Bird Face Wendy

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

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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The West Brothers series … Standing Strong

Standing Strong is the fourth and most recent volume in the West Brothers contemporary Christian teen fiction series by award-winning author Theresa Linden. I’ve read the first three books to completion and am in the process of reading the fourth. I recommend this series containing spiritual, uplifting messages, especially for teens.

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One of the most interesting characteristics of this series is that each book has its own unique flavor, in my opinion. The first has a strong anti-bullying message, the second is more romantic, and the third contains a battle between angels and demons. The fourth book, Standing Strong, goes like this:

Having just confessed his sins to his priest–more sins than a kid his age should have–Jarret jumps in his Chrysler 300 and races to the outskirts of town. Overwhelmed with emotion, he pulls off the road and flings himself face down behind an outcropping of rocks. Ever since that life-changing night in the canyon, Jarret has felt the presence of the Lord in his soul. Now that presence is fading. Is it his fault? How will he remain faithful without it when he still struggles against the same temptations?

Meanwhile his twin brother, Keefe, questions whether he has a calling to religious life. He’s gone along with Jarret’s bad schemes for years. Is he worthy of such a calling? What would he have to give up to pursue a vocation? Keefe reads everything he can about St. Francis and the Franciscans, but he’s afraid to talk to his father about the Franciscans’ upcoming discernment retreat because his father seems closed to faith. Is he ready to go all in?

And because we enjoy knowing how stories come about, here’s some background on the series from the author:

While writing another story from Roland West’s point of view, I received an email that changed my writing plans. I learned about a teen who finished reading Battle for His Soul in two days and who texted his teacher (a nun) to find more of my books!

The nun wrote, “This is a young man who does not like reading, and who is not the type to text nuns for a half an hour on a Sunday evening! But he is so ecstatic about this book.”

That totally made my day and inspired me! Then the nun shared her ideas for the next story. She thought it would be great to read a novel about the converted Jarret West. Although he would want to do the right things, he would still have temptations and struggles to deal with and a lot of tough lessons to learn. “It’s great for modern youth to have examples of how to deal with the everyday struggles they have.”

After considering this nun’s suggestions concerning Jarret West—and knowing his twin brother’s unfinished business from Battle for His Soul—the storyline for Standing Strong came together! The book was written in record time too! It’s a story that offers hope for those struggling with temptation. And it’s a story for those who wonder if God might be calling them. And it’s just plain fun! I hope that my readers find Standing Strong entertaining as well as encouraging. And I can’t wait to find out how this young man and other teens feel about this story!

Follow the West brothers as they struggle through temptations and trials, down paths they can barely see, toward goals they desire in the depths of their hearts.

Standing Strong is available for pre-order. It releases October 4th in paperback and ebook on Amazon and in ebook on Barnes&Noble and Kobo.

square theresa An avid reader and writer since grade school, Theresa Linden grew up in a military family. Moving every few years left her with the impression that life is an adventure. Her Catholic faith inspires the belief that there is no greater adventure than the reality we can’t see, the spiritual side of life. Visit her website: TheresaLinden.com. Follow Theresa Linden on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

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All Ages Learn about Alzheimer’s from Reading AlzAuthors’ Books

Have you known someone who developed Alzheimer’s, or have you been diagnosed? Patients, adult caregivers, and children or teenagers in the family often need help in understanding what is happening to themselves or their loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s or other dementia.

In respect and appreciation for World Alzheimer’s Month and Alzheimer’s awareness, nineteen wonderful ebooks are on sale from the Alzauthors group during September 27th through 30th.

One of these is 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status (Bird Face book two), in which Wendy learns that her dear Mrs. Villaturo has Alzheimer’s. If you haven’t read it, now is another chance to do so—or purchase it for a loved one—at only 99 cents.

We in the Alzauthors group hope that one or more of our books will help you, a family member, or a friend traverse the Alzheimer’s or dementia journey with love, patience, and understanding.

Cynthia T. Toney

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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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Enter to Win an Exciting Dystopian Trilogy by Theresa Linden!

      

(This series is for New Adults or for Young Adults who have advanced beyond novels that take place in high school and crave more mature, although cleanly written, themes.  I have read the first book and am into the second. I hope you find them as interesting as I do. )

The Liberty trilogy – A young woman named Liberty lives in a dystopian society where the earth has been elevated above man and the government controls everything. Moving from one trial to another—escapes, imprisonment, secret missions, rescues, 3D games—this action-packed trilogy follows Liberty to her final sacrifice as she learns that true freedom is within, cannot be taken away, and is worth fighting for.

Click HERE to watch the trailer for the third book, Fight for Liberty.

Giveaway:

Stop by the author’s website to enter the Chasing Liberty Trilogy Giveaway for a chance to win the complete trilogy!

Giveaway ends: 12:00AM July 9, 2017.

Winner will be announced at the end of Sabbath Rest Book Talk, 7:00PM July 9th and posted on Theresa’s author website.

Books are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperback, Kindle edition, and Nook eBooks. Other eBook options at Smashwords.

   Raised in a military family, Theresa Linden developed a strong patriotism and a sense of adventure. She began writing in grade school and her passion for writing has never waned. Love for faith, family, and freedom inspired her to write the Chasing Liberty trilogy, a dystopian story about a future she hopes never becomes a reality. Her other published works include award-winning Roland West, Loner, first in a series of Catholic teen fiction, Life-Changing Love, and her newest release, Battle for His Soul. A member of the Catholic Writers Guild and the International Writers Association, she balances her time between family, homeschooling, and writing. She lives in Elyria, Ohio with her husband, their three adopted boys, and a sweet old dog named Rudy.

Visit Theresa on Facebook, her blog Things Visible & Invisible, or on her website.

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What to Do When Your Motivation Takes a Vacation

(Motivation—everyone needs it, no matter what kind of work you do or dreams you have. Enjoy this guest post about motivation by editor and author Debra L. Butterfield.)

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Sometimes it takes all the willpower I can muster to put my butt in the chair and write.

By day I’m a freelance editor/writer and by night an editor for CrossRiver Media. I’m single and my children are grown, but I still have all the household chores to do.

Work, eat, sleep. Work, eat, sleep. My motivation wants to hop a train to Denver, and leave me behind to the comfort of the couch and a mind-numbing DVD.

Because I’m self-employed, I can give in to this lack of motivation for a day. I justify it by telling myself I deserve a day off. But then a day becomes two and sometimes three.

Do you ever have days like that? Weeks maybe where you lack the motivation to work toward your dreams? I’ve come to realize that “me time” keeps my motivation at home where it belongs.

What Causes Lack of Motivation? 

The day job and family responsibilities can sabotage our motivation faster than a rattlesnake can strike. Here are several other possibilities:

  • Work-life imbalance
  • Physical illness/hormone imbalance
  • Depression
  • Clutter
  • Overwhelm
  • Discouragement
  • Trying to accomplish too many goals at once or perhaps one goal with an unrealistic time frame?

The list could go on and on.

It’s easy for me to work all the time. But that imbalance is one of the first things to trigger a slump.

If you’re feeling unmotivated, take your lunch hour or some time before bed to think about the cause/s. Knowing why will help you take action to fix it.

Sunshine, fresh air, and music motivate me. For that reason, summer is my favorite season, and I take my work outside when I can. I have a quiet time with God every morning as well. Focusing on His goodness and the many blessings He brings lifts my spirit and keeps my motivation intact.

Our culture lauds workaholism, but God didn’t design us for all work and no play. We need to feed our soul with things we enjoy. Take a moment right now and write down 5-10 things that motivate or inspire you. Incorporate those things into your life to spark your creativity and motivation.

How to Move Forward 

Too often we don’t create until we feel inspired or motivated. Consequently, nothing gets created. Instead, develop a habit of regular writing (creating your art), be it daily or weekly. The act of creating will ignite your excitement and motivation.

  • Create a 90-day goal—just one goal.
  • Devise a plan to accomplish it.
  • Review your plan daily/weekly.
  • Work the plan.

Seeing progress toward that goal will inspire and motivate you to keep moving forward. When you’ve accomplished that goal, set another and establish a plan to reach it.

(I like it! Baby steps—that’s how I work best toward a goal. Be sure to check out Debra’s website and published works. She’s an editor I recommend.)

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About Debra L. Butterfield

Debra is the author of 7 Cheat Sheets to Cut Editing Costs, Abba’s Promise, Carried by Grace: a Guide for Mothers of Victims of Sexual Abuse, and Mystery on Maple Hill (a short story e-book). She has contributed to numerous anthologies. She is a freelance editor and editor for CrossRiver Media Group and blogs about writing at DebraLButterfield.com.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DebraLButterfieldAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DebrasBlog

Books available at Gumroad: https://gumroad.com/debralbutterfield   and at Amazon

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