Crying in my Coffee

coffee stain.jpg

Good crying, though.

I hung out at the Opium Den (aka Starbucks) yesterday morning, working on the discussion questions for Secrets She Left Behind. That meant I had to skim through the entire 500+ pages of the manuscript to get back in touch with the story. I was moving through it pretty quickly until I reached the last third. Then I had to start reading every word because I loved it so much. I’m sorry. I know it’s not cool to say how much you love your own work, but when I finish writing a book, I often feel as though it’s terrible. So if I re-read it months later and I’m moved enough by the story to weep, I can’t help but be overjoyed. 

I don’t think I’ve ever written a book that I loved throughout the entire writing process. I usually start out excited and positive. But as the going gets tough, I begin to feel as though the entire project was a huge mistake. By then, it’s too late and I have to muddle through. By the time I type The End, I either feel as though a) it’s the worst thing I’ve ever written and I’d better get ready for the hideous reviews and hope to do better next time, b) it’s time to dust off my social work license, or c) it’s sort of okay. I very, very rarely feel as though it’s very, very good. At that point, I’m simply too close to it. That was the case with Secrets. And that is why, when I found myself misty-eyed at the Opium Den yesterday morning, I was a happy woman.

So the discussion questions are finished. Now John and I are beginning to discuss creating a video for the book. Last year, I hired an excellent company, Circle of Seven, to create the trailer for Before the Storm, and I love the job they did with it. John, though, was a video producer before he shifted his focus to commercial photography, and we thought it would be fun to work on this one together. It won’t have a narrator, so we–mostly John–is figuring out how else we can tell the story. A good video is very short–about a minute–and enticing. I’ll let you know how it progresses and if John and I are still speaking to one another by the time we finish! 


  1. Ann on January 31, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    That sounds like a great idea – John is such a wonderful photographer that I am sure this video will be a great promotion for your book.
    What a TEAM!!

  2. brenda on February 1, 2009 at 10:31 am

    You make a great team-muse for each other…Why don’t you speak on the trailer???? This must be a great book, if the writer STILL LIKES it after all that work. I can remember in grad school (not that long ago) hating lots of the things after about 20 drafts…can’t wait.

  3. brenda on February 1, 2009 at 10:36 am

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE the choice of Happy Booker’s Book Club for February-so much so that I am rec. it to my online book club-although it was a choice when it was first published…Intrigued? Check out their website. HINT: D.C.

  4. Denise on February 1, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Wow, if you were moved to tears, imagine how the rest of us will feel when WE read it! I can barely wait!

  5. brenda on February 1, 2009 at 10:39 am

    P.S. Does anyone know what happened to a great author? Lavyrl Spencer? (?spelling)

  6. Denise on February 1, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Brenda, did she go away? I know I haven’t had many requests for her books in a while.

  7. brenda on February 1, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Denise, I heard some time back that she quit writing for health reasons…I don’t know for sure, but I enjoyed her books…

  8. Diane Chamberlain on February 1, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    LaVyrle retired intentionally in the late nineties, going out on top. As far as I know, she’s still alive and kicking. Just not writing, so treasure those old books.
    Brenda, I don’t think I’ll be doing a narration on the trailer. It’s not all that easy to do it well. However, John and I do have plans to do teeny little mini-interviews with me answering questions about my writing to place on my website. We’ll get to this in our spare time! And thanks for the heads up about the Happy Bookers Club choice for February! They’re reading The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes and I hope to be invited to do another live chat with them at the end of the month. You can sign up for their forums at

  9. Margo on February 1, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Diane, I can’t imagine not loving your books when you finish writing them! They are so incredibly well written and the characters are just amazing…it must be that you have worked so hard on the book for so long that you begin to wonder about the whole idea…but for me, as a reader, I think all your books are phenomenal. I’m glad that you were brought to tears because it reinforces how powerful your stories are and reminds you that you are one in a million Diane…sometimes I think an artist, (whether a writer, painter or photographer), needs to stand away from their work for awhile and take a look later to really appreciate what she/he has created.

  10. Gina on February 1, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Thanks Diane so much for agreeing to discuss CeeCee with us on my forum. This is such a treat for me. Pure joy.
    I hope that some of you here can join in on the fun when we chat with Diane on Wednesday, February 25th at 8:00pm EST in our chatroom at the Happy Bookers site that Diane posted above. I know that Brenda and Ann are already members and I would love to see the rest of you lovely ladies/guys there as well. It’s going to be a fun chat.

  11. brenda on February 1, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    I gave my Spencer books to a dear friend where I used to live-she will cherish them…I reread them from the library. Gina-I was so hoping that was the surprise…I will be there…can’t wait.

  12. brenda on February 1, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Gina’s Bookclub website is fantastic!!!! We love D.Chamberlain…

  13. Gina on February 1, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Aww..Brenda. Thank you so much for the kind words.

  14. brenda on February 1, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Welcome Gina–I don’t visit many websites-this one is my main one…I still drop in on B. Delinsky-love her books-but I really like yours for a Book Club site…have discovered new authors.
    Diane-is that John’s voice on his website? He would sound great in a trailer (you know what I mean…) For your book…

  15. Diane Chamberlain on February 1, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    If you mean in the Novozymes video, no. That’s a professional. He’s really good.

  16. Lindsay on February 1, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    I know what you mean in this post. Some of the writings I’ve done I’ve hated, but that one finished piece is my baby and I love it. Mostly I find I fall in love with my characters, not necessarily my writing, but my finished novel has some strong writing that I’m proud of.
    However with your novels, I’m surprised you don’t realize (or accept is maybe a better word) how wonderful they are! I have had such a hard time finding an author that really delivers. I love suspense; something that keeps me reading and makes me want to read even when I don’t have the time, and mostly what I get from your novels that few (or possibly any?) have been able to do for me before is satisfying conclusions. There is no question left unanswered, however small. By the end of the novel it’s all wrapped up. I find after a lot of novels I read, that there’s something that just didn’t make sense or got forgotten about. The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes was possibly the most satisfying read I’ve ever experienced because never before had I felt that everything was addressed and concluded in a reasonable and believable manner. what i just said, i meant to say in an email to you but then i never got around to emailing so I’ll just say it here 🙂
    (Also, so excited for a brand new novel from you this year… I had a rough week last week and I keep reminding myself about all the good things to come my way this year and your new novel is on that list)

  17. Diane Chamberlain on February 2, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Thanks for the compliment, Lindsay. I’m so glad you love your baby! Such a good feeling, and that love shows in the writing, I’m sure.
    I think what happens with me is that the dreaded “deadline panic” interferes with my ability to see the story for what it is as I near the end. So by the time I ship it off to my editor, I feel out of touch with the story as a whole. That’s why, a couple of months later when I re-read it, I’m often amazed that it’s good. At that point, I can recapture the love of the story that I had when I first conceived it. I wonder if this is the case with other writers who work on tight deadlines?
    As for the endings of my books, I do like to tie things up. Not all readers appreciate that, but I think most do, as long as the tying up doesn’t seem too pat and unrealistic. If I can’t offer a truly happy ending, I at least want it to be satisfying. BEFORE THE STORM, though, doesn’t end neatly, and I’ve definitely received some complaints about that from people who don’t realize a sequel is coming. They’re usually very relieved to hear that!
    Sorry you had a rough time last week. Hope this week is much better.

  18. Lindsay on February 2, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    Yes I must say the 2nd novel I read of yours was BEFORE THE STORM and upon conclusion I wasn’t satisfied. It just feels ‘unfinished’. So I think this is the point where I discovered your website, read of the sequel and had one of those ‘Ah that makes sense’ moments. It feels unfinished because the characters aren’t done yet 🙂

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