Writing on Wednesday: Book Signing and Agent Meeting in the Big Apple

Nina Gaby (editor) introducing contributors to Dumped at Bluestocking Books in NYC on May 15
Nina Gaby (editor) introducing contributors to Dumped at Bluestocking Books in NYC on May 15

On Monday I mentioned both of these events. Here’s a bit more. After a great “Southern Tour” for Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women, with editor Nina Gaby (and we were joined by contributor Jessica Handler for the Atlanta leg of the tour) in April, I was thrilled to be able to join more contributors for a reading at Bluestockings in New York City this past Friday night. The other contributors who came for the event live in New York City (Diane Spodarek and Melody Breyer-Grell), Vermont (Nina Gaby and Alexis Paige) and Maine (Penny Guisinger).

It was so much fun to see Nina and Alexis again (Alexis and I met at the 2011 Memphis Creative Nonfiction Workshop and were reunited at the 2013 Oxford Creative Nonfiction Conference, where I met Nina) and to meet Diane, Melody and Penny. I always enjoy hearing authors read their work aloud.

So fun to have Lori Hoepner from Brooklyn at the reading!
So fun to have Lori Hoepner from Brooklyn at the reading!

And how fun to have my new friend (from NYC) Lori Hoepner come to the reading. I met Lori in New Orleans last November through our mutual friend, NancyKay Wessman. Nina, Melody and Alexis all had friends and relatives at the reading, and we also appreciate the bookstore’s regulars who attended and bought books.

The other bookend to a wonderful weekend was my meeting with a literary agent on Monday morning. This agent has been supportive of my novel-in-progress for several years, connecting me with editors who have guided me through two major revisions so far. While I was hoping to hear something like, “It’s almost done—just needs a little tweaking,” the news was more like “We LOVE the book, but it’s not ready yet.”

become a writer


Although I was disappointed to hear those words, I was so encouraged by the rest of my conversation with this agent. It’s so different to talk in person rather than sharing email responses to the revision process. I felt we had a real soul connection and I believe this person will eventually get me a really good book deal. Even hearing difficult things like why I should cut three chapters (almost completely deleting one of three main characters) and expand other sections of the book was easier than one might think. I actually came to see her point of view and agreed that this needs to happen. (I’m going to save those chapters for another book… already have an idea for it.)

 revision process


This agent spoke with wisdom but also kindness and humility. She said that what she does—finding what’s wrong with books—is so much easier than what the writer must do—fixing what’s wrong and making them great. In addition to the overview from editors, she had one of her readers send me an email after our meeting in which she shared a summary of most the recent suggestions from the agent and several of her readers, who discussed the most recent revision together after each of them read it. I’m happy to have such a great team behind me and I’m ready to get back to work on the novel. Today.

That’s all. I’m so thankful for the inspiration I gained from my time in the Big Apple—book readings, art museums, Ground Zero, even the people on the street. But it’s always good to be home. And back at work.

10 thoughts on “Writing on Wednesday: Book Signing and Agent Meeting in the Big Apple”

  1. I really appreciated your balanced approach to the feedback from the editor. I myself might have become reactive and lost a great opportunity for learning. I am so excited for you and appreciative of all the energy you have put into DUMPED: Stories of Women Unfriending Women.” Your enthusiasm had carried me!

    1. Thanks, Nina. She was actually an agent, not an editor. I’ve reacted much more emotionally to editors:-) I really like this woman… she’s smart and so positive and encouraging. Great being with you on the Dumped “tour”!

  2. I ordered Dumped last week and eagerly picked it up a few days later. I’m thoroughly enjoying reading each story, but especially enjoyed yours, Susan. So many of us Southern girls have experienced your pain. Thanks for sharing it so beautifully.

    1. Thanks so much, Lucy. I thought us Southern women had the market on mean girl stuff, but it turns out (sadly) this stuff is pretty universal. Only two of the contributors to the book are Southern. Thanks for buying the book and reading and commenting!

  3. Congratulations on your tour! How great that you have gotten to meet so many of the other contributors and read with them.

    Thank you also for continuing to share your path to publication for your novel. I especially appreciated that, even though you are cutting chapters, you already have an idea to use them in a later work. Such a positive way to view your next revision! It sounds as though you have the right agent for this project; your connection with each other on a personal level must be helpful as you continue to work, knowing your team is behind you.

    1. Thanks again for reading, Joanne. Having the support of my readers means so much. And yes, feeling a personal connection with this agent is huge. She is helping me be positive about the big changes I’m making to the novel.

  4. Susan, I could not be more excited for you and your agent meeting. What an affirmation! And your writing is getting so much attention – good attention that your stories deserve. Praying you keep your butt in the chair and get those revisions done PDQ! Blessings!!!

    1. Butt is already in chair and I’m already at work on the next round of revisions. And it’s more than revisions, since I’m actually writing quite a bit of new material to “replace” the chapters I’m cutting. Thanks so much for your prayers… much needed!

    1. Thought I would be really sad about some of her suggestions, but I actually agree with her! Just spent about 5 hours deleting over 6000 words, making a new chapter outline, moving some scenes around and starting to expand and write new ones. It’s going to be a much better book!

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