Playing by Heart Book Birthday! Feeding our Creativity
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September 2017: In This Issue

  • Playing by Heart book birthday! Giveaways and other events
  • College of DuPage class, "Turning Life into Fiction" 
  • Two fellow author book launches
  • An exercise to feed our creativity

Playing by Heart book birthday!

     Today, September 30, Playing by Heart officially releases from Vinspire Publishing and is now available in both ebook and paperback! To celebrate, instead of cake, I made panettone, an Italian sweet bread mentioned in the novel. I typically only make panettone around Christmas, so this is a special treat in our house. The bread is said to have originated in Milan, which is where the novel is set. 

     I just realized that I've never actually shared the novel's plot summary in this newsletter. I believe I have mentioned that the novel is inspired by two amazing sisters who were far ahead of their time, one a mathematician and the other a composer. Playing by Heart is told from the composer's point of view, as you can tell from the summary:

Emilia Salvini dreams of marrying a man who
loves music as she does. But in 18th-century Milan,
being the “second sister” means she’ll likely
be sent to a convent instead. Emilia’s only hope
is to prove her musical talents crucial to
her father’s quest for nobility. First, though,
she must win over her music tutor, who disdains her
simply for being a girl. Too late, Emilia realizes
that her success could 
threaten not only her dreams 
for her future but her sister’s very life.

At its core, Playing by Heart is the story of two sisters struggling to follow their true calling, even when it conflicts with their father's goals. It's a clean historical romance appropriate for ages 12 and up.

     I'll be celebrating the book's release through the end of October. Here are a few highlights:

  • A book giveaway and three-part series of posts on the TeachingAuthors blog. In yesterday's post, I kicked off the first of several book giveaways, so head on over to enter when you get a chance. I hope you enjoy the book trailer posted there. I also shared a bit about how the novel came to be and an excerpt from the lovely Booklist review. Monday, Oct. 2, I'll post an interview with my Vinspire editor, Dawn Carrington, who will tell us about the company's history and provide tips for aspiring writers. And Wednesday, Oct. 4, I'll post a Wednesday Writing Workout based on my experience writing the novel.
  • A second book giveaway in honor of the book's Blog Tour. The tour will make seven stops and run from Oct. 6-16. You can read the details and enter that giveaway (which starts 10/6) here
  • A Facebook Launch Party.  I finalized the plans I mentioned in the last newsletter. The Launch Party will take place Tues., October 17, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. Central Time (8:00-10:00 p.m. EST). I'll be offering fun giveaways every 15 minutes, so you needn't attend for the full 2 hours to have a chance at a prize. To attend, RSVP here.
  • Book signing at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville. Anderson's has officially added the event to their calendar. The signing will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, October 28. If you plan to attend, please let me know so we can have an idea how many people to expect. You should be able to simply reply to this email. Or you can contact me via my website.

If you live in the Chicago area and can't make the Anderson's signing, I'll be participating in other local events. You can find them listed on the Blog/Events page of my website

If you're not in the Chicago area and you'd like to purchase Playing by Heart, you can find "Buy" links at the bottom of the book's page on the publisher's website. Note: only the Amazon and Smashwords links are currently working, but the book is also available at Barnes and Noble and wherever books are sold.  

College of DuPage class, "Turning Life into Fiction"

     There are still opening in the one-day "Turning Life into Fiction" class I'm teaching at the College of DuPage on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, 9 a.m.—3 p.m. You can register online here or call the Continuing Education office at (630) 942-2208. 

Two fellow author book launches

       I've mentioned before that my books are featured on, a website highlighting books with Catholic characters and themes. Two of my fellow CatholicTeenBooks authors also have new releases this fall. Theresa Linden's latest installment in her West Brothers young-adult series, Standing Tall, debuts on Wednesday, Oct. 4. She's hosting a book giveaway on her blog through the release date. 

     And Cynthia T. Toney's coming-of-age historical novel, The Other Side of Freedom, releases Monday, Oct. 9. The novel focuses on an Italian immigrant family living in a southern farming community in 1925. The special pre-order sale price is only good through today, Sept. 30.

     I haven't read either book yet but hope to do so soon.

An exercise to feed our creativity

     In my last newsletter, I talked about my vacation and how great it was to have time to let my mind wander. I also shared research on how important daydreaming is to our creativity. (If you missed it, you can read that newsletter here.) Unfortunately, as soon as I got home, I had to hit the ground running to set up and prepare for my upcoming book release activities.

     Even so, the creativity boost I'd experienced on vacation reminded me how much I missed fiction writing. So, despite the busy-ness, I made a commitment to myself to get serious about a new project--a short story I've wanted to write for a long time. For the past month, I've been spending the first 30-60 minutes of each work day on the project.

     It's been so long since I've written a short story that I decided to begin by reading a book that's been sitting (unread) on my shelf for ages, Movies in the Mind: How to Build a Better Short Story, by Colleen Mariah Rae.

     The book contains some interesting exercises, such as one in Chapter Two called "Nightly Recap." This exercise asks you to do the following at the end of each day:   

     ". . . lie in bed with the lights out and recall
as vividly as you can as many details as you can.
No paper, no pencil--you're just doing this
in your head in the dark. Think through
what you saw, smelled, tasted, touched,
heard, and felt during the day. . . .

Flesh out the details. Don't just say to yourself
that the wool sweater worn by the person sitting
next to you smelled pungent--stretch.
Where in your nose did you smell it?
Did it jab on both sides behind the tip
of your nose? Details!"

     Rae goes on to say that doing the "Nightly Recap" develops a "writer's repertoire" of material to draw from. I believe this exercise can help other types of creative work besides writing. I'd argue that paying attention to details this way feeds the creative part of our brain.  

     In addition to setting aside the first hour of my day for creative writing, I've also recommitted to walking for exercise--something I sorely needed after overindulging on the cruise. I've discovered that since I started practicing the "Nightly Recap" I've become more observant on my walks.   

   For example, the crunching sound of dry leaves underfoot has been part of my Nightly Recap for several weeks now. But recently, I noticed a different, popping sound as I walked. I realized I wasn't walking on ordinary leaves, but ones covered in small bumps, which you can see in the photo below. 

     Stepping on these leaves not only sounded different from walking on other fallen leaves, it felt different, too. The feeling was similar to stepping on bubble wrap. I was surprised that I could sense the difference even through the thick soles of my athletic walking shoes. 

     Yesterday was an especially lovely day for a walk. (I'm so grateful the stifling heat of last week is gone!) The sky was a brilliant blue and the breeze comfortably cool. As I walked along in my short-sleeved
T-shirt, I noticed that the temperature of the breeze felt cooler on my arms than on my face. I have no idea why. But I found the experience intriguing and continue to think about it.  

     I've been enjoying nurturing my creativity while exercising my
body. Knowing I'll be doing the Nightly Recap has definitely helped me "tune in" to sensory details. I encourage you to try the exercise to see if it feeds your creativity, too.  

Happy creating!


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