Dow Phumiruk is the lucky winner of Evolution Revolution. Congratulations! Please send me your address.
Congratulations to Charlotte Bennardo for her new book, Evolution Revolution. Charlotte has agreed to give do a book giveaway. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Check back on November 7th to discover the winner.
In a quiet wood, a gray squirrel declares war on the machines that invade his wood, threatening his nest and tree. Taught words and how to use simple machines like the wheel by a young boy who names him Jack, the squirrel shares what he’s learned with the other animals.
Jack thinks he can stop the bulldozers, if he can convince the other woodland animals to join him in the fight. But as they take on the humans and their machines, people are noticing that Jack and his friends are smarter than ordinary forest animals. All of them are in more danger than they realize. Even if Jack and the animals win the battle, will they lose the war?
Evolution Revolution is a smart and charming book for younger readers that will have them wondering just what the animals in the yard are up to! Watch for the next book in this series coming soon.
The long and winding road…
Finally my middle grade science-adventure story debuted on September 30th. It has been a journey akin to traveling through the Himalayans; super ups, super downs. And the path led me toward Indie publishing.
The idea started when my middle son brought home his third grade science homework about simple machines (lever, wheel and axle, inclined plane, etc.). Then I saw a BBC documentary on how smart squirrels are; they will spend over a month to solve a puzzle if it involves food. They teach other squirrels what they have learned, or the others learn from watching them. One day a squirrel visited our yard and stayed. Our squirrel was smart enough to know that even if he could see us behind the window, he was safe because we weren’t outside. I wondered what else they could learn…Bingo! Book idea! I started writing a story about a squirrel who learns how to use simple machines.
Having written the first three books (I planned on a series of 5, 6, maybe more), I shopped it around to agents. And editors. And critique groups. From the rejections I honed the story. No takers. Years passed…
Eventually, I put the story aside, knowing I’d come back to it. Other books were written and discarded until Sirenz, of which I am a co-author, got picked up by Flux. Next came Sirenz Back in Fashion and an agent. I sent her the first book, Evolution Revolution: Simple Machines, which she loved. After making a few revisions, she shopped it around. To everyone. No takers. Sadly, she advised me to put it aside. As in forever.
I did, but I couldn’t forget it. This was a story that resonated with me.
But then came Blonde OPS and the anthology Beware the Little White Rabbit.
All through this, I’d been hearing so much about Indie publishing. The success of Amanda Hocking and other authors. It took a while, but I decided I would Indie publish Evolution Revolution. It was going to be a difficult process, and expensive if I wanted to do it right, but I needed this book to be pubbed. After telling my agent, she agreed to help me with the process and treat it as though it were traditionally pubbed; she would format and publicize, and receive a standard commission.
I shopped around for illustrators. This book was going to be professional looking; no cheesy covers, no clip art. After looking at several portfolios, I chose Cathy Daniels because her style was closest to my vision for the book. She made some sketches and I decided to move forward. We went through two cover drafts. While I liked the first rough, Cathy got feedback from her critique group and decided it had to be more original so she sent me a second cover. The only change I requested was more color, as I thought it looked a bit too green and dark. After a few small tweaks, it became the cover you see now. I asked her to do interior pics, one for every other chapter. Because I trusted her work, I let her chose the scenes to be illustrated—and she did not disappoint me.
Unfortunately, halfway through the literary agency decided not to stay involved in Indie publishing anymore—and I was in over my head. Formatting, dpi’s, bleeds, Adobe Pro subscriptions, etc. It gave me migraines and there were some serious crying bouts as I thought I’d never get the book together. The process is only easy if you are tech savvy or have/pay someone every step of the way-bear that warning in mind.
But between my agent, the people at CreateSpace and $$, it’s done. Is it perfect? No, but hopefully people won’t notice the minor mistakes (I think there are only 2). And no, I’m not going to tell you what they are.
That wasn’t the end; the path had a few last detours. Because I ordered a large number of copies to sell at book events, and use for promotional purposes, that triggered an additional review which I wasn’t informed about until a week later. That meant that I wouldn’t have any books for two events. I cried to the CreateSpace technician. The book passed review and they overnighted 30 copies for the two events. I was so relieved.
But the next detour was getting events booked. I was ‘uninvited’ from having a launch/debut party because most bookstores don’t permit Indie published books. Although there is a method for the author and bookstore to order/sell/buy back unsold books, most don’t want to be bothered. It’s tough; even at some book festivals Indie published titles are not welcome. We’ve all seen some traditionally published books that were awful. And we’ve seen some Indie published ones that were fantastic. It’s a crazy world in the publishing industry, but that’s what we’re dealing with. If you’re thinking about Indie publishing, here are a few things to know beforehand (there are many more but you’ll have to learn them as you go):
- It’s a complicated process to format. Reading CreateSpace or other publisher’s ‘Helpful Guide’ is going to be loaded down with lots of computer terms. Either prepare to spend days learning it all, team up with a computer savvy person, or pay the publisher to set it up.
- Hire a professional illustrator. Nothing says amateur more than a cover you made with clip art or a friend’s doodles (or worse, your own unless you’re a pro). It’s not cheap, but it will be worth it.
- Don’t set a launch date until you have the books in hand. So many things can come up and if you’ve lined up any events, you’ll be sitting there with nothing or have to cancel and that doesn’t look professional.
- Unless you’re going entirely ebook, there are going to be expenses. I hired an illustrator, a publicist, paid for formatting to ebook (that’s a whole other nightmare), and then bought physical copies. This is not for the faint hearted or those with only $100 to spend.
- Glean as much information from other Indie published authors, from organizations like The Independent Book Publishers Association, etc., and from resources listed all over the web. It’s going to be overwhelming but that’s the way it is.
I plan on publishing the rest of the series, but I’m not going total Indie. I still have my agent, am still submitting novels for traditional publishers. I don’t know where the path from the mountains will finally lead me, but it sure is an interesting adventure.
After looking at several portfolios, I chose Cathy’s because her pictures were closest to my vision for this book (written over 10 years ago…). We went through 2 cover drafts. While I liked the first rough, Cathy got feedback and decided it had to be more original and then sent me a second cover. They only changes I requested was more color, as I thought it looked a bit green and dark. After some small tweaks, it became the cover you see now. The interior pics, there is an illustration for every other chapter, were taken right from action in the chapter.
Until Hollywood calls, Charlotte lives in NJ with her husband, three children, two needy cats and sometimes a deranged squirrel. Evolution Revolution: Simple Machines is her first solo novel. She is also the co-author of Blonde Ops (St. Martin’s/Dunne) and the Sirenz series (Sirenz,Sirenz Back In Fashion, Flux), and one of 13 authors in the anthology,Beware the Little White Rabbit (Leap). She’s written for magazines and newspapers, and has given presentations and workshops at NJ SCBWI conferences. Currently she’s working on sci fi, historical, fantasy, and time travel novels and loves to hear from fans on Twitter (charbennardo) or through her blog.
Cathleen Daniels has been a published illustrator since 1990. Her clients include Simon & Schuster, Barnes & Noble, PlayStation, Sega Genesis, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Legend Entertainment, Fleer Trading Card Co, Topps Trading Card Co. Her professional awards include Best Logo Design NJ-SCBWI 2009, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Visual Artist Fellowship Award 2008, Fantasy/Sci-Fi Illustrators & Writers Of The Future Contest, Honorable Mention 1992. Cathleen was also a N.J. State certified Commercial Art educator from 2002-2014. Her educator awards include N.J. Governor’s Award in Arts Education 2006, Outstanding Educator in the Arts Award, VSA Arts of New Jersey 2006. VSA is an affiliate of the JFK Center for Performing Arts. Cathleen now spends her time illustrating for kids, playing with her cats and bugging her husband, daughter and neighborhood squirrels to pose for photo reference! You can find her work at cathleendaniels.com
Thank you Charlotte for sharing your journey with us and offering Evolution Revolution to one lucky winner.
Also, Congratulations to Cathleen Daniels for providing the wonderful illustrations for Charlotte’s book.