Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Dickensen Academy tour banner.jpg

Welcome to my stop in the blog tour.

About the Book:

Dickensen Academy Book Cover.jpg
Dickensen Academy
by Christine Grabowski
Genre: YA Paranormal
Release Date: September 12th 2018
The Wild Rose Press, Inc


This school may be her dream come true...or her worst nightmare.  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?
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.

Author Interview with Christine Grabowski:

Tell us bit about yourself?

I am a debut author, and I live in Newcastle, Washington with my husband, two kids, and two dogs. I’ve been fortunate to stay home for the past decade to focus on my family, and in recent years, have been able to carve out time to begin writing more seriously. 

Tell us about your debut novel?

Dickensen Academy is a young adult book about a girl who is selected to go to a fine arts boarding school. Once she gets there she learns the faculty is hiding an unbelievable secret. Although the book is labeled as a fantasy or a paranormal, at its heart it is a coming of age story set in a unique environment. Autumn must separate from her father’s controlling influence, learn to believe in her own abilities, and begin to stand up for herself.

Give us an insight into your main character.

Autumn is a freshman in high school. At the beginning, she has low self-confidence caused by living with a very controlling father who always compares her to her "perfect" older brother. As the book progresses, she needs to learn to overcome her desire to please her father and learn to please herself. 

Is this book part of a series? 

I originally imaged Dickensen Academy as the first book in a four part series and completed an outline of the next book. But I ended up writing it as a stand alone and will see if the readers want to continue to follow Autumn’s story throughout high school.

How long have you been writing?  

I began writing fiction about four years ago. Prior to then, my personal writing was limited to journaling and writing an annual holiday letter. I honed my writing skills (albeit not very creative) as a marketer, a human performance consultant, and an insurance adjuster. 

What do you like best about writing?

When I’m in the zone, I lose myself, and the time flies by. As I am drafting a novel, I’m trying to type as fast as I can so I can find out what will happen next.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? 

I’m somewhere between a plotter and a pantser. I always have a high-level outline when I begin, but I usually get so excited to start the new project that I take off writing. The more I write, and the more I get to know my characters, I continue to add details to the outline so ideally by the time I get to that part in the book, I have a good idea of what I need to include in a particular scene. 

How do you keep yourself motivated? I’m a numbers person. I like to keep track of my increasing (and later decreasing) word counts. When I am drafting, I write the number of new words on a wall calendar at the end of each day. Usually I have a monthly goal (rather than a daily one) since my family responsibilities vary day to day. I tend to overwrite, so when I’m editing, I get the same satisfaction from cutting words as I work down to an appropriate word count. 

What’s a perfect writing day?

After I get the kids off to school around seven, I write a couple of hours before going to the gym. Afterwards, I write a couple more hours at a coffee shop then come home and walk the dogs. When the kids return home, they miraculously don’t need me, so I write until dinner.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? 

Hang out with my kids, watch a movie with my husband, hike with the pups, and read when I have a moment of free time alone. Our favorite family activity is skiing in the mountains. 

Do you have any specific advice for aspiring writers? Find a critique group, educate yourself, and immerse yourself in the writing community (local or online).

What part scares you? The blank page. 

What is the hardest thing about writing? Like most other flexible, work-from home jobs, it is hard to put it away and not let it interfere with my personal life. Sometimes I find it hard to be present when I’m at home because I always have work to do. As I move forward in my career, I hope to establish better boundaries between work and my personal life. 

What surprised you about becoming an author? How much of my time is now devoted to non-writing activities, especially marketing. 

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? As I prepare for the release of Dickensen Academy, I’d say about 65% of my time is devoted to marketing and 35% is devoted to either my work in progress or critiquing others’ works. I’m hoping once the book comes back I can flip that percentage. Since this is my first book, there are also lots of administrative marketing tasks. For example, creating author profiles on sites such as Amazon and Goodreads. Fortunately, once these are done, I won’t need to recreate them for future books. 

What do you think of book trailers? That’s a great question. Ask me in a few months on whether I believe they help with book sales. I honestly hadn’t seen many trailers prior to developing one of my own, but since my core readers will be teens, I believe they will be more interested in watching a video than if I was aiming for an older audience. My trailer launched a few weeks ago, and it has been shared all over Facebook and Twitter. You can view it here: 

Aside from preparing for the launch of Dickensen Academy what other projects are in the works? I’m working on a fairy tale reimagining of Sleeping Beauty. I was inspired to do a retelling after reading Cinder a couple years ago. What are your favorite books? I have too many to list, but they often fall into young adult, historical fiction, memoir, or women’s fiction. Check out my Goodreads account http://bit.ly/Goodreads-Christine where I have reviewed hundreds of books.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? I’d have to say Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I don’t think I need an explanation. 

Do you have any general advice to give to aspiring writers? Write because you love to write. And then make time for it and don’t give up. Also, don’t compare yourself to other writers; everyone is on their own journey.


"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?"


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