Blog Tour Stop: The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu

     Welcome to my stop on the blog tour of The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu! I'm super excited because she's joining me today to tell me all about what helped her start writing. What I love about her journey is the fact that it was guided by an author we all know and love, Judy Blume. So, without further ado, welcome Mrs. Andreu!

     How Judy Blume made me a writer

My favorite Judy Blume book, Tiger Eyes, was just released as a movie, the first motion picture adaptation of one of her books.    When I heard about it, I hadn’t thought about Judy Blume in many years, but kind of in the way you don’t think about your mom as much as you probably should.  Of course she’s just there, the way the sun is.  But I hadn’t thought much about her for years.
So I went back and gave Judy her due and read up on her career, hoping to understand why reading one of her books is such a rite of passage.  One of her first novels, Iggie’s House, was pulled out of the slush pile (the unsolicited manuscript pile) the year I was born.  She got an $800 advance for it.  After that came the iconic books millions of teens (and adults) have come to love:  Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.    Reading about her writing career helped me remember just how many insecurities of mine she helped soothe with her stories.
None of them touched me in quite the same way as Tiger Eyes.  I discovered it in a dusty corner of a library.  It wasn’t sexy like the “risqué” (for 15-year-old eyes) Forever and it wasn’t assigned by teachers like Blubber.  Tiger Eyes felt all mine.  It’s the story of a girl who has lost her father to gun violence and who is abruptly moved across the country by her grieving mom.  When I found Tiger Eyes, I was in a dark time in my own life, with my own griefs and burdens.  Tiger Eyes is not an emotionally easy read, but it gave me hope and a certain permission to be myself that I would not fully understand until decades later.
The secret I was holding during my Tiger Eyes years was that I was an “illegal,” or more accurately, an undocumented immigrant.  Brought to the U.S. by my parents as a baby, I had no social security number and therefore no prospects of a job or a college education or a driver’s license.  Like Davey in Tiger Eyes, I felt like no one in the world could understand my pain so I kept it buried deep inside.  When I was 18, I became eligible for an amnesty and got my citizenship thanks to that.  And promptly tried to forget everything that had happened.
It wasn’t until 20 years later that I finally let the Judy Blume voice in me get louder.  “Tell the story,” it said.  It was then that I wrote my novel, The Secret Side of Empty, that will be in bookstores Spring, 2014.
It’s amazing to me how a book can burrow in deep and finally become a part of who you are.  I had no way of knowing it then, of course, but Judy Blume was helping me learn how to be a writer, by showing me the way and by gifting me a story about what it’s like to grieve, accept and move on.  
That’s why I was so thrilled when I heard Tiger Eyes was about to be released as a movie.  Not only could I be first in line to see it, but I could also be happy in knowing that a whole new generation of people can be opened to the possibility of being completely themselves.  Thank you, Judy.
Read more of my work at
Like my Facebook page to enter to win a $250 gift card!
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.

Did you love her stop as much as I did?! Well, here is the blurb to her book that's set to release in spring 2014!

"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."

Sounds good right?! As if you needed any more incentive to add it to your TBR pile, here's a really good one.... Here's a giveaway that the author is hosting for a $250 Amazon gift card!!!!!

 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.