dianne salerni author
dianne salerni author

I have some good looking calendars up for grabs this month! Check out this gorgeous 16-Month Transitioner’s Calendar for September 2015 thru December 2016.


All the character sketches are done by the talented teen artist Rachel Gillespie. My daughter Gabrielle designed the family crests and the layout of the calendar itself, with a Grunsday conveniently inserted between Wednesday and Thursday to record all your eighth day adventures.


You’ll even get a sneak peek at characters from the forthcoming third book, The Morrigan’s Curse, which releases on January 26, 2016. I’ll autograph the back of the calendar and throw in some temporary tattoos for fun.


If you have a tween/teen reader at home who enjoyed The Eighth Day and/or The Inquisitor’s Mark (or if you just want one for yourself), all you have to do is send me a message through my CONTACT page.

Put “I Want a Calendar” in the Subject Heading — and in the body of the email, tell me your favorite part of the book. (Yup, that’s right, I’m soliciting strokes for my ego. I love it when people tell me their favorite parts.) You can enter up to 3 times, (but you’ll have to tell me 3 different favorite parts). I’ll be accepting entries up until midnight of August 31 (ETA) and notify FIVE winners on September 1.

Heck, if I get a lot of entries, maybe I’ll give away more than five …

In other news, it’s been a very busy summer so far — and it shows no signs of letting up! I’ve been on author visits to Baltimore, Maryland, York County, Pennsylvania, Moorestown, New Jersey, and I have an upcoming visit to Brookville, Pennsylvania. I’m teaching a literary club at a youth community center in Parkesburg, PA, and preparing to teach a Writer’s Workshop Course at the Delaware County Community College. (Or as we like to call it DC3)

We said a fond good-bye to our teen French guest at the end of July. We had a lot of fun and took her on many adventures — including almost drowning her in the Lehigh River:

River rafting adventure

That’s my husband, me, and Clelie making the acquaintance of a nice family from New Jersey as we desperately cling to the side of their raft. My daughter Gina had already been swept downstream, where she was temporarily adopted by a different family. I guess Clelie forgave us, though, because she had us pose for a good-bye photo holding the sign we’d greeted her with on her arrival 3 weeks prior. She posted this to Facebook and called us “the most adorable family of America.”

Good bye to Clelie


That’s an accolade we are delighted to accept!

Martin Luther King dreamed of sweeping social reform.
Some of us have smaller, more personal dreams, and for many of my blogging friends, it’s the dream of being published. 
If you’re a middle grade writer with a manuscript ready for querying, then you need to visit Project Mayhem today where there is an awesome contest going on – just for MG.
Michael Winchell is organizing the contest. He and Shannon O’Donnell are taking submissions of queries and first pages until Thursday. They will each choose 3 submissions and request more pages, looking for a promising manuscript that would interest their agents: Alyssa Eisner Henkin of Trident Media Group and Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary. Michael and Shannon will each send one winner’s manuscript on to their agent with their personal recommendation.
Some of the other Team Mayhem authors have offered up secondary prizes, such as a query critique by Matt McNish and a three chapter critique from me.
Best of luck to everyone who enters, and special thanks to Mike Winchell for the idea!
In other news,
a) I’ve still got one spot open in February for a first page critique.
b) THE CAGED GRAVES is one of Richie’s Picks on the Rutgers Children’s Lit newsletter.
c) I will have some awesome stuff to share on Wednesday about the SPIRIT GAME short film.
d) I skied the heck out of Jack Frost Mountain in Blakeslee, PA this weekend. In fact, depending on when you read this post, I might still be doing it.

Wanna win some prizes? This Halloween, there are literally hundreds up for grabs!

I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and The Diary of a Bookworm have teamed up to host the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop — starting October 24 and ending October 31 — and there are about 400 PARTICIPATING BLOGS!

I’ve got three giveaways on offer:

1 copy of WE HEAR THE DEAD (signed) — open to mainland US residents.

2 original photographs (5×7 glossy) of one of the creepy graves in Catawissa, PA, subject of my upcoming book THE CAGED GRAVES (Clarion, 2013) — open to US, Canada, and Mexico.

Entering the giveaway is easy!

1) Be a follower of my blog.
2) Comment on this post and tell me your favorite Halloween movie.

(Mine is Hocus Pocus — I never get tired of this movie!)

3) Win an extra entry by Tweeting about the Giveaway (and tell me in your comment that you did so).

Now, there’s approx. 400 other blogs participating, so you better get hopping! The list of participants should appear below, but if Mr. Linky isn’t working, you can find the list HERE.

Thanks to everyone who participated in my 100 Blog Followers Contest – and extra thanks to people who Tweeted or Blogged about the contest! I’ve got quiz answers to share with you, and contest winners to announce!

Quiz Answers

1. Who is the main character of We Hear the Dead?

Maggie Fox is the main character, although her sister Kate is also of great importance. Maggie and Kate together pulled off the prank that led to one of the biggest hoaxes in the 19th century.

2. What grade do I teach?

Fifth grade is what I teach currently. I have also taught fourth grade some years, as well as a combined fourth and fifth multiage class.

3. Which one of my daughters regularly appears here with MG book reviews?

That would be Gina. Just so you know, this question caused some unhappiness at home. Gabrielle: How come I’m not in the quiz? Me: Well, you’re the wrong answer to #3. Gabrielle: Big deal — I’m the wrong answer to all the questions!

4. How do I feel about No Child Left Behind?

Grrr … let’s not get started on that! I hate this piece of legislation that pretends to support education, while providing no real help to students or schools at all. The only people benefiting from this law are the standardized test-making companies.

5. What’s so special about 2 graves in Catawissa, Pa that I’m writing a book about them?

They are both enclosed in iron cages!

There are 8 prizes up for grabs!
1. A manuscript critique from yours truly
2. Beautiful Dead: Arizona by Eden Maguire
3. The Secret Society of the Pink Crystal Ball by Risa Green
4. Struts and Frets by Jon Skovron (signed)
5. The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard (signed)
6. 13 to Life by Shannon Delany (signed)
7. Shade by Jeri Ready-Smith (signed)
8. Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert (signed)

Prizes will be given out on a first-come-first-served basis – with the exception that any international winners will get a manuscript critique by default. I will send emails out to all the winners this morning, but if you see this post first, you can go ahead and email me at dksalerni@gmail.com with your prize preference. It might be a good idea to list a 2nd choice!

And the winners are:

Becca B.
Sheri L.
Kristina B.
Christine D.
Stephanie L.

The first annual PAYA Book Festival on Saturday was so many kinds of awesome, I could hardly contain myself! First of all, I was thrilled to meet wonderful authors like Jon Skovron, Jennifer Hubbard, Amy Brecount-White, Stephanie Kuehnert, Jeri Smith-Ready, and Shannon Delany.

Secondly, the event drew visitors from as far away as Indiana and Virginia, and I got to meet in person The Story Siren, The Page Flipper, Aine’s Realm, Confessions of a Book Addict, Harmony Book Reviews, and more! (I was still connecting real people with their online identities hours after the event … having “Aha!” moments all over the place.) My daughter enjoyed an awesome Teen Writer workshop with authors Kieryn Nicolas and Chelsea Swiggett, while I got to meet blogging friend Christine Danek in person! I also met up again with the lovely people from Haverford’s indie book store, Children’s Book World. They were sporting big smiles because they sold out almost all the books they’d brought. We Hear the Dead was wiped out in under an hour!

And then, of course, nothing beats meeting the readers. Nothing.

Finally, I also scored some prizes for my 100 Blog Follower Celebration! I hit 100 last week (Aine Fey, that was you!) and then continued to top it during the Guess My Character Blogfest and the Giveaway at Aine’s Realm. So, it’s time for A CONTEST!!!

First, the prizes:

A manuscript critique from yours truly

Upcoming new releases from Sourcebooks:
· Beautiful Dead: Arizona by Eden Maguire
· The Secret Society of the Pink Crystal Ball by Risa Green

Signed copies (from PAYA) of:
· Struts and Frets by Jon Skovron
· The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard
· 13 to Life by Shannon Delany
· Shade by Jeri Ready-Smith
· Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert

Now, the contest. In keeping with my new Back-to-School mindset, it’s a QUIZ! All the answers can be found RIGHT HERE at In High Spirits. You can locate them with little effort – or just guess wildly. (It’s not like I haven’t seen that before!)

The contest is open to US or Canadian residents who are blog members – or international blog members if they’re willing to take the manuscript critique instead of a book as a prize. (Sorry, those mailing costs are killers.) To enter, email me at dksalerni@gmail.com with answers to the following questions:

1. What is the name of the main character in We Hear the Dead?
2. What grade do I teach?
3. Which one of my daughters regularly appears here with MG book reviews?
4. How do I feel about No Child Left Behind?
5. What’s so special about two graves in Catawissa, PA that I’m writing a whole book about them?

You’ll get one contest entry for each correct answer – plus extra entries if you blog or tweet or Facebook about the contest.

The deadline for entries will be Friday, September 3. I’m counting on this contest to get me through the first couple weeks of school – especially the inevitable faculty meetings about this year’s standardized test requirements. #^@(&%^%# NCLB!! (See, I told you the answers would be easy to find.)

I will announce the winners on Monday, September 6.

The blogosphere is a busy place this summer, full of giveaways and contests. If you don’t win a book this summer, then honestly, you must not be trying!

Some of the contests are rather serious in nature, such as the one taking place over at Candyland. In her usual generous and big-hearted way, Candyland is sponsoring a contest to benefit Joy 2 the World, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in Ghana, West Africa, as well as providing micro-credit loans to women in that country. Donations all go to a worthy cause, and the prizes are phenomenal – phone calls with agents and manuscript line editing, just to name a couple! Please check it out.

Of course, once you’ve done your part to help the world, you can score yourself a book by participating in Teen Fire’s Help Us Choose a Cover contest. Apparently, the design team at Sourcebooks Fire has been having a small, internal debate over the cover of the upcoming dystopian novel Water Wars (ie: Arm wrestling, throwing shoes, and spitballs have apparently not been able to settle it). Post a comment to help select a cover – or write a short story based on one of the covers in order to win an advance copy. Learn more about Water Wars by checking out my interview with Cameron Stracher.

Who here has read Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon? Maybe better to ask who hasn’t? You may not know that Zafon started out as a YA author and that his newest book (actually the first one he ever wrote) is a haunting YA mystery set in the 1940’s which involves a mysterious house, a shipwreck, and a sinister statue. Wisteria over at The Bookworm’s Dinner has 4 copies of The Prince of Mist to give away. In logic that only makes sense in the blogosphere, I get more chances at winning by telling you about the contest – thereby ensuring that some of you will enter and reduce my chances of winning. Does that make sense? Probably not, but I’ll play along!

Finally, as my blog membership slowly creeps toward 100, I realize I need to plan some kind of celebration here at In High Spirits. What to do, what to do?? Bring me a few more followers, and I’ll come up with something!