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Carmela's Blog

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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"Working with Small Presses" Presentation


In this blog post, I share some references included in my SCBWI Network Presentation on "Working with Small Presses," the article I wrote for the 2018 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market: 

For articles and sites related to book cover design:

 Resources for finding Small Presses:

Article on Ten Points to Consider When Signing a Book Contract:

  1. Part One: Points 1-5
  2. Part Two: Points 6-10 

My TeachingAuthors interview with Vinspire editor Dawn Carrington  

Do you have any resources to add? Please share a comment below.


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Blog Tour for Playing by Heart, Plus Giveaway & Facebook Launch Party!

Hi all!

     I'm planning a Blog Tour and Giveaway to celebrate the release of
Playing by Heart PLUS a Facebook Launch Party!


The Blog Tour and Giveaway will run 10/6-10/16. Then, you're invited to attend the virtual Facebook Launch Party on Oct. 17, at 7-9 p.m. (Central Time). Attendees will be able to win not only copies of Playing by Heart but other great books and prizes! Contests will run 15 minutes each so you needn't attend the full two hours to participate.


Below is the list of the authors hosting the Blog Tour and their website links. After their posts go live, I'll update the links to their specific blog tour pages. Also beginning on Friday, Oct. 6, you'll be able to enter below for a chance to win an autographed paperback copy of Playing by Heart. The giveaway instructions follow the list of blog tour stops. 

Giveaway Instructions:

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

  1. Subscribe to my creativity newsletter. Current subscribers: simply enter your subscription email address with Option 1. New subscribers: provide the email address you'd like to use to subscribe and you'll be added to the mailing list.
  2. Comment on this blog post (under the Rafflecopter widget below). Tell me which blog tour stop you visited and what you learned there/found of interest.
  3. RSVP to the Playing by Heart Facebook Launch party to be held Oct. 17, 7-9 p.m. (Central Time). You don't have to attend the party to enter via this option, but you need to RSVP on the event's Facebook page.

If you have any problems entering, email me via the Contact page. Contest closes at the end of the day on Oct. 17.


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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