A Writer in the Spotlight – Susan Dennard

A Writer In The Spotlight Logo

Hello gentle reader,

Today I’m thrilled to share with you an interview with one of my favourite YA authors! You may remember I interviewed the wonderful Susan Dennard back in July 2012. At the time, her debut was just being released. Since then, Susan has published one more book and a novella, and the last book in her trilogy will come out in July. Additionally, she has sold another trilogy: a YA Epic Fantasy whose first installment will be available in Fall 2015.

Susan Dennard 2

Author : Susan Dennard

Genre : Young Adult, Fantasy

Location: Midwestern US

Website: http://susandennard.com

Books : Something Strange and Deadly series: Something Strange and Deadly (2012), A Darkness Strange and Lovely (2013), Strange And Ever After (expected publication: 22d July 2014) from Harper Teen.

Truthwitch series: expected publication Fall 2015 from Tor.

My interview (15th April 2014)

Can you tell us about your writing process for STRANGE AND EVER AFTER? Did you have everything already mapped out before you started drafting or did the book go through a lot revisions and changes?

I had a vague idea of where the series would end up–but VERY vague. Like, I knew Eleanor and the gang would go to Egypt and ultimately face the Big Baddie, but details were totally nonexistent. As I drafted A Darkness Strange and Lovely and new story threads were woven into the plot, my vision for book 3 became clearer. It wasn’t until I started writing book 3 and really set my mind to wrapping up all the story threads and all the character arcs that I fully understood what had to happen. Even then, it took me a half a draft to get a real handle on how everything would actually weave together for an epic ending. What can I say? I’m a bit of pantser…

Strange Ever After

STRANGE AND EVER AFTER is the last book in the series: how did it feel to part with these characters and this world?

Oh my gosh, it was HEARTBREAKING. I cried and cried and cried and immediately (like the same day) started writing a sequel set 5 years in the future. Ha! I will probably never try to publish that, but it was fun for me to see where Eleanor and the gang were going.

the-starkillerscycle

You’ve been writing THE STARKILLERS CYCLE with Sarah J. Maas and posting it on Tumblr. This is such a great project, can you explain why you chose to post it online for free rather than to publish it traditionally?

We just felt like the size and scope of the project was WAAAAY to big for traditional publishing–and that’s not traditional publishing’s fault. A single book that’s 200K+ is never easy to sell, and especially not in today’s market.

More importantly, though, this project is very organic for us and 100% a passion project. With our contracted works, we don’t get much stewing time or revising time. It kind of sucks because we’ both firmly believe that good stories take YEARS to percolate into their full potential. We wanted to be able to do that with STARKILLERS–to take breaks and stew. To go back and change earlier scenes as new ideas arose. Obviously, that would never work in traditional publishing. 😉

The first book in your next series, TRUTHWITCH, will come out in 2015. Did you decide with your agent to work on this particular project? Or did you write the story you wanted before considering whether or not it was something a publisher would be interested in?

Truthwitch was a passion project. All my books are. 🙂 I’m a FIRM believer in writing what you love and not worrying about the market (hence writing a sequel to SS&D that I will likely never share or writing STARKILLERS with Sarah).

Yes, passion projects can backfire if no one wants to buy them, and yes, I’ve written things that the market had no need for…BUT the market is always changing. One day, publishers might decide they want my dark middle grade. Or one day, the market might be perfect for my diesel-punk epic fantasy. The important thing is that I LOVED writing those books while I wrote them, and that passion always comes out on the page.

With Truthwitch, I loved every second I was working on it, and I think that passion is really evident on every page. Best of all, despite having revised/rewritten it until my eyes bled, I STILL love the book. I’m not sick of it because the need to tell this story–and to tell it RIGHT–just burns inside my chest. If I didn’t have that passion, I can’t imagine how miserable I would have been by the 2000th round of revisions! 😛

RoyalAirs

What are you reading right now? Do you have any recommendations?

I’m reading Royal Airs by Sharon Shinn. I’ve been on a Sharon Shinn binge lately. She’s just SO GOOD at world-building and romance. I highly recommend all of her series!

Thank you so much for this interview, Susan!

You can buy all of Susan’s books here. (You really should!)

Waiting On Wednesday – 29

Hello gentle reader,

this week I’m waiting on Strange And Ever After (Something Strange And Deadly # 3) by Susan Dennard (expected publication: 22d July 2014 by HarperTeen). It’s a YA Historical Fantasy and the last book in a trilogy. I have loved the first two books in this series (Something Strange and Deadly -set in Philadelphia – and A Darkness Strange and Lovely – set in Paris) and I can’t wait to find out how it all ends – in Egypt!

Strange Ever After

From Goodreads:

In the conclusion to the trilogy that Publishers Weekly called “a roaring—and addictive—gothic world,” Eleanor Fitt must control her growing power, face her feelings for Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus…all before it’s too late. Susan Dennard will leave readers breathless and forever changed in the concluding pages of this riveting ride.

You can read my interview with Susan Dennard here.

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted by book blogger Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

What are you waiting on this week? Is Strange and Ever After on your TBR list? Have you read Something Strange and Deadly?

Feel free to leave me a comment below!

Sunday Giveaway – A Dawn Most Wicked (closed)

Sunday Giveaway

Hello gentle reader,

this summer I give away ONE KINDLE E-BOOK every Sunday.

Today I’m giving away A Dawn Most Wicked (Something Strange And Deadly 0.5) by Susan Dennard. It’s the companion novella to her SSAD trilogy and it tells the story of Eleanor’s suitor Daniel. I read it this week and it’s awesome! You can even read it if you haven’t read Something Strange And Deadly, because the story is set before the events of Book 1.

Dennard - A Dawn Most WickedFrom Goodreads:

Daniel Sheridan is an engineer’s apprentice on a haunted Mississippi steamer known as the Sadie Queen. His best friend–the apprentice pilot, Cassidy Cochran–also happens to be the girl he’s pining for…and the captain’s daughter. But when it looks like the Sadie Queen might get taken off the river, Daniel and Cassidy have to do whatever they can to stop the ghosts that plague the ship.
Fortunately, there happens to be a Creole gentleman on board by the name of Joseph Boyer-–and he just might be able to help them…

Giveaway information:

The giveaway is open until Wednesday 19th June 2013 at 9am (BST time).

To enter please fill in the contact form below with your name and email. If you follow my blog by email or WordPress , if you are a Twitter follower , if you like my page on Facebook or if you tweet about the giveaway, this will grant you an extra entry. Mention it below.

Entrants must be at least 13 years of age.

This giveaway is open Internationally.

The winner will be chosen randomly, notified by email and will have 72 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen.

I am only giving away one Kindle e-book per giveaway. No other format, sorry!

I hold the right to end the giveaway before its original deadline without any prior notice.

I hold the right to disqualify any entry as I see fit.

Privacy information: no information given for this giveaway will be used for other purpose than this giveaway. All information provided (names, emails and mail addresses) will be deleted after the giveaway.

Good luck and feel free to leave me a comment below!

Waiting On Wednesday – 20

 

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted by book blogger Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

This week I’m waiting on A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard (expected publication: July 23rd 2013 by HarperTeen). It will be Book 2 in the Something Strange and Deadly series.

Something Strange and Deadly is one of my favourite books of 2012 and I’m really looking forward to reading what happens next to Eleanor and the Spirit Hunters. This sequel will take place in Paris, which sounds awesome. Also, look at this gorgeous cover!

From Goodreads:

Following an all-out battle with the walking Dead, the Spirit Hunters have fled Philadelphia, leaving Eleanor alone to cope with the devastating aftermath. But there’s more trouble ahead—the evil necromancer Marcus has returned, and his diabolical advances have Eleanor escaping to Paris to seek the help of Joseph, Jie, and the infuriatingly handsome Daniel once again. When she arrives, however, she finds a whole new darkness lurking in this City of Light. As harrowing events unfold, Eleanor is forced to make a deadly decision that will mean life or death for everyone.

What do you think? Have you read Something Strange and Deadly? Is Book 2 on your TBR list?

And what are you waiting on this week?

YA Halloween reads

What’s on my bookshlef ? 7

Are you looking for scary books that are suitable for Young Adult readers? On my bookshelf, you can find books with…

Zombies: Something Strange & Deadly by Susan Dennard

1876: the Dead are rising in Philadelphia and only a teenage girl in petticoats can stop them…

Ghosts: Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley

Edward visits his Uncle Montague, who tells him some of the most frightening stories he knows. But the house around them is creepy and Uncle Montague’s tales sound more and more real as time goes by…

Vampires: Department 19 by Will Hill

Department 19 is a secret organization that deals with all things supernatural. With the help of its strange members, a teenager must save his mother from a powerful vampire.

Witches: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue comes from a family of witches, but she has no power of her own. The only thing she knows for sure is that she will cause her true love to die. Which wasn’t a problem until she met the Raven Boys…

Death: Abandon by Meg Cabot

A teenage girl escapes more the Realm of the Dead (the Underworld), only to find herself in a lot of supernatural trouble. With more romance than scary moments, this book will suit readers who enjoy YA Paranormal reads.

Any other books you’d recommend? Feel free to comment! And don’t forget you can still win The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman here.

Stacking The Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga @ Tyngasreviews. The idea is to showcase the books that we’ve recently won/bought. I have never felt the need to participate in such a meme, since until recently I had never won a book, and I shared the books I bought in my Book of the Week feature. But this month I have actually won/received books so I thought I’d share the news with you!

Won:

Wilde’s Army (Darkness Falls #2) by Krystal Wade via her website.

Look! It’s signed!

Received as a gift from the author:

Stolen Night (The Vampire Queen #2) by Rebecca Maizel.

Look! It’s signed too!

Bought while in the US

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Once (Eve #2) by Anna Carey

Underworld (Abandon #2) by Meg Cabot

Girl of Nightmares (Anna #2) by Kendare Blake

What did YOU add to your shelves this week?

ROW80 Check-In 5: Susan Dennard’s Advice on Writing a Saleable Book

Welcome gentle reader,

today again I thought I would share with you some writing advice from a published author.

Susan Dennard is a YA author repped by Sara Kendall of NCLit. Her debut novel, SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY, is available now from Harper Teen. Susan has an AWESOME blog where you can find invaluable advice on the craft of writing, on the art of storytelling and revising, on the querying process, on the value of critique partners, on grammar and style and on genres. She regularly writes for the Publishing Crawl blog and you can also find her on Twitter, Goodreads and Facebook.

I really recommend you check out her blog and if you need convincing, I have posted below one of her blog posts entitled Writing a Saleable Book. It was first posted by Susan on the Let The Words Flow website on August 10th 2011. You can read the initial post here.

“Recently, someone asked me:

What is required to make a book saleable?

That is a rather large-in-scope question, and as such, I’m afraid my answer will be kinda vague. All the same, I thought it was worth taking the time to answer for everyone.

My super broad response is the:

The most important thing in writing a saleable book is writing a good book.

I am 100% convinced that if you have a well-written, compelling story, your novel will eventually find an agent/editor. Period.

That said, there are a few critical things that define a “good book”. Again, these answers are vague, and I’d be more than happy to get specific for anyone with questions (ask in the comments, please!).

Parts of a Good Book

1. First and foremost, the story absolutely most flow. Stilted dialogue, poor pacing, or unreadable grammar/syntax will kill a manuscript. A reader can put up with slow scenes if it all flows beautifully, and a reader can put up with a less-than-compelling plot if it’s smooth.

The way to ensure your novel flows is to revise-revise-revise. Learning to master the written word is absolutely critical. Few people write stunning first drafts, but give them a red pen, and they can line-edit their words into perfect prose.

2. Secondly, a book needs a compelling plot with tension on every page. The story builds, the tension builds, and everything ends in an explosive climax (and this applies to any genre—by explosive I simply mean all aspects of the story finally come together).

This is something you can learn by reading about writing, taking workshops, or simply reading heavily in the genre you write. There are structure to stories (three-act is the most common), and your job is to practice until these are second nature when you write/revise.

Again, my first drafts are rarely good examples of compelling plot, but I can revise them until they shine and all the subplots weave into the main plot.

3. Third, a book needs a cast of characters that readers care about. The best way to achieve this is to ensure the MC has a desperate need—secondary characters too. This is also something you have to learn by doing/practicing.

4. Fourth, the book must have high stakes. “High stakes” simply means we are invested in whether or not the MC achieves his/her goal. What will she lose if she fails to reach her goal? And why does that matter? A common reason a book fails to compel readers is low stakes—if we don’t care about the MC’s failure, we don’t care about reading the book.

Finding Problems

My biggest suggestion in terms of how to address these 4 components is to start critiquing and getting your work critiqued. Either find a critique partner, join a critique group, or stay active in a critiquing community. This is no doubt something everyone here already knows, but it’s so important (in my opinion) that I just have to emphasize it!

When you see others make mistakes, you learn to spot them in your own writing. Additionally, we, the writers, are often too close to our novels to see them “as a whole”. CPs and betas have the needed distance to spot problems

When I got an agent, Something Strange and Deadly had been through 4 crit partners and 2 betas. Did I always listen to my CPs’/betas’ comments? No—you must decide and filter feedback—but it was thanks to my CPs/betas that I caught some of my biggest mistakes (character inconsistencies, flat climax, plot holes, etc.).”

I hope this post by Susan helped!

Now for my ROW80 goals:

After 10 days off (I was travelling) I have been somewhat back on track for the past three days.

1-          Write everyday: 3/7 days.

2-          Self-edit The Last Queen: done.

3-          Continue writing the first draft of The Cursed King: done.

Here is the Linky for the other check-in posts. How are you other ROW80 writers doing?