Friday, August 17, 2012

Every Other Friday - T.L. Costa Interview


T.L. Costa graduated from Bryn Mawr College, got her Masters of Teaching from Quinnipiac University, and taught high school for five years before becoming a full-time mom and writer.
She has lived in Texas, New York, New Jersey and Spain. Currently, she lives in Connecticut.
T. L. can be found online at her Facebook page (www.facebook.com/tlcostaauthor) and on Twitter (@TLCosta1).

Her novel PLAYING TYLER will be released in October of 2013 by STRANGE CHEMISTRY BOOKS.

Tell me about Playing Tyler.
 My book, PLAYING TYLER, basically starts by asking when is a game more than a game?It is about a boy named Tyler MacCandless, who can’t focus, even when he takes his medication. He can’t focus on school, on his future, on a book, on much of anything other than taking care of his older brother, Brandon, who’s in rehab for heroin abuse… again.

Tyler’s dad is dead and his mom has mentally checked out. The only person he can really count on is his Civilian Air Patrol Mentor, Rick. The one thing in life it seems he doesn’t suck at is playing video games, and, well, that’s probably not going to get him into college.Just when it seems like his future is on a collision course with a life sentence at McDonald’s, Rick asks him to test a video game. If his score’s high enough, it could earn him a place in flight school and win him the future he was certain that he could never have. And when he falls in love with the game’s designer, the legendary gamer Ani, Tyler thinks his life might finally be turning around. That is, until Brandon goes MIA from rehab and Tyler and Ani discover that the game is more than it seems. Now Tyler will have to figure out what’s really going on in time to save his brother… and prevent his own future from going down in flames. 

Who did you write it for? For PLAYING TYLER, as well as for the book I am writing now, my target audience is typically the teen boys that usually wouldn’t read because they find no one in books with whom they can relate. There are very few books about boys like Tyler, and I wanted to present a kid that really wants nothing more than to be a hero, to save the people he loves, even though the world would classify him as a kid who “falls through the cracks.” Also, I see an audience with teen girls, the nerdy girls who get very little representation in books, even though they tend to be big readers. (I totally include myself in this category.) 

What are your productivity tips?  
Productivity tips? I have very few of them. When I first started writing I was not productive at all. It took me two years to write a book that will forever live in the ghostly netherworld of this laptop. It was only after I met you and started taking your advice about being productive that I wrote with any kind of speed. I wrote a rough draft of PLAYING TYLER in seven months, and recently I just completed a rough draft of a new novel in four.

Which advice of yours do I take as writer-ly gospel? For one, I have at least a rough outline of plot before I begin, and I know my characters inside and out. Secondly, I now journal in full sentences. Nothing big, just a notebook by the computer where I write out a few sentences about what I am going to write tomorrow. Also, I force myself to disconnect from wifi before I start to write for the day and I hold myself at the computer for a certain period of time (usually an hour with a goal of a thousand words a day.) I use BAGEL for words I don’t know or facts I have to look up later so I don’t lose the flow of the text. Also, for specific plot problems that I am having trouble solving, I write them out on another notebook before I go to bed, and after I’m done reading for the night, I pull out the notebook and look at the questions, so they are the last thing I think about before falling asleep. I don’t always wake up with the answers, but when I do, I feel like a badass.





17 comments:

  1. Awesome interview, Tracy. Way to take Peter's advice to heart. I've taken to using the BAGEL trick as well. It saves me a lot of stewing while I write. I like the idea of looking at the plotting questions at night before bed...not that I'm not already dreaming up some crazy plot twists in my sleep. But it might help me to focus them. And who doesn't love feeling badass first thing in the morning? You rock, sister! Thanks for another great interview, Peter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Paula! And yes, I think we all love feeling badass first thing in the morning!

      -TL Costa

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Marian!

      -TL Costa

      Delete
  3. Tracy,
    Love the theme. Would my 13 and 14 year old grandkids be too young to read it? If not, I'd love to give them copies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Joy, and yes, I think 13-14 would be a great age for the book!

      -TL Costa

      Delete
  4. Huntley FitzpatrickAugust 17, 2012 at 7:38 AM

    Tracy, my oldest daughter is absolutely your audience and I can't wait to give this book to her!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Huntley, I appreciate it!
      -TL Costa

      Delete
  5. Tracy, wonderful interview. And your photo is gorgeous. I am in process getting to know my characters well. Primary and secondary, I might also do the tertiary characters. My editor recommended that I take this particular college writing course. The first assignment was to do character studies, who, what, where. The second was to do setup, like the six column setup Michael Hauge recommends. I thought I knew my characters, b/c they come from life, they are real people. But I am learning so much more. I also thought I had an outline. But setup is very different, it is an outline, but in each characters POV. I have to do three setups. The hero, protagonist and antagonist. I just did my protagonist and handed it in. I am eager for her critique. I have my outline as my protagonist lives his life. My whole story is done. Now all I have to do is go back, enhance situations and show. I have a fantastic workbook that comes with this course. What a great recommendation by Editor Sandy Tritt of Inspirational Writers.

    ReplyDelete
  6. My writing instructor is Sherry Wilson, you can find her here:

    http://www.the-writers-craft.com/creative-writing-worksheets.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is wonderful, Gail, I will definitely check out the link. I think that knowing your characters is the key to a successful novel, I tell myself that unless I can see my characters as their own people, I'll never be able to even get to the plot. Thanks so much for visiting the blog!

      -TL Costa

      Delete
  7. I use the BAGEL trick too! In fact, I was doing a read-through of my final draft before submitting and I found one BAGEL word that never got fixed. Yikes! I did laugh thinking what the editor might have thought when she read it. ????????????

    Looking forward to PLAYING TYLER! My son will love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good thing you found it before she demanded cream cheese.

      Delete
    2. @Peter, right? That's hilarious, Katy! But the BAGEL trick is one of the best tools for getting out a rough draft that I've ever used. I used to actually walk away from a draft to go look things up and sure enough, get side-tracked. Now, viola, enter BAGEL and I'm writing faster than ever. Did your editor notice the spare BAGEL? I wonder what she thought...
      Thanks for stopping over, Katy!

      -TL Costa

      Delete
  8. Correction for Sandy Tritt's company name. Inspiration For Writers.

    Here's the link: www.InspirationForWriters.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for this. I'm having trouble getting started on my second book so I'm going to try your method and see how it goes.

    Playing Tyler sounds very interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Rowena! Peter's tips really helped me stay focused on a day to day level. It can be so difficult to start a new work-in-progress. Good luck!

      -TL Costa

      Delete