Jim is a Christy award winning author. He also recorded the Novel Marketing podcast with Thomas Umstattd Jr. for years. On top of all that, he runs a writer’s academy with his son, Taylor.
His newest series is called the True Lies of Rembrandt Stone.
Jim says “Talent is not an indicator of success – persistence is.”
He also recommends:
His first book is about a guy that buys a house that is a physical manifestation of his soul.
If you are interested in the Rubart Writing Academy:
Jim: Are you working on your author career, but struggling to get that first book published? Does the goal of being an author seem too lofty? Or thoughts of having multiple books and making a full time living are as fantastical as living in Cinderella’s castle? Welcome to Discovered Wordsmiths, a podcast where you can learn more about the world around you.
We’re aspiring authors can be heard. Join Steven Schneider is he finds and talks to authors. You may not know, but authors that have gotten their foot on the author career path here, what they’ve done to get there and where they want to go now. Settle back. It’s time for a bit of inspiration and advice.
Come listen to today’s discovered word, Smith.
Stephen: All right. Welcome to episode 54 of discovered word Smith. Today I have Christie award winning author James L. Rhubart, and if you have not heard of him, I encourage you to go look him up and check out his books. He writes books that have a little bit of sci fi and a little bit of faith in them and sometimes a little time travel, which I guess falls under the sci fi.
Um, but I was really I’m glad that James wanted to talk. I have been talking with Jim for, uh, the past year. He’s been a mentor for me, helped me out a lot with my writing and to give up some of his time. Uh, I felt very grateful. It is a wonderful interview. He has a lot of information. He’s been doing this for 10 years.
He’s a very successful writer. He runs a writer’s Academy, and he’s also been part of the novel marketing podcast. If you’re an indie writer, you probably know about that. So sit back and have a listen. All right, well, I do appreciate you taking some time to talk with me on this a little bit today, Jim, to get started, I guess, let’s, uh, why don’t you tell some people who may not know who you are a little bit about you and your books?
Jim: Yeah. So, uh, James L. Ruebart is the name on the books, but. All my friends call me Jim, so, so, so that’s how most people refer to me and I’m really comfortable with people doing that. Yeah, I had a dream to write since I was a kid, Steve, and I, 7th grade is when I decided I wanted to play football in the NFL and I wanted to become a novelist and, uh, I’m batting 50%.
Stephen: That’s pretty good.
Jim: Yeah. Yeah. And so I just was always intrigued by stories that had a little bit of the fan tasticle in them. And so that’s the type of stories I started writing. And I started writing short stories, but I was really held back by my fear for a lot of years. And so a lot, for a lot of years I never did anything about it.
And when I finally dove in, I dove in full force and, uh, had my first novel published in spring of 2010 and I’ve got 10 novels out at this point and I’ve got six novels coming out this year, uh, with a friend of mine, uh, we’re co authoring the books and those stories, the series is called the True lies of Rembrandt stone.
And essentially it’s the story of an ex detective who has a cold case that haunts him and he travels back in time in order to solve the cold case. So it’s kind of a crime thriller, definitely a little bit of that weird fiction time travel that I like to write. And so really excited about that series.
Stephen: Yeah, I saw your emails. Uh, I grabbed it, but I haven’t gotten to it yet because, you know, writing myself. Yeah. Yeah. It takes time. So you, you always wanted to write. Was there besides the NFL? Was there something else at one point? Because, you know, I used to want to be a vet when I was a kid and then that changed.
Um, was there a point where you Thought about doing something else that writing was like, eh,
Jim: Yeah, that’s a great question. It was, what’s funny is it was always there. The desire to write was always there, always there. But because of this desire in seventh grade, um, when our English teacher assigned us in seventh grade to write a short story, I wrote this short story like every other kid in class.
And she wrote back great. And, and she actually chose my story to be filmed on videotape to be acted out. And so I was just like, Oh my gosh, you know, maybe I, my little tiny little 11 or 12 year old brain was like, Oh, I’m so excited. So I took journalism class the next year in eighth grade. And at the end of that year I discovered I really did like this writing thing.
And so I tried out for the school paper. And the director of the school paper was the journalism teacher. And she said, no, you don’t get to be on the school paper. And so that was a lie that I carried around for years and years and years. And I just believed I didn’t have the talent to write stories. And what’s interesting, Steven is I ended up in advertising.
So I had an ad agency and I was actually writing little stories. I didn’t even realize it, but I was writing little 32nd. Stories, right? 60 second radio stories and 30 second TV stories. So in a very real sense, I honed my craft actually writing ads and I discovered. People would say, wow, Jim, you’re really good at copywriting.
And then, but it didn’t dawn on me that I could actually write stories. So yeah, for anyone out there that has just been held back by that lie, that you can’t do it, let me tell you, and this is critically important. Talent is not an indicator of success. Natural talent is not an indicator of success. I’ll tell you what.
Will cause somebody to succeed over somebody else. It’s very, very, very simple and very difficult to do. And it’s one word persistence, those who do not give up, that’s the key. And if you want to get really into it, if, if your listeners really want to get into it, Steven, I would suggest a book called grit.
By Angela Duckworth, where she goes into the scientific explanation of this and examples of people who said, yeah, maybe I’m not that talented, but, but I’m not going to give up. So I would encourage anybody that has that desire to write, to pursue it.
Stephen: And I love that because you and I have talked a bit and you’ve helped me a lot, pushed me a lot in that same regard, but what you said, just there’s so many things like in my head.
I’m like, oh, my gosh, really? But 1st of all, it kind of shows the power that our teachers, our parents and the adults in our lives can have on us. Do you think that if you hadn’t gotten that negative feedback, that kind of push in the opposite direction, do you think maybe you might’ve gone a slightly different direction and published earlier than you did?
Jim: think without question, I think without question, if I’d been on that school paper and I’d started to pursue writing and I’d without question, because here, here’s what really held me back and it’s nuanced and, and that is the reason I did not pursue writing full out earlier on. Is because this was my biggest dream.
And if I went after it and it crashed and burned, then Steven, I wouldn’t have anything. I wouldn’t have any purpose in life. And so it sounds funny to say I wouldn’t have any purpose in life because you weren’t pursuing it anyway. Right, Jim? No, I know I wasn’t. But at least I had the fantasy. At least I could hold onto the fantasy.
Whereas if I had pursued it, crashed and burned, then I wouldn’t even have something to dream about. And so that is why I didn’t pursue it early. So I think that’s an excellent question. Yeah. I think my life would have gone different.
Stephen: And I love that. We’ve talked just recently about the fear, uh, with kids especially, and not getting held back by the fear.
Uh, and that’s funny now because you’re a Christie award winner, so you’ve got. You know, not only the chops to write, but now you’ve got validation. It almost makes you want to go back to the teacher. And I’ve heard other people say this about there too. They want to go back to these teachers, back to these parents and adults and say, yeah, yeah, yeah.
See, I could do it. Um, it, it kind of makes me chuckle because, you know, I look at you. I’ve known you post being a Christie award winner and successful writer. So I don’t know that earlier part of you. I can imagine though, how, I guess, how did you feel when you finally got something published that you, you got rid of the fear, went and published, and then you ended up being very successful with that book?
Jim: Yeah, that was, um, so my first novel rooms came out in April of 2010 and, uh, it’s the story of this young Seattle software executive. Who inherits a home down on the Oregon coast that turns out to be a physical manifestation of his soul and, uh, you know, people will either go, Oh, my gosh, that sounds so weird and cool kind of twilight zone, right?
And other people go, okay, that sounds too weird. I don’t want anything to do with it. Um, but that book came out and a year later, it won the, uh, yeah. RT book reviews, inspirational novel of the year and Steven to get that award, you know, at all these books, it was just like that was incredibly validating.
And I definitely, I definitely go through times. I think every author does of the imposter syndrome where, oh my gosh, someday they’re going to figure out. I really have no idea what I’m doing, right? I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’ve fooled them all so far. But, but getting that award, that was, that made me think.
Yeah. That was a shift in my mindset of, Oh, wow, maybe I, maybe I do have a little bit of talent at this thing. So yeah, you’re right. That was a big step.
Stephen: And again, I just imagine, you know, if you had published 20 years before that, you know, the, the books we might have to enjoy, you know, the, the good you could have put into the world that kind of may not have happened, may not happen or been totally different.
So I guess there’s the overall lesson, the power adults and teachers and parents have on kids can really impact their lives.
Jim: Can we go back? Can we just sit on that just for a minute? You’re so right with that statement and anyone that’s listening right now to this, if you are a parent or a teacher, or even maybe you’re just a friend of somebody that wants to write, that encouragement is a game changer and you don’t realize.
The power of your words as a teacher, as a coach, um, as a parent, even as a peer. That encouragement is huge. So please do not neglect that. We, we writers are so neurotic and so insecure. It’s so fragile at times. We really need that voice of encouragement. And
Stephen: every author seems to have that. I mean, even you’ve probably heard a several interviews or read interviews with Stephen King, and he talks about some of his early stuff.
His mother sent around to all the relatives and they all bought it for like a quarter. They didn’t really give them feedback other than I’m going to buy this from you. And that gave him the, wow, you know, I can do this. Just think if they had neglected that he’d still be working at the, uh, Laundry press or whatever the heck it was.
He worked at JK rallying, you know, the same type of thing. She kept getting rejection, rejection, rejection until I kid said, Hey, I really like this. And the agent went really well, maybe I should check it out. Well, that’s who you should have been listening to anyway. Yeah.
Jim: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. Stephen King.
You’re right. He. He threw away Carrie and his wife is the one that dug it out of the trash and said, no, I want to know more about this. So if you’re a spouse of an aspiring writer. Oh my gosh, you, you, you don’t know how powerful you can be. And speaking
Stephen: of you talk a lot about your wife and all the support she’s given.
Um, when you weren’t a published writer, uh, author, did she encourage you to do that?
Jim: Yeah, she, what was interesting about that is I, I dabbled, right? The dream was there. And so I dabbled, I dabble in writing short stories that I never finished. And I’d read writer’s digest. Just so as. I was always dabbling.
I just, you know, I, I should say my, I put my, some toes in the water. And I remember Darcy, even back then early on, you know, when I was in my, in my mid twenties and late twenties, she would say, Hey, maybe it’s not your time yet. Maybe it’s not your time yet. It’s it’ll come, it’ll come. And so even then she was encouraging.
And I guess that’s where I want to look at if you’re 12 and you’re going, I want to write. Oh my gosh, go for it. If you’re 80 and you go, I’ve always wanted to write, go for it. There is no, you know, there’s no prescribed time. Maybe it’s just your season is now. Maybe it wasn’t my season until, you know, early two thousands when I really got serious about it.
I don’t know the timing of those things. I just know that fear is something that holds so many people back in all areas of their life. And, and I have somebody that I still fear things, but I’ve gotten a little bit better at pressing through the fear.
Stephen: Yeah. And we’ve talked about that, uh, between us and I’ve interviewed people here.
Uh, my first interview was my son who wrote his book when he was 16. And then I’ve talked to another guy that was 74 and wrote his book after he retired from being a lawyer. So it’s all ages all around the Yeah. And it’s one of those, uh, professions. That you can just do, yes, you need to get a certain quality level.
Yes. You need to follow some craft in that, but it’s not like a lawyer where you have to go through years of practice and certificate and you can still win awards. Right?
Jim: Yeah, you can, you can. And, and, and, but here’s the, here’s the thing that I’ve, I’ve learned about winning awards and I’m not saying it hasn’t been wonderful.
My gosh, it is. I wanted to win one Christie award, Steven, one, and that was my dream. And now I’m in the Christie hall of fame. And it’s just like, are you kidding me? So it’s surreal. It’s wonderful. And all that, but honestly, um, one of the things that I’ve realized in retrospect is the fact that I have written something that my kids can read and my grandkids can read.
And my great grandchildren are going to be able to read. It is so precious to have this legacy of, um, be able to give something to them for years and years and years to come. In other words, if someone writes something and nobody reads it, except their kid or their grandkid, you have still accomplished an amazing thing.
I, if my dad had, I, you know, if my dad had written stories, novels that I could to see my dad’s passed away, that would be. That would be gold to have that. And so I, I guess I don’t want people to think success is awards or success is number of books sold. No, that that’s, that’s not success. Um, there’s this parrot parable in the, in the Bible that talks about that.
It’s called the parable of the talents. And essentially this, this businessman comes to three of his employees and goes, all right, I’m giving one of them, um, two grand, one of them, a thousand dollars, one of them, 500. I’m going to go away for a while, make some money with my money. And so the guy that had.
Uh, two grand, he turns it into four grand. The guy that had a thousand turns it into 2000. The third guy basically took the money and just stuck it in his closet. And so the businessman goes, what did you do with my money? Well, here it is. He goes, the least you could have done is put it in the bank. So it has interest.
And he calls the guy out for doing it. And what I’ve always found interesting about that story is he doesn’t have an example of a guy who took the money and blew it and didn’t make any money, just two successes and one did nothing. And so what I get out of that story is you want to know what success is?
You tried with the gifts and abilities you’ve been given and everyone’s got, you know, more or less, you gave it your best shot. And if you do that, you are a success.
Stephen: Yes, I totally agree with that. And that’s one of the reasons I started the podcast was. A lot of indie authors, especially in the various groups, uh, they’ll talk about how much they’re making or the podcast.
I’ll interview these very successful authors, and I think it’s discouraging to new authors who are just trying to start. So that’s why my podcast is mostly focused on interviewing brand new authors. Somebody that’s Made it as far as getting a book published and the difference between somebody that has one book published and somebody that’s still struggling is just that impetus of it’s, it’s done and publishing it, you know, there’s a little fine line and I agree with you that the success.
Of somebody should be measured based on them and improving what they’re doing. Um, so one of the other things you do besides writing, you’ve, uh, done a podcast, novel marketing, um, and you also have an Academy. Why have you chosen to do some things other than just the writing? Cause you’re very successful with writing.
Jim: Yeah, the podcast. I, I’ve, I have a background as a marketing guy, branding and marketing guy. And so the podcast just naturally came out of that and had a blast doing that for over five years with my partner Thomas, and now he’s carrying it on on his own. So, um, any of your listeners would. It would behoove them to go to novelmarketing.
com and sign up for that podcast. Just definitely Thomas is Thomas is the one guy. If I had to only choose one guy to listen to and learn from it, Thomas. And as far as the Academy goes, it’s funny. Cause I, that was not really my idea. I was talking to Taylor in the fall of 2016. And he said, dad, you love to teach.
You love to do workshops around the country. At conferences and this kind of thing, but when are you going to do your own thing where you can really take time with people? Not just, you know, an hour or a few hours, but you can take like an entire weekend. I thought about that and I said, Taylor, that is a great idea.
Um, I’ll do it if you join me. And he said, he said, all right, dad, I’ll, I’ll join you. So the rhubarb writing academy was born. And so we had our first conference Our first, uh, live event in fall of 2017. So it took us about a year to get all the material together and we’ve been doing it ever since. Yeah.
Stephen: Nice. And I, I know you a bit, talk to you. I know there are probably some people that say, Oh, of course he’s doing something like that because it makes all this money at it. Blah, blah, blah. But I, I know you, and that’s not why you do it. And that’s not why you did the podcast podcast. Wasn’t this super huge moneymaker, uh, you honestly are giving back and wanting to help other people with both of those.
Jim: Yeah. It’s, you know, we’re all given different focuses and different, um, talents and different gifts and different interests and different, just our personalities. And, and for me, I guess I remember so well how it felt starting out and I, I A lot of times really, uh, discouraged and, and it, it’s a bumpy road, the publishing world.
And, and so I guess I say one of my gifts or one of my things I love doing is encouraging. I just love encouraging. And so that the Academy gives me a chance to say, I was there. I get it. This is what I did. I think you can do the same thing
Stephen: now. I, I don’t know who all has gone through your academy. Have you had anybody go through that have become maybe award winner successes or they’ve become full time writers?
Have you helped people to that level? You know,
Jim: that’s a good question. I should actually ask the graduates because I think we’re over 70 that have gone through it at this point and we only do nine at a time. So, um, it’s, it’s still a fairly small group because we, we want it. You can’t do this in a big group.
It’s got to be intimate and we do it in a home instead of a hotel room like a lot of conference or a hotel conference center because we want it to be intimate. But I know, I mean, what’s really fun is to see these people get published and have their first book come out and then they. Posted on our Facebook grad page and that kind of thing.
So we definitely see people are hitting these goals they want to hit, but I’m not sure of, I’m not sure if anybody’s doing it full time.
Stephen: And I like bringing it back around, you know, right from the beginning, instead of, uh, what the encouragement that you got, you’re, you’re doing the exact opposite, encouraging people, helping them finish to get that book out and get into a, that line, I guess you could say, instead of some other path.
Jim: Yeah, indeed. It’s, it’s funny. Cause we were, we’re good in this culture of putting on the brave face and all that kind of thing. But the reality is most of us are desperately insecure and we just, we wonder if we have what it takes. We wonder if there’s anything inside us worth saying. And, and I just love to come alongside people and go, yes and yes.
Stephen: So let’s jump real quick before, uh, you go, uh, this new book series, uh, you’re doing it with a partner and it’s kind of a serial fiction type thing. Am I correct in that? Yeah, that’s a
Jim: good way to describe it because yeah, so I’ve got two coauthors, Susan May Warren, Susie Warren, and her son, David. So the three of us are partnering on this and we decided to release it as a series, more like TV episodes then.
Typical novels. And by that, I mean, in two ways, one, you’re not going to have to wait a year to get each subsequent book. We’re releasing them every other month through the end of this year. So all six will release this year. The first one just released as of the recording of this podcast. And the other thing we’re doing is we are very upfront about this, that this is like a TV series.
So there are going to be cliffhangers at the end of each book, and you are going to want to continue to read it. We don’t want anybody to think, Wait a minute. You left it on the cliffhanger. Yes, we did. So if you don’t want to, if you don’t want it left on a cliffhanger, don’t start reading the series, but for those who do, Oh my gosh, they’re in for a.
You’re in for a fun ride.
Stephen: Have you gotten any feedback on that book? First book yet?
Jim: Yeah, we’re actually starting to get reviews up on Amazon and some people are just like, I’m, I’m kind of surprised I, uh, where they’re saying, okay, this is the best book I’ve read in the last year. Oh my gosh, I cannot wait for the next one to come out.
And so we’re getting some, we’re already getting some nice feedback. So that’s, that’s always, that’s always encouraging.
Stephen: Yeah, well, it’s, it’s in my queue, but you know how reading queue goes. It just seems,
Jim: I do know that
Stephen: actually that that’s the one bad thing about having the Kindle with an ebook reader is you don’t see how big you’re reading queue it.
So it’s deceptive. I, it
Jim: is, it is. And, and with Kindle and I, I actually read both on Kindle and physical books. Um, you forget that the books in there sometimes,
Stephen: right? Yeah, I, I try and get physical most often. Um, but you know, sometimes it’s just nice to have a Kindle when we go on trips and that instead of a stack of books.
Stephen: so agree. All right. Well, Jim, I normally would ask, so do you have any last minute advice or anything, but you’ve like already spent 20 minutes just spewing advice. So I don’t. What else might you have to give to a new author or, or either advice for a new author or something for readers, uh, some of your, a description of your other books that because the initial intent of the podcast was for readers to discover new books.
So you got anything else, uh, with your books that would entice people to pick ’em up?
Jim: Yeah, I would just say if you are somebody that likes, um, fiction that’s, you know, a little outside the box that has a spiritual element to it that has a thriller aspect to it that has a psychological suspense type aspect to it, you would probably.
Love my books. Um, so rooms, I told you the story of this guy goes into the rooms of his own soul. The five times I met myself, which won the Christie book of the year is about a guy that learns to lucid dream. And he ends up having a conversation with himself with his younger self in the dream and tells him what you should have done different with your life.
And then he wakes up the next day and his life has changed. Um, yeah, I’ve got the long journey to Jake Palmer is the story of a guy who tries to find this legendary lost corridor that if you find it and get through it to the other side. You will get what you want most in the world. And so, you know, I do, I just, I love these stories that have a little bit of supernatural, psychological strangeness to it.
My, my agent and my editor both say, yeah, you’ve kind of created your own genre. So if that sounds appealing, I think people would really enjoy my stories. And, and one of the things I love is hearing from readers. So if you read it, have thoughts, love to hear from you.
Stephen: Well, hopefully I will get a couple of people that’ll pick up books.
I know I’ve got a couple of years waiting. Uh, once again, that reading cue. Yes, yes, indeed. Well, Jim, thanks for taking, I had told you 10 minutes, but I think I lied to you cause we’ve been on for like 20. Um, but I appreciate you taking some time to talk with me.
Jim: Yeah, you’re very welcome, Steven. Thanks for having me.
And, uh, maybe we’ll do it again someday.
Stephen: Yeah. That’d be great. Maybe after your next couple of words.
Jim: Okay. Sounds good.
Jim: Thank you for listening to Discovered Wordsmiths. Come back next week and listen to another author discuss the road they’ve traveled and maybe sometime in the near future, it might be you.