J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “writer”

Guest Post Article

As you know, I frequently feature writers who are looking to get their blog posts published. Here is another article I found interesting, especially since my dad was into woodworking and was very good at it. His beautiful creations still grace my home. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this post by James Draper.

Dad 1

Five Reasons Why You Should Get Into Woodworking This Year

Woodworking can be much more than a profession or a hobby. It’s, for a lot of people, an art that has serious impacts on your body and mind! Many people find it a relaxing and productive activity for their overall development. Planning, starting, and finishing a project can be a major improvement for your physical health, as well as for your focus and determination.

If you’re a woodworker already, then you have plenty of reasons for loving your job. If you are brand new, or still thinking about getting into the handy craft world, here are some reasons why you should start this year:

1. Health Benefits 

Woodworking is not only good for your body but for your mental health, as well. If you suffer from stress or anxiety, this activity will certainly refresh your mind. An easy-to-do woodworking project will instantly boost your mind and self-esteem by diverting your attention from destructive thoughts. There are also plenty of studies that show that this art is perfect for slowing down depression related problems. Refinishing, for example, is an easy and very effective solution – from the first sanding process all the way up to completion, you’ll love every moment of it. Coming from a personal side, woodworking can really be a natural boost. 

2. Focus Improvement

It can, sometimes, be a dangerous activity, one that involves complex and strong power tools that require focus and extreme attention. Make sure safety is your main priority – you can easily check for tool options that regard safety and efficiency at the same time. 

But believe me, a simpler and safer woodworking project will greatly improve your focus and concentration, a benefit that will definitely help you in other areas of your personal and professional life. It will also help you gain confidence in yourself and in your skills, and change the way you look at smaller insignificant tasks of your daily life.

3. Better Planning and Organizing Skills

Truth be told, many people are not able to do proper planning of their time, which can greatly affect their quality of life, as well as their health. A woodworking DIY project requires you to follow a step by step process, in order to finish a workpiece. This way, you’re bound to think ahead, from the start, like what materials you should choose, what tools to use, among other things. If you’re able to accomplish simple tasks, you may carry on with more complicated woodworking projects and reach a point where making a wooden chair from scratch is peanuts. Transfer that improvement to your daily life, and you’ll notice how much more motivated you are in tackling boring and monotonous tasks.

4. Helps Replacing Bad Habits

We all know it is very easy to acquire a bad habit but extremely difficult to get rid of it. Since woodworking projects require dedication and a great deal of time, you won’t end up with that much mental space to think about your bad habits. A lot of rehab clinics have introduced woodworking to their patients, showing great results, especially in drug addiction situations.

5. Profitable 

Believe it or not, it’s a tremendously profitable hobby. Since you’re able to build any piece of furniture (with enough practice), you avoid purchasing one at a DIY store for a much higher price. If you build it yourself, the costs are much cheaper, and since it encourages creativity, which allows you to keep improving your skills, you’ll reach a point where the outcome’s quality is so good you can actually sell them! That way, you’ll balance the costs of materials, energy, and time and even get some extra cash. Trust me, you’ll start with a simple chair and in a couple of months, you’ll already be working on a customized table to your sister’s parents-in-law. That will not only bring satisfaction but will keep your creativity alive, so remember, the more art pieces you make, the more creative you become.

Jay

In a Nutshell 

There are a lot of reasons for liking woodworking, and there are also many benefits that this hobby brings into your life that you might not really think about. Woodworking can really turn you into a better problem-solver. It’s an activity that will make better use of your downtime, as well as making you capable of giving amazing gifts to people you love! I’m sure they will be received with much love since it comes from your own hands. 

Lastly, there is something amazing about being able to use your mind and your body to produce a project from start to end – almost like the primitive nature of our ancestors. It will surely give you the opportunity to make decisions, think, design, and change a pile of wood into something greater! Once you see that you can produce something of value with your own hands, it will fill you with excitement and the desire of accomplishing many other things. So, one question remains: What are you still doing here?

(Just a note, these are two creations that my dad made.)

 

Release Day Blitz – Something Old, Something New

Just in time for Valentine’s Day! A compilation of seven bestselling authors, with seven romance stories. Check it out!

Something Old Something New Banner 1 copy

Something Old, Something New
– A DRA Production

Something Old, Something New Cover copy

Seven bestselling authors. Seven incredible second chance romances. One epic anthology.

What would you do for another chance with the one you love? 

Something Old, Something New – a unique novella anthology – tries to answer this question with fantastic, different, desi dramas.

Whether it is shapeshifters or shifting interracial relationships, single moms in small towns or rich alpha heroes, friends-to-lovers or passionate ex-husbands; this anthology has something for everyone.

Something Old, Something New explores the many different facets of love, forgiveness, fated mates and more in seven, distinctly Indian tales!

My Warmest Sorrow

by Preethi Venugopala

Something Old Something New Creative (5) copy

What would you do when you come face to face with your past?

When Ajay, now an IAS officer, is added into his college WhatsApp group, he is welcomed warmly by all his classmates. Except by Diana.

Diana is still living with the repercussions of what had happened in the past. She is thrown into despair by Ajay’s presence in the group.

Diana and Ajay were inseparable while in college. Their relationship had transitioned from being best friends to love overnight. But then fate had intervened in the form of Diana’s tyrant father who had separated them ruthlessly.

Five years of silence has created a wall of sorrow between them. Their interactions in the class WhatsApp group are nothing like what they once used to be. Every moment is churning out more anguish and unpleasantness.

How much have they changed?

Is love still hiding underneath their public facades?

What are the lies they are hiding?

Read an Excerpt from My Warmest Sorrow

My mobile phone rang as I unlocked the door to my flat. Who was calling me now? It was eleven o’clock on a Wednesday night.

As the project deadline was looming near, I had stayed back in the office till nine to complete the chunk of work I had scheduled for today. Structural designing demanded full dedication, even for a small-scale project. And my current project was unbelievably complex.

Wearily, I slumped onto the couch and rummaged in my bag to locate the phone.

“Diana, you won’t believe what happened today. And, where were you? I called you so many times,” shrieked Ashima, my engineering classmate, the moment I answered the phone.

I rolled my eyes but a smile curved my lips. Ashima had a flair for theatrics. What was it now?

“Go slow. I just returned home after a gruelling day. We have a deadline this Saturday.”

“Eek. Be like me and find a government job. The perks of a government job are endless. Private jobs suck, ” said Ashima.

“Now, now… you must go to that magnificent job tomorrow, right? Why are you staying up all night?”

Ashima had been like our dorm room alarm while in college. She dozed off at exactly nine and got up at five in the morning, every day, without fail. What had kept her awake today? Or had her so-called relaxing job altered her lifestyle?

“Idiot, check your WhatsApp messages. I don’t want to spoil the surprise. Thank me later. Goodnight for now.”

No! I wasn’t in the mood to drown in some WhatsApp group debate she might have started. Mostly, she called me for some additional support when she was on the verge of losing. Who was she arguing with today? Rahul or Avinash?

Most of my classmates were politically active and any new government decision or policies would undergo acute post-mortem inside our class WhatsApp group. Rahul was a devout follower of the Congress party, Avinash was a self-confessed Modi Bhakt and Ashima was a red comrade entirely. On some days, their arguments would last long into the night. I didn’t have the energy to jump into another such nonsensical discussion. All I wanted to do now was eat and sleep till the alarm rang at seven tomorrow morning.

I switched on the geyser to take a quick bath. Then I transferred the biryani I had bought into a plate and placed it into the oven to reheat it. In the present Bangalore climate, nothing stayed warm for long. I was not fond of the winters. It wasn’t the cold that bothered me, though. The winter season brought back long-lost memories, making me long for the warmth of a specific loving embrace. It also reminded me of my twenty-two-year-old self who had almost given up on life.

By the time I returned from the bath, there were two more missed calls from Ashima. What was wrong with this girl today?

As I dug into the tasty biryani, I turned on my phone data. Notification beeps began. I swiped left till I found the WhatsApp icon. I had 1200 plus unread messages just from the 2013 Civil Gang, my class WhatsApp group. Some serious discussion must be happening. I groaned inwardly. I was certainly not in the mood to drown in nasty arguments. But Ashima would probably kill me if I didn’t hop in and speak my bit.

Avinash and Ashima had sent me private messages as well. What was so urgent?

Curious, I opened the group chat. Avinash had added a new member. Though our class had a total strength of 60 students, there were only 45 were members in the group currently. Many of my former classmates were pursuing higher studies whereas some had landed jobs in distant lands. Hence, we had lost contact with many of them in the five years that had elapsed after graduation. Occasionally, a new member would be found and added by one of the admins. Then there would be a mad rush to get reacquainted with the new entrant.

The name of the person added today drove away all my lethargy in a second. I blinked twice to confirm if I had correctly read the name mentioned in Avinash’s welcoming message. Ajay Menon. Ajay… after all these years?

About the Author:

Preethi Venugopala copy

Preethi Venugopala stepped into the world of words during a sabbatical from her hectic civil engineering job after the birth of her son. She began as a blogger and wrote fiction to pass time. Her debut novel ‘Without You’ came out in 2015 and was received well. She was then mentored by eminent author Anita Nair at her writing platform ‘Anitas Attic’ in 2016. Since then, she has published 7 novels on Amazon and more than 15 short stories in various anthologies and platforms.

Giveaway:

First Prize – A Kindle

Second Prize – 6 Months Kindle Unlimited Subscription

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New Cover in the Works for A Beautiful Glittering Lie

As I may have mentioned in an earlier post, my three novels in The Renegade Series are being republished with a new company called Westwood Books Publishing. This is a fairly new publisher that is run by several literary agents. It is an indie publishing company, but has an interesting marketing plan in place.

Book Cover - Highest Resolution

The first book in the series, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, is the first to be republished. I have been working with Westwood Books to create a new book cover. This is the original cover of the book, which is a painting done by Don Troiani, titled “Up Alabamians.” The new cover will be completely original.

I can’t wait to share it with you and find out what you think. I’m hoping I can share it with you as soon as next week, so stay tuned!

 

Five Star Review For A Beautiful Glittering Lie

Book Cover - Highest Resolution

Recently, I have been sharing my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, with readers who are members of a group called Voracious Readers. The version I’ve been sending is from my previous publisher, but the book is about to be republished with Westwood Books Publishing. It should be out again by March.

In the meantime, I have been fortunate enough to receive interest, as well as several reviews, for my book. Here is a five-star review I received last week. (This is the old book cover. I will have a new cover reveal in a few weeks.)

** spoiler alert ** Although not the genre of book I would normally read I was given the opportunity to read and review this book by the author through Voracious Readers. Looking for something different I jumped at the chance and was glad I did. Hawkins writes in such a way that the reader feels they are part of the story. A novel written about America’s battle between the North and the South the closest I’d come to reading anything around this period was Gone With the Wind so it’s definitely not my normal style. However I saw every battle scene clearly felt every emotion and experience expressed by Bud, Hirarm, David, Jake and their families, friends and comrades. I found myself praying for Bud and Hirarm’s safe return, internally yelling warnings at the boys, and reaching for tissues when Sally was stolen and Hirarm didn’t return as planned. A great book well written and one I’d highly recommend.

 

 

Book Blitz & Giveaway!

Book Blitz Saved by Love

About the Book:

Saved by Love 3d (1) copyThey meet under impossible circumstances.

She is kidnapped by terrorists blackmailing her father, a Supreme Court Judge. He leads the team sent to rescue her.

Trekking to safety through Ladakh… They are in danger of falling in love. But, Lt. Col. Arjun Rathod knows that Naina Ahuja, engaged to politics’ rising star, is not meant for him.

Forever changed by her trauma, Naina walks out of her controlling family and forges a new life.

And then, she meets Arjun again. But this time, he is engaged to someone else.

Can they save their love or is it too late?

Book Links:

Goodreads * Amazon * Pustakmandi

Read an Excerpt:

“Miss Ahuja? Naina?”

The almost soundless whisper had Naina’s eyes snapping open in the dark. A hard hand came up to cover her mouth even as a terrified squeak left her lips. A pair of dark, intense eyes in a face streaked with camouflage paint floated into her vision. “I’m here to rescue you. Your father sent me. I need you to stay completely silent when I remove my hand. Can you nod if you understand?”

Keeping her eyes on his strong, reassuring ones, Naina nodded quickly. The stranger waited to make sure she wouldn’t scream, and slowly lifted his hand from her mouth. Slipping a knife out from seemingly nowhere, he cut the rope binding both her hands and feet within seconds and levered her up from her prone position. Helping her to her feet, he watched intently to see if she was steady on her feet. Reassured that she wasn’t going to faint at his feet, Arjun moved quickly to the door and looked out. The guards were still unconscious from the light taps to the back of their heads administered by his teammates, and so far there was no sign of any other movement in the camp. Coming back into the room, he put his lips close to her ear to whisper, “Can you walk?”

Nodding mutely, Naina craned her neck to get a glimpse of his face from this angle. The stranger was so tall that he towered over her by almost a foot. Dressed all in black, with a mini arsenal strapped on to him, he looked like he’d arrived straight from hell. Apparently, the devil was her hero tonight.

About the Author:

Shilpa Suraj copy

Shilpa Suraj wears many hats – corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.

An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

Contact the Author:

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Giveaway:

2 Winners. Signed Paperback copy of Saved by Love & Bookmarks. Open to Indian Residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Stories from Christmases Past

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. There is so much electricity in the air. Everyone is excited and friendly. Of course, here in Colorado, people are friendly most all the time, but Christmas is special. What other time of year can you listen to decades, even centuries old songs, and sing along? What other time of year can you see living nativities, Santa Clauses galore, and so many decorations, presents and treats? And what other time of year, other than possibly the Fourth of July, can you see so many colorful lights?

I love Christmas, but most of all, I love what it represents: faith, hope and love. Please keep our military personnel in your prayers, as well as those who have lost loved ones this time of year.

The following is an article written by a Confederate soldier at Christmas. It must have been, and I’m sure, still is, very difficult to be away from home during the holidays.

Christmas

Diary Of Captain Robert Emory Park, of Twelfth Alabama Regiment

Excerpts from his diary:

“December 25th, Christmas Day — How keenly and vividly home recollections come to my mind today! I see the huge baked turkey, the fat barbecued pig, delicious oysters, pound and fruit cakes, numerous goblets of eggnog and syllabub, etc., etc., on my beloved mother’s hospitable table. My brothers and sisters are sitting around it as of yore, and my dear fond mother, with warmest love and pride beaming from her still handsome blue eyes, now somewhat dimmed by approaching age, sits at one end bountifully helping each plate to a share of the well cooked eatables before her. How happy I would be if I were with them! I can but repeat the words of the familiar song —

 

“Do they miss me at home, do they miss me?

‘Twould be an assurance most dear
To know that some loved one was saying,

Today I wish he were here.”

Those touching words, too, of “Home, Sweet Home” flash before my memory, and I cannot restrain the tears that rush to my eyes. Over three months have passed since I have heard from home and mother. What changes may have occurred since my capture, the 19th of September! Two of my brothers are members of the First Georgia reserves, now guarding the 30,000 Yankee prisoners at Andersonville — one is major, and the other, a youth of sixteen years, is one of Captain Wirz’s sergeants. These two are no doubt absent from the annual home reunion. Others may be too. I hope and feel that my brothers are civil and kind to the Yankees they are guarding. They are too brave to act otherwise. My poor prison dinner was in sad contrast with my Christmas dinners at home. It consisted of beef soup, a small piece of pickled beef, some rice and a slice of loaf bread. Lastly, to our astonishment, about three mouthsful each of bread pudding, not very sweet, were handed us.

December 26th, 27th and 28th — I am able to get about on my crutches, but still feel the effects of my severe fall. Major Hanvey, who sleeps in a small room above mine, is quite sick. Last night I sat up alone with him until he went to sleep, long after midnight. He was suffering from a high fever and was delirious. His thoughts were of his wife and little daughter, in far off Georgia, and he spoke of them in the tenderest, fondest manner. I fear he will never see his loved ones again.

December 29th, 30th and 31st — The last days of eventful, never to be forgotten 1864. All hope of a speedy exchange is now dying within us. The prospect is exceedingly gloomy. Savannah has been captured by Sherman, and Hood defeated in Tennessee. I am not at all despondent however, and believe the Confederate States will be successful and independent yet. It is rumored we are to be removed in a day or two to Old Capitol Prison, Washington city. Our surgeon confirms the report. Point Lookout will be left with no regrets.

Southern Historical Society Papers
Vol. II. Richmond. Va. November. 1876. No.5

(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans, President Jefferson Davis Chapter of the Military Order of the Stars and Bars, December 2019 ed., Volume 43, Issue No. 12)

 

Release Day Blitz

The Sinners by Sourabh Mukherjee

~ Release Day Blitz ~

12th November

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About the Book:

The Sinners Cover copy

Vikram Oberoi is found dead in his penthouse. A few hours ago, his involvement in a sex scandal in NexGen Technologies made headlines across the world.

Who is behind the sinister conspiracy that destroyed Vikram Oberoi, the philandering India Head of NexGen? Rivals within and outside the firm? One of his many jilted lovers or the miffed wife? A mysterious conspirator laying out honey traps to sabotage his plans? Or, is it the ghost of a sinful past that continues to haunt the Oberois?

The Sinners is a fast-paced thriller with a shocking twist that unravels against the backdrop of corporate warfare, illicit relationships and ruthless seduction games.

Book Links:

Amazon * Goodreads

Read an Excerpt:

Agastya picked up the call from a private number after the third ring, taking his eyes off the monitor in front of him.

“Is this Agastya Bakshi?”

“Yes… who’s this?”

“Agastya, my apologies for calling you late. I assure you this won’t take too long. But, we need to talk in private. Where are you right now?” The male voice at the other end of the line sounded authoritative. Agastya could not recall having heard the voice earlier.

Agastya looked around the near-empty office and said, “I am at work, but we can talk. Not too many people around at this time of the night.” His curiosity, by this time, was at its peak. 

It was past eleven. It was the third time that week that Agastya had to work through the night. Hired a couple of years back, his work as an engineer in the Network and Systems Division of NexGen kept him rooted in front of computer screens through his days and very often, his nights. Agastya did not have much of a social life. A clumsy desk littered with pizza crumbs, empty cartons and soda cans, and a paunch growing at an alarming rate – that was what his life had been reduced to. But, he did not complain. Agastya loved his job.

“Great! Then let’s talk business. I’m sorry I cannot disclose my name. I belong to a private investigation agency that’s currently looking into the dealings of the company you are working for. There are reports of certain financial irregularities in the business.”

Agastya sat up straight in his chair.

“Okay! But, what – what do you want from me?” Agastya asked tentatively. “I work in Network and Systems. I don’t think you have the right number!”

“Agastya, I know who I am talking to,” there was an almost imperceptible hint of annoyance in the voice of the man at the other end of the line. He went on, “We need access to the e-mail accounts of some of the top guys in your company to check their correspondences. And I’ve been told that you are the right man for the job.”

Agastya took a sip of the cola that had already gone flat.

“Why – why me? You can speak to my Manager in the morning. He -“

The voice at the other end of the line did not let him finish.

“Agastya, this is a covert operation and we are a private agency. We cannot turn up at your office with an order to gain access to these accounts. Also, right now, we’re not sure how many of the big guys are involved and in what ways. For all you know, your boss – the Systems Manager you are referring to – might as well be a party! Let’s not forget that, he has access to all records of transactions. We do not want anyone getting alert and tampering with the data we are looking for. We cannot risk exposure. It’ll take us some time to complete the basic investigation. And I’d really appreciate your cooperation while we are at it. Once we have enough evidence at our disposal, we will make this official.”

Agastya thought for a few minutes. The whole thing could be a hoax, for all it’s worth!

“Look… how do I trust you?”

“I knew you’re going to ask, Agastya. We’ll be completely transparent with you. One of my agents will get in touch with you. You’ll be working with her. I want you to hand over the details to her in person. This is for reasons of safety. And also, to make sure that you put faces to names. We want to win your trust and make sure that you are comfortable working with us because, as I said, this investigation isn’t going to get over in a day. We’ll need to work together for a while.”

“I – I’ll need to think this through. What’s in it for me?”

“We’ll most certainly compensate for your time and your cooperation. And I can assure you that, you will have no reason to complain about the money. Don’t worry about that,” the voice sounded reassuring. Agastya did a quick mental calculation of the remaining EMIs for his new car. Almost at the same time, the full front-page advertisement of the upcoming apartment complex in South Mumbai flashed before his eyes.

The voice continued, “So I gather we’re good to go here, right?”

Agastya mumbled an uncertain “Well…”

The voice did not seem to care.

“Thanks for your co-operation, Agastya. Ruchika will get in touch with you shortly. Have a good rest of the night at work.” The man hung up.

Agastya looked disbelievingly at his phone. Agastya wondered if he should call someone and discuss. The next moment, he decided against it. The man did sound like he meant business. And, in any case, Agastya was the one in charge. He was the one who had access to the data the agency was asking for. He was willing to give it a shot if the money was good. If, at any point in time, he had any reason to doubt the authenticity of the agency, he could always step back. Maybe even report the guy to appropriate authorities. He could always make an honest confession.

He put the phone down on his desk and went back to monitoring the data backup jobs. In a couple of minutes, his phone buzzed 

“Hey, this is Ruchika” – said the Whatsapp message.

About the Author:

Sourabh Mukherjee

Sourabh is the author of two psychological thriller novels The Colours of Passion: Unravelling Dark Secrets behind the Limelight (Readomania) and  In the Shadows of Death: A Detective Agni Mitra Thriller (Srishti Publishers and Distributors); Romance Shorts, a collection of dark-romance short stories; a 2-part series Beyond 22 Yards (Srishti Publishers and Distributors) on stories of Love and Crime from the world of cricket and a 7-part series of short stories titled It’s All About Love (Srishti Publishers and Distributors). The titles in the series are The Gift, The Cookery Show and a Love Story, A Special Day, Masks, An Autumn Turmoil, The Hunt, The Death Wish.

A keen observer of human behaviour and cultural diversities, Sourabh loves travelling and has travelled widely across five continents. An avid reader of fiction, Sourabh is equally passionate about photography, movies and music.

Connect with the Author:

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Blog

The Sinners 3D Cover copy

Giveaway:

A Paperback Copy of The Sinners by Sourabh Mukherjee.

Open till 25th November, 2019

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Spotlight: The Missing Fairy Princess

The Missing Fairy Princess copy

About the Book:

“The Missing Fairy Princess” is the story of a 16-year-old fairy princess pitted against a powerful witch. The witch has stolen a potent new mantra developed by a colleague, ruthlessly snuffing out a brilliantly innovative mind.  She then hatches an elaborate plot to frame an adversary for her misdeed. Her intention is to exact sweet revenge from her foe and at the same time, get away with the theft. The victim, caught in her vicious web, is doomed to disgrace and a life sentence on a harsh penal colony. Meanwhile, the witch learns from her crystal ball, about an imminent threat from a fairy princess wearing a pink tiara.  To ward off that threat she kidnaps the fairy princess, wipes her memory clean and then turns her into a two-year-old girl.  

Unfortunately for the culprit, she has goofed up by kidnapping the wrong fairy princess, Merlyn, instead of Ashlyn, her twin.  The mistake turns out to be the undoing of the witch because Ashlyn proves to be her nemesis. The brilliant fairy princess exposes the cobweb of misleading evidence fabricated by the witch, ultimately unmasking her.

If you love mystery, whodunit, with a dash of magical realism and sci-fi, this book is for you.

Buy Links:

Amazon India:  https://www.amazon.in/dp/B07T81C748

Amazon USA:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07T81C748

Walter SP Author copy

About the Author:
After spending over 25 years in the Middle East, the author, aged 75, now leads a retired life.  He lives with his wife and son in Thane, near Mumbai. He has been passionate about writing from his early days.  His first book was a fast-paced sci-fi novel titled “This Nightmare is for Real”, was self-published. That was followed by a historical fiction titled “Bheem – The Sage of Madhavpur”, again a self-publication.  A third book, a fairy tale titled “The Missing Fairy Princess” which was published on Kindle Select during the first week of June 2019, while a fourth on the oft-discussed topic of cross-border terrorism titled “The Carnivore has a Heart” is slated for publication shortly thereafter again on Kindle Select.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/waltersalvadore.pereira

Twitter: www.twitter.com/author_walter

Website: https://www.waltersalvadorepereira.com

 

Guest Post:

Imagine this scenario:  You are one of the best in your profession, own a palatial mansion on Beverley Hills, a Bugatti or Lamborghini roaring to go in your garage and tons of dough in your Swiss bank account. Would you be content with your status and crave for nothing more?  Certainly not, because you are human and have a chink in your armor called G-r-e-e-d!

On a parallel note, Zharga is a senior witch, with knowledge of witchcraft second to none, a huge cave on the upper reaches of the Alps with a breathtaking view, a magnificent flying carpet to take her to any place she commands and a magic wand capable of fulfilling any wish of hers.  Does it leave anything more to be desired? Alas, she too is human and greed is one of our built-in flaws!

What triggers it:  The witch overhears a conversation between two colleagues about a potent new mantra developed by one of them.  She cannot resist the temptation to lay her hands on that mantra and in the process ruthlessly snuffs out a brilliant and innovative mind.  Her desire fulfilled, she sets about framing an adversary for the crime. Her agenda is two-fold – to exact revenge from her foe and at the same time, get away with the theft.  The victim caught up in her cobweb, faces disgrace and lifetime imprisonment on a harsh penal colony.

The plot:  Amidst her nefarious activities, the witch is warned by her crystal globe about an impending serious threat from a fairy princess wearing a pink tiara. She at once takes preemptive measures. She captures the fairy princess and destroys her mind.  As an added precautionary measure, she turns the fairy into a two-year-old girl intending to offer her as a sacrifice to her Demon God.

Good prevails over evil:  The witch hasn’t contended with fate.  As it turns out, because of a prank played by the twin of the intended victim, the witch ends up capturing the former – Merlyn instead Ashlyn, her twin.  It is a costly error, one that ultimately results in her undoing as Ashlyn proves to be her nemesis as predicted by the crystal globe. The brilliant fairy princess untangles strand-by-strand the intricate cobweb woven by the crafty witch and finally, unmasks her.

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Guest Blog by Natalie Jones

Occasionally, I receive requests to share guest posts by various writers. I love doing this because, as a writer myself, I enjoy sharing other people’s thoughts and insights. This post doesn’t have anything to do with what I usually write about, but it is interesting, nevertheless, and so I wanted to share. I recently went through the experience of purchasing a house. It can be stressful, challenging, intense, and ultimately, rewarding. My husband and I bought a fixer upper. It’s a lot of work, but also fun to transform the house into our own vision. This article is very informative about purchasing a home. And because my husband is transitioning into another career as a realtor, I found it especially interesting.

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A Team Effort: How Couples Can Avoid Conflict During the Home Buying Process 

Buying a new house is one of the most consequential decisions you and your partner will ever make. It’s not like choosing between a cat or dog for a pet or even what kind of car to buy. It’s probably the biggest financial investment of your married life, which means conflict is a possibility unless both of you are on the same page and remain honest with each other from start to finish. Buying the home of your dreams isn’t worth much if your relationship suffers irreparable harm over an experience that should bring you closer together. 

Get on the Same Wavelength

Couples often have different ideas when it comes to selecting a new home. One of you might be on the same page as far as location goes but be miles apart concerning how much house you can afford. One might want a split level, whereas the other may prefer a ranch-style home. Some couples have different ideas about what to do with a home. You and your spouse may diverge on any number of points, which is why it’s important to have a very open and frank (though respectful) discussion before jumping into such an important, life-changing endeavor.  

Belongings and Storage

Belongings, especially those the two of you can’t seem to agree on, can also be a source of conflict during this process. Your spouse’s grandmother’s creaky old bed may be more valuable as an antique than as a piece of furniture. Either way, consider putting anything you’re having trouble deciding about in storage until you’re both on the same page. Before you make this decision, consider if you have room in your budget to rent one; for example, a five-by-five unit in Colorado Springs costs on average $42.11 per month. You may also need a rental truck to move your belongings, which can run you around $19.99 per day (plus mileage).

Know Where You Stand

Order your credit reports and go through them item by item, checking for inaccuracies that need to be cleared up. Be aware, however, that you may come across something your spouse wasn’t aware of, a financial mistake you made before you and your spouse even met. Remember that what happened years ago isn’t what’s important. Knowing how your credit profile affects you and doing something to improve your standing is what matters. 

Consult a realtor and mortgage loan officer to get an idea of what you should be concerned with (and what items should or shouldn’t be challenged). The next step is to assess your financial position, including debt-to-income ratio, and any additional sources of income. Factor in the cost of home repairs, which you can count on facing at some point, and create an emergency fund. Some experts advise setting aside 1 percent of the value of your home.

An Agent You Can Trust

There’s no substitute for an experienced, sympathetic, and friendly real estate agent. Your agent is an advisor, mediator, and advocate during the home buying process, and a source of valuable information for both of you. A good agent can also act as an arbiter when you and your spouse disagree over some point. Ask friends and co-workers about agents they’ve worked with; chances are, someone can put you in touch with the right person, but it’s important that both of you feel comfortable with whomever you choose to do business. 

A Team Effort

Bear in mind that this should be a “team effort,” not a task for one of you to dominate while the other concedes. You’ll probably live there for many years, and you want them to be happy ones. So, adopt the position that your partner’s wishes and concerns are as much yours as theirs. 

Honesty: It’s the cornerstone of any successful marriage, and it will serve you very well during the home-buying process. Being honest about your finances, wishes, and dislikes will make it much easier to navigate what can be a tense and anxious experience. Remember that finding a home that makes you both happy is your ultimate objective.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

 

A Grand Review

As I stated in my previous blog post, General Lee is one of my favorite personalities of the War Between the States. In this excerpt from my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, protagonist David Summers, age 18, meets the general for the first time, and is awestruck by his encounter. This event takes place shortly before the Battle of Brandy Station, which took place on June 9, 1863, and was the largest cavalry battle to ever take place in North America.

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Later that evening, the men were informed that another Review was to be held, because General Lee had been detained from attending the day’s events. The troopers were required to polish their tack and metal two days later for the benefit of the Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.

On June 8, the Review was held between Culpeper and Brandy like before, but no civilians were present this time. General Hood’s infantry came to watch the military exercise. While the cavalrymen rode past to take their positions on the open field of the Auburn Estate, the suntanned foot soldiers jeered at them.

“Come down off’n that horse!” one yelled. “I can see your legs a-danglin’!”

“Come out from under that hat!” another hollered. “I can see your ears a-wigglin’!”

“They’re jist jealous of us because we git all the pretty girls’ attention!” Michael yelled over at David and flashed a grin.

The horsemen reached the open field and lined up in columns, their regimental colors rippling above them. Ordered to halt, they sat with all eyes on their commanding officer. 

General Lee rode the two-mile line at a brisk trot. He searched out saddle-sore horses and deficient carbines, mandating corrective actions as he carried out his inspection. He came to a halt in front of Renegade. 

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“Is this the little horse that won the race I heard tell about?” he asked.

Stunned that the magnificent general was speaking to him, David’s heart leaped. He found it difficult to reply, let alone comprehend that General Lee was actually addressing him. The general, dressed in flawless brass and gray, his white beard and entire appearance immaculate, gazed at him intensely. He didn’t know if he was required to salute, so he just sat there, stupefied.

“Yessir,” was all he could finally manage to say. 

General Lee nodded, glanced over Renegade once more, and spurred his gray steed away. The cavaliers surrounding David turned to gawk at him. He looked at John, who winked at him. 

“Reckon he’s got plans for you!” Michael said, grinning as he raised an eyebrow.

David wondered what those plans were, and couldn’t help cracking a smile. Although he’d given up on his fantasy of becoming a Pony Express rider, he hoped now to be chosen for some dangerous, daring mission on behalf of the Confederacy, since the adventure he and Jake had dreamed about seemed to have eluded him thus far. His utmost desire was to receive a perilous assignment, one that no one else was willing to take, because he was prepared to lay down his life for his beloved country. If that happened, there would be no doubt that he would acquire exoneration for Tom’s death. He wanted to die in honor and glory, just like his father and Jake had done. But he hoped, most of all, that he wouldn’t be sealed in an unmarked grave and forgotten.

Sitting astride Traveller, General Lee watched from the top of a hillock. General Stuart, with his usual flamboyance, wore a long, black ostrich plume in his hat, and his horse, Virginia, was adorned with a wreath of flowers around her neck. Stuart signaled; the bugles blared. Twenty-two cavalry regiments wheeled into columns of four, and three bands commenced to play “The Bonnie Blue Flag” while General Stuart led the parade of prancing horses. The cavaliers walked their mounts down the length of the field before turning into a trot. An immense cloud of dust billowed up from the ground. There was no mock charge against the guns this time, so following the reviewing maneuvers, the men were congratulated and released.

They led their horses back to camp, and celebrated the splendor of their review. The supply and baggage trains had been loaded, awaiting the cavalry’s departure across the Rappahannock with the infantry, which was now encamped on the other side of a hill. Unbeknownst to David and his fellow cavaliers, however, an ominous presence lurked in the shadows. Morning would come much sooner than expected. 

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