dianne salerni author
dianne salerni author

This past Saturday, I attended the third annual book festival organized by Pennsylvanian teenager Skyanne Fisher – Bring YA to PA, otherwise known as PAYA 2012. (This year with less hurricanes!)
I was delighted to be able to display the cover of THE CAGED GRAVES. (If you didn’t see the cover reveal yesterday, look here!)  The cover drew attention and stirred up a lot of interest in the book, as did my husband’s photographs of the real graves.  I proudly told everyone that my husband is getting photo credit for the bottom image on the book cover.
I didn’t go alone this year. My 15 year-old daughter Gabbey signed up for the morning’s writing workshop. I’ve got her here today doing a guest blog on the event.
A TEEN WRITER AT PAYA by Gabrielle Salerni
I attended this summer’s PAYA festival with the mother unit last weekend, where I signed up for a writing workshop with several other published authors. I had already been to the first year of PAYA and wanted to go to the workshop this year in hopes of receiving some new insight on my current WIP. I was beginning to get a little discouraged over it and was in need of some outside help. I knew I was among my own kind when some writers at the door, Victoria Schwab (The Near Witch) and Tiffany Schmidt (Send Me a Sign), immediately began exclaiming over my Doctor Who t-shirt. 
I was directed into the room where the workshop would be taking place and then watched more and more people trickle in. They were all adults, and despite myself I started to get a little intimidated, being fifteen and having no real writing experience whatsoever. For a few minutes I stood awkwardly in the corner before sidling over to a chair in front of the table. Luckily for me, everyone seemed nice and as the workshop progressed I became more comfortable.
Each of the authors gave a 5-8 minute presentation on a different topic, all of which were entertaining. I tried to take notes on the ones that pertained to my genre, but didn’t end up with much on the paper (yeah…that’s how it happens in school, too). In the end we all split into groups; my group had three authors and three aspiring writers. Due to time constraints, we decided to pair off and Ellen Jensen Abbot read the first three pages of my story. She was encouraging and gave me a lot of ideas and suggestions to help me cut down words and make my story better; not to mention ways to develop my fantastical universe a little more (I have A LOT of that to do). She was very nice, and overall I got a lot out of the experience. I’m also looking forward to reading Ellen Jensen Abbot’s book, Watersmeet soon! Thanks to everyone who was there and who helped us aspiring writers learn so much! 

This Saturday was the second annual Bring More YA to PA Book festival (also known as PAYA), held in West Chester, PA and squeaking in just ahead of Hurricane Irene. Sadly, a number of authors had to cancel due to the weather-related difficulties, and some of the attendees didn’t make it either. But I was thrilled we weren’t forced to cancel altogether. (And actually, the smaller crowd made it possible to have more conversations with people.) Kudos to Skyanne for another wonderful event benefiting Pennsylvania libraries!

There were raffles of books and swag.

There was a goldmine of donated books for PA librarians to take (free of charge!) back to their libraries.

And of course, there were lots of YA authors signing their books. I enjoyed seeing April Lindner and Josh Berk again. (We met at the Drexel University event back in May.) There were authors back from last year, like Shannon Delany. And I had the pleasure of meeting Susan Shaw, Leah Clifford, Charlotte Bennardo, and Natalie Zaman – plus K.M. Walton whose book Cracked comes out in January of 2012. (She and I had only met electronically before!)

I walked away with signed copies of Sirenz by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman and The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk. (But there are plenty more titles in my head I plan to check out on my Kindle.)

By the time I left the event, it was raining – but just a normal kind of rain. Plenty of time to get home, kick back with one of my new books, and wait for the storm to roll in!

As for Irene, her destruction was minimal in our area of southeastern Pennsylvania. No trees down in my yard, nothing broken or damaged. The power went out around 4am and was out for about 9 hours. We had a generator to power our refrigerators, so we viewed it mostly as an inconvenience and didn’t have to worry about our food.

The scariest moment of the whole storm for me was when I walked outside the basement door into our sheltered patio by the goldfish pond and nearly stepped on a 6 inch black snake. I know he was just a little fellow sheltering from the storm, but I screamed and nearly climbed straight up a brick wall! *shudder*

Hope all my friends in the Bloggerverse survived the storm as well as I did.

I am excited to announce that the Second Annual Bring YA to PA festival is ON for Saturday, August 27th. Mark your calendars!

PAYA 2011 will be held in West Chester, Pennsylvania — just a little south of Philadelphia. Writing workshops with some of the authors (including me-yay!) will be held from 10am-12pm, with author signings beginning at noon. At present, at least 18 authors will be attending — and if it’s anything like last year, the Festival will be a magnet for YA book lovers and bloggers from multiple states.
Last year, I was thrilled to meet Aine and Christine — whom I had previously known only through their blogs — and I fan-girled over Kristi the Story Siren so much I could scarcely sign her book!
Be sure to check out the Bring YA to PA website, and while you’re there, you can read my guest post on why you can bring your horse to water, but shoving his head in the trough to make him drink won’t help your story at all!
Hope to see you in West Chester on 8/27!


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 first annual PAYA Book Festival is only a week away! I am excited to have a small part in this event, taking place on Saturday, August 21 at the Center for Performing and Fine Arts in West Chester, PA.
I’ll be one of the authors present, signing books which will be available for purchase through Children’s Book World, an independent book store from Haverford. (I love that store!)
There will also be a couple of fantastic workshops. For adult writers, there’s the Listen & Critque Workshop, led by well known authors including Josh Berk, Amy Brecount White, and Shannon Delany. What makes this event kind of special is there will also be a workshop aimed specifically at teen writers, aged 13-18, led by teen authors Chelsea Swiggett, author of a memoir titled Rae: My True Story of Fear, Anxiety, and Social Phobia, and Kieryn Nicolas, author of Rain, a spy mystery adventure. My own daughter, a budding writer, is anxiously looking forward to this workshop. (By the way, thanks to everyone who posted a comment encouraging Gabrielle last week! I am hoping to coax another guest blog out of her, reporting on her experience in this workshop.)
Other events happening this day include a bake sale, basket raffle, and used book sale – all benefitting Pennsylvania libraries.
Something I plan on doing at the festival is collecting a few signed books myself, to use as prizes in an upcoming 100 Blog Follower Celebration! No, I’m not up there yet, but getting close. I’m planning a private celebration (uh … me, my husband, the hot tub, and a couple of cold martinis), and then a public contest with signed books and a manuscript critique as prizes! And since I am, after all, a teacher (with the new school year looming large on the horizon) – you might want to be prepared for a POP QUIZ!
You can learn more about the PAYA Book Festival (and see the list of attending authors – over 20, at last count) or sign up for one of the workshops by visiting the PAYA website. Hope to see some of you there!


Just a short blog post today, folks! My sister and her family are visiting from Kansas, and we are having a blast! So far we’ve hot-tubbed and visited a winery and then hot-tubbed some more. The kids played in the pool, which, at 91, is only ten degrees off from the hot tub. I made my famous sausage risotto, and my daughters are introducing their cousins to the raptures of ZELDA.

But looking ahead towards August … PAYA!! (No, not papaya. Stop looking at that fruit! PAYA — YA in PA!)

If you live anywhere in the greater Philadelphia area and have an interest in reading or writing YA, mark your calendars for Saturday, August 21 and the First Annual PAYA Festival, taking place in West Chester, Pennsylvania at the Center for Performing and Fine Arts.

From the PAYA website:

PAYA is a coalition of Pennsylvania’s young adult authors, bloggers, librarians, readers, and other book-lovers. Our mission is two-fold:

1. To share the love we have for young adult literature with others in our state
2. To raise money to support Pennsylvania’s libraries, with a focus on helping build Young Adult library collections and Young Adult services.

At least 15 authors will be present signing books, including Josh Berk, Shannon Delany, Amy Brecount White, Jennifer Hubbard, and, uh, me. (Awesome company to hang with, huh?)

There will also be two writing workshops! One is for teen writers aged 13-18 and will be led by teen authors Chelsea Swiggett and Kieryn Nicolas. The workshop will run from 1-2pm and costs $10.

The other is a listen and critique workshop, in which YA authors will meet in small groups with attendees, who should bring three pages of a WIP to share. This workshop will run from 10am-noon and costs $40.

Find out more at the PAYA website, where you will soon be able to register for the workshops.

I can’t wait! Dread Daughter #1 already has her eye on that Teen Writer workshop, and I’m hoping to get some signed books from awesome authors to offer up at my 100 Follower Celebration – whenever that happens. (Not quite there, yet …)