Thursday, July 5, 2018

Reasons I Love the Royal Family

Trooping of Colour 2018. (From left to right: Queen Elizabeth; Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex; Prince Charles, Prince of Wales; Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex; Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge; Princess Charlotte of Cambridge; Savannah Phillips; Prince George of Cambridge; and, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge) 

I was a young girl when I first heard the word “princess.” Back then, it was in reference to Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Cinderella. As I started to get older, the idea of being a princess in real life continued to grow. I imagined myself twirling around in a big, puffy dress with a crown of perfect jewels on my head, a gentleman would accompany to a ball and whisper into my ear that he was the Prince of so-and-so, and we would run away together before the King and Queen could find out.

It wasn’t until my sophomore year in high school when I finally did some actual research on princes and princesses. I typed in the word “prince” and guess who popped up? That’s right, Prince William Arthur Philip Louis. He quickly turned into a real-life Prince crush for me. I learned all about Prince Henry “Harry” Charles Albert David, Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth, and most importantly, Princess Diana. Researching the Royal Family completely changed my life. Not only did I find real-life princes and princesses, but I also found a whole family of role models and strong women to look up to. Learning about Princes turned into something more than the idea of loving and marrying one. Here’s why:
Reason #1 - The Duchesses: Also known as Duchess Kate Middleton of Cambridge and Duchess Meghan Markle of Sussex, these two blow my mind. Not only are they living my lifelong dream of being royalty and not only are they gorgeous, but they are some of the smartest and charitable women I know. Duchess Kate Middleton gives so much time and work to the many charities she’s a patron of. She’s a committed champion of issues related to children’s mental health, adult’s mental health, addiction, athletics, and so many more. Ever heard of Heads Together? Yeah, that’s the Royals. 
Duchess Meghan Markle has always been an advocate/activist for women’s rights, even way before marrying Prince Harry. She was a Global Ambassador for World Vision, the largest international children’s charity. For her wedding to Prince Harry, instead of asking for gifts, they asked for money to be donated to charities that help with HIV/AIDS, environmental issues, women empowerment, conservation, homelessness, and armed forces.
Reason #2 - The Brothers:  Also known as Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex. Having lost their mother at such a young age (William was 15 and Harry was 12), being Royalty, and always in the public eye, their childhood was probably not easy. Being the eldest and second to the throne, Prince William had bit more of a reputation to keep track of. After this mother died,  he made sure to watch out for his brother, especially when Harry got into some serious trouble. Having decided to choose a military career, he was selected to be an officer. But because he was second to the throne, deployment was possible but being potential danger decreased his chances of seeing combat. So, he trained in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, where he earned his wings. In 2014, he announced that he took a full-time job as an Air Ambulance Pilot. He left his position in July of 2017 to have a more active role in his Royal duties to support the Queen. 
In addition to his support for the Queen, Prince William is also a patron of many charities. He works to help young people and raise awareness around what things young people could be going though: homelessness, bullying, etc. He continues his mother's work to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS. He, his wife The Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry started a mental health campaign called Heads Together. It is a coalition of eight mental health charity partners to change the conversation about mental health.  
And for Prince Harry, it definitely was not an easy childhood. Drinking, drugs, and partying took up a good chunk of his teenage life. Turning his life around, he joined the British Army and served for ten years. Now, he does all he can to promote welfare for those to served and who are still serving. He's a big patron for The Invictus Games, which is an international sporting event for wounded, injured, and sick servicemen and women. In 2006, Prince Harry  jointly founded Sentebale, a charity that helps orphans in Southern Africa with HIV/AIDS. He even went so far as to take an HIV test on Facebook Live. Lastly, he too is a part of Heads Together, along with The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. 
Reason 3 - The People's Princess: Also known as Princess Diana of Wales. Princess Diana went from being a kindergarten teacher to an icon. Marrying Prince Charles on July 29th, 1981, completely changed her life. She turned out to be an international style leader and hailed as one of the world's best dressed and most elegant women. Her clothes and outfits were planned weeks in advance, only changing if radical weather were to hit. And all that was just the beginning. 
Not even a year after their wedding, in 1982 Princess Diana gave birth to Prince William. And in 1984, Princess Diana gave birth to Prince Harry, starting a family of their own. Prince William said that "she was a very hands-on mother." She wanted her sons to have as much of a normal life as she could. After being unhappy for years, Prince Charles and Princess Diana decided to announce their separation on December 10th, 1992. Their divorce was finalized in 1996, just one short year before her unexpected death. 
Initially Diana's work as a patron was mainly in the arts field: RADA (the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts), the Royal Academy of Music, and the English National Ballet were just a few that she was President of. She did a lot of work with children of abuse. One cause that was close to her heart was drug abuse. She hosted a reception at Kensington Palace for Turning Pointm a charity which concerns itself with both drug and alcohol abuse.
By far her most significant and memorable role was the support she gave to the less obviously popular and high profile charities. When she visited Aid suffers in April of 1987, at a time when there was widespread hysteria about the disease, she met, shook hands with, and sat on the beds of nine terminally ill men. Her close involvement in Aids fundraising took some bravery in facing the social taboos around the disease. But when a good friend of hers died from Aids in 1991, she took on the role if patron to the National Aids Trust. 
On August 31st, 1997, Princess Diana died to due injuries she suffered in a car crash in the Pont de l'Alma road tunnel in Paris, France. 

I've opened my heart to this family and have yet to be disappointed. They have such caring souls. Take a moment and really look into them like I have. I promise you, you won't be disappointed. For more information about these wonderful human beings, please visit  

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Reflection of the Last Six Months as an IA

            My whole life changed for the better the moment I was offered my job at Gold Academy Elementary in Decatur Township. I will gladly admit that I was in over my head the moment I walked through the doors as an educator instead of a student. Walking through the hallways felt a lot like déjà vu, even though I was on the Blue side for my fifth and sixth grade years. A lot of memories reappeared, mainly since the principal and assistant principal of Gold were also my sixth grade teachers on Blue. The two fifth grade teachers I work with were also my fifth grade teachers at Blue. A third grade teacher that I work with was also my former fourth grade teacher from Stephen Decatur. It oddly felt like coming home. And those five teachers have turned into my colleagues and my friends. Not many people can say that about their former elementary school teachers.
            My very first day was filled with A LOT of NWEA testing and shadowing the English Language Learner Instructional Assistant (ELL IA) on the Blue Academy. I got to see what the days of NWEA testing was like. I remember taking it as a student, but boy, things have changed. Instead of taking it just twice a year, they take it three times a year. Anyway, that day, I only met three of students: my three fifth graders. Along with them, I also met four other marvelous IA’s that I now share a LGI room with. That was also the day the LGI room was all moved around and chaos ensued. It was definitely an interesting and overwhelming first day.
            The following days after that consisted of a lot of testing and introducing myself to the teachers and the students I’d be working with. Walking into classrooms to talk to teachers was probably one of the scariest things I have ever done. I mean, I’m taking students from their rooms to work with in a small group. I wanted to make sure every teacher trusted that I would take care of and help their student, which is difficult to persuade them of such a thing given I was freshly out of college and the only students I’ve ever worked with before were college students. However, I walked into their classrooms with confidence. And, honestly, all the teachers I work with are AMAZING. I’m not just saying that. They are. They put hours and hours of work into their classrooms for their students and I guess I never really realized that until now. Lesson planning isn’t always easy. I, a little ole IA, have stayed at work until five or later for lesson planning (my schedule is so packed that sometimes my prep time turns into a pull out session). I know of several teachers who have stayed until eight or later grading and making copies and just getting things prepared for the upcoming days. It’s inspiring.
            About a week after starting the job, I finally got to work with my students! I was so nervous that I didn’t eat all day. Since I didn’t know any of them and they didn’t know me, I thought it would be fun to fill out little index cards with fun stuff like birthdays, favorite colors, favorite foods, favorites books, etc. (I actually just found those cards yesterday). Little did I know then that just an act as simple as having them write down some of their favorite things was huge steps toward building a relationship with them. Six months later, the bond I have with all 45 of my students is strong. They trust me, they’re comfortable around me, and that’s a feeling like no other.
            It took some as little as a few weeks to be comfortable around me, others it took a couple of months. Now, I’m not saying everything has been perfect or that I’m perfect or that my students are perfect. I’ve had arguments, I’ve written students up, I’ve taken away recess, I’ve started a clip chart in my room, I’ve done behavior charts. As an educator (can I call myself that? I mean, I am teaching them some things), I’ve taken a step back and looked at everything I’ve done wrong when it comes to disciplining my students. I talked to the Master Teacher. I’ve talked to other teachers. I’m still learning, but I’ve learned so much from them and I’ve been going about things differently than I was before. So far, so good!

            One of the hardest things I had to get used to was lesson planning. I didn’t know my student’s weaknesses right away, so it was slow going. A lot of spelling board races, reading as a group, talking about the day just to get them using English, and rereading the story of the week. What I didn’t know then was that all of that was exactly what they all needed. A few extra minutes with the story helped with their comprehension tests. More spelling practice helped with spelling grades. Everything I thought I was just putting together to hold me over until I knew exactly what they needed, was perfect for them. They aren’t crazy needy students, they just need a little extra help to make things click easier for them.
            One thing that I make my students do is to read for thirty minutes every night. At first I didn’t make them document it, but now they have to. Anyway, every single one of them fought me on it. BUT… I’m going to brag a little bit real quick, THEY ARE EXCELLING IN READING. Going up on NWEA tests, going up levels in benchmarking. I’ve even got some to actually like reading! It’s crazy but so much fun.

            Just so everyone knows, I love sleep. I love sleeping in. But on weekdays, I don’t mind waking up early to go to work. I don’t mind standing in the commons area and greeting all the students when they get off the bus. I don’t mind staying after school to plan for pull out groups during testing season. I don’t mind when I need to change my schedule up a little when a teacher needs to me help a student at a certain time. I love my job, and sometimes I wish I went to college to be a teacher. But for now, I don’t mind working with ELL students, fighting for what they need, or being someone they can talk to. This job has been one of the best accomplishments of my 23 years of life. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

My Favorite Things

         For this blog post, I decided to make it fun. In doing so, I’m going to list my favorite things/people. The things in the following list mean a lot to me and I want to share them with whomever decides to read this post. And I think it’ll be a fun way to learn something about me that you didn’t know before. Or you might find out that I’m secretly crazy. Either way, it’ll be fun.

1.      BOOKS – now, if you didn’t know that already, then you truly don’t know me. Because of my love of books, I found what I wanted to do with my life: literary agent (more on that a little later). I mostly like all genre of books except for a few. My favorite books fall under the following genres: women’s fiction, romance, young adult, adult contemporary, fanfiction, and non-fiction. Just for fun, here is a list of my favorite authors (who I will recommend ALWAYS): Jodi Picoult, Nicholas Sparks, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Amy Reichert, and Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan (these two are a duo).
2.      LITERARY AGENT INTERN – to continue on with the book theme, one of my favorite things is working and interning with Brent Taylor. I’ve been his intern since April and I’ve learned so much. And I am truly enjoying every minute of it. Being his intern has allowed me to start thinking about what kinds of books I would want to represent when I (hopefully) become an agent. Every time a manuscript shows up in my email, I get so happy. So, Brent, thank you for taking me on as your intern. It means the world to me.
3.      WRITING – writing has always been a big part of my life. Ever since my sophomore year of high school, I believe. I still have the manuscript from the very first “novel” I’ve ever written. Although it’s embarrassing, it’s something I’m super proud of. I can only hope to be able to write like Jodi Picoult one day. Not only that, but I’ve made one of my best friends ever because of writing. Amanda, thank you so much for forgiving me after I dropped icing on your computer (HAHA). And thank you for putting up with all of my craziness. It truly means a lot to me. I cannot wait to really dive into the book we’re writing together.
4.      ONE DIRECTION – I bet you all were wondering when this would pop up, so here it is! First, I would just like to say to those who think it’s a little weird that I like a boyband: whatever, get over it. Harry, Niall, Liam, Zayn, and Louis are all either my age or a year or two older than me. It’s not like I’m obsessed with guys younger than eighteen. Secondly, the members of this band are just so amazing. They care about people. Harry is fighting for equality all over the world. Louis spends a lot of time raising money for children who are dying from cancer. As a band for Red Nose Day, they took the money for a music video for “One Way or Another” and donated it to those in Africa. And finally, together or apart, they make some pretty great music. Their music has gotten me out of some pretty hard times. If I’m stressed, upset, or sad, I know if I listened to 1D, I’ll be happy. There is just something about these guys . . .
5.      THE ROYAL FAMILY – Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Prince Harry, Prince George Alexander Louis, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, and William and Kate, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are some of my favorite people on this planet. I’ve been mesmerized by their existence for the longest time. Everything about them is perfect. And because of them, I have made some great friends who are just as obsessed as I am. More specifically, Gail Werner. The moment something big happens, we are instantly messaging each other about it. It will definitely always be one of my favorite things.
6.      TRAVEL – granted, I haven’t actually traveled to these places I’m about to list, but the idea of one day being able to sends adrenaline through my body. London and New York have been on my mind all of my college career. So much so, they made their way on to my graduation cap. New York has always been a place I’ve wanted to live in. When I started college, I knew I wanted to work within publishing, I just didn’t know what. But the one thing I did know was that I needed to be in New York. That has changed quite a bit lately. Now, I would love to live and work in London. It would be the perfect fit for me, I just know it.
7.      FAMILY – last year, my grandfather on my dad’s side passed away. At his funeral, I met some of my family I didn’t know or remembering meeting when I was younger. But his funeral pushed that side of my family to get together for reunions. In the last year, we’ve had three, and I’m so grateful for having these chances to get close with the family I didn’t know I had. I have gotten super close with some of my “third” cousins. Zach was the first one I met (I met him at the funeral). He accepted me into the family like it was nothing. Allie was the second one I met (I also met her at the funeral). She’s the one I go to whenever I have a problem. We’ve gotten so close in the last year. And, finally, Kameron. I don’t think I can put how much he means to me into words. He’s stuck with me for the last year, through all my panicking about graduation and after graduation, relationship issues, and so much more. Even though he yelled “Go Big Red” while I crossed the stage at graduation, I think I’ll keep him. Oh, and my sister is pretty great too. My best friend for life for sure.
8.      PETS – I love all of my pets. I don’t know what my life would be like without the dogs and cats that are in my life. Sometimes they drive me up a wall, but I wouldn’t change how things are. EVER.

These are just some of my favorite things, but they’re the most important. They make me who I am and they allow me to be myself. Without these things, I don’t know who I would be.          

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Different Directions

Top left: Harry Styles' album cover.
Top right: Niall Horan's "Slow Hands" cover
Bottom left: Liam Payne's single cover
Bottom right: Louis Tomlinson's solo cover
        If you know me at all, then you know just how much I love One Direction . . . especially when they were still together as a boy band. For a little over a year, the members (Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson, just in case you didn’t know) have gone in their own direction (HAHA, get it?). But that hasn’t stopped me from being one of their biggest fans. So, I’m taking this blog post to talk about and share my opinion on all of their new music. And because I’m me, I’m going to write about them from youngest to oldest, just in case they happen to see this and think I’m playing favorites (But that Harry Styles, though. What a babe!).

            Harry Styles
            Okay, being the only member of 1D to have an entire album out, I just want to take a second and thank him for gracing us all with his angelic voice and his beautiful lyrics once again. Also, I just love how every song is different. Meaning, a nice mixture of rock and pop. It truly fits his voice. Since it came out on May 12th, I think I’ve listened to the entire album over seventy-five times. Yeah, I’m that person. I might claim that I love ALL of the songs, but I’m a human and I have my favorites.
  1.       “Ever Since New York” is probably my favorite, I’m not going to lie. There is just something about this song that pulls me in every time it plays on my phone. I’ve found myself singing it at random times throughout the day, also. Maybe I do have a problem?
  2.       “Two Ghosts” is just beautiful. I honestly can’t think of a better word than “beautiful.” Whether this song is actually about Tay Swizzle (EW) or not, everything about this song screams Harry Styles. It’s sweet and light and just an all-around amazing song.
  3.      “Sweet Creature” just makes me so happy. Now, I’m not sure why H. Styles is calling this person a “sweet creature” instead of something like “sweet woman” or “sweet man” but I totally dig it. And I totally dig the song and loving someone so much that, no matter what happens, “sweet creature, wherever I go, you bring me home.”
  4.   And, finally “Sign of the Times.” When I first heard this song, I was like “why is it so flipping long?!” but then I understood. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy the high notes he hits in the song, I just love the meaning behind it. Styles said in a recent interview that the song is about everything that’s been happening in world. More specifically, Brexit and Trump.

Those four songs are my personal favorites. But the whole album is amazing. Whether you LOVE One Direction and Harry or not, you should definitely listen to his album titled “Harry Styles.” The passion he has for music comes through in all the songs. It’s definitely worth a listen. 

Niall Horan
Being the first one of the members to release their first single, Niall baby, you are amazing. I just want to point out how far this Irish boy has come. When 1D first started, he didn’t have a lot of solos in the songs. But as the years went on and his voice got stronger, he was able to have more singing parts. And now, he has two solo singles out and I couldn’t be more proud of how far he’s come. Every time he announced when each of his singles would drop, I stayed up until midnight to download them, and then I would listen to them once or twice before going to bed. And I’ve been obsessed with them ever since.
  1. This Town,” which came out in September of 2016, is so Niall. In saying so, I just mean that it’s sweet and adorable just like him. And I know that’s a weird statement given that it’s a song about heartbreak, but the words he uses to describe everything he still wants to say to “her” or “him” is so cute. Is that the right word? I’m not sure, but it definitely works. And I can imagine how it feels to see “her” or “him” just by listening to his words. 
  2. “Slow Hands.” Two words; HOLY CRAP. Excuse me, but where did this Niall Horan come from? I mean, there were sexual songs on the last 1D album that he apparently helped write BUT WHAT THE HECK. And the fact that this song is categorized as “funk-pop” is amazingly beautiful, and 100% true. Every time I listen to it, I just groove. It’s so catchy, that even my sister has it downloaded on her phone. CRAZY.

All in all, the first two singles have completely blown my mind. And I cannot wait for the entire album to come out later this year. Why he’s making me wait so long, I have no idea. But from what I’ve heard from Niall so far, this album is going to be amazing. And I CANNOT wait to hear him perform these two songs LIVE this summer when he’s here in Indy.  Honestly, if you haven’t given these two songs a listen yet, you all probably should. They’re amazing.

Liam Payne
I just want to say a quick congratulations to this new father! Little Bear is going to be the cutest kid ever, I just know it. And I want to mention how amazing Liam is too. He’s been away from his newborn son to finish the single he just dropped with Quavo. I know that can’t be easy, but I’m so happy to have some new Payno music!

1. “Strip That Down” is everything that I pictured Liam would make outside of 1D. Speaking of 1D, I think I’m the only person who is not upset about one line in the song that goes “You know I used to be in 1D, now I’m out free.” I don’t take that as he’s happy to be in a hiatus from the band. I think he’s just happy to make the type of music he wants. Because everyone knows that a song like this would have never made it on a 1D album. Anyway, I digress. The song is so good, that once again, my sister has downloaded it on her phone. This song just works for Liam. I don’t exactly have the words for why, but just believe me. Would I steer you wrong?

This song is so good, I honestly can’t wait to hear what else he has up his sleeves. Maybe more collaborations? Maybe a song with another member of the Migos? Who knows, but I know that it will be good. And I’m happy to listen to anything he will make. Especially since I’ll be able to see him perform live this summer as well! Exciting times for this 1D fan!!

Louis Tomlinson
Being the second member to release a single, Lou, you are just as amazing as the rest of them. Especially since he released this song shortly after his mother passed away from Leukemia. He was able to perform his song with Steve Aoki on the X Factor and dedicated it to his mom. And, just like Niall, I know how far Louis has come. He didn’t get very many solos on the 1D albums at the start, but he clawed his way up just like Niall did and won the hearts of Directioners all over the world. On December 10th, 2016, he took the world by storm once again.

1. “Just Hold On” was rumored to have been written for his mom when she found out that she had cancer. Whether it was for her or not, it’s a great song for anyone that’s going through something difficult. A line in the chorus goes “if it all goes wrong, darling just hold on.” On top of that line that appears more than once, the music behind the words is so upbeat, thanks to the lovely Steve Aoki. I honestly don’t know how to describe this song other than perfect. Perfect for Louis. Perfect for everyone.

I don’t know if Louis plans on putting out an album anytime soon, but I think I can live with this one song for right now.  Anytime I find myself upset or in a weird mood, I turn to “Just Hold On.” Something about it makes me feel safe. Then again, anytime I listen to 1D, I feel safe.

If you’ve made it to this part of my post, I applaud you. And I want to thank you. I love sharing what I love with other people. I love Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson a lot more than I probably should, but I don’t care. And I’m definitely not ashamed of it, either. Actually, my heart is so full of happiness and pride, it might burst. Not only do they make great music, but they’re great human beings, and they definitely deserve to be bragged about. Anyway, listen to their music!! All four of them will blow your mind. If not, oh well. I’ll love them enough for all of us. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Vessels: A Love Story Book Review

Vessels: A Love Story
By Daniel Raeburn
ISBN: 978-0-393-28538-3
Copyright 2016
Trade Paperback, 176 pages, $23.95         

       When Dan, a writer with a passion for underground comics, and his wife Bekah, a potter dedicated to traditional Japanese ceramics, met through a mutual friend at a Memorial Day party, they fell in love quickly. “Of all the women I’ve ever met,” Dan told a friend, “she’s the first one who felt like family.” But after spending Christmas with Dan’s family, tragedy struck. The baby, whom Bekah and Dan named Irene, wasn’t moving and Bekah didn’t feel right. The following day, Bekah went to the doctor only to find out that Irene was dead. Leaving her with the only decision: deliver a stillborn. 
After the devastating loss of Irene, Dan and Bekah were stuck in a cycle of being depressed and not wanting to live.  Bekah spent most of that time being stuck on bedrest while the rest of the world sped past her. She got to the point where she was tired of everyone else doing the work for her and willed herself out of bed. “She didn’t want to work with anyone who’d known her before the birthday. When her fever receded she got dressed and rode a bus to the skyscrapers downtown, where she took a job in an office where no one knew anything about her but her name” (pp. 47).  
A little over a year, their wedding and honeymoon later, Bekah was pregnant again. Knowing and remembering what happened with Irene, Bekah and Dan were on edge about everything. And in hopes of not jinxing this pregnancy, Bekah and Dan didn’t tell anyone. The baby was breech, so a C-section was scheduled, and the baby was delivered with no problems. They named her Willa.
Based on Daniel Raeburn’s acclaimed New Yorker essay, Vessels: A Love Story is the story of how he and Bekah fought and clung to each other through a miscarriage in December of 2003, a still-birth in December of 2004, a C-section in May of 2006 (Willa), a miscarriage in December of 2008, and then finally having Hazel and joyfully becoming parents. In prose as delightful as his wife’s pottery, Raeburn recounts a marriage cemented by the same events that nearly broke it.
Vessels is an unwavering, immensely moving story of intimacy, strength, and love.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

J Mac at BSU

** First off, just in case this somehow makes it to Jesse himself, I just wanted to thank you for making all my childhood and teenage dreams come true. I never thought I would see you in concert, let alone meet you. So thank you. For everything. **

Jesse McCartney,
            All right, let me tell you a story. When I was about five, I was introduced to the lovely boyband called Dream Street. I wasn’t really into music back then. Granted, I was only five years old, so what did I know? Anyway, my sister and I were really into everything that was involved in Dream Street, especially when we picked our favorite members. Courtney’s favorite was always Chris Trousdale. And, Jesse, you were always my favorite. My five-year old self always saw something special in you. Believe me when I say, seeing something special in you hasn’t stopped. And probably never will.
            When Dream Street broke up in 2002, my heart broke with it. But it definitely spurred my love for all boybands. But I never stopped being a fan of yours, Jesse. And when your album “Beautiful Soul” came out in 2004, everything was perfect. I was only ten years old at the time, but every song on that album meant so much to me. I didn’t know it at the time, but your songs have helped me through every rough patch I’ve ever endured in my life. More specifically, “Because You Live.” It just spoke to me. But don’t think I have forgotten about your other three albums. They were equally just as amazing as “Beautiful Soul.” All yours songs have touched me in a way that I can’t seem to put into words at the moment.
            Given everything that I just told you, when I say that seeing you, Jesse McCartney, in concert has been in preparation for years, I mean it. Anytime he was in Indiana (I don’t remember all the specific dates), I was either too young to go to a concert or my mother didn’t think I was ready for it. And then, on my way home from Ball State one weekend, your face pops up on my facebook page and announces that you will be coming to BSU. When I say I freaked out a little bit, I’m lying. I completely lost my shit. I’m pretty sure I screamed. I think I might have even started hyperventilating. But in the best way possible. It’s my senior year and I wanted to go out with a BANG. Seeing you in concert and taking a picture with you made my senior the best year here.
            The morning before the concert, I was too excited to do anything else but think about hearing “Beautiful Soul” performed live. How pathetic, right? Anyway, I took my sister back to her dorm for her to get ready for her class. And then I got ready. I showered, did my make-up, and counted down the hours until it was time to head over to campus. I was so excited and nervous to meet you that I let my sister do my hair so I looked perfect for the picture we would take together. Shortly after, my friend Monica showed up and we were ready for our night to begin.
            We got to campus around four in the afternoon and spent some time in Woodworth, since it was the closest to Pruis. We enjoyed some fast snacks, taking selfies, and just talking about everything going on in our lives. And then it was finally time. We got there just in time to be at the beginning of the second row of people to meet you. We waited for over an hour, but it was so worth it. When it was finally our turn to take our picture with you, I was so nervous that I thought I was going to pass out. But seeing your smiling face made everything so much better. You greeted us with “Hey, guys” and a smile. I shook your hand, even though I wanted to go in for a hug, but I didn’t want to be too forward. So I was just happy that I got to stand close to you. And when you said “Say hi to Instagram,” I didn’t know what to do, so I did this stupid wave thing? I don’t know, I was just so nervous. Meeting you took about a whole twenty seconds before we were rushed off. But I understood. I don’t regret a thing from that night.
            Fast forward to you gracing us with your presence on the stage, and starting the show off with “Leavin’.” I remember everything from that night. Everything from me screaming so much and so loud that my throat hurt instantly to watching you choose some random girl in the front row to sing “The Stupid Things” and another girl to hold your water bottle, and finally, to you ending your stay at BSU with singing “Beautiful Soul.”
            Everything about that night was a dream come true for me, and probably for most of the others that saw you. I don’t know how to explain how much you mean to me, Jesse. But I thank you and eagerly await your new album.

Caroline Delk 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

My Experience as an Agent Assistant

For a long time, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do after college. Publisher or author? Or both? Being an agent assistant at #‎MWW16 has helped me see that I do, in fact, want to be an agent above everything else. Seeing how my agent interacts with writers has been magical in a way I can't put into words. Also seeing how agents have formed relationships with writers they've signed has been amazing. This whole experience has put my life and future into perspective.
My first pitch session with Rachel Ekstrom was probably the most nerve-wracking but thrilling experience in my life. We had just gotten done with the All Agent Panel and barely made it up to the third floor in time for the first pitch. We made it just in time for Rachel to get settled in at her table before I went to get our first pitch. Until Friday, I had no idea how fast five minutes could fly by. Jacqueline came in, introduced herself, and immediately jumped into her pitch. The whole time, I couldn’t stop watching how intensely Rachel was listening to Jacqueline. She was taking everything in and I could see the gears working in her head. Rachel then asked about comp titles and about a specific thread that was in the novel, and the whole process was mesmerizing.
Friday, Rachel and I were all over the place, jumping between the second and third floor. She was on three panels, all of which I got to sit in on. Of the three, my favorite had to be the Agent/Author Relationship panel. Because, not only were Rachel and Amy Reichert on the panel, but so were Molly Jaffa with Julie Murphy and Natalie Parker, and Uwe Stender, Brent Taylor, and Summer Heacock. It was nice getting to see the relationships that were built all on an idea for a novel. Relationships like those are ones I strive to have.
The rest of Friday consisted of more pitches (some of which Rachel asked for pages of or for the full manuscript) and some query critiques. It was a packed schedule but it was worth every minute of exhaustion and craziness. After the delicious Italian dinner we had, I went to two buttonhole sessions, one with Karma Brown and one with Amy Reichert (ahhh!). In those two 20 minute sessions alone, I learned more about publicists and genre than I could have ever imagined. It was so much fun!
AND THEN, it was book signing time! I went straight to Lori Rader-Day, because she’s Lori Rader-Day and she’s freaking awesome. And, then I made my way to Amy Reichert and had her sign both of the books I own of hers. But, above all else, I think my favorite part of the night was when pictures were taken. I got a picture with Amy Reichert, squeeze-hugging me! And then I got a picture with Julie Murphy, which was probably one of the highlights of the whole weekend. Then, it was photo booth time with my girls (Lauren, Amanda, Rachel, and Rachel). And finally, I ended the night with a picture with Lori Rader-Day.

            After the lovely Amanda Byk picked me up for the day, the two of us spent our morning in the pitch room, bonding more than we had before. At about 10:00 am, we went down a floor to make sure our agents got to the places where they needed to be next. For Rachel: query critiques. For Lauren: just some time alone. Rachel and I made it through two critiques before we got a break. During that short amount of time, we talked about being an agent and New York. Also during that break, Rachel looked at me and said, “I should ask you more about what you thought of the pitches!” And she did. She asked me which ones I liked the most and if I enjoyed a pitch. It was the experience I wanted and I got it.
            During a two and a half hour break and Rachel’s nap, I got to enjoy the teaching of Ashley Ford. In a short hour, I learned more about unfinished essay than I could have ever imagined. She used a metaphor of an unfinished essay is like a sculptor and that the essay just needed to be chipped away until the real essay is found. It was the greatest lecture/session I had been to. I learned so much and changed my thinking process about essays.
            And then it was time for Julie Murphy’s keynote speech. As a woman that is heavier than others, Julie’s speech really spoke to me. Not just about that, but because she put everything bad that happened in this world in the last month or so into perspective and it changed everything I thought I knew. It was beautiful and brilliant. She’s beautiful and brilliant.

            As the night came to a close, as sad as it was, I got to spend time with the brilliant minds behind the whole Workshop, I took a lot of pictures, laughed and smiled a lot. It was the perfect ending to the perfect workshop known as Midwest Writer’s Workshop.