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For my Speaker's Bio, see the Bio/About Me page. For a list of some of the conferences where I've presented, see the left sidebar of the Speaking page. Contact me via the email link in the sidebar to request an author headshot or book covers in jpg format.
Below is a press release announcing several awards for my latest novel, Playing by Heart. See the left sidebar for sample interview questions. See the right sidebar for links to various online and radio interviews. For links to reviews of the novel, see this page.
Latest Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
[July 5, 2018] Illinois author Carmela Martino's latest novel, Playing by Heart (from Vinspire Publishing), has received Third Place in the Books for Teens & Young Adults Category of the 2018 Catholic Press Association Book Awards. The only novel to receive an award in its category, Playing by Heart was inspired by the lives of two gifted eighteenth-century sisters who were far ahead of their time—mathematician Maria Gaetana Agnesi and composer Maria Teresa Agnesi. While aimed at teen readers, the novel has proven popular with historical fiction fans of all ages.
The Catholic Press Association Award announcement noted that the topics covered in Playing by Heart include "family ties, vocation, and feminism." Martino says, "My goal was to entertain readers while also introducing them to what life was like for young women in 18th-century Europe. Modern teens often have difficulty understanding the limited options available to girls in the past, even upper-class girls. Those limitations are integral to my novel, which tells the story of two sisters who struggle to follow their true calling, even when it conflicts with their father's selfish goals."
Professor Roxanne Owens, Chair of Teacher Education at DePaul University wrote an enthusiastic endorsement for Playing by Heart when it was released last fall, saying, "Authentic, strong character voice, rich and detailed historical setting, and an intriguing plot all come together to create a can't-put-it-down book. The story provides a look into the fascinating world of 18th-century Italy in a way that no history book ever could. The fact that Playing by Heart is based on the lives of extraordinary real women who were quite ahead of their time makes it a must-read addition for school libraries everywhere." Martino is developing a classroom discussion guide for the novel. Meanwhile, she is offering classroom teachers and homeschooling parents free ebook copies of Playing by Heart to evaluate for possible classroom use. She will also schedule a free 20-minute virtual visit with any class that reads the book because of the offer. Details can be found on the Blog/Events page of her website.
Martino's novel has also been named a finalist for two other prestigious awards: Playing by Heart is one of three finalists in the Young Adult category of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Carol Awards, which will be announced at the ACFW conference in September. And the novel is one of four finalists in the Children's/Young Adult Fiction category of the Catholic Arts and Letters Award (CALA). The CALA awards will be presented at the Catholic Writers Guild (CWG) conference in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in August. Martino and fellow Chicago-area author A.J. Cattapan will be giving a joint presentation at the conference on "Writing Fiction that Engages Teens and Tweens."
Playing by Heart is Martino's second Catholic Press Association (CPA) Book Award winner. Her middle-grade novel, Rosa, Sola, which is set in 1960s Chicago, received an Honorable Mention in the Children's Books Category of the 2017 CPA Awards. Rosa, Sola was also a Booklist "Top Ten First Novel for Youth." Martino began writing Rosa, Sola while pursuing her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She has taught writing classes at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois since 1998, and she often speaks about writing and research at schools and libraries.
In addition to the CPA Book Award, Playing by Heart has received several other awards, including a Silver Medal in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards Books for Teenagers Category, judged by readers in England. The teen judges gave Playing by Heart a "highly recommended" rating and called it, "A gripping YA romance set in a vibrantly described Italy." More review excerpts can be found here.