For Readers & Writers

from Susan Dennard

December 23, 2016

What's in this heart-to-heart?


Recent Goings On:

Life is good. Got no complaints. Holidays are here, book 3 is flowing (if slowly), and the winter isn't too cold.

Plus, I've got new tunes that are jiving well with my muse, ANNNND the UK mass market paperbacks for Truthwitch arrived on Wednesday. Aren't they just the most beautiful things you've ever seen?


Happy holidays, friends! I'll see you again in 2017!

For the Mislanders:

Truthwitch Cut Scene!

I shared this scene earlier this year, but a lot of you joined the newsletter after the fact. PLUS, with Windwitch coming out in just over 2 weeks, I figure some of you might want to read it again.

So enjoy! This scene is from Aeduan's point of view! It was originally in Truthwitch, but through the course of tightening and trimming, the scene got cut. I STILL love it, though, and I hope you love it too!

Heads up: I'll have more COOL STUFF coming in the New Year! Until then, don't forget to preorder Windwitch! The time to submit your receipt for goodies is quickly running out.

American & Canadian friends can get the book at any of these links:
And assuming you DO preorder, make sure, that you fill out the form labeled Preorder Bounty on the Witchlands website! (Or just head here for US/Canada preorders, or here for UK preorders!)


For the Daydreamers:

Tips for Navigating Conversations with Non-Writers

Last night, the Frenchman and I went to our friends' house for dessert and drinks. We hadn't seen these awesome people in a while, so there was much to catch up on (and many rounds of GeoGuessr to play because yes, that is what we do when we hang out with friends. And, you will thank me for introducing it to you).

One of the things that needed "catching up on" was the current status of Windwitch. The fact that I'd finally finished, that the book is about to release, that it was the hardest thing I've ever done, etc. Yet when I tried to actually talk about that...I found myself fumbling my words and ultimately changing the subject.

I don't know about y'all, but I hate talking about writing to non-writers.

For one, my default assumption is that no one cares about what I have to say. (If you're still reading this, then I honestly cannot fathom why.)

For two, I don't think anyone wants to hear about writing if they themselves aren't writers. Maybe this is unkind of me to assume, but I KNOW that y'all know the glassy-eyed look people get when you start talking about a sticky plot point or wonky character arc.

I don't know if it's just that the creation process is inherently dull to hear about for non-creatives or if I just really suck at explaining my creative inner workings, but either way: I avoid discussing writing at all costs.

And look, it's not just that I think no one cares. (Really, you're still reading my drivel?) The MAIN reason I avoid discussing writing with non-writers is that I really struggle to articulate how hard writing can actually be.

It's like, in an attempt to combat the insidious notion that I just "sit around all day doing nothing" I end up getting REALLY AGGRESSIVE AND DEFENSIVE. I must prove that I have a Real Job! And I must prove that said Real Job is as hard or perhaps harder than many other Real Jobs!

Basically, a conversation will play out something like this:
FRIEND: How's writing going?

ME: It's so hard. So much work. Long Hours. No weekends. Brutal deadlines. Too much travel. Crappy pay. Hard. So hard. Carpal tunnel. Piracy. Bad reviews. Hard. HARD. Coffee addiction. Eye twitch. HARD.
😑 😑 😑

Knowing that I have a tendency to go Negative Nancy, my strategy for the past year or so has been to simply deflect and change the subject.
FRIEND: How's writing goi—

ME: Look at that new fridge you got! How's it working for you? I'm a big fan of that french door look myself.

😑 😑 😑

Well, in an attempt to help myself navigate these interactions—and to help YOU too!—I've come up with a few scripts for those inevitable conversations coming your way this holiday season.

There are three options for each possible question: a polite option, a more pointed, end-the-conversation-now option, and a...well, let's just call it "saucy" option.

Conversation 1
FRIEND/FAMILY MEMBER: Still not finished with your book yet? OR Still not published yet?
  • POLITE ANSWER: No, but I've made some great headway recently. [Insert example of progress.]
  • POINTED ANSWER: If it were that easy to finish a book/get a book deal, I'd have probably done it by now. As would have a lot of people. But alas, it's a long, many-year process. I'm gonna go get some more eggnog. Want some?
  • SAUCY ANSWER: Oh, did you not get the email blast? My book debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list! You can buy it now at your local bookstore. It's called, Piss Off, I'm Going to Get More Eggnog.
Conversation 2
FRIEND/FAMILY MEMBER: Boy, it must be nice to just sit around all day at home.
  • POLITE ANSWER: Eh, not really. The hours are pretty long, I don't get vacations, and the pay isn't great. Don't get me wrong—I love what I do—but it's definitely not like it looks on TV.
  • POINTED ANSWER: Well, if that was what I actually did, then yes. It WOULD be nice. Alas, being an a writer isn't like that at all, though. Oh hey, gotta take this phone call.
  • SAUCY ANSWER: Oh my gosh, It IS nice. I wear pajamas all day, and the during soap opera commercial breaks, I type out a few sentences. I've got a whole book in just a few weeks! It is SO EASY. Like, I don't know why more people don't do it. Wait—oh my gosh! I KNOW! You should give it a try! Quit your day job and join me on the couch! You'll be a bestseller in no time!
Conversation 3
  • POLITE ANSWER: My publisher's happy, and that's all I really care about. It's such an odd market—there's really no predicting trends—so I'm just grateful I still have an audience that's loyal.
  • POINTED ANSWER: I don't know. Royalty statements only come twice a year, and I still haven't seen the latest. Fingers crossed it's good news—oh, I see Aunt Rosa across the room. Aunt Rosa!!!
  • SAUCY ANSWER: Not bad, not bad. How about you? How much money are YOU making these days?
Conversation 4
FRIEND/FAMILY MEMBER: I have a great idea for a book.
  • POLITE ANSWER: [Listen calmly to the idea.] Oh, so it's a lot like [insert book that it sounds like since 99% of the time it has already been written]. Have you read that?
  • POINTED ANSWER: Unfortunately, ideas are the easies part of the process. The hard part is actually sitting down and writing it.
  • SAUCY ANSWER: Very cool! Let me know when it's in stores and I'll be sure to snag a copy!
Conversation 5
FRIEND/FAMILY MEMBER: So what exactly do you do all day? OR How do you write a book? OR What's so hard about it? Why are you struggling so much?
  • I'm only giving you one option here because I am so sick of people not taking writers seriously. And this is the only answer I've found that actually convinces non-writers that what we do is hard—and that not everyone is cut out for it.
Imagine a giant loom.

I mean GIANT with all these different strands of varying shades. Some strands represent characters, some strands represent settings. Some strands stand for events that happened in a single scene, while others are events that happened 30 years before the book even opened.

Then over here, we have strands that represent what must come in future scenes or future books, and down here are the cultural/political/social forces closing in all around.

And of course, we can't forget all the strands that represent emotional growth, or the strands that stand for how a character views the world—or the strands that connect all these narratives to one another.

Ultimately, all these strands come together, right? They interact and connect in this HUGE AWESOME TAPESTRY that's just really satisfying to look at.

Now imagine that this loom is in my head. I have to keep all those strands afloat using JUST my brain—and if I forget even a single thread, the entire tapestry will fall apart.

THAT is the easy part. That's the brainstorming, the planning, the thinking that must occur before I ever even put pen to paper.

The hard part is now keeping the loom afloat while ALSO turning it into words and sentences and dialogue and action. I want these sentences to show the tapestry as a whole AS WELL AS all the individual strands that make it up. Like, I need my readers to see the forest AND the trees. Because that's what gives you a satisfied feeling at the end.

But as you mights guess, sometimes—or often in my case—I write in a strand that's wrong. Maybe the character isn't right, or her motivation is wonky, or she just doesn't need to be in the book at all. I can't just rip her strand out, right? That would ruin the tapestry.

Instead, I have to tease out her strand—and then tease out ALL THE STRANDS SHE TOUCHES in the most infuriating game of Jenga you can imagine. But when I pull out all the other strands, they tug at any strands THEY were bound to, and soon enough, everything is unraveling. The only way to fix it, is to figure out new strands, weave them in, and then smooth it all out as if the mistake never happened.

It's as tedious as it sounds. And as frustrating. And it's oftentimes incredibly slow. A single interruption will send the whole floating loom tumbling down. But when I get it right—when the strands come together as they ought, ohhhhh!! It's such a rare, elusive experience that there's truly nothing more satisfying in the entire world.

And THAT is what I do all day/how I write a book/how I cope with writer's block.

Upcoming Events:
#WayWitch Tour!

Novi, MI
January 20-22
Full schedule to come!


Have a WONDERFUL holiday season, my dear readers! And if you aren't celebrating a holiday right now, then have a WONDERFUL WEEKEND instead!!

I love you all. Truly. I wish you could see my expression as I type this, for truly, you are the reason I write. And YOU are the reason that, despite everything, 2016 has turned out to be a pretty wonderful year.

Catch you on the flip side. (Not to be confused with the Upside Down. Because then we'd have a problem.)

photo by Emily Rae Photography

Copyright © 2016
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.