Monday, February 20, 2017

The Stiletto Connection (with Sisters in Crime)

by Paula Gail Benson
Diane Vallere

What do stilettos have in common with Sisters in Crime (SinC)? They are both significant factors in current national SinC President Diane Vallere’s writing life.

For example, her first manuscript, Just Kidding, won the RWA Get Your Stiletto in the Door contest, then became Designer Dirty Laundry, the first novel in her Samantha Kidd series. Her upcoming release in that series will be titled Cement Stilettos. The hashtag in the header for her website is #shoescluesclothes. (I’m thinking Diane should feel completely at home here at The Stiletto Gang.)

When she visited by Skype with the SinC Palmetto Chapter (Columbia, S.C.) this past weekend, Diane said that she attributed her writing success to membership in Sisters in Crime. She joined SinC after she left a lucrative job in the fashion industry to write mysteries. Her first publication was a short story in the SinC Guppy Chapter’s anthology, Fish Tales.

Diane with SinC Seal
This year, it seems particularly appropriate that a person who credits SinC with helping her to attain her goals should be SinC’s national President as that organization celebrates its 30th anniversary. For thirty years, SinC has been bringing media attention to all crime writers’ efforts, as well as providing grants to libraries and book stores to encourage mystery collections. Now, Diane continues that legacy of support and encouragement by emphasizing that SinC does not differentiate in manner of publication, but celebrates the different journeys of all authors in the mystery community.

The fact that she takes her own advice seriously is in clear evidence when you consider her body of work. She currently writes four series: Samantha Kidd (a designer shoe buyer who returns to the town where she grew up), Madison Night (an interior decorator who resembles and dresses like Doris Day), Material Witness (a business woman who inherits the fabric store where she was born), and Costume Shop mysteries (a former magician’s assistant who returns home to run her family’s costume shop--the first novel, A Disguise to Die For, has been nominated as Best Humorous novel at this year’s Left Coast Crime Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii).

Diane began her own press in 2011. Without her knowing, her novel had been given to an editor at Penguin. She turned down an offer to publish that novel with Penguin and went the indie route, then wrote a new series Penguin bought.

She continues to self-publish her Samantha Kidd books, while Penguin issues two of her series (Material Witness and Costume Shop) and Henery Press releases her Madison Night mysteries.  

One of the questions Diane received from the Palmetto Chapter members was about the following sentences found on her website:

She is also a firm believer in not just following your dreams, but in creating a roadmap of goals, tasks, and benchmarks to keep on track. She claims that being a textbook Capricorn accounts for her drive, though she's never been a big fan of being told there's something she can't do.

Diane laughed as soon as she heard the quote, because she had recently spoken to another group that had asked her about it. She said the most important thing about being a writer was finding ways to move forward and make writing a priority, because writing will be as important as you want it to be.

Another of Diane’s great talents is her ability to pack for a writing conference. Here’s a photo of her outfits for last September’s Bouchercon in New Orleans.
Diane's Bouchercon wardrobe
Don't you think her next project should be a coffee table book on how to pack fashionably?

Thanks, Diane, for writing excellent mysteries that also feature good fashion. And, thanks for your support of the mystery writing community, particularly in this special anniversary year for Sisters in Crime.


  1. Thanks, Paula! Fun to Skype into your chapter meeting. This has always been a favorite blog of mine :) Good luck with your own projects!

    1. Diane, many thanks for visiting with Palmetto Chapter and The Stiletto Gang. Thank you for your support and encouragement. Best wishes for your success. Stilettos Rock and Rule!

  2. Diane, welcome! Your packing leaves me in awe. Every single time. I am more of a throw a few outfits in a suitcase gal and the level of organization you bring to a trip leaves me green with jealousy! xo

  3. Diane, you definitely have packing down to a science. I would caution those who plan to attend Left Coast Crime 2017 in Honolulu next month not to pack stilettos, though! :)