Tougher and angrier

Covenant of War was a more difficult book to write than Day of War. The reason is that it dealt with harder, more personal issues for me. Some readers will enjoy it more than Day of War, and some less. Same heart and same idea, but a different book. It wraps up a bit less tidily than Day of War, which itself was a bit vague. I’m not sure why I keep doing that in these stories. Maybe because it’s closer to real life. Things don’t always end perfectly, unfortunately.

 

I’ll be candid with you: I actually choke up writing certain scenes. I want so badly to communicate the heart of it that if affects me personally.  I know very well what goes on inside the hearts of men when they hope no one is looking, because it goes on in my heart. These books are a labor of pain and love. I hope they come across as such. If you’re a lady, I certainly want you to enjoy the stories as well, but perhaps it will also help you understand the men in your life a little better, and maybe sympathize with their struggles. It’s not always as easy as, “Just stop doing that.” 

 

The plot centers around Eleazar and what he does to turn back a vicious Philistine invasion. As much as I enjoyed writing the battles and such, the internal struggles of this character were very difficult for me to get through. As a man, I recognized myself many times in his temptations and trials. I hope it resonates with other men who read this. I also pray it gives hope to those caught in the grip of certain sins.

 

The tone of the book is also a bit darker. It’s more graphic than even Day of War was, simply because I needed to show why these men are fighting as desperately as they are. It wasn’t good in the ancient world to let your enemies overrun you. Rape and pillage were the least horrific things to fear, if you can imagine. Caution would be good for younger readers. One reader I sent an early edition to said he loved it, but was worried that his young son (a major fan) would not be able to read it until he was older. That was wrenching for me to hear, because I really do want this to be accessible for anyone. But it came down to being true to the story and the realities of the times, and I decided to keep the more grisly material in there. I certainly hope it does not come across as gratuitous; my editors and I worked very hard to weigh and measure every word. 

 

It also portrays David in a less-than-favorable light in the early goings. This will be troublesome for some readers, but I can only point to the Bible and say that his problems began far earlier than simply Bathsheba. However, my favorite part of the novel is when David eventually finds his core again, and lets the Covering rage once more. (Sorry, that’s all I can spoil for you, but suffice it to say that his days of using the sling are not over…).

 

At the end of the day, this book is about the blood, sweat, and tears of men fighting and standing together, regardless of the outcome. It’s about how difficult it can be to overcome weaknesses. It’s about picking the rock you will die defending. It’s about realizing that the enemy may be one valley over from your home, and your wife and children are threatened, and if you do not hold that rock, all is lost. So hold it you will, even unto death.

 

The last night I was working on this book, just before I sent it off to the publisher one final time, I prayed covering over it. I hope it will reach out and penetrate without preaching. I hope it will cause men to stop and contemplate, and then take fiery action. How far will you let the enemy advance, brother? At what point will you stand and fight? Does the enemy only see you running?  

 

I am glad the wait is nearly over. Like you, I have been anxious to see what happens to David and the boys. May you know the Covering powerfully today.

 

C

 

 

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The Short Stories

 

I’ve hinted at this for a long time now, so it’s time to stop being vague about it.

I have wrestled for years about how I would include every single thing I want to include in the LION OF WAR series. There are so many great episodes from the life of David that are ripe for fictionalizing.

However, it’s just too massive of a universe of stories to cram into five novels. You’d be bored stupid by the end of chapter 154.

So, in light of the modern revolution in digital publishing, the team and I have decided to embark on new frontiers in how to create as much compelling content as possible without sacrificing quality.

In addition to the five LION OF WAR novels, there will be at least 15 short stories, each about the length of 1/4 of a full novel, that highlight the origins of the key Mighty Men, as well as include some guys who are certified awesome but don’t get “screen time” in the series.

Beginning with BENAIAH, I will be releasing these stories over the course of the next year. BENAIAH takes place when he was a mercenary in Egypt (readers will know that that is pre-DAY OF WAR). This will be followed by DAVID, JONATHAN, JOSHEB, and on down the line. Particularly excited about JONATHAN, because I wish he had lived longer in DAY OF WAR.

The purpose here is to expand the LION OF WAR universe further, and put out a bunch of action and some additional character insight into the people and events fans are growing to love. They will not be required reading for the LION OF WAR novels to make sense; think of these as bonuses and extras for fans of the series.

For example, there will be a character who comes in for a paragraph or two in one of the LION novels, and they talk about some great deed that he did, and the reader might say, “Good grief, Graham, why didn’t you put THAT in here instead of boring me with weather details of ancient Israel?”

Well friend, that character shall have his day in the sun through these short stories. I’m talking battles with giants, mercenary wars, civil wars, feats of heroism, all of it. You’ll be in Egypt, Syria, and other foreign places that don’t get page time in LION OF WAR novels.

How are these going to be published? Initially, they will be available on Amazon Kindle. You don’t actually need a Kindle device; there is a free Amazon Kindle App you can download for your smartphone or iPad or desktop computer and read it that way.

They will be available for $2.99 each.

Soon afterwards, they will be available in print from LIONOFWAR.COM. It’s hard to put a price point on that quite yet, but it will be well under $10. Truth be told, we will be trying to drive you towards digital as much as possible, because it makes this more efficient for us.

Eventually, when they are all complete, we will make them available in a single volume, likely titled something like “The Hall of the Mighty Men.” This will be in both print and digital, and will also be produced as an enhanced ebook app with videos, etc.

Look for BENAIAH to come out in the next couple of weeks (probably before COVENANT releases), and the others in regular intervals thereafter.

So thank you for your early support and your patience. There are so many goodies coming that I wish I could just have a three hour webcam session with all of you and discuss them, but as usual, it’s step-by-step.

Covering-

Cliff

P.S. As a side note, this is how I will be releasing a great deal of my future material. I want to keep the price as low as possible for you, and in something like my Judges series, it will work better to do five short stories than another whole novel, which has different creative considerations.

 

 

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New author site, new blog

I will be primarily blogging from my new author website, www.cliffgraham.com

 

There is a new team in place that will be amping up some of our online presence as the movie starts to hit its stride and more books in the series release. I also want to save blog entires here for LION OF WAR-specific information.

 

Thanks for your patience. Some of you have been following this for a couple of years now and I know it seems like things are taking forever, but it will be worth the wait, I promise.

 

 

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Why I like Tim Tebow

He is either the Messiah of Sports or everyone’s favorite whipping boy. I’ve never seen someone so polarizing in any of the sports and entertainment industries.

I will admit that I have grown weary of the excessive coverage of Tim Tebow by the media, which can’t seem to find anything more interesting to write about. To his credit, though, it would appear Tim himself is weary of it.

I’ll never be a Bronco fan. Genetics prevent it. But a warrior’s heart is evident in this guy. I watched the video of him mic’d up during the recent game against the Bears. I love his random mumblings of prayer, his singing of worship songs at odd times. That’s pretty much how I’ve always pictured King David. His men would have thought him odd at times. His prayers would have been whispered in the heat of battle, his songs muttered throughout the day to give him courage.

I have no idea if he will ever win a Superbowl, but you get that feeling every game you watch him that he thinks he’s already playing in it. And despite what many would have you believe, he has never, at any point, forced his beliefs on anyone while in the public eye. He is who he is. Some hate that. Some admire it too much.

I don’t worship him. I think too much admiration of any one person is unhealthy. But week after week, fourth quarter after fourth quarter, Tim Tebow bloodies his knuckles in an honorable fashion. His teammates love him. The prayer stance that is openly mocked by some is likely recognized by the only One who really matters. We all have something to learn from such unashamed devotion to the King.

I hope Tim reads Day of War one day. Not just because I wrote it, but because I think he would resonate with the theme of leaving it all on the battlefield, wherever and whatever that battlefield might be. He’ll grow old one day and no longer be in the public eye, and I hope he continues to kneel in the private places. Based on his current behavior, it seems obvious he will.

Sword salute, Tim. May you know the covering powerfully each day.

 

 

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“A Day of War” event December 2

If you are anywhere in the area of northwest Arkansas, I’d love to see you at the event we are putting on with Men Sharpening Men Ministries called “A Day of War” on Friday evening, December 2, from 6-8:30 PM.

It will be held at Cross Church in Springdale, Arkansas. I will be unveiling a lot of franchise goodies for the crowd, as well as speaking about David and his Mighty Men and how it relates to us today.

If you’re in Dallas, Kansas City, or Oklahoma City, it’s within shooting distance. There will be others, of course, but this will be a big one. Would love to meet you there.

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Hawaii for Israel?

My wife and I had a fantastic trip to the Big Island for a leadership networking workshop at the University of the Nations. I was there to unveil the franchise with David Cunningham and it met with resounding excitement. We are currently working on the Korean version of DAY OF WAR and setting up our network in Australia.

The plan is to film the LION OF WAR movies on the Big Island and build up the local film industry in the way that the LORD OF THE RINGS movies put New Zealand on the map. Similar scale, similar budget, similar epic scope. Believe it or not, the Big Island has all of the climate zones necessary and terrain diversity required to stand-in for ancient Israel. So over the next ten years we will be cranking out movie after movie just like LOTR. Much more on this soon.

There has been some preliminary casting work and I am extremely enthusiastic about the direction the team is taking. You guys are going to love it.

I have also begun work on my new series based on the Judges, focusing in particular on the lesser-known heroes such as Shamgar and Ehud. But of course Gideon and Samson will get their treatment as well.

Sorry for the brevity of this, I’m limited in what I can share, but thanks for your patience. All in time!

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What I do when I speak somewhere

We are about to kick off the fall, winter, and spring of LION OF WAR promotion. The calendar is filling up and will be posted soon, but there is still time to fit a few more places in. If you are interested in hosting, let us know.


Here’s the text from the overview material we send out to interested churches, men’s groups, colleges, and other organizations:


Cliff speaks on a variety of topics depending on the audience.

He frequently visits the campuses of international missions organizations like Youth With a Mission and shares about how to be strategically innovative in popular culture. He also speaks at universities and ministry organizations about Holy Spirit-driven entrepreneurial efforts in a changing multimedia landscape.

As a former pastor and a current officer in the Army Chaplain Corps, Cliff is comfortable preaching the Sunday sermon in front of ten or 10,000. In a one message format, he frequently shares about the “covering” of the Holy Spirit as it relates to the life of King David and his warriors.

Cliff and his team are particularly passionate about conducting men’s retreats and conferences. This is based on a Friday-Saturday schedule. The topics and subject matter is easily amended to suit the needs of the host church or organization, but they generally follow this format:


Friday First Session “Coming Alive”


The opening session is when Cliff explains who the Mighty Men were and how they are no different than the typical man of today. It does not matter what a man has previously done or what the secret battles in his heart are. The Lord wants to see men come alive and be fiercely dependent upon Himself.


Saturday Morning Second Session “Fierce Dependency”


This session builds on the previous evening by explaining what it means to be “fiercely dependent.” The example of David is presented, focusing on how he lived and breathed in the power of the Spirit. David did not slay Goliath and conquer kingdoms in his own strength; those were victories won by the Lord. We see a passionate man of great triumphs and great faults who was constantly tested in leadership and life…and not always successful. But through it all, his God was faithful.


Saturday Afternoon Third Session “Strong Through the Droughts”


The final session examines David’s slow decline and the possible reasons for it. David’s trials are seen as very similar to what each modern man struggles with. He drifts away from God, and this is possibly compounded by the fact that he suffers from combat trauma after a lifetime of bloody warfare. The purpose here is to alert men to possible blind spots in their lives and to share that with their “battle buddies.” No single man ever won a war; it takes the linking of arms with his comrades in the power of Christ.

Depending on the venue and intent of the organizers, Cliff can present vivid multimedia content from the Lion of War franchise or do things basic and simple.

If you’d like to have me come, let us know. We don’t charge a fee, we just ask that costs are covered. We’re passionate about seeing the story of David and his Mighty Men impact a generation, doesn’t matter if it’s a mass audience cinema spectacle, a military base in Georgia, or a small church in North Dakota.

 

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Waiting. And waiting.

It was a stellar two weeks of activity on the LION OF WAR front, both in books and in the rest of the franchise, but as usual, I can’t tell you any of it.

And no one is more frustrated than I am about that.

However, it’s been a good life lesson for me these years in waiting on the Lord. My thoughts have drifted to David (as they frequently do) and the sheer amount of waiting he had to do.

He was told that he would be king, and that the Lord would be using him in unbelievably powerful ways, ways that would leave such a legacy that he is still one of the defining people of human history even three millennia later.

But after being told that, he had to go back to the sheep. And time went by, and things got more and more complicated. He had tremendous victories, agonizing defeats, and still he kept waiting. Astounding patience.

Don’t worry, I’m not comparing myself with David. I’m just starting to get a glimpse of what he might have felt when he saw all that God was doing and planning to impact a generation, but he could do nothing but wait on it.

There is a coalition of businesses, organizations, ministries, and influencers who are committed to seeing the Bible come to life in a massive way to impact popular culture. And for some unknown reason, this project is what the Lord is using to breathe fire into the public awareness of David’s story.

I’m getting to live a dream that many agonize over and yearn for (and remind me constantly). So I have no complaints.

I’ll continue to learn to wait. It will be soon that all comes to life, and it will be in His perfect timing.

Ever had to just….wait?

 

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Books for Troops

After being asked about it countless times, we’re setting up a way to send books overseas to airmen, soldiers, and Marines. You’ll be able to donate money to this (I won’t profit) and be able to get a lot of copies in the hands of people who might really be blessed from it.

Details soon.

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The rise of men?

This post has had me pondering the topic for a day or two now.

LION OF WAR is shamelessly masculine in its tone and intended audience. That has led to an uphill battle, because men don’t read as much as women. 80% of all book bought in a Christian bookstore are bought by women, for example.

Why is that?

I have some ideas, but I want to make this one interactive. Share your thoughts about why men don’t read and what to do to change that.

 

 

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