Diane Chamberlain's Blog

June 21, 2014

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-near-miss-jet-aircraft-image6989491After a few week break for family emergencies (all is well) and too much work (and play), Story Weekend is back!  As a matter of fact, I think we should do a giveaway to celebrate our return. How about an Advance Reading Copy of The Silent Sister, which won’t be out until the fall? On Tuesday June 24th at 10pm EST, I’ll use a random number generator to pick someone who contributes a story this weekend. So, what is your ‘close call’ story?SILENT SISTER1


If you’re new to Story Weekend, here’s how it works: I pick a theme and you share something from your life that relates to that theme, however you interpret it. Thanks to all of you who’ve contributed. As always, there are a few “rules”:


▪ The story must be true


▪ Try to keep it under 100 words. Embrace the challenge! That’s about six or seven lines in the comment form. I want others to read your story, and most people tend to skip if it’s too long. I know how tough it is to “write tight” but I hope you’ll accept this as a challenge. Happy writing!


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Published on June 21, 2014 06:51 • 133 views

April 12, 2014

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-young-woman-pink-dress-summer-sunglasses-retro-poster-ba-beautiful-background-image32421158I’ll kick off this weekend’s topic with my own sunglasses story.


If  you’re new to Story Weekend, here’s how it works: I pick a theme and you share something from your life that relates to that theme, however you interpret it. Thanks to all of you who’ve contributed. As always, there are a few “rules”:


▪   The story must be true


▪   Try to keep it under 100 words. Embrace the challenge! That’s about six or seven lines in the comment form. I want others to read your story, and most people tend to skip if it’s too long. I know how tough it is to “write tight” but I hope you’ll accept this as a challenge. Happy writing!


 


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Published on April 12, 2014 07:57 • 54 views

April 4, 2014

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-cat-hiding-white-persian-inside-sofa-image32972355What’s your cat story? I know you’ve got one!


If  you’re new to Story Weekend, here’s how it works: I pick a theme and you share something from your life that relates to that theme, however you interpret it. Thanks to all of you who’ve contributed. As always, there are a few “rules”:


▪   The story must be true


▪   Try to keep it under 100 words. Embrace the challenge! That’s about six or seven lines in the comment form. I want others to read your story, and most people tend to skip if it’s too long. I know how tough it is to “write tight” but I hope you’ll accept this as a challenge. Happy writing!


 


 


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Published on April 04, 2014 18:55 • 93 views

March 28, 2014

KeeperMickey[1]I have many tales that fit this weekend’s theme! Like the time my best friend and I ran away . . . to my screened porch, with my parents’ permission. Or the runaway kids I worked with in San Diego. But I’ll start off the comments with a different kind of runaway story that happened just today. I look forward to seeing what meaning that word has for you.


If  you’re new to Story Weekend, here’s how it works: I pick a theme and you share something from your life that relates to that theme, however you interpret it. Thanks to all of you who’ve contributed. As always, there are a few “rules”:


▪   The story must be true


▪   Try to keep it under 100 words. Embrace the challenge! That’s about six or seven lines in the comment form. I want others to read your story, and most people tend to skip if it’s too long. I know how tough it is to “write tight” but I hope you’ll accept this as a challenge. Happy writing!


 


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Published on March 28, 2014 18:04 • 36 views

March 26, 2014

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-corner-spider-web-image21422874This week’s questions are taken directly from my Facebook readers. Here we go!


Q. Do you ever watch TV and if so what’s your favorite show?


A. Unless I’m on deadline, I watch either TV or a movie nearly every night I’m home, but I’m pretty picky about what I watch. I love a great series with intelligent writing and a gripping story. My current favorite: The Americans. Recent favorites: Downton Abbey,  Homeland, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black. I rarely watch sitcoms or reality TV these days, although I love the Sing-Off, the a cappella competition, and wish it was on right now! How about you? Have any TV suggestions for me?


Q. Why is it that you always include a key piece about “coloured” people in most of your books (love that by the way)?


A. Your spelling gives you away as one of my UK readers, and I wonder how our different countries’ racial histories  impact the reading of my books. That would make an interesting essay! You are right that my stories frequently involve African American characters. Often, it’s not intentional. As I imagine a scene, the person who pops into my head might show up blond or skinny or Asian or black. I may or may not let you as the reader know that, depending on how the description of that character impacts the story. Sometimes, though, it’s intentional–Lita Jordan and her family in Necessary Lies, for example. They helped me illustrate what life was like in 1960 Jim Crow North Carolina for both black and white. In several books, I’ve written about interracial relationships, and of course the race of both partners and the way they relate to one another is critical to the story. Race relations has always been an important topic for me. I was raised during the civil rights era in a New Jersey town that was, at that time, half black and half white. When I view the world, it’s through the lens of my growing up years, and I’m grateful that lens is so colorful.


Q. What do you still hope to do in life, both personally and professionally?


A. Yikes, there’s no way to answer that question in a few sentences, but I’ll try.


Professionally: I’d like to continue writing entertaining stories for as long as I’m having fun and my readers want more. After that, I’d like to write a memoir, and I also have a few ideas for novels that are different from my usual. I hope I’ll be writing my crazy time travel novel when I’m in my eighties!


Personally: I want to spend more time with my family and friends. I’d love to fly around the country visiting all the people I miss.


Problem: My personal and professional longings don’t mesh together very well, as one doesn’t allow much time for the other. I imagine that’s true for most of us.


Q. Did you always know you wanted to write? Were there always characters in your head?


A. I knew I wanted to write when I was in the first grade and our teacher read us E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, a chapter each day. What excitement and pathos and heroism in that story! Even now, I remember being struck by the realization that a human being could write something amazing and that since I was a human being, maybe I could do it too. I became much more practical when it came time to pick a career (social work), so even though I had that very early yearning, I set it aside for a long, long time.


Yes, there were always characters in my head. If I’d allowed anyone into my six-year-old brain back then, I probably would have been rushed into therapy. I loved going to bed at night so I could spend a couple of hours thinking up stories before drifting off to sleep. My parents probably wondered why I was always so tired in the morning after eight hours of “sleep”.


The other thing I did constantly as a kid was narrate my life. You know: “Diane reluctantly climbed the stairs to her room.  Peering out the window, she thought longingly of the puppy she wanted for her birthday.” Et cetera. I think I may have read way too much as a kid. Is that possible?


Thanks for your questions! I welcome more of them, or any thoughts of your own that these questions raise for you.


 


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Published on March 26, 2014 18:40 • 103 views

March 21, 2014

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-piggy-bank-glasses-isolated-image31424929I love picking weird topics for Story Weekend because I never know what interesting stories those topics will elicit in my readers. I’ll start it off with my own comment this time and then I hope you’ll join in.


If  you’re new to Story Weekend, here’s how it works: I pick a theme and you share something from your life that relates to that theme, however you interpret it. Thanks to all of you who’ve contributed. As always, there are a few “rules”:


▪   The story must be true


▪   Try to keep it under 100 words. Embrace the challenge! That’s about six or seven lines in the comment form. I want others to read your story, and most people tend to skip if it’s too long. I know how tough it is to “write tight” but I hope you’ll accept this as a challenge. Happy writing!


 


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Published on March 21, 2014 18:52 • 54 views

March 17, 2014

diane purple shirtEvery once in a while I like to answer some of the questions you’ve sent me. Some are related to writing, some are more personal, and my goal in these posts is to answer two of each. (Almost) anything goes, so feel free to add new questions with your comments and I’ll try to answer them in the future. Also, I hope you’ll share whatever thoughts the questions elicit from your own life experiences.


Q. What advice would you give someone who has a passion for writing?


A. This is a two part answer.


Part 1) If you have a passion for writing, do all you can to learn how to write well (take a class  in adult school, for example) and then, just do it. I hear all the time from people who say they have an idea for a book but can’t get started. I know how scary that blank page is, believe me. If you want to write a book, there is no way around putting the words on the paper. A page a day equals a book in a year, or at least it will equal a draft for you to revise–please never think that once you’ve written a draft, you’re finished. But go for it! Start writing.


Part 2) I am personally glad I didn’t major in writing in college. I do wish I had the skills I might have learned while getting a masters in fine arts, but working in the real world has given me experiences that influence everything I write. I always suggest that kids interested in writing go into a field that puts them in contact with people. The creative well needs to be constantly replenished.


Q. Why did you never have children?


A. Wow, heavy question! While growing up, I expected to marry and have kids. But when I was about nineteen and a special ed major, I began working with very disturbed and needy kids and I started worrying I wouldn’t be up to the task of taking care of children of my own. (Quite honestly, at that age I was right. It took me a long time to grow up.) Around the same time, a speaker from Zero Population Growth came to my college to speak. He talked about the wear and tear overpopulation had on the planet and encouraged us to have fewer children. It suddenly occurred to me I didn’t have to have kids. Shortly after, I met a man who felt the same way I did. We married with the agreement that we wouldn’t have children. Fast forward to when I was thirty years old and working as a social worker in the maternity unit and emergency room of a hospital. Every day I saw the two most significant and moving parts of life–birth and death–and I realized I was missing out on the first. For my husband, it was as though I was suddenly changing the rules of our relationship. We talked about it a lot, but we were both unsure of what we wanted. Around that time, I started writing and that creative act filled an empty place in me. I grew more comfortable with our decision not to have children and happily lost myself in my writing.


That’s not the end of the story, though. My husband and I eventually divorced and I married a man with three teenaged daughters. Although the marriage didn’t last, my relationship with ‘the girls’–now grown women–did, and I feel way way way beyond fortunate to have them and their little ones in my life. I really lucked out!


Q. What’s your favorite book you have written?


A. I have so many! I’d say Necessary Lies, my most recent novel, is probably my favorite because I’d wanted to write it for so many years. The story had the potential to be controversial and uncomfortable and it took a while for me to persuade my agent that I should write it. I loved the research–learning about something I knew nothing about (tobacco farming) as well as something I could all too easily imagine (a social worker having ultimate power over her clients). Other favorites are: The Bay at Midnight, because it’s set in my family’s former summer cottage; Secret Lives, because it’s the novel where I first found ‘my voice’; The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes, just because I love the story; the Keeper of the Light trilogy, because it was so much fun to write three books about a family I adored. I could go on and on!


Q. Which state is your favorite: New Jersey or North Carolina?


A. I’ve also lived for long periods in California (San Diego for 12 years) and Virginia (for 22) and I can honestly say I’ve loved every state I’ve lived in. But I’ll stick with NJ and NC in my answer. It’s not like comparing apples and apples, or even apples and oranges. It’s more like comparing apples and pizza. Or Taylor pork roll. Or sausage and pepper sandwiches. Get the idea? I miss Jersey food, and when I go back to visit my family, I eat plenty of it.


It’s always a shock to hear the New Jersey accents when I’m up there and to realize that I probably sounded the same way until I left the state at age twenty. I love both states, however I wouldn’t live in New Jersey again because of the cold and snowy winters. Brr!


Things I love about North Carolina: The warmth of the people. The beautiful coastline, which if you’ve read my books, you know I’m hooked on. Shrimp and Grits. The cost of housing. The lighthouses. The towering pines in the sandhills. The dunes at Nags Head. I’m crazy about my adopted state. New Jersey, though, will always tug at my heart. Special places from our childhood have a way of doing that.


 


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Published on March 17, 2014 18:59 • 76 views

March 12, 2014

book club NL inviteI Skyped with a book club recently as they discussed Necessary Lies and the host forwarded me a copy of the invitation she sent out to the members. I love it! She really took the story to heart. She gave me permission to share the invite with my readers (I blanked out all the members names, of course). I think my favorite item on the menu is “Meet me at the crick at midnight for some of Desiree’s cherry pie”. If you click on the image, you should be able to read it all.


If you’d like me to join your book club via Skype or FaceTime (or speakerphone), fill out the form on my website. If our schedules mesh, I’d love to chat with your group.


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Published on March 12, 2014 13:20 • 63 views

March 10, 2014

parm pork chopsThis may be my new favorite quick and easy way to prepare pork chops! I “pinched” the recipe from Just a Pinch and contributor Janet Crow. Yum!








Parmesan Baked Pork Chops
Ingredients:

- 4 boneless pork chops, 1/2 thick (mine were those amazing Costco 1″ thick chops and they worked just fine.

- 1 T olive oil

- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese (since I was making only 2 chops, I halved the cheese and bread crumbs and didn’t even need that much)

- 1 cup Italian flavored bread crumbs

- 1 tsp black pepper

- 1 tsp garlic powder





Directions:

- Combine the last 4 ingredients on a plate.

- Rub the chops with olive oil and then dip (coat) each one in the mixture. (my note: You could dip in egg if you prefer, but this worked really well). Make sure the chops are well coated.

- Line a pan with tin foil and spray with cooking spray. (I was out of foil, so I just gave my pan a swipe with olive oil. Cleaned up easily later).

- Place the chops in the pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. (I’d check them at 35. I cook chops to no more than 145 degrees so they’re still juicy and tender but the cooties are killed. My 1-inch chops only took 40 minutes. They were not terribly brown though–see the picture–so I gave them a zap under the broiler. Still not very brown. Janet’s were beautifully brown. Check out the picture on the Just Pinched site. What do you think made the difference?)

Enjoy!




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Published on March 10, 2014 09:53 • 55 views

March 8, 2014

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-plaid-bathrobes-image1639758I’ve never been a bathrobe kind of person, but a few months ago I was in Bed, Bath and Beyond and saw a display of bathrobes at a very reasonable price. On a whim, I bought one. Now I wonder how I ever lived without my big, soft, fuzzy pink robe. During this frigid winter, it was the only thing that got me out of my warm bed in the morning. Well, that and two impatient dogs with their ice-cold noses.


So what’s your bathrobe story? Maybe that word conjures up a family member or an ancient robe you’ve had half your life. Tell us about it in under 100 words.


If  you’re new to Story Weekend, here’s how it works: I pick a theme and you share something from your life that relates to that theme, however you interpret it. Thanks to all of you who’ve contributed. As always, there are a few “rules”:


▪   The story must be true


▪   Try to keep it under 100 words. Embrace the challenge! That’s about six or seven lines in the comment form. I want others to read your story, and most people tend to skip if it’s too long. I know how tough it is to “write tight” but I hope you’ll accept this as a challenge. Happy writing!


 


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Published on March 08, 2014 07:26 • 55 views