Friday, July 7, 2023

Last of the "Letters Series" of Books

 I will be releasing the last book in the "Letters Series" in a few weeks.  It will be available in hard cover, soft cover and eBook formats on Amazon.  This book will put the last bookend on the life and times of John W. Derr and his wife Magdalena.  I published the books a bit out of order with the first book being the end of their story...Widow's Due...and now this last book being the start of the story.  I Take My Pen in Hand is more of a compendium and a reader's guide for both books and sits in the middle of the group in the series.  But enough of that...

Coming in July, 2023 is A Horribly Beautiful Life, the story of John W. Derr from his birth until his death.  It overlaps A Widow's Due and is also consistent with the letters printed in I Take My Pen in Hand.  

I want to thank all of my readers for their kind words and suggestions on these writings.  They mean a lot to me and I believe that the suggestions have made me a better writer.  Though this is the end of the "Letters Series" is not the end of my writing.  I will be exploring other topics that rattle around in my brain and hopefully can put them to paper.

Stay tuned for the release of my new book...A Horribly Beautiful Life.   Thank you.

You can check on the status of the books as well as order via:


Thursday, June 3, 2021

A New Year...A New Book....


After many years of research and translation, I have finally completed my second book.  I Take My Pen In Hand is the compilation of forty-nine letters written home by my great-great grandfather, John W. Derr.   The letters span the period of September 1861, when he enlisted in the Union Army in the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment, until July of 1865, when he was mustered out.

The book includes narratives on the terms, phraseology, and timeline for John and his famous regiment.  John was a farmer who decided to add some adventure to his otherwise mundane life, by enlisting along with friends and family members.  The letters tell the story of a common soldier more interested in the caretaking of his money, then of the battles he fought.  Wounded and captured once, sick many times, the book captures the rapid change in his attitude about war as his life was forever changed.

I Take My Pen In Hand is a reading companion for my first book, A Widow's Due, putting John's post war life into perspective.

I hope you enjoy both books.

They can be found on Amazon.

I Take My Pen In Hand

A Widow's Due

Jim D

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Another Update on A Widow's Due

The book is now available in all three readable formats; Kindle, Hardcover and Paperback.  Each, of course, with their own price point.  

The latest version is the paperback, of which I am extremely pleased.  I decided to do the paperback in the same size as the hardcover (6x9), vs. the mass marketing style of 4x7 or 4x8.  I think it just looks nicer and feels and reads more like a hardcover.  I hope you enjoy it.

I am still waiting on Amazon approval for the hardcover to be available there (it can can 2-4 months for them to approve of the book quality).  So, the book is available in hardcover from Lulu publishing at: 

This is a print to order service, so it takes a few weeks after ordering to have the book printed and shipped.  The price is higher than normal, since this is a self published book.  By the time you print, pay publishers fees and distribute/ship, the cost goes up.  In a few months, the book will be available on Amazon under a Global Distribution agreement.    Sometimes these distributors have discounts available that are publicized, so I encourage you to look for the 10-20% discount promotions that are run routinely.  In the case of Lulu, I have found that the discount codes are usually located right on the home page of  Check it out before you order there.

The Kindle version (to buy or to read free if you are a member of Kindle Unlimited) and the paperback version are available at Amazon at:

Thank you to all who have already purchased the book and have sent comments, recommendations and congratulations.  I really appreciate the feedback.  Interestingly enough, I have had a few folks ask me questions outside of the timeframe covered in the book.  For example, there were quite a few questions about John Derr's army service during the Civil War.  This blog covers quite a bit of that information, but I have decided to begin a second book dedicated to that service, which follows the Letters he wrote home during the war.  That will come out later this year, or early next.  So for those interested...stay tuned.

Lastly, a third book is also in the works which will cover the full life of John W. Derr.  It will overlap, somewhat, A Widow's Due and the second (yet to be named) book mentioned above.  That will come out later in 2021.

I have opened up a separate website for the books and in the future this blog will migrate to this new website.   You can see more here:

and email can be sent to

Of course, the email for this blog is still open at:

Jim D