Carmela Martino started writing poetry in junior high.
It was not only a creative outlet but also a way to deal with the turmoil and pressures of adolescence. Her first publication came while she was in high school, when one of her poems appeared in an anthology of writing by Chicago public school students.
“As thrilled as I was to see my work in print, I didn’t think writing was a practical career choice. So in college I majored in math and computer science instead,” she said. “But after working as a programming and data base analyst for five years, I found my way back to writing by taking a job developing and editing data processing course materials. From there, I went on to become a freelance writer for newspapers and magazines and eventually a children’s author.”
Martino’s novel, “Rosa, Sola” (Candlewick Press), was named to Booklist magazine’s list of “Top Ten First Novels for Youth: 2006.” Her most recent short story credit is in the middle-grade anthology “I Fooled You: Ten Stories of Tricks, Jokes, and Switcheroos” (Candlewick Press), edited by Johanna Hurwitz. She also writes nonfiction articles on the craft of writing, such as one that appears in the 2015 “Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market” (Writer’s Digest Books), edited by Chuck Sambuchino. And she blogs regularly at www.TeachingAuthors.com, which she founded with five other children’s authors who are also writing teachers.
In what little spare time she has left, Martino reads as much as she can. And she teaches a variety of writing and writing-related courses for the Continuing Education program at College of DuPage. In fact, the first class she ever taught at COD was actually a reincarnation of a Continuing Education course she took back in 1991 called “Writing for Children,” after which she completed an MFA in writing.
She continues to teach “Writing for Children and Teens” along with classes on such topics as voice, blogging and turning life into fiction. This year, she will offer a new 12-session workshop based on Julia Cameron’s inspiring book, “The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.” The class is intended to help nurture all types of creativity, not only writing.
“I love teaching almost as much as I love writing. I learn so much from it, not only from the work I do in preparation to teach but also from my students. Their questions make me think more deeply about the writing process,” she said.
“I hope my students feel affirmed in their desire to write. For many of my students, my classes are the first formal writing class they’ve ever taken. They often come in wondering if they ‘have what it takes’ to be a writer. I hope they leave class believing in themselves and their ability.”
In addition to being inspired by her students, Martino is inspired by books that touch her heart, especially ones written for children and teens.
“Those are the kinds of books I want to write,” she said. “I’m also inspired by the generosity and kindness of the many wonderful writing teachers I’ve had over the years. I try to ‘pay forward’ what I learned from them to my own students.”