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Anniversary Giveaway: Book Bag and Swag!

Giveaway in honor of Women's History Month and the
six-month anniversary of the release of Playing by Heart


     For the month of March, I'm hosting a giveaway in honor of Women's History Month because Playing by Heart was inspired by two notable women of history: composer Maria Teresa Agnesi (pictured above) and her sister, linguist and mathematician Maria Gaetana Agnesi. (To read more about the sisters, see this website I created in their honor.) March is also the six-month anniversary of the release of Playing by Heart. It's hard to believe the book has already been out six months!


     The giveaway prize is pictured above. It includes a limited-edition zippered book bag featuring the cover of Playing by Heart on the outside pocket, with some "swag" tucked inside the two pockets: bookplates that I'll autograph especially for you, and some bookmarks. I use one of these bags myself and love it! 


     You must subscribe to my Creativity Newsletter to participate in the giveaway. All subscribers are welcome to download a free PDF excerpt of Playing by Heart.  Go to this page and click on "Download Now."  


Giveaway Instructions:

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter 1, 2, or all 3 ways:

  1. You must subscribe to my Creativity Newsletter to enter.
    Current subscribers: simply enter your subscription email address in the first option of the widget below.
    New subscribers: provide the email address you'd like to use to subscribe and you'll be automatically added to the mailing list.
  2. Post a picture on Instagram of someone reading Playing by Heart.
    Be sure to tag @cmartinoauthor (my Instagram handle) and use #PlayingbyHeart
  3. Tweet a picture of someone reading Playing by Heart. Please provide the URL of your tweet and tag @carmelamartino (my Twitter handle). If possible, include #PlayingbyHeart

If you have any problems entering, email me via the Contact page. Contest runs through March 1-31. Winners will be notified via email.


Open to those 18 and over only. You must have a U.S. mailing address to receive the prize. Good luck!

P.S. If you've never entered a Rafflecopter giveaway, here's info on how to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway and the difference between signing in with Facebook vs. with an email address.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Playing by Heart Reviews Roundup


Here's a list of the online reviews of Playing by Heart so far, mostly by bloggers. If I've missed any, do let me know.

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Highlighting the Historical Novel THE OTHER SIDE OF FREEDOM


Cynthia T. Toney's historical novel, The Other Side of Freedom, released one month ago today, on Oct. 9, 2017. Unfortunately, I was so wrapped up in launching Playing by Heart that I didn't have a chance to highlight it then, so I'm making up for that today. Cynthia is one of my fellow authors on the CatholicTeenBooks site, which features books with Catholic characters and themes. She is the author of the contemporary young-adult Bird Face series, including 8 Notes to a Nobody, 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, and 6 Dates to Disaster, with additional books in the series coming soon. The Other Side of Freedom is her first historical novel.

Here's the scoop on the book:


Title: The Other Side of Freedom

Author: Cynthia T. Toney

Publisher: Write Integrity Press

Genre: historical fiction

Age group: grade 6 and up

Synopsis: 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 who is also a 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.


My response to the novel: I was intrigued by this book's premise, which touches on issues of discrimination against Italian-Americans and African-Americans in Prohibition-era Louisiana. Even though my parents were Italian immigrants, I didn't learn about the issues early Italian immigrants faced in the South until a few years ago. It's a topic I'd like to address in my own fiction someday.


I found The Other Side of Freedom a quick, suspenseful read that also raises difficult moral questions. The author does a good job of showing how Salvatore's faith is simply part of his life. The book is another example of how novels with Catholic characters can be enjoyable without being preachy. I particularly like how Sal's friendships with both Hiram and Antonina are depicted. And I love the setting of the strawberry farm, a setting I haven't encountered before. 


Cynthia has a great post about her inspiration for the setting on her publisher's website here.  

And if you'd like more about the historical background of the novel, see this review by Barb Szyszkiewicz.


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