Tanya Introduces Anya…and no, it isn’t a typo. WIN A BOOK!

First of all, I must thank my filly sisters for letting me switch my Stetson for a Puritan cap today. And to introduce my other self, Anya Novikov.

My first-ever Young Adult romance
My first-ever Young Adult romance

You see, my years teaching American Lit obsessed me with the Salem Witch Trials, an obsession that morphed into a Young Adult novel. The Circle Girls: Once Upon a Witch releases tomorrow under my new pen name. I’m not only giving away a print copy at Wildflower Junction today, but you are also invited to the Launch Party at Facebook  today with more goodies and copies to be won. (I’ll be posting there on and off.)

Not only is The Circle Girls my YA debut, it’s also debuting an entirely new Young Adult line of inspirational romance: Watershed Books. Anya is excited and terrified both.

So what about the book?


While Anya has used real people and events from 1692, the story really explains how we all “witch hunt” today. It’s set in a prep school in 1992…my editor’s suggestion not only to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the terror, but also to keep me grounded from today’s constantly-changing technology. (These fictional kids have the first cell-phones, but that’s about it.)

In a kind of dream-scape scenario, a modern-day girl Delli Willis finds herself back in time during the Witch Trials every time she falls asleep.

(the above photo courtesy of my friend Bryan Nowak.)

She’s a fifteen-year old Puritan girl named Deliverance Wyllys. Both girls meet intriguing young men in dark woodsy places. Other parallels emerge. Both see firsthand in their own times how finger-pointing, bullying, peer-pressure, scapegoating and lack of personal responsibility get people in trouble.

And got innocent people killed. During a nine-month period in 1692, twenty blameless people were executed as witches in Massachusetts Bay colony. Nineteen were hanged and one man, Giles Corey, was crushed to death over many hours. He refused to confess to keep his heirs from having to forfeit his property.

Hundreds, including a four-year old girl, were imprisoned. Cotton Mather, a respected churchman, added loops to the ropes by claiming that “spectral evidence” (e.g. visions or “shapes” of the accused) could be used against people even when they were nowhere nearby.


And it all boiled down to misunderstandings of nature and vexations between friends and neighbors.

Belief in witchcraft was rampant during this time. Why? People had little scientific knowledge. A farmer had to find a reason when his herd of cows perished from a mysterious illness. Today we know about contagious germs and viruses. But back then, he’d remember a fight he had with a neighbor, or the dirty look somebody tossed him, and…wow. That person had somehow cast a spell on that herd. And so on and on it goes.

Especially when Puritan parents who’d raised their children properly couldn’t believe they’d act up or cause problems. Yet a group of bored girls started it all…

Despite the tragic loss of innocent people, Salem today kind of regales its witchy past. Police cars wear witch logos, the high school mascot is “The Witches”, and sporting events are played on the historical site of the hangings. There are lots of Wiccan and New Age boutiques and much Halloween kitsch especially in October. Yet the Salem Witch Museum of narrated tableaus presents extremely accurate portrayals of what actually happened.

Hawthorne House


One of my favorite authors Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem. His ancestor Judge Hathorne presided over many of the trials, such an inherited horror that Nathaniel  added a “w” to the family surname. (It was probably always pronounced HaWthorne, though.)

One reviewer has said The Circle Girls: Once Upon a Witch is a book both young people AND their parents should read. The Wordsmith Journal gave it a 4 1/2 rating out of 5.  So maybe you’ll give it a chance!

Don’t forget to leave a comment to get in Anya”s name-draw for a signed copy. (U.S. residents only, thank you. E-copy for international.)  Tell me about a time somebody did a random act of kindness for you!


An ordinary California teenager, Delli Willis finds herself in some kind of dreamscape whenever she drifts off to sleep. 1692, in the hotbed of the Salem Witch Trials. There, she’s Deliverance Wyllys, struggling against accusations and suspicion as well as the appearance of a mysterious dark-haired young man with strange tales of his own. 

Back in her own world, parallels with the past abound. She meets a real-life mysterious neighbor, handsome Gabriel. Is he her present? Her future? 

Or her past? 

She’s eager to share him with her circle of friends but fingers point, jealousies surge. Lies cast, sides taken. A modern-day witch hunt collides with 1692 in ways Delli never dreamed. Standing up to bullies tightens Delli’s faith in God, Who pulls her through some trials of her own.


Anya”s site:








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26 thoughts on “Tanya Introduces Anya…and no, it isn’t a typo. WIN A BOOK!”

  1. Tanya,

    I love the cover and I love the idea. How my gosh how did you come up with it….

    you are amazing. Hope to win


  2. Tanya, I always learn something new when I pop over here. You’re a goldmine of historical info!

    Anya, congrats on THE CIRCLE GIRLS: ONCE UPON A WITCH being the FIRST book that launches with Watershed. What an exciting day for you, my friend! I’m so happy for you!! Congrats!

  3. Beautiful cover! The book sounds very interesting. Thank you for the opportunity to be a winner!

  4. I read a really detailed book about the Salem Witch Trials once, fascinating. I guess the thing that always strikes me about tragedies like this in history is how futile it is to go back and just not be able to change a thing. Learn from it I suppose, but not stop it, not save anyone.

    By writing books we can in a way rewrite history, save people, save the day!!!!!!!!!

  5. Dear Melinda, soooo good to see you here today! My nerves ease a bit with everybody’s kind words. I knew somehow there was a “romance” mixed in with the horror, so things just kind of hovered for a while in my head. The inception took years, believe me. Should it be a paranormal big-people book etc? But the idea of Young Adult absolutely hit me one day in class, when I saw how rapt my students were with the Salem unit in American lit class. And I think the Lord helped a bit, too LOL.

    I so appreciate your comment today!

  6. Hi Dora, my fellow PelicanBookGroup author (Watershed is their brand new YA imprint)…you are always my rock of Gibraltar in your love and support. Trust me, there were days, grrrrr…then you’d take my cyber-hand and keep me strong. You’re the best. I’m excited, too, although I’ve got nerves roiling. My love and respect for you is boundless! xoxoxox

  7. Hi Melanie, oh, the cover is divine! Nicola Martinez, editor-in-chief and owner of Pelican Book Group, is also an incredible artist. She’s designed all my book covers them and it’s like she sees inside my mind. Getting goose-bumpy now LOL. So glad you stopped by today with your good wishes!

  8. Hi Britney, I’m so thrilled to see you here today. The support I/Anya have/has been getting from everybody really warms my heart.

    There will be a study guide for the book at some point, for private school classrooms and home-schoolers. Thanks for being here today.

  9. Hi Mary, I dunno…Amazon just sent me an email that it’ll be delayed at their end. I know there are soft cover editions available at the Pelican Book Group website, and e-versions will be available there tomorrow, I think. It’s all I can do to keep my brain from exploding. If you wanna do a review for me, I can send you an e-ARC.

    But yeah, looking back 300 years, WHAT were those people thinking? Dang. xoxox

  10. Tanya, this looks like a wonderful story! What a great YA debut idea. Well you know I HAVE to read this one. I really enjoy YA books. I like the idea of taking on problems in today’s society and showing how they’ve always been there. People are people–no matter the times they live in.

  11. Hi Cheryl, you’re so right. People,esp kids, don’t get it…of course today we don’t “hang” people who are different, who offend us, who stand out, but we “execute” them just the same with harsh words, gossip, FB rants…I hope you like the book. I think it will always be one of my favorites. Thanks for posting today and for your support and friendship. xoxo

  12. Congrats! Sounds really interesting. I hope she had her little bag of modern things with her when she went back even if it’s in her sleep! Looking forward to reading this.

  13. LOL Nancy…thanks for the kind words. Delli’s pretty confused about everything…and I confess I like ambiguity thanks to Nathaniel Hawthorne. So glad you popped over today.

  14. Hi Tanya – Wow, I’m so proud of you. I know you’ve been talking about this book for a long time and now it’s finally here. Let us know where we can purchase it. Link? Good luck! So much happening at the end of this year, I can hardly believe it!


  15. Tanya, congratulations on your new release. What an interesting, sad topic. Fear of the unknown and different has been the cause of many human tragedies. I’m so proud of you for tackling this tough subject, and in what should be a really interesting story. YAY, you!

  16. Hi Renee, another long time friend and supporter, it was a fun story to write. The teen years are so rife with concerns about being different or getting bullied. I hope everybody likes it, big people can read it, too. xo

  17. Oh Wow, Tanya! This is exciting. But I’m sure it scary as well. It’s new territory for you. I’m so impressed that you kept reaching for your dream even when it terrified you. The Salem witch trials were horrible and put a black mark on this young nation. People can be so horribly cruel, especially when they used witchcraft to explain reasons for things.

    Wishing you tons of success!

  18. Hi Linda, thanks for coming by today. I so appreciate you and your kind words and good wishes. There are so many lessons to be earned from the Witch Trials. Actually, they weren’t the first and only with trials in the colonies, but the most and the worst. Yikes. xoxo

  19. Congratulations on the book, Tanya! There are so many parallels in todays world of rumor-spreading, texting, and cyber-bullying. This story will touch so many young people. I’m predicting a great future for “Anya.”

  20. Howdy Elizabeth, well my fingers are crossed LOL. The pub has a study guide planned so maybe the lesson will take fire. Thanks sooo much for your encouragement today! xoxo

  21. Tanya/Anya, Congratulations on your new direction. THE CIRCLE GIRLS: ONCE UPON A WITCH. Sounds like it will be a good read. An interesting premise and probably not too far from some of what was going on in Salem.
    Thank you for the interesting information about Salem’s history. I had no idea of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s connection to Salem.

    Best wishes for the success of the new direction your writing is taking.

  22. Sad event in our history, Tanya, but what a wonderful storyline for a book! Would love to read it!

    Hate to see the town of Salem profiting off such an awful event, but know it happens – in other places, also – all the time!

    Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of the book!


  23. I’ve always been interested in the Salem Witch trials. This books sounds quite intriguing. Please add my name to the drawing. Thanks!

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