J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “novel”

Book Blitz – When Our Worlds Meet Again

~ Book Blitz ~

When Our Worlds Meet Again by Aniesha Brahma

16th November 2018

About the Book:

Wowma Cover copy

Two years after the events of ‘When Our Worlds Collide’, Zayn and Akriti are now leading extremely different lives. Akriti has come back from her stint at the business school and running her mother’s café. Zayn has run into trouble in his PhD program and has come home for a break. While he thinks that things are just as he’d left them two years ago, that is far from the truth. In a last ditch attempt to make Akriti remember the connection they had once shared, Zayn tries to recreate all their memories. But things are never the same when collided worlds meet again. 


Book Links:

Goodreads * Amazon

 

Read an Excerpt:

 

Prologue

2015.

Akriti was sitting at the cash counter of her mother’s little café going over the expenses for the day. Her headphones were plugged into her ears as she listened to songs on her phone. Her laptop was propelled open in front of her as she made notes on what else needed to be done the next day.

In the two years that she had been gone, the café had not changed at all. Her mother had kept all the renovations that Akriti and her colleagues had done two years ago. The only difference was that now there was a bulletin board next to the chalkboard menu that had been installed just a few weeks ago. On the bulletin board hung a poster that announced that next week’s Poetry Slam would start at 6PM sharp, and Suzanna needed to be contacted for early registration.

Akriti finished her work and shut down her laptop. She looked around the café in grim satisfaction and let out a happy little sigh. The music from her phone suddenly stopped playing. Glancing down she saw that her phone had started buzzing, flashing a number she had not seen on her phone in quite a while.

Debating for a minute, she received the call.

“Hi, Zayn.”

Airports have seen more sincere kisses than weddings it is said. As Zayn Banerjee waited to catch his flight back home, he witnessed one too many couples bidding each other teary eyed goodbyes. It was watching these strangers that he remembered how it had felt two years ago when he had left his home behind in pursuit of higher studies. How he had come to this alien land which had eventually led him to a lot of heartache and misery!

But there had been something good about those two years. There had been someone who had seen past all his imperfections and focused only on the good that was in him. Who had been his friend against all odds and yet, they had fallen out of touch with each other over the course of two years. He wondered if she was still using the same number. He wondered if she still had his number saved.

On an impulse, he pulled out his phone and dialed her number. She answered it on the third ring.

“Hi, Zayn.”

“Akriti.”

He was pleased as punch that she remembered him.

“Did you want something?”

“I am just calling to let you know that I’d be home soon.”

“Oh.”

“Oh? Honestly, I was hoping for a reaction better than oh.”

“Zayn, it’s really late here. Let’s talk when you’re in town?”

“I’ll do you one better. I’ll come see you.”

“Great. Safe flight.”

Then the line went dead. Zayn stared at the phone, wondering if their friendship was lost over the course of time. This wasn’t like the Akriti he remembered.

This wasn’t his Akriti at all.

Akriti hung up the phone feeling utterly drained. Once upon a time this was a source of her happiness but tonight he was a cause of her stress. The last thing she needed was for Zayn to come barging into her life once more.

She remembered all the memories that they had made together two years ago. The time when she’d finally felt okay to let her guard down and just be herself. It seemed to her like it was a lifetime ago. But he’d left. Like everyone else in her life and she had found herself consumed by her loneliness. Going off to business school had only made Akriti revert back to her old self.

That’s a lie they tell you, Akriti thought bitterly to herself, as she put her headphones back on and started listening to music again, time doesn’t heal a damn thing. It just burns the memories into your mind.


About the Author:
Aniesha Brahma copy

Aniesha Brahma knew she wanted to be a writer since she was six years old. She was schooled in Dolna Day School and went on to pursue B.A., M.A., and M.Phil in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur Univeristy. She currently lives in Kolkata, with her family and five pet cats. She is the author of All Signs Lead Back to You, When Our Worlds Collide, The Guitar Girl and The Secret Proposal. She compiled and edited the 10 volumes series, ‘Children’s Classic Stories’ with love and great efforts.


Website * Twitter * Instagram * Facebook

Banner-3 copy

Advertisements

Release Day Blitz – The Hidden Children

~ Release Day Blitz ~

The Hidden Children (The Lost Grimoire #1)

by Reshma K.Barshikar

13th November 2018

About the Book:

Front Cover copy

‘What price would you pay to be extraordinary? What would you do to speak to a butterfly? 

Shayamukthy cruises through life: shooting hoops, daydreaming and listening to her favourite books. Even moving from the US to India, to a new school, a new culture, hasn’t really rattled her. But something isn’t right anymore and it begins when ‘New Girl’ joins the school.

She pulls Shui into a world of magic and wonderment, a world she has been hidden from all her life. What starts as a quest to look for a lost book, hurtles Shui into a world where people live in trees, talk to the dead and speak to butterflies.

But like all power, magic comes at a steep price, and under all things wondrous lie demons waiting to crawl out. The more Shui learns, the more she doubts everything and everyone around her. 

Will she be able to master her powers, or will they devour her and everyone she loves?

 

Order Your Copy from AMAZON now!

 

Read an Excerpt:

I think I am ordinary. I lack purpose. Boohoo you think, typical teenager angst. But if I died tomorrow, it wouldn’t impact anyone’s life except my parents’. My friends, on the other hand, they have a life. See them there, yes there, to the right, next to the banyan tree behind the basketball court. You see a slightly pudgy boy and a beautiful girl? The boy’s name is Jai. The girl’s name is Nallini. Both have purpose. Jai wants to write comic books. He wants to be like Neil Gaiman or something, some famous comic-book guy. Nallini wants to be an actress, the next Deepika Padukone – that, and to win next year’s gold medal in Jujitsu.

She has absolutely no problems reconciling the inherent contradictions in both her desires.

I want nothing, need nothing, except something to need. I can’t see past today even to tomorrow; I have a hard enough time figuring out what I am now. I am not from a broken home, unless you count the fact that parts of the building I live in are falling apart. I am not poor, not like Anuki Chabria who got called out of her exam because her parents couldn’t pay her fees. I do not have acne bursting on my face, making me look like a human cheese grater. I am just, well, ordinary. So could you really blame me? Blame me for wanting to be special? Blame me for wanting to be fierce? To be like Storm from the X-Men, or like Beyoncé? When I look back now, at everything that has happened in the last few months, I realise I’m just as much to blame as her. The big question – well, it’s not a big question at all, really, because it’s all rubbish now, because you can’t go back. Even can’t go back. So the absurd question everyone around me seems to asking is – would I have acted differently, would I rather NOT be the person I am now?

No.

And neither would you. What price wouldn’t you pay to be extraordinary, to ride the wind, to float with unicorns, to be the one chosen…? Because, you see, I’ve gotten into some serious trouble and want to explain myself. I didn’t mean for things to happen. I didn’t mean for someone to die. So I ask you – wouldn’t you have said yes if someone said – ‘Do you want to learn how to speak to a butterfly?’ 

About the Author:

Reshma copy

Travel writer and novelist Reshma K Barshikar is an erstwhile Investment Banker who, as she tells it, ‘fell down a rabbit hole and discovered a world outside a fluorescent cubicle.’ As a travel and features writer, she contributes to National Geographic Traveller, Harper’s Bazaar, Grazia, The Sunday Guardian, SilverKris, The Mint Lounge and The Hindu. Fade Into Red, published by Random House India was her debut novel and featured in Amazon Top 10 Bestsellers. She also holds well renowned workshops for young adults at both BDL Museum and Kala Ghoda and is keen to build a strong Young Adult reading and writing community to fill the desperate lack of young adult fiction in the Indian Market. Her new Young Adult novel, The Hidden Children, will be launching at the Vizag Junior Literary Festival. Reshma is from the ISB Class of 2003. She calls both Mumbai and the Nilgiris home. 

Contact the Author:

Website I Facebook I Twitter I Goodreads

Banner-2 copy

 

 

Book Blitz – Freefall

Book Cover copy

The deep-space transport ship, the Vera Rubin, is light years from Earth when botanist Elle Silver begins to question the use of their space-travel drug, HCH.  Elle notices a growing number of her friends and  fellow colonists awaken from their 90-day sleep cycles exhibiting a variety of negative side-effects and she begins to believe the drug is the culprit.  Some of the effects are minor, dry eyes and lack of appetite. Other symptoms are a bigger concern on a tiny ship packed with colonists.  With each sleep cycle completed, more and more colonists awaken both confused and barely concealing a simmering rage – rage that could be a catastrophe on a ship as crowded as the Vera Rubin.  Elle needs proof, but she also needs a plan. If the drug that allows them to travel deep-space is at fault, what then?  Elle and her friends Ashok, Achebe and Jin-Hai are pressed to their limits to find a solution to their problem before the ship erupts into chaos… with light years left to travel.

Find FREEFALL on Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/Freefall-Amalie-Noether-Chronicles-1/dp/1999408616/

https://www.amazon.in/Freefall-Amalie-Noether-Chonicles-Book-ebook/dp/B07GT6NJGD/

Guest Post

As a guest writer for a post on books – I thought that rather than talk about my novel, FREEFALL per se…. readers like yourself might be interested in how the book came to be written. I think when we discover a book that really engages us, we begin to believe that writers are some mythical beings with a special ‘secret’ ingredient that allows them to write.

This could not be further from reality in my case and in many other writers’ lives too. The only ‘secret’ ingredient I might possess is a dogged determination to get my story onto the page. I learned determination and persistence from my mother. My mother also seeded in all her daughters an absolute love of reading and storytelling. Although, I continue to be the only writer in our immediate family, my sisters actively read books and even lead book club discussion groups too.

Growing up in a household of females (my father deserted us) was pivotal to my central attitude about life. I believe that there is very little that a determined girl or woman cannot accomplish. As a child, there was no one to tell me ‘girls can’t do that’ OR if my sisters did say it – I immediately set out to prove them wrong. This attitude is woven into the story of FREEFALL throughout the book.

The other tenant of the book is the importance of curiosity. I spent a fair bit of time alone as a child, poking into things, exercising my curiosity about how things worked, why they worked and even sometimes dismantling things to find out if I could make them work again. My single mother had very little extra money to fix toys that were broken or even buy new ones. So all of us girls became adept at putting dolls back together, or gluing tea sets that got broken or putting wheels back on wagons to get them working again.

In the book Elle reminds herself that curiosity is a good thing, it can lead to new ideas and discoveries of importance that might have gone unnoticed by others who never asked the question ‘Why?’ Asking yourself why and then setting out to find the answer can lead to amazing things. As you will see, Freefall reflects core values that I hold that women are smart, capable and caring – and can do almost anything if they try.

My own sense of adventure stems from my curiosity about life here, on this planet – which led to speculation about life – out there in another corner of the universe. Another core belief of mine is that you don’t have to have a degree from a university to write and write well. What you do need is the desire to tell an engaging story. The best place to learn how to do that is from inside a book where you can read, read, and read.

Once you’ve read a fair number of books, start mentally sorting them out into the ones you liked and the ones that were just okay – but not spellbinding. And finally, what about the books you didn’t like? Stack them up, and then start thinking about the ones you liked – What did they have in common? Do the same mental exercise with the books you didn’t like – What did they have in common? You will learn as much about writing from what you didn’t like – as from what you did. Once you know what you like in a book, you’re ready to start writing your own story.

It’s important to write something you would enjoy reading yourself, because if you’re writing a novel you’ll be spending days and weeks and months in the world you’re creating. So it better be a place that you look forward to visiting – you owe it to yourself to make it so. I truly loved every minute of writing Freefall. The editing portion was a challenge for me – because it is a bit like cleaning the house; necessary and important but certainly not thrilling to do.

Freefall came into being because I love good Science Fiction and Fantasy – and I hoped to write a story worthy of some that I have read. Also Freefall came into being because I was persistent enough to sit down every morning before going to work (and sometimes after work too) to continue writing Elle’s adventures with her friends. I would spend hours thinking about what would happen next, so that I would have a focus for the next days writing. And then, when I was done with the first draft, I willingly put in more time to fix the things that needed fixing to make the story more clear and uncluttered.

And of course you must be wondering, ‘Have I started the sequel?” Of course I have! I can’t wait to see what happens next in the Amalie Noether Chronicles. I hope you will join me in reading FREEFALL. Be assured – Elle’s adventures will continue in space in the next volume of the series.

Author Pic copy

Author Bio:

Jana Williams is certain that fiction can change people’s lives – especially women and girls.  Her own life is testimony to that fact.  One of five daughters, she was raised by a single-mom who placed a high value on reading and storytelling.

The ability to read, coupled with a child’s innate curiosity about the world, and access to books to satisfy that curiosity can offer significant opportunity to a child. Like most writers Jana has bounced from job to job, absorbing stories, cultures and customs as she worked.  She has been a high-speed motion picture photographer, a VFX coordinator, worked in the film industry, and the publishing trade as a book seller – a publisher’s rep and now an author.

But her first love is reading…. and with each book of the Freefall trilogy sold Jana will donate funds to Literacy agencies around the world whose work is to bring the joy of reading to others.

Enjoy a good adventure story and help others learn to read at the same time !

Find/Like Jana on Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/freefallthenovel/

Find Jana’s Writing advice – Twitter –  https://twitter.com/9YAVli0iT6ZZLTC

Banner copy

More on Banned Book Week

HT_banned_books_week_jt_130921_wmain_16x9_992

Over the years, books have been banned primarily because of explicit sexual depictions, vulgar language and/or excessive violence. Many classics have been banned. The Holy Bible even makes the list.

uncle tom

During the Civil War, one novel titled Uncle Tom’s Cabin was banned in the Southern states. The book inaccurately depicted the condition of all slaves in the South as being treated cruelly and inhumanely. Although abolitionists hailed it as true documentation and Northerners who didn’t know any better believed it, the truth was that the author, Harriet Beecher Stow, intentionally wrote scenes in her book to evoke pity and outrage. However, her depictions were, for the most part, untrue, and this is why the Confederate States banned her book.

abelincoln

Uncle Tom’s Cabin became a bestseller. In fact, President Abraham Lincoln said, upon meeting Stowe, “So you’re the little lady who started this great war.” He couldn’t have been more correct, even though, of course, there were many other contributors that caused the Civil War. Uncle Tom’s Cabin is still considered to be a classic today.

https://www.bookbub.com/blog/2016/09/26/classic-books-that-were-banned

Second Manassas

ABGL Medium

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.

 

Book Blitz – Storm From Taxila

~ Book Blitz ~

Storm From Taxila by Shreyas Bhave

15th to 17th August

Book Cover

About the Book:  

BHARATVARSHA, LAND OF THE ARYAS: 270 BC

Bindusar, the Samrat Chakravartin of all the Aryas, ruler of the Indian subcontinent, is dead. Chaos rules across the empire. The royal succession turns upon intrigue, dark coalitions, violence and death. The realm stands divided and civil war ensues.

In Vidishanagri: Asoka kills his brother’s Ashwamedha stallion and marches to Patliputra with his army. The ancient Brahminical order rises in his supports, awaiting his entry into the capital. Have they made the right choice?

In Taxila: The rightful heir, Sushem, raises an army to meet the challenge posed by his ambitious and gifted brother, Asoka. He prepares to march to the capital and seize the throne by force. Will history repeat itself; will Sushem achieve what his grandfather Chandragupta did 50 years ago?

In Junagarh: Guild Master Hardeo sets out on a private mission to acquire the great salt pans of Sindh. Will he succeed in his secret enterprise?

In Vidishanagri: Radhagupta travels to fulfill the task allotted to him by the Order. Kanakdatta, the Buddhist, stands up to stop him. Will Radhagupta fail in his mission?

The winds of war howl over the sub-continent, blowing every last person one way or the other. Blood will be spilled, secrets revealed and men ruined. History shall be made.

In Book II of the epic Asoka Trilogy, the storm approaches; the harbinger of death and destruction. When the dust finally settles, the great question will be answered: Who is the next Samrat of the holy Lands of the Aryas?


Book Links:

Goodreads * Amazon

book 2 gothic

Read an Excerpt:

Asoka was sitting on the steps to the throne, fastening his knee-high boots when Chanakya entered the chamber in his wheeled chair, dressed not in his usual long robe, but a cotton undershirt. Asoka did not look up but kept tightening the straps of his boots with both hands. The burning torches dispelled the darkness that blanketed everything outside.

As Chanakya rolled forward, his shadow fell upon the throne. “Why are you in armour, Prince?” he asked.

“I am in armour because we are under siege,” Asoka said, finishing his task.

“We have been under siege for a week,” Chanakya reminded him.

“But tonight the enemy is hammering at our walls,” Asoka replied, pointing a thumb over his shoulder.

“The walls will hold Prince.”

“I do not doubt that. It is I who cannot hold on any longer.”

Chanakya wheeled nearer. “What do you mean?”

Asoka got to his feet. “Order the Captain of the Guards to assemble his reserve force at the stables.” “But why?” Chanakya asked, perplexed.

Asoka looked down at him. “I plan to sally out,” he said coolly.

“I beg your pardon, Prince, but why such a foolhardy action?”

“It is military slang,” Asoka explained, looking around for his shield, “sallying out signifies a foray by the defenders, in the middle of the night, to carry out a surprise raid on the besieger’s camp.” 

“Well you are not sallying out,” Chanakya said firmly.

“Why do you say that, Prime Minister?”

“Isn’t it obvious? It is dangerous!”

“Great things cannot be achieved without facing danger, Prime Minister. You of all people should know that.”

“Great things!” Chanakya laughed mockingly. “What do you plan to achieve by sallying out, Prince?”

“Small things in this case,” Asoka replied, reaching for his scabbard. “We have about forty horses in the stables, Prime Minister. I and some of the city guards will ride out under the cover of night and raid Sushem’s camp. I am certain we will catch his men totally unawares. If we are lucky, perhaps Maharaja Sushem will fall to my sword.”

“And if you are unlucky,” Chanakya said, “you may fall to his.”

Asoka shrugged as he pulled out his sword and checked its sharp edge by moving a finger over it. “I am not afraid of dying,” He said.

“You do not need to do this, Prince,” Chanakya pleaded. “Everything is under control.”

Asoka pushed his sword back into the scabbard. “Everything will be under control once I am done with this raid,” he said softly.

“Your friend, Shiva of Avanti, comes with your army soon,” Chanakya said, following Asoka in his chair. “He will attack Sushem from behind and force him to lift the siege. That is the plan!”

“The plan!” Asoka stopped and turned around. “Is that your plan? Is that what you wish the people of Patliputra to say, that they were saved by others while their leader hid in the palace?” “Even your grandfather, Chandragupta, was not afraid to hide,” Chanakya said. “He knew that…”

“Stop!” Asoka said, raising one hand. “Look well, Prime Minister! Look at who stands before you! I am not my grandfather. I do not look like him. I do not think like him. Nor do I speak like him. But I am sure about one thing. If he were in my shoes today, he would do the same as I.”

“You are making a mistake,” Chanakya told him. “You will regret it later.”

Asoka sighed. “I regret not doing this on the first day of the siege.”

About the Author:

14731221

Shreyas is a 21 year old guy currently pursuing his B.Tech in Electrical Eng. from VNIT Nagpur. His love for history since his childhood prompted him to write his take on the story of Asoka who was one of the towering figures in the history of India, which has been taken up as ‘The Asoka Trilogy’ by Leadstart Publishing.

The first part of the trilogy called ‘The Prince of Patliputra’ has been published in January 2016 and garnered positive responses.

He is also presently working on several other manuscripts and completing the final year of his engineering Course.

Connect with the Author:

Website * Facebook * Twitter

Banner

 

Another Five-Star Review for A Beautiful Glittering Lie

ABGL Medium

I was recently interviewed by Linda Thompson of the Author’s Show on her podcast. After the interview, Linda expressed interest in reading my book, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. I’m very flattered with her five-star review. Thank you so much, Linda!

Here is the review:

August 2, 2018
When it comes to war (no matter the era), men tend to gravitate toward the bloody bodies and the weaponry, and while some women think the idea of war as romantic, others are horrified at the cruelty. I’ve never seen war as romantic, anything to be proud of, or even remotely good, and parts of JDR Hawkins book was difficult for me to read. That being said, A Beautiful Glittering Lie is a very good story, well written with extremely engaging characters. The historical aspect is excellent and once I could get my head wrapped around the war and violence, I found this Southern family very engaging. I’m very interested in learning where the next book in Hawkins’ series will take us.

~ Linda Thompson, Host of www.TheAuthorsShow.com

https://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Glittering-Lie-Novel-Renagade/dp/1544842481/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

 

 

Dog Days of Summer

43513294571_659a7fd3f4_b

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

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

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

ABeckoningHellfire_MED

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

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

“Yeah,” David replied.

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

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

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

“Where y’all from?” asked Jake.

“We’re from Georgia,” John replied.

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

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

“What brigade is that?” asked David.

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

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

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

David and Jake looked at each other and shrugged.

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

Jake and David gaped at each other in astonishment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

John smiled and trudged back toward camp.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m left handed,” David explained.

The Georgians howled.

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

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

“Whatcha want me to write?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh, what’s your name?” he asked.

“David Summers.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why?” asked David.

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

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

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

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

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

Jake and David chuckled.

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

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

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

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

“Savannah,” said Michael.

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

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

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

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

“That don’t seem right,” said David.

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

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

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

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

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

The Georgians exchanged glances.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where’d you git that?” David asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Dear Ma and sisters,

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

Your son and brother until deth,

David

 

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

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

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

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

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

“Come on, Howitzer!” one hollered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hiram Summers, sir.”

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

“Yessir.”

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

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

 

In Honor of His Ancestor

I absolutely love this story. It seems the tide against everything Confederate is finally starting to wane, and thankfully so. Those who think they are offended by the Southern Cross, Confederate monuments, streets and schools named after Confederate officers, etc. are nothing less than ignorant, in my opinion, and need to learn their history.

Back in the Saddle Again!
Retired Wall Street banker Edwin Payne, of upstate New York, recently partnered with the American Battlefield Trust to place a monument to his Confederate ancestor on the Brandy Station Battlefield in Culpeper County.

2401688140_bfcaeeb7b8_b
“I want to be on the right side of this,” said Payne, who grew up in North Carolina. “I am interested in history and the preservation of history and knowing our history so we don’t repeat it. There are a great many lessons to be learned from studying history. We don’t want this kind of thing to happen again, but it doesn’t mean you can erase it.”
220px-William_Henry_Fitzhugh_Payne
His ancestor to whom the monument was placed was Gen. William Henry Fitzhugh Payne, founder of the famed Black Horse Cavalry. A Fauquier County lawyer and gentleman farmer, he joined the Confederacy at war’s outset and earned promotions based on his leadership, battlefield valor and meritorious service, according to the monument recently dedicated to mark the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Brandy Station, fought June 9, 1863.

charge-at-brandy-station_0
Gen. Payne was wounded and captured three times during the war while at Brandy Station – the largest cavalry battle in North America. He took over command of a North Carolina regiment after its commanding officer, Col. Solomon Williams, was killed a mile from where the monument was placed, down a gravel road near the intersection of Beverly Ford Road and St James Church Road. He subsequently led the regiment at Gettysburg and later served in the state legislature.

Jim Campi, with the American Battlefield Trust, said it is very rare for the preservation organization to allow placement of monuments on battlefield land it owns. “Each monument has to go through a rigorous process, and we turn down far more than we accept,” he said Monday. “In this instance, we thought it appropriate to facilitate construction of the monument to W.H.F. Payne … by one of his descendants.”
Read about the Battle of Brandy Station in my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire.
ABeckoningHellfire_MED
(Article courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, July 20, 2018 ed.)

Friday the 13th

16521360921_26e739f5b9_b

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

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

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

32680439656_111b6dc9d2_b

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

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

Frankenstein

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

ARAU Medium

Excerpt From A Rebel Among Us

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

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

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

Ltn Hershel P Harrison

42nd Mississippi

Died 2-5-1865

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

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

“Who’s John Jones?” he asked.

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

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

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

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

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

Post Navigation