Friday, August 19, 2011

Guest Blogger: Susan Gregg Gilmore & Giveaway

I am so excited about today's post because it's an essay from one of my favorite writers -- Susan Gregg Gilmore. Plus, I have a fantastic giveaway! What could be better for one of the last Fridays of the summer?

Susan is the author of two fantastic novels LOOKING FOR SALVATION AT THE DAIRY QUEEN and THE IMPROPER LIFE OF BEZELLIA GROVE, and I loved both of them. You can read my reviews here and here. Not only do I absolutely adore Susan's writing and her extremely memorable characters, but she is also a great friend. Susan is one of those special people that you meet and immediately fall in love with.

I think you'll enjoy her guest post because it gives you a sense of Susan's personality and writing style. You'll also get some insight into her novels. Trust me -- read them. You won't regret it! So without further ado, here's Susan.......

It’s been three-plus years since the Booking Mama and I met in Lititz, PA, at Aaron’s Bookstore.  I was celebrating the hardcover release of Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen, and she was there to cheer me on along with her precious mama and sweet, sweet sister. 

Our paths have crossed hundreds of times since, on twitter much more often than in person, but we’ve still managed to keep in touch.

When The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove came out in hardcover a year ago, Julie was there in Lititz to celebrate with me, again.  This time she brought poundcake!  Bezellia’s in paper now with a great new cover, and Julie is here, this time hosting a giveaway to help me spread the word.

Thanks to Dairy Queen, I met Julie and so many other readers that I now call my friends.  It also gave me the opportunity to eat a boatload of Dilly Bars with just about every book club I visited with from Arkansas to New Jersey.  Of course, as a writer, it allowed me to explore my heritage, my culture, my family’s roots in the rich Tennessee soil.  That was rich fodder for a storyteller. 

But Bezellia did so much more for me.  This book really gave me the opportunity to come to terms with the racial inequities that I witnessed as a child growing up in the South.  This is not my personal story but is rooted in my memories, my perceptions, of the place I knew.  And it was only when I came home to Nashville, thirty years after I left, that I found the girl who could lead me down on this journey.

Set in those final dark hours before the Civil Rights Movement really took hold, The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove is the tale of one young woman who had to make tough choices in a world where society was neatly ordered by class, status, and skin color.  I’m really proud of this book and pleased that Target has chosen it as part of their Emerging Author Program.  And I hope you, the reader, enjoy spending some time in my hometown with Bezellia Grove.

Susan Gregg Gilmore was born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1961. She began her writing career at the University of Virginia as a reporter for the school’s award-winning newspaper, The Cavalier Daily.
After graduating in 1983, she assumed a secretarial position with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

A year later, she entered graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, earning a Master of Arts in American Studies. She remembers asking a favorite professor about pursuing a writing career, and he told her she needed to live life first.

So she did.  She married in 1985 and with her husband, Dan, has now raised three daughters.

She has made hundreds of cupcakes for bake sales, chaired school book fairs, volunteered in inner-city schools and taught Vacation Bible School all the while writing for papers including the Los Angeles Times, The Christian Science Monitor and the Chattanooga News-Free Press.

While on staff at the Free Press, Gilmore wrote a weekly column about parenting in the South.
Her first novel, Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen, is rooted in summer vacations spent with her paternal grandmother and grandfather, a revival-bred preacher, who after church on Sundays, always took his granddaughters to the Dairy Queen.

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen (Shaye Areheart Books/Crown/2008) was called a “stand-out coming of age novel” by NPR’s Alan Cheuse and was a Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) 2009 Book Award Nominee.

Her second novel, The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove (Shaye Areheart Books/Crown/2010), was recently named a 2010 SIBA Summer OKRA Pick.

Gilmore currently lives in Chattanooga with her family.

Susan has an amazing giveaway going on right now for bookclubs called the "31 Days of Book Clubs and Bezellia Grove!" Here's the scoop straight from Susan's website:

All Book Clubs who choose THE IMPROPER LIFE OF BEZELLIA GROVE as one of their reads during the month of October will receive the following:

Free Skype, i-Chat or Phone Call with me
Maizelle’s Pound Cake Recipe
Personalized Book Plates
Your Club Featured on My Blog and Author Facebook Page

Now for the GRAND PRIZE. Drum roll here . . .
The Book Club that meets during the month of October and hosts the MOST AUTHENTIC Southern Luncheon or Dinner with a 1950s or 1960s theme will receive the following:
Maizelle’s Pound Cake made by the author for the club’s November or December meeting

- A Name of the group’s choosing (approved by the author) included in my third novel
- A Skype, i-Chat, or Phone Call with Random House Sales Rep and Books on the Nightstand co-host Ann Kingman
- The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove necklaces that feature the new paperback cover (limit 12)
- Advanced Reader Copies (limit 12) of my next book. Be the first to talk about it!

You can read more about it here.

Giveaway alert: Thanks the the fine folks at Random House, I have three copies of THE IMPROPER LIFE OF BEZELLIA GROVE to share! To enter, just fill out the form below before September 1st at 11:59 p.m. ET. I will randomly select and notify the winners the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. and Canada addresses only. Good luck!


Beth F said...

I am crying that my book club is a Skype club, so I doubt we qualify for any giveway. Sob.

I loved this post!

Karlie said...

I LOVE her!! Thanks for the post.

Susan Gregg Gilmore said...

Again, Julie, thank you. My mama is gonna love all your kind words.

(Planning some time in Lititz this winter!)

Serena said...

Wow, what a wonderful guest post about a flourishing friendship between an author and her fans. I love that you brought her pound cake when she came to talk about her latest book.

Sounds like an author I need to try one of these days.

Unfortunately, my book club has broken up...I need to find a new one...

Anonymous said...

Fabulous post. I adore Susan. Thank you so much for sharing this!

Veens said...

Oh my! I WISH I was a part of a book club :)

It is so nice to connect with an author and it so nice to read what Susan has to say about you. This is just awesome.

Rebecca Rasmussen said...

What a great picture of you two!!! :)

Sandy Nawrot said...

Can we all just agree that Susan is the sweetest most beautiful thing God put on this earth? I am so excited that I get to see her again at SIBA. I haven't read Dairy Queen but Bezelia was a five star book for me. Truly an incredible read.

mamabunny13 said...

Loved the guest post! Thanks for the giveaway!

TheBookGirl said...

I enjoyed reading this post. Anyone who bakes hundreds of cupcakes and chairs school book fairs is a person I can relate too :)

bermudaonion said...

What a lovely post! I'm lucky enough to have met Susan too, and she's such a fabulous person and author!

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

Susan sounds like such a lovely woman and friend. I look forward to discovering her books.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Did you get to meet Susan when she came to Aaron's? Look at the big smiles on the two of you!

Gwendolyn B. said...

I enjoyed DAIRY QUEEN, so I'm looking forward to reading Gilmore's latest. I love your enthusiasm for Gilmore and her writing, and her guest post was fun to read, too! Thanks for the chance to win a copy BEZELLIA GROVE.