For Readers & Writers

from Susan Dennard

January 27, 2017

What's in this heart-to-heart?


Recent Goings On:

I got home from the #WayWitch our late Sunday night, and since then, I've been deep in the recovery hole.

And by "recovery," I mean "cuddling my dogs, watching Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo, and essentially avoiding all human contact of any kind." I LOVE signings and meeting readers -- it's the absolute highlight of the job. But I'm also an introvert, so all the interaction wears me down if I don't get some solo time to decompress.

And while I might not've gotten much solo time on tour, now that I'm home...Well, let's just say showers are overrated, and this was the week when I finally stopped caring if the mailman saw me in pajamas.

Boy, it's good to be home.

In other news, I'm trying to grow a community! The Misfits & Daydreamers (+Witchlanders!) has expanded beyond what I can handle via newsletters and twitter. I'd love to expand into a full-fledged community on some kind of social media platform that is (hopefully) easy for me to maintain.

If you have a minute, I'd love to hear what you would be interested in seeing! Thank you!!

For the Mislanders:

New Tour Dates + Massive THANK YOU Giveaway!

GUYS! If you missed me on the #WayWitch Tour, I've got GOOD NEWS! I'm heading out on a second mini tour at the end of February! So far, these are the dates I've got confirmed!

Joseph-Beth Booksellers
(with Emery Lord!)
February 26, 2017 at 4:00 PM
Cincinnati, OH

Brookline Booksmith
(with VE Schwab!)
February 27, 2017 at 7:00 PM
Boston, MA

Books of Wonder
(with VE Schwab, Kim Liggett, & Erika Lewis!)
February 28, 2017 at 6:00 PM
New York, NY

Barnes & Noble, Neshaminy Mall
(with Elise Kova & other guest authors to be announced!)
March 1, 2017 at 6:00 PM
Bensalem, PA

One More Page
(with Jodi Meadows!)
March 2, 2017 at 7:00 PM
Arlington, VA

I hope I can see some of you at one of the stops! 😊

And now, to say THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT, I have a giveaway with a TON of prizes/

Like seriously, I can't say it enough: any success with the Witchlands series is thanks to ALL OF YOU.

So go! Go! Enter the giveaway and know that I love you forever.


For the Daydreamers:

Postmortems For Your Writing

Before I dive into what no doubt sounds like a somewhat macabre topic (it isn't!), I first want to let y'all know that Akshaya Raman and I will be doing ANOTHER LIVE WRITING CHAT!

Join us on February 16 at 8PM ET with your questions. We'll be discussing techniques to develop romance and other relationships in your fiction.

As usual, the chat will be on Youtube, but THIS TIME, I have prepared ahead of time and already have a link ready. *pats self on back*

So tune in here for the coming chat!

Now. On to postmortems.

This post is actually a continuation of my last newsletter -- which is all really just one MASSIVE summation of my latest thoughts on process. Because I've been thinking A LOT about why Windwitch went wrong. I mean, why did I struggle so much? And how do I do better in 2017?

Because I'll tell you what, guys: I cannot repeat 2016. As much as I learned, as much as I wouldn't change a thing, as "peaceful" as I felt on New Years (yes, I am rolling my eyes at my own cheesiness), I honestly cannot survive another year of that kind of pressure, work/life imbalance, drained creativity, or exhaustion.

And though I made a New Years Resolution to "improve balance" and "focus more on creative enjoyment." when it comes to actually abiding by said resolutions, I'm already finding it incredibly difficult.

I mean, the obvious reason for my struggle is because IT IS HARD! But it's more than that, isn't it? Sometimes, I can make change in my life -- and clearly others do it too!

The more I think about it, though, the more I think I see where I'm going astray. It boils down to a simple truth that people often ignore/overlook/forget. And that is:
We always believe our future selves will do better,
yet rarely does that actually prove true.

How many times have you thought to yourself, "Tomorrow, I'll get to the gym." Or, "Next Monday, I'll get up thirty minutes earlier." Or -- the one that I keep thinking -- "The next book will be easier to write."

Nothing in my history actually indicates that the next book will be easier, though. Or that I'll drag my butt into the gym tomorrow.

In fact, all signs point to more struggle in 2017. So what's a gal to do, I ask you? HOW do I tackle new behaviors, new projects, new goals and ACTUALLY follow through on them?

The key is in analyzing the past.

The more I mull it over, the more I can see that ALL MY BOOKS HAVE BEEN REALLY HARD TO WRITE. Certainly, I struggled longer with Windwitch, but no book has been a cakewalk.

Why, though? For each project, what exactly was so difficult? Where did I get stuck? What kinds of scenes gave me hell and which ones poured out easily?

Goodness. If only I could do a side-by-side comparison of each book. If only the scientist in me had been smart of to record hard data throughout each book's creation. And if ONLY, I had sat down after each project and figured out what had worked and what had not.

Seriously, though, what a poor scientist I've been! Without this information how can I ever possibly improve? I have no way of knowing WHY I struggled before and therefore, I have no way of preventing my future self from struggling in the same fashion.

Which is why it's time to introduce postmortems into my writing life. I have to figure out what worked for Windwitch...and what didn't.

As I also mentioned in the last newsletter, my writing output is based on a complex web of interacting variables. There is no straight, clear cause-and-effect line between why I can (or cannot) create at any given moment. But if I don't at least TRY to tease out all those different predictors, I will never be able to assess my writing -- and ultimately, I'll never be able to improve.

Over the next few newsletters, I'll be trying to assemble a postmortem for Windwitch, and I urge YOU to do the same for your own projects.

So far, I've come up with a few non-writing variables that I know heavily influence my output. All of these variables have MORE variables nested within them -- and some overlap. (Like I said, nothing is a straight line!) And of course, I'm still adding to the list.
  • Mental health
    • Weather/sunshine/vitamin D
    • External pressure to perform
    • Sleep
    • Political climate
    • Money stress
  • Physical health
    • Stress
    • Sleep
    • Exercise
    • Travel
    • Injuries/illness
  • Relationships
    • Family demands
    • Social group dynamics
    • Introvert time
    • Political climate
  • Other Work
    • Critiquing
    • Volunteering
    • Self-promo
      • Travel
      • Social media
      • Money stress
      • Witchlanders, Newsletter, etc.
I challenge YOU, friends, to make a list for yourself of NON-WRITING VARIABLES that can impact your writing. Sometimes, there will be obvious culprits. Other times, there won't be. And remember that this is JUST for you. No one ever needs to see it, so there's no judgement here. We just want our future selves to do better, and that means facing the (sometimes unpleasant) truths of our past selves.

So dig deep, be honest, and I'll see you again soon. 💕
Upcoming Events:
Joseph-Beth Booksellers
Feb. 26, 2017 at 4PM
Cincinnati, OH

Brookline Booksmith
Feb. 27, 2017 at 7PM
Boston, MA

Books of Wonder
Feb. 28, 2017 at 6PM
New York, NY

Barnes & Noble, Neshaminy Mall
March 1, 2017 at 6PM
Bensalem, PA

One More Page
March 2, 2017 at 7PM
Arlington, VA


Link Roundup:

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