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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Wednesday Whittleings - Pens, Calves, Wood and Chicken Alfredo!


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


Ready for a heap of randomness! My mind is more tangled than a bowl of chicken fettuccine alfredo (that might be my latest craving adding its tidbits) with the book launch three weeks away. But since life doesn't center only around writing....  

No, it doesn't. There really is more than story telling, editing and marketing going on around here. 

Really. There is.


First and foremost... it's calving season!!!


My herd isn't that big, especially since it's little ole me taking care of them. This cutie was born Sunday morning. Another one was born yesterday in the wee hours. And judging by the utters on two other cows, I should have four by the end of the week.   (Tidbit: When cows get close to birthing, their utters lower and swell with milk...to the point it appears as if they will explode. It's hard to miss.) Our house overlooks our winter pasture, so I can gaze out and watch them prance around anytime. I do love it.

But super sweetness isn't the only thing going on...

Anybody else being hit with cold temperatures the last weeks? (Silly question!) Luckily, I made sure my wood pile was well packed this last Fall. I run one and, on really cold days, two wood burning stoves twenty-four hours a day. Yes, we do have regular heating, but we live in the middle of forests. So, it seems silly not to use that. It's not like wood chopping is high on the list right now. Only on warm days. But we had some of those last week.


That's my personal, little tractor—a 'her' tractor. My husband was kind enough to build/construct the entire shovel section onto it last winter. He actually lifted this trunk with it and drove it to the hay barn where I'll chop it into pieces. Oh, not by hand! I cheat and have an awesome splitter.


This is my husband's 'his' tractor. It only gets pulled out during hay season.


And then, my husband had a huge surprise for me. (This does get back to the writing end of things.) While visiting his family in Germany, he happened across this...


Can you guess what it is?

A glass pen! Now, this isn't a calligraphy pen (although I was sure it was at first). Rather, the glass is swirled with small trenches near the tip. When dipped in ink, it settles in the trenches. The point is very similar to a regular pen and rounded. As you write, the ink slowly descends onto the glass point. I was amazed at how smooth and long it writes! He wants me to use it at my book signings, but I'm so afraid it will break!


And that's my whittleings for today! How about you? What are you up to this week? Keeping warm? Busy? Have anything special happen?

What are your whittleings?

Oh, and before I forget, here's the link to that super speedy, delicious and extremely easy recipe:
https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a53695/one-pot-chicken-alfredo-recipe/


I find that the super cheap Parmesan which comes in the plastic container works well...it melts better than that 'fake'...(I don't know if it's really fake, but the texture is anything but natural)...grated, cheese in the baggies in the cooling section.


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

IWSG - Creativity and Tagline Video!!!!


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:

 Raimey Gallant,Natalie Aguirre, CV Grehan, and Michelle Wallace!



Hello, February! I have a feeling it's going to be very, very short. It's amazing how much has to get done before Music Boxes' release day (March 5th!), and I'm not sure I'm really staying on top of everything anymore. I keep telling myself that the first time is the worst, and every release after this will be a breeze. Right? (Just lie to me and tell me it's true.)

So, off to this month's question:
Besides writing, what other creative outlets do you have?

Lately? Well, I'm making tons of bracelets (2000) as swag for school and bookstore events.

Usually, I sew and paint and garden and construct all sorts of things and glue and write music and...
It's a very long list. I don't like to sit still and love to try new things. Granted, writing has taken up much of my extra time, but I still like to work with my hands when I can.

What about you? What creative outlets do you have?

****

I'm adding this to the post because I just got it done and am super excited to show everyone!





*******

Today, I'm happy to shout-out the new box set from a writer friend...

From USA Today bestselling author Ilana Waters:
Now, on pre-order.
Coming February 8th!!! Only $1.99 for the first week (until February 15th)


Vampire. Witch. Hero. Monster.

Titus Aurelius is all of these things. Ever since he rose from the ashes of ancient Pompeii, this former Roman general has fought for survival.  

A few millennia later, bloodseeker Titus isn’t looking for trouble—just a quick meal. But when his path crosses the witch Abigail’s, that plan gets shot to Hades. They find out the Paranormal Investigation Agency (PIA) is plotting something monstrous—something that involves exploding gas mains, lethal bird-shifters, and sadistic vampire minions.

Will they uncover the PIA’s murderous secret before every supernatural in its path is destroyed?

And what is Titus and Abigail’s connection to the mage who, almost twenty years later, is exiled to a paranormal boarding school? Can this mage solve a mystery concerning a stolen potion and ghostly figure before students—including him—wind up dead?

Together for the first time, the Mage Tales Prequels: Books 0-II are action-packed, edge-of-your-seat suspense stories shot through with a megadose of snark. If you love authors like Kevin Hearne, Lev Grossman, and Ilona Andrews, give these a try! This box set contains one novella and two full-length novels:

When Darkness Falls
Blood and Magic
Mage Lessons




  
    “The literary equivalent of a blockbuster movie. Fast-paced with lots of actionhumor, and a bit of romance that should appeal to urban fantasy fans. Grab your bowl of popcorn and prepare to be entertained!” ~LaffingKat
     “I’m completely blown away and speechless!” ~Kristen Lewendon
     “A page-turner you'll remember!” ~R. Alexander
     Intrigue, battles, love, and all sorts of excitement and adventure.” ~Tonja Drecker
     “If you like witches and vampiresevil plots, plenty of action, and a bit of romance, this is for you.” ~Brad Friedlander
     “I sat down to read it, got sucked in, and wasn’t putting it down until I was done.” ~Amazon reviewer
     “If you want magic, mayhem, and mystery, then what are you waiting for? Click the buy button!” ~Amazon reviewer


And here she is...

I write urban fantasy for those who like it fast, funny, and fierce. If you're into cross-blended creatures (think witch-vampire hybrids and half-breed mages) and supernatural ass-kicking, I'm all over that. Ditto if your book turn-ons are equal parts creepy and action-packed (think ancient cities and crypts combined with beheadings and bombs).

Sign up for my newsletter here, and I'll give you a free book: http://tinyurl.com/zp7q9u8




Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Wednesday Whittleings - Blowing Bubbles in Freezing Temperatures!


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

And good morning, cold world!!!





School was cancelled today thanks to the extremely cold and dangerous temperatures....*cough*....
or that's what they claim. Growing up in Denver, I don't consider 7 degrees that cold and can only roll my eyes at the fear a little chill causes in these more southern people.

But the kids are happy! So off we go!

Today, we will be trying an experiment (thanks to a FB post from one of my wonderful cousins)

BLOWING BUBBLES IN FREEZING TEMPERATURES!!!


Here's a video from the Crazy Russian Hacker... if you're a bit of a 'let's try weird things' geek, he's quite the guy to watch.



I can't wait to see what happens to our bubbles! Maybe we'll surprise the cows and chickens with this one...although they'll probably just ignore us like they usually do.

Silly animals.

I'm determined to have fun today no matter how chilly the wind may blow. The really...really...very last round of edits is finally complete on Music Boxes!!!!! Talk about a weight being lifted off of the shoulders. Now, I get to nervously sit in my chair and wait to see what the world will think...

Yeah. Not quite.

I had another school reading this last week and was again overwhelmed at how attentive the kids were—so cute too! Other things such as readings, tables at conferences, signings and such are beginning to trickle in...which honestly, is leaving me a little numb and unsure—a little over-whelming for 'stay on the farm and hide' me. 

That's why I'm blowing bubbles and watching them freeze. It must be relaxing, right?

I'm super excited about a tag-line video I'll hopefully be able to show the world as soon as next week. This is the first time I've done any sort of video creating...luckily, I have several people who have happily volunteered to help out, including a ballet school. This might turn out to be a complete disaster, but in my head, the video will be amazingly, mega-super-awesome! I'm praying reality will at least try to come close to my imagination.

Until then, I'm going to blow those bubbles. And watch them float...or fall. I imagine the icy surface will cause they to drop. But falling to the ground isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes, that's where the true beauty starts.



Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Wednesday Whittleings - More Books Than Fish in the Sea



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'm stealing a thought today from a IWSG Facebook post by L. Diane Wolfe earlier this week because it showed something that I've been wondering, pondering and randomly thinking about the last month or two...

According to a survey from The Writer's Guild, 2017 saw an average income of published writers for all writing activity at $6, 080. That's a big drop from the 2009 average of $10,500. 25% of the published writers surveyed claimed to have no income whatsoever on the writing front for 2017.

Why did this drop happen? Are people not reading as much or spending as much for books? Or have costs gone up to high?

Last week, I had my first school presentation surrounding the theme of How to Become an Author. The class is exploring various career possibilities (5th - 8th graders), so of course, marketing me jumped at the opportunity. .... Random whittleing here....  School visits are so much fun! I couldn't believe how interested the kids really were. They had tons and tons of questions and were totally with it for over an hour! (Because of their interest, the teacher even let it run over by another 15 minutes) Mind blowing. 

Anyway, I explained to the kids a little about ebooks and marketing, and mentioned that self-published books topped one million in 2017, a 28% increase over 2016 (although I didn't mention this last part because...yawn...statistics bore kids fast). Of course, this number isn't clear cut (and you can read all about it here ), but it shows the point I was trying to make. Thanks to the expanding digital world and possibilities, while keeping the focus on the huge change from traditional publishing past to ebooks and the self-publishing awakening, the world for an author has changed drastically in the last ten to twenty years.

I remember the first used book sale I worked at with the Friends of the Library in our small town. For a nothing town in the middle of nowhere (I think they have a whooping 4,500 or so citizens), the book sale is huge. Over 10,000 titles are offered 3 times a year...and each time over half of the remaining titles are tossed at the end of the sale and twice as many new donations are brought in. Talk about a reading town! But my thought—it is a sea of books. (Random whittleing...We have a gigantic romance section, and it's the little old ladies who tote bags bursting full out of there). When I stood there and gazed over the tables upon tables over flowing with books, I seriously wondered why in the world I should become an author. All or very close to all of those books are published by traditional publishers...each writer is considered 'good'. How could any book I wrote be worth it? No matter what I write, I'm just another tiny dot in a HUGE mass of paper.

When I then think of the billions of books already published and floating around the world...and then, add the massive amount of new ones coming out every year (it's like a tidal wave these last years), the income drop doesn't surprise me. It makes sense. People do read. A lot. And they give a lot of money out for books, but there are so many fish in the sea. And let's face it, many of them are tasty too.

Does this make me depressed? No. Nothing worth achieving is ever easy. Plus, writing is a labor of love.

But still, I do wonder and whittle.

What about you?


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Wednesday Whittleings - Book Trailers and Marketing


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.


Now with the holidays wrapping up...

More or less. I still have the decorations up (my husband hates it when I pack them away, so I make the time extra long for him), and some last treats are still standing around. But for all intents and purposes, life goes on. Kids are back in school. The daily dum-dum...dum-dum...dum-dum is chugging along.

With Music Boxes releasing in less than two months, a sense of urgency has dropped in. Last edits (Oh wow! Does that take concentration!), author appearances (they want me to talk for an hour tomorrow to 10-13 year-olds about being an author...how in the world do I hold their attention for an hour?), and a dive for any new promotion ideas to get the word out.

What about book trailers? I love book trailers! I'm fascinated by them. The problem—I'm not a video genius...or a video beginner...or a video anything.

Yep, I'm a video dud.

According to various articles and such (I did some research), there's no proof that video trailers make a real impact in book sales. When I'm honest, I've never bought a book because of the trailer. I can't think of a single trailer which has ever tempted me to do that. I just enjoy the entertainment of watching them........which doesn't mean I wouldn't like to have one for Music Boxes. (That would be so cool!)  But the realization does keep things in perspective.

And it doesn't surprise me.

Who says, 'Hey, have you seen that cool book trailer for the book coming out next Fall'? Maybe it happens but not often. It's not like Aquaman or the Avengers where everyone seems to be at the edge of their seat waiting to see the trailer.

Special effects. Big budget.  (Eye candy?)

Hmmm... if Jason Momoa would cast well in pointe shoes and a tutu?
(That trailer would boost sales.)

There are obvious problems book trailers run up against—budgeting, screenwriting, effective placement, and so on.

But I wonder if some of it lies in the nature of reading itself.

A book transports a reader to another world...a world described in words but one with plenty of room to be built inside the reader's head. A video determines what everything looks like, how it acts, what happens in the details. Videos leave less to the imagination, where as books have exactly the holes a reader needs to develop the described world into their own. Even though a trailer runs a couple of minutes at most, in those seconds, the reader is hit with images which won't match to their experiences when reading the book. The characters, the world and the details mold to meet the readers' personal experiences from the very first lines and become something individual. Readers might read the same book, but the experience will always be different for each person.

Videos will always fail on this end. Even short ones.

What are your thoughts? Do book trailers make an impact on the marketing end of things? Are they something that every book should have? Or is the energy (and money) better spent in promoting in a different way?


In any case, there are some pretty cool trailers out there, and I love watching them.








Wednesday, January 2, 2019

IWSG - Into the New Year


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:
Patricia Lynne, Lisa Buie-Collard, Kim Lajevardi, and Fundy Blue!


Happy New Year to all of you!!!

I'm a little late this morning, since our household hasn't hit normality yet.  The kids aren't quite back in school, and they're planning on living it up until that bus hits the end of our driveway to pick them up Thursday morning. But holiday cheer, Happy New Year!, and shoving those yummy still lingering treats aside (okay, never shove those treats away), let's get to the writing front!

This year is starting with a BANG! I've already got a to-do-list because only 62 days are left before my debut novel, Music Boxes, hits the world. Holy crow, time is racing by!

 Plus, I really...really...really need to get more done on my current WIP. I'm very excited about it, but simply need to get my backside into the chair and get it done. First drafts are always the hardest part for me thanks to my tenacious inner editor, which keeps wanting to go back and correct everything instead of moving on. Evil monster, she is.

But let's hit this week's question...


What are your favorite and least favorite questions people ask you about your writing?

Up to now, it's been:
How many books have you published? Or when can I buy your book?

I hated this question because nobody took me seriously (not even slightly) while I was writing the last years. My shorts in the anthologies get a tiny nod, but most non-writing people have no idea what to think of those and soon, shake them off and repeat the question. And as to my Ubook ... well, that one is too unique to get more than a tiny nod and confused look.

Right now, I'm relishing in the fact that I have an answer for this question, and that announcing an upcoming book suddenly makes people listen. But I'm afraid that a few months after release date, this question will come to haunt again.... 'So, when's your next book coming out?'  So yep, I'm stressing a little on getting the next WIP done and out the door.

My favorite question is:
What's your story about?

I absolutely love to share my characters and their struggles with the world. Even if the person asking begins to twist their lips or stare at me as if I might need to be deported to single-confinement on a deserted island  (which would mean tons more writing time, by the way), it's wonderful to breathe that much more life into the world I'm developing.


What about you? What are your favorite/least favorite question to be asked about your writing?
And back to treats... which are your favorite? Chocolates, gingerbread, fig-pudding?

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.