FIRST STOP . . . MY DESK

Book Tour Entry #1 from Susan Gregg Gilmore on Vimeo.

Well I was planning on leaving town on Wednesday for Salvation Summer Tour 2009 (my own nickname for this 6-week book tour to celebrate the paperback release of Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen).   Unfortunately due to a small family emergency — I say small because everything will be fine — I am going to go ahead and jump in the car today and head on up to Washington, DC.  

But stay tuned because I will be back with more video and more fun.  This is just a little preview of what’s to come!

Posted June 1, 2009 at 10:53 am · 1 comment · Leave a Comment

NEVER EAT A CONE ALONE . . . TAKE A FRIEND TO DAIRY QUEEN

Today I am officially announcing my SUMMER GIVEAWAY!
NEVER EAT A CONE ALONE . . . TAKE A FRIEND TO DAIRY QUEEN!

That’s right, you can win a cone for yourself and one for your friend simply by snapping your pic in front of your favorite DQ store. And if you’re one of the first, you might even win a free paperback copy of Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen (Three Rivers Press/$14.00)!

Yep, we’re celebrating the June 9th paperback release with some DQ treats. So get your camera out and head on over to the Dairy Queen.

For all the rules and regs, head on back to the Home Page.

And I must thank Nashville writer Randal Patrick for the wonderful slogan. You’re brilliant!!!
Summer Giveway

Posted May 31, 2009 at 12:46 pm · comment · Leave a Comment

IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO LAUNCH A WEBSITE

Three weeks from today the paperback version of Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen arrives in a bookstore near you. And in celebration of the day, I wanted to implement a new, easier-to-read website. Wow, this was harder than birthing a baby — and trust me I know what I’m talking about!

But I want to thank Erin Pfister, the designer, and Brooks Harper at McNeely, Piggot and Fox here in Nashville for some last minute scrambling so we could get things up and running today. Everything may not be perfect quite yet, but you get the idea.

I have a lot more to share so come back and visit real soon!

Posted May 20, 2009 at 2:16 pm · 2 comments · Leave a Comment

NEW WEBSITE

Hi there! I wanted to let you know that in the next few days, if all goes well, you should see a new look here at www.susangregggilmore.com. I’ve spent a lot of time this winter rethinking my website, hoping that you will find the new one not only easier to read but with more fun and helpful information — giveaways, reading guides, calendar of events, video blog and so on.

Also many of you have found it impossible to send me a message. I apologize for the inconvenience. I believe that problem has already been corrected, and I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

So check it out and stay in touch!

New Home Page

A Sneak Peak at the New Homepage

Posted April 26, 2009 at 12:06 pm · 3 comments · Leave a Comment

LEE SMITH GIVES KEYNOTE ADDRESS

Me with Jill McCorkle and Lee Smith

Me with Jill McCorkle and Lee Smith

You may already know that Lee Smith was my seventh-grade English teacher. That’s right. She taught me how to diagram a sentence — a skill, a gift, a much-missed middle school requirement. OK, I love to diagram. It makes the sentence construction so wonderfully visual. So maybe it’s no big surprise that as a storyteller, someone who is always painting a picture with words, I would be drawn to this grammatical art form.

But that’s not really the point of this blog, is it? Last week, I attended the 2009 Conference on Southern Literature in Chattanooga. The speakers were, as they always are at this conference, amazing. I was particularly taken with Natasha Trethewey, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning poet and Emory University professor who spoke about writing to and from another race without stereotyping or creating a sense of “otherness.”

Of course, the highlight for me was Lee Smith’s keynote address. She spoke so eloquently, so passionately about her young life in Grundy, Virginia, a coal-mining town in the southwestern part of the state. Her father owned a dime store there, and Lee spent so much of her childhood in her father’s store. She said she was responsible for tending to the dolls, but I think she was busy collecting stories that she has generously spooned out to us over a lifetime.

As I sat there in the front row, listening to her talk about her father who died the very day he closed the store he had loved for 47 years, I began to cry. I cried in part because of the love she had for her father and this small town. And I cried in part because of the realization, yet again, that having sat in her classroom and watched her with chalk in her hand pull apart a sentence and put it back together on the blackboard, had been an incredible gift.

Posted April 10, 2009 at 1:54 pm · 2 comments · Leave a Comment

NPR’S ALAN CHEUSE & LEMON MERINGUE PIE

Alan Cheuse and I enjoy a hug at the Virginia Festival Of Books

Alan Cheuse and I enjoy a hug at the Virginia Festival of the Book

About a year ago, Alan Cheuse reviewed my book on NPR’s ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I, naturally, was very grateful for his comments and his support even though at one point he likened my book to a lemon meringue pie. Although he did refer to LOOKING FOR SALVATION AT THE DAIRY QUEEN as a stand-out, coming-of-age novel (of course that was my favorite part!), he also admitted that he longed for more filling and less meringue.

Flash forward 13 months later. I’m sitting in the audience at a panel discussion at the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville — Alan Cheuse, Michael Dirda, Louis Bayard and Bethanne Kelly Patrick are all there — superstars in the world of literary critics.

They all mourned the recent death of the Washington Post’s Book World. Alan Cheuse was downright furious about it — as well he should be. They all agreed that the critic’s review should be the first dialogue in a continued conversation about a new book. But sadly, the opportunities for us to hear from the great critics are rapidly disappearing.

During the question-and-answer period, I raised my hand, thanked Mr. Cheuse for his support and handed him a lemon meringue pie. He kiddingly asked if I was going to throw it at him. Truthfully, I was never offended by his comment, only honored that he had started a conversation.

Posted March 22, 2009 at 10:44 am · 4 comments · Leave a Comment

CATHERINE GRACE SHOWS ME THE WAY

It’s cold and dreary outside so I’m feeling a bit reflective this morning. That seems to happen whenever the sky turns gray, and I put a chicken in the oven. It’s almost like a mathematical equation. One gray, chilly day + one roasting bird = contemplative moment.

So here goes. Bear with me. But a fried from childhood just sent me a picture from my recent visit to her book club. We had not seen each other in 30 years, and yet once we started talking it felt like we had just seen each other yesterday.

Got me to thinking that I really am more like Catherine Grace than I had realized. But I seem to be following her lead. Turns out, she’s been a role model of sorts.

In 2006, I came back to Nashville 30 years after leaving. The day I moved into my house (believe it or not on the very same street I had lived on as little girl) I got a call from my agent that we had sold my first book. Even at that moment, it seemed as if I, too, had to come home, full circle, to find peace with myself, just like Catherine Grace.

Honestly, the first two years here were hard for me. I won’t bore you with the details. Our journeys on this earth all take difficult turns from time to time. But it has been my friends, from childhood, that have contacted me, asked me to come to their book clubs, met me for lunch, taken a walk with me around Radnor Lake that have been my salvation! And I had to come home to find them.

My friend Currin invited me to her book club - the first time we'd seen each other in 30 years!

My friend Currin invited me to her book club - the first time we'd seen each other in 30 years!

Posted March 12, 2009 at 7:02 am · comment · Leave a Comment

THE CLINE FAMILY HOME

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This is not Catherine Grace’s family home. No, this beat-up, burned-up, tiny speck of a house belonged to my grandmother’s family, now known to all of us as simply the Cline family home.

Lives began and ended in this house. And last week a fire destroyed what was left of it. I’m sure the charred remains will be bulldozed and carried away and that will be the end of it. The memories are still there, I know, but it does seem like a part of my family’s history, as meager as it may be, is now lost.

My brother drove me to see the house yesterday, afraid that the next time I came to town, it would be gone. It’s situated on a busy, narrow road in East Ridge, Tennessee. But I can remember my daddy saying that when he was a little boy, there were was no traffic, no neighbors, just quiet.

That house haunts me, or more likely, it’s all the lives that stepped onto the wooden porch and walked through front door that are haunting me — begging me to tell their story. And as a Cline, I think it’s story that will need to be told.

Posted March 5, 2009 at 8:22 am · 2 comments · Leave a Comment

THERE’S A PROCESS??

People frequently ask me what my process is — my writing process. I honestly never thought about it much until my first book was published. I just got up everyday and wrote for at least two hours. Sure life got in the way from time to time but that was basically my process — sitting down at my desk and working.

Now I’ve been giving this process thing a lot more thought and as I begin my third novel thought maybe I’ll blog more about the process as I go along. Maybe it will someone out there trying to write their own novel. Maybe it will make someone feel a whole lot better about their own writing process. But either way, here goes.

I have been a my desk for about two months now and have one chapter completed. And still not sure I’m heading in the right direction. But I like the main character and her situation in life.

Writing everyday has been much harder this time around. And that is a problem. When not writing everyday then the story is not swimming around my head. Must get back to my desk.

Maybe I’ll try an outline this time or a graph or something that will point the way.

More later . . .

Posted March 3, 2009 at 6:22 am · comment · Leave a Comment

THIS YEAR YOU WRITE YOUR NOVEL

Not only is that a challenge of sorts but it’s also the name of a wonderful little book I stumbled across this week. This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosely (Hatchette Book Group/2009) is 103 pages of honest, practical advice that every writer needs to hear.

From routine to character development, Mosley addresses the issue that every writer is forced to confront. Bottom line, no excuses, you must spend time in front of your computer, notebook, typewriter, and you must do it everyday.

With that said, I am going to return to the first chapter of my third novel. I’ve really been struggling with this– struggling with everything from the vantage point of the main character to the setting.

Then again, the first chapter is, in my opinion, the foundation of the rest of the manuscript, and it deserves my full attention. Or, as Mosley would argue, it deserves at least one and a half to three hours of my attention everyday!

Posted February 27, 2009 at 8:35 am · 1 comment · Leave a Comment

Susan Gregg Gilmore