Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What I Learned from LEADERSHIP 101, by John C. Maxwell

Debby at Barbara Vey's Readers' Appreciation Luncheon,
April 10, in Oak Creek, WI.  I arrived early with my
author giveaway basket, a beach tote that was carefully packed
in my carry-on luggage for the flight from Atlanta.

Debby Giusti here!

If you’re like me, you don’t have much free time so short self-help books often catch my eye.  Recently I noticed Leadership 101, by John C. Maxwell, in my daughter’s stack of required reading for her educational specialist degree.  Although I knew Maxwell’s name, I wanted more information about the author and quickly ran a Google search.

According to his bio, Maxwell is a leadership expert who has sold over 19 million books.  That alone was enough to pique my interest.  Then I saw Michael Hyatt’s name mentioned.  Formerly the head of Thomas Nelson, Hyatt had suggested repackaging Maxwell’s longer, in-depth books, published by Thomas Nelson, into a series of easy-to-read formats.  Since Hyatt will be the main speaker at this year’s ACFW Conference, I went with his endorsement and tucked Maxwell’s book into my carry-on luggage when I traveled to Milwaukee last week to attend Barbara Vey’s Readers’ Appreciation Luncheon.  
Barbara Vey was a wonderful hostess.  We snapped
this pic at the end of the day.
On the flight home, I started reading and soon recognized a number of parallels between leadership and the writing life.  Today, I’m sharing pictures from the luncheon along with a few of Maxwell’s statements, written below in bold, for our blog discussion.

“Each of us influences at least ten thousand other people during our lifetime,” Maxwell writes.

Although the majority of us are not CEOs who run large organizations, what we say and do affect those with whom we come in contact, whether members of our family, the people in our church and local communities or our fellow employees at our day jobs or in the writing community.  Add the number of people we connect with on the Internet—through Facebook and Twitter and blogs like Seekerville—as well as the thousands of folks who read our books and magazine articles, and the span of our influence grows even larger. If what we say and do impacts others, then we should continually endeavor to extend our circle of influence and learn to lead others in positive ways.
Barbara's helpers are ready for the guests to arrive.
Notice the bags filled with books and other goodies
that everyone received!

“What matters most is what you do day by day over the long haul.”

We all know the axiom that Rome wasn’t built in a day.  The same holds true for writing a book or learning a job or becoming a leader.  The longer we work at something, the more our skill improves. Olympic athletes take home the gold because of their hard work and years of commitment. To be effective and productive, we need to keep our nose to the grindstone and our hands on the keyboard.  According to Maxwell, our daily work routine is a good indicator of our own self-discipline, and self-discipline is one of the hallmarks of an effective leader—and a selling author as well.

“The first person you lead is you.”

When we point a finger at someone else, three fingers point back at us.  We need to ensure we’re part of the solution and not the problem. Maxwell offers the following suggestions:  stop making excuses and withhold rewards until the job is done.
My table's set.  Each person received a copy of
THE CAPTAIN'S MISSION, a votive candle,
notepaper, a small journal, a Bath & Body mirror and candy.
Notice the cute cupcakes decorated with my book cover.

“Successful leaders are learners, and the learning process is ongoing.”

We need to stay current within the industry, and attend conferences and workshops to improve our craft. Seek out those who have succeeded and learn from their achievements. Identify areas of weakness as well as strengths.  Don’t get discouraged. Sometimes the smallest steps are the hardest to take, but moving forward is the key. Perseverance pays off.

“The discipline to prioritize and the ability to work toward a stated goal are essential to a leader’s success.”

Maxwell mentions that, according to the Pareto Principle, 20% of our effort should yield 80% of our results, yet often we spend too much time on tasks that produce few results. In order to be good time managers, we need to identify when we are most productive and spend those hours on the most important work we need to accomplish. Of equal significance is the ability to identify which projects should be given top priority.
L to R: Carol, Jenny, Estelle, Carrie, Lelia, Matty and
Nadine were the wonderful ladies at my table.

“It’s not how hard you work; it’s how smart you work.”

The leadership guru ranks jobs according to urgency and importance.  Tackle the high importance/high urgency jobs first.  The low urgency/low importance projects can be handled by someone else or often ignored altogether.

Frequently review the “Three Rs:  Requirements, Return, Reward,” by asking the following questions: “What is required of me? What gives me the greatest return? What is the most rewarding?”

To ensure we’re not spinning our wheels on something that won’t move us forward, evaluate the personal expenditure needed for each task, whether the payout is worth the effort and what personal satisfaction will be realized upon completion of the project.
Librarian Barbara Roark won my beach tote.
Doesn't she look cute in the hat? 

“All true leaders have learned to say no to the good in order to say yes to the best.”

Keep in mind Parkinson’s Law, which states: work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Eliminate the nonessential, delegate anything that someone else can effectively accomplish, and establish deadlines so key projects can be completed in a timely manner.

“There are three qualities a leader must exemplify to build trust: competence, connection, and character.”

We should set high standards for ourselves and our work, admit when we make a mistake and put the needs of those we lead ahead of our own personal desires. Additionally, leaders should have a clear vision for the future.
Heidi Endicott visits Seekerville frequently and also
reviews books on Barbara's Beyond Her Book blog.
Thanks for driving me to the airport, Heidi!

“A truly valuable vision must have God in it,” Maxwell states. “Only He knows your full capabilities.  Have you looked beyond yourself, even beyond your own lifetime, as you’ve sought your vision?”

Pray for direction. Listen to the voice within to determine where your want to go.  Don’t limit yourself or your dreams.  Step out in faith.  Be bold.

“A leader is great, not because of his or her power, but because of his or her ability to empower others.”

Be a mentor.  Share your expertise.  Extend a hand up.   Help others to achieve their greatest potential.

Although I’ve highlighted only a few of Maxwell’s points, I hope you see how they apply to our writing as well as our ability to be effective leaders.  Both endeavors require hard work and perseverance.  To succeed, we must establish priorities and put maximum effort into the most important projects. 

What did I learn from Leadership 101?  Juggling marketing with writing the next book is always a balancing act, but by identifying less essential tasks that take time but provide little return, I can better schedule my work day and focus on the important tasks first. I also need to give myself permission to sometimes say no.  Putting God in charge of my future centers my focus on His will for my life and for my writing career.

Did anything strike a chord with you? 

Leave a comment to be entered in today’s drawing. I’m giving away a copy of John Maxwell’s book, Leadership 101.

Wishing you abundant blessings,

Debby Giusti

THE CAPTAIN’S MISSION, the second book in my Military Investigations series, was nominated for the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and is available in paper or e-book at  

Watch for book three, THE COLONEL’S DAUGHTER, in bookstores this August.


  1. Pull up a chair. Have a cup of Ozarkian-made coffee. Let's chat about these things.

    I feel like my brain is bursting with so much to try to retain.


  2. Hi Debby:

    Great Post!

    I’ve read Maxwell for years.

    I’d love for you to tell us what you do at an event like the Barbara Vey’s. Who comes? Do they pay? How long does it last? What is the goal? Do you think it works? I think the whole idea is very interesting.

    Yes, a few things you wrote struck a chord with me. To wit:

    I think it used to be:

    “It’s not how hard you work; it’s how smart you work.”

    Now I believe it’s: How hard you work doing smart work. Smart work alone won’t do it any more than ‘quality’ time alone can make up for lack of ‘quantity’ time.

    I think Pareto’s Principle applies to the marketability of a book. I believe 20% of the features of a book make up 80% of the buying decision. Give your book a great location with interesting characters doing things people like to watch, take part in and learn more about. Of course, still deliver a great romance. : )

    Think of your book as a person that another person would want to know and spend time with. Would your book have the leadership characteristics that Maxwell writes about if it were a person? Think of ways a book could do this.

    With a million free books available right now for the Kindle, the name of the game in the future is providing readers with reasons to have read your book and not just reasons to buy it. Marketing efforts should also include getting people who have a copy of your book to read it. If they have your book and have not got around to reading it, they are not likely to buy another one of your books -- if you are a new author to them.

    I believe that personal marketing that provides readers with reasons to have read your book will be in the 20% of efforts that produce the 80% results. What things can you be doing now that will make readers want to have read your book?

    Question: Why should I read your book other than the fact that I might enjoy the reading experience as I read it? I believe this ‘after-reading’ reason will power the future. That’s my future vision. Who knows if it is right?


  3. Thanks, Debby, There is a lot to glean there. Old adages written in a new way, and important and relavent to the day.

    Looks like you had a good time at the luncheon

  4. I enjoyed how you distilled Maxwell's comments and related them to the writer's life. I have observed that self-management is the first challenge :)

    The event looked lovely.

  5. DEB!!!!!

    This is the kind of writing book I can wrap my hands around and love because it's not about writing...

    We all know how to write.

    It's about empowerment, self-discipline, work ethic and effect.

    I LOVE THIS SO MUCH!!!! And I truly needed this reminder today, that God empowers us and we need to look beyond, but that the work is of our choosing.

    Splendid. Marvelous. Grinning in upstate!

    And now I see that Vince has read Maxwell for years, well duh on me...

    Vince Mooney, why didn't you tell me about this smart guy????

  6. Hi Helen,
    Thanks for the coffee!!! I'm still thinking about your completed manuscript!!! Yay, you!!!

  7. HI Vince,
    Yes, the Pareto Principle can be applied in a number of ways. What struck me was that I can work 80% of the time on tasks that only result in 20% of the rewards. That seems to be my normal day...I spend too much time on email and blogs and jobs that aren't specifically related to getting the next book written.

    The best rule is to get the pages written first and then tackle the other jobs.

  8. So, Vince, how can authors ensure folks not only buy their books but also read them?

  9. Vince asked for a short overview of Readers' Luncheons...

    They're a wonderful and fun way for readers and authors to meet for lunch and talk about books. A guest author usually gives a short speech--Heather Graham spoke at Barbara's event--and lots of books are given away. Authors donate baskets, and everyone's name is included in those drawings. Additional baskets are raffled off, and the proceeds benefit a favorite charity. Barbara raised more than $2,000 for the four libraries in her local area. A book signing usually concludes the event with a portion of the proceeds going to charity.

  10. Hi Tina,

    I did have fun at the luncheon. Wish all of you could have been there.

    You're right about the old adages...yet sometimes we need to see them written in a different or fresh way before they start to sink in.

    Ranking tasks as to importance and return hit home with me.

  11. Hi Laura,
    Self-management is the key, isn't it? It requires discipline and determination and perseverance and an ability to know what's important and how to accomplish tasks in a timely manner.

    My problem is I always think I can accomplish more in a day than I do. In my mind, I'm very productive...and fast! In reality, I'm methodical and usually that very slow tortoise in the hare vs. tortoise race.

  12. Hi Ruthie,
    You don't read writing how-to books because you don't need them. :)

    I'm spending my free time this week reading YULETIDE HEARTS. It's spring in Georgia, but you've taken me to chilly upstate New York. It's almost Christmas, and I've fallen in love with your characters. Thanks for writing a delightful book that has touched my heart.

  13. Hi Debby,

    The point that struck a chord with me this morning was that we influence as many as 10,000 people. That seems incredible and scary. When I think how easy it is to get wrapped up in my own world and believe my actions, attitude and accomplishments only affect me it's eyeopening to look around and see who else is influenced.

    Thank you for all these points to ponder.

  14. Hi Debby!

    EVERYTHING struck a chord with me!

    Lesson's I am re-learning as I get back into the habit of writing. Oh, I stayed busy within the industry since my husband's death in 2009 - had a novella and novel published each year(novella 2010, novel 2011). I did editing and promoting for others as well as myself - these things kept my fingers in the till so to speak. But until this year I haven't been able to sit still and focus enough to actually WRITE something new!

    I must say it's good to be back to WRITING but getting reorganized and disciplined has proven to be a challenge since I don't have a regular "day job" -- but I'm determined to get there!

    I'd love to read this book!

    Good luck & God's blessings Seeker Friends!


  15. Wonderful, inspiring post, Debby! Like you, email sucks up more time than it should. I need to take a hard look at my efforts and rewards ratio.

    And the idea of influencing 10,000 people during my lifetime never occurred to me. Lots to think about.

    I loved your photos. You're a fabulous hostess. The ladies at your table are smiling at all you did to give them a wonderful day!


  16. Debby! Can I just say how much I'm looking forward to Friday?

    Be jealous, y'all. Cuz I get to talk to her ;).

    In the meantime... Great words of wisdom. I need to go back through them when I have more time and read more carefully [getting ready to take 4 kids tot he dentist - praying sooooo hard for no cavities...] and maybe even make a couple notes.

    10,000 people is a lot. Think about how that extrapolates when you count the people you influence most [say your kids] and how many people they influence. I'm thinking my hubby is way over that amount [though not nearly like someone such as Maxwell] because he's worked with literally thousands of kids in the foster care/group home system in our area in just the last 10 years - plus anyone else he's impacted. He's doing such great work with the boys where he works now and I'm so very proud of him.

    Er, right. I digress. Time to head to the dentist. Fun.

  17. Hi Debby, Loved the Maxwell tie ins with writing, but loved more the photos. How fun to see you and READERS. It is so fun to meet with people who love to read.

    And wow, influencing so many. Makes you really think about your own behavior. smile

    Debby you've been a great influence on me btw.

    Have a great day.

  18. HI Kirsten,

    The number does seem amazing, doesn't it? And it makes me pause as well.
    We want to ensure a positive message goes forth and the ripple effect is one that affirms and enhances rather than anything that would hinder or harm.

  19. Pamela, I'm so sorry about your hubby. The grieving process takes time, doesn't it? And is unique to each person. I can't imagine trying to write in the midst of pain. So glad you were able to keep moving forward. So glad you're part of the Seekerville family of support. Hope you feel extra prayers and lots of hugs surrounding you today.

  20. Debby, this post is a KEEPER! So many good points to ponder in writing life. I think the paragraph that spoke most to me was:

    "Keep in mind Parkinson’s Law, which states: work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Eliminate the nonessential, delegate anything that someone else can effectively accomplish, and establish deadlines so key projects can be completed in a timely manner."

    I've definitely seen that work will fill whatever time I allot to it. So, I'm going to work to be productive with my writing time and prioritize my other time for tasks.

    There are so many good points to consider here. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts about this book today!

  21. Ohhh I want to sit at your table! The luncheon looks like so much fun. Maxwell makes some great points. Great way of relating them to the life of a writer.

  22. Hi Janet,

    Although I've mentioned the need to tackle the big jobs first, sometimes the less urgent jobs--when they involve mentoring or affirming or reaching out to those in need--are even more important than the WIP. It goes back to God first, then family, then others in our circle of influence. Sometimes the characters on the written page have to take a backseat to the living, breathing folks God has placed in our lives.

  23. Hi Carol, I'm excited about our chat. FYI, everyone, Carol won a Seekerville chat, and we're connecting this Friday.

    Taking the kids to the dentist. Oh my gosh! Top priority and little return for mom! :)

    Your hubby can impact others because you're at home caring for your family and making everything run so smoothly. He's lucky to have you...and you're impacting more than your quota of folks too!

    Plus, when your books sell--watch out world. Here comes Carol!

  24. Hi, Debby! This is a really great post! And the pictures are getting me ready for the HOD Readers Luncheon. I can't believe it's only about two weeks away! I still have to finish getting my basket ready!

    I have never considered myself a very disciplined person, but I HATE being unproductive, and I think that drives me to write. I do lots of things because I know they have to be done, or because, at the end of the day, I want to be able to say that I accomplished something. And I do marketing stuff because I will feel guilty if I don't! But we do have to watch that we don't waste all our writing time doing stuff we call "marketing" but really should be put under the heading "wasting time!"

    But coming to Seekerville is just about the friendships. I have to have my Seeker fix. :-)

  25. Oh, and I do learn a lot here! I always recommend Seekerville to other writers. It's definitely NOT a time waster!

  26. Sandra, you're so sweet!!!

    Your influence is far-reaching! :)


  27. Hey, Deb, GREAT POST!! The quote that resonated with me most (and they all did, but this one the most) was:

    “A leader is great, not because of his or her power, but because of his or her ability to empower others.”

    It truly is not about us -- it's about Him -- and He's about others. Loving them, encouraging them, blessing them. Not an easy thing for a naturally self-centered human being to do, but through Him, certainly doable!!

    Thanks for the inspiration this morning, my friend.


  28. Hi Jeanne,

    The Parkinson Law struck me as well. I can work for days on one small project that should have taken half-an-afternoon! Why is that? Perfectionism going amuck perhaps?

    I'm going to start setting time limits on lesser jobs. Besides, I seem to work better under deadline. So why not assign my own deadlines to the small tasks each day.

    Love my timer. I often set it for thirty minutes of writing and am usually amazed at what I can accomplish in that short time. Now I'll use the timer for other jobs.

  29. I'll save a seat for you, Jamie! Hope you can use some of Maxwell's statements in your own writing life.

  30. Waving to Christy nominee Melanie!!!

    Wasting time is so easy, isn't it! And often so much fun!!! :)

    But visiting Seekerville is not wasting time. It's a reward, a piece of chocolate, a hug, a pat on the back that helps me keep moving forward. I feel so blessed to be part of this wonderful community of writers. What we do here falls under the affirmation and mentoring header and gives meaning to my it does to many of yours as well. I always want more folks to join us so they can reap the benefits. I spread the word at the luncheon last week. If anyone's lurking, be sure to leave a comment so we can give you a warm welcome to the group.

  31. Hi Julie,
    When we empower others, we are in turn empowered. And the blessings just keep coming...

    Love what God can do. He takes technology and a group of writers and allows us to reach out across the miles in such an uplifting way that we all learn and grow. Amazing!

  32. Wow!

    10K people???? That's mind-boggling...

    And... "we need to identify when we are most productive"

    I was listening to a workshop the other day and the speaker said the way to find your most productive time of the day is to take your temperature every 2 hours for 24 hours and your most productive time(s) is when your temperature is the highest.

    Hope I got that right...and I have no idea if it's true, but could it really be that easy to find out???

  33. Also, speaking of reader's luncheons, someone from the Huntsville luncheon (the one Mel's going to) blogged about it in Seekerville a couple of months ago.

    I'd love to do something like that in my area, even on a small scale.

    Wouldn't that be SO much fun?

  34. Hi Debby,

    The words that resonated with me are:

    "Pray for direction. Listen to the voice within to determine where your want to go. Don’t limit yourself or your dreams. Step out in faith. Be bold."

    And: "Be a mentor. Share your expertise. Extend a hand up. Help others to achieve their greatest potential."

    Such great advice. The more I learn about the writing world, the more I want to help others learn the same things (hopefully quicker than I did). That's what I find so great about this blog and about so many writers that I meet. The generosity of spirit to share and encourage others.

    Thanks so much!


  35. 4 kids + 0 cavities = 1 happy mom


    Do have one ortho appt in the future as the 8yo has a tooth coming in really funky. Not sure what, if anything, they can do.

    Finding the time you're most productive.

    For me, that's evenings, into overnights. If I could choose, I'd work on the house etc in the early/mid evening and then write/etc. from about 9-10 at night until 1-2 in the morning and then sleep until 10 or so.

    But the bus comes at 745. I have to be up no later than 645 most days so that just doesn't work. /sigh/ I'm trying to learn to be productive in the times I actually have to work with but... Getting there ;).

  36. Oh - and this, Debby:
    Plus, when your books sell--watch out world. Here comes Carol!

    You have made my day! Thanks, darlin!

  37. Wow, debby, there is so much wisdom here.

    I'll add a few things that popped into my head as I read.

    My most fundamental advise on raising children, and Parenting is the ultimate leadership task was face.
    No matter what you say to your kids, they learn everything from watching you, not listening to you.

    "Be who you want your children to be."

    Another thought.
    My sister took a leadership training course and she said so many courses like that talk about focusing on your weaknesses, identifying them and strengthening them. This class was different. In it they instead said, "Focus on your strengths...and strengthen them. It's more natural, simpler for you, a better use of your time."

    Also, I want a pink hat. :( I never get a pink hat!!!

    Pretty sure I'd never WEAR a pink hat, but still....

  38. "Work expands" to fill the available time. That's something I need to work on, and that goes hand in hand with working smarter.

    Thanks, Debbie!

  39. Hi Ruth:

    I’ve been a self-help book junkie for over 50 years! My aunt gave me a copy of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” when I was in high school and I think I’ve read every self-help book since then that had any kind of popularity. I’ve even given hundreds of self-help seminars. Has it helped? Probably a little.

    Maybe with self help books it could be said: “If you don’t read them, you probably don’t need them.”

    You know, if I didn’t have a weight problem, I’d eat chocolate more frequently, too. Just like those skinny people do!

    In so many things, people tend to get cause and effect backwards.

    Sure, you can influence 10,000 people in a lifetime but those same 10,000 people are also going to be influenced by 10,000 other people. So your influence will be deluded by 10,000. It has been said that if you make one really good friend in a life time, you have been successful.

    It’s the marginal influence that counts. That’s the key influence given at the right time to send another person in the right life changing direction. Be a marginal influencer. Get your antenna tuned to when and where those opportunities arise. (I think self-help has an answer to everything and a solution to nothing.)

    Murphy’s law: If something can go wrong, it will. Peter Principle: people are promoted to their level of incompetence. This does not say too much for the people giving self-help seminars. : ) (Like me!)

    Mooney’s Maxim: “The more you know, the more you know that you don’t know. No matter how much you know, when you compare it to what you don’t know, what you know will always less than the margin of error”.

    Mooney’s Second Maxim:“Whenever you are doing something, no matter how important it is, you are not doing something else that will prove to have been more important.”

    Does that make up for not telling you about Maxwell?


    P,S.I think I could talk to you about any self-help system you can think of but you’d be a lot better off writing!

  40. Hi Debby:

    I’m trying to compute how going to Wisconsin from Georgia to give away books and other things fits into the 20-80 rule. Did you go mostly for fun or do you think there will be a material return on investment? As a marketing person I’m not sure I get it. : )


  41. Wow, those points are incredible!!! Thank you for sharing them.

  42. What I LOVE about Seekerville is it is so much a community. I learn as much from the comments as from the posts.

    I love, love what Mary Connealy said here about leading as you want your kids to live. This really speaks to me where I'm at right now.

    I've heard so many things about Maxwell. Reading tidbits like this, I understand the value his books have for writers. Sounds like he is a must read.

  43. Hi Debby:

    I wish I knew more ways to get people to have wanted to have read your book. (This information would make a good book.)

    Many people read classics because an educated person is expected to have read them. I think they would really like to have read these books without having to actually read them. (Cliff notes?)

    I think with fads, books are read because other people are reading them and not because they are so much fun to read. In some circles one just has to have read the NY Times best sellers. (This was more so in the 50’s and 60’s – the heyday of Reader’s Digest of Best Selling Books.)

    BTW: Two of the best selling business authors were caught buying thousands of dollars worth of their own books from the bookstores that reported to the NY Times to create their best seller lists. This worked great for them until they were caught. They actually created best sellers for themselves.

    With some self-help books people want to know what’s in the book yet they don’t particularly want to read the book.

    Why did so many kids want to get the next Harry Potter book at midnight the day it released and have had it read before the day was out! They wanted to talk about it and tell others they read it. They wanted to be first!

    If your book is used by a reading group, then people will want to have read it in order to discuss it.

    If you reach out and know a lot of people, some will want to have read your book because they want to tell you they’ve read it.

    If your book deals with an interesting area or hobby, then those in that group might be told to read your book to see a good portrayal of that subject area. (Like stamp collecting or ballooning.) I was told in no uncertain terms that I had to read, “The Agony and Ecstasy,” before I went to Florence.

    If your book does something exemplary then those who will benefit from reading it will like to have read it as well. (I read “Rivet Your Readers With Deep POV” because I wanted the information in it and not to be entertained.)

    I think it could be said that Mary’s, “The Bossy Bridegroom” is a book that Christian marriage councilors and pastors should probably have read -- even if it is not the kind of book they would normally read.

    A person who likes reviewing books needs to have read the books to review them.

    A person who feels good for days after reading your book is someone who will want to have read it and will tell other people to read it as well.

    A book that actually helped someone with a life problem is a book that a person wants to have read.

    A book that makes the reader feel smarter or better about themselves is a book that a person wants to have read. And might read again and again.

    I think thses ideas fall under the ‘value added’ factor. What extra value do your books deliver besides the immediate reading experience?

    For years I gave a seminar on, “Being a Value-Adding Salesperson”. These are the people who reach the top ranks of sales.

    I am sure there are many ways to do this that will occur to each writer. It’s just something to be thinking about. Try to know it when you see it.


    P.S. Debby, you always seem to pick a topic in my major area of interest: like marketing. That’s the reason for this TMI post. I don't always do this. : )

  44. WOW!! Thank you Debby--your post was exactly what I needed to read today (God is SO amazing--He's done that so many times when I needed encouragement or reminders--and I know He's done that for others too). ~ Excellent words of wisdom here--I'll be re-reading this post many times. Toward the end these words jumped out at me: "Putting God in charge of my future..."--THAT is something I'm striving to do--work as hard as I possibly can, but leave my future in His very capable hands. ~ Love the beach tote/gifts you gave away (must've taken up a lot of space in your bag!). The luncheon looked like a fun time (and those cupcakes with your book cover on top--how cute!). Thank you for sharing today, and looking forward to our next lunch!! Hugs, Patti Jo

  45. Ha, Vince, very interesting. Now you have to read Dan Brown's books before you go to Italy.

  46. You are lucky, Carol. Debby exudes, peace and grace. She is a beautiful woman of God.

  47. I'm back...

    Pam, love the idea of taking your temp to find when you're most productive. I may try it!!!

    I did a blog about readers' luncheons on Seekerville. Hate to miss the HOD lunch in May, but it's a special family day that I also don't want to miss. Of course, family comes first!!! :)

  48. Hi Sue,
    Yes, mentoring is so rewarding! I got an email last week from a new writer I critiqued a couple years ago. Her writing was so, so good. She wanted me to know that she had just signed a 3 book contract with St. Martins! Oh my gosh! Her good news was such a thrill for me. Love seeing talented folks succeed. Often it's just affirming their ability and letting them know they're on the right track.

    As we all know, the writing journey is long and often filled with rejection. Hearing a positive voice in the crowd gives us the determination to keep working.

  49. No cavities! Great, Carol.

    You're a night owl. I used to be. Now the morning is my best time.

    Not 4:30 AM, like Ruthy. But from 6 AM or so on...

    Although I usually do most of my writing in the afternoon. Maybe taking my temp will help me pinpoint my productivity peak time.

  50. Love your words of wisdom about parenting. Mine would be to communicate...and be ready to talk to them at whatever time they want to talk to you. Ever notice that all kids like to talk very late at night when you're tired and want to go to bed. :)

    The comment about building on our strengths is great. Don't you do that with your books...add in scenes/dialogue that let you incorporate your strong points into the work?

    How to identify our strengths could be another blog post.

    Vince, I bet you have some suggestions.

  51. Sally, you've mentioned two areas I need to work on as well!

    Great minds think alike, right? :)

  52. Debby, loved your post, and so timely, too!

    I have felt the strong urge - no, strike that - the compelling desire - no, strike that, too - the absolute necessity (!) of getting my life back in order so I can increase my productivity. So this morning I planned my day and allotted certain amounts of time to the things that really need to get done and scheduled activities for when I know I'm the most productive.

    Then I come to Seekerville (during my allotted "social networking" time!), and I find you're on the same wavelength.

    Maxwell's tips remind me of what my boys learned in the Boy Scout leadership training camp they attended - and they've taken it to heart. The principles really work.

    Oh, my time's up. I'm off for another hour of writing!

  53. Excellent post, Debby! Thanks so much for sharing those fantastic tips. I'll be checking out the full book!

  54. Debby, it looks like you had a blast at Barbara Vey's reader luncheon! Thanks for sharing all those photos!

    A truly inspiring and motivational post, too! I like the quote that says, "The first person you lead is you." Writing is all about self-discipline. If we don't manage our time well, we're sunk before we begin.

  55. The following woman I met on an out island in the Bahamas and epitomizes Maxwell's leadership guidelines.


    Beneath swaying palms and the chorus of mourning doves lies a hidden little gem on Treasure Cay, Abacos, Bahamas. Standing in a triangle of light just inside the door of Café-La-Florence you emerge awash in love. Beyond the ocean of spicy sweetness, teasing and tantalizing your senses is Florence Sawyer, the quintessential essence of Bahamian hospitality. With gentle hands, she daily rolls out dough, tenderly sprinkling sugars and cinnamon to feed the sweet tooth of tourists and locals. With her husband, Elmore, popularly known as “Captain Forty” she has prospered over twenty-five years into the most popular business in Treasure Cay.
    Everyone knows Florence. Her cinnamon buns the size of a dinner plate, light and airy enough to float across the Atlantic are a world classic, trumpeted in numerous world-wide publications. Unanimously, the usual coffee clutch of men collecting in front of her shop every morning concur, “It’s all about coming home,” that Mrs. Sawyer tenders with her baked goods and genial good spirits.
    But all was not easy for Mrs. Sawyer. She began her business baking cookies for her children until their classmates handed over money, begging she bake for them. Working two day shifts to make ends meet for her family of six, Florence developed her side business baking at home until the wee hours of the morning. Further expansion came when her daughter/partner, Tara rode her bicycle to the marina, condos and small cottages springing up on Treasure Cay selling baked goods and taking orders for the next day.
    In July of 1989 tragedy struck. The hotel where Florence worked closed and hours at her other job were cut, spelling financial disaster for her family. But as Florence acknowledges, when someone closes a door, the Lord always opens a window. Steadfast and armed with steely determination, Florence took a leap of faith, launching her own business in a series of upward struggles.
    “I am going to open this shop,” said Florence in the face of a tsunami of naysayers and opened in a corner portion of a dilapidated building. Renovation evolved slowly and all done on credit. Over time a window was added, a sink, a refrigerator and the greatest blessing arrived when a homeowner renovating her kitchen gave Mrs. Sawyer her discarded ovens. Finally, Florence did not have to bake at home and carry her goods to her shop.
    The former Sunday school teacher fondly recalls opening day. “At seven in the morning, I served eight dozen cookies, three dozen apple muffins and coffee.” Amazingly she had to close her doors two hours later and regroup, baking more to keep up with the demand. The demand has increased ever since.
    A Born Again Christian, Florence reserved Sundays for the Lord. This rapidly changed. Bill Hertz among other clientele knocked on her residence, refusing to let her close her shop on the Sabbath and stubbornly protesting they would not go to her competition. The call to serve rose like a groundswell and Florence obliged, keeping her doors open seven days a week.
    Even tropical storms do not deter Florence. After the devastating hit of Hurricane Floyd, Café -La-Florence remained open due to propane ovens. The normal coffee clutch of men gathering every day since the shop’s inception jimmy-rigged the electric for the coffeepot.
    “We cannot close our doors. The people won’t let us,” maintains the fifty-nine year old baker, and explains her successes are owed to prayer, adding, “The Spirit of the Lord resides with us.” When asked, where did she learn to bake?” she humbly affirms, “Jesus Christ taught me everything I know.”
    If you happen by Treasure Cay, Bahamas drop in Café-La-Florence. Mrs. Sawyer’s ever-present smile and gentle demeanor are a treat in itself, mingling with a very special recipe: a measure of sugar, servings of flour and cinnamon, and a million cups of love.

  56. Great lessons to be learned in this post, Debby!

    The quote about work expanding to fill the time available is so very true. If I don't give myself a deadline the task always takes two or three times as long.

    Very good post. Thanks!

  57. Great lessons to be learned in this post, Debby!

    The quote about work expanding to fill the time available is so very true. If I don't give myself a deadline the task always takes two or three times as long.

    Very good post. Thanks!

  58. Looks fantastic book Debby. Wonderful that you shared those principles with us.

    And may I say, reviewing the photos, your smile is absolutely the brightest. Beautiful!!!

    Saying no is difficult for me sometimes. I need to get back into practice. Thanks for permission Mr. Maxwell!!

  59. And, fantabulous mentor, writing coach, best-selling author and prior Seekerville commentator Sandra Byrd has news! Her marvelous book To Die For also finaled for the Christy Award.

    Way to go Sandra!!!

  60. That first statement really hit home. It boggles me to think of how many people we might be influencing and the impact our lives may be having. The online community has extended our reach in ways I would never have imagined a decade ago. I'm a terrible introvert, so it's quite intimidating to me... even scary. I usually leave that aspect up to God, anticipating His guidance for my actions and words, but I realize I make a lot of my own deliberate choices every day without giving much thought to how they might affect others.

    Now I'm going to be wondering who the "ten thousand other people" are in my life!

  61. Vince,

    I think many writers hope to be a marginal influencer with their books. It's receiving that one letter from a reader that says how the author's book profoundly impacted the reader's life that makes many writers continue on.

  62. Hi Patti Jo!

    I'm so human and thus flawed and lacking in clear vision. Putting God in charge makes sense. He knows what's good for me and where my gifts will be best used. When He's in charge everything runs more smoothly! :)

    I know you can attest to that as well.


  63. Julia, I bet you're a great mom just like Mary C!

    Maxwell's book --108 pages long -- is a fast read that makes learning to become a leader sound so easy.

  64. Vince, the 80/20 rule probably doesn't apply to my trip. :)

    I like Barbara Vey and admire how she's grown her blog and brought readers and writers together. Plus, she's a friend of Seekerville.

    This was the first readers' luncheon Barbara hosted, and I wanted to support her efforts.

    What did I get in return? I met lots of wonderful folks in Wisconsin. I saw a tiny portion of the state, learned some new info about the local area and got to chat with lots of readers and other writers.

    Remember some years ago, you and I talked on this blog about taking that leap of faith? Well, going to Wisconsin was a bit of a leap of faith. I felt God wanted me to go so I went and enjoyed every minute.

    For me, one of the rewards of writing is getting to know so many delightful folks around the country. Now, I'm friends with people in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee. That's a blessing for sure.

  65. Vince, you always provide interesting comments that are packed with great info.

    I often choose motivational topics for my posts, which dovetail with your marketing background, no doubt.

    Thanks for listing many of the value-added (love that term) ways a book can appeal to various readers. Seems most of them boil down to word of mouth endorsements.

    Aren't we usually more interested in reading a particular book when someone whose judgement we value gives the book a good review? That's why your blog and other blogs are so important to spread the word about enjoyable reads. Thanks for all you do.

    I am still deeply touched by the lovely review and recognition you gave THE OFFICER'S SECRET! Thank you!

  66. Tina, hugs and love heading your way.

  67. Hi Jan,

    Oh my gosh! God was giving both of us the same message! Confirmation we were hearing correctly, right?

    Smart girl! You've already set daily work routine priorities. I need to clean my office so I can feel more productive. It's at the top of my to-do list. Right after I chat with everyone on Seekerville, which is fun and not work.

  68. Waving to Missy who is so efficient she has time to read Maxwell's longer, in-depth book instead of the shorter version. :)

  69. You're so right, Myra! Writing requires self-discipline. Whenever I think I'm unproductive, my hubby reminds me about the books I've written. :)

  70. Debby, Your desire to serve, to reach out to others, even when deadlines loom makes you one very special lady who walks the talk.


  71. Elizabeth B, what a heartwarming story!

    Florence reminds me of Paula Deen. She had agoraphobia and was afraid to venture out of her house. As a single mom raising two boys, she started making sandwiches for working folks in her local area. Her boys delivered the orders to the nearby offices. Eventually, she opened a small lunchroom and then her famed Lady and Sons Restaurant in Savannah. Now she's known world-wide for her Southern cooking.

  72. Natalie,
    I need deadlines, especially for some of the less important jobs that seem to fill my day! :)

  73. Hi KC!

    It's hard to say no, isn't it? But so necessary at times.

    When I'm on deadline, it's easy to say no because I have a good reason. Otherwise, I find it much more difficult.

    Congrats to Sandra Byrd for her Christy nomination!!! YAY, Sandra!

  74. Hi Carol!

    All of Seekerville is in your circle of influence, and we're so glad we are!!!

  75. Okay, I'm going to have to read this again, later, so I can go through each point thoroughly. Love this post!!

    So much to think about.

  76. Great post, Debby! I'm sorry I missed you on Monday. I love catching up with you on Seekerville though. You have certainly given me food for thought today!

  77. Debbie, I could think of examples in my own writing life for each and every point. The notebook I am creating of pertinent writing resources. The three hours I wrote this morning after building up a daily time of NOTHING. The rewards of writing again coming daily. Thanks for a timely post!

    But what struck me to the core is the following:

    “A truly valuable vision must have God in it,” Maxwell states. “Only He knows your full capabilities. Have you looked beyond yourself, even beyond your own lifetime, as you’ve sought your vision?”

    Wow. Must go and meditate on that one!

    Peace, Julie

  78. I need to go find some other Maxwell books around here or at the Church and read them with an eye to writing.

    I read Seeker posts with an eye to living my daily life. One more example for me of how things work together!
    Thanks Debby.

  79. Hi Larissa! We had a nice group of writers Monday night, but we missed you.

    Hope to see you soon! How's your book coming along?

  80. Hi Julie,
    Maxwell says we need to think long-term. Remember Michael Hyatt's article that Tina mentioned in the WE some weeks ago? It was on vision and has had me thinking ever since about where I want to go with my writing. The first step in creating a vision is to pray.

  81. Hi Mary, you should be able to find lots of books by John C. Maxwell. This was the first of his that I have read, but I thoroughly enjoyed what he had to say. Also loved that it was short and could be read in a couple hours or less.

  82. I may need to go buy his book.
    Sounds like a lot of common sense advice.

    I need to prioritize my write goals. If I was getting paid to write my book, I would do exactly that and not move on to the next goal until the current one was complete. Just knowing a boss was wacthing over my shoulder would cut out my unprofessional behavior.

    Don't remember if I told you Debby, but I read Nowhere to Hide a few weeks ago and loved it.


  83. Hi Debby:

    You are so good for me!

    I read your comment about the ‘leap of faith’ which made me think immediately of what the fundamentalists call ‘seed faith’ which made me think of Aristotle and his view that the ethical person does the right thing by habit, which made me think that when you go to Wisconsin -- because it is the right thing to do -- that this causes collateral benefits which affects the writer’s voice because it is part and parcel of who that writer is. This may be why you are so wonderful. (I mean it. It is also demonstrated by the “Writer’s Prayer” which I can see right now above my monitor.)

    “We are rewarded by our good deds and not for them.”

    Now! These thoughts above made me see my previous posts in a new light. Adding value with values. The Seeker authors already write Christian inspirational romances. This adds the value of values to the novel. What is the fastest growing book category: Christian fiction!

    And what about writing about interesting people, in interesting locations, that we can admire and want to spend time with? Amish romances do this. Amish romances sell!

    If ‘value added’ fiction is what readers are seeking, then authors can give them that added value (which Amish books seem to provide) and they can do it with a different set of added value inspirations. Knowing this may help a writer create the new ‘Amish like’ subgenre boom. That could be you!

    BTW: we had a speaker at my ACFW chapter this month who is writing three books on the Amish vacation location in Florida. Did you know the Amish have a whole large area for vacationing Amish? I think this will be a huge hit! Amish on Vacation! WOW!


    P.S. If this was Speedbo, I’d have my quota already. : )

  84. P.S. That word should have been ‘deeds’. That’s what I get for editing on the fly.

  85. Hi Tina:

    I’ve read Dan Brown, "The Da Vinci Code" and Dee Brown “The American West” plus many more. For Italy what I want to have read are Tuscan cooking books. I want to take cooking classes in Florence or Pisa or Lucca.

    Maybe you could have an Italian cook on the ranch of your next book and she could create Tuscan culinary delights! That would be adding value, (mention the ingredients in the dialog as she teaches the heroine -- a tomboy cowgirl how to cook!:))


  86. Connie, thanks for the kind words about NOWHERE TO HIDE, my debut! I guess I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for that first book! :)

    A boss breathing down our necks would speed us along, wouldn't it? Actually, deadlines do that for me. I get a little nervous energy floating around my tummy that forces me to focus. Guess that's exactly what I need to stay on task. :)

  87. Vince, I love the way your mind works. Thanks for your kind words. So glad you find value in The Writer's Prayer.

    I didn't know about the Amish vacation spot. Did you catch where it's located? Interesting.

    What makes Amish fiction so appealing? Perhaps the simple life? The freedom from the many electronic ways we stay in touch? The embracing of values and hard work?

    Your "added value" idea has caught my attention. Something to think about as I work on the next story.

    Thank you, Vince!

  88. Debby and Vince - that Amish vacation spot is actually an Amish community near Sarasota, Florida called Pinecraft. Some Amish and Old Order Mennonites live there year around (did you know there are Amish communities in several states, including South Dakota?), and some vacation there in the winter months.

    It's considered "worldly" by the more conservative Old Order Amish, but since each church district is independent and makes its own rules, whether people travel to a place like Pinecraft varies by community.

    I wish I knew what makes Amish fiction so popular - but I'm glad it is, since that's what I write. What I hate to see are so many authors who really don't know anything about the Amish jumping on the bandwagon. I've read some off the wall books, but I've also read quite a few good ones. In fact, it was a poorly written/researched Amish book that inspired me to try writing one - I had one of those "throw the book against the wall" moments :)

  89. Thanks, Jan, for the info.

    I loved the short excerpt you posted a couple days ago. Oh my gosh!!! Great writing! Can't wait to hear the good news about your work...won't be long.

  90. Great pics of a great luncheon, Debby. I'm envious. You had so much fun, I wish a writer's world could revolve around flying to exotic places and rubbing elbows with fans.

    And yes, I just called Milwaukee, WI an exotic locale, LOL!

    John C. Maxwell has a lot of wisdom to impart. I'm glad you took the time to read his book and share with us. So many great, inspiring books slip by because, like you said, how can you make time to read them all??

    Great beach bag, too. Love the hat!

  91. Congrats to all our friends who semi-finaled in the Genesis!! WooHoo! Way to go!!

  92. Just got home from church and read the Genesis finalist lists. So many familiar names!

    Congratulations to them!!!

  93. Hi Audra!

    The luncheon was fun, and I read Maxwell on the flight home. A win-win!

  94. Helen, I just saw the list!

    Congrats to the Seekervillagers who are Genesis finalists!!!

    Whoo-hoo!!! We're proud of you!

  95. You put together a lot of information here Debby.
    Thank you!

  96. ...and a great time was had by all.