pudding, and assorted pies were displayed on gold leaf china. His mouth watered as he absorbed the sight.

Rena appeared beside him. “Are you enjoyin’ yourself?” she asked, taking a plate.

“I was, till Callie took me outside. That scoundrel Owen Ridgeway is here.”

“He is?”

“Yeah, and so is his brother. I don’t have a quarrel with him, though.”

“Jist avoid him, David,” she advised.

He looked over to see the seriousness in her gaze. “I’ll be on my best behavior for Ma’s sake, but if he tries to make a fuss, well …”

“Jist don’t.” Rena glared insistently at him before moving on.

Once he had filled his plate, he walked across the kitchen, sat at the table, and began eating. Soon, several guests joined him, and struck up a conversation about his father. Isabelle scurried about to accommodate the partygoers, as did the Copeland’s five slaves, and a few others the neighbors had brought along to help support them.

After lingering for half an hour, David excused himself. He walked into the parlor, where he saw Jake and Callie talking to Alice Walker, so he joined them.

“Oh, David, Miss Alice has jist informed us of the most dreadful news!” Callie leaned against Jake for support.

“What is it, Miss Alice?” he asked.

“We’re movin’ to California,” she announced. A broad smile spread across her young porcelain-like face.

“Californee is a right far piece away!” Jake exclaimed with a chuckle.

She nodded. “My pa has an uncle out that way who struck it rich, so we’re fixin’ to go next year sometime. Perhaps after spring thaw.”

David smirked through a flash of jealousy. “I wish I could go out to Californee and strike it rich,” he muttered.

Callie smiled at him. “Perhaps we can all go out for a visit later on,” she suggested hopefully. Turning toward the wall, she decided to change the subject. “David, have you seen the paintin’ my ma jist acquired?”

“No.” He drew closer to have a look.

“Pa bought it for her for Christmas. Ain’t it magnificent?”

“It surely is.” He gazed at the landscape, noticing how the bluish-purple colors of twilight were accurately represented.

“My ma says that it’s right fittin’ and all. She says that this paintin’, Twilight, symbolizes the transitions we’ve all been goin’ through—the new Confederacy and two new presidents, talk of freein’ the slaves, and the country splittin’ in two. It’s like the dawnin’ of a new day.”

David stared at the painting, reading her description into the swirls left by the artist’s brushstrokes, and reckoned she was right.

Mrs. Copeland’s high-pitched voice cut through the din. “May I have your attention, please?”

Callie’s father tapped on a crystal champagne glass with a piece of silverware, causing it to ring out. The participants grew quiet.

“We would like for all of our guests to please assemble out back in the garden!” she exclaimed, and motioned invitingly, so the partygoers followed her.

As David walked outside, he noticed the entire backyard had been redecorated. Paper lanterns strung across the length of the yard illuminated the setting, and musicians were gathered on a platform near the back. The violinist had transformed himself into a fiddle player. He was joined by a banjo player and a percussionist, who sat poised atop a stool with spoons in his hand.

“For our first song,” the banjo player announced, “we’re playin’ a fine tune by Stephen Foster, called ‘O Lemuel.’”

Owen guffawed at the reference, jabbing his little brother with his elbow. The music started, and the crowd coupled up. Walking out into the center of the straw-covered yard, they began swirling to the music. The chill in the air seemed to dissipate as the dancers moved in synchronized harmony across the makeshift dance floor.

David watched while a schoolmate, Thomas Halsey, escorted Rena. Jake and Callie took to the floor, as did their parents, even though Mr. Kimball’s injured leg prevented him from dancing with much elegance. Like he usually did at gatherings such as these, David partnered with his mother and younger sister, dancing to the lively melodies of “The Yellow Rose of Texas” and “Jim along Josie.” He danced with Alice, and once, timidly, with Callie, who complimented him on his stylish grace. When the music changed to a waltz, she stated that she thought he would easily fit into high society with his fancy footwork.

After the musicians took a break, he strolled into the house for refreshment. Owen followed, confronting him in the kitchen.

“Think you’re quite the rooster, don’t you? Dancin’ with every gal at the party.” He stared provokingly with penetrating green eyes, his blond hair tussled atop his head.

David whirled around to face him. Owen had always been a showoff, and was constantly teasing him because he was left-handed, and trying to outdo him at every opportunity. 

“That ain’t none of your concern. Savvy?”

Owen snorted. “You’re worthless. You ain’t nothin’ but a weasel. All you can do is hide behind them skirts!”

Rena entered to see her brother bristle at his adversary. “David …” she warned.

“Not now, Rena,” he growled back.

“Recall what we discussed.” She could see from across the room that her brother’s eyes were darkening from hazel to brown, which to her was a bad indication.

“I want to have a word with you out on the veranda, Ridgeway,” David stated.

He tromped off through the house. Owen grinned, traipsing behind. David heard his mother’s voice as she entered the kitchen. 

“What’s goin’ on in here?” she asked.

“Dere’s ‘bout to be trouble out front, Miss Caroline,” Isabelle explained as she gathered a trayful of dirty dishes.

“It’s Owen Ridgeway again, Ma,” added Josie.

Caroline growled, “I’ll put a stop to this.” 

“No, Mrs. Summers,” Jake intercepted. “Allow me.” He sauntered through the house as voices outside escalated, and went outside to see David and Owen glaring intensely while throwing verbal spears at each other.

“I know it was you who killed my dog last winter!” David roared. “You did it jist to spite me, because you were jealous!”

“Why would I be jealous of you?” Owen mocked a laugh.

“Because I’m smarter than you, and you know it.”

“You cheated on those school exams so you could graduate! You lied about your pa fightin’ at Manassas, too! You’re spoiled and soft!”

“I’ll have you take that back!”

“Now, boys,” Jake interrupted, “there ain’t no need for—”

Suddenly, Owen lurched at David, who threw a punch into his attacker’s face. They were immediately wrestling on the veranda, tumbling over each other while grunting, cursing, and yelling. Members of the party dashed outside, alarmed by the commotion. Jake managed to break the two apart, and held his friend’s arms behind his back. Lemuel seized his brother in the same manner. The two opponents snorted like bulls, their faces red with vehemence. A trail of scarlet blood trickled from Owen’s nose.

“Take it easy!” Jake hollered.

Mr. Copeland stepped in. “What is the meaning of this?! I will not have you two behave this way at my gatherin’!” He stomped over to Owen and took him by the ear. “I’m throwin’ you out, young man! You’re no longer welcome here!” Leading Owen to the steps, he thrust him toward the yard. Lemuel meekly scurried after his brother. “Off with you now, and don’t come back!”

The brothers staggered toward their wagon, climbed in, and rode off down the lane.

Turning toward David, who was panting to catch his breath, Mr. Copeland sighed. “David, I thought better of you than this.” He walked past him and went inside.

The words stung more than any expulsion could. Frowning, he looked at his startled family, at Jake, who simpered at him, and at Callie, who scowled at him. He knew what he had done, although it was unintentional, and he felt deeply ashamed. He had ruined Callie’s Christmas party.

Soon, the family decided it was best to leave. Barely speaking to each other, they returned home and retired to their bedchambers. The next morning, on their way back from church, Josie broke the silence.

“How come Owen Ridgeway don’t like you?” she asked straightforwardly.

David shrugged. “He never has, and I don’t cotton to him, neither.”

She chuckled faintly. “I reckon you would if he was nice to you.”

He shrugged again. It was a situation he assumed he would likely never know.

The Death of Jefferson Davis, December 6 1889

 

The Christmas Season of 1889, was a time of sadness in Dixie. Hundreds of thousands of people came to remember and pay their last respects to Jefferson Davis in the crescent city of New Orleans.

On December 6, 1889, Jefferson Davis died at the home of a friend. Do our young people who Davis was?

Jefferson Davis graduated from West Point Military Academy, served valiantly in the War with Mexico, was Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce, elected US Senator from Mississippi and was the first and only President of the Confederate States of America. Davis also wrote the book, “Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government” at his last home in Mississippi.

Jefferson Davis, and wife Varina, found great contentment and peace at “Beauvoir” their beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast Home. This is where he wished to die when his time came but it was not to be.

In November 1889, Varina attended to their home as Davis left for Brierfield Plantation to take care of family business. As he traveled through New Orleans Davis was exposed to a cold-rain that caused him a severe cold and bronchitis that was further complicated by Malaria.

Milo Copper, a former servant of the Davis family, upon hearing of Davis’ illness, made the long trip from Florida to New Orleans to be near Davis’ side. As Cooper entered Davis’ sick room, he burst into tears and fell on his knees and prayed that God would spare the life of Jefferson Davis and bless the family.

Jefferson Davis died between 12:30AM and 1:00AM on December 6, 1889. The news of his death hit the front page of many Southern newspapers. The

praises and tributes read similar to that of a New Orleans paper that read,

“Throughout the South are Lamentations and tears; in every country on the globe where there are lovers of liberty there is mourning; wherever there are men who love heroic patriotism, dauntless resolution, fortitude or intellectual power, there is an sincere sorrowing. The beloved of our land, the unfaltering upholder of constitutional liberty, the typical hero and sage, is no more; the fearless heart that beats with sympathy for all mankind is stilled forever, a great light is gone—- Jefferson Davis is dead!”

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The body of Jefferson Davis laid in state at the city hall of New Orleans, Louisiana from midnight, December 6, 1889, to December 11th. The United States and Confederate flags hung from above and in the city hall that was covered with many flowers.

The church bells toiled as over 80,000 people lined the streets of New Orleans to pay their respects to a Southern legend. All schools and businesses were closed that day.

Those men who comprised the honor Guard for the procession to Metairie Cemetery included: the Army of Northern Virginia Association, the Army of Tennessee and the Washington Artillery. Metairie Cemetery would be a temporary burial place for Davis as he was moved in 1893, by funeral train to Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.

The sad part of this story is that the United States War Department did not recognize Davis and the US flag was not flown at half-mast. The US flag was flown at half-mast in the South. Jefferson Davis was the only former Secretary of War that was not given the respect and honor by the United States Government.

Article written by Calvin E. Johnson, Jr.

Source of information: The 1990, first quarter edition of the Southern Partisan Magazine. The magazine article, by freelance writer Mrs. Peggy Robbins, was entitled, “Jefferson Davis’ Death.”

(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans, Volume 42, Issue No . 12, Dec. 2018 ed.)

Another Assault on Southern History

This event happened on November 24. Let me know what you think about this article and how the media handled the situation. Personally, I think the media tainted the situation to make it look like the SCV was committing some kind of crime or something.
ARKANSAS SATURDAY NIGHT

Saturday night the city of Springdale, Arkansas enjoyed its annual Christmas parade. The event was made a little less enjoyable for the Southerners in the crowd.

In the parade a float sponsored by the Arkansas Division Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV). On the float were two men dressed up as Confederate soldiers, one holding a rifle with a bayonet.

AR Parade

KNWA in nearby Rogers, Arkansas carried some video of an incident involving the SCV float in which the cameraman asked, “Why are there Confederate soldiers out here?”

One of the SCV re-enactors waved to the section of the crowd where the cameraman man was. The trailer slowed to a stop, with children in the background yelling for candy. A woman’s voice could faintly be heard asking a question: “Why do you have a rifle with a bayonet on it?” As she repeated her question, the soldier answered: “I’m looking for Yankees.” Then a man’s voice was heard: “Y’all fighting for slavery?…Y’all fighting for slavery?”

“No. We are against it, sir,” another man said from the trailer.

“Isn’t that what the South fought for?” The man from the street said.

With that the segment was ended. Hopefully one of our compatriots in Arkansas gave the crowd and cameraman a much needed history lesson.

Sach Oliver, a member of the board for the Rodeo of the Ozarks, the group which sponsored the parade, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that the Downtown Springdale Alliance had a “stern message” for the Confederate float: “The November 24th Christmas Parade of the Ozarks float featuring the Confederate flag and soldiers was not approved by DSA, nor is its message condoned by our staff or board of directors.”

(Article courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, Nov. 30, 2018 ed.)

An Interesting Twist of Events

Perhaps the assault on historical monuments and markers is losing momentum. If this article is any indication, it might be. I certainly hope so. As I have stated in past posts, I believe destroying these national treasures is destroying our history.

Lakeland

A MURDER MAY SAVE A MONUMENT

Yes, You read right!

Hold the presses on the recent vote that we reported last week to remove the Confederate monument in Lakeland, Florida by the end of January.
The driving force behind the monument’s removal, Commissioner Michael Dunn, has resigned after being charged with second-degree murder. This is forcing a special election scheduled for January 15th to elect Dunn’s replacement.

There is also a lot of opposition around town to the Commission’s decision to install red-light cameras to raise the money to pay for the monument’s removal.

So Commissioner Scott Franklin has asked City Attorney Tim McCausland to add a line on the Jan. 15 ballot allowing the voters of Lakeland to decide the fate of the monument and on the purchase/installation of red light cameras.
Commissioner Troller wanted the monument put on a ballot last year but the Mayor and Commission refused to allow that for fear that a public vote may have ended in the monument’s favor. Now it would appear that the politicians prefer the monument’s final fate be blamed on the voters and not on themselves.

Commissioner Selvage has said that he has personally agonized over the decision to move the monument and how to pay for it. He said he has spent time in Munn Park looking at the statue. “I imagine him to be a 19-year-old young man, whose country was being invaded and he went to serve,” said the U.S. Marine veteran who served in Vietnam. “One hundred years later, I was 19, I did the same thing – I went to fight communists. I didn’t know what in the heck I was doing, I found myself in a far-off land, fighting, and now people say that was wrong, that was immoral. I looked at that soldier and thought, ‘That soldier was the same. He went to save his hide and, unlike me, he didn’t come back.'” Selvage added that the monument should remain in or be removed to, “where it will be treated with honor and respect.”

(Dr. Ed is a pastor, author, public speaker, radio personality, lobbyist, re-enactor, and the Director of Dixie Heritage.)
(Article courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, Nov. 23, 2018 ed.)

Speaking Engagement at UCCS

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Yesterday, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of students at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS). This event was held in conjunction with NaNoWriMo. If you are unfamiliar of this acronym, it stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is held during the month of November. The object of NaNoWriMo is to provoke writers and prospective authors into writing a novel. Authors don’t have to finish their projects. The goal is for them to complete writing a total of several thousand words by the end of the month, and the NaNoWriMo website tracks their progress. Since its start, NaNoWriMo has grown internationally. I have completed the challenge three times. In fact, I even got a t-shirt several years ago to prove it!

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My audience at the Writing Center was very attentive as I told them about my journey as an author and how my writing has evolved over the years. It was fun to see their expressions when I explained how I was originally inspired to write about the Civil War, how I conducted research, chose characters, and constructed plot lines. We talked about my writing process in general, how much time I spend researching each book, and self-publishing vs. traditional.

nanowrimo

Because all the students are participating in NaNoWriMo, I was curious to find out what projects they’ve been working on. I loved their enthusiasm as they told me about their prospective novels. Most are writing fantasy and Sci-Fi, which I found interesting, since they are all in their late teens and early twenties. One attendee said his novel is historical fiction with a bit of fantasy thrown in. He said he heard that all a writer has to do is include a unicorn to make their story a fantasy and then that author doesn’t have to be completely historically accurate. I thought his analogy was amusing! Speaking at UCCS was a great experience, and I’m grateful to have participated. Seeing new writers bud is the best!

The Second Thanksgiving

I recently read this article and found it very interesting so I wanted to share. As all Americans know, the Pilgrims held the first Thanksgiving, which has become a national holiday. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln declared that the fourth Thursday of November would be designated as a national holiday, and it has been celebrated ever since his proclamation in 1863. However, it seems Confederate President Jefferson Davis beat him to the punch. Maybe Lincoln decided to follow suit and declare the holiday after Davis did. Whatever the reason, this is an interesting bit of history, nevertheless.

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JEFFERSON DAVIS’ THANKSGIVING

PROCLAMATION OF 1861

WHEREAS, it hath pleased Almighty God, the Sovereign Disposer of events, to protect and defend us hitherto in our conflicts with our enemies as to be unto them a shield.

And whereas, with grateful thanks we recognize His hand and acknowledge that not unto us, but unto Him, belongeth the victory, and in humble dependence upon His almighty strength, and trusting in the justness of our purpose, we appeal to Him that He may set at naught the efforts of our enemies, and humble them to confusion and shame.

Now therefore, I, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States, in view of impending conflict, do hereby set apart Friday, the 15th day of November, as a day of national humiliation and prayer, and do hereby invite the reverend clergy and the people of these Confederate States to repair on that day to their homes and usual places of public worship, and to implore blessing of Almighty God upon our people, that he may give us victory over our enemies, preserve our homes and altars from pollution, and secure to us the restoration of peace and prosperity.

Given under hand and seal of the Confederate States at Richmond, this the 31st day of October, year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and sixty one.
By the President, JEFFERSON DAVIS

discerninghistory.com/2013/11/jefferson-daviss- thanksgiving-proclamation-of-1861/

(Article courtesy of The Jeff Davis Legion, Official Publication of the Mississippi Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, November 2018 ed.)

www.mississippiscv.org

My Recent Speaking Engagement Featured in Local Press

Recently, I was invited to speak at a local event sponsored by the American Association of University Women (AAUW). This event, held in Colorado Springs, features local authors, and raises funds to provide college scholarships to women who could not afford to go to school on their own. It was heartrending to hear the stories about this year’s recipients, and I was very honored to be invited to speak on their behalf. Today, the local newspaper, the Colorado Springs Gazette, featured a story about the event, so I am sharing it here. I found the article to be very informative, except that my quote was taken out of context. The article is inaccurate in stating that I lock myself in a room, listen to Civil War music and lose myself in imagination. However, I thought the quote was quite amusing.

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Annual event celebrates local authors, awards scholarships

  • By:

Mary Taylor Young knows from personal experience that reading and writing is key to developing as a writer.

“People like reading things that are a part of their life. I try to find evocative words to create an image, so I read and write a lot,” the author told American Association of University Women’s Colorado Springs Branch (AAUW CSB) members during an Oct. 27 Author’s Day recognition breakfast.

Held at the Colorado Springs Shrine Club, the annual event celebrated the creative works of three local authors and raised money to provide college scholarships for local women. Authors J. D. R. Hawkins and Cindy Skaggs also were honored.

Since its inception, the AAUW CSB has presented numerous scholarships. In 2008, one $1,000 and one $500 scholarship were awarded and last year six $1,200 scholarships were presented. Proceeds will fund next year’s scholarships.

“Thank you for taking part in the success of these women which wouldn’t be possible without your support,” Scholarship Chair Char Gagne told the 100-plus guests who attended.

Branch President Nancy Holt welcomed guests, adding, “This room is full of women who love to read. Some love to write and are inspired by the authors who are here today.”

One of Colorado’s best-known nonfiction authors, Young has written about Colorado’s landscape and heritage for three decades. The award-winning author has penned 17 books including “Rocky Mountain National Park: The First 100 Years,” and “Land of Grass and Sky: A Naturalist’s Prairie Journey.”

For 16 years The Rocky Mountain News published Young’s “Words on Birds” column. The Friends of the Pikes Peak Library District named Young a 2018 Frank Waters Award winner for exemplary literary achievement.

Young’s passion for writing about the West originated from her family’s military roots and Rocky Mountain upbringing, she said. “My path to writing wasn’t a direct one. My dad was career Army and I lived in 10 different homes. Spending summers running through the mountains helped fix my path because writing originally wasn’t on my radar,” Young said.

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Known chiefly for her historical writing, Hawkins’ works include the Renegade Series: A Beautiful Glittering Lie and A Rebel Among Us, both John Esten Cooke Fiction Award recipients. She is a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, International Women’s Writing Guild, Pikes Peak Writers and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.

Holt praised Hawkins for the word imagery used to describe Civil War battlefields in her book, The Beckoning Hellfire. Extensive research, music and imagination were key elements for writing the book, Hawkins said. “I locked myself in my room, put on Civil War music and lost myself in imagination,” Hawkins said.

By contrast, it was stories about mob bosses, horse thieves, cold-blooded killers and the last honest man that inspired Skaggs to write. To date she has written seven romantic suspense novels that include “The Untouchables” trilogy and a novella for Entangled Publishing titled “Untouchable, An Untouchable Christmas, Unforgettable and Unstoppable.”

Skaggs encouraged prospective authors to appreciate editors and to attend book conferences to pitch their idea to agents. “Self-publishing is expensive and can cost up to $2,000 before marketing,” Skaggs said.

Local resident Cindi Zenkert Strange attended the event because, “I love books and writers, and wanted to hear from local and regional authors who represent different genres.”

A silent auction comprised of sports clothing, wine and wine glass, and cheese and party mix baskets also figured in the celebration. Perry Park rounds of golf, two-night stay at The Lodge, at the Club at Flying Horse were among the gifts up for grabs.

A fiber-fusion collage created by local artist Barbara Diamond, and paintings by Japanese artist Kazuko Stern and Heddy DuCharme also were available. “President-Elect Kathy Olson invited me to show my stuff to the public. I am glad I am here,” said Diamond who is an instructor at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

Founded in 1881, the AAUW promotes equity for all women and girls, life-long education and positive societal change. AAUW has more than 100,000 members in 1,000 branches throughout the nation. The event is held the last Saturday in October. “We’re non-partisan and welcome new members,” Olson said.

Hooked on Books volunteer Mary Ciletti handled book sales and Aspen Pointe Catering, the menu. To learn more contact Membership Vice President Melanie Hudson at 205-7639 or visit coloradosprings-co.aauw.net/scholarships/2017-authors-day/.

https://gazette.com/cheyenneedition/annual-event-celebrates-local-authors-awards-scholarships/article_e74ba01a-e835-11e8-8c59-2365de6bfe01.html

Book Blitz – When Our Worlds Meet Again

~ Book Blitz ~

When Our Worlds Meet Again by Aniesha Brahma

16th November 2018

About the Book:

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Two years after the events of ‘When Our Worlds Collide’, Zayn and Akriti are now leading extremely different lives. Akriti has come back from her stint at the business school and running her mother’s café. Zayn has run into trouble in his PhD program and has come home for a break. While he thinks that things are just as he’d left them two years ago, that is far from the truth. In a last ditch attempt to make Akriti remember the connection they had once shared, Zayn tries to recreate all their memories. But things are never the same when collided worlds meet again. 


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Prologue

2015.

Akriti was sitting at the cash counter of her mother’s little café going over the expenses for the day. Her headphones were plugged into her ears as she listened to songs on her phone. Her laptop was propelled open in front of her as she made notes on what else needed to be done the next day.

In the two years that she had been gone, the café had not changed at all. Her mother had kept all the renovations that Akriti and her colleagues had done two years ago. The only difference was that now there was a bulletin board next to the chalkboard menu that had been installed just a few weeks ago. On the bulletin board hung a poster that announced that next week’s Poetry Slam would start at 6PM sharp, and Suzanna needed to be contacted for early registration.

Akriti finished her work and shut down her laptop. She looked around the café in grim satisfaction and let out a happy little sigh. The music from her phone suddenly stopped playing. Glancing down she saw that her phone had started buzzing, flashing a number she had not seen on her phone in quite a while.

Debating for a minute, she received the call.

“Hi, Zayn.”

Airports have seen more sincere kisses than weddings it is said. As Zayn Banerjee waited to catch his flight back home, he witnessed one too many couples bidding each other teary eyed goodbyes. It was watching these strangers that he remembered how it had felt two years ago when he had left his home behind in pursuit of higher studies. How he had come to this alien land which had eventually led him to a lot of heartache and misery!

But there had been something good about those two years. There had been someone who had seen past all his imperfections and focused only on the good that was in him. Who had been his friend against all odds and yet, they had fallen out of touch with each other over the course of two years. He wondered if she was still using the same number. He wondered if she still had his number saved.

On an impulse, he pulled out his phone and dialed her number. She answered it on the third ring.

“Hi, Zayn.”

“Akriti.”

He was pleased as punch that she remembered him.

“Did you want something?”

“I am just calling to let you know that I’d be home soon.”

“Oh.”

“Oh? Honestly, I was hoping for a reaction better than oh.”

“Zayn, it’s really late here. Let’s talk when you’re in town?”

“I’ll do you one better. I’ll come see you.”

“Great. Safe flight.”

Then the line went dead. Zayn stared at the phone, wondering if their friendship was lost over the course of time. This wasn’t like the Akriti he remembered.

This wasn’t his Akriti at all.

Akriti hung up the phone feeling utterly drained. Once upon a time this was a source of her happiness but tonight he was a cause of her stress. The last thing she needed was for Zayn to come barging into her life once more.

She remembered all the memories that they had made together two years ago. The time when she’d finally felt okay to let her guard down and just be herself. It seemed to her like it was a lifetime ago. But he’d left. Like everyone else in her life and she had found herself consumed by her loneliness. Going off to business school had only made Akriti revert back to her old self.

That’s a lie they tell you, Akriti thought bitterly to herself, as she put her headphones back on and started listening to music again, time doesn’t heal a damn thing. It just burns the memories into your mind.


About the Author:
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Aniesha Brahma knew she wanted to be a writer since she was six years old. She was schooled in Dolna Day School and went on to pursue B.A., M.A., and M.Phil in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur Univeristy. She currently lives in Kolkata, with her family and five pet cats. She is the author of All Signs Lead Back to You, When Our Worlds Collide, The Guitar Girl and The Secret Proposal. She compiled and edited the 10 volumes series, ‘Children’s Classic Stories’ with love and great efforts.


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Release Day Blitz – The Hidden Children

~ Release Day Blitz ~

The Hidden Children (The Lost Grimoire #1)

by Reshma K.Barshikar

13th November 2018

About the Book:

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‘What price would you pay to be extraordinary? What would you do to speak to a butterfly? 

Shayamukthy cruises through life: shooting hoops, daydreaming and listening to her favourite books. Even moving from the US to India, to a new school, a new culture, hasn’t really rattled her. But something isn’t right anymore and it begins when ‘New Girl’ joins the school.

She pulls Shui into a world of magic and wonderment, a world she has been hidden from all her life. What starts as a quest to look for a lost book, hurtles Shui into a world where people live in trees, talk to the dead and speak to butterflies.

But like all power, magic comes at a steep price, and under all things wondrous lie demons waiting to crawl out. The more Shui learns, the more she doubts everything and everyone around her. 

Will she be able to master her powers, or will they devour her and everyone she loves?

 

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Read an Excerpt:

I think I am ordinary. I lack purpose. Boohoo you think, typical teenager angst. But if I died tomorrow, it wouldn’t impact anyone’s life except my parents’. My friends, on the other hand, they have a life. See them there, yes there, to the right, next to the banyan tree behind the basketball court. You see a slightly pudgy boy and a beautiful girl? The boy’s name is Jai. The girl’s name is Nallini. Both have purpose. Jai wants to write comic books. He wants to be like Neil Gaiman or something, some famous comic-book guy. Nallini wants to be an actress, the next Deepika Padukone – that, and to win next year’s gold medal in Jujitsu.

She has absolutely no problems reconciling the inherent contradictions in both her desires.

I want nothing, need nothing, except something to need. I can’t see past today even to tomorrow; I have a hard enough time figuring out what I am now. I am not from a broken home, unless you count the fact that parts of the building I live in are falling apart. I am not poor, not like Anuki Chabria who got called out of her exam because her parents couldn’t pay her fees. I do not have acne bursting on my face, making me look like a human cheese grater. I am just, well, ordinary. So could you really blame me? Blame me for wanting to be special? Blame me for wanting to be fierce? To be like Storm from the X-Men, or like Beyoncé? When I look back now, at everything that has happened in the last few months, I realise I’m just as much to blame as her. The big question – well, it’s not a big question at all, really, because it’s all rubbish now, because you can’t go back. Even can’t go back. So the absurd question everyone around me seems to asking is – would I have acted differently, would I rather NOT be the person I am now?

No.

And neither would you. What price wouldn’t you pay to be extraordinary, to ride the wind, to float with unicorns, to be the one chosen…? Because, you see, I’ve gotten into some serious trouble and want to explain myself. I didn’t mean for things to happen. I didn’t mean for someone to die. So I ask you – wouldn’t you have said yes if someone said – ‘Do you want to learn how to speak to a butterfly?’ 

About the Author:

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Travel writer and novelist Reshma K Barshikar is an erstwhile Investment Banker who, as she tells it, ‘fell down a rabbit hole and discovered a world outside a fluorescent cubicle.’ As a travel and features writer, she contributes to National Geographic Traveller, Harper’s Bazaar, Grazia, The Sunday Guardian, SilverKris, The Mint Lounge and The Hindu. Fade Into Red, published by Random House India was her debut novel and featured in Amazon Top 10 Bestsellers. She also holds well renowned workshops for young adults at both BDL Museum and Kala Ghoda and is keen to build a strong Young Adult reading and writing community to fill the desperate lack of young adult fiction in the Indian Market. Her new Young Adult novel, The Hidden Children, will be launching at the Vizag Junior Literary Festival. Reshma is from the ISB Class of 2003. She calls both Mumbai and the Nilgiris home. 

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