City native pens first novelPublished 6:00am Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Russellville native Amy Norris hadn’t ever written anything longer than a research paper for school when she took on the National Novel Writing Month challenge in November of 2010.
She decided to take on the challenge after helming the Caring Bridge website the family established when her father, Benjie Norris, was diagnosed with brain cancer in October of 2008.
“Several times people would leave messages, emails or tell me in person they enjoyed my writing style, and those compliments stayed with me,” Norris said. “When my dad died in January of 2010, I started thinking more about writing and that’s when I decided to take on the task of the NaNoWriMo.”
The goal of the NaNoWriMo is to get 50,000 written by November 30, but what started out as a writing challenge just for fun turned into a published novel for Norris.
“I had never taken on the challenge of actually writing something that long,” Norris said. “Most of my writings were journal entries or short reads, but amazingly enough, I had 50,000 words in three weeks.”
The fictional story that Norris ended up writing is an inspirational romance that follows the life of small-town girl Paxson Taylor, who was recently relocated to the big city of St. Louis where she meets a big-time professional baseball player named Sebastian Quinn. The story chronicles the journey the pair embarks on and how Paxson wants to remain true to her faith throughout her relationship with Sebastian.
“The idea for the book came from two things: my faith and my love of sports,” Norris said. “Most girls aren’t big sports fans, but most of the women in my family are, so I decided to combine both of those aspects of my life. They always say to ‘write what you know’ so that’s what I did.”
Norris said writing the novel was an enjoyable experience, but she did have a message she wanted to get across, especially since the book is now published and available for people from all over the world to read.
“One of the most important messages I wanted to get across with the main female character of Pax is that young women don’t have to compromise themselves or their beliefs to be in a relationship,” Norris said. “Too many stories these days express the idea of just sleeping around until you meet the right person, but life doesn’t have to be that way. In living your life the right way, you can attract the right man or even cause someone to change for the better.”
Once Norris realized she had a story that might be worth marketing, she began to research the right way to go about having the novel published.
“I knew about the new e-publisher called Astraea Press and that their owner, Stephanie Taylor, had decided to create a publishing house that specialized in sweet romances,” Norris said. “She wouldn’t allow racy storylines but wanted to encourage more wholesome reads. I knew I could support that type of company and I was thrilled when they accepted my query for publication.”
After going through the publishing process, Norris’ novel, “Just a Little Faith” was published in e-book form on April 30 and on June 2 it also went into print form.
Having roots that run deep in Franklin County (her grandfather, Billy Norris, was the longtime owner of Norris Book Company, Norris Printing Company and King Frosty), Norris knew she wanted to share her book with the people she grew up with and in a place that she will always consider home, so she started working with Stefanie Wood at The Blossom Shop in Russellville on a book signing.
“Russellville will always have a special place in my heart since I graduated from Russellville High, as did my dad, my uncles and aunt, and their father before them,” Norris said. “And the current residents have been very supportive of me since I announced I was going to be published. They have asked where they can buy my book, offered to sell it in their places of business and overall have been some of my greatest cheerleaders.
“When Stefanie Wood told me she had recently purchased The Blossom Shop and would love to have some books to sell, I was so touched by her generosity. She was the first to ask me to do a book signing and Cassie Medley at the Chamber said she would help anyway she could as well.
“So many seem to think there is nothing positive about being from a small town but I have to heartily disagree. There are people in Russellville who have been like family to me my whole life and I wouldn’t trade that for all the book sales in the world.”
Norris will be at The Blossom Shop on Cotaco Street in downtown Russellville on Friday at 2 p.m. and on Saturday at 10 a.m. signing copies of “Just a Little Faith.” Copies of the book are available for purchase at The Blossom Shop and the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce for $10 or from Amazon.com. It can also be ordered in electronic format from BN.com, Amazon.com, iBooks and from the publisher at AstraeaPress.com.