Before she became a best-selling author, Debbie Macomber had to endure plenty of rejection.

“It was very discouraging,” Macomber said during a “Meet the Authors” event at Westerville Central High School (located in Delaware County) on Wednesday. “Negative voices were taunting me.”

Macomber, who has 200 million copies of her romance and women’s fiction books in print, said God gave her the gift of being a storyteller, but she had to learn how to be a writer. In addition, she was dyslexic, and didn’t learn to read until fifth grade.

Being a writer was always a dream for Macomber, and she was encouraged to follow that dream by her husband, Wayne. Achieving the dream took five hard years of rejection, though, some of which were while Wayne was unemployed, she said. Macomber recalled worrying about spending the $10 in postage it cost to mail a manuscript to a publisher.

One publisher told her not to send them any more manuscripts; and a literary type at a writers conference urged her to throw away another book. Although devastated, Macomber kept her faith and didn’t give up.

“You have to be willing to walk through that door (that says no admittance),” Macomber said. “That rejected manuscript has a home. Your job is to find it.”

After selling a few funny articles, Macomber did find a home for her books. Ten of her novels topped the New York Times bestseller list, five have been made into Hallmark Channel movies, as well as the Cedar Cove television series.

Macomber humorously recounted some of her favorite fan mail.

“You’re my favorite,” she read. “You put me to sleep every night.”

Another fan said Macomber was so good that they would even be willing to buy her books. On the other hand, another person said, “I’ve read every one of your books, and haven’t liked a one of them.”

One of her older fans wanted her to finish a sequel, writing, “hurry, I’m 85.”

During the question-and-answer session, she said the fictional Cedar Cove is her home of Port Orchard, Washington. She said Port Orchard is the kind of place where the dollar store has a sale, Easy Street is a dead end, and most everyone she knows owns a gun (which is why none of her characters are based on them).

Macomber writes her books in an office, with staff to help her with business matters. The office is filled with author signatures to inspire her. She sets deadlines of writing a certain number of pages each day, and it varies when her day ends.

She said she was most proud of the Cedar Cove series; one of her lesser-known works called Between Friends; and being an answer on the game show Jeopardy.

After the 45-minute talk, Macomber spent a couple of more hours signing books and taking pictures with hundreds of her mostly female fans. Her inscription included the biblical verse 2 Timothy 1:7, which reads, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

Those who attended received a copy of her latest hardcover, “Sweet Tomorrows” (Ballantine Books).

The “Meet the Authors” event was presented by the Westerville Public Library, and proceeds went towards Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library initiative, which provides free books for youngsters every month.

Debbie Macomber speaks during a “Meet the Authors” event at Westerville Central High School on Wednesday. Macomber speaks during a “Meet the Authors” event at Westerville Central High School on Wednesday.

Gary Budzak | The Gazette

Debbie Macomber speaks of struggles

By Gary Budzak

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Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.