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.

Cover

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.

Calendar

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.

Morrigan

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!


As some of you may know, my family owns a condo on Jack Frost Mountain in the Poconos, which we rent out to vacationers as a little side business. We use the house ourselves a few times a year—enjoying a getaway and doing maintenance on the place, etc.
Recently, my husband had a conversation with the cleaner who services the house between tenants. “You realize your house has a presence in it, right?” she asked my husband. She told him that she is sensitive to spirits and among all the places she cleans, there are three houses with spirits in them. One (not ours) had scared off several cleaning services before her. “But they don’t bother me,” she said. “As soon as I go in, I call out, ‘Hello! It’s Judy! (not her real name) I’m just here to clean.’ And they don’t bother me, because they know I don’t mean any harm. Yours is male. He’s always there, but not always in the same room.”
When my husband shared this conversation with me, I laughed. We’ve had the house six years, and I’ve never sensed or seen a thing. But then again, as much as I’m interested in the supernatural, I know I’m not sensitive. A ghost could wear a sheet and rattle its chains in front of me, and I’d never see it. The most I can say is I’ve always felt a sense of happiness and well-being in the house. 
But this weekend when we went up to the mountains, I remembered Judy’s story, and as soon as I walked in, I called out, “Hello! It’s us—Bob and Dianne and the girls!”
Shortly after arriving, I realized I’d done something dumb—left the bag with all our bed sheets at home. I ransacked our storage closet, and turned up two spare sets of fitted and flat sheets, but no pillow cases. So, I pulled the decorative shams off the pillows and brought them downstairs to the washer. “I found sheets,” I told my husband, “but we’re hurting for pillow cases. We’ll have to use the shams.” I opened the door to the laundry closet and discovered a pillow case lying folded on top of the dryer.
“Well, here’s one,” I said. “Left behind by a tenant.” I threw it into the washer.  Then I went into my bedroom and pulled the comforter off the bed. Underneath, I found somebody had left a pillow case. I brought it out to the washer. “Funny. Here’s another one.”
I went back into the bedroom to unpack. When I opened the closet, I found two more pillow cases neatly folded and lying in a laundry basket. I showed them to Bob and added them to the washer.
“You’re kidding,” said my husband. “Ask for something else.”
“No,” I said. “I’m content.” 
There are four people in my family. We were provided with exactly four unexpected pillow cases.
Why? Maybe because we finally introduced ourselves.

I was in the Poconos last week, enjoying a writing retreat and then a couple days with my family.  During my day and a half alone, I wrote a chapter in my WIP – which may not seem like a lot, but it was significant for me.  I had taken a break from the manuscript while my sister’s family was visiting from Kansas, and the quiet solitude of the mountains helped me reconnect with the story.  I pushed into the final 5 chapters (which I actually have outlined, believe it or not).
When my family joined me, we visited the Harry HoudiniMuseum, which I mentioned in my last post, and we also took a tour of the No. 9 Coal Mine in Lansford, PA.  I’ve wanted to take a mine tour ever since I started a story last fall set in the early 1900’s centering around mysterious activities at a Pennsylvania mine. I dropped the story due to various plot problems, and after my tour I see a few more snags in my storyline. 
It wasn’t so much a problem of inaccuracies about the mine operation itself.  Those are details easily changed.  The biggest snag is my character Cage Harrison, the love interest for my MC who inherits his family mine business at age 18.  I have portrayed him as a benevolent mine owner who tries to do right by his employees and even throws his back into the digging when a collapse traps some of his workers. That kind of mine owner didn’t exist.  In fact, having my MC, an archeologist’s daughter, discover ancient alien artifacts buried in caves near the mine is MORE believable than a turn-of-the-century mine owner who gives a damn about his workers.  Our tour guide made a point of telling us several times that the MULES were more valuable than the human workers.
So that story is going to remain on the shelf for now.  I’m going to continue with the contemporary fantasy I’m working on, and hopefully finish the first draft in the next week.
But I won’t forget about the mine completely.  I may have to re-envision the story entirely, but how can I not want to write about a place like this?
Double steam powered elevator.
The elevator was operated from the surface and left every 5 minutes whether workers were out of the way or not.
The work space of your average miner in the 20th century.
The work space of your average miner in the 19th century. Your cubicle no longer seems so bad, huh?
*Photos taken by my husband, Bob Salerni.
Our little condo on Jack Frost Mt.

The last two weeks at my house were real humdingers.  My husband was traveling for work, which left me solo to handle chauffeuring the daughters to and from their various events — including night rehearsals for the local high school musical.  Twice, I had to unexpectedly take off work (which means writing substitute plans) to take one of my daughters to the doctor.

When my husband came home, he told me to get the heck out of Dodge for awhile. He sent me to our Pocono Mountain house, since it wasn’t rented that weekend. It took some gentle prodding to get me to go. Believe it or not, we’ve had the house six years and I’ve never gone there by myself.

Frequent backyard visitors

So I went.  I can’t say it was really a writing retreat.  If I’d had some chapters I was burning to write, I probably would’ve refused to go, holed up in the basement, and spent the weekend attached to my laptop. Instead of writing, I needed some think time, because I was a little bit stuck.

The Lehigh River

Last year, when I participated in that “Write Every Day or Pay” event, I learned that flogging myself to write every day was not good for me.  I already write almost every day, including days when I really ought to stop, rest, and think.

I enjoyed my retreat, and I worked out a few things in my head for my WIP. I also watched a movie alone, went out to eat alone, hiked down to the Lehigh River … and did a little kitchen maintenance in the house. (ie: scrubbed the pots that tenants had left blackened and burned)

I hung out on this bench a long time.

And now that I know how relaxing it is to go up to the mountains on my own, I plan to slip away more often.

When’s the last time you had some alone time?

That’s a picture of the Salerni crew whitewater rafting on the Lehigh River in the Pennsylvania Pocono Mountains a couple weeks ago. Yes, we’re all having a great time, except possibly for Gabbey, who is clearly wondering, “WTH were my parents thinking???”

This picture was also taken before I was de-rafted.

As near as I can recall, I was yelling at my husband right before we hit the big rock, arguing with him about how to steer the darn raft. And the next thing I knew, I was in the air – and then in the water.

Didn’t seem like it would be too hard to grab the raft and climb back in – except that suddenly the raft and family were yards away, and I was floating on my back downstream next to a gentleman who had also abandoned his family involuntarily. “Uh, meet you on shore?” he said.

“Looks like it,” I replied. I figured we’d float to a calmer section of the river and swim over to the bank.

Then we hit more rocks.

I wasn’t alarmed until one of the rafts nearly ran me down. That’s when it occurred to me that I could actually get hurt. Enough of this, I thought. I’ll just climb up on one of these rocks and wait for someone to rescue me. Huh. Easier said than done.

Finally, a raft full of strapping, 20-something young men with Caribbean accents snagged their boat on a rock beside me and hauled me in like …(I won’t claim to be anything as graceful as a mermaid) … like a great big flounder.

Eventually, they steered me over to my family’s raft. Turns out my husband had managed to haul in the floating man. Afterwards, I mentioned to Bob that maybe I should have stayed with the nice-looking Caribbean guys, because they seemed to know what they were doing. And my husband replied that maybe he should have kept the fellow he found, because he paddled a lot stronger than I did.

Over a week later, I’m still black and blue. Nevertheless, I might be persuaded to go rafting again, sometime in the future — when the memory of this event is more humorous than humiliating! 😉

On Saturday, we went horseback riding in the mountains. It was 10 degrees, and after 30 minutes, I couldn’t feel my face, my fingers, or my toes. But it was worth it – it was such a beautiful ride. I’d share a photo of the stunning view in the woods, but it was too cold to get my camera out. My fingers were so fumbling, I was afraid I’d drop it.

The horse had to punch through the snow with every step, which made a rhythmic crunch, crunch, crunch as we followed the guide down the trail. The trees were snow-covered, and the woods were silent, except for the tramp of our five horses. Scores of slender white birch trees arched over us. They all bent gracefully in the same direction, their backs coated with snow and their smallest branches entirely encased in ice.

Our guide said an ice storm had bent them all like that. It was still odd to see those trees warped in an identical fashion, as if some giant wind were blowing them – or they were reaching towards an invisible and unattainable goal – or trying to get away from something terrible.

Yes, my imagination was not as frozen as the rest of me. My head was very busy, looking at the trees and thinking about my new idea. Not the steampunk one; the other one, the one that just started developing over these two ski weekends. A couple of characters introduced themselves to me on Saturday, and I’ve got to find a place in the story for those trees …