Blogoversary Day 2: Elizabeth Norris

As I said in my launch post, all authors I asked to contribute to my blogoversary were asked to join because they impacted me greatly. Elizabeth Norris was the first author to ever make me realize that authors and their love of books is equivalent to ours--so much so that they are willing to go above and beyond with their generosity in regards to others. This woman single-handedly donated over 100 books to my charity to help change children's lives, and I have an unlimited amount of respect for her because of it. I'm happy to call her a friend. Thank you so much for stopping by, Elizabeth!

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Elizabeth Norris briefly taught high school English and history before trading the southern California beaches and sunshine for Manhattan's recent snowpocalyptic winter.

She harbors dangerous addictions to guacamole, red velvet cupcakes, sushi, and Argo Tea, fortunately not all together.

Her first novel, UNRAVELING (Balzer+Bray, April 2012), is the story of one girl’s fight to save her family, her world, and the one boy she never saw coming.



~*~Guest Post On Writing a Sequel~*~


One of the questions I’ve gotten most ever since Unbreakable was released is this: 

Which was harder, writing Unraveling or writing Unbreakable?

I don’t even need to hesitate to answer this question. Hands down, Unbreakable was the tougher book to write.

In fact, it was so tough, that during the few months where I was drafting, I referred to it as, “That Stupid Book.” When a friend would invite me to see a movie or hang out or when a colleague would ask what my plans for the weekend were, my response was, “I have to go home and write that stupid book.”


Now, I am prone to exaggeration and melodramatics so it’s possible I didn’t actually feel that terrible about it, but writing a sequel (and a second book) was a very different process for me.

Here’s why:

With Unraveling, I wrote when I felt inspired. The days that I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters, I wrote. I didn’t write in order—I just wrote the scenes that felt like they needed writing.

I also had no pressure. Then writing was a hobby, it was something I did for fun to take my mind off of work. There was no deadline. In fact there was no expectation. Other than the six people in my writing group, I didn’t think anyone was actually going to read it.

With Unbreakable, everything changed. First, it was a sequel. To a book I had envisioned more as a stand alone. I had to come up with a plot from scratch and somehow raise the stakes. I had to stick to a schedule. I had to learn how to force myself to write even if I didn’t feel inspired. I had a deadline looming over me.

And while I was writing, readers were posting early reviews of the first book, and suddenly I had to learn how to handle what people liked and didn’t like about my writing. The glowing reviews were fantastic, but it made writing Unbreakable even harder because I kept worrying about how to “outdo myself and the first book.”

Here’s how I handled it:

1. I outlined. I started with a concept. (to the right).


Then I expanded it into a summary that was about three pages. From there I elaborated until it was over twenty pages, and then I started breaking those plot points into beats—scenes that would turn into chapters. Again I wrote out of order sometimes if I felt more inspired about a later scene in the book.

2. I wrote every day. No matter how tired I was or whether I felt like writing or not, I kept the TV off, I sat down at my kitchen table and I wrote for at least an hour every day. I told myself I need to just get the words out of my head and into a document, that I would be able to throw out and rewrite or revise anything I didn’t like later. I just had to get to the end.

And half the time, 15 or 30 minutes into that hour of writing, I got inspired again. I wasn’t forcing it—in fact, most of those hours turned into two or three hours before I went to bed.

3. I stopped reading reviews. I mean, they’re not really for me anyway. If people tweeted them at me, I told myself I’d read them when Unbreakable was finished. I just wanted to write the best story that I could and stay true to the characters and the plot as I envisioned it. I focused on why I love writing instead of anything else.

Suddenly, the words came more easily. The characters and the worlds and the plot came to life, and I stopped complaining about how hard it was.

Then I finished.

Sure it needed edits and there were things I threw out and rewrote or added and changed, but when I reread Unbreakable for the first time, I realized that this was a book I was proud of, maybe even more proud of than Unraveling. 

And here’s the question people haven’t asked: 
 
Which was more rewarding, the release of Unraveling or the release of Unbreakable?

The truth is, Unbreakable.

I wrote a book that was hard. I spent so much time agonizing over it. I worried a lot about whether it would have higher stakes and not feel like the same story I told in Unraveling. I stressed over whether it would be good enough for fans of my first book. And then I wrote something I didn’t know I had in me, something that I love. 

So when I got the finished copies of Unbreakable and I flipped through it and saw my words staring back at me, I felt giddy and light headed and wonderful all at the same time as the fact that I’m a published author really sank in.  

~*~Giveaway~*~

1. 13 years or older
2. One entry per household
3. Open to US/CA
4. Two winners (1 for each book)
5. Any cheaters will be disqualified from any or all giveaways
6. The winner has 24 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen
7. Giveaway ends at midnight on June 22nd 


Check out Elizabeth's books: Unraveling | Unbreakable 

10 comments:

  1. This post was so awesome! As someone who is writing her first book, all the things that she had to say blew my mind. I'm excited to read her books too, they sound amazing!

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  2. Love hearing about the real struggles authors have. It is inspiring to know they started as the rest of us do, with thoughts/ideas. Thanks!

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  3. My favorite part was definitely hearing about "this stupid book." That is hilarious that she called it that. I can't imagine how frustrating writing a book can be, especially a second book in a series, knowing that many second books in series seem to suffer from the "sophomore slump." It seems hard to strike the right balance of action, information, and suspense during the second book.

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  4. I love how she told us about her struggling to write Unbreakable - how it was so much harder to do than Unraveling!

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  5. I really liked hearing about her writing process. I would definitely have wondered how the writing and pressure compared to both books and which one won out for "most stressful". I loved Unbreakable while I only "liked" Unraveling. All that hard work became a wonderful book! Thanks for the lovely post and giveaway!

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  6. Wow it sounds like so much work

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  7. Thanks for the great post! Wow... I didn't even think that sequels would be harder to write! Definitely an eye opener :)

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  8. I just found her as a new author to me at BEA this year. I am looking forward to this series.
    Tammy @ Bo's Book Nook

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