Sunday, February 24, 2019


--  'MUSIC BOXES'   --
~Post Includes:  Book Spotlight, Author Bio,
Unique Author Interview & Two Giveaways~


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


“I only desire your talent...”

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.

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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). 


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.


June:  Welcome to 'Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic', Tonja. Congratulations on the upcoming release of your middle-grade novel, 'Music Boxes'!

June:  Please tell us how you created your setting and developed the characters for this book.

Tonja:  In Music Boxes, the dancers come from around the world. Also, Lindsey’s little sister is a music prodigy. One of the best places to mix these two elements was New York. The rest of the scenes flowed in naturally.

As to the characters—I love developing characters! It’s the characters which build the story—their personalities, desires and quirks. While Lindsey, her friends and her family are rather ‘normal’, they form the base for reality. The others (my favorite) get little quirks and oddities. It’s amazing how fond I’ve grown of each one.  

June:  Since this book involves ballerinas, I was wondering if you ever studied ballet? What led you to write a book about the art of ballet?

Tonja:  Nope. I’ve never been able to even touch my toes, so ballet was not for me. My eldest daughter is the dancer. She started ballet lessons at four and moved into hip-hop around twelve. She was scouted by a private trainer, which meant a two-hour train ride each way three times a week for the next years. She placed in and won several national competitions.

I did consider incorporating other dance forms into Music Boxes along with ballet to bring across the various cultures, but there’s something about the spinning ballerina which creates its own magic. Plus, ballet is a dance form which extends over borders, languages and races. I found that including a common ground for the dancers was as important as expressing their differences.
June:  Who is your favorite character in the story? Why is this person your favorite? Without spoiling the story, is there anyone in the story who you do not like? Why not?

Tonja:  I believe Broussard is my favorite. His fluffy cuteness makes him so snuggly and hard not to love. But he also has more layers than the other characters. And more secrets. He’s done wrong things with good intentions. I think his character is the most complex but can only be lightly explored in this story. So much packed into one little doggy!

I’d say Adela, since she’s the one who hits the bad attributes hard—arrogant, full of herself, and self-centered. But I don’t hate her for it. The character which irritates me the most is the mother. She’s trying her best and is stressed to make everything come together for her family and especially Bridget’s future, but she’s lost sight of something more important. You can never give a child enough love, and she oversees that a bit.

June:  You have published works in two anthologies, one in the youth fantasy and the other an adult paranormal. What other fictional genres might you try? Would you ever consider writing non-fiction? If so, what subject(s) would you like to write about?

Tonja:  Short stories are a treat to write, and I enjoy using them to stretch into new directions. The best way to learn is by leaving the comfort zone and experiencing new things. While Music Boxes is my first middle grade novel, it’s not the first one to take on fantasy elements. As far as children books go, I hope to always include a dash of magic. Imagination is an important part of growing up.

As to other genres, I find it amazing that authors land in one specific area and never change. It might sound odd, but I can only write those stories which come to me, and they often have little in common. I have some ideas for cozy romances, science fiction, and maybe even a dystopian someday. I’m currently in the process of writing a science-based mystery for kids—one without magic. Oh my…I guess I’m already going against my own thoughts! My historical Ubook novella, A Glowworm, was published last year, one which is based on a serious yet little known historic event. So, I’m all over the place.

As to non-fiction, I don’t believe so, but who knows?

June:  What or who inspired you to become an author? 

Tonja:  You do have tough questions! I wrote my first story in the first grade. Like many authors, writing has always been a part of who I am—sometimes more, sometimes less. But never did I think of publishing anything outside of a school magazine or paper. It wasn’t due to fear. The idea honestly just never hit me.

When we moved to Dublin, that changed. We were there for my husband’s job, one that had him working 90-hour weeks to get a project through. I was alone with our young children, and while we toured everything I could think of, there were many hours of down time. (Ireland is gorgeous, by the way!) There was a stack of cozy romances in the house we rented, and with nothing to do, I read through most of them. And then it hit me—I could write like that. Why was I jotting down stories only to keep them in a drawer? 

June:  When you write a book, do you outline the entire story, or do you have a different way of organizing your plot, characters, etc.? Do you always know the ending of your story before you begin putting things down on paper, or into your computer?

Tonja:  Yes and no. And no and no? Each story is different, and each story is written differently. While I would love to have the entire thing worked out before sitting down at the keyboard, it’s only worked that way once or twice. I carry notebooks with me everywhere and have stacks filled with scribbled thoughts—nothing beats paper and pen. While all stories get a little piecing through before I start, it can be anything from an entire basic plot to sparse ideas here and there. Even the end isn’t always a given.

June: When I visited your blog, I noticed you have earned a few awards for your middle-grade blog. What led you to launch a blog which focuses on middle-grade books? What is the most rewarding part of being a blogger for you?

Tonja:  Book blogging has turned out to be quite the adventure! I never expected to receive any awards…not in my wildest dreams. That part still amazes me.

I concentrate on books from the youngest readers/listeners up to Young Adult. This choice probably reflects my life. I was the oldest of seven growing up, and we had foster children in the house as well. Add my own four children (two aren’t really ‘children’ any more) and I’ve never not been around kids—something I see as a blessing. I love working with kids and have used my spare time to start up several small groups for kids, including a children’s choir.

While I read and enjoy adult books, they rarely have the magical innocence, awe and imagination found in children’s literature. Life without these things is like a rain without a rainbow. Dreary.
Being a blogger has had a surprising side effect; it’s introduced me to an amazing community! I can’t even begin to express how wonderful they are—authors, publishers, editors, fellow bloggers and …well, everyone. There’s so much encouragement and kindness. It’s inspiring.

June:  I couldn't agree with you more about the camaraderie in the children's literature community! I have found support and acceptance there, too. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit with us here on my blog, Tonja. Wishing you all the best as you launch your new book on March 5th!

****GIVEAWAY #1:
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.

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

****GIVEAWAY #2: 

Print copy of 'Music Boxes'. Giveaway sponsored by the publisher, Dancing Lemur Press Publishing, LLC.

{US residents only/must have a US mailing address. Must be eighteen years of age or older to enter. Giveaway closes at 12:00PM PST on Friday, March 15th.}

HOW TO ENTER GIVEAWAY #2:  Post a comment on this blog post telling us which of Tonja's interview answers was the most interesting to you and why. 

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  1. My favorite fairy tale is Beauty and the Beast. I am always interested to know what or who inspires a writer. Writers are the most creative people in my opinion. (Audrey Stewart)

  2. I liked the question about what different genres she might try writing in. I like to see what MG authors write about besides MG.

  3. Thank you, June, for letting me stop by today! So sweet of you :)

  4. I loved her answer to the question towards the end of the interview about her writing process!

  5. Fairy tale: The Ant and the Grasshopper

  6. My favorite fairy tale is Peter Pan.

  7. The book blogging discussion question rang true to me as reading and writing reviews myself has led me to an amazing book community that is very giving and supportive.

  8. I loved how she got her inspiration while in Dublin, a magical city itself. Thanks for the fun interview. I will be looking for this one.

  9. My favorite fairy tale is Cinderella.

  10. This sounds like an intriguing mystery to solve -- with perhaps a tad of darkness? I read another review about it -- glad to see it getting press.

  11. It sounds like character development comes easy to Tonja. Wish some of that could rub off on me. How cool that she lived in Dublin and got back into writing there.

  12. I love Snow White the best! But I love about all fairy tales!

  13. My favorite fairy tale is The Ice Queen. Thanks for an interesting interview.

  14. One of my favorite fairy tales is Cinderella.

  15. I love Tonja's answer:As far as children books go, I hope to always include a dash of magic. Imagination is an important part of growing up. I've always believed and I have taught my daughter that imagination is the key when reading books and playing. You never know where imagination will take you.

  16. My favorite fairy tale is Beauty and the Beast. I loved the interview my favorite part was her talking about her daughter dancing.
    Tighefan42atgmail dotcom

  17. My favorite fairy tale is Cinderella.