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New York Times Bestselling Author Speaks to Class at Dalton State

It doesn’t matter how many positive comments and review she receives, New York Times bestselling author, Susan Dennard said that one negative comment can make her feel meaningless.

“So I just avoid the negative comments,” said the young adult author of the “Something Strange and Deadly” and “The Witchlands” series. “Actually, I don’t look at the positive comments either. I pick the criticism I listen to. I trust my editor and some writer friends of mine, but don’t listen to the rest. You’re entitled to think what you want to, but I’m not going listen to it.”

Dennard, a Dalton author and former marine biologist, spoke to an advanced creative writing course at Dalton State this week. The class is made up of several students aspiring to be authors.

Dennard shared her writing and editing process, her creative process, how to handle criticism and edits, and how to be published.

“Listening to her helped me understand the process,” said English major Michael Walters. “She makes the process transparent. It is fascinating and it really helps.”

Jane Taylor, associate professor of English, says her students enjoyed hearing from Dennard.

“I knew my students would benefit from and enjoy hearing about the writing process from her,” Taylor said. “She was able to share her experiences of becoming a published writer in a relatable and engaging way.”

The hardest part of becoming published, Dennard said, is finding a literary agent. The agent sells the manuscript to a publisher, but the author must find an agent first.

“Everything thinks they can write a novel,” she said. “So they sit down and write and then send it to an agent. But you have to revise it hundreds of times before you ever send it. It needs to be perfect before you contact an agent. And then you only have a few words to capture an agent’s attention.”

Dennard spoke about what it is like to write young adult fantasy. She gets to make up her own world and can touch on real issues but in a nonrealistic way.

“The books I read from about 13 years old through college were pivotal for me,” she said. “To be that person now for others is awesome.”