Archive for the ‘Henchman’s Survival Guide’ Category

I Wish I Could Tell You When My Next Book Come Out

June 21st, 2019 No comments

“When’s your next book coming out?”

I love this question. And I hate this question.

I love it, because it means my previous book did its job of pulling that reader into my world (MUWHAHA!) filled with detailed characters and twisty-turney plots. I hate this question, because I can usually only offer the vaguest of answers.

Some authors are startingly good at scheduling their book writing, editing, and release process. They can say months in advance exactly when the public can get their greedy little hands on that author’s novel.

Me? Not so much. My writing process is not serene and consistent. It is messy, frustrating, thrilling, and unpredictable. Some authors I know are hella’ good at writing in-depth outlines and following those outlines to a tee.

I outline, too. Really, I do, but my characters don’t always feel like staying on the paths I lay out for them. An outline is just a starting point, and as I dive into a crafting the novel, often the story veers in directions I never imagined as I was cheerfully typing up the outline, thinking, Yep, this is solid as can be.

As a result, I often have no idea how long a book will be, which can stretch the writing days. My most recent book, How to Become a Henchman, weighed in at a respectable 78,000 words. My second book in the series, How to Defeat a Hero, currently bends the scales at almost 95,000 words! (Not respectable at all.)

I admire (cough… envy) authors who can breeze right through that first edit of their rough draft. That happens sometimes to me… you know, once. Most of the time, though, the first draft of a novel is really just a suggestion. It’s like half a shape of the thing it’s meant to be, and it’s up to me to take the chisel (okay, chainsaw) and carve out its true form. This takes tons of mental sweat and muscle and sometimes very real tears.

The first draft of How to Defeat a Hero was so rough, (sorry, book, I love you!) that I actually had to do a second edit just to stitch my darling little Frankenstein monster back together again. And then it was time to throw it to the hounds.

I mean, my sweet, understanding beta readers.

If my beta readers were terrible, unhelpful people, they would tell me my book was great and I would smile and delightfully toss the manuscript into the Amazon Kindle store where it would slowly sink into the murky depths of forgotten books.

My beta readers really are awesome people. They don’t pull their punches. They tell me when my characters suck, when my plot is slower than a one-winged duck trying to fly against a hurricane, and when there are plot holes the size of a moon crater in the story.

That means more edits. More time.

So, add it all together, and it’s nearly impossible to predict when my book will be polished and ready until I’m pretty much done with the last word of the last round of edits.

This situation makes it frustrating for me to try to plan my book launch, and I know it drives some of my readers batty. (Sorry, readers, I love you!)

But—and here’s the important thing—I wouldn’t have it any other way. My timeline is so whacky because I won’t publish a book until I’m sure it’s the best I could make it, until I know that I can give you a story that I’m proud of. You know it’s worth the wait for Grandma’s famous, handmade lasagna even if you’re practically starving.

This is me making my lasagna. Slow. Haphazard. But filled with love.

Thanks for waiting!

Book Is Coming… Eventually

June 10th, 2018 No comments

The bank gets heisted at least once a week. Superheroes spend more time showboating for the cameras than helping the citizens. And everyone who isn’t already a hero or a villain wants to become one. Well, almost everyone. Alice just needs to keep her head down, earn her college degree, and then she’ll finally be able to find a real job, far, far away. Too bad a super scary villain just blew up the restaurant where she worked and her paycheck along with it.

Now, one of the town’s most famous villains is coming out of retirement, and he’s holding henchmen auditions. For Alice, her only way out of this crazy town might be to embrace her evil side.


There you have it. The premise of the book I’m working on, The Henchman’s Survival Guide. Pretty cool, right? (Please let them say yes. Pretty, pretty please let them say yes!)

There’s just one little, itty, bitty, ritty, vitty, jitty problem.

It’s going to be a while until you can read it.

I know, it’s already been a long wait. If you want to know why I’ve been pulling a George R.R. Martin on my readers (sorry, George, I love you and am insanely jealous of your world-building skills), check out my last blog post about how I wrote not one, but two failed first novel drafts before finally getting my writing groove back.

The good news is that things are coming along with The Henchman’s Survival Guide. The first draft is written, the first round of edits are done, and my beta readers are tearing it to shreds.

The not-so-good news is that I’ve decided to hold off on publishing the first book until I finish a solid draft of the second book in the series.

The reason I’m doing this is both for writing purposes and businessy stuff (yuck). The writing reason is that The Henchman’s Survival Guide takes place in a slightly futuristic world. It’s taken me a while to become comfortable with the world and the backstory that comes with it. As I write the second book, I want to ensure that it all matches up with the first book and presents a consistent world and narrative. I wouldn’t want to run into a big issue in the second book and realize that I’ve cornered myself in the first book.

The second reason for delaying the book launch is pure business (bleh). I know you all are loyal to the last and would wait years between books if you had to. Decades even. Hell, you’d cryogenically freeze yourselves just so you could read my entire lineup, right?

… Right?

But most readers aren’t so talented, wonderful, loyal, and practically a genius like you. With so many books constantly hitting the market, an author who can’t produce quickly is apt to be forgotten. By waiting to publish the first book until the second book is at least halfway through the development process, I can publish them closer together, limiting the down time between books, and keep readers engaged in the world so that they will be more likely to wait for the next book in the series.

It’s a totally practical plan, but it sucks, because it means that you’re going to have to wait a little longer to get your mitts on this fun and exciting story I’m weaving.

That’s why I’m asking for your patience… again. My goal is to publish The Henchman’s Survival Guide this year, but it will likely be toward the end of the year. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the readers who have stuck with me and encouraged me even when I had to toss the previous two books I was working on.

I think you’ll find that The Henchman’s Survival Guide is going to be worth the wait, and I hope to post some cool, behind-the-scenes looks at the process of creating that story sometime in the future.

So much to do! Back to editing.

J Bennett types on computer

See look, I’m editing so hard right now.

Quick Writing Update – Everything Exploded

March 17th, 2018 2 comments

Hi there. I’m still kicking. You can be forgiven for possibly questioning the continuation of my existence. My last blog post was on October 17th of 2017. My Facebook author page is actually growing virtual spider webs.

I’m here, and I’m still writing. It’s just that everything kind of exploded last year. Well, if I want to be honest, it exploded… and then exploded again.

If you read my blog post from April of last year with the uplifting title of, “So… I Failed,” you know that the new novel I started after completing my Girl With Broken Wings series didn’t work out so well. I wrote the first draft, annnnnnnnd kind of hated it. Hated it to the point that I was yelling at the manuscript. Don’t worry. The manuscript didn’t yell back. That would be crazy.

My blog post started out a little negative, but it had an uplifting ending. I was working on a new manuscript. Something totally different. A science fiction novel. It was going great. I was super excited about it. I even wrote a follow up blog post about how I designed the new world.

Well, about that awesome new novel.

Turns out, not so awesome. I wrote the first draft.

Read the first draft.

Screaming and accusations ensued.

I am now legally not allowed to come within 100 feet of the laptop on which that file resides.

So that was the second explosion. Now, some authors would take two failed drafts poorly. Not me. Except for the month I spent seriously wondering if I would ever write a novel again. Also, it was not a smart budgetary decision to hire that violinist to play sad, willowy music while I watched rain drops streak down a window. I live in San Diego, so I had to put a sprinkler on my roof to get the water effect.

raindrops on window

So Sad. So Rainy.
Photo credit: Javier Vieras on / CC BY

Seriously though, I’ve had to work through a lot of self-doubt. I know I learned a lot from each experience, but I couldn’t help feeling time slip by with nothing to show for my efforts. The virtual cobwebs were growing, but what could I tell my four blog readers and the three friends who sympathetically check my author Facebook page? They were all counting on me, and I failed them. It’s been an entire year since I’ve released a novel!

I moped. I stared really hard out that window. I watched the rain drops, until I got my water bill. Then I shut off the sprinkler.

I also did one other thing. I kept writing.

I have a new idea. I think it’s really great. It involves superheroes, supervillains, reality television, and a bad-ass female lead.

I’ve finished a first draft. It’s going really well.

I’m super excited about it.

What can possibly go wrong?

Don’t answer that. I really think I’ve on the right track here, which is why I gathered up the courage to write this post, to get real with the four of you about what’s been going on, and to formally announce the title of the book. (Note: Announcing the title of a book basically means you have to finish and publish it.)

I don’t know when it’s going to be done or how I’m going to whip this messy draft into shape, but when it’s ready, I can’t wait to introduce you to:

The Henchman’s Survival Guide