Tag Archives: Diane Vallere

Life With Polyester Monroe by Diane Vallere

Suede To RestIf Giovanni yells my name one more time I’m going to use this gun for something worse than gluing plastic beads onto fabric. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if he called me Poly like everybody else, but he has to use my full name: Polyester. Twice as confusing because we’re in the workroom of To The Nines, his dress shop, and nobody can tell if he’s calling for me or shouting about fabric. Last year for Christmas I gave him a T-shirt that said “I yell because I care” spelled out in sequins. He didn’t think it was nearly as funny as the seamstresses in the workroom did.

The only reason I’m gluing things onto fabric in the first place is because Giovanni bought fifty yards of stained magenta poly satin at a deep discount. The rest of us had voted for navy blue, but the magenta was 75% off because someone had spilled a pot of coffee on it. Enter my boss, the cheapest businessman on the planet, who told me to design a dress that would hide the stain. I’m the senior concept designer for To The Nines, and we sell inexpensive prom dresses and bright, disposable gowns for the pageant circuit.

Covering stained fabric with a handful of beads and a glue gun wasn’t what I had in mind when I graduated at FIDM—the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. It was a natural to attend the school since I was born in a fabric store (on a bed of polyester, which explains my name). My great aunt and uncle owned Land of a Thousand Fabrics, and the store was like my own special playground. Aunt Millie became my teacher, and, by the time I was five, I could identify most fabrics by touch. She also taught me about the glamour of the twenties and thirties by watching Mae West and Thin Man movies with me. I try to put a little bit of that glamour into the dresses I design, but the effect is lost on Giovanni who wants me to knock ‘em out fast and cheap. He likes to say when I have a shop of my own, I can waste as many yards of fabric on a single dress as I want. Maybe someday I will.

My boyfriend, Carson, calls this a dead end job, but says if I save up and invest wisely, I could go into business for myself. He’s an investment banker and has a plan for his future, a plan that includes me and marriage and a house and a retirement fund that he started contributing to when he was sixteen. He says I need to plan for our future too. I suppose he’s right, but I’m not ready to accept that this is my life. I keep thinking something big might be right around the corner.

Uh-oh. Giovanni just came out of his office and his face is almost as bright as this fabric. Looks like it’s going to be a long day…

You can read more about Polyester in Suede To Rest, the first book in the new “Material Witness” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on November 7 for the chance to win a copy of SUEDE TO REST + a fabric book cover that fits a mass market paperback. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.
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Meet the author
After close to two decades working for a top luxury retailer, Diane Vallere traded fashion accessories for accessories to murder. SUEDE TO REST, the first in her new Material Witness Mystery Series, comes out November 4. In addition, she writes the Style & Error Mystery Series, featuring former fashion buyer Samantha Kidd, and the Mad for Mod Mystery Series, featuring Doris Day-loving interior decorator Madison Night. Diane started her own detective agency at age ten and has maintained a passion for shoes, clues, and clothes ever since. Find her at www.dianevallere.com.

A Day in The Life With Eddie Adams by Diane Vallere

The Brime ReaperHey you guys, Eddie Adams here. Sorry if I seem a little nuts right now, but things at the museum are out of control. Wait—you don’t know about that, do you? Here are the deets: my regular job is as the visual manager for Tradava, a local retailer. The Ribbon Public Museum (not a museum filled with ribbons, but the public museum in the city of Ribbon, Pennsylvania) partnered with my store to sponsor a costume exhibit on loan from a Hollywood noir actress. And as if that wasn’t enough togetherness, Tradava licensed the name of the actress—Hedy London—for an exclusive line of hats based on the styles she wore in The Reaper Wore Red and Murder After Midnight, two of her most famous roles. The first curator was fired, the second curator threatens to walk every single day. Tradava wanted to make sure someone was looking out for their investment, so enter me.

Yep. You got that right. Visual manager turned museum lackey.

As visual manager, I work with mannequins. Dude, I like working with mannequins. They do what they’re told, show up on time, don’t talk back, and don’t expect me to stroke their egos. Plus they let me play as much Devo as I want.

But this gig? The current curator has a chip on his shoulder so big he should answer to the name Quasimodo. The museum director is all blond highlights and manicured fingernails—more high maintenance than most fashionistas I know—so he’s not going to lift a finger to make this exhibit happen. And who knows what to expect when Hedy London shows up. I don’t know what becomes a legend most, but I’m guessing it’s not good manners and politeness. And check this: my job is on the line. Pull this off and get promoted to Director of Visual Merchandising. Sweet, right? But if I don’t, dude, it’s unemployment-city.

The one good thing about this arrangement is that I asked my old friend Samantha Kidd to help out. She’s between jobs, and some of that is because of me. This gives her a potential in back at Tradava. So I guess that makes her my museum lackey.

When I asked Sam to help out, she was busy Feng Shui’ing her house to help her find a job. Clearly, the girl’s got some issues. But she did me a solid back in high school—saved me from a cheating scandal—and I’m happy to repay the favor if it leads her to some regular employment. Even though it’s been fifteen years since high school and she and I totally lost touch when she moved to New York, I’m glad she came back to Ribbon. Things are a lot less dull with her around.

Dude, I sure hope I didn’t jinx myself by asking Sam to help me at the museum. Things are already pretty stressful. The last thing I need is for her to find another body.

But seriously, what are the odds of that happening again?

You can read more about Eddie in The Brim Reaper, the third book in the “Style & Error” mystery series, published by Polyester Press. The first book in the series is Designer Dirty Laundry. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by noon EST on December 12, and you will be entered to win a copy of The Brim Reaper. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.

Meet the author
Diane Vallere lives in a world where popcorn is a breakfast food and Doris Day movies are revered for their cultural significance. After over twenty years in the fashion industry, she now writes full time from her home in Los Angeles, California. She launched her own detective agency at ten years old and has maintained a passion for shoes, clues, and clothes ever since.

Visit Diane at www.dianevallere.com

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That Touch of Ink by Diane Vallere

That Touch of InkThat Touch of Ink by Diane Vallere is the second book in the “Mad For Mod” mystery series. Publisher: Polyester Press, July 2013

When mid-century modern interior decorator Madison Night receives a five thousand dollar bill in the mail, she knows it’s a message from her past. Doris Day movies help with inspiration for her business, but her favorite actress can’t help when Madison’s lover comes back. After finding a corpse at a local numismatist, she follows a circuit of rare dollars and common sense to expose a kidnapping plot, a counterfeit operation, and the true price of her independence.

A surprise in the mail from an ex-boyfriend spells trouble for Madison when he re-appears and havoc reigns when what’s he involved in follows her. A murdered man, counterfeit money and wanting to be left alone haunts Madison as the ex-boyfriend, the police lieutenant and friend want a piece of her. Madison will have to do some finagling to solve this case to get her life back.

This was a fun read that I enjoyed from beginning to end. The writing was crisp with a solid plot that kept me engaged with Madison, Tex and the other supporting cast. The dialogue was fresh and I loved how the mystery flowed from one scene to the next keeping me glued to the pages. The comedic escapades between Madison and Tex was a nice touch as well as the little bit of romance featured in this light-hearted whodunit. I look forward to the next adventures with Madison and her friends in this delightfully charming series.

Canvassing With Madison Night by Diane Vallere

That Touch of InkIt was a pretty normal Tuesday morning. Rocky and I left the apartment at 5:30. He picked the direction (left) and we made it two blocks before he pulled me aside to pee on a shrub. Once that matter of business was behind us, we continued to the corner, where I spotted a couple of chipped chairs sitting next to the curb by the recycling bin. I looped Rocky’s leash over my wrist and stopped to inspect the chairs. One was missing a leg. The other had a torn cushion. To most people, they were trash.

To me, they were inventory.

I pulled a Post-it pad from my cross-body bag, wrote “Mad4Mod” on it, and stuck it to the chair. If Jeff—the usual Tuesday trash man—was on the route today, he’d leave the chairs so I could come back for them. Just in case, I pulled them away from the curb and Rocky and I continued on our walk.

By the time we’d circled the block, I picked up a roll of retro wrapping paper and an unidentifiable smudge of filth from the Dumpster I jumped while trying to salvage a Tiki collection. Turns out the owner’s wife had tossed it after he insulted her dinner, and who am I to come between a Tiki collection and its original owner? I handed the collection off to him piece by piece in exchange for help getting out of the Dumpster. Good times.

When I got home, I carried the Dallas Morning News into my apartment and combed through the obituaries. I’d amassed a good portion of the Mad for Mod inventory by identifying women of a certain age who had never renovated their houses and making offers to their next-of-kin, but ever since the newspaper had run a profile of me after I helped catch a killer, I’d found it harder to fly under the radar. For the last nine months, more of my inventory came from the trash than from private residences, which meant it needed a little TLC before I could use it.

That’s where Hudson entered the picture. Hudson was my ace in the hole, my confidant, and my handyman. He had mad-skills in the form of furniture restoration and sometimes even did small favors for me for the cost of a decent bottle of red wine. And just because his cat didn’t like my dog was no reason to cut him out of my life.

After finishing with the paper, I headed back for the chairs. The trash truck was early. I ran to the corner—slowly, because my knee injury kept me from running anything faster than a pathetic jog—and waved my arms. “Jeff!” I called out.

An unfamiliar blond man hung his head out the window. “Jeff’s on vacation, lady. Sorry.” He pulled away from the curb before I could negotiate for the trash he’d just picked up.

I walked home. A police cruiser drove past me, and I looked the other way. If anybody on the police force wanted to find me, they knew where to look. Otherwise, I was going to get back to life as I knew it.

Dumpsters. Obituaries. Doris Day movies. Interior Decorating.

As far as I was concerned, there wasn’t much that would pull me out of my routine.

I showered and changed into a red and white checked vintage ensemble. (My clothes, much like my inventory, come from the Eisenhower Era. It was like being a walking ad for my mid-century modern interior decorating business.) I ran a few errands, ending with a trip to the paint store for a couple gallons of daisy yellow paint.

When I got home, I picked up the mail and carried the paint supplies inside. I should have left the mail on the desk and gotten straight to painting my living room.

If I had, everything might have turned out differently.

Diane is giving away one (1) copy of PILLOW STALK and THAT TOUCH OF INK. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. Contest ends August 5; US entries only.

You can read more about Madison in That Touch of Ink, the second book in the “Mad For Mod” mystery series, published by Polyester Press. The first book in the series is Pillow Stalk.

Meet the author
Diane is a textbook Capricorn. She writes mysteries, and she loves clothes. She launched her own detective agency at ten years old and have maintained a passion for shoes, clues, and clothes ever since.

She is a Pennsylvanian at heart, but currently live in Southern California. Diane has two current series: the Style & Error Mysteries and the Mad for Mod Mysteries. She is also working on the Fabric Shop Mystery Series for Berkley Prime Crime. (“When Polyester Monroe inherited her family’s fabric store she expected to find dusty yards of velvet and lace. What she didn’t expect was a dead body.”) Watch for more news about this series in the future!

You can reach Diane at her website, on Twitter or on Facebook

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Samantha Kidd Potential New Career by Diane Vallere

Buyer BewareSomewhere around the cargo pants I ran out of hangers, which was why I was surrounded with seven pair of pants, or twenty-eight pockets, when reality hit.

Tradava isn’t going to rehire me.

It’s been six months since I gave up a high profile buying job and glamorous apartment in the Big Apple for a slice of life in a small town in Pennsylvania. I landed the a position in the trend division of Tradava, the local department store, packed up my clothes, shoes, and cat, and bought the house I grew up in. I’d wanted to find a way to simplify my life. Instead I found a homicide investigation.

When word of the homicide hit the newsstands, emails from old friends and colleagues filled my inbox. I answered a few, but how do you explain to other people that you got involved in something bigger than yourself, that even though the case is wrapped up, your life is still in limbo? I applied for jobs that I didn’t want, all the while sending emails, letters, and telepathic messages to Tradava, inquiring about the status of my employment. I crossed fingers, lit candles, and held my breath as often as I could without hyperventilating. Whenever people asked, I assured them I was fine. Even Nick Taylor, the shoe designer I’m kind of sort of in a relationship with, doesn’t know the truth. When he left for Italy three weeks ago he told me everything would be okay.

Eventually, the emails subsided. I busied myself with projects like painting the living room (my first choice was to go lilac but there was a significant difference in price between that and the powder blue shade that collected dust on the Home Depot “Oops” rack). I traded hoagies from B&S Sandwiches for ramen noodles from the dollar store. I listed five pair of shoes for sale on eBay. I started wearing sweatpants.

Clearly everything was not okay.

And then I got the letter from Tradava four days ago. I haven’t told anybody about it, not my friend Eddie, who works for the store. Not even Nick. Tradava management thanked me for my interest in employment, but very generically told me that, due to negative publicity, not only were they not going to rehire me, but they were dissolving the whole trend office. I read the letter twice, cried for three hours, got drunk on cheap wine, and let Nick’s call go to voicemail. When I woke up, I unstuck the letter from my cheek, folded it back up and left it on top of the newspaper on the kitchen table. I carried a bag of pretzels upstairs and started reorganizing my closet. I’ve been at it ever since. I’m afraid if I stop to take a shower or change my clothes I’ll realize how not okay things really are.

Only, I know. I’ve known all along. Things are bad. And to make matters worse, I don’t smell so fresh.

After a thirty minute shower (I figure I’ve earned it by conserving over the past few days), I dress in a strapless silver jumpsuit from the early nineties and carry my cat downstairs to the kitchen. I stick the Tradava letter in a drawer and flip through the newspaper to make sure nothing big has happened during the last forty-eight hours. And that’s when I see the ad:

Interested in a Heist?
Ribbon’s hottest new store opens on July 14. Join us for the Pilferer’s Ball to get a sneak preview of our unparalleled assortments at criminally low prices. The daring are challenged to arrive with one of the following items in tow, “borrowed” from their current place of residency. Should you successfully lift said loot without notice, you can win a $10,000 shopping spree at HEIST. Rules and regulations listed below.

A spark of excitement flickers in my chest and radiates through my arms and legs. I can do this. I grab a notebook and start figuring out how to become a thief.

Diane is giving away one (1) copy of BUYER, BEWARE. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. The book will be shipped directly from the author. Contest ends April 25 and US entries only.

You can read more about Samantha in Buyer, Beware, the second book in the “Style & Error” mystery series. The first book in the series is Designer Dirty Laundry.

Synopsis for Buyer Beware:
buyerbewareOut of work fashion expert Samantha Kidd is strapped, until the buyer of handbags for a hot new retailer turns up murdered. When Samantha is recruited for the job, it comes with a caveat: she’s expected to find some answers. The police name a suspect but Samantha’s convinced the label doesn’t fit. With patent determination and a tote bag of tenacity, she turns to a sexy stranger for help. As the walls close around her like a snug satin lining, Samantha must get a handle on the suspects, or risk being caught in the killer’s clutches.

Cozy Mystery Tour is also giving away a copy of Samantha Kidd’s Guide to Sleuthing in Style, a paperback or ebook of Buyer Beware by Diane Vallere or a $25 Book Depository gift card. Click here to enter for this contest.

Meet the author
Diane is a textbook Capricorn who writes mysteries and loves clothes. She launched her own detective agency at ten years old and has maintained a passion for shoes, clues, and clothes ever since. Visit Diane at www.dianevallere.com or on Facebook.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.