Skylar Robbins book 3 Now Available on Kindle!

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Mystery of the Missing Heiress by Carrie Cross

The Mystery of the Missing Heiress

by Carrie Cross

Giveaway ends December 04, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

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The first five Skylar fans to comment on this post will win a FREE Skylar Robbins ebook!

Gwendolyn’s Revenge

Skylar Robbins fans: I need your help! I’ve written a fantasy novella, Gwendolyn’s Revenge, which is a mini sequel to Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of Shadow Hills. The theme is witchcraft, spells, karma, and payback. Which of the attached stock photos do you think I should buy to make the best cover? Please vote for #1 (blue/green smoke), #2 (Ouija board), #3 (Candles and star) or #4 (candles and feather.) Leave your vote in the comments and you will be entered to win a free copy of Gwendolyn’s Revenge!

Sleuthing MG Style: Author Interview with Carrie Cross @thewritechris.blogspot.com

Q. What made you decide to write for middle-grade readers? Was there any particular
author you read that made you think, I could write like that?

A. I decided to write for the middle grade audience because I fell most in love with books when I was between nine and twelve years old. I couldn’t get enough of Judy Blume, and read Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret over and over. Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s The Changeling and The Velvet Room enchanted me. I loved The Happy Hollisters mysteries and Nancy Drew. But it wasn’t until I was an adult, reading Lee Child thrillers and Robert Crais mysteries, that I wondered if and hoped that I could write like them. My first manuscript, The Dark File, was an adult novel exploring the nasty side of the modeling industry, which I experienced first-hand in my twenties. This book was never published, but while I shopped it around and waited for agents to respond, I had the idea for my first Skylar Robbins mystery, then tentatively titled, Magic Summer.

Q. How long did it take you to write your first book? How many rewrites did you do on
it? Who helped you with the editing?

A. One of my closest friends, Elayne Angel, is also an author, and she and my husband Ed edit the rough drafts of my novels and provide excellent feedback and critiques. I probably worked on Magic Summer for three years before I got it into good enough shape that I decided to hire a professional editor, Beth Lieberman, to proofread my “final” draft. She gave me some excellent advice. For example, I needed to add setting. She characterized mine as “a barely perceptible L.A.” I revised again, she pronounced it good enough to shop, and we began looking for an agent. By this time, I had added a detective angle to Skylar’s character and had renamed the manuscript, Skylar Robbins: Secret Agent.

After several rejections, Writers House signed me. Searching for a publisher is a tedious, time-consuming, frustrating experience. Like agents, publishers do not like it if you “simultaneously submit” to more than one. They don’t want to waste their valuable time reading a manuscript, only to be told when they decide they want it that another house has already snapped it up. So, my agent submitted to one at a time, and then we’d wait between two weeks to two months for a reply. All rejections—but, and this is a big but—some came with constructive criticism. Invaluable!

Q. We have all experienced rejection. Give me an example of how you learned to write
past it.

A. The rejections I received from agents and publishers, one after another, was crushing. But the ones who cared enough to leave constructive criticism gave me the drive to continue to revise, and to not give up on making my book series a reality. (By this time, I had started on a new Skylar Robbins novel and decided this could be a series.) Several of the publishers wrote notes to the effect of, “Great story but we have a similar MG mystery series that this would compete with.” That was better than hearing a plain, “No thanks, we’re uninterested.” But what really helped was when one publisher noted, “Good writing, but I’m afraid this story is just too straight-forward a ride.”

That got me thinking. Good writing: yes! Too straight-forward a storyline? How can I make it better? So, I got back to work and revised again, adding another layer to the plot.

Q. What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?

A. Getting good feedback from publishers, even through rejection letters, was some of the best encouragement I’ve had in my writing career. Give me a challenge and I’ll take it. Make this manuscript less straight-forward a ride? OK! Here you go! Skylar Robbins went from a shy girl spending a nervous summer at her bullying cousin Gwendolyn’s house to a smart, savvy sleuth, hunting for clues using the tools in her detective kit. By the end of what was finally called, Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of Shadow Hills, Skylar had learned how to determine true friends from phony ones, and had developed self-confidence and expert sleuthing skills.

Better than the feedback from publishers, what really made me feel validated as an author was when more than one group of kids formed their own “detective agencies” after reading my books. Even boys got interested in finding clues and looking for something mysterious—and I thought at first my novels would just appeal to girls.

http://cjwilkes.com/ photography

Q. What is the hardest part of writing for you? Starting? Creating a scene? Dialog?
Tension, etc?

A. I think the hardest part of writing a novel is determining how it will end. As author Ayn Rand teaches, you must determine your story’s climax and write toward it so that every scene has purpose. Once you have established the ending to your plot, you can come up with a rough outline of how the characters will progress toward that finale. It’s a real challenge to determine a story’s climax before you’ve written the book, but it’s imperative that you know where the plot is leading.

Q. You indie-publish, correct? What made you choose the indie route? What was the most
challenging part about putting together the book?

A. I do self-publish, through Amazon’s Createspace. After spending years trying to get an agent and more time trying to land a traditional publishing contract, I figured I’d take the plunge and do it myself. My husband and I created our own publishing company, Teen Mystery Press, hoping that having a legitimate publishing company logo on my novels would help me get into bookstores. Bookstores and libraries shy away from self-published books as so many are poorly-written and error-filled. The Skylar Robbins series is in several stores and a handful of libraries, but the bulk of my sales comes from Amazon. The most challenging part of putting together the book was revising over and over until I was satisfied with it. My husband, Ed Ward, is a graphic designer, so he does my cover art and interior design. Shameless plug: www.mental-ward.com.

Q. You’ve got a great looking website. Who put it together for you? What are some of
your marketing tips that you would like to pass along?

A. Thank you! Ed designed my website, too. I have a section on my site, www.carrie-cross.com, called Advice for Aspiring Writers, where I share writing advice. My number one marketing tip is: advertise. Every month I reinvest whatever I’ve earned from my book sales into ads on Goodreads, Facebook, Bookbub, and other sites. No one is going to look for a self-published book by an unknown author. You need to use every possible social media platform to get your name and your work out there. I’ve run contests on Facebook, giving away toy binoculars for the most shares on my book posts. I’m currently writing a mini-sequel to Shadow Hills called Gwendolyn’s Revenge, and inviting Skylar fans to help co-write it with me. I have a Secret Agent Application form on my website, and recently had my 50th Secret Agent sign up. These kids are encouraged to help Skylar figure out clues in future novels and post their guesses on my site. Several of Skylar’s Secret Agents are mentioned (using their code names) in book 2: Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels.

Q. What do you know now about writing that you wished you had known sooner?

A. I would say that I wished I had self-published sooner, but then I never would have gotten the feedback I needed to hear from the agents and publishers who rejected my work. Authors should look at rejections as learning experiences and as opportunities for growth and improvement.

Q. What is some of the best writing advice that you’ve received or could give?
Are there any other points about writing that you would like to add?

A. The best advice I could give fellow authors is, “Revise, revise, revise!” Don’t submit your work until it is as perfect as can be. You only get one chance to impress a prospective agent, publisher, or reader. Make sure your work is error-free and polished. And never give up. If you can’t get a traditional publishing contract, do it yourself. As Calvin Coolidge said, “Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Q. What is the next book that will be coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?

A. In my third Skylar Robbins mystery, The Mystery of the Missing Heiress, Skylar teams up with a brilliant would-be spy, Daniel Gannon, to solve the mystery. He is pictured on the cover, swimming under the Santa Monica pier, searching underwater for a locked box containing a clue.

By the end of book 3, Skylar and Daniel decide to partner up again and plan to take a field trip to a mysterious island called Koma. In my next book, Skylar Robbins: The Curse of Koma Island, Skylar and Daniel must determine the meaning of a strange Koman idol. The locals are desperate to frighten the kids off the island before they discover the truth. I hope to publish Koma Island by the end of 2018.

Q. Lastly, what links would you like to be added at the end?

A. Thanks so much, http://thewritechris.blogspot.com/, for the interview!
Skylar Robbins mysteries are available on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2bSxwFB
Check out Carrie Cross’s website: www.carrie-cross.com
Join Carrie on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCarrieCross/
Follow Carrie on Twitter @Carrie_Skylar

Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Missing Heiress chapter 1

CONTENTS

  1. Nerves
  2. Confrontation
  3. The Diamond
  4. A Test
  5. Daniel Gannon
  6. Secret Code
  7. WHERE HOTTY?
  8. The Principal’s Office
  9. ACE
  10. Decoding the Secret Message
  11. “You’re ditching?”
  12. Totally Annoyed and Completely Attracted
  13. A Trap Door in the Library
  14. Secret Passageway
  15. Horrible Mural
  16. In the Black Light’s Glow
  17. A Clue in an Article
  18. 3 Palms at 10
  19. Threatened
  20. A Map in the Door Handle
  21. Secret Weapon
  22. PMS
  23. Partners
  24. Jealousy
  25. A Fake, Pretend Member
  26. Daniel’s Challenge
  27. 7 x 17 x 37
  28. No Time to Run
  29. Inside Daniel Gannon’s House
  30. Xandra’s Diary
  31. Broken
  32. Coded Clues
  33. The Hidden Message
  34. A Mysterious Key
  35. AFX
  36. Clues in the Diary
  37. Rage
  38. Honesty
  39. The Pier
  40. Seven Rocks by Seven Rocks
  41. The Locked Box
  42. A Shocking Call
  43. The Kiss
  44. Registered Letter
  45. A Limousine Ride to a Secret Location
  46. Solving the Case
  47. Broadcast
  48. The Curse of Koma Island

 

 

www.Pacific_Chicks.com

7:05 a.m. Ruthcat:

Welcome back Pacific middle school Tigers!

7:06 a.m. Double D:

Tigers rule! Undefeated in hoops—Yeah Baby 😉

7:08 a.m. Madpat:

Check yourself. Did U get the diamond? Don’t be a left-out.

7:10 a.m. Trishbliss:

What Diamond?

7:11 a.m. Anonymous:

What dinomd? Duh—THE dinomd.

7:15 a.m. Ruthcat:

TB, ignore Anonymous. Hey Dummy—we all know who can’t spell.

7:16 a.m. Double D:

True dat.

7:22 a.m. Madpat:

Anonymous: Watch ur back.

7:24 a.m. Anonymous:

O now Im scraed.

7:25 a.m. Madpat:

U shd b. It’s on.

7:35 a.m.  Anonymous:

Yeah, right. LOL. Bring it.

 

Chapter 1: Nerves

The first day of school always makes me nervous. I worry that I won’t find my classrooms on time and I’ll walk in late while everyone laughs. To make things worse, on the first day of the Spring semester of seventh grade, it was pouring. I mean really pouring. I’d looked forward to going back to school all through Christmas vacation, hoping I would have some cute boys in my classes. Specifically, the one I’d been crushing on for three years: Dustin Coles. Plus, nice teachers and as few mean girls as possible. But a horrid thought was rattling around in my brain. Would I be stuck with the bully crew in my core subjects—or worse, gym class? Seeing them online on our school’s underground website was bad enough. Sharing classrooms with those girls would be my worst nightmare. I couldn’t wait to get back to Pacific to see who I’d be spending the semester with: friends, or enemies?

Outside, the rain pounded down, bouncing up off of puddles in the yard and sheeting down our kitchen windows. While I ate a bowl of cereal, I worried about what would happen when I walked onto campus. Ever since I solved my last case, my mom, dad, students at my school—basically everybody has given me a bit of a hard time. Reporters call me everything from “the teen sleuth” to “the 13-year-old genius.” How embarrassing.

Truthfully, I think they’re all a little jealous. The adults: because I decoded a bunch of clues and dug up a hidden jewelry box that they should have been able to find, but couldn’t. Everyone else: because I got attention, was interviewed on TV, and got to keep the jewels. Not that I could sell them or anything until I turned eighteen. They were locked up in a safe, and I was still just regular Skylar Robbins, teen detective. To be honest, I wished everyone would just forget about it. Unlike some of the girls at Pacific, I didn’t enjoy all the attention. Except maybe from one particular extremely cute boy.

“Ready?” My mom trotted down the last few stairs. Her briefcase was in one hand and she smoothed down her shoulder-length, brown hair with the other. Mine was darker and much longer, and I twisted it around one hand impatiently while I waited for her. “Have everything you need, like an umbrella?” she asked me.

“Yes. Umbrella, laptop for lessons, spiral notebooks for taking notes, pens, bus money for the ride home.” My Porta-detective kit was shoved in the bottom of my backpack in case I discovered clues to a new mystery, but she didn’t need to know that.

Made of metal and covered in pink leopard spots, my Porta-detective kit contained smaller versions of my most important spy tools. Mini-mag glass, and tiny binoculars. A round mirror disguised as a compact was perfect for spying on people behind me. And my Uniprinter. This was a one-inch square stamp pad with black ink and a tiny tablet of paper attached to the back, useful for taking a single fingerprint.

Porta-Detective Kit

I glanced at my watch. “Mom. We need to leave, like right now.”

While we headed for the garage, I thought about my detective agency. I’d always figured my first big case as a professional sleuth would be an easy one. Finding a missing pet, solving a petty theft, or spying on someone’s boyfriend to see if he were cheating. Nothing that would get me in trouble, put me in danger, or change my life forever. Well, I was wrong. Way wrong. And as soon as I’d located the hidden jewels, a much more challenging mystery fell into my hands.

Three years ago, the famous heiress who’d owned and hidden the jewelry box mysteriously disappeared. The only child of an oil tycoon, Xandra—pronounced Zandra—had inherited millions. She donated huge amounts of money to charity, and she had dated more than one celebrity bad boy. Then suddenly, she went missing. The media loved her, and they reported that she hadn’t left a single clue behind. The police reports agreed that Xandra Collins had disappeared without a trace. Her hundred-year-old mansion was abandoned. Three years later, my parents bought it.

Well, I know one thing from the detective skills my Grandfather taught me: It is almost impossible to disappear without leaving a trace. And if anyone could find a shred of evidence, it was going to be me.

I would end up risking my life trying to solve the mystery of the missing heiress. And worse than that, without meaning to, I’d put my friends in mortal danger too.

Keep on the lookout for this new Skylar Robbins mystery, coming soon in paperback on Amazon.

 

 

 

Skylar Robbins Fun Facts

Please check out my latest interview from Mystery and Thriller Week to learn new Skylar Robbins fun facts!

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C
haracter Interview

  1. Character Name: Skylar Robbins
  2. Role in your story: protagonist
  3. Age: 13
  4. Description: Funny, quirky, vulnerable teen sleuth
  5. Nickname: Teen Detective Skylar
  6. Occupation: amateur sleuth
  7. Location: Santa Monica, CA
  8. Goal in life: to become a private detective like my grandfather and to  open my own detective agency
  9. Motto: Never give up!
  10. Family: Only child of intelligent mom (teacher at UCLA) and dad (scientist/chemist)
  11. Best friend: BFF Alexa O’Reilly: dyslexic, intelligent assistant detective
  12. Current conflict: taking dangerous chances while trying to solve my next mystery
  13. Favorite Food: Peanut butter on Graham crackers, and sushi (not at the same time!)
  14. Addictions: hunting for clues
  15. Pet Peeve: bullies and liars
  16. Favorite Hobby: decoding secret messages
  17. What do you do for fun? Explore new neighborhoods on my bike with my BFF, Alexa.

Favorite childhood memory:
My grandfather’s face popped into my mind, and within seconds I was longing to see him again. Grandpa had taught me all sorts of important skills for finding clues, investigating mysteries, and solving cases. I remembered how he taught me to lift fingerprints like it was yesterday:
 Grandpa treated me to a blue-eyed smile. Then he winked at me and held out his hand with a Kleenex covering his palm. “Let’s see that juice box.” I put the box of Juicy-Juice I’d just finished on the tissue. He moved it onto the table in front of him, careful not to touch the surfaces of the box with his fingers. “This is fingerprinting powder,” he explained, holding up what looked like a jar of dark ash. “Watch,” my grandfather said, sprinkling some of the powder onto the side of the juice box. Then he took a big soft brush and whisked most of the powder onto a napkin.
I leaned closer. A crisp, gray copy of my fingerprint stuck to the side of the waxy box like a decal on the back of my bike.
“Now we lift the print.” Grandpa removed a clear, sticky piece of tape from a roll. He pressed it down on top of my fingerprint, and then very slowly peeled the tape off of the box. “See?” he said, showing it to me. My fingerprint made a perfect picture on the clear tape. “Now let’s mount this on a Case Solution card.” He took a card off the stack he had in his detective kit, and pressed the tape down onto the card, trapping my print. I watched him fill in the case line. Since there was no case number he just wrote, SKYLAR ROBBINS’S FINGERPRINT.

Grandpa handed me the card. “It’s yours to keep. Next weekend we’ll print someone else and I’ll teach you how to compare fingerprints to see if you can find a match.”
“OK,” I said, wrapping my arms around his neck. “Let’s print Mom.”
“Let’s,” he agreed, his eyes full of fun.

 

  1. Dream job: Secret Agent
  2. Favorite part of your day: Getting to school before first period, hoping a cute boy will sit next to me in class.
  3. Pessimist, Optimist, or Realist: Optimist
  4. Beverage of choice: iced tea
  5. Most annoying person in your life: Pat Whitehead, school bully
  6. Taken or single? Single. Any love interests? Dustin Coles and Daniel Gannon
  7. Pets: none right now…
  8. Biggest Fear: failing to solve a mystery
  9. Guilty Pleasure: Telling secrets in sign language with Alexa
  10. Most embarrassing moment: Squirting Ketchup on my pink pants and smearing it into a big stain before going to class with Daniel.
  11. Greatest Strength: Using the tools in my detective kit to find clues and solve mysteries
  12. Greatest Weakness: I feel bad when I take dangerous chances and hide it from my parents.
  13. Who do you most admire? My grandfather: a retired police officer.
  14. Are you keeping any secrets? I take my Porta-detective kit to school in my backpack in case I need to dust for fingerprints or examine something using my Mini-Mag glass.
  15. Where do you see yourself in ten years? As a secret agent, traveling the world on top secret missions.
  16. Advice for the reader as they follow you through your journey? Learn to solve riddles and decipher clues using my detective skills. Crime scenes are three-dimensional: look for clues on the floor, all for walls, and the ceiling. Palm a compact to spy on people behind you. Learn sign language and Morse code so you can communicate without talking or when solving a mystery underwater.


The Mystery of Shadow Hills (The Skylar Robbins Mysteries) by Carrie Cross 
4 stars out of 5

​Of course, I am not part of the intended audience for this book, so my view might be a bit skewed by my age. Despite my age band, I was able to read it, and that in itself says something, considering the fact that I’m – unfortunately – a very picky reader and I get bored easily.
That being said, I definitely recommend this book to teenagers. The tone of the narrative is light enough to encourage them to continue reading and the plot is interesting enough for a twelve or thirteen-year old. It really made me remember some of the books I read when I was that age.
The protagonist is Skylar Robbins who wants nothing else in life but to be a Private Investigator like her late grandpa. The writer did a good job in presenting this young girl. It is believable and well anchored in the reality of the respective age. She has all the confidence and doubts characteristic to someone of her age and a young reader could identify themselves with her. The character is well developed and I think that the narrative in first person might have contributed seriously to that.
I always try to avoid writing a synopsis of the books I review and I will do the same here. Keeping in mind that the novel is for a young audience, I would say that the author succeeded in her task. Either she remembers how it felt and how one thought at that age or she is a good psychologist. Anyway, she did an amazing job in her incursion in the young psyche.
One thing might detract from the quality of the book (again, I repeat, I am trying to see the book through the eyes of a young reader): too detailed descriptions. I, for one, liked them, however, a young reader might not have the patience to read them.
On the whole, this is a good book for the intended audience. I would recommend it. 

The Mystery of Hidden Jewels (The Skylar Robbins Mysteries) by Carrie Cross 
5 stars out of 5

I read this second book of the series the same day as the first and probably that’s why the impact is so strong. If the first book in the series seemed good enough for a teenager, this second book was good enough for an adult, even though the protagonists kept being the same teenager as in the first one.
This novel is a real surprise. Authors evolve in time. Their writing gets better and better – if the writer is good to begin with, of course. However, it is surprising to see so much development in a second book. The fluidity of the story mesmerizes and simply catches you in: you can’t put the book down. I read it in one sitting.
The main character was developed in the first book, but here there’s much more substance. The author surprises the teenager’s evolution and if the first book Skylar was just a curious girl, tattering on the brink of evolution, now she becomes really interesting: there are some doubts but not so definite. She has the courage to stand for her convictions and thus the story becomes catchier.
I recommended the first book – mostly to children between 10 and 13. This one goes beyond that age band. If someone likes a good mystery, a fluid plot, catchy dialogue, then, they should read this book.

Skylar Robbins Book 3: Next Clue

 

LockedBox

Right after 13-year-old sleuth Skylar Robbins solved The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels, a new mystery tapped her on the shoulder. Three years ago, wealthy heiress Xandra Collins disappeared without a trace, leaving her Santa Monica mansion abandoned. Three years later, Skylar’s parents bought it. Xandra had left just one mind-bending clue to her disappearance behind: a secret message written in code.

GL URMW NB WR@+B, BLF NFHG TL Y@XP GL GS% SRWW%M U&LL+

Once Skylar finally decoded that message, she was in for a world of danger. Teaming up with the smartest, cutest boy in middle school, Skylar and Daniel follow Xandra Collins’s clues, trying to determine what had become of the missing heiress. They ultimately discover a hidden box containing the key to the whole mystery.

What do you think the box contained? Post your guess using your secret code name in the comment section. If you don’t have a code name, get one here. Every entry qualifies to win a signed copy of Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Missing Heiress. Winners will be announced when the book becomes available.

 

Carrie Cross performs a Live Reading of Skylar Robbins

Live Reading by Carrie Cross at the Waterford Public Library

It was wonderful meeting everyone at the Waterford Public Library in Waterford, Wisconsin Friday August 7th during my live reading of Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of Shadow Hills. The librarian, Tricia Cox, planned some fun crafts for the kids, including drawing with invisible ink pens, and using a fingerprinting kit with different colored ink and stamp pads.

After reading chapter one from The Mystery of Shadow Hills (Author Carrie Cross, Teen Mystery Press 2013), I signed books and took pictures with all of the Skylar Robbins fans. Then we had a drawing for prizes! Five kids won free toy binoculars to start their own detective kits, and one girl won a signed copy of The Mystery of Shadow Hills. Thanks to everyone who attended, and to Marjorie Stark Suto photography for recording the event. It was a lot of fun and I hope to come back again next year after publishing, Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Missing Heiress (Teen Mystery Press, 2016).

Author reading: Mystery of Shadow Hills

2015aug7CarrieCross (495x640)

Can’t wait to meet my Wisconsin fans on August 7th!
Author Visit: Carrie Cross
Waterford Public Library
Friday, Aug. 7, 10:00am
Author Carrie Cross presents: Skylar Robbins and the Mystery of Shadow Hills
Ms. Cross talks about being an author, performs a reading from her book, and explores the world of detectives with some fun crafts and activities.