Interview with Author, Tracy Sumner

USA Today Bestselling author Tracy Sumner’s storytelling career began when she picked up a historical romance on a college beach trip, and she fondly blames LaVyrle Spencer for her obsession with the genre. When she’s not writing sizzling love stories about feisty heroines and their temperamental-but-entirely-lovable heroes, Tracy enjoys reading, snowboarding, college football (Go Tigers!), yoga, and travel.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, or special space for your writing? (please provide a photo of you at work in your shed, room, closet, barn, or houseboat….) Or tell us about your ‘dream’ workspace.

TS. I write wherever I can. In Stephen King’s book On Writing, he has thoughts about not setting yourself into a habit where you can only write in one, perfect place. Or when you feel like the muse is sitting on your shoulder. 🙂 That said, I have a writing area in my bedroom. LOL, I live in NYC and we don’t have extra space to give for offices typically. It’s cute, though, and has my writing awards and personal thing, books and swag! My dream would, of course, be to have a room that looked like a Regency library! With shelves and shelves of books!

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat workspace, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, a glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

TS. I like to write with gentle music on, no lyrics. I can’t have television or anything distracting on. I usually read the first two pages (or so) of the previous day’s work to get into the rhythm. I also edit these pages at this time, so in the end, working this way, my manuscripts are fairly clean.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

TS. I’ve lived in Europe and Asia – and my son is adopted from Vietnam! I live in NYC, but I’m a native South Carolinian and still have a place in Beaufort, SC, too that I’ll retire to.

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

TS. I’m a right to keyboard writer! 😉

Q. Do you have pets? Tell us about them and their names. 

TS. Before Covid, I fostered kittens a lot (harder to do in NYC due to space limitations) and I adopted one of my fosters, Banksy. He’s about 8 now and is a love bug! You’ll see he has one eye. He was spray-painted as a kitten by a homeless man and rescued by the police. It damaged his eye, which was removed, and I named him Banksy, after the graffiti artist!

Q. Do you enjoy writing in other forms (playwriting, poetry, short stories, etc.)?
If yes, tell us about it.

Join us next Friday for part 2 of this Interview

To receive my weekly posts, sign up   On the home page. Enter your email address. Watch for more interviews with authors.  




A New 10-Minute Play

                                              Eyes on the Road, Girlie is my latest offering.  Just written a few days ago and now, of course, in rewrites. 

Truth is funnier (and stranger) than fiction. 

My housekeeper relayed this story in passing the other day.  Her client is a 90-year-old woman who no longer drives but still loves her outings.  So she has hired a caregiver, not to help with her meds, clean her house, help her shower, or fix her meals.  No. She has hired Diana to drive her around three days a week.  Sometimes they are random drives, sometimes to the nearby ocean beach, or a historic site, or to beautiful downtown Savannah with all of her charming squares.  Her choices are never premeditated; always picked spontaneously on the morning of the outing.  But!  two things are absolute:  Breakfast biscuits at McDonald’s and luncheon at Chik-Fil-A.  

When I heard this story told in real time, my imagination sprung to life: this would make a charming, perhaps funny, (I never know when my writing will turn up funny) short play.  And so, as often is the case, dialogue began running in my head until I was forced to write it down.  

Fellow writers: Life and the people around you will supply you with all you need if you but look and listen. 

To receive my weekly posts, sign up   On the home page. Enter your email address. Watch for more interviews with authors.  






Do You Doubt Yourself…your writing?

  famous authors, writers,    I ran across a description of one of my enemies….DOUBT!  And it got me to thinking. Author, Jacqueline Winspear wrote: “Doubt. Was it an emotion? A sense? Or was it just a short stubby word to describe a response that could diminish a person in a finger snap?”

I wrote earlier about my being in good company.  Regardless if we writers are obscure or famous, we all doubt ourselves and our work.  What if Henry Charles Bukowski, or Ernest Hemingway, or John Steinbeck had let DOUBT win?  Put away their pen, dumped their scribbles into a shoe box and made a trip to the attic, got a day job and never wrote another word?   It doesn’t bear thinking about.

famous authors, writers, famous quotesJ. Michael Straczynski:  “When in ‘doubt’, blow something up.”



F.Scott Fitzgerald:   “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.”

Image result for f. scott fitzgerald




famous authors, famous quotesE.M. Forster:  “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?”



Tapani Bagge:  “Everything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  auithors, famous quotes, writersAnd later on you can use it in some story.”


Maya Angelou:  “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

authors, famous quotes, writersElinor Lipman:  “Critics have been described as people who go into the street after battle and shoot the wounded.”


writers, authors, famous quotes


Leo Rosten:  “The only reason for being a professional writer is that  you just can’t help it.”


Let’s see …..when were my worst moments?  DOUBT clawing at me, whispering in my ear, crawling up my spine.  Telling me that I’ll never make it, I’ll never finish a whole novel, that I don’t know the first thing about writing poetry.  Writing play scripts was relatively easy for me. After all I had been in theatre reading scripts for over thirty years.  And the stories simply fell out of the sky and into my brain when writing a script.

But other genre? 

When I could no longer resist the urgency of writing about the women who wait outside prison walls, I researched the length of the average novel; number of pages and words.  Yikes!  Over 300 pages and 70,000 words.  DOUBT was screaming in my ear: ‘you’ll never be able to write that many pages.’  ‘you’re a playwright; not a novelist’, ‘who do you think you’re kidding?’  But I had a true story (several of them, in fact) and all I needed to do was flesh those stories out.  Write one page at a time…or even one word.

To receive my weekly posts, sign up   On the home page. Enter your email address. Watch for more interviews with authors.  





Book Review ~ The Physics of Relationships


2 out of 5 stars  ~~  Book Review

Even though this narration was supposed to be from the Mom, the author’s masculine voice frequently leaked through.    I can’t quite put my finger on the whys or hows but there is a definite masculinity to her/his ‘dry’, analytical tone. And  I never discovered her name.  

The narrator is the Mom figure in the story. Unfortunately, she is just that. A talking head. Her deeper feelings aren’t explored. The narrator talks at the reader with conclusions rather than a true exploration.  Is Chas guilty of ‘man-splaining’?  

Early on the family unit fell into being a clique.  Two husbands, one divorce, 1 male child, 1 female child, 1 best friend. 

Speaking of the BFF. Amy  moves in with Mom for awhile. She also is having troubles in her marriage.   They end up sharing the same bedroom and bed and eventually Amy makes tentative sexual ovatures to her good friend.  (This is an 8  on the ‘ick’ scale.) First of all, middle-aged BFFs would not share a bed. Except at a hotel, on holiday, and there was only one room/1 bed available and they were desperate for lodging.  (Guilty!)
Why do most men think that if two women are very close friends, they must have lesbian tendencies just under the surface of the friendship? 

This might have been a better book if the author had written in his own voice (as narrator) and told the story from the three men’s point of view. Greg, Lawrence, and Phil.

To receive my weekly posts, sign up   On the home page. Enter your email address. Watch for more interviews with authors.  




News Flash! Writer Goes to Prison

From stage play to novel was an incredible journey for me as a playwright turned novelist. In playwriting, you must tell your story in 100 pages or less, definitely in less than two hours and everything you want to relate to the audience must be conveyed through the dialogue.  In the theatre world, there’s a term: “method acting” which means you get as close to your character as you can.  If the character you are going to portray is a prostitute, you follow and talk to whores. (been there, done that. Honolulu, 1992 ) If your character is a woman who’s husband has been in prison for the past 13 years, you get inside her head or better yet visit him in prison.

I’m a ‘method’ writer, (every chance I get.)

In 1999 I had reason to visit a men’s DOC facility. (prison).  I was visiting a confessed murderer as research for one of my earlier scripts.  My writing has taken me to some unexpected places to say the least.  On a Sunday morning I found myself sitting in the reception area with three dozen other women.  Wives, sisters, mothers, daughters of convicted felons.  As I waited, I wondered how long they had been coming to visit; how long would a woman wait for her man behind bars; and what a terrible impact this must have on the children, visiting their fathers in this place.  Sitting there I was suddenly compelled to write their stories.  I tried to interview as many women as I could and this was no easy task.

Their closed society is cloaked in guilt and shame. But they finally let me in and I discovered, for the most part, incredibly brave and strong women.  They would tell their friends and neighbors, “my husband travels with his work” to explain the man’s absence.  Always appearing cheerful and strong while visiting their men, the women I spoke with, had a pull off down the highway where they would congregate (after leaving the prison) where they could cry, scream, and moan and be comforted.  Where they could share, with other women who understood, what their lives were really like outside the walls.  Away from the eyes of their men and the prison officials.

For someone who was so comfortable writing in the genre of ‘scripts’ this was a scary prospect. Yikes! I thought, a novel was at the very least 70,000 words and over 300 pages long. What could I possibly have to say?  One year and four months later I had a 335 page novel in my hands. Evidently my characters had plenty to say!  At times I was surprised and delighted with my women and their stories. At other times appalled. As many writers will tell you, at some point, the characters sort’a….no…they definitely take over and you become simply the typist.

I am hoping that my readers enjoy this journey and find some empathy for those women doing hard time outside the walls.

Writer Is Hacked (8>((

Well, as is everyone’s nightmare that owns a website (or even a computer) ,

It’s taken me weeks to get rid of the Malware. Mostly because I didn’t know where to start.  

Then it took us weeks to redesign (and fix the destroyed pages) my website.  That was mostly because my website is heavy on viable content, so we wanted to try to recover as much of it as possible.  Mission accomplished!!

Here’s the good news!  And ain’t it grand that in this life there’s always some good news if you look hard enough?
My website’s appearance got a fresh face lift.  I’m so pleased with the more modern, fresh, look with lots of white space.  
I hope my subscribers and new visitors enjoy it!

So, dear subscribers, visitors and fans, WE ARE BACK!!   I hope in the weeks to come we will offer you book reviews, author interviews, and tips about writing, editing, and storytelling.  
Love, Trish

Book Review ~ October in the Earth by Olivia Hawker


5 out of 5 stars

My favorite book of all time was Hawker’s One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow.   Until now.

Little did I know this author has more to write and stories to tell. The writing is exquisite in October in the Earth.  The characters are compelling and easy to love.  While I have never ridden the rails, myself, I was completely empathetic to the two lone women out in a cruel and mean world, during an era that suppressed women and crushed dreams and aspirations.  

As a rule, I skim ‘acknowledgments’ and ‘author’s notes’ but I wanted to know what Hawker was thinking when writing this great American novel.  So I read on…to discover that she started rewriting it (for the sixth time) just a few days after she had sworn off writing forever.  That’s how close we all came to never seeing this masterpiece. How close we came to losing this brilliant author.   Lucky for us she was compelled to return and write a little more. 

The Great Depression hit the 30’s of the last century with a devastating effect on the nation. Whole families take to the rails because, while dangerous, it is free transportation to maybe a better life…a life where they can, at least, feed their children. Fate or life…or whatever you want to call it…has driven Del and Louisa away from a relatively safe home life to riding the boxcars looking for any menial job. Sustenance for one more day.  Following the harvest, crisscrossing the nation by rail.  They meet by accident and forge a bond that nothing can break…maybe. 

Olivia Hawker writes compelling page-turners and usually, the ending is a surprise. In my humble opinion, this book replaces The Grapes of Wrath, by John  Steinbeck as the classic story of the nation’s struggles during the Great Depression. 


Did you miss my interview with Olivia?

On sale NOW! 

To receive my weekly posts, sign up   On the home page. Enter your email address. Watch for more interviews with authors.  


A Good Writer is a Good Observer

A good writer is always observing and watching other people and their interpersonal relationships with others. Relationships are complex and rarely resemble yours. And of course…listening.  Everyone speaks differently, with a different word choice and a varied cadence to their speech.  This can translate to your writing and add another layer of ‘flavor’ to your dialogue.  

I also recommend watching movies or series to learn dialogue writing.  But, not just the ‘bad’ movies, poorly written, poorly directed, and poorly acted.  Watch the good ones too…ones you liked. 

I recently was binge-watching an older series, “Six Feet Under“.  One which I had loved when it was new and couldn’t wait for each episode to air.  I began watching for the simple pleasure of re-watching it.  But three or four episodes in, I began to critique it.  Especially the character of Ruth; the mother of the Fisher family.  She had a hot temper and I am certain that was ‘written’ in for the character.  However, the actor, (Frances Conroy) went from 0 to 10 when the script called for  temper.  There was no layering.  At first I blamed the writing…then the director.  My final analysis was that the

 writing (without seeing the script) was hardly at fault. Or maybe a little bit not having enough blocking written in. Don’t forget, emotion can be written as part of the blocking. 

Then I laid some blame at the director’s feet for not noticing that his actor had only two levels; calm and yelling. And the yelling came out of the blue and was all the same.  Why didn’t the director catch this?  Well, he did have a huge cast to direct and watch over. So mostly the responsibility lay with the lazy actor. An actor who wants to get as much as possible out of a part would look for those layers, subtle though they may be. Ed O’Ross (Nikolai, the fiery Russian florist) was excellent at layering his character’s emotions.  

No script or production is perfect. You can watch ANYTHING and learn from it.  Same with reading. I’ll give you an example; when I noticed a couple of authors using the same word or phase over and over in their work of fiction, I realized I might suffer from the same curse. My nemeses is the word ‘just‘.  My guard dog is the feature (in any word processing platform) ‘find’ or ‘replace’ and I use it to root out the 300 times I used ‘just’. (hahaha)

If you’re a screen writer, visuals are more important than diaglogue.  Your blocking can include the silent dialogue. Write in the non-verbal speech of an actor.  In ‘Six Feet Under‘, actor, Lauren Ambrose (Claire) and Jeremy Sisto (Billy) were superb with their non-verbal dialogue, using facial and eye expressions and body language. This credit I give to the director and the excellent actors.  

When writing stage plays the playwright should keep ‘action’ simple. Write some emotional blocking in but always remember the director is going to have their own thoughts about how the scene should go.  Be careful not to do the director’s job for them.  It won’t be appreciated.  

If you are a screenwriter or writing fiction you probably think you have no interest in theatre.  One of your best sourses to learn about writing dialogue is the theatre.  Live stage plays are the Mecca of good or bad dialogue.  Go there, observe and learn! 

Another link on the subject of over-usage of words.

To receive my weekly posts, sign up   On the home page. Enter your email address. Watch for more interviews with authors.  





New 10 minute Play for Teens

This is my newest 10 minute play for teens and the classroom.

Synopsis: What does a girl do when her best friend’s boyfriend hits on her?
Teen breakups are messy. Most teens haven’t done it very often and they consistently get it wrong. If Rob wants to be with Kelly, she has some rules about that happening. After all, Rob’s soon-to-be ex-girlfriend is Kelly’s best friend.
1 m. 3 f.


This new play is part of a series, ‘Short N’ Small’.   Over 30 short plays, wonderful for the classroom.  No sets, no costumes, no props.

To receive my weekly posts, sign up   On the home page. Enter your email address. Watch for more interviews with authors.  

A few BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREKcyber-bullying, bullying, girls who bully, teen violence, short plays for teens

Interview with Author, Donna Everhart (part 2)

Donna & her grandkids

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

DE. You’re “looking” at a procrastinator. I’ll come to my desk every day and have a word goal in mind (usually 1,000 words) and oftentimes do everything but start working toward that goal. What follows is GUILT as time ticks by. By the end of the day, if I haven’t made the word count because of lost time on something unrelated to my writing goal, there’s the inevitable slump in mood. My best days are when I make a concerted effort to get the word count in. Even if I don’t, and get, say, 500 words, I’m happier for it because I know the effort was honestly made. It takes discipline to not get onto social media or think of the other million ways to avoid doing what needs to be done to accomplish the end result – i.e., a finished book. What I’ve found works best, write first; everything else comes after – even laundry.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

DE.  Usually through an idea for a story. Sometimes a name comes to mind first, and I start to think about who this person would be, and what is it they want, what they’re good at, what they’re bad at, and if they have any enemies. It’s kind of all over the place. A messy, messy process.  

Q. What first inspired you to write?

Donna with hubby

DE. Reading stories that made a big impact on me were the main influence or motivator. The enjoyment I got from books where I wouldn’t stop reading for a long time, and when I finally took a break, I’d look around in a daze. I’d become so invested in that world, I think I was surprised I wasn’t “there,” instead of sitting on a couch in my living room. That kind of story made me want to create something similar. The idea of affecting a person’s mood, thought process, and emotions resonated for whatever reason.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

DE. It’s actually been both. It’s never always this, or that. For example, in my debut, The Education of Dixie Dupree, it was the character of Dixie. In The Road to Bittersweet, it was the situation – the 1940 flood in western North Carolina. It just depends. When I begin to search for a story, I’m often lookin g for a situation, but out of nowhere, a name will come to mind – and then I’m thinking, who is this? (I have to have a name before I can develop a character)

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

DE. Absolutely. When I’m really in that zone, hours can go by and I’ll sort of come out of it and realize, oh, wait. I haven’t eaten. I’m often shocked half the day is gone. It’s kind of scary sometimes!  

Donna with her granddaughter

Q. What compelled you to choose and settle on the genre you now write in?

Donna with daughter

DE. I love, love, love reading stories set in the South where I’m from, and so I guess it makes sense I’d want to write about my culture and the region I love. Aside from the classics out there for Southern literature, like Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner, etc., it was reading the more contemporary writers like Kaye Gibbons (Ellen Foster) and Dorothy Allison, (Bastard Out Of Carolina) that jumpstarted my urge to pursue it. After I read their books and I was on the hunt for more stories like theirs. This was around 1987, or so, and as I began to discover these Southern stories which really resonated with me, I knew if I ever wrote anything, it would be something like this.

Did you miss the start of this interview?

To receive my weekly posts, sign up   On the home page. Enter your email address. Watch for more interviews with authors.  May: Victoria Costello.  June: Laila Ibrahim, August:  Donna Everhart