J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the category “Author”

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

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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

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The Battle of Antietam

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On this date in 1862, the single bloodiest day in American history took place near Sharpsburg, Maryland. The battle claimed over 22,000 casualties. Although the battle was later declared as a draw, President Abraham Lincoln used it as an opportunity to launch his Emancipation Proclamation, which would go into effect on New Years Day, 1863. However, his freeing slaves only applied to Southern states that had seceded from the Union, and didn’t apply to slave holding states in the North.

https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/battle-of-antietam

Here is an excerpt from my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, describing the battle from the perspective of solders who fought for the 4th Alabama Infantry Regiment.

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At 3:00 a.m., the men were awakened to the sound of McClellan’s army attacking the Georgians, who had come to their relief the previous night. For an hour and a half, the battle raged, until General Hood was called upon for assistance. He brought his two brigades to the front, one of which included the 4thAlabama. As they were ordered to line up,

Orange Hugh approached his messmates in a panic.

“Have y’all seen Bo?” he asked. “I woke up, and he was gone.”

“Nope. Ain’t seen him,” replied Blue Hugh with a smirk. “He might be buzzard food by now.”

“Don’t pay him no mind,” said Hiram. “Bo will show up. He’s likely jist hidin’ somewhere.”

“I surely hope so,” replied Orange Hugh. “We’re both anxious to git back to Richmond so we can visit Miss Betsy!”

Blue Hugh chuckled. “Don’t be such a skylark. We ain’t headed back there. I heard tell General Lee wants us to march up to Harrisburg.”

“Is that a fact?” inquired Bud.

“It’s what I heard.”

The men were instructed to advance toward their enemy. They audaciously marched across an open field in front of the church, in perfect alignment, while a hailstorm of Minié balls rained down on them. Because it was still too dark to see, the men could hardly determine who was shot, except for random screams that came across the field both near and far, and they were unable to distinguish between blue and gray uniforms. Solid shot cracked into skulls and bones, which sounded like breaking eggshells.

They stumbled along, making their way to a grove of trees. Hiram heard Lieutenant Stewart and his comrade, Lieutenant King, yelling at someone. He could make out that it was Dozier, who had fallen down and was refusing to get back up. The officers grew frustrated, so they kicked the young private before they continued on and left him behind.

Springing to his feet, Dozier sprinted back toward the church.

The Confederates advanced into the trees, skirmishing with their enemies as they drove them out. Captain Scruggs, who fell wounded, was quickly replaced by Captain Robbins. Realizing they were at an advantage, the Rebels shot down scores of Yankees while concealing themselves in the cover of trees, fighting savagely despite their extreme hunger and fatigue. Other regiments of their brigade, the Texans, South Carolinians, and Georgians, were out in the open on their left, and suffered because of it. As dawn began to lighten the sky, Hiram noticed a Union general riding around the field on a large white horse.

“Who do you reckon that is?” he asked, to no one in particular.

Smoke billowed across the field, but the white horse still remained visible.

“That there’s Fightin’ Joe Hooker,” Lieutenant King informed him.

“He’s makin’ himself an easy target, ain’t he?” The lieutenant laughed at the Union general’s absurdity.

Yankee artillery fired into General Hood’s right flank and rear, causing the Rebels to fall back. The ground was scattered with bodies, most of which were clad in blue. Many Confederate soldiers had exhausted their ammunition when Lieutenant Stewart informed them they had been fighting for nearly three hours straight. Fearing the enemy would chase after them, they quickly re-formed, but discovered their haste was unnecessary, as the Yankees failed to respond. The Alabamians took much-needed time to replenish their ammunition and catch their breath.

General Hood directed his men back to the church to retire.

Suddenly, a shell flew by, blowing off the top of Lieutenant King’s head. The body dropped limply into a pool of blood and brain matter. Bud and Hiram looked at each other, dazed, their faces blackened by gunpowder. They turned and walked away, putting the horrific sight behind them, both knowing there was nothing they could do for the man.

Finally, Hiram said, “I won’t ever git used to seein’ that.”

“I already am,” Bud remarked indifferently. “I know it’s a terrible thing to say, but after a while, those boys jist look like dead animal carcasses to me.”

Hiram glared at him for a moment, shocked by his callousness.

“Life is uncertain, but death…is certain,” Bud added under his breath.

While they walked across the field, which was strewn with bodies, they tried not to look into the pinched faces, whose eyes stared vacantly up at the sunny morning sky. Young men not more than eighteen, their cheeks once rosy with the blossom of vigor and manhood, lay cold and still, bathing in their own hearts’ blood. Some didn’t even look human, while others were missing heads, arms, legs, or torsos. Several members of the regiment scurried around the battlefield, placing the wounded on stretchers. The victims cried out in anguish, their blood leaking from their broken bodies like fractured wine bottles as they were carried away. Bud heard a persistent whimpering sound, so he followed it, and walked around an enormous oak tree, its trunk riddled with bullet holes.

“Hiram! Y’all had best git over here!”

Hiram and Blue Hugh walked over to see what Bud was gawking at. They went around the tree, and saw Orange Hugh with his little dog, Bo, sitting on his lap. The young man seemed to be asleep sitting up, his body leaning back against the trunk. Bo whined pathetically, and licked Orange Hugh’s face like he was trying to wake him.

“Dear Lord,” said Hiram under his breath.

“It’s a damned shame,” remarked Bud, slowly shaking his head.

Blue Hugh stared down at his comrade for a moment. “Reckon he’s seen his last fight,” he blurted. “Good-bye, Hugh.” He turned and walked away.

Hiram frowned, appalled by the man’s insensitivity.

Returning to the church, the Alabamians settled in, and sustained on what meager rations they had left: half an ounce each of beef and green corn. Noticing Bo wander into their bivouac, Bud took the little dog into his arms. One of the men said that after the 4th had started across the field that morning, he saw Bo climb out of a hole from under the church.

As artillery blasted away in the distance, Bud and Hiram reflected on the day’s events, sadly conveying their regret for losing such a fine young friend and soldier as Orange Hugh.

Intentionally changing the subject, Hiram remarked, “Strange how all the wildlife knows when there’s a battle brewin’. They all high tail it out of there. Even the bugs vanish.”

“I’ve noticed that myself,” said Bud. “I’m right glad for it, too. I hate seein’ innocent critters suffer, like those poor warhorses with their legs blown off.”

Hiram grunted. “It bothers you to see dead horses, but not dead soldiers?”

“Of course it bothers me. I’ve jist built up a tolerance for it, is all. Except when it comes to someone I know. That’s different.”

With a sigh, Hiram said, “They all remind me too much of David. I don’t reckon I’ll ever build up a tolerance for that.”

“It makes you not want to git too close to any of them,” said Bud.

Hiram grew solemnly quiet, considering his own mortality.

An hour passed. McLaws’ Division arrived from Harpers Ferry, moved to the front, and immediately became engaged, while the 4th Alabama was held in reserve. The fighting was intense, until darkness finally interrupted it, with neither side emerging triumphant. Soon the Alabamians fell asleep from utter exhaustion, but were roused in the middle of the night, and marched across the Potomac to the Virginia side.

https://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Glittering-Lie-Novel-Renagade/dp/1544842481/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1537244747&sr=8-1&keywords=a+beautiful+glittering+lie

Dog Days of Summer

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By the time July starts winding down, the heat is beginning to wear on everyone, and we  all start thinking about when school will resume again. I’m fortunate in that I live in the mountains, so if it gets too hot, we can head up to the hills to cool off.

Although summer was the most likely time for battles to take place during the Civil War, there was also a lot of down time. The soldiers were left to their own devices to entertain themselves. Many wrote letters to their loved ones. Others passed the time by playing cards, gambling, reading weeks-old newspapers, or shooting the bull, as they called it.

Here is an excerpt from my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, describing typical southern soldiers who passed the time away while waiting for the next big battle.

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Jake and David led their horses to the edge of the field to graze and fell down upon the damp grass in sheer exhaustion. Two other members of their company approached and lay down on the grass next to them. They welcomed each other with a weary, “Hey.”

“We heared y’all were from Alabama, so we thought we’d come over and make your acquaintance. You boys jist git in last night?” one asked.

“Yeah,” David replied.

He introduced himself and Jake. The two veterans did the same, stating that their names were John Chase and Michael Tailor.

“Do we drill tomorrow, too, or do we git a day of rest, bein’s it’s the Sabbath?” asked David.

“There’ll be no drillin’ tomorrow. Ole Beauty’s a stickler for lettin’ us off on Sundays,” John said, referring to Stuart by a nickname the general had acquired at West Point.

“Where y’all from?” asked Jake.

“We’re from Georgia,” John replied.

“How come y‘all are in a company of Virginians?” asked David.

“Well, we were over here with my cousin,” explained Michael. “Us and some other fellers from our company. Kerr, Smith, Crawford, and Campbell. Anyway, we were supposed to leave to go down south with our brigade, but when we got back, they were already gone!”

“What brigade is that?” asked David.

“Hampton’s,” John responded. “We’re with the Jeff Davis Legion. Reckon we’ll have hell to pay when they git back up here!” He and Michael chuckled. “So y’all will jist have to tolerate a few of us Georgians around the place,” he went on. “Least till our fellers git back.”

“Reckon we can overlook it if y’all can,” Jake said with a grin.

John snickered, raising an eyebrow. “I’m inclined to think that us Rebels are all in this together, so I’ll forgive y’all for bein’ from Alabama.”

David and Jake looked at each other and shrugged.

“I have cousins in Alabama,” Michael told them. “Y’all know the Ryan’s?”

Jake and David gaped at each other in astonishment.

“There are a lot of Ryan’s around our parts,” Jake replied.

“How about that!” Michael laughed. He seemed happy to hear of any news from home, however obscure it might be. They talked about their families for a while until he stood and said, “All this nostalgic talk is makin’ me well up.”

John pulled himself to his feet. “Let’s meet up tonight, and we’ll shoot the bull,” he suggested.

Jake and David agreed before following the Georgians back into camp.

“Hey,” John said over his shoulder. “Do either one of you boys know how to write, because I’ve been longin’ to send a letter home to my wife, but I jist can’t figure out how to put it in words.”

“We can write a letter for you,” said David, happy to oblige.

John smiled and trudged back toward camp.

Hesitating until the Georgians were out of earshot, Jake gave David a shove, which caused him to stumble.

“What was that for?” he angrily fired back.

“I ain’t volunteerin’ to write a letter for every soldier out here,” Jake stated.

David gave him a crooked grin, knowing that his friend wasn’t very good at writing. “Well, I’ll jist do it, then,” he said.

They returned to camp and scrounged around for something to eat, but could only manage to find the same staples they’d consumed earlier. After they tied their horses out to graze, Sergeant Williams came by and invited them to his fire. Jake and David followed him to discover a large iron kettle hanging over a flame.

“Put that Yankee coat in here, and the dye will turn it butternut,” the sergeant instructed.

David removed the coat he’d been wearing since the previous evening. He let it fall into the boiling concoction. “What do you use for dye?” he asked.

“Walnut hulls, acorns, and lye,” William replied.

They chuckled at the rhyme. Standing over the kettle, they watched the boiling water roll over the garment as it gradually washed the dark blue coat to brownish-yellow.

When he was satisfied with the result, William retrieved the coat with a stick and hung it on a bush to dry. “You’ll have to leave this here till tomorrow,” he told David, “but you can borrow my saddle blanket if you want.”

“Thanks,” David said. “I reckon I’ll be all right.”

The two troopers exchanged smiles. After bidding goodnight to the sergeant, Jake and David returned to their site, but were surprised by what awaited them. Six men were standing there, waiting for their return.

“There they are!” exclaimed John, a wide grin parting the thick fur on his face. “These boys will write home for us!”

Jake looked at David, scoffed, and shook his head. “I’m illiterate all of a sudden,” he muttered.

One of the Georgians they hadn’t yet met held out a pen and a piece of wallpaper. David wondered whose wall he’d peeled it from.

“How do,” the Georgian said, “I’m Custis Kerr.” He held out his other hand and grasped onto David’s. “John and Michael here said y’all can write a letter for us.” He had a scraggly beard that reminded David of a wire-haired dog he’d seen once. Pausing momentarily, Custis added, “I’d be willin’ to give you somethin’ for it.”

“Do you have anything to eat?” Jake inquired.

“Well, I have a cornpone and some honey,” said Custis.

David smiled, took the pen and paper from him, and seated himself on the log next to their fire. Custis sat beside him, grinning from ear to ear. Positioning the wallpaper on his thigh, David poised the pen erect and glanced over at him.

“Ain’t you holdin’ it in the wrong hand?” Custis asked.

“I’m left handed,” David explained.

The Georgians howled.

“We ain’t never seen a lefty afore!” one of them exclaimed.

David felt a little awkward, but had grown up enduring such teases, so he shrugged it off.

“Whatcha want me to write?”

“Dear Mother,” Custis dictated, “I am feelin’ well and believe the weather is becomin’ more mild.”

David raised an eyebrow as he scribbled down the words, wondering if this soldier had anything more important to say.

“I am doin’ fine and look forward to seein’ you a’gin.” Custis spoke like he was reading, slow and deliberate, so that David would catch every word. “I am writin’ to M.S.B. and C.L.S.”

Throwing a glance at him, David wondered how many letters he was expected to write for each and every soldier. He started to regret his hasty offer to John and Michael.

“If you don’t have anything more to say, I’ll close for you,” he said, hoping Custis would take him up on his offer.

“Hold on a minute.” The Georgian raised his hand. He nodded and pointed to the wallpaper, coaxing his transcriber to continue. “Received the parcels you sent from home. Many of the boys enjoyed them also.” He stopped to rub his beard in thought. “Reckon that’s all. Jist put down your lovin’ son, Custis.”

David finished writing and handed the piece of wallpaper to him. Custis clutched onto it like it was a gold nugget.

“Oh, what’s your name?” he asked.

“David Summers.”

“Thanks kindly, Summers,” Custis said, and walked off.

Another Georgian, Peter Smith, had David write home to his wife and two daughters in exchange for dehydrated vegetables. Alfred Crawford dictated a letter to his sweetheart, gave David a sewn bag of pennyroyal leaves for his effort, and instructed him to place it at the foot of his bed to repel fleas. A newlywed, Robert Campbell, sought assistance in addressing a letter to his wife. He rewarded his comrade with saddle soup and graybacks amounting to three dollars. David also wrote one letter each for John and Michael. In the time it took for him to write the soldiers’ letters, he learned more about each cavalryman than most of the others would ever know about each other. Graciously, he accepted their offerings in return.

When he had finished, he realized it was getting dark. Thankfully, Jake had taken the initiative to fry some salt pork, so he and David devoured it along with the newly-acquired cornpone and crusted honey. They cleaned up and relaxed, lying on their backs and gazing up at the stars. David’s writer’s cramp left him too disabled to pen a letter to his own family, but he reasoned that he could do it tomorrow, since it would be a day of rest. He started dozing off, but heard voices growing louder.

“Mind if’n we jine you?” Michael asked.

David opened his eyes and glanced at Jake, who shook his head, grinning as he sat up.

John chuckled. “You look right tuckered out. Did we run you ragged today?” He chuckled again. “We came over to shoot the bull with you fellers.”

David pried himself up. The two veterans seated themselves on logs. John pulled a meerschaum from his pocket and lit it. The pungent odor of rich tobacco intermingled with the smell of burning firewood.

“By the way,” Michael said, his dark eyes twinkling in the firelight. “I’d recommend you get rid of that can of desecrated vegetables Smith gave you.”

“Why?” asked David.

“I’ve heard tell that if’n you eat those critters, they’ll expand in your stomach and make you explode!”

David’s eyes grew large. He retrieved the can of dehydrated vegetables from his saddlebag, threw it into the fire, and watched along with the others. The can sizzled, popped open, and was quickly consumed by flames. Inexplicably, the recollection of Tom’s terrible death back home in the barn entered his mind. He looked away.

“I heard that last month they caught ole Abe Lincoln in a drunken stupor,” John remarked nonchalantly. “Heard from a source in Washin’ton City that he was on a binge for thirty-six hours and was still drunk when he left the drinkin’ establishment!” He laughed heartily.

Jake winked at David. It was obvious their guests were extravagant liars, but amusing, nonetheless.

“I heard tell that General Burnside passed on in his sleep,” Michael said, “and that General Beauregard was accompanied on a march by concubines and wagonloads of champagne.”

Jake and David chuckled.

“I heard from a couple of Louisiana Zouaves that the good people of New Orleans printed a picture of General Butler on the bottoms of their chamber pots!” exclaimed John. He guffawed loudly. “That’s one way to git even with that damned Yankee general!” he exclaimed, referring to the dreadful officer who had taken over the city nearly a year ago. The four soldiers laughed loudly at this.

“Is it truthful that General Stuart’s a teetotaler?” asked Jake.

John nodded, enjoying his pipe. “That he is, and a ladies’ man, but a devoted husband and father over all.”

“Where in Georgia are y’all from?” David inquired.

“Savannah,” said Michael.

“I heard it’s right purty over there,” said Jake. “Y’all have any land?” he asked.

“I have about a hundred acres,” John replied, “and a few niggers to help run the place, but Michael ain’t got any, ‘cept what his kinfolk live on. We’ve got plenty of big plantations’round our parts.”

“When we were ridin’ in,” Jake said, “we heard some fellers talkin’ bout a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight, but we didn’t know what they meant by it.”

“Oh.” John took a puff from his clay pipe. “The plantation owners and their overseers are exempt from fightin’ if’n they have twenty slaves.”

“That don’t seem right,” said David.

“Nothin’ in war is right, Summers,” Michael said, “and you’ll find that out soon enough. But General Hampton’s supposed to be the largest slave owner in the South, and he’s fightin’. Say, you ain’t a conscript, are you?”

“No sir,” David responded proudly. “We’re both enlistees.”

John nodded and smiled, clenching the pipe in his teeth. He puffed again. “That’s good. We ain’t real fond of conscripts ’round here. Anyone forced to jine up ain’t worthy of the fight, and those fellers will run off first chance they git. Jist like those cowards from our home state who refuse to fight. We call them Georgia crackers. It’s downright unpatriotic.”

Jake leaned in toward his friend. “You should ask him about your pa,” he reminded.

The other soldiers looked at David, waiting for him to speak. He took a deep sigh, and said, “My pa is buried here somewhere, and I was wonderin’ if y’all might know where I could find him.”

The Georgians exchanged glances.

“Can’t rightly direct you,” Michael said. “The burial site’s mighty large, and not every grave is marked. It could take days, or even weeks, and you still might not find him.”

David bit his lower lip and gazed into the fire, disappointed with the answer he’d received.

Jake quickly changed the subject and they were soon engaged in telling one chilling horror story after another, most of which the other soldiers made up. David enthralled them with “The Tell Tale Heart,” a story by Edgar Allen Poe, which none of the others had heard before. To his amusement, the others actually shivered at his telling of the story. The four soldiers talked on into the night until they realized it was late and decided to retire. As the Georgians departed, Jake leaned back, mumbling something unintelligible. David fell asleep but was soon startled awake by the bugler’s invasion.

“I thought we got today off,” he muttered to Jake while they pulled on their boots.

“Reckon they have roll every day,” Jake said with a yawn.

He and David sauntered to the field where they again went through military procedures. Their company was informed that General Fitzhugh Lee, who was the nephew of Robert E. Lee, had taken his cavalry brigade northward. After being released, the boys stood in line for rations, disappointed with the lack of variety once more, but they ate it anyway, grateful for the meager nourishment. Afterward, they gave their mounts some seed corn and oats.

Finally finding free time, David settled in to read from his Testament. He opened the leather flap. Inside was the miniature Southern Cross Josie had sewn for him. His heart grew heavy at the thought of her, Rena, and their mother. He had hardly been gone a week, yet it seemed like years.

Flipping through the sacred pages, he found a scripture that caught his eye: So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Jake sat down beside him, holding a newspaper he had found.

“Where’d you git that?” David asked.

“Down at the sink,” Jake replied, opening the paper. “It’s a few weeks old, but it’s somethin’ to read.”

“Couldn’t find better use for it?” David snickered.

Jake glared at him. “You wouldn’t think it was so funny if you had this ailment,” he grumbled.

David shrugged. “Seems to me some of that salt pork should’ve worked its way out by now.” Unable to help himself, he snickered again.

Jake threw the newspaper down on the ground and stood. “Reckon I’ll see what’s goin’ on around camp,” he announced, and stomped off.

Deciding it would be a good time to write a letter home, David found his pencil and paper and began writing.

 

Dear Ma and sisters,

I take pencil in hand to inform you that Jake and I arived yesterday evening and are being aclimated to our suroundings. We have plenty to eat and are feeling fine and our horses are fine. We have yet to see General Stuart. To-day is Sunday and you will be glad to know that I am studying scripture and find it very reasuring. Please tell Callie I wish her well if you see her. I would like very much if you could rite to me every particular of what is going on back home. I am thinking of you fondly and will rite again in the near future.

Your son and brother until deth,

David

 

Intentionally excluding any reference to Tom Caldwell, he placed the folded letter into an envelope.

They must have heard by now, he thought. They must know that I killed him.

Deciding to hunt for Jake and deliver his letter to the post, he walked around camp, taking notice of the activities around him. He was stunned to see men gambling, pitching horseshoes, cursing, drinking, betting, and slapping papers while they played their poker hands, not only because it was the Sabbath, but also because it was only one week after Easter. One soldier asked David to join him for a sip of “Pine Top,” but he refused. Drinking, especially on a Sunday, appalled him. Curious as to why there were no services, he asked another trooper.

“In the beginnin’,” the soldier said, “we held services faithfully every week.” He cocked his head at David.   “But truth be told, as time went on, we all got too tired of the war to care anymore.”

David nodded, and turned to search out his best friend. Jake stood in a throng surrounding two Rebels who were seated at a table. In front of them, a Federal canteen lay on its side. The men yelled and squinted at it.

“Come on, Howitzer!” one hollered.

“Go, Minié Ball!” another exclaimed. The spectators shouted excitedly.

“What’s goin’ on?” David asked his friend.

“They’re havin’ lice races,” Jake replied. He grinned at David before looking back at the table.

The crowd cheered. One of the contenders sprang from the table and threw his arms up in victory.

“Better luck next time!” he bellowed, shaking his opponent’s hand.

The loser presented a Confederate note to his rival, and men within the crowd exchanged currency as well.

David observed the spectacle with amazement, glad that no man of the cloth was there to witness it. He felt a twinge of humiliation for the soldiers in attendance, and wondered why they didn’t display any moral responsibility. Deciding he’d seen enough, he walked back over to his campsite. Jake followed, talking all the while about the carefree life of a soldier.

“Do you reckon I’ll be able to find Pa’s grave?” David asked him.

Jake’s joviality quickly changed to solemn reserve. He shrugged in response. “Sounds like the gravesite’s mighty large. It could take us days to find him, and besides, the major might notice us missin’.”

“Well, maybe I’ll ask him tomorrow if he knows where Pa might be.”

“Why don’t you ask him now?” Jake grinned, motioning for him to follow.

They walked through camp to a white canvas tent and timidly entered.

“Sir,” Jake said quietly to catch the major’s attention.

Major Warner looked up from the map he was studying. David followed Jake inside the tent, and the two saluted.

“At ease,” the major softly commanded. “What can I do for you boys?”

“My friend was wonderin’ if you might know where his pa’s buried,” Jake explained. “He was killed here last December.”

“Do you know which regiment he was with?” asked Major Warner.

David nodded. “Yessir. He was with the 4th Alabama. Uh, the North Alabamians infantry division.”

The major scratched his head. “What was your father’s name, Private?”

“Hiram Summers, sir.”

“Well, let me look into it, and I’ll git back to you in a day or two.”

“Yessir.”

The boys saluted and exited the tent. Once again, David was disappointed with the response he’d received, but decided he had no choice but to wait.

https://www.amazon.com/Beckoning-Hellfire-Novel-Civil-Renegade/dp/197963372X/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1532666094&sr=8-1&keywords=a+beckoning+hellfire

 

New Interview With The Authors Show

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Nearly two weeks ago, I was interviewed by Linda Thompson of the Authors Show. Linda lives in Phoenix, and told me about how she had just survived a dust storm. I lived in Phoenix when I was little and vaguely remember those storms. I wouldn’t wish them on anybody.

My interview airs today! Please click on this link: https://wnbnetworkwest.com/. You will see my name listed on Channel 3. My interview mostly centered around my novel, A Rebel Among Us, so click on that book title to hear the podcast.

ARAU Medium

I also talk about the first two books in the Renegade Series, as well as my nonfiction book, Horses in Gray. And I also mention some future publications. Please have a listen and let me know what you think. Thanks so much for listening!

Friday the 13th

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As you know, today is Friday the 13th. This year, there are only two. The first one was in April. Today is a celebration of all things macabre, thanks to long-time superstitions.

“The fear of Friday the 13th stems from two separate fears — the fear of the number 13 and the fear of Fridays. Both fears have deep roots in Western culture, most notably in Christian theology.

“Thirteen is significant to Christians because it is the number of people who were present at the Last Supper (Jesus and his 12 apostles). Judas, the apostle w­ho betrayed Jesus, was the 13th member of the party to arrive.”

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This is from a really interesting article I found, so check it out: https://people.howstuffworks.com/friday-thirteenth1.htm

Speaking of all things macabre, there was plenty of that going on during the Civil War. One of the grossest things that struck me while I was researching the strange and interesting Victorian era was the fact that, because medicine at that time was so primitive, doctors stole cadavars to conduct experiments and learn more about human anatomy. Ew!

Frankenstein

Here is an excerpt from my novel, A Rebel Among Us, describing the nightmarish practice. BTW, Mary Shelley’s infamous novel, Frankenstein, published in 1818, brought to the surface integrated fears of resurrecting the dead, but not to their previous state of being. We have always had a profound interest in death and the undead, like the vampire rage a few years back, Pet Cemetery by Stephen King, and the recent zombie fascination.

ARAU Medium

Excerpt From A Rebel Among Us

“Where’s the feller who was occupyin’ this cot?” David asked him.

The man seemed too weak to respond, but finally uttered, “Dead house.”

Stunned, David quickly walked to the morgue. He entered to see several attendees place frozen bodies into pine coffins. The cadavers’ bones cracked as they were forced into their eternal chambers. David grimaced. Meandering down an aisle, he unwittingly found a coffin with a wooden marker tied to the top of it that read:

Ltn Hershel P Harrison

42nd Mississippi

Died 2-5-1865

He stood over the pine box, staring down at the chiseled lettering. A cart lumbered up and came to a halt outside the morgue. With a heavy sigh, David departed the cold charnel. He barely noticed the other inmates, who loaded coffins onto the back of a wagon before transporting them to Woodlawn Cemetery.

One of the attendants saw him and said, “No need to fret. John Jones will tend to them proper.”

“Who’s John Jones?” he asked.

“He’s the ex-slave who’s markin’ every grave. Doin’ a right thorough job of it too.”

David watched for a moment, still trying to comprehend that Hershel was truly gone. He slowly shuffled through the deep snow, dismally wondering if he might soon end up the same way. He remembered what one of the Tar Heels had told him about grave robbers. According to Sherwood, the loathsome ghouls unearthed buried cadavers and sold them to area doctors who conducted experiments on them. He hoped such a fate wouldn’t befall Hershel’s body.

Making his way past the guardhouse used for solitary confinement, he looked up. A few feet in front of him, sitting on its haunches, was the largest rat he had ever seen. It looked to be at least the size of a tomcat. The enormous rodent bared its long, yellow teeth at him. Astonished, David gasped. He hurried back to his bunk; continuously glancing over his shoulder to make sure the giant rat wasn’t coming after him. All the while, he shivered from the cold, and from the sight of the frightful creature he had just encountered.

Reaching the sanctuary of his confines, he rubbed his hands together for several minutes, sat down, and forced himself to construct a sympathy letter to Hershel’s family. The sad event filled his heart with melancholy. He was thankful he didn’t have to tell them in person.

Glancing around, he noticed how some of the convicts were invested in lively games while their comrades lay dying on the beds beside them. It appalled him that no one seemed to take notice. Death was nothing more than a trite matter of circumstance. But to him, it was a life-changing event. He knew he would never forget Hershel. Struggling to hold back tears, he started writing.

A Beautiful Glittering Lie Featured on Renee’s Author Spotlight

ABGL Medium

My novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, the first book in the Renegade Series, is featured today on Renee Scattergood’s blog, Renee’s Author Spotlight. Thanks, Renee, for featuring my book on your blog! Here is an excerpt of the book that is being featured on Renee’s blog.

ABGL Teaser 1

Word of the battle quickly spread to Huntsville, and within days, filtered down to Morgan County. Caroline had mentally prepared herself for what she anticipated would happen, but when the first battle finally did take place, she found herself ill-equipped. Doing her best to shelter her brood, she realized it was just a matter of time before they heard of the event.

A week later, she learned that a list of fatalities had been posted, and knew she had to drive to Ben Johnson’s mercantile to have a look, but all the while, her heart felt as though it was breaking. She dreaded the list, dreaded the result of the terrible fighting, dreaded what the war might be doing to her home, and especially, dreaded seeing Hiram’s name listed. Traveling alone, she reached her destination, climbed down from the wagon, hitched her draft horse, and approached the two-story wooden structure. Her ankle boots clunked up the wooden steps and across the porch’s pine slat floorboards with every step she took. She pulled the front door open, and a tiny bell above it announced her arrival. Upon entering, she saw several others gathered around a notice tacked to a wall. Ben Johnson nodded her way. He threw a glance toward the posted list. She knew what it meant.

Slowly, feeling like she was floating, she approached the others, passing by the dry goods, the glass cases displaying pottery, clothing, and sewing notions, and under farm equipment hanging from the ceiling rafters. Some of the women were sobbing, covering their faces with handkerchiefs, while others turned away, or stared at her with vacant eyes. As they drifted off, she stepped toward the ominous poster, held her breath, and forced herself to gaze upon the names. When she had reached the bottom, she breathed a sigh of relief. Hiram’s name wasn’t on the list, although she recognized one that was. Turning toward the counter, she wiped a trickling tear from her cheek, walked over, and requested a copy of the Southern Advocate.

Initially at a loss for words, Ben cleared his throat. “I reckon Hiram’s name ain’t on there,” he finally said.

The revelation started sinking in. Caroline smiled. “No, thankfully not.”

Ben returned the smile. “Right glad to hear it.” He handed her a newspaper. “The editor of this paper, Mr. William Figures, has a son who’s with your husband’s regiment.”

“Oh?” she replied cordially. “He’s all right, ain’t he? I mean, I didn’t see…”

“Yes, ma’am, far as I can tell.”

“That’s mighty fine. Well, I’ll be on my way. Good-day, Mr. Johnson.” Turning to leave, she opened the paned-glass door.

Ben called out, “When you write to that man of yours, tell him I said hello.”

“I surely will,” she replied.

Returning to the wagon, she untied Joe Boy, climbed aboard, slapped the reins, and drove out of view from the mercantile before pulling the vehicle to a stop. Uncontrollably, she burst into tears, sobbing convulsively until her heartache subsided.

https://reneesauthorspotlight.blogspot.com/2018/07/a-beautiful-glittering-lie-novel-of.html

A Not So Happy 4th

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This year marks the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. After three days of bloody conflict, Lee’s army retreated back to Virginia. It must have been a very sad 4th of July for the Confederacy indeed, as the South not only lost the battle in Gettysburg, but Vicksburg also fell.

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Here is an excerpt from my novel, A Rebel Among Us, and how three sisters react to their unexpected “guest” on the 4th of July.

ARAU Medium

She slept for a few hours until distant voices awoke her. Sliding into her pale blue summer dress, she combed through her long blonde hair, parted it down the middle, contained it in a beige snood, and went to check on the soldier. He had bled through his bandages, so she gently replaced them, trying not to stir him.

Once she had finished, she quietly opened the door to leave, but heard footsteps coming up the stairs. Her heart leaped. Should her guests find the intruder there, Anna and her sisters would undoubtedly be in dire circumstances. She knew her neighbors were avid Unionists. If they discovered a Confederate in her father’s room, it would mean certain death for him and, most likely, a jail sentence for her. Being the oldest, she would surely be held responsible. Quickly, she scurried down the hallway to intercept the unwanted guest.

“Hello, my dear,” Mrs. Montgomery greeted her. “I was just coming up to give you this.” She smiled and handed Anna a small basket of handmade soap. “I fragranced them with roses. Your favorite.”

Anna returned the smile. “Why, thank you very much, Mrs. Montgomery,” she replied. “I’ll set these in my room and be right down. Go on ahead and help yourselves to some lemonade.”

Mrs. Montgomery turned and went downstairs. Waiting until she was gone from sight, Anna tossed the basket into her room, closed the door, and came downstairs to find her neighbors in the parlor. All were dressed in their Sunday finery, even though it was Saturday.

Mrs. Montgomery embraced her this time. Her daughter, Mary, mimicked the gesture. Stepping back, she looked Anna over. “Why aren’t you in mourning?”

“Father specifically requested that we not wear black or cover the windows, so we’re honoring his wishes,” Anna explained.

She remembered her father’s words while he lay dying only a few months ago: I don’t want darkness to befall my sunny girls. This explanation seemed sufficient for Mary, who smiled at her and walked over to talk with Maggie. Anna hoped the soldier wouldn’t awaken or start making a lot of noise…or even worse, come downstairs himself.

Inviting everyone to the dining room for dinner, she graciously went around the table, serving her guests. She couldn’t help but glance several times into the hallway, waiting for the soldier to clomp down the wooden steps in his worn out boots.

“Anna, are you all right?”

She froze like a deer in the rifle sights. “Yes, of course, Mary,” she replied. Taking a seat, she spread her napkin across her lap. “Why do you ask?”

“It’s just that you seem a bit distracted,” said Mary. “As though you are nervous about something.”

Anna and Maggie exchanged glances.

With a forced smile, Anna said, “It’s the heat. I’m fine, really.”

It was a lie. Truth be told, she wasn’t fine. Not at all. She wished they had never invited their neighbors over for an Independence Day celebration, and she also wished her guests would leave before something happened. Unable to eat, she dabbed at the perspiration on her forehead with her napkin. She listened for the slightest sound from upstairs and resisted the temptation to look out into the hallway or dash upstairs.

Once dinner was finished, everyone returned to the parlor. Abigail and Claudia played their piano piece flawlessly, encouraging everyone to sing along to “The Star Spangled Banner.” Their patriotic spirit soared.

Mr. Montgomery raised a toast for the preservation of the United States. “Here’s to our country’s victory,” he said. “To the Union!”

“To the Union!” everyone chanted together and raised their glasses. They sipped their lemonade like it was champagne.

“I’ve been informed this morning we have won the fight at Gettysburg,” Mr. Montgomery added. He lit a cigar and puffed on it while happily smiling.

Anna scowled. It’s as I thought. That Rebel did come from Gettysburg. She looked at Maggie, who raised her eyebrows, apparently thinking the same thing.

“What’s wrong, Anna?” asked Mary. “You appear to be unhappy about the news.”

Anna flashed a smile at her. “On the contrary. I’m elated.” She glanced around the room. “Why don’t we go out onto the porch,” she suggested. The room had become stiflingly hot.

They accepted her invitation and proceeded outside. As soon as they congregated with drinks in hand, it began to sprinkle.

“Oh, dear,” said Mrs. Montgomery. “I’m afraid we’ll have to leave now, girls. I left the sheets out to dry, and the chickens are out in the yard.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that, Mrs. Montgomery. But thank you for coming,” Anna said, trying not to appear too eager to be rid of them, even though she couldn’t wait for them to go.

Mr. Montgomery assisted his wife and daughter into the buggy before climbing in.

“Anna, we had a lovely time,” Mary said, her blonde pipe curls bouncing as she exaggerated her compliment.

Anna didn’t know if she was sincere or not.

“I’m only sorry my brother couldn’t be here today,” Mary added.

“Have you heard from Stephen?” asked Maggie.

“Yes,” Mary replied, tying on her pale yellow bonnet. “He said he would be home on furlough in a few months. Anna, he wanted me to tell you that he misses you.”

She smiled cordially, but secretly, she wanted to scream. She knew she wasn’t what Stephen missed. His attitude had changed, and it alarmed her. What he really missed was her farm. The thought of his counterfeit attraction enraged her, and knowing that he would be back in a few months to woo her repulsed her even more.

“By the way,” Abigail said, “how’s your dog, Corky? The one Anna mended?”

Anna’s eyes grew large. She stared at Abigail and hoped she wouldn’t say anything about a Confederate being in their midst.

“Why, he’s doing just fine, sweetheart,” Mrs. Montgomery responded. “Spry and lively as ever.”

“Well, goodbye all,” said Mr. Montgomery. He smiled through his neatly-trimmed beard and slapped the reins.

Their tall, dark chestnut horse pranced down the lane, pulling the buggy behind it. Watching their neighbors drive away, all four girls let out a sigh of relief.

“Let’s go check on the Rebel,” Claudia suggested.

She and Abigail ran into the house. Maggie and Anna followed. The girls gathered around the big bed, gazing down at the unconscious soldier.

“Is he still breathing?” asked Abigail.

“Yes, unfortunately,” replied Maggie. She looked at Anna. “I’ll go clean up the dishes,” she said.

As she went downstairs, Anna called out to her. “Maggie, could you please bring a spoonful of tallow when you come back up?”

“What do you need tallow for?” asked Abigail.

“Never mind,” said Anna. “Why don’t you and Claudia assist Maggie?”

“Okay.”

Claudia followed Abigail out. Anna heard them descend the stairs. She listened to the three girls engage in lively colloquy, their conversation accented by clanking dishes. A strong breeze blew in through the open windows. She realized it was getting much cooler, so she partially closed them. Noticing the Rebel’s forgotten pile of clothing that had yet to be disposed of, she started a fire in the fireplace. It had been several months since a flame had been lit there, not because of warmer weather, but because of her father’s passing. While she waited for the fire to blaze, she heard a church bell chime repeatedly in the distance. She stood gazing out the window in the direction of the Lutheran church she knew was positioned just beyond the hill.

Maggie entered, carrying a tray which held a teapot, cup, and a spoonful of lard. She set it on the dresser next to the porcelain pitcher and bowl.

“What do you imagine the bells are for?” Anna asked. “The holiday?”

“No, I think it’s in celebration. Because we won the battle,” Maggie replied.

They both looked at the Confederate soldier, who was sleeping peacefully.

Maggie shook her head and sighed. “We’re going to round up the livestock,” she said. “There’s a storm headed our way.”

Anna nodded in response. Her little sister left the room. She poured herself a cup of tea, carried the cup and spoon over to the bedside, and sat next to the Rebel. Gently, she rubbed the tallow over his dry, cracked lips with her fingertips in hopes it would soothe them. A chill wind blew in through the partially opened windows. Glad she’d lit the fire, she watched the flames grow higher before tossing in the Confederate’s clothing. She gazed into the fire as it consumed the worn-out garments. Once they were destroyed, she seated herself beside him, lit the kerosene lamp on the table next to her, picked up her needles, and commenced knitting. Rain began pelting against the glass. She stood, walked to the window, and looked out into the yard to see her sisters and Claudia scurrying about to gather the last of the chickens. They contained them in the coop and ran toward the house. She heard them enter downstairs.

Gazing back at the wounded soldier, she wondered how his horse was doing. Abigail and Claudia had secretly informed her during the party that they had gone out earlier to observe the spotted horse when they noticed his injured hoof. Finally relieving him of his saddle and bridle, they rummaged through the Rebel’s saddlebags and discovered a container of ointment, which they assumed was to be used on the horse. They also found a small Bible, along with some personal effects, a few items of clothing, and his slouch hat. Abigail had proudly informed her older sister she had brushed the horse down with his curry comb and applied the liniment to his hoof. She and Claudia had cleverly snuck the soldier’s belongings upstairs and hidden them in a dresser drawer while everyone else was enjoying dinner.

Upon this recollection, Anna walked over to the dresser. The Rebel’s hat, coiled belt, and buckle sat on top. She pulled the top drawer open. Beside her father’s forgotten socks, she found some of the soldier’s personal effects, including a tiny sewing kit, a pocket knife, a pouch of tobacco, and a Testament. She picked up the little Bible. Pulling the flap open, she discovered a tiny, hand sewn Confederate flag inside. It was saving a page of Scripture, Psalms 23. She glanced over the words.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Curious why his Bible was covered with dirt, Anna looked over at the young man. She noticed that, even though all of his items were from the South, they looked the same as any she’d ever seen. She placed the Testament back in the dresser drawer, set the Rebel’s hat in her father’s armoire, and returned to the rocking chair.

 

New Interview

 

J.D.R. Hawkins

I was recently interviewed by Ms. Fiona Mcvie for her blog, Author Interviews. The interview is as follows.

Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.

Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age? Julie (J.D.R.) Hawkins, 59

Fiona: Where are you from? Sioux City, Iowa

Fiona: A little about yourself (i.e., your education, family life, etc.). I have been married for 36 years and have two sons, a daughter-in-law and a four-year-old grandson. I have a journalism degree from Iowa State University with a minor in design. My husband and I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado with two dachshunds and a Siamese cat.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news. I will be a keynote speaker at the Colorado Springs American Association of University Women’s Author’s Day, and I am working on a few children’s books.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing? I have been a writer since I was six or seven-years-old, and began by writing poems and songs. Then I graduated to short stories, novellas and novels. I have always loved to write, and am constantly looking for interesting stories to tell.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer? When my first article was published in a children’s magazine, and I actually got paid!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book? After I visited Gettysburg, I was inspired to write a book about a typical soldier from the South, which was something different from what I had previously read.

 

Fiona: How did you come up with the title? A Beautiful Glittering Lie is taken from a quote included in the book. One Southern soldier referred to the Civil War as “a glittering lie.”
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging? I bring personal interaction into my books to make them come to life by using lots of dialogue. Since the war took place well over 150 years ago, it is sometimes difficult to imagine what it was like back then, and how devastating the war was. I also try to bring my readers into the heat of battle, so they can imagine the same horrors the soldiers experienced.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Some of the characters are based on people I know. The main character, David Summers, is loosely based on myself, my dad, and my oldest son. David’s best friend is based on my son’s best friend. The book is very realistic, because it is based on the journal of R.T. Cole, who was an adjutant in the 4th Regiment, Alabama Volunteer Infantry.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process? Before I started writing, I read about typography and observed old photos to get an idea of the terrain. Then I decided I should go to Virginia and Maryland to actually see these places. Fortunately, I was spot on!
Fiona: Who designed the covers? The novels in the Renegade Series are designed by Dawné Dominique, artist extraordinaire!

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? I guess the true message is that, even though conflicts divide us, love conquers all, and ultimately reunites us.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?  Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you? I have a lot of favorites, so it’s hard to pick just one. My all-time favorite is Margaret Mitchell. I’m a big fan of the classics, and I love reading books with weird twists to them, like Gone Girl. My favorite authors are the ones who can convey a story without being overly descriptive or lewd, which allows their readers to use their imaginations.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author. I received a lot of support from my friends, from other members of my UDC chapter, and from social media friends.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career? Absolutely!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? Actually, I did change some things, because this is the second time I have published A Beautiful Glittering Lie. Originally, it was self-published, but I found a new publisher. I made some changes, and we re-edited the novel.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book? I learned so much! When I studied history in high school, I had a super boring, monotone teacher (just like in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), so I didn’t get into all the names and places that were unfamiliar to me. But as I researched, I discovered underlying reasons as to why the Civil War happened, and how  every soldier had a fascinating story to tell.

Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead? I would love to see some new faces so I could say my movie started their career!
Fiona: Any advice for other writers? Always believe in yourself and never give up. I was worried I couldn’t find an audience for my book, but I wrote it anyway, and low and behold, it won several awards!
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers? Although there is a lot of anti-Confederate sentiment in the southern U.S. right now, please read the book. Then, you will hopefully better understand why the Civil War happened, and learn more about our history, just as I did.

 

Fiona: What book are you reading now? I’m reading another Civil War author’s second novel. It is a sequel to Henry’s Pride.

 

Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read? Fun with Dick and Jane. Just kidding! The first book that really struck me was The Outsiders. I still have my original copy.

 

Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry? My husband. And just about every movie I see.

 

Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why? General Robert E. Lee. I know he’s getting a bad rap right now with all the anti-Confederatism (my word), but he was an officer and a gentleman in the truest sense of the word. His wife was a direct descendant of George Washington, and his horse, Traveller, is probably the most well-known steed of the Civil War. He was deeply religious, loyal, and had unwavering integrity. That is why he was chosen to be the president of Washington and Lee University after the war.

Fiona: Do you have any hobbies? I am also an artist and musician. My music is available on iTunes (Julie Hawkins/Julie Hawkins Band).

 

Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching? The list is enormous. I can’t wait to see the new Jurassic World. I love all the superhero movies. My husband and I have been watching Westworld, Nashville and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. And we are eager for the next/last season of Game of Thrones.

 

Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music? I love nearly all styles of music. I grew up in a musical family, and my dad loved Big Band music. My favorite color is blue, and my favorite foods are seafood, Italian and Mexican.

 

Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do? Swim and garden. I’m a serious plant lover. In fact, I have so many plants that they need a room for themselves! I would also spend more time singing and performing. And, of course, I would spend more time with my grandson.

 

Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time? Yikes! Only 24 hours? Well, I live in Colorado, so I would get all my kids together and go to the mountains for one last sabbatical.

 

Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone? I never thought about having a headstone. In fact, I told my kids I’d like to be cremated, with half of me going to Hanging Lake (above Glenwood Springs, Colorado) and the other going to Laguna Beach in California. It’s probably illegal to dump human remains in these places, but I’ve always been a rebel, so what the heck!

Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers? My website address is https://jdrhawkins.com/blog. Please subscribe!

https://wp.me/p3uv2y-85b

Book Blitz – Dangerous Passions

About the Book:

Dangerous Passions Cover

Can bitter enemies find love?


Haunted by visions, Calypso sets out to find the man who stalks her dreams. Calypso, an ageless fae, is convinced this man will enslave and torment her just like the one who held her long ago. Determined to track him down and kill him, she’s prepared for anything, except for what she finds. The mortal male she encounters stirs embers she thought long dead, making her yearn for his touch.

Lucien has always believed himself to be a mortal slave. The truth, however, is more than he’s ever imagined. Born to a fae mother and a warlock father, he is a falock, a being of mixed blood hated by both races. And he’s destined for greatness…if he can survive the Roman gladiators’ games long enough to grow into his immortality.

When the slim beauty rescues him from the depths of his prison, Lucien comes face to face with the truth of who and what he is. Determined to protect the woman who rescued him, he’ll risk everything, including his chance at immortality.

Can a weary, distrustful fae and the falock she’s claimed overcome the obstacles in their path?

Book Links:

Goodreads * Amazon

Read an Excerpt:

He leaned forward, her soft whisper echoing in his heart. It seemed she was a slave just as he had been. Heat swirled around him, stirring the embers of want, of need as he traced over her face with the backs of his fingers. Delicately made, she appeared so fragile, yet he knew her strength and her skill. His fingers burned where they touched her skin as he trailed them down her neck to curl around in a loose hold. “I shall protect you.”

The vow fell between them like a stone. He caught the flare of something in her eyes. Fear? Nay, something deeper, something richer.

Leaning forward, he stared into her eyes, her face turned up, lips parted. He could feel the warmth of her breath on his skin, the softness of her hands on his chest as he pulled her into his body. Lucien brushed his lips over Calypso’s, the barest of touches. Soft, moist, her lips yielded beneath his. Again and again, he pressed gentle kisses along her mouth, her nose, her cheeks. The soft whimpers escaping her added fuel to the fire in his blood. Her hands slid around his shoulders, her nails digging in as his fingers tangled in her hair. Tilting her head back, Lucien offered a hint of a smile before he captured her lips in a deep kiss. He licked along the seam, tasting the sweet traces of the fruit she’d eaten. He nipped at her bottom lip, drawing a startled gasp. With a low groan his tongue darted inside, tasting her. Lucien devoured her, claiming her lips repeatedly. Desire licked at him, pushing him closer and closer to the brink.

“We mustn’t.” Calypso’s whisper crept over him even as he felt her move against him. The faint note of fear in her voice like a bucket of water. He pulled back, resting his forehead against hers.

“Aye, we must keep moving. Come, my lady. We’ve a long journey ahead.” He wrapped his fingers around her hand and shot her a quick smile before stepping back. Lucien turned her slightly and fastened her bodice in place. “I will keep you safe.”

“But who will protect me from you?” Her words, spoken so low he knew he wasn’t supposed to hear them, added to the confusion within his mind. What kind of female was the one who even now held his hand as they moved through the growing darkness?

About the Author:

Elise

Born in Northern British Columbia, Elise is a small-town girl. She writes in a variety of genres including paranormal, contemporary suspense, m/m in various lengths. Currently, she lives in British Columbia with her husband and son, one dog, one cat, and a gecko. Elise enjoys reading as much as she does writing, with some of her favorite books being read until they fall apart. 

She is currently working on the next book in the Forsaken Series, Burning Rain. As well she has a new contemporary she’s working on. For more information on Elise, or to check out her books you can find her on Facebook, twitter, and her website.

Contact the Author:

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads

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Off to the Races!

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This Saturday (my birthday, BTW), the Belmont Stakes will take place, and after five years, we may have a chance to see another triple crown winner with a magnificent three-year-old colt named Justify. This is so exciting, and I really hope Justify wins! I love watching horse races, because each event happens so quickly, and the horses are so beautiful to watch when they run around the track and cross the finish line.

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Our modern-day horse races originated from the Civil War, and the first Kentucky Derby was held on May 17, 1875. This was ten years after the war ended. Prior the war, Southerners relished racing their beautiful Thoroughbreds. When the war broke out, cavalrymen still held races for amusement, and placed bets in hopes of making a profit, although they were betting with small items and valueless Confederate currency.

Here is an excerpt from my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, describing one such race.

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On the morning of April 25, following roll call and breakfast, David saddled Renegade. He and Jake walked over to the wide, emerald field designated as the race course. No one else had arrived, so they said a quick prayer for the safety of horse and rider and for the chance to show the other cavalrymen in Rooney Lee’s brigade just how fast a little horse from the back hills of Alabama could run. Talk of the race had spread from company to company until the entire brigade caught wind of the event, and several other riders expressed interest in racing as well. This didn’t worry David in the least, since he’d been racing Renegade for nearly a year at every opportunity that presented itself in Morgan County. They had always won.

He checked Renegade’s legs for heat or swelling. “Tell me again which regiment you’ll be with,” he said to Jake.

“The 26th Alabama, under Colonel O’Neal,” Jake replied. “Reckon when I git over there, they’ll issue me a haversack.”

“You’ll be needin’ somethin’ better to walk in,” David observed, glancing down at Jake’s dusty riding boots.

“These’ll git me by for a while.” Jake kicked a stone. “At least until I can locate me a pair of brogans.”

He looked across the field, and David followed his gaze. Men on horseback approached, along with a crowd of soldiers on foot. Two troopers fashioned a finish line constructed of a thin rope at the other end of the field. The crowd grew louder. David and Jake walked toward the commotion.

“Are you in the race?” a young soldier in gray asked.

David nodded.

The soldier pointed at the starting line, which was also to serve as the finish line. David stepped into the stirrup and mounted.

“Good luck, Zeke!” Jake yelled. Removing his slouch hat from his head, he waved it in the air.

David grinned. He directed Renegade over to the starting line, took his place on the end, and glanced over at the other six horses. They were all taller and more muscular than his little colt. Their riders turned to sneer and chuckle at him. David touched the brim of his hat in response. Two fiddlers commenced to play “Camptown Races” in harmony.

“Gentlemen,” an officer announced, a pistol in his hand. “When I fire, y’all are to ride around the edge of this field, counterclockwise, which is a quarter of a mile in length, until returnin’ to this spot. Anyone cuttin’ across will be disqualified. Good luck, and may the best man win!”

The crowd cheered. At the outburst, some of the horses grew frantic and reared. The officer raised his pistol into the air and fired. Renegade sprang, easily pulling ahead in great stretches, his hooves thundering against the ground in rapid rhythm.

David lowered himself close to the horse’s neck. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw two other riders closing in on him. He held Renegade back until he thought they were about three quarters of the way around the track. One of the other riders jeered at him, yelling about how that homely spotted pony couldn’t outrun his steed. David let him pull ahead by a length.

The horses grunted with each stride, their hoof beats drumming down upon the turf in quick cadence. The riders whooped and hollered to make their mounts go faster. A couple of the contestants thrashed at their steed’s flanks with sticks.

David glanced back over his shoulder. The other five horses were close at his heels. He looked ahead and spoke into Renegade’s ear, using every ounce of love and trust between them to coax the stallion into giving his all.

“Okay, Renie! Let ‘em have it!”

He slapped Renegade with the ends of the reins. The little horse surged forward, ever faster, easily passing the rider in front of him. He pulled far into the lead and galloped toward the crowd of people. David’s heart thumped in his ears with exhilaration as the wind whipped his face. Horse and rider burst through the finish line. The spectators cheered. The six other contestants came in five lengths behind. David eased back on the reins, letting his horse slow to a trot. He walked Renegade back to the finish line where a mass of soldiers swarmed around.

“That was some race!” one exclaimed.

“I never expected this funny-lookin’ one to win!” said another.

“Summers, I don’t reckon I ever saw a horse run that fast!” John yelled. “And you jist won me five dollars!”

David grinned, removed his hat, and brushed his damp hair back from his forehead. He looked around for Jake who was standing near the back of the crowd with his arms folded in front of him, smiling and shaking his head.

“Private Summers.” Colonel Beale rode up to him on his horse. “Congratulations! That was remarkable!”

“Thank you, sir,” David replied.

“General Stuart would like to have a word with you.” He pointed to a knoll at the other end of the field. David looked over to see four officers on horseback.

“With me?” he asked, awestruck.

The colonel smiled and turned his horse. David rode alongside toward the other end of the field. As he neared, he recognized two of the officers immediately. One was General Rooney Lee, whom he had met upon his arrival, and the other was General Stuart, the commanding officer of the Confederate cavalry. David had eagerly anticipated catching a glimpse of the legendary general but had never considered meeting him in person. Riding up onto the knoll, he saluted modestly. The officers returned the gesture.

“This is Private David Summers, who jist recently jined us from Alabama,” General Rooney Lee explained, his eyes twinkling. “He’s with the 9th Virginia.”

“Private Summers,” said General Stuart. “I am very impressed with the way you ride.”

David was astounded by the man before him. General Stuart wore a gray jacket with gold braiding in the configuration of the Austrian knot on his collar and sleeves, a wide yellow sash around his waist, elbow-length gauntlets, dark blue trousers with gold stripes, a red-lined cape, and golden spurs attached to his high riding boots. On his head of curly brown hair perched a wide-brimmed gray felt hat, turned up on one side and clasped with a gilded palmetto star. A black ostrich plume feathered out from behind it. His tanned face was covered with a light brown moustache flowing into a cinnamon-colored beard that reached down to his chest. His bright blue eyes sparkled from beneath the brim of his hat as though laughing at the world and amused with everything in it.

“Thank you, sir,” David said.

“This is Colonel Von Borcke.” General Stuart motioned toward a large man on his left with a long, blond, curly moustache and short beard. “And this is Major R.C. Price,” he introduced, nodding toward the young man on his right, who didn’t look much older than David.

“I would like to have the opportunity to race your little stallion in the near future,” Colonel Von Borcke said with a heavy Prussian accent. “I’m certain that my horse will win!”

The officers chuckled.

David grinned. “I’d be honored, sir,” he replied.

“Private, I would like to take the opportunity to use you as need be for special assignments,” said General Stuart. “That is, for errands where speed will be of the utmost importance.”

“Yessir,” David said.

“I assume your horse is sound,” said the general.

“Yessir.”

“And you are willin’ to take certain risks for the good of your country.”

“Yessir.”

“Very good, Private. It is my opinion that a good man and a good horse can never be caught, and you have displayed admirable qualities.”

David grinned with delight. “Thank you, sir.”

“You are dismissed,” the general said.

David saluted. General Stuart put his gloved hand to his hat and smiled slightly. He released the salute. David turned Renegade toward the base of the knoll.

“Congratulations on your victory,” General Stuart called after him.

“Thank you, sir!” David called over his shoulder.

He spurred Renegade into a trot across the field. All the while, his heart was rapidly thumping. He couldn’t wait to tell Jake about what just happened. Now he truly was one of Stuart’s “invincibles.”

The crowd had thinned, but Jake waited beside the officer who had fired the starting gun.

“Zeke!” he yelled. “Git over here and collect your winnin’s!”

David looked at Jake quizzically and coaxed Renegade toward  his friend.

“Here you are, son,” the officer said. He handed David a one hundred dollar Confederate note. “Congratulations! I hope we git to see that little horse run again soon!”

David’s eyes grew wide in astonishment. “Thank you, sir!”

He stared in exhilarated awe at the note that read, “Confederate States of America, one hundred dollars.” Pictures of two soldiers, a woman’s face in profile, and a man he assumed to be a politician were displayed on the front of the scrip. He hadn’t expected to win anything, especially not this much money. His only desire had been to race for the recognition and to rectify Renegade’s bad behavior in front of his company.

Glancing back at the knoll, David saw that the officers had gone, and with them, his moment of glory. He sighed, dismounted, and walked alongside Jake back to camp.

 

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