Maria N. Rachwal

Maria_0004 crop Maria N. Rachwal

What is your latest release and what genre is it? From Kitchen to Carnegie Hall: Ethel Stark and Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra, published by Second Story Press. It belongs to the Non-Fiction genre.

Quick description: From Kitchen to Carnegie Hall: Ethel Stark and the Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra, documents the amazing true story of the first all-women’s orchestra in Canadian history. In the 1940s, it was unheard of for women to be members of a professional orchestra, let alone play “masculine” instruments like the bass or trombone. But Ethel Stark, a talented violinist, and Madge Bowen, a wealthy socialite, broke convention by pulling together a rag-tag group of women from all walks of life—housewives, secretaries, and grandmothers—to create The Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra (MWSO). For years they lugged their old instruments from their living rooms to store basements to hold rehearsals. Cynics sneered and family members frowned. Yet despite these formidable challenges, the MSWO became the first orchestra to represent Canada in New York City’s Carnegie Hall in 1947 to glowing reviews. One of its members also became the first Canadian black woman to play in a symphony in Carnegie Hall. While the MWSO has paved the way for contemporary female musicians, the stories of these women are largely missing from historical records. From Kitchen to Carnegie Hall illuminates these revolutionary stories, including the life of the incredible Ethel Stark, the co-founder and conductor of the MWSO. Their work opened doors of equal opportunity for marginalized groups and played an important role in breaking gender stereotypes in society at large.

From Kitchen to Carnegie Hall

Brief biography:
Maria Noriega Rachwal is a music teacher and musicologist living in Toronto, Ontario. She has given many lectures on women in music throughout the country and written articles on the subject for professional organizations. She is also an accomplished flute player who has performed with The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra, and various chamber groups in Alberta. Her work on the Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra was featured on the CBC Radio documentary, “It Wasn’t Teatime: Ethel Stark and the Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra.”

Links to buy Maria’s book:
Second Story Press

Maria’s promo links:
Official webpage
Book Trailer

What are you working on now?
I am busy editing the memoirs of violinist and conductor, Ethel Stark.

Maria’s reading recommendation:
I recently enjoyed reading Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

Sharon Jennings

I was a sales rep for Second Story Press when Sharon Jennings wrote the first book for their new Gutsy Girl series. I enjoyed reading and selling that book, and I particularly loved that Second Story was publishing a series of books featuring gutsy girls! When I noticed the publisher’s announcement about this new book, I just had to ask Sharon to participate in Reading Recommendations.

SharonJennings_colour photo_mediumSharon Jennings

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Connecting Dots is a mid-grade novel in the Gutsy Girl Series.

Quick description: This sequel to the multi-award nominated Home Free gives us the story of Cassandra Jovanovich, a 12-year-old who has been passed relative-to-relative under the impression that she is an orphan. A first time ever friendship saves her.


Brief biography:
After obtaining a MA in English, I was a textbook editor for several years before starting my writing career. With over 70 books published, I teach, edit, and travel the world giving workshops and author visits.

Links to buy Sharon’s book:
Second Story Press

Sharon’s promo links:
Facebook Fan Page

What are you working on now?
I always have several manuscripts on the go. I’m finishing my 11th reluctant reader novel called Tornado. I’ve submitted another Gutsy Girl manuscript.

Sharon’s reading recommendation:
Teresa Toten’s The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B

E. Graziani

E. Graziani Bio PhotoE. Graziani

What is your latest release and what genre is it? War In My Town – a memoir and true story of my mother, Bruna’s experiences in her Nazi-occupied village in Tuscany, Italy during WWII.

Quick description: This is a touching and at times, harrowing account of teenaged Bruna’s idyllic life turned upside down when her small Italian village becomes the centre of fighting in the last months of the Second World War.


Brief biography:
E. Graziani is a teacher and self-proclaimed life-long learner who believes in constantly setting new goals for herself and working hard to achieve them. Her love of history, word artistry, and storytelling help to fuel these goals as do her students who particularly enjoy her classroom read alouds. She has worked with the Alzheimer Society of Canada to raise awareness and educate people regarding this disease and also enjoys speaking to high school English classes about her writing and inspirations. She resides in Stoney Creek, Ontario, with her husband and four daughters. Other books by E. Graziani – Alice of the Rocks, Jess Under Pressure.

Links to buy E. Graziani’s book:
From publisher, Second Story Press
From Amazon

E. Graziani’s promo links:

What are you working on now?
I am working on the sequel to Alice of the Rocks – a young adult fiction which is currently #1 on the Goodreads YA Time Travel Romance List.

E. Graziani’s reading recommendation:
I am absolutely loving A Brief History Of The Universe by J.P. McEvoy – He writes about the story of astronomy but from a totally humanistic perspective – more about the people who contributed to scientific advances rather than the advances themselves.