J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “research”

Cover Reveal!

Horses in Gray Cover

I am so excited to reveal the cover for my new nonfiction book, Horses in Gray. This book tells many fascinating stories about famous Confederate steeds and their masters. It also describes lesser known horses as well. All of them have amazing stories to tell, and were as brave and fearless as their riders. Pre-order copies are available through Amazon.


A special shout out to Pelican Publishing, Dan Nance for the cover art, and everyone else who helped make this book a reality. This is my first nonfiction book, and I’m very proud and honored to be able to publish it. Thank you so much!


A Writer’s Life

Beautiful woman in swimming pool

I wish I could say that writing novels means sitting around the pool all day, sipping margaritas, and writing whenever I feel like it. Maybe that’s true for some writers. I envision Jackie Collins living that way. But for me, it is a never-ending process, and writing is only one part of it.

Since I primarily write historical fiction, I do a lot of research before I ever start writing. On average, I spend about six months researching and six months writing. Once the research has been completed, I begin the writing process. For me, I find it best to work from an outline, so I start by plotting out each book, chapter by chapter. And then I start the book, and try to write one chapter every two days. Once the book is completed, I read through it once or twice, and then set it aside to ripen. After a few months, I read through it again. After that, I have it professionally edited and proofread. And then, I find beta readers to look for flaws. The manuscript is finally completed! But that’s only the first phase.

typewriter copy

The next step is finding an agent or a publisher. This takes a lot of work and can be quite tedious. The hardest part is accepting rejection. I’m very fortunate to have excellent publishers. After sending them the manuscript, the whole process of editing and proofreading starts again. Once the manuscript is completed, it goes to the typesetters. A cover artist comes up with a design for the book, which can sometimes be stressful as well. Next comes a cover reveal and pre-sales. And after that, the book is finally published! Thus ends phase two.

To me, the next step is the most difficult. This is finding reviewers, promoting, marketing, and doing anything and everything possible to get my titles out there. I typically spend two to four hours a day on marketing. This includes sending the book to reviewers, entering contests, participating in blog tours, doing author interviews and book signing events, etc. This process never really ends, but it is especially crucial during the first year in the life of the book. And so ends phase three. And then it’s time to write a new book and start the process all over again. But I love it!


Now you know all the work that’s involved with publishing a book. I wish I could say it’s all pools and parties, but it’s more like fear, frustration, fantasy, and for me, fun!

If you would like to help me with my book writing process, I would be more than grateful. Here is the link to become one of my cavaliers on Patreon. I hope you will consider supporting me!



Another 5-Star Review!


My new novel, A Rebel Among Us, received another 5-star review! I’m so excited that I had to share. If you would like to review my book, please let me know and I’ll get an e-book sent out to you!

Format: Kindle Edition

For a girl who likes history, reading about life during the Civil War was just icing on the cake for this sweet romance. The story really was engaging and well written, and I could picture myself in that time period. Very well researched and detailed, and it was pretty honest of how slaves and freed men were treated back then. I don’t know why this stuck with me, but in other fiction books I’ve read of the Civil War, when it came to the issue of slaves, the South was bad and the North was good and treated all freed slaves as free white men, which wasn’t always the case.

It begins with a family of girls in Union territory finding a Confederate soldier injured, and how they nurse him back to health. The oldest sister gets him to stay one time, then asks him to stay longer with a proposition. Great story line and the characters were all likable. While Anna and David were the main characters, Maggie, the younger sister, and Patrick, a neighbor, helped make the story better.

I loved this book! It’s a longer book, so she has the time to work in details from her research. This was the first book I’ve ready by J.D.R. Hawkins, and I look forward to reading more historical pieces from this author.

The Hunt for the Irish Connection


Writing has helped me make some fascinating discoveries over the years. Because I write historical fiction, I have learned to extensively research my topics before delving into a manuscript. Finding little known facts has given me an interest in researching various subjects. My passion lies with the Victorian Era, but I also love writing about the Roaring 20’s and Prohibition, as well as other aspects of American history like the 1960’s and 70’s.



Through my research, I have uncovered some interesting things. For instance, I apparently have distant relatives living in Alabama that I never knew about. This tidbit would never have come to my attention if I hadn’t been doing research for one of my novels. I also discovered some of my husband’s long lost relatives who lived in Virginia near Chancellorsville. This came to my attention after conducting research for my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire.


Now I am on the hunt for my Irish roots. After moving to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, two years ago, I learned that my great grandfather lived here once he divorced my great grandmother. I looked through old city and county records, and found out his exact date of birth, death, and the name of his daughter, who would have been my great step aunt. I even learned why his body was sent to Tucson, Arizona. After more research, I learned the names of his siblings and his parents. Now I just have to find out where in Tipperary, Ireland, they came from and which port of entry they came through. I’m hoping that the New Year will provide me with unanswered questions and help me find my Irish connection.

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