Saturday, April 11, 2015

Are You Super? Diane Vallere says Yes!


Diane Vallere
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Okay: Counting blessings. I can--separate eggs, the whites from the yolks. I can make dinner from whatever is in the fridge. I can untangle yarn. I can find Jonathan's keys. I can--wait, you're saying, why are you listing these semi-valuable things? I reply--because I've been hanging out with Diane Vallere. Lucky me. Because not only can she accessorize beyond your wildest dreams, (I mean, look at that photo of her, channeling Chanel)  and not only is she a witty and hilarious mystery author, and a great pal, she's also got a superpower. Or two. And she says, you do, too. (And it can help you win her new book! Keep reading.)

Superhero Abilities
                  by Diane Vallere

I have a theory that everybody has at least one superhero ability. Mine? I can change lanes on a crowded highway with little to no difficulty. (If you don’t think that’s special, then you’ve never driven in Los Angeles!) But here’s the thing: I only recently realized this. And once I realized that I never have trouble in this situation, my confidence driving in heavy traffic rose. My anxiety dropped. Suddenly, in the middle of five lanes of road rage, I was the picture of Zen.

All because I discovered and embraced my own unique superhero ability.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have all sorts of other travel-related anxieties, even those that involve other forms of transportation. I’m not in love with flying (my first few books were written on planes to distract me from the fact that, um, we’re in a giant thing and there’s nothing under us, folks, and how do we really know the air traffic controllers aren’t drunk?), and even on foot (don’t get me started on Watermelon Head).  (Okay, since you asked: walking on a sidewalk, ankle turns, fall into the street, where an oncoming car squashes my head like a…you get it.) But since staying in the house 24/7 lacks a certain level of inspiration needed to write, I’m willing to take my chances.

Most of us never stop to recognize our unique superhero ability. We go about our day to day life with our heads buried in our phones, barely looking up long enough to avoid the others in our way. We complain about the weather, the traffic, the neighbors, the price of gas. We might never realize that one of us has a natural ability to roll up to the cheapest gas station in any town, or that it never rains on days when another of us carries an umbrella. 

Instead of getting annoyed at life’s lemons, we should recognize that in a wide variety of circumstances, we each have an edge.
If we each have a unique ability then imagine what we can accomplish when we work together. A sort of karmic barter system would ensue. I can do this, you can do that, and look how much faster we’ll get to where we want to go (in my case, quite literally). (Unless we’re on foot, in which case I’ll be concentrating very hard on staying on the sidewalk.)

Okay, Reds, I’d like to know: what superhero ability do you wish you had?
(A copy of WITH VICS YOU EGGROLL, Mad for Mod #3, goes to one lucky commenter!)

HANK: What do I WISH?  I wish I ciould type without ever making a tyop. How about you? 

Diane Vallere lives in a world where popcorn is a breakfast food and Doris Day movies are revered for their cultural significance. WITH VICS YOU GET EGGROLL is #3 in the Mad for Mod series. She also writes the Style & Error and Material Witness mysteries. She launched her own detective agency at ten years old and has maintained a passion for shoes, clues, and clothes ever since.


  1. I am in awe of anyone who can fearlessly drive the Los Angeles freeways . . . they are enough to instill terror in the heart of any driver, especially those of us who vehemently dislike driving in the first place.
    As for the super ability I wish I had, I'm wishing for speed reading . . . .

  2. The superpower I DO have is always finding a parking space. And since I grew up driving the LA freeways, I'm with you on that, Diane, too.

    The superpower I wish I had? The discipline to mediate every day, even for just ten or fifteen minutes. Nope, doesn't happen!

  3. Yeah, the parking plea thing. In treating. I can always find one, too. WOnder why that is? Jonathan says-let's park in the lot. I say-let's go around the block one more time, someone will leave. And they do!

  4. I want your super hero ability, Diane... I'm leaving for book events in LA next week so could you ship it to me post haste?!

    I can testify to Edith's parking space ability. One time, in Somerville...

    Superpower I have: Making a delicious meal from whatever's in the fridge.

    The superpower I wish I had? Makeup. One day Hank has to give us all lessons.

  5. I need built-in GPS. I lived in one house for 7 years and every single time I drove home from the local library I went the wrong way. Even when I tried to outsmart myself and think it's this way, no aha, it's that way, I was wrong. And I need this superpower everywhere, because I can get lost in the mall, in the mall parking lot, in a hotel, in the hospital . . . thank heaven for GPS in the car, on the phone, detailed directions carried with me, landmarks.

  6. Some days, I think the superpower I have is managing four people's schedules (mine, husbands, and two kids) without going insane.

    Superpower I wish I had? Ability to stop time. So I could, you know, relax for five minutes without worrying about running off to the next thing.

  7. Diane, freeway super power is an awesome power to have. When my husband was at the Pentagon and I would go visit him in D.C., he always drove and told me I didn't want to try driving there. I let him drive, as I wanted to sit back and admire the scenery anyway, but it irked me just a bit because I think I'm actually a better driver than he is.

    My super power would probably be the ability to locate items that I or others want to buy. My daughter says that I find the best rugs and she often tells me what she's something she wants for the grandkids, and I'm able to find it quickly. I wanted some copper tubs, a specific look, and I was able to find them online at a place that made them for you.

    Like Joan, the super power I would most love to have is speed reading. I have so much I want to read, and I am unfortunately a slower reader. I have a friend who can zip through a book in no time, and I so envy her.

  8. That freeway superpower is great-- the older I get, the more afraid of freeways (and I used to drive them for the fun of it) I get. I think it has to do with cataracts and peripheral vision. Or the odd placement of the blind spots in my car.

    My superpower? I can organize ANY kitchen, especially the fridge. I've done it for my sister a bunch of times, and for friends who were hopeless (sometimes I've actually had to put up little labels on the edge of the shelf so that the system can be maintained) And I'm not bad at making order out of chaos in closets and drawers, either.

    What I'd like to have is some kind of magnet for money. I seem to have the opposite, alas.

  9. I can talk to anybody and make them talk back to me. You have to be a really tough nut if I can't chat you up. I inherited this superpower from my grandma.

    I can't park to save my life and I get lost everywhere I go, but I always somehow end up where I need to be. I just take the long route.

  10. I truly wish I could wiggle my nose like Samantha in the old Bewitched show and make my house clean.

    If I have a superpower, I have yet to discover it. But I'm really glad I have friends who have them. :)

  11. Superpower I have: I can find things in my fridge when no one else (especially hubby)can.

    Superpower I wish I had: Making the dog hair bunnies disappear from my house every day without having to get out the broom and dustmop. Just think how much more time that would give me to read--and write!

  12. Hi Reds! Apparently I do not have the superhero ability to wake early on a Saturday...

    Joan: speed reading would definitely be a benefit to a voracious reader! I find myself wanting to read faster so I can devour the next book, and sometimes have to tell myself to just slow down and enjoy the book!

    Edith: parking spaces...yeah. Not my forte.

    Hank: Thank you so much for that fabulous introduction!! I do often tell Josh that if we go around the block one more time we'll find something. Sadly, we usually don't.

  13. Hallie: I don't think my ability is transferrable (I've tried!)

    Grandma: I'm laughing! I can almost always choose the WRONG direction at an intersection! Which way home? Turn right. Nope. Go straight. Nope. All. The. Time. I got to the point where I'd do the opposite of what I thought and I would get home safely.

  14. Mary: keeping people on schedule is no small task! I hear you on the relaxing. Like Edith, I wish I could learn to meditate every day (wait, Edith said mediate, so maybe we're not talking about the same thing!). But yes, I would love to learn how to relax.

    Kathy: I bet people love to shop with you! Definitely a great superpower to have!

    Ellen: I love that you've organized your sister's fridge a number of times. She sounds like a candidate for your labeling system!

    Ramona: that chatty factor is HUGE! I've spent many an elevator ride with strangers in complete silence trying to think of something to say.

  15. Susan: YES! I think I've actually tried the nose wiggling thing a few times when nobody was looking, just to make sure I wasn't letting an unknown talent go to waste. Nope, nada.

    Deborah: The fridge is not my domain, but I can find things in the apartment that nobody else can. Good luck with those dog hair bunnies!

  16. How funny that I wrote "mediate" - when of course I meant meditate. Not sure I do much mediation, either - if others have problems, I figure it's their deal to work through it, not mine. ;^)

    I also have the finding superpower, and am blessed, I think, like birds, to have a magnet in my forehead or something. I almost never get lost, and if I've been somewhere once, I always recognize it and can figure out where to go.

    What a fun discussion!

  17. I wish I could be organized. My desk is a disaster; I'm literally years behind on bookkeeping and filing. Yet when I worked I was supremely organized at the office. Go figure. Superpowers? I don't know. I can usually find the humor in almost any situation.
    And I can chat up strangers too, but here in the South everyone does that while waiting in line.

  18. Pat D I chat up strangers too. In New England. Usually at the fish counter or in the produce section at Stop N Shop. My kids used to stand apart & pretend they didn't know me.

  19. Edith: how funny! I was going to assume you meant meditate, but you know what they say about assuming... (I'm an expert mediator, too, so there's that.)

    Pat D: My desk is an absolute mess, too! I have the best of intentions to clean it, and then five minutes later Post-its, Sharpies, and just general stuff shows up. I'm like Pigpen.

    Hallie: I'd definitely take some of your chatting skills in a swap for some highway driving skills!

  20. Super-hero powers - my ability to ignore dust lions, discover fabulous new spots for take-out and avoid exercise.

    I'd love to drive fearlessly on highways - Wow!

  21. My brother-in-law has the power to always find a parking place, no matter where, no matter when.
    It is quite marvelous and very handy.

  22. My super power is probably my memory! Friends, relatives, coworkers, all say "ask Deb about it; she'll remember". I do seem to have trouble these days remembering song titles, book titles, movie titles, etc, but my brain is still crammed with lots of details that I seem to have no trouble pulling to the front of my mind, and often on demand! (I keep telling everyone that I'm aging along with the rest of them, and might not always have such a memory for details. They had better not get too attached to MY memory!)

    What I would love to have is the ability to stay organized. I'm able to organize myself but wish I could STAY organized. This is going to be my new project this spring!

  23. Let's see. I'm thinking X-Men. Could listen in to anyone.

  24. Great post!

    My superpower wish: I would like to be able to grade papers well at the speed of light.

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. I have a T-shirt that says, "I have three kidneys...what's your superpower?" (Although I'm not really sure why a third kidney gives me super powers.)

    Like Deborah Crombie, I wish I had the superpower to make animal hair/fur/whatever disappear. With three cats and a dog (all black), it's everywhere. EVERYWHERE.

    But I'm really good at talking to people, and I can pull together some good meals with what looks like not a whole lot.

    However, I'm obviously not very good at figuring out how to sign in. How can I be unknown if it shows me my email address? (Oh, just use Name. Duh.)

  27. Speaking of t-shirts, I have one which says 'I teach, what's your superpower?' which I'm very proud of. Usually I'm thinking of what I can't do ... Wait I've always been good at finding cozy places for coffee and cakes wherever I live ...
    Power I would like to have - so many - but I don't have the chatting gene and would love that!

  28. Julie: You have pretty awesome lineup of super powers!

    Libby: When he's not paying attention, rub elbows with him. If it rubs off onto you, you're golden.

    Deb: the awesome memory! That's a good one. I still get really excited when I can pull some abstract factoid from the recesses of my brain (and no iPhone to cheat with), though it is getting harder.

    Theresa: I like how you think.

    Cynthia: I know another professor who would say the exact same thing!

    Char: Don't underestimate the talking to everybody thing. Barbara Walters wrote a book in 1970 called How to talk to Practically Anybody about Practically Anything. I remember finding it in a used bookstore and thinking, this is going to do me some good! Alas, I don't think I read it...

    Carole: Teaching IS a superpower!

  29. Just got home from a conference but wanted to weigh in - better late than never. Hi Diane!! Now that I know your superpower, I want to carpool with you everywhere :) Love everyone's superpowers. I guess mine (in this context) would be the ability to find the interesting story in anyone I meet. I love the idea that every single person has a story, no matter how quiet their life - from Anita Brookner I learned that a quiet life can be absolutely fascinating. I can also hula hoop like nobody's business!!

  30. Kim, I want to see you hula hoop!

  31. The superpower I wish I had? Not needing sleep. That way, I would've responded in a more timely fashion yesterday!

  32. So cool, I could use that freeway superpower whenever I drive in Miami! The one superpower I wish I had is the ability to carve an extra 10 hours into every day. Voila - time to start AND finish my to do list.