A visit with YA author Christine Grabowski

Today I’m so pleased to welcome debut YA author and Wild Rose Press sistah, Christine Grabowski.

Christine’s debut YA Novel, Dickensen Academy, is out and doing fabulously with readers and reviewers alike.

 

Today, she’s brought along two of her characters from the book, Autumn and Ben,  for a sit-down to get to know them – and the book – better.  Let’s eavesdrop on their interviews for some insight into these two and the mysterious Dickenson Academy…

Tell us a bit about yourself, Autumn.

My name is Autumn Mattison. I’m from Seattle, and I just started my freshman year of high school at Dickensen Academy.

Why did you choose to attend Dickensen Academy?

Who wouldn’t? Almost no one gets in the place. So when I got in, it shocked us all. And it made my dad so proud. It’s got this great writing program, which I’m really excited about. And the art classes sound fun too. And I’ve got it admit, it was great to move out of the house. My dad is a control freak and sometimes I feel like I can barely breath around him.

What do you like about boarding school so far?

It’s so amazing to be off on my own. I’ve only been here a couple of weeks, and I’ve already made four really good friends. My roommate, Aditi, is so sweet. And then there’s Hannah, this girl I run cross country with. Ben and Ryan usually hang out with us too.

What about the classes?

I’m really liking school so far. The classes are small, and the teachers are super-passionate. Especially Mr. Robbins. He teaches Creative Core which is this art class that is supposed to be the backbone of the fine arts program. To me, it just seems like drawing and art. But the faculty says it’s much more than that.

Anything you don’t like?

Well…there’s something weird about this place that sometimes gives me the creeps. It’s almost like I’ve been here before. I keep having these déjà vu moments. But it’s probably all my imagination. My dad would say I have too much of that. But there are also all these rules. Like freshmen can’t leave campus until Thanksgiving, and we can’t hang out with the upperclassmen. There’s even this huge fence hidden in the woods. It feels like we’re locked in. But the teachers say it’s because up here in the mountains there are lots of wild animals. But it seems a bit overkill to me.

Do you have any goals for the year?

I’m hoping to get good grades. I don’t think my dad believes I can hack it on my own. But I want to prove him wrong. No way will I ever do as well as my brother, Josh. But hopefully I can do well enough to get my dad off my back.

Anything you’d like to add?

Well, there’s this guy, Ben. He’s really cute. We hang out a lot, but usually in a group. Aditi thinks he likes me. He even dreamed about me before we got in. Weird, right? But I doubt he’s interested in me. I’m sure he’ll end up with someone more like Hannah, who is model gorgeous.

(Peggy here: Mmmm… something a little creepy, eh? Sounds intriguing!) Christine sent along a picture of Dickenson Academy to share. 

All those tall trees surrounding it and the way the mist eerily is winding around them and the buildings…..wow!

And now, let’s listen in on the other student Christine has brought along with her…

Tell us a bit about yourself, Ben

My name is Ben Coleman. I’m a freshmen here at Dickensen and turn fifteen next month. My family lives in Seattle.

Why did you choose to attend Dickensen Academy?

This place has a great reputation for academics and fine arts. I’m a focused student and like the challenge. But I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to leave home. I’m really tight with my family, especially my mom. It was just the two of us for years until Jim came along. And then there’s my brother, Calvin. He’d just five. The kid looks up to me like crazy, and I do a lot with him, so my mom can get stuff done. I was worried about leaving them alone, especially because my brother has some medical issues. But then I had this vivid dream where my family was at Dickensen Academy, and I woke up feeling I needed to accept and that everything would work out.

What do you like about boarding school so far?

It’s great. I’ve got an awesome roommate named Ryan. He’s a bit of a goofball. But he gets me to let loose—something I couldn’t do much of at home when I always had to be responsible. Then there’s this girl, Autumn. We have the deepest conversations. But as I’ve gotten to know her, I realize she is beautiful in this I-don’t-even-try sort of way, always wearing jeans and hoodies. But I’m sure she sees me as just a friend, and I’m not really looking for a girlfriend right now.

What about your classes?

Love them. The teachers are fantastic. Most are really strict which I actually like. I’m here to learn. But then there’s Robbins. He teaches Creative Core which is this art class that is highly praised. He’s super laid back, so we get to chat with our friends while we work. It’s a nice break from the academics.

Anything you don’t like?

The rules. I’ve made some friends with some of the older guys playing sports after school. I’d like to hang out with them after practice, but supposedly we’re not allowed to “fraternize” with the upperclassman. What kind of a dumb rule is that? I’ve talked to this sophomore, Gabe. He basically said we could be friends later in the year, but not now. I feel like there’s something big they are hiding from us freshmen. Autumn gets the same vibe as me. She suggested it might be some form of hazing. But I don’t know. It feels bigger than that. Ryan tells me I’m paranoid, so I’m trying to let it go. But sometimes I really wonder if this school is more than it seems.

Do you have any goals for the year?

Good grades. Make friends. Just the normal stuff.

Anything you’d like to add?

Can’t think of anything.

(Peggy here- I can relate, Ben. I hate rules, too!)

 

Dickenson Academy by Christine Grabowski

This secluded high school may be her dream come true…or her worst nightmare.

Blurb

Dickensen Academy isn’t a typical boarding school. The faculty is hiding an unbelievable secret within their fine arts program. When Autumn Mattison receives an invitation to attend the high school, she yearns to escape her overbearing father yet remains reluctant to leave her mother and brother. Her doubts fade away when a vivid dream convinces her she belongs there.

Away from home, Autumn discovers a unique school environment that awakens her creative potential, and her new friends become like a second family. However, as she uncovers more about the dark side of the school and struggles with its curriculum, she questions whether Dickensen Academy is truly where she belongs.

When tragedy strikes, Autumn must learn to believe in her own power and stand up to her greatest fear or risk having her memories destroyed to protect the school’s secrets. Caught between secrets and dreams, can she find her true self?

Excerpt 

“I feel like there’s something big we don’t know about. Something those students were protecting. I mean, really, why are we here?”

I thought it was just me who was confused. “Well…the recruiters said we’re creative and focused.”

“Yeah, that’s what Principal Locke said too.”

“And we have the right personality.”

Ben looked up at the sky, sighed then turned toward the forest. “What did he say…something about how it will soon become clear why we’re here, and there’s some ultimate purpose for our creativity?”

“I know. That whole creativity part was a bit bizarre.”

He shrugged. “It seems everyone is going with the flow. But I have so many questions.” Then he touched my arm to stop me, so I turned toward him. “I’m thinking they’re isolating us for some special reason,” he admitted in an embarrassed tone.

I tried not to laugh—he was acting paranoid. But I didn’t know Ben well. Maybe he was joking, trying to freak me out. Or was he hitting on me? The flutter in my chest moved to my stomach. I was already anxious about being away from home and whether or not I could hack the academics. I didn’t need to obsess about anything else. But I still had to know about Ben’s dream.

“So…I also had a dream about Dickensen before I accepted the offer.”

Ben’s head snapped toward me. “You did?”

Buy/Book Links:

Amazon // B&N // Apple // The Wild Rose Press  // GooglePlay // Kobo

A little about Christine Grabowsk

Dickensen Academy is Christine’s debut YA novel. After graduating from the University of Washington, she earned her MBA at the University at Albany. She honed her technical writing skills in marketing and consulting but attributes the creative part of the process to her passion for reading.

When she isn’t reading or writing, Christine can often be found running, skiing, or hiking. She lives in Newcastle, Washington, with her supportive husband, two avid teen readers, and their energetic wheaten terriers.

You can visit Christine here:

website // goodreads // BookBub // FaceBook //Instagram // Twitter // Amazon //

 

* Book Trailer:

(Peggy here – Christine, thanks so much for dropping by today and bringing Autumn and Ben with you. I have to say, Dickenson Academy sounds like the kind of place I’d definitely want to visit.)

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The Demise….

I figured I’d get your attention with that title! Did it work? Hee hee.

So I decided to stop sending out a newsletter. It never really took off, subscription-wise anyway, and it was a lot of work for not a lot of return on the work involved. The other reason I decided to render it defunct had to do with a workshop I attended over the weekend on writing newsletters.

I’m pretty sure the person who gave the workshop didn’t have as one of her objectives that the writers in the class will kill their newsletters! But that was my decision.

Let me ‘esplain. 

There are a few new privacy rules involved in sending emails with newsletters to people. The reason is for something called GDRP.

This rule requires you to show proof that a person actually wants you to send them your email/newsletter, plus you have to give them an easy out if they want to unsubscribe, all to protect the privacy of person you are sending stuff to.  It’s kinda like  publishing HIPPA. Today, with the surge in blogs, and internet sites, protecting privacy is a huge factor in how companies deal with their customers. I put my newsletter together before this edict came down and when I tried to rework the form to sign up to include all the new GDRP verbage, I screwed it up six ways from Sunday and it became a huge pain in the a** to fix.

Then, when I did fix it, I was worried I hadn’t done it correctly, which led me to trying to fix it even more, and the whole thing snowballed into an afternoon spent frustrated and now afraid I was going to be sued by the GDRP powers-that-be.

In addition to this dilemma, the workshop speaker had a list of things you should and shouldn’t be doing in your newsletter.

Can I just tell you I did every single one of the things you shouldn’t  be doing? Yeah. Who knew??

Any hoo.

The newsletter was just one more thing I thought – and kept getting told by other writers – I needed to connect with readers. Well, you know what? I blog 4-5 times per week, I tweet dozens of times daily, I share Triberr feeds, I live on facebook and my Instagram is burning up. I don’t need a newsletter to connect with people because everyone knows everything about me anyway from one of those other sites. So, bye bye newsletter and GDRP worries, hello more time to….do everything else!!

heehee.

When I’m not worrying and obsessing, you can find me here:

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Did you know I can juggle?

I’d better clarify that title in case people think I’ve gone circus-mad!
No, I can’t toss things in the air with the greatest of ease and catch them in a synchronized pattern of flawlessly timed manual dexterity. ( how’s that for a sentence? Hee hee) But I can — and do — juggle things in life every single day. Of course I do, because I’m a woman in the 21st century with a career, family, personal life, dreams, and desires.

Let me ‘esplain it, Lucy.

Like so many woman nowadays, I not only have a family I care for – which includes my husband and daughter but also now my rapidly aging and health diminishing parents – I have a career that depends on me and me alone to -literally – get the job done because I’m a solo writer. If I don’t put the words on the page, no one else will. I have a personal life and circle which includes people outside my family whom I love getting together  and socializing with. I also have hobbies, those things I do for my self, my sanity, my creativity, in the privacy of my own home during any free time I can spare.

When my daughter was a wee bit younger and still living at home, I was her chauffeur to school, after school activities and everywhere else she needed to be or wanted to go. Even when she started to drive, I was still the one who did her laundry, cooked for her and made sure she was healthy, balanced, and happy.

My husband has a demanding career and is often gone up to fourteen hours a day. Even when he is home he still has to take phone calls and manage problems, so that leaves little time for him to do the things that he’d have to do to run his life if he were single. That means I am tasked with cooking, cleaning, shopping, paying bills, and doing all these sundry other tasks that require our home to  run. I draw the line at mowing grass and taking out the garbage though. Those things – my little feminist heart aside – I classify as man tasks. Don’t judge me!

My writing career depends on my getting my stories on the page in a coherent, concise, and quick manner. At this point in my career when I am still an unknown in the publishing world I can’t take up to a year to write one book. Luckily, I write fast, so I’ve been able to average 3 books in print a year since I began my journey in 2015. In order to do this effectively and in a timely manner, I need to juggle the time I spend on everything else so that I have enough time to write.

In the purest sense of the word, my life is a juggling act.

Those of you who know me know I don’t sleep much. Chronic insomnia rules my life. I utilize this sleepless state to write, put together book promo marketing, and do other sundry writing things ( like this blog, for instance. – it’s 2 am EST right now as I type away.) Most days I write between the life stuff. I’ll go to the gym ( because my a** has gotten larger since I sit most of the day) then write for an hour. Grocery shop, then edit. Visit my parents to give my mother a shower, then bang out a blog post. Once I actually finished a scene while I was at the dentist office waiting for a cleaning.

I’m not alone in doing this. Every female writer I know juggles every single day just to carve out time to write, exist, and keep the family happy, fed, and healthy. The key is to find that elusive balance needed so that no one – especially the juggler ( Moi!) feels like they’re missing out on something.

They kinda go hand in hand, don’t they? Juggling and Balance.

Think about it.

On any given or random day, you can find me juggling here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe

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#SundaySnippet 9.16.18

Here, for the first time, is the cover to my upcoming Holiday release CHRISTMAS AND CANOLLIS, a San Valentino Christmas Love Story. Don’tcha love the cover!!! Hee hee. Here’s a little sumthin’ sumthin to whet your holiday reading appetite:

“You seeing anybody these days? Like, dating?”

Trixie was the oldest of all my brother’s wives and the one who routinely asked after my love life. Or lack of it.

“No free time,” I said. “The bakery takes up all my hours. When I’m not working, I’m planning, paying bills, ordering supplies. Throw in a few much-needed hours of sleep each night, and months can change before I realize it.”

Trixie shook her head, her over-Aqua-netted hair staying perfectly in place while she moved. “You’re too young, Reg, to be sitting alone at night in that apartment. You’re gonna shrivel and rot before your time. A girl’s gotta”—she lowered her voice and moved a little closer to me—“get some sometime, you know?” Her raised eyebrows underscored her meaning as her intent glare lit on me. “Don’t use it, you’re gonna lose it.”

“Lose what?” my mother asked in her usual thunderous voice at just the moment the entire table’s conversations screamed to a halt.

“Nothin’ Ma. Trixie and me were just talking about the bakery.” I hoped against hope she’d let it go, but it wasn’t my mother I needed to worry about. It was Trixie.

She leaned forward and cocked her head so she could see my mother across my chest, the few glasses of pre-dinner vino showing their effects. “I was just saying to Reggie that she should be going out, dating. Trying to find a guy worthy of her. Not one like her loser ex.”

Remember when I said there were times I’d wished I’d been a foundling? Yeah. This was a prime example of one of those times.

“She’s still young and beautiful,” Trixie continued. “She’s got needs like any young and healthy woman does.”

Forget about being a foundling. Maybe it would have been better if I’d never been born.

“Hush with that kinda talk, Beatrice Guilia,” my mother said, sharply. She made the sign of the cross over her chest. “We don’t talk about things like needs and such at the dinner table. There’s kids present. Madonna mia.”

Once Trixie starts on a subject, though, it’s hard to stop her. Not even ’Carlo pulling at her arm can sway her when she wants to make a point. “All I’m sayin’ is Reggie shouldn’t let the tragedy of her past prevent her from finding lasting happiness. She deserves to be happy. In every way,” she added, nodding. “Penny, you get me, right?”

I shot my gaze to my other sister-in-law across the table and sent her a silent, wide-eyed plea to keep her mouth shut.

Penny wasn’t tuned into my telepathic appeal, though. I assumed the vino had something to do with her inability to read my mind and eye signals.

“It’s true, Reg. You got no life outside-a work,” she said. “You need to get out. Meet people. Find a boyfriend. I know a couple-a single guys at work. I could set you up with one of them.”

“Nobody’s setting Regina up with nobody.” My father’s booming voice shot through the dining room. “She wants t’ meet a guy, I’ll introduce her to one. Last time, she went looking on her own, and we all know what happened.”

He looked pointedly at me, and I said a silent prayer for the dining room floor to open up and swallow me. The only guys my father was every going to introduce me to were the ones he associated with. None of whom had modern notions of a wife as a life partner, but more the old-fashioned and archaic ones of thinking of a bride as an unpaid domestic, a carrier of the next generation of sons, and a cook. In essence, a woman who was perpetually pregnant, barefoot in the kitchen, and subservient.

Yeah, I know. This is the twenty-first century, and we live in one of the most progressive cities on the planet. But we’re talking about a lifetime of shared social mores and cultural dictates that were infused into my family since birth. Maybe even before they were born.

Change was not gonna happen.

Coming 12.12.18 from The Wild Rose Press. Pre-order links coming soon!

Look for me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe

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Would you call this…odd? #MFRWauthor Week 37

So it’s no secret I like to read. And cook. I also like to read cookbooks. Hee hee. See what I did there?

I have over 130 cookbooks in my house, some dating back to the early 1900’s – old church-sponsored cookbooks with recipes like Lard Pie and Potato Treacle. Weird, no? Some are from famous celebrities – Trisha Yearwood’s and Rachel Ray’s are my fav – and some from the likes of Betty Crocker, Southern Comfort Magazine, and Weight Watchers.

I’ve read all of them – really. I have my own recipe books with written copies of the recipes I’ve read about impressed into them. I’m always up for a new cookbook gift. (Hint Hint)

I’ve got cookbooks devoted solely to chicken, meat, veggies, pasta, desserts, cookies, pies, hors d’ouveres, appetizers, munchies, smoothies, cupcakes and cakes. I have entertaining cookbooks with complete meal selections in courses from soup to nuts. I’ve got holiday cookbooks galore – of every holiday, not only Thanksgiving and Christmas, but Valentine’s Day, Easter, and even the Fourth of July.

I’ve got cookbooks with the titles “the best of American Cuisine” “The Number one recipes in England” “Fifty way to serve hotdogs”. Hubby loves that one!

I think my cookbook collecting is a little addictive, no?

Hi, my name is Peggy and I collect cookbooks.

Lets see what some of the other authors in this blog challenge collect. MFRWauthorBlogChallenge

When I’m not looking at recipes, you can find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe

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Never forget….

No other words are necessary……

 

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Something new in Audio!

Overjoyed to announce my first San Valentino Christmas Story A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS is out on audio for all you book-LISTENING-lovers!!

With Christmas just a few weeks away, Gia San Valentino, the baby in her large, loud, and loving Italian family, yearns for a life and home of her own with a husband and bambini she can love and spoil. The single scene doesn’t interest her, and the men her well-meaning family introduce her to aren’t exactly the happily-ever-after kind.

Tim Santini believes he’s finally found the woman for him, but Gia will take some convincing she’s that girl. A misunderstanding has her thinking he’s something he’s not.

Can a kiss stolen under the Christmas lights persuade her to spend the rest of her life with him

Audio buy links:

Amazon //Audible // i-tunes- coming soon. For a complete list of all my print books, ebooks, and audiobooks, click here: Amazon Author Page

Here’s a little present from me to you to whet your romance reading appetite: The trailer to AKISS

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#SundaySnippet 9.9.18

At this rate, half the book will be on my blog before it’s released into the world! Hahahahah.

Today, a little tidbit concerning family members. Fiona Scallopini is Colleen’s 93 year old, 4 times married and widowed Irish born and bred grandmother. She’s feisty, unfailingly loyal, and loves nothing more than to buck the system. In this scene, she’s being held in the town jail by Chief of Police Lucas Alexander for a traffic violation. Colleen is tasked with bailing her out, something she and her sisters have done before….lots of times before. 

The hallway opened into a kitchen. The decor was circa nineteen sixties, the table an oval of solid oak surrounded by four chairs, one of which was occupied by a leprechaun. A flaming red-headed leprechaun with the bluest eyes ever produced. While the eyes were their birth color, the hair was not. The shade was simply one not found anywhere in nature. I knew it came out of a box—two different boxes, in fact—because Nanny had never been able to find the exact color she desired, so she created her own. All the O’Dowd women resembled our grandmother in coloring and facial structure. My sisters and I could still claim, truthfully, our red hair was from God.

“Nanny, I’m here.”

“Praise the Lord.” She jumped up from the chair and bolted across the room with more speed and vigor than a woman in her nineties should have. “Get me outta here, Number Two. Tilly’s probably having a coronary wondering where I am. I need to get to the home.”

As she spoke, her eyes grazed over Slade and narrowed thoughtfully. “And who might this be?” she asked, pointing her chin in his direction, but addressing me. “Got the look of a legal man about ’im.”

Before Slade could introduce himself, I moved to the other man in the room, one I’d known since birth.

“Lucas, what’s all this about? What’s Nanny done?”

“I’ve done nothin’, child. I’m falsely accused. Police brutality, ’tis. Pure and simple.” Nanny did her best to pull herself up some in height, but even standing on the tops of her toes, she couldn’t achieve more than four foot ten.

“Nanny, please.” I turned back to the chief. “Lucas?”

“It’s what she didn’t do, Coll, that has her sitting here. Her driver’s license expired.”

“Oh, my God, is that all?” I relaxed for the first time since the phone call. “She can just retake the test, then. Her license isn’t too far out of date, is it?”

Lucas looked at Nanny and said, “Do you want to tell her when it expired?”

Nanny’s mouth clamped shut.

“Well?” My gaze bounced between them. “How long ago?”

“Ten years,” Lucas said.

What? “Te-ten? Years?”

Lucas nodded, flicked his gaze to my grandmother and then back to me.

“Obviously, you didn’t know. I wouldn’t have either, but she ran through the stop sign—”

“I did no such t’ing!” Nanny shouted.

Lucas ignored her. “—on Purgatory Place. Pete Bergeron was sitting in the squad and saw her blast through it.”

“Lies! All lies.”

“Nanny, please.” My hand flew to my left eye, bracing it when it started twitching like a meth addict in need of a fix. I turned back to Lucas. “Go on.”

I had to give the man credit. He never lost his composure when Nanny yelled her accusations. He simply waited until she wound down. “Like I said, Pete saw her run the stop and then gave chase.”

“Lights a-blaring, sirens a-blasting like he was chasing a notorious criminal.” Nanny shook her bottle-dyed head, the corners of her lips pulling down to her chin, a click of her tongue echoing with disgust. “The whole of Glory Road saw him barreling down on me like I was Whitey Bulger himself, come back from the grave!”

I ignored her outburst, never correcting her that the famous mobster was still alive and well and living out his days incarcerated.

“When he finally got her to stop,” Lucas continued, “he asked for her license and registration, and where she was speeding off to so fast she blew the stop sign.”

Nanny made a rude noise, crossed her arms in front of her chest, and said, “The man’s a complete askhole.”

“Excuse me?” Lucas’s voice dropped several notches. I imagined criminals wet their pants when he used it on them.

“It’s what she calls people who ask—in her opinion—stupid and pointless questions,” I explained quickly. “Askholes.”

My pulse slowed a little when I saw the ghost of a grin tug at his mouth. “The car’s registered to your dad,” he said after a moment.

I rubbed my eye, then batted it a few times to focus. “Daddy left it for her to use when he and Mom moved. Is the registration expired, too?”

“No. Just her license to operate a vehicle.” He finally turned his full attention back to my grandmother. “What I can’t understand is why you let it go so long, Fiona.”

“Don’t’cha be addressing me as anyt’ing other than Mrs. Scaloppini. You’ve lost the right to use me Christian name, treating me like a criminal as ya are. I used to wipe your snotty nose when your ma brought ya to catechism class. You’ve no cause to be calling me Fiona as if we were friends. We’re not from this moment on and never shall be.”

Nanny Fee provides a great deal of the humor – and angst – for the O’Dowd sisters in my MAtch Made in Heaven series. I just love me a feisty grannie!

DEARLY BELOVED, Book 1 in a Match Made in Heaven,  Coming in November 2018 – I’ll post the pre-order links as soon as I have them!

You can also look for them – and me – here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe

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N.N.Lights Book Heaven #Bookathon, part II

Hey hey hey!!! I’m one of the featured authors today on  NNLights Book Heaven Bookathon. Stop by and leave me a little love! There’s a rafflecopter and you all know I love me a good chance to win sumthin!!!

Rafflecopter link: giveaway

Open internationally
Runs September 1 – 30
Drawing will be held on October 1.

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Don’t judge me for my secret snack choice!

Shhhhhhh! 

No one is allowed to know I have a secret stash of  these…..

In my office drawer.

Don’t tell. Please. Pretty please.

heehee….

Let’s check out some of the other authors in this blog to see what they hide to snack on… MFRWauthorblogchallenge

and when I’m not snacking you can find me here:

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