Question of the Month: Catch-Up Time (and some exciting Book and College news!)

by Susan Henderson on June 3, 2013

I’ve been away for a while so I’d love to catch up a little. How are you? What’s happening in your world these days?


I’m thrilled to say that after a month in Winnett, Montana, I finished the new book and have sent it on to my agent. He will be the first to read any part of it, so there’s always the butterflies in the stomach, the fear of being crushed, but also the excitement that he’ll take something important to me and show me ways to make it better.


A little about my trip… at the end of March, I flew to Missoula, Montana, where my brother lives, stayed over night at his place and caught up over wine and risotto. The next morning, we made the 6-hour drive to Winnett, a town of 181 people in Central Montana where my father, uncles, and grandparents used to live, and where I’ve very-fictionally set my book.

My hope was that being in this small town would awaken all my senses and emotions during my final edits and ignite a physicality that seemed to be absent from my book. And, oh man, did it ever! I walked through and around town several times a day, looking, listening, smelling, touching.  The trip was envigorating, lonely, claustrophobic, inspiring.

If you’re my friend on FaceBook, you can see a whole lot of pictures of this trip, from my family cemetery to the mid-April snow to the newborn calf someone drove around in his truck to keep it from freezing. I will be sharing more about the trip and the book over the next few months, but I don’t want to make this post too long, so I’ll stop here for now.


In other news, I am so, so happy to report that after a long, nerve-wracking wait, my 17-year-old has now heard back from all of the colleges he’s applied to, and he’s made a decision about where he’ll attend in the fall. His choice: M.I.T.


I am full of joy, relief, and gratitude that he’s able to go somewhere that is such a profoundly good fit for him. M.I.T., by the way, sends their good news in a tube rather than an envelope, and then they encourage the students to hack the tube. My son made his into a working stylophone.


Some thank you’s for reviews and links: The Never Dusty BookshelfFru Elde – En dag i mitt liv, Convertiv, Jocosa’s Bookshelf, Bethany Duvall, Crystal Clear As Mud, Well Read Westhampton, De Woordenregen, Laila’s Leseblogg, the Wesleyan University Community Blog, and something that made me cry at Juliet DeWal’s In Spite of All the Damage. Also, thank you to Emily Rapp for writing the beautiful non-fiction book, The Still Point of the Turning World, which I reviewed here at Great New Books.

Beautiful day so I’m going to get outside and walk!

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Ellen Meister June 3, 2013 at 9:50 am

Somehow, I know I’m going to fall madly in love with this book! Can’t wait to read it. Glad the trip went so well.

Hope to see you soon! And congrats again to the darling young man. 🙂


Susan Henderson June 3, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Awww, thank you, Ellen! I’m kind of loving this book. And the best thing about turning it in is I have the summer off with my family! That hasn’t happened in a long time!


Nathalie (@spacedlaw) June 3, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Sounds like you had a great trip.
Looking forward to the book.


Susan Henderson June 3, 2013 at 1:03 pm

It was just what the book needed! : )


Jim Tomlinson June 3, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Great news about the book and the boy, Susan! I’m eager to read that novel; it’s set in such a fascinating place!


Susan Henderson June 3, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Thanks, Jim! I was just thinking about your upcoming book this weekend. Tell me all the details.


Jim Tomlinson June 13, 2013 at 3:32 pm

It’s a long ways from finished, Sue, and too fragile a thing to talk about. I’m still slogging away on the first draft. So maybe 2015? In the meantime, I’ll be living vicariously, enjoying your book’s roll out.


Susan Henderson June 13, 2013 at 4:41 pm

I understand all about fragile things and slogging with blank pages ahead. I have no doubt it will become something I’ll want to read and recommend. Whenever it’s ready.


Billy Bones June 3, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Congratulations on both counts.

I’ll be sending my latest revision to my agent next week, so I know what you’re going through.


Susan Henderson June 3, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Oh, that’s so great! I’m excited for you! And then we’ll both be in the Author’s Anxiety Waiting Room, where time moves at half-speed…


Billy Bones June 3, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Boy, that’s for sure.


GC Smith June 3, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Congrats on the new book. I have a book with a fiebd who is a retired Little-Brown editor and is editing it gratis. Slow going at a few chapters a week but an excellent edit. And, the price is right.


Susan Henderson June 3, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Oh, yeah, can’t get a better price than that! So glad you’re in good hands and happy with the edits.


GC Smith June 3, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Oops! “friend who is”


Susan Henderson June 3, 2013 at 2:52 pm

All typos are allowed here. : )


Paul Cunningham June 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Wow great news on the trip, the book, and your son’s getting into MIT! And great pics, Sue. Can’t wait to totally dig the book when it comes out…:)

Looks like I’m adapting a novel into a screenplay this summer, total niche thing with an eye to teaming it up another character for a TV series later. We’ll see…


Susan Henderson June 3, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Paul! Exciting news about the screenplay! I’m in awe of people who can make that transition. I find it impossibly hard to tell a story in dialogue. I need all the other props to narrate and guide the story. Be sure to let us know how it’s going. That side of the writing world and the process a script has to go through is a complete mystery to me.


Paul Cunningham June 5, 2013 at 8:02 pm

And one of the funny things is that it seems I do better being limited to dialogue! Ha. I get in trouble with the other props. Hopefully that won’t always be the case…:)


Susan Henderson June 5, 2013 at 9:21 pm

I’m just so glad you’ve got something like this on-deck. And I’m going to pester you for updates.


Ric Marion June 6, 2013 at 1:51 am

So glad your trip went well. Congrats to your son!
Today is my Mother’s 90th birthday – everything around here is planning a big party on the 23rd. Check out my blog for more on my amazing Mom.


Ric Marion June 6, 2013 at 1:56 am

This link might actually work. Sorry about that.


Susan Henderson June 6, 2013 at 12:08 pm

What a story, Ric! Let me do a direct link to it so others can find it a little easier:

Happy birthday to your mom!


Helen Dowdell June 7, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Dear Agent, please like this book ( flashing the ever-popular FB “thumbs up” sign as I type with one hand). I’ve been waiting for Susan’s next book…well, since forever. Thanks. 🙂 XoXo


Susan Henderson June 7, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Aww, Georgie, you are the best! <3


Maury Feinsilber June 9, 2013 at 6:30 pm

You already know that I’m both your fan and cheerleader, Sue, so naturally I’m anxious to see how you brought to fictional dimension the characters whose lives are shaped by this eerily handsome and spartan place. So cool that you went and even cooler that it infused you with what you hoped for.


Susan Henderson June 9, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Maury, Thank you so much for the big smile you just gave me. I’ll share more about the book and the process here next month, and hopefully you’ll share some about what you’re writing, too!


Robin Slick June 9, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Your book is so going to auction I’m willing to bet my house on it. I have no idea what it’s about, I haven’t a clue about anything, only that you are going to be up there with the literary elite for the rest of your career.

And of course your son is going to M.I.T. I knew that from our first talks years ago. It is an obvious, brilliant choice, and he, too, will join the ranks of people who make a difference – just like his Mom and Dad.

I am jealous of your summer off but ever since practicing TM and learning to live in the moment, I appreciate being alive wherever I am, no matter what I am doing. So there is that. I’ve rejoined forces with a woman I met almost 25 years ago in a real world writing group and we meet weekly to workshop our new books. I am finally writing the book I always wanted to write and digging deep inside and revealing certain things I’ve kept hidden for years. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done but so liberating and I feel that excitement again – that same feeling I had over ten years ago when we all first joined Zoetrope Studios and got our short stories published. Validation that yeah, we’re writers and we’ve got something important to say.

Love you, Susan. Can’t wait to hear your news – I expect it to be the news of the summer (or fall, knowing the publishing world) of 2013. xo


Susan Henderson June 10, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Love you so dearly, Robin. Thank you for believing in me and this book. And you actually know a little bit about it because that idea I had when we were all in Canada together with our wine and egg timer ended up being the final scene in chapter 4. So you are a part of this book at its beginning.

So cool about the longtime writer connection and I have a great feeling about your new, long-incubating book. When it’s both scary and liberating, you know you’re on to something big.

The boys are playing an AllStars gig 7/24 at Union Transfer in Philly if you’re around. David and I will both be there and would love to see you! xo


Robin Slick June 10, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Yay! Not only am I around July 24, Union Transfer is in my neighborhood, kind of…about 2-3 miles away. World’s coolest diner is down the street – the Slick family hang out known as Silk City where the customers are every bit as interesting as the food. July 24 is a work night or we’d barbecue here, but past experience has taught me that All-Star shows are never predictable as to arrivals, sound checks, etc.

On the calendar. Can’t wait!


Susan Henderson June 11, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Perfect!! And that is no typical diner menu–wow, looks fantastic! Dying to catch up with you. xoxo


Robin Slick June 13, 2013 at 1:41 am

Hey, barring any last minute tour dates, both J&E will be in Philadelphia and want to see the show. Will this be Zappa or a mixed bag? Not that it matters – I’m just thrilled to go anywhere as a family these days, especially to see you guys AND a Rock School concert. We are a sentimental bunch. Okay, speaking of that, I am off to see my offspring play in their first duo gig ever. Julie is in from LA for a week and the two of them booked this surprise show. Think I’m a little excited? I am normally sound asleep by now but they don’t go on until 11PM and I’m wide awake. xo


Susan Henderson June 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm

This will be a mixed bag. They’re doing Zappa for their final SOR show and then going on tour with the AllStars. How absolutely great it will be if Julie and Eric can be there. And I still owe Eric for picking up the tab when I only had a credit card and the place took cash. I can finally treat him!

Can’t wait to hear all the details from the duo gig! Gives me a huge smile just thinking of it.


Robin Slick June 13, 2013 at 1:43 am

…um, even though it says I posted this at 1:41 a.m. It’s 9:41 in Philadelphia. What time are you on?


Susan Henderson June 13, 2013 at 12:41 pm

I know, something’s wrong somewhere in the system. I always set my blog posts for the first Monday of every month and then they pop up on the Sunday before. All I know is my brain will never figure out what’s wrong or how to fix it.


Carmelo Valone June 13, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Hi Susan,

Sounds like a great trip! And congrats to your son! Remember what I said about the MIT swap meet-it’s weird, good fun. I used to go to all of those artsy MIT parties. Lots of creative fun.

Looking forward to your new book. I like small towns too, I have a few, favorite small towns myself.




Susan Henderson June 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Yeah, I’ll have to check out the swap meets. Want to hear about your favorite small towns sometime. And you have some pretty exciting news to share, yourself. Feel free to share it here when you’re ready. : )


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