dianne salerni author
dianne salerni author

 

KLAC Baltimore Book Festival 2014

Me, Ellen Jensen Abbott, Alissa Grosso, Alison Ashley Formento, and Tim Young – Baltimore Book Festival 2014

… being a full time author?

I get this question a lot these days.  I think non-writers picture me clicky-clacking away at dozens of new books, sitting at a desk all day with coffee by my side. Fellow writers probably know better!  (One day last week I figured out I was writing at a rate of 155.4 words per hour. Yes, I stopped writing to do the math. Then I Tweeted about it. This may have been part of the problem.)

The hardest thing for me to get used to has been the unstructured days – especially coming from 25 years of teaching when my days were scheduled down to the minute and I had to plan my bathroom breaks. I’m getting better at managing my time now, setting two or three goals per day which may include new words in the WIP, blog posts and blog visits, creating marketing materials, exercise, or preparing for upcoming events. I’ve also learned that it’s okay to take a day off here and there.

Baltimore BF at night

Festival booths lit up at night — Baltimore Book Festival 2014

I’ve been able to take on new responsibilities too: moderating a FB group and setting up an online critique group through my local SCBWI chapter. I’ve been able to book myself for more events than I could possibly have handled if I was teaching. You can see by my schedule on the sidebar that I’ve got a lot going on this fall, and that list doesn’t even include private events like school visits.

Caged Graves tshirt

When the dead don’t stay where you put them …

I was able to attend all three days of the Baltimore Book Festival at the end of September, sharing a booth with KidLit Author Club members Tim Young, Alissa Grosso, Ellen Jensen Abbott, and Alison Ashley Formento. Those were three LONG, HOT days. (Never crossed my mind to pack shorts for the end of September …) But the venue was beautiful. A ton of people stopped to read the Caged Graves t-shirt or look at the photos on my poster board. I also learned that wearing a Doctor Who t-shirt was a great conversation starter. I plan to repeat that smart move at the Collingswood Festival this weekend!

Doctor Who tshirt for festival

My villain t-shirt from the Doctor Who Museum at Cardiff, Wales was a great conversation starter.

All in all, I’m learning how to be more productive with my unstructured days. I’m happy to be out of the stressful environment that was sapping my health, and my calendar is filling up with the kinds of author events I always watched enviously from the sidelines (ie: my FB and Twitter feed in spare moments at my teacher’s desk).

I’m happy.

When my husband and I first started planning this summer’s vacation, we asked the girls where they wanted to go on their first visit to Europe. London was their top choice, followed by Cardiff, Wales.
“Cardiff?” we asked. “Really? Why?”
“The Doctor Who Museum,” they replied.
Now, I’m a pretty big Doctor Who fan, but even I was unsure about planning a stop in Cardiff just for this. However, when I learned the trip could be combined with a research tour of King Arthur-related sites in southern Wales, I was sold.
We flew into Heathrow on August 8 and took a train directly to Cardiff. Shortly after checking in at our hotel, we walked out to Mermaid Quay and Roald Dahl Plass, the location of the Hub in Torchwood (a BBC Doctor Who spin-off), and our daughters faced a disappointment. Roald Dahl Plass had been taken over by a beach-theme carnival, and it was impossible to take a picture of the pillars that make this site a landmark. As for the Water Tower – the secret entrance to Torchwood where Susie shoots Jack in the pilot episode – it was covered with advertising decals.
Our girls learn things don’t always look like they do on TV.

Two days later, however, the Doctor Who Museum and Studio Tour made up for it.

The TARDIS on Cardiff Bay
“The Doctor Who Experience,” a 25 minute interactive adventure (similar to “Poseidon’s Fury” at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure), was amusing, but the real gem here was the museum of old filming set components, costumes, props, and behind-the-scenes photos. Here’s the actual cradle used in the episode A Good Man Goes to War.
Fancy Captain Jack Harkness’s trench coat and suspenders?
The Fourth Doctor’s scarf:
And do you recognize this TARDIS? Probably not!  It arrived at the museum the evening before our visit, and we were told it was used on the filming set of the Doctor Who 50thAnniversary Special, airing this November.
We also visited the BBC studio next to the museum and the actual 360 degree set of the TARDIS from Season 7 with 3 levels. As Gabbey said in awe, “We’re walking on ground that Matt Smith walked on!”



One of the coolest things about this tour was that everyone on it was as big a geek as we were. We explored the TARDIS with two gentlemen, each over six feet tall and burly, who bounced on their toes with excitement every bit as much as we did.
Even our tour of south Wales included a Doctor Who related stop. After visiting several historical locations (I’ll talk about those on another day), we spent a half hour at Southerndown Beach, where Army Of Ghosts, Doomsday, and Journey’s End were filmed (think: the tenth Doctor says good-bye to Rose) as well as The Time Of Angels and Flesh And Stone (think: the crashed ship full of Weeping Angels).

Our phones had no data connection on the beach, so we weren’t able to call up the exact image we had in mind when taking pictures. But when I returned to the hotel, I looked it up, and we came pretty close:
Rose Tyler (Army of Ghosts quote: “This is the story of how I died.”):

And Gabbey:

My girls list the studio tour, museum, and beach visit as #1 on their list of Favorite Things We Did in Europe.

My daughter Gabbey will be just plain awesome as the Eleventh Doctor this Halloween. I am darned impressed!

Can’t you just see her delivering one of the Doctor’s fabulous quotes:
“There’s one thing you never put in a trap — if you’re smart, if you value your continued existence, if you have any plans about seeing tomorrow — there’s one thing you never, ever put in a trap. Me.”

In case you’ve never seen the show, here’s Matt Smith as The Doctor with his trusty sonic screwdriver.
Other than Mommy pride, I haven’t got much for you today. (Unless you’d like to help grade a big stack of student papers for report cards? No? Oh, well. It didn’t hurt to ask.)
I was featured over at Unicorn Bell on Monday with a spooky excerpt from one of my works-in-progress. If you’re not familiar with Unicorn Bell, you should check it out their regular posts on writing elements and critiques.
And there’s still plenty of time to win prizes in the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop!