Seal of Approval

The following books have been awarded the Seal of Approval for the 3rd quarter of 2022:

  • Into the Light: Reflections for Hope and Healing, Katie Martinez
  • I'm Listening, Praying with Art and Story, Victoria Ryan
  • Germaine: Little Saint Stories, Cassie Herrington
  • Miracle at the Mission, Joseph Lewis
  • Child, Unwanted, Corinna Turner
  • I Wonder about the Good Shepherd, Jenny Luetkemeyer
  • Boots of Peace, Theresa Linden
  • Fostering Love, Kathleen Paydo

From Our Blog

  • CWG Book Blast! Carmela Martino’s “Playing by Heart”

    Michael Fraley
    7 hours 24 min ago

    This month, the Catholic Writers’ Guild is touring Carmela Martino’s book, “Playing by Heart.” It is a CWG Seal of Approval recipient! When fifteen-year-old Emilia uses her musical talents to help her father win noble status in 18th-century Milan, the repercussions threaten not only her dreams for her future but her sister’s very life.


    Emilia 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. 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.

    At its core, this is the story of two teens struggling to follow their true calling, even when it conflicts with their father’s selfish goals. Playing by Heart was inspired by two amazing sisters who were far ahead of their time—composer Maria Teresa Agnesi and mathematician Maria Gaetana Agnesi.


    My fingers slipped, striking an ugly chord that set my teeth on edge. I dropped my hands to my lap.

    I didn’t understand—why couldn’t Father let Maria take the veil? She would truly welcome a life of devotion to God. Yet Father’d been angered by the mere suggestion. I will not have her extraordinary talents hidden away in a convent.
    The chiming of the Basilica bells pulled me into the present. Maestro Tomassini would be here any moment. I raised my hands to the keys and began my first practice piece—a piece the maestro used to have me play blindfolded.

    Suddenly, I knew what I must do. I had to make Father feel the same way about my talents as he did Maria’s.

    My fingers stumbled again as a voice in my head said, But you’re not good enough.

    To which my heart replied, then I must become good enough.


    Carmela Martino is an author, speaker, and writing teacher who holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Her articles, poetry, and short stories have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and anthologies. She is also the author of two novels: Playing by Heart, winner of the 2018 Catholic Arts and Letters Award (CALA) for Children’s/Young Adult Fiction, and Rosa, Sola, a Catholic Press Association Book Award recipient. Carmela has taught writing for over twenty years, including both webinars and in-person classes. For more, see

    Buy Link:

    The Catholic Teen Books website has links to multiple sites where the novel can be purchased: 

    Amazon listing:


    Author @AJCattapan calls @carmelamartino’s PLAYING BY HEART “a beautifully composed tale of love, faith, and family!” #YA #historical #romance

     Editor @franciscanmom says @carmelamartino’s “Playing by Heart is a symphony of romance and faith with an undercurrent of social commentary.” #ya #historical

The CWG Prayer

Holy Family, guide our minds, our hearts, our hands, as we write, speak, illustrate – help our words to live in union with the Word.

Teach us discipline and skill to use the talents God gives us.

Give us also insight and courage to convey God's love through our craft, and humility to be open to His divine will, shaping our lives, in loving loyalty to His Church.

In Christ's name,


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