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Monday, February 25

Meet the Muse / Music Boxes by Tonja Drecker / Guest Post

Please help me welcome Tonja Drecker to Write with Fey for her release Music Boxes! This story is wonderful. A real magical, mysterious adventure into the ballet world.

Music Boxes
By Tonja Drecker
Middle Grade Fantasy / Performing Arts
158 pages
Dancing Lemur Press
Release date: March 5th, 2019
Ages 9 to 12

ISBN-10: 1939844568
ISBN-13: 978-1939844569

1. Tell us about your recent release. 

Music Boxes comes out March 5th and is a fantasy/modern fairy tale with slightly dark moments for the middle grade audience, ages 8 to 12.

The blurb goes like this: Twelve-year-old Lindsey McKay's biggest dream is to be a famous ballerina. But after moving to New York, she ends up at the Community Center with a teacher who’s a burly bear in tights.

When she meets Madame Destinée, the teacher of a top dance school who offers her classes for free, Lindsey can't believe her luck. In exchange, she must perform in the school’s exclusive midnight shows, ones sure to make her a star. But something’s not right...

One by one, the other dancers disappear. Each time they do, a music box with a figurine just like the missing ballerina joins Madame Destinée’s growing collection. If Lindsey doesn’t discover the truth about the dance school, she might end up a tiny figurine herself.

2. Who is your muse?

My muse is quite the little character. Cal is about 2 inches tall and claims to somehow be related to Calliope, one of the original 9 muses…although I don’t trust that claim. We met when I was very young, probably around three years or so. I found Cal on the playground at the park we lived across from, cowering in the far corner of one of those metal tubes, which kids once crawled through (and that’s revealing my age). I thought Cal was cute at the time, and it’s been with me ever since. Usually, Cal sits perched on my shoulder or somewhere else on the side.

3. What does your muse look like?

It depends. When working on Music Boxes, Cal tended to take on the appearance of a sweet, little pixie dressed in blue. The story before that, A Glowworm, it was a very young version of my husband’s aunt. For one of my recent manuscripts, Cal’s morphed into a little battle leprechaun with armor and a sword…gosh, I don’t trust Cal with a mini sword!  For another story, he’s a large-sized (well, for 2 inches anyway) burger guy with an apron. That spatula he carries around is more intimidating than his sword, not to mention he loves to pace while throwing droplets of grease in all directions, when appearing as a burger dude. I think Cal enjoys that too much.

4. Describe your muse’s personality.

Full of attitude. Although Cal tries to slip into a different personality with each of its ‘morphs’, it doesn’t quite work. For Music Boxes, Cal fluttered around, spinning and dancing as if it was a ballerina with wings—very delicate, glittery and giggly. But one wrong move on my part and the usual snark and arrogance exploded right back.

As said, I’m not sure I can always trust Cal and try to sleep with one eye open.

5. How do you tempt your muse to work?

Sweets. Cal’s sweet tooth is bigger than mine. Which is saying something.

6. When/where does your muse inspire you the most?

Depends on Cal’s mood a little, but usually then when I’m busy with something completely unconnected to writing—splitting wood, painting walls, weeding the garden.

7. Has your muse ever gone on strike?

Nope. Cal is bursting with ideas and has been for many, many years. I think that’s why it’s so bad-tempered. My fingers and bouts of writing time can’t even match a tiny bit of what Cal spits out at me. That’s the only reason I believe Cal’s claim that it’s related to one of the 9 muses—the waterfall of inspiration never ends.

8. What would your muse’s motto be to get your butt into gear?

Besides screaming it’s head off at me? Which probably is its motto, I guess. Cal isn’t very diplomatic. Just not one of its traits.

9. What was your relationship like with your muse while writing Music Boxes?

Very good. I gave Cal tons of attention at that time, something Cal loves. When the rockier road of querying, and agent ups and downs rolled around for a long period of time, Cal didn’t get upset. Editing isn’t something which bothers Cal, and during the waiting periods, Cal’s more than willing to step into the next project. As said, Cal never shuts up.

10. Are you and your muse working on something new?

Yes, we are (as if Cal would ever let the answer be ‘no’). While I have one project in the background that I absolutely love—and Cal does too, but Cal needs to wait because I can only do so many at once—I’m currently working on a co-authored project, which I’m super excited about (Cal found a friend for once). It’s a darkish fantasy with characters with very distinct and strong personalities. Right now, it appears to be for the Young Adult audience. We’ll see. I’m super excited about it, especially since my co-author is so talented. And wow, does the first chapter grab! (I really am excited about this one.)

Also, Cal had me swing into another middle grade novel, one set for a series. It’s a mystery with a heavy concentration on STEM, which takes odd, real life crimes and throws them at a group of very diverse 7th grade friends, who really aren’t interested in solving mysteries. Although STEM related, it keeps humor close and should be well suited for more reluctant readers too—writer hopes!

Sale Links:

Amazon / B&N / Kobo

Get a FREE envelope with Swag!

Pre-order/order your book (ecopy or print) before midnight (EST) on Friday night, March 8th, send a copy of your proof of purchase to along with an US mailing address, and you will receive an envelope with exclusive swag (bookmark, sticker, etc). 

All about the author... 

Tonja Drecker is a writer, blogger, children’s book reviewer and freelance translator. After spending years in Germany exploring forgotten castles, she currently resides in the Ozarks with her family of six. When she’s not tending her chickens and cows, she’s discovering new adventures, nibbling chocolate and sipping a cup of tea.



The giveaway will run from midnight (EST) on the night of February 21st, 2019 until midnight (EST) on the night of March 15th,  2019. Entries will be made through the Rafflecopter. One winner will receive a music box (the one found in the book video: with the author’s golden signature on the bottom as well as swag (US addresses only). The second winner will receive an Amazon GC of $10 (US). The second winner must be in possession of a qualifying US Amazon account.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The contest is open to U.S. residents only, ages eighteen and over. No purchase is required for entry. All winners must claim their prize 48 hours after notification. Winners will be announced on on Saturday, March 16th 2019 by 10:00am (EST). All addresses and personal information will be used only for prize allocation. Sponsor, Tonja Drecker, assumes no responsibility or liability of any kind. Please email all questions to

Thank you for being a guest, Tonja!

Please leave a comment for Tonja.

Monday, February 18

Interview with Lori Graham, Editor of the Disaster Crimes Series

I am thrilled and honored to have my editor, Lori Graham, from The Wild Rose Press here today. She is the one who gave me a chance and brought me into the world of publishing when she saw something in Hurricane Crimes and offered me my first contract.

Welcome, Lori!

1. What’s your editing process?

An author submits a query along with a synopsis and the first five pages of the manuscript through our query email address. This query goes to the senior editor from the appropriate genre line for the initial review, and if appropriate, the query is assigned to an editor.  The initial review will look at whether or not the manuscript would be a good fit for our publishing house, both technically and subject matter.  There is a meeting then between that editor and the senior editor to decide upon a contract.  Once a manuscript is approved, there are several rounds of edits, and each editor has their own style with which they do this.  For me, I do an initial review editing everything that comes up which could involve pacing, point of view control, and plot issues as well as some punctuation, grammar, etc. With the second and subsequent edits, we go deeper into that polishing process.  The final edit looks at formatting, chapter length, etc.

2. Hurricane Crimes was the first story I sent to The Wild Rose Press and the first book we worked on together. What attracted you to Hurricane Crimes and made you believe it’d be a good fit for The Wild Rose Press?

Hurricane Crimes very quickly brought to light the depth of the characters.  Yes, there were some technical issues and even some plot hiccups (not many mind you), but that’s to be the case of most first time manuscripts.  The overcoming factor, though, was truly the characters.  Immediately, Beth and Donovan made me like them and care about what happened to them.  When there is enough richness in the characters, most anything can happen.  😊  The other aspect that was appealing was it being a shorter manuscript.  Our readers like to have some short and yet truly suspenseful manuscripts.  Nicely done!

3. Yup, I remember a small head-hopping scene I had to fix in order to receive that coveted contract. ;)  You’re the senior editor of the Crimson Rose line (romantic-suspense). Romantic-suspense is my favorite genre to write. What do you love about it and is there another genre (or genres) you also enjoy editing?

When editing, an editor finds they quickly become more adapt at particular queries.  While I personally read many genres, editing them is another story.  For example, editing a historical manuscript would be a very bad thing for me to do. 😊  However, suspenseful stories really draw my attention, and the puzzles are what my mind likes to solve.

4. How did you become an editor and start working for The Wild Rose Press?

My background is an education and work experience both in the field of English and Accounting/Business.  I couldn’t decide which was the better way to go.  What I have found is that it truly does work best if I can keep a little bit in both areas of my life because each avenue helps me do the other better.  Working with numbers a little bit each week actually helps me to focus more words.  So I do some accounting work on the side, but my passion remains with books. 

5. You’ve edited all of the Disaster Crimes books to date (Hurricane Crimes, Seismic Crimes, Tsunami Crimes, Flaming Crimes). Do you have a favorite?

To be honest, it really depends upon the day.  😊  They are all so uniquely done and yet so incredibly well connected that I can’t pick just one.

6. Who is your favorite character from the Disaster Crimes Series that you enjoy reading about the most and why?

Again, I don’t know that I can choose a favorite.  I really enjoy Beth because I can see myself in some of her walk of life.  Granted, I haven’t been involved in the depth of disasters that she has, but I can put myself in her responses.  I felt I had a vested interest in her confidence growth.

On the flip side, I really like Donovan.  He truly is a hero who I would like to walk through life with.  He has an internal strength that is physical and yet truly romantic and caring.

7. What disaster that I haven’t written about (yet *wink*) would you like to see me and my characters conquer?

Maybe something having to do with the snow????

8. You will have your wish. lol Being an editor, do you struggle to read for pleasure?

Actually, yes, sadly.  Unless the manuscript is really well done, I find myself finding the mistakes as opposed to getting into the story itself.  That being said, however, when I do find that good manuscript, it truly becomes a gem and takes me totally out of reality.

9. What tip would you like to give to new writers working with an editor for the first time?

Here’s the best tip – research the house to which you are submitting and follow their directions to the letter.  The editors truly do want to help authors because without authors, they don’t have a job.  So please remember the editor does want to help.  Even when they need to reject it, they will give you as much information as they can to help you grow your work. 

10. Is there a published book you wish you could’ve edited (either to make it better or to have had the honor to be a part of it)?

There are so many books I have enjoyed throughout my life.  Every editor thinks about getting a run-away hit and helping a new author reach their highest heights.  But honestly, books are something I treasure, but there isn’t any one that I can think of that stands out more than the others.

Lori Graham is the Senior Editor of the Crimson Rose Line for The Wild Rose Press. She has been there for 13 years.

Thank you for participating in this interview, Lori! 

Please show Lori some love and leave comments for her. 

Wednesday, February 6

Bactine for Writer's Burnout Part 5 (Free Your Mind with Walking) / IWSG + GIVEAWAY

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a safe place for insecure writers of all kinds.
Sign up here: Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Health Update: The mass on my right ovary has shrunk a bit. We're keeping an eye on it, making sure it doesn't get bigger again, cause pain, or change characteristics. So far, so good. Thanks for your well wishes!

Bactine for Writer's Burnout Part 5

Free Your Mind with Walking

Walking isn’t only a great form of exercise, but it’s been proven to be a stress-reliever. When we walk, we free our minds. Walking is also an excellent method to help us work through (or walk through) our troubles.

When we move, our blood pumps faster, and the more blood going to our brain increases our productivity levels, further increasing our mental power. We can think better, process better. The odds of us finding a solution or being inspired elevates.

Working out also releases chemicals into our body…happy chemicals. That’s why so many people who exercise regularly feel so good after a workout. If working out isn’t really your thing, or if you’re like me and your options are limited, walking can also do this. After I take a walk, I feel invigorated…free…heightened.

Getting outside, being in the sun and fresh air, and (if you’re lucky) around nature can instantly make you feel better.

To get through my burnout, I started to take a walk every day after dinner, the hour before I usually would turn off the computer for the day. Bumping that time up to 7:00pm instead of 8:00pm gave me more freedom and time to relax, and that time started with a walk.

BACTINE #14: Take a walk for 20 or 30 minutes at the end of each day.

This is all the time you need to shed pressure, free your mind, and wake up your body. And walking at the end of your busy day is a wonderful way to let go. Let go of whatever struggle or stress you had that day and open yourself to possibilities.
TIP: Walk alone so you can really release and be. If you decide to walk with someone, make a no-talking rule so you both can be in your own heads.

BACTINE #15: Do one long walk once a week.

If you can’t find the time to walk every day, schedule a nice long walk at least once a week for a good hour or so. This will help you release the week you had and welcome the next.

Even using a treadmill with earbuds in place and music on (or placing the treadmill in front of a window with a nice scenery) can do the same.
TIP: If you’re incapable of walking and are wheelchair-bound, have someone assist you with completing your daily or weekly walks. Just remember the no-talking rule so you can benefit from being outside, in nature, and let your mind go as your stress goes.





Another Bactine post for Writer’s Burnout coming soon!

QUESTIONS: Do you take walks? How do they make you feel?


Enter to win a signed, print copy of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication and writing goodies (index cards, a magnetic mini clipboard with paper, flag paper clips, and a "Genius at Work" sign. Ends February 28th!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The IWSG Book Club on Goodreads is changing things up!

5 Discussion Questions: We will pose 5 questions that you can answer about the book we’ve read as a group. You can answer one question or all five. It’s up to you.

Discussion Day Poll: Every discussion day, there will also be a poll that all members will get invited to answer. This is a great option to participate that is fast and simple.

Quiz: You can also help us create a Goodreads quiz for the book we’ve read.

Giveaways: Every Discussion Day, book club members will get a Goodreads message that will include the chance for members to enter a free Rafflecopter giveaway.

Freebies: When we announce the next reading selection, another Goodreads message will go out that’ll include a downloadable freebie, which could be anything.

Other Polls: We will also invite members to answer writing or reading related polls during our “down” months. One poll will be related to the book in some way.

We read a new book every other month, alternating between craft books and fictional books that demonstrate an aspect of writing. Members vote on our fictional books.

Join Here

Our February/March 2019 book is…

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

This book was voted on by our members as a good example of setting.

Discussion  Day will be March 20th.


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