The Making of The Pioneers

Making of Christian Historical Fiction




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:
  • 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:  or a slideshow of his photographs, here:
  • 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:
  • 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:
  • 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: 


  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


  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


The Making of Behold

BEHOLD Ebook WebPage



As you know, most people know me for my historical fiction. So why supernatural suspense? Why BEHOLD?

Honestly? The idea came to me and wouldn’t let me go. Besides, it was fun.

BEHOLD is an exhilarating mix of time travel adventure, end times drama, historical fiction, and fantasy!

Where did the idea for BEHOLD originate? Basically from three story ideas I’ve wanted to write about for a long time —

A time travel story. This is probably why I write historical fiction. If I can’t travel back in time physically, I might as well do it in my mind.

A story that emphasizes our spiritual nature. A quote from French Philosopher and Jesuit Priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is exactly what I hope to say in the novel:

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience.

An end times novel. Having taught the book of Revelation, having translated it, having studied it, I always wanted to write a story based on at least a portion of it. For this novel, I chose the first four chapters featuring the Seven Candlesticks of Revelation.

The point that I most want to make about end times is that no matter how you interpret the Book of Revelation, no matter what your view is of the end times, no one knows how the future is going to unfold. God has always surprised us. And I believe the end times will contain the biggest surprises of all.

Even if you don’t own a Kindle, you can get a copy and read it on Amazon or by downloading a FREE Amazon Reader for your computer, tablet, or phone.

Order your copy of Behold by clicking here:

Get your free Amazon Reader for your computer, tablet, or phone by clicking here:


Two ways:

  • Help me introduce my stories to people who haven’t read any of my books. If you could pass the word along to five friends – by email, Twitter, Facebook, phone, maybe even in person – I would greatly appreciate it.
  • And if you could do one more favor? Go to Amazon and post a review. It doesn’t have to be much, just a few sentences. As an independent author, these reviews help more than you can imagine.

Glimpses of Truth ebook debuts!

Glimpses of Truth Ebook Cover

Dedicated to the men and women
who loved the Bible more than their lives.

An extraordinary intellect, the love of a beautiful woman, and a remarkable mission—life holds great promise for Thomas Torr. Chosen by John Wycliffe to assist in translating the Latin Vulgate into English, the young peasant senses God calling him to an incredible, but dangerous, destiny. Thus begins a thrilling adventure, leading from the catacombs of Rome to the hinterlands of Britain. Here are characters to fall in love with, exotic settings, drama, intrigue . . . and an ending that will stir anew your desire to fulfill God’s call on your life.

Buy Kindle ebookclick here

Buy Nook ebook – click here

CLICK HERE to read about Anne Askew, the martyr who inspired this book


What Is Hero Fiction?

Heroic Living quote

HERO FICTION is stories of ordinary people caught up in events far greater than themselves—

  • A family swept up in the vast panorama of American history 
    (American Family Portrait series) 
  • Ordinary believers who dared to read outlawed English versions of the Bible 
    (Glimpses of Truth; Beyond the Sacred Page) 
  • A German pastor and his wife who never bowed a knee to Hitler, rescuing disabled orphans from the gas chambers 
    (Songs in the Night series) 
  • An American nurse captured by a German soldier in the middle of the Battle of the Bulge 
    (Dear Enemy) 

The goal of hero fiction is that after reading it readers will be inspired to live nobly in whatever situation they find themselves. 




Happiness is Productive

Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work

 FOR MORE: Click Here to read my blog, “The Law of Happiness”