childhood and undergraduate years
James Russell Lingerfelt writes inspirational romantic realism. He was raised on a ranch in a north Alabama town of 750 people where he helped his dad and brother raise and doctor cattle. Lingerfelt was an average student in high school but excelled in literature, gravitating toward Emerson and Thoreau for their imagery of the North American countryside. He served in the Student Government and started at point guard on the varsity basketball team.
He first attended a community college through a full tuition theatre scholarship, building sets and acting in the Broadway musicals Annie and Big River. He worked as an extra in Dawson's Creek (starring Joshua Jackson, Katie Holmes, James Van Der Beek) and Tim Burton's Big Fish (Ewan McGregor, Steve Buscemi, Danny DeVito, Miley Cyrus). He paid his way through college working as a bookkeeper at his hometown bank and on the college maintenance crew, scrubbing toilets and mopping floors. Having a close relationship with his parents and brother, he later journeyed in-state to Auburn University where he and his brother were roommates.
James Russell's brother is Dewey Wayne Lingerfelt, a chemical engineer and lead singer for the award winning Texas country music group, The Dewey Wayne Band. His mother raised her sons as a stay-at-home mom, and is now a retired middle school math teacher. His father worked thirty years as a manager at a rubber factory with perfect attendance. Following his retirement, he volunteered as their hometown mayor for a term.
At Auburn, Lingerfelt completed a BA in Marriage & Family Counseling with independent studies in 19th century British Literature/Poetry. He joined the university lacrosse team and they won two consecutive conference championships. Every summer for the next ten years, Lingerfelt volunteered with international humanitarian organizations including relief teams in Jamaica and Romania, medical teams in Mexico, and a homeless men's soup kitchen in Scotland. In 2005, he spent a summer in Morocco assisting Berbers build village homes while pursuing Arabic History and Cultural Studies to better engage post 9/11 cross-cultural dialogue.
Lingerfelt began writing his first book at age nineteen and finished it before graduating from Auburn. The Warrior of Ephes Dammim: When Teenagers Overcome their Giants. Written as a pamphlet to instruct teenagers in how to maintain their integrity and survive social pressures in high school, the book was published by the small literary press, Choate Publishing. Over a course of two years, the book became one of the highest selling books in the company's history. The following year, when the publisher requested to run a second print of the book, Lingerfelt refused, saying he no longer agreed with most of the book's message.
Lingerfelt completed a Masters in Ancient Judaic Studies at Pepperdine University with a focus in Hebrew Wisdom Literature. While at Pepperdine, he volunteered as a mentor and counselor at Camp David Gonzales; a juvenile delinquent rehabilitation center in Los Angeles County.
After graduation in 2006, he counseled genocide refugees in Uganda, and taught English at Made-in-the-Streets; a street children's rehabilitation farm in Kenya. Upon his return, he completed a low budget documentary titled Made in the Streets of Africa. MITS now uses the documentary during their annual fundraisers. He later enrolled at Fuller Theological Seminary to begin his PhD in Cross-cultural Studies with an emphasis in Children At Risk. While there, Lingerfelt maintained a 4.0 GPA. After his first year at Fuller, feeling burned out, he resigned and applied to work as a ranch hand in northern Colorado. During his hiatus, he read The Ragamuffin Gospel by former Franciscan priest Brennan Manning, and they met at Lake Arrowhead in December 2007. After a lengthy conversation concerning purpose in spiritual and third-world poverty, Lingerfelt re-engaged in humanitarian efforts (Egypt '07, Mongolia '08, Syria, Israel and Palestine '10, Liberia '11) but has not returned to seminary.
In 2010, Lingerfelt served as an American representative at the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies Conference in Beirut, Lebanon which focused on Christian-Muslim dialogue among youth peace movements. In 2011, he volunteered to write, produce and direct a documentary on microlending in Liberia for the Peachtree Presbyerian Church in Atlanta. The church now uses the documentary People Who Make a Difference at their annual humanitarian missions gala.
Lingerfelt serves on the board of directors for LifeBread and taught two years as a visiting professor in Ancient Judaic Studies at Lipscomb University ('07-'09). He was awarded the Lily Endowment for his work with street orphans in 2006, and his documentary, Made in the Streets of Africa is now used as material for human rights and social activist courses in a number of universities across the States including Princeton and Fuller seminaries.
In May 2010, Lingerfelt resigned from teaching to finish writing his first novel, The Mason Jar. An inspirational epic, romance, tragedy, The Mason Jar was self-published and released in December 2011. The average self-published novel sells 500 in a lifetime whereas a book published by a major house will sell 5,000. A successful novel from a major house generates 10,000 in a lifetime. Through world of mouth alone, The Mason Jar sold 10-15,000 copies in just two years.
HarperCollins offered Lingerfelt $40,000 plus 20% royalties for The Mason Jar and a sequel novel, but Lingerfelt refused since he couldn't keep the film rights. Amazon offered $50,000 for sole distribution rights, allowing Lingerfelt to keep both book and film rights. Contracts with Amazon are currently under negotiations. Best-selling romance author Diana Bold said she was "blown away" by The Mason Jar. Award-winning children's book author Nicole Weaver stated in a review, "Lingerfelt's book reads like one, long, beautiful poem." And author Lee Wilson called Lingerfelt the intersection of Nicholas Sparks and CS Lewis.
In 2012, he finished a producing and screenwriting internship at the Emmy award winning production company Revolution Pictures in Nashville. After studying Hollywood screenwriting instructors (Will Akers, Robert McKee, Blake Snyder, and John Truby), Lingerfelt wrote the screenplay for The Mason Jar which was edited by scriptologists in New York and Los Angeles. To brief followers on the feature film's progression, Lingerfelt wrote an update at his blog called "The Mason Jar feature film update #1."
currentThe Mason Jar feature film is scheduled for pre-production in 2015. Lingerfelt will serve as Writer/Producer. The film is written and will be directed in the same dramatic and romantic tones as The Notebook (Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, 2004) and Pride & Predjudice (Keira Knightley, Matthew Mcfadyen, 2005). To brief followers on the film's progression, Lingerfelt wrote an article at his blog called "The Mason Jar feature film update #1."
His blog Love Story from the Male Perspective reached 5.2 million views in 2013 alone and currently averages over 5,000 visits per day. Lingerfelt divides his time between Southern California and his family's ranch in Alabama. The Huffington Post runs a number of his articles each month. He is represented by The MacGregor Literary Agency.
Lingerfelt's second romance novel, Alabama Irish, is set to be released in book and ebook stores world wide October 2014.
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