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Blurry Morning

Who filled my house with a swimming pool? At least, that’s what I assumed happened. Because I feel like I’m trying to walk through water. Slow. Sluggish. Not moving very fast. Time is crawling. My revision doesn’t seem to be revising itself.

Those who follow me on Twitter or Facebook already know that my weekend in NYC was, um, shall we say eventful? I’m not sure how much of it is interesting to all of you, but I’ll tell you anyway, breaking it up into multiple posts, as I do need to be revising!

Thursday morning was freakin’ jam packed. Woke up extra early so I could cram everything in: I wrote the school newsletter, ran 6 miles, volunteered at the before-school PE program, showered, volunteered for an hour in kindergarten, packed, and still showed up at South Station an hour early for the Acela (why an hour? I have no idea what I was thinking except that I wanted time to buy food). Train ride was uneventful—napped, worked, read. Fast ride—train was only 15 minutes late.

Walked to my folks’ apartment, and did the first thing one must do in New York: Meet the Tweedle Twirp for a pedi and a cosmo. After we had a French dinner outside with my parents and the Tweedle Twirp’s boyfriend/partner/other half (we had discussions about what to call the Tweedle Twirp’s legally-recognized domestic partner of 18 years, and I don’t think we ever came up with a satisfactory title, so I guess we’ll stick with Tweedle Twin) that was delicious even if we did have to keep picking leaves out of our wine. I had requested we go anywhere that was not kid friendly and the place fulfilled! (No chicken fingers on the menu and tight quarters.)

Went to bed fairly early and woke up at my normal 5 a.m. on Friday. Had a lovely run on the Hudson River Park and the High Line Park. Got dressed and walked on down to…

my agent’s office! The office is on the top floor of a small building in the West Village, and I’m kicking myself for not sneaking a picture or two, but—as you can guess—I was so excited (and, yes, a little nervous) about meeting Laney that thoughts like “pictures” weren’t in the forefront of my mind.

The office was exactly what I imagined an agent’s office to look like—it was pretty old school. Desks in nooks and crannies and books everywhere. It’s a small office, but it looked like the kind of place you’d want to just pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and talk books. It was 9 a.m. so not many folks were in yet. Laney and I headed downstairs for coffee.

Talking with her was both reassuring and a little scary. First, having a face to put on e-mail is fabulous. Second, I genuinely liked her as a person. The scary part was when we talked about the state of the publishing world—it’s tough out there and having an agent is no guarantee of a sell, so she’s really working hard to “bullet-proof” my manuscript. I was reassured when she told me she keeps her list small and she only takes on projects she truly loves. But it’s daunting to hear how much work this is going to take!

We talked about ourselves a bit; the only awkward moment was when it came out that my family is serious about the Red Sox. As a native New Yorker, she’s definitely in the Yankee camp, but I think it’s something we can move beyond.

This may be of interest for those of you who are writers in the querying process: I mentioned to Laney that I had tweeted another agent’s blog post and that the other agent had looked at my profile and commented that she really loves Laney. Laney had high raves for this other agent and she said that every now and then (not too often I gathered), if she got a query for a project that she thought had merit but wasn’t in a genre she reps, she’d pass it on to the other agent. Nice to know there’s some camaraderie out there!

Finally, I asked her about my name. Seriously. I have great angst about how common my name is (my father prefers to call my name “popular,” but really, let’s call it as it is: common). So the question is: What name do I publish under? When I first started publishing in literary journals, I went with initials: J. S. Brown (I was a huge fan of A. M. Homes at the time, which most likely influenced me). But given that it’s women’s fiction I’m writing, it makes more sense to have a more identifiably female name. Jenny Brown is so common, although I do generally come up in the top 3 in a Google search. But the domain for that is owned by someone who sells “cheap homes.” I do own the domain www.jennifersbrown.com, which I’ve used basically as a placeholder. As much as I detest “Jennifer,” it looks like that might make the most sense. And it’ll weed out those I know from those I don’t (e-mails and phone calls to “Jennifer” always mean you have no idea who I am).

Okay, that takes us up to 10 a.m. on Friday morning. And with that, I’m going to go revise. More later. If I can make my way out of this swimming pool daze, that is.