Saturday, December 27, 2014

Writers Beware: A Cautionary Tale

Years ago, when I first started out as a writer, I submitted one of my children’s stories to a publisher that I had really no knowledge of. I got the contract in the mail, as vague as it was, but asking for 300 dollars, I convinced my husband into going ahead with it. Months went by, no progress at all. I’d email once a month, asking what will be the next step and the publisher kept putting me off. Nine months went by with nothing done until I started receiving illustrating for it. My heart sank when I saw them. It looked like a three-year-old did them. Granted, some three-year-olds are great artists, but unfortunately this particular artist that had done my drawings was very amateurish.

Then when I started receiving edits, which was nearly a year later, my writing had improved and I was telling the editor of errors—errors which should have been easily picked up by an experienced editor. Clearly he was not.

That was the last straw for me. One year after I signed and sent my money, I terminated the contract. Since they had done a few homely drawings, I couldn’t get my money back. I was pissed off to say the least. But eventually I moved on, chalked it up to a lesson learned—never send money to any publisher. That’s what a vanity publisher is. If they are asking for money, run away like a scared wild animal being hunted. These publishers prey on writers all the time and a lot of times, get away with it. I assure you, if they are asking for money, the end result will not be good. No matter how much you love the idea of being published, don’t do it.

Later on, I started writing novels and my first novel was accepted by a publisher, again, that I didn’t have much knowledge of. But they weren’t asking for any money, and clearly they published their books and it seemed okay at the time. They were pumping out 10 to 15 books a month and I saw nothing wrong with it at that time. It wasn’t until after I started receiving my royalty statements that I made yet another mistake. My royalty statements were so sad, I couldn’t even buy a roll of toilet paper even if I wanted to. Not with that kind of money. Basically it was pennies.

Luckily I wrote more books and really cracked down on researching publishers before I even submitted to them and thankfully connected with better publishers. So the lesson to this story is, do your research before you sign the dotted line and never spend any money doing it. There are a lot of reputable sites to help you with the search.
Here is the list of very resourceful sites that will help you find a good fit.

AbsoluteWrite: Bewares, Recommendations & Background Checks 
Preditors & Editors 
Agent Query 

But sure to ask as many questions as possible. Keep all emails, perhaps in a separate file. Contact other authors of that publisher in question. Check the books and their Amazon rankings. Are they low? (good sign) Are they high? (bad sign) Run a Google search and see what pops up. Are they a small publisher (authormill type) publishing several books a month? (could possibly be another bad sign) And again, I repeat, do as much research as possible before you sign. Good luck on your submission journey. It can be very daunting at times, but never rush into a hasty decision you may regret later on. It may take a long while to find the right publisher, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Giveaway for Disconnected!!!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Disconnected by Lisa M. Cronkhite


by Lisa M. Cronkhite

Giveaway ends December 17, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Finding Your Voice in YA

Once you get critiques on your work, you might come across people saying something about the voice of your character. Does it sound like a YA novel? It’s hard to tell sometimes when you’re writing. If you’re getting a lot of feedback saying it doesn’t sound YA enough, hopefully some of these tips will help you.

I think the number one thing you can do to help get that YA voice you’re looking for is to read other YA novels. Don’t be a douchebag and write YA but never read it. It doesn’t make any sense why you’d want to. When reading YA, try to get a feel for the character and what they are saying and how they are saying it. You can use common words teenagers say like, like, just, whatever, or something, etc. But try not to overuse these words because it will sound like you’re trying too hard. Teens will detect a fake. Having that authentic teen voice is most important when writing YA. How do you write authentic YA? It comes from your gut. If flows naturally. It isn’t forced. If you’re forcing it, then you have a problem. Try to put yourself in the shoes of a teen. Would they say that? Would they feel that way? To me there’s always some kind of vulnerability in the character. They don’t quite fit in. Or they are testing their boundaries. This is a time when they are finding themselves. They don’t know everything. Who does? Teach your character to find themselves. Have your character ask questions, doubt themselves, wonder why. Have your character yearn to find out the answer, searching to solve the conflict in their lives.

In YA, characters are between the ages of 12 to 18. So if you’re writing about a 17 year-old, put yourself in a 17 year-old shoes. Depending on the ages, they might have a lot of responsibilities, or they might be dependent on their loved ones. Don’t have an adult character help too much. Your character will have to seek out the answers for themselves. That’s how they grow. This is another important factor in YA. Don’t let everything happen to your character. Make your character pro-active.

Another thing you can do is hang out with teens. If you don’t know of any friends or family, you can go to the mall or the park or wherever teens are hanging out. Don’t be a creep about it and take notes as they’re talking. That would be weird. But try to pick up on how they communicate with one another. Watch how they act.

Writing about your experience as a teen is always good. They always do say, write what you know. Were you bullied in high school? Were you an outcast? Did you play the piano? Some of these things you did when you are younger may in fact help you write a better YA novel. Don’t be afraid to explore your past. This is where some of the authenticity comes in. You don’t have to incorporate everything of course, just some important factors you experienced firsthand when you were a teen.

Nowadays everyone wants to write YA—because that’s the hottest market. But because of this, it is the most competitive too. Don’t write YA because you think you can make money off of it. Your writing will show the difference. Write YA because you love it.

If you can think of some other tips to help with the YA voice, please feel free to let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

6 Tips to Help With Writer's Block

Sometimes writing can be super fun. And sometimes it can be a real job. At first the words flow on the paper, maybe even page after page. But then you hit a wall—the dreaded writer’s block. It seems like I have this every day. There are some days I don’t even want to write a single word. And then there are other days, I can’t stop. If you have had these same signs and symptoms of writer’s block, but ultimately love to write, there are some simple things you can do to spark up your interested again.

I know some people don’t like taking breaks, but sometimes (if you have writer’s block) it’s your mind telling you to stop and think about what you’re doing. Maybe you need to go back in the story and reevaluate things more. Like the road you drove your character down is a dead end street. There’s no other way to turn but to turn back again. And sometimes when you turn back, you’re still stuck. Seriously taking a break isn’t such a bad idea. Taking a walk, watching TV. Doing other things does definitely help. But that too sometimes doesn’t help. Then what do you do?

You keep trying new things to spark it up again. Because honestly, if you don’t and you quit all together, your writing will end there. And that isn’t such a horrible thing either. That’s when it’s time to find another hobby or something else you enjoy. But if you’re like me and have to write because it’s in your blood, here are some tips to help keep the writing going.

1. Read more: I know a lot of people say this in writing forums, but the majority of the time, it does work. Reading something else might get the wheels turning again. Study how it’s written. Maybe do another spin to it, like fan- fiction.

2. Writing something else: I mean writing something completely different and out of the norm. If you’re into writing mysteries, try adding a little paranormal element, or sci-fi or whatever one you haven’t tried before. Something that might interest you. Is your character in their twenties? Try making them younger. Try writing a children’s story or poem, or non-fiction. Keep testing out your voice. Have a female character? Try a male main character. First person present tense? Try third person, past tense, omni or whatever you think might work. The basic point here is to keep trying new things. Don’t pigeon hole yourself into writing just one way.

3. Change your font, size and or color: Now this might sound silly but it’s proven to work for some. It’s worked for me in the past and it may work for you. Just play around with the font change it from times roman to courier or something that’s pleasing to your eye. Play around with the size and color too. Heck, have fun with it and do all three. Don’t worry on keeping it times roman because all the agents and publishers want it that way. You can always change it back right before you submit. Remember to always read the guidelines when you do.

4. Print it out: You don’t have to print the whole thing out. Just a few pages or so. Go back a chapter or two and sit down with a red pen or pink or green or whatever you like, and revise that way. This could very well spark up new ideas and will motivate you to keep going.

5. Get a critique partner and or join writing forums: Once you join a writing forum, you can critique others work and learn more about your work. Getting others to critique your work is essential in the writing process. You can also find beta readers to help you one and one with you own work, as you help them with theirs. It’s a “I’ll scratch your back and you scratch mine” analogy. It works for both parties involved.

6. Don’t give up: I know this is said all the time, but it really matters. If you keep writing, you will only get better. And if you are the most persistent person you can be, you will eventually have something published. Writing takes time. Getting published takes time. Allow yourself time to write. Unless you have a deadline, don’t pressure yourself too much. Let it come to you. And when you have that urge again and want to write, do it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Are You a YA Mystery/ Suspense Writer?

Do you worry about death and dying? (Maybe not so much about yourself as you do with your loved ones.)

Are you constantly thinking of solving things? Always looking for the answer, whatever it may be. You just want peace of mind, and just want to know.

Do you like watching Mystery/ Suspense movies, TV shows, etc? Like even though you cringe at the thought of murder, you’re fascinated by what happened. Or you want to find out why? Why did it happen? Who did it? What was their motive? Was it planned? How much premeditation was involved?

Questions, about questions. If you’ve answered yes to some of these questions or have asked yourself the same thing (about certain things in life) then you may be a mystery/suspense writer. The best way to get some of these fears out of your mind is to write them down. It doesn’t have to be a story just yet. Just something you can spindle from your mind and just let it out. Get it out of you like it’s some poison you’re sucking out. Spit it out on paper (or the computer, or whatever device you want to use.)

Once you’ve decided you’d like to write a YA mystery, by all means, start writing! This hopefully will apply to every mystery writer too.

I think it’s important to start with a conflict right away. What’s going on with your main character? What is his or her purpose in this fictional world you are creating? Why is your main character around? Is she/he lost and needs to find a way out? In danger? Witnessed a murder? Needs to solve a murder? A missing case? What is missing from your character? If you’re constantly asking questions, this is wonderful news! As you’re writing this out, you can outline or write by the seat of your pants. Whatever way is going to make you write. That is the most important thing. Now, once you’ve mapped out how to go (whether in mind or notes) I want you to remember, leave things open. Maybe don’t answer all of your questions for your novel. Save that for the big reveal at the end. In YA, you have to keep the reader guessing, all the way to the very end. Don’t you want to keep guessing too?  Even if that means not answering a key question to the very last line in the book.

In YA, the pacing needs to be just right. It should be in a faster tempo, but not too fast. Then you might fall short of word count. Standard word counts for YA novels are between 40,000 and 90,000. Fantasy and Sci-fi tend to run higher. For pacing and trying to cut down. If you think your pacing is too fast, slow it down with more word power. Describe things a little more, have the character do more action. Move them around more. Try to pay more attention to detail. If you think your pacing is too slow, well then, cut down on some details. Maybe you have too much. Is it a page and a half for the MC to get to the window?

Plotting and planning. Again, always leave room for improvement. If and or when you write an outline, don’t be confined to it. Allow some breathing room. When you’re putting your outlining into writing, don’t be afraid to steer away from it. You might find when you’re actually writing it out, some things fall into place better. Better than the outline you’ve created. If you’re a panster, be careful not to write yourself into a wall. Perhaps leave writing sessions mid chapter, so you can stew about it more. Then when you come back, you could put more into it. Don’t wear yourself out so much so to the point you don’t want to come back to your writing at all. This is best for plotting and planning. I think the best plotting and planning is when you’re stewing your brains out on it, to the point you must write it out (suck the poison out.) So again, don’t overdo your writing. Maybe only do it for a block of time. It’s also a good idea (you certainly don’t have to, but) it’s a good idea to give word count goals too. Long term goals. (I’m going to write a 50K novel in three months.) And short term goals. (I’m going to write at least 500 words a day) If it doesn’t match up to what you’ve intended, always praise yourself for what you did do. That in itself is an accomplishment.

Another important thing to mystery writing is giving your character clues. Make them the detective. Keep them actively looking for clues as to what happened. If it’s one thing I’ve learned from my lovely editor, Ellen Larson, it’s don’t let it all happen. The main character must find out for his or herself. That is what the amateur sleuth is all about. Good luck on writing your mystery/suspense novel. And remember, above all else, keep writing and don’t give up!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

On Mental Illness

Just pretend you’re sitting right across from me, like we were in a booth at some local diner. Not some greasy old diner that’s been around for years, where the whole family works there, but something a little more upscale than that. But don’t worry though, I’m popping for the food, just don’t order any. Okay, okay, I’m just joking. You can eat all you want, it just has to be on your side of the table.

I thought we could meet up here and I could tell you a little bit more about myself and my mental illness, which is really weird, one way or another. It’s really hard to explain, but I’m going to try the best way I can—by writing it out (as if I was speaking right to you.)

I’m going to be honest, I’m a little worried I may say the wrong thing and turn you off like some faulty light switch that should have never been turned on in the first place. But I’m going to teeter on the ledge and just gonna look out for a while. I won’t jump! No worries on that. I just want to see what’s really out there. I don’t see anything yet, but hopefully it will come to me. My mind stops and starts again like driving to each stop light. But sometimes I get the green light and just go and go. I veer off the road too much and swivel back again, like I’m trying to cover my tracks but then I get massively derailed as to where to go next. It’s hard to stop over thinking and over analyzing, driving in circles. It’s hard to go in the right direction when sometimes you feel very directionless and it’s just a big mess. Everything comes to a halt and then what do you have to do next? Yep, start over again.

I’m thinking now, by me explaining this, you’re going, what a weirdo! Haha. Maybe I am. Whatever on that deal. But this is how I deal with things. With a grain of salt, I try not to take it too seriously. TRY is the keyword here. If I do take it too seriously, I’m lost. My whole world gets topsy-turvy. I don’t know dreams from reality. But when I can’t get out of my nightmare, that means reality finally started to sink in. Jesus, how many times can you fall out of reality? Many, many times. Countless. It can happen to someone over and over again and well then their reality is living in a dream world. When you’re mentally ill, and the great amount of creativity you have running in your head (although creativity can be great.) It can be the greatest demise of your life.

So what do you do to not lose your mind? Well, I think that’s where the humor of life comes in. I think, (and this is just my opinion) that you have to have a sense of humor in your life to maintain your sanity. Really, you can’t take things too seriously, otherwise you’ll be hurting yourself in the long run.  This is how I handle mental illness. If you believe in everything everyone is telling you, how can you not be dizzy and confused from that? Stay true to yourself. I know, I know. It’s super hard. Those days I’m stranded in my mind, by the side of some thought that’s eating me apart, I can’t take it. God, I have got to move on! The power of the mind goes many ways. My road map takes a different direction. It doesn’t give you the best route to go. Instead it gives you the scenic route (although nice at times) could be again, just one big nightmare.

I hope I’m not boring you with this. If anything I want you to walk away feeling good. Like we can relate a little bit, laugh and joke too. I can’t always relate to some things. Sometimes I’m just zoned out like Walter Mitty. It’s that much harder for someone with a mental illness to concentrate—on anything for that matter, not just in conversation. Sometimes you just poof! simply lose interest.

Well, I hope this sheds a little more light on how it is, living with a mental illness. Thank you for listening. Don’t worry, I got the tip too. Oh, but wait! One more tip, have a good day!

Monday, October 27, 2014

A List of Reputable YA Agents

Here is a list below of all the agents and agencies accepting young adult novels that are reputable proven by the AAR (Association of Authors’ Representatives, Inc) and come recommend or highly recommended by Preditors & Editors. I’ve also had the pleasure of conversing with these agents and agencies over the years of submitting different novels. Each one listed has given polite responses to my queries and has done so with great professionalism. Some I’ve conversed with more than others, but all are very reputable, responsive and are great to work with. So here you have it, a List of Reputable YA Agents. Good luck on you submissions!

In no particular order:

Waxman Leavell Lit.: Recommended
Book-EndsLLC: Recommended
Charlotte Sheedy Lit: Recommended
Dystel & Goderich: Highly Recommended
Laura Dail Lit.: AAR, Recommended
Sandra Dijkstra: AAR, Recommended
Scott Treimel NY: AAR, Highly Recommended
Marcia Amsterdam Lit.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Deep in the Meadows Blog Tour!

Hey, everyone! Here to give you a wonderful update. Leap Books is sponsoring a Blog Tour/ Book Giveaway. It's today, September 15th to the 26th.  Enter to win a $10 gift card to Barnes and Noble, an e-book of Deep in the Meadows, and signed swag!

I will be updating this post as we go. First stop:

UPDATE: My blog tour is extended to 10/1/2014

9/15 Long and Short Reviews where I guest blog about: Writing as a Coping Skill
9/16 Young Adult Book Madness: A great review on Deep in the Meadows
9/17 The Pen & Muse book Reviews
9/18 Book Groupies: Pets and Mental Illness
9/19 Room with Books: I'm spotted here too!
9/22 Jolene Haley YA/NA Author: Another wonderful review!
9/23 Tea Stained Reviews: more reviews!
9/26 Dana's YA Bookpile
9/29 Star Shadow Blog: Movie Monday
10/01 Bella Harte Books: Interview

Friday, September 12, 2014

Third Time's a Charm: Final Giveaway for Disconnected!

     Goodreads Book Giveaway

        Disconnected by Lisa M. Cronkhite
          by Lisa M. Cronkhite
         Giveaway ends September 17, 2014.
         See the giveaway details  at Goodreads.  
      Enter to win

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Alice in Wonderland Anthology from Leap Books!

If accepted into the anthology, you will receive $50.00
Sounds like a lot of fun. Good luck if you decide to enter.

Friday, August 22, 2014


WriteOnCon online writers' conference is going on August 26th to the 27th. The forums are now open. It's a great way to connect with agents and publishers and writers alike. It's for Picture Book, Middle Grade, Young Adult and New Adult writers. When you sign up, you can post your query, first 250 words and first 5 pages for critique. Everyone is so uplifting and just a great bunch to work with, hope to see you there.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Just Some Thoughts on Dealing with a Mental Illness

These are just some of my thoughts on mental illness. Some people might completely disagree with what I have to say, but so be it. Not everyone is going to like my writing or my views. I’ve come to embrace that fact. I can’t make everyone happy and nor should you.

I’ve had more down days than I’ve had up days lately. It’s been a constant struggle of mine. Some days I can easily overcome it, blow it right off my skin. And other days it latches onto me like the black plaque. Sometimes I can’t shake it off. It fucking sucks to be honest. Here I am, trying so hard to manage it, whatever the hell this blackness is—whether it’s financial woes or I’m worried about my kids, to self loathing. I hate hating on myself, but I do it. It comes in like a routine procedure. I’m like, okay, brace yourself Mama, I say in my mind. Let’s just get through it, your better moment will come.

Sometimes I reach so hard for that better moment in my life, that I don’t realize my moment is pretty good right now. Once I realize how thankful I am, it passes for a while. And I feel good, sometimes great. But it’s absolutely impossible to always be holding on to the good in your life.

I, for some reason, like many others, suffer from a mental illness. It’s a chemical imbalance. It could be genetic. The traumas in life that you go through, it could be a whole cocktail of things. It’s hard to drink down. Sometimes our bodies and minds just won’t allow it. Not everyone can deal with traumatic things that happen to them. Some people are stronger than others. Some can endure the pain of whatever life brings. Some can’t—yet still cope. Holding on to whatever is going to keep them floating above the surface. Because sometimes deep down the darkness is so blinding to the point of no closure.

How do you close a door deep within you that constantly tries to suck you in, like a vacuum effect?  What if you close a lot of doors in your mind, just to block the pain out? Then you’d be trapping yourself in right? It’s a catch 22. You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. Then the mind games of what if? And why this? And what should I do? What should I not do? What the fuck am I doing wrong?

Well, over thinking for one. GOD, I truly, TRULY hate it when someone says, “Well, don’t think so much.” Like it’s that easy to turn it off like a light switch. How do you stop yourself from thinking too much when all anyone ever does is think? Sure there are moments of relief and black periods in my mind when I sleep. But the nightmares always come in my lightest of sleeps. I continue to have those dreams where I’ve had to literally pull myself out of it.  Have you ever tried to pull yourself out of your dreams before? It’s one of the worst feelings in the world of losing your breath, being forced out of your dream to be shoved back into reality. Like holding your breath under water for as long as you can bear, then gasping for air when you wake up.  THEN, here’s my problem, I can’t seem to shake the dream off my mind. Like it’s making me feel miserable for even thinking that.

My point here is there is none. Mental illness sucks the big f**kin balls. I’m dealing with it like an illness—because it is in fact an illness. I’m managing to get by, writing, staying up with my meds and just getting by. My precious moments are with my kids and my family. If I didn’t have them, I’d be gone or in a mental institution by now. I am a dependent on them. I only thrive through them. So support is crucial to people with mental illness. Sometimes all the support in the world doesn’t help either. Everyone’s case of mental illness is different and should never be compared from one person to another. I just wish there was more empathy in the world to it. Mental illness gets a bad rap all the time. Mainly why there’s a stigma. And I think it’s even more difficult to endure a mental illness when there’s the internet, and texting and tweeting and beeping and whatever the fuck is going on. Honestly some things in life you don’t really need to know. You’re better off turning a deaf ear to it or a blind eye to it, because not everything needs be known.

If there’s anything you should turn off, it’s technology. Just for a little while. Or make it a long while. Just to recoup and center yourself again. Never in any way think that’s a selfish thing to do. Sometimes being alone and wrapped in your own thoughts is a good thing. And be proud of the fact that you're still here.  

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Updated List of (2014) YA Publishers

All the existing lists on my blog are still current. The only one that I had to remove was Strange Chemistry that closed their doors recently. Some of these publishers pay advances. I will mark them (Adv) Some are brand new: (N) please proceed with caution. Some are outside the US. (I will mark those accordingly.)  Some I know for a fact are reputable. Those will be marked with an (R.)

The Novel Fox: Adv, N
Bloomsbury Spark: Adv, N, R
Switch Press (Capstone Imprint): Adv, N, R 
Dancing Cat Books:  N, R, (Ca)

Again, proceed with caution on any new publisher. Make sure you find out all you can before you sign with any publisher (new and existing.) But be especially careful with brand new ones. If you find out these are vanity publishers, please contact me and I will remove them. If you have any new ones that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you.

Hope this is helpful.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Tips on Writing a YA Mystery Novel

Every writer is different, so I’m only speaking from my own experience as a YA mystery writer. 

Thinking about the protagonist first might be a better idea, then thinking about the plot. I see mysteries being more character-driven than anything. Now, some people may disagree, but if you have a character that is driven to find out what happened, chances are you have a strong active character. In a mystery the main character has to be that amateur sleuth, actively searching out answers to the crime. The story should unravel at a suspenseful pace, not too slow and not too fast. You’ll need to find the right tempo for your novel. Don’t rush it either, then you might fizzle out before the story even really starts to begin.

So first what I do is focus on the main lead. Who’s going to take me on this journey of investigation. Clues and hints and foreshadowing, and of course cliffhangers too, are all great components of having a mystery novel.  Everything should connect when the reveal time comes so it isn’t a total surprise that nothing quite fits.  Having twists and turns are great, but those twists and turns will need to lead to a solid conclusion. Unless you’re writing a series and you’d like to keep it open.  There are of course open-ended standalone novels, which you can also do.  It’s whatever the story yearns for. Go with your gut every time. If you listen to everyone’s advice, your story will get too off track from the original core idea. Sometimes too many ideas is just not a good idea.

For a young adult novel, the protagonist should be between 13 to 18. You’ll see this differs from publisher to publisher, but it’s roughly around those ages.

You need a crime, someone goes missing, somebody winds up dead. The main character gets kidnapped.  Whatever endless crimes you can think of, pick whatever interests you most.

Planning and plotting.  Premeditate your novel. Have fun with it.  Think about it as much as you want and just indulge in the idea for a while, as if it were a movie your mind.  And when there’s a great idea that you have, write it down. That’s how it all starts, when you write it out.  Plotting only goes so far.  Sometimes writing it out and following along with the character, you can figure out the crime together. Outlines work, but not always. Sometimes writing an outline, you lose steam in writing the actual novel. So remember to leave room for more and always keep an open mind.

I don’t think you should truly know the ending of your book until it’s completely over. Try to think of all the scenarios that you can, questioning all aspects.  Again, make sure your character is active in the detective roll. Don’t just let it all happen and fall into their laps.  They need to play an active role in figuring out the crime themselves.

Red herrings. The suspects in a mystery play a major role in figuring out who done it. You shouldn’t have too many the reader will get lost in who everyone is. I usually like to keep it to around 3 to 5. Now that might sound like a lot, or not enough. Again, go with your gut. Read a lot of other YA mysteries and see how they set it up. And then put your own spin on it. Don’t follow a trend, be one.  Write for yourself, first and foremost. Don’t worry about the targeted audience or who else is going to read it. Be secretive about it, like you’re conspiring a plan of some kind. I highly recommend getting your first few chapters critiqued, just so you know if you’re going in the right direction.

When you’ve written a full length manuscript (usually between 40,000 and 90,000 words) you will need to revise.  And maybe revise several more times after that too. I highly recommend getting a beta to read your work. There’s writing forums such as Absolute Write to help you connect with someone to swap stories with.  It’s free and very rewarding, critiquing others and getting critiques on your own work too.  It will help you grow as a writer.

Hopefully some of this information will be helpful to you when writing your YA mystery novel. Above anything else, always remember to have fun with it! Happy writing everyone!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Paying it Forward

Many writers may know this already, but it’s worth repeating, repeatedly. Unless your choice is to self-publish, never pay to get published or pay for services to get published, or pay an agent to get published.  Money should always flow to the writer, not the opposite.  Writing is an investment.  And with that investment, it also means investing your time (not money) to research on finding the right place for your work. Research is the key component here.

If you pay a service to help you get an agent, that doesn’t guarantee getting an agent. Even if you get an agent, that STILL doesn’t guarantee you getting published.  Paying for a vanity publisher will be an even bigger mistake. I know of no vanity publisher that was super successful with their books. Unless someone can prove me wrong.  I surely don’t know every publisher out there.  But I do know nine times out of ten, it’s a scam.

If you’ve devoted your time and energy in your work, why not devote your time and energy to getting the right publisher? Places like AbsoluteWrite, Preditors andEditors, Publisher’s Marketplace, Agent Query and QueryTracker (.net) are all good places to start.  And it’s all free information gathered from firsthand experience and proof of reputable places.

It breaks my heart when I see someone struggling miserably to get out of a contract, never getting paid, never seeing their book go to print. All because they signed with a bad publisher.

Case in point: My first two books, “Dreaming a Reality” and “Demon Girl” still sell after three years of being out there and I get very little to no money on my royalty statements. (and I’m talking 5 bucks and under here. And that’s every three months!)  The only thing they were good for was to have writing credentials.  Because that is, and will always be my work.  That they can never take away from me.  But I learned the hard way.  I’ve paid to get published years ago with a picture book and a year went by with nothing done. I pushed for it to happen and they sent me the cheesiest drawings, and poorest editing, I no longer felt good about the project. Instead I felt absolutely miserable. That was the last straw. I terminated that contract before it was ever published.

So, to get back.  Do your research extensively. Dig as deep as you need to go, but don’t pay for anything. You will regret it in the long run.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Giveaway Time: 3 Signed Copies of Disconnected!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Disconnected by Lisa M. Cronkhite


by Lisa M. Cronkhite

Giveaway ends July 17, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Monday, June 30, 2014

Publishers Weekly Review for DISCONNECTED

Drawing on her own struggles with mental illness, Cronkhite (Deep in the Meadows) crafts an unusual psychological thriller in which a young woman is terrorized and bullied by her own subconscious. "Amelia," as 17-year-old Milly Norris refers to her tormenter, taunts her with cryptic clues and comments regarding the parts of her past she can't remember. As Amelia belittles Milly, urging her to commit acts of self-destruction, Milly realizes that her family is as broken and dysfunctional as she is, and that her early childhood is wracked by tragedy. When Milly ends up in the hospital after cutting herself and losing consciousness, she finally receives the help she needs. However, further discoveries may destroy her attempts at internal peace. While Milly's conflicted relationship with her own mind is skillfully portrayed, the overall narrative is disjointed and unfocused; dramatic revelations come off as muted and distant. Even Milly's diagnosis carries little weight or impact, while another surprise regarding her family is bluntly revealed. Despite these shortcomings, Milly's story provides a strong look at how mental illness can manifest and affect lives. Ages 12–up. (June) -- Publishers Weekly 
Reviewed on: 06/23/2014
Release date: 06/01/2014

Friday, June 6, 2014

New Release, DISCONNECTED is finally out!!!

I am happy to announce that my latest YA novel, DISCONNECTED has been released, finally!!!
*Happy Dance*
I sincerely hope you enjoy it!
Thank you to my wonderful editor Ellen Larson and all of the Pencil crew!
Thank you again to all my friends at Absolute Write too.  I couldn't have done it without your support.
You guys rock!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Disconnected First Chapter


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Go Green and Celebrate National Mental Health Awareness Month!

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month so I’ve put together a list of non-fiction, memoir and fiction list for everyone to enjoy. I’ve also added a publisher’s list for those who are looking for more reading material and/or writers to submit their work to. Go Green and celebrate this month by reading more on mental illness and strengthen your awareness!

For Non-fiction:

Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder: a 4-Step Plan for You and Your Loved Ones to Manage the Illness and Create Lasting Stability by: Julie Fast and John Preston, PsyD (2006) Surviving

Schizophrenia, 6th Edition: A Family Manual by: E. Fuller Torrey (2013)

The Skipping Stone: The Rippling Effect of Mental Illness in the Family by: Mona Wasow (1995)

Hidden Victims Hidden Healers: An Eight-Stage Healing Process For Families And Friends Of The Mentally Ill by: Julie Tallard Johnson (2007)

For Memoirs
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by: Kay Redfield Jamison
Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia by: Marya Hornbacher
Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by: William Styron
Loud in the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl by: Stacy Pershall Manic: A Memoir by: Julia Hoban
For the full list please visit the Goodreads shelves on Mental Illness Books

For selected fiction, Stephanie Kuehn has put together a great list on YA Highway with categories including: Depression and Suicide, Anxiety Disorders, Eating Disorders, Bipolar and Thought Disorders, PTSD/Complex PTSD and Impulse Control/Self Harm

And for those who are looking for publishers dedicated to publishing books on mental illness whether it’s for more reading material or somewhere to submit your book to, here is a short list of some places (NF: non-fiction, F: fiction):

Free Spirit Publishing: NF
Impact Publishers: NF
Beyond Words: F, NF
HCI Books: F, NF
Magination Press: F, NF
Zest Books: NF
Youthlight: NF
Rosen Young Adult: NF
New Harbinger Publications: F, NF

All publishers listed you can submit to directly without an agent. Enjoy!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Disconnected Book Giveaway!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Disconnected by Lisa M. Cronkhite


by Lisa M. Cronkhite

Giveaway ends June 17, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Friday, February 14, 2014

Disconnected Cover Reveal!

Disconnected will come out this June.


Seventeen-year-old Milly has a huge problem on her hands.  She is being bullied by Amelia Norris. Day in and day out, Amelia torments Milly and even threatens to hurt her, but she can’t tell anyone—not a soul.  Milly’s reasoning—she does not want anyone to know where her tormentor lives.  They only share one thing in common.  Both co-exist as one in the same body.
Milly is so disconnected from her past that she feels compelled to find out what truly happened to her when her parents were still alive.  After a mysterious fire, she and Grandpa George move into Aunt Rachel's Victorian home where Milly then begins to unravel puzzling clues to her family history. Through dreams and scattered memories, Milly journals her breaking story, trying to cope by putting the shattered pieces back together, all the while resisting with her inner demon.  Amelia is determined to cut Milly out of the real world—literally.
Milly starts to wonder who her real family is after stumbling across Aunt Rachel’s notebook—having the intuitive sense that something terribly awful is missing.  All she had thought to be true now seems like one big lie.


Friday, January 31, 2014

DEEP IN THE MEADOWS, Kindle Edition Now Available


Bianca “Bee” Thompson’s brother, Jimmy has been dead for ten months, yet she still feels his presence lingering. And one question haunts her: Was Jimmy’s death an accident?

Probing into the events on the night of Jimmy’s death, Bee hears strange voices. The voices lead her to a blood-splattered room, a terrifying threat, and a deadly trap. Is Bee on the trail of her brother’s murderer, or is she entangled in a totally different and much more diabolical plot?

Deep in the Meadows on Amazon

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Zero in on Your Hero Publisher

It’s not easy. This is a step for the authors that have moved on from the idea of getting an agent. Because that’s not easy either. In fact, it’s even harder. Agents need to be so selective, one or two wrong moves, their career won’t be moving too good. So they have every right to be as selective as possible. That’s their job. Watch the market. See what is hot and what is not and study and read like crazy to find what they are looking for.

If an agent doesn’t want you, you then act as the agent for your own work. Hunt, dig deep. Keep looking. Keep your submissions active. If you hit a bust, move on. If you submitted to a bust and they offer and you have doubts, move on. Don’t ever feel bad for doing it either. You can still get good feedback this way and it will help in the honing process.

But if your work isn’t what they are looking for, you still need to look out for your work yourself. Don’t just give up because of whatever many rejections, whether it’s 2 or 202. Why would you give up on something so precious as your time and energy and love crafted in your own words? If you wrote it and finished it and polished it to your liking, give it a shot and query. Let it go through the query process for as long as you can take. And if you can’t take it anymore, don’t stop there. Continue on with your mission, setting your sights on publishers. So you’ve set your bar high and have to readjust it. Don't sweat it. But don’t let the bar drop down so low you have no idea what you’re getting into either. RESEARCH. And I don’t mean, just research. I mean hunt down and harpoon that sucker from a million miles away if you have to. There are publishers that are willing to put your book to justice if you only do your extensive research.

Okay, so you’re down and out and still want to give it a whirl. You type in the Google bar: Publishers. Buzz, wrong. Too many links come up, where do you start first? How many pages do I have to look at to get where I want to go? I’m getting nowhere with this! I'm getting a headache. Stop. Focus. And start honing it down again. If you don’t know your genre, back up and study that first. If you send your work to a place you're not sure of, test it. See if it works. If not, what's the worst that could happen? A rejection? Really no rejection is the worst. You want some kind of feedback and if all you get is "not for us" ok then, now you know. Move on. Read the guidelines for every potential publisher. If you don’t know, check out some of their books like they say to do. They are trying to help you too.

Make sure of what you are writing first and foremost. Is it mystery-suspense? Romantic suspense mystery sci-fi thriller? If it’s a mixed bag of things, focus on the strongest element. Is the book more suspenseful than it is romantic? Does it have paranormal elements? Again read the guidelines and study their books. They are there for a reason.

Find out what that publisher has to offer and what you want in a publisher and what you are willing to negate and what you really want to have for your book. The marketing of a book is an extremely important factor to have for a publisher. Look at who the distributor is, is it a familiar one? Or is it from some weird unknown place you’ve never heard of before? See what’s out there. How much comes up on these publishers? Are they in the library? Will your book be offered in print as well as e-book?

You as the author will need to put that agent hat on and weigh the pros and cons and do what’s right for you and your book.

There are more and more doors opening up for authors to submit directly to the bigger publishers. Scope out the places that are still willing to accept unagented submissions that still offer the things you want, like placement in an actual bookstore and an advance.

Please try to watch out for the small author-mill type publishers that are willing to offer you a contract in a short time and that you know it will only be online to order. If you see the publisher pumping out 10 to 15 books a month? And they’re a tiny publisher no one even heard of? That is a red flag right there. Good chances are, you will be poorly edited, get a slapped-together cover, and have low sales. And all you’ll have to show for it is a writing credit. Yay, I was published! Good. Now do you want to get published and paid?

Drop those publishers like a poor lover that doesn’t know what love is. Because I may be a stupid woman, but I know what love is. And that’s not it. They won't give a shit about your book and your platform. In fact they’ll shit on your platform and leave you with a bad rep. Agents might look at you and your tiny writing credentials and see low sales on Amazon. It’s not fun. So in other words, these small publishers could hurt you in the long run.

So, let’s recap. Don’t give up, first of all. Give yourself adequate time to query. Give yourself a number even if you want to. I am going to query, 50 agents or 100 agents or 500 agents, until I've had enough. Then I am going to move onto the publishers. Research. Sites like Preditors and Editors, AbsoluteWrite, Publisher’s Marketplace, Publisher’s Weekly, Writers Digest, Agentquery, Querytracker(net) are all good starts. Each and every one of these places have helped me really hone down my writing path. Be sure you know what you are writing. If your book is heavy Sci-Fi, you hit the sci-fi publishers first.

Another important note to remember: If you get feedback from an agent or publisher or the whole flock, right down to that mystery critiquer from your writing community, listen. It doesn’t mean you have to do what they tell you to do for the book. And if they tell you really negative things, toss it and move on. It’s useless information. Just take what really hits home and that you think will make your book better. Really important to remember: Do what you want to do, don’t do everything everyone will tell you either. Your book will be directionless because you let everyone else guide it away from your main idea. You can’t please everyone. But you do however want to please your targeted audience because you are zoning and honing in on their crowd, whether YA or MG or picture books. So why not zero in on that perfect fit of a hero publisher that will do your book right?

For more helpful resources, please visit:  Rachelle Burk's Resources for Children's Writers