First Impressions: A Novella

I am excited to announce that my new book, First Impressions: A Novella, is complete and available for order on Amazon!

Click for the E-Book (Kindle Edition) $2.99

Click for the Print Edition $6.99

Marzia Benagli is a psychology student at the University who enjoys people – watching. One night while out for drinks with her roommate Clara, a table of guys catches her interest. First Impressions Front CoverGirls flocked to this table as if paying homage to some kind of celebrity, and the most attractive of the three guys appeared to be the pack leader. When the same guy, Dylan Porter, happens to run into Zia on campus the following week, Clara fills Zia in on Dylan’s popularity as a star player of the university soccer team.

When Dylan catches up with Zia that evening while she studied at a nearby coffee shop, he admitted to Zia that, while he could admittedly get any girl he wanted, all the girls he’s dated have been the same. Zia and Dylan strike up a deal; Zia will use her psychology background and intuitive skills to teach Dylan how to find the right girl. They go out to various venues where Zia teaches Dylan what to look for and what to stay away from when looking for a girl. Before all is said and done, will this arrangement work out or end in disaster? What will Zia learn about first impressions along the way?

Please let me know what you think!  I would value any and all feedback, as this is my first shot at fiction writing.  It is completely self-published, so I did the writing, editing, and cover designing all on my own.  (Also, if you see a typo, please let me know.)


  • 102 pages
  • About 25,000 Words
  • Categories: Romance; New Adult and College; Contemporary Fiction

Sneak Peak: Chapter 1

I’m getting closer to finishing my first book, and it looks like, at the moment, I am right on schedule with my self-imposed deadline of 2/29/16 to have it finished by.  It was looking questionable with some unexpected things happening this month that really set me back; however, since I had the day off today for President’s Day, I have been able to sit down and dedicate some time to finishing up some of the loose ends I had in my story, and may even have a title!

I thought I would share the first chapter of my book to see what kind of feedback and/or interest I might get from anyone willing to check it out.

You can read it here: Chapter 1

You might like this book if you like:

  • Romance books/novellas
  • Young Adult fiction
  • Psychological fiction
  • Books about college-aged characters
  • Realistic fiction (sorry, no fantasy/sci-fi in this one)


I would genuinely be interested in hearing feedback and opinions about this first chapter, so please leave me a comment about any of your thoughts or questions!



Working Title (In Progress)

In February 2014, I got an idea for a fiction book and began writing the first few chapters.  I had a plot line, main characters, supporting characters, and a bunch of notes for specific things I had in mind for directions I wanted the story to go.

Nearly two years later, on a week-long vacation from work between Christmas and New Year’s, I remembered that story I had started a couple of years ago and found the file on my laptop.  I read what I had already written and picked up where I had left off.  Next thing I knew, I went from about two and a half chapters to 10 (and counting)!

The Story:

“Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” -origin unknown

Marzia “Zia” Benagli is a psychology student at a university who shares an apartment with her BFF, Clara.  One night out with Clara, Zia had stepped away while Clara chatted up a hot new guy and was people-watching when she happened to notice Dylan Porter, obviously a typical playboy with girls lining up to talk to him.  The following Monday at school, Zia happened upon a lost History book just in time for its owner, none other than Dylan Porter, to find where he had left it.  That night while studying at a coffee shop, Dylan came in and invited himself to sit with Zia to study and talk.  Dylan revealed that while he could admittedly get any girl he wanted, they all seemed to be the same.  He was ready for something different.  Zia and Dylan struck up a deal.  Zia would use her psychology background to help Dylan find “Ms. Right” instead of “Ms. Right Now.”  She would get the practice on human behavior, and he would get a more fulfilling dating life.  It’s win/win, right?

Zia and Dylan would go out to various venues around the city while Zia teaches Dylan what to look for in a girl and why.  Of course, this would take getting to know him better to do this right.  Will Zia be successful at helping Dylan find the right girl, or will things end in disaster for everyone?


Now What?

My book is still a work in progress (I don’t even have a title yet!), but my goal is to have it finished by the end of February 2016.  I am currently at just over 19,000 words and I still have at least 2 more chapters to complete before I begin making the final edits.  Lengthwise, this places it in the “Novella” category.

I plan to self-publish this book, so I will be looking for people to read it for free in exchange for honest reviews.  Please let me know if you are interested in helping me out by doing this!

A Lifelong Journey of Becoming A Writer

The Proverbial “They”: What do you want to be when you grow up?

4th Grade Me: A writer.

7th Grade Me: A writer.

10th Grade Me: A writer.

Why didn’t I ever become a writer?  I guess you could say in a way that I did, although not in the way I had imagined as a kid growing up.

The first poem I ever wrote was in 4th grade, titled “Apple”…

Once I ate an apple
I didn’t want to eat
I said I didn’t like it
Mom said it was a treat
I threw it in the garbage
Mom took it out and said
I’ll make you eat this apple
And I’ll shove it down your head

A little scary, but very telling on how I viewed my mother at the time.

As an awkward and lonely teen, I took to pen and paper and tried my hand at poetry.  That and journaling became my outlet of expression (and therapy).  In high school, I even wrote a song or two when I attempted to learn how to play guitar.

When I graduated high school, my only goal was to get away.  Away from my parents, my family, my life.  Truth be told, I was a pretty miserable child.  No, I didn’t have it all that bad when I look back on it, at least not when I compare it to things I know now about the way the world can work sometimes.  I just didn’t relate well to people.  I was an extreme introvert.  So I went away to community college, 300 miles away from “home.”

College People: What do you want to be when you grow up?

18 Year Old Me: …I don’t know?

By that time, it had been ingrained in my mind that writing was a hobby, one of those things people do in their free time.  It was like being a musician, sure there were some lucky few who made a successful full-time career out of it, but these were the exceptions and not the rules.  Plus, if I majored in English, they’d make me read and write all kinds of “crap” I had no interest in, which I never found fun, and what would I do with an English degree anyway?

Okay, so what else do I want to do with my life?  I had no idea what I wanted to do, I just wanted it to matter.  I wanted to “help people.”  So naturally, I chose Psychology as a major.

Little did I know that being a Psychology major was very writing intensive.  It wasn’t until I finished my Associates degree at the community college and started at a university that I had to select a minor study.  Minor?  Apparently it wasn’t optional, so the adviser read off a list of options and I chose the one I thought sounded closest to what I was already doing.  Social Work, I later learned, was another very writing intensive study.

Needless to say, I became very well acquainted with writing and APA format in the 7 years it took me to complete my Bachelor of Arts degree in 2007.  (It really only took five and a half years if you don’t count the 3 non-consecutive semesters I took off here and there.  I worked full time to put myself through college.)

In 2008, I became a social worker.  One might not see how being a social worker would involve much writing, but au contraire!  I was required to document everything and in significant detail.

After high school, I didn’t do much poetry writing.  I even stopped journaling after a few years of being in college.  I have done some blogging here and there.  In 2011, three years into my social work career, I decided to do an online Master’s degree program which was another very writing intensive two years, and by 2013 I earned a Master of Science in Psychology.

Did I mention I still had no idea what I really wanted to do with my life?   I was 30 years old by then.  Sure, I had gained quite a bit of experience, expertise, and confidence with my life in general at that point, but I was incredibly unhappy with my job at that time and pretty burnt out.  So I thought I would try my hand at being an Entrepreneur and start my own Life Coaching business on the side while I looked for other “opportunities” at work.  I completed an online certification, read tons of books on how to be an actual life coach, maintained a life coaching blog, and even wrote and self-published a couple of life-coaching books (Self Esteem and Personal Relationships).  I ultimately ended up closing my life coaching business when another opportunity presented itself at my full time job, but I learned a lot from my time doing the life coaching.

A couple of years ago while I was at the gym one day, on the treadmill, I got an idea for a story line for a book.  I went home and actually started writing it.  I think I wrote about two, maybe three chapters before I set it down, and I didn’t pick it back up until a few weeks ago during the week between Christmas and New Year’s that I took off from work.  My 2-3 chapters turned into 10.  I actually had a real-life novella on my hands!

More about my new book in progress to come!  Watch for my next post.