Monday, December 30, 2013

I've Written a Book. How Do I Get Published?

How many times have you been asked that question? For me, it's like once a month.

I will usually spend some time talking to the person about how they should blog and use the internet for resources. Sometimes I will suggest they join an online group of writers to learn more. Sometimes, people take my advice. Sometimes they look disappointed -- as if there's a secret short cut I'm keeping from them.

I wrote about that once -- the F13 Button. (Shhh. Don't tell the uninitiated!)

But today I stumbled upon the PERFECT reference chart for someone new to the publishing world. I bookmarked it. You should bookmark it.


I wonder if the creator would sell laminated copies of this chart for me to hand out ...

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Slice of Salerni Life 2013

A Slice of Salerni Life 2013   (Twelfth Edition)

Dianne: Gina, can you do me a favor? I’m swamped with writing deadlines this month. Proofreading for The Eighth Day, revisions for The Inquisitor’s Mark ... Can you write the Christmas skit this year?

Gina: Why me?

Dianne: Well, Gabbey had a crack at it a few years back. She wrote it – and then you had to chime in with a rebuttal at the end. Now I’m giving you the chance to write it first.

Gina: Can I make it weird?

Dianne: What do you mean by weird? (Gina shrugs.) Like, put us on the moon, or what?

Bob: Who needs the moon? With all the places we’ve taken the kids this year, there’s plenty to write about! Vermont. Kansas. London. Paris. Cardiff, Wales for heaven’s sake.

Gabbey: The Doctor Who Museum! The most awesome place in the universe! We were on the set of the TARDIS. I stood where Matt Smith has stood. My feet touched the same floor that Matt Smith’s feet touched. It could only have been better if it was David Tennant’s TARDIS.

Dianne: And of course, Daddy got to go to Japan on business …

Bob: Where I was almost defeated by the high tech toilet at the airport. BUT, the little automated robots at the hospital that carried blood samples on tracks that ran across the ceiling and disappeared through walls was really cool.

Dianne: We also took the train to NYC this fall and visited Central Park Zoo.

Gabbey: Where you took pictures of the cages and the locks and bolts instead of the animals.

Dianne: Book research is weird. What can I say? Is that weird enough for you Gina?

Gina: Not really. I was thinking… well…. maybe we’re all reincarnated as squirrels. Or maybe it can be written from the point of view of Sorcia in her Cone of Shame.

Sorcia: (ears down) Please don’t put that on me again. I won’t bite my paw anymore. I swear.

Dianne: New idea, folks. Let’s share the skit on Google Docs, and we can all contribute to it.

Bob: Okay, everybody’s on board now. Besides driving the daughters to play practice, musical rehearsals, and band and orchestra concerts, what did we do in 2013?

Gabbey: We got Grandma hooked on Facebook.

Bob: A very unexpected development indeed.

Gina: Daddy and I competed in triathlons at Lums Pond. That’s not weird though. We did that before.

Bob: But Gina came in third in her age group this time. Very cool! We also did some biking as a family. The trail along the Schuykill River at Valley Forge was fun, and there were great days riding, walking and jogging in White Clay Creek. Sometimes ending with ice cream or Rita’s!

Dianne: We got a fair amount of exercise this year between biking, hiking over Roman and Norman ruins in Wales, and skiing. Sadly, I am now the weakest link in the Salerni ski team. I can’t believe Gina outlasts me. I was crushed by that.

Bob: Yes, terribly crushed. You went back to the hotel, had a massage, and drank wine, as I recall.

Dianne: Crushed, I tell you. Absolutely devastated that I couldn’t join you in throwing myself down the headwall of Superstar.

Bob: Yeah, I need a helmet if we do that again. Oh -- how about Gabbey winning Honorable Mention in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest? I mean, L. Ron Hubbard was weird. Gabbey winning a contest for writing is not.

Gabbey: Also weird was me winning the Rotary Club’s Student of the Month Award this December. Not sure how that happened.

Dianne: Not weird at all. Your teachers think highly of you. How about seeing one of my books turned into a film that went to the Cannes Film Festival? Now that was weird!

Bob: Also not weird at all. Anyone who hasn’t seen the trailer should visit

Dianne: Thanks for the shameless plug, sweetie.

Bob: No problem. Should I also provide the link for everyone to pre-order The Eighth Day on Amazon? Or is that going too far?

Gina: Hey, everybody. You know what’s really weird? The noise Sorcia is making right now.

Gabbey: Oh no! Remember when she … and then the carpet cleaner fell apart … and we had to call Daddy in California for help … and Mommy cried?!?

Bob: Let her out, quick!!! (Everyone scrambles to open the door for Sorcia before she repeats that memorable thing she did in 2013.)


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Waiting and Stalking and Holding My Breath

E-galleys of THE EIGHTH DAY were recently released via Edelweiss and NetGalley, and I believe the physical ARCs will be mailed out soon, if they haven't been already. I started seeing THE EIGHTH DAY appear on To-Read lists on Goodreads tagged with egalley or for review and other similar tags.

I believe I've mentioned before that I tend to avoid reviews on Goodreads -- or at least, that I only read the ones from friends or ones that my husband points out to me as especially good to read.

But that's not entirely truthful.

I definitely reach that point, after I've seen a few reviews and I know what readers, in general, think. But it's really, really hard to resist stalking the first reviews for a new book. There are 153 text reviews for THE CAGED GRAVES on Goodreads, and I've only read only a small percentage of them. But when that first review for THE EIGHTH DAY appears, you can bet I'll read it. And the second. And the third.

Waiting for them to appear is scary. And it feels even more so this time than for my previous books because the reviewers will be much older than my target audience.

Evangeline, one of the characters in THE EIGHTH DAY, lives only on a secret, hidden day of the week, skipping over 7 days at a time every midnight. This makes for a lonely and unhappy life, but right now I envy her a little. I'd like to skip over some time myself -- and land in that future where I already know what people think of the book and I don't feel compelled to read all the reviews!

Monday, December 16, 2013


About a month ago (when I was too swamped to do anything about it), fellow Project Middle Grade Mayhem-er James Mihaley shared the awesome news that his middle grade book, You Can't Have My Planet But Take My Brother, Please, was named a Best Book of 2013 by the Bank Street College of Education in NYC.

To help keep the momentum going, James and some rather well-connected friends (an editor on Matt Damon's Elysium and a cameraman on Breaking Bad) created a six minute short film called Jimbot, The Movie.

I thought this was a funny and original way to promote a book. So did my students. They are currently working on a writing sample to impress James -- an action scene about robots, aliens, or obnoxious siblings (their choice) -- as part of a contest to win a copy of his book.

Please enjoy Jimbot, The Movie, and perhaps add You Can't Have My Planet But Take My Brother, Please to your MG reading list! Or Project Mayhem to your blogging circuit.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Taking the Right Path

To everyone who reached out to me and sent me well wishes last week – thank you! I did recover from the sinus infection, and I got all my grades turned in on time. I also completed my first pass through THE INQUISITOR’S MARK, making the revisions requested in just over a week … thanks to the patience of my family and a couple snow days. That leaves me another week and a half to read through the manuscript a couple times, tweaking, smoothing, and making sure I addressed all my editor’s issues.

I even got to ski opening day at Jack Frost Mountain with my family this past Saturday. Not all trails were open, and we were confronted more than once with a scene like this:

Hmm … Which trail should we take?

I had to laugh when I saw this, and of course my first thought was how this related to writing. (Everything in life is a metaphor for writing, as far as I’m concerned.)

I worry a lot about my first drafts. I’ve been worrying for months about the first draft of the third book in my series – which keeps getting interrupted for work on the other two books. Any time I build up momentum on it and start getting enthusiastic, I have to put it aside to meet deadlines for proofing Book 1 or revising Book 2. The longer I’m away from it, the more insecure about it I feel. Is it going the right way? Did I make the right choices?

But ultimately, I look at this intersection of ski trails, and I see only one way to go. There’s no taking the other path. (“Maybe, but only with rental skis,” says my husband jokingly.)

My first draft is like that too. For each of my characters, there is only one way to go. It may seem as if they have choices, but they don’t. Not if the story is to move forward. They (and I) have to keep following the path that’s open until we all get to the bottom of the hill.

Later on, the ski resort will open more trails, and there will be alternate routes down this hill. The same goes for revisions on that draft. If I need to change the route a little, I’ll have the opportunity to do so later.

But for now, I need to trust in the process. And gravity. And the fun of getting there.

Monday, December 2, 2013


It's been a rough couple weeks.

November is always a tough time, with report cards and evening parent conferences that some days require me to be at school for 12 hours straight. And this year, my district decided the first trimester didn't have as many days as the other two (well, it didn't), so they moved the end of the trimester to December 3, thus ensuring that teachers would still be required to correct papers and enter grades online right through conferences and Thanksgiving Break. Awfully sweet of them.

As often happens, I hung on just fine until Thanksgiving. Once I had a moment to relax, my body let down its defenses and I was clobbered with a sinus infection. I had planned to grade papers, write lesson plans, schedule blog posts, and work on the second round of editorial revisions for THE INQUISITOR'S MARK (Book #2 in the Eighth Day series). Instead I spent the break feeling miserable and sorry for myself. And whimpering. There was definitely some whimpering.

Now I'm behind on everything. Plus it's December. Need I say more?

For the first time since Marcy and I started, we had no submissions for First Impressions in December. So, I'm going to take a small break from blogging while I catch up (and hopefully get better).
Getting ready at Jack Frost Mt.

I'm going to turn off comments, too, but first ...

a) I'd love to get back to First Impressions in January. (Perhaps with some NaNo projects undergoing revision?) Directions for submitting are on the sidebar!

b) I am still taking names for any bloggers who'd like to review or spotlight THE EIGHTH DAY
early in 2014. You can use the contact info under First Impressions on the sidebar to contact me and request an ARC.

c) Over Thanksgiving, just a few hundred yards from our little ski condo on Jack Frost Mountain in Blakeslee, PA, the snow guns were getting ready for the season. Isn't it pretty? I really want to get better ASAP so I can return and enjoy this year's early opening!