All posts by Rob

About Rob

Robert Bennett was born in Louisiana and spent his childhood there and in Texas. His diverse work history has taken him across the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean as well as England, and his books are shaped by the people he has known and the places he has visited. "If I write about a place, it's because I've visited there and either the place or the people left an impression", Bennett said when asked about the inspirations for his books. He currently resides in Texas with his wife Karren and his Jack Russell Terrier "Sup" and occasionally his twin sons as they return from college on breaks and his daughter and her fiance when they visit. Look for additional works coming soon in the "Junebug" and "Noah Chance" series. Read more about Robert at his website, www.RobertDBennett.com or follow him on Twitter as RobertTheWriter.

Finally Finished – The New Book for Middle Grade readers

I finally finished my new book.

I was hoping to finish it in February but medical and other issues forced me to keep pushing it back. But, in a marathon session when we were in Austin last week, I managed to knock out 20,000 words (and in the process went over my goal by 10,000 words) but the first book in a series for middle-grade readers is finished.  Now on to the final edits, the cover, and printing. This one will likely not be a Kindle book, thus available only in print.

The title is The Magic Toilet and is the first in a series.

Basically, the twins, Robert and Anthony, have a toilet in their home which somehow transports them to other times and places. In this first book, an unfortunate accident while cleaning the bathroom lands the twins in Frankia, a place with magicians, knights, and dragons, along with a monster who wants to destroy them all.

I started this book by jotting down a title and a few notes back when my sons were in junior high school, they’ll be 26 next month, and on a whim decided to finish it out. I’m pretty happy overall but writing a book for the middle-grades is harder than I thought it would be.

The book will be officially released at the Natchitoches-NSU Folklife Festival in my hometown of Natchitoches, La., on Saturday, July  21, 2018. Of course, it will be available on this website on that date as well but I’d love to see anyone who’d like to get a book autographed and talk to me about the Natchitoches area.

The Hardest Thing About Being A Writer

To me, there are only two really hard things about being a writer. The first is just staying focused and getting words on paper (actually a computer screen now but you get my point) but, really, when I get in the zone that’s not hard, it’s just getting focused in the first place and not getting distracted. On the ghostwriting, it’s actually easy because I know I have a deadline when the buyer is expecting the work and I’ve always been okay with deadlines.

The second thing, though, is by far the most difficult. It’s not the research, although even with my fictional works I do lots and lots of background work to make sure I’m as accurate as possible. Certainly, I take “creative liberties” but any factual mistakes in my books are usually a deliberate choice instead of a lack of knowledge. Most writers find the research boring but I’ve always loved that part of the work.

The hardest thing about being a full-time writer is the marketing.

I love going to the various shows and meeting people (even though I’m actually a little shy), talking about the books or writing in general, and answering questions. What I hate is the part when you have to try and convince someone to buy my books.

I’ve considered hiring a publicist or an agency, but it’s hard to justify that expense when there are so many fly-by-night organizations. I entered a few contests but what I quickly found was that the judges often wanted you to write your book the way they would have written it instead of judging it as a book you’d written your way. I also made it a practice to pick up some of the books that won the contests and, to be honest, they were often just not that good. A lot of time they were more artsy than my books and some of the others that had been entered and I’d read but simply being “artsy” doesn’t make a book better, just different. I remember one contest where I read a book that had placed lower than mine and it was incredible but it was a horror book and apparently the judge hadn’t been a horror fan. 

At the various book fairs and author signings I’ve done I always listen to the pitches from other authors there. Often they use a hard sell on the people who stop by their booths and it appeared to work but that really isn’t me so I’d be uncomfortable with it. I also suspect it leaves at least a little bit of a bad taste in the customer’s mouth and would be bad for repeat business.

Every year at the Louisiana Folklife Festival we see some of the same people come by to visit the booth and talk to us and I have a number of them who buy a new book each year. To me, that’s the most gratifying, knowing that they have read my books in the past and liked them enough to come back and seek me out. I had a couple of requests for the next book in the Junebug series and in the Noah Chance series so I’ve got to finish at least one of those for next year’s event so I don’t disappoint the people expecting them to be ready. That’s my favorite kind of marketing, the one on one, especially when it’s a person who wants to hear the story behind the story, where the book idea came from and any trivia about how it took place.

I’m about to start trying to work more on marketing on Goodreads.com and I’d encourage anyone who reads a lot to go to that website and take a look. It is now owned by Amazon.com, but it’s a great place to meet other people and discuss books you’ve read or get people’s input on books you’re thinking about purchasing.

In the meantime, if you are reading this and belong to a book club and need a speaker I’m always available either in person or by Skyping in for a video conference. Those are always lots and lots of fun. I’d be glad to discuss it with you ahead of time and I’ve even prepared some materials for books clubs to use to discuss the various books I’ve written. Of course, I don’t charge for this and can usually schedule it with just a few weeks notice.

If you have any ideas for other ways to market, leave me a comment or send me an email, I’m always happy to hear from readers of my books or my blog.

2018 Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival

2018 Natchitoches – NSU Folk Festival

I’ll be back at the Natchitoches NSU (Northwestern State University) Folk Festival on July 21, 2018. As I’ve told my readers before this is my absolute favorite appearance I make as an author. Not only is it in my hometown of Natchitoches, La., but it is held at my alma mater and Dr. Shane Rasmussen and his crew at the Folk Center do a tremendous job of putting together a great festival (click here for information on what types of crafts will be covered) with phenomenal Louisiana food from Natchitoches Meat Pies to a big bowl of cooked greens served with cornbread or hush puppies, or even the “Indian Fry Bread” which I believe is prepared by the Alabama Coushatta Tribe. I recommend stopping by one of the booths which sell handcrafted Jellies and buying a jar so you can smear some of that on top of the fry bread.

I have been invited and will be doing a presentation from 9:00 to 9:45 a.m. on Family & Folk History: The Best Sources for Stories, in one of the meeting rooms. Of course, there will be bands playing on different stages all day long as well as participants in the Louisiana State Fiddle Championship.

Interestingly, I got my start doing historical research at the Cammie G. Henry Collection in what was then called the Louisiana Room at the Eugene P. Watson Library on the NSU campus. That collection will have a booth at the festival hosted by Dr. Mary Linn Wernet and her staff from the library and she always has interesting things to talk about and photos of Natchitoches that even I’ve never seen before.

I’ll have copies of all of my books available for signing and a portion of the proceeds are donated to the Folk Festival and the Folk Center to help keep Louisiana culture and history alive. I should have my first children / middle-grade book available and launched at the festival. The title of this one? “The Magic Toilet”. Yes, it’s not like my normal books but it is a title and topic I’ve had on my mind since my now 25-year-old twins were just little kids.

Seriously, this festival is the best value of anywhere you can possibly go to since the price of your ticket covers all of the music and crafters and, in addition, it is being held inside the Prather Coliseum which is air conditioned!!!  What more could you ask for during what I am sure is going to be an extra hot July?

Be sure and bring a few extra dollars for food and crafts and stop by my booth and say hello!

A Teen Memory and a Song

I was looking through old pictures online the other day and came across a set someone had posted from Astroworld in Houston.

While I’m from Louisiana, we lived back and forth between there and the Houston area all of my life. When I was in 8th grade and the first year of high school, I’d wash cars and mow lawns around my neighborhood to make enough money to hang out on the weekend. At that time I lived in Pasadena and there really wasn’t a great spot to hang out there so my Mom would drop a couple of us off at Astroworld on Saturday morning and come back and pick us up just as it was closing Saturday night.

Back in those times, 1976 or so, no one worried about their kids being at a place like that so it was one of the spots to mingle and meet new people, with a minimal chance of getting in trouble.

I graduated high school when I was 17, so that would have made me around 12-13 when I was a regular at the park. I would have been about 5’10, with another inch or two of hair, and weighed about 140# tops.

The best part was as some parents were dropping off carloads of boys, other cars were dropping off carloads of girls and, with any luck, by 1 or 2 in the afternoon, you’d found someone with whom you could share the rest of the day.

At some point, Astroworld picked up on the disco craze and added an open-air dance floor with the panels that change color, the disco ball hanging from the ceiling, and music of all kinds, not just disco, blasting away so when the sun dropped, everybody made their way there for at least a couple of hours.

I remember several of the songs they played since they are now considered classic rock but I’m putting the video below of a band that kind of bridged the gap between rock and disco and was really more of a “funk” sound so us non-disco long hairs could justify dancing to it (or, honestly, trying to dance).

Here it is, directly from the Midnight Special (who remembers watching that and Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert waaaaay before MTV came along?)