Author and business coach Drae Box is getting ready to release her new novel, Threat. To help spread the word and introduce more people to this friendly and professional fountain of information, I invited Drae to answer a few questions about herself, her business, and her books!
1) We’ll start with the basics. Who are you? Really, deep down.
I’m the girl who used to play with a racoon puppet for years, learning from playing with this puppet how to tell stories. I even did a puppet show with this puppet and a few others when I was in lower school. That girl then grew into someone who became pretty determined to find happiness in her career, follow her passions and help others with similar passions to achieve their dreams too. That’s me.
2) What pushed you down the road of wordsmithing?
I was given a bright red cassette recorder with multi-coloured buttons as an eight year old. I would create short stories on the spot, and created a good stack of these stories, including one about a racing car and another about a forest that ate children alive.
As my little brother grew older, I started to tell him stories when we played outside in the garden, as well as my youngest sister. I’d insert us into those stories, and we’d all be on an adventure like Indiana Jones.
The act of writing stories came later when I was fourteen – I was avoiding Chemistry homework and started to write about a teen girl who didn’t have a lot of experience in kicking butt, saving others, or even travelling to other settlements. When an artefact was stolen from her village, it was up to her to save everyone she knew. The story had me hooked and although I had no idea what I was doing, I learned on the go, studying what published authors recommended and tidying up my own process over the years since.
3) Writing isn’t the only way you spend your time. What other areas of the business have you hit to date and which are some of your favourite ones? Which areas are you most excited to develop further?
I mentor other serious fiction authors (pre and post-published) to start seeing the results they want. This means getting super-clear about what their aims are if they are planning on being published. The client and I will use my decade of research, experiments and analysis to grow their adaptive action plan to find their success. I get really fired up doing this and the experiments I’m running at the moment (like my current experiment, Does Getting Up Early to Write REALLY Work?).
I also run Writers’ Club, which I love doing so much (especially the free challenges)! Oo, and my podcast, Aim for More, which is for creative thinkers and writers.
Right now I’m super-excited to be working on a few ways to make my mentoring more accessible to other writers, which members of Writers’ Club will get to see first before I release these projects for everyone to try out.
4) What’s the premise for the series you’re working on now?
I’m actually working on three different series at the moment, although one is a high fantasy serial.
My main series is my oldest and dearest, called The Common Kingdoms Series. It’s this one that I’ve been working through my back catalogue with my team to get published. It’s about two characters’ struggles within a kingdom of gifted people, as terrorists start to take action against the kingdom’s rulers and its law enforcement. It’s primarily a YA fantasy series.
As the readers, we get to see the development of that same female character who started my writing journey from a hesitant girl to someone becoming more adept and kick-ass as she grows her experience and masters the skills she collects. We also get to see how their law enforcement evolves due to the challenges caused by the terrorists, which we see from her involvement with the male main character, and the actions he has to take and positions he is forced into. There is a little bit of romance, but that’s not the primary focus of the series, and doesn’t really start to kick in until book three, though the two main characters do start to date in the epilogue of the second book.
5) Where does the new book fit into it?
My new release is book two of The Common Kingdoms, Threat. It’s set a year after the first book, and returns us to watching over Aldora and Raneth. For those familiar with the series, the talking Prince of the Cats does make a minor appearance, but for the most part, we’re left with just the humans characters this time around.
Aldora has become the assistant villager leader of her home settlement and encounters a murderer one night on patrol. She’s stabbed and wakes up in hospital a day later to find Raneth and her father at her bedside. Raneth’s in the area because the same criminal that stabbed her is the one he’s assigned to arrest.
Things gets worse for the two friends when Raneth loses the king mid-assignment whilst helping to escort him to a Kingdoms Conference – a meetup of allied royals to his and Aldora’s kingdom.
It becomes up to them to find the king, and the criminal as quickly as possible.
6) Who is your favourite character from the series?
Definitely Raneth, even though my readers have voted him their least favourite (the sarcastic Prince of the Cats, Pedibastet, is the favourite at the time of writing this, with Aldora very close on his tail). I love Raneth’s journey through the series as an individual character; he has a lot of pressures and expectations on him, which cause him to gain and then lose everything dear to him as the series progresses. Writing how he keeps going is a really powerful experience, especially as his and Aldora’s lives are entwined together.
7) What’s your target audience? Who should read this series?
Right now, I’d say teen fantasy fans, who aren’t expecting politics, nitty-gritty settings or Patrick Rothfuss-styled writing. They’d probably enjoy quirky reads, love your wonderful Meratis Trilogy or the Abhorsen Quadrilogy by Garth Nix. There will be new versions of this series in the future for 9-12 year olds as well.
8) What’s your next project going to be?
Now this is the question! If we went with the next published book project, it will be the third book of The Common Kingdoms Series, called Shotput of Power, which I’m preparing for publication at the moment. If we head into the other areas of my life, it would be a large handful of guest appearances online or The 5000 Week Challenge for members of Writers’ Club.
On any one day, I tend to work on three or four different projects, which is why this question is a bit hard to answer without boring you all to death, haha.
9) If you could meet any author in the world who would it be and what would you ask them?
I’d meet Garth Nix and ask him the very same question.
10) Where can people find you?
I would love to gift your readers with a free copy of the first book in The Common Kingdoms Series, called The Royal Gift. They can head to this page just for them on Drae Box Books where they can join my Readers’ Club and get the book for free, as well as the first three chapters of Threat a few days later.
If they’re budding writers and they’re serious about becoming published authors or doing better than they are currently, they can head to this special page on Draebox.com for a free gift to help them find more time to write using two of my premium worksheets: The Reverse Why and Is Writing a Primary or Secondary Desire?
There have been a lot of them this week, haven’t there? No, this is not a new goal to write a post a day – I’d never succeed. Just look at my diary.
Actually, no, don’t do that. Your brain would melt.
I did set the goal for a post-a-day this week, though. Mostly to get back in the habit, but also to try something new. Again, adaptation.
Why? Mostly because Facebook is playing games I don’t appreciate. Everything I post on my Author Page goes unseen because of their algorithms, and with Amazon cracking down on reviewers who interact with me on my personal profile, I don’t feel any desire to post there too often either.
So my thinking is I’ll post my updates here more. Get in the habit of using this blog as my primary social hub and spread the links out from here.
I’m currently editing the next IE novel before it goes to betas, and editing the fourth IE novel before it goes to my editor in November. I’m also getting the fifth IE novel ready to tackle in November for NaNoWriMo, so I’m sure there will be many updates on the way.
I’ll also be brainstorming an Andvell short story to give out to newsletter subscribers before the holidays. At this point, my mind is an blank slate of what the story should be about, so if you have any suggestions – any characters you especially want to see again, any story lines you want me to follow up on – comment here and I’ll add them to my idea list.
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year?
Netflix shows have been getting all of my cheers lately, and I don’t just mean on a superficial “This is awesome!” level.
Usually, I can turn my brain off when the TV goes on. I’m not a hypercritical movie-goer, and love shows that I can throw on while I do something more mentally engaging like this jigsaw puzzle.
But from the first time hubs sat me down and introduced me to Daredevil, season 1, I’ve realized I can’t do that with Netflix shows. And, more importantly, I don’t WANT to do that with Netflix shows.
Because they do them so damn well.
With the exception of Jessica Jones (which I disliked, but understand why others loved it), each Marvel show (and Stranger Things. OMG. Have you watched Stranger Things?!) has blown me away.
I’ve been reading a lot of writer’s craft books lately, and it’s fascinating to watch them in action in these shows. They’re so wonderful crafted, and so much deliberation goes into each shot, each frame, each lighting decision. I have a bad habit of overthinking (what? you? – I know, it’s surprising), but with these Marvel shows, I feel like my overthinking is rewarded. The symbolism that comes out of each shot is all the better when I can anticipate what’s about to happen.
The characters are great (especially the villains. They’re what I aspire to write), the dialogue is snappy.
So far, 8 episodes into Luke Cage S1, this is another winner. The dichotomies of good vs evil pop up in so many ways throughout the show, some subtle, some not, and watching all the pieces fall into place is as satisfying as completing that same doughnut jigsaw puzzle (does anyone else get massive doughnut cravings staring at that picture?)
I can’t get enough and can’t wait to see what they do next.
Also: Shades, anyone? Damn.
*********** MILD SPOILER ALERT ***************
As of last night, we finished watching S1, and while Luke Cage is still a solid superhero show well worth your time to watch, it doesn’t squeeze out Daredevil from my #1 spot.
The last episode left me feeling a bit deflated. It was as though the writers had built up a dozen incredible storylines but didn’t know how to wrap up half of them, so they just sort of…fizzled out.
Characters that were strong and captivating all the way through stepped out of character and did something just for the sake of the show needing to end.
Storylines that were set up and mentioned all the way through the series were never explained and set aside for Season 2 (lesson: don’t set things up if you’re not going to explain them. It’s one thing to leave some threads open for follow up, but if you’re going to set up the next season like that, do it near the end, not in the first episode).
The finale didn’t catch me with the “OMG I need more NOW” that Daredevil does, but overall, I loved the show and look forward to seeing some of these characters come back in S2. The casting/acting was phenomenal, the messages were powerful and important (if sometimes a little tacked on), and very much consider Luke Cage another Netflix win.
With the release of my new series, I decided to try something new. I entered The Invisible Entente prequel novella into Kindle Select and have made the decision to keep the entire series there as it comes out for the foreseeable future.
I have to say: I agonized over this decision. I’ve always gone through multiple distributors to hit as many people as possible – I’m Canadian, where Kobo is still the leading e-reader – and done my best to advertise for all markets.
But the other markets have been…still. Not to say I have no traction there – and I’m incredibly grateful to all you Nook and Kobo and iBooks readers out there – but I’m heading into my 10th month of full time writing and need a bit of a change if I want to continue giving it my best shot.
As it stands, Amazon is The Great Equalizer for indie authors. It doesn’t differentiate between publishers. If you look at any bestseller lists, the chances are good you’re going to see a solid mix of trad and indie.
Unfortunately, the other distributors haven’t yet caught up.
Like with everything in life, if you want to survive, you need to adapt. So this is me adapting. I’m not sure I like it – I’m not sure I’m going to stick with it long term, but I have to at least give it a try if only to say I tried it.
Fortunately, the free Kindle app exists for pretty much every device out there, so I hope that you’ll follow me along and offer your feedback on this new experience. I appreciate you so much for sticking with me, and hopefully we can all keep moving forward together.
A few weeks ago, you may recall, I grabbed my press pass and checked out CanCon 2016 – your place to go for Canadian speculative fiction and literature. You can read my post about it here.
While there, I had the pleasure of interviewing a few of the names joining this year’s convention. Catch me and the rest of the Error 404: Show Not Found crew enjoying our shenanigans at the Novatel Hotel in the video below
Now that the Invisible Entente prequel novella and Death at Peony House are available, I’ve been getting some questions about the series, so I thought I would answer them here for you. It makes me happy to know people are engaging enough to ask them!
What inspired you to write the series?
Last fall, Cadis was about to wrap up, and I was thinking about what I wanted to do next. At the same time, I was binge reading Agatha Christie’s Poirot mysteries, novels and short stories. I’ve always enjoyed the way Christie weaves were tales. They’re funny, clever, full of twists and turns, and, of course, wrap up with the always fun round-table reveal.
I started to think about how I could use what I love about the cozy mystery style and combine it with my love of fantasy. That’s when the prequel novella came to mind. Seven supernatural creatures stuck trying to solve a murder, each one with a solid motive, none of them telling the full truth.
I’d outlined all the short stories in the prequel novella and realized how much more they had to offer, so the series evolved.
Where is New Haven?
The series is set in a fictional place on the Eastern Seaboard. While there are many New Havens in the various states around there, this one is based on none of them.
My New Haven is a tourist town of 100,000. It’s the sort of place you might drive road-trip to for the weekend to go antiquing or browse the quaint storefronts and scenery. The supernaturals of this world seem to have taken the name to heart and often stop here in their attempts to remain hidden in clear view.
How will the series be structured?
Each novel will follow one of the characters from the prequel novella, beginning with sorceress Daphne Heartstone in Death at Peony House. The books will be connected and set in chronological order, but for the most part can be read in any order without having anything spoiled or confusing.
Yes, I know the order in which the characters will be written (I’m currently outlining the final three books of the series).
No, I won’t tell you who’s next. Not outright, anyway. These are mysteries after all. But keep an eye out for the images I post of the characters’ nightcaps. The next photo will be the next character stepping into the spotlight If you’ve read the prequel novella, you should be good to guess most of them.
Have I caught you interest? You can grab the prequel novella for 99c
For more information about the series, including FREE exclusive content (like the confidential files I’ve…procured about the subjects in question), be sure to sign up for my spam-free monthly newsletter!
I’m exhausted. The launch party last night was a blast, and a huge thank-you to everyone who came out and participated. Laughs were had, nightmares were created, and prizes were won. Are being won. I should get my butt moving and figure out who won them.
My generosity doesn’t end on Facebook, since I know not everyone is on there. To keep the celebrations going for another couple of days, I’ve created a giveaway that you can enter regardless of your Facebookiness.
Just click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway
First prize: A $15 Amazon Gift Card and a signed copy of Death at Peony House
Second Prize: A signed copy of Death at Peony House
Third Prize: A signed copy of The Invisible Entente prequel novella
The winners will be chosen at random by Rafflecopter, but there are lots of ways to win. Sign up for my mailing list, share/follow on Twitter, like my page on Facebook. Each step has a point value, and some items can be repeated for multiple entries.
Already signed up for mailing list? Then technically your work is done! Just provide your email address so I can confirm it. The giveaway is open until September 28th. Good luck!
The ghosts of Peony House have awoken, and you can finally find out why – Death at Peony House is officially available on Amazon!
This urban fantasy with a mystery twist follows the story of Daphne Heartstone, the sorceress and journalist first introduced in The Invisible Entente prequel novella that was released last month.
Eight months later, one of the most powerful sorceresses of her bloodline is now wary of her own magic. Losing herself to her power would bring Daphne back to the dark path she once walked, breaking promises to her family, and taking away her chance to build a solid life for herself.
But, of course, the best laid plans rarely happen as we want them to. One night, on a tip, Daphne heads to Peony House to dig up the next morning’s headline. Unfortunately, she finds herself facing the shadows of her past and has to find out whether she’s strong enough to stare through them without getting sucked back in.
Death at Peony House is available for $3.99 (less than a speciality coffee!) or free through Kindle Unlimited!
To celebrate DEATH AT PEONY HOUSE’s book birthday tomorrow, I’m trying to get as many people as possible to start right at the beginning.
“If you’re reading this note, I’m already dead. I find even more pleasure in the idea that one of you will soon join me.”
At the precise moment of warlock Jermaine Hershel’s death, seven strangers are transported into a magically sealed room with only a letter from the dead man to explain. If they want to go home, the way out is simple: discover the murderer — and kill them. Tensions rise as each stranger reveals their connection with Jermaine, but the puzzle isn’t so easy to solve. At least one of them is lying. In an unlikely alliance, they have to act quickly to unravel the mystery before the murderer acts first.
This 130-page locked-room urban fantasy mystery introduces you to the team of unlikely and reluctant heroes that make up The Invisible Entente.
Spread the word, grab your copy, and step into a version of our world where even the smallest coincidence might be a part of greater, growing pattern.
Once you’ve finished, come join the party! Every birthday needs a celebration, and book releases are no different.
Tomorrow, from 4pm – 10pm EST, I’ll be hosting the Facebook launch party. Choose your favourite snacks and chat with a fantastic group of authors and have a chance to win some great swag. Hope to see you there!
Last weekend, I had a chance to check out Can-Con, the Conference on Canadian Content in Speculative Arts and Literature. This is an event I’ve been wanting to attend since I first learned about it two years ago, but schedule conflicts and only hearing about it at the last minute prevented me from walking through the doors.
This year, I was determined.
On the weekend I was preparing to buy tickets, I received a great opportunity to attend as part of Error 404: Show Not Found and conduct a series of interviews, getting a behind-the -scenes look at what, in my opinion, is one of the most important growing conventions in Canada (the video of our explorations will be available shortly).
Why do I have that opinion? Because as a Canadian fantasy author, I feel that my voice is sometimes a whisper in the crowd. While the internet is a great place for blurring those lines of nationality, it’s still difficult for someone north of the border to draw the attention of, say, a New York literary agent (and sometimes even to hook readers if the setting is a small town in Ontario).
Can-Con offers an opportunity for new Canadian genre writers to shout out. Not only is it a collection of speculative fiction authors getting together to rub elbows and share their experiences AS Canadian spec fiction authors, it’s also a chance to check out panels hosted by some big names across a whole bunch of genres, and this year organizers Derek Kunsken and Marie Bilodeau invited a New York agent to answer questions and accept pitches.
RIGHT HERE IN OTTAWA!
This year, the event was held at the Novotel, right across from the Rideau Centre. The event took up two floors, with scheduled signings, a vendor’s room, and different rooms for the panels (discussions included the evolution of the genre, of gender and diversity in gender, on how to adapt your work to film and TV — seriously, so much great stuff). The event itself was an RPG game. On registration, you rolled for your character and kept the card with you throughout the event: a fun and creative way to get to know
the competition your colleagues.
The vendor room was full of books (all the books!), local crafts, and products that complement reading to perfection (like locally made tea and coffee).
Can-Con has existed since 1992. It went on hiatus for a while, but returned in 2010 and has been steadily growing ever since. Each year, the organizers bring in incredible research resources, such as doctors and scientists, to answer your questions on any number of subjects (want to know about the spread of the Zika virus? They’ve got you covered). There are opportunities to get your pitches critiqued, to chat with small press owners and, of course, to chat with some of the most well-established writers in the genre.
I missed meeting Tanya Huff, unfortunately, but did grab a chance with speak with (and interview) Charles de Lint, an author I very much admire. These two shared a panel about the fantasy genre, and as they both have been instrumental in developing the genre in the country, are not voices to ignore.
This convention deserves the attention it’s getting and I look forward to watching them grow. Walking through the event, I saw nothing but people excited to be there: to meet fellows in their trade, to learn tricks and tips on how to make a go of the business themselves, or simply to be surrounded by books. So many books. It was wonderful.
Events like this are crucial. Writing is a solitary business and sometimes it can feel like you’re floundering without any anchors. It’s reassuring to know that’s the norm (hurray!), and that there are resources and supports there when you need them.