Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Books Hop #Giveaway #Christmas Magic

Thanks to I Am A Reader Not A Writer and Laurie Here for hosting this hop. Be sure to check out the link list below for over 100 other blogs participating!

My Giveaway:

An PDF copy of Christmas Magic, a 3 story anthology from Still Moments Publishing releasing on Dec. 4th, which includes my historical romance, Beginning of Forever. Be sure to swing by on the release day for another chance to win a copy!

Beginning of Forever / Christmas Magic Anthology


When Wayne Edwards moves to town, Lillian Davis experiences stirrings she thought were long dead. Guilt ridden over betraying her deceased husband and the feelings Wayne inspires, Lillian reluctantly lets him in. Secrets of the past – an old promise emerges, but will it threaten their forever?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

#MeetTheAuthor of After Dark, @emijgayle

Emi Gayle:

HUGEMONGOUS chocolate fan & awesome YA author of After Dark (19th Year #1).

A changeling capable of morphing into any imaginary creature – where and how the heck did you come up with this idea?

Emi: People often ask the question, 'if you could be any supernatural form/creature, what would you be?' right? Well, I asked the same question and then took it one step further ... 'what if you could be any supernatural form, but on 'x' point in time, you had to PICK one for the rest of your life?' And there we have the 19th Year trilogy! Literally, from one question came inspiration. :)

Mac is snarky with a capital ‘S’. Independent beyond anyone I’ve ever met. Did you base her character on someone you know, or did she just speak to your mind, begging you to write her story?

Emi: Mac has my mouth. She doesn't know when to keep it shut sometimes. She's totally independent and thinks her life is all mapped out, she'll get to it when she gets to it and everything will happen just like she's planned. That was me to a T in high school - specifically my senior year. Fortunately, or unfortunately for me, I'm not mythological - just a plain old girl. And, what happens to her, what she learns about herself in one year are things that took me yearS (yes with a capital S to properly control... not to say that she does a great job in controlling it. :)

The chocolate factor. Inspired by your own love for its smooth, luscious taste?

Emi: Absolutely! I'm a HUGE chocolate fan. HUGE. HUGEMONGOUS. :)  

Winn – yummy, nerd-like geek boy. Le sigh. What a precious supporting character he is! I fell in total book boyfriend love. What inspired him?

Emi: I didn't want a typical male. I didn't want a hot guy from the football team or a drummer in the marching band or the star soccer player. No, I wanted the guy no one expects to be the hero to BE the hero. Sorta. I wanted him to be the complete opposite of the main girl. I wanted the girl to be more like typical YA guys and the guy to be totally opposite so that what's inside has to be more important than what's on the outside and/or the perception to be. 

I know we’ll be seeing more of both of these two, but can you sweeten my thoughts just a tad? Pretty please? I foresee some major plot twists & turns, but can you offer a smidge of a teaser?

Emi: Oh, I wish I could, but I can't yet! BUT ... October 25th, the cover and blurb will release!! Yeah! So you'll get to know just what's coming. The one thing I will say is that Book 2 is completely from Winn's perspective! Yep, we get to hear Winn's thoughts on what's going on!

Once Mac makes her choices and we are forced to say goodbye to her, what’s your plan? Any ideas flitting about your brain for the next story or character?

Emi: Right now, not really. I have a supporting character that I've thought to bring back, but right now there is no story for him/her because right now, the trilogy is complete and that's it. Mac will 'make her choice' and Winn and she will suffer the consequences and there will be 'an end'. That's all I can say! :)

Lastly, as a writer I struggle with the editing process. The work of creating the stories which come to mind. How do you tackle this part of the process? What motivates you to get those ‘UGH’-able edits done?

Emi: I have no issue with edits. None. I love editing. Get the bones of the story in and let a few key people read it to check over and validate then off to my editor. That's the scariest part. If I can't make my editor love it, I gotta do MORE edits. Those are far harder from an editing perspective. :) But still, editing to me is the icing on the cake. And since I love cake and icing, especially chocolate, well ... there we go. It's perfect for me!

Thanks for having me, Terri!

Ms. Gayle’s newest release, After Dark, is now available!
Check out my 4.5* review HERE.

After Dark

by Emi Gayle
Release Date: October 31, 2012
Target Reader: Young Adult
Keywords: Paranormal Romance


Recommended by USA Today HEA Blog

What eighteen year old Mac Thorne doesn’t know will probably kill her.

In exactly eight months, five days, three hours and thirteen minutes, Mac has to choose what she’ll be for the rest of her life.

She has no choice but to pick. As a Changeling, it’s her birthright. To Mac, it’s a birthchore. Like going to school with humans, interacting with humans, and pretending to be human during the pesky daylight hours.

Once darkness descends, Mac can change into any supernatural form that exists — which makes her as happy as she can be. That is, until Winn Thomas, the biggest geek in her senior class, figures out there’s more to what hides in the dark than most are willing to acknowledge.

In this first of the 19th Year Trilogy, Winn might know more about Mac than even she does, and that knowledge could end their lives, unless Mac ensures the powers-that-be have no choice but to keep him around.

Connect with Emi here:

Purchase Links:

Other Books by Emi Gayle:

Darkest Day

Darkest Day

Young AdultFiction, Paranormal Romance, Romance, Thriller/Suspense, Urban Fantasy
Release Date: Jan 6, 2014
Day After

Day After

Young AdultParanormal Romance, Romance
Release Date: May 6, 2013

Thursday, November 29, 2012

#GuestPost : Vonnie Davis, Romance Author #excerpt

Thanks, Terri, for having me on your lovely blog. I am a romance writer and I love my job. Actually, it’s my lifelong dream or has been since the sixth grade.

I retired early, at the age of 60, from my job as a technical writer when I married a man I’d met online. Two old fogies looking for love on the internet. Can you dig it? Calvin was already retired from teaching and spending his days writing. He wanted me to do the same, to realize my long-held dream, too. Now with a degree in English and years as a technical writer, I certainly knew how to craft a sentence. What I didn’t know what the craft of writing.

Point of view? Didn’t everyone use omniscient? Nora does. Head hopping? What on earth do you mean? Character arc? Are we talking electrical wires here? What do you mean? GMC? Oh, I know that…a truck, right?

Turned out I didn’t know as much about writing as I thought.

I began reading books on the craft. I also took one or two online workshops a month. I’ve just started one offered via Savvy Authors on “Mining for Deep Emotions.” I feel one of my many weaknesses is pulling out emotions.

So, what have I learned these last four years?

I’ve learned the power of point of view. Point of view (pov) is more than whose head are we in, it’s the power we use to pull our reader deep into the story. So deep, in fact, they don’t want to put the story down. To me, the best compliment is when a reader says, “I read it all in one sitting. I couldn’t stop. I felt like I was right there.”

We all have our own way of crafting our characters. For me, I begin from the inside out. If choosing your character’s looks or job is your starting point, and it works for you, then it’s right for you. I begin by choosing my character’s point of pain. We all have them: A painful experience in our past that defines us and influences how we act and react to situations and other people.

For example, if you were heavy as a teenager and worked hard to lose the weight as an adult, you’re going to react one of two ways when you meet obese individuals. Either you’re going to recall your own pain and be sensitive to that person’s plight of being the butt of jokes; or seeing them is going to remind you of past pain and make you think if you could lose the weight, so can they. And you’ll be less sympathetic.

Past pain doesn’t always stem from childhood. Sometimes it can be as recent as last year when someone you loved walked away.

Once I nail down my hero and heroine’s points of pain, I decide on how they look and what they do to make the world a better place.

These points of pain help me get into character when I write. For when I’m writing, I AM that character. I allow that point of pain to fester in my soul as I write. If my hero is a man who’s lost buddies and part of a limb in war, I dwell on that as I write chapters in his pov. I try to think as a man would and if I’m unsure, I call my two alpha male sons and throw out the situation to them. I pay attention to the lingo they use. I insert it into my story along with their attitudes.

If I’m writing about a woman with a chip on her shoulder because she was the middle sister, ignored in favor of her older beautiful sibling and her younger sweet and bubbly sister, I don that bitchy, over-reactionary chip when I’m writing sections written in her head.

All of this falls under the heading of point of view. It helps our characters leap off the page, full of sass and attitude. We know why they act this way and, in many cases, can identify. This makes them more real.

So, when I wrote A TASTE OF CHOCOLATE, I stepped into my characters’ hearts and took on Hope and Declan’s pain.

A TASTE OF CHOCOLATE is the kick-off story for The Match Maker series at Still Moments Publishing, where a magical coffee shop comes into play. Freya, the owner, is a matchmaker. She brings souls together, and then when the heroine returns to thank her or ask for more advice, the coffee shop is not there. What she finds is a weeded, empty lot.

The premise of the series called to me—and brought its own set of challenges. I’d never written this “short” before, under 12,000 words, and never written anything remotely fanciful. Normally I write sensual to “hawt” contemporaries, historical and romantic suspense. A TASTE OF CHOCOLATE is a sweet romance, not because that’s what the series requirements were, but because the storyline simply called for it.

I’d like to share a quote from Freya as she and Hope are coming to the end of their conversation.

“A man’s kiss should taste like chocolate, dark flavor melting, doing sensual things to you.”

–Freya, the Matchmaker


Hope Morningstar has the worst luck with men. One boyfriend wrote her a “Dear John” letter while serving overseas. Her latest romantic interest broke up with her in a text. When a traffic detour puts her in an unfamiliar neighborhood, she stops at Freya’s Coffee Shop where she gets more than directions. She gets another chance at finding love.

Declan Fleming, scarred by a cheating ex-wife, has given up searching for love. He’s taken the route of a few other men and engaged the services of Freya, the matchmaker. Still, he’s been waiting for a year and he’s just about given up hope. Then Freya sends him Hope.

When feelings of insecurity and trust issues come into play, can finding love stand a chance? Can the magical influence of this matchmaker create a happy ending? After all, finding that one special love often involves a bit of special magic, does it not?

EXCERPT with a brief set-up. Freya arranged for Hope to meet Declan in the food court of a large mall. He shows up with purple roses and irises, telling her purple roses stand for love at first sight and irises are the flower of hope.

A warm hand settled in the middle of her back, escorting her out of the eating area. “So, we’re going shopping, are we? Are you up for a movie later? I checked, and there’s a new chick flick playing.”
Her gaze rose to his as she held his bouquet to her nose to enjoy their fragrance again. “Do you enjoy chick flicks, Declan Fleming?” Somehow, with just his hand splayed on her back, he had her tucked against his shoulder. Heat radiated off him. It was like being held in half an embrace while walking through the mall.
“Not really. I prefer thrillers and action flicks.” He stopped at a display in the window of a men’s clothing store. “The more explosions, the better. Let’s go in here for a sec. I need a couple pairs of shorts.” He led her to a rack of solid color pants.
“Plaids are in right now.” Or so Barclay claimed.
“I prefer something more manly.” He snatched two pair of khakis off the rack. “Let’s go. I’m done.”
“Already? You’re getting two identical pairs of shorts?”
“Yes, when a man sees something he likes, he sticks to it.”
“At least get one pair in green or navy.” She held out a pair of Army green shorts.
“Are you a bossy woman, Hope Morningstar?”
That stung, considering her thoughts earlier. She crossed her arms under her breasts. “Comes with the territory. I’m a school teacher. Second grade.”
He inclined his head, his lips against her ear, and the smell of masculine soap creating all manner of feminine sensations. “Don’t look now, teach, but I’m a grown man.” Just to prove his point, he yanked another identical pair of shorts off the rack and headed for the cashier.
“And stubborn, I see.” Three pair of identical khaki shorts. Really?
“Alpha males usually are.” He pulled folded bills from his pocket and slipped off his silver money clip that held a military emblem.
When she leaned closer she saw the word SEAL. An ex-SEAL, if the length of his hair is any indication. Interesting.
“I’m not one of your students you can push around. You’ll get further with me using kindness than being bitchy.”
She narrowed her eyes. The nerve! What did Freya tell her? That she’d have to show strength. “I won’t be put down.” By golly, she’d had enough of trying to measure up to male expectations.
He snatched his bag from the cashier. “Neither will I. We get that straight from the get-go and we ought to get along just fine. Honesty, respect, and consideration. Three important building blocks for any relationship.”
Her temper was in full bloom now. They’d only met a few minutes ago. “It’s a tad soon to be talking about a relationship, don’t you think? I’m not even sure I like you.”
Evidently he chose to ignore her remark, even though a muscle in his jaw bunched. “How long have you been teaching?”
“Three years. What do you do for a living?”
“I handcraft wood furniture. In the fall, I also coach football at a private high school.”
“Were you once a SEAL? I saw your money clip.”
“Yes, in another life.” He didn’t elaborate.



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

First Time: The Legend of Garison Fitch #Giveaway

First Time: The Legend of Garison Fitch

"What if history didn't happen that way ... the first time?"

Garison Fitch was one of the most revered scientists in the Soviet Americas until he left fame behind to work on a secret project in his log cabin in the mountains of Marx.

But something went wrong. Instead of traveling interdimentionally, Garison has traveled through time ... twice.

Now, he's in something called "The United States of America" and a woman he's never met before is calling herself his wife. It it a hoax? Or, has he somehow changed history?

If so, can he return the world to what he believes is "normal", or must he live in this strange world he created?



"Sam continues to weave his magic as a storyteller. I always find myself anxious to find out what will happen next and what kind of twist will befall the adventurers. It helps to be familiar with the places that the heroines go, which adds to the story."

~Labdaddy, Texas

"I've had a few very unproductive but enjoyable days thanks to Samuel Ben White. If you haven't read Sam's books you have been missing a treat. These were funny, suspenseful, spiritual and kept you turning the pages."

~Karen S.

"Just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed your books. I have a Kindle and I have purchased all of the Garison Fitch novels. I am in Saudi Arabia and your books have really helped take me away from here."

~Scott, Saudi Arabia

Also Part of the Series:

Saving Time

Two years ago Garison Fitch traveled through time and rewrote history. An accident in the eighteenth century created a whole new world, and even gave Garison a wife he had never met before. Now, he’s got a daughter and he’s coming to enjoy this world he created. Until he’s attacked by men masquerading as Indians, and a funeral procession from out of the past enlists his help, and a tree grows from sappling to full-grown in a matter of minutes, threatening his daughter’s very life. Time itself is unraveling and Garison’s trips through time seem to be the cause. Garison must go back in time once again and keep himself from making the original trip that started the problem. But he can’t use his time machine to go back. How does one sew up a rip in time?

Lost Time

Jason Kerrigan and Brownwyn Dalmouth are pilots with the Republic of Texas Army Air Corps. A world war is going on and bombs have just brought an end to Crockett Air Field in south Texas. Jason and Bronwyn, though, are called away from the battle to be test pilots for a new aircraft that-they're told-will bring the war to an end. The experimental craft lives up to expectations in early tests, but then it lands them somewhere it never should have sent them. Another place? Another time? Another dimension? Somehow, they've taken a trip to the future and changed the past. Or did they? The answer to their change of reality may be known to a Justice of the Peace in Colorado named Garison Fitch. To figure it out, though, Garison may have to team up with his least favorite person: Bat Garrett.


Author Samuel Ben White

Samuel Ben White (“Sam” to his friends) is the author of the national newspaper comic strip “Tuttle’s” (found at and the on-line comic book “Burt & the I.L.S.” (found at He is married and has two sons. He serves his community as both a minister at a small church and a chaplain with hospice. In addition to his time travel stories, Sam has also written and published detective novels, a western, three fantasy novels and four works of Christian fiction.


Tour Schedule

Book Blast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 12/16/12

*You need not enter your twitter name for each entry. Simply enter it when you follow Sam then you can leave the others blank.

Open to anyone who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent's permission. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

#GuestPost : Mackenzie Crowne #excerpt #giveaway


Breast cancer survivor & romance author

You’re a sweetie for sharing your home on the web with me, Terri. Thanks so much. Hello everyone. I’m stoked to be here to celebrate the release of my latest contemporary romance and…I brought along a friend. The Billionaire’s Con is her story, you see. Her name is Meggy Calhoun and she’s the smart-mouthed head chef of Palmer House, a hot new fine dining establishment just north of Boston. She pestered me for more than a year to tell her tale, just as she pestered me to let her come along today to meet Terri’s visitors and share a bit about her story. So, without further ado, it’s all yours, Meggy.

Thanks Terri and Mac. Wow! This is so exciting! Hi guys. Please don’t blame Mac for caving. It’s not her fault. After all, they don’t call me the Palmerton Pit Bull because I’m a pushover, which has come in handy since the day Trevor Bryce Christos showed up on my doorstep.

Lord, the man is glorious. A Greek god with the attitude to match. I was a goner with one look. Okay, he’s not really a god, but he sure has the arrogance of one, like the way he came to Palmerton, pretending he was a writer doing research for a book. Like me, the warm hearted people of Palmerton welcomed Trevor with open arms, fooled by his dimpled smiles and charm. Hah! In truth, he came to town to prove I was a con artist, bent on conning an old lady out of her fortune. A con artist of all things!

Oh, the sneaky Greek was wrong, of course. I’m no con artist. I’m a chef! Which is all I’ve ever wanted to be, with a dream of running my own kitchen. And I was finally about to achieve that dream with the opening of Palmer House. Unfortunately, my troubles began with an unexpected letter from my birth mother. Did I mention I’m adopted? I never should have read that letter. I soon discovered the lengths to which one of the wealthiest families on the eastern seaboard would go to protect their empire.

Hmmm. I’d love to share more, but Mac warned me about giving away too much of my story and is giving me the eye. So, I’ll just say this. Sneaky Greeks aren’t the only ones who know how to play the game to get what they want. ;-)

And to thank you all for visiting with us today, Mac is giving away a PDF copy of The Billionaire’s Con to one lucky commenter. I brought along an excerpt, and the recipe for my Scrumptious Brownie Cheesecake. It’s the most requested dessert at Palmer House, courtesy of Mac’s favorite pastry chef and real life brother. Enjoy!

Scrumptious Brownie Cheesecake:

Follow instructions for Betty Crocker Brownies.
Mix ingredients and add to a parchment lined spring mold pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 min.
While that's baking, mix 1 pound of softened Philly cream cheese, half cup of sugar, teaspoon vanilla, 2 eggs, until smooth.
Remove brownies from oven, pour cream cheese batter over them and swirl in with a butter knife.
Bake for additional 30 to 40 min at same temp or until set.


“What are you doing in here, Meggy?” Jill moved to stand beside the stepladder. “And why are you painting?”
Meggy frowned at the intruders, ignoring Jill for the moment. Her gaze scanned the tall stranger. She noted his expensive suit and handsome face below a thick pelt of dark, auburn hair. Though very attractive, he had that stiff, life-is-serious-business look about him.
She sighed at the waste and turned her frown to Jill.
“I needed something to keep my hands occupied until I can get back into the kitchen.”
Agitated as much with the delay as the mess, she flicked her hand holding the roller. A silken thread of paint danced through the air, leaving a drizzle of pale yellow across the faded denim of her favorite jeans.
Perfect. Just perfect.
“Get back into the kitchen?” Jill placed her hands on her hips. “I thought the kitchen was up and running.”
Meggy hoisted her butt off the top of the ladder and slapped a hand to the wall when she lost her balance. From the corner of her eye, she saw the lawyer take a startled step forward. With a disgusted growl, she glared at the fresh slash of paint coating her hand, and clambered down the ladder backwards before he could reach her.
“We had a leak.” She jumped the last two steps to land on the floor, jamming the roller into the pan at the foot of the ladder. “The plumber is there now, dealing with the aftermath.” Reminded of the calamity in her kitchen, she turned a glower on the silent man and quirked a brow. “And you are?”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” Jill rolled her eyes at Meggy and made the introductions. “Meggy Calhoun, this is Trevor Bryce. He’s a writer who’s interested in renting the Carriage House. Mr. Bryce, Meggy is one of the owners of Palmer House. She’s also the head chef.”
Meggy watched, fascinated, as the stiff lawyer vanished behind a wicked smile, a flash of white teeth, and dimples. There was nothing stiff about the penetrating gaze that met and held hers. The deep drawl of his voice, when he said hello, reminded her of the smooth slide of the aged whiskey found in Palmer House’s well-stocked bar.
She glanced at the hand he held out, and flipped up her own paint-smeared palm. “Sorry, I’m a mess.”
Laugh lines crinkled the tanned skin at the corner of his eyes, and the soft core of femininity within her sighed in appreciation. She’d always had a soft spot for the Greek god type. Looking at Trevor Bryce, she had a sudden craving for Feta cheese and Ouzo.

I love making new friends, so please feel free to visit my home on the web and learn more about me and my other titles @


Monday, November 26, 2012

#Review : Blue Moon by @JABelfield #paranormal #wolves

Paranormal Romance

Someone is watching the Holloway Pack, and this time, the female isn’t the target.
Life with a group of seven male werewolves worries Jem Stonehouse not one bit. She is engaged to the Alpha’s son Sean Holloway after all. So what has Jem’s territorial instincts on high alert?
The pack’s latest addition. Both of them.
None of the men think there’s a problem with the new girlfriends. Jem’s intuition tells her otherwise—that and a nagging suspicion the new females aren’t there to partake.
Jem believes they’ve joined in to take.
The question is … What?
As the eve of the blue moon draws ever closer, Jem’s running out of time to find the answer and outwit a thief of the worst possible kind.
A woman who believes she can’t lose.

My Review: 5 Stars

Blue Moon is the second installment of the Holloway Pack books. Once again we’re following Jem and Sean, but this time it’s not Jem whose life is in danger. This time it’s the female werewolf kicking major witch @$$ to save her pack.

I loved this book. Thrilling, fast-paced from beginning to end. Anyone with brothers and a close knit family will understand Jem’s protective nature. And this leads me into …

Yummies: The characters and the dynamics of their relationships. They’re human and yet Ms. Belfield makes them come alive with that ‘dog’ feel. How they play, rough house, nip, & nuzzle -  a little eyebrow raising here & there but only because there’s hardly ANY jealousy from Jem’s mate, Sean. It’s all so dog like, so pack like that it’s totally believable.

Sniff too closely and that nip might sting a bit though. *wink*

The tension was palatable. The emotional turmoil charged to the max. Did I just type that??!? Yes. To. The. Max. I felt Jem’s fear, anger, & rage. I grinned like a fool when the kick witch @$$ climax arrived in all its stealth & fury. Rip those throats out! Woo Hoo!

Sicko, I know.

Yuckies: None. Seriously. Nothing about this book bothered me or caused a frown to etch my brows.

Recommend: Duh with a capital D. Nab a copy. Now. You can thank me later.

Friday, November 23, 2012

#FreeviewFriday #ChristmasMagic Part 3

Welcome to Freview Friday!

Today I’ll be sharing one last snippet of my story, Beginning of Forever, from Still Moments Publishing’s Christmas Magic Anthology which releases in less than 2 weeks!

Part I can be found HERE / Part II HERE.

I couldn’t function.

I didn’t want to.

“Lillian?” Marion hovered in my bedroom doorway. “Can I get you anything else before I go?”

“No,” I replied, not taking my aching eyes from the photo on our bed stand. What am I to do, Ronnie? I can’t face life without you.

The front door closed and my thoughts took form, my voice unrecognizable to my own ears. 

“Mother can’t be bothered to come, so of course Father can’t either. Marion stops in. She says that time will lessen the grief, Ronnie, but I just….”

I choked on a sob. Fresh tears coursed down my face and dripped onto damp linen. “I j-just wish I could sleep this pain away. Sleep and never wake.”

Hope you enjoyed these teasers! Christmas Magic will be available for purchase on December 4th. 

As J.A. Belfield has said, any and all are welcome to join her in this weekly shenanigan. HOWEVER, if you do so, she URGE syou to keep the shared snippets short and sweet. Mine (like hers) will be a maximum of TEN (10) sentences. To help identification of these posts, we’ll be hashtagging them (for Twitter purposes) as #FreeviewFriday. Feel free to knick said hashtag for your own Freeview Friday posts. Hope you’ll join us!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

#BookPromo : To Be Maria by @deannaproach #YA #fiction


From Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Anya Preschnikov wants to become a famous actress but she's faced with two problems. Her father ignores her and doesn't have any money to support her. At school, she's bullied on a daily basis, yet she believes that she will gain her stepping-stone to stardom if she's accepted by her peers.
All of this changes when Maria Hernandez--an immigrant from Spain--comes to Peach Valley Senior High. Maria knows what it takes to fit in. She's assertive, confident and she dresses suggestively, characteristics that all of the popular kids admire. Yet she sees in Anya what no one else sees: beauty and talent.
When Maria extends her hand of friendship, Anya is elated. Her rise to popularity is about to become a reality, but it ends at a house party when a boy's rude comment sends her into a rage. 
Desperate to belong somewhere, Anya and Maria seek new friends outside of school. They meet Alex and Marissa, a young couple who eagerly welcomes them into their world of parties and drugs. Anya and Maria soon find out that Alex is a drug dealer, but they are so lured by his wealth, good looks and aggressive confidence that they can't resist his friendship. They don't know that Alex's gang is at war with a rival gang--one that's run by Anya's older brother, Adrik--until one incident puts their lives in danger's path. To make matters worse, Alex won't let Anya and Maria out of his sight. The two teens are forced to make a decision that's a matter of life or death.

I’m thrilled to be able to share chapter one of Ms. Proach’s book which released in July of this year. Hope you enjoy it!!

To Be Maria, Chapter 1

            Anya wakes, startled by the loud, repetitive beep of her alarm clock. In a daze, she reaches over to the small night stand and slaps the stop button. She groans, her tired eyes half-closed, while she slips out from underneath the old, but comfortable blanket. Great. I'm so tired. If only I had two more hours - but no. When there's no school, there's work, and that's even worse. I hate that I have to get up at five-thirty every Saturday and Sunday morning. My manager always gives me the worst shifts.
            Anya shuffles over to the closet. Unlike most other girls in school, she never rummages through the closet in search of the perfect outfit. She rolls her eyes. Oh God, here we go again: the same jeans, faded tank-tops, baggy T-shirts, and sweatshirts. I can't wait until the day comes when I throw away these ugly clothes. I just wish I had the money to buy new clothes, fashionable clothes. Maybe then I'd fit in at school.
           Anya traces her finger over the delicate cloth of her one and only bohemian-style summer dress. Even the dress is a hand-me-down, worn by her mother back in the 1970s. But it's the only piece of clothing she loves; unfortunately, it's still too cold outside to wear it. Thank God for my imagination. I don't know what I'd do without it.
           The things Anya enjoys the most are brushing her hair and writing in her journal. These are the only times she can let her imagination take her away from home. She can pretend to be anything - anything but herself.
            Anya rakes her slender fingers through her long hair. Today, I'm the daughter of a wealthy architect, so I'm going to wear a pair of Tommy Hilfiger jeans and a green peasant top, the revealing one. Then I'll put on that expensive necklace and those silver hoop earrings that Mom bought for me yesterday. Anya frowns at her clothes. Ugh, who are you kidding, Anya? Why even waste your time pretending to have something when it makes you even more unhappy to realize that you don't have it?
            To get her mind off her clothes, Anya looks at her mother's photograph, the one that always sits on top of the nightstand. Every time she looks at the photograph, she studies her mother's features. Her father used to tell her that she looks so much like her mother, Ana Preschnikov, but until now she never gave it much thought. Anya now realizes why her father used to call her Ana. Ana - who must have been in her early twenties when this photo was taken - boasted the same long, caramel brown hair, chocolate brown eyes, petite, heart-shaped face, slender nose, and smooth, cream-colored skin. Anya often wonders what life would be like if her mother was still alive. It has been so many years since she passed away that Anya has forgotten what it's like to have a mother. Sometimes she dreams about her mother, longing for the comfort of her tender arms and loving words.
            Her eyes eventually shift away from the photograph to the journal sitting on the floor in front of the nightstand. The front and back cover is of a soft blue and leather. She received it as a Christmas gift from her best friend, Patrick, a little over one year ago. Since then, she's filled it with her thoughts until only a few empty pages remain; she's planned to leave those pages blank until she purchased another journal - something she's decided to do after work this weekend.
            "Oh heck, I can't wait until the weekend. I really need to clear my mind," she whispers. She changes into a T-shirt and a pair of jeans, grabs the journal off the floor, then walks over to the kitchen.
            The kitchen is messier than usual. Two of the cupboard doors are left open, the sink is filled with dirty dishes, and the counter is littered with stale food, wrappers, cutlery, and cups half-filled with juice. As she bites down hard on her lower lip, she can feel the red creep up her neck and over her face. Damnit! Why doesn't my dad clean up after himself? Why does he expect me and Sophia to clean up after him all the time? She sinks into the nearest chair, breathing out a long, angry sigh. Her stomach growls, warning that if she doesn't eat she'll spend the entire day tripping over her words and suffering from exhaustion and a bad headache - something she's endured several times in the past.
            Anya leaves her journal, then walks over to one of the open cupboards. As predicted, it's empty - save one box of macaroni and cheese and a package of Mr. Noodles. Anya shuts the door, then peers into the next cupboard; all that remains in there is a box of Cheerios. She grabs the box, realizing that it's more than half-empty but thinking that it should be enough to satisfy her until lunch.
            As she opens the fridge door, she hears a shuffling noise from behind. Thinking that it's Sophia, she turns, ready for a round of confrontation; but it's her father, who stands less than one foot away from the doorway. He's hardly ever up this early, so Anya is surprised to see him. For the first time in a long time, he's clean shaven, dressed in a red, button-down, flannel shirt that's tucked into blue jeans. Anya suspects that his clothes are also clean because she doesn't smell any foul stench.
            Anya cocks her left eyebrow. "You're up early."
            "Yeah, I got a new job."
            "At Home Depot."
            Anya purses her lips. That's not a step up from your last job at Canadian Tire. "Cool. Is the pay better?"
            "Yeah, enough to get me by."
            Anya narrows her eyes. "Well, I hope you last at this job," she says, slamming the milk and Cheerios down on the table. It's enough to get us by, you self-centered jerk. I hope your new boss doesn't fire your dumb ass like your last boss did.
            "I think so. You gonna clean this up?" he says, pointing at the counter.
            Anya glares at him. "Uh, no."
            "Why not?"
            "Because you were the one who made the damn mess. That's why!"
            He casts her a sharp look. "Don't talk to me like that, young lady."
            "I can talk to you however I want!"
            "Fine then, be that way. I'm off."
            "Clean your stinking mess when you get home from work!" Anya yells after him. She slumps into a chair, her eyes brimming with tears. "Don't cry. He's not worth it. Don't let him get you down," she whispers over and over again until the anger ebbs. But when she looks down at the diary, the feeling returns. She flips through it until she comes to a blank page.
            'February 17, 2003. Dear Diary,' she writes underneath the date in the top left corner of the empty page.
            'This day is not off to a good start.'
            She then writes about her dad, describing him using every foul word in the English language. Once she's spilled her anger and frustration onto the paper, she breathes out a huge sigh, which makes her feel much better. She doesn't want to spend every minute of the day thinking about the people who get her down.
            'I'm sorry I used all that bad language. I just needed to let off steam. Anyway, it's time to tell you about the good stuff in my life.
            'I'm still really excitement that I got accepted into Mr. Hawthorne's advanced acting class. I know, I already told you this - Patrick's sick of hearing me say this - but this is the best thing that's ever happened to me. Mr. Hawthorne doesn't accept anyone into his advanced acting class. Over a hundred students auditioned this year, and out of those auditions he chose only sixteen students to be in his class. The fact that he chose me over several other good actors is a huge gold feather in my cap.'
            'Every year, Mr. Hawthorne sponsors one student to attend Vancouver Film School. His sponsorship pays for one year's tuition. This will give me a huge start to my career. I'm busting my ass to show Mr. Hawthorne the best of me because I'm determined to be the recipient of his sponsorship.'
            As Anya pauses to flex her wrist, she steals a glance at her wrist watch. It reads seven 'o' clock. Thankfully, there's still some spare time to write; she hasn't told her journal everything she needs to say.
            'There's this new girl in school. She's our age, and she's in our grad class. Her name is Maria, and she's from Spain, the country everyone seems to think is cool. There's so many Spanish people who live in this city that it's no wonder why most of them go wide-eyed when they think about Spain. I've never been to Europe, but I imagine that Spain's a beautiful country, though I don't think it's any better than any other country in Europe. Or every other country in this world, for that matter. I think it's the way Maria dresses and the way she acts that everyone finds so attractive. Well, the popular kids mostly. She's been at Peach Valley Senior High for only two weeks, and she's already at the top of the popularity chain. Patrick thinks she's a slut, an easy layover. That's why all the boys are so gaga over her. But I don't know if that's true. I personally think she's drop-dead gorgeous.'
            Anya's eyes droop when she thinks about Maria.
            'Her clothes are so stylish. I wish I had those kinds of clothes, and - I know I say this almost every day - I wish I was as popular as her. I'd like to get to know Maria - she'd be the coolest friend I'd ever have - but Carly beat me to it. Carly befriended her the moment she set foot in Peach Valley Senior High. Maria's in two of my classes, and sometimes I see her in the hallway, but she never says anything to me. It's no wonder why, though. She's Carly's friend. Anyway, I think I've told you enough information for one day. I gotta get ready for school. Until next time.
            Love Anya.'

Deanna Proach graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Northern British Columbia in 2008. She initially trained to become a teacher, but decided, in her last year of post-secondary education training, to pursue a career in writing instead.

Since then, Proach has written two novels, both of which have been published: DAY OF REVENGE (Inkwater Press) and TO BE MARIA (

When She's not writing, Proach is actively involved in her local theatre community as an actress, and she's learning the art of medieval sword fighting (not with real swords of course).

Stalk Deanna:

To Be Maria can be found at:

So whatcha think? Wanna nab a copy? It’s on my (LONG) to-read list. Looking forward to it!