Debbie Macomber: Romance, Cozy Stories, and Christmas
A Standout in Romance
Debbie Macomber has been a standout romance novelist for an astonishing 40 years. She’s written women’s fiction, full-length contemporary, and category romances. Her work has been adapted for the small screen numerous times, for both movies and long-running series. Over 200 million of her books have been out in print.
As I don’t watch too much television or read many modern romance novels, I had no idea how huge Debbie Macomber was. I merely thought of her as another category writer who had crossed over to be successful in women’s fiction.
Debbie Macomber’s romance novels have been #1 New York Times bestseller 13 times. Her books have spent over 1,000 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. She is a publishing superstar.
Debbie Adler was born on October 22, 1948. She graduated from high school and did not attend university.
Adler married Wayne Macomber just before her 20th birthday in September 1968. They had four children together. At first, Macomber never dreamed of becoming an author, as she had learning disabilities that hampered her ability to read and write.
After she had children, however, she had so much time helping her kids in their education that she felt confident enough to create a romantic novel. She spent years typing out a manuscript.
Debbie Macomber: Category Romance Beginnings
The apocryphal story of Macomber’s entry into the romance genre is a thing of legend. Macomber attended a romance conference and submitted her book for review. A Harlequin editor publicly critiqued it, to the crowd’s laughter, cruelly mocking it.
A distraught Macomber asked for advice, wondering what she could do to make it better. The Harlequin editor told Macomber bluntly: “Throw it out.”
Rather than discourage her, this made Macomber more determined than ever to be a writer. She submitted her manuscript to Halequin’s then-competitor, Silhouette books.
“It cost $10 to mail it off,” Macomber told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2000. “My husband was out of work at this time, in Alaska, trying to find a job. The children and I were living on his $250-a-week unemployment, and I can’t tell you what $10 was to us at that time.”
Silhouette made a habit of signing authors who were rejected or dismissed by Harlequin, like Nora Roberts and Anne Hampson. They quickly accepted the book for publication.
That manuscript would eventually see the light of day as Heartsong in 1984, Book #1 in the short-run Silhouette Inspirations line, which had religious themes. In fact, seven of the first eleven romances Macomber published were Inspirations.
Macomber is a deeply devout Christian. Many of her works are inspired by her faith.
Macomber’s first novel Silhouette published was from the Special Edition line, #128, Starlight. As a sign of future events to come, Starlight has a Christmas-based storyline.
Being a Successful Author
After Harlequin bought out Silhouette in 1984, Macomber continued to write for both imprints.
In 1986, Macomber wrote a short Christmas-based romance titled Let it Snow for Silhouette’s Christmas Stories anthology. Most every year after that, she released a Christmas-themed book.
Her first romance for Harlequin was The Matchmakers. The (at the time) clean and sweet Silhouette Romance line published that book.
In 1988, Harlequin asked Macomber to write a series of interconnected stories. These became known as “The Navy Series.” Before long, she was writing two or three titles per year.
By 1994, Macomber began releasing single-title novels. Her first hardcover was released in 2001. In 2002, Macomber realized that she wanted to write books focusing more on women and their friendships. Thursdays at Eight was her first departure from the traditional romance novel into contemporary women’s fiction.
Macomber’s novels focus on delivering the message of the story. She does not dwell overly long on sensual passages. Her stories give the reader a feeling of hope and optimism. Many novels take place in small, rural towns on the West coast.
A Publishing and Television Sensation
Among Macomber’s top-selling books are Touched By Angels, Buffalo Valley, 16 Lighthouse Road (the first in her Cedar Cove Series), The Shop on Blossom Street, The Snow Bride, and Groom Wanted.
In 2013 The Hallmark Channel signed movie star Andie MacDowell to star in their series adaptation of Macomber’s Cedar Cove novels. The series was a rating favorite for three seasons.
Macomber is celebrated as “the official storyteller of Christmas.” Her holiday books are a special annual event for her readers. Five of her Christmas romances were adapted into original Hallmark Channel movies. She has served as a producer of these made-for-tv films.
What is Macomber Up to Now?
Macomber serves on the Guideposts National Advisory Cabinet, is a YFC National Ambassador, and is World Vision’s international spokesperson for their Knit for Kids charity initiative.
She and her husband, Wayne, live in Port Orchard, Washington, which inspired the Cedar Cove series. Besides her writing and multiple projects, they have many grandchildren to keep them busy.
As of 2021, Macomber’s new hardcover publications include It’s Better This Way and Dear Santa.
In addition to writing romance and women’s fiction, she has published three bestselling cookbooks, an adult coloring book, and numerous inspirational and nonfiction works. Macomber has written a couple of children’s books as well. She also runs a monthly magazine.
Is there anything this phenomenal best-seller can’t do?