Winter resident Debbie Macomber lives a life well written

VERO BEACH — Before she flew down to Vero Beach for the season, there was one last bit of business Debbie Macomber had to tend to in New York: a private screening of the made-for-TV movie of “Mrs. Miracle,” one of her 150 best-selling G-rated inspirational romance novels.

In a screening room near the Time-Warner building, Macomber, her husband and family members, joined the star of the movie, Doris Roberts of the TV sitcom “What About Raymond?” and her family, as well as the movie’s director and the president of Hallmark Channel to watch the screen adaptation of the book she wrote in 1994.

The story revolves around a miserable widower with wild twin 6-year-old boys, a wreck of a house and the sassy new housekeeper who gives him the nerve to go find love again. “I knew beforehand it wouldn’t be the complete story,” she says, though she was nevertheless pleased with the adaptation. “I was on the set for one day of the shoot. Now the producer is really keen to do other stuff with me, the show was so popular. They were just as surprised as I was.”

Two days later on Dec. 5, while Macomber and her family saw the Rockettes’ Christmas show, the movie drew a record-breaking audience of over five million viewers for Hallmark, its producer. It was the fourth largest audience in history for a Hallmark movie, she says. It will have aired 40 times this month on the Hallmark Channel.

“The show was so popular, they want me to write a sequel,” she said.

That means bumping a story in the works set in Vero Beach, her winter home since 2001. Not that there won’t be other opportunities. Macomber churns out at minimum two books a year, rising at 4 in the morning when she’s home in Port Orchard, Wash., swimming a half mile, then heading off to her office above an ice cream shop and a knitting store – a serendipitous address, since knitting is a lifelong passion.

Here, she’s up at a more leisurely 7:30 a.m., but work is still a must, and knitting remains her passion. Last year, a knitting supply company gave a line of notions Macomber’s name. In October, Universal Yarn gave her her own brand of yarn.

“It just fell into my lap,” says Macomber. “I started writing books about a yarn store and the characters became so popular that people who publish knitting patterns asked me about doing patterns based around my fiction books.”

Macomber donates her knitting related profits to charity. Knitting has been a constant in Macomber’s life since childhood, when her undiagnosed dyslexia caused her to feel shame at her underachievement.

“I thought I was stupid,” she says. “I couldn’t read until the fifth grade, and I never knew I had dyslexia until my sons were diagnosed with it. Knitting gave me self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment. Today I keep a whole room in my house just for yarns.”

It’s hard to imagine she has time to take her fingers off a keyboard. Macomber has more than a 100 million books in print in 23 languages, many of them rising to the top of best seller lists – including one, “74 Seaside Avenue,” in 2007, hitting four at once: the New York Times, USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly and Bookscan.

In Washington, she has a staff of two full-time and two part-time assistants who do research and handle mail an average of 3000 letters a month from her 130,000-member fan list.

Macomber has felt the powerful drive to write from her youth.

“Every time I would think about being a writer, I throbbed, like when you burn yourself and you throb with pain. I think I was a natural-born story teller, but I had to learn to write, because of my dyslexia.”

With college not an option, and money tight as the babies kept coming, Macomber rented a typewriter and began to work, turning out manuscripts at her kitchen table through five years of rejections before one was finally bought.

By the 1990s, she was selling 150,000 copies of each book she produced, typically two to three per year. Another of her books, “This Matter of Marriage,” was also made into a movie in 1998.


This article originally appeared in our sister publication, Vero Beach 32963.

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