PBH receives Seal of Approval! Creative inspiration at the movies
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December 2017: In This Issue--the last of the year!

  • Two new online interviews 
  • Playing by Heart receives Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval 
  • Upcoming events/classes
  • This month's review excerpt
  • Creative inspiration at the movies
  • Two announcements especially for writers

Two new online interviews

     I was honored to be interviewed on two websites this month:

I don't know Leslie personally. A fellow writer suggested I contact her about possibly reviewing my novel. Leslie is a "Top 1% Reviewer" on Goodreads, so I was especially honored that she gave Playing by Heart a 5-star review! She calls the book a "sweeping historical novel" and closes her review by saying: 

    "I found the writing lucid, the characters well developed, and the story straddling the YA/adult genre. Martino is a gifted storyteller that made the reading of PLAYING BY HEART an absolute joy. While PLAYING BY HEART is billed as a YA historical romance, I didn’t see it as that at all, but more of a determined (and bright) young girl searching for satisfaction in a life she wants so desperately."

Playing by Heart receives Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval

In other good news, Playing by Heart has received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval (the website hasn't been updated yet to add the most recent recipients). The seal recognizes well-written, high quality books that are consistent with Catholic Church teaching.  

     Congratulations to fellow CatholicTeenBooks author Susan Peek on receiving the Seal of Approval for her latest young-adult novel, The King's Prey, a historical novel based on the life of Saint Dymphna. 

Upcoming events/classes

     I'm currently setting up presentations for the next 3-6 months. It will be a busy Spring!

     My first talk of the year will be at the Windy City Romance Writers of America (RWA) chapter meeting on Wednesday, January 10, 7-9 p.m. in downtown Naperville. I'll be speaking about "Coping with Your Inner Critic." For details, see the Facebook event page.

   By the way, I received a lovely surprise at the Windy City RWA Christmas party this month. They gave me a framed print of my book's cover signed with well wishes from my fellow Windy City members. The frame now hangs on my office wall.  

     I'll also be offering my six-week hands-on workshop for adults on "Writing for Children and Teens" at the College of DuPage,  Wednesdays, 7—9 p.m., April 18-May 23, 2018. See the Classes/For Writers page of my website for details.

This month's review excerpt

     Playing by Heart has received 4 new Amazon reviews since I sent out my last newsletter. The book currently has 31 reviews there, with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars! I'm grateful for each and every review.

     I'm still far short of the FIFTY reviews my publisher would like the book to have, but I don't want to be a nag. So I've decided to stop sharing monthly review excerpts in this newsletter. Today's will be the last one, another short and sweet 5-star review, posted on Amazon by Carol on December 5: 

I am looking forward to giving this book to my niece
for Christmas. It is a very refreshing young adult romance novel.
I especially enjoyed the settings and food references.

     Although I won't be providing monthly reminders, I would still appreciate additional reviews. To make it easy for you, here are links to three sites where you can post your review. 

Creative inspiration at the movies

     In thinking about the creativity section of this month's newsletter, I'd been planning to write about finding ways to expand our creativity in the new year. But then I ended up doing something on Christmas day that I've never done before: I went to the movies. 

     For me, Christmas has always been focused on family. But this year, we had our family gatherings on December 23 and 24, which meant that my husband and I were on our own December 25. We decided to see The Man Who Invented Christmas, a film about how Charles Dickens wrote the book A Christmas Carol. We thoroughly enjoyed the movie--a perfect choice to watch on Christmas Day.    

    Reflecting on the movie afterward, I realized it was as much about writing and the creative process as it was about Christmas. You see hints of that in this 2-minute trailer. If you haven't seen The Man Who Invented Christmas, I encourage you to watch the trailer before reading on.

     Besides being entertaining and providing insight into the inspiration for A Christmas Carol, the movie highlights three important keys to creative success:   

1) Uninterrupted creative time

     Dickens, played by Dan Stevens, is often interrupted as he tries to write (which is why he admonishes the maid in the trailer). Several times in the movie, those interruptions come at critical moments in his writing process and cause him to lose the thread of the story. That is a problem I can definitely relate to ever since my husband was forced to take an early retirement. Before that, I'd had the luxury of having the house to myself with few interruptions. Even though my husband has learned not to talk to me when I'm working, his presence in the house can create distractions, such as when he turns on the TV or radio. I have tried writing at the library, but that hasn't worked well for me. What has worked, though, is going away for a day to a nearby retreat center. For a modest fee, I get a room to myself in a very quiet environment, with access to a refrigerator, microwave, and coffee machine. I'm thinking I need to take more days there in the new year.   

2) Time to fill the creative well

     The second key highlighted in the movie is the need to get out, to explore new sights, sounds, and experiences in order to have material to draw from for our characters, settings, and plots. It was fun watching how Dickens transforms the people he meets into characters in his story. 

3) Supportive family, friends, and fellow creatives

     In the movie, Dickens's friend John Forster is portrayed as key to the success of Dickens's plans. Forster is also a sounding board, one of two people Dickens reads parts of his story to for feedback. As creatives, we all need the support of those who understand and can empathize with our creative goals and struggles. And even though, in the movie, Mrs. Dickens doesn't understand her husband's erratic behavior, she stands by him nonetheless. Having family members like that can make a huge difference in our ability to pursue our creative endeavors.       

     So, my goals for the new year include making more time for both 1) uninterrupted writing and 2) filling the well. I also want to nurture 3) by connecting more with fellow writers and letting my husband know how much I appreciate his support. Next month, I hope to share more about my creative goals for 2018.

Two announcements especially for writers

  1. Author and developmental editor Anastasia Suen is running a #30for30Challenge, inviting people to be creative for 30 minutes a day for 30 days, January 2-31. She has set up a closed Facebook group for participants. To join the group, post a comment to her announcement today (12/28/17) on her Facebook page(I just joined the group myself.)
  2. Our TeachingAuthors blog is currently on Christmas break. Our posts will resume on Friday, January 5, when I'll be blogging about one of my articles in the 2018 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market. We'll also be hosting a giveaway of the book. So be sure to visit our blog on January 5 if you'd like a chance to win a copy.      

I wish you all a blessed and creative New Year!

Happy creating!


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