I adore Elizabeth Eulberg, a fellow Wisconsite/Cheesehead, and all of her books. She writes the best kind of fun romantic comedy books that I race through and can share with my middle school students, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every one of them.
I became a fan of Elizabeth's after first reading The Lonely Hearts Club, her debut novel, in 2010, and have continued to wonder what happened to Penny Lane afterwards (as we often do with characters we enjoyed spending time with). So I was thrilled to hear that Elizabeth was writing a sequel to that fabulous book! And to help connect the two, Elizabeth wrote three free novellas to see some of the events with Penny to help you remember the characters and story to prepare for We Can Work It Out.
In honor of the release of We Can Work It Out, I invited Elizabeth to share a guest post here to help celebrate her sixth book going out in the world.
Guest blog: Elizabeth Eulberg
I’d dreamed of writing a sequel to my debut novel even before I finished writing The Lonely Hearts Club. I was ecstatic when I got word in the summer of 2013 that my publisher wanted me to write my sequel.
I cheered! I danced! Even though I knew exactly how the book would open and what would happen in that first chapter, I made myself do all the work to plan out the book before diving in: re-reading first book, doing character arches, outlining, timeline, etc. Then I was finally ready to start writing! My fingers flew as I wrote the opener, excited to be back with Penny Lane Bloom and her friends.
Then a strange thing happened: I completely froze.
Sure, there have been times when I got stuck writing a book, but this was different. I was freaked out. This was the first time I was writing a book where there would be expectations. While I feel that my readers probably expect certain things from my books (humor, music, boys being stupid, you know, the usual), I was writing something where people would have ideas on what should happen to the characters. People picking up this book would already be invested in them.
What if I made people mad? What if I couldn’t live up to expectations?
I stepped away from the book for a bit and got myself together. For years, I knew what I wanted to do, so I didn’t let that affect the story. I know there is at least one point (maybe two) in the sequel where the reader may throw the book across the room at something Penny Lane has done. But I stuck to my guns and did what I knew the character had to experience. There were times when I felt bad for Penny Lane and what I had to do to her, but I also knew that I couldn’t write a 320-page book where everything is awesome! That’s not real life. That’s not what these characters are about. Plus, how boring would that be to read?
I’m not going to lie and make it seem that I was perfectly fine after the one frozen moment. I had my first full-on meltdown on the phone with my editor and almost pushed the book back (to my credit, my editor informed me that it was pretty impressive that I didn’t have a breakdown until my sixth book). There was a week that I would breakdown in tears and curl up into the fetal position for a couple hours. That was the self-imposed pressure that I had put on myself. It wasn’t pretty.
I finally shared this with a few of my author friends who all had the same response: “Sequels are THE worst!” Now they tell me!
Looking back at the tears and stress of writing We Can Work it Out, I can honestly say that it was worth it. I loved getting to revisit these characters that changed my life. I made some decisions that may not be popular with some readers, but I stayed true to the characters. It’s a book that I’m proud of. Plus, I survived it!
Although if someone could tell the stress hives that have conveniently broken out two weeks before the release that everything will be okay…
Thanks for visiting and sharing your authorly insights with us, Elizabeth!
If you'd like to see Elizabeth in person to help celebrate her newest book, check out her events schedule as she just may be coming to your area!
Title: WE CAN WORK IT OUT (sequel to THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB)
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher: Point (a Scholastic imprint)
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Number of Pages: 320
Source of Book: ARC from Publisher at NCTE
When Penny Lane started The Lonely Hearts Club, the goal was simple: to show that girls didn’t need to define themselves by how guys look at them, and didn’t have to value boyfriends over everything else. Penny thought she’d be an outcast for life…but then the club became far more popular than she ever imagined it would be.
But what happens when the girl who never thought she’d date a good guy suddenly finds herself dating a great one? She doesn’t need a boyfriend… but she wants it to work out with this particular boyfriend. And he wants it to work out with her.
Only, things keep getting in the way. Feelings keep getting hurt. Words keep getting misunderstood.
Penny Lane worked hard to declare her independence. Now she needs to figure out what to do with it — and how to balance what she wants with what everyone else wants. In We Can Work It Out, Elizabeth Eulberg returns to the world of her first novel, The Lonely Hearts Club, and gets to the heart of how hard relationships can be… and why they are sometimes worth all the drama and comedy they create.