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childhood and undergraduate years

James Russell Lingerfelt is a best-selling novelist, award-winning film-maker, and an investment adviser at a Fortune 100 company. He grew up in a northeast Alabama town of 900 people, on a dirt road, on the edge of a cotton field that his father worked in as a child. At age 12, his family bought land closer to town where they built a black angus cattle and chicken farm. In high school, Lingerfelt graduated Advanced Diploma with an emphasis in Literature, gravitating toward the writings of Thoreau, Emerson, and Longfellow. He started at point guard on the varsity basketball team, served as president of the student government, and was the recipient of the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership award which was given to one sophomore per each high school.

He first attended college at Northeast State in his home county of DeKalb, through a full tuition theater scholarship, acting in the Broadway musicals Annie and Big River. He was first introduced to film by working as a production assistant and background extra on Dawson's Creek (Joshua Jackson, Katie Holmes) and Tim Burton's Big Fish (Ewan McGregor, Danny DeVito). He paid the rest of his way through college by working as a bookkeeper in his hometown bank and on the college landscaping crew. Having a close relationship with his parents and brother, he later transferred in-state to Auburn University where he and his brother were roommates.
At Auburn, Lingerfelt worked as a barista at a local–owned coffee shop, and gave away his television during his junior year to dedicate more time to self-development. He completed a BA in Marriage & Family Counseling with independent studies in 19th Century British Literature and Financial Planning. He served in the student government as Vice President of The College of Human Sciences, joined the university lacrosse team, and they won two consecutive conference championships. During his summers, he volunteered with international humanitarian organizations, leading to relief work in Jamaica, teaching English in Romania, medical teams in Mexico, and he finished his senior internship at a homeless men's soup kitchen in East Kilbride, Scotland. 

graduate life

Lingerfelt completed a MA in Theology at Pepperdine University with a focus on Ancient Hebrew Wisdom Literature, with the goal of serving as a professor. During his courses, he volunteered as an academic mentor at Camp David Gonzales; a juvenile delinquent rehab center in Los Angeles County. He studied abroad in Morocco, assisting Berbers build village homes while pursuing Arabic History and Cultural Studies to better understand post 9/11 cross-cultural dialogue. Prep work consisted in he and his classmates spending a week in Preigo de Cordoba, Spain where they were trained in anti-terrorism and survival/escape by a military official. Part of that course also consisted in water purification and finding north using shadows and stars.

After graduation from Pepperdine in 2006, he counseled genocide refugees in Uganda and taught English at Made-in-the-Streets; a street children's rehab farm in Kenya. While there, Lingerfelt created a low budget documentary titled Made in the Streets of Africa. He was awarded the Lily Endowment for his work, and the documentary was used in human rights and social activist courses at universities across the states, including Princeton. For the documentary, Lingerfelt used a Walmart videotape camera and taught himself FinalCutPro.

Lingerfelt served as a professor at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN and continued his humanitarian efforts (Egypt '07, Mongolia '08, Syria, Israel, Palestine '10, Liberia '11). In 2010, he served as an American representative at the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies Conference in Beirut, Lebanon. The focus of the conference was cross-cultural dialogue among Christian and Muslim youth peace movements. In 2011, he produced and directed a documentary on microlending in Liberia for Atlanta's Peachtree Presbyterian Church, which the church used at their annual humanitarian missions gala. Lingerfelt went on to produce and direct documentaries on Korn's Brian Welch and the Fuller family; the founders of Habitat for Humanity.

Following Liberia, Lingerfelt served as the keynote speaker at the Kiwanis Conference in Birmingham, 2012. His topic was microlending and ethical methods in humanitarian efforts.


Lingerfelt served on the board of directors for LifeBread from 2006–2012, an organization that trained students in Uganda to build solar power food ovens. The organization became self-sufficient by local Ugandans in 2012, and the non–profit closed stateside. He taught two years as a visiting professor at Lipscomb University ('07-'09), but later resigned from teaching and Fuller's Ph.D program in Cross-Cultural Studies to pursue a career in writing and film production.

From 2010–2017 he divided his time between film–production and serving as CFO for his family's company, Fyala Security, which provided security guards to high schools and hospitals. After this period, Lingerfelt accepted an offer to become an investment adviser at the investment firm that managed his family's wealth for 30 years. He studied and passed the Series 7 and Series 66 licenses in 2017, which would also allow him to work as a licensed stock trader on Wall Street.

He spent five years writing his first novel, The Mason Jar, an inspirational epic, romance. He self-published and released it in December 2011 after being rejected by eight literary agents. The novel sold over 5,000 copies within two years, and went on to become a national best-seller in 2014. HarperCollins and Amazon offered contracts to purchase The Mason Jar and a sequel novel, but Lingerfelt refused since he couldn't keep the film rights. Award-winning author Nicole Weaver wrote, "Lingerfelt's novel reads like one, long, beautiful poem." Author Lee Wilson called Lingerfelt the intersection of Nicholas Sparks and C.S. Lewis. Columnist M.J. Rose at Writer's Digest said Lingerfelt had accomplished in two years what most writers dream of accomplishing in ten.

In 2012, Lingerfelt finished an internship in film production at the Emmy-award winning company Revolution PicturesLingerfelt went on to work on production teams for The SongYellow Day, and Sweet Home Alabama. During this time, he wrote the screenplay for The Mason Jar, after reading over a dozen screenwriting books recommended by Hollywood executives. In December 2013, Lingerfelt was flown to Beverly Hills for table talks concerning The Mason Jar feature film, but it was later passed on for Tom Hanks' film A Hologram For The King and Martin Scorsese's Silence.
By 2014, Lingerfelt's writings had been featured in The Huffington Post, A New Mode, Thought CatalogThe Elephant JournalElite Daily, Good Guy Swag, and The Good Men Project. His blog on writing, relationships, and self-improvement had garnered over 6 million views. 

Lingerfelt went on to win the 2015 Nasser Entertainment screenwriting competition in Studio City, California. The following December, he wrote and directed his first short film titled, Summer Leaves: A Love Story In DeKalb County. The film was made with volunteer cast and crew, and was accepted into three international film festivals. The film starred Sandra Lafferty (Walk The Line, The Hunger Games) and Katrina Despain (Pitch Perfect). Carl Lauten, director of The Cosby Show and Spin City wrote an email to Lingerfelt and his crew, calling the short film, "exceptional."

Lingerfelt backpacked across Ireland in 2014 and then wrote and published his second novel Alabama IrishA companion novel to The Mason Jar, it was released in bookstores world wide in March 2016. The following month, he received the DeKalb County, Alabama's Top 40 Leaders Award by The Time's Journal.

In 2017, under the guidance of his firm, Lingerfelt opened his financial advising office in Newnan, Georgia, near the home of Trilith Studios. To reach Lingerfelt's office, click here.
In December 2019, Lingerfelt's third novel, Young Vines was released in bookstores world wide. His fourth novel, The Portrait of Samantha Yale, was published in November 2021. In spring 2022, Lingerfelt's second short film he wrote and directed (and this time starred in), was accepted into international film festivals in Italy and Pinewood Studios, UK: How To Lose Weight Over The Weekend.
In March 2023, Lingerfelt finished creating the online course, Storytelling: The Complete Writing Guide after working on it for 9 months. He's also offering one-on-one coaching for writers. In April 2023, Atlanta tech leader Brett Horsley discussed Lingerfelt in his podcast, calling Lingerfelt this generation's Robert McKee.