2022 Teen Writers' Rally

Author Interview with Stefanie Lozinski // Teen Writers Rally Day Eleven

Wow, y’all, I can’t believe this rally is almost over with! Time just flies! Well, if you’re visiting for the first time or a returning reader, on behalf of TWN, I want to say welcome and thank you for joining us for day eleven of TWN’s FIRST-EVER Teen Writers’ Rally. 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 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 for information about the giveaway running through the entire event!

I am SO excited for our next author interview with Stefanie Lozinski!!!! Stefanie is the author of the YA Christian fantasy Storm and Spire series, with book one, Magnify, and book two, Majesty already released! She has SO much tips, advice, and encouragement to share today, so I’m gonna end this intro and just get right into it!!! 

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

 Hi everyone! I’m Stefanie. I’m a 30 year old wife and mom of two from Ontario, Canada, and I am currently publishing the Christian fantasy series Storm & Spire. 🙂 You can find me at my website, www.authorstefanielozinski.com, and you can find links to my books and social media there as well. 

#2. When did you first discover your love for writing and what inspired you to pursue it seriously?

It’s hard for me to remember when it started, because I was always writing. Reading was something I enjoyed from a very young age, and writing just became a natural extension of that. I’ve dreamed of becoming a fiction novelist ever since I was a preteen, but I worked at that dream in stops and starts. 

I wrote a few books, though none were very good and pretty much stayed in the “neat-ish draft” phase. In 2020, my life fell apart in so many ways due to the Covid chaos, and I ended up taking a long hiatus from writing altogether. 

 It wasn’t until I got that space that I found clarity. I realized this dream was not going to die. I had to write, it wasn’t something I could say no to. I had to embrace the challenge, and I’m so happy with where I am now.

I’m glad that having that break from writing gave you the realization you needed that this was something to pursue!! Readers, there’s nothing wrong with breaks. Sometimes life just happens and writing just has to be put on a pause right now (I know, I’ve been there myself before), but if this is something you’re serious about and really want to pursue, then you’ve got to be like Stefanie. You have to come back!

#3. What do you do to help stay focused on one project until the end?

It’s hard for me to give advice, as I think it’s kind of part of my personality to stick with things. I can be extremely stubborn. I have given up on books before, though, and usually it was because I didn’t know where I was going and fell out of love with the plot in the middle. 

Outlining was a gamechanger for me. I know there are awesome writers out there who “write by the seat of their pants”, but if you struggle to finish things, I would highly recommend a decently thorough outline. It helps to minimize those instances where you’re just staring at the screen and not sure what to write next. 

Yes! I so agree! I know what you’re thinking reader, um, Issabelle, you’re like the queen of pantsing, WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU AGREE ABOUT OUTLINING????!!!!!! What I mean is, if you’re writing your novel one way, whether that is plotting or pantsing, and it’s not working for you, try writing it the other way. Every author’s process is different, and guess what, every book you write will have a completely different process, too!

#4. Can you describe a typical writing session for you? Are there things you do that help you write faster or better (i.e. listening to instrumental music, writing at night/in the mornings, etc.)?

Oh, I love this question. Yes. I have a pretty specific ritual to how I write, but I’m also a mom (and I homeschool as well) so I am trying to become more flexible when life demands it.

Still, I get the best results when I follow my routine. I work in the morning, very early. The hardest part of my routine is actually getting out of my bed at 420, but the ideal for me is working from 5-7AM every day. I basically get up, brush my teeth, wash my face, make coffee, say my morning prayers, eat something small, and then get to the kitchen room table with my laptop. I light a candle, and I always play some kind of sound. Right now, I swear by this one (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5Tt3LoygCQ&t=2835s). It really helps me focus.

That’s an awesome routine!!!

#5.  What’s your favorite part of writing fantasy?

I love the way that fantasy allows me to explore truth in endless unique ways. You can say anything with fantasy, because you have a whole world of your own making for your characters to explore.

There’s also something about the medieval-esque (I suppose it could be called a few different things) style of fantasy that just draws me in. I feel a physical longing for the Shire when I think about the opening shot of the Fellowship of the Ring. It’s like it’s a real place, a home I left behind in a dream. 

My fantasy continent, Kaveryth, is beginning to feel the same way for me, and that’s so special to me as an author. 

#6. Have you endured any discouragement over your writing and if so, what inspired you to persevere? 

I’ve been very blessed that my family has always supported my writing. I can’t really think of anyone who has discouraged me. I have, however, allowed myself to be discouraged by comparing myself to others, which is an easy trap to fall into. I love the business side of writing as an indie author, so it’s hard for me sometimes when I see people writing 10 books a year to not feel discouraged. I have to remind myself that God has given me this immense blessing of being a wife and mom first, and that means I have to accept some limitations! 

Yes, comparison is one of the hardest things to overcome! It’s so easy to start thinking about how good this author’s writing life seems and wonder why yours can’t be the same way. But, readers, if you’re struggling with the same thing, I try to remind myself that this author whose writing life seems so easy and perfect is struggling with her own things, too! also, I shall never understand how those authors can write 10 BOOKS A YEAR 🤯

#7. Do you have any advice for writers who want to incorporate faith into their stories, whether that’s in fantasy or another genre?

My biggest advice would be to really get to know your characters. If you can craft characters that come to life, it becomes much easier to include their faith experiences without your book becoming a monologue or a sermon. Let your characters live and breathe, and explore their faith (or lack of faith!) in God. Let them be flawed. Let them doubt. Let them sin, but offer them grace. I think this applies to all genres!

Yes, I totally agree! Your characters are pretty much the foundation of your novel. If the reader doesn’t care about your characters, everything else, is not going to work.

#8. Is there anything you do to help find motivation when you don’t feel like writing?

I try to watch videos about other successful authors, or sometimes I’ll visit Facebook groups or discord chats where authors hang out. Sometimes a few minutes in contact with other writers gives me a boost and gets me started. Once I start, I’m usually fine!

On the whole, though, I try to save those “motivation tricks” for moments of urgency and desperation, lol. The rest of the time, I try to ignore motivation altogether, and foster an attitude that I can write with or without it.

 I think of writing like I think of love, or prayer. Feelings are not what counts. If I only wrote when I felt like it, I would never finish anything. I know this, because there was a time when I did just that!

I do pray for inspiration, and it certainly exists – there are moments where writing feels like magic – but I mostly pray for discipline to show up and do the work. When I do that, motivation tends to follow. It kind of happens backward for me. 

Oo, that’s a good way of looking at it!

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

Keep writing. Don’t be like me and run away from it. Or if you do, don’t run so far, because you have a precious opportunity right now to improve your craft! Time comes quickly once you hit a certain age. I had to be that adult saying that, but I’ll be darned, my dad was totally right. And as much as I don’t regret the way things worked out, I could have written ten books by now if I accepted my writerly fate earlier.

I would also advise any writers out there to finish your novels (if you ultimately want to write novels, that is!). You can learn a lot from short stories, three chapter openings, and half finished draft carcasses.  But in the end, you have to learn about the whole thing. 

Beyond that, I firmly believe you learn more from writing a few novels than perfecting one. There’s editing, and then there’s moving rocks from one pile to another. Maybe that novel just isn’t “the one” that you’re going to ever publish at this stage in your life. The novel I wrote just before Magnify (Storm & Spire Book 1) was just not ever going to be something I wanted as my debut. But I learned a lot from it. And I stole a lot from it for the Storm & Spire series. So ha. =)

YES I LOVE THIS!!!!! I just second everything!!! Keep writing, finish novels, and sometimes you have to accept that it’s time to move on to another project! And that’s totally okay. 

Stefanie, THANK YOU SOOOOOO much for joining me today!!!! 

Stefanie Lozinski lives in Ontario, Canada, with her husband, two young children, two cats, and a whole lot of books. When she isn’t homeschooling her little ones, you’ll find her on a long walk, drinking coffee, praying a Rosary, or working on her next novel.

I hoped y’all enjoyed the interview as much as I did! If you loved this, show your gratitude to Stefanie Lozinski 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: Music or no music when you’re writing?

Until the next post,

Keep on being awesome and never stop writing,

Issabelle Perry

Issabelle Perry is a proud Jesus follower, an extroverted writer of historical fiction, and a homeschool graduate. When she's not writing, you can find her reading, jamming to Skillet, bullet journaling, 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. Her short story “Fairly Impish” was featured in Owl Hollow Press’s Change the World anthology, and Issabelle is the co-editor for Teen Writers’ Nook’s Imagine anthology and Grace A. Johnson's upcoming Christian romance anthology. What she’s probably doing right now is fangirling about her favorite books to random people or scanning the pantries for chocolate.

30 Comments

  • Mary McMinn

    I always have music when I’m writing (or at least most of the time) and I really liked the idea of listening to music based on your book genre, so now I listen to Spider-Man music when writing my books.

    Thanks sooooo much for the interview! I love fantasy books!

    • Issabelle Perry

      Yes, me too, sister!!! Music keeps me focused. Especially if there’s a lot of chaotic noise happening at my house. (Downside of living with a large family. XD) YES! Me too!!! It’s something I really need to try out more!!! Hahaha, aah that is awesome! I love that. XD

      You are sooooooo welcome, girl!!!! I hope you enjoyed it. <3333 YES ME TOO!!!!! They're such fun reads!

  • Ellie

    This interview was amazing, and Storm and Spire sounds AWESOME!! I’m definitely adding it to my TBR list.(Which I need to catch up on. After I finish Lord of the Rings.(-:)

    And as for music or no music, it depends. When I’m outlining- which I always do in a notebook with a pen- I basically never want music. And, as I’m learning, I love writing at night right before bedtime(or after(-;), and then I like the silence of the house.(My younger brothers are asleep then. Only silence I get all day.) But during a normal drafting session, I write with music obsessively.

    • Issabelle Perry

      THANK YOU!!!!! I am SO thrilled you like it. YES STORM AND SPIRE IS AMAZING!!!!!! Woohooooo!!!!! You will LOVE the book!!!! It has everything I crave in a fantasy! Exciting plot, a fangirlable dude character, amazing themes, and did I mention dragons? Cuz it has DRAGONS. XD (AAAAH girl, I FEEL you. Which reminds me that I really need to get back to reading the second book in Lord of the Rings. XD)

      Ah that makes total sense! I think it depends a lot on me, too. If I need to be super focused, music isn’t always great to have. But if I’m like just having fun in a first draft, it is a must! Oooo I am so glad you’ve found the time of day that you love to write when it is quiet in your house! I totally feel you! I prefer either writing late at night or early in the morning which is the only time it’s quiet and peaceful in the house. Hahaha. XD I bet younger brothers keep life exciting, even if I’m sure they’re very loud. XD YESSS!!!!! That is awesome!

  • Mary

    LOVE the idea to pray for discipline. Gotta start doing that myself.
    Thank you for posting these every day, I seriously feel a pull now to throw myself into my writing again.

    Also, YES to music while writing…but no words! I only listen to orchestral epic music (I really don’t know how else to describe it lol) and it seriously immerses me in my writing.

    • Issabelle Perry

      I know right! ME TOO. I am definitely doing that more often!!! Hahaha, I feel you. XD
      Awww, girl, you’re SO welcome!!! Thank YOU for being so dedicated in reading and commenting!!! It just means so much that you’re enjoying them!!! YESSSS THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I WAS HOPING FOR. GO WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!!!!!!!!

      Ooooo orchestral epic music sounds like SUCH a great choice! I’ve gotta listen to my Skillet Christian rock music when I write because something about John Cooper scream-singing “I need a hero” just makes me write that much faster. XD (LOL, I love that description, though! I think it works perfectly!) That is awesome, girl!!! I’m glad you found that right music that just really gets you into the zone!!!

  • Gemma

    This was an amazing post! Thanks!
    Music. Definitely. I can’t focus without it. I also feel as if it helps me convey the emotions I want people to feel so much better.

    • Issabelle Perry

      YAAAY THANK YOU SOOO MUCH GEMMA!!!!! I am SO glad you loved it! Wasn’t Stefanie’s answers just EPIC??!! She did a great job! Thank YOU for reading!!!!!
      MUSIC ALL THE WAY!!!!! I know right. Me neither! It’s a must for me when it comes to writing! GIRL I TOTALLY AGREE!!!!! Like if I’m writing a sad scene and I’m listening to a sad song, I am just FEELING the emotions!

  • RJ

    First-time commenter! 🙂
    This interview was sooo helpful and motivating, especially the part about writing even when you don’t feel like it! Thanks for sharing!

    • Issabelle Perry

      WOOHOOO!!!! I LOVE first-time commenters! Thank you SO much for stopping by and commenting!!!
      Aaahh I am SO thrilled that you loved it, RJ! Stefanie just nailed the interview!!!! I know right. I loved that part SO much, too!!! A great reminder that I really need all the time. XD Aw, you’re welcome! Thank YOU for reading!

  • Lorelei Angelino

    Another awesome interview. <333

    AS for your question, I love writing to instrumental music whenever I can. (Sometimes I'm just too lazy to get my earbuds, though XP) Soundtracks (Marvel, Narnia, etc.) and lofi study music are my favorites! 😀 What about you?

    • Issabelle Perry

      THANK YOU! I’m glad you enjoyed it, Lorelei!

      Yes, instrumental music is a great option to listen to while writing!!! Hahaha, oh man do I feel the earbud thing SO much. XDD I LOVE LISTENING TO SOUNDTRACKS!!!!!!!! I totally love to listen to music when I’m writing too. I actually have a hard time focusing if I DON’T have music playing. XD I like to listen to my Skillet Christian rock, because I truly believe that something about John Cooper scream-singing at you while writing, just makes my fingers fly across the keyboard faster. XD Though I do listen to a wide variety of music, so it depends. Like right now, I’ve got good ole Christmas music playing!

  • Katja Labonté

    WAIT SHE IS CANADIAN TOO?! That’s sooo cool! There are so few Canadians in writing circles lol.

    Okay and I love the thing about breaks because YESSSS they can be so helpful. And that routine is crazy, but so disciplined! Wow!!! And I love what she said about her fantasy continent because that’s how I feel about my fantasy country. <33 Also, “let them sin, but offer them grace” is such a good line. <3 Love me a good redemption arc…

    And finally, I definitely need music when I'm writing! It cuts out all other sounds and immerses me in the world/mood I’m in, and I can’t really focus on anything without music anyways, so…

    • Issabelle Perry

      YESSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Honestly as an American, I always find it SO cool to meet an author who isn’t American since there’s like a ton of us. XD

      Yes, they really can be so helpful! Sometimes we just need that space from our writing, like Stefanie was talking about! I know right, I totally agree!!! YESSS!!!! When I wrote fantasy, I always felt the same way too!!! That’s awesome!!! I knowwwwww. I totally agree. Like we need that quote on a pinterest pin or something. XDDD ME TOO. I am SUCH a sucker for a well-written redemption arc!!!!

      Aaah, I feel you sister. I’m the same way!!! I know right! Especially if you live in a crazy loud house like me. Ya just need that music to get you in the zone. I think I taught my mind that whenever I hear music it means it’s time to get to work, so it’s a must for me now!!!

  • Rylie

    yesss! #3. my books would always fall apart and now i’m outlining ! XD I’m super excited to read this series! *glances at book one waiting to be picked up along with many others*

    MUSIC ALWAYS. drowns out background noise. XD

    • Issabelle Perry

      YESSSS!!!!!!! Sometimes we just need that outline to keep us on track! Can’t be chasing a bunch of rabbit holes, ya know. XD EEEEK GIRL I KNOW YOU’RE GONNA LOVE IT. YOU MUST READ IT SOON BECAUSE I NEED TO FANGIRL OVER IT WITH YOU!!!!!!!!!!! *urges you to read book one*

      MUST ALWAYS AND FOREVER. XD Yes, it’s so great at doing that!

  • Emma

    This was a fantastic interview!! The advice on characters was incredibly helpful, I seriously needed that. XD And I loved Stefanie’s advice and wisdom in #9. <33

    95% of the time I would say music while writing. There are a few occasions when it's too distracting but most of the time I love listening to it. XP

    • Issabelle Perry

      YAAAY THANK YOU!!!!!! Stefanie did SUCH a good job with the answers!!!! Awww I am SO glad that it was helpful!!!!! That just makes me all happy!!!! I know right. I LOVED that, too!!! She has just so much wisdom to share! TWN will have to have her back sometime!!!

      Aaah I feel you. Most of the time I need it, but sometimes when I just need to focus and the littlest noise is a major distraction, I have to say no to my love of music. XD

  • Corrie.S.P

    I tend to write and do school better in the early hours too, but I have a hard time getting up too. I’m a night owl. I have wrote on whims but if I do something bigger like a school essay or something I have an outline for my writing. 10 books a year! I could never! Or maybe I could, I would have to give up the hours of reading though, and I can’t get myself to do that yet🤣

    Have you ever wrote any books for your kids? Or had them read your books?

    Music or no music when you’re writing? Music sometimes. Sometimes not. I listen to an album called Celtic/Meditation Spa.(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLojCeN6Lz4) It is so relaxing. Papa(my dad) says it sounds like medieval times and it sorta does but I like it. Other times I just write in silence.

    (delete my last comment, I sent it too early😂😅)

    • Issabelle Perry

      Yes, morning times are my most productive times too!!! My brain’s just focus and active and I can get a lot done in less amount of time!!!! Aaaah GIRL I FEEL YOU. I’m both a night owl and an early riser, so it is SO hard to actually go to bed and get some sleep. XD That’s awesome! I know right. HOW do those authors do that??????? Insane! LOL. Noooo never give up reading!!! Great writers are great readers. You can’t have one without the other. XDD Reading is kind of part of the job requirements. XDD

      Ooo that’s a great question! *is curious what Stefanie’s answer is*

      I love music, but, yep, sometimes you just need some peace and quiet! OOOOOOOO Celtic music sounds like a GREAT pick!!! Oooo it sounds super relaxing!!!! Thanks for the link!!! I must check it out sometime!!!! Hahaha ya know, he ain’t wrong. There’s something about Celtic music that just ALWAYS sounds so medieval like. I always get Lord of the Rings vibes! XD

      (Haha, don’t worry. Earlier Comment is gone like it was never even written. bye, bye comment. XD)

  • K. R. Mattson

    *is in shock at how mother’s can actually find time to write* Yep. It’s sealed. Mother’s are superheros. And dare I say, the best at giving advice. Thank you Stefanie!

    Ah. It really depends on my mood. I LOVE to listen to music while I’m writing, but sometimes it’s just not helpful. It’s still amazing. Without it I probably wouldn’t be a writer. 😆

    • Issabelle Perry

      LOL. I know right. XD I can barely manage my little sister and write. XD YES THEY ARE. I am so impressed at their superpower abilities. XD Yes, they are definitely that, too!!! Stefanie did a fantabulous job with the post!!!!

      Ah, I feel you! Like you said, it really just depends on what I’m doing and what the music is. Hahaha, girl, you and me both!!! Music is THE BEST!!!!!

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