I write contemporary YA, though I am currently working on a book which dips a tiny toe into the paranormal. I have four amazing kids - two boys, two girls. I'm married to a man who makes it possible for me to pursue this crazy dream. I live in Utah, have my whole life, and can't imagine living anywhere else.
I started writing a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . . no, wait, that's Star Wars' intro, not mine. I did start writing a long time ago, that part is true. I can't remember when I started making up stories and putting them down on paper, it seems I always have. Then, in high school, I had an amazing English teacher, Mr. Bickmore, who really expanded my passion for writing. Every day as we came into class, he had a "ten-minute writing" assignment, which is exactly what it sounds like. I looked forward to that ten minutes each day like you can't believe. He taught me a love of pure, creative writing, and a love of great literature. (Who knew Romeo and Juliet begins with two pages of dirty jokes?)
Then at some point, YA became a popular genre, and, having two teen daughters, I found my house inundated with it. So I read many of the books, and fell in love with them. I mean seriously, who doesn't have a crystal clear remembrance of that time in your life: the awkwardness, the insecurity and drama - the flush of new love. A few years ago, I began writing Heart on a Chain, (the story of why can be read here, so I won't reiterate). And I found my niche.
I followed the completion of that manuscript with Geek Girl (the history of which can be read here). My daughters encouraged me to publish them. I decided Geek Girl was the easier sell, so I began writing the dreaded query letters. In the meantime, I joined an online critique group from a real editor, telling you whether your first page would capture the attention of an agent, and subsequently a publisher. I received high praise for my first page, and with renewed enthusiasm began sending out even more query letters, deciding the original agents who had rejected me didn't know what they were talking about.
After much more rejection from agents, disheartened, I signed up for an online class on how to write a winning query letter. That had to be the problem, right? (I will say that when it comes to selling my work, either by query, synopsis, book blurb, or verbally, I pretty much suck.) I did get a nice, polished query letter out of the experience, as well as a new title. I had originally called the manuscript Geek Boy, then just Geek. The instructor of the class gave me the idea for Geek Girl as a title, which sounded perfect to me. But that wasn't the most valuable thing I received. What I received was two amazing authors who wanted to exchange chapter-for-chapter critiques. Jeffery Moore and Camelia Miron Skiba are now not only my partners in critiquing and editing one another's manuscripts, they have become my dear friends, the one's whose shoulders I can cry on when I get a bad review, the one's who completely understand my writing style, and help to make it better, who are in this swirling maelstrom of writing, publishing, and marketing right by my side.
Around this time, I had pretty much given up on the idea of an agent, and through some research, had discovered the option for publishing my own ebook. A light bulb exploded over my head at the realization: I can do this. I put it forth to Jeff and Cami, and Jeff was the one who introduced me to CreateSpace. With bounding excitement, I designed a cover, wrote the dreaded blurb, and uploaded Geek Girl to be published. Until you've experienced it yourself, you have no idea how very good it feels to hold a book in your hands, with your name on the cover as author.
At that point, I sat back and waited for the book to begin flying off the virtual shelves. I began editing Heart on a Chain while I waited. And waited. And waited. Hmmm. Why weren't they selling? Apparently, people around the world aren't out there waiting for a book to be put forth by Cindy C Bennett for them to devour (she says, tongue in cheek).
Thus, I learned how to market. And I thought editing was bad! Marketing is not hard, per say, it's just extremely time consuming. About the time I had Heart on a Chain ready for publication, I finally had begun to scratch the tip of the iceberg in the marketing arena. This is where I discovered the power of, and the invaluable services of, book bloggers.
It was also around this time that I decided to try to get a publisher to pick up Geek Girl. I began searching for a publishing house that would take on a previously self-published book. There aren't many, mostly smaller publishing houses. I resubmitted the dreaded query to the ones who would even take a look, received a couple of rejections, and then (cue angelic music and light from the heavens) I received an email from Cedar Fort Publishing, saying they wished to publish Geek Girl.
I quickly emailed or wrote to all of the other publishers, letting them know I had received an offer, and signed with Cedar Fort on March 1, 2011, eight months after I first self-published it. I took it off sale from all of the places I had it available, and in an ironic twist, that month I had the highest sales numbers - actually, let me rephrase. I sold more copies of Heart on a Chain that month than I had sold of both books combined - ever - total! I figured it was the result of the post-Christmas receipt of Kindle's and Nook's that drove the sales that month.
Now, I'm in the middle of the craziest time of my life. Heart on a Chain continues to do well in sales, with my constant marketing efforts. I'm trying to finish my next book. I'm working closely with Cedar Fort in the final product and pre-marketing of Geek Girl to have it ready for a blog tour in November, and re-release December 8, 2011.
In the midst of this wonderful insanity, I'm still being a mom, helping my husband run our cabinet business, co-hosting a podcast with my son called The RyTime! Geekcast, where we talk all things geek, along with the time I spend volunteering with a group of girls ages 12-18. Jeff, Cami and I have added another author to our little group, Kimberley Patterson, as we all work on our next books together. I could use a clone of myself to double my time!
All I can say is: Life is wonderful!