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Meet Golden Heart Finalist Diana Belchase!

Diana Belchase grew up dreaming of castles, damsels in distress, and the gallant princes who rescued them—except sometimes it was the damsels who did the rescuing. 😉 She loves action, women who take charge, and the men who tame them.

In her spare time, Diana blogs about her life in Washington, D.C. and interviews authors for her TV show, BookSmart. She lives in farm-country, just over the D.C. border, with her own perfect prince of a husband, where her nearest neighbors are cows, a flock of lambs, and wild roosters that nest in the trees. She has recently become fluent in the local dialect of moo.

Winning the Golden Heart 2011

Diana winning the Golden Heart in 2011!

This is Diana’s third Golden Heart nomination. The first book in her Born to Spy series, The Spy in the Mirror, won the Golden Heart in 2011. Here is the blurb:

Trina Bianchi wants nothing more than to follow in the footsteps of her late parents as a top echelon spy. Sent into a mission in Hong Kong, she must face the one thing she dreads most—making friends while inveigling her way into high society. Why can’t she be bugging offices, climbing buildings, and cracking safes like usual? Add to the mix Preston Grahame, a British ex-pat billionaire who makes her toes curl. He’s a man determined to uncover all her secrets, with the power and the connections to get his way. Can Trina find the mole killing U.S. operatives and selling nuclear secrets? Will she brave agency rules for the man of her dreams? And can she find love with a man she’s only told lies to, a man who doesn’t even know her real name?

Escape from the Harem, a sequel to The Spy in the Mirror, is a finalist in this year’s Romantic Suspense Category. Here’s a taste:

Sent on a cruise ship as bait for a ring of kidnappers, Trina Bianchi has been guaranteed the trackers in her clothing, and the team of operatives following her, will keep her safe. When the mission goes haywire, she ends up abducted for real—

imprisoned in a Sultan’s harem along with seven other American women. Armed with nothing more deadly than a steak knife, Trina must rescue her fellow captives. But when she makes the ultimate sacrifice, only her boyfriend, billionaire Preston Grahame, can save her and help her bring a terrorist to his knees.

Diana’s here today to share the story of how her writing led into a surprise new career!

Leave a comment to be in the random drawing for one of TWO $10 gift cards to Amazon!

Take it away, Diana!

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Diana Belchase photoHow I Started Writing Books and Ended Up With a TV Show

The email that changed everything came about eighteen months ago.

“Would you be a guest on Writers Who Kill?”

To say I was flummoxed would be an understatement. Why would they want me, an unpublished author, to be on their blog?

“I think you must have the wrong person,” I wrote back.

Shari Randall was quite firm. “No, I have the right person. I’d love to interview you for my blog.”

But why? What had I done that merited this kind of attention? As it turns out, Shari was a fan of the author interviews on my YouTube Channel.

I started doing videos shortly after joining the Kiss and Thrill blog. We’d decided to do author interviews, but I thought videos might be a nice variation on the theme. Soon my blogmates were calling me “Barbara Walters” and going into hiding whenever I wanted to drag them in front of my camera.

Some of the early clips are awful – the sound is iffy, the lighting isn’t great. But I learned and knew I was getting better. Of course, I had help. One of my very first interviews was with the gracious and wonderful Eloisa James. When we went on a bit longer than she’d expected, she stopped me.

“Break it up into segments,” she advised. “No one will watch long videos.”

She was right. Over time, I saved money for a better camera, tripods, lavalier mics, editing software, and a stand for an old light kit I found in my father’s basement. I’d hated having the dreaded lights in my eyes as a kid, but now love feeling as if my dad, the original shutterbug, is there in spirit, rooting for me.

Here’s an interview with Jane Porter:

 

A Hollywood legend has it that a movie director discovered Lana Turner as she sat, drinking a milkshake, at Schwab’s drug store. I knew how she must have felt when a local TV executive read the Writers Who Kill blog and said, “Why aren’t you shooting these interviews for us?”

Wow.

When I thought about taking this opportunity, at a time when I’m certainly older than most people starting out, it frightened me. This time I’d be broadcasting on TV, not hidden somewhere in cyberspace. Could I really pull off an entire show? Would anyone watch? Would I get horrid reviews?

I closed my eyes, crossed my fingers, and jumped into the broadcasting pond.

There is almost nothing about fiction on TV. Long gone are the days when authors graced the panels of game shows, early morning news, or the Late Show. Book TV only carries lectures from authors of nonfiction tomes, almost no interviews. I believed, there needed to be more – not just from authors, but about conferences, and book clubs, and reader’s relationships to books. Whether it is romance, or thrillers, nonfiction, or graphic novels, anything connected to books, and their readers, would be fair game.

diana with cameraIt’s taken me a while to learn the basics. In order to produce shows at the studio, I had to take several courses. I’m proud to say I am qualified to work in front of a green screen and am certified as a studio tech, editor, and producer. Along the way I’ve not only learned a ton, I’ve made great friends, and exercised my creative chops in a whole new fashion.

My pilot centered around two teens who discussed their favorite novels and why one loved and the other despised Hunger Games. The studio was elated and my show approved.

BookSmart was born.

I’ve gone from a one-woman outfit to a crew of fourteen. In the studio we do hair and makeup, change wardrobe, and decide which exotic libraries to feature on the green screen behind my guests. It’s been a total blast and a whole lot different than going it alone.

But there will always be speed bumps along the way. There are times the sound has a hiss in it, or the angle of the camera is wrong and I come out looking like Cousin It.

I’ve forgotten names, the tripod has slipped, the camera has fallen over. We keep pressing on.

I cringe when I use the word “amazing” one time too many, or wear the same bright sweater too often. I cannot prepare for every contingency – like someone rambling for forty-five minutes in a seven-minute segment, or a lively guest turning to stone once the camera is on.

I’ve come to realize things happen and stress isn’t going to make it better. My philosophy is to make everyone as comfortable as possible, to make them look good – the way I’d like someone to make me look. Hopefully, we’ve achieved that.

Every time I sit with a guest my stomach knots and I try to hide my nerves. Will the author be pleased or hate me forever? The camera starts recording and the interview turns into a conversation. My inner fangirl squeals as I ask questions. Suddenly, we start laughing and I forget the unforgiving lens that is adding much more than ten pounds to my already generous frame. When it’s over, I feel I’ve been talking to a friend.

Working the DVRThere are rare moments when my guests open up in unexpected ways. They might tell me about their divorce, or how doing what they do ruined a relationship, or a secret they told no one else. I am honored they chose to share with me.

I’ve come to respect kindness: the guest who doesn’t kick up a ruckus when the camera inexplicably shuts down; the great author who sits and grants me a peek into his or her life; the people who give me tips, or help me on the crew, who tell me they enjoyed working on the show.

That’s better than gold.

Things have been quiet on the YouTube front as I’ve been in production. We have about nineteen episodes almost ready to air locally, and a lot of interest nationwide from stations that might want to carry the show. We’ll have a firm timeslot soon, and I hope you’ll all be able to watch it, either on your own TV or online.

Thanks to all of you and the Rubies for letting me share this amazing (drat, I said it again!) adventure.

What about you, readers? What unexpected adventures has life’s journey taken you? Has your life always followed one path, or gone in unexpected directions?

Commenters will be entered in the random drawing for one of TWO $10 gift cards to Amazon!

********************************

Connect with Diana Belchase on social media:

Website: https://topsecretwashington.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/diana.belchase

Twitter: @DianaBelchase

BookSmart: https://booksmarttv.wordpress.com

89 responses to “Meet Golden Heart Finalist Diana Belchase!”

  1. Sarah Andre says:

    LOOK AT YOU! What terrific pictures, Diana. I’m telling you, you’ll be famous for your ‘hobby’ one day, and think of all the networking you’re doing with big-time authors…what an amazing achievement from someone who brought a tiny video camera to RWA year after year and grabbed authors in the hallway. 🙂

    Congrats again on a 2016 GH nom, I am SO thrilled for you!

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  2. Aw, you’re so sweet to say that, Sarah! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support over the years.

    Hugs!

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  3. Elisa, thank you and thank you to all the Rubies for hosting me here today! I’m absolutely thrilled since I’ve always, secretly, wanted to be a Ruby. At least I’m a Ruby for a day!

    Hugs!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      We’re thrilled to have you, Diana!! I find it so inspiring that you took a side passion and had the courage to jump into a whole new field.

      I love the idea of having two teens talk about why they love/hate THE HUNGER GAMES, and just generally love the way your work helps promote the love of books. Hurray!!

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  4. That’s awesomely cool, Diana!! What a risk-taker you are.

    And how terrific it is that you provide a space where authors get to talk about their work. We don’t have enough of that in the current marketplace.

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    • So glad to see you here, Eileen! Yes, it has been really great to be able to provide a media outlet for authors to publicize their work when there are so few places that will. I really like the idea of lighting a candle instead of cursing the dark.

      Hugs!

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  5. Hi Diana, Congratulations, my Mermaid sister, on your third Golden Heart final. What a great story and turn of events. That’s amazing!

    Sometimes we can’t understand how we ended up with the lives we have. If someone five years ago had told me I would be writing romance, I’d have looked at them like they’d sprouted an extra head. It was a spur of the moment idea after watching a historical BBC production that made me head to my laptop and start my first manuscript. But now I can’t imagine doing anything else.

    Loved your blurb!

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    • Glad you liked the blurbs — its absolutely nail biting releasing them, you wonder if anyone will like the story idea or if you’ve presented them well. I’m so glad BBC spurred you on to write Historical Romances. IMO there are never enough historicals out there!

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  6. Seana Kelly says:

    I love that you’re helping to bring authors to the forefront in media. It’s wonderful! Great blog 😊

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  7. Tracy Brody says:

    Diana, Congrats on another GH final and look forward to meeting you. Love that you had the courage to pursue the opportunities given your with Kiss and Thrill and Book Smart. So very cool.

    I’d have to say the unexpected adventure has been my writing journey. I graduated college with a business degree and worked in banking because that was what my dad recommended for getting a job. Though I had an overactive imagination, I’d never written anything longer than a 10 page term paper before I began writing spec movie & TV scripts then turned to writing romances a *few* years (okay, decades) after graduating, working and raising a family.

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    • Similar thing happened with me, Tracy. Isn’t wonderful to find out you can write at this stage in life? It’s like discovering a new part of yourself. Never thought I’d be able to write 400 pages at a time. Can’t wait to read your books.

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  8. Wow, Diana, what a cool way to share your love of reading and writing! I think it’s fabulous that you jumped into this adventure and are having fun with it! And that you’re shining a light on writers and the written word.

    You’re a role model for going after your dreams and that it’s never too late to try a new path or a new idea or to dust off something we thought about years ago, but just were never able to “go for it!”

    Thanks for sharing this unique side to your writing life. Super super interesting!

    Hugs, Pris

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    • Oh, thanks so much Priscilla! It means so much coming from you. We’re both on the journey together and reinventing ourselves. Congratulations on the new book contract, too!

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  9. Beautiful interview. You show sounds wonderful!

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  10. Wonderful blog post, Diana! Getting to do a TV show sounds exciting.

    Congrats on the GH Final and looking forward to meeting you and all my fellow Mermaids in San Diego.

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  11. Nicole Hohmann says:

    Great post! Such an incredible adventure, Diana! You are one brave and capable woman! Congrats on the GH final.
    Nicole

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  12. Tracey Amey says:

    Wow, Diana. You are busy! Fantastic insight into the other side of the interview and how much hard work goes into each episode.

    Escape from the Harem sounds like an exciting ride! Can’t wait to read it.

    Tracey

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  13. Diane Holiday says:

    Wow. You are one brave lady. I would have been clueless about what to do with all of that! How wonderful. You are doing so much AND still writing. Hats off to you. Best of luck in the Golden Heart!
    Diane Holiday

    1+
  14. Melonie says:

    Congrats on all 3 GH finals (and the previous win!)
    Sounds like a great RS series you’ve got cookin’ 🙂

    I am fascinated by BookSmart!Very very cool!! The hero in my GH book is a YouTube star making the transition to a tv show…watch out, I’m going to corner you in San Diego and talk your ear off about the details of filming your own show!!

    1+
    • Ha ha Melonie, I can really relate. Why wait until SD? If you need the info sooner, give me a call any time. Email me off loop and we’ll exchange phone numbers. Thanks for being here!

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  15. Sharon Wray says:

    I am so proud of you, Diana. I know how hard you’ve worked and how much you’ve had to overcome. I am so excited about your BookSmart program and even more so about your third Golden Heart. Your perseverance and talent will ensure success in everything you do!

    2+
    • Sharon, you are wonderful to say such lovely things and even more so to mean them. Good luck in the Daphne and the Rosemary! and Congratulations on your recent Marlene win.

      Hugs!

      1+
  16. Hi Diana!

    My previous life was in TV, too. And before that I studied theatre. And waaay before that I studied dance for seventeen years. So now I sit on my butt all day (when I’m not chasing kids, of course) writing about love, werewolves, Norse myths, and saving the world, lol!

    But they’re all related in that it’s always been about story and eliciting emotion.

    Probably my biggest unexpected journey was self-publishing. I kind of crashed my way into it, and just kept on going.

    Great post, BTW. Thank you for sharing and looking forward to meeting you in San Diego!!

    1+
  17. Rayn Ellis says:

    Congrats on another GH Final, Diana!

    Your show sounds so cool! Thanks for sharing about your unexpected path! So neat!

    Hugs,
    Rayn

    1+
  18. Shari Randall says:

    Well, I looked on Facebook and was absolutely thrilled to see your post on my page. Diana, I am so excited to see this next chapter in your life! Book Smart looks so amazing (I’ll use your word – it fits!) You have to promise to come back to WWK with an update, OK? So happy for you – hugs – Shari

    1+
    • Shari, I’m so happy you’ve been part of my journey. And of course, I’d love to come back to WWK. Thank you for “discovering” me and being my first fan. Big hugs back!

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  19. I’m so proud of you, Diana! Your interviews are always great and have been a wonderful addition to K&T.

    My unexpected career twist happened when I was asked to submit a proposal for Scrivener For Dummies. As you know, that changed everything. It’s crazy-wonderful how these things happen sometimes when we follow our passions.

    I can’t wait until BookSmart goes live. I know you’ll be fabulous. Good luck with the Golden Heart!

    2+
    • Gwen, I am always so amazed at you, how you reinvent yourself, and your success with Scrivener. Isn’t it wonderful how we can be finding new paths at our ages? I’m looking forward to seeing your new video classes online, too.

      1+
  20. Lena Diaz says:

    You are one amazing woman, Diana! One of the most interesting, and intelligent, people I’ve ever met. I’m so glad you’ve gotten this opportunity and have no doubt that BookSmart will be a tremendous success with you at the helm. Congratulations on your latest Golden Heart final. I’ll be rooting you on in July! Hugs.

    2+
    • Lena you’ve brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much, and thanks for rooting for me. I’m rooting for you for the Booksellers Best Book Award, too!

      1+
  21. Diana, I’ll always be a fan. I love how you’ve created this baby out of your interests. So amazing. My new journey has been stand-up. I love it. It will probably remain just a hobby, but it’s fun to try new things. Keep us posted on your broadcast times. So happy for you.

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    • Oh my goodness, Chris, your YouTube video of your stand up comedy is hysterical. I doubt this will be your hobby for long because someone is going to discover you and snap you up. Thanks for being my fan. We can be presidents of each others fan clubs. 🙂

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  22. Elizabeth King says:

    Hi Diana, What a fascinating blog. Your show sounds amazing (yes, I said it too) and you must be one brave lady. Thanks for sharing and I’m looking forward to meeting you in San Diego.

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  23. Diana, you are all full of surprises and talents! I am always learning something new about you and find one more reason to admire you.

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  24. Diana, what a wonderful post. It was such a treat to meet you at Malice and see you work! You are amazing!!!

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  25. Gabrielle says:

    I loved learning about the behind-the-scenes stuff. Sounds like serendipity at play there 🙂 I’m looking forward to seeing the new season!

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  26. So very proud to call you friend, Diana. Your career is an inspiration! Wishing you much continued success, and don’t forget us little guys, lol

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    • Ha! Little guys. LOL. You’re the one with the line of great books, Jacquie. I should be saying that to you. 🙂 Thank you so much for all your support. Hugs!

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  27. Kathryn Jane says:

    What a treat to hear your story! Congratulations, Dianna 🙂 …sure hope you come back to play with us in the Sisterhood of Suspense soon!

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  28. I’d love to do that sometime, Kathryn. Thanks for being here. 🙂

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  29. Bella Gavellon says:

    What a great article. Looking forward to reading your books upon publication, Diana, as well as seeing your show when it comes out.

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I love how you’ve taken control, spread your wings wide, and soared. You are awesomely amazing!

    1+
  30. Susanna Malcolm says:

    Your show sounds so fun and interesting. Writer and TV host – wow! Looking forward to meeting you.

    1+
  31. Stephanie Brenninkmeyer says:

    Congrats, Diana! As a fellow WRW member, I know personally just how encouraging you are to other writers. I will alway appreciate your pep talks and the “Just Write It” attitude you have shared with me. I can’t wait to see your new show. You are an incredible author and now a voice for the entire community.

    2+
  32. Chuck Gumas says:

    Hi Diana!

    Wonderful news! What a thrilling adventure – I simply can’t wait to see it unfurl!

    Have at it – and (don’t) break a leg! 🙂

    1+
  33. Carey Baldwin says:

    I think you should say “Amazing!” all you like, because it’s such an appropriate word when it comes to you! I’m thrilled and happy for you and yet I know this is only one small facet of your personality and talent. Congratulations on the television show and on the new golden heart final. You simply rock!

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  34. Number one…your books sound amazing and I need them now! *grabby hands*

    Number two…I’m in awe of your production company! That is about the coolest thing ever. And, I hope that it does get distributed everywhere because I want to see it!

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    • Ha ha, Laura, that’s the best compliment ever — I love the grabby hands. Makes me feel like I have a chance at someone eventually reading my books. 🙂

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  35. Brooke Salesky says:

    How cool! Love your show-how AMAZING is it that you get to host a show about books! 😉 Your GH book this year sounds super fun. Love the harem idea!

    1+
  36. Betty May says:

    Proud of you, Diana! Can’t wait to see the show.

    1+
  37. Carrie Padgett says:

    I’m a little late to the party, but so glad I made it! What a great story, Diana! I love how you kept on keeping on, stepping through each door as it opened.

    1+
  38. Karen Van Ornam says:

    To say I’m proud of you would be a complete understatement! You have and continue to work so hard to be excellent at what you do….and you are excellent! My sweet neighbor, keep up the good work!

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  39. Hi Diana, What an inspiring post! I’m so proud to meet such a talented, enterprising and lovely lady who also happens to be Italian. Buona Fortuna!

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  40. Melissa Keir says:

    Congrats Diana on your successes! I know there is more to come!

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  41. Jeannie says:

    Lovely post and congratulations, Diana! What an honor!

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  42. Melanie Novak says:

    What a cool way for a side gig to turn into the real thing. I love the idea of books on TV. You go, girl!

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    • I’m glad you think it’s cool, Melanie. It’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to actually being cool. Lol. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Thanks!

      0
  43. Layla Reyne says:

    What an awesome way to share your love of reading/writing and promote fiction on TV. Loved hearing all the behind the scenes stuff. Reminded me of my college student television days. Congrats on another GH nom, all the success, and I look forward to meeting you in SD!

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