J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “A Beckoning Hellfire”

Happy Holidays!

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter One

“Here it is! Come quick!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

She nodded, her bright blue eyes reflecting her elation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The horse blew and stomped his front hoof.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He chuckled.

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

He obliged his little sister by imitating her.

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

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

Josie giggled.

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

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

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

“You start,” he prompted.

“Dashin’ through the snow…”

He joined in. Their voices grew stronger in unison.

“In a one-horse open sleigh…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Whose horse is that?” Josie asked.

“It looks like Bud Samuels’ horse.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Rena?” he asked her.

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

David walked across the room to their neighbor, Bud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Flattering Reviews

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

Phil Bolos

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


JoJo Maxson

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating novel

Reviewed in the United States on November 8, 2021

Verified Purchase

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

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


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

Reviewed in the United States on November 18, 2021

Verified Purchase

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

A Beckoning Hellfire Soaring to #1

My novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, just acheived #2 rating in Civil War books on Amazon. My publisher, Westwood Books Publishing, has been pushing to get this book rated as #1 on the Amazon bestseller list. Hopefully, that will happen soon!

Part of their marketing campaign is to get more reviews for the book. Here are a couple of five-star reviews that it recently received.

Nov 08, 2021

Pegboard rated it FIVE STARS! It was amazing

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

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


John H. Manhold

5.0 out of 5 stars 5* thoughtful addition to the American Civil War literature.

Reviewed in the United States on November 12, 2021

Verified Purchase

A RECONNING HELLFIRE, A Novel of the Civil War, Kindle Edition by JDR Hawkens.
The author has set forth a coming of age tale of a young farm boy in the horribly difficult time of the Civil War between the states. His father has joined the Army of the Confederate States of America and left him to manage the large but somewhat hardscrabble farm in western Alabama with the help of his sisters and mother. Unfortunately, he is killed and the family is informed just before Christmas shortly before his 18th birthday that was to occur the following year. With a typical display of the bitterness exhibited between residents of the northern and southern states, plus an anxiousness to “get into the action existent in almost all young naïve young men, he is determined also to join in the bitter fighting to “gain revenge on the Yankees:” The story unfolds following the young man’s subsequent enlistment and experiences as he becomes one of the many young men involved in the gradual expansion of the deadly hand-to-hand combat of a member of the Southern cavalry fighting under the flamboyant and highly successful J.E.B. Stuart. His plight is made worse by his actions immediately before leaving for the army, but aided in many ways by his lifelong close friend who joins with him and his unusual horse that has been his companion for many years.
Discussion: The author is the well-known as the eminently well-qualified one of the few women writing in this area of American literature, and once again has provided readers with a well-researched, well-written, mostly poignant story of one series of actions that could have taken place during the conflict. It is a story of the common soldier with only an occasional glance into the lives of the cavaliers and the storied lives lived by the wealthy plantation owners and that from which came the Southern Officers. Instead it depicts the farmer, blacksmith, storekeepers and others who made up the largest proportion of the soldiers involved in the horrendous conflict. It is not a story for the delicate reader and, as are any descriptions of battle scenes as they truly exist, subject to a goodly amount of repetition or repetitive-like description. However, the informed reader will learn much he/she may not previously known about the substitute foods and other innovative moves the southerners ‘manufactured’. It is a well-worthwhile addition to the collection of stories of tis great American conflict.

5* thoughtful addition to the American Civil War literature.

https://www.amazon.com/Beckoning-Hellfire-Novel-Civil-War/dp/1648030777/ref=sr_1_2?crid=2VKLVNBU6CDCY&keywords=a+beckoning+hellfire&qid=1639167713&sprefix=a+beckonin%2Caps%2C251&sr=8-2

Amazing Review for A Beckoning Hellfire

My publisher has been pushing to get top reviews for my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, in hopes of spring boarding it to the #1 status on Amazon. I would like to share some of these with you in the next few weeks.

Grady Harp

Top Contributor: Children’s Books

HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER

4.0 out of 5 stars 

Looking at history from both sides

Reviewed in the United States on November 5, 2021

Verified Purchase

Author/singer/songwriter JDR Hawkins writes novels and articles for newspapers, magazines, e-zines and blogs about the Civil War from the Confederate perspective. Her RENEGADE Series is rapidly winning multiple awards and to date there are three volumes – A REBEL AMONG US, A BEAUTIFUL GLITTERING LIE, and this volume – A BECKONING HELLFIRE. These novels relate the story of a family from northern Alabama who experience immeasurable pain when their lives are dramatically changed by the war.

At this particular time in our history, when questions are being raised about the validity of statues and memorabilia of the Civil War, creating heated discussions and confrontations, this book offers a fresh view of the Civil War from the Southern, and Confederate, stance. For a more complete picture of that historical event, Hawkins has created a fictional revisit to that mid 1800s time and her writing is inviting, from the first lines: “Here it is! Come Quick!” David sauntered across the dead grass toward his little sister. Amused by the way she was jumping up and down like a nervous flea, he couldn’t help but grin. Obviously, she was too excited to care that her petticoats were showing from under the brown coat and green calico dress she wore, or that her long auburn hair had broken free from its bondage as her bonnet slid from her head and dangled down her back.’ Approaching her novel from the family standpoint allows everyone entry to better understand the Confederate vantage.

Along those lines, the plot progresses as follows: ‘During the bloody American Civil War, the stark reality of death leads one young man on a course of revenge that takes him from his quiet farm in northern Alabama to the horrific battlefields of Virginia and Pennsylvania. On Christmas Eve 1862, David Summers hears the dreaded news: his father has perished at the Battle of Fredericksburg. Reeling with grief and thoughts of vengeance, David enlists and sets off for Richmond to join the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. But once in the cavalry, David’s life changes drastically, and his dream of glamorous chivalry becomes nothing but a cold, cruel existence of pain and suffering. He is hurled into one battle after another, and his desire for revenge wanes when he experiences first-hand the catastrophes of war.’

This is a timely novel that will hopefully add new dimensions of thinking about the Civil War and its persistent scars.

Grady Harp, November 21

Interview By Sara Louisa

I was recently interviewed by friend and fellow author, Sara Louisa about my books and writing process. Here is the post. I hope you enjoy it! Please check out her website at saralouisaauthor.com. Thank you for the interview, Sara!

Award Winning Author J.D.R Hawkins’ Interview!

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s author interview!

I was absolutely thrilled to interview author J.D.R Hawkins, and get to know her better!

Hawkins began writing at an early age. Music inspired her to write song lyrics, which developed into poems. From there, she branched out into writing short stories, articles, children’s books, and eventually, novels. Hawkins has also written a non-fiction book!

I’m always interested in how fellow authors choose the names of their characters. For me, the name usually comes to mind straight away when starting a new project. Hawkins has an interesting way of finding her characters and putting a name to the person in mind! Hawkins says:

“I researched names in a baby name book, and chose the ones I felt would most closely fit my characters’ personalities.”

Writing the perfect scene is important to an author; we strive for that ‘wow’ factor, and we all have favourite types of scenes to tackle. I personally enjoy writing romantic scenes, and action sequences. Hawkins told me what her favourite scenes are to write, and why.

“I like writing scenes that have an eerie element to them. Mysterious happenings are always fun to write, as well as scenes that show friction between the characters. I enjoy writing dialogue, because it gives me the opportunity to reveal things about the characters and their backstories.”

Authors get their story ideas literally from anywhere, and everywhere: walking, driving, listening to music, or in complete silence. Hawkins says she gets her greatest ideas when it’s quiet in the early morning, or later at night. She says:

“It’s wonderful when an idea comes to me suddenly, but sometimes, it takes several days for an idea to come to fruition.”

J.D.R Hawkins writes about the civil war in her fantastic collection of novels, which I was quite excited to learn about! Canadian and American history is a huge passion of mine, which brought up my next question for Hawkins: Are these incredible novels based on true events?

“Since my novels are about the Civil War, there are many parts that are true. I have to write realistically and factually, or I will get called out by people who are very knowledgeable about this time in American history. Many of the characters are real as well, including Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, etc. My first novel, “A Beautiful Glittering Lie,” is based on the journal of a Confederate soldier.”

Hawkins’ answer was fasinating to me, because as a writer myself, I could just imagine the hours of research that would need to be done for such a project!

I always enjoy learning where fellow authors are from, and a little bit about their personal life. I learned in our interview that Hawkins is a retired postal carrier living in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with her husband. They have two sons, one daughter-in-law, and two grandsons.

Hawkins says:

“We also have three fur babies: two dachshunds and a Siamese cat. We love to travel and spend time with our family. My husband and I recently celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary.”

Happy 40th anniversary to you and your husband!

The fourth book in J.D.R. Hawkins’ Renegade Series is due to come out later this year. It is titled “Double-Edged Sword,” and takes up where the last novel, “A Rebel Among Us,” left off.

Huge thank you to J.D.R Hawkins! Congratulations on your up coming release!

You can find J.D.R Hawkins, her books, and information on her website and links! Check out her fantastic book trailer and live interview at: https://jdrhawkins.com/

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Website: http://jdrhawkins.com

Interview With Dixie Heritage Newsletter

Recently, I was invited to participate in a podcast interview conducted by Dr. Edward DeVries, who publishes a weekly newsletter known as The Dixie Heritage Newsletter. I was honored to have the opportunity to discuss all four of my published books, as well as upcoming projects. We also talked about music, the Confederate gold, and several other topics. I hope you enjoy listening to this as much as I enjoyed recording it.

Dixie Heritage Banner

New Cover Reveal!

I’d like to officially announce that my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, has a new cover! This is in conjunction with my acquiring a new publisher.

It has been so much fun to reinvent my book and to breathe new life into it! A Beckoning Hellfire has been re-edited and improved. This book has received several awards and has earned many five-star reviews. It is the second book in the Renegade Series (the first is A Beautiful Glittering Lie). Stay tuned, because the third book in the series, A Rebel Among Us, will soon come out with a new cover as well.

Thanks so much for your continued support and interest in my books. I’m always fishing for reviews, so if you are interested, please let me know and I will send you a PDF!

You’ve Just Crossed Over Into the Twilight Zone

eyeball

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

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

DS

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

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

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

Happy New Year!

I would like to wish you a very happy New Year! This year is especially special, because it is a new decade, and it is, once again the Roaring 20’s! I hope that this decade graces you with love, joy, prosperity and peace. I also hope this year provides you with many opportunities, blessings, and reasons to achieve your goals.

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During the past decade, I faced many blessings, some challenges, and a few heartaches. My husband was transferred several times, so we moved from Horn Lake, Mississippi to Loveland, Colorado to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and finally landed in Colorado Springs, Colorado three years ago. We bought a little fixer-upper bungalow with a gorgeous view of the Rockies and Pikes Peak. I lost my father in 2012, but we were blessed with two grandsons, the youngest of which is only four weeks old. And we met many new friends.

The past year was somewhat challenging for me. My previous publisher decided to drop my Civil War Renegade Series, so I spent months finding a new publisher. I have succeeded and look forward to re-publishing A Beautiful Glittering Lie, A Beckoning Hellfire and A Rebel Among Us with Westwood Books Publishing. It should prove to be a very exciting and lucrative partnership.

In the meantime, my nonfiction book, Horses in Gray, has been holding its own. I’m thinking of making it into an audio book. What do you think?

Horses in Gray Cover

One of my favorite authors, Claire Cook (Must Love Dogs), sent me an email with this inspiring list, so I’m passing it on to you. Thanks Claire!

 

2020 vision pic

Seven Simple Steps to Find Your 2020 Vision

SELF. You can’t have self-awareness, self-confidence, or any of those other good self words until you decide to like yourSELF, and who you really are.

SOUL SEARCHING. Sometimes it’s just getting quiet enough to figure out what you really want; often it’s digging up that buried dream you had before life got in the way.

SERENDIPITY. When you stay open to surprises, they often turn out to be even better than the things you planned. Throw your routine out the window and let spontaneity change your life.

SYNCHRONICITY. It’s like that saying about luck being the place where preparation meets opportunity. Open your eyes and ears—then catch the next wave that’s meant for you!

STRENGTH. Life is tough. Decide to be tougher. If Plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters (204 if you’re in Japan!).

SISTERHOOD. Connect, network, smile. Build a structure of support, step by step. Do something nice for someone—remember, karma is a boomerang!

SATISFACTION. Of course you can get some (no matter what the Rolling Stones said). Call it satisfaction, fulfillment, gratification, but there’s nothing like the feeling of setting a goal and achieving it. So make yours a good one!

BONUS STEP: SIMPLIFY! In the years since writing this list, I’ve discovered how truly fabulous it is to simplify. I’ve moved and downsized twice in the last decade, cleared away so much physical and mental clutter, and learned to say yes only to the things I really want to do. I’m finding the balance between writing and walking the beach every day.

BONUS 2020 VISION TIP: Pick one of the words above (or another!) and make it your theme for 2020. Print out the word in big letters and tape it to the refrigerator or your bathroom mirror. Write it in tiny letters on a small river rock or on the inside of a seashell and carry it in your pocket or purse. Scrawl it across the top of your daily journal entry or write it on each day of your calendar. Choosing a single word is such a great way to set your intention and keep your focus on it for the whole year.

 

What Led Up to Gettysburg

 

It seems incredible in this day and age to imagine what led up to the Civil War. Slavery was an issue, but an underlying issue when the war started. In 1863, abolition had become more prevalent. 
Following the Battle of Brandy Station on June 9, 1863,  J.E.B. Stuart and his Confederate cavaliers moved north into enemy territory. For nearly the entire month of June, they traveled northward, sometimes through unfamiliar territory, to screen General Lee’s troops. Their movements came to fruition in the Battle of Gettysburg, which took place July 1-3, 1863.
Here is an excerpt from my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, which describes the Confederate cavalry’s travels and challenges.
ABeckoningHellfire_MED
The horses plodded along with their eyes closed. A few of the drivers fell asleep, and their drowsy mules walked off the road into the ditch, pulling their wagons behind them. Some bucked, brayed and kicked in protest to their hunger and fatigue. Assigned soldiers rode up and down the line in the dark, looking for delays, barely coherent themselves. A few men slept while their horses jumped over fences, sending them sprawling, but even then they were too tired to awaken.
As dawn approached, General Stuart cantered alongside them, singing his battle song at the top of his lungs. His obedient soldiers, happy to see their commander alive and well, stirred themselves to sing along.
“Well, we’re the boys that rode around McClellian,
Rode around McClellian, rode around McClellian,
We’re the boys who rode around McClellian,
Bully boys, hey! Bully boys, ho!
“If you want to have a good time, jine the cavalry!
Jine the cavalry! Jine the cavalry!
If you want to catch the Devil, if you want to have fun,
If you want to smell Hell, jine the cavalry!”
The words inspired and rejuvenated the troopers. They began conversing amongst themselves in every effort to stay awake as the sky grew brighter, but the sun failed to appear, hidden behind thick clouds. The cavaliers wondered if, once again, they would be riding through a rainstorm.
“Wish there was somethin’ to eat besides dust,” Michael noted sarcastically as their mounts slowly walked along behind the wagon train.
“And I could go for a dunk in a lake right about now,” added John.
“I wouldn’t mind gittin’ me some new boots,” Custis commented. He pulled one of his feet from a stirrup and held it in the air, revealing a hole clean through the sole. “These here are plumb worn out, and I wasn’t lucky enough to snag me a pair back in Culpeper.”
“Well, if’n we’d ever git paid, I’d buy me two pairs of socks from the quartermaster, or a lucky feller who got some from home,” said Peter Smith, “make them into puppets, and send one to each of my daughters.”
David snickered at the thought of Peter drawing puppet faces on his socks.
“Seems the only one of us with any money is Summers,” Michael observed.
The men all looked over at David.
“Whatcha aim on doin’ with the grayback you won in that race?” Michael asked.
David hesitated for a moment. He realized that he was the only one in the group who’d been capable of earning rewards by racing and writing letters home, even though the practice of reciprocation had been outlawed by General Lee sometime before David’s enlistment.
“Well, I was thinkin’ of savin’ it up for college,” he casually replied.
The other troopers laughed.
David glared at them, astonished by their reaction.
“Son, you’ll be lucky if’n that gits you two cords of wood by the war’s end,” John remarked.
David frowned.
John continued, “what with the way things is goin’ with the price of things, that is. Sorry to be the one to inform you.” He smiled sympathetically.
David sighed. Even though his hope of going to school was just a pipe dream, he held onto it as tightly as he’d grasped hold of the $100 note. Now it seemed inevitable that he was destined to be a farmer all his life.

 

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