Visit the Library from Home with Libby

Did you know that you can visit your local library and grab some books without even leaving your home?! The app: Libby gives you the power to browse your library’s collection and borrow a title.

I had heard of Libby, but never used it until my friend Michelle shared she downloads free Audiobooks from the library. Your local library has thousands of digital e-books and audiobooks FREE for you to download with your library card!

Libby gives you the power to:

  • Sign in to multiple libraries, with one or more cards for each library.
  • Download books and audiobooks for offline reading, or stream them to save space.
  • Sample any book with a tap — nothing to download or delete.
  • If you prefer reading on your Kindle, Libby can send your library books to it.
  • Try a zoomable graphic novel, or a picture book with read along audio.

Download on the Apple App Store or Get it on Google Play and dive into that story!

5 Book Series To Keep You Entertained During Quarantine

If you have been given the luxury of endless free time during our current situation, why not pick up a book and get lost in another world!?

Here are five book series to keep you entertained and engaged during quarantine:

Harry Potter | J.K. Rowling

I think it would be absolutely criminal if I neglected to mention the epic Harry Potter saga. J.K. Rowling’s 7 part series chronicles a young wizard’s adventures at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

There is so much magic to gleam from all of these books. They truly are for every age of reader with teachings of equality (wizards of ‘pure blood’ vs ‘muggles’), relationships (friendships between the trio and others), facing your fears, and more.

Full of mystery, heart, and suspense, you will not want to miss out on the world-wide phenomenon known as HARRY POTTER. If you’ve seen the movies, the books are even better!

Title: Harry Potter
Number Of Books: 7
Author: J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Scholastic (in US) / Bloomsbury (in UK)
Publication Date: 1997 – 2007
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Purchase: Click Here

The Harbinger Series | Jeff Wheeler

Jeff Wheeler is honestly one of my favorite writers, I think he does such an incredible job building these fantastical worlds that are as dimensional as his characters. I found his work through Kindle Unlimited, a subscription service I use to read books, you can also purchase the series in paperback. My boyfriend literally spent all of 2019 reading ONLY Jeff Wheeler books.

I think the Harbinger books have everything that I love in a series:

  • Some kind of magic: The Mysteries
  • Strong female protagonists
  • Allusion to the British Class System: Cettie Pratt, an Orphan. Sera Fitzempress, a Princess. (Because if you know me, Downton Abbey is my favorite)
  • Suspense: I couldn’t put these books down!

Theirs is a world of opposites. The privileged live in sky manors held aloft by a secretive magic known only as the Mysteries. Below, the earthbound poor are forced into factory work to maintain the engine of commerce. Only the wealthy can afford to learn the Mysteries, and they use their knowledge to further lock their hold on society.

Title: The Harbinger Series
Number Of Books: 5
Author: Jeff Wheeler
Publisher: 47North
Publication Date: 2018 – 2019
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Purchase: Click Here
Book One in Kindle Format Is For FREE on Amazon for the month of April! Download now!

The Tainted Accords Series | Kelly St Clare

The Tainted Accords series is ADDICTING. I swear I could not put these books down. Author, Kelly St Clare does an incredible job furthering the plot & character development on every page, which is why I couldn’t stop reading. I wanted to know more and more!

The Tainted Accords series centers around two worlds: Glacium, a frozen landscape with an icy culture and Osolis, a world burning with heat and full of fiery people. Now I know what you’re thinking, this sounds a little cheesy, Christopher. But honestly, it’s super fun.

Sometimes it takes death to show you how to live.
I know many things. What I am capable of, what I will change, what I will become. But there is one thing I will never know…
The veil I’ve worn from birth carries with it a terrible loneliness; a suppression I cannot imagine being free of.
Some things never change…
My mother will always hate me. Her court will always shun me.
...Until they do.
When the peace delegation arrives from the savage world of Glacium, my life is shoved wildly out of control by the handsome Prince Kedrick who, for unfathomable reasons, shows me kindness.
And the harshest lessons are learned.
Sometimes it takes the world bringing you to your knees to find that spark you thought forever lost.

There are more mature moments in this novel, regarding language, and physical intimacy. I would advise Middle Schoolers to wait a couple more years before reading! 😉

Title: The Tainted Accords
Number Of Books: 4
Author/Publisher: Kelly St Clare
Publication Date: 2015 – 2016
Genre: Fantasy
Purchase: Click Here

The Hunger Games Trilogy | Suzanne Collins

Don’t tell you haven’t heard the quote “KATNISS EVERDEEN, THE GIRL ON FIREEEEE” before?! The Hunger Games Trilogy was written by Suzanne Collins, who is from my home state of Connecticut. Though the series was popular before, the story rose to critical acclaim from the feature film series starring Jennifer Lawrence in 2012.

I recently re-read the books, having read them back in high school, and they are SO good! Suzanne Collins is an expert world-builder, creating the post-apocalyptic nation of PANEM. A world in which there are twelve (formerly thirteen) districts, with each district offering up a boy and a girl to fight in the annual HUNGER GAMES, a televised reality show of children fighting to the death.

WHAT? This premise is just wild and the books are just as insane, in the best way. There is so much empathy within the pages of this series and I highly recommend it. The highly anticipated prequel: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, comes out next month: May 19th!

Title: The Hunger Games Trilogy
Number Of Books: 3
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: 2008 – 2010
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Purchase: Click Here

Peter and the Starcatchers | Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson

You may have heard of Peter & The Starcatcher, a five time Tony-Award winning Broadway play. The novel, Peter and the Starcatchers (plural) is the source material!

Peter and the Starcatchers is a prequel to Peter Pan. And I know what you’re thinking: nowadays there is an overwhelming amount of prequels out there, what makes this one special?

  1. It’s really funny
  2. Barry & Pearson create a fascinating world and culture of Starcatchers (Don’t want to spoil anything else about that!)
  3. There are new elements to J.M. Barrie’s Neverland and the world of Peter Pan

My dad actually read this book aloud to my brothers and I when we were young, so I highly recommend this to elementary & middle school aged children. But I also think it’s a great adventure for all ages: Pirates, Mermaids, Magic, what’s not to love?!

Title: Peter and the Starcatchers Series
Number Of Books: 5
Author: Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
Publisher: Hyperion Books / Disney
Publication Date: 2004 – 2011
Genre: Fantasy, Children
Purchase: Click Here

I hope that these are some books that you might dive into, keeping you entertained and engaged during quarantine! Comment below with which book series I should read next. Currently, I am reading The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, which is really fun and a little cheesy ;).

Acceptance

I meditate with Calm every morning (and sometimes in the afternoon as of late) and a couple of days ago my practice was focused on acceptance. I welcomed that topic, as I have been pondering on how to feel surrounding what’s currently going on in the world.

I don’t think that any of us could have predicted we’d be where we are today. The surge of panic, uncertainty, and cancelations have caused many of us to suddenly plummet into a deep sadness. I’ve read a lot of articles about how the world is grieving, not just for those lost to the illness, but grieving what our life has become, grieving for our life before. The time before all of the “shelter in place”, school cancelations, and toilet paper shortages.

Throughout all the strangeness, it’s been comforting for me to know that every single person on this planet is going through this. You are not the only one who has lost a sense of normalcy, lost the freedom to go wherever you’d like. Some have even lost loved ones. We are ALL going through it in our own way.

Recently, I have been sitting with some acceptance of what’s going on in the world right now. Acceptance that we are in a world-wide pandemic, that we have never dealt with a health crisis of this magnitude before. Acceptance that I have been furloughed from my job and am unemployed for the foreseeable future.

The meditation I was practicing was written and guided by teacher Jeff Warren as part of his series for Calm. The following quote includes some pearls of wisdom he shared:

Acceptance does not mean approval. It does not mean collapse or indifference. Acceptance is realism. It means: this is what’s going on in the present moment and I’m going to acknowledge that it exists. We then have the space to make an appropriate response.

Jeff Warren

It means: this is what’s going on in the present moment and I’m going to acknowledge that it exists. Wow. So funny how a simple phrase can really put your world into perspective.

I have jokingly shared that I’m wired differently, that my brain defaults to the positive, which has prompted me in my adult life to check in with myself and give myself allowance for negative feelings. And though I am still grieving, I am also accepting. I am staying home, only going out to retrieve things I need, social distancing from others when I am outside getting exercise, limiting my media intake, reading lots of books, playing lots of Animal Crossing, and seeking support when I need it.

I don’t approve of this new world we live in, but I am accepting that it is the world we are living in today. This is the present moment and I am living in it. Sending all of you good energy and love during this time. Please reach out if you need someone to talk to, we are all here together.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Due to the coronavirus crisis, I have been furloughed from my job, which has actually given me the much needed time to recharge.

Last year I purchased a fancy shmancy camera (DSLR Camera) that I’ve used for work: photographing productions, doing promotional photoshoots, but I’ve yet to just use it for fun.

Here are the images that I took today!

What words come to mind when you see the follow images?

Comment below!

I’m Writing A BOOK!

This past year I vowed to become a more dedicated reader, establishing a routine to pick up my kindle every night before bed. After reaching ‘my reading goal of 35 books’ I read 39 novels in 2018! Woohoo!

Whilst reading each book I would observe how they were successful and why. In books I loved, I realized:

  • There was never a dull moment: the plot progressed on every page.
  • I could personally connect to one, if not all of the characters on some level.
  • Each chapter left me wanting to turn the page and find out what happens next, thus reading later and later into the night.

Since I was little I have always wanted to be a writer. I have been fortunate to have several of my plays produced professionally, written a couple short stories, but in my adult life- I have never attempted to write a novel.

I had tried writing ‘books’ when I was growing up but always threw in the towel after trying endlessly to write the first chapter. “This is too hard. I don’t know what’s going to happen.” After writing several plays, I learned that planning out my story helps my writing immensely. I don’t have to think about what should happen next, I already know- I just have to focus on fleshing out the current moment.

After reading so many books this year, I have decided: I’m going to write my own novel. This is what I want to do next, be an author of my favorite genre of book: a young adult fantasy novel.

Since September I have been creating my own world: Midon, crafting characters like Morgan, Leon, Tabitha, and developing an epic story full of villains, magical quests, and fantastical powers. I have successfully outlined the first two books in the series and am currently working on the third (out of my expected four).

“The fantasy world of Midon is divided into four parts: Nexton, Corton, Susston, and Eracton. Each realm’s citizens possess supernatural abilities of sight: Nexus seers can touch an object and see that item’s past or future, Sussurus seers can communicate with spirits, Eractus can speak to one another silently in their thoughts, while Cortus seers can project their visions to people all over the continent. All four types of seers protect their own sacred relic that keeps the universe in balance.

On the millennium anniversary of the relics’ creation, Morgan discovers that she is part of an epic prophecy to protect the relics from falling into the hands of The Elice: a resurrected Darke cult. Join Morgan as she sharpens her sight, joins forces to protect the relics, and discovers more about her family history than she could’ve ever imagined.”

I know that writing a novel is going to be ten times harder than I already imagine it to be, and I know that I have not received a formal education in writing fiction, but this is something that I really want to do, and I’m going to do it! My goal for completing my first draft: approx 60,000 words, will be due on December 23rd, 2019.

Wish me luck!

2018: A Year In Review

This year could not have gone by faster. What the even heck! I swear that we just rang in the new year a month ago! I had so many wonderful moments in 2018, getting to continue stretching myself as an artist and a person.

I am so grateful for all of my friends and family for their continuous love and support. Below I have compiled my top 18 moments of 2018! 🙂

Top 18 Events in 2018

  1. Celebrated my 23rd birthday in rehearsal for Frog & Toad, Spring Awakening, and then going out to dinner with Travis & the amazing MMT Apprentice Company
  2. Raised $280 on my birthday for The Trevor Project
  3. Boyfriend Travis & I celebrated one year together in June.
  4. Traveled to Europe for the first time: family vacation in Portugal- see the video blog here
  5. Saw 22 movies #RequiemMoviePass (Mary Poppins Returns, Crimes of Grindlewald, First Man, Mister Rogers, Ant-Man, Jurassic World, Incredibles II, Solo, Isle of Dogs, Tully, Avengers, Quiet Place, Ready Player One, Jumanji, Wrinkle In Time, Love Simon, Lady Bird, Winchester, Black Panther, Call Me By Your Name, Insidious, and The Post)
  6. Read 39 novels- see the list here
  7. Saw 17 theatrical productions, the majority at Mill Mountain Theatre and two on Broadway (Waitress & Once on This Island)! AND HAMILTON!
  8. Taught 256 students in the spring & fall semester, and in summer camps.
  9. Travis & I traveled Emerald Isle, North Carolina to our friend Sammy’s beach house
  10. Performed on stage in Spring Awakening (Otto) and A Simple Gift (Sam Cameron) at Mill Mountain Theatre
  11. Traveled to Los Angeles to see Travis’s production of Spring Awakening
  12. I was Pikachu along with my boyfriend Travis (Ash) and friend Michelle (Jessie- Team Rocket) for Halloween
  13. I voted in the midterm elections
  14. I directed ‘Shakespeare’s The Tempest’, ‘Auditions’ (Write Stuff!), and ‘A Year With Frog and Toad TYA’.
  15. I wrote Mother Goose Tales, a short play for young audiences, that also had its premiere in May at Mill Mountain Theatre in May of this year.
  16. I wrote 18 articles for BroadwayWorld, my blog, and The Ensemblist
  17. I went back to Shenandoah to speak on an Alumni Panel
  18. I continued meditating every day currently, my streak is on day 595

Thank you if you were involved in my 2018– I am so appreciative of you making this year wonderful!

You Can’t Add or Subtract Theatre

There actually is a lot of math involved in the Theatre: adding and subtracting actor salaries, ticket sales, lumber for scenic elements, electrical fuses for stage lighting, yards of material for costuming, etc. But adding and subtracting the story, dialogue, etc, is a different ballgame.  Many theatre-goers seem to be confused or unaware of theatrical licensing, and not that I’m an expert by any means, but I just wanted to share my knowledge of how you cannot add or subtract dialogue, words, songs, etc in a theatrical production, nor can you produce a show that has not been licensed to you.

When you go to see a production of THE WIZARD OF OZ, for example, the organization producing the show had to pay ‘royalties‘ and sign a licensing agreement in order to perform that copyrighted material. That means the writers who created the original show receive compensation for using their work on stage. Think of a play as a novel, the author of that novel always gets a cut of book sales because they wrote it, so does the playwright of each production.

There can be very strict rules to follow when producing, as the original creators of the show wish to keep the integrity of the piece. Imagine if you told your friend Larry a story, you made up and then you hear the same story from your friend Jimmy, but all of the facts are misconstrued and the point of what you said was completely missed. <– That is why there are strict copyright rules in regards to theatrical literature. It is the writer’s way of quality control once the show is being done all over the country. 

As a playwright myself, I would be very upset if certain lines of my scripts were changed or omitted without my permission. Those lines or sections of my play would not be present in the material if they had not been needed for the story, and organizations do not possess the right to change words, lines, or characters to fit their needs.

 

“Gosh, there was just so much foul language in this show, couldn’t they have just edited it out?” -Audience Member

^Actually no, the theatre would be breaking their copyright agreement and breaking the law. So no, they cannot edit parts of the script to adjust towards different audiences, they must do the script as written. 

In 2017, Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis discovered that Shelton Theater in San Francisco was producing his play THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT, but had cut several scenes and characters from the original script. Guirgis reached out to the theatre, giving them an opportunity to adjust their unsanctioned adaptation, but received heavy pushback from the organization which resulted in the shutdown of that production.

It seems a little extreme: shutting the production down, but actually, it was no longer the play Guirgis had written. The organization had not only chopped up his words, they also refused to comply with his plea asking them to reinstate the play as it is licensed as.

I also have known of several companies who have produced plays or musicals without paying licensing and royalties. Not only is that illegal, but extremely disrespectful to the creator(s) of the show. What gives you the right to just use someone else’s words and the story they spent hundreds of hours building?

In many regards, not paying for royalties is often done in an educational setting, where the producer claims that doing the show is for education. Whether you’re selling tickets or not, whether you’re only performing for parents or large crowds, it does not matter. You cannot subtract that fee from your budget: You must pay the author of the material to produce it. 

Many do not understand these facts, so my post is not to chide or shame, but to educate on these very important items of the theatre. We often are so excited about the glitter and the tap shoes or are so taken aback by some colorful language, that we don’t realize certain things cannot be added or omitted from productions. 

For other sources regarding Copyright or Theatrical Licensing see below:

College: A Working Performance

The opportunity of obtaining a higher education is one of the greatest gifts to receive, as I like to think of knowledge is synonymous with power. College can be a crazy time as you discover career options or even identifying what your core values and beliefs are. Between all of the soul-searching and study guides, I think one of the most pivotal components of my University experience was been dipping my toes into the workforce.

Let’s be real here: college costs a lot of money, being a full-time student is a full-time job, and you should always put your education before anything else. In my life, I found having a job while being in school was a great developmental experience.

I majored in Musical Theatre but worked in several office environments, call centers, even a farm (definitely a unique experience) and more throughout my Undergrad. Working in a plethora of different atmospheres taught me many skill sets that I wouldn’t have learned in my education, but also emphasized ideas and concepts that my professors have taught in the past.

“But I can’t find a job in my intended career field…Shouldn’t I just focus on learning and then worry about working about paying off my monumental student loans when I graduate?”
~Hypothetical College Student

Even if you are unable to be employed in a realm related to your major, I think it’s still beneficial to work in a professional atmosphere. That way you can discover a handful of abilities that a classroom only scrapes the surface of.

Whether it’s related to budgeting time or money, navigating professional relationships, or developing a further understanding of “value” there’s always something you can learn to further your personal progress.

My supervisor Carly, who I worked for at my University’s Office of Admissions

Thankfully, a University schedule is not as cramped as a high school timetable, giving you an opportunity to finesse your time management skills. Once you have a job and a class schedule it only amplifies your duty to prioritize tasks and obtain a better understanding of your time.

When working a job and being a full-time student you are given the opportunity to notice the rate at which you are able to accomplish certain duties. Limited free time helps teach you how to optimize your remaining time effectively.

Seeing that direct deposit drop into my account at midnight is definitely one of the universe’s greatest gifts…Being employed and making your own money teaches you the value of a dollar. “Am I really willing to spend thirty dollars on this sweater that looks just like my other one? Or should I save that money for another time?”

I studied theatre performance & employment in undergrad.

In life, we have to navigate relationships with people of many different categories. One of those sub-genres is a “Working relationship”. I like to think everyone wants to be a good boss one day, but the only way to know what that is is to have been on the other side of the table. Learning how to communicate effectively while still maintaining a position of authority is difficult, and from having worked under many supervisors, I have learned from their example.

College is a crazy, fun time, where you spend lots of time in the classroom and late nights at iHop with your friends. But also allow those years to be a time of professional growth in addition to educational and personal exploration.

Having many different jobs during my undergrad taught me how to be accountable, manage my time and money, and gave me time to learn about having working relationships. I greatly recommend all students have a part-time job while being in college.

 

 

Book Review: The Line

On to the next book! I discovered recently that if you have an Amazon Prime account, there is a Prime Reading catalog, that has hundreds of Kindle books you can download and read for free. My last book: Treasure of Saint-Lazare: A Novel of Paris, was from that catalog and didn’t exactly do it for me. But J.D. Horn’s The Line was an awesome read- full of magic, witches, and fast-paced drama. When I finished this, I immediately bought the second book of the series (The Source) which I am currently reading.

“Savannah is considered a Southern treasure, a city of beauty with a rich, colorful past. Some might even call it magical…”

“To the uninitiated, Savannah shows only her bright face and genteel manner. Those who know her well, though, can see beyond her colonial trappings and small-city charm to a world where witchcraft is respected, Hoodoo is feared, and spirits linger. Mercy Taylor is all too familiar with the supernatural side of Savannah, being a member of the most powerful family of witches in the South.”

I was torn between starting two books, and thankfully The Line is what my boyfriend convinced me to read first. (He hasn’t read either book, but thought this one sounded cool…He was right!)

Many GoodReads reviews were in agreement that this book was entertaining but mediocre, and I can see both sides of the argument. At the beginning of the story, there are many metaphors that are repeatedly used; as if the author’s editor wasn’t focused for the first twenty pages. This book is no means Pulitzer Prize-winning, but the narrative and flow of the novel rapidly increases in quality and speed as the book goes on. There are so many layers of this plot that I continued gasping and was excited/appalled when things did not go as I expected them to.

The Line is told in first-person, my favorite perspective in literature, I feel much more immersed when the character communicates to the reader as if we were them like ‘I could feel my heartbeat quicken’ (not a line from the book, I made it up, trust me his words are far more compelling.) 

Recently I have been reading a lot of realistic fiction, and I missed the fantasy genre. Fantasy fiction is what made me fall in love with reading when I was a child, and I believe that’s why I like this book so much; it’s revisiting my favorite kind of story. The Line discusses magic in the realm of energy: witches are able to use their energy and shape it into magic, where other characters (non-witches) can perform magic- but only if they take energy from others, often stealing it from witches. 

I greatly recommend this book! Super quick read- couldn’t put it down! Buy it now on Amazon.com

DETAILS

Title: The Line (Witching Savannah Book 1)
Author: J.D. Horn
Series(?): Witching Savannah Series

Publisher: 47North
Publication Date: February 1, 2014

Source & Format: Kindle, borrowed from Amazon
Page Count: 298
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Rating: ★★★★

Comment below if you’ve read The Line, let me know what you thought! 🙂

My ‘NO SPOLIERS’ Subscription at the Hartford Stage

Have you ever had season tickets at a regional theatre? During my senior year of high school, I was lucky enough to be subscribed to the Hartford Stage’s 2012-2013 season. (Thanks Mom & Dad!)

The Hartford Stage is a Tony-Award winning regional theatre in Hartford, Connecticut. I grew up seeing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, their annual production of A Christmas Carol, and more throughout my youth. My Dad had purchased a subscription for he and my mother that year, and after seeing the first production of the season: Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, they felt compelled to include me in all the fun.

I’m a Theatre person and have been all my life. Never before had I entered a performance space without knowing what the story’s about, knowing who the characters are, what the set would look like. Since we had tickets to all the shows in the season, I went to all of them, and I went completely blind. I often had no idea what the play was about and had no expectation of what should happen.

It was exhilarating.

The best part of having a ticket subscription is going into each production with the mindset of ‘NO SPOILERS’. I refrained from looking up the plot, photos of set design, costume design, anything. It was all a surprise! Granted, there were some productions that I had prior knowledge of, I had seen Kiss Me Kate before, I knew the story of Twelfth Night, but that didn’t stop me from being open and excited to whatever happened on stage. 

The Hartford Stage also produces many world premieres of new plays, and so I got to see musicals like A Gentleman’s Guide To Love and Murder, and Anastasia before they made it to Broadway. I was so excited to see Gentleman’s Guide win the Tony-Award for Best Musical, I kept thinking ‘Whoa! I saw that in my own backyard before it even went to New York!’

My favorite production during the 2012-2013 season was a play called Abundance by Beth Henley (Pulitzer Prize-Winning playwright of Crimes of the Heart), directed by Jenn Thompson. Abundance follows Bess and Macon, two mail-order brides and their twenty-five-year journey across the American frontier in the late 19th century. I still think about this show and it has become one of my favorite plays. And you know what? I probably wouldn’t have even gone to see it if I did not have a season subscription because I had never heard of the play beforehand.

A season subscription can give you gifts you didn’t even know you wanted! My favorite way to go see a show is with the ‘NO SPOILERS- Season Subscription mindset!’ Try going to see a production with no prior knowledge of who it’s by, what the story’s about, or who’s in it. Let me know how it is! Or better yet- purchase a Season Subscription to a local regional theatre near you! Trust me, it’ll be worth it! 🙂