My new book! Upcoming classes; A creative New Year!
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Welcome to the first edition of my e-newsletter for 2017!

If you're a long-time subscriber, I hope this new format is more welcoming and easier to read. And if you're a new subscriber, I hope you find the information here helpful. Either way, please keep in mind that this newsletter is still a work-in-progress as I learn the software features.

     In addition to the change in appearance, I'll be providing some new content--I'll be sharing not only my publishing news and info about upcoming classes, but also creativity tips. Enjoy! 

In This Issue

  • My new book!
  • I'm on Twitter now, too!
  • Thanks, and a reminder
  • Classes and presentations
  • Committing to a creative New Year

My new book!

     As I announced in my last newsletter, I recently signed a contract for a new young adult novel to be published in fall, 2017. Playing by Heart is a historical romance set in 18th-century Milan and inspired by the life of Maria Teresa Agnesi, one of the first women to compose a serious opera. The manuscript did well in several writing competitions, and even took first place in the YA category of the 2013 Windy City RWA Four Seasons Romance Writing Contest. Yet the editors and agents who read it told me historical fiction is a "tough sell" in the young adult market. Back in 2014, I blogged about how the manuscript was "sitting in a drawer." (You can read that post here, if you're interested.)

     Then, last March, I pitched the story to an editor from Vinspire Publishing as part of the Catholic Writers Guild Online Conference. The editor liked the pitch, asked to see sample chapters, and eventually offered me a contract. Now we're working on getting the novel ready for publication. Stay tuned for updates as the release date approaches!

     Meanwhile, I'm working on a presentation for this year's Catholic Writers Guild Online Conference. See below for details.

I'm on Twitter now, too!

     Book marketing has changed drastically since my novel Rosa, Sola was published. Vinspire Publishing is a small, independent publishing house, and they expect me to take a very active role in that marketing. So I finally broke down and joined Twitter. I'm still learning the ropes there, but you can find me @carmelamartino

     By the way, links to all my social media sites will now appear at the end of every newsletter. And at the very bottom of the message, you'll see a handy button that allows you to easily share or forward this e-newsletter. 

Thanks, and a reminder

     A HUGE thank you to those of you who took the time to post a review of Rosa, Sola on Amazon or Goodreads in response to my recent request. Online reviews can make a big impact on book sales by helping readers discover new titles. But beyond that, it really warmed my heart to read your lovely comments about the novel. I'm so happy the book is available again, and at a much more affordable price than the hardcover.  

    As a reminder: if you meant to post a review but never got to it, it's never too late. Here are the links to the book's pages on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads.

Classes and presentations

     My most recent presentation was at the SCBWI-Illinois Prairie Writers and Illustrators day held at Harper College in November. I facilitated a "lunch and learn" session on self-publishing. That's why you see so many box lunches in the photo below. (photo courtesy of Terri Murphy).

    As I mentioned earlier, I'm working on a presentation for this year's Catholic Writers Guild Online (CWGO) Conference. My topic will be "Coping with Your Inner Critic," and my session will be at 10:30 am EST (9:30 am Chicago time),  Friday, Feb. 17. It's my first time presenting online, so I'm praying there won't be any technical issues. I'm pretty optimistic since I didn't have any problems participating as an attendee at last year's conference. You need not be a CWG member (or even Catholic) to attend. See the right sidebar of this page for links to all the presentation summaries and the conference schedule.

    By the way: the conference will again include pitch sessions, but I don't know yet if Vinspire Publishing will be participating. If you're a writer, this could be a great opportunity to connect with a publisher. 

     Looking ahead to Spring: I'll be offering my Six-Week Workshop in Writing for Children and Teens at College of DuPage again. The class is scheduled to meet Thursdays, 7—9 pm, April 20-May 25, 2017. If you're interested, please register at least TWO weeks before the class start date because classes are sometimes canceled if the enrollment is low. For details, see the Writing Classes page of my website.

     Looking even further ahead, to summer: I'll be teaching a new writing camp for children at the Mayslake Peabody Estate. That info is posted in the right sidebar of the Writing Classes page of my website.

Committing to a Creative New Year

     I've been thinking a lot about what to include in this new section of the newsletter. I recently facilitated a small, private class on Julia Cameron's The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, so I have lots of material on the topic of creativity, not only as it relates to writing, but to all sorts of creative endeavors, such as painting, cooking, knitting, singing, playing a musical instrument, etc.

If you're not familiar with The Artist's Way, the 25th anniversary edition of this text on connecting with your creativity was released this past fall. I highly recommend you read (or re-read) it if you're struggling to make your creativity a priority! 

I also recommend a newer book I recently read: 

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. I found Big Magic so helpful that I decided to follow Elizabeth Gilbert on Twitter, and a few days ago she re-tweeted a BrainPickings post in which Maria Popova shares some motivational quotes Marcus Aurelius wrote nearly 2000 years ago. 

I was especially struck by the first quote in Popova's post:

     "At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself:  'I have to go to work — as a human being.
What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do
what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?'"

For many of us, it's literally "trouble getting out of bed" that keeps us from pursuing our creative dreams. The early morning hours, before we have to get ready for our day jobs or care for our family, may be the only quiet time we have to be creative. Yet it can be SO difficult to crawl out from under those warm covers--especially when the outdoor temperature is in the single digits! 

I found the Aurelius quote quite inspiring, in part because the words I've highlighted, "what I was born for," reminded me of one of the "Basic Principles" in The Artist's Way:

    "We are, ourselves, creations. And we, in turn are meant
to continue creativity by being creative ourselves."

Just over a year ago, while I was putting together a presentation about The Artist's Way, a beautiful poster summarizing this basic principle flashed through my Facebook news feed. (This type of coincidence is an example of what Cameron calls "Synchronicity.") I wasn't able to save that image, but I created one of my own with the same simple 5-word message:  

Taking time to be creative often feels like an indulgence to me--a "guilty pleasure." If I stop to remind myself that I was "created to create," that it is part of "what I was born for," then creativity feels less like an indulgence and more like a sacred responsibility. I find that very motivating. I hope the idea helps motivate you, too.

If it does, then here's an action item for you:  Right now, pull out your calendar for the coming week and commit a regular time slot to your creativity. Be realistic and include an action plan for following through. If you're a morning person, perhaps you could set your alarm a few minutes earlier 3-5 days a week and use that time to write. Or if you're a night owl, perhaps you could set a timer on your phone to remind yourself to turn off the TV (or pull away from social media) a bit earlier in the evening to pursue your creativity.

     Whatever your commitment, I suggest you make it a modest one that you can easily accomplish. Success will help spur you to stick with it!

Not ready to make that commitment yet?  I leave you with a quote I often share in my classes, from dancer and choreographer Martha Graham (I've darkened two phrases for emphasis):

     “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. . . .

       It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.”

     I encourage you to follow through on your creative urges beginning this week so your unique expression won't be lost to the world!

    If you'd like to read about some of the ways I nurture my creativity see my TeachingAuthors blog post, "Four Ways I Boost My Creativity." While you're there, you may also find inspiration in April Halprin Wayland's post kicking off our current series on 6-Word Memoirs.

Happy creating!


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