Interview and Giveaway with Christine Grabowski, Author of Dickensen Academy

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.

Website: www.christinegrabowski.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/christinegrabowskiauthor

Twitter @christinegrabo

Thank you for joining us today, Christine. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

My name is Christine Grabowski. I live outside of Seattle with my family which consists of my husband, a teen and tween reader, and two wheaten terrier puppies. When I’m not reading, writing or ubering my kids around, I can often be found in the gym or hiking the trails behind my neighborhood.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

Four years ago after finishing a YA book with a very interesting premise, I decided I wanted to attempt my own book. This wasn’t the first time I had been inspired to write after finishing a novel, but I happened to be out of town and had some kid-free time to actually do something about it. And my husband said, “If anyone can write a book, it’s you, you read enough,” which motivated me to continue. When I returned, my library was having an introductory writing class in preparation for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and I learned a few basics. Once I began to write, I couldn’t stop.

Why did you decide to write stories for the YA market?

Watching my children learn to read inspired me to want to write books that created a love of reading in a child or teen. Young adult books are some of my favorite to read because the characters are made to be relatable to the reader, and their plots are often based on a unique premise.

What is your favorite part of writing for this group? What is the greatest challenge?

I believe a higher percentage of teen readers read with an open mind compared to adult readers and entertainment is often their number one goal. For example, in my experience tween and teen readers are more willing to suspend their disbelief if an author can create a world that comes alive and is of interest to them. Some adults (definitely not all) are always looking for reasons why a plot point can’t happen in real life and fail to just simply enjoy the story.

On the flip side, if a book doesn’t hold a teen’s interest, they will trade it for a video. Therefore, writing needs to be concise and move at a fast pace. In general, it is not the audience who wants an info dump of all your research or a sunset described poetically over the course of three pages.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about? 

Dickensen Academy is a young YA contemporary fantasy that bridges the gap between MG and YA. It is about a fourteen-year-old girl, Autumn, who is invited to a fine arts boarding school in the secluded mountains of the Pacific Northwest. However, she soon realizes the faculty is secretly teaching dream telepathy.

Although the premise is considered a paranormal or a fantasy, the focus of the book is as much about Autumn’s relationships with her friends and family and her struggles in school and for independence—something many teens can relate to.

What inspired you to write it?

While I was brainstorming ideas for a story, I began to go through my dreams each morning hoping I’d dream up a fantastic idea like Stephenie Meyer did with Twilight. Although I never dreamed an amazing dream, I did start to question why I remembered some dreams but forgot others. That idea led me to the premise for Dickensen Academy.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

Currently the book is only available to purchase online. The paperback is listed on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The eBook is also on iTunes, Google Play, Kobo, and The Wild Rose Press. However, the book is being added to more and more libraries every day.

Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/dickensen-academy-map-success/dp/B07G71747S

Barnes & Noble  

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dickensen-academy-christine-grabowski/1129315140?ean=9781509221233

iTunes

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dickensen-academy/id1419915501?mt=11

Google Play

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Christine_Grabowski_Dickensen_Academy?id=3LpsDwAAQBAJ

Kobo

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/dickensen-academy

The Wild Rose Press

https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/6044-dickensen-academy.html

What is up next for you?

I set aside a Sleep Beauty fairy tale reimagining to write the sequel for Dickensen Academy. Although I wrote it as a standalone, the reviewers really want to see Autumn’s adventures continue as she moves through high school.

Do you have anything else to add?

I’ve had several parents, teachers, and librarians suggest Dickensen Academy as an ideal book for tweens and young teens because it has the appeal of a YA coming of age story, but it doesn’t have the mature content that is in some YA novels.

Thank you for spending time with us today, Christine. We wish you much success.

Curious to know more, check out this excerpt!

Clues to the secret existed from day one, yet they appeared to belong to separate puzzles. Most students either missed these signs or chose to ignore them. We were busy acclimating—as the faculty called it—to a new environment. Some outsiders might call what they did to us those initial weeks a form of brainwashing or fostering a cult-like mentality.

But not me.

I agreed with Principal Locke. We weren’t ready. We needed time to separate from our families and become a cohesive group. And some of us, myself included, even needed a little nudge to accept the invitation. If someone had told us the truth on Day One why they’d brought us to Dickensen Academy, we would have never believed it. We’d think they were crazy. Or worse, we’d turn around and run back home. But if we left, we would have missed out on something extraordinary. Something worth the wait.

GIVEAWAY

Christine Grabowski will be awarding $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Skull Creek Stakeout by Eddie Jones

 

The good news is, vampires aren’t real. The bad news is…you can’t believe the news.

Nick Caden is a normal teen with a “supernatural” knack for finding trouble, ghosts, vampires, and all sorts of undead — or so it seems. After solving the ghost story murder at Deadwood Canyon, Nick lands a job as a roving reporter for The Cool Ghoul Gazette, a website on paranormal or supernatural disturbances. When the editor sends Nick to investigate a murder in Transylvania, North Carolina, the young super sleuth finds a corpse with fangs, bite marks and a stake driven through the heart. If Nick proves vampires are real, his job as an investigative journalist is set for life! But once he begins to peel back the clues surrounding the murder Nick finds his new job is not only dangerous but could suck the life out of him.

File Size: 5216 KB
Print Length: 136 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Illuminate YA (October 29, 2018)
Publication Date: October 29, 2018
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B07K1FR11Y

Purchase here!

Ghost Stories for Young Adults

At fifteen, Victoria, a city girl, loses her mother’s love and tries to cope with country isolation, no friends, and no one who cares, until she meets a ghost. A book for readers ages 15 – 18.

Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: 4RV Publishing LLC (June 28, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0983801870

Order here!

 

Alona Dare–Senior in high school, co-captain of the cheerleading squad, Homecoming Queen three years in a row, voted most likely to marry a movie star… and newly dead.

I’m the girl you hated in high school. Is it my fault I was born with it all-good looks, silky blond hair, a hot body, and a keen sense of what everyone else should not be wearing? But my life isn’t perfect, especially since I died. Run over by a bus of band geeks—is there anything more humiliating? As it turns out, yes—watching your boyfriend and friends move on with life, only days after your funeral. And you wouldn’t believe what they’re saying about me now that they think I can’t hear them. To top it off, I’m starting to disappear, flickering in and out of existence. I don’t know where I go when I’m gone, but it’s not good. Where is that freaking white light already?

Will Killian–Senior in high school, outcast, dubbed “Will Kill” by the popular crowd for the unearthly aura around him, voted most likely to rob a bank…and a ghost-talker.

I can see, hear, and touch the dead. Unfortunately, they can also see, hear and touch me. Yeah, because surviving high school isn’t hard enough already. I’ve done my best to hide my “gift.” After all, my dad, who shared my ability, killed himself because of it when I was fifteen. But lately, pretending to be normal has gotten a lot harder. A new ghost—an anonymous, seething cloud of negative energy with the capacity to throw me around—is pursuing me with a vengeance. My mom, who knows nothing about what I can do, is worrying about the increase in odd incidents, my shrink is tossing around terms like “temporary confinement for psychiatric evaluation,” and my principal, who thinks I’m a disruption and a faker, is searching for every way possible to get rid of me. How many weeks until graduation?

Series: A Ghost and the Goth Novel
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH (May 10, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1423124871
ISBN-13: 978-1423124870

Order here!

Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy’s mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who’s always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt?

Rachel Hawkins’ delightful spin-off brings the same wit and charm as the New York Times best-selling Hex Hall series. Get ready for more magic, mystery and romance!

Series: A Hex Hall Novel
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (May 20, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781423148500
ISBN-13: 978-1423148500
ASIN: 1423148509

Order here!

Banned Books Week – September 23 – 29

Welcome to Banned Books Week 2018. That cute logo comes directly from the Banned Books Week Facebook page. Hope they don’t mind me borrowing it for a bit. What is Banned Books Week? Pretty much, it is an annual celebration of the freedom to read. Believe it or not, in this supposedly enlightened day and age, there are still countries out there who don’t allow their people to read what they want. In America, we still have people who challenge a book because of its content. As a parent, in some tiny part of my brain, I understand where people are coming from. There are some books I would prefer my children not read; though I don’t recall ever saying, “no, you can’t read that.” Maybe I’ve just been lucky that my kids haven’t pushed that envelope or maybe I am kidding myself into thinking my influence was so good they only made book choices they knew I would approve of. As an author, however, I can’t imagine a country built upon freedom censoring a book.

If you would like to see the list of 2017 Top Ten Challenged Books you can find it here. There are definitely some controversial issues in these titles: suicide, profanity, sexual content, vulgarity, and gender identity (to name a few). In the past, here are some banned children’s/YA books that might surprise you…or not.

 

 

 

New from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

Here are a few new books from Macmillan Children’s that caught my eye:

 

Howard Carter was obsessed with mummies. He met his first when he was a boy in England and lived near a mansion filled with Egyptian artifacts. Howard dreamed of discovering a mummy himself–especially a royal mummy in its tomb, complete with all its treasures. When he was seventeen, he took a job with the Egypt Exploration Fund and was sent to Egypt to learn about archaeology and excavation sites. And his mummy hunt was on! Howard discovered many amazing artifacts, but he searched for years before coming upon the most famous mummy of all, King Tut.

 

A timely, poignant tale of family, sacrifice and the friendship between a young Syrian refugee and an American boy living in Brussels.

Fourteen-year-old Ahmed is stuck in a city that wants nothing to do with him. Newly arrived in Brussels, Belgium, Ahmed fled a life of uncertainty and suffering in Syria, only to lose his father on the perilous journey to the shores of Europe. Now Ahmed’s struggling to get by on his own, but with no one left to trust and nowhere to go, he’s starting to lose hope.

Then he meets Max, a thirteen-year-old American boy. Lonely and homesick, Max is being bothered by a bully at school, he doesn’t speak a word of French, and just can’t seem to do anything right. But with one startling discovery, Max and Ahmed’s lives collide, banding the boys together to help Ahmed survive.

As their friendship grows, Ahmed and Max defy the odds, learning from each other what it means to be brave, and how hope can change your destiny.

Set against the backdrop of the Syrian refugee crisis, award-winning author Katherine Marsh delivers a gripping, heartwarming story of resilience, friendship and everyday heroes.

Sometimes I feel like everyone else was handed a copy of the rules for life and mine got lost.

Grace has Asperger’s and her own way of looking at the world. She’s got a horse and a best friend who understand her, and that’s pretty much all she needs. But when Grace kisses Gabe and things start to change at home, the world doesn’t make much sense to her any more.

Suddenly everything threatens to fall apart, and it’s up to Grace to fix it on her own.

Visit Macmillan Children’s at:

https://www.youtube.com/user/macmillanchildrens

Blogging at 4RV Blog

 

Every person has their favorite authors and books. Today, at the 4RV Publishing blog, I share some of my personal favorites from this publishing house. You can find the list at https://4rvreading-writingnewsletter.blogspot.com/2018/07/my-4rv-favorites.html

Freaking Fast by David Pereda Book Blast

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. David will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The city is Asheville, North Carolina, and the year is 2066. As renowned mathematician Alexandra Martin travels in her self-driving car to assassinate the love of her life, she reminisces about how they met and fell in love fifty years earlier in middle school when she was a thirteen year old poor math whiz and he a wealthy teenager. Alex recounts her struggles to be admitted to the best private school in the county, her happy teenage years running track, and her close relationship with three handsome and charming boys: Xavier, the intellectual; Andrew, the golden boy; and Vitali, the suave foreigner. One by one, she visits the three boys of her youth, now successful professionals in their sixties, one of whom is her intended victim.

Read an Excerpt:

The road curves away but Andrew keeps the car on a straight line, riding on the well-manicured lawn, heading at dizzying speed toward the trees. I glance at the speedometer. We are going at 135 miles an hour already and gaining speed. We’re going to crash. My heart is beating so fast I think it’s going to break through my ribcage.

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, I’m thinking. I’m never going to carry out my plan. In a few more seconds I’m going to be dead, together with Andrew.

Fifty meters from the trees, Andrew pulls on the stick shift and, suddenly, we are flying. What? Wings have sprouted from the door panels and a tail has emerged from the rear. Andrew pulls hard on the stick, so we can clear the trees. I quickly calculate the angle of ascension as my head flattens against the back of the seat. Estimating the distance to the tree line and the height of the trees, I use the Pythagorean Theorem to gauge the hypotenuse: the angle of ascension is forty-five degrees, maybe even a tad more. That’s steep.

Are we going to make it?

We do, barely, but we do.

‘Yeah!’ Andrew yells with excitement as he steadies Kitty. ‘Was that a rush, or what?’ He glances at me and starts laughing. ‘You look pale, Alex.’

I don’t remember Andrew being this crazy. He was always a little bit on the wild side, but this is not a little; this is a lot. I gasp for air and try to recover my composure. I can’t talk just yet. We are flying at about 500 feet above the ground. The lake looks beautiful below us. I check the speed – 220 miles an hour. Kitty is slicing through the air with hardly a sound, like a gust of wind.

‘This baby has a cruising speed of 300 miles an hour,’ Andrew says, as if reading my mind. ‘And a top speed of 400. This is the latest prototype.’

My heartbeat has slowed down enough for me to speak.

‘Impressive.’

About the Author:

David Pereda is the award-winning author of nine novels, including Havana Blues and However Long the Night, as well as the Havana Series of thrillers featuring the dashing Doctor Raymond Peters and the beautiful but deadly Cuban assassin Marcela. He has traveled to more than thirty countries and speaks four languages. Before devoting his time solely to writing and teaching, David had a successful international consulting career with global giant Booz Allen Hamilton, where he worked with the governments of Mexico, Venezuela, Peru and Qatar, among others.

A member of MENSA, David earned his MBA from Pepperdine University in California. He earned bachelor degrees in English literature and mathematics at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

He lives in artistic Asheville, North Carolina, with his youngest daughter Sophia, where he teaches mathematics and English at the Asheville-Buncombe Community College. He loves sports and is an accomplished competitor in track and show-jumping equestrian events.

Author’s Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/David-Pereda/e/B002BML17Q

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Freaking-Fast-David-Pereda/dp/198750061X/ref=la_B002BML17Q_1_1

 

GIVEAWAY!!!

Enter to win a $20 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter code