Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cindy C. Bennett - Geek Girl - Guest Post

My thanks to Cindy C. Bennett for stopping by The Character Connection with a guest post during the blog tour for her book, Geek Girl.

Guest Post

Character development has to be one of the easiest, and most difficult, parts of writing a novel. Easy because before a writer sits down at the keyboard, they generally have an idea of whom their story is about; difficult because you want them to be realistic, likable as protagonists, unlikable as antagonists, and able to carry the story.

Recently, I was talking to another author about characters. Writers are famous for changing our minds about our characters physical descriptions mid-story. Green-eyes become blue, a blonde becomes a brunette. (In my original version of Geek Girl, I even changed Jen’s last name from one point in the book to another.) This author had the brilliant idea of writing down everything about every character before you begin: height, weight, eye color, hair color, age, birthday, brief history, personality traits, quirks, and first and last name. Then keep that information available while writing, either on a printed paper by your side, or in an open window on your computer. Refer to it often. It seems so basic, and yet how many writers take the time to actually do this?

Once you have this in place, your character will fit nicely into your story. Whether you outline, or write by the seat of your pants, the one thing that shouldn’t change is the basic information about your character. Of course certain things about them will change in the course of the story as they learn and grow—how boring would your story be if they remain exactly the same at the end as they were at the beginning? But some things should never change—mainly physical traits, and certain parts of their personalities.

Don’t forget your secondary characters. This is something I struggle with. I’m pretty good at pulling them in at the beginning of the story, and developing them into something more than flat characters, but once I get into the meat of the story, I have a bad habit of leaving them by the wayside. No one would do this in real life, and if you’ve invested your reader in your secondary characters, be sure to keep them there for the whole ride.

Above all, keep your characters realistic. Even if they have supernatural powers, which aren’t realistic, they still need to have a bit of humanity about them so that your readers can relate to them. Your heroine can fly, but she also worries about how bad her hair looks when she lands. That’s realistic. Your antagonist is cruel, but he wouldn’t twirl his mustache. No one does that. However, he might have flashbacks to his childhood, and either feels guilty about his actions that his mother wouldn’t approve of, or maybe he does them out of anger for the way she treated him. That’s realistic.

The key to any good story is intriguing, interesting characters. Even the best plot will fail without that. So take the time to write their bios out before you begin the story, and you’re already halfway there.

About the Book
Geek Girl

Book Details:
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.
Published: December 2011
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Format: Paperback
Pages: 280
Price: $15.99
Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes&

Jen’s life of rebelling and sneaking out has grown stale. On a whim, Jen makes a bet to turn Trevor, a nice little geek, into a “bad boy.” Hanging out with the geeks, however, pulls Jen into a world she never dreamed existed. But when Trevor finds out about the wager, all bets are off.

"Think I could turn that boy bad?"

My two best friends--my only two friends, really--follow my gaze and laugh.

"Trevor Hoffman?" Beth scoffs. "No way, Jen."

"I bet I could," I say, shrugging.

"Why him?" Beth asks. "Why not any of the other nerds sitting there with him?"

"Because," I say slowly, "he isn't your typical run-of-the-mill geek. Trevor Hoffman is different. He would be a little more difficult to take down--more of a challenge, you know?"

About the Author
Cindy C. Bennett

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!

Connect With Cindy:

About the Tour

Cedar Fort Blog Tours

Tour Participants:




Night Owl Teen/

Nuttier Reads/

Jolene’s Been Writing/

Reading Eating and Dreaming/

Five Alarm Books/

Coffee, Books, and Me/

Inklings Read/

The Character Connection/

Wordpaintings Unlimited/

Vampire Wire/

Forbidden Passions/

As the Spine Breaks/

The Plot Thickens/

Thoughts at One in the Morning/

Bookworm Lisa/

Books to the Sky/

Totally Obsessed/

Passion for Novels/

Twisting the Lens/

Nocturnal Book Reviews/

Getting Your Read On/

A Casual Reader’s Blog/

Jeanz Book Read and Review/

LDS Women’s Book Review/

Books Complete Me/

Pages of Gold/

Book Spark/

Zone Out Mode/

Taffy’s Writings/

Mrs. Papillion/

Lani Woodland/

Princess Reviews/

A Book Lover’s Review/

Reader of Fictions/

Reading For Sanity/

Coma Calm/

Nightly Reading/

Creating Childhood Memories/

Jagged Edge Reviews/

Just Another Book Addict/


The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer/

Young Readers/Six Mixed Reviews/

Fictitious Musings/

Letters Inside Out/

Mudrock and Pink Nail Polish/

Practical Frugality/

All About Me/

Living, Loving, Laughing, Reading/

This Great Perhapsless/

Imaginary Reads/


Mommy Wants to Read/

Ali’s Bookshelf/

Biblio Junkies/

Book and Movie Dimension a Blog/


  1. I've been following Cindy on her tour (until I get to join the Geek Girl launch party, yay!) and each interview is different and refreshing. Not only do her characters nest in your heart, but by the time you finish her books, they are as real as any person on the street.
    Speaking of her critique group--we call her "the nun with the ruler" or "the grammar queen", nicknames that don't need any explanations, do they?

  2. Thank you for the chance to stop by your blog for the tour! It's very much appreciated.

    Cami - You shouldn't give away my secrets!! lol.

  3. Loved this guest post. I'm going to have to pay attention to the characters a little better to see if they change.

  4. Cindy, it was a pleasure hosting a stop on your blog tour.

    Thank you jennachristy, Camelia and Mom and Me for commenting.