Why You Should Hire an Editor for Your Dissertation

Hiring professional editors to look over dissertations before submission can help students reach their full potentials as they wrap up their graduate or doctoral studies. On her blog, “Get a Life, PhD,” Tanya Maria Golash-Boza writes, “Sometimes, you have to ask yourself: ‘What is the cost of not hiring an editor?’”

Getting professional advice and editing from someone who has experience in your academic field will help to narrow the focus of your final project, see and read your own words more clearly, gain a better understanding of what you need to do to make your writing appear more clear and professional, and ultimately produce a successful and publishable project.

There is no question that outside readers find far more mistakes in your writing than you do. Your mind knows exactly what the document should say and, as a result, your eyes see what the brain wants them to see. While asking friends, family, and classmates may certainly help you to discover small mistakes, professional editors have experience in the specific fields you may be targeting or pulling information from in your project. Finding someone who is familiar with your topic of study will largely benefit the final draft of your dissertation.


Hired editors offer a variety of expert insights. Editors are not just used for poets, memoirists, and other creative writers; there are also those who have doctorate degrees in various scientific, mathematic, legal fields, and more, with the necessary proficiency needed to transform a student’s dissertation draft into publishable material.

Different editors are familiar with different styles and formats; if a student’s professor expects final dissertations to be written in MLA, APA, CMS, Turabian, AMA, or another style, it is certainly possible to hire someone who has a solid understanding of the essential elements of a specific style. Editors with degrees in science or mathematics will likely have a better understanding of how tables, figures, and graphs should be formatted than friends and family would.

Not only are hired editors convenient for dissertations written in specific styles and formats, but they are also helpful when it comes to constructive feedback and critiquing. They have years of experience editing works (especially academic writing) by other people. They can give additional feedback to help students with the structure and flow of their dissertations. Students sometimes struggle trying to plan and organize their ideas all on their own; getting outside perspectives can help. Some editors specialize in working with clients who are non-native English speakers.

They are paid to meet strict deadlines that will provide some relief to students with tough time constraints between school, work, and family responsibilities. While it’s certainly cheaper to edit your dissertation yourself (or have it edited by another student/ friend), that will not be enough for a project that could eventually become an important addition to your résumé.

A well-written and well-researched dissertation has a better chance of being published in a scholarly magazine or website. A published dissertation looks an impressive detail on a job application. As Edit 911 says on their website, “Completion of the dissertation or research projects and conferral of the degree are often required to achieve advancement with one’s current employer or to obtain a position with a different employer. Delays in final acceptance and frustration with the system may even be sufficient to cause some candidates to abandon their goals of working in academia, even if they do complete degree requirements successfully. Dissertations often are the first major publications for these professionals.”


While hiring an editor may seem like asking for outside help, it is encouraged by most schools and will ultimately create a more publishable product. “Professional editors have the skills and expertise to complete these jobs satisfactorily and guarantee the quality of their work.  Reputable editors will also provide a sample edit to show the kind of revisions they can do and to ensure they understand the candidate’s exact needs in the editing process” (Edit 911). Getting your work read by an outside perspective will help you reach your highest potential as a student who has an intelligent idea to offer the world after years of taking college classes. Remember, “Sometimes, you have to ask yourself: ‘What is the cost of not hiring an editor?’”

After a hired editor provides the helpful feedback all students need to create a perfect or near-perfect finished product, the student’s professor will in turn focus his or her critiques/ grading more on the student’s work and research rather than the quality of writing, because the quality of writing will be good enough to ignore once it has gone through a hired editor.


–Audrey Conklin

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The New Poet Laureate: Tracy K. Smith

Tracy Smith Picture
Photo Credit to Rachel Eliza Griffiths

The United States officially has a new Poet Laureate! In June, Tracy K. Smith was appointed to the position by the Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden. But what exactly does her job entail? What qualifies her for it? And just who is Tracy K. Smith? If you’re like me and don’t know that much about poetry, you might be wondering all of these things, too! Fear not, dear reader! I’m going to do my best to put together a short history of the position as well as give you some details about the Tracy Smith.

The Poet Laureate position has a long history in the United States, with each of the 22 Poet Laureates that we’ve had bringing their own special spin to the position. Tracy Smith is just the sixth woman and fourth woman of color to have the position since it was created in 1937 (although it wasn’t called the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry until 1986). The Poet Laureate is appointed by the Librarian of Congress, who consults with past Laureates, poetry critics, and other staff. Each Poet Laureate serves from September until May of the following year, although they can be appointed for a second term by the librarian.

Over the years, the Librarians of Congress have kept the rules for the position fairly lenient, wanting each new person to have the chance to work on any project they are passionate about. Other than opening and closing the annual series of speakers at the Library of Congress with a poetry reading and a lecture, the Poet Laureates are free to focus on almost anything. Rita Dove, who served from 1993 to 1995, brought together artists to explore African Diaspora. Gwendolyn Brooks visited elementary schools to encourage a love of poetry in the young students. Most recently, Juan Felipe Herrera spent his two terms creating several different projectsincluding La Casa de Colores. Tracy K. Smith told NPR that she plans on, “getting off the usual path of literary festivals and university reading series and talking to people who might not even yet be readers of poetry.”

Ms. Smith is definitely an excellent ambassador for poetry! At the young age of 45, she has accomplished more than most people can hope for in their entire career. She’s published 3 collections of poetry as well as a memoir and has won numerous awards for her writing, including the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry with her collection Life on Mars. She is also currently the head of the Creative Writing Department at Princeton. Now, with her appointment as the Poet Laureate, she has received the highest honor for a poet in the United States.

life on mars cover

Her work has been recognized many times for the themes that she covers. Life on Mars contains everything from an homage to her late father to poems critiquing race relations in the United States. When talking about her decision to appoint Ms. Smith as the new Poet Laureate, Carla Hayden said, “Her work travels the world and takes on its voices; brings history and memory to life; calls on the power of literature as well as science, religion, and pop culture. With directness and deftness, she contends with the heavens or plumbs our inner depths—all to better understand what makes us most human.” Tracy K. Smith fits perfectly into the demands that we have for writers today. She finds a way to take large topics like death and makes them somehow beautiful and easier to swallow.

Tracy Smith’s appointment is an excellent opportunity for poetry in America. Now more than ever we need outreach for the arts. Bringing poetry to people off the usual, beaten track of literary festivals will expose more people to the power of well-written literature. In a society that is rapidly moving towards defunding arts programs in schools and brushing aside the liberal arts as too fanciful to be practical, we need passionate people like Tracy Smith more than ever.


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Happy Hour Writing Session at GrubStreet

Last Friday, I went to GrubStreet, a creative writing center in Boston that has made a huge impact on the local writing community and individual careers, to attend an event called “Happy Hour Writing Session,” which was exactly what it sounds like. Snacks, drinks, and writing prompts were available to those who signed up and a few who didn’t (including myself—oops). GrubStreet offers classes, programs, and various unique events with a dedicated and experienced faculty willing to help students and visitors fulfill their greatest potential. They encourage all kinds of writers to take the time to work on the projects that they often put aside for work, family, and other personal responsibilities.

I was not expecting the class to be so packed at 6:30 on a Friday evening, but the classroom was nearly full when I got there. Unlike in my creative writing classes at school, where my work is critiqued and commented on by only eight other people who know more about me than they should, I felt surprisingly calmer around this large group of strangers than I had anticipated.

I, however, was one of few people pursuing a degree in writing; most of the others already had full-time careers in fields that ranged from nursing to teaching to analyzing computer data, but were trying to squeeze some writing time in for the week in a space that helped them focus and become inspired. Others were retired and trying to discipline themselves to write more every day. Others were there for the first time just to see what it was all about. Diverse as this group of people was, we were all there for the same reason—to write, to relax, and to make good use of one free hour on a Friday night.

digital composite of hands using notebook with graphics

I sat at a table with three other women. JoAnne was retired and a GrubStreet regular; Bridget was a sixth-grade teacher who just completed her first year and was looking to get some writing done during her much-deserved summer off school; Emily was a retired CEO and a great conversation starter who had a goal of taking some time to write at least three times per week.

For the first exercise, we were prompted to describe a color, and whenever we felt stuck or distracted, we would just have to envision that color and write whatever came to mind. No editing, no primping, no perfecting—just writing. After that exercise, some of us shared what we wrote while others simply explained their ideas without reading their work. I chose sea-grass green.

For the second exercise, each table was given a spice and a perfume strip from a magazine, and we were told to write about what those scents inspired in us. I smelled my table’s spice without looking at the label first and immediately thought of Christmas before I even realized the spice was cinnamon. Our box of Christmas decorations sitting in the basement at home that smells like cinnamon because we have ornaments made of stale cinnamon sticks and ginger cookies with in festive ribbon. As a result, I wrote about my family’s twenty-something-year-old, fake, dwindling Christmas tree had it not been for that smell, which I would have never thought of had it not been for the spice sitting on my table.

Cinnamon Ornaments 7

Finally, we were given our third and final exercise at the end of the hour-long event. We had twenty minutes to write anything using one of several opening lines our instructor had given us for inspiration. I chose to write a passage starting with, “In my second life,” as did Bridget, but we ended up writing completely different exercises. In Bridget’s second life, she was a Broadway singer who could express herself through voice and drama. In my second life, I got my first job at a movie theater was I was sixteen and lived in the same town until college.

It was this duality between our two stories starting with the exact same line that made me realize how different all of us at my table, in the room, in the city, and in the world are. We all have so many different ideas and stories to offer people who are willing to read them, and GrubStreet is willing to help you get to that point.

If you are interested in attending a Happy Hour Writing Session at GrubStreet, see their website and event calendar; don’t forget to sign up!

—Audrey Conklin

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The Price of Self-Publishing

What does it really cost to self-publish a book? I thought this question had been answered for me when an author came to visit my high school to talk to a group of students who were interested in learning more about patenting and publishing. She was a romance novelist and had self-published over twenty of her own books, some of which were sold in popular airport bookstores.

She explained to us that while self-publishing costs more upfront, she was ultimately able to make a larger profit because she had more control over the money she made off her sales. Usually, writers who commit to large publishing companies keep less than half of their book’s profit. But I want to explain the process, because self-publishing is not for everyone, nor should it be. How does an author become confident enough in his or her work to make such a time-consuming commitment?


According to Tom Harris, a writer for the website “How Stuff Works,” which is also the home of my favorite podcast (“Stuff You Should Know”), self-publishing is essentially the same thing as running a small publishing company. You may have to get a business license and even a bank account. You may also have to come up with your own name, logo, and perhaps a website. But before you even start setting up your business, the first step to self-publishing is making sure you have a sellable product. Research websites and fan bases and see what people are buying and where and for how much. Be confident enough in not only your writing, but also the book’s design, genre, target audience, and so on.

To keep yourself on track during the writing process, you should set your own deadlines. Hiring a developmental editor can help motivate you to have a specific amount written for a set date. Developmental editors help you to plan and structure your work; they give you useful feedback about the track of your book. The author, however, ultimately has the final say, unlike with some larger publishing houses. Once you have completed a manuscript, you could hire a copyeditor to get some professional feedback on your work before sending it into the world.

Screen Shot 2017-07-09 at 6.21.03 PM

Photo taken by DeckledPages on Instagram


As Tom Harris explains, “For your work to be a viable book that can sit on bookstore and library shelves, it needs a few additional things. Before printing, you need to: Get an International Standard Book Number…Get a Library of Congress catalog number…Get a European Article number…Set a price.” Include details like an author bio and endorsements or reviews on the back cover to give your book a more professional look.

Once your manuscript is complete and ready for printing, decide whether you want to publish your book electronically, in print, or both. The first step for either option is to create a digital copy through computer software which isn’t so difficult to find and manage nowadays. Your next step would be to do some research on book manufacturers and, when you find one that appeals to you, ask for a quote, just like you would ask for a quote from your editor.

Finally, once your book has been printed and it’s ready to be sent out into the world and shared on Facebook profiles and showcased on Instagram and retweeted on Twitter, you must complete the process by marketing your work. “There are a few major marketing steps that are nearly essential: Fill out an Advance Book Information (ABI) form at BowkerLink.com before your book goes to press…Send advance information and copies of your book to Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal…Pick other suitable publications and send them books for review” (Harris). There are also book and lifestyle bloggers who recommend great reads to their followers; you may want to contact these people (usually via email) and offer to pay them to advertise your book (which you would obviously send to his or her P.O. box, free of charge) to their audience. Giveaways on social media usually seem to have successful outcomes, too. I’ve seen ads for books everywhere, from podcasts to music streaming websites to Tumblr and Pinterest posts. There are endless opportunities, but only so much money, so choose your advertisement outlets wisely and according to your target audience.

So, what is the real price of self-publishing? The answer: a lot of hard work, but when done correctly and efficiently, worth the time and money and pressure. Of course, it is not for everyone, and sometimes signing a contract with a publishing company can make one’s career as an author soar. But evidently, a self-published book that does well on the market is obviously a great option for an author trying to get a foot in the door of the literary world without wanting to commit to a large company. Plus, once you self-publish one book, you may find yourself content with the process and willing to continue your career on a more individual level, much like the romance novelist I was fortunate enough to learn from several years ago.

—Audrey Conklin

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How to Stay Creative in Political Turmoil

Image Taken From: http://bit.ly/2rJ7C0x

The aftermath of the most recent US Presidential Election seems to have changed everything, especially social media. For people working in creative fields, this new environment has at the very least been upsetting, but at the worst has been a mental health crisis that makes it almost impossible to accomplish anything. As someone who follows a lot of authors on Twitter, I’ve seen this topic come up repeatedly. How can you keep writing fiction when it seems like the real-life problems and villains are so much more threatening? How can you be creative when it seems like there’s a new headline talking about the end of the world every day? Here’s my list of suggestions to keep yourself creative and productive even in the midst of so much political turmoil.


Are you feeling like you just can’t handle having access to social media or the internet while working lately?  The first step you can take is investing in an internet blocking service. Over the years, several different software programs have been developed to completely restrict or partially block the internet access of your phone or computer, allowing you to get work done. One of the most popular programs is Freedom, which works on iPhone, iPad, Macs, and Windows computers. You can add websites and apps to a running list and block them for up to 8 hours at a time. Once a block is set you can continue adding distractions to it, but you can’t end the block until time runs out. With pricing starting at $2.42/ month, Freedom provides an excellent escape from the latest CNN headline or Twitter explosion for a few hours. There are also other programs such as RescueTime which doesn’t restrict your internet usage, but sends you a printout at the end of the day stating exactly how much time you’ve spent on each website you’ve visited. If you think you can handle having internet access while you work and only need a little bit of time management shaming to keep you in check, RescueTime might be right for you.

Get Inspiration:

Make sure you have an idea or a work in progress that is interesting enough to keep that inspiration ball rolling no matter how insane the headlines. Even if you are struggling to find your next big idea, answering small writing prompts can really get your brain flowing. Books like 642 Things to Write About, or its sequel, 712 More Things to Write About, both from the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, are filled with short prompts. Even answering a small question about yourself or allowing your brain to wander down the path of “What If?” can be the start of an entire new project!

Another key to getting inspiration is keeping something to write with on you at all times. Whether it’s saving little snippets on your phone or carrying pen and paper around, you never know when inspiration might strike! There’s nothing worse than feeling that adrenaline rush of a new idea, only to have it slip away before you can jot down some notes. It’s important to be ready for inspiration to come at any time.


Self-care is all the more vital during uncertain times. Taking a break can be necessary to recharge and get your creative juices flowing again. But what exactly counts as self-care? Anything that makes you feel relaxed and recharged! Maybe it’s putting on headphones and going for a walk. Maybe it’s putting your face in a pillow and screaming out your frustrations. Maybe it’s hitting the gym, going for a run, or curling up with your favorite book and a cup of tea. Do something that lets you escape and brings your focus and energy back to center.

Often, we get so wrapped up in our daily tasks that we forget that it’s okay to take a break. The toxic policies being developed in the U.S. Government right now are hard to deal with and so is all of the violence occurring around the globe. No matter how involved you are in the social movements, or how directly affected you are by current political issues, everyone is entitled to a self-care or mental-health break. Once you take a step back and recharge you will be able to launch back into writing, activism, or any other responsibilities with renewed vigor and see better results.

Remember Why You Create:

Writers are vital to our society. We document history, scientific achievements, and the latest news. We create fantastical worlds and tell the stories of ourselves and others. In times like these, it can be easy to feel that creativity and writing pale in comparison to so many other things. In these low moments, remind yourself why you create and why you write. Readers, especially teenagers and young adults, rely on writers to help them understand the world around them. When asked by the LA Times in an interview about writing for young readers after the election, Meredith Russo, author of If I Was Your Girl, said, “They still need me. They still need us. So as tempting as it is to hunker down and go into survival mode, we have to remember that we have a responsibility to young people to preserve their sense of stability and hope.”I write because, someday, I want to tell a story that will change someone’s life the same way so many of my favorite books have changed mine.

In a time filled with so much hatred, we need more personal stories. We need to continue working to provide a platform across all genres for writers from different backgrounds and social groups. As long as writers produce positive representations of minority groups, there will be people reading them and learning to understand. So, despite how difficult these past few months have been and how difficult the next several are going to continue to be, keep writing. Stay informed on what is happening around us, but don’t let it keep you from being creative. It really could make all the difference in the world.

-Megan, Intern


Sources Consulted:

Authors on the 2016 Presidential Election

13 YA Authors on Writing in the Age of Trump

Postelection, Overwhelmed Facebook Users Unfriend, Cut Back

6 Apps that Block Online Distractions So You Can Get Work Done

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15 Writer’s Residency Programs in New England

What better way is there to capture New England lifestyle than to take a break from one’s everyday routine and finally take some time to write uninterruptedly at one of these 15 residency opportunities? These programs range from extremely outdoorsy to comfortable and even somewhat luxurious:

  1. Noëpe Center Residency Program

Where: Edgartown, MA

When: Spring and summer

Cost: $20 application fee; $400/week April–June and September–October; $800/week June–September

The Noëpe Center for Literary Arts on Martha’s Vineyard provides a place in a historic inn for writers of all kinds to focus on completing or creating new works. The program offers residency opportunities for up to 10 writers at a time, and each resident is provided with a private room and bathroom, as well as a community living area and kitchen.


  1. Writer’s Retreat at Panther Orchard Farm

Where: Hopkinton, RI

When: Open year-round

Cost: $50 administration fee, $650/week master bedroom, $600/week guest bedroom

Settled on 43 acres of land in little, rural Rhode Island is a comfortable house designed for writers to break away from busy urban or suburban life and focus on their work. This retreat offers individualized consultation and mentoring, as well as a complimentary critiquing. There are only two bedrooms in the house, so the experience is peaceful and private.

  1. Whispering Pines Writer’s Retreat

Where: West Greenwich, RI

When: March 2–4, 2018

Cost: Full three days for $570 (members) or $600 (non-members)

The Whispering Pines Writer’s Retreat, a writing center even more beautiful than its name, is designed specifically for serious children’s book writers and illustrators to work on their craft and network with other professionals. The program offers presentations, 25-minute individual critiques, and evening activities.

  1. Vermont Studio Center

Where: Johnson, VT

When: Open year-round

Cost: $3,950 for 4 weeks or $2,050 for 2 weeks, fellowships and financial aid available

Located between the Green Mountains and along the banks of the Gihon River in Johnson, VT, The Vermont Studio Center is a spectacular residence option for visual and creative artists looking for a simple and scenic getaway that will help to inspire and foster their work. Residents are given private bedrooms and studios specific to their mediums and share a communal dining area with fresh foods from local and organic farms.


5. Fine Arts Work Center

Where: Provincetown, MA

When: October 1–April 30

Cost: $50 application fee ($750 monthly stipend for accepted residents)

Designed for creative writers and visual artists in the early stages of their careers, The Fine Arts Work Center program in Provincetown, MA, provides a unique and fulfilling experience to accepted residents. While it involves various opportunities for group engagements, individuals are also given their own private, furnished apartments and a monthly stipend of $750. Provincetown is located on Cape Cod and is surrounded by serene, local beaches.

6. Edith Wharton Writer-in-Residence Program

Where: Lennox, MA

When: Two–three weeks

Cost: No cost for accepted residents ($1000 stipend)

This residency takes place at The Mount, Edith’s Wharton’s stunning, European-looking home and garden in Lenox, MA, built as a writer’s retreat. Accepted writers are of “demonstrated accomplishment” and currently working on a new piece of writing. Writers are given workspace at The Mount, a $1000 stipend for food and travel, and lodging.


7. MacDowell Colony

Where: Peterborough, NH

When: Open year-round, residencies of up to eight weeks

Cost: No residency fees

As the nation’s first and leading artist colony, the MacDowell Colony encourages growth of the imagination for writers, composers, visual artists, and the like. More than 6,900 artists have been awarded Fellowships to the Colony and more than 250 artists arrive each year. The Colony is any artist’s ideal home, with facilities such as heat and ventilation, dark rooms, natural lighting, pianos, and more.

8. Peaked Hill Trust

Where: Provincetown, MA.

When: Nine 1–2-week retreats

Cost: $200–$750 fees

The National Park Service of the Dune Shacks of Peaked Hill Bars Historic District has agreements with non-profit organizations that offer writer-in-residence programs within the natural, breathtaking dunes of Provincetown, MA. This program is designed for extreme outdoors lovers, with solitary beach cottages without running water or housekeeping services.


  1. Wellspring House

Where: Ashfield, MA

When: Open year-round

Cost: $280/week for single room; see other rates on website

Nestled between the green, gorgeous Berkshire Mountains, the Wellspring House retreat for artists and writers emphasizes the importance between quiet, private spaces to focus on work and the connection between human and nature. Surrounded by dense woods and flower and vegetable gardens, it is a perfectly quaint and quiet place to become inspired.

  1. I-Park Foundation

Where: East Haddam, CT

When: Typically 4 weeks from June 12–November 20

Cost: $30 application fee

The General Residency program at I-Park, located in a vast nature preserve, offers the perfect amenities for artists of all kinds, including creative writers, studio artists, musicians, film art, landscape design, and much more. Artists are provided with a private bedroom, private studio, meal plan, common room, library, and Wi-Fi to help artists get work done, which will be presented in an open studio event at the end of the term.

  1. James Merrill Writer-in-Residence Program

Where: Stonington, CT

When: One 4 ½-month residency between mid-January and the end of May, and 3 or 4 shorter residencies of 2 to 6 weeks during the months between Labor Day and mid-January

Cost: No fee for accepted residents ($1,000 monthly stipend)

As a tribute to James Merrill, this beautiful, waterside residence in Stonington, CT provides a comfortable experience for writers and artists accepted to stay in the historical Merrill Apartment. Stonington is a small beach town with independent coffee houses, shops, restaurants, and other local businesses that give the town a homely feeling perfect for focusing on one’s writing.

  1. The Studios at MASS MoCA

Where: North Adams, MA

When: Up to 8 weeks from September–April

Cost: $650/week, but many participants are offered both merit- and need-based financial aid

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, or Mass MoCA, provides exciting residencies for artists and writers in furnished studios and newly renovated apartment space right across from the museum in North Adams, MA. While it provides great opportunities to talk with other artists and gain new inspiration, it also provides generous time and space to your most important work done.

  1. Straw Dog Writer’s Guild Writing Residencies

Where: Westhampton, MA

When: 6-day retreats starting in September

Cost: Accepted writers funded by grants and donations

Writers working on substantial projects who live in one of the four counties of Western Massachusetts and are paying members of the Straw Dog Writer’s Guild are eligible to apply for this residency located on the beautiful Patchwork Farm in Westhampton, MA throughout the year starting in September.

  1. Norton Island Residency

Where: Norton Island, ME

When: July 6–17, 2017

Cost: $35 application fee, $125 residency fee

If you love the extreme outdoors, this program is for you. Norton Island hosts artists in rustic cabins a mile off the coast of Maine, where Wi-Fi can only be accessed from one specific location. It’s remote and wild landscape provides an uninterrupted escape for painters, sculptors, writers, and musicians who are brave enough to experience the great outdoors like never before.

  1. The Helicker LaHoten Foundation

Where: Great Cranberry Island, ME

When: Annual sessions held between June and October

Cost: $40 application fee, $1250 residency fee

This residency takes place in an updated 19th-century house on Great Cranberry Island, Maine, with heated artist studios, a private shorefront out back, and beautiful lawn space. The program is designed for established artists to break away from the chaos of their everyday lives and immerse themselves into a tranquil environment in which they can focus on their work.


—Audrey Conklin

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Pride Month Reads!

Pride Parade

Boston Pride 2017

Happy Pride Month everyone! I attended Boston Pride for the first time this past weekend and it was an environment full of happy, dancing people who felt comfortable being themselves. So, in honor of Pride Month, I decided to put together a few books that have excellent LGBTQ+ representation. They are all YA novels that serve as an introduction for cisgender/straight readers, provide representation for LGBTQ+ teens, and can be enjoyed by all ages. Representation is so important, especially for traditionally marginalized communities to be able to see themselves in characters. Without further ado, here are some great Pride reads!

You Know Me Well by David Levithan & Nina LaCour

You Know Me WellThis book takes place during Pride Week and follows two teens, Mark and Katie, who have never spoken before they end up in the same gay bar. They’re both young, gay, and afraid of love, which creates a fast bond between the two of them. The story is told in alternating points of view as Mark and Katie grow closer and adventure through the colorful world of Pride while trying to figure out what to do after high school graduation. Given that David Levithan and Nina LaCour are both members of the LGBTQ community, the vibrant scenes that take place during Pride feel authentic, all the way down to the bands that play. You Know Me Well is a quick read full of the joy, happiness, and acceptance.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Aristotle and Dante

Aristotle and Dante was one of the best books that I have read this year. When the book starts, Aristotle is struggling with his brother’s arrest and the fact that his parents won’t talk about it. Dante is an oddball kid who doesn’t look at the world quite the same way as everyone else. They meet at a pool over the summer and quickly become the best of friends and, maybe, just a little bit more. The first word that comes to mind when I think of this book is “sweet.” Ari and Dante have the most genuine, adorable friendship and the feelings between them progress slowly and realistically. With a narration style similar to that of The Catcher in the Rye and characters that steal your heart, this book will quickly become one of your favorites!

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

The Art of Being Normal

The Art of Being Normal was the first YA book about transgender characters I ever read. Although the author herself is cisgender, she spent years working with transgender teens and clearly did her research in order to portray the characters and their experiences as well as she could. David is in the process of trying to figure out how to transition to a girl and how to come out to family and friends. Leo is the new kid at school with a few secrets of his own who is desperately trying to stay under the radar. The two of them have much more in common than they initially think. While The Art of Being Normal doesn’t address trans issues beyond the most basic beginning thoughts of transitioning, I still think this book is important. It is a great introduction for cis readers to the perspective of transgender characters and I think that young trans teens who are still trying to figure out their identity could find it helpful.

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

Everything Leads to You

Nina LaCour is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. It is rare to see books, especially in YA, where a character’s sexuality is just a part of who they are. Often, the plot centers solely around a character coming out or bullying/harassment in school, but that isn’t the case with Everything Leads to You. Emi is a talented young set designer trying to break her way into Hollywood. When she finds a mysterious letter from a recently deceased Old-Hollywood star, she meets Ava, who is unlike anyone Emi has ever encountered before. The world of Emi’s set designs and film-making is so vibrant in this book that readers can’t help but picture every piece of furniture Emi places in a room. She has a caring romance with Ava and I love that their feelings for each other took a backseat to solving the mystery surrounding Ava’s family. It was nice to read about two lesbian characters who were more than just their sexuality or their feelings for each other.

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

If I Was Your Girl

If I Was Your Girl tells the story of Amanda, a trans woman who has been fully transitioned and on pills for several years. She’s recently moved to Tennessee to live with her dad and finish out high school while remaining as low profile as possible. Her plans become complicated when she acquires a group of friends and meets a boy named Grant who she wants to tell everything. This is also the first YA book written by a trans woman to be heavily promoted, which is amazing. The book is heartfelt and significantly more upbeat than one might expect from a story that could have easily felt dark. Meredith Russo also includes two separate notes to readers, one for cis-gendered readers and another for trans readers, each with their own message about the book and its contents. To see those notes in full and to read an awesome review of the book by a trans woman, have a look here.

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Two Boys Kissing

I’m closing this list out with David Levithan again because it’s hard to go wrong with one of his books. His first book, Boy Meets Boy, was originally published in 2003 when it wasn’t anywhere near as normal to see a romance between two boys, even in Young Adult books. Since then, he’s continued to write beautiful stories about gay teens just trying to live their best life in a world that tries its best to knock them down. Two Boys Kissing was no exception to this. The book is narrated by the generation of gay men that died from AIDS telling the story of several gay couples and gay teenagers in the present. All of this is centered around Harry and Craig, two ex-boyfriends trying to break the Guinness World Record for the longest kiss. I have never read another book narrated like Two Boys Kissing and the contrast between the lives of the gay men killed by AIDS and the teenagers today was stunning and I teared up while reading a few times. It was equal parts adorable and sad in a way that only David Levithan can manage. This book is an excellent reminder of how far we have come and how far we still need to go for equality.

Happy Pride Everyone! Keep being your beautiful selves, no matter who that may be!

-Megan, Intern

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