Offsides Author Interview and Giveaway!

About the Book

Book: Offsides

Author: Lori Z. Scott

Genre: Contemporary YA fiction

Release Date: October 19, 2023

Danielle Stephens expected her senior year to be challenging, with her final season of soccer, a strained friendship, and a new crush. But she didn’t expect to uncover a human trafficking ring in her town. When an older man seems to be grooming her young neighbor, Dani is determined to keep the girl safe. Little does she know, but there is more at stake than one life. And if Dani doesn’t watch her back, she could be the next victim.

Offsides is like a Christian version of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder but set on the soccer field.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Wheaton College graduate Lori Z. Scott accidentally wrote the 10-book bestselling Meghan Rose series.  On purpose, she wrote more than 200 short stories, articles, essays, poems, and devotions for magazines like Brio and Focus on the Family. She has also contributed to 15 books, including Writing and Selling Children’s Books in the Christian Market.

As has been her practice for over 25 years, Lori is fully invested in teaching elementary students during the day. However, most nights you can find her typing away behind the keyboard. She figures that makes writing her superpower… especially since she knows how to use a delete key.

In 2022, Lori introduced an award-winning novel, Inside the Ten-Foot Line, the first installment in her new young adult series. In addition, she has led writing workshops for local ACFW and SCBWI chapters, conducted school visits, served as a guest speaker for Story Embers podcasts, and presented at virtual writing conferences. She’s never really sure if the crowd is impressed by her interactive presentations or by the fact that she can write and draw forwards and backwards with both hands at the same time.

More from Lori

Let’s start with the why behind the series in general. In the early 2000s, I published a bestselling chapter book series—sort of like the Christian version of Junie B. Jones. Then, because of some unexpected life circumstances, I stopped writing for about 7 years. After encouragement from my mom and my daughter and a phone call with an editor from Pockets Magazine, I decided to return to writing. But I wanted to try something new.

I thought about the things I love that I could write about. Sports came to the top of the list since I competed in volleyball, track, swimming, softball, and basketball and my children played soccer. I went to the library to see what was out there and found some great sports novels, many by Mike Lupica. He tackled interesting themes—characters dealing with real-life issues that readers could relate to whether or not they were part of a team.

However, the book offerings for women athletes? Very slim pickings. I mean… there were a few. But they didn’t have the depth I craved in a book. And, as my daughter always says, “Mom, you’re a writer. If you can’t find the book you want, write it yourself.”

So that’s how the series in general was born. I envisioned a story for each sport that reached beyond the court to encompass a broader audience. Stories that grappled with universal emotions, dreams, and challenges. The first book in the series, Inside the Ten-Foot Line, did well with critics. It won the Golden Scroll Award for youth fiction book of the year, an Illumination Book Award, was a semi-finalist for the Carol Awards, and a finalist for the Director’s Choice Award. I figure that’s a promising start!

Now, more specifically—the inspiration behind the story Offsides.

Okay, big breath for me here, because I felt God’s nudging to write it, and I told Him no. Just outright no. But… who tells God no? I mean, based on my writing journey, I trusted that He knew best the paths I should take. Always. So why did I say no?

Let me give you a little history. In 2022, End Game Press invited me to write Offsides, the second book in my series. However, when I submitted my detailed plot, they came back and said it was too similar to another book they planned on publishing and asked me to develop something different. I took the problem to my critique group, and one of the girls who works with her church to recover victims of human trafficking suggested that I write a story where the characters must confront this issue.

I got sick to my stomach just thinking about it.  And I dismissed the idea.  Like, immediately.

And I had good excuses to say no. No, I didn’t know enough about the problem. No, human trafficking was too horrifying to research. No, what teenager wants to read about this sick topic? And my biggest objection–No! I wrote humor.

But God kept pressing me on this idea. And pressing me. And pressing me. News reports. Conversations at work. Ads on T.V. Social media posts. The idea would bubble up in my prayers and haunt me when I went to bed.

So, I finally said yes and wrote the book. Not surprisingly, in the process, I discovered a yes for every no I’d voiced.

I didn’t know enough about the problem, but, yes, I learned. The research was horrifying, but yes, I also found hope, especially within Christian organizations who help recover victims.

Yes… teens should read about human trafficking to make themselves aware of the danger and to take steps to protect themselves and their friends. And yes, talking about human trafficking could be done in an age-appropriate way. Best of all, as heavy as the topic was, the story still contained humor. Because high school is like that—serious, but also fun and entertaining.

I really like the relationships between the characters too. There’s something powerful about their interactions. The protagonist, Dani, is a huge introvert, and her social anxiety plays into how the plot unfolds. Her character resonated with a lot of my beta readers who also experienced struggles with feelings that they don’t quite fit in.

One teary-eyed reader asked me how I was able to tap into Dani’s emotions so deeply and accurately. I was like—hey, I’m a teacher. I see insecurities in people all the time. And at some point, we’ve all been there—even me. In the lonely. In the awkward. In the search for belonging. In the hurt. We need each other. And we need faith.

Anyway, that’s how Offsides was born. With a nudge that turned into a pressing need to tell a story. About a difficult topic, true. But even more valuable because of that. The book ended up being a little bit like A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder but set on the soccer field.

If any readers want to use Offsides for a book club, I have a study guide I can email them for free. I also have a free collection of ten devotions for athletes for interested readers. To get either one or both, DM me on my Instagram account at

Author Interview

  • What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

Originally, I envisioned the series as reaching female athletes. But it actually appeals to a much broader audience than I anticipated. In fact, a majority of my readers aren’t athletically inclined. Instead, they gravitate toward the books for their humor, action, and for the social issues couched in the stories.

The most surprising thing about Offsides in particular was what I learned in my research. And what I learned would give you nightmares. In fact, I didn’t want to touch the issue of human trafficking at first. But as more and more news reports cropped up about human trafficking and their young victims, I could no longer ignore the story planted in my heart. My critique group played a key role keeping me grounded. I wanted to create something both compelling and age-appropriate. I feel like I pulled it off by using a mixture of humor and honesty. Offsides ended up being almost like a whodunnit mystery and, thus far, has been well received by readers. I’m not sure if it will bring readers a smile, chills, tears, or maybe all three. But, of all the stories I’ve written over the years, including the award-winning ones, I feel like Offsides has the potential to make the greatest impact on readers.

  • How do you overcome writer’s block? Do you have any advice for others in finding their process to overcome it?

I honestly don’t struggle with writer’s block very often. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that my writing time is limited. I teach full time and I help run our after school daycare program. That means writing time must be organized. I make a list of goals and prioritize them by deadline. When I can carve out time either before work or late in the evening, I dive headfirst into whichever project tops the list. Social media can be a drain on time, which can lead to writing blocks, so I also try to create a week’s worth of content in a two hour block of time so I don’t have to think about it during the week.

I actually do a lot of my writing in the summer. When I have those larger chunks of writing time, I usually begin re-reading and editing what I finished the night before, which allows me to flow into whatever I’m writing next.

So, back to your question. I would advise the following:

  • Make a list of goals. I have weekly goals because I don’t have much time to write. If you write daily, make daily goals.
  • When stuck, edit something you’ve already written. This can help get those brain juices flowing.
  • Read. It can inspire a new idea.
  • Do a few minutes of free writing, a conversation with yourself perhaps. Sometimes the simple act of writing, even if it’s horrible, can get you beyond the block.
  • Do you read the genre you write? Why or why not?

Yes. I believe it’s important to read in your genre for a number of reasons, but I’ll just give you two.

First, reading the genre you write keeps you in touch with your target audience. I mean, I write contemporary YA. And it’s been a long time since I graced the halls of high school. But there are universal experiences and emotions I could still tap into. Reading YA novels helped revive those memories and enabled me to bring an authentic voice to my story.

Second, reading in your genre helps you learn from a mentor text. When I decided to write sports novels, I picked up every copy I could find at libraries and discount bookstores. I took notes on how authors balanced sports related action versus everyday life drama. For example, bestselling author Mike Lupica often opens his book with a strong character and relatable conflict that hooks even non-athletically inclined readers. He gives insights into a few key moments of a game, not a play-by-play blow. And he focuses on character development, especially the fears and disappointments of life we all experience. Emotions that tugged on reader’s hearts and kept them turning the pages. It was through mentor texts like this that I realized how many compelling and inspiring stories could be told with sports as the backdrop.

  • How did you come up with the title for your book?

I chose the title Offsides because it’s a play on words. In soccer, offsides is a penalty called when an offensive player is past the last defender at the moment a ball is passed to her. In Dani’s life, she often jumps offside both on the field and with her friends. In the end, her tendency to rush ahead instead of holding back and waiting for support leads her into a dangerous situation.

  • What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

Read a lot.

  • Do you participate in writing challenges on social media? Why or why not?

When I first joined Instagram, I participated in a few writing challenges. I appreciated how the challenges provided prompts and a group of fellow writers to team up with. In fact, I grew my account to 10,000 followers, and most of my connections came through engaging in those challenges. But then my account got hacked (May of 2022) and I had to start over. I developed my own challenge, which I ran for about 6 months before I passed on the leadership to another account because I got too busy. The prompts inspired me to write a number of original poems and flash-fiction pieces. I’d love to get back to doing those again, but I’ve been too busy as of lately.

  • Is your writing space pristine or organized chaos?

I’m organized chaos all the way. As long as I have my Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression within reach, I can work just about anywhere.

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 16

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, January 17 (Author Interview)

Artistic Nobody, January 18 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, January 18

Guild Master, January 19 (Author Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, January 20

Fiction Book Lover, January 21 (Author Interview)

Beauty in the Binding, January 22 (Author Interview)

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, January 23

Splashes of Joy, January 24 (Author Interview)

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 25

Tell Tale Book Reviews, January 26 (Author Interview)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 27

Blossoms and Blessings, January 28 (Author Interview)

Exploring the Written Word, January 28

For the Love of Literature, January 29 (Author Interview)


To celebrate her tour, Lori is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and an autographed copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

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