My Work-in-Progress (and a request for help)

babyI’m a month and a half away from deadline on my twentieth book, The Midwife’s Confession, and I’ve had some requests to tell you a bit about it. Those of you who’ve read my blog for at least a couple of years might remember this picture. I love it and have it on my desktop to keep me focused as I write. I originally posted it back when I first started writing this book. . . before I was derailed by a decision at my publishing house. I had to put TMC aside and come up with a new idea in a few days’ time. Ironically, I ended up loving the book that grew from that new idea, and in a couple of months it (The Lies We Told) will be in your bookstores. But now I’m working on TMC again, engaged in the story and the characters.

Set in Wilmington, North Carolina, The Midwife’s Confession is about four women who’ve been friends since their college days. They call themselves the Galloway Girls after the dorm they lived in at UNC-Wilmington.  When the midwife who delivered some of their children commits suicide, she leaves behind a destructive legacy that puts their friendships to the test. Meanwhile, in Washington DC, another woman tries to save the life of her desperately ill daughter. As her world collides with that of the Galloway Girls, the women are pitted against each other in a fight for their families—and it’s a fight that may leave no winners behind.

Now, how can you help me? I’m having name problems! I named my characters long ago, but when I was on retreat with my writer buds recently, I was telling them the storyline and they pointed out that four of my characters’ names end in “a” and they were getting confused. So I think I need to make some changes.

It’s hard to change names this deep into the book.  My friend, author Emilie Richards, was recently thinking about changing some names in her own work-in-progress and she said she felt as though she was trying to change the names of friends. It felt wrong. I understand that and feel the same way. However, my readers will have no attachment to the names I’m using now and I’m sure they’ll accept the characters’ new names without a problem–and it’s my readers who count. What’s most important to me is that they’re not confused as they read, wondering which character is which.

So I’ve decided to change two of the “a” names. I won’t tell you their current names so you don’t start thinking of them by the “wrong” name. Instead, I’ll describe the characters to you using their current first initial.

G is a 16-year-old high school junior. She’s average looking but has one of those personalities that draws people to her, guys included. She’s a nice girl, concerned about her friends, family and community.

A is a 44-year-old woman, the director of a missing person’s organization. She’s divorced and the mother of a 12-year-old girl. She’s down to earth and a bit irreverent. Her daughter is her best friend.

I welcome your ideas!


  1. Rebekah on March 14, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    So you want names beginning with these same letters just don’t want them ending in “a”?

    G- Gwen, Gwendolyn, Ginny, or Grace

    A- Anne, Annabelle, Annette, Amie, Alex, Ari, Arielle, Ashlee, Allyson, or Alice

    There are, at least, a few to get your brainstorming going. Good luck!

  2. Stephanie on March 14, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    A few suggestions for G might be Abigail (Abby for short), Skylar, or Savannah. Something you don’t quite see everyday, which goes with her unique one-of-a-kind personality of being so kind and loving.

    For A, some ideas might be Kate (a soft name for someone who works in a missing person’s organization and is down to earth as you describe her, yet can also be irreverent as you describe her.

    Hope this helps!

  3. Diane Chamberlain on March 14, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    Sorry to be confusing! The names don’t need to begin with G or A. I was just using the letters to represent these characters. I like some of your suggestions, though.

  4. Rebekah on March 14, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    More suggestions…

    alternative for the “G” name: Lucy, Jenny, Melody, Emily, or Meghan

    alternative for the “A” name: Serene, Melanie, Allison, Sabine, Cheryl, or Jennifer

  5. Rebekah on March 14, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    Another alternative for the “A” name is Trudy.

  6. Diane on March 14, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    n thinking of names, it’s amazing how many end in “a”!
    Name for G: Lauren, Nicole, Haley
    Name for A: Stephanie, Hannah, Susan

  7. Jodi on March 14, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    “G” – the description reminds me of my friends Kaitlyn, Tracy, Adrienne or Charlotte. Feel free to use my name – Jodi, too! hehe.

    “A” – Cathy, Leslie, Meredith, Jeaninne

  8. Ann on March 15, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Your descriptions remind me of friends with these names.

  9. Margo on March 15, 2010 at 9:03 am

    For G: Kris, Carlie or Megan

    For A: Paige, Sylvie or Gale

  10. Sharon on March 15, 2010 at 9:56 am

    How about Lily for G and Sharon (lol) for A.

  11. Stephanie S. on March 15, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Just as the other Stephanie wrote I was thinking Abby (Abbie) for the “G” character. Or Hannah.

    For “A” Judy, Nancy (my own mother’s name, she sounds like her!).

  12. Diane Chamberlain on March 15, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Thank you! received a lot of good ideas here and on Facebook. I’m going to “audition” a few of them, actually changing the names of FOUR characters. I’m probably going to be very confused over the next few days! The names I’m trying out are Allison (for the older woman) and Haley, Grace and Skylar for the teens.

  13. brenda on March 15, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Is the book set in the 21st Century. If so, a name for the girl might be Mariah…sounds like my student, Mariah…or Katelyn (my granddaughter and students…) The woman sounds like she might be Amy or Kathy.

  14. brenda on March 15, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    I am so intrigued about this book…can’t wait.

  15. Mary on March 15, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    Hey Diane,
    Sounds like a wonderful story! I am a new fan and have a couple of names for you. Being from Jacksonville, NC love the name Carolina. I have two favorite cousins though which are Rhonda, and Jo. We grew up closer than most friends. Rhonda is the caretaker. Jo is a school teacher and teaches many share cropper kids. They are wonderful! Now if you need the kind & goofy procrastinator, that would be Mary (me)!~! Take care, and can’t wait to begin reading!!

  16. Diane Chamberlain on March 15, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    Welcome, Mary. I’m so glad you’re enjoying my books. Carolina’s a beautiful name, but my friend Mary Alice Monroe used it for her most recent novel, so I will wait a while until using it myself.

    Brenda, Mariah’s pretty, but again it ends with that “a” sound. The name’s I’m auditioning today seem to be working out, but I’ll save these new suggestions as backup!

  17. Denise on March 15, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    I like the name Liesel which you already know. Lol

    I also like Chloe and Aimee because I like French names.

    Kelly could be the missing person lady, for obvious reasons. 🙂

    I am not one for really trendy names, but I do like names that are not run-of-the-mill which is why I named my daughter Jordan 28 years ago (before it went through a popularity phase many years later). She’s named for Jordan Baker from THE GREAT GATSBY.

    Love Lily and Paige! I also like Casey.

  18. Lesley on March 16, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Hi Diane,

    I am new to your books and loving them 🙂 I love discovering new authors and their books. I was really intrigued by your post and your request for help. I have a friend and she and her husband have 4 kids (under the age of 7 !) and all their names end in an ‘a’. They did this on purpose but they seemed to struggle with finding suitable names.

    I like the name Grace (a friend of mine has a daughter named Grace and she sounds just like your teeneage character). I think Charlotte seems like a gentle name for the divorcee. Wish I could help you more but I seem to be better with boys names 😉 lol !

  19. Julie Kibler on March 16, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    My daughter and I have decided you should name them Julie and Emily, because you have described us almost perfectly. Ha! 🙂 (Though my daughter’s name is not spelled with the standard spelling … hers is Emilie like Emilie Richards, but that would give you two -ie names.)

  20. brenda on March 16, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Didn’t even think about the sound of Mariah-she is a senior at our school-your biggest fan…this story sounds so great…of course, I am excited for the next book to come out. can’t wait. I looked on Amazon…it’s on there…but no picture yet.

  21. Rob Lopresti on March 16, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    Okay, I’ll play. Someone already suggested Casey, which was my thought for the teen. For the mother: Maureen.

  22. Diane Chamberlain on March 16, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    My list is growwwwwwwing! I’m going to save the leftovers for the next book. This is great. (hi, bro!)

  23. Denise on March 17, 2010 at 11:22 am

    One of my favorite singers on American Idol is ‘Siobhan.’ I like that one, too. Lol

  24. brenda on March 17, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    I like her too, Denise, but I have so much trouble saying her name. It is problematic when reading a book when the characters are difficult to pronounce…my students tell me that also…

  25. Denise on March 17, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Very true, Brenda!

  26. Ann on March 17, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    I agree with your students, Brenda. It really detracts from the story when I have to struggle with names in a book. Don’t know why but it does!

  27. Diane Chamberlain on March 17, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    I remember reading a very early Margaret Atwood in which she started the book with a note telling the reader how to pronounce the main character’s name. It was annoying, and every time I read that name I stumbled over it. So cool though Siobhan is, I won’t be using it! A reader once told me she kept stumbling over Dylan in Breaking the Silence (pronouncing it Die-lin). If Dylan can cause problems, imagine what Siobhan would do.

Leave a Comment