THE TOMATO

Everybody who knows me knows I love tomatoes.  I was raised on them.  More than that, I was raised hunting for the perfect tomato. It was as much sport as it was mission in my family, as competitive as SEC football.  And my dad was the coach, the master of the hunt.

We grew them, of course.  But we would also drive miles to some small make-shift stand by the side of some unmarked country road because my father had heard talk of the size, color and quality of some farmer’s tomatoes.

I never knew a time when my father didn’t have several red Beefsteaks lined up in his kitchen windowsill waiting for that very moment when one of them would be ready to slice.  He ate them with every meal, every day.

So no wonder Catherine Grace Cline, the young and witty heroine of my first book, believed that “the tomato was the symbol of a person’s God-fearing commitment to biblical and civic values.”  Her devotion to the tomato was in her blood, as it is in mine.

And even now, as a very grown woman, when the weather turns hot and the tomatoes start to ripen on the vine, I think of my daddy and the search for tomato perfection!

Some of my favorite heirlooms -- Valencia, Cherokee Purple and Pineapple.

Some of my favorite heirlooms -- Valencia, Cherokee Purple and Pineapple.

Let me know where you find the perfect tomato!!!

Posted July 30, 2009 at 11:38 am · 4 comments · Leave a Comment

THE BIG RED MACHINE

A couple of days ago my book tour took me Cincinnati.  I was at Joseph-Beth Booksellers for a reading and then a radio interview with Barbara Gray who hosts the wonderfully intelligent program Around Cincinnati on  WVXU 91.7.  The reading and interview both went really well.  And it would have been a perfect trip had I remembered my suitcase which was left sitting in my living room in Nashville.  Oh well, minor setback.

But truthfully, the highlight of this trip for me was the time I spent at the Great American Ballpark on the banks of the Ohio River.  My dad and I spent a lot of hours watching Cincinnati Reds’ baseball on television when I was little girl.  Bench, Rose, Concepion, Morgan, Geronimo — they were my heroes. My dad and I never went to a game together, and he passed away three years ago now.  So it felt like I was making a pilgrimage of sorts, for both of us.

I ate hot dogs, Cracker Jacks, ice cream, peanuts — all part of the journey — and the Reds won.  And my dad, well, he was there with me.

(p.s. Looking for the ballpark with the best food??  Let me know what you think!)

Posted July 22, 2009 at 8:40 am · 5 comments · Leave a Comment

ROAD WARRIOR

My attempts at staying in touch while on the road, although well intentioned, obviously became a bit more impractical as one day rolled into the next or should I say one mile rolled into the next and Internet access, aka Panera Bread, became harder to find.  Now with 6500 miles behind me, I can honestly admit that I’m tired!  That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy myself — because I did.  The best part, as always, is meeting other readers who love books as much as I do.  

Near the end of my trip I landed in Lititz, Pennsylvania, a small, picturesque town in Central PA.  I had a yummy dinner with the owner of Aaron’s Books (and the wonderful mother of sweet little Aaron himself) and then a post-reading visit with the BOOKING MAMA and her very own mama!

And then my own 80-year-old mother surprised me and drove down from New Jersey to spend the night with me in Lititz.  She was getting worried about her little girl (I love the fact that she still thinks of me as her little girl!) who had been on the road for weeks by this time.

So there we all were — a group of readers, mothers, friends — enjoying a cool summer night talking about our kids, our lives, and of course, our favorite books.  I think it was, quite truthfully, the perfect ending to a very long road trip.

Sam (left/owner) and Julie (Booking Mama) with me at Aaron's Books in Lititz, PA

Sam (left/owner) and Julie (Booking Mama) with me at Aaron's Books in Lititz, PA

P.S.  Heading back out next week.  Will be at Joseph-Beth in Cincinnati on Thursday the 16th at 7 pm.

Posted July 8, 2009 at 2:25 pm · 2 comments · Leave a Comment

BOOKING MAMA

More than 3500 miles into this book tour, and I woke up to read this wonderful review from BOOKING MAMA.  With about 3500 more miles to go, it sure was a nice pick-me-up!

Enjoy.

Posted June 23, 2009 at 9:17 am · 1 comment · Leave a Comment

LAND OF WOLFE AND SANDBURG

 

Carl Sandburg's Home, Connemara, in Flat Rock, North Carolina

Carl Sandburg's Home, Connemara, in Flat Rock, North Carolina

 

I arrived in Asheville on Friday night, just in time for a reading at the new Battery Park Book Exchange, probably the hippest used book store you could ever hope to find, complete with champagne bar.  The next night on to City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, North Carolina, a tiny mountain town with a big love of books. 

But when I had time, I toured Thomas Wolfe’s home in Asheville and then Carl Sandburg’s in Flat Rock, NC.  Thomas Wolfe lived in town, in a boarding house, run by his mother.  Apparently he didn’t even have a room of his own because his mother would rent every room in the house when and if she could.

Carl Sandburg’s home, on the other hand, sits on 200+ acres in the beautiful North Carolina mountains.  And the house, well, it’s as if the Sandburgs have just run to the store and will be back any minute.  Everything is just as it was when the couple lived there.  Apparently after Sandburg died, his wife packed up her clothes and a few personal belongings and left the house fully furnished, down to a box of Kleenex by a living room chair.  

The setting is so peaceful — words were meant to be born there.

Posted June 22, 2009 at 8:33 pm · 2 comments · Leave a Comment

WEEKEND IN ATLANTA

We finally made it to Atlanta after 16 hours in the car!  And it was worth every long, tiring, back-aching minute.  I visited my good friends at FOXTALE BOOK SHOPPE, twice, once for a reading and then a writers’ workshop.  Also made some new friends at A NOVEL EXPERIENCE in Zebulon, Georgia, HORTON’S BOOKS AND GIFTS in Carrollton, Georgia, and THE BLUE ELEPHANT in Decatur, Georgia – three great independent bookstores.

And FYI:

Horton’s is the oldest bookstore in Georgia.

A Novel Experience shows foreign films every other Friday night and is located right down the road from the University of Georgia’s Agricultural Experiment Station where they invented the science of freezing foods — not sure why I find that so fascinating — but I do!

The Blue Elephant wraps their books in brown paper and ties them up with a string — love it — as these are a few of my favorite things.  Sorry, raised performing The Sound of Music at home.  (I was always Gretel.)

And FOXTALE sales the best t-shirt EVER!  

I’ve enjoyed a few days at home, just enough time to pet the doggies, wash some clothes and dust the house.  Off again, on Friday when I’ll be heading to Asheville for a little champagne sipping and book signing — details to follow shortly.

See you on the road.

Book Tour Woodstock, GA from Susan Gregg Gilmore on Vimeo.

Posted June 17, 2009 at 7:34 am · 1 comment · Leave a Comment

ON THE ROAD . . . AGAIN

Just a quick hello as we cruise down I-81 to Atlanta.  We had a great event yesterday at Dolphin Books on Long Island.  Thank you Priscilla for  such a lovely evening.

We got up bright and early this morning and sat in traffic!   And now it’s gray and rainy (of course) but we’re inching our way to Atlanta.  Five events in the next two days.  Stay tuned — will write more as soon as I can.

Book Tour from Susan Gregg Gilmore on Vimeo.

P.S.  We made it to Atlanta around midnight!  Now off to Hortons at noon and the Blue Elephant tonight.  Check out my calendar for details.

Posted June 12, 2009 at 5:39 am · 2 comments · Leave a Comment

DQ LAUNCH A BLAST!

Yesterday, the paperback edition of Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen was released (yeah) and appropriately celebrated at a Dairy Queen!  And thanks to owner/operator Donnna Albanese of the Plainfield, NJ, Dairy Queen, it was a great success.  We had a lot of fun talking to customers, eating ice cream and even raising a little money for Donna’s favorite charity, NJ Sharing Network, an organization that supports tissue and organ donation.

Next stop, Port Washington, New York, and the Dolphin Book Shop. Can’t wait to get there — last summer the staff at Dolphin named my book as their number one summer reading pick!  How about this summer too?!

Untitled from Susan Gregg Gilmore on Vimeo.

Posted June 10, 2009 at 9:57 am · 1 comment · Leave a Comment

First Stop!

The first stop on Summer Salvation Book Tour 2009 (my very exaggerated title for this road trip) was great.  My daughter, Alice, and I spent the morning with the Friends of the Library in Crossville, Tennessee.  The people, the setting, the banana pudding were all wonderful!

Then we raced to Knoxville to do a quick spot on an afternoon television program.  Thanks to everybody at WBIR — aFriends of the Librarynd finally dinner with old friends from Pasadena.  Getting ready to hit the road again.  Miles to go on I-81!

Crossville Friends of the Library

Posted June 4, 2009 at 7:45 am · 1 comment · Leave a Comment

PAPERBACKS AND BOOK CLUBS

 

Preacher's Strawberry Jam Triffle

Preacher's Strawberry Jam Triffle

Since my first novel was released, I have met some of the most amazing readers, people who passionately care about their books. Many of them are, yes, members of book clubs.  And when a book club invites me to visit, I do whatever I can to be there.  From New Jersey to Arkansas, I have spent time with as many book clubs as possible.

And this is what I’ve learned about these reading groups.  Some are more social than others.  Some serve wine.  Some are single-sex.  Some are for couples only.  Some are for mothers and daughters — and the girls get to pick the books!  Some have a dress code (you come dressed as your favorite character).  Some serve a menu based on foods mentioned in the book.  Some meet in churches, most in homes, some in restaurants.  Some talk about the book.  Some talk about their day.  Some only read books out in paper, no hardcovers allowed.  But all of them READ!

So with the paperback coming out in one week, (Reading Guide included), I wanted to continue the celebration by sharing the ideas of one very creative book club organizer.   The excerpt below is provided by Leigh DeFreitas, facilitator of the Riverdowns Readers of Midlothian, Virginia.  Leigh, you’re amazing!

 

While browsing in my favorite independent bookstore, CARPE LIBRUM, in Knoxville, Tennessee, I stumbled upon this, then, newly released debut novel.  When I approached the checkout counter, the bookseller exclaimed that I was going to LOVE this book, and no truer words have ever been spoken!

Well, you ask yourself, how does one go about celebrating such a debutante of the literary world?  Did I not already suggest a party??? Read on…

Susan’s book mimics Rachel Ray’s list of recipe ideas for party foods.  Try some of these tasty tidbits of Gilmore lore.

Recipe ideas from Leigh with book reference pages…

Preacher’s Strawberry Jam Trifle served in jelly jars(found at Kroger)p.66

Layer: 

 

Prepared French vanilla instant jello pudding

Crushed shortbread cookies, graham crackers or GS cookies

Fresh raspberries or strawberries

Extra creamy cool whip (thawed)

Repeat layers and top with cool whip/fresh fruit garnish

 

PB & Strawberry Star-Shaped Finger Sandwiches p. 60

Spread peanut butter on one slice of bread and strawberry jam on the other piece.

Cut the finger sandwiches with a star-shaped cookie cutter.

 

Mrs. Gulbenk’s Good Housekeeping Tea served in jelly jars/mason jars (found at Kroger)see p. 88 for the recipe

I served the tea with 12 oz. of hot water & 2 TB of tea mix.

 

Dilly Bars bought at a local Dairy Queen  p. 8


Finally, for the finishing touches…

Serve your star-shaped finger sandwiches on Strawberry Shortcake children’s character’s plates from Party City, wear the character’s strawberry hat, and dress your dog in her Daisy Mae jean dress with the strawberry design blouse.

 

Now THAT is a Susan Gregg Gilmore book party!

And…who knows, someone might find salvation as well!

 

Other ideas: (they keep on comin’)


Bag a few chocolate chip cookies (p.135) and give as a parting gift along with a bottle of nail polish—look for colors like Blossom Pink and Baby Doll Pink

 

Have party gals bring a bottle of nail polish and present a prize of fresh tomatoes from a local stand for the neatest name of polish.

 

Have party participants wear hot pink flip flops.

 

Happy Reading!

 

Leigh DeFreitas

 

  

 

 

 

Thanks Leigh!

Thanks Leigh!

 

 

P.S. I’m hitting the road this morning so follow me on my blog, Facebook Fan Page (Susan Gregg Gilmore) and Twitter @susangilmore!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      


Posted June 3, 2009 at 6:00 am · 1 comment · Leave a Comment

Susan Gregg Gilmore