Saturday, June 22, 2013

Guest Post with Maria Andreu

Getting the courage to write a book is always hard.  Getting the courage to write a book on a subject which you’ve kept a secret your whole life is  near impossible.  That’s why I consider it a minor miracle that my first novel is going to debut next spring.  It nearly didn’t happen at all.
The Secret Side of Empty is the story of a teenage girl with a big secret:  she was brought to the U.S. as a kid and her parents overstayed their visitors’ visas.  So she is what the news calls “illegal.”  Without a social security number, there will be no college, no job, no driver’s license… nothing that her friends in suburban New Jersey see as their future.  For her, it looks like a blank screen with no options.

I also was undocumented as a kid and, thanks to an amnesty when I was a teenager, am now a citizen.  For a long time, that was my deepest secret, which not even my best friend or my husband knew.  I intended to never tell it but, as stories do, it kept whispering itself to me.  Finally, I started writing what would become my novel, The Secret Side of Empty.  Getting the “yes” from my agency was one of the coolest experiences of my life.  The acceptance email still sits framed in the living room of my house.

When I first started speaking out about my story in a series of essays and speeches, I faced who I was afraid might be my toughest audience:  my (then) 8-year-old daughter.  I figured if I was going to go public with this information, I should tell her first.  Nervously, I told her my own personal story:  crossing the Mexican border at the age of 8, growing up afraid of being deported, finally getting my citizenship certificate with her as a baby on my hip after years of waiting.  I braced for her reaction.  I didn’t want her to be ashamed of me.

“Wow!   That’s so cool!” was her reply.  I couldn’t believe it but I was so grateful.  It was all the courage I needed to go on.

The 8-year-old is now thirteen (it takes a very long time to get a book published!) and she still thinks it’s cool that Mom wrote a novel and has this interesting backstory.  The difference now is that Mom does too.  

Read more of my work at

Like my Facebook page to enter to win a $250 gift card!   

COMING NEXT SPRING… The Secret Side of Empty

**Read about the book and scroll below for details on how to enter to WIN a $250 Amazon gift card just by liking the author’s Facebook page!**

BOOK BLURB for “Secret Side of Empty”
You've heard the news stories.  Now hear the real story.
M.T. is starting her senior year with a lot going for her.  She gets great grades, has a best friend she met in kindergarten and a boyfriend who is sweet and into her.  But life – at least as she knows it – is about to end.
M.T. is what the news calls “illegal” – she came to the U.S. with her parents as a baby and never got the right papers that allowed her to stay.  She lives in fear of her family getting deported, in even more fear that she’ll have to go to the home country she doesn’t even remember, of people finding out her ugly secret and of the increasingly volatile situation at home.  When senior year is over, the protected world she’s found in her small parochial school will disappear.  Without a social security number, she won’t be able to go to college, get a job or, maybe worst of all, get a driver’s license.

But she’ll worry about all that later.  First, she’s got a senior year to take on.

A Note from the Author, Maria Andreu:
The fulfillment of great dreams feels best when shared, which is why I'm inviting people to Like my Facebook page and come along with me on the fabulous and improbable journey of publishing my first novel.  As my thanks, when you like the page by July 31st, you'll be able to enter to win a fan-only sweeps for a $250 Amazon gift card! 

Be the first to get updates on the cover, new tour stops, and fan-only content (plus
enter a sweeps for a $250 Amazon gift card) by liking the author's Facebook page here:

The book is already getting industry buzz and news coverage, so Like the FB page to get updates on that as well.


Maria Andreu is an author and immigration rights activist.  She lives in beautiful Bergen County, New Jersey with her two wonderful middle schoolers.  At the age of 12, she wrote in her diary, "Most of all, I want to be a writer."  Growing up undocumented and poor, she never imagined that dream might come true one day.  Her work has been published in Newsweek, The Washington Post and The Star Ledger and her first novel, The Secret Side of Empty, will be published by Running Press in Spring, 2014.

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