Book Two in my Civil War naval saga, Southern Sons-Dixie Daughters, is scheduled for release in paperback on June 29.
The Author’s Cove is pleased to introduce David Rodriguez, author of Questions from Job.
Author’s Cove: Tell us something about your background and experience.
I became a Christian in 1970 as part of the “Jesus Movement.” Then a friend and I soon began to establish some house ministries and do evangelism. In 1972 I was put in charge of a youth ministry in Algiers known as the House of Living Water. I was the youth pastor and a Sunday School teacher at our local church and began teaching in our church’s Bible college in 1977. In 1986 I founded my current church, Christian Fellowship, and in 1991 founded Koinonia Bible College, both of which I currently lead.
Author’s Cove: When did you decide to become a writer?
Becoming a writer was a gradual process for me. I didn’t write out my sermons, preferring to simply preach from outlines, but that changed when we began the Bible college. I had to create syllabi for each ten-week class. They were simple at first, but as time went on and I developed new classes, the syllabus for each class became longer and more detailed until they became small commentaries. My decision to become a published author was based on what I learned from preparing my syllabus for the book of Job. There were some things contained in that book that showed me the subtilty and power of legalism, a topic that had always interested me. Since I had never seen these ideas formulated in any commentary, I decided to share my insight in a published book.
Author’s Cove: Who are some of your favorite writers, and how have they influenced your writing?
I would have to say C.S. Lewis for his exceptional insight into spiritual matters. The writers I enjoy most are the ones who tell me things I had never considered before, which is what I try to accomplish in my writing. I want to explain things so thoroughly and make connections so obvious that people will say, “Of Course! Why didn’t I think of that?”
Another example of making things obvious that were hitherto unknown is the author of book of Hebrews. He calls Jesus our High Priest. No other New Testament writer saw Jesus as a priest, let alone the High Priest, but when the author makes his case, it is decisive.
I also like the writing style of Frank Morrison, the author of Who Moved the Stone? Then there’s Matthew Henry who, though writing in 1701, has a real way with words. I could add many others to this list, but these are among my favorites.
Author’s Cove: Which do you prefer reading/writing, non-fiction or fiction? Why?
I don’t read or write fiction. I want to educate, and, for this reason, I avoid fiction, unless it is something that relates to a real-world state of affairs such as George Orwell’s 1984 or Dostoevky’s The Brothers Karamzov. Everything I read is read with the intention of teaching. The better educated I am, the better I am able to educate others.
Author’s Cove: What do you consider the most challenging aspect of writing professionally, and how did you overcome this challenge?
For me, the most difficult aspect of writing was not the actual composing but the technical aspects of proper footnoting and obtaining copyright permission. That was a long, slow, laborious process that I found to be so discouraging that I considered giving up at one point. Then I looked on my bookcase and saw a book written by a lady I know and I said to myself, “If she can do it, I can do it!” So I pressed on and was able to complete the project
Author’s Cove: What do you enjoy most about the writing process?
I enjoy taking complicated ideas and making them simple enough to understand. My writing is didactic. I love to teach. I approach teaching with this idea: What do I want people to know that they don’t know, and how can I best make them understand?
Author’s Cove: How did you come up with the idea for your book, Questions from Job?
As I was studying the book to prepare the syllabus I began to realize that many of the questions posed had import far beyond the events portrayed in the book itself. For example, the first question in the book of Job comes from God who asks Satan, “From whence comest thou?” I use this question as a springboard to examine not only the origin of the devil but also the concept of the existence of evil in a world created by a good God. Then in chapter fourteen there’s the question “If a man die, will he live again?” There are many such profound questions throughout the book. My book examines twenty-two of them
Author’s Cove: Please give us your top three biblical research/Bible study tips?
Commentaries are indispensable. That’s not to say that everything written in commentaries is necessarily true, but when judged in the light of Scripture to be accurate, they can save us so much time. The people who write commentaries have done all the heavy lifting. We just check their work for accuracy. Commentaries can also correct some wrong interpretations we may have held.
I also use the Online Bible program, which helps me look up any biblical passage and provides me with the Hebrew and Greek underlying the English translations.
The Internet is also an invaluable tool for not only biblical research but historical information as well.
Author’s Cove: What is your book’s main takeaway message?
The main point I wish to convey is that God knows what He is doing even when we don’t understand His reasons. Job was suffering greatly even though he had done nothing to bring such misery on himself. He had many questions about why God was treating him in such a way and no answers were forthcoming. He had questions about the unfairness of life and the prevalence of evil in the world. We all have such questions at times. When God finally shows up at the end of the book, He never answers any of Job’s questions. He simply shows Job His magnificent power and unsurpassed wisdom and, in so doing, sends a clear message to Job: “Look how powerful I am and look how smart I am to have created this incredible world and everything is it. You have to trust that I know what I’m doing.
Author’s Cove: How may readers purchase a copy?
A hard copy may be purchased from our church’s web site, www.cfchurch.com or from Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/s?k=questions+from+job&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss
Author’s Cove: How may interested students contact Koinonia Bible College?
They may call us at (504) 340-6739 or visit us on the web at www.kbc.org.
The Author’s Cove is pleased to present David Rodriguez, author of Questions from Job.
A sweeping saga of the Civil War’s western naval campaigns, Book 1 in the Southern Sons-Dixie Daughters series follows four Southern families living on the Gulf Coast—the Westcotts, the Jessups, the Soileaus, the indomitable and devout slave Danny who escapes bondage and finds service aboard a Union warship and his wife Nancy, cruelly whisked out of his life decades before the war.
While the Confederacy struggles to build a navy to defeat the Yankee fleet threatening New Orleans these families suffer their own personal conflicts: secret courtships, emotional turmoil, and banishment. For those in naval service–-Danny and Confederate Lieutenant Benjamin Westcott, whose family owns Nancy–-vengeance and betrayal approaches as the battle of New Orleans draws near. If the Westcott’s butler Titus succeeds in his plan, and Ben’s mortal enemy Master Xavier Locke of the USS Madison gains the upper hand, both Danny and Ben will suffer heartache and loss in vastly different ways. Unlike most Civil War novels which focus on armies and land campaigns, this two part series is set against the backdrop of New Orleans, Mobile, and David Glasgow Farragut’s naval exploits.
When Captain David Glasgow Farragut assumed command of the newly designated West Gulf Blockading Squadron, he was also assigned the title of flag officer. He’d risen to the highest rank a United States officer could hope to achieve at the time. In the army, he’d have held the rank of colonel. The American navy did this because it didn’t want to be like the British navy, which did have admirals.
A flag officer, or in earlier years a commodore, was the highest ranking captain in a fleet or naval squadron. Thus, he was the overall commander.
The Civil War brought changes to the Navy’s command system. New ranks were created by Congress — ensign, lieutenant commander (formerly called a lieutenant commanding if he commanded a ship) and yes, admirals. Because of his victory at New Orleans in April 1862, Congress made Farragut a vice admiral. Eventually, he worked his way up through the ranks to become a full admiral.
Sometimes rules regarding capitalization are controversial and can be debated. For instance, take military terms. Should writers capitalize Navy, or should navy be lowercased? Should Army be capitalized, or should army be lowercased?
According to The Chicago Manual of Style, if we’re spelling out the full name of a particular army or navy, it’s capitalized. If the word army, navy, air force and so on stands alone, then those words are lowercased.
Example: Army of the Potomac, United States Army, United States Navy, the army, Union navy, etc.
Not every stylebook agrees with this, though they all agree these words should be capitalized when spelling out the full name of a specific branch of the armed services.
The Associated Press Stylebook takes a different view from The Chicago Manual of Style. It says to capitalize the abbreviated form of military branches: Navy, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines. So does the Government Printing Office (GPO).
Another case is how to spell marine. Is it capitalized, or is it not? I’ve seen it spelled both ways by well-respected historians, just as I’ve seen Confederate Navy and Confederate navy in excellent history books.
The New York Times used to spell marine in the lowercase so it’d be the same as soldier and sailor, as the newspaper explained. According to a recent report the paper has changed its style requirements to start spelling it in the uppercase, even when referring to an individual Marine. The Navy’s style manual agrees with this.
This debate will likely never end because style manuals differ. The one rule that doesn’t change is this: when referring to the full name of a national army, navy, air force, coast guard, marines—always capitalize. Whatever style manual we use in other cases, keep our style consistent throughout our work.
Coming in May, in paperback, Book 1 of my series Southern Sons-Dixie Daughters. Ashland Park Books.
A sweeping saga of the Civil War’s western naval campaigns, with a large cast of characters, Book 1 in the Southern Sons-Dixie Daughters series follows four Southern families living on the Gulf Coast—the Westcotts, the Jessups, the Soileaus, the indomitable and devout slave Danny who escapes bondage and finds service aboard a Union warship and his wife Nancy, cruelly whisked out of his life decades before the war.
While the Confederacy struggles to build a navy to defeat the Yankee fleet threatening New Orleans these families suffer their own personal conflicts: secret courtships, emotional turmoil, and banishment. For those in naval service–-Danny and Confederate Lieutenant Benjamin Westcott, whose family owns Nancy–-vengeance and betrayal approaches as the battle of New Orleans draws near. If the Westcott’s butler Titus succeeds in his plan, and Ben’s mortal enemy Master Xavier Locke of the USS Madison gains the upper hand, both Danny and Ben will suffer heartache and loss in vastly different ways.
Unlike most Civil War novels which focus on armies and land campaigns, this two part series is set against the backdrop of New Orleans, Mobile, and David Glasgow Farragut’s naval exploits.
When one thinks about the antebellum South, what images come to mind? Pillared mansions, cotton fields, and slaves are usually the top three (in no particular order).
Regarding slaves, most people put them in two categories: domestic servants and field hands. But a third category also dominated the antebellum social landscape: horse men. Most of the South’s horse men who participated in thoroughbred racing were slaves.
Thoroughbred racing was the sport in the old South. Men and women from practically every economic strata attended the contests. One slave jockey stood head and shoulders above all others in his generation, though. His name? Abe Hawkins. Head and shoulders metaphorically, because in reality Abe, like most jockeys, was a small man. It was reported that he could fit into a boy-size coat.
Not much is known about his boyhood, nor do we know his exact day of birth. We do know he once belonged to Adam Bingaman, a Louisiana planter. His reputation as a fierce competitor on the track won the respect of racing enthusiasts, white and black.
In 1853, Duncan F. Kenner purchased him from Bingaman for over $2,000 and brought him to his Louisiana plantation, Ashland.
In 1854, Abe raced to fame during the Lecomte-Lexington contest held at the Metairie Race Track in New Orleans, an event I’ll discuss in a later post.
During the Civil War, as the Union army bore down on Ashland in 1862, Duncan Kenner escaped capture and Abe fled North. Here he continued racing, winning fame and fortune.
Finally, afflicted by tuberculosis, he returned to Ashland and Kenner’s nursing and care. He died in 1867, but his name and reputation on the turf lived on.
Katherine C. Mooney, Race Horse Men: How Slavery and Freedom Were Made at the Racetrack (Cambridge, MA and London, England: Harvard University Press, 2014).
Nick Weldon, “From slavery to sports stardom: Abe Hawkins’ rise from a Louisiana plantation to horse-racing fame,” The Historic New Orleans Collection, January 11, 2019, https://www.hnoc.org/publications/first-draft/slavery-sports-stardom-abe-hawkins%E2%80%99s-rise-louisiana-plantation-horse-racing.
Squire, A Mascot’s Tale is now available for purchase at The Haunted Book Shop in downtown Mobile, Alabama. The store is located in the historic district at 113 Dauphin Street, not far from Water Steeet and the Mobile River. Here is the link for an online purchase as well: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/
For a horse who suffered from fits, where he jerked his head and fell down but then got up again and seemed fine, the following remedy was offered in 1855:
“Give the animal two ounces of the tincture of asafoetida every morning for ten days. Tie the gum on his bit and wear it for six or eight days. He will never have a fit after the first dose.”
For a horse who suffered a chronic cough, it was recommended that the animal’s owner take:
“…powdered squills one ounce, ginger two ounces, cream of tartar one ounce, mix well, and give a spoonful every morning and evening in wet bran. This is good after hard riding or driving. It cures all coughs and colds, and will prevent the lungs from swelling.”
The Horse. G.W. M’Coy’s catalogue of practical receipts, for curing the different diseases of the horse. Enered according to the Library of Congress, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-five by George W. McCoy…Indianapolis. Printed by Cameron & McNeely (1855). https://www.loc.gov/item/rbpe.019005ba/
“All females are complicated, worse’n a riddle wrapped in a puzzle.”Alexander Dunwoody Jessup, Master, Confederate States Navy. Quoted in River Ruckus, Bloody Bay.
These words by one of my naval saga’s main characters explains, I think, why romance novels are difficult for us men to write. Of course, in a lady’s eyes, we men are probably riddles too.
After a quick perusal of my bookshelves, one won’t find romance novels. No, that person will find history books, historical novels, literary classics, Westerns (Louis L’Amour and Elmer Kelton, primarily), and numerous works of Christian non-fiction. But a romance novel in my house? I may have one or two, but not many.
Ah, things are changing now. I’m starting to branch out of my “literary comfort zone” by reading more of them. Not just reading, though. I’m studying them—how the stories are put together, character motivations (especially the female characters), plot twists, and so on.
Sure, I could purchase a book on how to write them, and I probably will at some point, but it’s also helpful to read outside of our genres every now and then. It gives us a “flavor” of the genre and the prose. My least favorite genre is fantasy and science fiction, yet I confess, I’ve read a few of those kinds of books, too.
Why branch out in our reading? It helps our writing. As for my current diet of romance novels, I’m counting on it to help me improve my development of female characters in my historical novels. Who knows? Maybe, one day, I can help Alexander solve those beautiful “riddles wrapped in a puzzle.”
Are you reading outside your preferred genre? What books are you reading this year?