November 6, 2018
Note From Rochelle
Many years ago, when I was writing my first book and rushing to finish before the deadline, my son’s babysitter quit. Just like that, my writing time evaporated. Instead of having three days a week to write, I had just his naptime to write. I couldn’t afford to have writer’s block.
Because of that experience—and many more like it—I developed practices that have helped me write ten published books, several soon-to-be published books, a few novels sitting on the shelf, and ten years of blog posts! Not to mention all those articles, home study courses, and resources I cranked out for publishers.
This year, I finally put all of those practices together in a single class, Core Practices for Completing Writing Projects. The class will be held tomorrow at 5:00 PM (CT). I’d love to help you overcome schedule challenges, procrastination, and writer’s block so that you can finish the writing you start. Sign up at my workshop page.
Today, I’m delighted to welcome Jane Rubietta, the author of 19 books and the debut novel, The Forgotten Life of Evelyn Lewis.
Writers@Work: An Interview with Author and Speaker Jane Rubietta
By Rochelle Melander
Congratulations on the publication of your debut novel, The Forgotten Life of Evelyn Lewis. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Evelyn Lewis considers herself self-made, with a gut-it-out, create-your-best-self approach. She left behind a rocky past when she left for college, and built herself a high-functioning life. From the outside, that life looks bright and shiny. When bankruptcy threatens her company, she’s forced to sell the only childhood memento worth any money: the rich Tennessee farmland. There, she’s met with a trust that cannot be broken, and no one to trust. In the midst of intrigue and intrusion, her forgotten past refuses to be silenced. The Forgotten Life of Evelyn Lewis is a journey of unearthing and rebuilding.
You’ve published 19 nonfiction books. What inspired you to write a novel?
I always wrote non-fiction—millions of words in non-fiction books and articles. But still, people stared at my extensive book displays when I spoke and asked, “Don’t you write fiction? I only read fiction.” That was a tad disconcerting. Then I scanned my own reading stack, and saw only fiction. I rarely finish non-fiction books that I start reading! But people hunger for story, to find themselves in stories. To escape. To heal. Even non-fiction writing is far more anecdotal than in years past.
I don’t consider myself creative, in the sense of inventing stories—and the idea of a compelling plot terrified me. Also inventing characters and their journeys. But The Forgotten Life of Evelyn Lewis started as a memory that wouldn’t leave me alone. A visit to the family farm, long ago sold. When I snuck down that long lane and arrived at the patch of land where the house should be, it was gone without a trace. The memories, the stories, the rich wood. Gone. It felt tragic, an annihilation of history, and ultimately laid the groundwork for the novel.
How did you prepare to write fiction? What challenges did you face?
Plot. Characters. Basically, the elements that separate fiction from non-fiction! I knew I could write great description and dialogue. My biggest challenge happened after finishing the book, when editors told me, “You need a plot. You need character arc.”
You think? Good grief. It was like building a house without a blueprint, a foundation, or studs. I had to go back into the hovel of building materials and discover the buried plot, the characters’ strengths and weaknesses, and their motivations.
You do quite a bit of speaking. How have your books supported your speaking career?
A published author has instant credibility in the eyes of both audiences and event planners. It may open doors to speaking that otherwise wouldn’t open. The reverse is also true: speaking sells books, if you are a compelling speaker. Between both writing books and speaking, I have been able to craft a full-time living for two decades. I’m super grateful and absolutely love this calling.
Still, with the plethora of easy self-publication options, saying “I wrote a book” doesn’t mean nearly as much, because anyone can publish now. Writers must learn as much as they can about the craft, and create a compelling work. Go to writers’ conferences. Get a writing coach, a book mentor, a writers’ group. Become the best writer possible so you have an excellent product to offer when you speak. You can make a living doing this!
You juggle writing and speaking and so much more. What are your tips for getting stuff done and staying healthy?
I come from strong stock, genetically, I think, so I’m pretty healthy. But I also eat carefully (chocolate being a notable exception), exercise regularly, wear a pedometer, move a lot, and have developed an energy routine that’s super effective.
As for getting stuff done: the self-employed writer and speaker who is not writing and speaking is unemployed. Getting paid is a huge motivator. The other motivation is believing that words make a difference in this world, and isn’t that our calling? To help make the world a better place to live.
What are you reading now?
The Guide to Prayer for All God’s People; my husband and I are actually reading one of my daily devotionals together called Finding Your Dream. And I just finished The Great Alone. Lisa See’s China Dolls is my current fiction read, with Lynn Austin’s Legacy of Mercy next in queue.
About the author. Jane Rubietta has published millions of words, written 21 books (19 published, 1 releasing in October, 1 not-quite-homeless) and hundreds of articles. She’s assistant coordinator of Write-to-Publish Writers Conference, where she is Exhibit A for “it works if you work it.” Jane speaks internationally (thanks to all of her published words), and co-founded LifeLaunchMe, an organization that moves people from dreaming to doing, wishing to actually creating. Her newest projects are PowerPodium and PowerPen, and the astounding Get Your Dream On. www.JaneRubietta.com; www.LifeLaunchMe.com