It’s Sunday night and I’m tired.  Again, I was at my desk very early this morning, staring at the copyedited manuscript of The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove.  Most of the copy editor’s comments I agree with.  Some I do not.  And even though this poor soul is only doing her job (and a very good one at that), I am growing to dislike her.  OK, that’s not fair.   I’m growing to dislike her red pencil.  But, to tell the truth, I had made a mess of the chronology.  I mean really, a mess.

Finally, I had to call in my husband to help me make a new timeline and so I could figure out all sorts of little details like how old Bezellia and her sister really were in 1969 — 18 and 14 respectively, in case you were wondering.

Then I made 12 more pound cakes, put away Christmas decorations and watched a little football.  Did not go to church today, and since I was raised in the Bible Belt, feeling a little guilty about that.

Heading to bed here in a few minutes but not before I put together 20 more shipping boxes and clean the kitchen.

Goodnight all.

Pound cakes ready for shipping!

Pound cakes ready for shipping!

Posted January 3, 2010 at 7:31 pm · 3 comments · Leave a Comment


Again, I am at my desk at 7:30 am.  But today I’ve already been to the post office and Starbucks.  I mailed my agent those now perfect (fingers crossed) 100 pages last night — to the wrong address.  Don’t ask.  I really should know this stuff.  Anyway, I went back to the post office this morning and discovered it’s only 15 degrees outside.

So yesterday, I sat in my chair for 6 hours putting the finishing touches on that submission and then headed straight to the kitchen and made 12 pound cakes — ate one — now have 11.  Then I collected addresses, measured ribbon, cut out stickers and with my daughter’s help put together 45 cake boxes.  Wait till you see the finished product, so cute.  These are the skills you just don’t learn in any MFA program.

Today, I’m spending most of my time with The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove.  I still have about 150 page of copyedited ms to get through and then back to the kitchen.  May go to FedEx to pick up  shipping boxes.  Trying not to spend more than $300 in packaging and shipping and be as green as possible — so going to shred old shopping bags instead of using plastic peanuts.

And to my friends and readers, thanks for all the comments yesterday.  What a wonderful way to start the year.  And to my dear very-talented-artist friend Mary Addison Hackett, thanks for the colored pencil suggestion.  Really, I mean it, big thanks!!!

Pound Cake Campaign 2010

Pound Cake Campaign 2010

Posted January 2, 2010 at 8:28 am · 8 comments · Leave a Comment


Thanks to everyone who took the time to vote on my new headshot.  Photo A won out hands down!  There were some great arguments for photo B — the natural setting, lighting, etc. but majority rules.


Of course, even more exciting and more important than the new headshot is the new covert art!  Rob Wood designed the cover for The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove, (Shaye Areheart Books / 17 August 2010).

I imagine that it’s a daunting task to portray the essence of a story in a single image and please a committee of editors, marketing and PR experts all at the same time.  But that’s what Rob has done, masterfully so. And even though Wood lives in Maryland now, his family tree is rooted, just like mine and Bezellia’s, deep in the Tennessee dirt. So it feels particularly gratifying that his art will be surrounding my words.

Thank you Rob!

Posted December 9, 2009 at 4:44 pm · 5 comments · Leave a Comment


The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove (August 2010) is in production. That means in addition to proofing pages, planning a book tour, etc. etc., it’s time for a new headshot.  And man was I ready!

Since Dairy Queen came out, I have cut my long hair short and let it return to its natural color — which is now a silvery gray thanks to my dad.

I cannot tell you how many times I have shown up at a book-related event to hear someone say, “Wow, you don’t look anything like your picture on the cover.”  And somehow they always seem a little disappointed.

But I got tired of packing like a sherpa to spend the afternoon at a salon to have my hair cut, colored (sometimes highlighted), and then blown dry.  I can’t help but wonder how many novels I might have written if I had never colored my hair in the first place!

But now I need your help.  I can’t decide which shot to use; and since you are going to be the one at it, well, I thought I would open it up to a vote.

Let me know what you think!

Photo A

Photo A

Photo B

Photo B

Posted November 20, 2009 at 12:46 pm · 10 comments · Leave a Comment


A Nashville friend of mine and fellow author, Leisa A. Hammett, has just published a book that I want to share with you.  It’s called from Heartache to Hope.  And it’s a beautiful, coffee table-styled book featuring stunning black-and-white photography and the moving stories of 18 Middle Tennessee families living with autism.

You can order on-line at And all the money raised from the sale of the book supports on-going research.

Posted November 12, 2009 at 10:49 am · comment · Leave a Comment


image001Whenever the subject of banned books arises, I always feel my stomach turn a little.  As a writer and a reader, I am thankful to live in a country founded on free speech.  And yet at the same time, I am surprised that we can, at times, be so afraid of the written word, so intimated by an idea.

My great dream was not to have written a book but to imagine a thought so provocative, so novel that it would cause others to shout or stomp or scream.  And if the dream does come true, then never, please never, ban the words!

Celebrate the last few days of Banned Book Week by reading one of your favorites.  Mine, To Kill A Mockingbird. Yours???

Posted October 2, 2009 at 2:34 pm · 5 comments · Leave a Comment


Readers ask me all the time if Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen is autobiographical.  I’ve always said “no.”  And even though I’ve come to believe it is more so than I once thought, I was surprised the other day when my 22-year-old daughter gave me her opinion of the book.  And I quote . . .

Seems like Catherine Grace Cline and her longing for the bigger world is a reflection of your own personal aspirations.  In writing this book, you were finally able to break free, like Catherine Grace, and make something big of yourself.  Up until that point, you kept chugging along — writing articles, raising children, etc. But all these things led to your big break just like Catherine Grace found hers.  She kept her eye on the prize, saving money every summer, etc. etc., and so did you.

You rock, Mama!

Hmm, I thought, she may be on to something.

But whether it’s autobiographical or not is not really the point.  I just love that a thousand different people can read the same thing and find a thousand different messages.  Intended or not, these deeper meanings are embedded in a writer’s story like treasures waiting to be found on a scavenger hunt.

I used to get so irritated with English teachers wanting to endlessly dissect a novel that I had enjoyed reading. Funny, now as an author, I’m finding that the hunt for the hidden treasures is one of the wonderful, unexpected pleasures of sharing your story.

My and My Baby Girl

My and My Baby Girl

Posted September 28, 2009 at 12:12 pm · 2 comments · Leave a Comment


On Sunday, I rolled into Nashville late in the afternoon having spent the weekend in Paola and Garnett, Kansas.  The trip was a success — if you consider all the requirements necessary for a successful road trip — remembered my luggage, involved in no accidents, sat in no traffic, sold a lot of books, and most importantly, met some absolutely amazing people.  (Yes, Helen Norman, I specifically mean you!)

The trip to Kansas concluded what I have come to call my Summer Salvation Book Tour.  And with 8,000 miles now logged on my car’s odometer, I am very happy to be at home.

The girls are starting school this week, and the routine of writing every morning is within my grasp. Time in the chair, time in the chair — that has always been my mantra after all — the key to success for any writer, I think.  And the people in my head, well, they’re calling, shouting really, anxious for me to tell their story.  They’ve been patient, but they’re growing very restless.  It’s time I give them my full attention.  So if you need me in the near future, I’ll be sitting in my chair.

Susan with Helen and Mike Norman of the Garnett, KS, Dairy Queen

Susan with Helen and Mike Norman of the Garnett, KS, Dairy Queen

Posted August 18, 2009 at 3:45 pm · 3 comments · Leave a Comment


I wanted to share this comment with you sent by a reader who was responding to my blog post entitled THE BIG RED MACHINE.  As a writer, it’s always your hope that you’re going to stir a memory, trigger a thought, a feeling — maybe even encourage an act of kindness.  And it’s always very humbling to know your words have touched someone.  Thank you, Charlie, for taking the time to send me your memory.

This post stirred a lot of memories, thoughts and a couple of wishes for events that never happened. My father played catch with me, taught me to swing a bat, coached my Little League team, ironed letters on all the team caps for the league, and watched every game he could, but we never watched a big league game together.

I got to see one exhibition game with him in Mobile. Chicago White Sox against the Cleveland Indians, just a a couple of days before Rocky Colavito was traded to Detroit. I still have the lineup sheet–it was a single piece of paper with the teams listed on opposite sides and the wrong date–and a baseball with Colavito’s autograph.

Later, though, we didn’t talk that m! uch about baseball. It would have been great to see a couple of regular season games with him, but I’m grateful for the time.

I also remember the Big Red Machine, and I think their World Series against the A’s in 1972 may be the best ever, although it doesn’t get in the highlight reels.

Thanks for reminding me of all this.


Posted August 12, 2009 at 3:53 pm · comment · Leave a Comment


I wanted to share this review with you by guest blogger, 11 year-old Ireland Stuart.  Ireland’s dad bought a copy of my book back in June when I was signing at the Borders at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Of course, I was thrilled that Ireland loved my book (always nice to hear!) but I was even more touched that she took the time to write such a thoughtful review — I think this may be the beginning of her career as a great literary critic!

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen
A novel by: Susan Gregg Gilmore

The book Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen was a great book to read! One of the reasons I liked the book was because at times there was so much suspense, I couldn’t put it down!

Another reason why I liked the book was because I liked how there was times when I could really understand how Catherine Grace and Martha Ann felt. Those were reasons why I liked the book, Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen.

I had two favorite parts in the book. One of my favorite parts in the book was when Catherine Grace finally earns enough money from her jam making business to escape Ringgold and leave for Atlanta, Georgia.

My other favorite part in the book was when Catherine Grace and Martha Ann find out they have a mother. Martha Ann was bursting with happiness but Catherine Grace was upset that her mother ran away from her family. So much suspense!! I was overjoyed when Catherine Grace figured out that Lena Mae was her mom and she loved her.

That was my review for the book, Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen.

-Ireland Stuart

Posted August 5, 2009 at 7:49 am · 4 comments · Leave a Comment

Susan Gregg Gilmore