Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Back to School... Sort Of

No, I've given up the idea of that MFA (have you seen the cost???)

The sons are going back to school within the next week (color me ecstatic).

For me, it's back the the routine of events, workshops, and panels. Back to solving the problem of why this manuscript was a pass for editors/agents.

Here's the first event! 

Come talk books, see books, get books, love books! Hope to see you there! And if you can't make it, won't you please support the authors by spreading the word? Maybe pass along the info? Thanks!


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

One at a Time...

Once a year, usually in September, I clean my kitchen cabinets. It's a job I hate. I have to sort through boxes of food and throw anything stale out (recycling the boxes), go through dishes (how many water bottles do we need???) and decide what appliances/gadgets to get rid of (veg-ini anyone?). Then I have to clean the cabinets on the inside and clean/polish the outside. It's time consuming. No one notices unless I don't do it. And no one else will do it for me. (Well, I could pay someone I guess, but would they do it the way I like it?)

To do it all at once is overwhelming. Too many cabinets, drawers, and time. But it has to be done (with 3 boys in the house, it gets to be a mess).

So, I set a goal of one cabinet a day. If I miss a day because of other obligations, then two the next (even if it's the two smallest, it's still two). Eventually, it gets done and I am relieved for another year (until someone spills something and doesn't clean it up).

It's the same with this old manuscript I'm trying to revise from adult paranormal to new adult. It's a mess (I didn't think so, but several years of dust collected on top of it while hidden in the closet). I need to get rid of clutter, throw out anything that's bad, and reorganize what I keep. Like the cabinets, the manuscript must be organized and workable.

But I so don't want to do this, it's overwhelming (and I'm sure anyone who knows me knows I HATE multiple revisions). This manuscript is 385 pages. To do it all at once, I think I'd rather clean the cabinets. But like the cabinets, if I do one, two chapters a day, it will get done. With no deadline, there's no panic. Plenty of time. Maybe too much time because I don't feel any pressure. Some people, like me, work better under pressure so I'll impose one on myself. I want to be done with cleaning the kitchen by the time school starts in September. I want to be done with this revision by November so I can work on my NaNoWriMo project. In between I have scheduled book events, blogs to write, bell practice/performances, holidays, family obligations, and who knows what else will come up.

Here's my attack plan:

1- Inventory. (What do I have in the cabinets, what's in the story outline?)
2- Check what's no good. (Is that box of crackers stale? Is that plot thread working?)
3- Empty the trash. (Yep, box of crackers and can of nuts have to go. And that character is dead to me.)
4- Rearrange what's left. (All crackers on one shelf, straighten out plot hole left by dead & gone character.)
5- Restock. (Buy new crackers that everyone will eat, add details to smooth out plot changes.)
6- Polish. (Coat of wax on wooden cabinets, read through for any grammar, spelling, or other mistakes.)
7- Start the next project. (Cleaning out closets, working on NaNo project.)

Now I have to clean two cabinets and revise two chapters since I spent yesterday reading, thinking about what to write for this post, and doing physical therapy for my knee (nothing serious). No excuses, just gotta do it.

Keep cleaning- cabinets, manuscripts, whatever...


Monday, August 14, 2017


A new blog! (for me). I'm joining the ranks of peeps at Smack dab in the middle blog! I'll be joining Holly Schindler, Jane Kelley, Deborah Lytton, Ann Haywood Leal, Darlene Beck Jacobson, Lizzie K. Foley, Sheila O'Connor, Claudia Mills, Irene Latham, Platte F. Clark, Jody Feldman, Sarah Dooley, and Dia Calhoun. I am in such esteemed company- they have written numerous wonderful and award winning middle grade books. These are some pretty big footsteps to follow, but I'm game!

I'll be posting on the 29th of the month. There are monthly themes this bevy of middle grade authors write about, but they'll be expanding to reviews, interviews with teachers and librarians and guest posts. And, if we have a good idea outside the box, you'll see that. I've already planned out my first post, and you can be sure I'll mention it here. I'm still keeping this blog (unless I have a bestseller that sells millions and I can hire a personal assistant to do it for me).

Also changing- my new website is coming! I've been working on it, with lots of help from the Authors Guild. You'll be able to go charlottebennardo.com and see it soon. I'll be doing a giveaway, so stay tuned! I hope you'll stop by when it's up and running, and leave a comment. Until it's completed, I'll still be here, with all the pages and my posts.

Until then, I'm kind of setting up new events (check the "What's Up?" page) and working on public relations while I try to iron out the final kinks in the website and the migraine-inducing process of getting Evolution Revolution: Book 2, Simple Plans and Evolution Revolution: Book 3, Simple Lessons onto Smashwords. (It is my premonition that a computer-tech glitch will give me an aneurysm.) It's hard getting rivals (CreateSpace/Amazon vs. Smashwords to cooperate. Man, it's one of the things I hate about Indie publishing.)

While our country and the world is in chaos, I wish you a few moments of peace. I hope this helps:

Keep hopeful and compassionate,


Monday, August 7, 2017

5 Random Tips About Querying Agents...

Re: mg fantasy query for Agent X

Yep, I'm still slogging along with the agent search. That's normal; very few people accept/get accepted by the first agent who responds. Being that this is my second time around, here are five random tips I've learned about querying agents:

1.  Make sure the agent handles what you write. Okay, they like and want middle grade sci fi, which you have at least one complete manuscript. But suppose you have an idea for a young adult historical fiction that you're really excited about- only the agent you're looking at or who responded doesn't do historical fiction? I foresee three choices: one, you forget about it because their guidelines specifically listed no historical fiction. Two, you write it and self publish. (I don't think this goes over very well with agents...). And third, you work on it and when you feel the time is write, break up with your agent and shop it around (but check with agent to make sure they haven't changed their minds. Or, they might not represent it, but will let someone in their agency handle it.). It's your call.

2. Read. Their. Submission. Guidelines. This seems like a no-brainer, but even wise authors make the mistake of 'skimming over' the guidelines. I've automatically assumed every agent wants a short bio, short synop, and the first 10 pages of the manuscript within the email, no attachments, and use the word 'query' in the subject line. Almost all the time, those are the basics. Recently though, I had one agent who asked for first 50 pages. Another wanted to know what was the last book I read, and what author influenced me the most, etc. Gotta read it ALL. Every time.

3. Even if agents say they always respond to every query, don't hold your breath (or become like Harry Potter in front of the Mirror of Erised, waiting...waiting...). Sometimes things happen and the agent can't keep that promise. You shouldn't put your life and writing on hold for someone who may never know you're at home, waiting in your prom dress, for a date that will never knock on the door. Keep sending queries out. Most won't acknowledge unless interested, only a few will send an automatic "we got the query" with the footnote not to bug them with follow-ups, and a very rare few send a personal email- eventually. Keep submitting to other agents. Life is short.

4. Make sure your short bio and concise synopsis are current. I recently sent out a query package only to realize the bio didn't have my latest book. (I'm still finding variations on my computer, social media and other websites that list my old agent.) Check. It. First. Before you attach/copy. If you can, have someone who knows you well read it. Also, make sure the manuscript sample is the correct number of pages; don't try to be sneaky and add more. The excuse 'you have to see how this chapter/situation/conflict ends' won't work. Sending more than they initially requested shows that you can't/won't take direction. And, I think it's more of a cliff hanger if you suddenly end on something like, "As the door creaked, she turned around and saw-" Saw what??? Your sample should be interesting enough to catch their attention. If not, revisions or submitting to another agent are called for.

5. Don't ask a friend who has an agent to 'recommend' you to theirs. Everyone who doesn't have a famous relative or their own fame has to go through this process. You have to do the work of querying. The information helps establish communication and interest. Your friend's agent may not be right for you, even if the agent repped 50 Shades and everyone wants to sign with them. Read agent and agency bios and/or meet them at a conference. Most of the time, there are no shortcuts in querying. So come join the rest of us and we'll slog through this together. First person to get an amazing agent buys the drinks.

Till then, keep querying.