Working at the Beach

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What a gorgeous setting! I’m down here at Holden Beach with the scribblers (Mary Kay Andrews, Margaret Maron, Sarah Shaber and Brenda Witchger) and we’re getting tons done. That’s mostly because Mary Kay is a very firm task master. Every morning we set our goals for the day and check in with our progress in the evening. Since no one wants to face Mary Kay’s wrath, we make sure to finish what we set out to do. I’m plotting my next book, and wow, is it a challenge. It’s a little different from my other books in one unique way, but if you love my books, don’t worry. The themes and emotions will still be there. It’s really a HUGE challenge though, to think through this story and when it’s my turn to brainstorm, I can see the smoke coming out of my fellow writers’ ears as they try to wrap their minds around a very complex story.
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The next challenge here is the limited Internet access. There are tiny little niches in the house where access is available, and it changes literally by the minute. Which means we’re all walking around the house holding our computers, as I am here, as we try to find the “sweet spot” that will allow us to get online. I am actually typing this from my car in the carport beneath the house.  
The house we’re in is right smack on the beach. It’s an old home that belongs to one of the scribbler’s relatives, and it’s absolutely perfect for us. Although there’s something to be said for the beautiful new sparkling clean beach houses that line the beach road, we would all rather be in a house like this, where you can feel the vibrations of hundreds of people, family and renters, who’ve lived inside its walls. It has that excellent (to me, anyway) scent of salt and must, and when I first walked in and saw the beach grass and ocean through the windows, I felt as if I’d come home. (My affinity for the beach is very odd. I never do sun, I don’t swim, I have the very worst type of hair for humid, windy weather, and with RA, I can barely hobble through the sand along the water’s edge, but I’d rather be at an east coast beach than anywhere else on earth. Except maybe Paris. 🙂 )
So, in my little stroll on the bach each day, I’ve seen dolphins swimming close to shore. It’s hard to take pictures of dolphins, I’ve discovered, so I settled for this pelican shot. The pelicans are everywhere!
I’d better get back to work before Mary Kay finds my and beats me with a stalk of beach grass.  Bye for now.


  1. Denise on April 12, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    I am so jealous! Here in Illinois we are having chilly rainy weather. Oh, to walk on a beautiful beach!

  2. brenda on April 12, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    It is cool here today-for spring…I agree–East Coast.
    Ironically, I just finished one of Maron’s books…an hour ago…Enjoyed it as always…I read the others too, but I just happened to be reading one of the Deborah books I had missed-a grisly one…
    Have fun…

  3. brenda on April 12, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    P.S. The movie, “Memory Keeper’s Daughter”-on LIFETIME tonight…

  4. Ann on April 13, 2008 at 1:14 am

    What a nice wide beach! It doesn’t look like they have a problem with erosion like most of the N.C beaches do. Am starting Mary Kay’s newest book “Deep Dish”.

  5. Diane Chamberlain on April 13, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    We haven’t watched any TV, so I missed Memory Keepr’s Daughter. How was it?
    Ann, the day after I took this picture, we had wild, wild wind and blowing sand and the ocean was much higher. Apparently they have to truck in sand each year to replenish the beach. Someday, the houses across the street will be oceanfront.
    Mary Kay left this morning, or I’d tell her you’ve started Deep Dish. Margaret had to leave today, too. They both had speaking engagements to get to. So it’s just Bren, Sarah and me for another few days. We had a great brainstorming session this morning!

  6. brenda on April 13, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    I won’t give away MKD because it is on again tonight…

  7. Gina on April 13, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Beautiful beach picture Diane.
    I think MKD movie was done beautifully. Loved it alot. Cried my eyes out at the end. The books are always better of course. But, it’s amazing that they did a good job with the movie. They tend to mess up when books are made into movies. Pleasantly surprised.

  8. Margo on April 14, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Diane, what a perfect setting to brainstorm your next book! Like you, I love an older beach bungalow with lots of character and history to work on creative ideas. It’s so exciting to know your already working on your next book & I can hardly wait for you to share your ideas! P.S…LOVE the pelicans over the ocean!

  9. Liz on April 14, 2008 at 10:44 am

    I agree with all of you re: MKD. I started reading it last week and was about half finished – I knew I had to watch the movie. THEN, stayed up past 2AM this morning to finish the book. Not a good idea when I have to be at work at 8AM, but certainly worth it. What an incredible story. I could certainly understand and empathize with all the characters. Diane – I don’t know if I’ve told you how much I was moved by Breaking the Silence. Another instance where you understand and sympathize with decisions people make and how lives are lived and broken. We have decided to visit the Carolina coasts this summer to find our retirement location.

  10. Diane Chamberlain on April 14, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Well, I’m so sorry I missed the MKD movie. I’ll have to rent it when it becomes available. Margo, you’d love it here today. Sunny, in the seventies, the water a glossy calm blue–this after two extremely windy days. Liz, wow! You’ll have to let me know what area you select for your retirement! Warning–it’s going to be HOT in the summer, but it’s best you find that out ahead of time.
    Thank you for your compliment on Breaking the Silence. It means a lot to me that you were touched by it.

  11. Denise on April 14, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    I thought they did a very nice job with MKD, too. I cried at the end, as expected, but I did not cry as hard at the movie ending as I did with the book OR during the last chapters of CeeCee just a few days earlier!
    I thought they cast the characters for MKD perfectly. The girl who played the daughter was so precious and did such a nice job with the role.

  12. brenda on April 14, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    MKD should be on several times this month-LIFETIME does that…
    My students and I thought that the little girl looked too young to be l8, and that the boy did not fit the part. Remember though, I seldom like the movie as well…however, that being said, a pretty good job.
    I will be doing a new class at the U. next fall (only one though-versus 4), and will have new English classes at the new school where I am going–lots of prep…there goes my writing again…
    I am eager for summer, working on lesson plans, and some traveling.
    My life is a mess now…but will work out.
    Enjoy the movie…worth watching more than once…
    What did you think of what happened to the dad and how it was portrayed? Don’t give it away to D., so try to be mysterious…I gave my book away, so I can’t remember if that is truly what happened to him.

  13. brenda on April 14, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    P.S. I love almost any beach on the Atlantic-Myrtle being my favorite. Now I enjoy Miami where my son lives…right on the ocean.
    One of my favorites was when I spent time in Mass. with teachers-some training…we stayed at Craigville Beach, close to Hyannis-I loved loved loved the older cottages.
    I love New England/Cape Cod…I think we had this conversation before when Margo went to Nantucket. Margo, did we ever see pictures???

  14. Gina on April 14, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Brenda, what happened to the dad in the movie was a little different than the book. I don’t want to say more in case I give anything away to the ones that hasn’t seen the movie or read the book yet. lol

  15. Margo on April 15, 2008 at 8:24 am

    Hi Brenda…I sold nearly all the paintings I did in Nantucket and gave a few away as gifts. This summer I will be in several shows and am in the process of painting more scenes of Nantucket. All this talk of the ocean makes me yearn for the beach…Diane, you are so lucky right now. (-:

  16. brenda on April 15, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Gina-after everyone sees it, will you refresh my senior memory?
    Margo-email us some of the pictures you took…Can’t believe your paintings are gone already…Wow!!!!!
    Way to go girl.

  17. Denise on April 16, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    Brenda, I thought that what happened to the dad was different in the movie (as opposed to the book) but my mentalpause kicked in, and I couldn’t remember *how* they differed. Haha I also think there was a change with the daughter and boyfriend…
    I thought the actress who played the daughter looked too young and small to be 18. But then I thought maybe some Downs teens *are* that small at that age so I figured I was wrong to think her too small/young looking.

  18. Brenda on April 16, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    Denise-I thought the same about the little girl, but I have taught some Downs kids–delightful…they were not that small…but perhaps they usually are…such angels…
    I have to get another copy of the book and reread it…

  19. Gina on April 17, 2008 at 8:39 am

    Brenda, yes, of course, I’ll be happy to refresh your memory about the dad in the book.
    A very good friend of mine has a daughter with Downs. Her daughter is the sweetest thing. She’s 16 and just precious. Watching this movie was hard for me because I thought of her the entire time. My friend and I talked about it the next day and it hit her very hard because, of course, she kept thinking of her daughter. It’s different when you’re reading it vs actually watching the story unfold on the screen. My friend actually got to meet Kim Edwards at a book signing here in Houston. Poor Kim starting crying when my friend mentioned how much this booked touched her. It was a special moment. Of course, when it was my friend’s turn to make a selection for our bookclub, she chose this book. I loved this book.

  20. Brenda on April 19, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    I was talking to a little girl at our school this week, a Down’s child. You are correct…she is in high school and quite small…a darling…

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