The Search for a Title

THE SEA TENDER is out of the running because my editor/publisher feels it’s too passive and doesn’t capture the emotional intensity of the story. The central theme of the story–in a teeny tiny inadequate nutshell–is the length a loving family (mother, sister and uncle) will go to to protect one of their own (fifteen-year-old Andy. Andy is mildy disabled with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. At first, he’s seen as a hero for rescuing people from an arson fire and is later the prime suspect in the same fire.) The setting is a barrier island (Topsail Island) off North Carolina. The title THE SEA TENDER referred to the name of the family’s old beach cottage and also had a second meaning I won’t reveal.
Current contenders, but I don’t think we’ve hit the right one yet:
Any ideas?


  1. pattie on March 1, 2007 at 8:45 am

    This is the first thing that came to mind: The Storm Within

  2. Margo on March 1, 2007 at 8:57 am

    Shadows of Sea Tender
    Return to Sea Tender
    Sea Tender’s Gift
    Sea Tender Remembered
    Child of Sea Tender
    Memories of Sea Tender
    As you can see, I really love the name Sea Tender, especially since I now know it was the name of the family’s cottage. I would love to see the name in the title somehow but I have to admit, I like what Pattie just came up with.

  3. Lorene Gudger on March 1, 2007 at 9:06 am


  4. pattie on March 1, 2007 at 9:17 am

    Margo, thanks. I liked the original and also your suggestions, Shadows of the Sea Tender and The Sea Tender’s Gift. Too bad the publisher doesn’t agree with us!

  5. Margo on March 1, 2007 at 9:32 am

    After The Storm
    Protecting Andy
    Shadows in Disguise
    Burning Shadows
    I just came up with these but still like SEA TENDER as part of the title…Thx, Pattie…I hope maybe her publishers will allow Sea Tender as ‘part of’ the title.

  6. Diane Chamberlain on March 1, 2007 at 11:20 am

    Y’all are such fun! Pattie I really like THE STORM WITHIN and will pass it along to my editor. Margo, I’ve tried all possible variations using THE SEA TENDER but they just don’t seem to like it. Lorene, thanks for your input on THICKER THAN WATER. It really does fit. Margo, the storm actually comes at the end of the story, so playing on one of your suggestions, I’m going to try BEFORE THE STORM. I’ll keep you posted!

  7. pattie on March 1, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    Cool–maybe ‘my’ title will be published! Must keep working on my novel to get it published too… Before the Storm is also a good one.

  8. Diane Chamberlain on March 1, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    Do you have a title for your book, Pattie, or is it too soon to tell us?

  9. Margo on March 1, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    I really like BEFORE THE STORM Diane! Pattie’s choice is very good too. Pattie, I didn’t know you were an author…would love to know what your writing!

  10. pattie on March 1, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    I’m not published in any type of fiction. (Yet!) I’m an editor at a national nonprofit and was previously an editor (features) at a local daily paper and I freelance a bit. My work in progress, Heartbroken in Hoboken, is about a 40-something whose husband leaves her for a ‘bimbette’–and how the 40-something picks up the pieces and moves on. Her Italian-American family runs a restaurant in Hoboken, she works for them but wants to open her own business, wants to be a florist. She’s got a not-to-precocious 12-year-old daughter and a wise-cracking self-named Jersey girl stockbroker friend. Boy, that’s a lot of adjectives! Thanks for asking!

  11. pattie on March 1, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    oh my. that should read “not-TOO-precocious”–I should be editing my own stuff, huh?!

  12. Brenda on March 1, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    Before I read anyone else’s…SHELTER FROM THE STORM
    P.S. I am in the library at grad school-glad I checked your site…
    Sea Tender’s Gift (I like that–the gift of the cottage–to the family-the shelter within…protection…)

  13. Brenda on March 1, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    P.S. When I look at my T. Kinkade paintings (prints), I am reminded of the comfort, protection, “gift” from inside-the family-the lights, etc…sounds like Andy’s family is protecting him in their little cottage…I love this story already.
    Margo-D. S. latest–let me know when you finish it. I am going to stick to my Frugal ways and try to buy less books…I have to give too many away-no room-and money in this economy is tight. I still love B. Delinsky too…her latest is good. She and Diane are similiar in their writing-never disappoint…

  14. Brenda on March 1, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    A question for Diane? What kind of car do you drive? Why am I asking this? I read in a magazine or on a book site or somewhere that an author who always has a particular car in her books, drives one of those…..You don’t have to tell us, Diane, but I thought that was curious. Are your characters you? You don’t seem like your characters to me…However, I have written stories and such and my characters sound so much like me-sometimes-that I have to tell my students and/or my fellow students (and prof) in grad school that the protagonist is NOT ME…
    What think ye? The rest of you???

  15. Brenda on March 1, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    P.S. I know I won’t stick to my NOT BUYING books-but will buy less…Margo-if you like mysteries and have not read Carlene Thompson-I love her books and always buy them to reread (She is from WV and writes stories set in WV)
    She teaches at the U. where I am getting my grad degree (No I have not met her)

  16. Diane Chamberlain on March 1, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    Pattie: >>Heartbroken in Hoboken>Sea Tender’s Gift (I like that–the gift of the cottage–to the family-the shelter within…protection…) >What kind of car do you drive?

  17. Anonymous on March 1, 2007 at 9:47 pm

    Thanks, Diane! I write in scenes and have to put them together, currently trying to write a [very] rough outline.
    Brenda, I like Carlene Thompson too–have only read one but she’s now on my “list.” My parents were from WV…

  18. Margo on March 2, 2007 at 11:32 am

    Brenda, I would be so honored if THE SEA TENDER’S GIFT was chosen for the title but from what Diane said earlier, I don’t think her editors want Sea Tender in the title at all. I first tried to come up with all kinds of titles using Sea Tender but Diane said they wanted something diff. I like Pattie’s title and I like Diane’s variation of AFTER THE STORM becoming ‘BEFORE THE STORM’…I also like SHELTER FROM THE STORM…hard choices! Brenda, plan on reading Danielle’s new book this spring as I’m still reading Nantucket books! (yeah!) Pattie, I love the title of your book and look forward to reading it someday. P.S. Brenda, will look up Carlene Thompson! PRIVATE RELATIONS I loved Diane…I could see you as Kit!

  19. Diane Chamberlain on March 2, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    No way was I Kit. When I realized I had to change her from being too much like me, I thought “what sort of person will I never ever be?” That’s how I came up with making her a runner. Then she took off, so to speak.

  20. Margo on March 2, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    I can see why you won the RITA award for this book Diane. Kit seemed like such a REAL person to me and the Chapel House just felt like a place where I wanted to be with friends.

  21. Diane Chamberlain on March 2, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    Thanks Margo. I think it won the RITA because I didn’t know what I was doing. LOL. I didn’t know how to write a book, so the result was fresh and different from the pack.
    I named the house where the group of friends lived the Chapel House after my sweet little golden retriever, Chapel.

  22. Margo on March 2, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    You’d never know you ‘didn’t know what I was doing’ Diane! The book was WONDERFUL and I thought it flowed together so well…I’ve seen pics of your golden’s from your website and ‘Chapel’ was gorgeous as was Ben and all your other beloved dogs. I love the fact you honored ‘Chapel’ by naming the house the same.

  23. brenda on March 2, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    Hard job-titles
    I am writing several essays and doing a short story (for grad school)–my titles are never good…
    I prefer writing my column-non fiction versus fiction. As soon as I know about graduation-will be a few weeks–and finances–(?new roof, etc.), I am going to hope to go to D’s conference-if not-surely next year–
    Where are your parents from in WV? It was signed anonymous…
    better go-too much to do-and thinking of returning (next year) to high school to teach…this year at middle school has been fine, but I love high school lit.
    Take care
    I would appreciate all of you sending me lists of books to read…for the summer…
    P.S. I am really really trying to go to D’s character workshop-the price is not too much…

  24. Diane Chamberlain on March 2, 2007 at 11:41 pm

    Brenda, I hope you can make it to the workshop. If this one works out well, though, I’ll certainly do more of them so don’t fret. Sounds like we need a “how to come up with a title” workshop.

  25. brenda on March 3, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    I agree-titles…I have just donated and given away two trunk loads of books-just no room any more-I read titles and titles…
    Hated to get rid of my books, but first, I needed to clear out the attic and secondly, I want others to enjoy them…
    Love the works of the authors in the pictures with you…

  26. brenda on March 3, 2007 at 6:39 pm

    I am so aggravated-just finished 7 essays for grad class…am having no problem working on author project (and my final project-if I get to graduate), but girls-I can’t get my short story going at all. I do not like to write short stories…never have…my characters are NOTHING…my setting worse…it is horrible. Any ideas?
    Irony-I am teaching short stories to my students (they are writing them-I can tell them what to do to make theirs better).
    NEXT YEAR-I think I mentioned this-going back to high school.
    Take care…
    Any advice
    My characters: Miranda and Jacob (story takes place in early l990’s with Miranda thinking about what happened in l960’s. I know Miranda is not a 60’s name, but I don’t want to go back and change it-my students like that name. Remember-this story is only for my class-nothing I will submit…
    Margo or D or K-describe Miranda and Jacob for me…please
    (She is at the hospital with her mother as she is dying-Jacob comes to see her–they connect…)
    Have thought about changing the story and doing one on two people who meet on Internet but one of the girls in class just met her fiance that way…I just love that idea…

  27. Diane Chamberlain on March 3, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    Is there something unresolved between Miranda and her mother? Guilt on either side? Pity? Shame? Or a love so deep Miranda can’t bear to lose her? Is M’s father still alive? What did M do in the 60’s that is haunting her now?

  28. Anonymous on March 4, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    No guilt, pity or shame…love so deep she can’t lose her…This story is fiction based on my mother’s cancer…at age 60…all true but the part about the boy…no father in the picture… (Diane-I have to tell you that you are amazing…we are alike in reading people…)How did you guess that something happened in the 60’s? Wow…
    I’ll think about that.
    Was so stressed today that I wrote another story about a teenager in first person-it is worse than the one with Miranda–think I’ll return to Miranda and dwell on the past.

  29. Margo on March 5, 2007 at 9:51 am

    Brenda I would definitely like to recommend THE BLUE BISTRO by Elin Hilderbrand for a great summer read. And quess what, it takes place on Nantucket Island! I’ve read 4 books by this author and liked this 1 the best of the 4. SWEETGRASS by Mary Alice Monroe was a goodie too. A friend of mine recommended THE SAME SWEET GIRLS by Cassandra King (wife of Pat Conroy) so I’m adding that to my list for the spring/summer along with Mary Alice Monroe’s new novel coming out early April called SWIMMING LESSONS and Elin Hilderbrand’s new novel in July called BAREFOOT.

  30. pattie on March 5, 2007 at 9:51 am

    Brenda, that was me–parents from WV, eastern panhandle, Romney area. Our family has a 100-acre farm in Purgitsville–was my grandparents’, then my parents moved their from Md. when they retired. When my mom became ill they took an apartment “in town” (Romney) where they lived until they passed away. The farm was sold to a cousin, so it’s still in the family. My sister & I couldn’t keep it as we live in Pa. & our parents needed the $$ from the sale. 100 acres sounds wonderful, but there is limited access to the land & most of it is wooded. Used to farm pulp wood off the land. Not worth what it would be in other areas.
    I’m sure that’s TMI, sorry, it all came tumbling out!

  31. Brenda on March 5, 2007 at 6:52 pm

    Romney is really in the boonies…I almost took a job around there-teaching-but too far “out” for me…sorry you couldn’t keep the place for a get away-beautiful area…
    Mary Alice Monroe-I had ALL of her books-donated…I was on the road to thinning out what I have–attic, bookshelves, etc…Went to one set of shelves. My daughter gave 500 to Indy library and my trunk is full-for friends and the library again…
    I like Mary Alice Monroe again.
    Will definitely look Hildebrand

  32. Brenda on March 5, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    Had fun today with my students (trying to get my mind off my horrible short story (wrote two more this weekend-have to choose one)…and redo it–anyway the kids and I came up with a list of late 20th and early 21st C words i. e. cell phone, sweet, my bad (I can’t stand that one), that’s so gay…etc. etc…some good things-some not so good. I learned MUCH today
    Easy to tell when books take place–the vocabulary…

  33. Brenda on March 5, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    Can’t wait to read Pattie’s book.

  34. pattie on March 6, 2007 at 8:41 am

    Thanks, Brenda! That will spur me on to finish it and try to get an agent. Romney is the boonies, for sure, but nice for a few days, in fact, my sister & I have been talking about spending a long weekend there in the spring. We still have cousins in the area besides the one who now owns the farm.

  35. Diane Chamberlain on March 6, 2007 at 10:26 am

    Brenda, about language/slang in a book: I am never sure which way to go on this one. On the one hand, it’s good to have the book reflect the current slang if it’s a contemporary. On the other hand, it quickly dates a book when the reader picks it up a few years later. I’m sure some of the things fourteen-year-old Lacey said in KEEPER OF THE LIGHT, which was written in 1990, sounded silly in 2003 when it was reissued.
    Where I like to be true to the language of the day is when I dip back into history. Maria’s flashbacks in THE BAY AT MIDNIGHT, for example. People know they’re reading about the thirties or forties and accept the slang easily.
    Sounds like you had fun with your class, though. I once found a website of 70’s slang a teacher and his class came up with. It was very helpful as I was writing about that time period. So maybe your class would enjoy seeing their list on the web.

  36. Betty Savage on March 6, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    My suggestion for a title is Inside the Heart…..
    suggesting the love of the family for this boy, the feelings that the boy has that make him able to rescue someone in danger despite what other problems he has, and the feelings we all have inside our hearts that enable us to accomplish all kinds of things.
    Diane, I just finished Secret Lives. I ordered it from a book seller on Amazon. Wow! What a story! The next time I think you’ll be at Quail Ridge Book Store at someone’s signing, I’ll bring it for you to sign. I have now read all the ones I bought from you at the book club meeting at Joyce’s; they did indeed help me through the droopy times of the winter with my SADD. Happy to say it was much less this winter than last. Thank you for your wonderful stories.
    They are all so different and touching. I always feel I have learned something about life and people and myself when I finish reading one of your books.

  37. Diane Chamberlain on March 6, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    Betty! Hi and welcome to the blog. That’s a pretty title: Inside the Heart. I’ll pass it along to my editor and we’ll see what happens.
    I’m so glad you enjoyed SECRET LIVES. That book holds a special place in MY heart because, although it was my third novel, it was the first where I felt I truly found both my voice and the type of story I loved to write–one with surprises and lots of emotion.
    And I’m especially glad you didn’t suffer from SADD too much this year. The daffodils are out now, the forsythias are starting to bloom, and we get to “spring forward” three weeks early! The worst of the winter doldrums are behind you.
    Thanks for all the kind words about my books.

  38. Brenda on March 7, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    Might be able to use some of them-not sure we could use others. Did you all know that
    THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID has another meaning…
    ?????? Don’t ask.
    My bad
    etc. etc.

  39. Brenda on March 7, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    Betty-welcome…I really like that title.
    As to SADD–my husband suffers from that-he just doesn’t call it that-I solved it this year and got him that YMCA membership-he had no signs at all…It is hard on folks especially living in cold weather as we do…Great for you.

  40. Brenda on March 9, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    Katherine Mansfield’s story, MISS BRILL
    Chekhov “Lady and a Dog”
    Give me a break…where on earth do they come up with these titles????
    Good luck Diane
    I am sure we could go on and on–teaching English for the past l3 years (8 years in this state so no retirement…) I am amazed at titles of books and stories.
    Diane’s books have great titles.

  41. Diane Chamberlain on March 9, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    I’m glad you’ve liked the titles, Brenda. Many were part mine/part the publisher’s. The only title I really don’t like is LOVERS AND STRANGERS (1990?). Totally the publisher’s, and had nothing to do with the story. Wasn’t a great book anyway, but I was still in the learning stage. . .

  42. Brenda on March 10, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    Lovers and Strangers lends itself to a genre in which you do not write…
    Who was the protagonist in that one?

  43. Diane Chamberlain on March 10, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    L and S was about Shawn and David, who get stranded in the Amazon jungle with several other people. They’re somewhat estranged since the death of their young daughter, and in the jungle they learn to reconnect. I initially titled it CANOPY. Well, you KNOW that would never fly with a publisher! To make matters worse, the cover they came up with had a man and a woman dressed to the nines, with roses and pearls. The book had a very tiny print run, but was reissued several years later with a more appropriate cover by HarperCollins.
    The think I liked about L and S was that I learned how to use secrets and revelations and foreshadowing as I wrote it. I also learned that you can sometimes do TOO MUCH research for a book and that readers really don’t want to know everything there is to know about dung beetles. 🙂

  44. Brenda on March 11, 2007 at 11:23 am

    Leaving much to the imagination works. One of the books I have by you-has a cover that has little to do with the inside–Brass Ring (looks like a flaming historical novel)-just goes to show (and I probably told you this already) DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS cover…
    I (personally) don’t think about covers too much…
    Have a good writing weekend–I feel as if we (on your website) are about to have a baby and some of us know “nothing about no birthin…” to paraphrase the character in GONE WITH THE WIND. 🙂 🙂

  45. Diane Chamberlain on March 11, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    >>I feel as if we (on your website) are about to have a baby and some of us know “nothing about no birthin…”

  46. Brenda on March 25, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    Just a thought…I hope readers won’t think that the book BEFORE THE STORM is about a horrible storm, a ship, etc. What was the name of the book out a few years ago that was about that? Then a movie? A really good book but not Diane’s genre… I love the title though…sounds great.

  47. Diane Chamberlain on March 26, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    Good point, Brenda. The publisher will have to make sure that the cover refelcts the book accurately.

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