Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thursday's Special Is…Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen!

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore

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Good morning everyb—all right, okay. I know. I know. With an irresistible title like Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen, the last thing you want to do is sit here and listen to me ramble through an entire paragraph of intro. You want to find out what this book is about! So I'm not going to spend any more time trying to—all right. Sheesh.

It’s the early 1970’s. The town of Ringgold, Georgia has a population of 1,923, one traffic light, one Dairy Queen, and one Catherine Grace Cline. Daughter of Ringgold’s Baptist preacher, Catherine Grace is quick-witted, more than a little stubborn, and dying to escape her small-town life.

Every
Saturday afternoon, she sits at the Dairy Queen, eating Dilly Bars and plotting her getaway to Atlanta. And when, with the help of a family friend, the dream becomes a reality, she immediately packs her bags, leaving behind her family and the boy she loves to claim the life she’s always imagined. But before long, tragedy brings Catherine Grace back home and, as personal events alter her perspective—and change grips Ringgold—she begins to wonder if her place in the world may actually be, against all odds, right where she began.














Let's give Susan a warm welcome!

She has written for the Los Angeles Times, The Christian Science Monitor and the Chattanooga News-Free Press. Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen is her debut novel. You're going to find Susan's witty style and fully realized characters as irresistible as her title, and you're going to wish the story didn't have to end. You may even shed a tear. I did. And I'm an insensitive bastard.

But don't take my word for it. Let Susan show you in her own words:


My daddy always said that if the good Lord can take the time to care for something as small as a baby sparrow nesting in a tree, then surely he could take the time to listen to a little girl in Ringgold, Georgia. So every night before I went to bed I got down on my knees and begged the Lord to find me a way out of this town. And every morning, I woke up in the same old place.

It was a place that I, Catherine Grace Cline, never wanted to call home, even though I was born and raised here. It was a place where everybody knew everything about you down to the color of underwear your mama bought you at the Dollar General Store. It was a place that just never felt right to me, like a sweater that fits too tight under your arms. It was a place where girls like me traded their dreams for a boy with a couple of acres of land and a wood-framed house with a new electric stove. It was a place I always planned on leaving.

When I was no more than nine years old, a tornado tore right close to my house. I remember yelling at my little sister to run and hide in the basement. “Martha Ann,” I warned her, “if that twister hits this town, nobody’s even going to notice it’s gone.”

She started crying for fear she was going to be swept up in the clouds and carried away; and nobody, not even our daddy, would be able to find her. Turned out the only thing of any importance swept up in the sky that day was Mr. Naylor’s old hound dog. People said that Buster Black flew some fifteen miles, those long floppy ears of his flapping like wings, before landing right in the middle of a cornfield over in the next county.

But that’s not nearly as amazing as what happened next. Five days later, that four-legged fool came limping back home, wagging his tail acting like he’d found the Promised Land. Mr. Naylor was crying, praising the Lord, holding Buster Black in his arms. The local newspaper ran a color picture of them both right on the front page, like that dog was some kind of prodigal son.

“You know, Martha Ann,” I told her after reading about Buster’s triumphant return, “a tornado like that just might be our ticket out of here, but unlike that stupid old hound dog, we are not going to limp back home.”

My daddy said I was a little girl with a big imagination. Maybe. Or maybe I was a patient girl with a big dream, a little girl waiting for her divine deliverance. But either way, I was going to hitch a ride out of Ringgold, whether it was on a fiery twister ripping a path through the Georgia sky or on a Greyhound bus rolling its way down Interstate Seventy-Five.

**********************************
1. Mmmmm… Dairy Queen.

Sorry, that's not a question is it? Actually it is. What do you look for at the Dairy Queen?

2. Complete this sentence: Riding a Greyhound bus is more hazardous than riding a twister in the sky because _________.

3. If Buster Black the hound dog leaves the cornfield for Ringgold at 3:50PM traveling at an average speed of 4 mph, assuming clear skies and a daytime temperature of 87F, what's the weirdest thing he stops to smell along the way?

36 comments:

blogless troll said...

Welcome Susan!

ChrisEldin said...

LOL at the third question!!!

I LOVE this excerpt! And can so totally relate to growing up in a small town.

I want this book too.... {sigh)
:-)

Susan Gregg Gilmore said...

Thank you blogless troll -- it's great to be here although it's really unusual for me to up this late -- you know small-town life --early to bed, early to rise!

Stephen Parrish said...

Wonderful excerpt. I was completely hooked by the first sentence. And is it just me, or does Book Roast require that its authors all be babes?

1. What do you look for at the Dairy Queen?

The exit. Sorry, but sugar and I had a disagreement long ago and never made up.

2. Riding a Greyhound bus is more hazardous than riding a twister in the sky because Ann Coulter might be sitting next to you.

3. If Buster Black the hound dog leaves the cornfield for Ringgold at 3:50PM traveling at an average speed of 4 mph, assuming clear skies and a daytime temperature of 87F, what's the weirdest thing he stops to smell along the way?

The other dogs caught up in the tornado with him.

Susan Gregg Gilmore said...

Oh Stephen, I do declare! (As us Southern girls would say.) Keep it up. I love flattery of all kinds.

And the Ann Coulter comment, quite funny. You seem almost perfect except for the distaste of sugar -- and that could ruin any hopes of a friendship. I was raised on Dilly Bars and Coca-Cola . . . and of course tomatoes!

peggy said...

Good morning Susan!
Wow this loks like a great beginning, got me wanting more! Now for the questions..hmm
Dairy Queen, Dilly bars are awesome! Banananana splits too!
Riding a Greyhound bus is more hazardous than riding a twister in the sky because the guy next to you had beans for supper last night!
ewwww
3. If Buster Black the hound dog leaves the cornfield for Ringgold at 3:50PM traveling at an average speed of 4 mph, assuming clear skies and a daytime temperature of 87F, what's the weirdest thing he stops to smell along the way?
Why it's the short green guy in the bright silvery saucer of course..He likes Pizza too!

Brian Jay Jones said...

Morning to all! Great exceprt, great questions, great start, great shakes. And speaking of . . .

1. What do I look for at Dairy Queen? Why, the Peanut Buster Parfait, perhaps the most perfect food in the entire universe. Shut up, it is too.

2. Riding a Greyhound bus is more hazardous than riding a twister in the sky because you might find Enrico "Ratso" Rizzo dead in the seat just behind you...

3. The butt of the dachsund swept up from the adjacent county.

Danette Haworth said...

Susan,

I love this excerpt--what a strong voice.

Dairy Queen--First thing I look for is the bathroom. Then I want a brownie sundae.

Buses are more dangerous because you're stuck with the same companions for hours; a twister would likely fling people and cows out of your way as you spun.

Buster stops to smell a drainage grate. No one else realizes there's a hot dog down there.

Susan Gregg Gilmore said...

Hi everyone!

Oh how true is Danette's comment about the hog -- reminds me of the Thanksgiving when my dad wanted us to all get back to our roots.

We had an "old fashioned" hog killing. Nothing like these new-fangled hog killings they have today.

Let's just say it didn't end so pretty, and the next year we opted to churn butter!

ChrisEldin said...

Ew!! What's that about a hog killing! I stopped eating swine decades ago.
*shudders*

The more I think about the title, the more I love it. And have you thought about a Salvation series?

Salvation at the Burger King
Salvation at the salad bar
Salvation at the deli

Those titles could be spruced up...

:-)

ChrisEldin said...

And just for Stephen,

Salvation at the Winery

Precie said...

darnit, brian. Now I have to find a Dairy Queen at lunchtime. I'd forgotten all about the PBP.

Hi, Susan! Great excerpt. Vivid voice!

1) nirvana

2) Riding a Greyhound bus is more hazardous than riding a twister in the sky because, well, frankly, the bus has to make scheduled stops so there's no way it can go far away anywhere near fast enough.

3) The mysterious, decrepit scarecrow leaning out onto the road...until...it twitches of its own accord and reaches out to...Oh, Wait. We're roasting Susan, not Stephen King...

Stephen Parrish said...

Chris: That's it! You put your finger on the problem! The title needs to change to Looking for Salvation at Château La Tour. Send Susan back to the drawing board lickety split.

Charles Gramlich said...

1. Answer: I look for the shakes. Dairy Queen has nice hips.

2. Answer: because you might pass through Louisiana on the bus and the drivers are far more dangerous than any tornado.

3. Answer: the aroma of the Greyhound bus after 30 people have been riding it together all day.

strugglingwriter said...

1. Certainly none of that warm food crap. No way. You go to the Dairy Queen you go for ice cream. Peanut Buster Parfait in my case.

2. ...the twister in the sky doesn't have the fat dude on a hot day, fresh from the local Taco Bell.

3. Me. Or Rush Limbaugh. See my contest entry from last week.

Phoenix said...

Susan, you traitor! Don't we country folk have an unwritten rule about small-town life? If city people were to find out what it's REALLY like, they'd be flocking out of the cities like sheep and ruining it for the rest of us. No finding out you CAN go home again and be a happier, better person for it.

I say ban "Salvation!" (But only after I've read it, of course.)

Susan Gregg Gilmore said...

Okay -- curious about the Rush Limbaugh comment. Will have to check that one out.

A woman once tried to convince me that the title of my own book was Finding Salvation at the Wal-Mart. I've perused the aisles of many a WalMart and fairly certain there is no salvation to be had there. Although you can get Goo-Goos for no more more than a quarter.

And the bottle of wine, well, it's led me to many moments that I would justify as almost divine!

Susan Gregg Gilmore said...

Oh and Phoenix, sorry, you're right -- mums the word!

Robin S. said...

Hi Susan,

Here are my answers:

1. I'd love to say I look for love and advebture at the DQ, but really, I look for those ice cream cones where they dip 'em in chocolate that hardens like a goody helmet.

2. Riding a Greyhound bus is more hazardous than riding a twister in the sky because of all the food-gone-bad in the bus stations along the route. Don't ever eat one of those sandwiches, baby. Mercy.

3. The goldenrods. For so many reasons.

Whirlochre said...

1.
That elusive combination of the words 'free', '18.5 lbs' and 'curry guaranteed to roast your bollocks off.'

2.
Riding a Greyhound bus is more hazardous than riding a twister in the sky because...the driver is more likely to be drunk.

3.
A copy of On The Road, whose every dog-eared page he checks for scent individually.

NB - I'm not familiar with Dairy Queen and Greyhound, so I've had to Google and pretend. When I tried out 'Buster Black', I got a wig, a guitar accessory and a fit of the giggles.

Oh — and without appearing too desperate to win, I echo Stephen Parrishes comment in that if I passed you in the street I'd probably walk into a wall.

peggy said...

Ya know when we are kids we all want to be somewhere else then..one day, for some reason, going home feels most excellent! You guys have me starving now...wheres the DQ when I need one.15 miles away :(

Susan Gregg Gilmore said...

Boy I am pathetic! Such a sucker for flattery!

And it's time to admit that I have my own hound dog -- my canine Southern muse -- a beagle of course.

He's loyal and loud and totally lovable.

And one other thing -- that curl on top of a Dairy Queen cone is much harder to make than you think -- just thought you all should know.

Danette Haworth said...

I once live in a town that had a Dairy King and a Burger Queen. Talk about wannabees!

Word said...

Hey Book Roast Peeps! Hey Miss Susan! That sounds like an outstanding read! Is this being published as a YA or Adult fiction? Either way - it's now officially on my "to do" list.

So on with the contest:

1. Dairy Queen. What do I look for at Dairy Queen?

My waistline. I lost it there someplace. Oh well, I'll just have a Large Heath Blizzard while I'm looking around.

2. Complete this sentence: Riding a Greyhound bus is more hazardous than riding a twister in the sky because ((God drives the tornado - Mac drives the bus. 'nuff said)).

3. If Buster Black stops to smell a lot of things, but the thing he sniffs at the longest is Ms. Hattie Mae's newly planted flower garden. 'Course - Ms. Hattie Mae's husband never did hold with plantin' flowers. Waste of time he said. But then, aint nobody seen hide nor hair of him for some time. Come to think of it, was about the same time Ms. Hattie Mae planted those petunias. HMMM

laughingwolf said...

suasan, welcome... THE missing gilmore girl? ;) lol

1. at the dq i look for employees with the strictest hygiene habits!

2. ...cuz there have been two deaths and a stabbing associated with greyhound in canada recently :(

3. buster black ALWAYS stops to sniff my thirsty boots, at roadside, no matter which way he's going ;) lol

ChrisEldin said...

Burger Queen!!
I kinda like the sound of that....
:-)

Susan Gregg Gilmore said...

Hygiene habits -- that is an important quality to look for in someone handling your food!

My book has been marketed to the adult audience initially - but YA readers are enjoying it too -- as well as the immature adult audience!

Word said...

Awesome! A new genre just for me. Immature Adult! IA. LOL! Love that ;-)

Susan Gregg Gilmore said...

Ok everybody, I have to say goodbye for now! I am heading out to a, well, plantation -- no lying. I'm going to do a little book thing and then hit the road. So I won't be near a computer until Saturday. Yeah.

So let me go ahead and announce the day's winner -- tough call -- but the award (which is an autographed copy of my book or a DQ gift card -- your choice and I'm not offended if you choose the ice cream) goes to . . . CHARLES GRAMLICH because I loved your take on riding the greyhound!

Congrats! Send me an email Charles and we'll figure out how to get your prize to you.

I'll be out of town until the middle of next week.

Susan Gregg Gilmore said...

Yikes. I forgot to thank all of you for participating -- this was such fun!

laughingwolf said...

grats charles!

and susan, thank you... even if i can to the game a bit late this week, it's good to meet you

peggy said...

Oh ratts, my puters been off all day, I missed the fun again. It was sure nice to meet you Susan! Congrats Chrales , great answers by the way!
Well. noww that my puters finally on..what shall I do with myself his evening?

:)

Danette Haworth said...

Congrats, Charles! I am plotting secret ways to up my game.

laughingwolf said...

gonna embrace that 'immature adult', or is that 'immature, addled'? :O lol

Shelly Burns said...

1.What do you look for at the Dairy Queen?
Forst, the restroom...this was always a stopping place for us on road trips; then, a chocolate dipped cone - my favorite.

2. Complete this sentence: Riding a Greyhound bus is more hazardous than riding a twister in the sky because twisters aren't full of crazy people.
3. If Buster Black the hound dog leaves the cornfield for Ringgold at 3:50PM traveling at an average speed of 4 mph, assuming clear skies and a daytime temperature of 87F, what's the weirdest thing he stops to smell along the way? He doesn't stop until he hits the ground; it's a twister remember?

Shona Snowden said...

Oh, this intro has the unmistakable flavour of troll.

And we have an early winner! Well done Charles!

Feel free to keep chatting here, but I think I'll kick off the next roast in ten minutes or so.