Monday, November 28, 2016

You Can't Plan This Stuff

So I get this email from my publicist, Rebecca Grose... Apparently a Chicago politician has it out for squirrels... And they heard about it and decided to get even... (Warning: it doesn't have a happy ending for the squirrel...)

Read it  HERE

And with a great review in Critical Blast which references both Evolution Revolution: Simple Machines and the attack on the politician, like the reviewer says:

"It's a charming little fiction / science fiction piece until you learn about things like squirrels attacking politicians for saying mean things about them, at which point there's maybe a little more to ponder on the subject. For now, enjoy Bennardo's fiction -- before it becomes a little too real."

To whet your appetite, here's a little deja vu from the book:

Illustration by Cathleen Thole-Daniels
 You may notice the animals are destroying the machines... And who do you think is leading them?

Be nice to squirrels. They're smarter than you think...

And wait till you see what they do in book 2, Evolution Revolution: Simple Plans...


Monday, November 21, 2016


I'm so happy to announce that I'll be having the launch for Evolution Revolution: Simple Machines at Barnes and Noble in Bridgewater (on the traffic circle) on December 21st. I'll be chatting and signing from 4 - 8 p.m. Literacy Volunteers of Somerset County will be doing a Book Fair Gift Wrap, so not only can you do shopping, but get them wrapped too! And you'll be helping a cause authors  love!!! *literacy.* As a former member of Literacy Volunteers, I helped tutor immigrants who sought to learn a new language for their new life. We love to see people read!

I may read, or talk about the book, it all depends on the crowd. Please stop by and say hello, support authors and Literacy Volunteers.

Hope to see you there!


Monday, November 14, 2016

Let Me Show You How You're In My Book...

I've been doing events with Evolution Revolution: Simple Machines. I've learned through my previous books it's not enough to say, "Here's my book, won't you buy it?" That's a hard sell and a lot of authors like myself are uncomfortable pushing for sales, even though it's absolutely necessary for midlist authors.

I can do that when I have to, but I have a different, nicer approach. I put people in my book.

At the Collingswood Book Festival, to appeal to kids, when I opened a copy, I turned to page 84. This is the illustration:

It's Collin, the main human character. Kids love seeing themselves in stories. Or, imagining themselves as the characters. Nothing says that like an illustration; it's visual and instant.

Some kids (and parents) are harder to convince. Maybe it's a girl who doesn't see herself as the character because mine is a boy. I tell her a little bit about the story. Maybe she squeals, "I love animals!" So I flip to this page:

That's Jack, the main character. I explain how Jack is really smart, he's learning things from Collin. If  a different child seems to be interested in machines and science, I pop to this picture:

(A lot of kids love construction machines!) If I sense a child has a sense of humor, I can show them this one:

I use the illustrations any way I can to pull them into the story. To make them want the story. And when they're interested but maybe wavering (or the parent is undecided) I'll hint at a surprise ending, and show them this one:

The point is to use your illustrations to convince them, but don't show them every one (if they see the whole book, what's left to discover?). Leave something for them to discover. By showcasing a specific aspect, that draws the child in. Talk to the kids, versus trying to sell to the parents. (Hint: while the kids are thumbing through a copy, which I highly encourage because most times once they have the book in their hands, they don't want to let go, I talk with the parents, pointing out that it has science (based on school curriculum) and adventure that draws in reluctant readers. Point out something to the adult that makes the book worthy of its price, that it's not a frivolous purchase.

For the really difficult customer, if you have a funny story relating to the pictures, or the book, share it. Don't be a sales machine, be a story teller- with pictures!

I'm off to peruse the pictures for Evolution Revolution: Simple Plans. Maybe I'll share a little peek soon...


Monday, November 7, 2016

Coming to you live...

I did a radio interview about  Evolution Revolution: Simple Machines on last Thursday, Nov. 3 for WEOL out of Elyria, Ohio, for the Morning Show hosted by Craig Adams and Bruce Van Dryke. I've done radio interviews before but it's still a little disconcerting hearing yourself on radio or tv if you're not in the business. Listen and let's compare notes:


These are my thoughts:

1. Do I really sound like that? The voice I hear is so much lower. This could explain why my kids screech when I sing. Or they could just be pesky kids. Wonder if they know how their  voice sounds.

2. I wish I hadn't said "um" as often. No excuses, I've had public speaking classes, I've done numerous presentations and talks for NJ SCBWI and at author events. (But it was 8:10 in the morning and maybe I should have gone to bed at 6 pm instead of 11:30 pm. I'm on a I-don't-have-to-get-up-with-the-kids-schedule anymore).

3. I couldn't eat or drink a cup of tea before the interview. I have digestive issues so I have to take medication and wait a full hour before putting anything in my stomach. Yes! I could have gotten up earlier and taken care of this. Totally my fault. Or I could blame it on the medication for making me wait so darn long.

4. It went so quick! I had tons of funny anecdotes and life experiences I wanted to share. I had to prioritize and a) answer the question from the host, b) keep it short and pithy, and c) try to get in pertinent information like where to get the book and my website address. For a person who likes to chat, this was an exercise in restraint!

5. Even though I've done this before, my hands were still a bit shaky right before I called in. Nerves? Possibly. You can't really prepare for these events. Hunger? A little bit. Like my brain, it takes a while for my stomach to wake up and I think it was rumbling awakd during the interview. Caffeine withdrawal? Another possibility. Didn't get that cup of tea until afterwards. Well, after the interview, a load of laundry, making my bed and doing the dishes. You can fit a lot of stuff into an hour when you're waiting to eat.

So what did you think? Throw away being an author to be a radio host? (I didn't think so either.) But here's some tips I'll leave with you:

1. Make sure you're rested and fed (not stuffed) before the interview. Don't eat anything that will make you burp (like soda), cough (like dry chips), or sniffle (like hot sauce).

2. Make a list of the things that have to get into the interview: website/blog address, where to buy the book, the age range of the book, a 2-3 sentence long synopsis (without spoilers!). Interview hosts may have this covered, but if they don't, you have to get it in. Most of this advice came to me from my publicist, Rebecca Grose of SoCal Public Relations.

3. Don't try for something you're not. If you're not British, don't do a faux accent to push the book. I'm generally funny, but my first answer didn't come off so well: Q: how many books are planned in the series? A: If I got a huge contract, I'd publish more... Nope. Didn't work. Guess I'm funnier in person where I can make goofy faces. Keep it conversational.

4. Don't be one of those people who hog all the air time. One of the things I think I did well with was waiting until the host finished speaking, I tried not to interrupt or ramble. Some people (and most of you know who you are....) just go on and on. When you do that in conversation or on author panels, I shut down. Check my nail polish. Practice signing my name for the movie deal. It's probably why I don't listen to audio books- the same speaker never stops.

5. Be prompt, courteous, pleasant-voiced, and above all, remember that interviewers are doing YOU a favor, so no attitude and say thank you!

I'll be here, writing while waiting for that call for my books to be adapted to the silver screen...