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‘Women Outside the Walls’ by Trisha Sugarek

 Many years ago I visited a state prison for men in Illinois. My first time ever, in a prison, doing research for one of my plays. I was there to see a confessed murderer, Bill, and was writing his story. (Cook County Justice)  I sat in the reception area, very nervous and scared; much like Kitty in the beginning of this story.

I was deeply moved by the nameless women around me who had come to visit their men. One woman told me that she was visiting her son and had been coming once a month and every holiday for thirteen years. During another time in her life she had faithfully visited her husband for fifteen years while he served out his time. Many of the children I saw had spent their growing up years in a visiting room behind bars.

The entry process that I write about [and went through] is accurate in this story. Most notable about the visiting room was the frustration, anger and fear, thick in the air.  In the visiting room, the rage and disappointment emanating from inmates was palatable.

There seemed to be two types of prisoners; ones like Bill who kept their heads down, caused no waves, and spoke in a monotone. Or the other type who were aggressive, ‘in your face’ bullies and troublemakers. Always running a hustle. As I sat there interviewing Bill, I was struck on a visceral level about how these women coped year after year. How did they come to be here? Was it a simple matter of choosing the wrong men? Did they grow up with the same dreams most women have about living with a good husband and raising wonderful children? As I sat there, I wondered: where did it all go so terribly wrong?

Praise for Trisha Sugarek

Women Outside the Walls~~ ‘Step inside the sisterhood of the women with men behind bars. These women all come together in the waiting room and then visitor’s room at the prison while waiting to visit their men. They all have one thing in common and that’s the fact that they love their men. This is an honest book, which means that it’s not always a happy book. It will touch your heart in ways that you wouldn’t expect and is a book well worth spending the time to read. You’ll come away with a new respect for women in this situation and a bit more understanding of why they continue supporting the men they love, no matter what.’ ~~ Fresh Fiction

 Love can see people through the roughest times. This novel, Women Outside the Walls, from Trisha Sugarek takes the reader along as she explores the nature of women outside the prison walls who are trying to get by as their men are serving time. Finding an unusual friendship through their tough time, more plight comes their way and challenges what they have left as independent women as one of their daughters goes missing. Women Outside the Walls carries a positive message, and shouldn’t be overlooked, very much recommended.’ ~ Midwest Book Review

Available at: Amazon.com and all fine book stores

Available in e-books 
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Fiction mimics real life…doesn’t it?

I have realized over the years that I am attracted to writing stories based on real life experiences, whether they are mine or someone else’s.

WhileWOW.BanW._wow (2) visiting a convicted murderer (Cook County Justice) at a state prison for men I observed women waiting with me to see their men. Some of them had been coming for years.  What was that like I asked myself.  How do they survive on the outside?  What are the stories that brought them to this place?  Were they married to monsters, gang members, killers?  Or just regular guys who had made some very stupid choices?  (Women Outside the Walls)

The most rewarding effort has been writing about what I know of life.  Confronting the challenges that life throws at all of us and then  goJohn.Songof YUkon 001 on to deal with it with some sort of grace under fire.  That’s how “The Ash Can” was born.  An experience very close to me where a person threw away everything  in a blink of an eye.  Deciding to take irrevocable actions and leaving heart-break and tragedy in their path.

 

more »

What Inspired Me to Write my first Play?

In looking at my stats recently I saw a recurring key phrase on my site.  ‘How  to write a play?‘, and I thought my readers might find it interesting to read about what inspired the subjects of my play scripts.

The short answer is:  A true story…. something that caught my attention that was someone else’s story.

The long answer:  My first play ‘Lost Child back in 1994 was based on a true story of a Dad dealing with his gay son.  Back then HIV and AIDS was a death sentence.  The father was homophobic and macho.  He rejected his son.  To make the story complete I added another set of parents that were  totally supportive of their gay son.  Sadly this story did not end well and the script was lost on my hard drive  ….someday, I may finish it.

Next came ‘Cook County Justice‘ based upon a fifteen minute segment I saw on one of those TV magazines like 20/20. Bill Heirens had been incarcerated for over 40 years (even though his sentence included parole) for a murder I came to believe he didn’t commit.  This story took me on a six year journey; letters from Bill (inmate), support from his team trying to set him free and several productions of my play.

While visiting Bill in the Illinois state Prison for Men early one Sunday morning,  I sat in the reception area waiting to be WOW.play. cover4_20march2014‘processed’ through into the visiting room.  I was surrounded by women of all ages and their children.  Mothers, sisters, wives, daughters….as I sat there they figuratively took me by the nape of my neck and shouted….’you must write about us…tell our story!’   That was the birth of ‘Women Outside the Walls’ a full length play and later a novel.

 

 

book_shop_BillieScent of Magnolia A Tribute to Billie Holiday was conceived in 2001 when a very talented jazz singer/actress out of Chicago asked me if I would write her a one woman show as Billie Holiday. I used, as my inspiration, the early years of Billie’s career before she succumbed to alcohol and drugs. 

 

NEXT! A Hollywood Tale  was based on my own experiences as a young actor in Hollywood and all the story swapping we would do in the green room, waiting to ‘go on’.  There was nothing worse than going to a cattle call audition and in the midHollywood, actors, stage play, actors playing actorsdle of your monologue or reading have the casting director yell:  ‘Next!’  That was your cue line to exit right.   The razor sharp teeth of the machine known as Hollywood chew up aspiring actors and spit them into the gutter.

 

I grew up on my mother’s stories about growing up in the forests of Tumwater, Washington with her 13 siblings.  Back at the turn of the twentieth century life and its entertainments were simple.
Alaska, sisters, adventurers, gold rush,

‘The Guyer Girls’ is a cross between Little Women and I Remember Mama.  The first act is almost all based upon her stories.  The second act was my creation of what happened when the six sisters come back home fifteen years later. With this age of technology I didn’t want these stories to die with her or with me.

‘Sins of the Mother’ was also partly biographical.  Again stories told by my mother of her years in San Francisco (1920’s) as a bar owner, women’s basketball player, flapper, and mother.  She used to say,  “I’d work all day and dance all night!”  This full length play developed into a novel, ‘Wild Violets’.fiction, women, flappers, prohibition, San Francisco, roaring twenties

There’s more but this is where I will stop. Every play plot has conflict. The trick is to solve it within two and a half hours.  

 

 

A Journal/Handbook to Start YOU writing! 275 blank pages for your work; each margin with an inspiring quote from a famous actor, writer, playwright, or poet.  Sections on ‘how to’ will get you started.

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Hope that your story doesn’t come out the way that you had planned!

Lillian Hellman once said, Nothing you write, if you hope to be any good, will ever come out as you first hoped.”

As a writer, that has happened to me over and over.  At first, in the early days of writing, I was appalled that the story was going somewhere that I had not planned for.   The characters would lead me down paths that I had no intention of going down or writing about.  Now I accept this strange phenomenon that happens not just to me but to other writers as well.

I’ve been dying to tell you this story.  But I had to wait until a segment of my novel was posted so that I would not spoil the shocking surprise in Part 42 . (Dec.21st)

women's fiction, prison, love, family, writing,     A glaring, or perhaps glorious, example of a story taking an unexpected turn was when I was writing “Women Outside the Walls”.  My plan for the story line was that this would be a cozy little story of three very different women coming together while visiting their men in prison.

A third of the way through this project, Charlie, while sitting in the visiting room of the prison, jumps up, grabs Kitty and holding a shiv (knife) to her throat,  takes her hostage.  I  sat at my keyboard and literally wailed aloud, “No!  No you can’t!  I don’t know anything about hostages……or hostage negotiations!” Too late! He’d already dragged Kitty to the back wall and pandemonium had broken out.  The prison went on emergency lock down and there was nothing I could do! There I sat at my keyboard, dead in my tracks.

It took me four months of research on hostage negotiations before I could resume working on my novel.  I had not the faintest clue as to how I would finally resolve this room being taken hostage.  And I want to stop here and thank the federal and state hostage negotiators who assisted me in my research. While they would not share any of their techniques, they agreed to look over my story and tell me where I was off base.They allowed me to send them this segment of my novel for them to critique and assisted in keeping my portrayal accurate.   Before you CO’s jump all over me about the gun, I did take dramatic license with that.

I have learned to anticipate and enjoy it when the story takes on a life of its own.  It’s my fondest wish to become the ‘typist’.  When my characters take control and tell me the story!

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BOOK SIGNING TODAY !!

    I hope you will come out today for my

BOOK SIGNING !!dragons, elves, fairies, dragon, fairy tales, new book for your child, new fairy tales, running away, friendship

  Shaver Book Sellers, on Madison Square in Savannah  
to hold a book signing.

              This event will begin at

2PM today, November 17th.

              Shaver’s carries all of my children’s books, my poetry and novel, “Women Outside the Walls”.  Also available, today only, will be most of my play scripts.

Come by and say “hello” and enjoy this historic, iconic book store that is locally owned and operated.

SHAVER’S BOOKSELLERS

326 Bull Streetgreed, ecology, elves, warlords, love, friendship

A Good “beach read”

women's fiction, prison, love, new fiction,   You won’t be disappointed!  This is just a darn good story based on real women and real events.  And it opens a door on a subject that most of us women have never thought about….having to visit our man in prison.

Just as you are thinking that you know and like these three women, the story takes a dramatic turn with a shocking event.  Changing the women’s lives and friendships with each other forever.

There’s humor, family, love, suspense and sex.

FreshFiction.com said,  “This is an honest book, which means that it’s not always a happy book. It will touch your heart in ways that you wouldn’t expect and is a book well worth spending the time to read. You’ll come away with a new respect for women in this situation and a bit more understanding of why they continue supporting the men they love, no matter what.’

Click here to visit the on-line store where you can purchase this book!  Be sure, in your order to mention if you would like an autographed copy.