May 122012
 

I am beyond thrilled today…..I AM ECSTATIC!!!  Today’s guest is phenomenal.  I was hooked when I read 2 of her previous books The Lies We Told and The Midwife’s Confession.

Please indulge me to tell you what I did.  When the husband and I went on vacation last year, one of the books that I packed was The Midwife’s Confession.  LOVED IT!!  So when Steve surprised me with another trip back to Aruba around the same time we went last year, which we just returned from 3 days ago, I started my priority mental packing list.   What books to take with us.  There ARE priorities lol.  Around the same time I found out about this year’s trip, Ms. Chamberlain “friended” me on GR.  And I can’t believe what I did, but I did it.  I emailed her in February, told her about Aruba and asked if there was a new book coming out and would she be on tour with it in the form of ARCs because I would love to participate.  To my surprise and delight, she had her publisher send me a digital version. However, knowing it was tucked safely in my Kindle, I was too tempted and had to read it before our vacation.  OMG!!  LOVED IT!!!  The only problem now…I have to wait until her next book.

So without further ado, the very talented best selling author, Ms. Diane Chamberlain!!!

ABOUT DIANE CHAMBERLAIN

I was an insatiable reader as a child, and that fact, combined with a vivid imagination, inspired me to write. I penned a few truly terrible “novellas” at age twelve, then put fiction aside for many years as I pursued my education.

I grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey and spent my summers at the Jersey Shore, two settings that have found their way into my novels.

In high school, my favorite authors were the unlikely combination of Victoria Holt and Sinclair Lewis. I loved Holt’s flair for romantic suspense and Lewis’s character studies as well as his exploration of social values, and both those authors influenced the writer I am today.

I attended Glassboro State College in New Jersey as a special education major before moving to San Diego, where I received both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from San Diego State University. After graduating, I worked in a couple of youth counseling agencies and then focused on medical social work, which I adored. I worked at Sharp Hospital in San Diego and Children’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. before opening a private psychotherapy practice in Alexandria, Virginia, specializing in adolescents. I reluctantly closed my practice in 1992 when I realized that I could no longer split my time between two careers and be effective at both of them.

It was while I was working in San Diego that I started writing. I’d had a story in my mind since I was a young adolescent about a group of people living together at the Jersey Shore. While waiting for a doctor’s appointment one day, I pulled out a pen and pad began putting that story on paper. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I took a class in fiction writing, but for the most part, I “learned by doing.” That story, PRIVATE RELATIONS, took me four years to complete. I sold it in 1986, but it wasn’t published until 1989 (three very long years!), when it earned me the RITA award for Best Single Title Contemporary Novel. Except for a brief stint writing for daytime TV (One Life to Live) and a few miscellaneous articles for newspapers and magazines, I’ve focused my efforts on book-length fiction and am currently working on my nineteenth novel.

My stories are often filled with mystery and suspense, and–I hope–they also tug at the emotions. Relationships – between men and women, parents and children, sisters and brothers – are always the primary focus of my books. I can’t think of anything more fascinating than the way people struggle with life’s trials and tribulations, both together and alone.

In the mid-nineties, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, a challenging disease to live with. Although my RA is under good control with medication and I can usually type for many hours a day, I sometimes rely on voice recognition technology to get words on paper. I’m very grateful to the inventor of that software! I lived in Northern Virginia until the summer of 2005, when I moved to North Carolina, the state that inspired so many of my stories and where I live with my significant other, photographer John Pagliuca. I have three grown stepdaughters, two sons-in-law, four grandbabies, and two shelties named Keeper and Jet.

For me, the real joy of writing is having the opportunity to touch readers with my words. I hope that my stories move you in some way and give you hours of enjoyable reading.
You can visit Ms. Chamberlain at her website and Facebook page.

GUEST POST

Using personal stories in writing: do or don’t?

Every writer has to decide for herself how autobiographical to make a novel. First novels often tend to be the most autobiographical because those personal stories are itching to be told. But what will the author write about for book two? Or three? Or twenty? I discovered early on that writing from personal experience didn’t serve me well. First, as thrilling as my personal stories were to me, I doubted they’d be that exciting to my readers—unless I told the really juicy ones, and I wasn’t going there! Second, personal stories rarely involve only one person, and I would never be comfortable writing about other “real people” in one of my books.

Even worse than using my own experience is using someone else’s. When I was a new writer, I also had a private psychotherapy practice.  I decided not to tell any of my clients about my fledgling second career, not wanting them to worry I might use something they told me in confidence. However, after an article about me appeared in the local paper, I knew I had to come clean. I told every potential client that I was a fiction writer but would never use something I heard in my office in my writing. Then I allowed them to make the decision whether to work with me or not. Despite hearing some very intriguing/moving/amazing stories, I kept that promise.

What I do incorporate into my books, though, is what I’ve learned about people in general from my work as a social worker. For example, many of my books have a strong medical element in them influenced by my years as a hospital social worker, when I had the privilege of witnessing people at their most vulnerable, their most courageous, their most human. Although I never use specific people or situations in my novels, what I learned from working with people influences everything I write.

To follow Ms. Chamberlain’s tour and read more great posts, like above, click here !!!

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Four years ago, nineteen-year-old Travis Brown made a choice: to raise his newborn daughter on his own. While most of his friends were out partying and meeting girls, Travis was at home, changing diapers and worrying about keeping food on the table. He’s never regretted his decision: Bella is the light of his life. But after Travis loses his job and his home, the security he’s worked so hard to create for his daughter begins to crumble. When he receives a job offer, he thinks his troubles have come to an end . . . not realizing that they’ve only just begun.

READ AN EXCERPT:

Meeting Bella
I was sipping coffee in my brown leather chair at JumpStart, typing a post to my Harley’s Dad group, the online support group that had become my lifeline since Carolyn’s death, when my iPad beeped to alert me to an email. It was from my supervisor, Gene, at the pharmacy. We’re looking forward to having you back a week from Monday, the email read. I guessed that was his way of not so subtly reminding me I was expected back. I was dreading my return to work, but now it was a matter of money as well as what my therapist called a “need to re-engage with the real world”. My Harley’s Dad friends were my real world, I told her. Nobody realer than the people who understood exactly how it felt to lose a child.

I was still a little afraid that I’d screw up at work the way I did the first time I tried to go back, when I’d given a customer the wrong medication. My head was clearer now and I wasn’t totally numb like I’d been in the beginning, but I was still overwhelmed by sadness and the thought of “re-engaging with the real world” tired me out.

Right, I answered Gene. See you then.

I was reading a post written by Harley’s Dad himself when, from the corner of my eye, I noticed a man and little girl come out of the men’s room and head for the counter. I sat up straight. Carolyn? Of course not. She didn’t even look like Carolyn, but in the irrational and sometimes scary part of my mind, I could manage to see my daughter in any little girl. Carolyn had been blond, though, while this child had brown hair. She held the man’s hand as they walked toward the counter. He was in his early twenties, I thought, barely. He was dressed in old jeans and a gray t-shirt with a dirty, once-white canvas bag slung over one shoulder. It seemed strange to see a man and child together in the coffee shop, especially on a weekday morning, and especially coming out of the men’s room together, although my husband, Michael, had taken Carolyn into the men’s room any number of times. Still, could this guy have kidnapped her? Was he abusing her? Maybe she needed me to rescue her?

Stop it, I told myself. The girl seemed perfectly at ease with him, holding his hand, leaning against his leg as he ordered something I couldn’t hear. Her hair was a little straggly and her bangs hung low over her eyes. She wore pale blue shorts, red sneakers, and a blue and white striped shirt. I could see a couple of stains on the front of it even from where I sat. A small pink purse hung from her arm, the same arm that clutched a stuffed animal to her chest. She was so darling. I didn’t want to look at her. The way I felt scared me. Seeing a little girl whole and alive filled me with such longing it was almost unbearable, and this one, with her straggly hair and dirty shirt, needed a little more TLC than she was getting. She looked like she needed a mommy.

I forced my gaze back to my iPad and started a new post on the support group.

I’m in a coffee shop, I typed, and a little girl just walked in with a man (her father?) and even though she doesn’t look like Carolyn, I thought it might be her. Guess I’m in crazy grieving mom mode right now! I hit send. I knew I’d get responses within a few minutes, and I could even predict what they would be. Other parents would relate similar experiences. Similar feelings. And I would feel less crazy. Less alone.

I looked up. The man and little girl were walking toward my small circle of furniture. The man sat down on the sofa and the girl climbed up next to him. He smiled at me and she tipped her head back a little to look at me from beneath her long bangs. Her eyes were huge and gray. The same gray as his, only his were fringed with thick black lashes. He was handsome, though tired looking, and the little girl was equally pretty beneath her messy hair. Father and daughter, most definitely.

“How’re you doin’?” He slid the canvas bag from his shoulder and rested it on the sofa next to him. “Is it always this quiet in here?”

I could barely breathe. I felt the way I had when I first saw a horse as a child. I’d been both fascinated and afraid, longing to move closer but fearful it might hurt me. If I looked at this little girl too long, I was afraid of how I’d feel, so I only brushed my gaze over her as I responded.

“It’s busy earlier in the morning,” I said, “and it’ll pick up again around lunchtime.”

I looked down at my iPad. No response yet to my post to the Harley’s Dad group.

“We’re new in town,” the man said. “I’m Travis and this is Bella.”

“I’m Erin.” I should have just said I was working. Tuned him out the way I tuned out the other people in the shop. Even the barista rarely tried to talk to me now beyond a “good morning,” and I guessed he thought I was pretty cold. But the little girl–Bella–felt like a magnet to me and try as I might not to look at her, my gaze kept drifting in her direction. She had me mesmerized by those big gray eyes. “She’s your daughter?” I asked.

“Yes, ma’am.” He broke the muffin he’d bought into two parts, rested each half on a napkin, and handed one of them to Bella. She was almost dainty as she lifted the muffin to her mouth and took a bite from the corner.

I waited until she swallowed, then leaned forward in my chair. “How old are you, Bella?” I smiled at her and the smile felt anemic and shaky.

She didn’t answer. Shyly, she leaned closer to her father’s arm. The skin beneath her nose was a little red, the way Carolyn’s would get during allergy season.

“Answer Miss Erin,” the man said to her. “Tell her how old you are.”

Bella held up four fingers, a fat crumb from the muffin stuck to one of them. “Four,” she said. She noticed the crumb and nibbled it from her hand. Carolyn would have been four now, if she’d lived. Bella was a little small for four. Thin and waif-like.

“She just turned four a couple of weeks ago,” Travis said. Except for dark circles around his eyes, he was a very good-looking guy. If I’d been ten years younger, single and not completely miserable, he would have captivated me. Instead I was captivated by his daughter. “We didn’t have much of a party,” Travis added. “Things were a little rocky. So we’re going to celebrate when she turns four and a half, aren’t we Bella?”

Bella looked up at him and gave a nod. I wished she would smile. She didn’t look like a very happy child.

“She’s sleepy,” Travis said. We had a long drive yesterday and didn’t sleep too well last night.”

“Where did you move from?” I asked.

“Carolina Beach,” he said. “No work there, so we had no choice but to come to Raleigh.” He screwed up his face and I knew he wasn’t happy about the move. “I have a job lined up here, though. I interview with the guy tomorrow.”

“I hope you get it,” I said.

“Oh, it’s sewn up. The interview’s just a formality. A mutual friend hooked me up with him.” He handed Bella the cup of water he’d set on the coffee table. “Do you have kids?” he asked.

I shook my head. I felt Carolyn in the air around me, hurt and betrayed.

“Then you probably don’t know where I can find childcare for when I start working, huh?”

I shook my head again. It was the truth. I didn’t know the child care options in this new-to-me neighborhood. “Your wife’s not with you?” I asked.

“No wife,” he said. He pulled a handkerchief from his pants pocket and blotted Bella’s nose in a way that told me he’d done it hundreds of times before. “It’s just me and Bella,” he said.

Had there been a wife? I wondered. Were they divorced? Did she die?

“So, is it nice around here?” he asked. “Bella and I are used to the beach, aren’t we, Bell? We’re not used to all the trees and the big buildings.”

“It’s nice,” I said. I was thinking of the fun places we used to take Carolyn. Monkey Joe’s and the kids’ museum and Pullen Park, but I couldn’t talk about them. I couldn’t let the image of Carolyn riding the train at Pullen Park into my head right then. “I hope the job’s a good one.”

“Me too,” he said. “We need a break.”

Yes, that’s how he looked. How both of them looked–like they’d been to hell and back and needed a break.

“Excuse me, Miss Erin,” Travis said, “but it’s story time.” He pulled a picture book from the canvas bag. Cat in the Hat. Michael and I had read every Dr. Seuss book to Carolyn too many times to count. I had the feeling Travis had read it to Bella many times, too, because the book jacket was ragged looking and slipping off the book itself. I watched Bella climb onto his lap as he opened the book. I remembered how it felt to hold a little girl in my arms that way. How it felt to have her lean back against me while I read. I felt the injustice of it all over again. I wanted my baby back.

I lowered my eyes to my iPad, glad Travis’s attention was now on the book and not me, because whatever was in my face wasn’t meant for anyone to see. The screen of my iPad blurred in front of me and I had to blink a few times before I could read the first response to my post.

Carolyn’s always with you, Harley’s Dad had written. She’s in that little girl and in the little girl’s father and in the air that you breathe. Remember that.

Yes, I thought. I looked over at Bella and Travis where they sat together, absorbed in the book, and I felt Carolyn slip over all three of us like a veil of warm air.

 

MY REVIEW WHICH WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED ON 02/23/12

THE GOOD FATHER by Diane Chamberlain
Published by Mira Books
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
ISBN-10: 0778313468
ISBN-13: 978-0778313465
At the generosity of the publisher, Mira Books, an ARC Digital Version was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.

Synopsis (borrowed from Amazon): A beloved daughter. A devastating choice. And now there’s no going back.
Four years ago, nineteen-year-old Travis Brown made a choice: to raise his newborn daughter on his own. While most of his friends were out partying and meeting girls, Travis was at home, changing diapers and worrying about keeping food on the table. But he’s never regretted his decision. Bella is the light of his life. The reason behind every move he makes.And so far, she is fed. Cared for. Safe.
But when Travis loses his construction job and his home, the security he’s worked so hard to create for Bella begins to crumble….
Then a miracle. A job in Raleigh has the power to turn their fortunes around. It has to. But when Travis arrives in Raleigh, there is no job, only an offer to participate in a onetime criminal act that promises quick money and no repercussions.
With nowhere else to turn, Travis must make another choice for his daughter’s sake.

My Thoughts and Opinion: I feel I need to start this review off with a caveat and a huge THANK YOU to author, Ms. Diane Chamberlain.   A few weeks ago, we became “friends” on GoodReads. And it started me thinking.   Last year when my husband and I went on vacation, one of the books that came along with us was The Midwife’s Confession, which I reviewed for Meryl L. Moss Media and gave it a 5/5.   I had become a fan of her’s when I read The Lies We Told, which I also rated a 5/5.   Since we are going away again, same time, same place, I have already started a mental priority packing list, which is, what books will be packed this year.   So I garnered up the courage, emailed her, and asked if she had a new book coming out and would it be on an ARC tour?   She responded saying she would check with her publisher, but in the meantime, much to my surprise, honor, and delight, her publisher sent me a copy. Unfortunately, knowing it was in my possession, I could not wait until our vacation to read it.

The prologue steals your heart with the introduction of a 4 year old little girl, Bella, in which the other main characters are brought into the story line and come to life. There is so much to this book, and I apologize for being vague at times, but I do not want to include spoilers.   There was suspense, relationship dynamics, betrayals, grief, guilt, desperation, good, evil, secrets, lies, friendships, innocence, terror, blame, and above all a parent’s unconditional love.   The author writes in such a way that is so brilliant, detailed and descriptive, what I call a “transport” read, where I was so engrossed that I actually felt that I was part of the story and could create such realistic imagery of the entire book.   Each chapter alternates and is told through the perspective of 3 main characters, which made this reader want to read ahead to find out the outcome of the previous chapter’s situation the author leaves you with.   It was a page turning read. I could not put this book down and read it in 2 days.   This is a book that will stay with you long after reading the last word.   A powerful, compelling, heartfelt, and passionate read.   Highly recommend, matter of fact, preorder it!!

THANKS TO ERIN AND THE GENEROUS FOLKS AT
THE BOOK TRIB/MEDIA MUSCLE, I HAVE ONE (1)
COPY OF THIS PHENOMENAL BOOK TO GIVE AWAY.

CLICK HERE TO BRING YOU TO
THE GIVEAWAY ENTRY PAGE.

DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me,
in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive
are ever sold…they are kept by me,
or given to family and/or friends.

(2012 Challenges:Romantic Suspense, EBooks, ARC, Off The Shelf, Free Reads, Where Are You?, A-Z, 52 in 52, Outdo Yourself, 100+)

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  2 Responses to “Guest Author Diane Chamberlain”

  1. What a great interview, I too, love DCs books. I read The Good Father recently and loved it. What can I say, I have loved every book by her I’ve read so far.

  2. The book sounds fantastic! I love the guest post – the photos she shared are marvelous! I didn’t realize she has rheumatoid arthritis – I’m sure that’s quite challenging.

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