My 13-year Odyssey To Getting Published

Making of Christian Historical Fiction

 An American Family Portrait

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Show Notes

In this series of podcast episodes, I take a look BEHIND THE PAGES at the making of the Christian historical fiction classic, An American Family Portrait series. Today’s topic: Why it took me 13 looooonnnnnnggggggg years to get my first book contract.

  • Three key moments in my life converged to make me a writer of Christian historical fiction:
    • Changing my B.A. major from Bible studies to history
    • Having a writers seed planted in my mind while in seminary
    • Realizing the power of stories while speaking and preaching
  • After meeting Dr. Sherwood Wirt, founding editor of Billy Graham’s Decision magazine, I began attending writers critique groups and conferences.
  • The door to Christian fiction opened with the successes of Janette Oake, Frank Peretti, and Brock and Bodie Thoene.
  • At Mt. Hermon Writers Conference an editor from Victor Books told me they were looking for someone to write an American history series.
  • After submitting a proposal, I was offered a four book contract; after I submitted the first manuscript, the contract was extended to seven books and I began writing full time.

 CLICK HERE to start reading An American Family Portrait in minutes!

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INSPIRATIONAL HISTORY: John Winthrop, Puritan hero

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Sports on Sundays

Heroes in history

An American Family Portrait

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Show Notes

In this series of podcast episodes, I take a look at the Way We Were as Christians in the past. In this episode, keeping the Sabbath in the days of the Puritans.

  • With all the Sunday distractions today, you’d think this was a modern struggle. Not so. 
  • In the 4th Century, Chrysostom complained about worshipers running off the chariot races at the hippodrome.
  • In the days of the Puritans, King James’s Book of Sports required all Englishmen to play sports on Sundays.

 CLICK HERE to start reading An American Family Portrait in minutes!

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BEHIND THE PAGES: Why It Took 13 Years to Get Published!

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The Making of The Puritans

This is the third 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.

SHOW NOTES

  • Misconceptions about the Puritans abound. American journalist, H.L. Menken, described Puritanism as, “The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.”
  • My publishers wanted to start the series with the Revolutionary War. I argued that to do so would ignore nearly 150 years of American history in which the Bible shaped the character of our nation.
  • So, who were the Puritans? The answer to that question changed Drew Morgan’s life.
  • We first encounter Drew at Windsor Castle, getting into mischief with suits of armor. But it was on this day he met Bishop William Laud.
  • Describing the Puritans as a troublesome, seditious people, Bishop Laud sends Drew on missions of espionage to infiltrate Puritan villages. They communicate in a code that uses the Bible as a decipher key.
  • At Edenford, Drew discovers the true nature of the Puritans and finds them to be a people who
    • love their families
    • love the Bible
    • love preaching
    • love their worship services
    • believe in freedom of religion
    • believe in freedom of the press
  • The legacy of these early founding fathers of America is one of faith and courage. It is also the legacy of the American Family Portrait series as Drew’s Bible is handed down from generation to generation, each time accompanied by the telling of his story.
  • I conclude the video with the picture of a young boy holding a copy of The Puritans. He’s a student at a Christian academy in New Zealand, the next generation learning the legacy of the godly Puritans.

CLICK HERE to start reading An American Family Portrait in minutes!

 JACK’S NEXT VIDEO:

American Family Portrait Series Book 2: The Colonists

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The Incredible Power of Historical Fiction

This is the second 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.

SHOW NOTES

  • This narrative technique is so powerful, it changed my life. I no longer teach history, I tell hero stories.
  • Four scenarios describe the power of this technique:
    • Scenario One: Reading about a historical event from a textbook.
    • Scenario Two: Reading a first-hand account of a historical event.
    • Scenario Three: Hearing a first-hand account of a historical event.
    • Scenario Four: Living a historical event through a point of view character in a novel.
  • Each scenario brings you that much closer to the action!
  • Good historical fiction transports readers back in time allowing them to experience the past for themselves.

CLICK HERE to start reading An American Family Portrait in minutes!

JACK’S NEXT VIDEO:

“The Making of The Puritans”
Jack takes a look at the book that launched a series.

New Videos and Audios
posted on
 Mondays and Thursdays

TELL ME HOW I’M DOING – leave a comment, ask a question. I’ll either answer it in the comments section or during a future video or audio podcast.

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Christmas and the Slaughter of Innocents

Christmas Devotion 2012

YET AGAIN OUR NATION MOURNS the senseless slaughter of innocents. The news from Sandy Hook Elementary School hits us particularly hard since it comes as we are singing Christmas carols, hanging festive ornaments, baking cookies, and wrapping presents, knowing that the seasonal preparations of families in Newtown, Connecticut have been interrupted by the horrific and unexpected task of funeral preparations. Festive joy mingles with cries of anguish.

Just like the first Christmas.

For as in Newtown, Connecticut, so in Bethlehem—

“. . . there a voice is heard,
lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
and would not be comforted,
because they are not.” (Matthew 2:18, KJV)

Though you won’t see displays of the nativity slaughter depicted with plastic figurines on lawns, or acted out on stages by children dressed in First Century costumes, the first Christmas was also scarred by the killing of innocents.

Of the gospel writers, Matthew alone records the incident. He records the visit of the Magi to the court of Herod, King of Judea; of their being received by this ambitious madman, who murdered his wife and killed two of his sons; of Herod’s feigned interest in worshipping the newborn king; and of his subsequent order to kill all the male children two-years-of-age and under to thwart the perceived threat of the Christ child.

Matthew also records the inconsolable weeping of the mothers of the slaughtered children, a mournful sound that echoes in the hallways of Sandy Hook Elementary School; parents weeping for their children, refusing to be comforted, for their children are no more.

Great joy and bitter grief, both are inherent in the Christmas story. For only when we hear the angelic announcement in the heavens mixed with the mournful sobs on earth can we understand the true meaning of Christmas. It was no accident that God, a father, placed his infant son — his very human son — in a region ruled by an infamous murderer. For the light shines brightest where the world is darkest.

This Christmas, in the year of our Lord 2012, as we mourn the unspeakable loss of life at Sandy Hook Elementary School, every colored light that is hung burns a little bit brighter, every song that is sung sounds a little bit sweeter, and every gesture of goodwill and love serves notice to all those who bring evil and pain into our world, you will not win. Hope lives in us still.

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