On Monday, I hit the SEND button on my laptop, and my manuscript flew away.  After three years and countless hours hunched over my desk, it was gone, winging its way to my agent and a fellow writer.

When I sat down to craft my first novel at 42, I never dreamed that eight years later, I would have completed my third.  But I have. And I finished this one, tentatively titled THE FUNERAL DRESS, much as I did the first – sad that it was done.

I took this photograph in the Sequatchie Valley and referred to it often as I wrote this book.

Sure there are rewrites to do.  But then I need to consider other’s perspectives, concerns, dislikes, likes, etc.  And although there’s great good to come from that process, it will definitely be different for me and Emmalee, Nolan, Cynthia Faye, Leona, and the others from Cullen, Tennessee.

Family members have told me to take a break, rest for a while, do nothing.  But I feel at a loss.  My days are a little lonelier now, even though I have time to chat with friends and prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Fortunately, there is another story begging for my attention, but I know I need to linger in this moment just a while longer, even if it is a bit uncomfortable.  I need to say a proper goodbye to this process, this journey, that carried me over a mountain and delivered me into a world that I love.

Posted November 16, 2011 at 9:44 am · 17 comments · Leave a Comment


  1. bermudaonion (Kathy), November 16th, 2011, 9:47 am

    I'm so excited to see that you're done with it! I'm sure you'll find much to fill your days with.
  2. Suzanne, November 16th, 2011, 10:34 am

    You should be very proud of yourself for such an impressive accomplishment! I can't wait to read it when the novel is released.
  3. Jane, Atlanta, November 16th, 2011, 11:00 am

    I am so excited you have finished! I can not wait to be able to purchase your new work. Take some time to relax and enjoy the holiday season.
  4. Lou Ann, November 17th, 2011, 8:34 pm

    How exciting for you! So glad you have it in and can be reveling in the accomplishment. Can not wait until we can all read it.
  5. Charlotte Rains Dixon, November 21st, 2011, 10:24 pm

    Yay! Selfishly, I'm happy for me, because it means I'll get to read the book soon. But I'm so excited for you, such an accomplishment to have written your third novel!
  6. Mary Ellen, November 22nd, 2011, 9:55 am

    How exciting for your readers to have the book soon. After hearing you talk about your process I can understand the emotions you must feel when ending the book. I know that sometimes when I am reading a book I love,I hate for it to end and find myself lingering on each word. Bittersweet.
  7. Becky Brothers, November 28th, 2011, 4:54 pm

    Such wonderful news. Sorry for the delayed congrats! Can't wait to hear how it all turns out!
  8. Ron Cooper, July 2nd, 2012, 1:41 pm

    Just read your article in Garden & Gun. Can't wait to download your stories. We are in Huntsville, AL so we can relate to a lot of your tales. Thanks for the fun reads. Ron & Mark
  9. Hazel Peterson, July 23rd, 2012, 7:40 am

    I found your first book quite by accident. The name just made me smile. I bought it and saved it for a time when I could find five minutes to myself. Turns out that five minutes was the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado when we were forced to "stay put" for a week with all the roads closed and the fires closing in on us. I, not only watch smoke outside my window, but fell and broke my foot. So....I read...and laughed...and cried. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Hazel PEterson
  10. Ellen Kelly, September 21st, 2013, 2:00 pm

    After returning from Camp Sumatanga, a UMC camp near Gallant, AL, in 1971, I began receiving letters from a fellow camper named Susan Gregg. The correspondence lasted for a short time. I was 10 years old. Would love to know if this little girl is you. I look forward to reading your books.
  11. yolanda, October 7th, 2013, 12:10 pm

    I just wanted to tell you that this book means so much to me. you see my mom worked in a factory much like this all her life.I lived in a town much like cullen for most of my life and all the things you mentioned the sense of community, the wreath on the door, the funeral home are all things I remeber growing up in MS. I very seldom cry and this book made me cry remembering all the women I loved who lived this kind of life as I still do in some senses. Thanks you so much.
  12. Alice, November 21st, 2014, 1:39 pm

    After the three long years that you spent crafting and perfecting The Funeral Dress, the moment that you finished, the second when your finger hit the SEND button, does not mark the end of your relationship with the beautiful characters within the novel that you created. These relationships are everlasting - that is, thanks to you. Their presence will live on forever - through the words that you wrote. And each time you pick up the book, touch it's cream colored pages and lay your eyes on the text, you can be reassured that they have not left you. Emmalee, her baby, Leona - they are right there with you. They will never leave your side, just as you never left theirs. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - You combined your beautiful passion for life, your profound writing ability, and your special love for the South in order to tell a story that not many of us are told - and for that you deserve a gold medal. You used your words to let voices be heard that would have otherwise remained in silence - and for that you are my inspiration. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - I can't wait to read your next book mom, I know it will be just as beautiful and wonderful as all the others.
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  17. Sharon, September 19th, 2017, 9:35 am

    Oh, please, please write more!!!!! I have finished all your books and am starving for another...

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Susan Gregg Gilmore