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The Arm of God

A novel set in the biblical days of Samson

OF ALL THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL, only one fails to seize the land apportioned to them by God at Shiloh. When key families of the tribe of Dan abandon their promised land and migrate north, Eri ben Helek remains behind, pledging to lead his tribe and claim God’s will for his people. Arrayed against them is the mighty Philistine Pentapolis with walled cities, iron weapons and chariots, and armored soldiers outnumbering them a hundred to one.

FOLLOW THE INTREPID DANITE SOLDIERS as they make daring raids on a Philistine armory, suffer reprisals by the ruthless Seren of Ashdod, march into battle with the Ark of the Covenant, and witness the exploits of the legendary Samson that thrust the tiny village of Zorah into an epic underdog battle for their very existence.

THE ARM OF GOD is a biblical adventure of personal faith, ruthless ambition, merciless revenge, seduction, betrayal, and supreme courage.

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The Making of The Allies

 

Making of Christian Historical Fiction

 

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 SHOW NOTES:

In today’s episode, I talk about some of the dramatic events of The Great War (World War I) and the making of Book 5 in the American Family Portrait series, The Allies.

  • While preparing this podcast episode, it became clear to me that The Allies is one of my favorite books and time periods. I’ve already used it twice in other episodes on this website. You can find them by clicking the following links:

FROM MY LIBRARY AUDIO: An eyewitness account of a London zeppelin raid

VIDEO PODCAST: The Incredible Power of Historical Fiction (if you haven’t watched this one yet, you should!) 

  • Historical fiction novels about World War I are not as popular as other time periods. The most popular time period for American history novels is the Civil War, with World War II second most popular. 
  • For those who enjoy reading historical biographies, I would highly recommend William Manchester’s excellent trilogy on Winston Churchill, The Last Lion. Volume II describes the time period covering World War I.
  • In The Allies, I follow three dramatic historical threads: the emergence of aviation, espionage, and heroic women in the war.
  • The aviation story begins in (of all places) Colombus, New Mexico and proceeds to France and the legendary Lafayette Escadrille, an elite American air squadron.
  • The espionage story includes the night the Black Tom Factory in New Jersey exploded as a result of German sabotage. The explosion was so great, it damaged the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and was heard as far away as Philadelphia. It was the 9/11 of the era.
  • One of the most dramatic story lines in The Allies follows the adventures of American nurse ambulance drivers during the war who were led and inspired by the legendary Edith Cavell. I’ll devote the next podcast to Ms. Cavell and her heroic nurses.

CLICK HERE to start reading the American Family Portrait series in minutes!

Other episodes in this series: 

VIDEO

  1. Why I Write Christian Historical Fiction
  2. The Incredible Power of Historical Fiction
  3. The Making of The Puritans
  4. The Making of The Colonists
  5. The Making of The Patriots
  6. The Making of The Adversaries

AUDIO

  1. Sports on Sundays: Keeping the Sabbath in the Days of The Puritans
  2. My 13-year Odyssey to Getting Published
  3. John Winthrop: The Forgotten Founding Father
  4. A Middle-Aged Male Author Attempts to Write Poetry From a Teenage Character
  5. 300-year-old Bible stolen
  6. The Incredible Patience Wright
  7. The Making of Behold
  8. The Making of The Pioneers
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The Making of The Pioneers

Making of Christian Historical Fiction

 

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 SHOW NOTES:

In today’s episode, I share some behind-the-scenes research and incidents while writing Book 5 in the American Family Portrait series, The Pioneers.

  • Because this is a family generation series, one of the fun things for me is having characters in one book cross over into the next book. Sarah Morgan, who struggled to become a published author in The Adversaries, provides a convenient bridge to the opening chapters of The Pioneers. Her rags-to-riches stories have become successful and her greatest fan is her nephew, Jesse Morgan.
  • Her success, and the genre of stories she writes, is based on the historical author, Horatio Alger who is best know for his juvenile novels about young impoverished boys who rise from humble backgrounds to middle-class security through hard work, determination, courage, and honesty.
  • You can listen to an audio reading of Horatio Alger’s most successful novel, Ragged Dick, courtesy of the Gutenberg Project by clicking on this link: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/20689
  • The Pioneers begins in the tenements of New York City’s Lower East Side, where people lived impoverished lives and children worked dangerous jobs in factories. Photographer Jacob Riis documented life in the tenements.
  • You can watch a video of Jacob Riis’s photographs by clicking here: http://youtu.be/SZl4KXsaKVE  or a slideshow of his photographs, here: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ma01/davis/photography/images/riisphotos/slideshow1.html
  • People in the late 1890s were fascinated by the approaching end of the millennium, so were Americans when I was writing this story in 1995.
  • Famous investigative journalist Nelly Bly makes an appearance in this story and is influential in the life of another character in the first book of my Great Awakening Series, Proof. This four book series is set during times of great revival in America. My co-author for the series was Dr. Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ. You can find out more about the series by clicking on this link: http://jackcavanaugh.com/176-2/
  • The final scene in The Pioneers is set in the historic Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, Colorado. You can take a virtual tour of the historic Atrium Lobby by clicking here: http://www.brownpalace.com/Virtual-Tours
  • The cover for The Pioneers was almost released with a three-legged horse. Luckily, the error was caught in time. And on the subject of covers, during the writing of this story I pondered – this being a Christian spiritual series and all – if there would ever be a picture of an overweight woman on the cover of a Christian novel. So I created a character for The Pioneers who was winning, highly personable, deeply spiritual and . . . overweight. Little steps. But maybe someday we can get over our obsession with body size and focus more on inner character.

CLICK HERE to start reading the American Family Portrait series in minutes!

Other episodes in this series: 

VIDEO

  1. Why I Write Christian Historical Fiction
  2. The Incredible Power of Historical Fiction
  3. The Making of The Puritans
  4. The Making of The Colonists
  5. The Making of The Patriots
  6. The Making of The Adversaries

AUDIO

  1. Sports on Sundays: Keeping the Sabbath in the Days of The Puritans
  2. My 13-year Odyssey to Getting Published
  3. John Winthrop: The Forgotten Founding Father
  4. A Middle-Aged Male Author Attempts to Write Poetry From a Teenage Character
  5. 300-year-old Bible stolen
  6. The Incredible Patience Wright
  7. The Making of Behold

Jack’s Next Post
PODCAST: The Making of The Allies

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The Making of the Adversaries

An American Family Portrait

Video Podcast

SHOW NOTES:

This is the sixth in a series of videos in which I take a look back at the making of my 9-volume novel series, An American Family Portrait, on the 20th Anniversary of the publishing of the first book in the series, The Puritans. This video features Book 4, The Adversaries.

  • Book 4 in the series is set during one of the most popular periods for historical fiction, the Civil War.
  • As strange as it sounds, Chapter 15 is special to me because it is the first chapter I wrote as a professional novelist. At the publisher’s request, for the proposal I submitted to them, I wrote a scene set on the eve of the Battle of Fredericksburg. It is this chapter that got me a four book contract and launched this series and my career as a novelist.
  • After getting the contract, I then had to go back and write The Puritans, The Colonists, The Patriots, and half of The Adversaries before I finally was able to get to this scene in Chapter 15 again.
  • One of the problems of writing a story set during the Civil War is what to do with the “N” word. Harriet Beecher Stowe used it liberally, as did Mark Twain because it reflected the language of the culture.
  • I chose not to use it because it would call attention to itself and break the illusory bubble of the story.
  • Herman Wouk wrote The Caine Mutiny in 1952 and didn’t use cursing even though it was story set aboard a naval ship. He chose not to use cursing for a similar reason, it didn’t add to the story. He is proof you can still tell a great story and not use foul language; The Caine Mutiny won the Pulitzer Prize for literature.
  • Two of the historical people that inspired me while writing The Adversaries were Abraham Lincoln and Harriet Beecher Stowe.
  • Lincoln is regarded as our greatest president, yet he was vilified during his day, not only by the South but by his own people as well.
  • When Lincoln invited Harriet Beecher Stowe to visit the White House, he greeted her by saying, “So this is the little lady that started this great war.”
  • I hope that my stories will inspire readers to live courageous lives and change their corner of the world.

CLICK HERE to start reading the American Family Portrait series in minutes!

Other episodes in this series: 

VIDEO

  1. Why I Write Christian Historical Fiction
  2. The Incredible Power of Historical Fiction
  3. The Making of The Puritans
  4. The Making of The Colonists
  5. The Making of The Patriots

AUDIO

  1. Sports on Sundays: Keeping the Sabbath in the Days of The Puritans
  2. My 13-year Odyssey to Getting Published
  3. John Winthrop: The Forgotten Founding Father
  4. A Middle-Aged Male Author Attempts to Write Poetry From a Teenage Character
  5. 300-year-old Bible stolen
  6. The Incredible Patience Wright

Jack’s Next Post
VIDEO: The Making of The Pioneers

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The Incredible Patience Wright

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SHOW NOTES:

In our look back at the American Family Portrait series, we’ve made it to Book 3 in the series, The Patriots. And in this episode, I describe how, while mining historical research about the Revolutionary War, I struck character gold. I discovered Patience Wright, America’s first sculptress of notoriety.

  • In the front of most novels is a disclaimer that the story is a work of fiction and that all names, characters and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination.
  • Still, it’s well-known, that some fictional characters are based on living persons. Tom Sawyer, Aunt Polly, and Becky Thatcher were based on persons Mark Twain knew while growing up.
  • In all of my novels, I have an Afterword in the back of the book where I describe what is fictional and what is historical, providing resources my readers can use to research the history for themselves.
  • In The Patriots, my character, Abigail Matteson was inspired by the historical Patience Wright.
  • As a young girl, Patience molded figures out of clay and bread, coloring them with pigments from herbs, and flowers, and tree sap.
  • Patience moved to Philadelphia, got married, and had five children. And when her husband died, she had to support her family on her own. She turned to her modeling talent.
  • Together with her sister and eldest daughter, Patience exhibited her work in Philadelphia, London, and Paris to great success.
  • Several amusing anecdotes of visitors to her house mistaking wax models for real people were the inspiration behind several of my scenes in The Patriots, including a dramatic escape scene.

 CLICK HERE to start reading the American Family Portrait series in minutes!

 Other episodes in this series: 

VIDEO

  1. Why I Write Christian Historical Fiction
  2. The Incredible Power of Historical Fiction
  3. The Making of The Puritans
  4. The Making of The Colonists
  5. The Making of The Patriots

AUDIO

  1. Sports on Sundays: Keeping the Sabbath in the Days of The Puritans
  2. My 13-year Odyssey to Getting Published
  3. John Winthrop: The Forgotten Founding Father
  4. A Middle-Aged Male Author Attempts to Write Poetry From a Teenage Character
  5. The Stolen 300-year-old Bible

Jack’s Next Post
VIDEO: The Making of The Adversaries

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