Kirkus Reviews: Divided We Fall Delivers on Promise of ‘Riveting Debut’

I’m excited to announce that Kirkus Reviews has followed up its rave review of my novel WE, THE WATCHED with a stellar review of the sequel, DIVIDED WE FALL.

You can check out the full critique over at Kirkus, but here’s a quick taste:

… a gripping dystopian narrative … Bender’s sequel is a worthy delivery on the promise of his riveting debut.

A novel about a scheming president offers an excellent read for those who love thrillers or 21st-century history.

KIRKUS REVIEWS

If you haven’t read DIVIDED WE FALL yet, check out this page for a list of stores where you can buy it in digital ($3.99) or paperback ($13.99). You can also get WE, THE WATCHED for FREE by joining my mailing list! And check out “Fire Eyes,” a short story that ties into the series.

DIVIDED WE FALL picks up on the events of WE, THE WATCHED. With the nation under attack, Agent Eve Parker must find and arrest her fiancé, who has lost his memory and become a revolutionary named Seven. However, when Eve learns more about the President’s plan to broaden citizen surveillance, she begins to question just who is right.

I hope you enjoy the book and look forward to reading your review!

Bender Novels Featured in SELF-e Indie Pennsylvania

Now free at your library!
Now free at your library!

As a local Philadelphia author, I’m thrilled to announce that SELF-e is now featuring my novels WE, THE WATCHED and DIVIDED WE FALL in its Indie Pennsylvania collection.

SELF-e is a curated collection of self-published works by Library Journal and BiblioBoard, and is available to participating libraries across the county. Because I’m from Philly, my books will be featured prominently in the Pennsylvania Indie collection. When you visit a library in any state that has BiblioBoard, you can access eBooks of my novels on library computers or on your personal mobile devices by downloading the BiblioBoard app from the Apple, Google or Amazon app stores. Since you’re getting them through a library, the books are free to borrow, though the app includes a Buy link if you’d like to add the eBook or paperback to your personal bookshelf.

I’m excited to make my books available to new readers! If your library supports BiblioBoard, please let me know your experience finding my book. And if your library doesn’t have it, ask them to look into it!

And don’t forget, you can also get WE, THE WATCHED free by joining the Underground, my monthly mailing list for fans.

On pitching my Dystopian Western to literary agents

Cowboy with two guns
Philly Writing Workshop
Philly Writing Workshop

What a rush! On Saturday, I pitched two literary agents on my next novel, The Wanderer and the New West, at the Philly Writing Workshop. I also learned a great deal about the query process in a series of talks by Chuck Sambuchino from Writer’s Digest.

I’m excited to report that both of my pitches with agents went well, and I will follow up with them soon. While I can’t say for sure what will happen, it’s encouraging to get such a positive response to my novel’s concept.

Doing all that pitching forced me to hone my one-sentence pitch (a.k.a. “logline”). The Wanderer and the New West is a 100,000-word Dystopian Western about a gunman seeking redemption in a future America where the government has strengthened the Second Amendment and individuals make their own justice.

Hey, I’d read it.

Oh, and I guess this is a good time to tell you that editing is finished! Following two rounds of content editing, my editor Rachel sent me the final technical copy edits. And let me tell you, this thing is looking polished. If you are a writer, I cannot recommend enough the value of a good freelance editor.

If you want to keep up to date on the new book (and get my first novel for free), please join the Underground, my monthly mailing list for fans of my work. I can’t wait to share my new novel with you!

We, The Watched acclaimed by Kirkus Reviews

I felt especially honored today to receive a glowing review of my debut novel, We, The Watched, from Kirkus Reviews, a highly respected institution in the book publishing world.

Check out this amazing excerpt:

Fueled by a brilliantly nebulous backdrop, this briskly paced, action-packed novel is undeniably a page-turner of the highest order…

A deeply allegorical and powerfully thought-provoking dystopian must-read.

KIRKUS REVIEWS

We, The Watched coverHead over to Kirkus to read the full review! Then, if you haven’t read it yet, check out this page for a list of stores to buy We, The Watched in digital or paperback. You can also get the eBook for FREE by joining my mailing list!

Told from the unique first-person perspective of an amnesiac, acclaimed novel We, The Watched places the reader in the shoes of Seven as he struggles to go unnoticed in a surveillance society and discover his true identity. Seven enters a dystopia where the government conducts mass surveillance and keeps a Watched list of its own citizens. The Church has become as powerful as the State, and people who resist are called Heretics and face execution.

I want to address the reviewer’s one criticism about sexism on the part of the protagonist. The reviewer makes a fair point here, and it’s something that I consciously improved upon in the sequel, Divided We Fall, and my writing since then. I definitely take these kinds of concerns seriously, and I’m glad this criticism did not stop the reviewer from recommending We, The Watched as a must-read.

Hope you enjoy We, The Watched — I can’t wait to read YOUR review!

Wanderer enters final round of edits

Cowboy with two guns

Wow, my next novel The Wanderer and the New West gets better by the day!

Over the past couple of months, my editor Rachel Gluckstern has been dishing out expert advice on how to amp up my novel about a west won by gun evangelists. Together, Rachel and I have fleshed out the backstories and motivations of each character, and made the big plot turns hit even harder. We’ve also improved the organization of the chapters and expanded upon my frightening vision of a near-future America.

Gunslinger and a crowd of guns
Art by Sandy Bender

After two rounds of content edits, we have moved into the final phase: copy editing. This is a more technical edit — spelling, grammar and style — but critical to your reading enjoyment. We expect to have this finished by the end of the month, and at that point I plan to shop the manuscript around to potential agents (please contact me if you know anyone). I’m also planning to pitch the novel at an upcoming writers’ conference this April in Philadelphia.

Because I am so excited for you to read my new novel, I may decide to self-publish the novel like I did We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. However, because this new story is my best work to date, I’m going to give traditional publishing one more stab.

Stay tuned to this blog for updates! Please also join my mailing list if you haven’t already. Thanks for all your support!