Help Me Celebrate Twenty Years!


Will you help me brainstorm?

2009 marks the twentieth anniversary of the publication of my first novel (the picture at the left is from one of my very first booksignings), and I want to celebrate with you, my readers, but I’m not sure what form that celebration should take. I’d love to hear your ideas! I have some of my own, but in true brainstorming fashion, I’m keeping them to myself so I don’t influence your own creativity.

Meanwhile, let me tell you a little about my beginning in the publishing world. I hope this will not only inform my readers, but encourage you aspiring writers to persevere, as well. 

I began writing a novel as a hobby in 1981, when I was working in a hospital as a social worker. I soon became addicted, and by 1985, I had 700 plus pages (typed on an electric typewriter, with carbon paper. Ugh!) about five adults who

shared a house at the New Jersey Shore, which they turned into a halfway house for runaway teens. I freely admit I had no idea what I was doing. I was an avid reader, but knew little about writing. I titled the book Private Relations, since the central character was the public relations director for a hospital. Then I began the search for an agent, querying twenty of them, two of whom were willing to take a look at the complete manuscript. One of those agents, the late Adelle Leone, took me on as her client. For a year, she sent the manuscript to various publishers, all of whom turned it down. The feedback was always the same: the book’s too long and all the teens muddy the focus, which should be on the romance between one of the couples in the house. When you’re a new writer, it’s so hard to cut your precious words and perfect story! But a year of rejection can propel you, and it propelled me. I went back to the drawing board, cut five of the teenagers along with several hundred pages, intensified the focus on the romance, and resubmitted it to my agent. She sold it immediately to Berkley Books. I was flying high! This was 1986. The publication date was set for 1989. What a wait! I remember being afraid I would die before I saw my book published. Since I had now written a romance, my agent suggested I join Romance Writers of America (a fabulous resource for writers no matter what your genre, which is why I still belong in spite of the fact that I no longer write romance). I did so, and made wonderful friends I have to this day.


1989 did finally arrive. Berkley Books submitted Private Relations to the Romance Writers of America’s industry contest (the RITA awards) and I was stunned and thrilled when it was selected as a finalist in the “single title contemporary novel” category, up against the likes of Nora Roberts and other popular authors. I attended the huge and wild RWA conference in San Francisco, and was triply stunned and thrilled when Private Relations won! I love this picture of myself. My name had just been called as the winner. I’d taken my shoes off while seated at my table, and I was so shocked that I forgot to put my shoes on as I head to the stage to accept the RITA (amidst a very bored-looking audience!) I firmly believe that one reason I won was because, as I previously mentioned, I didn’t know what I was doing. There were rules to writing a romance, and in my ignorance, I broke most of them. This is why I encourage aspiring writers to forget about the rules. Just make the story work. All in all, it was a lovely start to my career.

So now, 18 books later, I’m ready to celebrate! What shall we do?    


  1. Margo on January 6, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Diane, you are as beautiful today as this picture from the 70’s…and what an unforgettable photo of you accepting your RITA award!…the look on your face brought tears to my eyes because I can absolutely ‘feel’ your surprise and happiness…then I started laughing when I saw your feet!…you are too much D!!!!…honestly, you have more stories to tell (in real life & fictional) than anyone I know!…you are an absolute treasure, you know it?
    My idea of the perfect way to celebrate is merely a dream but how wonderful if all of us could meet you, (and each other) at the location of 1 of your novels…preferrably Outer Banks area, Topsail Island or Chapel Hill (which is where your 1st novel took place, right?)…I would make the trip for this special occasion but I realize not everyone would be able to.

  2. ronnie on January 6, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Oh what fun!
    Margo, funny you should mention that……. hubby and I will be driving to the Outer Banks(from South Florida) for my nephew’s wedding May 30. I just made the reservations at Ramada Plaza Kill Devil Hills. Does anyone know where that is? The wedding is at the Quack Shack and the day/night before there is something at the Duck Woods Marina.
    Ok now Diane don’t get that deer caught in the headlight look…… don’t worry you won’t have to take out a restraining order on me. I’m not one of those obsessed stalking fans. I’m just saying that just because I would happen to be in the area around the date of the release of your latest book does not mean you need to do anything special for me.
    Really don’t give it a second thought……..
    am i going to get a lawyer’s letter now?

  3. Margo on January 6, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Ronnie, that’s when Diane’s SECRETS SHE LEFT BEHIND will be coming out & I bet she’ll be doing a booksigning in the area!…I still like my idea, what do you think?…I’ve wanted to visit the Outer Banks ever since she wrote KEEPER OF THE LIGHT…

  4. ronnie on January 6, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Margo I think you are on to something!
    Notice how quiet Diane has been the last few hours. I think I scared her away?

  5. Gina on January 6, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Pop open a bottle of expensive champagne and get plastered!! You deserve it. 20 years – WOW Diane. That’s an awesome accomplishment. Congratulations!
    Love the pic with no shoes. LOL

  6. Glen on January 6, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    LOL! Ronnie, you’re a hoot!!!!
    OK, you guys missed the dinner party we had last year for Diane so this year I’m inviting all of you to Topsail for a pre-release and 20th celebration party for Diane here on Topsail Island. We’ll have it pre-season here so there will be plenty of room. I think I can scare up a few locals here that will charm each of you and give you that southern welcome!!!
    We should do it before the release because I think she’s gonna be kinda busy. We can make some special accomodations as I know the owner of the best rental manager on the island, Sterling Bryson of Bryson & Associates.
    It would be great if Rob (her brother) and John could be here also!
    Whatcha’ think?

  7. Diane Chamberlain on January 6, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Ronnie, May 30th should be a lovely time in the Outer Banks! You officially have my envy!
    All, last year Glen and his friend, Sterling, hosted an amazing pre-release dinner party for me on Topsail Island. Just amazing and so kind! Glen, your idea is intriguing me, but in the interest of free-flowing brainstorming, I’ll reserve further comments for now.
    If I’m quiet, it’s not because Ronnie is scaring me, though she is, but because I’m REVISING THIS $#&^! SYNOPSIS AGAIN!

  8. Denise on January 6, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    You look glamorous in both photos! I bet you won not only because your book was so good but also because you were sexier than Roberts. Lol!
    I’ve been meaning to ask this for a long time: how did you get ‘reclassified’ from romance to fiction? Was this at your request or the decision of the publisher? It seems that many romance writers are all over the place in their writing…some write about serial killers, murders, etc., and could be classified in other genres. A few actually are.

  9. ronnie on January 6, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    Diane am I really scaring you?
    It is just my New York sense of humor coming through. I have only been a Floridian for 4 years since my husband retired.

  10. Lindsay on January 7, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    I’m curious as to if you have or ever do book signings outside of the States? I’m Canadian, from and live in Ontario.

  11. Diane Chamberlain on January 7, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Just teasing, Ronnie! We need an emoticon that means exactly “just teasing.”
    Denise,in some bookstores, I DON’T seem to be “reclassified.” LOL. You can still find my books in the romance section of some stores, even if there’s no romance in the pages. My books are all about relationships, and sometimes that means male/remale relationships and sometimes it doesn’t. That puts me more in the category of “women’s fiction.” Even that, though, is limiting, as I have mystery readers and even some thriller readers. Not being easy to categorize is a big problem for authors and their publishers, because bookstores and PR people want an easy classification in order to promote the books. It’s been the bane of my professional career that my books “just don’t fit” neatly into any category, so I have to leave it up to the readers to track me down. I appreciate it when they do!

  12. Denise on January 7, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Thank you for the clarification, Diane. Borders classifies you as ‘fiction.’ I didn’t realize that other stores might classify you differently. I always thoght that was up to a publisher and that the booksellers followed suit. Funny thing is that I don’t read mystery authors who also have books classified as romance. I tried it once–read a mystery written by a romance author (Tammy Hoag)–and was sorely annoyed. There was too much sex, romance and rear-end watching and not enough attention paid to the murder mystery. Lol
    Glen, that is an awesome invitation to Topsail!

  13. Margo on January 8, 2009 at 8:14 am

    Glen, I agree with Denise…a very generous offer. I wonder what Diane will decide on for her 20th…
    My fav bookstore always has Diane categorized under fiction, never in the romance section and this has remained a constant for the last 15 years.

  14. brenda on January 8, 2009 at 9:17 am

    I have no clue as to how you should celebrate-lots of ideas but not sure they would be reasonable…We have a snow/ice day today-I don’t like them (I like snow delay days) because we have to make them up end of semester or spring break…However, I am so not up to par right now that I am enjoying reading one of the Memoirs by Burroughs…and a book by the Sex and the City author…her latest…One Fifth or something…intruiguing stories although I did not realize this author was THAT author-warning–some scenes you might skip…
    Congratulations Diane-you definitely are a fantastic author and however you choose to celebrate, I am all for it…
    Glen-thanks for the invite…I am trying to coordinate my trips with my son and daughter this year-and was invited to visit two teachers (meet at one’s home in S.Carolina…) not sure if I can get to that one-hope so…however, if there is a celebration on Topsail on a weekend for Diane-I will be there…if at all possible…some trips are already in the works…

  15. brenda on January 8, 2009 at 9:19 am

    I am throwing you two of my ideas…we all meet in Hollywood for the PRODUCTION of BEFORE THE STORM!!! We all meet on Broadway for the PLAY–BEFORE THE STORM… 🙂 Wouldn’t that be great????

  16. Diane Chamberlain on January 8, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Hey, Brenda I love that Hollywood idea! If you can figure out how to make that happen, you’ll be my very favorite miracle worker.

  17. Denise on January 8, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    A Hollywood theme would be fun. Lol I can already picture Diane’s star of fame at that Chinese theater.

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