dianne salerni author
dianne salerni author

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Welcome! You are following the Cemetery Path, and if you’ve never visited me before, feel free to look around. I’m the author of two YA historical novels, We Hear the Dead and The Caged Graves, and a MG fantasy series about a boy who discovers a secret day of the week hidden between Wednesday and Thursday.

HBT14-The-CemeteryIf you’re one of my regular blog visitors wondering what the heck the Cemetery Path is, you can check out the Halloween Book Trail (and its multiple paths) HERE.

And now, for the Cemetery Path questions:

1. If your MC went trick or treating, what would they dress up as and why?

The main characters of We Hear the Dead (Maggie) and The Caged Graves (Verity) lived in the mid-1800’s, before the era of trick-or-treating. So, I’ll pick Jax, the main character of The Eighth Day.

Jax has recently discovered that his ability to experience the secret day of the week comes from his lineage. He’s a descendant of one of the Knights of the Round Table. Clearly, Jax would dress up as a knight for Halloween! Jax might even choose King Arthur himself – which would annoy Jax’s 18-year-old guardian, Riley Pendare. (A plus for Jax! Annoying Riley is one of his favorite things to do.)

2. What is the most haunted place you’ve ever been to?

I don’t know if it’s haunted or not, but the creepiest place I’ve ever been is the abandoned cemetery in Catawissa, Pennsylvania where the caged graves of Sarah Ann Boone and Asenath Thomas are located. I’ll let the photographs speak for themselves.

 Asenath Thomas grave

 Sarah Ann medium size

I knew as soon as I set foot in this cemetery that I would write a novel about these graves. You can find more pictures of these graves on my Pinterest Board.

3. Please share a photo of your favorite Halloween costume you’ve worn.

This is my husband and I dressed in steampunk attire, at Dorian’s Parlor in Philadelphia, a semi-regular steampunk ball held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Center City.

 ready for Dorians

4. If the zombie apocalypse happened (and it will), what would be your weapon of choice?

A long distance weapon, please – to keep them as far away from me as possible! Daryl Dixon’s crossbow is pretty cool, but probably too heavy for me to lift. So I would like a high-powered rifle that fires lots and lots of rounds!

5. What is your favorite sentence/paragraph from your novel?

I’m going to choose the passage from The Eighth Day where Jax discovers the secret day for the first time. He’s riding his bike through a deserted town, wondering what happened to all the people …

He thought about zombies.

He thought about alien abduction.

He thought about Spongebob Squarepants and the episode where everybody took a bus out of town to get away from Spongebob for a day.

He thought about the old movie where Will Smith and his dog were the last creatures left on earth.

“Oh, crap!” Jax yelled, braking.

Will Smith and his dog had not been alone in that movie. There’d been other creatures that lurked in dark places and came out at night to kill …

***

I hope you enjoyed this stop on the Cemetery Path of the Halloween Book Trail. Please continue your journey at the blog site of Sarvenaz Tash, author of The Mapmaker and the Ghost, by clicking HERE.

Today Eden Unger Bowditch is here as my guest to share her discovery of the wonderful — and eccentrically fashionable — world of Steampunk, as well as her experience at the Steampunk World Fair. (I want to go!!!!)  Eden is the author of The Young Inventors Guild series:

Before Eden’s post, a word about her books …

It is 1903. Thirteen year old Faye from India is passionate about science and afraid of showing weakness; ten year old Wallace from Long Island is fearful, but an expert with magnets; twelve year old Noah from Toronto loves food and practical jokes; and siblings Jasper and Lucy round out the group with Jasper serving as the protector and Lucy shining with her knack for language and a photographic memory.

In The Atomic Weight of Secrets, the children are whisked away from their homes to Sole Manner Farm, an abandoned farmhouse outside Dayton, Ohio, and put to work on an invention that will change the word forever and that challenges their very distinct talents and personalities. In The Ravens of Solemano, the children embark on a journey to Solemano, Italy, where they gradually learn more about the origin of the mysterious men in black.

YIG books

Now, I’ll turn over the blog to Eden:

***

I discovered the world of STEAMPUNK by accident. It was like wandering into a party where everyone is wearing your style of clothes! Before starting the Young Inventors Guild books, I had never heard of ‘steampunk’ or the likes. Yet the Young Inventors Guild books take place around 1903/1904 and, well, they clearly have a lot to do with invention. Steampunk was a place my books could call home.

It was artist, Steve Parke, who first said the word to me. He was working on the cover of The Atomic Weight of Secrets… and said how ‘steampunk’ the book was. I had to look it up. Yep. It certainly seemed like a fit. As soon as the book came out, various steampunk publications (not YA or kids, even, just steampunk) contacted my publisher, wrote reviews, offered giveaways of the new ‘steampunk’ novel. I was invited to be a panelist at the Baltimore Book Festival with Kelly Link, Gavin Grant, and Matt Kirby. Kelly and Gavin had published the Steampunk Anthology so they were in the know. Matt and I were still not so clear on what steampunk was but had been told our books fit into that genre. In September, I was speaking at a National Women’s Book Association event in LA with authors Maria Lennon and Cecil Castellucci. Cecil gave me an excellent description of Steampunk. She basically said that it was Victorian Sci-Fi. And it is.

edeng steampunk 1

 Armed with a clear understanding, I felt much more at ease in Morristown, NJ at the International Steampunk Convention in October of last year. There were inventors and blacksmiths and wonderful performers. Everyone said this was a small version of what was to come- The Steampunk World’s Fair. That event is what most of the serious steampunk community folks look forward to all year. I was thrilled to be invited! By May, I was ready for the Steampunk World’s Fair in Piscataway, NJ.

eden steampunk 2

The Steampunk World’s Fair was an incredible spectacle! There were two hotels connected by a large parking lot. The entire place was turned into a turn-of-the-century (I mean the last one!) invention party! There were over eight thousand people at the event! There was a robot made out of a train! I kid you not! There were automatons aplenty, goggles galore, and fabulous feats of physics. There were lots of science professors and lovers of science, as well as artists with a Victorian flare. The ground floors of both hotels were turned into marketplaces where one might find top hats, corsets, goggles, automatons, spyglasses, handmade games, and antique items from old science labs. There were fashions shows and music concerts and pieces of theatre. I was on a panel of Steampunk authors and I brought inventions from both books to share with visitors. It was wonderful to see people from the International Steampunk City event and meet tons of new readers, too! My own kids all had a blast. There were maker stations, science labs, and games everywhere.

Eden steampunk 3

From what I have learned, there are Steampunk events around the country. What a fun way to get some history and make some of your own!

***

Eden, thanks so much for sharing your experience and these gorgeous photos! Yes, there are Steampunk events all around the country, including Dorian’s Parlor, a bi-monthly ball in Philadelphia which I once attended as a guest reader. HERE’S my post about that.

You can find the wonderful Young Inventors Guild books on Amazon and B&N and your favorite indie stores. You can also learn more at the YIG Facebook page.

I’m all over the ball park with today’s post. If I was marking a student paper, I would say this selection is “unfocused.” But — hey, we all have unfocused days, right?

First of all, I’d like to invite you to pop over to Sara Crowe’s blog, The Crowe’s Nest, to read my guest post there on adapting my novel We Hear the Dead to a screenplay. Thanks, Sara, for inviting me to contribute, and thanks to all my blogging friends who’ve already read it, commented on it, and tweeted it!
Secondly, my Kindle broke! 🙁 That is, the 3G modem on my Kindle ceased functioning. However, all is not lost. I worked with a Kindle support person on the telephone for a few minutes, and after he had established (via having me enter super secret commands) that the 3G capability was, in fact, dead, he ordered up a replacement. I had it the very next day! I have to say that Customer Service is one thing the Kindle crew at Amazon has down pat, and I cannot praise them enough!
Finally, I wanted to share a video posted by the Dorian’s Parlor crew of my first on-stage reading last November. (Thanks, Kyle Cassidy, for finding it!) I am simultaneously excited and mortified to see it. I covered my eyes and peeked through cracks in my fingers to watch it. Reading in front of an audience who is mostly more interested in their snacks and drinks was a bit of an experience, and I was so blinded by the stage lights I couldn’t even see my audience. That was disconcerting!
It’s a little long, so if you watch it, you might want to skip the middle. I answer some questions at the end — one of them asked by “my ringer” in the audience: daughter #2 Gina, who asks, “What inspired you to write this?” It was her idea to rescue me with a question. Nobody prompted her — and I have to hand it to my 10 year old daughter who had no fear standing up in front of a rowdy crowd dressed in outrageous steampunk attire and taking the microphone!


Shortly after arriving at Dorian’s Parlor on Saturday night, we had the chance to chat with one of the founders, Gil Cnaan, who described the event as catering to “anachronauts – people who travel between times that never existed.” That pretty well sums up what we saw there, as we chatted with people dressed in everything from medieval capes and jerkins, to tails and waistcoats, corsets and fishnet stocking, wings, silver contact lenses, and sometimes fangs.

Everybody was fascinating. This was a highly intelligent crowd, with interests in history, science, music, art, literature, and clothing. Vendors displayed artwork, jewelry, steampunk accessories, hats, corsets, and even some replica 19th century surgical equipment: “For when it absolutely, positively HAS to come off in the next 30 seconds!”

The organizers kindly allowed my daughters to sit at my booth, outside the main ballroom. I worried that some of the attendees might be unhappy with their presence, but everybody took it in stride. “I approve of your minions!” said one gentleman, eyeing them up through his steampunk eyegear. And one of the vendors offered Gabbey a discount on a hairpiece she liked, just because she was wearing a Zelda hat.

One of the highlights of the evening for me was when I met Kyle Cassidy and Trillian Stars, who brought their copy of High Spirits, the original version of We Hear the Dead. Turns out Kyle is an aficionado of Elisha Kent Kane, and we had a grand time dishing about Elisha and Maggie, bashing Elisha’s mother, and speculating on whether he would have ultimately manned-up and done the right thing if you-know-what hadn’t happened.

I was so busy talking to people, I didn’t get to see much of the show, but there was a fan dancer, an opera singer, Katie Kat, a showing of the animated short The Tesla Experiment, and performances by Ego Likeness. Oh yeah, I was part of the entertainment, too. They showed my book trailer, and I did a brief reading.

A gentleman came up to me towards the end of the evening to get a book from me. He said he was sorry he’d missed my reading, since he got in late at the airport. But he’d caught it on the webcast. I just blinked at him. “What webcast?” Turns out, the whole event was broadcast live on the Dorian’s website. I’m really glad I didn’t know that at the time!

Overall, this was a blast, and I really want to go again! I was eyeing up the costumes, getting some ideas, and I know my husband was, too. I think I might be an anachronaut at heart, too!

Wow! What an extravaganza! Dorian’s Parlor did not disappoint — it was an exciting evening of entertainment, where the people OFF the stage were just as interesting as the people ON the stage.

The best way to describe the event is with pictures. Above is Gil Cnaan, one of the founders of Dorian’s Parlor.

Bob and I pose for a photo before the event.

My munchkin minions hung around the entrance and took pictures of interesting guests. No, I don’t know what he was hunting with that weapon.

There were lots of vendors with corsets and hats and leather accessories and jewelry. Clock parts were IN! The earrings above have been mine for years. I bought them long before steampunk became popular, and in fact I wore them on my first date with Bob. (They are my favorites!) But at Dorian’s, a lot of the jewelry was made out of clock parts, and Bob bought this necklace for me to go with my earrings.

And of course, I did my bit on stage. I did not faint in my corset, no matter how nervous I was. However, I needed assistance getting on and off the stage in that skirt.

I’ll post more later this week about the lively steampunk culture and some of the people we met. It’s going to take me awhile to absorb it all!


I’ve been practicing all week for this weekend’s reading at Dorian’s Parlor. Actually, you could say I started practicing last weekend, when my husband and I learned how to dress me up in my costume. Yes, it took two of us. All those movies you’ve seen where a servant or a sister has to lace up the heroine’s corset while she hangs on to the bed post? Completely accurate! The part you don’t usually see in the movies is the husband using Google to figure out how to lace up the corset in the first place.

After I got into the corset and skirt, I had to get into the car – not that easy a task when your body doesn’t bend normally, and thank heavens I wasn’t driving! Bob drove me to my mother’s, because she claimed she’d put together the perfect hat to go with my outfit. And wow, she was right!

Do you want to see a picture?

Well, sorry. You’re going to have to wait for the unveiling at the steampunk ball. I’ll probably post on Twitter and Facebook during the event – and then blog about it on Monday. (Oh, wait a minute. I’ll have no place to keep my Droid, I just realized. Maybe Bob will hold it for me?)

I’ve also been practicing my reading. I decided to focus on Maggie Fox’s beaux, Philadelphia native, Dr. Elisha Kent Kane. After all, he’s buried just a couple miles away from where we’ll be. I only have ten minutes, which is perfect for reading the story of how he fell through the ice with his sled dogs. Hopefully, the audience will appreciate that most of the story is told in his own words (although my editors made me trim him down – they found him too wordy, LOL!).

Speaking of Dr. Kane, my husband will be in costume, too, and he asked the costumers to get him something as close to Kane’s naval uniform as possible. I didn’t get to see the fitting, so the whole ensemble will be a surprise to me tomorrow.

I can hardly wait, although I am a little nervous. I keep envisioning the Pirates of the Caribbean movie where Elizabeth can’t breathe in her corset and falls off the parapet …