Born in Kansas City, Missouri, James grew up on a farm near Harrisonville, Missouri. In his early years he taught school in a rural school and was a Mennonite clergyman for a period. He holds a B.S., B.A., and Th.B. from Goshen College and Seminary, a M.S. from Central Missouri State, and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Missouri, Kansas City. In his earlier years, James wrote and published poetry, however, he was always interested in storytelling.
His career includes teaching, clergy, and college teaching at Central Missouri State and at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, in the area of counseling psychology. In addition, as a licensed psychologist, James had a private practice, studied at the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy and established a chapter of Frankl's Logotherapy in Kansas City, where he lived for almost thirty years.
Now retired, James lives with his wife, Lonabelle, in North Newton, Kansas. The Yoders have one son, Michael, who lives in Lawrence, Kansas. James keeps himself busy with frequent book signings and book tables at art and crafts fairs, lecturing on writing, and storytelling, and crafting new historical novels.
James has published close to a dozen historical novels. His novel Sarah of the Border Wars won the Coffin Award from the Kansas Authors Club as the Best Kansas Book in 1994, and Mudball Sam was a Bronze Medal Winner of the 2007 Independant Book Publisher's Contest (Religious Fiction category). His works have been endorsed by Provident Book Club; Elaine Summers Rich, columnist; Kent Hartzler, marketing agent at Herald Press; Authur Boer, reviewer for The Mennonite; authors and writing instructors William Haskins, Charles Gorham, and Tom Gad; and Western authors Wayne C. Lee and Mark E. Roberts.