dianne salerni author
dianne salerni author

In July we hired a contractor to paint our stairwell and upstairs hallway, strip the wallpaper from our upstairs bathroom and paint it, too. (I want to note right here that his business card said: Painting and Wallpaper Removal.) He was supposed to start the Monday after we returned from St. Croix, and he knew we had a deadline of August 19th, the day our German exchange student was due to arrive. The guy expressed some concern about the time needed to strip the wallpaper, and so my husband said he would work on it beforehand. A contract was signed.


My husband stripped half (HALF!) the wallpaper before we left for St. Croix.

The guy showed up at the appointed time, met with my husband, and started setting up for the job. He was upstairs a couple hours. In the meantime, my husband finished packing for a business trip and left the house for the airport. The contractor waited for about 15 minutes after he was gone, then came downstairs and announced to me that he would not do the wallpaper job. “It’s not coming off easily. It’s the worst I’ve ever seen. There’s no way I can strip it, primer, and paint it in the week I have allotted for this job.”

Remember, my husband had already removed half of it.

I said, “Okay, but can you work on it this week — during the time you’ve promised us — and we’ll finish whatever you don’t get done?”

His reply: “Let me rephrase. I will not do the bathroom job. I can do the painting in the stairwell and hallway, or if you prefer, I can pack up and leave.”

I was sorely tempted to tell him to leave. But it flashed through my head that I could strip the wallpaper myself (Theoretically. I’d never done it before.), but there was no way for me to paint the stairwell without scaffolding, and there was no time to hire anyone else. Reluctantly, I told the guy to do the paint job.

Bob says I made the right decision, the logical decision. But he also says that if he had been there, he would have been so mad he would have thrown the guy out. Believe me, I was mad too. I couldn’t stand the sight of him for the rest of the week. It was all I could do to be civil. But at least the stairwell got painted.

And every day, after the painter worked his measly 3 hours or so, I scraped wallpaper — starting from the minute he left until I went to bed. It was hard to remove, but I don’t have any experience to compare it to, so I can’t judge his claim that it was the worst wallpaper known to man. Two days in, I posted something on Facebook about hating wallpaper, and a former teaching colleague offered to loan me a steamer.  It came off a lot easier with the steamer. (Why didn’t the professional guy have one?)

My husband joined in when he came home from his business trip. And we got the bathroom finished three hours before we had to pick up our exchange student at the airport. Finished version below.

Bathroom Remodel

Have you ever had a contractor up and quit on you?


I’m happy that the cleome (spider flower) is blooming now! People will stop thinking we are growing marijuana in front of our house.

Not Cannabis

The leaves of the cleome plant bear a startling resemblance to cannabis.

Still waiting on the tomatoes though.

Still Waiting

Hungry, Hungry Hippos have nothing on our goldfish. Sometimes they leap right into the air when you throw them food.

Hungry Fish

The pool is warm and inviting.

The Pool

The purple coneflowers are in bloom.

Purple Coneflower

Aaaand, the mint has gone wild and overrun the herb garden.

Mint Gone Crazy

Meanwhile, Sorcia chases the shadows of butterflies.

Dog Chases Shadows

That’s right. She doesn’t chase the butterflies. She chases their shadows.

Anybody know what this flower is? It turned up in my bed of wildflowers this year.

What is this

What does summer look like where you are?

  • shoesGood news ~ I’m back in shoes! Bad news ~ I walk like an elderly lady crossing a fun house floor. I admit I was blindsided by this. I had no idea what 3 weeks of immobility and 2 weeks of only partial mobility would do to me. Physical therapy, here I come.


  • Tomorrow I’m off to Naples, Florida for a school visit.  I’m looking forward to the sunshine, meeting the students and teachers, and I’ve already picked out restaurants on Yelp. I’m not looking forward to walking in the airports. See the first bullet point above.


  • I’m sorry to say that I didn’t get a lot of writing done in the past few weeks. Maybe, if I’d had a completed manuscript to revise, I would have gotten more done, because revision comes easily to me. But writing a first draft … I didn’t realize how much thinking and planning I did while driving and walking and working out and, yes, even cleaning the house. Living a normal life provides the backdrop for creative brainwork. No Normality = No Creativity.  I look forward to getting both these things back this month!


  • What I did do while I was laid up was binge watch Jessica Jones, Making a Murderer, Sherlock (first time watching), and Dexter (also first time watching). I read Superposition and Supersymmetry by David Walton, Bounders by Monica Tesler, Beastly Bones by William Ritter, The Prey by Tom Isbell, The Fold and 14 by Peter Clines, and Lexicon by Max Barry. Plus a couple of DNF titles that I won’t list.


  • Luna looking naughty

    “Whatever Dianne tells you is a lie. Just look at me. I am inn-o-cent.”

    And finally, a slice of my life this week:

I’m on the sofa with a bowl of super-spicy Jacked Doritos. I put down the bowl and look away to answer an email from Krystalyn Drown. I look back.

The cat has appeared behind me. She’s crouched over my bowl. Her tongue is out.

Me: “Hey! Did you just lick my Doritos?”

The cat sneezes. She spits. She rubs her face with a front paw and backs away.

Me: “Dang it!” I eye the bowl and try to figure out if I can still eat some of the chips.


Just in case you missed my cover reveal over at Project Mayhem last week …

MorrigansCurse_REV cover

The release date for The Morrigan’s Curse is January 26, 2016, and you can read a synopsis for the book on my website’s Eighth Day Series page.

But if you have any interest in art or how book covers are designed, I still recommend you check out the interview I did with the designer and the cover artist. As my husband said when he read the interview, “I looked at the cover and thought: Wow, that guy can draw. Then I read all the work that went into creating this, and it’s not just ‘drawing’ at all.” SO MUCH work goes into this — just like writing the book itself!

In other news, it’s been a busy month for me and promises to be a busy summer. My younger daughter turned 15. My older daughter graduated from high school. I had a number of book events in June, and I have more events in July, as well as a class to teach. Also, we’ll be hosting a French exchange student all next month, and we have many events planned to entertain her.

Therefore, except for First Impressions, I’ll be cutting back blogging to once a week until further notice. First Impressions will still be available in the first 3 posts of every month. (And I have 2 openings in July, by the way. Any takers out there? I KNOW some of you are working on projects!)

Book ShelvesThe only other news I have for you is this: I mentioned last month that my husband assembled and installed new bookshelves into the room we’ve called “the library” ever since we moved into this house in 2003. For twelve years, we’ve been meaning to replace our crappy Office Depot shelves with something worthy of the name “library.” Those shelves were double and triple-stacked. Now, with all our books adequately displayed, I’ve uncovered books that I haven’t seen in years and started re-reading some old favorites from high school.

Right now, I’m on Sign of Chaos, by Roger Zelazny. I never before realized how much The Chronicles of Amber influenced my writing. It has literally been decades since I read these books, but there are concepts here that I see echoed in my own work. Except for his 1-dimensional portrayal of most female characters, sadly. But other than that, I have to say, “Thanks, Rog, old boy. You really shaped my thinking, even if it took years to reach fruition.”

After I’m through with Amber, I’ll be turning to C.J. Cherryh. (Is this where I get to brag that I’m Facebook friends with her? Not that she knows who I am or anything. She has thousands of Facebook friends. But still, if I could go back and tell my teenage self, “Some day you’ll be Facebook friends with C.J. Cherryh!” my teenage self would say … “Face-what?”)

home office

My home office in the basement.

To everyone who weighed in on my “Ending” dilemma last week, thank you! I decided my character had to be herself (and she is certainly not perfect). I think she discovered her own worth over the course of the story, but she also made a crucial mistake that prevented her from getting what she wanted. I found a way to give her the help she needs going forward, without making it seem like they “saved her.” She decides what she has to do. The two people closest to her throw in their support. I hit the dreaded “send” button on that manuscript yesterday.

In other news, the Delaware County Community College invited me back to teach the course I did in the fall, Writing for the Children’s Market. I start tomorrow night! They’ve also contracted me to teach a writing course for 10-12 year olds on Saturdays in April, so it will be fun to work with kids again.

I’ve had a home office space in my basement for months, but I’ve had trouble forcing myself to work down there instead of on the family room sofa or at the kitchen table. This month, I’ve been a little better at disciplining myself to “go to the office.” The only problem is my “office assistant.” Usually, she spends her time upstairs, but when she gets into a super-ornery mood, the family tosses her in the basement with me and shuts the door. Yeah, thanks a bunch, family.

Luna in the bookshelves

Luna rearranges the books on my shelf.

In final news that’s kind of cool, I was contacted via Pinterest by a woman from the Netherlands whose research on Ancestry.com revealed that Asenath Thomas – one of the women buried in the caged graves – was her husband’s great-great-aunt. We exchanged some information, and then she posted about it on Facebook and linked me. One of her FB friends then chimed in to say, “Hey, that author was the teacher of two of my kids!” That’s right. A parent of some former students is friends with someone who lives in the Netherlands who is married to someone related to someone whose grave I wrote about. I’m pretty sure Kevin Bacon is in there, too.


Asenath Thomas grave


Hi, everyone! I’ve been trying to get around to everyone’s blog — which includes more than the usual number because I participated in a blog hop this week.  But I’ve been battling a cold which would like very much to turn into a sinus infection and my motivation to do anything but lay around watching TV and reading books has been low.

I’m wondering what is new with you and want to share what’s new with me!

I commissioned a few more character drawings from Rachel Gillespie, who is — yes — a high school student with aspirations to some day work for Disney or Pixar.  I think she’s got the talent, and I’m delighted to help her build her portfolio of work as she applies to art schools. These character designs are for use on my website and promotional materials. My talented daughter Gabrielle is also using them in a 2015 calendar that will be available for download by January. There will, of course, be eight days in every week.

If you’ve read The Eighth Day, you might recognize the Donovan twins, Thomas and Tegan, who cause Jax so much trouble. They will return — much to Jax’s annoyance — in The Inquisitor’s Mark.

Thomas and Tegan 1

And this is Jax’s best friend, Billy Ramirez. Poor Billy gets left behind in The Eighth Day, but he’s going to have the adventure of a lifetime in The Inquisitor’s Mark.

Billy 1

Finally, the big thing that’s new in my life is an addition to my family! Meet my new office assistant, Luna.

Luna on my desk

She has definite opinions on my reading selections.

Luna in the bookshelves

And she gets along great with Sorcia.

Sorcia and Luna

What is new with you?