J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “B.R.A.G. Medallion”

Featured in Author Interview

I was recently featured in an interview with Stephanie Hopkins of Indiebrag and Layered Pages. My novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, is the recipient of the B.R.A.G. Medallion. Here is the interview:

ABGL B.R.A.G. Medallion

Writing a story is an art in itself. Creating the right setting, the perfect characters, plot, believable dialogue and conflict. With those blended ingredients are what makes a story impact the reader’s imagination, mind and heart. The most important aspect of story-telling is to draw the reader in your character’s world. How are the stories written to do this and how does one make it work? Today, award winning B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree J.D.R. Hawkins shares with us her expertise on this.

Stephanie: What are the steps in creating a setting for your story?

J.D.R. Hawkins: Since I write about the Civil War, the settings are historically accurate. In my first book of the Renegade Series, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, the setting starts in Montgomery, Alabama, the first capital of the Confederacy, and moves with the story to various battlefields. I also chose an area in north Alabama as my protagonist’s hometown, so the story goes back and forth between north Alabama and Virginia battlefields.

Stephanie: There is a fine line between creating a visible backstory and a hidden backstory of your characters. What are the steps in balancing it out? What should you not do?

J.D.R. Hawkins: Because I have written a series, backstories become very complicated and intricately woven. Small details later resurface. One example is a buckeye that is given to the main character, David Summers, by his best friend’s father for good luck. This happens in the second book of the Renegade Series. Later on, the buckeye reappears, but this doesn’t occur until the fourth book. Another example is a peach pit that is introduced in the third book, and resurfaces in book four of the series. Visible backstories include David’s running from the law and how he deals with it after the war ends. I would avoid using too many backstories, because then it gets confusing. Some of my backstories are so subtle that it doesn’t matter if the reader doesn’t see them the first time through. They might see the backstories later on, which adds to the complexity of the story-line.

Stephanie: How much is too much conflict? And what do you do about it when it’s not working in the plot?

J.D. R. Hawkins: I think there is too much conflict when it muddies the plot and creates too much of a distraction from the story-line. I have read numerous books that get bogged down with too much conflict, and after a while, I just lose interest. Conflict is good, but it has to augment the story, not detract from it.

Stephanie: What are the steps in creating believable characters and dialogue?

J.D.R. Hawkins: For me, living in the South gave me the opportunity to learn the dialect and metaphors. I’m originally from Iowa, and lived most of my life in Colorado, so there was definitely a learning curve! I also studied speech patterns used during the 1860’s. Generally speaking, people back then spoke more eloquently than we do today.

Stephanie: What is the advice you would give to a writer when they get stuck on a specific scene or comes across a road block in their plot? 

J.D.R. Hawkins: Leave it up to your characters! If you give them a chance, they will take on personalities and assist with the plot. On numerous occasions, my characters rewrote the story to fit their personas. I also try to envision different scenarios for the plot, and usually come up with three or four different ideas. Then I chose the one that fits the story most accurately, and also complies with historical accuracy.

About Author: 

J.D.R. Hawkins is an award-winning author who has written for newspapers, magazines, newsletters, e-zines, and blogs. She is one of a few female Civil War authors, uniquely describing the front lines from a Confederate perspective. Her Renegade Series includes A Beautiful Glittering Lie, winner of the John Esten Cooke Fiction Award and the B.R.A.G. Medallion, and A Beckoning Hellfire, which is also an award winner. Both books tell the story of a family from north Alabama who experience immeasurable pain when their lives are dramatically changed by the war.

Ms. Hawkins is a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the International Women’s Writing Guild, the Mississippi Writers Guild, Pikes Peak Writers, and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She is also an artist and singer/songwriter. Recently, she completed a nonfiction book about the War Between the States, as well as two more sequels for the Renegade Series. Learn more about her at www.jdrhawkins.com.

indiebrag-sunny-banner-1

New Author Interview

Last week I was interviewed by IndieBrag about my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, as well as my writing process. The interview is as follows:

ABGL Medium

Ingredients In Story-Telling That Impact A Reader’s Imagination

SUBSCRIBE

Stephanie Hopkins

May 26, 2017

Writing a story is an art in itself. Creating the right setting, the perfect characters, plot, believable dialogue and conflict. With those blended ingredients are what makes a story impact the reader’s imagination, mind and heart. The most important aspect of story-telling is to draw the reader in your character’s world. How are the stories written to do this and how does one make it work? Today, award winning B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree J.D.R. Hawkins shares with us her expertise on this.

Stephanie: What are the steps in creating a setting for your story?

J.D.R. Hawkins: Since I write about the Civil War, the settings are historically accurate. In my first book of the Renegade Series, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, the setting starts in Montgomery, Alabama, the first capital of the Confederacy, and moves with the story to various battlefields. I also chose an area in north Alabama as my protagonist’s hometown, so the story goes back and forth between north Alabama and Virginia battlefields.

Stephanie: There is a fine line between creating a visible backstory and a hidden backstory of your characters. What are the steps in balancing it out? What should you not do?

J.D.R. Hawkins: Because I have written a series, backstories become very complicated and intricately woven. Small details later resurface. One example is a buckeye that is given to the main character, David Summers, by his best friend’s father for good luck. This happens in the second book of the Renegade Series. Later on, the buckeye reappears, but this doesn’t occur until the fourth book. Another example is a peach pit that is introduced in the third book, and resurfaces in book four of the series. Visible backstories include David’s running from the law and how he deals with it after the war ends. I would avoid using too many backstories, because then it gets confusing. Some of my backstories are so subtle that it doesn’t matter if the reader doesn’t see them the first time through. They might see the backstories later on, which adds to the complexity of the story-line.

Stephanie: How much is too much conflict? And what do you do about it when it’s not working in the plot?

J.D. R. Hawkins: I think there is too much conflict when it muddies the plot and creates too much of a distraction from the story-line. I have read numerous books that get bogged down with too much conflict, and after a while, I just lose interest. Conflict is good, but it has to augment the story, not detract from it.

Stephanie: What are the steps in creating believable characters and dialogue?

J.D.R. Hawkins: For me, living in the South gave me the opportunity to learn the dialect and metaphors. I’m originally from Iowa, and lived most of my life in Colorado, so there was definitely a learning curve! I also studied speech patterns used during the 1860’s. Generally speaking, people back then spoke more eloquently than we do today.

Stephanie: What is the advice you would give to a writer when they get stuck on a specific scene or comes across a road block in their plot? 

J.D.R. Hawkins: Leave it up to your characters! If you give them a chance, they will take on personalities and assist with the plot. On numerous occasions, my characters rewrote the story to fit their personas. I also try to envision different scenarios for the plot, and usually come up with three or four different ideas. Then I chose the one that fits the story most accurately, and also complies with historical accuracy.

J.D.R. Hawkins

About Author: 

J.D.R. Hawkins is an award-winning author who has written for newspapers, magazines, newsletters, e-zines, and blogs. She is one of a few female Civil War authors, uniquely describing the front lines from a Confederate perspective. Her Renegade Series includes A Beautiful Glittering Lie, winner of the John Esten Cooke Fiction Award and the B.R.A.G. Medallion, and A Beckoning Hellfire, which is also an award winner. Both books tell the story of a family from north Alabama who experience immeasurable pain when their lives are dramatically changed by the war.

Ms. Hawkins is a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the International Women’s Writing Guild, the Mississippi Writers Guild, Pikes Peak Writers, and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She is also an artist and singer/songwriter. Recently, she completed a nonfiction book about the War Between the States, as well as two more sequels for the Renegade Series. Learn more about her at www.jdrhawkins.com

https://www.bragmedallion.com/blog/ingredients-story-telling-impact-readers-imagination/

 

IndieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop!

ALL-ABOARD-with-medallion

I have been invited to be a part of this year’s Christmas blog hop, sponsored by IndieBRAG. This is open to all author’s who have won the B.R.A.G. Medallion for best independently published book. My novel, titled A Beautiful Glittering Lie, won a few years ago. Here are my responses to a few questions about how I spend Christmas.

1. What is a Christmas tradition you and your family have?

We have several. We watch Santa’s progress online. We order chocolate seashells and buy chocolate covered cherries for stocking stuffers. We also watch “Scrooge” (the musical, 1970 version), which is no easy feat, since my family is spread out across the country. We synchronize the movies so we all end up watching them at the same time, regardless of different time zones. We open one gift on Christmas Eve (just one!) and we started a new tradition a few years ago. My older son and I now trade off giving wine every other year. He lives in California, so his selections are excellent!

2. Is there a humorous gift that you received? What was it?

I don’t recall receiving a humorous gift, but when I was about eleven, my parents gave me an electric razor for Christmas. I was devastated! I was hoping for something a little less mature, but I guess they thought I was old enough to start shaving my legs.

3. What is your favorite Christmas story?

My favorite is A Christmas Story by Charles Dickens. It’s a classic but the story never gets old. I think it’s interesting how many versions and interpretations of this story there are, and I love observing new ideas, like “Scrooged” with Bill Murray.

4. Have you ever taken a Christmas Vacation somewhere? If so, where to and please share your experiences and what you enjoyed about it?

I went out to Southern California a few years ago right at Christmastime. It was spectacular! We attended the boat parade at Balboa Island. My younger son sings in a quartet, and they were there singing carols. The townspeople go all out decorating their houses. They even include fake snow! We also saw a house that was featured on the TV show “Great American Light Fight.” It was over-the-top beautiful, and really got everyone into the holiday spirit. The homeowners were so nice that they even gave out cookies and cider to everyone who came to visit.

5. Egg Nog or Cocoa?

Since I can have cocoa practically any time, I vote for egg nog!

6. What is your favorite part of Christmas day?

Opening gifts, of course! Just kidding. My favorite part about Christmas is spending it with family, even if it is over Skype.

7. Do you go all out on Christmas decorations? What is your favorite?

Normally I do go all out, but right now, my husband and I are renting a small townhouse, so we don’t have room. I have boxes and boxes of Christmas decorations stacked to the ceiling in our garage. However, we do have a few wreaths, a couple of table top Christmas trees, and various other knick knacks set out, along with whatever Christmas decor I could squeeze into the place. My favorite is a nativity scene with an angel that has a little heart attached. On the heart, it says “Thank Heaven for Little Boys.” I love this because we have two sons, and now we have a grandson as well.

8. What is your favorite Christmas movie and why?

I think my favorite movie is “It’s a Wonderful Life.”That story says it all, and really makes you think. The world would be a far different place if you or I weren’t in it. How much we influence and love others is really all that matters.

New Interview by J.D.R. Hawkins

9781469771748_COVER.indd

I’m honored to have been asked to give another interview to indieBRAG, which sponsors the B.R.A.G. Medallion award to a chosen number of indie published works. My novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, is the recipient of this prestigious award. The interview is re-posted below:

Interview Part II with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree J.D.R. Hawkins
July 14, 2014 by layeredpages

JDR Hawkins

Stephanie: I would like to welcome back J.D.R. Hawkins for a follow up interview about her B.R.A.G. Medallion book, “A Beautiful Glittering Lie.”. She is an award-winning author who has written for newspapers, magazines, newsletters, e-zines and blogs. She is one of a few female Civil War authors, uniquely describing the front lines from a Confederate perspective. Ms. Hawkins is a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the International Women’s Writing Guild, the Mississippi Writers Guild, Rocky Mountain Writers and Pikes Peak Writers. She is also an artist and singer/songwriter. Her two previous novels, A Beautiful Glittering Lie and A Beckoning Hellfire, have received numerous honors and awards. Ms. Hawkins is currently working on a nonfiction book about the Civil War, as well as a Young Adult historical fiction and a memoir. Learn more about J.D.R. here.

Hello, J.D.R.! Thank you for visiting with me again to talk about your B.R.A.G. Medallion book, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. Please bring readers up to speed about the premise of your story.

J.D.R.: The novel is the first in a four-book series, which I call “The Renegade Series.” It’s a saga about the Summers family from North Alabama, and what happens to them when the Civil War erupts.

Stephanie: I think it’s great that you have written a story about a Southern Soldier & a family rather than an officer or strictly about warfare tactics. I believe you bring readers closer to the events that took place during that time by doing so. What are a couple of this soldier’s struggles he faces during the Civil War?

J.D.R.: The first struggle that the father, Hiram Summers, faces is whether or not to support Alabama when the state secedes. The second is leaving his family once he decides to enlist. And from that point on, surviving every battle, from First Manassas to Fredericksburg, is a struggle.

Stephanie: In my last interview with you, you said that part of your research was travelling to various battlefields. What are the names of the battlefields you visited and what were some of the thoughts and emotions you experienced?

J.D.R.: My husband and I visited many Virginia battlefields, including Manassas (Bull Run), Sharpsburg (Antietam), Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, and Petersburg. We also went to Brandy Station, where the largest cavalry battle of the Civil War took place. And, of course, we went to Gettysburg. That battlefield was the most profound. How those foot-weary soldiers fought over such rugged terrain amazes me. And seeing the National Cemetery, with all the unknown soldiers’ markers, as well as the mass graves of the Confederates, was overwhelming. So many gave their lives, and that was just in one battle.

Stephanie: How long did it take to write your story and what were some of the challenges?

J.D.R.: It took me about six months to research and six months to write, so a year overall. I think the biggest challenge was trying to make the battle scenes come to life from a soldier’s perspective. A Beautiful Glittering Lie is based on a journal by one of the soldiers who fought with the 4th Alabama Infantry Regiment. By referring to his observations and perceptions of the battles he participated in, it was easier to visualize what those men went through.

Stephanie: Did you learn anything new about the Civil War in your research you didn’t know before?

J.D.R: I discovered much about how Alabama was affected by the war. Hiram’s son, David, sees firsthand the devastation taking place when he sneaks into occupied Huntsville. Union soldiers were not always gentlemanly in their treatment of the locals, women, and especially, black people. The scenes described in the book, as well as the Union officers who were in Huntsville and the surrounding area, are based on fact.

Stephanie: What about this period of time in American history impacted you the most to write this story?

J.D.R.: I have always been fascinated with the Victorian era, and the Civil War in particular. The war was not completely about slavery, which is a popular belief. The causes were far more complex, but basically, the war was a result of economics and political greed. As is the case in many instances in American history, citizens become pawns to politicians’ schemes and disagreements.

Stephanie: Which character in your story are you most partial to and why?

J.D.R: I’d have to say that I’m most partial to David. At the beginning of the story, he is just a teenager. Instead of going to fight, which is what he wants to do, he stays behind to tend to the family’s farm, thus fulfilling his promise to his father. However, like any teenage boy, he is hungry for adventure, so he goes off to find it, but bites off more than he can chew.

Stephanie: Writing Historical fiction can be tricky with blending the right amount of fiction with fact. What advice would you give a new writer wanting to do so?

J.D.R.: My advice would be to immerse yourself in the period you want to write about. Read letters, journals, speeches, newspaper articles, and books written about and during that era to get a feel for what people experienced and how they expressed themselves. Study the fashions, the political undercurrent, fads, music, artwork, and photographs. I listened to Civil War music while I wrote to get myself in the right mindset. Know your facts inside and out, but don’t go overboard with description, because that can bore your readers. Instead, sprinkle tidbits throughout your book. Once you are completely familiar with the era you want to write about, develop your plot. Let your characters grow with the story. I ended up writing things that weren’t in the original outline because my characters seemed to take on personas of their own, especially in their dialogue. If possible, visit the places you are writing about to learn the terrain, the architecture, and regional dialects.

Stephanie: What is up next for you and will there be more stories that take place during this period?

J.D.R.: I plan on publishing the third book in “The Renegade Series.” (The second book, A Beckoning Hellfire, has been published.) I’m also working on a nonfiction book about the Civil War, a Young Adult novel, and a memoir.

Stephanie: How did you discover indieBRAG?

J.D.R.: I learned about it from Writer’s Digest magazine.

Stephanie: Where can readers buy your book?

J.D.R.: The book is available everywhere. It can be ordered through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at all other book retailers. Readers can also purchase it through my website.

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview J.D.R. Hawkins, who is the author of, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, one of our medallion honorees at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

“A Beautiful Glittering Lie” Featured on Website

My Civil War novel, “A Beautiful Glittering Lie,” is the first book featured on the B.R.A.G. Medallion winners website page. Here is the link:

http://www.bragmedallion.com./medallion-honorees

I can’t tell you how proud and honored I am to be featured on the Indie B.R.A.G. website. And to have my book be the very first one shown is awesome, to say the least! I couldn’t have done it without you, and words can’t express my gratitude. Thanks again for supporting me, sponsoring me, and backing me in my projects. I can’t wait to get started on the next one!

Post Navigation