Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Guest Post with Elizabeth Norris

Book Nerd Guest Post

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. 

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How I Became I Writer by Elizabeth Norris

I wrote my first story when I was three. It was full of rhymed sentences, “Dan drove the van,” misspelled words, and backwards letters. When I finished it, complete with crayon drawn illustrations, I took it everywhere I went: preschool, the grocery store, my grandmother’s house, a local restaurant. And I stopped every person in my path and made them listen to me while I read it.

That construction paper book should have told me what I wanted to do with my life. But instead, like most things, I had to learn it the hard way.

My mom is a preschool teacher. By just one look at her you would know. She wears the bright colored, seasonal sweaters that have large buttons and matching jewelry. Her patience is unfaltering. In contrast, my father wears the pants in the family.

There was never any question about it. He was always in control, and he had a lot of rules.

They included universal concepts: be on time, say please and thank you, hold the door for the person behind you. They covered appropriate behavior: sit up straight, turn the light out when you leave the room, lock the doors, don’t talk to strangers. Many rules were well-founded.

Some were a little neurotic: follow the designated route when walking the dog, park the car between three and five feet from the garage, answer the phone on the third ring, not before or after.

It felt like I broke them all.

Punishment? Grounded.

Which didn’t mean no going out with your friends for a few weeks. It meant no watching television, no talking on the phone, no buying lunch at school, no using the computer (we did still have a typewriter after all), and no dessert after dinner.

At times, it also meant, I lost all of the things in my room (toys, furniture, everything) except my mattress—and I had to earn them back by being good.

I never meant to be a bad kid.

But underneath the thick blanket of control, I was smothered, and I did what many kids did to avoid getting in trouble.

I lied.

It started out innocently enough. At first I lied about brushing my teeth at school. I told my dad I did brush my teeth in the bathroom after lunch when all the other kids were at recess. I lied about cleaning my room, brushing my sister’s hair, taking the dog all the way around the block instead of down the street, and it became so easy.

The moment the lying went south coincided in middle school when I began to lose things. I lost books, house keys, retainers, jewelry, sunglasses, money, even shoes, and I made up stories to excuse the disappearances.

Those stories gave way to stories about who I was with, what I was studying in school, where I was going, why I was late.

Every day when my dad got home, he asked me: “How was school?”

I couldn’t get away with just saying “fine” or “good” so each day I told a story about something that didn’t really happen. Stories ranged from quizzes I didn’t ace, teachers who didn’t praise me, discussions our classes didn’t have to fights that didn’t happen, kids who didn’t get suspended.

I never got caught. I was convincing. I made things up on the spot, and I enjoyed it.

Only, then I did. Get caught.

In tenth grade, I took Accelerated Typing, which proved to be a fatal mistake for my career in lying. The class was supposed to be an easy elective where I could receive my “A” without being bogged down with homework. It wasn’t.

We punched keys on typewriters with manila folders covering the keyboard and our hands. Each of the four assignments which needed to be completed at the end of class was graded out of three points. We lost one point for every error. Anything incomplete was a zero.

It was apparent from the beginning, typing without spellcheck or the backspace button was not my forte.

When first quarter ended and report cards were passed out in homeroom, I realized with horror I had not earned an “A” in typing. I could only imagine that if I wasn’t permitted to eat dinner after tracking mud into the house, a grade less than an “A” was punishable by death, especially since I had glorified my typing abilities whenever asked how the class was going.

So I made up a story.

When asked for the report card, I claimed an accident on the highway caused the buses to be late. Since so many students missed homeroom, teachers didn’t pass out the report cards. It bought twenty-four hours to decide how I could keep myself from death.

Purely by accident, I discovered the ink on our report cards was actually erasable. Some overworked assistant typed all of the grades onto the report cards before they went out.

I had a typewriter, which meant, if I was smart, I could erase my grade and then replace it with an “A.” My parents would never know.

It worked beautifully. The only flaw in my creative genius was exposed when my next report card came out, and I realized with disgust it contained not only the new grades, but also the grades from quarter one.

I had to go through it all over again.

This worked for almost the whole year—for three report cards I changed my grade and got away with it. Then with the last one, I erased too hard, too fast, my hand slipped, and the powerful eraser which had previously worked miracles tore through the fragile paper.

And despite my storytelling abilities, I couldn’t think of a single convincing story to explain how it happened.

The lies unraveled, and my life wilted around me.

The grounding was particularly bad—designed to teach me lying was wrong. (Which really, I already knew.) It took me until the spring of my junior year to earn everything back, and consequently I spent most of eleventh grade at school, at swim practice, or in my room on my mattress and surrounded by four white walls.

I passed the time staring up into the ceiling and thinking of all the places I’d rather be, the things I’d rather be doing, the people I’d rather be.

I became anyone and everyone else. I was a superhero, a rockstar, an actress, a teacher, a stock broker, a doctor, a lawyer, a vet. I was a scientist who traveled back in time, a medieval warrior masquerading as a man in order to be a knight, an eleven princess separated from her parents at birth and forced to battle against evil.

When my computer ultimately came back into my possession, I began to write it all down, and I never stopped. I wrote down every thought, emotion, hope, and dream I could imagine. At some point, the stories became less about me and more about themselves—the characters, the adventure, the romance.

Despite how I got here, I learned a certain honesty comes with the physical process of writing; sometimes the words strung together are more honest than the conscious mind.

The honest truth is beneath all of the stories and fantastic adventures that I’ve written—including Unraveling and Unbreakable—there’s been something that speaks to who I am and who I was as a child. There was a character who must do something right against the odds stacked against her. To succeed, she quite possibly needs to do something extraordinary.

Four months after Ben disappeared through the portal to his home universe, Janelle believes she’ll never see him again. Her world is still devastated, but life is finally starting to resume some kind of normalcy. Until Interverse Agent Taylor Barclay shows up. Somebody from an alternate universe is running a human trafficking ring, kidnapping people and selling them on different Earths—and Ben is the prime suspect. Now his family has been imprisoned and will be executed if Ben doesn’t turn himself over within five days.

And when Janelle learns that someone she cares about—someone from her own world—has become one of the missing, she knows that she has to help Barclay, regardless of the danger. Now Janelle has five days to track down the real culprit. Five days to locate the missing people before they’re lost forever. Five days to reunite with the boy who stole her heart. But as the clues begin to add up, Janelle realizes that she’s in way over her head—and that she may not have known Ben as well as she thought. Can she uncover the truth before everyone she cares about is killed?

After Ben had disappeared through the portal back into his home universe, Janelle was sure that she would never see him again. Four months have passed and her life seems to be getting back on track. But it all seems to just fall back into frenzy when Taylor Barclay, an Interverse Agent, appears. He is in charge of investigating a human trafficking ring between different Earths. Janelle learns that Ben is the prime suspect and that his family will be executed if he doesn’t turn himself in within five days. To make matters worse, a person that Janelle deeply cares about is one of the kidnapped people. Now she must side with Taylor. Five days seems to be a short period of time to make things right. Will Janelle locate the missing people? Will she reveal the real perpetrator? And will she ever reunite with the one boy who literally stole her heart and ran away? As she frantically goes on a five day expedition, she learns more about Ben that makes her question things about him. Elizabeth Norris’ second book in the Unraveling series, Unbreakable, follows Janelle as she tries to uncover the truth as it becomes just as important as saving everyone she has ever cared about.

As Janelle’s world is turned upside down as a result of the aftermath of ‘Unraveling’, author Elizabeth presents readers with a clear visionary of how much impact it has caused. Janelle has lost everything and is trying with all her might to bring her life back to some kind of normalcy. Now working for the FBI, it didn’t bring much hope as she realizes that people disappearing happen all the time and there is no real lead to their whereabouts.

The human trafficking between different Earths is a nice twist in the story. It is refreshing and completely new and it’s something that readers are always in search of. There is plenty of action and a storyline that will grip you from beginning to end. Elizabeth’s writing etiquette provides a good pace to the book’s always developing storyline. The countdown that was a big part in the first book is now more nerve-racking as Janelle’s countdown is at five days. Elizabeth stacked on all the things that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

With so much action coming at you at every angle, readers will appreciate how Elizabeth manages to effortlessly blend romance within. Unbreakable is filled with all the things expected from a great story. It has strong characters that are simply unforgettable. The plot is very engaging and highly compelling. Elizabeth’s debut series proved to be amongst the favorites of readers and I certainly cannot wait to see where her imagination takes us next.

You can purchase Unbreakable at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Elizabeth for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive an ARC Copy of Unbreakable by Elizabeth Norris.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Nice post! Can't wait when it's released :)

  2. OMG! This post is awesome! I never thought something like that might happen!
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Thanks for the giveaway. I just bought the first book to read this summer. Cannot wait!

  4. Thank you for he giveaway~ I love THe unraveling and i can't wait for the second book!

  5. Thank you Ms. Norris for your donation!

  6. Thanks for the giveaway!

  7. Thank you for sharing, I look forward to reading this, thank you for the opportunity to win :)

  8. Thanks for another Amazing Giveaway!!