J.D.R. Hawkins

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

You’ve Just Crossed Over Into the Twilight Zone

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Stranger things have happened. Coincidences, whether we admit it or not, are common occurrence, as are daja vu, although when they happen, we sometimes disregard them. I love watching old movies and late night TV. While watching an episode of the Twilight Zone the other night, I discovered something surprising.

It seems that one of the soldiers who was killed at the Battle of Little Bighorn was named David Summers. I found this freaky, since this is the name I chose for the antagonist in my Renegade series. Upon further research, I discovered that Mr. Summers of the 7th US Cavalry was from Missouri, but my main character is from Alabama. Phew!

DS

Another weird coincidence happened to me while writing A Beckoning Hellfire (soon to be re-released). I chose a character’s name, William Williams, and learned that my character and a real person had the same name, and fought for the same cause with the same Confederate cavalry unit. Strange but true!

I love researching history, because I frequently discover strange things like these. It’s fun and fascinating. Now I have a new challenge: how to incorporate my newly-acquired knowledge about David Summers into my next novel.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/6086017/david-summers

They Ended Up in the Strangest Places

I found this article very interesting, so I wanted to share. It amazes me how people who lived during the American Civil War interacted, and what became of them after the war ended. This example discusses the life of one man who supported the Confederate cause.

Grave

CHARLES KUHN PRIOLEAU

The grave of a man who bankrolled the Confederate side in the American Civil War, and ended up costing the British government £3.3m in compensation to the victorious north, has been tracked down in a patch of brambles in a London cemetery. Charles Kuhn Prioleau, a cotton merchant born in Charleston, South Carolina, was based in Liverpool during the war, from 1861 to 1865. He disappeared from history in a bonfire of company records and correspondence after his firm went bankrupt, having sent supplies, funds, and blockade-busting ships to the Confederates. But his mortal remains have now been traced to Kensal Green cemetery by a US academic who is gradually unearthing the almost forgotten story of Confederate support in England, which takes in the highest ranks of British politics and society.

Tom Sebrell, a history lecturer at University College London, led a small gang of students into the undergrowth armed with pruning shears and cemetery burial records supplied by the Friends of Kensal Green. They literally fell over Prioleau’s broken headstone. His war efforts began as an attempt to save his business when the cotton trade crucial to the economy both of the southern states of America and the Lancashire mill owners collapsed. Prioleau’s contribution to the Confederate cause grew to sending supplies, weapons, and ammunition to those states, and finally to buying, equipping and crewing warships. Through agents, he acquired three of the most notorious privateers of the Civil War: the CSS Alabama and the CSS Florida, built on Merseyside, and the CSS Shenandoah, built on Tyneside. The first ship in particular, with a mainly English crew, caused such havoc that the £3.3m the British eventually paid the US government was known as “the Alabama claim.”

After the war, Sebrell says Prioleau simply vanished. His company, Fraser, Trenholm and Co., went bankrupt, almost certainly to pre-empt compensation claims. He has descendants in England, Africa and the US, but none knew where he was buried. One branch thought Belgium, another somewhere called Kelsall. The latter name led Sebrell and his team to Kensal Green. Prioleau was buried there in 1887 among grand neighbors including: the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel; Lady Byron, the poet’s wife; the novelist Anthony Trollope; and WH Smith of newsagents fame. But while some of their monuments are mini-cathedrals in grandeur, Prioleau’s, beside the Liverpool in-laws who moved to London with him, is comparatively modest. It certainly fails to match the millionaire style of his surviving home in Liverpool, now owned by the university. Also traced by Sebrell, the house features portraits of Prioleau and his wife, Mary, as well as elaborate Confederate decoration in all the main rooms.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/aug/10/grave-of-confederate-backer-found

(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans, President Jefferson Davis Chapter Military Order of the Stars and Bars, vol. 44, issue #2, February 2020)

 

Guest Post by Julian Lane

Occasionally, I like to feature fellow bloggers on my site. Although these blog posts typically discuss other topics than what I usually write about or feature, I still post them to give other writers a chance to be seen. This article is very interesting, and since my husband and I recently downsized, I thought you might be interested as well.

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8 Common Mistakes People Make When Downsizing Homes

As a society, we are shifting away from the “more is better” mentality that had us all looking for huge homes with unlimited storage space. In the face of piles of clutter and huge maintenance costs, downsizing to a smaller home has started to look like the best solution. 

Downsizing is not as hard as it seems, but getting it right can be tricky. Whether you are a family seeking simplicity, a senior planning their golden years, or a millennial who wants to embrace minimalism, here are the mistakes to avoid when you decide to downsize. 

Waiting Too Long

The longer you put downsizing off, the more money, time, and effort you will sink into a home you will have to move out of eventually. Signs that you should downsize include having a lot of unused space, home maintenance being overwhelming or unmanageable, a loved one getting older, or simply a desire to enjoy a simpler life. 

Expecting to Make Money

In the long run, downsizing will absolutely save you money on bills and maintenance. However, there are costs you need to consider, like moving, renovations, and HOA fees. You may also soon realize that smaller homes are not necessarily cheaper, especially in bigger cities. 

Not Considering Other Options

This is mainly an issue for seniors, who immediately assume downsizing to a smaller home is the best option for them. However, downsizing to an assisted living facility can also be a great choice, especially if they require some extra care. If you or a loved one are thinking of downsizing due to age, do tour a few local facilities to see if it could be for you. Bear in mind that the median cost of assisted living in Colorado is $49,140, so some facilities may not be in your budget. What’s also important is that you find a place that’s safe, secure, and suitable for your lifestyle.

Not Getting Rid of Enough Stuff

Many people are not selective enough when decluttering, which leads to cramming too much stuff into a smaller space. Not only will the house feel cramped, stressful, and unpleasant, but the clutter also poses a serious health risk, especially in the case of downsizing seniors. Specific clutter zones to watch out for include closets and cabinets, piles of paper under the bed, and things like shoes in hallways, which can cause you to trip and fall. 

Expecting the Same Furniture to Fit

Similarly, many people don’t consider how their furniture will look in a smaller home. Chances are it won’t all fit. Even if it technically fits, it may look clunky and out of proportion, or it may crowd the space (which, again, is dangerous for seniors). A free online digital room planner like Planner 5D can be an invaluable tool at this stage.  

Not Having a Decluttering Strategy 

A decluttering strategy is the most important element of staying motivated and on track. There are countless plans out there covering different approaches: a certain number of items a day, room by room, or just 15 minutes a day. Pick something that works with your moving and downsizing timeline, but give yourself plenty of time to accomplish these tasks. 

Not Having a Follow-Through Plan

Once you have finished sorting, you still have to actually sell, donate, or toss your items, and it is easy to lose momentum. Don’t let those boxes pile up, and have a plan for exactly how they will reach their intended destination. An easy solution is to get the things picked up — several charities offer this service, including Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity. 

Doing It Alone

Decluttering is a lot of hard work, so make sure you get some help. For instance, if your aging parent is downsizing, get all the family to help out. Alternatively, you could get help from a pro. A professional organizer will make the whole process a whole lot easier, but be prepared to pay around $30 to $80 an hour for the help. 

More and more people are seeing the value of smaller, simpler homes, which are easier to maintain, cheaper to live in, and suited to a more streamlined lifestyle. If you think downsizing could be for you, don’t hesitate to get started, but do take a moment to plan things out. You won’t regret downsizing, but you might regret rushing into it.

Release Day Blitz – Something Old, Something New

Just in time for Valentine’s Day! A compilation of seven bestselling authors, with seven romance stories. Check it out!

Something Old Something New Banner 1 copy

Something Old, Something New
– A DRA Production

Something Old, Something New Cover copy

Seven bestselling authors. Seven incredible second chance romances. One epic anthology.

What would you do for another chance with the one you love? 

Something Old, Something New – a unique novella anthology – tries to answer this question with fantastic, different, desi dramas.

Whether it is shapeshifters or shifting interracial relationships, single moms in small towns or rich alpha heroes, friends-to-lovers or passionate ex-husbands; this anthology has something for everyone.

Something Old, Something New explores the many different facets of love, forgiveness, fated mates and more in seven, distinctly Indian tales!

My Warmest Sorrow

by Preethi Venugopala

Something Old Something New Creative (5) copy

What would you do when you come face to face with your past?

When Ajay, now an IAS officer, is added into his college WhatsApp group, he is welcomed warmly by all his classmates. Except by Diana.

Diana is still living with the repercussions of what had happened in the past. She is thrown into despair by Ajay’s presence in the group.

Diana and Ajay were inseparable while in college. Their relationship had transitioned from being best friends to love overnight. But then fate had intervened in the form of Diana’s tyrant father who had separated them ruthlessly.

Five years of silence has created a wall of sorrow between them. Their interactions in the class WhatsApp group are nothing like what they once used to be. Every moment is churning out more anguish and unpleasantness.

How much have they changed?

Is love still hiding underneath their public facades?

What are the lies they are hiding?

Read an Excerpt from My Warmest Sorrow

My mobile phone rang as I unlocked the door to my flat. Who was calling me now? It was eleven o’clock on a Wednesday night.

As the project deadline was looming near, I had stayed back in the office till nine to complete the chunk of work I had scheduled for today. Structural designing demanded full dedication, even for a small-scale project. And my current project was unbelievably complex.

Wearily, I slumped onto the couch and rummaged in my bag to locate the phone.

“Diana, you won’t believe what happened today. And, where were you? I called you so many times,” shrieked Ashima, my engineering classmate, the moment I answered the phone.

I rolled my eyes but a smile curved my lips. Ashima had a flair for theatrics. What was it now?

“Go slow. I just returned home after a gruelling day. We have a deadline this Saturday.”

“Eek. Be like me and find a government job. The perks of a government job are endless. Private jobs suck, ” said Ashima.

“Now, now… you must go to that magnificent job tomorrow, right? Why are you staying up all night?”

Ashima had been like our dorm room alarm while in college. She dozed off at exactly nine and got up at five in the morning, every day, without fail. What had kept her awake today? Or had her so-called relaxing job altered her lifestyle?

“Idiot, check your WhatsApp messages. I don’t want to spoil the surprise. Thank me later. Goodnight for now.”

No! I wasn’t in the mood to drown in some WhatsApp group debate she might have started. Mostly, she called me for some additional support when she was on the verge of losing. Who was she arguing with today? Rahul or Avinash?

Most of my classmates were politically active and any new government decision or policies would undergo acute post-mortem inside our class WhatsApp group. Rahul was a devout follower of the Congress party, Avinash was a self-confessed Modi Bhakt and Ashima was a red comrade entirely. On some days, their arguments would last long into the night. I didn’t have the energy to jump into another such nonsensical discussion. All I wanted to do now was eat and sleep till the alarm rang at seven tomorrow morning.

I switched on the geyser to take a quick bath. Then I transferred the biryani I had bought into a plate and placed it into the oven to reheat it. In the present Bangalore climate, nothing stayed warm for long. I was not fond of the winters. It wasn’t the cold that bothered me, though. The winter season brought back long-lost memories, making me long for the warmth of a specific loving embrace. It also reminded me of my twenty-two-year-old self who had almost given up on life.

By the time I returned from the bath, there were two more missed calls from Ashima. What was wrong with this girl today?

As I dug into the tasty biryani, I turned on my phone data. Notification beeps began. I swiped left till I found the WhatsApp icon. I had 1200 plus unread messages just from the 2013 Civil Gang, my class WhatsApp group. Some serious discussion must be happening. I groaned inwardly. I was certainly not in the mood to drown in nasty arguments. But Ashima would probably kill me if I didn’t hop in and speak my bit.

Avinash and Ashima had sent me private messages as well. What was so urgent?

Curious, I opened the group chat. Avinash had added a new member. Though our class had a total strength of 60 students, there were only 45 were members in the group currently. Many of my former classmates were pursuing higher studies whereas some had landed jobs in distant lands. Hence, we had lost contact with many of them in the five years that had elapsed after graduation. Occasionally, a new member would be found and added by one of the admins. Then there would be a mad rush to get reacquainted with the new entrant.

The name of the person added today drove away all my lethargy in a second. I blinked twice to confirm if I had correctly read the name mentioned in Avinash’s welcoming message. Ajay Menon. Ajay… after all these years?

About the Author:

Preethi Venugopala copy

Preethi Venugopala stepped into the world of words during a sabbatical from her hectic civil engineering job after the birth of her son. She began as a blogger and wrote fiction to pass time. Her debut novel ‘Without You’ came out in 2015 and was received well. She was then mentored by eminent author Anita Nair at her writing platform ‘Anitas Attic’ in 2016. Since then, she has published 7 novels on Amazon and more than 15 short stories in various anthologies and platforms.

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COVER REVEAL!

As promised, I would like to reveal the new book cover for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. I’m so excited to share this with you! Please let me know what you think.

W1310_J.D.R. Hawkins.indd

This book has gone through quite a few transformations in the past few years. It was originally published by iUniverse, an “assisted” self-publishing company. Then it was published by a hybrid publisher. Now it is being published by Westwood Books Publishing, a new publishing company out of Florida. I’m thrilled to be a part of the Westwood Books Publishing family!

This book has received numerous five-star reviews, and is the recipient of the prestigious John Esten Cooke Fiction Award, as well as the B.R.A.G. Medallion. It also received special honors at the L.A. Book Festival.

I’d love to hear your feedback, so please, let me know what you think!

https://www.westwoodbookspublishing.com/books/a-beautiful-glittering-lie-a-novel-of-the-civil-war/

https://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Glittering-Lie-Novel-Civil/dp/1643619942/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=a+beautiful+glittering+le&qid=1581448921&sr=8-1

They Came From Near and Far

It has always fascinated me how the War Between the States was far more than that. It wasn’t cut and dry, North vs. South. Men from all walks of life, from all regions of the country, and even from many foreign lands, enlisted for the Confederate cause. Here is an example of just how far reaching the American Civil War really was.

AUSTRALIAN CONFEDERATES 

The William Kenyon Australian Confederates, SCV Camp 2160, was organized in Australia to honor those Confederate soldiers from, or who are buried in, Australia and New Zealand; and to perpetuate the memory of their dedicated sacrifice in defense of the Southern states. 

Unknown to many and forgotten by all, those dedicated veterans became citizens of Australia and New Zealand after the War Between the States and were buried, many without even a stone to mark their grave, in a land far from the shores they fought to protect. 

It is now up to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc. and members of the William Kenyon Australian Confederates Camp 2160 to preserve their stories for future generations, and to ensure that the grave sites of all such veterans are marked and remembered for their gallant service. 

It must always be remembered that many from Australia, and New Zealand, traveled to America and participated in the defense of the Confederacy as gallant soldiers, some never to return. 

In addition, there are members of the Confederate Treasury Department and Blockade Runners buried in Australia and New Zealand, who fought and defied death to supply the Confederate forces with munitions and supplies in their time of need. They as well must never be forgotten. 

The William Kenyon Australian Confederates Camp 2160 is dedicated to preserving their memories and defending the honor they rightly deserve, and for which they fought, against the unconstitutional and illegal invasion by northern troops. 

James Wadell

Confederate Captain James Waddell, who took his ship, the CSS Shenandoah, to Melbourne and “ignited a popular sensation”.

CSS Shenandoah
CSS Shenandoah

(Article Courtesy of the Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans, President Jefferson Davis Chapter Military Order of the Stars and Bars, vol. 44, issue #2, February 2020 ed.)

An Interesting Twist of Events

I found this article interesting in that the desecration of all things Confederate has finally been called out. Maybe, with more lawsuits like this, it will put an end to our history’s eradication.

school

The Arlington County School Board unanimously agreed to rename the former Washington-Lee High School in January 2019. The school is now called Washington-Liberty High School.
But the Washington-Lee High School Alumni Association has sued, asking a local court to void the change permanently.
In court documents the association claims that the board imposed their own political values on the community throughout the process, “without concern for the fact that the students and alumni would no longer have the prestige of the original name.”
The alumni association claims they suffered a loss of membership because of the name change.
The complainant goes on to say that the board falsely claimed there would be a lengthy period in which the public could weigh in on whether the school’s name should be changed.
A spokesperson for the school board said in an emailed statement that the decision regarding the name change was appropriate and the board is ready to vigorously defend against any legal claims challenging it.
The association is seeking the name change be voided and a permanent injunction to prevent any future changes. They are also seeking compensation in an amount determined by the court and the cost of legal fees.
The school board said this week they hadn’t yet been served the suit, but will file a formal response “if and when that happens.”
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Article courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, Jan. 31, 2020 ed.)

New Cover in the Works for A Beautiful Glittering Lie

As I may have mentioned in an earlier post, my three novels in The Renegade Series are being republished with a new company called Westwood Books Publishing. This is a fairly new publisher that is run by several literary agents. It is an indie publishing company, but has an interesting marketing plan in place.

Book Cover - Highest Resolution

The first book in the series, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, is the first to be republished. I have been working with Westwood Books to create a new book cover. This is the original cover of the book, which is a painting done by Don Troiani, titled “Up Alabamians.” The new cover will be completely original.

I can’t wait to share it with you and find out what you think. I’m hoping I can share it with you as soon as next week, so stay tuned!

 

Another Stellar Review for A Beautiful Glittering Lie

I recently received another flattering review for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. Thank you so much, Abi Rowe, for your review!

BTW, this book is being republished with another company, and will be re-released this spring. Stay tuned for a new cover reveal!

Book Cover - Highest Resolution

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.

Five Star Review For A Beautiful Glittering Lie

Book Cover - Highest Resolution

Recently, I have been sharing my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, with readers who are members of a group called Voracious Readers. The version I’ve been sending is from my previous publisher, but the book is about to be republished with Westwood Books Publishing. It should be out again by March.

In the meantime, I have been fortunate enough to receive interest, as well as several reviews, for my book. Here is a five-star review I received last week. (This is the old book cover. I will have a new cover reveal in a few weeks.)

** spoiler alert ** 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, Hirarm, David, Jake and their families, friends and comrades. I found myself praying for Bud and Hirarm’s safe return, internally yelling warnings at the boys, and reaching for tissues when Sally was stolen and Hirarm didn’t return as planned. A great book well written and one I’d highly recommend.

 

 

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