2022 Teen Writers' Rally

Interview with Jenna Terese // Teen Writers’ Rally day nine

Wow, I can’t believe NaNoWriMo starts today!! If you’re joining in for the 30-day-long time of pure writing madness, then I wish you all the best and hope today has been a fantastic start for you!!!! Do I have a treat for y’all today!!! One of the most anticipated interviews so far of this rally (at least, the one everyone keeps saying how excited they are for!)! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Hi! Welcome to the 2022 Teen Writers’ Rally! If you’re visiting for the first time or a returning reader, on behalf of TWN, I want to thank you for joining us. We’re kicking-off National Novel Writing Month with back-to-back posts featuring amazing authors, bloggers, and more! Tune in every day until November 5th for new posts full of writing tips, advice, and encouragement. Posts are live at 6:00 EST, and if you’re not already, subscribe to Teen Writers’ Nook via email to receive a notification when the next post for the rally is up. (Form can be found to the right if on a computer or at the bottom of the page if on a mobile device.) And as always stay until the end of the post for information about the giveaway running through the entire event!

I am super stoked to be sharing our next author interview with Jenna Terese!!! If you don’t know her, Jenna is the author of Ignite, an exciting science fiction novel that explores the idea of what if superheroes were illegal. (Okay, as a random side note, am I the only one who can’t help but sing the chorus to Skillet’s song “Ignite” everytime I hear the title of Jenna’s book???? *everyone looks at me like I’m crazy* I am the only one? Oh, well. But it’s true, y’all. ANYTIME someone says the name of Jenna’s book, I immediately belt out GeT bAcK wHeN i IgNiTe!

Anyway, I am stealing too much of Jenna’s spotlight so I’m gonna wrap up this intro saying that I am SOO excited to share with you the awesome advice and encouragement she has for you today!!!

#1. To begin, can you tell us a bit about yourself, your books, and where we can find/follow you online?

Of course! My name is Jenna and I’ve been a writer for most of my life. I write sci-fi for young adults. I’m also a booknerd, Marvel geek, love chocolate, sunsets, my plants, and jiu jitsu. You can find all the ways to follow/connect with me through this link: https://linktr.ee/jenna.terese

#2. Have you faced any doubts/rejections/discouragement about your writing? And if so, how did you persevere

Absolutely. All of those things go hand-in-hand with being a writer. It’s important to know that you can allow yourself to feel those feelings after a rejection letter from an agent or discouragement during a season of writer’s block. But I also try to keep in touch with my WHY. Why do I write? Why do I want to tell this particular story I’m working on? I try to remember that just like every writer, I was given this gift for storytelling for a reason. And even if the journey is bumpy at times, I’m still moving forward with gratitude for being a writer.

I love that you say that it’s okay to feel those feelings because I think sometimes we want to handle rejection so perfectly that we think it means we must never feel upset that something didn’t work out, which, readers, is absolutely not true! It’s your writing that you’ve worked so hard on, that it’s okay to be upset for a moment. But I LOVE the idea to remember your why!!! This is such a great thing to keep in mine anytime you’re struggling, whether that’s through a hard writing night or a heart-crushing rejection!

#3. I find that most young authors struggle with finishing a novel, especially the first draft. What do you do to help stay focused on one project until the end?

Set goals for yourself. Monthly, weekly, and daily goals. Get in your “reps” if you are serious about finishing that draft. But give yourself grace if you don’t always meet those goals. Find those times in your schedule to get some words in. And remember that slow progress is still progress. When you’re discouraged just remember that you are writing a book! That’s really awesome. You’re actually getting words on the page, and that’s a step a lot of people don’t take.

#4. What are your favorite go-to places to find inspiration (i.e. movies, books, Pinterest, etc.)?

Almost everything! Other books, music, art in general, places I travel to, movies. Even people I see walking down the street. There’s so much fullness to life to draw inspiration from. But yes, Pinterest is also a big one. 😉

#5. How would you describe your writing process for first drafts?

The very beginning of working on a story idea looks very messy. And that’s intentional. I like to be completely free with my small story ideas. I daydream about them, make Pinterest boards, and brain dump anything and everything that comes to mind about them in a notebook. Once I feel like I have enough information, that’s when I got to work organizing it. I always start with the characters, figuring out who they are, their internal conflict and goals/roles in the story. I usually get more ideas about the plot during this stage. I like to use a 3-Act Story Structure template for my plot and outline each scene before I start writing the first draft. Then from there I just use my scene outlines as a guide as I have fun seeing the characters in my head play out on paper.

That is an awesome process! Characters and plots are always the first two things I love to play around with and figure out!

#6. What’s the best part about being a writer and/or published author?

I just love being a part of writing stories. I love how a good story can draw you in and make you forget about your own world. It feels like magic. And I love being able to create that with my own stories. The best part of being a published author is seeing readers enjoy my stories. So much work goes into a book, and it’s awesome to see that pay off. Each comment, message, email and review from readers is so special to me. It helps keep me going. 🙂

#7. What’s the first thing you do when you get a story idea before you begin writing it?

Make a Pinterest board! 😀 I’m a very visual person so I love having fun with making aesthetic boards for characters and getting the general vibe of them and the story.

Hahaha, I love how many times Pinterest boards have come up in this interview. XD

#8. Who or what would you say has helped grow your writing most?

Realizing that my love of story is a gift from God that He’s given me for a reason and a purpose. My calling as a storyteller is important and needed in this world. I highly recommend the book The Story of With by Allen Arnold, as this book was a big turning point for my writing.

Yes, I love how you worded that. How your love of story is a gift from God! SO true!

#9. For fun, what’s the best opening novel line you’ve ever read?

Ooh, that’s a tough one. The first one that comes to mind is from Fawkes by Nadine Brandes: “I wasn’t ready to turn to stone.”

Oh my goodness, I LOOOOOVE the opening sentence to Fawkes! Hands-down one of the best ones I’ve ever read!!!!

#10. Finally, do you have any advice, encouragement, or words of wisdom for teen writers who want to take their writing seriously?

Read The Story of With. And remember that this journey will not be an easy one. But you are capable of anything you put your mind to. Your calling and passion for stories is so important in this world. You will be a light in the darkness. Learn as much as you can, connect with other like-minded writers/author, read like crazy, and practice your writing. Always be humble and curious; don’t be afraid to ask questions to grow your knowledge of the craft. See every challenge as an opportunity to grow. And remember that you’re awesome. 😉

YES! I couldn’t have said this better myself. SO true! I also love how Jenna said to not be afraid to ask questions and to grow your knowledge. That’s one of the best ways we all learn. And like Jenna said, these challenges in writing that we think are holding us back, what if they really weren’t? What if they were preparing us, strengthening our writing voice, sealing in us the reason why we’re doing this? What if this is what makes you a strong writer? 

Something to ponder on. 😉

Well, THANK YOU SO MUCH, Jenna for joining me today!!!! Your answers were fantastic!!!

Jenna Terese believes stories are powerful. That’s why she’s dedicated to creating fiction that will impact the world. You can find this INFP dreaming about the future, fangirling over her favorite books, geeking out about Marvel, playing piano, or sipping a chai tea latte as she writes sci-fi novels.

I hoped y’all enjoyed the interview, readers, as much as I did! If you loved this, show your gratitude to Jenna Terese by getting a copy of one of her books or adding them to your GR shelves. If you’ve already read them, leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads or recommend it to a friend! Not only is writing books hard, but trying to get your name out into a very competitive mark is just as difficult. So every bit of support means so much to these authors!

WHO’S READY FOR THE GIVEAWAY TIME! *rasies hands and jumps up and down* During the rally (October 24th-November 5th) Teen Writers’ Nook is running a giveaway. Three winners will be chosen and the winners will win their choice of one of the books pictured below. (Imagine anthology is also included, though not pictured.) This giveaway is open to both U.S. and international entries!

Every post you comment on during the rally earns you an extra entry into the giveaway! To enter with this post comment below and tell me: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Remember to tune in tomorrow for a guest post from one of my favorite authors and twin sister Grace A. Johnson, the indie author of the Christian historical romance Daughters of the Seven Seas Series! Grace will be bringing you a post all about the theme of this rally: to persevere.

Keep on being awesome and never stop writing,

Issabelle Perry

Issabelle Perry is a proud Jesus follower, an extroverted writer, and a homeschool graduate. When she's not writing, you can find her reading, jamming to Skillet, studying history, hunting for Narnia in wardrobes, or envisioning herself wielding a magnificent sword (but due to her clumsiness, let’s hope that never happens). This self-proclaimed exclamation mark enthusiast can be found hanging out at Teen Writers’ Nook, a community of teen authors Issabelle co-founded in 2020. She is the author of Don't Let Me Go (Sky's the Limit Press 2024), May We Make Them Proud (2023), and a co-editor for two anthologies. What she’s probably doing right now is fangirling about her favorite books to random people or scanning the pantries for chocolate.


    • Issabelle Perry

      AAAH teleporting is a FANTASTIC choice!!!!!! I can see how it would come in such handy!!! You could like visit anywhere you want to for a couple of hours and still make it home in time for dinner. Plus, you avoid traffic. XD Haha, I agree that it would make transport easier. That was a great pick, Rose!!!

  • Gemma

    Such an inspiring post! Thanks! My superpower…… hmmmm……. I’d want to be able to become invisible or maybe be able to feel emotions. Yeah I’d want to feel emotions. KEEFE!

    • Issabelle Perry

      WOHOOOO!!!!!!!! I am SOOO happy to hear that!!!! You’re welcome! Thank YOU for reading!!!! YESSSSSS invisibility is definitely something I’d want to have to. It’d be SO cool all the things you can do with that power. Aaahhh, YESSSS!!!!!! Keefe DOES have a pretty epic power!!! Those are great picks!

    • Issabelle Perry

      Hahaha, I know right. There’s like SO many great options you can choose. OOOOOOO shooting something out of your hands would DEFINITELY be cool! That’s a great choice!!! Awww, THANK YOU, Allyson! I’m so glad you enjoyed it, and yes, Jenna had some fantastic interview answers! She nailed it!!!
      Thank you so much for stopping by!

  • Lorelei Angelino

    EEP I LOVE this interview! I’ve been wanting to read Ignite for a while….and now I’m definitely adding The Story of With to my TBR list!!

    I would also love to be able to teleport, like Rose said. (I want to go to Europe so badly, and that would really help with my fear of flying XP)

    • Issabelle Perry

      YAAAAY!!!!! I AM SO GLAD!!!!!!!!!! Hahaha NOW YOU MUST READ IT!!!!!!! Oooo nice!!! I should really read it, too!!!

      YESSSS teleporting would be the coolest!! (OH my goodness, just YESSS. Now I need teleporting superpowers, too!!! Like you, I would LOVE to visit Europe, but alas, my fear of flying and airplanes has kept me grounded in the ole U.S. of A. XD) Thank you for stopping by!

  • Mary

    Wooo! I loved this!! Also, loved the many mentions of Pinterest as well…I’ll definitely *try* to use it as a place of inspiration rather than procrastination 😝
    Also, YES to Fawkes’ first line!

    Gahh any superpower?? So many to choose from!! I feel like I don’t have a favorite one or anything, but one superpower I’ve always loved (’cause, my book, ya know) is water, so I’ll go with that 😆

    • Issabelle Perry

      YES!!!!! THANK YOUUUUU!!!!!!! LOL, ikr. Pinterest + Writers just kinda go together. XD LOL, same here, though I think that would take a miracle for Pinterest to NOT be a distraction. XD I’ll go over there just to look at one little thing, and then when I look at the clock an hour of my life has past. HOW does it do that??? I’m 97% certain it has some mind-controlling techniques!!! YESSS FAWKES HAS ONE OF THE BEST FIRST LINES EVER!!!!!!!!!!

      I know right!!! The possibilities are endless!!! OOOOO that is a GREAT choice. I LOVE water powers, and that’s even cooler that it’s in your book!!! =) Thank you for stopping by!

  • Katja Labonté

    I love your ideas on your process for starting first drafts!! I am always looking for tips about that XD also, your advice for teens writing is gold.

    And if I had a superpower it would be reading at supersonic speeds so I could devour more books, haha!!

    • Issabelle Perry

      YESS I LOVED THEM TOO, Katja!!!! Hahaha, you can never have enough first draft tips. XD YESSS, she did a great job on that advice too!!! I enjoyed reading it SO much!!!

      *gasp* THAT IS LIKE THE MOST GENIUS SUPERPOWER IDEA EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!! *wonders why I didn’t think of that* Okay, this even tops teleporting powers. XD I would SO want to have supersonic reading speed!!!!! Good pick! *high fives*

      Thank you so much for stopping by!!!

  • K.R.Mattson

    Author Interviews are always so fun and filled with so much good advice! Thank you!

    I’d want the power to take people’s pain away; both emotional and physical. I’d like to heal them too, but that’s God’s department. 😉

  • Saraina

    Oh my goodness, YES, the “I wasn’t ready to turn to stone” line from Fawkes was suuuuuch an amazing first line!!! (Actually, Nadine Brandes is a QUEEN at creating very intriguing, compelling first lines, now that I’m thinking about it. XD)

    This was a FABULOUS interview!!!! And yay for Pinterest boards!! They’re so inspiring. 😀 To answer the question, I’d want to have the ability to teleport, like Rose said. (Although turning invisible would be sooo nice sometimes haha!)

    • Issabelle Perry

      YESSSSSS IT WAS SUCH AN AMAZING FIRST LINE. I wish I was half the genius Nadine Brandes is!!!! (YES GIRL YOU ARE TOTALLY RIGHT THAT SHE IS!!!!!!!!!! HOW ON EARTH DOES SHE DO IT???????)

      THANK YOU!!! I am SO glad you enjoyed it!!!! And Pinterest boards are like the greatest invention for writers since the computer. XD THEY ARE. And distracting. But mostly inspiring! YESSS teleporting is a power that would come in SUCH handy!!!! Hahaha, I’ve always wished I could turn invisible. XD

  • Corrie.S.P

    Illegal Superheroes??! I’m getting some Incredibles vibes! Yet I think the book is taking a different approach. That book sounds soo awesome! If I saw the book in the library I would totally pick it up based on just the cover!
    I can’t think of any opening lines from books. Oh wait….. I can think of one… “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
    Darn! If I win I’m gonna have the hardest time choosing a book😫😩 Deep breaths Corrie 😮‍💨

    If you could have any superpower, what would it be? I have always wanted to have invisibility! One of my “never-gonna-happen” dreams is being a spy. Can you imagine all the things I could do with invisibility!!!🤩 Plus I am very inquisitive by nature.

    • Issabelle Perry

      YESSS!!!! It DEFINITELY has Incredibles vibes!!! Yes, it’s a really great read!!! I hear nothing but good things about it!!!! I knowww right. The cover is TOTALLY what hooked me too!!!!
      *gasp* Girl, you’re a genius. XD I didn’t even think about the opening line of the Bible. It doesn’t get cooler than that!!!
      Hahaha, wow, I didn’t realize the difficult choice I have just created for readers. XD I’m sorry in advance. XD

      YESSS!!! I’ve always wanted to have invisibility too!!! LOL, you and me both, sister. Being a spy is what I am in my alternate, fantasy life outside of the blog. XD I KNOW RIGHt. It would come in such good use!!!! ;P

      • Corrie.S.P

        That is the coolest opening line😉
        CURSE YOU!!! How could you make us pick!!!!???😡😂
        I just like to know EVERYTHING! Being an invisible spy would be awesome! It’s either invisibility or Telepathy. I wanna read people’s thoughts too!

  • Rylie

    I love this so much!! Pinterest boards are awesome!! Unless you have a specific pin in mind and no one has come up with that image yet. lol I have Ignite on my bookshelf waiting for me to read and i’m really excited to do so! Ohh superpower. Reading of peoples minds. lolll

    • Issabelle Perry

      YESSS THANK YOU RYLIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YES THEY ARE. Oh my goodness, so many hours I’ve procrastinated with Pinterest boards. But like, it’s so worth it, too. XDDD Ooof, girl, I FEEL you. And then I usually go make that pin. XDDD YESSSSS!!!!!!!! Ooo I hope you enjoy it when you get to it! HOnestly, I’m surprised you haven’t gotten to it yet. XD AAAAAH I have always debated over if I want to read people’s minds or not. On one hand, I want to know what they’re thinking. On the other, do I REALLY want to know what they’re thinking????

  • Mary McMinn

    If I could have a super power it would definitely be flying. No more traffic or asking people to carpool me places!
    Thank you for the interview the book seems really interesting!

    • Issabelle Perry

      YESSSSSSSSSS FLYING IS DEFINITELY THE SUPERPOWER I WANT TOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Exactly! I would no longer need to depend on a ride to get me where I need to go. XD Flying would make life that much easier!
      Aww, you’re welcome! Thank YOU so much for reading, Mary!!!! YES!!! Ikr. It DOES!

  • Emma

    Oh my goodness, this interview was SO good!! Jenna’s advice was amazing, she’s always so inspiring <333 And the first line from Fawkes is seriously one of the best opening lines ever! XD Oh and Pinterest is the best when it comes to finding inspiration and aesthetics even though 95% of the time it's a huge distraction from the things I should be focusing on lol.

    Off the top of my head….I think levitation would be a fun superpower to have. XD

    • Issabelle Perry

      AWWW THANK YOU EMMA!!!!!! I am SO glad you loved it!!!!!! I know right. She just nailed it with the interview!!!!! FAWKES HANDS-DOWN HAS THE BEST OPENING LINE EVER. The only ones I know of that could quite possibly compete with greatest opening line ever is All Fall Down or The False Prince. But I think Fawkes is still on top. XD Pinterest is both a writer’s enemy and best friend. XD I love it, but how does it take so much time away from life???? I’ll be on there for I’m certain only a minute, but the clock likes to lie and say it’s more like thirty minutes. XD

      OOOOOO levitation WOULD be a fun power! Good pick!

  • Faith Quelle

    This was GOLD, Jenna! Absolute gold. Thank you so much for this advice!

    …well, since so many of my tbw (to be written) characters have ‘superpowers’, I kind of feel like I’ve experienced them already, in a way… but when one of my characters dances, she infuses the room with joy. I think I’d like that one.

    • Issabelle Perry

      I know right. Jenna had such FANTABULOUS answers to her questions!!!!!!

      LOL. Tbw characters. I LOVE that acronym. Definitley gonna have to use that one. XD Ooooo that is awesome!!!! Superhero stories are just SO much fun!!!! *gasp* THAT IS LIKE THE COOLEST SUPERPOWER IDEA EVER. I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!! I can definitely see what you’d pick that one. Good choice!

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