Bird Face Wendy

Things relevant to reading, writing, publishing or marketing teen fiction.

Inspiring, Motivating Fiction for Teens

boy.green.eyes As I suspect is probably the same for teens today, my teen years were the period when I was most reluctant to venture outside my comfort zone. Whether to say hello to a newcomer or try a new craft or sport. Even to help in a way I’d never helped  before.

To trust—in myself, in family, in God.

Adults often find it difficult to encourage—let alone convince—teenagers to trust, to reach out, branch out, think courageously or outside the box. But story can sometimes do the job we are unable to do.

This holiday season I recommend a few books that might help. Most are newly released novels, and one is an anthology of short stories in case a teen won’t sit still long enough to read a novel. 🙂

I’ve read and enjoyed them all. Full disclosure: The anthology contains a short story of mine, and all its stories contain strong Catholic elements. One of the novels is mine as well, and the character lineup includes deaf and Jewish teens.

All these books can be enjoyed equally by boys and girls. So, take a look. You might find the right gift for a teen you know this Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Hanukkah.

First up: Roland West Outcast (West Brothers series) by Theresa Linden, who was raised in a military family, where she developed strong patriotism and a sense of adventure.42190134

Shy Roland West, who fears speaking up, attends high school with gossips and troublemakers. After panicking in speech class and becoming the subject of gossip, his best friend, Peter, pushes him to uncover the vandals of an outcast’s house before they strike again.

My review: How I rooted for Roland to find his voice in this book! But Peter . . . he surprised me by becoming my favorite character of the West Brothers series. To quote him: “You can’t act on your impulses just because you love someone.” Therein lie the strength and beauty of the story message. Sometimes, like some of the characters in Roland West Outcast, young people believe that their feelings justify their actions. The results can be harmful to themselves or to the ones they love. Both Roland and Peter prove what pure, unselfish love can be. And they are put to the test in defending their faith and demonstrating it, in spite of strong criticism, while solving a mystery and righting a wrong committed against a new girl at their school.

Next: Where You Lead by Leslea Wahl, who strives to write fiction that will inspire readers to use their own talents and gifts to glorify God.

41153270 Sixteen-year-old Eve’s lonely existence changes in an instant when visions of a mysterious stranger haunt her. Certain God is calling her for a mission, she bravely says yes and begins her quest to meet this young man. Thousands of miles away, Nick has been dealing with his own unusual experience, an unwavering certainty to convince his father to run for political office.

My review: This is my favorite of Leslea Wahl’s novels so far. The setting of this mystery is Washington D.C., and the historical and geographical references flavor the backdrop in just the right amounts. I immediately connected with Eve, and both Eve and Nick are not only likable characters but endearing. The balance of description, narrative, and dialogue makes this novel a smooth read. This story could be the start of a good series. It is clean with Christian/Catholic elements that are used in a natural way for the characters.

And: 3 Things to Forget (Bird Face series book four) by Cynthia T. Toney. That’s me! 3TTF Final Cover In Alaska, Wendy thinks she’s left behind the problems resulting from her mistakes in Louisiana, at least for a while. But starting the summer at her friend Sam’s house and volunteering with wildlife conservation bring not only strange surroundings but also strangers into her life. And those strangers have a secret involving a troubled girl who threatens Wendy’s friendship with Sam. As Wendy struggles to understand the Alaskans she meets and gets to know, will she be able forget what she hopes to, or will her new challenges teach her the importance of remembering the past?

The anthology: Secrets: Visible & Invisible by seven authors of CatholicTeenBooks.com. 40689696 This fiction anthology is a great way to get a taste of seven very different authors and their writing styles. It includes contemporary, dystopian, historical, mystery, romance, and more. Here are the nutshell descriptions of the stories:

1. In a dystopian future, an innocent picnic turns deadly!
2. Elijah knows nothing of the elderly stranger’s secret past–until her disappearance changes everything.
3. A mysterious, ever-changing painting alarms a group of teens.
4. The cannonball took Dario’s legs . . . Will he lose his soul too?
5. The arrival of a mysterious girl challenges everything about Jason’s life.
6. An unlicensed driver. His dad’s truck. What could possibly go wrong?
7. An old tale of murder and forbidden love leads to a modern day treasure hunt.

So, I hope you or a teen you love finds inspiration or motivation within one or more of these books. Have a beautiful holiday season!

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I have missed you, little blog!

Sorry that it has been almost two months since I have given you any attention. A relocation to another state has taken up most of my time. But we are only ten days away from release of the fourth and final book of the Bird Face series, 3 Things to Forget. And this special promotion should cheer everyone up!

This special is for ONE DAY ONLY, October 16th. The new book in Kindle version will be only 99 cents, and the first book of the series will be free. So mark your calendars to take advantage!

Candle on cake

And don’t worry. This is not the end of the Bird Face Wendy blog. I have a lot more to share with you about writing, publishing, and marketing books.

Coming soon … everything I learned about entering literary contests!

 

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Bird Face: End of Series Cover Reveal

This is it! The cover for the fourth and final book of the Bird Face series, 3 Things to Forget.

3TTF Final Cover

In October, readers will finally know what happens to Wendy and her friends, both old and new. Whom will she forgive? To whom will she say goodbye?
Most importantly … whom will she forget?

And, except for the final chapter, the entire story takes place in and around Anchorage, Alaska, including the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Wendy meets not only wild animals but also new people very different from what she was used to in Louisiana. (Find out who the Frozen Chosen are!)

So, watch for 3 Things to Forget, releasing October 16th. Together, let’s say goodbye to Wendy and send her off to live the life her experiences have set the foundation for.

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Sorry for the long break—7 months! So…

May I make it up to you with a SALE? May 20-26, the Amazon ebook version of 6 Dates to Disaster is only 99 cents.

6 Dates to Disaster FC 5x8

Maybe my timing isn’t all that bad, because you can catch up with Wendy and her friends at a reduced price while waiting for book four of the Bird Face series, 3 Things to Forget. Watch for it in September!

And for the first time, I have *completed* a short story! (Never thought I’d do it.) “Recreation” will be part of an anthology, Secrets. Sign up for the newsletter at the website featured in the meme below to receive updates. While you’re there, check out all the middle-grade and young adult novels from its members.

Meme 1

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An Excerpt! YA Historical Romance for Music Lovers

If you love classical music, enjoy historical fiction with an Italian setting, and appreciate stories of young romance, this is a novel for you (and me)!

PlayingbyHeart cover

I’m currently reading Playing By Heart from author Carmela Martino. This blog is the last stop on a blog tour celebrating the release of the book, and I was chosen to provide an excerpt. I hope you enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed reading this story.

First, a brief summary, and then we move on to the excerpt.

Emilia Salvini dreams of marrying a man who loves music as she does. But in 18th-century Milan, being the ‘second sister’ means she’ll likely be sent to a convent instead. Emilia’s only hope is to prove her musical talents crucial to her father’s quest for nobility. First, though, she must win over her music tutor, who disdains her simply for being a girl. Too late, Emilia realizes that her success could threaten not only her dreams for her future but her sister’s very life.

Playing by Heart is inspired by two amazing sisters who were far ahead of their time—one a mathematician and the other a composer.

First Movement: December 1736-January 1737

Chapter One: Iron Bars

The day I decided to take my fate into my own hands began much like any other. As soon as I was dressed, I headed to the harpsichord salon to practice. The maestro had finally returned from Venice and would arrive shortly. I was anxious to show him how much I’d learned in his absence. But when I turned the corner near Mamma’s sitting room, a clash of angry voices stopped me. Mamma was arguing with Father, something she never did. And something she shouldn’t be doing now, as she was heavy with child.

I tiptoed to the sitting room door. With one hand on the wall, I leaned close. The edges of the decorative plasterwork dug into my fingers as Mamma said, “Did Maria request this herself?”

My hand relaxed. They weren’t arguing about me. But knowing my sister’s fate was intertwined with mine, I pressed forward again.

“No,” Father replied. “It was my decision, one I would have carried out long ago if not for the Sardinian occupation. It’s time she had a tutor who specializes in mathematics, one who can nurture her natural aptitude for the subject. He will teach her astronomy as well.”

“Astronomy!” Mamma screeched. “Maria already spends too much time with books. Haven’t you noticed her pallor? The throat illness took a greater toll on her than the other girls.”

I pictured Mamma seated in the high-backed armchair near the window, her legs resting atop the footstool cushion she herself had embroidered. No doubt her normally calm blue-gray eyes flashed steely as she said, “Maria needs fresh air and physical activity, not more studies.”

“Very well,” Father said. “We will increase the frequency of her dance lessons. And I will order her to keep a window open in her study at all times. Come spring, I’ll have her tutors move her lessons to the garden.”

“They will simply stuff her head with more book learning,” Mamma said. “What of her real education, the one she would have received at convent school? Maria should be cultivating practical skills, such as sewing and embroidery, and how to manage a home—skills she will need to be a useful wife and mother.”

“There will be time enough for that,” Father said. “She is young.”

“Young? Perhaps her quiet manner has led you to forget that your eldest daughter is fourteen! Instead of hiring more tutors, you should be making arrangements for her future. For her betrothal, and Emilia’s, too.”

My betrothal! I clasped my hands to my bodice. It was the subject I’d both longed for and feared, especially since seeing Zia Delia last week.

At thirteen, I’d never heard either of my parents speak of my betrothal before. But that hadn’t kept me from painting a portrait of my future husband in my mind.

He’d be as tall as Father, if not taller, with mysterious dark brown eyes. And even more important, he’d love music as I did and encourage my meager talent.

I turned my ear to the wall so as not to miss a word.

“Though, I dare say,” Mamma went on, “given Maria’s religious devotion, she’d be happier as a nun”

“Don’t even suggest such a thing!” Father’s voice crescendoed. “I will not have her extraordinary talents hidden away in a convent.”

A chair scraped. Father must have stood up. “Do not concern yourself about our daughters’ futures, Woman. That is my responsibility. I assure you I will do what is best for them and for the family.”

Father’s staccato footsteps approached. I gathered my skirts and hurried away on tiptoe.

When I was out of earshot, I let my heels drop and continued down the drafty corridor to the harpsichord salon. Father’s words echoed in my mind. He’d promised to do what was best for his daughters and for the family.

Of the seven children in our family, four were girls, with perhaps another on the way. It would be burdensome—if not impossible—to provide marriage dowries for that many daughters. At least two of us would end up nuns, whether we had a calling or not. Such had been the fate of Zia Delia, Mamma’s youngest sister.

In my mind, I saw again the long, narrow convent parlor where Mamma and I had visited Zia Delia last week. The parlor was separated from the nuns’ quarters by two large windows. Iron bars covered the window openings, crisscrossing the space where glass should be. A linen drape hung over the bars on the nuns’ side.

When we’d arrived that day, Mamma had eased herself into a wicker chair facing the first window, directly across from Zia Delia. We couldn’t actually see my aunt, only her shadow on the drape. I had stood with my hand on the back of Mamma’s chair as she’d tried to make conversation. The other nuns talked and laughed with their visitors. Zia Delia said nothing.

Mamma began describing Father’s recent name-day celebration to Zia. “After the meal, we adjourned to the harpsichord salon. There, we listened to Maria recite two epic Greek poems she’d translated herself. Carlo said it was the best present she could have bestowed upon him.” Mamma gave an exasperated sigh. “Really, he praises that girl too much! If heaven hadn’t blessed Maria with such a humble nature, she’d be unbearably prideful by now.” Mamma shook her head. “Afterward, Emilia gave a spectacular performance on the harpsichord, but Carlo barely thanked her.”

So Mamma had noticed, too.

As I recalled Father’s disappointment, the room started to spin. I gripped the wicker chair tighter and breathed in deeply until my bodice stays dug into my ribs.

“Carlo’s behavior was terribly rude,” Mamma went on, “especially compared to Count Riccardi’s impeccable manners. He praised Emilia profusely, saying how he’d never heard anyone her age play so beautifully, boy or girl.”

I took another deep breath. Mamma didn’t understand. The count was just being polite.

Zia Delia’s shadow shifted. “What did you play, Emilia?”

Surprised by her question, I released my grip on the chair. “Three of Scarlatti’s sonatas and Rameau’s Suite in A Minor.”

Zia bowed her head. “Secular music is strictly forbidden within these walls.” Her voice held both sorrow and longing.

How could such beautiful music be forbidden? I shivered at the thought.

I stepped forward and pressed my hand against the iron grille. On the opposite side, Zia stood and raised her hand to mine. She pressed hard, as though she could make our fingers touch through the linen drape. But I felt only the cold iron bars.

Zia whispered, “Don’t let them do this to you.” Her shadow gestured behind her, toward the nuns’ quarters. “Don’t let them lock you away from the music.”

I shivered again then shook my head Father would never do that to me.

Now, as I neared the harpsichord salon, I wasn’t so sure. Especially not after what I’d just overheard. Or rather, what I hadn’t overheard.

When Mamma had mentioned arranging for Maria’s betrothal and mine, Father had said nothing of me. He’d spoken only of Maria. A spark of envy flared in my chest. Heaven forgive me, I prayed silently as I took a quick breath to extinguish the flame. Even if envy wasn’t a sin, I owed Maria too much to blame her for Father’s favoritism.

I pushed my thoughts aside. Time was running short. I had to prepare for my lesson—my first with the maestro in nearly three years.

Not long after the Sardinian invasion, Maestro Tomassini had accepted a temporary assignment in Venice. The maestro was a stern taskmaster, but I’d sorely missed his instruction. His return made me grateful Milan was again under Hapsburg rule. I’d be doubly grateful if the maestro’s time away had somehow softened his disposition.

I hurried into the harpsichord salon. Paintings of various sizes covered the walls here as in the other rooms. Most depicted scenes from the Bible, though there were also a few landscapes, seascapes, and still lifes. But this room held a work of art not found elsewhere in our palazzo—a harpsichord.

This morning, sunlight from the window fell directly on the harpsichord’s open lid, illuminating the painting there of a small white ship sailing across a blue-green sea. The waves carved onto the harpsichord’s side panels continued the nautical theme, as did the lovely mermaid figures hugging the base of each of the three legs.

Naldo, our manservant, must have been here already, for fires burned brightly in both hearths, chasing away the December chill. I sat down and began as I always did, by pressing the high-C key. As the note rang out, it merged with the sensation of the quill plucking the string to send a quiver of delight through me. I loved both the sound and the feel of the instrument.

Instead of starting with one of my usual practice pieces, I played the opening allemande of Rameau’s Suite in A Minor. I’d hoped the challenging opening would distract me from the dark thoughts hovering at the back of my mind. But playing Rameau only reminded me of Zia’s words, “Don’t let them lock you away from the music.” Which would be worse, to be deprived of music or of love?

My fingers slipped, striking an ugly chord that set my teeth on edge. I dropped my hands to my lap.

I didn’t understand—why couldn’t Father let Maria take the veil? She would truly welcome a life of devotion to God. Yet Father’d been angered by the mere suggestion. I will not have her extraordinary talents hidden away in a convent.

The chiming of the Basilica bells pulled me into the present Maestro Tomassini would be here any moment. I raised my hands to the keys and began my first practice piece—a piece the maestro used to have me play blindfolded.

Suddenly, I knew what I must do. I had to make Father feel the same way about my talents as he did Maria’s.

My fingers stumbled again as a voice in my head said, But you’re not good enough.

To which my heart replied, then I must become good enough.

Attention, readers! This is the last day to enter to win a copy of Playing by Heart. Enter here

PR BW portraitCarmela Martino is an author, speaker, and writing teacher. She wrote the middle-grade novel, Rosa, Sola (Candlewick Press), while working on her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College. The novel was a Booklist “Top Ten First Novel for Youth” and received a Catholic Press Association Book Award in the “Children’s Books” category. Her second novel, Playing by Heart (Vinspire Publishing), took first place in the Young Adult category of the 2013 Windy City RWA Four Seasons Romance Writing Contest. Carmela’s credits for teens and tweens also include short stories and poems in magazines and anthologies. Carmela has taught writing workshops for children and adults since 1998, and she blogs about teaching and writing at www.TeachingAuthors.com. Read more about her at www.carmelamartino.com.

 

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It’s Release Day and I awoke to a nice surprise!

This morning I awoke to find The Other Side of Freedom at #9 in its category of books for children in Mysteries & Detective stories. So I’m very excited today for a number of reasons. 🙂

This is the book I wrote while waiting for publication of my very first book, Bird Face, which later became 8 Notes to a Nobody and started the Bird Face series.

My inspiration for The Other Side of Freedom:
“Possibly orphaned but definitely impoverished, one of my great-grandfathers journeyed from Sicily to America as a young boy with a family not his own, and he grew up with their children. He established the strawberry farm that inspired the setting for this novel.”

If you are a fiction writer, my advice to you is: Always have a manuscript in progress as you work to get another book published. You never know which one will become your favorite or the favorite of your readers!

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Historical Novel for the Whole Family at Pre-Order Prices!

Do you like stories with characters who demonstrate courage? Are you interested in 1920s historical fiction with an unusual twist? Do you enjoy The Godfather movies but would like them better without the graphic adult scenes?

The Other Side of Freedom is a book the whole family can enjoy. Right now, it’s discounted for pre-orders. Only $9.99 for the paperback and $2.99 for the digital book on Amazon. Check Amazon in your country for equivalent prices where available.

 

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Coming Soon! 1920s Historical Novel for Tweens and Teens

Something new is coming in October, and it’s

  • My first historical novel
  • My first crime drama
  • My first novel with a male protagonist

When the reward is the most costly sacrifice of all …

In a southern farming community in 1925, thirteen-year-old Salvatore and his Italian immigrant father become involved against their will in a crime that results in the murder of an innocent man and family friend. Will Sal keep the secrets about that night as his father asks, or risk everything he and his family cherish in their new homeland, including their lives? 

Amidst bigotry, bootlegging, police corruption, and gangland threats, Sal must discover whom he can trust in order to protect himself and his family and win back his father’s freedom. Sal’s family, their African-American farmhand, and the girl who is Sal’s best friend find their lives forever changed as dreams are shattered and attitudes challenged in a small community called Freedom.

 

Let’s visit the 1920s like you’ve never seen them before! I hope to meet you there!

 

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10 Steps to Girlfriend Status is 99 cents!

10 Steps to Girlfriend Status FC Med   Through July 31st, my favorite book of the Bird Face series, 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, is on sale for the first time! Even if you have not yet read book one (8 Notes to a Nobody), pick up the Amazon digital book two at 99 cents while you can! You will easily become familiar with the return characters and will understand the ongoing plot threads of the series.

And if you live outside the US …

Australian, Canadian, and UK friends, catch the equivalent sale price on Amazon for your countries. Please keep US time zones in mind before the sale ends.

I hope we become friends! Wendy

 

 

 

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Starting July 4th: Only 99¢ for 6 Dates to Disaster

6 Dates to Disaster FC 5x8   While you enjoy a Happy Independence Day this July 4th, grab the Kindle version of 6 Dates to Disaster on Amazon at only 99 cents. It’s a lot less expensive than barbecue but just as delicious!

This special first-time sale runs July 4 – 10, 2017. Visit Amazon for your copy.

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