The Boston Teen Author Festival Is A Book-Lover's Paradise

The Boston Teen Author Festival Is A Book-Lover's Paradise

My adventure at a hidden gem of a book convention.
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One day I was scrolling through one of my book-related facebook groups and saw a few people talking about book conventions that they were going to.

I decided to look up book festivals near me and found a listing for one taking place in Cambridge in September. It was already the second week in September so I was thinking that the event had already passed and I could plan to go next year. So I clicked on the event and saw that it was not the coming weekend but the next weekend. I then looked at the lineup for the panel and saw that not only did they have 40 authors coming, they had quite a few popular YA authors like Leigh Bardugo and Victoria Aveyard. I then went to check the cost of the event and saw the best part of the event; it was free! Cue the storm of cap-lock texts that I sent to my best friend. We both freaked out because some of our favorite authors were going and we could go meet them. We planned out how we were getting there and waited for the day to come.

The day of the event finally arrived. We had all the books that we wanted signed picked out and packed and a general idea of what panels we wanted to attend. We arrived at the venue early like many other bookworms who were attending the con. Once the door finally opened, we were funneled through the venue past a goodie table and towards the auditorium for the first panel. All of the authors were seated on stage, while the attendees filled the auditorium. Once everyone was settled, the moderator introduced the event and then had the authors introduce their books in one sentence. Two of my personal favorites were Leigh Bardugo’s talking about Wonder Woman (“It is Wonder Woman but Diana finds a woman instead of Chris Pine.”) and Jason Reynold’s talking about Miles Morales: Spiderman (“It's Spiderman.”). After the initial introduction, the moderator asked questions like; “what superlative would your character have had in high school?” “what would your character have in his or her locker?” “Would your seventeen-year-old-self be friends with your protagonist?” and “Which fictional character from another series would your character take to prom?”. It allowed for the audience to get to know the authors and their books in a way that many people wouldn’t normally think of. After the initial introduction panel, the authors split up into groups of 4-5 for smaller panels based on their newest book. My friend and I went to two panels: Their Dark Materials featuring Traci Chee (The Reader), Linsey Miller (Mask of Shadows), Rin Chupeco (The Bone Witch), and Amanda Foody (Daughter of the Burning City) where they discussed what made their books “dark” (and defining what dark meant to them) and some of the research that went into writing their book, and In a World featuring Rhoda Belleza (Empress of a Thousand Skies), Axie Oh (Rebel Seoul), Cindy Pon (Want), and Gregory Scott Katsoulis (All Rights Reserved) where they talked about the challenges of writing Sci-fi books and some of the aspects that go into publishing a book including cover design.

After an afternoon of panels came my favorite part: the author signing. Before the signing, I ended up spending an hour in line talking with the other people around me and people who were promoting their business (I got a few really cool freebies from it and found more bookish stores to support). After the wait, we entered the area where all of the authors were set up to do signings and got into line for the authors we wanted to see. I decided to only go to three authors (which is my only regret because I had enough time to go to more than that) and I hopped in line for Leigh Bardugo since her line was the longest. After awkwardly fumbling for words while she signed my book, I moved on to one of my favorite Sci-fi authors, Rhoda Belleza. Since her line was shorter I was able to talk to her a bit more than I was able to talk to Bardugo. I told her about how I got her book in my Fairyloot box and we made some jokes while she signed my book (and messed up spelling cheers which made me love it even more!). Then I moved on to get my copy of Mask of Shadows signed by Linsey Miller and thanked her for writing the book the way she did (if you like assassin’s read this book, it is so good).

This place was pretty much a paradise for someone who is a bookworm like me. Not only did I get to meet some of my favorite authors but I was able to find out about books that I normally would not have known about. If you think that you might be interested in attending next year, check out their website here!

Cover Image Credit: Boston Teen Author Festival

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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