Unpublished Author Extraordinare: An Interview with TL Sumner

I met TL on Mary Kole’s blog www.kidlit.com and I am so glad I did.  We were both looking for critique partners…and we were both sort of late posting! I am thrilled to have met her because I find we have a lot in common, like using music for inspiration and using our husband’ feedback for alternate ideas for our works in progress.

I am impressed with TL because she has written what I consider to be probably a trilogy in about six months.  Talk about “Butt in Chair!”  That’s the only way to write…right?

I gotta a feeling she may be joining Beth and I in our “worldly book tour” and be part of the new “round table” of up and coming YA writers.

And here she is…TL Sumner (what a great name, huh?)

7NB: Where do you get most of your ideas and inspiration?
TL Sumner:  I get a lot of ideas from music.  For instance, I might be listening to a song and can visualize a scene based on the music.  I might not know who the characters are, but I just see the action.  When I get an idea for a story, I create a new file on my laptop with the idea, whether it be a concept or the details of a scene I’ve visualized.  For my current WIP – I’ve relied on music for inspiration.  When I’m having trouble writing a scene, I find a song that evokes the mood I’m going for in that scene.  Then I go to our spare bedroom (or other quiet place in my house).  Put my headphones in, close my eyes and listen to the song (or songs) until I can visualize what my characters are doing.  Then I go write the scene.
I have also gotten some great story ideas through doing research for my WIP.
7NB: What prompted you to write your first novel and how long did the first draft take?
TL Sumner:  In late November, I asked my 14 year old niece if she had read any good books recently.  She informed me that after the Twilight series, she hadn’t found anything she liked.  That was the moment I decided to write her a novel.  I had lofty goals and wanted my first draft to be completed by mid February.  I’m just now wrapping up my first draft.  So – it’s taken about seven months. 
7NB: Do you have a set writing schedule, or are you more of a “when the mood hits” kind of girl?
TL Sumner:  I write every evening after my kids go to bed, and then as much as I can on the weekend.  I am goal oriented and want to get it done.  If I don’t have that schedule, I’d never finish the novel. 
7NB: Can you tell us about your current WIP (work in progress)?  We’d love to hear about some of the characters or what the main idea is, if you don’t mind sharing.
TL Sumner:  My WIP is a YA romance with paranormal elements.  My heroine has prophetic dreams and is now seeing visions.  Enter my hero, an immortal (I created my own race of immortals) who falls in love with the heroine and helps her appreciate her psychic abilities as a gift, rather than a curse.
7NB: What does your writing workspace look like?
TL Sumner:  Here’s a picture of me in my crazy workspace.   Of interest – on the left side are pictures and notes from my kids.  On the right side is my storyboard.  Under my lamp is a small stack of YA books.  I have tons more on my book cases – which are not pictured.  Yes – there are two laptops on my desk.  The closed one, is for my day job.  The one in front of me is “my life.” 

You might be able to spy my MP3 player and my favorite gum in the picture too.  J

7NB: Your WIP is a YA novel. Any plans to write for other age groups?
TL Sumner:  At this time, I don’t have plans to write for other age groups, although I hope my novel(s) will appeal to adults as well.  I really like the YA genre and writing about teenage angst.  I do have a few story ideas that would fit into the “new adult” genre, but they aren’t on my radar screen to write at the moment.

7NB: What is your favorite YA novel of all time? How about your favorite book on the craft of writing?

TL Sumner:  My favorite YA novel is Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater.  Oh I have a major author crush on her… I can’t wait til the sequel, Linger is released in July. 
My favorite book on the craft of writing is Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell.
7NB: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
TL Sumner:  I have always loved creative writing and dreamt of being published; but then life happened.  Once I got to college, I really only wrote for assignments, and my creative writing was non-existent.  Then I got married, had kids, etc….   I just re-invigorated my passion and quest for my dream in November.

7NB: When you start looking for agent representation, what are some of the qualities you will look for in an agent?

TL Sumner:  I want an agent who is fun to work with, loves YA and has a passion for what they do.  And of course, professional and can provide excellent advice and guidance.
7NB: What is the best advice anyone has given you with regards to your writing?
TL Sumner:  Never stop learning about the craft – whether it is by reading books on craft or taking a class or workshop.
7NB: What is the advice would you give to aspiring writers who can’t seem to get their butts in chair to start their novel!
TL Sumner:  Just do it.  It takes a lot of time and hard work, but it’s so rewarding.
7NB: What is your experience like, balancing writing and motherhood?
TL Sumner:  It can be challenging, especially because I also work full-time.  Sometimes I feel like I am neglecting my family and friends but I try to make it up to them.  My husband and two children are very supportive.  But are really looking forward to me being done with this first draft.
7NB: What are some of your favorite blogs you follow?
TL Sumner:  I’ll be honest, I haven’t been doing too much blog following in the past month or so.  I’ve been quite busy with some writing workshops and trying to finish the last chapters of my WIP.  Keeping up with my blog and following others fell to the wayside.  However, I do have some favorite blogs to follow when the time allows.  Of course, I love following my fellow aspiring novelists – Seven Blue – http://sevennblue.blogspot.com/ and Jessie Harrell – http://jessie-harrell.blogspot.com/   Two of my favorite agent blogs are Nathan Bransford and Rachelle Gardener.  There are a lot of YA blogs I have set up on my RSS feed as well, YA Highway and YA Fresh are two of those. 
7NB: Than you TL, we are looking forward to your trilogy! 
Okay guys, remember, the next time you are at a book signing for TL Sumner…you heard about her here first! You can find out more about TL by following her blog at www.tlsumner.com

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