Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 19, 2017

Book Giveaway: Evolution Revolution: Simple Lessons by Charlotte Bennardo


Jack, a common gray squirrel, has learned some of the simple machines. Taught by his human friend Collin, he’s chased construction machines from his wood, and saved his friend Rat who was captured by scientists looking for Jack. The scientists show up at Collin’s house. Worried for Jack, Collin takes Jack to an animal sanctuary, where he meets other squirrels and animals. But soon the scientists show up again. Jack, with the help of Addy, a female squirrel, and other animals, wage a last battle. For Jack it will mean he’ll go free-or be caged forever.


Yep, all good things come to an end, and I’m kind of sad—and glad—to see the final book in Jack’s story. It’s time for this squirrel and me to move on. Writing and Indie publishing this series has been similar to Jack’s story: learning strange new things, discovering who and what I can trust, leaving the familiar behind, and most of all, learning about myself.

Indie publishing is not easy and it’s not for the lazy, like Jack’s friend Jerk who only does what he has to (unless you just want to throw a book ‘out there’ and not worry about sales or reviews). It requires a lot of tedious work like reworking the text over and over until it’s perfect. Unless you pay for it, there is no copyeditor to catch mistakes. (I just read a book by a bestselling author and pubbed by one of the top publishers has a major mistake- the wrong character is answering a question; that character isn’t even in that chapter). It happens, but Indie authors are held to the same, maybe higher, scrutiny. There are too many lazy authors who say, ‘That’s good enough’ when it isn’t. This is part of the problem; authors throwing out crap just to say they are published. Those attitudes and actions make it that much harder for those of us who put out good books to fight the stigma.

Just like Jack, there will be individuals who will scoff and try to diminish your work, like Fox did at Jack’s idea to stop the construction machines. Fox didn’t believe in Jack’s ability, and even when Jack proved himself, Fox dismissed him. So many bloggers have the notation ‘We do not review Indie books.’ Fellow authors refuse to give a blurb, and I get the feeling it’s with an attitude of ‘I can’t be associated with an Indie book.’ (Yet, it’s okay to help push their traditional books). Forget trying to get into certain book festivals, Barnes & Noble, and even independent bookstores. Indie books are reviled- unless they suddenly start outselling traditional books (remember Amanda Hocking? Once she sold a million + copies, publishers couldn’t run fast enough to her door.). Just because my book hasn’t (yet) sold quite as much does not mean that it is lower quality. I’ve had it professionally illustrated (thank you, Cathy Daniels for such a superb job) and the illustrations stack up better than some art I’ve seen in traditional books. My books have been revised and polished uncountable times, looked at by agents and editors, not to mention beta readers. There are traditional books that I’ve read (or tried to) that I shake my head at and wonder why it got a contract. There is no love for Indie books from the publishing world. Even Amazon’s Createspace throws obstacles up. For inclusion in channels that can distribute to libraries, schools, and bookstores, you must have their ISBN number. BUT- if you have their ISBN number, it’s barcoded on the back of the book with 9000 and no set price, which screams Indie published, which automatically turns off libraries, schools, reviewers, bookstores, etc. It’s a Catch 22 and the Indie author is the one getting screwed.

Both Jack and I had to harden our resolve, trust in those who believed in us, and persist in our efforts to achieve our goals. It’s sometimes a lonely journey. There are numerous awards for traditional books- and only a few for Indies. For children’s books, there is the Caldecott, the Newberry, the Golden Kite, Crystal Kite, the Coretta Scott King award, and dozens of literary, library, and organization awards Any costs to enter a contest are picked up by traditional publishers. Indies, who have to pay to enter an award, have Book Life. Benjamin Franklin (prohibitively expensive to enter), the Spark, and a few others. It’s the same with reviews. While not all traditional books get a review, Indies seldom do, unless I’d like to pay the same corp who does traditionals for free…But most reviewers inevitably turn up their noses.

It’s a lengthy learning process. Just as Jack had to learn how to use simple machines like the inclined plane, the lever, the wheel and axle, etc. bit by bit, it’s the same with Indie publishing. The tech work of formatting so that each page has the same number of lines, that pictures bleed off the edge of the page like you want, getting the right ISBN, filing for and obtaining copyrights, and mostly fighting against a prejudice designed to make it as hard as possible to be a successful Indie author is tiring. It’s frustrating. It sucks up your life.

Jack is moving on; maybe to a new adventure elsewhere. I hope to hear from him. If a traditional publisher is ever interested, I know Jack would love to share his stories. As for me, I’m going back to traditional publishing; a bit jaded yes, but wiser and more determined. Not for one second would I discourage others from the Indie path- some authors have achieved a success beyond anything a traditional publisher could have given them, and sometimes it’s the only way a book you truly believe in, like I did with Jack, will get published. It’s like standing at the top of a mountain after scrabbling your way to the top. Your hands might be scraped and bloody, sometimes rocks pelted you from above, others may have passed by on the way to the top before you, some are still down below, and might never make it up, and all you want to do is rest. So I recommend you be as prepared as you can before you start that climb, clear your calendar, and stiffen your spine. You’re in for a long, demanding journey.


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Until Hollywood calls, Charlotte lives in NJ with her husband, three children, two needy cats and sometimes a deranged squirrel. Evolution Revolution: Simple Plans is book 2 of the Evolution Revolution series, Evolution Revolution:Simple Machines was 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

Thank you Charlotte for sharing your journey with us and offering one lucky winner the third and final book in the series, Evolution Revolution: Simple lessons.

Also, Congratulations to Cathleen Daniels for creating the gorgeous covers and wonderful interior illustrations in this series.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thanks for sharing this book and story! Best of luck to all!


  2. I was fortunate enough to win a copy of Jack’s first book and really enjoyed it. I especially loved the illustrations. Thank you.


  3. Wonderful post, Charlotte! I do think Indies are getting more publicity and recognition these days. Hope it will continue. Look forward to reading your next book.


  4. Thanks for sharing your indie journey, Charlotte, warts and all. I may be following that path myself. When you say you are returning to traditional publishing, does that mean you have a new agent or a contract or will only publish through publishers? Cheers to Cathy–stunning illustrations!


  5. I loved the first two and look forward to reading this one as well. I tweeted, posted to FB and reblogged.


  6. Reblogged this on Darlene Beck-Jacobson and commented:
    The third book in a wonderful series.


  7. What a great-sounding story. I’d be thrilled if I could win a copy, thanks for the chance.


  8. Charlotte and Cathy, you are aMAzing talents—and people—and I sincerely admire your determination going Indie. It’s a huge, brave decision, one I don’t think I’ll ever go down, but wow—what an accomplishment! oxox


  9. I love the picture of the squirrel on the cover! And the information about indie publishing is really interesting!


  10. Great story On your journey Char and thanks Kathy for posting this! I think the illustrations aren’t half bad too – ha ha!


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