Thank you, Debbie Macomber!

Sep 17, 2007 | This & That

Or maybe the title of this blog should be: The power of index cards. Or “hey, it works.”

A couple of years ago, Debbie Macomber spoke at the RWA Conference in Reno. She was inspiring (as always) and she challenged every one in the room to “dream big,” as she likes to say. She wanted all of us to write down our goals. The things we wanted to achieve in the next few years. The point being, that if we wrote them down, they would have a better chance of coming true.

To that end, she had put index cards on all the tables. And while all my fellow table mates scribbled down their goals, I sort of pushed my around me, like the leftover vegetables on my plate. My dreams were too much to ask for, too much to write down, and especially in front of a table of strangers. So after lunch, I stuffed my still blank index card in my purse and went on my merry way.

But that darn card kept poking me. Every time I dug into my purse for my key card, for money for a coffee, for a pen. There it was, taunting me, daring me to write down my goals. So a few hours later, while I was alone outside a workshop room, I had a few minutes to kill, and so I yanked out the card and a pen, and scribbled down my lofty goals:

1) Keynote a conference or luncheon

2) Make the NY Times bestseller list

3) Be profiled in People Magazine

4) Get promoted out of the Treasure line

5) Make RWA Honor Roll

Whew! I looked over the list, thought I was being a presumptuous little Irish bit, but that didn’t stop me from smiling, and safely stowing the index card inside my daytimer so I would have it to look at often.

Six weeks later, I crossed off the first item on my list when I got an email asking if I could keynote the Portland Chapter’s Readers Luncheon, an event that was so very near and dear to my heart. I mean, come on, six weeks later?   Then last Fall, I got a call from my agent, telling me I’d been promoted out of Treasure. Again, knock me over with a feather. I’m not exactly a humble person, but these were huge dreams to me, things I never thought I’d make in the next five years, let alone in six weeks or a year or so.

And last week, I was completely shocked to receive a call telling me that Love Letters from a Duke had made the New York Times Extended bestseller list. I literally cried as I crossed it off my list.

BTW, People Magazine—if you are out there, I’m still waiting.

So thank you, Debbie Macomber, for encouraging me to dream big, and thank you to all of you who bought the book, and through your praise and word of mouth, have turned it into a bestseller. But what I really love about this story, is who was #2 AND #20 on the list this week. Can you guess? Well, I hardly consider it coincidence that it was Debbie Macomber. Showing me the way once again. Bless you, Debbie!

So come on, dream big, pull out an index card and write down your goals. And if you are willing to share, post them in a comment—maybe there is some one else here with the same goal or who can help you with yours.


  1. Christina Arbini

    So inspirational, Elizabeth! I’ve done this before, but think I need to be a bit more specific with my goals. So, I’ll do it again this week and carry them around with me. Maybe that will help attract the good mojo if they aren’t just tucked away in a cupboard with my dishes. 😉


  2. AndreaW

    Huge congrats to you, Elizabeth, for making the NY Times bestseller list! What an amazing accomplishment. 3 down, 2 to go! 🙂

  3. Shannon McKelden

    You made the extended list???!!! Oh, I’m so happy for you! And yes, Debbie rocks. But, then so do you. You totally deserve it for all you do to give back and all the times you help those still working their way up. Let me know when I need to pick up that issue of People!


  4. Martha Andrews

    I just read “This Rake of Mine” and it couldn’t have come at a better time for me!
    MY FAVORITE used book store (I worked there for years and loved to start readers with new authors that they hadn’t read like your books and Jo Beverly and others) is closing in two weeks!
    MY MOM is in assisted care age 89 having dementia problems and I am still getting “over” carring for her alone (with my hubby’s help) for over 9 years!

    A DEAR LADY across the street age 87 that is part of our “four muskateer” group (another lady my age and my mom & this lady ) lost her husband last WEDNESDAY and I am doing more for her than her daughter and son!

    YOUR GREAT BOOKS are like a “mental vacation” and boy did I need one!

    I also love (I’m not fickle but must read new books as they come out) Jo Beverly, Phoebe Conn,Mary Jo Putney, too many to name! I used to love JILL BARNETT but haven’t seen a new historic book from her in years!

    I am new here but wanted to drop in and say hello!

  5. Kelli Estes

    Elizabeth, congratulations on making the bestseller list! Woohooo!

    I agree that Debbie is very inspirational, but you are equally so. You’ve been my inspiration numerous times, both personally and by example. So, thank you.

    And, congratulations again! You go, Girl!

  6. Haven Rich

    Congratulations Elizabeth!! That is such wonderful news.

    My list is like this:
    Get published *hopefully by Avon*
    Jump out of an airplane *yes I am a bit of a thrill seeker, but haven’t done this haha*
    Own a REAL Thomas Kinkade painting *I’m thinking a celebration gift for the first one*
    Go on a nice cruise
    Prove docs wrong, Wrong, WRONG! *yes if this happens even more, you’re so going to hear an evil laugh all over the world*

    Not to bring down the inspirational post, but I was told some very daunting news 5.5 years ago and while not trying to sound all Wind Beneath My Wings-ish, I must find pleasure in the smaller things because the big ones might never happen.

  7. Niki Burnham

    CONGRATULATIONS, Elizabeth! I’m also a big believer in writing down your goals. Even if you think they’re outlandish at the time, it’s important to be able to see them and then celebrate your victories along the way.

    I’m so glad you’re crossing items off your list!

  8. Elizabeth

    Thanks so much to all of you for dropping by and posting! It means a lot to have friends I can share this news with.

    And Martha, welcome, welcome, welcome to my blog! It is so nice to have you drop by. And I am so sorry for all the trouble and stress in your life right now, but I am warmed to my toes to know that one of my books helped make your day a little easier–that is good news indeed! Give my love to the dear lady across the street! We have one of those in our neighborhood and she is a gem.

  9. Karen H in NC

    Congratulations Elizabeth. Sounds like it’s time to make a new list. Just because you made it to the top of Mt. Everest, doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels, right? What’s next?

    How about your next book rated #1 on the NY Times Bestseller list BEFORE it comes out?

  10. Elizabeth

    Karen, I’ve been thinking about that– I really do need to come up with a new list. But I want to get through the glow of this accomplishment first. You know, take stock, look around and broaden my scope. I’m just shocked at what has happened in the last few years–and when you consider I am really just a stay at home mom, taking care of two kids, a hubby, struggling with Matthew’s autism, all those things, I wonder how I ever get books done. But they seem to get done and then they go out into the world and I really do have to just pack them off and send them on their way, so when a book does well, it seems sort of a far away accomplishment, than one that I’ve had a hand in. If that makes sense. . .

  11. Isabel

    Congrats, Elizbo! 😀 You’re amazing!

  12. Keira Soleore

    First of all, Elizbo a HUGE congratulations for making it to #30. And another HUGE “go book go” to make it within the top #20.

    Secondly, I cry over your comment here, every time I read it.

    Thirdly, I haven’t responded to this blog post, because I don’t know what to write. Dreaming is dangerous for me, because of so many dashed hopes in the recent past. Every time I start dreaming and making plans, something always comes up that means I have to drop everything and take care of that.

    So my question to you, Elizbo, is: When you first started writing, absolutely the first time when you made the decision that you wanted to write a book, given your young family and special needs, what goals did you set? And most importantly, how did you protect those goals and plans from being hijacked? Thanks!

  13. Elizabeth

    Keira, I have to confess, I started writing LONG before I had kids or was even married. So I had the time to devote to it–but I had to put off friends sometimes because I wanted to write. They didnt understand, but I knew in my heart it was what I wanted. When the husband came along, writing was as much a part of my life as breathing, and the two of us are a good match, as we are both independent cusses, and so when one of us wants to do their own thing, the other is supportive (and often glad to have time to do something else.) It works for us.

    And I really don’t think anyone can hijack your dreams unless you let them, and if they are they sort who would, do you really need that in your life? I had a friend who was very rude about my writing, she didn’t see why I bothered, and made no end of her suggestions as to how I could better spend my time. I haven’t seen or talked to her in years. She wasn’t a good friend. I don’t mean to sound cavalier about friendship, but I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older that not every friend is there for the long haul–people come and go from our lives and the best thing to do is enjoy and and learn from them while they fit.

    And secondly, I never let the disappointments along the way get in my way–at least not for too long. I got rejected from everyone along the way, including my current editor. I always kept my eyes focused on my current WIP, and on the market. I would suggest the former not the later. Always keep your eyes on your WIP and what you need to do as a story teller to make your book better.

    Hugs and best wishes. And then write down your loftiest goals and hold them in your heart where they are safe.

  14. Suzanne Macpherson

    Elizabeth, congratulations!

    And…..its working!!! My goodness it sometimes works Very Fast doesn’t it?




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