For Readers & Writers

from Susan Dennard

December 18, 2015

What's in this heart-to-heart?


Recent Goings On

Truthwitch releases in 17 days in the US. That is so soon. SO soon. With the holidays and everything, I suspect these next days will FLY past.

It's all is starting to feel very real. I mean, for one: I GOT MY FIRST HARDCOVER FINAL COPIES OF TRUTHWITCH! AAAAAH!

Ahem. Ahem. Excuse my freakout. Except that seriously: I might've had a wee freakout when I saw them. I went to the Tor office on Wednesday to sign 100 boxes of Truthwitch copies, and needless to say, it was amazing.

That table to my left seriously looked like it was about to collapse. (Oh, and don't miss this video of me signing the VERY FIRST COPY!!)

And the second thing making this whole "upcoming release thing" feel real is that more and more reviews are coming -- for better or worse. And there's nothing to remind you that you've got a book coming out like a review that says "did not finish this. the author sucks and was clearly just pandering to [insert whatever audience they think I'm pandering to]." 😉

Snarky reviews FTW!

For the Mislanders:

#TruthRiders Tour

Did you see the news on the Twittersphere? The incredibly talented Veronica Rossi and I are going on a tour in February and March! From Michigan to Texas, check the graphic to see if we'll be hitting up a city near you!

Also, I've also added a signing event to my January tour: Livonia, MI on 1/22! Even cooler, a ton of other Tor authors (like Cherie Priest, Wesley Chu, Victoria Schwab, and more!) will be signing with me!! I AM SO EXCITED!!! Cue: me fangirling!!!

Check out that event on January 22 here!


For the Daydreamers:


Yesterday, Erin Bowman and I were talking about our resolutions for 2016. What have we learned in 2015? What will we do differently going forward? Why does Donald Trump's hair look like a hamster nest?

No wait. That was a different conversation. 😉

Anyway, in the spirit of the holidays and upcoming new years, we decided to not only share our #WriterResolutions, but to ask you all to do the same! I’m sure there are resolutions I’m forgetting, and perhaps something you all suggest will jog my memory! Or vice versa -- maybe YOU can take inspiration from our #WriterResolutions.

So let's get started, shall we? And make sure you stop by Erin's blog to see her list!

1. I will practice compassion for myself.

This particular resolution isn't exclusively for my writing -- I really need more compassion for myself on all fronts. But it's especially true with the creative and career side of things.

I am so ridiculously hard on myself. And I feel pretty confident that most of you are as well. I mean, how many times in a day do you tell yourself something along the lines, "You are such an idiot! What is WRONG with you?"

I probably say it a hundred times. A few times an hour, at least. And what's so toxic about it is that I don't even know I'm doing it. It's just the default reaction I have have whenever I make even the slightest mistake.

I spill some eggs while making breakfast? You are such a slob! Be more careful, butterfingers!

I sleep in an extra ten minutes? YOU ARE SO LAZY, SUSAN. Don't be such a waste of life!

I screw up my kata at karate? Why are you such a f*****g klutz? Get it right or you'll never advance!

And oh man, don't even get me started on the awful dialogue that happens when I read a bad review. Let's just say there's a lot of: You will never amount to anything if you can't write better books!

This continues ad nauseum all day long, as it has for my entire life. But over the years, it's been getting steadily worse. In fact, this year my self-cruelty and awful inner dialogue reached a breaking point.

I was so full of hatred for myself that I couldn't write.

I had a breakdown this summer. A bad one, and I knew after it that things had to change. First, I took an online course from UC Berkeley on the Science of Happiness. It was pretty transformative for me, and as a result of that course, I read an AMAZING book called Self-Compassion by Dr. Kristin Neff.

One of the first things I learned to do from that book was spot my self-cruelty. Just being AWARE of how awful we are to ourselves can make a huge difference in our happiness.

The second transformative realization was that motivation through fear and abuse do NOT work. For me or for anyone else. Rewards and positivity are what push a person to shine! I KNOW this -- I mean, I see it all the time with my pets. So why the heck was I using fear/abuse to motivate myself?? It clearly wasn't working for me and never had.

But one of the lessons I loved the most from her book was the idea that we don't treat others with such abuse, so why are we so horrible to ourselves? I would never say to a friend: "You are SO LAZY! What a waste of life!" And yet, I say that to myself all the freaking time.

I was actually discussing this very topic with a friend, and she taught me a great thing to say whenever I catch myself being too self-cruel: "Stop being so mean to my friend Susan! She's just doing the best she can, and we all make mistakes!"

I love that line, and I've started saying it to not only myself but my friends too! Whenever I catch them being too hard on themselves, I say, "Stop being so mean to my friend (name)! She's just doing the best she can with (situation)!"

It's helping all of us catch ourselves in those hard moments and also improve our self-compassion.

I can already tell you that my happiness -- and my creativity -- have completely changed. I feel better about myself, my life, and my writing than I have in many, many years.

And I'd like to keep it that way.

2. I will remember that I have enough. More than enough, really. And I'll remember to be grateful for it.

Again, this resolution doesn't just apply to my writing -- it can easily apply to my entire life. I have so much to be grateful for, and when I really look at it all...I do NOT need more. At home or with my writing.

I think it's easy -- especially in a creative competitively field like publishing -- to think things like, "If only I had more readers, then I'd be happy!" or "If only I was a New York Times bestseller, then I'd be set!" Or even, "If I could just sell a book to a publisher, then I'd be happy!"

But here's the thing: none of those milestones will change who you are. Oh, we all think they will -- just like we think getting married or moving to a new city will change us. And while those events will certainly change the circumstances in our life, they don't change who we actually are.

Nor do they change how happy we are. (It's called hedonic adaptation. Read about it!)

The only way to change who we are is to change how we feel about circumstances, and the best way to do this (seriously, I can attest to this personally) is to feel gratitude.

No joke: count your blessings, and you'll be happier. Not only will listing out all the things you're grateful for make you 1) more aware of how many amazing things you have in your life, but 2) the resulting gratitude will start to spill over into other parts of your life.

I mean, think about it: how can you be unhappy when you're filled with gratitude?

Try it! Right now. List 3 things that brought you joy today. Or 3 things that made you feel thankful. They needn't be huge! In fact, noticing the small facets of your life that bring you happiness are sometimes the best.

Here, I'll do it. These are 3 things that made me happy today:
  • My first coffee of the morning was delicious. I just savored the bold roast so much.
  • I chatted with a fellow writer and we had a wonderful conversation about the pitfalls and challenges of revising. It left me feeling warm inside.
  • I announced the #TruthRider tour with Veronica Rossi, and the resulting enthusiasm was SO heart-warming!! It made me all the more excited for our tour.
  • My friend sent me handmade fingerless gloves for Christmas, and I've been sporting them all day. Warm hands FTW!
That was more than 3, and I could totally keep going. I do this exercise EVERYDAY, and EVERYDAY it gets easier. I notice more and more what I have to be grateful for, and I scarcely notice the negative things that I used to fixate on.

3. Health of mind and body have to come first.

I can't write a book if I'm unwell. I can't write a book if I'm unhappy. These are two truths I learned the hard way this year.

As mentioned, I had a breakdown this summer. It was ugly, but it was badly needed. Only by burning myself could I look back and see the chain of events that had led me there.

A friend of mine taught me about something called the Spoon Theory. It's used to explain what being chronically ill (or in chronic pain) does to one's life, but it can really apply to everyone. The idea is that a healthy person starts the morning with "all their spoons" but as bad things happen or stress weighs one down, spoons get used up. A person with chronic illness, however, doesn't start the day with a full set of spoons -- so they run out of steam/patience/ability more quickly.

And while I don't want to say my own health/emotional issues are at all like a chronic illness (obviously, they're not comparable), I was operating for a long time with fewer spoons. And rather than trying to pause and recover some spoons, I just kept. Pushing. Myself. Harder.

Until all my spoons were gone and I suffered the consequences.

I won't do that again. I can't do that again. So although it might seem and feel selfish at times, I HAVE to remember to put myself first. Before the writing. Before the promo. Because the end result will be having MORE to give! MORE to write!

Personally, I need to start taking actual holidays -- something I've NEVER done before. And weekends too (again, something I've NEVER done before). I need to go to the dojo and spend quality time with friends/family. I need to play video games and read a book every now and then. I need to have an actual life.

Because let's face it: I only get one life, and would I rather spend it burnt out and creatively exhausted? Or writing more slowly yet enjoying every second (and ultimately giving my readers higher quality content)?

I think the answer is obvious. 😉


Share your #WriterResolutions on Twitter, your blogs, via email -- wherever! We'd love to hear!
Upcoming Events:


Books of Wonder
LAUNCH PARTY!! With Alex Bracken & Erin Bowman!
January 11 @ 6PM

Naperville, IL
January 12 @ 7PM

Red Balloon
St. Paul, MN
January 13 @ 6:30PM

See the rest of the #PassTruthTour dates here!

And of course, check out the #TruthRider tour dates here!

Link Roundup:

As always, here are some links to wrap up your Friday!

photo by Emily Rae Photography

Copyright © 2015
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.