J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “A Beautiful Glittering Lie”

Favorite Ban

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This is banned book week, when libraries, bookstores, and all things literary celebrate the tomes that have been banned throughout the years for various reasons. It is interesting to see what books made the list. But the amazing part is that they were even banned in the first place, especially here in the states, where freedom of speech and expression are supposedly within our constitutional rights.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_banned_books

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My favorite banned book is Gone With the Wind. I absolutely adore this novel. I always thought it was so amazing that Margaret Mitchell published her book in 1936, and it immediately became a bestseller. Only a few years later, in 1939, it became a phenomenal film that won eight Academy Awards, one of which was awarded to an African-American person for the first time, Ms. Hattie McDaniel, for Best Supporting Actress. The movie also won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Editing, as well as two honorary awards for its use of equipment and color. It was the first color film to win Best Picture.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gone_with_the_Wind_(film)

I have to admit that, since I wrote my novels, the tide of Confederate sentiment has turned. It is quite strange and disturbing, but nevertheless, it has happened. I certainly hope my books don’t make the banned book list because of it, but if they do, they’re in good company.

 

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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

Second Manassas

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Today and tomorrow mark the 156th anniversary of the Second Battle of Manassas. I have always found it strangely interesting how this battle took place on the same ground where the First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) took place. Soldiers found old skeletons buried in shallow graves at the battlefield that were left there from a year before. Virginia is unique in that many Civil War battlefields overlap each other. Chancellorsville, Spotsylvania, Yellow Tavern, Brandy Station, and Antietam are all very close in proximity. It must have been weird to have lived in Virginia and Maryland during that time and have so many tragic battles take place within just a few miles of each other. Richmond and Washington D.C., the two capitals, were also close together. And yet, an entire country was involved in the war. What a sad, strange time it must have been.

My novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, describes this battle. The book delves into the first half of the War Between the States from the Southern point of view, and specifically portrays the 4th Alabama Infantry Regiment. This book is based on actual testimony that was recorded by a soldier who witnessed the battles. The 4th Alabama was one of only a few regiments who survived until the end of the war.

 

A Beautiful Glittering Lie Featured on Renee’s Author Spotlight

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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.

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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

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

The Olympics

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The 2018 Winter Olympic games commenced today in PyeongChang. South Korea. The first modern Olympic games were held in Athens, Greece on April 6, 1896. Olympic games were held in Olympia, Greece 1503 years prior to this, from 776 BC through 393 AD.

Soldiers who fought in the Civil War had a lot of time to kill between battles, so they invented their own games to compete in, from baseball to “throwing papers,” otherwise known as gambling, to horseracing. But the most interesting winter “sport” they participated in was snowball fighting. Here is an excerpt from my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, describing the snowball fight that took place prior to the Battle of Fredericksburg.

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Hiram glanced around at his comrades, who were entrenched on either side of him, waiting for another Yankee advance. With time to reflect, he thought back to the previous month’s events. The 4th Alabama had abandoned their encampment and moved to Culpeper Court House. They remained there until November 22, when Lee discovered Burnside was headed north from Richmond, so he assembled his troops near the quaint town of Fredericksburg. The Confederate army swelled to almost twice its size, due to returning soldiers who had become ill prior to their march into Maryland. Remaining on the south side of the icy Rappahannock River, the Rebels gazed at the church spires that rose up from the town like bony, skeletal fingers, reaching to the heavens for sanctuary.

They waited for Burnside to pounce, but their wait was long-lived, for he hesitated. Since the men were required only to attend dress parade and roll call, they idled away their time by staging snowball fights, some so zealous that several soldiers were wounded, and a few were killed.

Snowball

They also spent time exploring the town, as well as the terrain north of camp. Fredericksburg had been nearly evacuated, except for a few citizens who still remained, because their only other option was to camp in the snowy woods until danger passed. On a few rare occasions, the 4th Alabama was detailed to picket duty in town, where they stayed inside deserted homes that housed fine paintings, extensive libraries, and lovely furniture, or they stood guard outside on the piazzas, and in the immaculate sculptured gardens, gazing across the river at the Union soldiers’ tents. They noticed how finely outfitted the Yankees were in their splendid blue uniforms, but the Confederates, in contrast, were clothed in ragged, tattered, dingy butternut.

Some of the Rebels managed to converse with the enemy, even though it was strictly forbidden, and exchange their tobacco for much-desired coffee and sugar. After a while, though, a treaty was established, and the Southerners sent across a plank, with a mast made from a current Richmond newspaper. The Federals sent their “boat” to the Southern port, using a mast constructed from a Northern newspaper. Thus, the two sides stayed abreast of what the media was saying.

On several occasions, Hiram heard music float across the river. The Yankee bands played new songs he had never heard before. One sounded like “John Brown’s Body,” but the words had been changed. This, he learned, was the Union army’s new anthem, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” He didn’t appreciate the lyrics, since they equated the Confederates to devils, but listened with interest, nonetheless. Another Yankee song they played repetitively was called the “Battle Cry of Freedom.” He liked that one better, but it still didn’t make his spirit soar like “Dixie” did. The Federals played “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Hail Columbia,” songs the Southerners once held dear, and waited for Confederate bands to reply, but no reprisal came. As if reading Hiram’s mind, the Yankees rambunctiously played “Dixie’s Land.” Men on both sides of the river burst into cheers, which fell away to mutual laughter.

 

New Book Trailer

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The book trailer for the first two books in the Renegade Series, A Beautiful Glittering Lie and A Beckoning Hellfire, has been updated to include the first two books’ new covers. The artwork was done by the amazingly talented Dawne Dominique for my publisher, Foundations, LLC.

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She also created the cover for the third book in the series, A Rebel Among Us.

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The book trailer for the first two books in the series was created by Buzzbomb Studios and my good friend, Dana Burgess. Thank you for doing an amazing job!

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All three books are available through Amazon and Smashwords.

https://www.amazon.com/Renegade-J-D-R-Hawkins-ebook/dp/B077QXB6YH/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1511698347&sr=1-1&keywords=j.d.r.+@Julie Hawkins

 

Holiday Specials

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My publisher, Foundations, LLC, has just marked the new three-boxed set of my novels from the Renegade Series down for the holidays, and I wanted to share. Until January 1, the boxed set will be sold at 25% off retail prices, which means a huge savings for you! Here is the purchase link: https://www.foundationsbooks.net/book/the-renegade-series/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=holiday_special_addition_from_foundations_llc&utm_term=2017-12-12

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Also, my newly re-published novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, is available for only .99 cents on Kindle. Here is that link: https://www.amazon.com/Beckoning-Hellfire-Novel-Civil-Renegade-ebook/dp/B07846B1CL/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1513141987&sr=8-2&keywords=a+beckoning+hellfire

All three books can be digitally autographed for the holidays. Check out this link: https://www.authorgraph.com/authors/JDRHawkins

Thank you so much for your ongoing support. I am always looking for sponsors to contribute to my art. It isn’t easy being an independent author. If you could commit to as little as $1 per month, it would be greatly appreciated! Here is my Patreon link: https://www.patreon.com/jdrhawkins

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My Author Interview Featured on Renee’s Author Spotlight

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Today I am the featured author on Renee’s Author Spotlight. Renee asked me some interesting questions, and highlighted my new three-book email package, the Renegade Series.

My interview with Renee is as follows.

Why did you decide to be a writer?

I’ve been a writer ever since I can remember, and have written everything from songs to poetry to short stories and novels.

What genres do you write?

Primarily historical fiction, but I have also written children’s books and a nonfiction book.

Do you have a daily word or page count goal?

Five hundred words is a basic goal. When I’m writing a book, though, I shoot for a page a day.

If you could be one of your characters for a day, who would it be and why?

I would be Anna. She is strong and strong-willed, and although she has experienced personal loss, she has big goals and dreams.

What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever researched?

Battle scenes were the toughest. It gave me nightmares! I startled awake one time after I dreamt a bullet whizzed by my head. I drew a lot of description from actual journals and diaries, so the descriptions are real.

What are your goals as an author?

I would like to be an international best seller. I would also like to write three or four more books.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Show don’t tell. I fall into this trap frequently, which is easy to do when writing historical fiction. It helps to have a great editor to point these issues out.

How many books do you have on your “to read” list?

I’m really behind on reading some of the best sellers. I’d like to read The Girl on the Train and A Broken Kind of Beautiful.

Do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and why?

Mostly I write in third person, but one of my books is in first person. They are all in past tense. I thought that would be the most effective way to tell the story.

How do you come up with the titles for your books?

I don’t have a problem with coming up with titles. The first book in the Renegade Series, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, was taken from a quote a Confederate soldier wrote in regard to the Civil War, stating that it was “all a glittering lie.”

Have you ever gotten an idea for a story from something really bizarre?

I wrote a book about my great aunt and uncle, who ran a hotel in my hometown, Sioux City, during the Depression. Supposedly, there was gangster activity going on there, and money was hidden behind the wallpaper!

What inspired your current work?

Seeing the Gettysburg battlefield was awe inspiring, because I had never seen a Civil War battlefield before. It inspired me to write the first book, which turned into a series.

What was the hardest part about writing your latest book?

It was nonfiction, which I hadn’t done before on that large of a scale. There was so much research involved. It was exhausting!

Do you have any advice for other authors?

Write what you love and feel passionate about, and never give up!

Do you have anything specific you’d like to say to your readers?

I decided to write from the Southern perspective because it has nearly become lost to history. Slavery was an issue but it wasn’t the cause of the Civil War. I didn’t understand that because I grew up in Iowa and wasn’t told about the Southern side. So I researched it myself and discovered the truth.

Check out my entire interview here:

https://reneesauthorspotlight.blogspot.com/2017/12/the-renegade-series-beautiful.html

War Is Hell (Even When It’s Not a Battle)

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The tragedy that happened in Las Vegas last Sunday was terrible and possibly avoidable. How one psycho can premeditate such carnage is beyond my comprehension. The Vegas Strip suddenly became a war zone, changing hundreds of lives forever. My heart and prayers go out to all the people and their families who were effected by this disturbed individual.

It’s interesting how, when such a terrible thing happens, people come together to defend and protect one another. This is an admirable part of human nature. There are many reported instances of this happening in wartime. During the Civil War, Clara Barton risked her own life to go out onto the battlefield and help wounded Union soldiers. Although they fought on different sides, soldiers crossed enemy lines to assist one another.

One such soldier was Confederate Sergeant Richard Rowland Kirkland. Following the Battle of Fredericksburg, Kirkland risked his life by crossing the Federal line to give suffering northern soldiers drinks from his canteen. His actions were so revered that a statue was erected depicting his selfless act. Sadly, Sergeant Kirkland was killed less than a year later at the Battle of Chicamauga.

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Here is a brief excerpt from my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, describing Sergeant Kirkland’s actions. This description takes place following the Battle of Fredericksburg.

It had stopped raining, but bitter cold replaced it. Upon returning to camp, Bud and his comrades learned that they had lost five, with seventeen wounded. Their regiment didn’t fire a single shot. The Yankees, it was estimated, lost over nine thousand after making fourteen assaults that were all beaten back. The men heard of one brave soul, Sergeant Kirkland of South Carolina, who acquired a reputation as the “Angel of Marye’s Heights” for crossing enemy lines and benevolently tending to the Union wounded by providing them with blankets and water. John Pelham, an Alabama son who was in charge of Jackson’s artillery, received praise from General Lee for bravely executing an effective barrage by deceiving the Yankees into thinking his numbers were far greater than they actually were, and holding their lines in the process.

The Alabamians were told that Fredericksburg had been left in terrible condition. The Yankees were allowed to freely loot, ransack, burn, and pillage anything and everything, which infuriated the Rebels.

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