Saturday, September 30, 2017

Playing by Heart Book Birthday

Playing by Heart, my young-adult historical romance inspired by the lives of Maria Gaetana Agnesi and her sister, Maria Teresa Agnesi, was published today by Vinspire Publishing. Here's a brief plot 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 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.

The early reviews are quite positive. Booklist called the novel a "sweet and pleasurable read," saying also:
"Martino's romantic read features lovable characters
and is vibrant in setting and detail."
And DePaul University Education Professor Roxanne Owens called the novel "a must-read addition for school libraries everywhere." You can read more review excerpts on my website.

To celebrate the book's "birthday" today, I made some panettone, which you can see below. This Italian sweet bread is said to have originated in Milan, the novel's setting.

To watch the book's trailer and enter a giveaway to win a free autographed copy, see my post on

I've set up a number of events to celebrate the book's release, both in the Chicago area and online. For details about those, see this page of my website.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Happy 299th Birthday, Maria Gaetana Agnesi!

We're one year away from commemorating the 300th anniversary of Maria Gaetana Agnesi's birth! While I have yet to find a publisher for the nonfiction biography I've written about her, I'm thrilled to announce the forthcoming release of a young-adult historical romance inspired by the lives of Maria Gaetana and her younger sister, musician and composer Maria Teresa Agnesi. The novel, called Playing by Heart, will be published by Vinspire Publishing this September. I'll be sharing the cover here as soon as it's available. Meanwhile, I'm using this lovely congratulations card a friend made to inspire me as we work on final edits:

I'll also be updating the "About Maria Teresa" page of this site as soon as I get a chance.

Meanwhile, if you'd like more frequent updates about Playing by Heart and my other projects, I encourage you to sign up for my email newsletter. You can do so in the right sidebar of my website.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Happy birthday, Maria Gaetana Agnesi!

Maria Gaetana Agnesi was born on this day in 1718. If you're not familiar with this amazing woman's story, you can read about her on the About Maria page, as well as in all the other posts on this blog.

I forgot to mention in my last post that in addition to working on a biography of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, I'm also writing a young adult historical romance based on her life and that of her composer sister, Maria Teresa. Thanks to the Internet, you can now hear some of Maria Teresa's compositions for yourself, including this one:

You can also read about her here. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Maria Gaetana Agnesi's 297th Birthday

As I explained several years ago, I've suspended regular posts to this blog. But I do like to take time once a year to acknowledge Maria Gaetana Agnesi's birthday. This year, I'm happy to note that after a long hiatus, I've returned to working on a biography for children about this intriguing woman. Wish me luck!

Meanwhile, I received an email asking for the names of Maria's siblings. I mentioned in my last post that, as far as we know, she had twenty siblings in all. We also know that one of Maria's sisters, Maria Teresa Agnesi, was an accomplished musician and composer. I mentioned her briefly in this post. You can read about her here.

Maria Teresa Agnesi, younger sister of Maria Gaetana Agnesi
I won't list the names of Maria Gaetana Agnesi's other siblings here. For that information, I suggest you read one of the published book-length biographies of her. I'm not going to do all your research for you!  

Happy birthday, Maria Gaetana Agnesi!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Celebrating Maria Gaetana Agnesi's 296th Birthday

Google is honoring Maria Gaetana Agnesi's 296th birthday today with an animated Google doodle that includes an animation of the curve bearing her name. 

Unfortunately, the doodle's reach is limited to Europe, Australia, and certain areas of Africa, Asia, and South America. While I'm pleased to see Maria recognized this way, I don't know why Google chose not to use the doodle here in the United States. Oh, well.

The good news is that the doodle is helping to spread the word about this amazing woman. Various news sites, like this one, feature reports about the doodle and Maria's life today. The bad news: some of these sites continue to repeat the common myths about her. For example, this site, reiterates the idea that Maria had to care for her 20 younger siblings after her mother died. I addressed part of this fallacy in an earlier post, explaining that her father remarried within two years of her mother's death. I neglected to mention in that post that when Maria's mother died, Maria had only 6 siblings. So she never would have been responsible for all 20 of her siblings.

Also on the good news side: it's now easier to know how to pronounce Maria's name. I shared a post awhile back trying to explain how to say it. I recently found a clip online that I've copied below. If the clip doesn't work for you, you can listen to it here

Regular posts to this blog are still on hold, as I explained here. But I couldn't resist making time to acknowledge Maria on the anniversary of her birth. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Google Doodle for Maria Gaetana Agnesi's Birthday?

Apparently, Google is honoring Maria Gaetana Agnesi's 296th birthday tomorrow, 
May 16, 2014with an animated Google doodle. I don't know yet what, if any, text will be included with the doodle, but I hope it's more accurate than what I found in a YouTube slide show featuring the Google doodle. I've commented on the slide show indicating the errors. If they're updated by the time I post again tomorrow, I may provide a link to the clip then. I don't want to promote more inaccuracies about Agnesi---there are already plenty of myths about her online!    

I'll be back tomorrow to wish Maria a happy birthday.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Birthday Present for Maria from the Writer's Almanac

This blog continues to be on hold, as I explained in this post. However, I do want to remind everyone that today is 
Maria Gaetana Agnesi's 295th birthday!

And what better present than an accurate write-up about her in today's Writer's Almanac!

You may recall that on this day in 2011, the Writer's Almanac got her bio wrong, repeating one of the many myths about Maria: that she couldn't become a nun because she had to care for her many younger siblings. As I explained in this post:
While it is true that Maria was shy and devout, her mother's death did not cause her to give up her religious aspirations. She was only 13 when her mother died. Maria may have helped out with her siblings for awhile, but by the time she turned 16, her father had remarried. The reasons for her not entering a convent had nothing to do with her mother's death.
In 2011, I sent the people at Writer's Almanac a note pointing out their mistake. I'm glad to see they've corrected the error.

Happy birthday, Maria! Or, as they say in Italy: