If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

May Interviews

5/5 Lynn Calhoon, Murder 101
5/12 Annette Dashofy, Death By Equine
5/19 Krista Davis, The Diva Serves Forbidden Fruit
5/25 Debra Goldstein, Four Cuts Too Many

Saturday WWK Bloggers

5/1 V. M. Burns
5/8 Jennifer Chow
5/22 Kait Carson

Guest Blogs

5/15 M. K. Scott


E. B. Davis's "The Pearl Necklace" will appear in the new SinC Guppy anthology The Fish That Got Away to be released in July by Wildside Press. The anthology was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Paula Gail Benson's monologue "Beloved Husband," from the perspective of Norton Baskin the second husband of Marjorie Kinan Rawlings (who wrote The Yearling and Cross Creek), appears in the Red Penguin Collection's An Empty Stage (released March 28, 2021).

Martha Reed's "Death by GPS" will appear in the Spring 2021 issue of Suspense Magazine, which will be released in the second week of April. Congratulations, Martha!

Susan Van Kirk has a new audiobook, A Death at Tippitt Pond, that will be released this month. Marry in Haste will be released in May by Harlequin Worldwide Mystery, as will Death Takes No Bribes in September. Congratulations, Susan.

Congratulations to Martha Reed. Her short story, "The Honor Thief" was chosen for the 2021 Bouchercon Anthology, This Time For Sure. Hank Phillippi Ryan will edit the volume, which will be released in August at the time of the convention.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Killer Weeds," appears in the January 20 edition of Texas Gardener's Seeds: From Our Garden to Yours. Congratulations, Margaret, who, if you follow Facebook know, is a superb gardener herself!

Congratulations to Jennifer J. Chow for garnering a 2021 Lefty Nomination for Best Humorous Mystery Novel. We're crossing our fingers for Jennifer!

Congratulations to Paula Gail Benson whose "Reputation or Soul" has been chosen for Malice Domestic 16: Mystery Most Diabolical anthology to be released this spring.

KM Rockwood's "Stay Safe--Very Safe" appears in this year's 2020 BOULD anthology. Congratulations, KM!

Annette Dashofy signed with agent Dawn Dowdle of the Blue Ridge Literary Agency. Congratulations, Annette!


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

An Interview with Diane Vallere

“The reflective letters EMT on the back of her nylon jacket
were more jarring than white shoes after Labor Day.”
Diane Vallere, Designer Dirty Laundry

It’s no wonder that both of Diane Vallere’s series focus on fashion. She has worked for over twenty-years in the fashion industry, which has built credentials for her writing career. Polyester Press, her creation, published the first two books in the Style & Error Mystery Series and the Mad for Mod Series, and she wrote short stories introducing them. I’ve read all of her books, and I can tell you that Diane knows how to orchestrate complex plots! Now, Diane writes a third series, the Fabric Store Mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime (not yet on the market), keeping Diane busy writing full-time.

Please welcome Diane Vallere to WWK.                    E. B. Davis

Diane, would you give our readers a synopsis of the three series you write?

Style & Error: When a former fashion buyer gives up the glam life to buy her childhood home in the hopes of starting over and simplifying, she finds new challenges in the form of murders in her new hometown of Ribbon, PA.

Mad for Mod: A midcentury-modern interior decorator who has modeled her life after Doris Day’s character in Pillow Talk teams up with a local homicide detective to solve crimes in a small suburb of Dallas, TX.

Fabric Store: A young woman inherits the decades-old fabric store she was born in and discovers
more than musty satin and lace.

What were your considerations when you decided to self-publish?

I wanted to be able to provide for myself everything I might have gotten with a small press: ARCs, advance reviews, blurbs, trade paperbacks and ebooks. I felt empowered by the idea of having control over things like cover art and interior book layout, and the ability to be able to react quickly based on sales trends. I knew my experience as a buyer would serve me well when it came to making business decisions, and truthfully, I’ve spent all of my life working for companies and I’ve always dreamed of having something of my own.

Did you have help in editing, cover creation and formatting your self-published work?

I hire a content editor and copy editor for each of my books. After some trial and error, I’ve found
people I like to work with, and I believe in building relationships with people when I like their work. I’ve always enjoyed graphic design even though I’m self-taught, so I took on the challenge of learning Photoshop and designing my own covers. (Even in my corporate jobs I often took on graphic design projects; as Creative and Planning Manager I designed the regional postcards, in-store promotional posters, and special event T-shirts for a division of stores, so I knew my skill set wasn’t completely imaginary). I also taught myself interior book layout and ebook formatting. I can’t say that this is the norm, but I really enjoyed knowing that I was continuing to learn new things. I found the entire process invigorating—much more so than the years I spent searching for an agent! J

How would you characterize the main characters in each of your series, including your new series?

While there is definitely a common thread to all three of my main characters, here’s how I would differentiate them:

Samantha Kidd: Thirty-something. Taurus. Bull-headed, stubborn. Fashion-history major. She believes fashion is important, not silly. Will charge ahead into a situation without thinking things through. She’s loyal to a fault. She has her own reasoning for everything she does, but it often isn’t the same reasoning anyone else would follow, which makes for some good humor. She has an older sister and parents on the other side of the country.

Madison Night: Late forties. She shares a birthday with Doris Day, so she’s an Aries. After a bad break-up, she left Pennsylvania for Dallas, TX, where she started her own decorating business and lives with the perfect male: her Shih Tzu, Rock. She relies on her “decorating eye”—the ability to look at a room and see what fits and what doesn’t—to help her work through the clues of solving a murder. She is currently drawn to two different men: her handyman, who is loyal and creative, and the local homicide detective, who seems to be the polar opposite of her, but shares many of her same independent qualities. Her parents passed away when she was in her thirties, and she has no siblings.

Polyester Monroe: Late twenties. FIDM graduate who has spent five years working at a seedy dress shop in downtown Los Angeles making pageant dresses out of cheap fabrics. Family is very important to her, so when she inherits a fabric shop that has been closed for ten years, instead of signing the paperwork to turn it over for resale, she sticks around, looking for signs of what her great uncle wanted her to do with the store when he left it to her. She is an only child, very close to her parents, who live locally.

Do you think the new series for Berkley Prime Crime would have happened without self-publishing?
No. I give the story below, but I think arriving at the mental place where I was ready to move on from what felt like a stagnant position in my writing career was a catalyst. Plus, once I decided to do it on my own, I started learning so much about how the industry runs! It was like seeing the whole process from the other side of the looking glass.

Have you ever entered fiction contests?

Yes. An earlier version of DESIGNER DIRTY LAUNDRY won the Get Your Stiletto In The Door Contest, run by what was once the Chicklit Chapter of RWA (they are in the process of rebranding to Contemporary Romance Writers). I entered the Daphne (good scores but didn’t final), and several other RWA chapter contests.

How did the deal with Berkley Prime Crime happen? Were you represented by an agent? Was it a proposal of your own, or did the publisher have the series in mind?

The story: I asked an author for a blurb. She liked DESIGNER DIRTY LAUNDRY enough that she told her editor about it, who asked to read it. She liked it but agreed that it wasn’t exactly right for their cozy line and asked if I’d be willing to rewrite it. I was already pretty solid on my decision so instead I wrote a proposal (character sketches and 3 chapters, plus concepts for future books in the series) and waited. And nudged. And waited. And nudged. And then I heard they were interested. On the advice of an author who was published with Berkley, I contacted my current agent and told her the situation. She read the chapters, we had a good conversation about where I was in my career and what I wanted, and she offered representation. I told her I wanted to keep self-publishing with Polyester Press, and she was okay with that.

Which is your favorite: clothing or home fashion?

Clothing, but it’s kind of 60%/40%, so a pretty close split.

How long have you written, and what drew you to mystery?

I’ve written since I was in my early teens—stories, poems, essays, novellas. I have a nice excerpt
from a Batman/Catwoman romance that I started in the early 90s! I always wanted to write a mystery because I grew up with Trixie Belden—honestly, she’s as much a part of my childhood as the rest of the girls I was friends with!—and I thought it would be the absolute coolest to be able to write a mystery series. For a long time I wanted it to be a children’s series, but I didn’t have ideas. Then one day I thought about a woman who’s trying to be a grown-up but feels like her family always treats her like a kid. That idea turned into Samantha Kidd in the Style & Error Mysteries.

What items are in your beach bag?

30+ sunblock, 2 towels, a pillow, an old Vanity Fair magazine, $2 in loose change for a meter, rose water to spritz my face, a collapsible umbrella (one day I forgot the beach umbrella and discovered these work quite well!), bathing suit. If the trip is planned vs. spontaneous, I add: bottle of water, cheese & crackers, kindle, and an issue of Atomic Ranch.

To learn more about Diane’s books, go to her website.


Warren Bull said...

Congratulations. It sounds like years of persistence have made you "an overnight success."

Gloria Alden said...

Welcome to WWK, Diane. I'm impressed with three series. Why and how did you manage to put them in different places? Are you familiar with each place or winging it with PA and Texas? With your background, I can see why you're such a success with your writing.

E. B. Davis said...

I enjoyed Diane's Mad for Mod series, perhaps because the protagonist was older, in her forties. Both series were good reads, but I identified more with Madison Night--I liked Doris Day movies, too! Since I do sew (I'm particularly talented sewing rectangles and squares.) I'm looking forward to reading the Fabric Store Mysteries. Good luck with the new series, Diane!

Unknown said...

Thanks for hosting me on Writers Who Kill!

Yes, Warren, I'm sure you know the feeling of "overnight success" too.

Gloria-I grew up in PA. I moved to TX in my 30s and lived there for 9 years. Now I'm in CA. I'm maximizing my memories.

E.B.-When I first started writing Madison I thought I'd write her just like Samantha, but very quickly I realized her age gave her a maturity that Samantha is still developing. Both are dear to me but they've become very different characters.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Welcome to WWK, Diane. It sounds as your admirable persistence has finally paid off. Best of luck!

Sarah Henning said...

Hi, Diane! Welcome to WWK! I'm up on your books because of Mysteristas, but it's so fabulous to read a Q&A with you!

Cynthia said...

Am always impressed with your work ethic (and storytelling...I've read and enjoyed all of your books). Way to go!

Jim Jackson said...

Diane is one of my favorite current examples of someone who uses past experiences, good, bad and neutral, to continually move forward. Well done, and wishing your continued success.

~ Jim

Liz Milliron said...

Very impressive. I love your story (your writing story, that is). I think it's a great one for writers at the beginning of their careers. Best of luck with the new series!

carla said...

I'm very impressed with your cover art! Very cool that you keep control of that.

Unknown said...

Ah, more Writers Who Kill have appeared! Thanks for the well wishes and the invitation to be interviewed. Special thanks to E.B. for letting me represent all of my series.

And Jim-extra thanks for calling me an example. I love that :)

Polly Iyer said...

I enjoyed Designer Dirty Laundry and thought Samantha was a terrific series character. And wow, I didn't know you did your covers. They're terrific. Congratulations on your continued success.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Great review, Elaine and Diane.

Diane, you sure are busy writing 3 series. I look forward to reading them.

Shari Randall said...

Diane, I can't decide which series looks like more fun - they are all up my alley. Thank you for stopping by WWK and sharing your experiences.

Kara Cerise said...

Congratulations, Diane. All three series and main characters sound terrific. I'm impressed by your persistence and "can do" attitude! Best wishes for continued success.

E. B. Davis said...

Thanks for the interview, Diane. Jim's right, you are a great example! Persistence pays off. Both of your self published novels are professionally executed. It's great to know that the big publishers noticed. Thanks for the interview. Can't wait to read the new series. Yea!

Unknown said...

Polly-Thanks for the compliment on Samantha and the covers. She'll always be a special character to me. Like they say, you always remember your first...

Marilyn-I've found busy is good! And I constantly remind myself "writers write." Of course some days writers sleep, watch reruns, and eat ice cream too.

Shari-Hope you find one you like!

Kara-Yes, persistence is what it's all about, right? Especially in an industry that changes every day.

WWK: you're awesome! Thanks for letting me spend the day with you.