Who’s on your team?

The longer we sat on the tarmac at the Destin, Florida airport, the great the possibility I’d be doing a sprint through the Atlanta airport to catch my next flight. The sun hung high in the clear blue sky, not a hint of disaster, no need to ice the wings, or avoid a snowstorm…I can admit to a grumble in my soul by the time we took off, 40 minutes late.

I’m sorry, but a 30 minute layover just isn’t long enough when you hit the Detroit, Atlanta or Chicago airports, right? When we touched down in Atlanta, my next flight was already boarding.

According to my app, I had to go from gate D42 to A20 in less than ten minutes. Or, I had the lovely option to take a different flight, route through Eau Claire, or Milwaukee and arrive home at midnight.

I made a pact in my soul that I’d make that next flight.

But Someone Upstairs knew I’d need a little help.

Some passenger in First Class decided the rest of the plane could just wait for them, and ambled up the gangway like they might be strolling through Luxembourg Gardens.

By the time I hit the terminal, my window had whittled down to seven minutes.

If you’ve ever been in the ATL airport, you know running through the terminal is like trying to cross traffic in a game of Frogger. I took off at a sprint, but every time I worked up a good pace, some defensive lineman in flip-flops came out of nowhere to take me out.

That’s when the Guy from Row 14 appeared. A guy from my flight ran up next to me possessing the same lofty goal of getting on his next flight, also in the A terminal, come hell or high water. We chatted even as we jogged past gates A36-A20. It was when he legged out in front of me that I realized my good fortune.

I had a blocker.

I settled in behind him, decided to pretend we were together and simply kept up. He parted traffic like Gronk, and I was his happy tailwind. “Excuse me, Excuse me,” he said as he whipped past people going down the escalator. I smiled as followed his trail. Yeah, I’m with him.

I sneaked onto the tram through a different door, not wanting my stalking to be obvious, hovering near the exit. When we hit the A gates, I was out like lightning, falling in behind him as he sprinted up the escalator. “Excuse me, Excuse me.” (I don’t think anyone had ever seen people trying to pass them going UP. For my part, I determined I would Not Be Left Behind. It became a sort of Olympic stair-climbing event.)

Row 14 parted traffic all the way until I cut away at my gate. “Now boarding all rows, all flights.”

I got in line, breathing hard (yes, I need to work out more) and handed my ticket over. I was one of the last ones on.

But I made it. (Sadly my luggage didn’t, but that’s another story.)


Having a blocker, someone going before me made all the difference. I am not the kind of person to push my way through a crowd—but I’m super willing to follow in the wake of someone else.

In publishing, I’ve had some awesome mentors—Dee Henderson, Karen Kingsbury, Ted Dekker. Friends, yes, but authors who’ve made me into a better writer, better person. Better mentor.

People who’ve cleared the way.

We all need mentors in our lives—whether it’s in our publishing race, or in healthy habits, financial goals, parenting, even spiritual coaches. And, your character needs one too—someone who has been there, done that, whether they succeeded or failed. Someone your hero can either pattern their journey after, or use a cautionary tale. Hello, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Henry Jones, Sr. Even, Haymitch Abernathy.

Someone who can answer questions, give advice.


And someone who can offer truths, dispense with lies and assist your character on his journey.

That’s one of the reasons we started Novel.Academy. Not only so you could have an arsenal of great classes, but so we could help you on the journey. We get together every Thursday night for a Peptalk. Yes, it’s a lesson, but it’s also a Q & A time for authors to get the help they need.

Like this week. We’re having amazing, long-time industry giant, agent Steve Laube on for chat about trends, author mistakes, industry insights and general questions.

He’s been there, done that, and is still going strong.

If you’re considering adding expert teaching to your writing journey, if you’re ready to go deep, ask questions, get published and build that writing career, you might want to stop in and check out this week’s Peptalk.

At the very least, look around you, show up at writer’s events, go to conferences, meet people and ask for help. There might be a mentor in Row 14 who is ready to show you the way.

Your story matters! Go, write something brilliant!

PS. You can start with a FREE class, the 10 Common Mistakes of Aspiring Authors! Click here to watch it!