February 25, 2019

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 DestinĂ©e, 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 DestinĂ©e’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  tonjadrecker@gmail.com 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: https://youtu.be/ww_RY4IVg3w) 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 www.tonjadrecker.blogspot.com 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 tonjadrecker@gmail.com.

Thank you for being a guest, Tonja!

Please leave a comment for Tonja.


  1. Thank you for featuring Tonja today. Cal sounds like a little imp all right.

  2. Thank you so much for letting Cal loose on your blog today! He's going to feel special for a long time now (which I'm not sure is necessarily good for that already big head of his).

    1. Haha! I enjoyed getting to know Cal. I'm sure everyone else has as well. :)

  3. Congrats to Tonja on a lovely book and thank you Chrys for featuring her.
    Have a lovely week.


  4. Hi Chrys and Tonja - the premise sounds rather 'nasty' - I can quite see numerous horrors happening ... Cal definitely has to come out right and obviously does as he's working on more projects. Good luck with Music Boxes - sounds like it'll intrigue - cheers Hilary

    1. Her story is clever and mysterious and delightfully spooky.

  5. The music box is creative story idea that certainly appears would capture the attention of a YA audience. Congratulation on its publication, Tonja.


  6. Congratulations and thanks for sharing the wonderful post. I don't have a favorite fairy tale, but I have enjoyed a couple of Cinderella retellings.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  7. With a muse like that you'll never be bored haha endless ideas sure is grand.

  8. Cal is quite the character. The book sounds downright scary.

  9. Loved learning more about Tanja and her muse. How cool that a current project is a co-author one. It sounds intriguing.

  10. Creepy music boxes. Very cool and original. My muse always shows up for work too. Congrats, Tonya.

  11. I loved music boxes when I was a kid, and I remembered the ballerina figurines that were often in them. So I think the concept of a story like this one is definitely original. And it can be unsettling to realize that the person you trust, especially someone like your teacher, might not have the best intentions for you.

  12. Music Boxes is a great story. Best of luck to Tonja- may her tiny muse be with her for life.

  13. It's so exciting release day for Tonja is almost here! I love the descriptions of her muse. I wouldn't trust mine with a sword either! And isn't it funny how inspiration comes often during non-writing activities. I swear, it's like the second I walk away from the computer, she goes: "Oh wait! I just came up with this!"

  14. Cool interview, thanks for sharing! :)

  15. I love ballerinas. I love music boxes. This story has both and more. You may want to read it with the lights on, however. A lovely book with characters I'll not soon forget. Congratulations, Tonja.

  16. This book sounds intriguing and I'm a grown up ;) Nice to meet you Tonja! It was fun hearing all about your muse, Cal. It's great that he or (it) is full of ideas and energy and he does not leave your side. Thanks for introducing Tonja, Chrys. It's a fun interview.

    1. Tonja also has a wonderful blog for kidlit. My mom's books have been featured there. You should check it out: https://bookwormforkids.blogspot.com/

  17. Thank you Tonja for being here! Good luck with The Music Box! Sounds wonderfully creepy. I like that your muse has such a strong character!

  18. Congratulations Tonja! I like the sound of this book. For a reader brought up on mystery stories, this book sounds exciting!

  19. Congrats Tonja!! This book sounds excellent!

  20. Fun interview! Congratulations on the new release!