2 New Freebies, Fear & Creativity, Christmas Sale
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November 2018 Edition

In This Issue:

  • Two new gifts for subscribers
  • More honors for Playing by Heart
  • Playing by Heart surpasses 50-review mark!
  • Christmas sale
  • Fear & creativity

Two new gifts for subscribers

     In this season of gratitude and giving, I'm happy to announce that Creativity Newsletter subscribers can now download PDFs of two new supplements for my novel Playing by Heart:

I hope you find these documents helpful. If you use them, I'd love to know how they work for you.

     Also, if you haven't already done so, you can still download the two other PDF gifts available to subscribers:

  • An excerpt from Playing by Heart  you can download here.
  • A brief deleted scene from an early draft of Playing by Heart. The scene originally appeared in a chapter called “The Sweetest Sound” and introduced Emilia’s older brother, Giovanni, who gives Emilia her first harpsichord lesson. You can download the scene here

     Please remember, these freebies are for subscribers only. If you know someone who'd like to receive them, they can do so by signing up for my newsletter here.      

More honors for Playing by Heart

    I have much to be thankful this year! In the two months since my last newsletter, Playing by Heart has been honored with two more awards:


2018 Independent Author Network Book of the Year Award for Outstanding Young Adult Fiction


2018 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards Gold Medal winner in the Young Adult Historical Category (a tie!) 

Playing by Heart surpasses 50-review mark!

     And, in more good news, Playing by Heart has surpassed the 50-review mark on Amazon! Long-time subscribers may recall that my publisher wanted the novel to have at least FIFTY Amazon reviews, not only because reviews influence potential readers, but also because the reviews affect how and if Amazon promotes a book.

     So HUGE THANKS to all of you who took time to post a review. Playing by Heart now has 51 reviews, and an average rating of
4.9 out of 5 stars

Christmas sale

     My publisher will be running a sale on the ebook edition of Playing by Heart in late December. Perhaps you or someone on your gift list will be getting an ereader or tablet for Christmas. If so, why not grab a copy of Playing by Heart at its lowest price ever--ONLY 99 cents! The tentative sale dates are Dec. 20- Jan.6. I plan to send a brief reminder email about the sale in mid-December.

     Speaking of gift ideas, I invite you to check out this video highlighting some of the titles featured at CatholicTeenBooks.com, including Playing by Heart. For the latest news about all the titles on the website, sign up to receive the monthly CatholicTeenBooks newsletter

Fear & creativity

     Now for this month's creativity topic. A few weeks ago, I presented a talk on "Turning Life into Fiction" at the "Write to Success" conference organized by the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Chicago Chapter. Bestselling author Cara Putnam kicked off the day with an inspiring keynote address focused on the idea that "Creativity takes courage." Below is a photo of a lovely card Cara gave all the attendees.

    I've had the card on my writing desk ever since then and look at it often. The idea that creativity takes courage implies, at least for me, that creativity instills fear. The specific type of fear can take many forms. In the first edition of A Writer’s Book of Days, author Judy Reeves shares the "Top Ten Writing Fears" from a survey of active writers. (By the way, if you like writing prompts, Reeves's book includes 365 of them--one for every day of the year--plus articles and tips to encourage a regular writing habit. This book would make a great gift for yourself or a writer you know. You can read more and watch the book trailer online here.)

The above image is the cover of the revised edition of A Writer’s Book of Days, which I haven’t read, so I don’t know if it still includes the survey results. But here's the list of "Top Ten Writing Fears" that appears in the first edition:

  1. I’m not good enough; that my writing is mediocre or bad
  2. my work is worthless, boring drivel, not clever; that I have nothing interesting to say
  3. I won’t follow through or complete anything
  4. I’ll get stuck and nothing will come out
  5. I’ll never learn the craft of writing
  6. I’ll appear stupid or foolish; afraid of what people will think
  7. I’ll hurt someone
  8. I’m a fake, lying, not telling the truth
  9. it’s a waste of time

And tied for 10:

  • it’s been done or said before, better
  • I won’t get published

(Note: while these are from a survey of writers, I suspect other creatives have similar fears.)

     I've been struggling with several of these fears myself as I return to a writing project that's been sitting in the proverbial drawer for years now. The project is a nonfiction biography for children about linguist and mathematician Maria Gaetana Agnesi, one of the two sisters who inspired my novel Playing by Heart. I completed the manuscript long ago and sent it out to a number of agents and editors. While I did receive some encouraging feedback, no one offered a contract or representation, and so I put the book aside.

     But I haven't been able to stop thinking about this amazing woman's story. Just as Agnesi felt called to give up her celebrity status to help the poor and sick, I feel called to make her story known as widely as possible. To do that, I have to find the courage to overcome my writing fears. Interestingly, the two fears on the above list that most grip me regarding this project are the first and the last. The first is that "I'm not good enough" to tell Agnesi's story in a riveting way. My inner critic likes to remind me that I've never written anything like this before. But that's the same thing my critic told me about Playing by Heart!

     My other major fear is that the story "won't get published." I don't see myself successfully self-publishing a book like this--it needs a traditional publisher with ties to the education market to reach the intended audience. 

    I'm not sure if it's courage or stubbornness, but I've decided to give this manuscript another try. That involves not only reviewing all the research materials again (and looking for new ones), but also studying comparable books that have been published in the last few years to analyze the key(s) to successfully publishing a biography for young readers. It's a lot of work, but it's work I love.

     In my last newsletter, I discussed how understanding our personality can improve our writing habits. (If you missed that newsletter, you can read it online here.) And I shared the following creativity tip: Reflect on whether you are an Introvert or an Extravert (as defined in Myers-Briggs terminology), and consider how your personality type may be affecting your creativity. Then ask yourself if there are changes you could make to better support your creative growth.

     After doing this exercise myself, I realized that I need solitude to work well. So I restructured my work schedule and environment to provide more solitude. It really does seem to be helping. If any of you tried this exercise, I'd love to know how it went.

      For this month's creativity tip: Ask yourself what specific fear or fears are interfering with your creativity? How can you find the courage to overcome them?

     Perhaps this quote from Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland will help inspire that courage:

“Art is a high calling – fears are coincidental.
Coincidental, sneaky and disruptive, . . . .
What separates artists from ex-artists is that
those who challenge their fears, continue;
those who don't, quit.”

     As mentioned above, I plan to send a brief holiday update in December. The next regular edition of this Creativity Newsletter won't go out until January. 


Until next time, happy creating!


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Carmela Martino

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