Industrial-Sized Deals Shop all Back to School Shop Women's Handbags Learn more nav_sap_plcc_6M_fly_beacon $5 Albums $5 Off Fire TV Stick Subscribe & Save Shop Popular Services gotS5 gotS5 gotS5  Amazon Echo Starting at $99 Kindle Voyage Metal Gear Solid 5 Shop Back to School with Amazon Back to School with Amazon Outdoor Recreation STEM Toys & Games
Kindle Price: $10.99

Save $5.00 (31%)

These promotions will be applied to this item:

Some promotions may be combined; others are not eligible to be combined with other offers. For details, please see the Terms & Conditions associated with these promotions.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Flip to back Flip to front
Audible Narration Playing... Paused   You are listening to a sample of the Audible narration for this Kindle book.
Learn more

Once Upon a Time: Discovering Our Forever After Story Kindle Edition

49 customer reviews

See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"

Length: 224 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Audible Narration
Switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible narration with Whispersync for Voice. Add narration for a reduced price of $10.99 when you buy the Kindle book.
Audible Narration: Ready

Rising Strong by Brené Brown
Rising Strong
Check out one of this month’s featured new releases in Business & Money by Brené Brown. Learn more | See related books

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Debbie Macomber, with more than 100 million copies of her books sold worldwide, is one of today's most popular authors. The #1 New York Times bestselling author is best known for her ability to create compelling characters and bring their stories to life in her books. Debbie is a regular resident on numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times (70 times and counting), USA TODAY (currently 67 times) and Publishers Weekly (47 times). Visit her at

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Once Upon a Time



Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.

—PSALM 107:2

Once upon a time, in a land not far away, I grew up dreaming of castles, handsome knights, and princes on fiery steeds, like many young girls. My family was an ordinary one, with a mother and a father and one wicked brother who sold copies of my diary to all the boys in my junior high class.

Every fortnight of my childhood I would journey to the library, seeking more tales of valor and knights. As I opened the heavy library door, juggling a stack of books, the hush of the cavernous room felt like a medieval priory. The smell of books and ink, leather and floor wax, brought a smile of eager anticipation. Usually I had finished my last book the night before and couldn’t wait to begin a new adventure, hopefully one with knights willing to carry me off to the land of enchantment.

Because I am a slow reader, it took me a long time to read each story. Consequently I relished every scene, each fair maiden and fearsome dragon. I never understood why other kids were able to read so quickly. Not me. I had to read each sentence slowly and thoughtfully, but word by word, the story emerged. Like magic. I’d venture to faraway places, reading about princes and castles, but I also read about girls who lived in small towns just like Yakima, Washington.

After returning my stack of books to the counter, I would head for my favorite corner of the library to begin the deliciously difficult job of choosing a new stack of books. As I slid a book off the shelf and fingered the adhesive label on the spine, I anticipated the adventure I knew was tucked between the covers.

Someday . . . perhaps I could write these kinds of stories. Already the ideas whirled around inside my head. I never could read a book without making up a story of my own.

That dream never changed. I knew I wanted to write stories someday. Stories that would sit on library shelves just like these. Stories just waiting for someone to open the cover and join in the adventure.

Most people smiled indulgently when I shared my dream. Once, when I told a teacher that I planned to be a writer and one day I would write a book, she smiled and patted my hand. “You can’t write, Debbie,” she said. “why, you can’t even spell.”

But the dream refused to go away.

Then one day, when I was only nineteen, a handsome electrician drove up in a shiny black convertible. It wasn’t a steed, but I knew a prince when I saw one, and before long we were married. Soon we were living in a two-bedroom cottage with a white picket fence.

As often happens when a fair damsel meets her Prince Charming, children followed, and soon the two-bedroom cottage became a four-bedroom castle. The kingdom flourished and prospered, and between soccer games and car pools, ballet classes and clarinet lessons, I dreamed about love and enchantment and the magic of romance. Money was scarce in those days, but there was never a shortage of books. Our four children knew their mommy loved to tell stories. That was a good thing, since they loved to listen to them. As I fixed frugal feasts that could stretch a pound of hamburger six ways to Sunday, I still dreamed of writing books and telling stories.

A dream that never dies eventually demands attention. Despite a budget that allowed nothing frivolous, I took that leap of faith and answered the call to write. We rented a typewriter for twenty-five dollars a month. Twenty-five whole dollars! That was a big chunk out of the castle coffers in those days.

But I faithfully wrote on that typewriter every day. I spun stories, wrote articles, and kept at it faithfully, despite receiving rejection after rejection. After a number of years, my patient prince came to me with a handful of bills. “Darling,” he said as he put his arm around me, “I’m going to have to ask you to get a job. Something that pays money.”

I looked at my typewriter, sitting on the kitchen table beside a mountain of typed pages tied into book-sized bundles with twine.

“We’re just not making it,” he said, “and I don’t know what else to do.”

I knew he was right. Maybe the fairy tale was ending. I knew that I couldn’t work, care for the kids, and still follow my dream. Maybe some dreams were just not meant to come true. I packed away the manuscripts and cleaned up the typewriter in preparation for returning it.

That night I didn’t sleep. I kept thinking about my dream.

In the wee hours, the prince stirred and saw me awake. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

“I think I could have made it,” I whispered. “I don’t know why, but I think I could have made it as a writer.”

My prince was quiet for a very long time before he took my hand. “If it means that much to you, then go for it.” He squeezed my hand. “We’ll figure something out. We’ll do whatever we have to do so you can write.”

And somehow we got by. Every day the two older children came home from school to the sound of typewriter keys clacking away. My big break didn’t happen the next year. Or the next. In fact, it didn’t happen for five long years. Then one day I received that magical telephone call. A publisher offered to buy my book.

That special story was the first of a whole bookcase full of books I would eventually write. I wrote book after book, and, I am grateful to say, readers bought those books. Some even went to the very library I used to haunt as a child. With confidence, they slid my books off the shelf, knowing they would find satisfying stories tucked between the covers.

To this day I walk up the staircase into my writing turret and continue to tell stories. Even though my publishers have sold more than one hundred million of my books, I am not finished telling stories.

I plan to write happily ever after.


I was born to be a storyteller. I’ve read stories, collected stories, written stories, and loved stories my entire life. There are no words that stir my soul more than “once upon a time.”

I relish every aspect of being a writer, but through the years I’ve had an insight about myself as an author: I’m happiest when I’m writing. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy meeting my readers, doing interviews, and everything else that is involved in my career, but in the end—and the beginning—I am a writer, and telling a story is what’s most important to me.

The very first time I visited that library in my hometown, I was only four years old. When Miss Bunn, the librarian, handed me that very first book—a Little Golden Book—my mother said I took it with both hands, looked at it for the longest time, and then pressed it against my heart. My mother could not pry the book away from me. My love of books never waned. I struggled with reading until I was ten years old, but once the concept of sounding out words took hold in my mind, those books I carried home from the library never gathered dust. I read them under the covers long after the lights should have been out. I knew I needed to sleep, but the story kept moving forward, and I was caught up in the magic and wonder of it all. This was the same magic and wonder I longed to create someday myself. When I finally closed the book, sleep still eluded me. I would often lie awake into the wee hours of the morning, reliving the plot and the beauty of the story . . . and dreaming of one day creating my own.

I began to fantasize about writing my own stories not long after those library days. It didn’t matter that I suffered from what I came to understand was dyslexia or that I was a creative speller. (I still am!) I knew I wanted to tell stories. A fellow writer, Katherine Anne Porter, said it best: “A story is like something you wind out of yourself. Like a spider, it is a web you weave, and you love your story like a child.”

What I didn’t know at that time was that not only would all my writing wishes come true (above and beyond anything I could have ever dreamed or imagined), but I would come to see my own life as one grand story.

That’s what this book is about. Not the stories I write, nor the story of my life, though both will be part of the telling. I wanted to write this book to talk about Story. Story with a capital S. I want to help you view your own life as one continuous story. One never-ending story. And when you do, I hope you will recognize how God has held you in the palm of His hand the same way He has me.

Madeleine L’Engle, in her book The Rock That Is Higher: Story as Truth, wrote:

Story makes us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving. Why does anybody tell a story? It does indeed have something to do with faith, faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose or say or do matters, matters cosmically. It is we humans who either help bring about, or hinder the coming of the kingdom . . . . Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.1

We are the stories other people read. Those stories have power—power to heal and power to change, power to direct and encourage. Story enriches our life and the lives of those around us.

As I travel around the country and talk to people, I see stories. One of my joys when meeting readers is hearing their stories. Often they touch and inspire me, and again I am reminded that God has been able to use even me, through the power of story.


People have told stories as far back as we can trace. I recently listened to a recording of my friend Liz Curtis Higgs speaking about the story of Ruth from the Bible. Ruth lived about 3,200 years ago, but the book of Ruth wasn’t committed to writing until the ninth century BC. That means that the story was preserved in oral tradition from generation to generation. Those who don’t understand the sacred trust of an ancient storyteller might wonder how faithful the story eventually recorded was to the actual event. No worry. There’s little chance of change. Generations heard these stories over and over and the tiniest deviation would be cause for the storyteller to be run out of the village ahead of an angry mob. People take their stories seriously.

Each culture has had its storytellers, from the Scottish bards to the African griots. Storytelling has been a noble profession from earliest memory. Eventually stories moved from oral tradition, the spoken word, to the written word. With the advent of the printing press, these marvelous tales of old migrated to books. In modern times, our stories are also told on screens both large and small.

E. M. Forster, in his classic book Aspects of the Novel, likens story to a tapeworm, its beginning and end completely arbitrary. He illustrates his point with the storytelling of Scheherazade, the legendary Persian queen and narrator of One Thousand and One Nights, summing up the fact that the story is about, in three simple words, what happens next. Here’s what Forster wrote:

Scheherazade avoided her fate because she knew how to wield the weapon of suspense—the only literary tool that has any effect upon tyrants and savages. Great novelist though she was—exquisite in her descriptions, tolerant in her judgments, ingenious in her incidents, advanced in her morality, vivid in her delineations of character, expert in her knowledge of three Oriental capitals—it was yet on none of these gifts that she relied when trying to save her life from her intolerable husband. They were but incidental. She only survived because she managed to keep the king wondering what would happen next. Each time she saw the sun rising she stopped in the middle of a sentence, and left him gaping. “At this moment Scheherazade saw the morning appearing and, discreet, was silent.” This uninteresting little phrase is the backbone of the One Thousand and One Nights, the tapeworm by which they are tied together and the life of a most accomplished princess was preserved.2

Aren’t we just like Scheherazade’s husband, in that we want to know what happens next?


Storytelling is a natural, time-honored way of making sense of seemingly random events. When I am writing my books I’ll often begin by telling several different stories that seem unconnected until, little by little, I bring the stories and the characters together and start to intertwine them. By the time the reader reaches the end of the book, hopefully the plot has magically come together. I explain, when people ask, that this form of storytelling is like braiding hair. Each thick strand is turned over the others, building, one upon another, until the braid is complete.

Culminating all the elements of the plot is important. We work to make sense of the world around us. We want to make sense of the people we know and of what is happening to us. The writer Joan Didion said, “Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind, there would have been no reason to write. I write entirely to find out what I am thinking, what I am looking at, what it means.”


From the time I was that little girl with a dream, I also had a hunger for God. I didn’t really come to know Him in the same close relationship I enjoy now until after I was married and had two of my children. Still, for as long as I can remember I had an unquenchable longing for Him. From the moment I intentionally made Him the centerpiece of my life in 1972, I’ve taken the book He wrote and read it faithfully cover to cover each and every year. And you know what I realized? The Bible, from the first pages of Genesis, has plenty of lessons and ideas, proverbs and poems. However, when Jesus came along, He was the God who told stories. Moses may have delivered the tablets that began with “Thou shalt not . . .” but Jesus sat down with an expectant crowd gathered around Him and began, “A farmer went out to sow his seed . . .”

So we will look at story through the pages of this book. You’ll notice that I’ve pulled familiar phrases from classic stories and folktales for the chapter titles. For me, just hearing the words “a long, long time ago,” or “in a faraway land,” or “happily ever after,” offers a sense of anticipation, of excitement and expectation. A story is about to unfold, and those key words tell all we need to know about the kind of story it will be.

Liz Curtis Higgs, in talking about the story of Ruth, tells us that the Hebrew word that opens the story, wayehi, which is translated as “In the days,” or “And it came to pass,” actually embodied so much more to those Hebrew listeners. When they heard wayehi, they leaned in eagerly so as not to miss a word, because it literally meant, “Trouble is on the horizon but redemption is coming.”

Don’t you love that? With a single word, the author of Ruth managed to capture the attention of the audience. Now that’s the power of a good storyteller.


I’ve come to realize that God wants us to see our lives in terms of story—from an eternal perspective. Trouble is on the horizon—it’s always there in one form or another—but we have nothing to fear because redemption is on the way. Or, as you’ve seen written on T-shirts, “Please be patient, God is not finished with me yet.”

As we explore ways to see our lives as one grand story, we’re going to realize that all the parts—the good parts and the bad, the trouble and the heartache, the disappointments and the discouragements we face—are important to the story, and, as we already know, redemption is coming!


Remember the scene in the movie Out of Africa where Karen Blixen’s native majordomo, Kamante, inquires about the stack of manuscript pages she has on her worktable? She tells him it is her book. He points to the manuscript. “This is not a book.” Kamante goes to the bookshelf and takes out a book. “This is a book,” he says patiently. He turns the book upside down. “See, this pages don’t fall out.” He puts his hand on the stack of loose pages and asks how she will make “this pages” into a book.

He is asking an age-old question, really. What do we do with our story, with all these stories we are gathering? I’ll have to admit, I’m a little uncomfortable bringing up the subject of journals. Someone pointed out once that I have talked about journals and journaling in every single one of the nonfiction books I’ve written. I can’t help myself. I’m a writer. A storyteller. If we are going to collect stories, we need to have some way to keep them and to pass them on. We can’t rely on our memories. Those are too fleeting. I am so grateful for the journals I’ve written through the years. They are my legacy to my children, my day-to-day ramblings about my life, my dreams, my hopes, and my happenings.

If we are going to live intentionally—if we are going to pay attention—we need to capture ideas and stories in some way. The easiest way is, of course, journals. Just get a blank book or even a writing tablet. Aside from the diary I kept as a child, my earliest journal, when our family was young, was a spiral-bound notebook. It was all we could afford. Your own need not be fancy. What’s important is that you begin to write down everything you remember and collect. For the last few years I’ve used my journal sort of like a collection tool—a scrapbook—for letters or special birthday cards, announcements, or newspaper articles. You can organize your journal any way you like. Develop your own system, but, in the meantime, just begin to capture the everyday details of your life and write them down.

I have the journal my mother kept during World War II while my father was overseas. It was one of those five-year ones, with only a few lines for each day. It amazes me how much my mother was able to say with a few short sentences. Mom and Dad were married just before my father shipped overseas. Two days after the wedding ceremony my father was on a troop carrier taking him to England. One of my favorite entries is from the day Dad had roses delivered to Mom for their anniversary. I’m certain he involved his youngest sister, my aunt Gerty, in this. The entry in Mom’s diary says: Roses from Ted. Oh, my heart.

Six simple words that say so much.


Madeleine L’Engle called her journal a “commonplace book.” It was a big brown Mexican leather notebook. She copied words that caught her fancy, passages from books, quotes, and sayings. She said, “All I’m looking for in it is meaning, meaning which will help me live life lovingly.”3

You might not be a paper-and-ink sort of person. You may be more comfortable creating a journal on your computer. There are many apps and software programs available for this very purpose.

Like Madeleine L’Engle, I also write down quotes and sayings that attract my attention. I keep those in my Gratitude Journal. (Yes, I keep more than one journal. What can I say? It’s the writer in me.)

Something else from Madeleine L’Engle—she said, “When I have a profound personal experience, I write it down in my journal and that way I am working through it. To some extent, I am objectifying it. It is no longer just subjective. But I’m also setting it in my memory. If you want to put it in a novel or a book, it does have to wait. It’s very important to set down what you’re feeling while it’s happening.”4

The important thing is to write it down. Don’t worry about “doing it right” or about grammar or about writing a memoir that will hit the New York Times best-seller list. Just get the descriptions and stories down in your own words.

Trust your voice.

Trust your stories.


In writing this book, I’m not suggesting everyone needs to pen his or her own memoir or record his or her story for posterity. This is more about developing an awareness—a commitment to remembering. That’s not to say I’m not going to encourage you to record your story in some way for your family or begin a journal or two. But I am going to look at the elements that make up a good story and ask you to think about the story God is writing with your life. One of my favorite quotes is from Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Look at your own life and my guess is that as you do, you will see God’s fingerprints, His loving, guiding hand upon you.

So let’s dig in and start figuring out ways to examine our lives and tell our stories. Here are some ways you may want to explore your own story:

• Telling your story in a group setting. After you read through this book, you may want to gather a group of friends or a women’s group at church or your reading club and go through the book together. I offer what I call storytelling prompts at the end of each chapter to help tickle your memories and offer something to chew on. These prompts make great conversation starters if you use this book in a group setting. (After all, there is nothing better for getting to know people than sharing stories.)

• Telling your story through journaling. You might want to take a journal and use the storytelling prompts to begin to explore your own “once upon a time.” But don’t stop there. As I talk about story, apply my story and the stories of others in the book to your own life. What was your beginning? Who are the characters in your story? What unique challenges have you had to face? If you allow yourself to write freely, you’ll be surprised at the things you remember.

• Telling your story through the arts. Some readers are not writers. Writing in a journal sounds like a school assignment to them. That’s okay. You might want to tell your story through the pages of a photo album or scrapbook. If so, get out your scissors and glue and begin to piece your own story together. If you are a quilter, there is a great tradition of storytelling quilts, like album quilts. We can be creative in how we tell our stories.

• Telling your story out loud. Folktales and fairy stories all started out in the oral tradition—told around a fire. You may want to revive this storytelling tradition in your family. When we tell stories about ourselves to our families we forge the strongest link possible—shared history. I think it would be great fun to use the storytelling prompts at the end of each chapter as dinnertime conversation starters. If a child is allowed to tell his own story at the table, he will begin to see his life from a broader perspective. And, of course, it is important to let each story be told without correction or interruption. (We’ll talk more about quieting the critics later in the book.) Just think of the richness that awaits us if the table or the gathering holds many generations that can share stories together. Don’t forget, we pass along our values, generation to generation, through storytelling.

• Telling your story through memoir. If you are interested in writing your own memoir, go for it! You’ll be leaving a treasure for your family.

Shall we start?

Once upon a time . . .

Storytelling Prompt

What is your “In the beginning” story as told to you by family? What is your own earliest memory?

The Importance of Remembering

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as the author who wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland under the pen name Lewis Carroll, knew the importance of remembering. He was a pioneer photographer who spent hours staging artful images of the people in his life. He kept journals and wrote books—both math books and his delightful Alice stories for children. But one of the ways he marked his life was to designate never-to-be-forgotten days as “white stone days.” In his journals, he told about a particularly meaningful outing and then wrote, “Mark this day with a white stone.” To him this meant that he knew he would pass that way only once and he wanted to remember.

Mark Batterson, the pastor of National Community Church in Washington DC, says in his book Soulprint, “Without memory, we’d have to relearn everything every day. Without memory, we’d forget who we are and where we’ve been. Without memory, we’d lose faith because we’d forget the faithfulness of God.”5

Later in the book he says, “If you’re willing to do some personal archaeology, you’ll dig up some invaluable artifacts.” And he goes on to say, “Digging into your past can be emotionally exhausting, but remember, your destiny is hidden there. Pray for a spirit of revelation. Make sure you have a journal to record your thoughts. Start looking for those mysterious symbols that can be turned into lifesymbols.”6

Deuteronomy 4:9 says, “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”

Product Details

  • File Size: 5074 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Howard Books; Reprint edition (May 28, 2013)
  • Publication Date: May 28, 2013
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008J2AH4K
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #453,934 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?

More About the Author

Debbie Macomber is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and one of today's most popular writers with more than 170 million copies of her books in print worldwide. In her novels, Macomber brings to life compelling relationships that embrace family and enduring friendships, uplifting her readers with stories of connection and hope. Macomber's novels have spent over 750 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Eight of these novels hitting the number one spot.

In 2015, Macomber's all-new hardcover novels include Last One Home (March), Silver Linings (August) and Dashing Through The Snow (October). Paperback editions will be issued in 2015 for Blossom Street Brides (March) and her Christmas novel, Mr. Miracle (October). In addition to fiction, Macomber has published cookbooks; inspirational and nonfiction works; as well as acclaimed children's books.In addition to fiction Macomber has also published two bestselling cookbooks; numerous inspirational and nonfiction works; and two acclaimed children's books.

Macomber's Cedar Cove Series became Hallmark Channel's first dramatic scripted television series, Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove, now enjoying its third season. In addition, Macomber's upcoming Christmas novel, Dashing Through the Snow, will be adapted as a Hallmark Channel movie in fall 2015.

Macomber owns the Victorian Rose Tea Room and A Good Yarn Shop, named after those she featured in her novels. She and her husband, Wayne, serve on the Guideposts National Advisory Cabinet, and she is World Vision's international spokesperson for their Knit for Kids charity initiative.

A devoted grandmother, Debbie and her husband Wayne live in Port Orchard, Washington (the town on which her Cedar Cove novels are based) and winter in Florida.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Beth H on May 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Once Upon A Time: Discovering Our Forever After Story is a highly inspirational and biblically based book of encouragement. Debbie Macomber refers to her own life experiences to inspire us to write our own life stories and encouraging a relationship with God. Finding her own relationship in 1972, she shares with us her journey and uses her literary experience and references to help us to do the same.

I have to admit that I didn't realize this was a work of non-fiction. This is not my typical fiction, paranormal or romance read. That being said, I enjoyed Debbie's life story, it was humorous and encouraging. Her relationship is God and Christian beliefs is self evident. The idea that we are all creating our own stories and was the purpose in writing this book was edifying. I do believe this book would perfectly suit the The Perfect Driving Life fans and would be great for church book club reads.

This ARC copy of Once Upon A Time was given to me by Howard Books in exchange for a honest review. This books is to be published May 28, 2013.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By THE SELF-TAUGHT COOK on May 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In Once Upon a Time, fiction bestseller Debbie Macomber challenges the reader to find and share their own life story. The author shares her personal journey from a dyslexic childhood to a New York Times bestselling author. Ms. Macomber shares personal anecdotes from her own life, such as the teacher who told her she would never be a writer. These honest recollections give the a feeling of a conversation between friends, rather than an impersonal book.

Each chapter covers a specific area of discovering and writing one's story, and ends with a storytelling prompt. For instance, Chapter Two ends with a prompt to describe your childhood home in detail, while Chapter Five urges the reader to write about their name; i.e., who chose the name, the meaning, and what you would rename yourself if you could. Each chapter also begins with an appropriate Scripture from the Bible. One of my favorites was Chapter Three, which began with Deuteronomy 32:7.

This is not only a challenge for all of us to find our personal story and write it, or share it in some way, but it is also a fascinating look at how one writer has honed her craft. For writers, readers, and wanna-be writers (that would be me), this is a must-read.

5 stars

I received Once Upon A Time by Debbie Macomber compliments of Simon & Schuster Publishers for my honest review and received no monetary compensation for a favorable one.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By on June 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Debbie Macomber is indeed a NAME, as her women's fiction titles hitting the bestseller lists one after another for more than a decade. On a different track, she has written inspirational books that include personal anecdotes and draw lessons from her own life, reading and spiritual reflection. Here in ONCE UPON A TIME, her thematic framework is storytelling. Drawing on her experience and insight, she answers questions any would-be writer might ask. What goes into a good story? What makes fictional characters seem lifelike? How can you keep readers' attention?

Most of the 17 well-titled chapters introduce and jump off from specific literary elements, techniques, or roles: setting, protagonist, backstory and motive, plot, conflict, mission, crisis, supporting characters, mentors, spiritual forces, resolution and redemption. Some of these categories overlap, but when caught up in the chatty prose, one hardly notices.

In the grand scheme of life, God, the great storyteller, provides us all with the elements that ultimately weave a good tale. With devotional reflection, personal examination, journaling and group discussion, we, Macomber's readers, can make sense of our journeys and craft our stories.

Toward the end of the book, in a chapter that starts, "In my books I often create that moment when it looks like all will be lost," Macomber vulnerably reveals her own great trauma, a mother's grief at the tragic death of her veteran son, lost to depression and suicide. Even here she looks for and eventually finds redemption.

The jacket copy doesn't really describe this as a book for people who want to write their personal narratives, and yet that seems to be its recurring purpose.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Riley on June 1, 2013
Format: Audio CD
I love Debbie Macomber books! I listened to this book on my commute to and from work (60 miles round trip in So Cal traffic). And it kept me entertained throughout, I'm even on my second time through. I have never read a nonfiction book of Macomber's before, and this was a great first. Macomber weaves her faith in God throughout, she talks about her writing style, and she helps want to be writers in this book. I felt like I was meeting a new friend - one I really connected with! This book encourages you to tell your own life story, with many ideas on just how to do that. It provides lots of food for thought. The part that moved me the most was when Macomber shared about the death of her son. Great listening! I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good story!

I need to mentioned the reader of this book on CD, Beth DeVries. She did a lot in making this book come alive to me. Her voice was perfect, soothing, and I could listen to her read for hours!

Thank you to the publisher, Howard Books, for a free review copy in exchange for an honest review. I loved it!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews


There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in