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Realizing her dream

Teen author sees first novel published

July 10, 2014

BLAIRSBURG - Acing a history test was the catalyst that prompted Northeast Hamilton

sophomore Courtney Elsberry to become a published author with her first book, "The Other Side."

Last fall, Elsberry, then 15, passed a comprehensive exam in Adam Vorrie's Social Studies class. As the other students continued work on the material, Vorrie asked Elsberry if there was anything she would like to do while the rest of the class focused on their studies.

Article Photos

Courtney Elsberry with her novel, 'The Other Side'

"Write," was her only answer.

"Mr. Vorrie allowed me the chance to use some of his class time to learn about something else because I was doing very well in his class," explained Courtney. "Being the person I am, the only other thing I wanted to learn about was writing."

So Vorrie partnered with NEH Language Arts teacher Sherry Leksell to help Courtney attain her goal.

Leksell in turn contacted local author Jane Curtis, who visited Courtney in her classroom for over two hours.

Leksell also steered Courtney to an internet writing project.

"I told her about an online program called NaNoWriMo - where they challenge writers to complete a novel in the month of November," said Leksell.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month which is held each November. The internet-based creative writing project was first held in 1999 and had 21 participants. It challenges writers to complete 50,000 words of a new novel between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30. Within a decade, the project included 200,000 participants.

The project is powered by Amazon webservices.

Some notable books produced during NaNoWriMo were "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen, "The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern and "Fangirl" by Omaha World Herald columnist Rainbow Rowell.

"The Other Side" is a modern day tale about Victoria Day, a young woman with very special powers. From the day she was born, Victoria has had an ethereal connection with Justin Miller, a dead teenage boy.

"The entire book follows Vickie as she faces a lot of problems in her teenage life," explained Courtney of the 166 page tome.

The inspiration for the book was actually sparked by a video game, said Courtney.

"The game, 'Beyond Two Souls', revolves around a girl who was born with a tie to a ghost," explained Courtney. "Once I heard about the game, I decided it'd be fun to try and write a book about the same kind of thing."

At the completion of last year's NaNoWriMo project, several authors were awarded prizes for reaching the project's goal, said Courtney.

"In December, NaNoWriMo gave out 'winner goodies' to all of the people that had made it past the 50,000 word goal for their book," explained Courtney. "One of those prizes was to get two free copies of your book through CreateSpace, a self publishing website."

One of the primary goals of NaNoWriMo is for authors to develop a first draft which they can then edit at their own pace.

"So, I set out on editing my book so that I could get it published through there so that I could have two copies of my book," said Courtney.

NaNoWriMo helps authors with the legal work connected with publishing a book such as obtaining copyrights, said Courtney. She was required to sign a contract agreeing to a division of royalties.

Courtney, who turned 16 in June, has completed the editing process and she expects to receive copies of her book in early July.

In August, an author meet and greet is scheduled at Kendall Young Library.

"I am so delighted that a student has this kind of initiative," said Leksell. "Courtney was completely self-motivated from the start. She's 16, and I believe this is the start of many great things."

After completing the book, Courtney admits she was ecstatic.

"Until that book, I had only finished writing one book beforehand," she said. "But, I was extremely proud of this one and how fast it had turned out. I couldn't believe that I had managed to write a book that I actually thought people might want to read."

The experience motivated and inspired Courtney, who immediately threw herself into writing another book within only a few weeks of completing "The Other Side." She is also editing two of her books from a zombie apocalypse series and in July, she is committed to writing a murder/crime book for NaNoWriMo camp.

"After that, I have six more ghost/medium books planned out, all of them belonging to a single series," explained Courtney.

Being an author is a dream come true for the young woman.

"Once I was old enough to actually think about a lifestyle, I wanted to be an author," explained Courtney. "At first, when I was roughly five or six, I started writing short little books about talking animals and whatnot. So, I'd say I've always liked writing."

Courtney admits that she was so focused on completing the book that she forgot to include a dedication. In hindsight, she has one person in particular she would dedicate it to.

"If I were to go back and add one, it would be dedicated to Mrs. Leksell for everything she did for me during that time," said Courtney.



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