Tag Archives: Carmela Martino

A Wonderful Interview with Carmela Martino

Carmela Martino, the author of Playing by Heart, appeared on Shaltom TV’s Book.eD to discuss Playing by Heart, what inspired her to write the book, and her writing process. She was interviewed by Amy Cattapan, who is also a Vinspire Publishing author.

It’s a fascinating interview with a well-spoken lady who has a heart for God and a heart for writing. If you haven’t had a chance to read Carmela’s book yet, pick up a copy today. The award-winning novel is available in ebook and paperback.

milia Salvini dreams of marrying a man who loves music as much 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. But before she can carry out her plan, a tragedy sends the family into mourning. In her sorrow,

Emilia composes a heartrending sonata that causes the maestro to finally recognize her talent. He begins teaching her music theory alongside Antonio Bellini, the arrogant great-nephew of a wealthy marquis. Emilia’s feelings toward her rival gradually change as she strives to outdo him. But just when her dreams seem within reach, Emilia learns that her success could destroy not only her future but her sister’s very life.

Readers are calling this beautifully crafted novel inspired by the lives of composer Maria Teresa Agnesi and mathematician Maria Gaetana Agnesi the “Italian version of Pride and Prejudice.”

Fra Noi, an Italian-American publication, reviews Playing by Heart

Playing by Heart by Carmela Martino has received wonderful accolades since its release, and it’s always a wonderful surprise to see such a review coming in three years after the book made its debut. This review will be published in the November 2020 issue of Fra Noi and will also appear in a magazine called La Voce, but here is a quick quote.

Using seamless and skillful prose, Martino draws us into the world of the
two brilliantly talented sisters and their family as they try to create futures for themselves in a society that offers young women n the choices of only marriage or the convent. While they’re fortunate to have a father who educates them, he is not above marrying them off solely to advance his position in high society.

The reviewer was generous with praise, and there’s a good reason for that. Playing by Heart is a book that will embed itself into your heart and stay with you long after you’ve finished it. Grab your copy today!

Celebrating Playing by Heart and the Two Sisters Who Inspired It

Guest Post by Carmela Martino

Today, I’m happy to celebrate the third anniversary of the release of Playing by Heart, a novel I’d never planned to write! I’d originally set out to write a nonfiction biography about mathematician Maria Gaetana Agnesi. She and her younger sister, composer Maria Teresa Agnesi, ended up inspiring the novel, which is set in eighteenth-century Milan.

I have a bachelor’s degree in math and computer science, but I never heard of Maria Gaetana Agnesi until I came across her name in an article about little-known women of history. The more I learned about her, the more fascinated I became. I wanted to write a biography of Gaetana for young readers in the hope of inspiring girls interested in math.

Gaetana was the eldest child of Pietro Agnesi, a wealthy man who longed to attain noble status. After discovering how intelligent Gaetana was, Agnesi hired tutors to teach her subjects typically reserved for boys, such as philosophy, astronomy, and math. She eventually wrote the first math textbook that covered everything from basic algebra and geometry to the recently discovered calculus. In 1750, Pope Benedict XIV nominated Gaetana to be a mathematics professor at the University of Bologna. She would have been the world’s first female math professor, but she turned down the position.

I spent several years writing and revising the book about Gaetana. While researching her life, I learned about her younger sister, Teresa, who was a gifted musician, singer, and composer. Their father regularly held academic meetings in their home to show off the girls’ talents.

When I couldn’t find a publisher for the biography, I decided to try my hand at a novel based on the lives of both sisters. I’d been a fan of historical novels for years, but I’d never considered writing one before. So I immersed myself in learning about the genre as well as in researching the details of life in eighteenth-century Milan.

The original title for the novel was The Second Salvini Sister. I based my main character, Emilia Salvini, on composer Teresa Agnesi, and I gave Emilia an older sister, Maria, who was modeled on Gaetana. I incorporated several events from the Agnesi sisters’ lives into the novel. For example, the scene of Maria Salvini’s speech defending the education of women is based on Gaetana’s first public speech at age nine.

Another real-life event I wanted to include in the novel was a 1739 visit to Milan by future Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. I was thrilled to find a primary source describing that event. Unfortunately, it was written in Italian. I know some Italian, but translating a document written in eighteenth-century Italian proved painstaking. Still, it was worth the effort. The document contained wonderful details that helped add authenticity to Playing by Heart. The novel’s review in Booklist is one of many that comment on my use of details: “Martino’s romantic read features lovable characters and is vibrant in setting and detail.… The book is filled with rich depictions of houses and clothing, allowing readers to clearly picture the historical settings of both Milan and the countryside.”

Writing Playing by Heart was more challenging—and more rewarding—than I expected. I still haven’t given up on writing a nonfiction biography of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, too. I’m working on a new approach and hope to find a publisher when I’m done. Meanwhile, you can read more about her at a website I created: www.MGAgnesi.com. The site also includes information about Maria Teresa Agnesi and a YouTube clip of modern musicians performing her work. (I sometimes played Teresa’s music in the background while working on the novel.) The novel’s Author’s Note provides additional information about the two amazing sisters who inspired Playing by Heart.

Additions to Playing by Heart Cover

Because of its many award wins and achievements, we’ve updated the cover of Carmela Martino’s young adult novel, Playing by Heart.  So future orders will have all six seals on the back cover!


Meet the Author: Carmela Martino

April offers two chances to meet Carmela Martino, the author of the award-winning novel, Playing by Heart!

PR BW portrait original

Carmela will be presenting her popular Turning Life into Fiction workshop at the Fremont Library in Mundelein, IL on Wednesday, April 17, 2019, from 7-8:30 pm. The workshop is free but registration is required. See: https://fremont.libnet.info/event/1650785


At 1:30 pm Saturday, April 27, Carmela will be participating in an author panel at the Wheaton, Il Library Author Fest, a fun event for writers and readers of all ages. Details at http://wheatonlibrary.org/events/2019-04-27-130000-2019-04-27-160000/local-author-fest

3d Book Cover

Playing By Heart Earns More Rave Reviews!

Playing by Heart, a young adult historical novel by Carmela Martino, is no stranger to rave reviews. Since its release in September 2017, the book has maintained a 4.9 star rating on Amazon, has received the Catholic Guild’s Seal of Approval, and has won several awards. Now, YA Books Central Review gave the book another thumbs-up with a review that calls it “a pleasure to read.”

YABC review

The novel was also reviewed in the February issue of  the Italian Catholic
Federation Bollettino. [Page 7] The reviewer, Vince Piro, said that Martino “[fills] her novel with a page turning plot, relatable and engaging characters, and descriptions of Italy and court life that fill the reader’s imagination.”

Congratulations to Carmela Martino for penning this extraordinary novel!


Two Authors Speaking At Upcoming One-Day Conference

Two of our authors, Susan Miura, who wrote Healer, and Carmela Martino, who wrote Playing by Heart, will be speaking at the ACFW Chicago Write-to-Success one-day conference on November 3, and both authors will offer their books for sale afterward.

Susan’s talk will cover how to talk to editors and agents which will include preparing for, conducting, and following-up an in-person pitch while Carmela will share techniques for creating composite characters, researching setting details, and mining memories for story ideas.

For full details, including times and other guest speakers, go to the ACFW Chicago site.


We Could Be Sweeping The CALA Awards

For the first time ever, we have three books up for CALA Awards in the only two categories. In case you aren’t familiar with them, the CALA Awards are the Catholic Arts and Letters Awards presented by the Catholic Writers Guild. The winners will be announced on August 1st, and we’re so proud of our authors who are finalists!


A Summer Reading Offer For Teachers

Summer offer 2018Carmela Martino, author of the award-winning novels, Playing by Heart and Rosa, Sola is offering a FREE ebook copy of either of Rosa, Sola or Playing by Heart to any teachers interested in previewing the books for possible classroom use.

Plus, she will schedule a FREE 20-minute virtual visit (via Skype or Google Hangouts) with any class that reads either book as a result of this offer. Get all the details, and don’t miss out on your chance to bring high-quality fiction to your classroom!