The Deadline Nightmares have Begun

iStock workload.jpgLiterally.
I have a month left to go on AFTER THE STORM. In my waking hours, I feel marvelously in control (except for a few little glitches in the last couple of chapters). I’m on target (well, almost). I know my characters inside out (this is true). The novel is taking those twists I never imagined, enriching the story and making me say “aha!” several times a day.
But, as is always true around this time in the process, my dreams, as my character Maggie would say, “totally suck.” It’s the usual stuff: I’m hopelessly lost in a strange city. I’m back in high school, taking an exam for which I haven’t studied. I’m about to walk on stage in a play iStock_killer.jpgand I don’t know my lines. I’m rushing to get to a class, but one obstacle after another appears in my path. I’m in terrible danger, but each time I try to dial 911, my finger slips on the last digit.
I don’t even want to go to sleep.  
iStock_evacutaion route.jpg
Clearly, after writing eighteen novels, I still am not the confident lass I pretend to be. How about the rest of you? Readers of my blog are from many different professions and iStock_rex.jpgwalks of life. Do you still have performance nightmares?  


  1. Leigh on February 8, 2008 at 8:56 am

    What happens in the publishing world if you miss a deadline? Do they drop you, yell at you, do you have to pay penalties, etc.? Or do you just not want to ever do it becasue it is unprofessional? I have always wondered this…

  2. Margo on February 8, 2008 at 10:04 am

    LOl with these pics Diane! Oddly, I had a weird dream last nite…I was catching a flight to London and felt I had plenty of time to just wander around the airport. When I returned to my gate the plane was gone!…noone could explain where it went because it wasn’t time for it to leave so all of us were searching to find the plane. I don’t know what it means but the fact that I’m on a deadline with 3 paintings has caused me to have strange dreams/nightmares lately. I DO feel very confident in what I’m doing and only had 1 incident a few weeks ago where I asked myself ‘what if they don’t like it’…but I got beyond that feeling pretty quickly and am giving this project my all…and I feel good about it too. But I still wonder what these latest dreams are trying to tell me. (-:

  3. Diane Chamberlain on February 8, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Leigh, the problem with missing a deadline is that it doesn’t give the publisher enough time to get out advanced reading copies, etc. If you’re very late, it screws up their entire publishing schedule. Because BEFORE THE STORM took a bit longer than anticipated to complete (i’ve never tried to write two books in one year before), I’m pushing the deadline on AFTER THE STORM, so really need to get it in on time. My editor’s a dream and very flexible, but for the sake of the book, I need to stick to the deadline.
    Margo, I can’t wait to see this big project you’re working on! Be sure to send me a pic when you’re done and I’ll try to get it on the blog. I’d say your dream indicates a bit of subconscious stress, but at least all the other passengers were stressing along with you! Last night I dreamt I saw an old boyfriend and he had one of those pop-up buttons on his leg (the kind turkeys have to let you know when they’re done). What the heck does THAT mean??

  4. Margo on February 8, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    LOL! Sounds to me like your dream of the old boyfriend meant ‘I’m done with the old life & here I am ready to begin a new life’!
    I think your right about the stress…I never thought of it that way. I’ll be sure and send you pics when the project’s done. So I don’t keep you in suspense, I was commissioned by a major company to paint 3 large canvas’s for their building and each is 54×54. They asked me to come up with an idea…that particular night I dreamt about it, got up the next a.m. and sketched it out so it would be exactly as I dreamed and showed them the proposal the next week. They loved the idea of 3 diff paintings being outdoor cafe scenes in 3 diff countries…little did I know that their business had companies located in the 3 countries I chose and 10 others around the world. You can probably quess I was shocked since I had NO idea they were around the world!

  5. Brenda on February 8, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    Diane-the pressure can be so tough…Last year, at this time, I was studying/taking comps, finishing a project, taking classes, and getting ready to graduate with my Master’s in Humanities (plus teaching full time). It is amazing…now the pressure continues as we finish one semester in high school, do grades, and begin again-just as in college-with new students…
    I am tired…It seems that we live for the weekends to rest, and then we have one million things to do then…
    Let’s hope that soon things will get better-the economy will improve-and everyone won’t have to work so hard…
    In the mean time, enjoy finishing your book-then take a hard-earned break…

  6. Julie on February 8, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    I laughed out REALLY loud about the pop-up thermometer on the ex-boyfriend’s leg. That is downright hilarious!
    I wrote a short drama for a church service in a few weeks, never imagining they’d ask ME to play one of the parts. Now I’m having to decide if I have the guts. I have major stage fright, which is kind of strange because I have no fear whatsoever of talking to people in general, even though I was a really shy kid. They’re actually talking about doing it as a video, taped ahead of time, which almost seems scarier, because then I’ll have to watch myself on a huge screen.
    This could be a real-life “performance nightmare”! Eek!!

  7. Diane Chamberlain on February 9, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Julie, if you want to and have the time, do it!! (But rehearse like crazy). Let us know how it goes. Maybe you can put the video on YouTube. 🙂
    Brenda, if I lived closer I’d help you grade papers. Your schedule is downright scary. Hang in there. Summer’s only four months away.
    Margo, I love that you dreamed your concept for the commissioned paintings. What a gift our dreams can be.
    No nightmares last night, so I must be doing better. Hugs, all.

  8. Lorene on February 9, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Diane, Will there be a Kindle edition of Before The Storm?

  9. Diane Chamberlain on February 9, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Lorene, there will almost certainly be a Kindle edition of BEFORE THE STORM, since there is already one for THE SECRET LIFE OF CEECEE WILKES. How are you enjoying Kindle? I can’t believe how quickly it’s caught on!

  10. Brenda on February 9, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Thanks for offering to help with the papers…
    The thing about block scheduling in high school–we start all over and have to teach two years in one…double the essays and double the research papers.
    We get out of school about June llth and don’t return until about August l5…that is two months for a break…however…we do have to do Classes during the summer for “improving ourselves”…those start earlier in August…
    Enjoy writing…
    Julie-do the play…

  11. Lorene on February 9, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Diane, I just ordered the Kindle yesterday and went today to look for your books. I made the decision to buy the Kindle after lugging around The Pillars Of The Earth. That’s not only a heavy book but awkward for me to hold open because my thumbs feel the pain of arthritis. It was so worth it but it would have been better to read it on a Kindle….I think 🙂

  12. Diane Chamberlain on February 9, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    Brenda, I think you’re already sufficiently improved!
    Lorene, I’ve been thinking about the Kindle myself. I can’t believe I’m even considering it because I LOVE the physical “bookiness” of books, but I’m planning some upcoming travel and it would be so much easier to have one thin device with me than to lug several books. But I won’t do it yet. I’m just learning to use my Nano with some wonderful audio books . . . still lying in bed at night with earbuds just isn’t the same as holding a book.
    I read PILLARS years ago and loved it, but I do remember it was massive. Glad you enjoyed it.

  13. Brenda on February 10, 2008 at 11:32 am

    Diane, I really want one of the also…even though I love the books best…when I am on the plane…or traveling otherwise, it is difficult taking books. Thankfully, my son and my daughter have great libraries…
    However…on Amazon…the price is still quite PRICEY…Let’s hope the price goes down as it becomes more available…

  14. Liz on February 10, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    Ok. What is a Kindle?

  15. Diane Chamberlain on February 10, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    Liz, either google “kindle” or go to amazon. It’s a new amazon product that lets you load and read books. Expensive right now, but from what I’ve heard, pretty cool.

  16. Lorene on February 11, 2008 at 10:51 am

    Is there anything you can share about your expectations of the Kindle from the Author’s view? Do you expect more sales? Why not have the Kindle edition at the release of the book? Is it entirely the publisher’s decision? I am just so excited about this and I think it’s going to really change the way we read books. I am excited for the authors if I understand all this correctly. If I’ve asked questions I shouldn’t have, I sincerely apologize.

  17. Margo on February 11, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Diane, have you read the sequal to PILLARS?…I just started PILLARS and am hooked. The sequal came out this year, WORLD WITHOUT END and I’m thinking of buying it. Finished KITE RUNNER & 1000 SPLENDID SUNS and still can’t quit thinking about them…what incredibly powerful books.

  18. Diane Chamberlain on February 11, 2008 at 11:51 am

    These are excellent questions, Lorene, but I don’t know all the answers. Right now, you know more about the Kindle than I do. I DO believe the Kindle editions are released at the same time as the book–When CEECEE came out in hardcover, Kindle didn’t exist, but as soon as it came out in trade paperback, it was simultaneously released in a Kindle version. I hope that does translate into more sales in that it will reach a new group of readers, particularly younger readers who tend to be the first to embrace new technology.
    Like you, I think the ability to read books on a device like the Kindle is incredibly exciting. But as is happening with all rapidly evolving technology, it’s not without its downside. There are many problems writers face in the release of their books as E-books. (This is the “business and $$” part of the discussion, so skip if it doesn’t interest you.) A couple of main problems are that publishers and writers have not yet figured out an equitable divide on the royalties paid on E-books (in my opinion). Right now, with most publishers, the division is heavily in their favor even though the production of an E-book is minimal compared to a print book.
    More frightening to authors who see their copyrights being attacked on all sides due to new technology, E-books are easy to pirate. There are already a seemingly infinite number of piracy sites where people can download books for free or for a small amount. It’s truly overwhelming, and a huge topic on the writers’ email loops to which I belong as we struggle to protect our work. Of course we all, myself included, crave free downloadable material. Free software, free art, free books. But in the long run, the creators of that software/art/books will not be able to afford to continue to produce it. This is already happening.
    Thank you for your thought provoking questions! And now I’ll get off my soapbox.

  19. Diane Chamberlain on February 11, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Margo, I didn’t realize there was a sequel. Let us know how it is (when you finally get to it). I LOVED both KITE RUNNER and 1000 SPLENDID SUNS. I think it’s rare that an author can pull off two fantastic books in a row like that. I learned so much from them, in addition to being riveted by terrific stories.

  20. Lorene on February 11, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Thanks, Diane. I understand it all with the exception of what is happening with the free stuff 🙂 I hope it all works out that the author is greatly rewarded for all the hard work in getting the book to the publisher. I’m not computer literate enough to know how to pirate anything but I do see people post at Amazon about ways to download the purchased book to a computer and then to put on another Kindle. I don’t see this really happening because the beauty of the Kindle is the quick and convenient download and it goes to only the buyer’s Kindle. I can’t imagine clogging up my computer with an entire book to share even if I could.

  21. Lorene on February 11, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    OK, I think the light just came on. The concern is Pirating and reselling as in the pirated DVDs? The technology is moving too fast for me!

  22. Margo on February 11, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Diane, WORLD WITHOUT END came out in Oct 2007 and from what I’ve heard, takes place 200 years after PILLARS OF THE EARTH. I believe it’s been constant on the NY Times Bestseller List and is over 1000 pages! It has received fantastic revues and a friend told me it’s a must, especially since I’m reading PILLARS now.
    I agree with you on Hosseini’s books…’I learned so much from them’ and was glued to them constantly because of the riveting stories.

  23. Liz on February 11, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    I found kindle – what an interesting concept – perhaps not a new as I think. This sounds like the stuff of the current Hollywood writers’ strike and I have concerns about the ethics/morality of doing such a thing – it seems wrong to “pirate” anyone’s work – I can’t even bring myself to download (or whatever) music. Artists work hard and long for their craft -I think prices for music concerts are ridiculously priced, but, oh well….. I like the hard copy of a CD, book, or magazine or newspaper in my hands – that’s my relaxation and one of my greatest pleasures – to curl up with a good book. I watched a video of how to use kindle, and and it said that you could buy books from Amazon for $9.99. Is that right? Not that I have money to spare, but I always buy hard cover books from authors I enjoy, then make that my donation to our library. I can see the advantage if I traveled a lot, but I still like at least a paperback in my bag. It’s too intense for me to think of getting my information from a little computer thingy. My husband and son are musicians and they enjoy the idea of getting their music out there, not matter how. Diane – stay on your soapbox – technology shouldn’t detract from your art.

  24. Diane Chamberlain on February 11, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    liz, i’m still with you about wanting to hold a book in my hands. . . for now. The kindle books are about $10, I think. There’s nothing at all wrong with that because the publisher and author get their share. The “pirates,” though often scan the books themselves and then offer them as free or inexpensive downloads. And they are all over the place. I’m only now beginning to understand the breadth of the problem.
    I do the same as you. . . when I clean my bookshelves, I donate to the library. And I’m one of those rare booklovers who actually does get rid of books. I only have so much space, so I try to go through my books each year. I keep beloved favorites and still have the books I was reading in the eighties (a lot of Alice Hoffman and Ann Tyler) when I was teaching myself how to write. They inspired me so much.

  25. Krysia on February 11, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    How is everyone? I haven’t been here in awhile. Looks like everyone is busy lol. We found out what we are having Sat, I’m so excited to go baby clothes shopping. Anyways toodles….

  26. Ann on February 11, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    Diane, this is a little off subject but a while back you said that when at the Outer Banks you enjoyed eating at Kellys and that the sweet potato biscuits were SO good. Well, we are at the Outer Banks this week and on your recommendation we went to Kellys for dinner tonight. What a wonderful place. The food was great and the sweet potato biscuits were as good as you said they were. Thanks for that information – we will certainly go there each time we are here.

  27. Margo on February 12, 2008 at 8:37 am

    Diane and Liz, I also like holding a real book in my hands. My relaxation is reading and I can’t imagine not having that quiet time when I’m curled up with my fav quilt holding a novel. I go thru my books once a year and donate too, but my favorites stay on the shelves. All of Diane’s are on my special ‘Diane’ shelf and I have kept favorites from high school and college years.
    Krysia, I can’t stand the suspense…boy or girl?

  28. Diane Chamberlain on February 12, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Krysia, good to see you on the blog again. I guess you’re going to keep us in suspense about “what you’re having.” LOL. It’s so much fun to go baby-clothes shopping.
    Ann, I’m so glad you had an enjoyable experience at Kelly’s. I’ve made the sweet potato rolls a few times in the last couple of months. Only problem is, they’re too good and I eat too many of them. Hope you’re having nice weather down there.
    Margo, I’m  honored to have a special shelf in your home!!
    Note: i wrote a new, long blog post last night and the blog ate it! I’ll try to recreate very soon. It’s time.

  29. Brenda on February 12, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    I will continue to buy my special books. I, like Diane, donate most of my books to a library where my daughter lives. I had too many.
    However, for traveling, it would be great to have the Kindle and buy books that way. For now, it is too pricey for me to use only when traveling.
    Am having a busy week-essays at high school and college. My high school kids are SO having fun learning poetry…They are GOOD!!! I teach them how to take apart a poem…and behold!!! They learn…Next week, they write poetry.
    I am hoping to teach a lit class at the college next year…we’ll see.
    Have a good rest of the week.
    We had a two hour delay at school today-bad weather.
    Krysia–boy or girl?

  30. Krysia on February 13, 2008 at 9:25 am

    Well I had the gut instinct on what it was, but I wanted a girl because he told me that if it was a boy it’d be the only one we’d have. Well my gut instinct was right, it’s a boy. He’s getting big and active. I still don’t look pregnant which is fine with me. We haven’t been dating much longer than the 5 months I am along so I am sure eventually I can talk him into another one, lol.

  31. Diane Chamberlain on February 13, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Brenda, you must be an AMAZING teacher to be able to make poetry fun for high school kids. What a rewarding feeling for you.
    Ah yes, Krysia, there are many years ahead for both of you to make that “more than one” decision. I’m just glad he’s being a support to you. And congrats on the boy! My two little grandsons are so much fun.

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