For Readers & Writers

from Susan Dennard

March 10, 2017

What's in this heart-to-heart?


Recent Goings On:

Thank you so much to everyone who came out to see me (and my author companions!) while I toured last week. It was...well, incredible. And that's entirely thanks to you.

Since I got home, I have shockingly NOT played Breath of the Wild and instead fallen down a creative wormhole. (Alas, the "creative" component is NOT writing. So shhhh, let's not tell my editor. 🤐)

Also, TAXES. Sigh.

For the Mislanders:

Witchlands Fan Art & Cosplay Costume Contest


You can learn more about it all on the main contest page, but as I mentioned before: I love cosplaying and I want YOU to be able to cosplay your favorite character in the Witchlands!


What You Can Win

The Grand Prize Winner will win:

  • A FULL COSTUME rendition of your art submission fabricated by the incredibly talented, internationally renowned cosplaying superstar Nicole Marie Jean. (Seriously, she’s amazing and you can learn more about her here.)
  • Signed copies of Truthwitch, Windwitch, Bloodwitch (ARC).
  • Signed copies of the repackaged Something Strange and Deadly trilogy.

5 Runners-Up will win:

  • Signed copies of Truthwitch, Windwitch, Bloodwitch (ARC).
  • Signed copies of the repackaged Something Strange and Deadly trilogy.

Winners will be chosen by an advisory committee that includes: Susan Dennard (me!), Joanna Volpe (my agent!), Whitney Ross (my Tor editor!), and a fourth, soon to be decided judge from Tor! All winners will be announced and notified on April 14, 2017.

How to Enter:

You can learn more (and actually enter) here. But the general idea is:

  • Create fan art of your favorite Witchlands character! The Witchlands-themed outfit is the key.
  • All art mediums will be accepted, so get creative! Sculpt, embroider, paint, pixelate, sketch — whatever!
  • If your fan art is not easily digitized (i.e. a frilly pillow), just snap a picture of it! All we need is to see the awesomeness of the created character in .jpg form!
  • Once your Witchlands characte art is complete, you must submit it in .jpg form along with the completed form by 11:59:59 PM EST on March 31, 2017.
  • Note: this is only open to US entrants. I'm sorry!! For legal reasons, I have to keep it that way.
  • Note: Only one entry per person!

There's only 3 weeks left, friends, so get to it!


For the Daydreamers:

Acknowledging the Role of Luck

One of the best things about touring, on top of getting to see readers, is getting to see AUTHORS. I have so many fantastic author friends, but we all live so far apart. Which is why it's truly a treat to grab a coffee or share an event with someone I only see once a year.

Inevitably, when authors get together, we compare notes.  "Your editor was on time? Wow!" Or "Oh! You did that website yourself? Gee, all this time I thought your publisher made it." Or "Oh my gosh, your publisher paid for you to be here?"

Sometimes, these conversations are deeply cathartic. Like, when you learn someone you thought "had it all together" is actually just as behind on their deadlines as you are. Or when you learn someone's writing method is almost identical to yours, and you can geek out over craft talk.

However, more often, I find these conversations to be a sobering reminder of just how much luck plays into one's success.

How often have you assigned bad circumstances in your life to bad luck?

Your bus breaks down on the way to work. "Aw, that's crappy luck," says a colleague once you do get to the ofice. Or maybe, you bemoan, "Why do I have the worst freaking luck?!"

Now what about when good things happen? Do you tend to say, "WOW, I am so lucky that agent wants to sign me!" Or are you more likely to say, "Yay!! I worked so hard for this, and I finally I got an agent!"

Be honest. You say the latter, right? And that's fine. You did work hard. But you can't forget just how much luck played into that agent's decision to call you. The agent happened to be looking for a book in your genre because she happened to know an editor seeking it, and you happened to be the first well-written book like it (and with a voice exactly like the agent likes) to cross the agent's desk.

Yes, your hard work contributed. A lot.

But so did Lady Luck, and when you don't acknowledge just how much of a role She played...Well, there lies a dark path toward hubristic pride.

If you've met me and congratulated me on my "success," you might have noticed I instantly got really uncomfortable -- and that I almost instantly said, "Well, I got lucky."

Because it's true. Sure, I wrote a book of which I'm proud. I worked really hard to promote it. And then I got lucky that people actually listened and people actually bought it.

That was Truthwitch. (And then Windwitch too.) But recall, I worked just as hard and promoted just as much for my first series -- and that series completely tanked.

So while my success with Truthwitch/Windwitch is NOT massive by any means, it's so much more than poor Something Strange & Deadly. Why? What what was the difference?

Well, I had the right book in the right genre at the right moment. I had the right cover. I had the right publisher. I had the right blurbs and the right newsletter readership and the right store placement and the right EVERYTHING.

I. Got. Lucky.

Listen: almost everyone in publishing works hard. Like, almost everyone I know works really freaking hard.

And listen: as far as I'm concerned, all authors deserve decent care and decent sales and a publisher who supports them and a steady fanbase. Heck, a handful of accolades wouldn't hurt us either.

But that this is not how it works. It's not how life works either.

People who are rich aren't rich because they worked harder than the rest of us; they're rich because they got lucky.

And people who struggle to make ends meet don't any work less than those rich folks do; they've just had a lot less good luck in their lives.
The reason I tell you all of this is not because I think you shouldn't feel pride for your success. (Authentic pride, right?) Or because I think you shouldn't work hard because Lady Luck might steal it all away.

The reason I bring all of this up is because when you remember just HOW important a role luck plays, it gives a broader -- more accurate -- understanding of what your current life circumstances really mean.

For example, acknowledging luck completely changes the comparison game. You won't think, Wow, my book must be terrible because I cannot get an agent -- and Jane Doe over there got an agent in a week! Her book is the same genre, so it must be better!

Instead, you can look at the situation and think, Wow. I know this book is the best that I could possibly make it. If only I'd been querying at the same time Jane Doe was -- and to the same agent. Ah well, I'll just keep trying.

Or, on the flip side, when you acknowledge the role of good luck, you won't think, Wow, I am awesome! I got an agent in a week. Jane Doe over there, who's been querying for a year, must not work as hard as I do. Her book is probably not as good.

Instead, you'll thank, Wow, I am so lucky. I am so fortunate. And I am so grateful that the stars aligned for me and I got an agent so quickly. Now, I won't not waste this opportunity, since there are many other talented writers out there who also deserved this chance but didn't get it.

More importantly, if you're one of the Very Lucky Few already, then when -- and I say when, not if, because that is how life works, my friends -- your luck turns sour, you won't get angry. You won't wonder where you went wrong. You won't cling to the past with white knuckles. You'll accept the role luck played in your earlier success (and can still play again!) and you'll move on.

So, my dear friends, I challenge you to analyze just how much luck (and privilege, too!) has helped get you to where you are today. It's not always comfortable to admit to -- this comic is perfect illustration of why -- but once you do face just how favored you've been by Lady Luck (or how favored others have been!), I promise it will change your life for the better.

You'll stop comparing yourself to that mega-bestseller with the movie coming out. You'll stop wondering if you're inadequate. And you'll stop begrudging others their success, since it's all a matter of luck, right? And that's not something in your control.

Instead, you'll thank the world for all the luck you have had, and then you'll get back to work. Then, when that rare, elusive opportunity does finally flutter your way, you'll be ready to catch it.

Upcoming Events:
April 29, 2017
Santa Monica, CA

Romantic Times Convention
May 4-7, 2017
Atlanta, GA

June 3-4, 3017
New York, NY

June 23-25, 2017
Chicago, IL


Link Roundup:

As always, here are some links for your weekend! Thank you for reading!


photo by Emily Rae Photography

Copyright © 2017
Susan Dennard
All rights reserved.

110 West 40th St., Suite 2201
New York, NY 10018

I'm a misfit, a daydreamer, a fangirl, an animal-lover, and a (now gluten-free) cookie-eater.