Bird Face Wendy

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

Write a Short Poem to Enter This Competition!

For the first time, a poem has appeared in one of the Bird Face series books! I got to thinking . . . if one of my characters writes poetry, maybe some of the series’ readers do—or would like to try. And if you haven’t read any of these novels, here’s an opportunity to win the very last one (and a personal favorite).

3TTF Final Cover

In honor of my poet-character and her work, I will give away one paperback copy of 3 Things to Forget to a U.S. winner OR one such ebook to a winner in the U.S. or elsewhere.

This is a competition rather than a random drawing, and I am the judge! I’ve always loved poetry, and if you’ve followed this blog for some time, you may already know that I enjoy Robert Frost, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

To enter this competition, please comment on this blog post with a stanza or two of a poem you’ve written. It doesn’t have to rhyme, but I’ll admit I prefer rhyme. Easily guessed by looking at my favorite poets.

A few other things contestants should know:

Around 100 words will do. Although your work is copyrighted the moment it is published, even online, I respect your desire to protect your work. You don’t need to provide a whole poem. (Unless 100 words is the whole poem!) Just try to wow me or move me with the first lines, or your favorite lines, of your poem.

I will not extract and use your work. Remember, YOU choose to publish it in a comment if you wish to enter the competition. And this blog post will be shared by me and by others.

I will research your selection and will disqualify plagiarized work or previously published work (in print), even if it is yours.

If any subject matter and/or theme is of a sexual or graphically violent nature, would promote illegal activity, or would be inappropriate for children under 18, the comment/poetry will not be accepted.

This contest ends at 11:59 P.M. Central Standard Time, December 15, 2018.

I look forward to reading your poetry!

 

 

 

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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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How can I get my book published? 10 Points of Advice

person woman desk laptop

Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

Perhaps every author who has one or more published books hears that question on occasion. Or the plaintive statement, “I need help getting my book published.”

My heart always hurts for the unpublished author in need because I remember being desperate for help and for answers myself.

The good news today, as opposed to when I was writing my first novel, is the Internet holds much of the information writers seek. The bad news is that a lot of time is still required to apply that information and get results.

My publisher is small and not associated with any of the big-name publishers or their imprints. And I know nothing about self-publishing or about writing and publishing non-fiction books. But I’ll share what I feel might be helpful in getting a first novel published.

  1. Read blogs by experienced people in the publishing industry. One I recommend is Jane Friedman. She shares her knowledge about getting published in fiction and non-fiction, traditionally (large or small) and through self-publishing. She even delves into fiction genres and sub-genres.
  2. Join one or more writers groups in your city or state. All the better if they are chapters of larger organizations like Romance Writers of America, Historical Fiction Society, American Christian Fiction Writers, or the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. If dues are not easy for you to pay, select only one group with a local chapter that has published authors as members. Don’t be afraid to ask if they do. You will learn from many of the members, but the published author will have even more to offer.
  3. Take advantage of critique groups available through the organizations you join. They may work in person or online only. The goal is to learn from one another and to share information from outside sources during critiques. In other words, why did something in a particular manuscript not work well? What would work? Critiques should not only tell you what is wrong with your writing or story but how to fix it. Leave the group if it doesn’t supply what you need, and find another one.
  4. Learn to write a good query letter and a short synopsis of your book. Look for information online (such as Jane Friedman’s blog) on how to do both. Practice. Ask for help from your critique group(s).
  5. Seek Facebook groups of writers and authors in your genre—and also groups labeled “indie” if you think you might want to self-publish. You’ll get the inside scoop on many aspects of writing and publishing your genre, and it won’t cost you a dime. (Note: Be sure you know which genre you are writing.)
  6. Read novels similar to yours. Know how to compare your story to those. What is it about your book that is similar to another one? What is different? Often, an agent or acquisitions editor asks for such comparables. If not in the initial query, in a full proposal if it is requested. (Proposals contain a lot more than can fit in a query letter. Research what to include in a proposal in case you must provide one.)
  7. Research the publishers of books similar to yours or those you enjoy reading in your work’s genre. (Check the books by authors in your favorite Facebook groups, too.) Visit the publishers’ websites, and look for their submission guidelines. Do those publishers accept queries directly from an author, or do they only work with agents? Sometimes you can learn an author’s agent by reading the acknowledgments in his or her book. Whom does the author thank? Sometimes you’ll see a whole name you can look up to see if that’s the agent.
  8. Before you query anyone, be sure your manuscript is finished. You must have a whole story—beginning, exciting middle, and ending. And not just the first rough draft. The whole manuscript might be in the second round of critiques and doesn’t need to be completely polished yet, but be sure the first few chapters are! What if you query a publisher or agent and receive a fast response requesting sample chapters? They’d better be as good as you can make them, or you won’t be asked for the whole manuscript.
  9. While in the query process, keep submitting chapters of your manuscript to your critique group(s). There’s always room for improvement. But don’t discard old versions of your manuscript. Rename new versions in case you want to return to an earlier one because you prefer the way a particular sentence or scene was originally written. (That happened to me.)
  10. If you receive any feedback from an agent or editor you’ve queried, seriously consider it. Take the advice and learn from it. The fact that they took the time to give you a personalized reply means your work might have potential. Then improve your work and query some more.

AND, especially if you are a young writer in your teens or twenties . . .

Keep reading advice on writing by your favorite author/agent/editor bloggers. Read books on the writing craft. Most libraries carry some on self-editing, story structure, dialogue, characterization, setting, description.  Purchase used books online that you can refer to again and again. One of my favorite authors of self-help books for writers is James Scott Bell. If you can afford a magazine subscription, you can’t go wrong with Writer’s Digest. If not, be sure to visit the website for helpful articles.

Many authors advise attending live writers’ conferences, which can be costly but often pay off when an author connects in person with an agent or publisher. I’ve attended only one conference, after I was published. I’d wanted to attend a number of them, but it just didn’t work out for me. Online conferences are available, too, at which you can pitch your project. Bottom line: It is possible to acquire a publisher or agent—or learn how to successfully self-publish—even if you cannot attend conferences.

 

 

 

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Can You Predict Your Own Winner?

C-JFWinner The Other Side

If you are an author, artist, or craftsperson, you probably have one project among many that is nearest and dearest to your heart.

For me, that project is my first historical novel, The Other Side of Freedom. I started writing the story while I waited for the first Bird Face book to be published—the very first one, when only one manuscript existed, with no future for a Bird Face series.

TOSOF3d

From the beginning, I had a good feeling about this story (with a different title then) about a boy who was the son of Italian immigrants in 1925 America. The writing of it was easier than that of any of the Bird Face books. The Other Side of Freedom became my favorite among my works, and it was also my husband’s favorite book, too. I thought it stood a better chance of placing in a contest than any of my other novels had (although I had entered each of those in at least one or two contests).

Still, when I received an email announcing The Other Side of Freedom had won first place in the Children’s/Juvenile Fiction category of the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, I could hardly believe my eyes. Then a second email announced it had also won first place in the Grand Prize for Fiction.

GRANDPRIZE First FIC The Other Side

A strange sound erupted from my throat—a combination of laughing and crying—and continued until my husband entered my study to see if I was okay. We squeezed each other as I said things like “Is this real?” and “I can’t believe it!”

The next morning when we woke up, he asked with all seriousness, “Did your book win an award last night, or did I dream that?”

I checked my email again to be sure the awards committee had not sent another email telling me they had made a mistake! No, my husband assured me. They would not have sent out emails telling me I had won two awards unless they were absolutely certain.

So, the book I believed was special was also special to others outside my personal sphere. How affirming was that?

The Next Generation Indie Book Awards was attractive in a number of ways: suitable categories, cash prizes, real award medals, and a gala/reception at a luxury hotel. But it was not the only contest I entered for The Other Side of Freedom.

I had researched a lot of book awards programs and had chosen several to enter. I had decided this particular book was worth spending the time and money to enter it into as many book awards contests as seemed reputable and appropriate for it. Some contests were out of my reach, requiring the book to to be nominated by a librarian in the ALA or to have a minimum number of Goodreads reviews.

Because of this win, my next blog post will likely be about all the awards contests I entered for The Other Side of Freedom and why I chose them from among many I learned about.

If you have several published books, fiction or nonfiction, and one in particular seems to stand out as that special book, I recommend you give it every chance to become a winner. It might not need to have been published within the past year. A number of contests include a range of eligible publication years.

Here’s hoping you can predict your own winner!

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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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7 Ways to Make a Blog Host Happy

If an author or other creative has the opportunity to be featured on someone else’s blog, here are some tips to make the blog host’s experience as pleasant as possible—and get the guest invited back!

Whether for a book review, interview, guest post, showcase of a creation, or any other feature that recognizes a creative person or his work, there are ways to submit items to the blog owner that make his or her preparation of the post easier.

1. Create Word documents that are clearly labeled as bio, summary or description, excerpt, interview Q&A, etc. Email them and any requested images as attachments to your host. The email message should state what you are attaching, or simply say that you have attached the requested materials.

When I receive such materials for an upcoming feature, I set up a folder on my desktop labeled with the author or artist’s name. I place all necessary documents and images there within easy reach. The desktop folder serves as a constant reminder that the host must prepare the blog post for publication.

Don’t copy and paste any of your information into the body of an email because …

a. Emails get lost in the muck and mire of hundreds or thousands of other emails and require the host to search later on.

b. A host like me will copy and paste information into Word documents anyway to organize and save it in a folder. That means extra work for your host, which is not a good thing.

2. If a guest thinks of an additional small piece of information after sending the original email containing attachments, I don’t mind copying a sentence or two (if clearly marked as new copy) from an email and adding it to an existing, appropriate Word document. But, for example, if a guest must revise a lengthy article or summary, please send a new Word document of the same name as the original one. That way, the host only has to replace the document by the same name in the folder.

3. When emailing images, don’t send high-resolution files large enough for printing a poster! They take longer to load and use unnecessary storage space. A book cover image file around 300 KB is plenty big enough for digital use, although around 700 is still manageable. I often open larger image files in Photoshop and save them to a smaller size, but it would be better for the guest to do that before sending to the host.

4. Provide all materials to the blog host at least one week in advance of publication date or by the date requested by the host. In your email, ask the host to let you know when he or she receives the email. A response benefits both of you as a reminder that everything is received and okay for publication.

5. Remember to sign up for email notifications of the blog’s posts. That way, you’ll receive an email when your feature has been published, and the host won’t have to notify you personally or email you a link. Either the host or the guest might forget the date when it draws near. The guest can unfollow the blog later.

6. Forward the post email to friends and share the post on all your social media.

7. Encourage friends to comment on the post. Check a few times over the first week for comments and respond to them.

Of course, if a blog host requires you do something different from what I advise, do what he or she prefers. Just as when you submit to an agent, editor, or publisher, it never hurts to ask in advance for guidelines if they are not provided initially.

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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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