Monday, December 10, 2018

Short post - Giveaway Winners!

I'm making this super short today and am announcing the two winners of the ARC giveaway for Music Boxes.

The Winners are...

Juneta Key
and 
Rebecca Douglass 


CONGRATULATIONS!!!


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

IWSG - My Five Things


It's IWSG time!

Every first Wednesday of the month, this group of writers come together to offer support, advice, encouragement or simply to let out frustrations and woes. Writing is a tough journey, and we don't have to go it alone.

Thanks goes to the brain behind this group, Alex J. Cavanaugh! If you want to join in or find out more (because there is so much more to this group) then head on over here.

Special thanks goes to this month's co-hosts:
J.H. Moncrieff, Patsy Collins, and Chrys Fe!


With Christmas right around the corner, time is tight. In other words, writing isn't at the top of my priority list...although I am managing to squeeze some time in.

So, I'm diving right into today's question:

What five objects might you find in my writing space?

I do have a writing room, but I don't use it very often. Mostly for editing since it has a beautiful, huge screen on the wall which allows me to easily put two documents next to each other. Otherwise, I'm normally at the dining room table, since that way I'm always front and center for every family member's desires (kind of a mom thing).

But here are things which are always present when I write.



Tea is my constant companion. Can't live without a cup readily available at all times.


I enjoy scented wax and am constantly changing up the odor to match whatever mood I might be in. (This one is cranberry-orange, selected by my youngest. She spilled a little)


Nibblies! Chocolate is always a favorite, but I like Skittles and gummy things and Twizzlers and... as long as it's sweet, I'll nibble on about anything.

Calendars and notebooks. Two calendars... thanks to my heavy schedule on my review blog. I have tons more notebooks...such pretty ones too! Do you love notebooks and collect them as well?

He sleeps near me when I write. Lazy dog but so faithful and true.









That's my five things. What about you? What do you keep near you when you write?


*****

This week, I'm running a giveaway! My publisher, Dancing Lemur Press, has only 2 ARCs left of my upcoming middle grade novel, Music Boxes, and is letting me give them away. They will be sent out ASAP...in time for the holidays. And since Music Boxes takes place right between Christmas and New Year, it's quite fitting!


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.
 

(US ONLY)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Have a wonderful Holiday Season!!!!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Special Giveaway

The winners of the giveaway for the ARC copies of 
Music Boxes are...

Rebecca Douglass
and Juneta Key!!!




This week...and this week alone... I'm running a giveaway! 

My amazing and super awesome publisher Dancing Lemur Press (and they really are amazing)
has informed me that there are only two ARC print copies left of Music Boxes!!!

And here's your chance to get one.  All you have to do is jump in on the Rafflecopter below. At midnight Sunday night (EST) on December 9th, I'll let it choose the two winners (US only). These two winners will be announced here on my blog, on my Facebook author page, as well as on Twitter (@TDrecker) on Monday. The winners will have 48 hours to respond with their email address either via DM (message) on Twitter, Message on Facebook, or here in the comment section of my blog.

The prize will be sent directly from Dancing Lemur Press as quickly as possible in hopes of having it out in time for Christmas.

Of course, I love...adore...would be extremely excited and appreciative if the winners would leave a review on Goodreads, Amazon (as of March 5th) or where ever else they might have the desire to place their thoughts. Even a short sentence would be fantastic!

Here's the book (so, you know what this is all about)...



MUSIC BOXES
by Tonja Drecker
Dancing Lemur Press
Middle Grade Fantasy / Modern Fairy Tale
ages 9 to 12

COMING...
MARCH 5th, 2018!!!

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.


GIVEAWAY!!!
(US only)

Please enter using the Rafflecopter box.  The winner will be selected randomly through Rafflecopter. If no response is received within 48 hours, an alternative winner will be chosen. Open to all US addresses and entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will only be passed to the giveaway organizer in order to send out the prize. The prize will be sent off and handled by Dancing Lemur Press.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Wednesday Whittleings—To Be a Figure in a Wax Museum


Wednesdays are my day to randomly babble. Sometimes about children books, others about writing, and usually about whatever strikes my mind. Random thoughts...random whittleings.


Last night was Wax Museum Night at the school. This is actually one of the activities I find the school does a great job with. It's fun to go every year and see what the kids come up with. 

Each child in the 5th grade draws a famous individual's name out of a hat, does research on the person, and then stands along the wall dressed up as they would have been (or something close). There are paper buttons taped to the wall along with a name tag next to each child. When pushed, the child states who they are, maybe what they did to make them 'famous', and a well-known quote from the person (or thought to be).

It's cute...although most of the kids stand pretty stiff and give off that 'Just let me get this done and out of here' aura. 

My daughter was Cleopatra and seeing all of the bored kids around her, decided to add some life to the whole thing. She did a constant 'Egyptian' dance until someone would press her button. Then, she'd stand still and say her lines. If someone pushed her button repeatedly to irritate her, she'd freeze in a 'dab' pose. 

I don't think Cleopatra ever dabbed. But what do I know?

A few 'figures' down from her stood Jeff Kinney (and for those of you who don't know because I didn't know either....I'm SO bad with names). He's the author of The Wimpy Kid series. First, it struck me odd that he was considered famous enough to stand between Anne Frank and Thomas Jefferson. But who am I to judge?

Then as I pressed the button and listened to the kid mumble some line which I really couldn't hear because he barely opened his mouth,  I thought... Ho. How awful would that be to have my books become so popular one day that some poor kid in some little school would pull my name out of a hat and have to spend an entire 1 and 1/2 hours standing stiff along a wall dressed like me? The kid did look miserable.

Of course, this thought shoots off into a huge realm of probability issues, so I'm not loosing sleep over it yet.

I do wonder what Jeff Kinney would think if he'd been there. 

If the kid would have even cared?

Interestingly enough, Laura Ingalls Wilder was there too, and I didn't spare a second thought on her. But then, that little girl did look cute and smiled too.


The lesson I learned from the whole thing? Either look cute and smile, or dance and dab.




Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Wednesday Whittleings - Writing Research Treats


Wednesdays are my day to randomly babble. Sometimes about children books, others about writing, and usually about whatever strikes my mind. Random thoughts...random whittleings.


I have written 2000 words so far for NaNoWriMo. Most NaNo-writers are leaving me in the dust, but I'm only heading for around 30,000 words, so they can charge ahead. I have a long way to go, but I'm not worried. I'll make it.

My current project is a mystery series for middle graders, which is loosely based on actual crimes. My 'detectives' use various areas of science and technology to uncover the truth and catch those nasty villains. It's not only fun to write (my characters aren't exactly serious and well-behaved kids), but the research is completely drawing me in.

I love research!

For example, I've learned:

1) Exploding carpenter ants build up a toxic slime in their backsides and attack their prey by 'exploding' the poison all over them. This causes a painful death. Unfortunately, an exploding backside is deadly for the ant, and it dies in the process too (like a bee). But this sacrifice can save an entire colony.

2) The US government has spent years of research and an insane amount of funds to develop the stinkiest, most awful, stench bomb ever. They've hoped to use it to send the enemies running...gagging...puking...crying in retreat. This is a very serious program which has studied the world's most terrible odors, tried to capture the molecules that create the horrible stenches, and mix them in a deliciously stinky cocktail. The recipe is classified as top secret because...well, imagine how awful it would be if it were used against us! (Note: This form of weapon does not cause death or serious, long-lasting injuries.)

3) Thanks to #2, I conducted further research and now know how to build my own gas mask using very simple, household materials—tape, cola bottle and dust masks. Supposedly, it works against tear gas and pepper spray, but I'm not going to test it to make sure. In any case, if our enemies attacks us with stink bombs, I'm ready for them!


How does all of this filter into a mystery centered around ice cream, fancy rats and freshly painted classrooms? I'm not sure yet. But it will work out in the end!

If not, I'll learn how to make my own toxic slime and let my detectives blast the enemy with some of that.

As said, I love research!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

IWSG - Running Late as Always



It's IWSG time!

Every month on the first Wednesday of the month, us writers come together to offer support, advice, encouragement or simply to shed our frustrations and woes with each other. Writing is a tough journey, and we don't have to go it alone.

Thanks goes to the brain behind this group, Alex J. Cavanaugh! If you want to join in or find out more (because there is so much more to this group) then head on over here.

Special thanks goes to this month's co-hosts:

Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Ann V. Friend, JQ Rose, and Elizabeth Seckman!


This is my official 'I'm late' month. I'm constantly running behind during November...not sure why...but it happens every year. Which makes me wonder why I signed up for NaNoWriteMonth this year. So far, I've managed 350 words, which isn't exactly keeping up the pace. But who knows, maybe I'll turn into the Writing-Flash next week.

As to this month's question:
How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?

My answer:
My creativity has gone down.

I've always been more of a creative person in so many fields—music, crafts, construction, gardening...I dive into anything with gusto. Since I've been writing more seriously (and especially with the upcoming release), the creativity in all these areas has almost bombed to non-existence. The day only has twenty-four hours. I now use my 'creative' chunk for this on writing instead of other things.

But writing isn't the only thing to blame.

My sewing machine broke, and I haven't bought a new one yet (my machine and I were one heart and soul). Will I ever find my soulmate again?

Our financial situation has never allowed for a real piano and my electric one from Europe doesn't work in the States without plugging it into a converter first...one that has to be dragged up out of the basement since it's big and ugly and we use it for other machines too. Nothing kills creativity like extra work first.

Farm work has taken over the 'physical' end of the energy I once used to build a swimming pond, a deck, bridges or whatever in our yard. Now, it's fixing fences, doing firewood, repairing machinery...
Hey, but with the fences, I could get more creative, now that I think about it! Colored barbed wire woven into beautiful forms....if the cattle would appreciate that?

Life changes. The creative flow changes.

And it is good so.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Wednesday Whittleings: Creepy Coincidences!


Wednesdays are my day to randomly babble. Sometimes about children books, others about writing, and usually about whatever strikes my mind. Random thoughts...random whittleings.

Happy Halloween!!! Here's a row of Jack o'Lanterns to set the mood!




I thought I'd share a creepy story—something from this last weekend which I'm shoving into the strange category.

Our neighbors (which means three other households in the mile radius)  got together for a hot dog roast. Lots of food, lots of chatting, a bonfire, lovely weather, cows peeking over from the other pasture wondering why they weren't invited...

In other words, fun!

I asked one of my neighbors how her trip to New Orleans went.

"Wonderful," she said, but then leaned in and continued, "Except for our stay in the French Quarter."

They stayed in one of those shotgun hotels, the ones where the opposite side of the street is close enough to shoot at with a shot gun. She had a connecting room to her daughter and granddaughter. The first evening, the door between the rooms would suddenly open, although it'd been closed tightly. She didn't think too much about it because drafts aren't rare in older buildings. But she constantly had the feeling someone was watching her.

Nothing amazing happened the first night, but the second was an entirely different story.

She'd agreed to stay in and watch her granddaughter (a pre-schooler) while the rest of the girls had a night on the town. When she went into the room to check on her, the little girl lay stiff in the bed and stared at the wall with wide eyes.

"Grandma, ask him what he's doing here."

My neighbor immediately freaked but swallowed it down. "There's no one there."

"The little boy! He's standing there, staring at me. He climbed through my window and won't go away. I don't want him in here."

My neighbor closed the window, snatched her granddaughter, raced to her room and locked the door tight. Later, when everyone had returned and my neighbor was finally getting ready to sleep, she went to the bathroom. She heard the door between the two rooms open again. Since her daughter was now there sleeping with her granddaughter, she assumed it must be her. But this, time the door to the bathroom opened too. She turned around, feeling that someone was watching her, but no one was there. When she turned back toward the mirror, she refused to look at the reflection, knowing that in ghost stories, the people often claim to see the ghost. Instead, she felt breathing along the back of her neck. She ran to the bed and pulled the blankets over her head. She would have left that night, but it was 1 am, she was tired and was afraid that driving into the night like that would be worse. Especially, since nothing had really happened. She didn't sleep a wink, and they left the next morning.

My neighbor made her daughter stop at a gas station just before they crossed the state border and bribed her grandchild into giving her a little stone the owner of the hotel and given her as a trinket. Then, my neighbor dug salt packages (from fast food places) out of her purse, set the stone on the pavement, and poured a circle of salt around it. She didn't want to risk anything from the ghost sticking to it and following them home.

My neighbor was upset when she told me this story. She truly believes they saw a ghost and swears she'll never go back.


Ready for another strange coincidence????


I received a book from Bearport Publishing about 4 weeks ago—Spooky New Orleans. It's one in a series of eight books which tell ghost stories found in several cities. I hadn't looked at it at the time my neighbor told her story yet but picked it up Sunday evening. Obviously, I was thinking of her when I started to read it. But then, I ran across something that made me go 'huh'.

The last 'story' in the book tells not only a very, very similar tale to the one she told me, it's the exact same one.

As said, I'm certain she wasn't making anything up. And I'm not sure what her reaction will be when I show it to her.


As they say, reality is often the best fiction.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Wednesday Whittleings - Lists, My Frenemy


Wednesdays are my day to randomly babble. Sometimes about children books, others about writing, and usually about whatever strikes my mind. Random thoughts...random whittleings.


One thing, I've always avoided is writing lists.

Me and lists aren't best friends. Not in the least.

It starts with locating a paper and pen. Let the search begin! Every drawer in the house turns suspect. Even though I have lots of notebooks, it's those silly pens which keep disappearing. Dozens of them, all within an hour or two. The pen monster puts the sock monster (the one who lives in the laundry machine) to shame.

Then, there's the problem to remember where I put the list, remembering to look at it (I do forget I even made one), or remembering to take it along to the store...oh, and let's not forget the new search once inside the store. Where did that list go? I'm not sure why my clothes always has so many pockets. 

With my book release coming up—it still is around 4 months away—I'm forced to keep not only one list but several. I have two calendars running, one for my book blog (I gave up on trying to keep track of all of those posts years ago) and one for the marketing things. But those lists...what to do with them?

A list of who to email.
A list of who has been emailed.
A list of possible emails.
A list of who reviewed.
A list of who to ask to review.
A list of who agreed to review.
A list of blog posts and when.
A list of interviews and when.
A list of visitations and when.
A list of possible award sites.
A list of...

A bit of an exaggeration? Probably. But only a little bit.

At times, I wonder if I'm going to get buried under lists. Maybe, I should keep a white flag with me, so I can stick that up through the pile and beg to surrender. I'm definitely going to get confused about which lists I have and how to locate them, even if I make the stack nice and tidy.

Or I'll figure this entire list thing out and become a list heroine!

Take my husband—he's a true list buddy and hangs them all over the house. A list for shopping...a list for things to do that weekend...a list for parts he needs to order... But I've noticed, he forgets where he put his lists too. Constantly.

The solution—to write a list for the lists! Ugh. And that sounds like the search is going to start all over again.

Now, where did my pens go???

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wednesday Whittleings - Wandering Mind


Wednesdays are my day to randomly babble. Sometimes about children books, others about writing, and usually about whatever strikes my mind. Random thoughts...random whittleings.



This morning, I'm sitting around waiting for the chimney sweep. 


via GIPHY





And I'm throwing in a picture my husband snapped the other day... (see the carriage far away)?




While writing a guest post the other day, I learned that there are over 6,500 spoken languages. Wow. And I only know two.


These are my random thoughts this morning. Completely unconnected and all over the place.

My writing isn't any different. I have three...actually four...WIPs I could work on, and tons of plot bunnies nesting in all corners of the brain. 

Where to start? Where to go next? 

I'm currently editing a story....again...that I've been working on for years. It needs some TLC, but should be ready to be sent out in a few months.  This is science fiction pure with lots of fun and adventure and shoots off into a trilogy...for middle graders.

November is going to be my time to finally tackle a series, also for the middle grade, which involves mystery and science—geeks rule in this one. It's been outlined to a certain degree, has characters researched and will hopefully roll smoothly along. 

Or maybe not.

But just to show how bouncy my mind is lately in the story world...

I ran across an amazing profession - a cosplay artist!!! (I honestly had no clue this existed-thanks to Christine Rains) This man makes his living by creating costumes and portraying video game heroes. Talk about a fun job!  His name is Leon Chiro and can be found on Facebook here.

When one of his photos appeared on my feed, a new plot bunny bounced in my head—a completely new direction for a story...new genre...new audience. 

And there goes my mind, hopping off to another world, plot and characters.

If only I could write as fast as the brain switches, flows and stumbles.

And did you know that the Peacock Mantis Shrimp can punch water so fast with its claws that the water around it starts to boil?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Wednesday Whittleings - Book Bloggers



Wednesdays are my day to randomly babble. Sometimes about children books, others about writing, and usually about whatever strikes my mind. Random thoughts...random whittleings.


This week on Twitter, there was quite the storm in the book blogging world. Okay, it was more like a mini-dust devil with bite. A publisher (and others) made comments which criticized the book blogging community as being unnecessary, at best. The criticism claims that book bloggers not only lack influence and don't really contribute to book sales, but are a group of individuals who simply seek free reads or a way to make themselves feel important......  

This last statement made me laugh. Actually, I'm still laughing.

The rest of the book o' sphere a la Twitter was not laughing but took offense, and as this awesome community always is... immediately came to the defense of all of us book bloggers out there. Gosh, I love this community.

But offense here or there, my thoughts took on all sorts of strings.


Free books - Ready to gasp? Yes, I started book blogging for free books.

Do I hang my head in shame? No way!

I lived in Europe and was so sick of never finding any good reads in English at the library. Buying books grows expensive, especially when your reading speed puts you at a book a night...and book prices are/were controlled in Germany, making sudden deals not as easy to find. But this grand idea of free books lost its glittery sparkle fast when as a new book blogger, I wasn't able to get my hands on any 'great' books. Almost all books available to little ole' me came from the self-publishing world. Now, this statement might sound offensive, but please remember that at that time (yes, this was a few years ago), self-publishing was just gaining ground. Today, there are so many awesome reads among self-publishers and so many amazing gems to discover. Back then, too many people still didn't understand how important it was to hire an editor. 

Side note: Always hire an editor...a good one.

After years of book blogging (and a much smarter and established self-publishing realm), I get amazing books and can pick and choose. And yes, I get all giddy every time our postwoman brings me another package. Mini-Christmas a few times every week!

But do I blog for free books? As said, that idea disappeared shortly after I started my blog. My bank account sure wishes that dream had worked, though! The longer I've blogged, the more and more money I've given out for books. Books are addictive.... do I have to say that? Plus, the reads I drool over I need to have in hardback for my every growing shelves. And those which suddenly catch my eye...Kindle can be so cruel with the simple tap and buy.


Lack influence on Sales - This thought is simply short-sighted in so many ways. (This publisher needs to go back to those basic business classes at college). Sure, one post won't immediately set off a dozen sales. When you see a billboard, do you immediately exit the highway and pull out that wallet? While immediate sales are generated to a certain extent (usually very small), book blogging is about wide spread informing and reinforcement. The more people who see the book the better. If no one knows a book exists, they can't consider buying it. The more a book appears in front of their eyes, the more it sticks in the mind. People see the book, remember the book and will begin to recognize the book when flipping through Amazon or at the book store or when searching for their next read.

Marketing 101.


Self-verification - Yeahhhhh. Right. Every time I think of this one, I chuckle. How can book blogging... and I mean for us small bloggers and not those with massive followings... do that? I get little to no feedback through my blog. Most comes from the publishers or authors, who I'm reviewing for. If that. Yes, I do a little happy dance when I see a snippet of my review suddenly appear somewhere. And an very occasional word comes in from a book lover out there. Oh, and I have managed to pull in a line of awards...this blows my mind every time! But if I'm doing this for self-verification, I'm going to shrivel and die at the pace those 'special' moments hit.

Sorry, there are so many better ways of getting this kick if you're the type of person who needs it.

So...

Why do book bloggers blog?

I assume everyone has their own reasons. Love of books is a huge one. And for me...okay, outside of the ridiculous idea in the beginning that I'd get free best-sellers out of this—the one that got mega-squashed... it's simply a chance to help spread the word, especially for indie authors and those from small publishers.

I've mentioned on here before that children's books are a beast in the marketing end if an author doesn't go through a big publisher. Book blogging is my way of giving those authors/publishers a hand because there are some amazing books out there that won't be noticed otherwise. Do many people notice them because of my blog? Probably not. But without a spark, there can never be a fire...or even a smolder.


A side note:
I'm adding this to my original post because I just realized I forgot to mention it. Of course, all reviews on my blog are my honest opinion and thoughts. I don't even waste my time with reads I don't like, simply because I'm already on a tight schedule and that would be a silly waste. A book blogger who doesn't leave an honest review is only hurting themselves. Readers aren't dumb. They'll notice what's going on. Leaving good reviews to make authors and publishers happy is self-defeating for a blogger. So nope, I don't do that.


What do you think of book bloggers? Do you pay any attention to them? Have you ever bought a book you've seen on one of their sights? Do you ever read their reviews?