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Interview with Lori Z Scott

    About your book:

This book deals with a tough topic. What drew you in that direction?
When I submitted an outline for Offsides, my publisher said my idea was too similar to another book they had slated for publication. They asked me to develop a new plot. I took my problem to my critique group, and one of the girls who works with her church to assist people who have experienced human trafficking suggested I weave the issue into the story.
I said no.
Like, immediately.
No, I don't know enough about human trafficking.
No, it's too horrifying to research.
No, what young adult wants to read about such a scary issue?
No! I write humor.
My stomach churned just thinking about it.
But God kept pressing and pressing and pressing me on this idea. And you know how God works. He changed every no into a yes.
Yes, I don't know enough, but I could learn.
Yes, the research was horrifying, but I also found hope, especially within Christian organizations who help victims recover.
Yes, young adults need to read about human trafficking to make themselves aware of the danger and to take steps to protect themselves.
And yes, it can be done with a touch of humor and in an age-appropriate way.
So, I wrote the book. On a difficult topic, true. But valuable because of that. Offsides ended up being like a Christian version of A Good Girl's Guide to Murder set on the soccer field.

What surprised you when doing research for this book?

I was surprised at how many people are directly or indirectly affected by human trafficking—and I was especially horrified to learn that this form of modern slavery exists within a few miles from the DFW area where I live. One news report in particular shook me up. It was about a teen taken from a Dallas Maverick’s game. She was found a week later being trafficked in Oklahoma. Not only that, but recently, a trafficking ring was exposed in Frisco, which is basically in my backyard. So, it’s happening in my state. And it’s happening across the nation. Did you know that over 27.6 million people worldwide experience human trafficking? This includes children, teens, and adults, both men and women from all nationalities. I find that fact mind blowing.

What message do you hope readers take away from this book?

I have three messages. First, I want to raise awareness about the people around us who may be struggling or feeling isolated and awareness about of the dangers posed by trafficking predators.
Second, I want the readers to come away with a feeling of hope. They are not alone in their feelings of awkwardness or anxiety, but together we can support and encourage each other.
Finally, I want readers to understand the power of prayer.

    About you and your writing:

What led you to choose the genre in which you write?

That’s an interesting question since my early writing success came from publishing a series of early chapter books. Now, I write YA books. How did I migrate from one genre to another? I believe that stemmed from a split in my writing journey. In the early years, I wrote for the younger age because my own children were younger. Then, family issues took me away from writing for about 7 years. When I returned to writing in 2018, I visited a local bookstore to see what was popular and to look for gaps in the market. Since my children were older and because I frequently read YA books, I gravitated toward the genre. In that comfort zone, I considered topics I’m passionate about since people always say to write what you know. I checked for sports books and found a couple of shelves dedicated to this niche, but few of those stories starred female athletes as the main protagonist. An idea sprouted that I believed would appeal to high school students, and I got to work. So, I guess you could say the stage of my life and my own personal interests led me to choose the YA genre. Inside the Ten-Foot Line was my first YA novel, and it was a Carol Award semi-finalist in the YA category. Offsides is the second book in the series, but it can be read independently from the first one.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?

Let me sum up my answer by pinpointing a few key elements, because I can’t pick out one most significant factor.
• God is full of surprises. He has nudged and pushed and paved the way for me to write numerous times. I still debate with God when He prods me, but He always seems to win those arguments.
• My daughter’s faith in me is relentless. (I mean that in a good way.) She persuaded me to write my chapter book series. And when I stopped writing, she kept buying me notebooks and pens and urging me to get back on the horse, so to speak. There are now thirteen books and fifteen book contributions in the world thanks to her encouragement.
• My parents read my work, offer feedback, and promote everything I do. They insisted on sending me to a recent writing conference when the cost was too high for me to afford. While there, I met my agent, my future publisher, and made a good friend. Those three individuals, in turn, have opened doors for many of my current writing projects (and I am forever grateful.)
What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?

My biggest challenge is time management. Because my “other responsibilities” include working a full-time teaching job and managing an afterschool daycare program, I have limited hours available to do writing and marketing. One way I achieve balance is by remaining task oriented. I devote one evening a week to my critique group, spend 4-6 hours writing my book on the weekend, and squeeze in articles, blog posts, and the occasional magazine assignment when a deadline approaches. For marketing, I create a week’s worth of social media posts on Friday night since I’m too brain dead at that point to focus on anything else.

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?

I can’t separate my spiritual life from anything I do, so of course my faith bleeds out in ink. I believe that’s why my stories often carry a strong element of hope in them.

I interpret the relationship between my faith and writing from the perspective of John 6:1-14. If you recall, the disciples wanted Jesus to feed a large crowd. In obedience to the call, a young boy gave up his lunch—five loaves of bread and two fish. The Lord took the meager offering, blessed it, and then blessed others with it. Like the boy, I often feel I have little to offer, but I still bring my skills and lay them at Christ’s feet. Somehow, He makes a feast out of my crumbs.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
I’m spurred to write because I enjoy the challenge. Plus, I love how time doesn’t move the same way when you write. I’ll sit down for what feels like seconds, only to realize a few hours have passed. And during that time, I’ve gone through a whole continuum of emotions, conversations, and ponderings. Writing is the closest thing to real magic I’ve ever experienced.
As for the story ideas, sometimes a news reports will spark an idea. Sometimes life experiences inspire a story. Sometimes I simply ask a bunch of “what if” questions and go from there. I always pray that God will guide my words. And then I trust that He will and just… write.

What is your writing routine? Any quirky habits or must-have snacks?

Since I make a prioritized to-do list of writing goals each week, I usually start my routine by reviewing what I need to address. If I set aside time to work on a book, I access a simple outline I’ve created that’s comprised of short descriptive paragraphs for every chapter through the end. Although writers are often discouraged from editing while they draft a story, I warm up my brain by reviewing and editing the previous chapter before flowing into the creation of the next chapter. This revise-as-you-go method works for me.
When I write, I zone out everything else. Reality ceases to exist. I don’t need music or snacks or coffee to get me going or sustain me. The only quirky habit I entertain is an occasional lip-syncing session when I need a break.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you as an author?

Okay, the funniest thing that happened was with my chapter book series in the early 2000s. I was signing books at a conference booth, and someone points at a sign on my table and says, “Wow. You’re a bestselling author!”
Sure enough, there’s an innocent little poster sitting there with the label “Bestselling Author.”
I said, “No way. That’s gotta be wrong.”
Assuming someone was playing a prank on me, I approached our book manager, Bob Wallace, and explained that he must have mixed up the signs.
He gives me this sidelong look and an amused grin and says, “No mistake. That’s yours.”
I was beyond shocked. My brain quickly figured out the only possible way this could have happened, and I blurted, “Do you mean to tell me that my mom purchased 50,000 books?”
Bob got a good laugh out of that.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?

I write humor. That isn’t necessarily unique, but it is a recognizable feature. (One book reviewer named it my “signature blend of great humor…” I mean… hey, I speak fluent pun, and I can’t keep it out. Even in Offsides, a serious book with a heavy topic, humor still snuck into the story.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?

I am a chronic doodler. Sermon notes. The backs of envelopes. Napkins. Anywhere. In fact, when I was in second grade, I got in trouble for coloring the entire surface of my desk. I’m not an artist, but drawing relaxes me. And for some reason, those playful little sketches delight my heart. If you look at my Instagram account, you’ll see all kinds of cartoony characters I’ve created. Sometimes I give digital drawings away, and I am always shocked when people are excited by this prize.

Is there anything about you, not in your bio, that would surprise people?
Sure! I’ll share four things.
First, I can write and draw forwards and backwards and upside down with both hands at the same time. I’ll often use this trick when I’m selling books because it draws (pun intended) people to the booth.
Second, if I’m doing a sound check at a speaking event, I usually recite the poem Jabberwocky.
Third, I love both Star Wars AND Star Trek. Don’t judge me.
And finally, I wood not survive whithowt schpell chuck. (And dictation hates me.)

What’s coming up next for you?

Right now, I’m drafting Fielder’s Choice, a YA novel with a softball player as the protagonist, and I have outlines for two more YA books featuring cheerleading and tennis. Besides hopefully giving me a green light for another installment in my sports series, End Game Press has my picture book This Book Is Not About Monsters slated for publication in 2024. And I’m shopping around a few other picture books that I really enjoy—ones that I, as a teacher, would love to stock on my bookshelf. Because everyone’s dream is to publish a picture book, right? But that’s a tough market, so, we’ll see.

Thank you for your time. Please feel free to share anything else important to you that may not have been covered with these questions.

Thank you so much for allowing me to share with you. I guess something I can share is where readers can find out more about me and my books. I put the information below!
Order the book on Amazon
or at End Game Press or other book outlets.

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