Debbie Macomber's Blog
June 27, 2016
I’m not sure when or why I became fascinated with cameos. It could be because they are carved from sea shells and I’ve always loved being close to the ocean. I purchased my first cameo while in Italy, as a gift for my editor. Sometime later I saw several at an antique show and was struck by the workmanship and the understated beauty. I discovered I liked the larger ones and wore them as necklaces. Over the years I’ve managed to collect about fifty cameos, some antique, some new. They are my most treasured pieces of jewelry.
June 20, 2016
“A word of encouragement after failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success” – Anonymous
I’d been writing for five years and had four completed manuscripts yet had not sold a single word of fiction. The rejections came so fast I swear they hit me in the back of the head on the way home from the post office. I wondered if I’d ever be a good enough writer to sell a book. After the sale of an article for which I’d received $350 I was able to attend my first writers’ conference. Because of the conference, I had the opportunity to meet with an editor who had read the first fifty pages of my manuscript. I loved this story and felt it had all the elements of a wonderful romance. If this book didn’t sell I didn’t know that anything I wrote would.
To say the editor didn’t like my book is an understatement. In fact she said the best thing I could do with it was throw it in the garbage.
Devastated, I decided that I should give up trying to sell adult fiction and write children’s books instead. I attended a workshop for children’s books and the author said something that I’ll never forget. “Your book has a home. Your job is to find it.” That little bit of encouragement is all I needed. I grabbed hold of it with both hands and clung to it as I submitted the very manuscript that had been so brutally rejected. That book, Heart Song became my first sale. Heart Song found a home with Simon & Schuster. That small encouragement meant everything. I believe if I had given up, and surrendered to defeat as a writer I would have lost a piece of my soul.
“Be an encourager. Scatter sunshine. Who knows whose life you might touch with something as simple as a kind word.” – Debbie Macomber
May 27, 2016
Over the last month I’ve gotten several emails from readers asking me about my note from last month when I gave the grandkids each $50. It was a last minute idea and that $50 came with two stipulations. 1.They had to give the money away and 2. They had to tell me who they gave it to and why. To be honest, I expected there to be a lot of groaning and complaining and was surprised when they all showed enthusiasm for the idea. The majority gave the money to World Vision knowing the organization would make good use of it. Bailey, my 17 year old granddaughter decided to give it to a homeless teenager who attends her high school. This is part of what she wrote me: “I told John (not his real name) the story how you gave us $50 and what you wanted us to do with it. John started to cry when he realized what I was doing when I handed him the money. Then I started to cry as we hugged and prayed together. I felt this overwhelming sense of love while we prayed. Thank you so much Grandma for giving me this opportunity to help someone in a way I would never have thought of.” I was deeply touched by Bailey’s note and I know the other grandkids put a lot of heart into their decision. And to think, it was just an idea I thought of at the last minute.
May 16, 2016
One of the questions I am often asked is if any of my children hope to be writers. Each of our children are creative and talented and they could be authors, but none of them have the passion for it. However, one of my grandchildren shows all the signs of growing up to write. James was eight when his school was vandalized. He was deeply upset and did what is instinctive to a writer. He wrote a fictional story in which he was instrumental in finding those responsible and seeing them arrested. In the last line of his story he wrote, “And when they got out of jail they were too old for bingo.” I have to say, that’s darn good writing.
April 19, 2016
My dad was one of eight children and I grew up with dozens of cousins. Four of us were all born within a few months of each other and have basically been a part of each other’s lives from birth onward. We attended the same schools, worshiped at the same church, spent holidays together and often vacationed at the same time. Growing up with a large extended family was one of my greatest blessings. I missed that for my children. Wayne and I don’t have family in the Seattle area and our children didn’t have the opportunity to know their cousins the same way I did. Even now as an adult I am still close to my cousins. Family is everything.
April 11, 2016
I’m not really the adventurous sort. You won’t find me bungee jumping or sky diving any time soon. When I feel the urge to do something daring and courageous I tackle lace knitting! Oh, I’ve ridden motorcycles, climbed mountains, sailed the seas, but I did all those things for Wayne who nudged me along. He, however, refused ball room dancing classes, but I digress! One adventure I did decide to do with my friend Linda Lael Miller was take kayak lessons. I’m a water person, although I prefer chlorinated water, so this seemed like a perfect change of pace for me. I will say learning to paddle a kayak was a lovely experience. It does us all good to venture out now and again, try something new. It feeds our souls.
April 4, 2016
I remember when our youngest son was born–our fourth child in five years. What were we thinking? I’d had three years of sleep deprivation and my mother had come to help with the newborn. As I breastfed Dale, the other three youngsters crawled on my lap looking for special time with me. My mother looked at me, shook her head and told me these would be the happiest days of my life. I stared back at her and said, “You mean it gets worse?”
What kept me sane in those days was creating fun, inventive ways to keep our children occupied. We had rainy day picnics beneath the kitchen table. Backwards day when I served dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner. I made up games and bedtime stories. Those early years as a wife and mother were what fed me creatively so when it came time to write my mind was already primed.
March 29, 2016
I have a small confession to make. I don’t do well with scary or tense movies. The pounding music, the terrible stress of not knowing what’s going to happen next gets to me. I plug my ears, close my eyes, bend over and plant my face on my knees. Wayne nearly broke up with me after our first tragic movie together, The Sand Pebbles with Steve McQueen. My behavior mortified him. At the worst possible moment, I’d find a desperate need to rush to the restroom so I wouldn’t have to watch the scariest part of the movie. Fear grips me. I’m much too sensitive. These days Wayne gently pats my back and tells me when it’s safe to look again.
March 21, 2016
Learn how to be a storyteller AND a writer
I’ve often said there are storytellers and there are writers, but rarely is someone both to begin with. A storyteller is someone who is brimming with stories. They feel as though they’ll burst if they don’t find a way to get their stories out. I’m a natural born storyteller. I have so many characters and stories swirling around inside, I doubt I’ll ever be able to pen them all. A writer is someone who possesses the skill to beautifully articulate anything. A writer can take a drab, boring idea and breathe color, life, and poetry into it nearly effortlessly. Both skills are needed to be a great writer, but most people must dedicate a significant amount of time and energy to developing the skill they lack.
Learn how to swallow rejection and move on
Sharing your writing can be an altogether terrifying experience. What you’ve written is a reflection of yourself, and therefore when someone reacts negatively, it’s hard not to feel that they have not only rejected your work but also rejected you. As is the case with all kinds of artists, writers must believe in themselves and never give up. When I was a struggling writer, I used to receive rejection letters so fast they’d nearly hit me in the back of the head on my way home from the post office. I had to learn to receive rejection and move on. Never give up. Sometimes the editor writing the rejection letter would take the time to offer constructive criticism, which I took to heart and it made my writing and story better. Be willing to listen to criticism and learn from it. You want your writing to be the best it can be.
Before you become a writer, you must be a reader
One of the most effective ways to improve your writing is to read. A LOT. A good writer should read books of all different genres and styles. Read things that challenge you, read bestselling authors and authors you’ve never heard of. As you absorb others’ work, your grasp and appreciation of language will evolve and grow, likely without realizing it’s happening.
Stick to a schedule
One of the most difficult parts of being a writer is motivating yourself to finish your work on time. I set a strict schedule for myself. I am in my office each morning at the same time and I set a required amount of pages to write each day. Without a schedule to guide you, it can become far too easy to push your writing aside, allow insecurity and writer’s block to rule the day and never get any writing done.
Establish a support system
Without my husband Wayne’s sweet words to me more than 30 years ago, “write, Debbie, write…” I would likely not be a published author today. He believed in me and supported me through all the rejection letters, and years of what felt like fruitless effort. As you pursue writing, rally a support system around yourself. Entrust a small group of people with your dreams, ask them to hold you accountable and most of all, to remind you of why you’re pursuing writing when you feel like giving up.
March 15, 2016
What many of you don’t know is that I nearly gave up writing for a career in radio. I’d been doing a radio show with my friend Linda Lael Miller every Friday afternoon. We loved it. We had so much fun. Our segment got to be so popular we were approached to do a national show. We would be test marketed in four major cities and depending on how well we did, there was the possibility we would be syndicated. What a great opportunity, right? Linda and I certainly thought so. We put together three show ideas and about half way through the next questions started to surface. “Are we authors or are we radio personalities?” It was a hard question. Although I loved being on the radio, I loved writing more. As hard as it was, we turned down this opportunity. I, for one, haven’t regretted it for a minute.