Carpinello’s Writing Pages Interview

My new interview just went live on Carpinello’s Writing Pages: Information about books for Children/Tweens/YA, with a little bit of writing thrown in. Explore new books. Discover new authors. Uncover pieces of an author’s life. All with a focus on getting Young Readers to read and write more.

Meet MG Mystery Writer Carrie Cross

Carpinello’s Writing Pages welcomes Carrie Cross, author of the middle grade mystery series Skylar Robbins. First, a bit about Carrie:

Carrie Cross is an avid reader who fell in love with books as a little girl after reading Goodnight Moon. She wrote her first “book” at age four: Blackie the Little Black Dog and the Flying Washing Machine. Carrie discovered her love of mysteries reading Nancy Drew books and The Happy Hollisters series, and while writing Skylar Robbins mysteries, she continues to look for clues in unexpected places to this day.

Why did you choose to write books for Middle Grade?

Some of the happiest memories from my ‘tweens involve cozy nights reading in bed, especially during a rainstorm. Judy Blume is my all time favorite author. I must have read, Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret, fifty times or more. Nancy Drew and The Happy Holisters sparked my interest in mysteries. Zilpha Keatley Snyder was another favorite. How I wished I had a Velvet Room to retreat to, or a Changeling for a best friend!

My first book (never published) was written for an adult audience. While I shopped that, I started the first draft of a Skylar Robbins novel, and I was hooked instantly. I knew this was the age group I was meant to write for: the age I was when I read my favorite Judy Blume books.

What types of books do you like to read?

I still love to read MG and YA: Deb Caletti and Sarah Dessen are two favorites. I also can’t get enough of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, and Robert Crais’s Elvis Cole mysteries. I love biographies of those who lead unusual, superlative, or decadent lives, or books (fiction or non) about people who have overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

When you are not writing, what do you like to do?

Read, read, read. When I’m not writing or reading, I love to cook and go out to eat, especially for sushi, or to graze on small plates. I also own my own business distributing clothing wholesale, so I’m super busy. But if I have free time or take a vacation, you’ll find me on a boat or at a tropical beach.

Tell us about Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels and how the story came to be.

Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels is the second novel in the Skylar Robbins mystery series, and it just won the LASR Readers’ Choice Award for January 2015!

When I was six years old, my parents decided we needed to buy a bigger house. We looked at a creepy two-story in Santa Monica Canyon, and I played hide-and-seek with the little girl who lived there. There were closets and secret hiding places with doors that opened into other rooms. Later, I wondered, “What if there was a clue hidden in one of those closets?” And the idea for the Skylar Robbins mystery series was born, starting with The Mystery of Shadow Hills.

Here’s a peek at The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels:

 
After solving The Mystery of Shadow Hills, thirteen-year-old sleuth Skylar Robbins is ready for a new adventure. Sure enough, as soon as she decides to start her own detective agency a thrilling case falls right into her hands.

A deserted mansion perches on a steep hillside, overlooking a rocky canyon. Tattered curtains hang behind broken windows, and a turret stretches toward the sky. Three years ago the owner disappeared suddenly, leaving behind a house full of secrets: A mysterious note, tantalizing clues, a hidden floor, one piece of a treasure map, and a missing fortune in diamonds.

Armed with her detective kit, and with the support of her BFF Alexa and a team of secret agents, Skylar embarks on a new and dangerous mission. Can she outwit a gang of aggressive bikers and find the hidden jewels before they do? Or will the perils of middle school–like battling ruthless bully Emelyn Peters–get in her way?

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

Skylar’s adventures began in The Mystery of Shadow Hills. Thirteen-year-old sleuth Skylar Robbins is horrified to learn that she’ll be stuck at her bullying cousin Gwendolyn’s creepy mansion for the summer. She has no idea how much excitement and danger awaits her in Malibu’s Shadow Hills.

As soon as Skylar arrives at the estate, unexplainable events begin to happen. She discovers a hidden garden in the huge back yard, and her new friend Kat pronounces it the perfect place to perform spells. Practical Skylar is skeptical, until the magic appears to start working.

Is Kat a real middle school witch and a true friend, or is she just interested in the cute stable boy? Did she use magic to control Skylar’s body, or was it all part of a complicated hoax? Who or what is making those terrifying noises up in Shadow Hills at night?

Rumors are flying and the locals are afraid. Kat challenges Skylar to take increasingly dangerous risks while she tries to solve the mystery. Armed with her detective tools, brains, and a huge dose of courage, Skylar will face her deepest fears to find the truth.

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

Yes! At the end of Hidden Jewels, Skylar discovers a new and confusing clue, written in code. If she can manage to decode it, the note promises to lead her to a hidden diary containing the next clues to the whereabouts of a famous heiress who has been missing for three years. Skylar vows to crack that code and find out what happened to her. She does this in book 3: The Mystery of the Missing Heiress, which I hope to publish by the end of 2015.

What advice do you have for other authors?

This advice comes from one of my blog posts, “Carrie Cross’s Advice to Aspiring Writers #1”:

Enjoy the writing process and revise, revise, revise. Get as many people as possible to read your manuscript and give you constructive criticism. Don’t just rely on family and friends for feedback. They love you and will tell you your book is great, even if it isn’t.

Find beta readers in your target age group who you don’t know personally. For instance, I asked my account base at work if they had children who would be willing to read my book, Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of Shadow Hills, before publication, and emailed the manuscript to those kids. Their feedback was invaluable.

Finally, don’t let rejections from agents deter you from getting published. Self-publish if you don’t get a contract; you’re going to do most of your own marketing anyway. Calvin Coolidge said it best: Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent!

Anything else you want readers to know?

On my website: www.carrie-cross.com, there are free games, interactive sleuthing, and lots of other fun things going on!

Where can readers find you and your books?

Please follow me on:

Facebook
Twitter
Website
Goodreads

Amazon author page
Amazon: Skylar Robbins: Mystery of Shadow Hills
Amazon: Skylar Robbins: Mystery of the Hidden Jewels

Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Missing Heiress

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In the third volume of the Skylar Robbins mystery series, Skylar and her new heartthrob Daniel try to discover what happened to the famous heiress, Xandra Collins. She disappeared mysteriously three years ago, without leaving a trace.

Or did she?

One mind-bending clue was left behind: a puzzling poem written in Xandra’s hidden diary, pointing to a clue hidden underneath the Santa Monica pier.

Skylar risks her life to hunt for this clue and figure out whether or not Xandra Collins is still alive.

And it was worth every dangerous second.

Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Missing Heiress will be available on Amazon in 2016. The first two Skylar Robbins mysteries are available now on Amazon.

Sign Up Here for SKYLAR ROBBINS News!

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Join my mailing list and you’ll get a FREE copy of Gwendolyn’s Revenge: a Skylar Robbins Fantasy Novella! Sign up below to receive new Skylar Robbins mystery announcements, free spy tips, and the chance to win a personally autographed copy of a Skylar Robbins mystery. Your address will never be shared or sold, and will only be used for Skylar Robbins announcements.

If you would like to become a secret agent and help Skylar solve her next mystery, fill out the Secret Agent Application Form (S.A.A.F.). If you have the necessary detective skills to sleuth with Skylar, you will be able to find it. If you are already a Skylar Robbins Secret Agent, remember to include your code name and badge number in any comments you make on my posts.

If you do not receive your Identikit within three days, it is because you emailed from an address that I cannot reply to, and I respect the parental control that may have blocked me from responding. Carrie Cross is very protective of her readers! Parents: please email me at Carrie at skylarrobbins dot com and I will send the Identikit to the address of your choice.

Fans can follow Carrie Cross on Facebook and Twitter.

Skylar Robbins book 2: Synopsis

BoM 2014 December Skylar Robbins

A deserted mansion perches on a steep hillside, overlooking a rocky canyon. Tattered curtains hang behind broken windows, and a turret stretches toward the sky. Three years ago the wealthy owner disappeared suddenly, leaving behind a house full of secrets: A mysterious note, tantalizing clues, a hidden floor, one piece of a treasure map, and a missing fortune in diamonds.

Thirteen-year-old sleuth Skylar Robbins moves into the mansion with her parents and embarks on a new and dangerous mission. Armed with her detective kit, and with the support of her BFF Alexa and a team of secret agents, Skylar sets out to decipher the clues and find the diamonds. Can she outwit a gang of aggressive bikers and find the hidden jewels before they do? Or will the perils of middle school–like battling ruthless bully Emelyn Peters for the attention of class hottie Dustin Coles–get in her way?

The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels is available now on Amazon.

The Publishing Experience

AuthorProfile

THE PUBLISHING EXPERIENCE: GUEST POST BY CARRIE CROSS

from Stories Unfolded

My experience getting published has been a long, winding, bumpy road. I had been writing for many years when I finally submitted my first manuscript, an adult novel called The Dark File, to several agents. While many had positive things to say, or provided constructive criticism and an invitation to resubmit, none of them ever offered to represent me.

I’ve always loved to read Middle Grade and Young Adult, so while The Dark File was being shopped (it takes months for agents to reply) I started to write my first draft of a Skylar Robbins MG mystery. This early version of Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of Shadow Hills was called Magic Summer, and while I tried patiently to land an agent, I started writing the sequel, entitled Skylar Robbins: Secret Agent. Magic Summer never got a bite, but Secret Agent landed me…an agent.

I was picked up by Writers House, and had high hopes of getting a deal with a traditional publisher. However, after months of shopping my manuscript, all I had was a pile of apologetic rejection letters. Some were complimentary but said their house had another teen detective series which was too similar, and didn’t want to bring in a competing novel. Others contained excellent constructive criticism, which I implemented in my revision. This novel ultimately became The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels.

Most agents specify that authors should not “simultaneously submit” to more than one agent. They don’t want to waste their time reading a manuscript that might get snapped up by a competitor. It was my experience that agents typically take three months to read a submission and respond. So I did the math. If I wanted to try to get another agent, and then wait for that agent to submit my manuscript to various publishers (who also take months to reply) it could take many, many years before my books were ever in print. So I decided to self-publish.

My experience with Amazon’s Createspace has been excellent. Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of Shadow Hills and The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels are now in print, and have gotten excellent reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I would heartily recommend aspiring authors to self-publish, as long as they are willing to do their own marketing. Traditional publishing houses no longer have the budget to spend on advertising, so authors will end up doing their own publicity anyway. I offer more Advice for Aspiring Writers on my blog: http://www.skylarrobbins.com/

Thanks so much for the opportunity to talk about my experience as an author. I hope this helps fellow writers complete their journey to publication.

THE MYSTERY OF SHADOW HILLS BUY LINKS:

AMAZON

THE MYSTERY OF THE HIDDEN JEWELS BUY LINKS:

AMAZON

ABOUT CARRIE CROSS

WEBSITE | TWITTER

Secret Agents: If you don’t get a quick reply…

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Agents: if you are not getting an Identikit email within a week, it is because you are emailing from an address that can not receive emails. I have had repeated requests from prospective agents and have replied to the address they emailed me from, and my return emails did not go through. Some schools, home computers, and libraries have blocks on their computers and can not receive incoming emails. This is for the students’ safety and I respect this!

Skylar responds to every Secret Agent request and fan letter. If you don’t get a response, it is because of your computer’s settings. Please ask your mom or dad to email me from an address I can reply to.

Happy sleuthing!

Love,
Skylar

ENTER TO WIN!

MYSTERY OF THE HIDDEN JEWELS FRONT COVER

Goodreads Book Giveaway:

Enter here to win a FREE copy of book 2 in the Skylar Robbins mystery series: The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels! Contest ends March 6, 2015.

Here’s what one reader had to say about this book:

5.0 out of 5 stars
I LOVE Skylar Robbins!!! February 26, 2015
By Grace (Mequon, WI United States)
This review is from: Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels (Paperback)
I am 10 years old and I just finished reading both books. I am now
interested in sign language and mysteries. I am trying to study sign
language and get better at it. I REALLY want to read the next book. When
will it be done? My Grandma and Grandpa gave me your AWESOME books.

 

ENTER TO WIN! Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels (Book 2)

Book Giveaway for Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels (Book 2 in the Skylar Robbins mystery series)

MYSTERY OF THE HIDDEN JEWELS FRONT COVER

  • Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels (Book 2)
    by Carrie Cross (Goodreads Author)

          A deserted mansion perches on a steep hillside, overlooking a rocky canyon. Tattered curtains hang behind broken windows, and a turret stretches toward the sky. Three years ago the wealthy owner disappeared suddenly, leaving behind a house full of secrets: A mysterious note, tantalizing clues, a hidden floor, one piece of a treasure map, and a missing fortune in diamonds.
         Thirteen-year-old sleuth Skylar Robbins moves into the mansion with her parents and embarks on a new and dangerous mission. Armed with her detective kit, and with the support of her BFF Alexa and a team of secret agents, Skylar sets out to decipher the clues and find the diamonds. Can she outwit a gang of aggressive bikers and find the hidden jewels before they do? Or will the perils of middle school–like battling ruthless bully Emelyn Peters for the attention of class hottie Dustin Coles–get in her way?

    Giveaway dates: Feb 21 – Mar 06, 2015
    Countries available: US

 

Girls looking for clean mysteries with a modern twist, here’s your series!

MYSTERY OF THE HIDDEN JEWELS FRONT COVER
4 stars!

By S. J. Henderson on February 2, 2015

     Although I’m not in the target audience for the Skylar Robbins series, I’m definitely still a kid at heart. Pretty sure that still counts. Anyway… the book.What a great story! I’ve always been a fan of mysteries, and read quite a few of my mom’s Nancy Drew books growing up. Spooky settings like Xandra’s mansion always draw me in, too, so Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels drew me in almost immediately even though I started behind the game by not having read book 1.
     Loved the dumbwaiter idea, a childhood dream of mine since the TV series “Webster.” And the turret and gazebo and… yes. The setting was great.Because I missed that first part of the series, I assumed I’d know more about the Secret Agents. I also assume there’s an online community somewhere where readers have the opportunity to win mentions in these books. That’s a fun idea, and I know younger readers would enjoy seeing their screen names in print. This bit of missing info/back story didn’t ruin the reading experience for me. The author did a decent job making sure new readers could pick up this book with a minimum of confusion.
     As an adult, I wanted to shake Skylar more than a few times for not alerting her parents to the Crew Gang’s menacing behavior. It made for a tense story, but I don’t think it’s a great idea for kids to imitate that in real life. If someone is threatening you or your family for any reason, seek help. Jewels or boys or whatever aren’t a good enough reason to let sociopaths persist. That aside…I’d definitely read another Skylar Robbins book, and I’m happy to recommend them to girls looking for clean mysteries with a modern twist.
     Read more reviews of SKYLAR ROBBINS: THE MYSTERY OF THE HIDDEN JEWELS here. The Skylar Robbins series is available on Amazon.