Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Bloody Mary Club by Debbie Dyke: Interview & Excerpt: PUYB Tour Stop



Stock market meltdown. United States housing bubble. Global financial crisis. Chief executives cooking the books. Who can you trust for financial advice? Gina Van Story, a savvy 40ish investment advisor to the rescue. She can spot a trend on the market and jump on it like a cat. She dreams of grabbing the bull by the horns and is on the hunt for one final big score. Gina and her three best friends form the Bloody Mary Investment Club and come face-to-face with corruption in a David and Goliath struggle when their stock portfolio turns deadly…literally.
Over made-to-order Bloody Mary cocktails at historic Gadsby’s Tavern, Gina takes her friends under her wing and teaches them the ins and outs of the stock market. Trouble begins when, following Gina’s bullish advice, they become majority owners in the local bank and then stubbornly turn down a lucrative buyout offer. Not only will money and greed challenge their friendship, they will have to get smart fast and figure out how to turn the tables on the charmingly seductive, yet evil, banker who wants control of their stock by any means necessary – including murder!


After an awkward lapse of time, Gina clicked her fingers at Vivi. “Why is an IPO not like you?”

“IPO. APO. GPO. UFO.” Vivi counted the cigarettes in her pack. “All gobbledygook to me.”

“IPO. Stands for initial public offering. It’s the first time the stock is offered to the public. New stock…get it?” Gina zeroed in on Vivi, now engaging Sarah in a puff -off . “You know I can’t do this alone. I need input from you. From both of you.”

Vivi made an elaborate gesture of tipping the cigarette ashes onto the floor. “Well, I tried. I wanted to buy Harley Davidson stock. Then I suggested Coors beer. You knocked me down.”

Gina sat back and crossed her arms tightly. “Vivi, maybe your bra’s too tight but you can’t buy a stock just because it sounds cool. How many times do I have to tell you? You have to look at the numbers, the earnings, the future…”

“Hey sweetie, you’ve done alright by us so far. When our account reached three zeros, I stopped reading those hum­diggety monthly statements. Here’s a tip for you: save your paper.” Vivi crushed her cigarette with her bondage boot heel. “This investment gag fest bores the moles right off my back. Why don’t we skip the numbers tonight and party till we puke?” She turned toward the busy bar, clicked her fi ngers singing, “Gina. Gina. Fo-fi na, fe-fi -fo-bina.”

“If you want to party…fine…party. I’ll just, errrrr, what’s the use?”

Knock it off. We should kiss the ground that Gina walks on for starting this club. Let’s show her some respect.” Sarah tapped the back of Vivi’s chair with her lighter. “Take the wax out of your ears. Apologize to our hard-working club chairwoman or I will pour every Bloody Mary drink I order tonight over your head.”

“Sooorrrrrrryyyyyyy,” Vivi flung her mass of bleached blond hair onto her back then added, “Gina. Gina. Fo-fi na.”

“Apology accepted.” Gina folded her hands on the table. “Investing is serious business and your comfortable retirement is my utmost priority.”

“Go girl go.” Vivi danced in her seat clicking her fingers. “Give us the ‘money is king’ talk.”

“I don’t do anything just for the money.”

“Money is king for you, but Elvis is my king.”

“You’ve all grown up thinking you can’t handle this stuff and if you’re a good girl, some big strong man will come along and take care of it for you. Wake up. It’s not going to happen. Without this club, you’ll be greeters at Wal-Mart when you’re seventy.” Gina plucked off a shrimp from her drink and jiggled it at Vivi. “Your legal secretary job isn’t secure.” Vivi picked imaginary lint off her slinky top. “What happens when your one-man-shop lawyer is thrown in jail for tax evasion? You’re pushing fifty, who’s going to hire a legal secretary who types on an electric typewriter and uses shorthand?”


How did you start your writing career?

I fell into writing by accident; my first paying job was with the Navy Newspaper, The Panorama, in Naples, Italy. It was a summer job when I was a rising 9th grader. The Navy assigned jobs on the first day of the summer break -- first come first serve. My job was to work at the AFSOUTH NATO beach --- in the kitchen of the snack bar. Not exactly what I had in mind, but I thought that I would give it a try. There was a tiny window that looked out onto the beautiful Mediterranean beach and I wished I was anywhere but in the greasy beach snack shack. Before long, the cook asked me to go into the food locker and get him some frozen hamburgers. The minute I stepped foot into the meat locker --- that was it. Done!

I took my apron off for good. I caught the beach bus back to the Navy base where I had to report to the Navy Chief in charge of the summer program. He wasn’t happy with me but then said he had saved the best job for last. Navy Public Affairs! He told me to give it a try, but, it might be a little demanding for a little lady like me. It was a perfect match. I loved it and continued to work there for the next three years. I was assigned a Leica Camera and went out on assignments just like any of the other Navy Photo Journalists. I shot my own photos and wrote articles for the Navy Newspaper. I went out on the Navy Carriers with the PAO chief when the fleet came to port, covered a major cholera outbreak, sporting events, Admiral visits, rock concert in Rome, -- all sorts of interesting events.  Oh, and I was paid $ 1.60 an hour.

I’ve been writing ever in one form or another. I became a script writer and now novelist. I finished The Bloody Mary Club in 2007, re writing it the way I wanted it. I shelved it when I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer several years ago, (I’m good to go now). I spent time on my personal life. My children and my wonderful husband needed me and I had lost interest in writing. It took five years.  Here I am today…The Bloody Mary Club is published and I did it ‘my way.’  I’m happy with the cover and  its snazzy title. I’m also thrilled with the great response that I’ve received. I never regretted my choice to put it on the back burner and focus on my family. Now I’m moving full force into my writing life and loving it.

Tell us about your current release.

The Bloody Mary Club novel is based on my script optioned by a Hollywood Production company for an Emmy-winning actress. Of course, being an asset type of gal, I took the money and bought a mink coat! It was the only sensible thing to do with crazy Hollywood money. The Bloody Mary Club came inches from becoming a TV series. After seeing the waist high stacks of scripts in the producer’s office that were ‘in development’--   I took charge and turned my script into a novel. My inspiration came to me in many steps. I’ve always been interest in the stock market and the idea of an all-woman investment club was the hook. I added the  Bloody Mary Drink after hearing about it’s tie in to Alexandria. 

The Bloody Mary Club, isn’t just about the four ladies drinking made-to-order Bloody Marys -- the term “Bloody Mary’ and the history of Old Town go hand in hand. As the story is told here in Alexandria, Mary was a famous prostitute during the colonial era and was found murdered. Her body was kept on ice at the Ice House until her next of kin could be found. Since ice was a precious commodity, the slab of ice was delivered to Gadby’s Tavern where it was chopped and chunks were put in everyone’s drink. On the night of her funeral, the bar crowd lifted their mugs and gave a special toast: “To, bloody, bloody Mary!” It’s rumored that George Washington was in attendance.  In my novel, the all woman investment club meet at Gadsby’s tavern and drink their made-to-order Bloody Marys as they discuss the next hot investment. 

Tell us about your next release.

In between blogging, interviews, posting, attending book clubs and book marketing for The Bloody Mary Club I’m not sure when I’m going to have time to finish my second one!  This book promoting is hard work! (t also very rewarding.)  Seriously, I’m working on my second novel, Gina’s Tonic, which is the next in the financial series. I’m half way through the first draft.  The gin is flowing and I’m having fun with it. Here’s what it’s about:

Numbered Accounts, banking secrecy, tax havens, bribery, kickbacks, laundered drug money, sham transactions and skimming -- banking gone bad. This thriller takes on the world of international finance, money launderers and organized crime. Gina Van Story challenges her nemesis, a trust officer with sticky fingers working at Beck Bank. This thief helps herself to client accounts, skips town only to find that she's taken a Columbian drug money account. She's discovered and soon becomes the cartel's day trader who must produce profits or be executed. Gina and her Bloody Mary Club gal pals masterminds a clever take down, recovers the stolen funds, hands over the rotten drug cartel to US government and saves Johnny’s bank once again. Loaded with twists and turns, this thriller delves into money laundering and organized crime.

Who is my favorite author?  

I have lots of favorites.  I enjoy reading chick lit, fiction, thrillers and mystery. Some of my favorite books are:  The Devil Wears Prada. The Ya-Ya Sisterhood books. Eat, Pray Love.  The Dirty Girls Social Club. Anything by Donna Leon,  Death In A Strange Country. 

Here comes my wonkish side, I also love non-fiction financial books. Some of my favorites are:  Buffet, The Making of an American Capitalist by Roger Lowenstein. The Millionaire Next Door, by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. The Courage to Fail, by  Art Mortell. Liars Poker and The Big Short by Michael Lewis.  A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel. I get a ton of story ideas reading the Wall Street Journal and Forbes magazine. The financial field is ripe with epic stories waiting to be told.   I’ll start with a snippet of information, then figure out interesting characters, and soon I come up with a plot and timeline. For example, the idea of an IPO gone bad with sympathetic characters caught up in the offering could be a great story because of the human element involved in the high stakes financial transaction.  When my radar is out, ideas are everywhere.

What is the hardest part of writing your books?

The most challenging part of writing a novel is keeping the story moving along. There needs to be urgency in the story, you need an action line or heart beat that keeps the reader turning pages. The ultimate compliment for me from a reader is that my novel is a page turner! I learned this ‘urgency’ technique writing scripts -- always leave a scene at the earliest and start the next scene at the latest. It creates interest and energy in the story. Cut out the boring, keep it moving along.

One of the most helpful tricks was to create an ‘edit/cut’ file for sections or passages that I deleted.  I was able to go back to that file when I did the final rewrite and add parts back in that were needed.  Once the writing was done, I set it down for several weeks for a cooling off period.  I was able to read it with fresh eyes.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I love to cook and entertain. I live in a very social town – Washington DC and there’s always someone coming into town for a visit or a reason to get together. My husband and I love to travel, we want to visit Viet Nam and go on an African Safari.   I’m perfecting my pizza making skills,  trying new pasta recipes and growing an herb garden .  I also keep an eye on the stock market during the day, my TVs is always turned onto the financial channel with the ticker running by. As a former stock broker, I only read the ticker and love interpreting trades as they go by.  I am always on the look out for investment properties. For fun, I watch the International Mystery and Drama channel and love the TV shows from Italy, Germany, Sweden and all over the world. My favorites are, Don Matteo, Vivaldi, Beck,  and Comissario Montalban filmed in Sicily. I have wonderful neighbors and we get together every Saturday afternoon for ‘wine time’ at 4 PM. As we say, “a Saturday without wine is barbaric!”

When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?

I am a very disciplined writer.  If you wait for inspiration to strike, it could be hit or miss. If it’s just a hobby then that’s fine but if consider yourself a writer then, just like any job, you have to put in regular time. I write first thing in the morning.  I write Monday through Friday and keep to a strict page count. I don’t leave the chair until I’ve written at least 5 to 10 pages a day.  I always edit on the weekends. 

Do you have any suggestion for beginning writers? If so, what are they?

It’s very hard to make a living writing. There are very few that can make decent living writing novels. The best way to insure success is to perfect your craft by writing, taking classes, accept criticism from readers, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  Don’t expect perfection from your first or even tenth draft. You will write badly, everyone does, so don’t get down on yourself for this. You will have plenty of time to rewrite.  As in the financial world, there are no shortcuts, you have to keep writing and improving if you want to be a professional writer.  Writers have to learn their craft. The absolutely best way to improve as a writer is to write… write… write.  And then write some more.

What do you want readers to take away from your story?

Ladies! This is your wake up call to take get your financial house in order. Stop wasting money on red soled high heels, put that money in savings! Drop that high priced latte right now. Don’t wait for a rich prince to come and save you! Here’s a passage from The Bloody Mary Club, Page 28 where my lead character Gina gives her ladies a wakeup call for being lazy about their finances:

“You’ve all grown up thinking you can’t handle this stuff and if you’re a good girl, some big strong man will come along and take care of it for you. Wake up. It’s not going to happen. Without this club, you’ll be greeters at Wal-Mart when you’re seventy,” Gina plucked a shrimp from her drink and jiggled it at Vivi. “Your legal secretary job isn’t secure.”
Vivi picked imaginary lint off her slinky top.
“What happens when your on-man-shop lawyer is thrown in jail for tax evasion? You’re pushing fifty, who’s going to hire a legal secretary who types on an electric typewriter and uses shorthand?”
Vivi pouted.
Gina moved onto Sarah busy snacking on peanuts: “And you can’t stretch your paycheck. You’re floating your bills. If mommy and daddy didn’t help out, you’d have no phone service, electricity or water. What are you going to do when they aren’t around? You think you’ll inherit their money? Statistics aren’t on your side. Mom and the General will need that money for their nursing home care. Your ex will get the last laugh as he skis down the slopes in Zermatt after having a wine and raclette meal paid for from his impenetrable trust fund.”
Sarah picked at her cuticles with one eye stuck in a half blink. “You forgot Joanie, she’s a mess”

After reading The Bloody Mary Club, I hope that the reader will realize that financial thrillers are fun to read and you might even learn something about the stock market. Through my story you will see that even the fat cats top get ripped off and that there are no get rich quick shortcuts.   In this era of self-directed IRA’s, everyone is responsible for their financial future and must make wise investment decisions. We all need to be savvy investors or else face a painful and dismal retirement. I make it clear through my characters that there are short cuts to make money or guarantees to double your return

 I hope the readers think that I have a fresh, funny, engaging voice. I want them to see that I have a wicked sense of humor, like strong female characters, and that I’m not a boring writer. I hope they feel the joy that I have when writing about stocks/bonds/trading. One reaction that I get quite often is that my readers often ask me to take a review their portfolios, ask me to validate their trading strategies, offer IRA tips and to give them business advice. This is how I became a partner in Script Magazine after they featured me in the magazine. A wonderful side effect!  

 Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by? 

First of all, thank you for the opportunity to share my writing background with you and your interest in The Bloody Mary Club! I appreciate the support and hope that you will come away jazzed about financial chick lit!  The time has come for smart girl money fiction!   

As an owner of Script Magazine I was lucky enough to attend screen writing and film festivals all across the United States. It was a lot of fun to meet and speak with top screenwriters, directors, producers and attend pitch festivals. I learned that screenwriters aren’t treated very nicely in Hollywood, that you are only as good as the last thing you wrote. Most importantly, you have very little control over your work because screenwriting is a collaborative venture. Once you’ve sold your script, it’s out of your hands. It will go through multiple rewrites. It’s rewritten for the producer, then for the director, and again, rewritten for each actor (depending on A or B list) when they come onboard.  For example, a script about four women in an all investment club in Alexandria, VA could turn out to be about an elderly couple fighting over Skippy the dog in a Las Vegas assisted living community.

The best advice I received from a top agent at CAA was that, if you wanted to be respected in Hollywood and control your work, you need to be novelist. Novelists are held in very high regard. Screenwriters are at the bottom of the barrel of the Hollywood pecking order and many aren’t even invited to their own opening night. I took his advice to heart. The Bloody Mary Club novel is based on my script optioned by a Hollywood Production company for an Emmy-winning actress.  To celebrate my first paycheck from writing I bought a mink coat! I wanted a tangible asset to remind me of how hard I worked to write the script and the reward when it was option.   I can’t help but smile when I’m wearing it.  My goal now for the profits from The Bloody Mary Club is to buy a Fiat 500!  Convertible, of course!  

I like to communicate with my readers through Facebook, my blog and my Author webpage.  I would love to receive feedback and encourage them to reach out to me. I often get emails asking me specific questions about investments, or trading strategies, or advice on how to finance college, I do not mind these questions because I sense that there’s a lot of bad advice out there.  I am always excited to receive contact from readers that I’ve know from my past. Out of the blue I will receive an email from someone living in Italy or Albania who’s read about my novel. I’m grateful to reconnect with people from my past and I’m happy to reach out to new fans.

You can keep up with me by visiting my website:, or read my blog:

I also post updates on my author face book page: Debbie Dyke Books


Debbie Dyke is a novelist and businesswoman from Alexandria, Virginia, and has a background in military intelligence, the stock market, executive recruiting and writing. An Army brat, she’s lived in Turkey, France, Germany, Italy, Albania and Holland. She graduated from the American High School in Naples, Italy then attending University of Maryland, Munich Campus. She graduated from Georgetown University and holds a Bachelors of Science and Masters degree in National Security. Debbie has two grown children, Lisa and Jordan and has been married to Michael for over thirty wonderful years. Debbie has written 5 screenplays, one Wall Street calendar and two novels.
Visit Debbie Dyke’s site:

Thursday, October 25
Friday, October 26
Guest blogging at Digital Journal
Monday, November 5
Book reviewed at Hezzi D’s Books and Cooks



Pump Up Your Book and The Bloody Mary Club are teaming up to give you a chance to win a Bloody Mary Gift Basket and Weekend Subscription to the Wall Street Journal!

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