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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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A visit with Casi McClean and Lacey Montgomery…

Today is an exciting day for me because I get to introduce you to TWO amazing women: author and fellow Wild Rose Press sistah  Casi McLean and Lacey Montgomery, a woman you will want to meet – and you can in Casi’s novel BENEATH THE LAKE. Lacey sat down with me recently to answer a few questions mulling ’round in my brain.

 

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Lacey: Good morning, Peggy. Thank you so much for your interest in my story. I never would have believed the stream of events if I hadn’t lived through them. I mean the concept of a time slip is intriguing, but I never dreamed the idea held merit beyond books and movies.

Peggy: I agree, but when I heard what happened to you, I felt compelled to share your story with our readers. Let’s begin by telling us a little about yourself and what led to your amazing experience.

Lacey: Well, I’m a lawyer so, under normal circumstances, I’m not prone to fantasizing or hallucinations, but when you walk in on your boyfriend in a lustful tryst with another woman, a momentary lapse in judgment is totally reasonable. After dumping a vase of narcissus over both of them I took off, not even thinking about the twisting mountain roads or torrential rain. When my car slid out of control I hurled into the lake. In hindsight, I could have handled the situation with a little less emotion. The accident was on me. But what happened afterwards would freak out anyone.

Peggy: It sounds like you had a rough evening, but every woman dreams of meeting her soul mate. If you could relive the night, would you react differently?

Lacey: That’s the thing. I wouldn’t. Sometimes events you believe are the worst that can happen, turn out to be the pivotal moments in your life. When the whirlpool thrust me into the murky depths, I was sure I was dead. Even if I had the strength to fight against the swirling current, the water was pitch black and my lungs ached for oxygen.

The next thing I knew, this angel—an angel dressed in jeans  and a tight, white T-shirt—was carrying me, soothing me. Was I dreaming, or had I died and gone to heaven?

It took me a while to figure out where I was…or should I say when I was. But I’m living proof that traveling through time is possible. A portal at the bottom of the lake sucked me back in time to 1949, thirty-four years before I was born.

Peggy: I can’t imagine. Weren’t you scared? I’d probably be ready for the men in white coats to haul me away.

Lacey: I was terrified, at first. And yet, from the first moment I opened my eyes in Bobby Reynolds’ arms, he made me feel safe. He sparked something inside of me I’d never felt before. Of course, my record with men was less than stellar, but as hard as I tried to fight the connection, my heart melted every time we were together. I knew I found the man of my dreams, but the crack in time didn’t get the memo. The gateway had its own agenda.

Peggy: So what happened? Did you end up with the love of your life?

Lacey: Let’s just say after evading treacherous bootleggers, a creepy stalker and a ceaseless search for the key to the portal, we found a happy ending. But if you want to know how and the details of what happened, you’ll have to read Beneath The Lake. I’d sacrifice anything for Bobby and he’d do the same for me. But the future isn’t always in your control.

A note from Casi:

Perhaps the existence of a crack in time might be difficult for some to believe, but there’s a hidden cove just north of Atlanta on the northern shore of Lake Lanier where the spirit of a ghost town blossoms and two star-crossed lovers guard the portal that entwined their souls forever beneath the lake.

*** Please take a moment and watch Lacey’s book trailer:

Book Blurb:

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A ghost town submerged beneath Atlanta’s famous man-made Lake Lanier reportedly lures victims to a watery grave. But when Lacey Montgomery’s car spins out of control and hurtles into the depths of the icy water, she awakens in the arms of a stranger, in a town she’s never heard of––34 years before she was born.

When the 2012 lawyer tangles with the 1949 hunk, fire and ice swirl into a stream of sweltering desire. Bobby Reynolds is smitten the moment the storm-ravaged woman opens her eyes and, despite adamant protest, Lacey falls in love with a town destined for extinction and the man who vows to save his legacy.

Threatened by a nefarious stalker, the wrath of bootleggers, and twists of fate, Lacey must find the key to the mysterious portal before time rips them apart, or their star-crossed spirits will wander forever through a ghost town buried beneath the lake.

Book excerpt: Lake Lanier, Georgia—June 2011

A final thud hurled him backward, flailing through brush and thickets like a rag doll. Grasping at anything to break momentum, Rob’s hand clung to a branch wedged into the face of the precipice. Spiny splinters sliced his skin. Blood oozed and trickled into his palms, and one by one, his fingers slowly slipped.

A sharp crack echoed through the silence of the ravine as the bough succumbed to his weight. He plummeted into free-fall. Clenching his eyes, he drew in a deep breath, terrified of the pain, the mauling that waited on the jagged rocks below.

When icy water broke his fall, the chill kept him from losing consciousness. He spun, straining to see, but darkness enveloped him. Soggy clothing pulled him deeper—deeper into the murky, fathomless depths. He wrestled to squirm free from the waterlogged jacket dragging him down to a watery grave, watched the coat disappear into black obscurity. Panic gripped his stomach, or was it death that snaked around his chest, squeezing, squeezing, squeezing the air, the life from his body? Lack of oxygen burned his lungs, beckoning surrender, and a shard of rage pierced his gut as reality set in. He lunged upward with one last thrust and burst from the water’s deadly grip, gasping for air. A gurgling howl spewed from the depths of his soul and echoed into silence.

Sunlight shimmered across a smooth, indigo lake, but aside from the slight ripples of his own paddling, nothing but stillness surrounded him. He floated toward the shore, sucking deep breaths into his lungs until the pummeling in his chest subsided. When he reached the water’s edge, he hoisted his body onto the soft red clay and collapsed while the sun’s warmth drained the tension from his body.

No one knew he had survived. The rules had shifted. Now he could reinvent himself, become a stealth predator. His target: Lacey Madison Montgomery.

Chapter 1

June 2012, one year later at an extravagant clubhouse in Lake Lanier, Georgia

June 9th began like any ordinary day, but for me, nothing would ever be ordinary again. In hindsight, I could see that the rainy night wasn’t the catalyst for my twist of fate. The storm was more like a vortex with currents reaching out beyond imagination. Within twenty-four hours I would lose my ability to distinguish dreams from reality…

 

Buy Links: Amazon //B&N // Kobo // Publisher //  ibooks //

All About Casi:

Casi Head Shot

Originally from McLean, Virginia, Casi relocated to Atlanta after graduating from the University of Georgia. Fascinated with stories since childhood, she became a teacher of English, creative writing and drama. The search for her biological father revealed secrets that rekindled her passion for writing and inspired her 5-star memoir, Wingless Butterfly.

Casi’s publications also include five novelettes and her debut novel, Beneath The Lake, the first of her three-book Beneath The Lake series. Book two, Beyond The Mist, is scheduled for release later this year. Casi lives in Atlanta where she writes, creates trailers and tips for authors, speaks, and coaches others to let go of the past and pursue their dreams.

Find Casi McLean here:

Website://Twitter:// FB Author Page:// Goodreads: // Pinterest: //  Google+: // Amazon Author Page:

 

 

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