The Truth About my Story

By Kathryn M. (Junior)

Prologue:

“W-wait for me Jas!” I try to yell but I’m out of breath due to chasing after my boyfriend. When I finally catch up to him, he is looking over the pier with a glaze in his eyes.

“Oh, hello Luc,” he says with his eyes still focused on the water as if something could jump out of it any second now. “I thought I lost you a mile back.” I know he is only joking but the comment still hurts me. When he turns to face me, my breath seems to fail me again. His face shows pain; pain I’ve only seen in my dreams.

“J-Jason, w-what’s wrong?” I try to say in a clear sentence, but I can’t seem to find the words. “You look like you have just seen a ghost.” I try my best to say it with a light tone, but also add concern into it as well, knowing what we just encountered was, or perhaps is, a ghost.

“Stay away from me sweet heart, I don’t want to hurt you. It’s inside me. Just please, go get Toby, he will know what to do,” he says in the calmest voice I’ve ever heard. Little did I know as I ran off to go get our trainer, those would be his last words to me. Well… at least for four years.

Chapter One: April 18, 2016

Today is the day that I have come to despise over the past four years. On this day four years ago, my boyfriend Jason disappeared. Everyone else says that he jumped into the water and committed suicide, but they never did find the body. I, on the other hand, know that Jas is not dead.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, hi, my name is Lucy, Lucy Stine. I am what some people might call a physic, but my trainer and I like to go by the more technical term: a seer.  My mother would always tell me when she tucked me in at night that I had a gift. Maybe by gift, she meant curse. While most people had good dreams and bad ones, I had good visions and bad ones.

Each time I would close my eyes for a nap or to sleep for the night, I could see my mom’s past and everyone else’s before she came into the world. At least that is how it started. As I got older, I could also see the future, not so much mine, but the future in general. Sadly, the future that I saw was not like most like ten year-old’s thought. It was dark, scary, sad, and everything terrible in between. Don’t get me wrong, I did see some amazing things in the future. I caught a glimpse of my color scheme for my wedding (sadly not the man I would marry). All that aside, being a seer takes a lot of training. That is where Toby comes in, but I will talk about him later. It is time for me to stop fighting the warmth and safety of my bed and do what I have been avoiding for four years; cleaning out Jason’s belongings and continue living my life.

Chapter Two: The Box

I slowly get out of bed and throw on one of his shirts and let out a sigh.

“Oh Jas, I wish you were still here.” I whisper into the silence, knowing that there will be no reply.

As I go into the kitchen to warm up some water, I have a flashback. Jas has his arms around my stomach and is kissing my neck while I make his favorite breakfast: scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits, and waffles. He keeps on begging me to come back to bed, that he is bored and wants to go back to sleep. I am brought back to reality by the whistle of the tea kettle letting me know that the water is ready for my apple cider. While I lounge with my drink, I turn on the morning news. Anything but what I actually need to get done. I take a deep breath, reluctantly turn off the T.V. and go into my room and look at his dresser drawers. I try to hold back the tears but fail miserably. I can’t help but think about all the good and bad times we had together, all the laughter and all the tears.

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High School: Tell Me You’re Real

Dreyana G. (Junior)

At first, I was just a character she made up when she was younger. I was her dream boyfriend who would buy her expensive jewelry and take her out to fancy restaurants. When she developed into an older woman, she realized that she will never find a man who loved her like me. Eventually, she began to think of me more and more and envisioned that I was there, cooking with her and shopping with her. Every day I became more tangible to her than she ever dreamed.

The park was our favorite place to visit, especially on days that it would be foolish not to get out and enjoy the sunlight. When Crystal was out in the sun, she radiated more beautifully than the rows of flowers that surrounded us. I watched her with a cheeky grin on my face as she would twirl on the lawn or while she identified shapes in the clouds when we were laying on the grass.

“What?” she queried, giggling when she caught me staring.

“Nothing,” I smirked. “Just that you’re beautiful.” She blushed.

“Sebastian, stop. I’m not really,” she contested.

“Yes, you are. The most beautiful girl in this park.”

“Well,” she arched one eyebrow and looked around the park. “Considering we’re probably here with only a few other people, you might be right.” She sat next to me on the park bench and intertwined her fingers with mine. The gentle wind brushed her hair slightly and a few strands fell in front of her face.

“I’m so glad I found you,” she whispered to me, laying her head on my shoulder. “You’re probably the only one in the world that would dare to fall in love with me.” A single tear escaped from her eye and rolled down her face.

“That’s not true,” I reassured her, gently brushing her hair behind her ear. “Any man would be lucky to have you.”

“Maybe, but I wouldn’t want any man. I love you,” she admitted. I smiled and kissed the top of her head. I love you too, Crystal, I would say to myself. I never had the guts to tell her I loved her or had the heart to admit that I was only a figment of her imagination.

“Hey,” Crystal interjected one day, breaking the soft trance we were in. “I just thought of the greatest idea.” She sat up on the couch and laid her book down on the coffee table.

“Oh yeah, what is it?” I asked, putting my book to the side also.

“I should introduce you to my family since you know…we’re dating and all,” she suggested.

“Uh, I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” I replied, running my hands through my hair.

“Why not? Don’t be afraid, they’ll love you, I promise. They’re not like other parents,” she affirmed.

“It’s not that…”

“We’re going,” she insisted. “I’m going to call them right now!” She slipped off the couch and sprinted to her bedroom.

The morning of the meeting with the family was bright and pleasant. The birds were singing for the summer weather and the flowers were bowing to the green grass as we drove the hour-long drive to her childhood house in the suburbs.

“They can’t wait to meet you, Sebastian,” she announced while adjusting my tie and brushing my hair outside of the car. “Just be yourself, okay?”

I nodded and took a deep breath. This is not going to turn out well. We stepped up to the entrance and Crystal rang the doorbell. She intertwined her hand with mine while putting on her perfect smile with a few food bits between her teeth.

“Crystal!” her mother and dad exclaimed once they came to the door. She immediately embraced them in a hug. Her younger sister, Amber, also came to the door and welcomed her back home.

“So…where’s this piece of man candy you were bragging about on the phone?” Amber asked looking around the porch.

“What are you talking about?” Crystal scoffed, looking at them like they were blind. “He’s right here. Mom, Dad, this is Sebastian. He is my…boyfriend,” she grinned proudly. Her family’s facial expressions went from cheerful to perplexed. Amber couldn’t help herself and let out a little snicker.

“Crystal, hun, there is no one there,” her mother pointed out. Her dad waved his arm in the area where I would have been to check if he was missing something.

“Yes, there is. Look, Sebastian say something,” she commanded me, desperately.

“They can’t see me, Crystal,” I whispered to her but she ignored me.

“Crystal, no one is standing next to you,” her father asserted.

“Are you kidding me?” Crystal shrieked. “You guys are clearly pretending to not see him. You just can’t accept the fact that someone as handsome and kind as Sebastian is fond of me. You all are horrible people,” she yelled. She whirled around and started to jog down the steps of the porch.

“Truly, we are not trying to be mean. We want to understand what you are trying to show us. Please stay and let’s talk about this,” her mother pleaded, running after us. Her father and Amber followed.

“Stay away from me,” Crystal demanded, stomping off towards the car.

“Crystal, just talk to us! We want to help you!”

“It was nice meeting you all,” I yelled back to them, trying to keep up with Crystal’s large strides.

“Don’t talk to them, Sebastian!” she ordered. We finally reached the car but her family was still lagging behind us, trying to stop us from leaving. She started the car and rolled down the window.

“Just because you can’t see him doesn’t mean he isn’t there,” she shouted out to her parents.

“I can’t believe she brought an imaginary boyfriend for us to meet. I mean, who does that?” I heard Amber mock as Crystal was driving away.

It was a long and silent drive back home. Dark clouds started to spread over the clear sky and soon the sun was also gone from sight. Silent sparks of lightning stretched across the horizon and I couldn’t help but think that it was quiet for a reason. I needed to tell her the truth so that she doesn’t suffer from any other embarrassment. I needed to tell her that I was not real; that our relationship was pure fantasy. I needed to tell her that her parents were not crazy. But I couldn’t. I loved her too much to have her happiness that she had manifested for herself disappear. Ignorance is bliss, right? Honestly, I thought that deep down she knew I wasn’t there; she knew that she was in love with a fictitious being. She just didn’t want to admit it because then that would bring her back to reality where she believed a girl like herself wouldn’t get a guy like me. She wanted to stay in her make-believe world, the world where I was there and she was happy.

About a month later, we were going to visit with Crystal’s family again. We went out to a very exclusive restaurant (one where you have to reserve months in advance to get a seat) for our two years and six months anniversary. The restaurant was very elegant and the food was extravagant. The dimmed sunlight from outside gave the restaurant a relaxed and romantic mood and the expensive chandelier suspended from the ceiling made us feel like we were in a palace. We requested to be seated near the waterfront so that we could watch the sunset. As we were following the maître d’ to our seat, we passed Crystal’s old school-mate.

“Oh my gosh! Crystal, hey! How have you been?” a brunette exclaimed jumping up from her seat to hug Crystal.

“India! It’s been so long,” Crystal replied, squeezing her old friend in a tight hug. “Oh, this is Sebastian, my boyfriend,” she informed India.

She looked around to see who she was talking about.

“Oh really, um, where is he?” India asked Crystal.

Crystal huffed. “He is literally right in front of you.”

“Are you sure, because I don’t see anyone in front of me?”

“She can’t see me,” I whispered to her and she ignored me, yet again.

“No! I’m getting really irritated with people acting like they are oblivious or that my boyfriend isn’t here when I see him standing right next to me!” she shouted, motioning to where I would have been. Heads turned and people stopped talking to see what the fuss was going on behind them. “You make me sound like I’m crazy, and I’m not. You’re just jealous that I could get a guy like this and you couldn’t.”

India looked startled from Crystal’s sudden outrage. “I am really sorry, Crystal. I didn’t mean to get you upset. I think you might be seeing things; you might need some help. I think I know some people who can help you.”

Crystal did an abrupt about-face and stomped out of the restaurant, without acknowledging India’s offer.

“These people are making me think that I’m crazy. I’m not crazy, they are. I know he’s real. They are just jealous. That’s all. They are jealous that they can’t find love like I have,” Crystal murmured to herself, trying to convince herself that I’m real.

“Crystal, we need to talk,” I requested, getting into the car.

She started the car and drove out of the parking lot. “Yeah, okay. I’m heading to the park so we can talk there.”

She slid the car into a space and we walked to the closest gazebo. It was nighttime but dark clouds were still visibly covering the night’s stars. The wind was strong and swept Crystal’s ivory hair to the side as we walked toward the lake. We sat side-by-side and stared at the water in front of us as it rippled from the drizzle of the rain. The anticipation of confessing the truth to her made my heart thud in my chest. I couldn’t decipher if it was rain or sweat that accumulated on my back, but I could tell that I was nervous to reveal to her what she needed to hear. I decided that it was selfish of me to have her continue believing that I was just a normal person. Even though I loved her, I knew it was time to let her go.

I took a deep breath. “Crystal. This is very important and it is crucial that you listen to everything I say and not interrupt me, okay.”

“Um, okay, sure.”

“Well, for starters, I love you. I’ve never told you I do, but think it is important that you know that now,” I started.

She beamed and nodded, “I love you too.” She pulled at her jacket collar to hide her grin.

“I’m just going to come out and say it. I am not real. Me and you right now, it’s not really happening. It’s all in your head,” I simply told her. She shook her head.

“I don’t understand, what are you talking about?” she asked with a puzzled face.

“Okay, just listen. For a few years now, you have been pretending that you and your make-believe dream man have been dating. I am him. You have created this fantasy world in which you live to escape the reality that our relationship would most likely never happen in real life. Basically, for two or more years, you have been imagining that I’m really here and that we have this amazing relationship and perfect life, but you are actually alone. You have been for years. Deep down I know you realize this because otherwise, I wouldn’t be telling you. All of what I say is coming from you, your conscience, your own head. You have known all along that this isn’t real and you just never wanted to come to terms with it,” I leveled with her. Her face indicated her confusion and sadness.

“You’re lying. Is this your cruel way of breaking up with me? To make me believe that I’m insane,” she questioned in disbelief.

“No, I am telling you the truth and you know it.” She studied my eyes and saw that I was telling the truth.

“So this is why my family and friends and other people aren’t able to see you?” she asked softly, her head bowed in defeat.

“Yeah, that’s why they couldn’t see me. They really weren’t trying to be mean. They were seeing exactly what was there: nothing.”

“I feel so bad. How did I let this happen? How did I let this get so bad?” she questioned. I rubbed her back to ease the pain when she started to cry. “So, what am I supposed to do after this? I mean, we are in love, I can’t let you go,” she sniffled trying to hold back any more tears.

“You’re going to have to, but I can’t tell you how. Don’t worry, though. I will always be with you. I am you, remember? I can’t live without you,” I noted while tucking strands of her hair behind her ear. Tears continued to slide down her cheeks but she smiled a rueful smile. We sat there, watching the moon appear from behind the storm clouds and cast its reflection onto the lake water.

“I’m going to miss you, a lot,” she admitted, sighing into my chest as she hugged me.

“Me too.”

“I know how I can let you go. Tell me you’re real, just once. I’ll close my eyes and when I open them, you’ll be gone.” She stood up, gave me a quick kiss on my cheek, took a step back and closed her eyes.

“I’m real,” I sighed and just like that, I slipped away from her world.

A Conversation from 6,000 Miles Away

By Amanda W. (Senior)

Nowadays, with social media and the internet as a main facet of our daily lives, we are given the ability to connect with people from all over the world. It allows you to discuss a variety of things with a variety of other human beings and enables you to have conversations that never would have been possible in the past.

On the popular social media app Instagram, I post about my favorite television shows, books, and other interests. Recently, a series of comments on one of my posts led me to have a conversation with a girl my age who lives in Israel. Initially, we discussed pets and dogs and she mentioned the fact that this summer they were enlisting. Curious, and at the time assuming they were also American, I asked them what branch they were planning on enlisting in. She answered that it was the army, but in her country, everyone had to enlist after they graduated high school. Intrigued, we continued to talk and I learned that in Israel they have to serve for at least two years and will take whatever position they are instructed to take.

Living in America, it is at times difficult to understand the issues in other countries, especially those in the Middle East, and so my curiosity continued to peak. What was it actually like there? Were the videos and stories in the media accurate? Did she even want to serve in the army?

She answered that she did not want to serve, given her own pacifist nature, but, “felt a responsibility for her country”. She explained that their country is “practically in constant war” and that all of the other people her age serve and protect their country, even if they do not want to, so that’s why she feels an obligation to serve as well.

Hearing all of this filled me with an admiration towards her strength in a situation that I, as a privileged person in a western country, cannot even begin to imagine. I have the freedom to choose what I do after high school, while she will be forced to do whatever her country orders her to do for the next two years, if not longer.

After reading her thoughts and views, I still wanted to know more. This was a chance for me to understand more and learn from someone who many of my fellow Americans would, unfortunately, be prejudiced against. I asked how her situation was and she explained to me that it was not ideal there. She stated, “There’s a lot of terrorism and the wars I’ve been in caused me to have PTSD and paranoia. Also, the religious people are kind of taking over some stuff, so there’s no gay marriage, which, as someone who is homosexual, I am not happy about.”

My response took a few minutes to even begin to form. I felt so powerless and my heart went out to this girl. A girl, who shared the same interests as me and had the same favorite fictional characters as me, was in such a terrible situation. When we think about the people living in war-ridden countries, I think it is very easy to put them in this one cookie cutter shape. We imagine them as the sad, hopeless people which we see on Save the Children advertisements or as terrorists, when in reality they are funny, interesting, normal people who happen to have been placed in awful circumstances.

When I wrote back to her, I apologized for her situation and the fact that she should not have to go through what she is dealing with. I sincerely stated that no words could make up for what is happening, especially since she is not allowed to marry someone she loves, a right which we have only recently gained ourselves, here in America. My heart went out to her and yet I did not apologize out of pity. I apologized because life dealt her an unfair hand. I apologized because I had spent the last two days feeling sad and down about my life when I have it so much easier than she does.

Of course, my problems are still problems, but hearing the weight of hers in comparison was truly a wake-up call.

After having such a deep discussion, we went on to talk about what gender equality was like in Israel and she said that women are supposedly equal to men in her country, but there are still issues with things like equal pay. “In many Arabic countries,” she said, “the government is cruel to its people and women are treated horribly, but here we’re pretty democratic.” I was relieved to hear that, and we soon moved on from that topic to lighthearted jokes and other more casual things. It was hard to believe that she was simply a normal teenage girl, just like me, but the more we talked, the more awestruck I felt.

In life, we do not know the stories of the people we see in the grocery stores or pass by on the highway. We do not know what they have been through. Or are going through. This girl has over 11,200 followers on Instagram and yet I doubt that most of them know what her situation is. They are not aware that her country is a war zone and that she has been surrounded by terrorism and power-hungry people. I was not aware in the nearly two years that I have followed her account and it has truly made me rethink my own impressions of people.

I think there are a multitude of things to take away from this story. The first one is that we cannot dehumanize the people who are in Middle Eastern countries like Israel. They are struggling over there too and those who are refugees from that area of the world cannot and should not be treated like they are less than human.

Second, we should not be so quick to assume or judge others. As a simple example, when someone at the check-out line in Target is rude or unfriendly, we shouldn’t judge them or make assumptions about them as we do not know what they are going through. At best, all we can do is smile politely, be understanding, and hope that their day gets better.

Finally, we have to listen. This goes for those with different political opinions, religions, or people who live thousands of miles away. When you listen, you are opening your mind to someone else’s viewpoint and you are giving yourself the ability to learn from them. I have obtained so much knowledge from others with this attitude and it truly goes along with the idea that there is plenty to learn, especially from your fellow men and women.

This is quite a long article and if you made it this far then you definitely deserve some sort of medal. But this experience was one so eye-opening and meaningful to me that I could not help but write about it and hope that perhaps some of you were touched by it too.

Since not everyone can have a moving conversation with someone about these sorts of issues, if this type of topic interests you, then I highly recommend the book I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. I read it a few summers ago and given all of the topics and news stories regarding America and the Middle East or even the judgment placed right here in the states over certain religions, it was a fantastic read and is something I encourage everyone to be absorbed in and draw their own thoughts from.

My 4-H journey

By Elise Webb  (Sophomore)

“Wake up girls! It’s time to feed up!” That is a line I have heard every spring and summer morning for as long as I can remember. I am number six in the line of ten “Webb Kids” and it was innate that I share the same passion for Livestock Projects and 4-H as the rest of my family.
Looking back through pictures of the early days of my family, show me pictured as a baby observing my older sisters feed, and practice with her lambs. As soon as I was old enough to walk, I upgraded to a pee-wee exhibiter. With the help of my sisters I proudly showed my borrowed lamb, and could not wait untill the day I was given my own to show with the “big kids.” In the first grade I finally received my very own club lamb. I was finally a REAL 4-H’er. My first lamb came to me from South Georgia, and I named her Syrup. With the responsibility of owning a lamb also came lots of hard work. My sisters would wake me up early to feed, and walk sheep every morning. In the evenings when it would start to cool off, we would work our sheep again. There were enough of us to create our own little show every night with my dad as the judge.

Time in the barn became more frequent over the years as we added other show animals to the mix. I followed in my sisters’ footsteps once again, and started showing goats. After watching them for a show season I got my own goat named Jonah. I enjoyed him so much, that I continued with it again this year, as well as showing lambs.
My 4-H involvement has never been limited to livestock. I remember watching my sisters prepare for District Project Achievement (and other demonstrations), and repeating them in memorization, to the point where I could have given them myself. So when it came time for me to participate, it was very natural. I have taken advantage of every opportunity possible to participate in 4-H. Besides caring for, training and working with market animals, I have been a member of the Challenge Bowl Team, Livestock Judging Team, Poultry Judging and Cotton Boll and Consumer Judging Team. I have helped with the Awards Banquet, Christmas Parade Float, Elberton 12 County Fair Booth and Georgia National Fair Herdsman display for several years.

Also, I enjoy all the summer activities and community service opportunities made available to me by 4-H and have thoroughly enjoyed Cloverleaf Camp at Rock Eagle.
This year I finally reached Senior 4-H status and have been able to complete Teen Leader Training and have had the opportunity to serve as a teen leader at several activities and events. Working with the Clover buds at their meetings is probably my very favorite. Along with becoming a senior 4-H member, I had the privilege to run for and be appointed to the Elbert County Senior Board.
Besides 4-H, I have been a member of the AWANA Club for ten years and have received the Meritorious Award for book completion. I have participated in the AWANA Games, Bible Quiz, and Grand Prix each year. Also, I play basketball for Camp Harmony Youth League and Liberty Baptist Church in the Hart County church league. This year I complete Child Evangelism Fellowship Training and assist at South Hart Elementary Good News Club every Monday afternoon.
It has not always been easy following in the footsteps of my five older siblings but I am making my own footprints to be followed by my four younger brothers and sisters, because “Making the Best Better” is a lifestyle at the Webb House.

Movies You Will Want to See…

By Mandi D. (Junior)

2016 has been a crazy year, to say the least. It shouldn’t be surprising that movie releases are as well. There have been a ton of movies this year that you’ll want see. This list includes movies released from July 2016 to movies yet to be released in 2017.

However, here are a couple of movies from before July that you should check out. Released in March, there’s the Disney film Zootopia, Divergent’s Allegiant, and DC’s Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. In May, there was Captain America: Civil War, the Angry Birds Movie, and X-Men: Apocalypse. The last one is Finding Dory, released in June. Now, onto the rest of the list!

July of 2016

The Secret Life of Pets: New York terrier Max enjoys a spoiled and pampered life until his owner adopts the large canine Duke. Immediately, Max dislikes Duke due to the big difference in their personalities. However, they’re forced to work together when they learn that there are bigger problems facing pets, and humans as a whole.

Ghostbusters: Unfortunately, a box-office bomb due to the controversial decision of an all-female cast, the Ghostbusters reboot has received positive reviews from critics. When weird apparitions begin appearing in Manhattan, paranormal researcher Abby Yates and physicist Erin Gilbert turn to engineer Jillian Holtzman for help. Along with street smart New Yorker Patty Tolan, the four women have to defend New York City from over a thousand mischievous spirits.

Ice Age: Collision Course: When Scrat sets off a chain reaction that ends with an asteroid hurtling towards Earth, the herd must move to new lands to save themselves while Manny struggles with his dismay over his daughter Peach’s approaching wedding.

Star Trek: Beyond: When a surprise attack forces the Enterprise to the surface of a mysterious planet, the crew must fight off a deadly alien race while finding a way off the planet, along with keeping their attacker from getting to the Enterprise.

August of 2016

Suicide Squad: Due to their expendable status, a team of imprisoned super villains are assembled for a top-secret mission. Named Task Force X, Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc, Slipknot, and El Diablo are forced to work together to fight against a new enemy.

September of 2016

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: Based off of the book by Ransom Riggs, the film follows a boy named Jack. When his grandfather leaves, Jack follows the path of clues that he’s left, which goes through different worlds and times. Finding the magical titular place, Jack realizes that only he can help save them.

November of 2016

Doctor Strange: After a car accident destroys the use of his hands, Dr. Stephen Strange’s life is forever altered. When looking into new ways to heal him, he finds himself being forced into choosing whether to return to his normal life, or defend the world against a new dark force.

 

Trolls: After Troll Village is invaded, happy Troll Poppy and cautious Troll Branch set off to rescue Poppy’s friends, they undergo a series of mishaps and obstacles on their adventure as they try to tolerate each other long enough to complete the adventure.

 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: In 1926, when Newt Scamander has completed his world journey to document a large variety of magical beasts, he stops in New York for a quick stop. Well, at least it would have short, if some of those beasts hadn’t escaped.

 

Moana: Daring teenager Moana sets off on a journey to save her people. Meeting demigod Maui on the way, together, they sail across the seas, meeting large monsters and impossible odds. Along the way, Moana finds something she’s been after a long time: her own identity.

March of 2017

Beauty and the Beast: A reimagining of Disney’s 1991’s famed classic, Beauty and the Beast. Starring Emma Watson as Belle, the film follows her as she takes her beloved father’s place as prisoner in a beast’s castle.

May of 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2: This is the second film following the superhero team Guardians of the Galaxy and is the fifteenth film in Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s set two months after the previous film and follows the team as they travel throughout the cosmos and try to discover more about Peter Quill’s true parentage.

June of 2017

Wonder Woman: After leaving her home island, Wonder Woman discovers her full powers and her real destiny as she fights in World War I with other soldiers.

The Mummy: An ancient queen, whose destiny was unfairly stolen away from her, is awakened in current day and brings malevolence that has grown over the past millennia with her to release upon the world.

Despicable Me 3: Gru has to deal with Balthazar Bratt, a child star from the 80s’ who has created a plan for world domination.

Hopefully, some of the upcoming films interest you and you check them out soon! Happy viewing, everyone!

 

YALLFEST: Where Young Adult Literature Goes to Play

Amanda W. (Senior)

Early in the month of November, a small portion of Charleston, South Carolina is filled with thousands of people. Crooked lines of eager book enthusiasts fill the sidewalks, local businesses open their doors to an influx of customers, and some of the best authors in the “Young Adult” genre meet with as many of their fans as possible. This sensation is fondly known as YALLFEST. It is a two-day long festival for those who adore YA books and those who write them.

To give you some more insight, YALLFEST is essentially an event where you can meet authors like Veronica Roth, Julie Murphy, or R.L. Stine and have them sign your copies of their books. There are also dozens of panels where you can see them up on stage answering audience questions, discuss their writing, or doing various hilarious activities such as reading their childhood diaries or playing “Never Have I Ever”. Not only do you get to share your passion for an author’s work, but you also have the opportunity to get an inside look at what they are like outside of the fictional worlds they created.

This past weekend, I was able to gather my enormous stack of books and make the pilgrimage to Charleston. With my rolling suitcase in tow (which was on the verge of exploding due to the many novels it contained) I was ready to take on the world. During a whirlwind of standing in line and making my way up to the tables where my favorite writers sat, I was able to meet many different authors and ask them some questions from our very own Weekly Juice editors!

When meeting the New York Times Bestselling author, Alexandra Bracken, I asked her, “Do you have any advice for someone with an idea for a book, but who doesn’t know how to actually write it out the way they imagine?”. She responded, “I think the best way to do that is to brainstorm and then make a creative outline. You don’t have to write out everything, just really all of your major plot points and how you want it to end as how a book ends is really important. Knowing how it ends is really what will help you guide your writing.”

When confronted with the same question, Soman Chainani, author of The School for Good and Evil, replied, “I think…you have to force yourself to start. You have to sort of lock yourself in a room with a piece of paper and just get stuff out. You have to get stuff out on paper and then you can revise it, but until you actually have stuff you have nothing to work with. It’s not going to be perfect the first time. “

Two other young adult authors responded to the question, “Was there a significant moment or milestone in your life which made you want to become a writer?”. One of them was Suzanne Young, author of The Program and many other fantastic books. She answered, “I had always been writing, but what actually drove me to want to become a published author was when my grandmother passed away. She knew that I was writing and so one of the last things she said was to make sure that I dedicated my book to her. She said it in a sort of joking way, but she passed away before she could see any of my published books and so if you look, I’ve published thirteen books, and every single one of them is dedicated to her. So I was always a writer, but that was the push that I needed to pursue publishing.”

Julie Murphy, who has written books like Dumplin and Side Effects May Vary replied, “The really unfortunate answer is that I didn’t write very much growing up and I didn’t read very much growing up, but I was a really proficient liar and I lied about any little thing that I could as a kid down to what kind of sandwich I had for lunch, so I think it started there. The idea that words can manipulate and deceive people (I know that that sound horrible and deceptive), but it started there because that’s when I first learned the power that words can have because even the lie that didn’t mean anything to me meant something to someone else.”

In short, writing is a skill which can be honed in a variety of ways and built upon by many unique experiences. Based on the advice of the authors I spoke with, it seems like the keys to writing a great story are focus, outlining, and the discovery of what really motivates you to put the world inside of your brain onto a blank piece of paper.

If, a year from now, you find yourself with a free weekend and at least one author that you want to meet in person, then I definitely recommend giving YALLFEST a chance. I had no idea what I was getting into the first time I went and now it is an annual event where I am able to showcase my pride in being a teenage girl with a passion for literature. Not only is it a fantastic place for that, but you may very well find yourself receiving the push YOU need to write through being around and hearing the experiences of some truly spectacular human beings.

(If you would like to hear some of the other questions I asked a few other authors, but didn’t put in the main part of the piece above then do feel free to read them here:

Me: “Do you have any advice for a writer who has an idea for a book, but has a hard time determining how to write it out like they imagined?”

Daniel Ehrenhaft: “Start writing. Find a group of like-minded people who love books as much as you do, who also write. Share your writing amongst each other. Find an adult who is an English teacher or parent who also loves books as much as you do, workshop it, and then get going. I would recommend too, after you’ve graduated if you still want to do books for your life then get an internship at a publishing house.”

~ ~ ~

Me: “How long did it take you to write your first novel?”

Melissa de la Cruz: “For my first published book, it took…probably a year.”

Me: “That’s pretty fast!”

Melissa de la Cruz: “Yeah, well, it was due so that definitely motivated me!”

~ ~ ~

Soman Chainani (extended response): “I did an analysis once with Microsoft Word on how much of what I write originally is in the final book and it’s something like twenty percent. Only twenty percent of what I write originally ends up in the book, just because you edit so much.”

~ ~ ~

There were so many more authors who I wish I could have met, but alas I suppose they will have to wait until next year!)

The Pros and Cons of Black Friday…

By Drey G. (Junior)

Oh, the thanksgiving feast was delightful. The turkey was cooked perfectly and the pumpkin pie finished dinner off on a sweet note. But guess what time it is now? It’s time to pull on your heavy coats, slide on your comfy walking shoes, roll out that Christmas shopping list, and hop in the car. It is officially time for Black Friday shopping! What is Black Friday, you may ask? Black Friday is a quite popular shopping day in the U.S., right after Thanksgiving. On this day, prices are said to be greatly dropped from their original asking price!

It is also a perfect time for you to do your early Christmas shopping. Yep, right after you celebrate all that you are thankful for, you spring right into Christmas shopping. You might have heard of many Black Friday disasters involving shoppers fighting over store products or people getting severely injured trying to be one of the first to get those great deals, which might be a reason why some don’t bother participating in this American tradition.

However, don’t get me wrong there are some pros with this unofficial holiday, starting with the “BIG” sales. The sales—which are practically irresistible— are the most important reasons why shoppers enjoy this holiday. Tell me, who won’t want to save 85% off of a new electrical blender, or blow dryer. Macy’s, Target, Wal-mart and many other stores advertise reduced prices on clothes and toys but most importantly electronics. Black Friday is usually considered one of the best times of the year to buy yourself a new phone or laptop.  In fact,  a lot of the mainstream electronic stores, especially Best Buy, make their usual prices for their gadgets unbelievably lower. Another pro is that you get a sneak peak of everyone’s Christmas presents and you get to spend time with your family shopping and maybe see a side of them you usually don’t see.

It’s a great activity for the whole family, to enjoy essential family bonding time and learn prioritizing and time management. Lastly, it’s great walking and/or speed walking exercise around the mall trying to get everything on the shopping list, with possible shoving involved (great for the arms). Also, the adrenaline rush when you dash into the store first before anyone takes your items off the shelf could shed a calorie or two from the food the day before. Oh, the pros!

Now to the cons, here we go; first off, the lines are ridiculously long. I’m talking about the lines inside and outside of the stores. I have seen lines at Walmart before, that nearly stretched around the store, and it wasn’t even open yet. And talk about the lines at the cash register. It might take you about an hour or two to check out your, snow boot and cashmere sweater. Secondly, waking up before the sun has even risen or rushing to the stores right after your stomach experienced its once a year stretching until it nearly bursted. The very last thing you want to be doing is waking up early to go shopping all day. Thirdly, the likelihood of you getting trampled on or injured on Black Friday is quite high. Those videos of people fighting over the last limited edition laptop, or ran over while trying to get in the store first, could just as equally happen to you. It is truly a life risk you have to be willing to take if you are the ones trying to be the first 100 to get those door buster deals. The fourth con is: are you really getting the best prices or the lowest sales on Black Friday? Sure, this day is known for its extremely good sales but, think about it…stores have sales many times a year and most of them are even better than the sales on Black Friday. The sales that they have closer to Christmas time when they are trying to clean out their inventory for the new year, is most likely better than the sales during Black Friday. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the crowds or waking up really early to get in before everyone else. If you were smart with how you spend your money, you would compare prices of the desired item with different stores to see who has the lowest cost or maybe wait for Cyber Monday and check with their online store that could have even better deals than the prices they had on Black Friday.

What I have come to realize is that stores raise their prices a few days before Black Friday and then lower it down to its original price to make it seem like you are paying less for it, when you actually aren’t. Sneaky, huh? My last con is that Black Friday shopping is starting to overlap our 400-year-old tradition and is taking us away from Thanksgiving. Recently, some Black Friday deals aren’t even starting on Friday, they are starting 4 pm, 5 pm on Thursday, which is really early and cutting into our turkey eating time. Thanksgiving, as we know, is a time to think about all the things we are thankful for the past year, and to relish our time with our families that come together to celebrate this wonderful holiday. It is a time to savor mom’s casserole and grandpa’s corn bread, and have an excuse to why you gained ten pounds over the weekend.

  However, some people, because of Black Friday, decide to cut dinner short and wait in line or even have Thanksgiving dinner in lines so that they can take advantage of the so-called best deals some stores offer on Thursday afternoons. This also interrupts the employee’s Thanksgiving since they have to work the stores. They don’t have time to spend with the people they love the most, because they have to work on Thanksgiving. I don’t know about you, but the craziness that comes with Black Friday is a bit much for me. I’d rather wait and get excited about Cyber Monday that comes without the hassle and shop from the comfort of my bed.