I’m very excited and happy to announce that my new novel, Double-Edged Sword, has received the Indie B.R.A.G. Medallion! This is the fourth book in the Renegade Series, and now all four books have received this distinguished award!
According to their website, “BRAGMedallion.com is owned and operated by indieBRAG, LLC, a privately held organization that has brought together a large group of readers, both individuals and members of book clubs, located throughout the United States and in ten other countries around the globe. The word “indie” refers to self-published books, while B.R.A.G. is an acronym for Book Readers Appreciation Group. The name “indieBRAG” and the B.R.A.G. logos are trademarks of indieBRAG, LLC. The B.R.A.G. Medallion is a certification trademark owned and controlled by indieBRAG, LLC.”
I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to receive this award! Thank you, indieBRAG, for giving my book the distinction it deserves!
I am frequently asked how I came up with the title for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie (the first book in the Renegade Series). I derived it from this wonderful quote, which a Confederate soldier wrote in his journal.
“For it was the first Field of Glory I had seen in my May of life, and the first time that Glory sickened me with its repulsive aspect, and made me suspect it was all a glittering lie.” – Henry Morton Stanley, C.S.A.
It is difficult to imagine what went through the young soldiers’ minds when they finally “saw the elephant” – horrifying, no doubt, and exhilarating at the same time. But soldiers weren’t the only ones who experienced such terror. This excerpt describes how their loved ones must have felt. Some of them never received word of what had happened to their brave soldiers. War always involves tragedy, but I think not knowing would be the worst part.
Word of the battle quickly spread to Huntsville, and within days, filtered down into Morgan County. Caroline had mentally prepared herself for what she anticipated would happen, but when the first battle finally did take place, she found herself ill-equipped. She did her best to shelter her brood, but realized it was just a matter of time before they learned of the event.
The following week, she found out that a list of fatalities had been posted, and knew she had to drive to Ben Johnson’s mercantile to have a look, but all the while, her heart felt as though it was breaking. She dreaded the list, dreaded the result of the terrible fighting, and especially, dreaded what the war might be doing to her home. Going alone, she reached her destination, climbed down from the wagon, hitched her draft horse, and approached the two-story wooden structure, her ankle boots clunking up the wooden steps and across the porch’s floorboards as she walked. She pulled the front door open, and a tiny bell above it announced her arrival. As she entered, she saw several others gathered around a notice that had been tacked to the wall. Ben Johnson nodded. He threw a glance toward the posted list. She knew what it meant.
Slowly, feeling as though she was floating, she passed by the dry goods, glass cases displaying pottery, clothing and sewing notions, and under farm equipment hanging from the ceiling rafters, approaching the others. Some of the women were sobbing, covering their faces with handkerchiefs, while others turned away and stared at her with vacant eyes. As they drifted off, she stepped toward the ominous poster, held her breath, and forced herself to gaze upon the names. When she had reached the bottom, she breathed a sigh of relief. Hiram’s name wasn’t on the list, although she recognized one who was. Turning toward the counter, she wiped a trickling tear from her cheek as she walked over, and requested a copy of the Southern Advocate.
Initially at a loss for words, Ben cleared his throat. “I reckon Hiram’s name ain’t on there,” he finally said.
The revelation had started sinking in. Caroline smiled. “No, thankfully not.”
Ben returned the smile. “Right glad to hear it.” He handed her a newspaper. “The editor of this paper, Mr. William Figures, has a son who’s with your husband’s regiment.”
“Oh?” she replied cordially. “He’s all right ain’t he? I mean, I didn’t see …”
“Yes ma’am, far as I can tell.”
“That’s mighty fine. Well, I’ll be on my way. Good day, Mr. Johnson.”
She turned to leave, and as she opened the paned-glass door, Ben called out, “When you write to that man of yours, tell him I said hello.”
“I surely will,” she replied. Walking out to the wagon, she untied Joe Boy, climbed aboard, and slapped the reins. She drove out of view from the mercantile, and pulled the vehicle to a stop. Uncontrollably, she burst into tears, sobbing convulsively until the ache in her heart finally subsided. She couldn’t show her weakness to her children: for them she had to be strong. After wiping her eyes with her handkerchief, she drove on toward home.
My new novel, Double-Edged Sword, received two more five-star reviews! This book is the fourth one in the Renegade Series, and tells the story of a family torn apart by the Civil War. Thank you so much, Evelyn and Chelsey McQuitty, for your awesome reviews!
It’s a suspenseful book that had me gripped, especially in the second half. I’ve always felt attracted by history. In this novel, the Civil war’s period is perfectly represented and this was an extra point, in my opinion. The plot is interesting and richly descriptive. The settings are portrayed in such a good way that I could feel inside the book in more than one opportunity. The flow just worked nicely. The characters surprised me from the very beginning. I had estimated a guess at which was the ending of the book and I was completely wrong; it was a real shock!! I’m already looking for another piece of work from this author.
I’ve always been intrigued by this period in history, which is why I picked up the book. I went into the story thinking that it was going to be like most of the other books that I’ve read before. That is, bits of war mixed in with a few details that have been stretched to suit the narrative. Not the case here. The author creates a wonderful story with characters that are so real that they grow on you. I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking for a series that will make you want to binge read.
I was recently featured on AllAuthor. Here is the interview. Thanks for checking it out!
Tell us a little bit about your childhood and where you grew up.
I was born in Sioux City, Iowa. When I was one, my parents and I moved to Phoenix, but we moved back to Sioux City when I was six. I have one sister who is two years younger than me.Were you a big reader as a kid too?
I was not much of a reader when I was a kid, although I did like some books that are banned now, like Animal Farm and The Outsiders.At what age did you begin writing your first story?
I started writing stories when I was in junior high, and they were mostly about my friends. Before that, I wrote poems and songs.Which of your childhood dreams was the first to die?
Believe it or not, I wanted to be a jockey because I love horses. But my family lived in the city and I ended up being way too tall.Who all are a part of your family?
I have a wonderful husband who I have been married to for over 40 years. We have two sons, a daughter-in-law, and two grandsons. My husband and youngest son are not really readers, but my older son has helped me out tremendously with my books. He helps to edit them, helped me come up with catch phrases, and even came up with the title for my most recent book.How did you come up with the idea for your book, A Beckoning Hellfire?
The idea came to me as I thought about what my protagonist must have felt, experiencing his first battle. He wants to be part of the excitement, but once he is in it, he realizes it is hell.What are the challenges of writing a nonfiction book?
Lots of research and precise descriptions. I try to incorporate dialogue where I can, so it is not such a boring, textbook read.As a writer, what consumes most of your time?
Research and plotting out the story lines.What is the best review you have gotten for your book, Rebel Among Us?
I have received numerous five-star reviews for this book, as well as some very flattering reviews from editorial reviewers.What is your writing dream? How close do you think you are to achieving it?
I recently became a bestseller, which was a dream. I would like to find an agent so that I can potentially sell more books.How many hours in a day do you write? Typically, 3-6 hours. Have you ever pulled an all-nighter writing?
YesWhat did being an author mean to you as a child?
It meant being an exceptional storyteller. What does it mean to you now? The same thing, only being able to incorporate elaborate detail and character arcs.Do you ever leave book reviews on other authors’ books?
Yes. What do reviews mean to you? They help the ranking of my books, and give me insight into what my readers think.How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written?
So many! Can you tell us about one? I am in the process of writing the fifth and final book in the Renegade Series. The story will open with my protagonist traveling out west in search of his pot of gold.When did you join AllAuthor? Several years ago. What has your experience been like?
My experience with AllAuthor has been fantastic. They support authors and provide tools that help us get the word out about our books.
Bestselling author Julie Hawkins was born in Sioux City, Iowa. She started writing stories when she was in junior high. She is one of a few female Civil War authors. Her Renegade Series includes A Beautiful Glittering Lie, A Beckoning Hellfire, A Rebel Among Us, and Double-Edged Sword. She is also an artist and singer/songwriter. Read full interview…
I received another review for my new novel, Double-Edged Sword. This is the fourth book in the Renegade Series. Thank you so much, Pacific Book Reviews and Arthur Thares, for your flattering review!
J.D.R. Hawkins has done it again with the next chapter into David and Anna’s lives. There is always a worry that bringing back established characters will not have the same spark as their first story, but that was never going to be the case for as gifted a writer as Hawkins. Instead, we get a direct sequel (and fourth in a series) to her fantastic novel A Rebel Among Us.
After a rocky start to their lives together, David and Anna leave the North to stay with David’s family in Alabama, but the couple soon finds that living in the South won’t be any easier. Just making it to David’s family is harrowing enough, but the challenges continue. With the turmoil of southern reconstruction after the Civil War, David and Anna eventually make their way back North, but not everyone is happy about their return. The two struggle to fight for each other while battling the outside world, but even their love may not be enough to protect them.
J.D.R. Hawkins is a gifted writer who creates compelling characters which feel real. It isn’t the more prominent aspects of their personality which make her characters unique; it is the subtle gestures that make them seem like complete beings. Something else she does remarkably well is sliding in historical references wherever they fit without making it feel forced. Her knowledge of the period shows not only with her historical references but the speech and actions of her characters. It is genuinely fun to follow David and Anna throughout their story, even if it is not always a pleasant one.
One of the strongest characteristics of this book is how it toes the line of multiple genres, opening it up to a broader audience. While there is plenty of romance, it isn’t a “romance novel,” and the balanced addition of action and humor places it in its own category. Hawkins touches on plenty of mature subjects but does so in a way that does not make the book too mature for younger readers. There is some language in the book that is not socially acceptable, but it was unfortunately commonplace during the period this book takes place.
Hopefully, this book is not the end of David and Anna’s story, as these characters have so much more life. J.D.R. Hawkins is an exceptional writer, and her talent should be appreciated no matter what genres of books a reader usually gravitates toward. It would be hard for anyone to read this book from cover to cover and not fall in love with the characters and the author that brings them to life.
My new novel, Double-Edged Sword, has received a review from US Review of Books. This is the fourth book in the Renegade Series. Thank you so much, Gretchen Hansen, for your marvelous review!
Double-Edged Sword: A Novel of Reconstruction – Book Four of the Renegade Series by J.D.R. Hawkins Book review by Gretchen Hansen
“All of his ideas, however, ended the same, with him being tried, convicted and strung up for murder.”
The U.S. Civil War’s aftermath and the painful period known as the Reconstruction era are at the center of the narrative in this fourth installment of the author’s sweeping saga. David Summers brings home his bride, Anna. He also carries with him scars —physical and mental— from his years fighting in the war. As their train travels deeper into the South towards his native Alabama, the visible destruction of his birthplace begins to weigh him down. The newlyweds hope to start a new life together and create something beautiful out of the horrors they have survived.
Anna, originally from Pennsylvania, is excited to meet her new family and start one of her own. David’s mom and sisters welcome her, incorporating her into the household. To the rest of the community, she is a constant reminder of their devastation at the hands of the North. Being an intelligent young woman full of Moxie, she contributes to the family finances by selling pies to the soldiers at the fort.
As beautiful and idyllic as the countryside seems, the harsh reality sets in. The war brought absolute destruction to the South’s infrastructure, economy, and society. It would obviously take decades to recover. Many people simply walked away, either starving or having lost their families. To add salt to the wounds, Union troops remained in Alabama.
With all this turmoil, David is desperate to help his community regain s ome of its splendor. He joins a group of men who intend to push back. At first, the intent is to scare people, primarily the freed slaves. However, it quickly morphs into something frighteningly violent. His participation will have consequences. Events are happening too fast. David must find a way to heal himself and keep his family intact.
Hawkins had a tremendous challenge in crafting a novel that carries the story forward with the same level of excellence found in the other volumes. However, she has acco mplished this and has written a book that could easily stand alone. The narrative is fully formed and engrossing, showcasing the author’s poetic, colorful writing style.
The endearing, true-to-life characters provide a unique perspective into a side of the Civil War story that is usually disregarded. Hawkins does not shy away from the heartbreaking truth or pain of the people experiencing the ruin. Rather, she treats these with honesty and emotional intelligence. The result is neither a plea for pity nor a glorification.
Hawkins is an award-winning author with several best-selling volumes focusing on the Civil War and Reconstruction period. Her works have been well received by critics and readers alike. They have a particularly unique role in modern culture, balancing the narrative about U.S. History. These works remind readers that those who lived in and fought for either the South or the North were not as different as one might want to believe. One simple yet profound example from the book is the immense joy apple pies brings to the soldiers. The author’s deep knowledge of history and passion make this book an exceptional pleasure to read. It is certain that fans who have been anxiously awaiting this newest volume will be delighted and that it will also undoubtedly appeal to many new readers.
I received another wonderful review from Hollywood Book Reviews for my new novel, Double-Edged Sword. This is the fourth book in the Renegade Series, and tells the story of a family from Alabama who experience the horrors of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Thank you, Manik Chaturmutha, for your review!
J.D.R. Hawkins’ historical fiction Double-Edged Sword: A Novel of Reconstruction delves into the American Civil War which has destroyed cities and livelihoods. Amidst the tense atmosphere of conflict, a family attempts to recover socially and emotionally. However, the post-war continues to affect the many relations within the family; also, the external forces threaten to complicate their relationships even more. The prologue introduces the novel’s background and is ominous about the tangled story that lies ahead.
David Summers is an ex-confederate soldier who fought against the government, the Yankees, for his state of Alabama in the war. Recently released from prison, he travels home with his newly-wedded and pregnant wife, Anna. When he meets his family after a long time, he hopes it will provide him with some much-needed respite from the trauma of war, but not quite. David’s mother is disappointed that he ran away to the north to fight, leaving his family behind. Moreover, he married Anna, a Yankee. As his familial relations get strained, so does his marriage. Anna is desperate to return to her home as she faces a gruelling pregnancy, making her resent David. Furthermore, a sort of love quadrangle between David, Anna and their former suitors/friends threatens to crack their marriage.
Anna’s close friend Stephen is envious of David for having married her. David’s friend, Callie, is heartbroken since she assumed they would be married. Callie’s friendship with David causes a rift in his marriage, prompting Anna to leave for home. However, when David joins Anna in the north, he has a violent falling out with Stephen. This lands him in jail and the midst of a precarious court case. Will David be able to prove himself and live a life with his family? This is what remains to be found out.
Hawkins’ world-building through her vivid, imagery-filled text is sublime and compelling. She evokes a sense of nostalgia for a world that had been built before the war, and regrets for the way it exists after. The narrative consists of many strands–the post-war recovery of David and his family, marriage troubles with his wife and suspense regarding his future when he is jailed. Likewise, enough space is provided to fully imbibe the impact of all the unfolding plot themes. The characters of David and Anna are well-fleshed out, and their relationship is honestly written. The dialogues have been reported in the typical Southern-American dialect, thus providing a remarkable genuineness. It is a fascinating read. Readers of historical fiction with a dash of war drama, romance and suspense will enjoy this book.
Goodreads is giving away 100 ebook copies of my new novel, Double-Edged Sword! This is the fourth book in the Renegade Series, and has already received several five-star reviews. The giveaway is going on now, and will run through August 3. Here is the link so that you can enter to win. Best of luck!
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 there are four volumes – A REBEL AMONG US, A BEAUTIFUL GLITTERING LIE, A BECKONING HELLFIRE, and this volume DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD. These novels relate the story of a family from northern Alabama who experience immeasurable pain when their lives are dramatically changed by the war.
Though a novel of the past, 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. Hawkins makes this revisit to the Confederate South lively with her eloquent prose as she opens this volume four: ‘ The constant ric-atata, ric-atata of the wheels rolling against the rails lulled him. Sweat beaded on his forehead, and he found it difficult to breathe in the warm, humid, almost unbearable air. The soft whispering breeze of his wife’s handheld fan gently whispered against his cheek. His mind eased. Voices seeped into his conscience, growing louder as they neared him. ‘Over here!” a man yelled. “Bring that torch!” A flame came into view. It quickly exploded into a fury of fire against the night sky. What appeared to be phantoms floated around burning buildings…’The scene established, the novel begins.
The plot is outlined as follows: ‘The Civil War has ended. Confederate cavalryman, David Summers, returns home to Alabama, taking his new wife, Anna, with him. Upon arrival, he understands how much the war has changed him and has scarred his homeland. Faced with challenges of transition, he learns how to navigate his new world, along with the pain and trauma of his past. He is also forced to confront his foes, including Stephen Montgomery. Their hatred for one another inevitably boils over into a fierce confrontation, whereby David is arrested. Will the jury believe his side of the story, even though he is an ex-Confederate? Or will he be hung for his crime?’
This is a timely novel that will hopefully add new dimensions of thinking about the Civil War and its persistent scars. Grady Harp, July 22
I received another five-star review for my new novel, Double-Edged Sword. This is the fourth book in the Renegade Series. Thank you so much, Readers’ Favorite, for the wonderful review!
Reviewed by: Romuald Dzemo
Review Rating: 5 Stars – Congratulations on your 5-star review!
Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers’ Favorite
Double-Edged Sword: A Novel of Reconstruction by J.D.R. Hawkins is a mesmerizing historical novel set against the backdrop of the years following the Civil War in Alabama. The protagonist is a Confederate cavalryman, David Summers, who returned home to Alabama after the war as a broken man. While his past and the horrors of the war still haunt him, he also has a broken land before him. As he struggles to fit into the new reality, he quickly understands that he still has many enemies to face. A confrontation between David and his long-time arch enemy, Stephen Montgomery, leads to David’s arrest. When he faces the jury, will he find favor with them or will they hang him?
J.D.R. Hawkins’ evocative writing and a strong sense of imagery are two elements in this narrative that help to paint a fascinating, credible picture of Alabama following the Civil War. The author shows readers compelling glimpses of the effects of the war, writing beautifully about the relationships and family dynamics. Characters like Kit are appealing and the author uses Kit to redefine friendship. I loved the beautifully crafted dialogue and Hawkins’ deft handling of conflict. Another character who will instantly gain the interest of readers is Anna, who accompanies David to Alabama. While they are in love, she is conflicted as she is from the north and her apprehension shines through the narrative. Double-Edged Sword is a brilliantly conceived novel that examines the challenges during the reconstruction period after the war. It is a formidable tour de force and a gem for fans of historical novels set around the time of the Civil War.