Student Life: A Balancing Act

Here to tell us about the balancing act required with being a student, an aspiring writer, a lover of books, and a show choir star is Raylee Dawn.

In my life as a student and a living person, I find that balance is the root of the tree. I love to read and write, but the problem is trying to find the time while I study for classes and practice for the school show choir.

I find that if you take your class syllabi and a planner from Wal-Mart you can mark all of what is going on and the due dates. You might have to change some of them, so do that in pencil. Then I can mark free time. I don’t rely on this time to be constantly open, so its just a perk. I also think as free time as a reward that I get for doing my work, so I do try to keep it free.

However, this might not work for some people; it didn’t work for me for a while. As a result, I would spend one day of the week on one subject, so I didn’t get bored. This worked really well since I only have seven classes. Sometimes I might know of an upcoming test, so I would switch days but only on the week right before. You must remember that most people only remember 25 to 50% of what they hear so you should study a few days or weeks in advance.  I like to have an hour or 30 minutes to read a day but that doesn’t always work.

I try to attend after school activities that allow or implore me to read and write. A book club can be nice, and you can even get ideas on what to read next. An art club is good for those who like to draw; there’s a local art gallery that lets me sell some of my pieces. Clubs are fun and always have something for you to do.

Now that I’m done explaining how I do all these things and still have the energy to stand up, I think its time to tell you why I do this.

Half the clubs I’m in, Honor and Show Choir, I’m in to get in to a good college with the best musical program. While that is true for the other half I’m in, its not true for the other half: the reading and the writing clubs

The only other reason I have for this is to keep myself entertained and not bored out of my mind just thinking of school. I meet new friends at these events, and while I know that makes me sound like a cliché, its true. I don’t belong to one clique because I hang out with multiple groups at school. If one clique kicks me out, a new one always finds me because I am in these clubs and choirs and libraries. I’m no jack-of-all-trades, but I can throw up a good disguise.

Raylee is a 13 year old star student with dreams of becoming a writer. Besides her love of the written word, Raylee is also passionate about the performing arts. She’s a member of 2 choirs at her middle school. One day you’ll see her on Broadway with a book on the NYT Bestsellers list.

If you’re interested in contributing, we would love to hear from you! Contact us here if interested.


Novel Nostalgia: What You’ll Miss About Assigned High School Readings

By Yvonne Bertovich

Amidst drowning quite severely in textbooks during my junior spring at the University of Florida, I couldn’t help but miss some of the titles I used to sigh about having to read in the “glory days” of high school. You may find that many of your peers peaked during this time, and you may also find that this was the peak of your literary enlightenment thus far. Bear with me. Here are a few titles that are worth a revisit, or to read for pleasure (gasp) when you’re avoiding that law or physiology textbook or before these horrors become your daily reality.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


One of my journalism teachers in high school talked about how much he hated this book, and I never understood why. This 1925 classic details the lavish and borderline melodramatic lifestyle of millionaire Jay Gatsby and his ongoing love affair with socialite Daisy Buchanan, an interest he reconnects with after many years. The novel mainly takes place at Gatsby’s residence in West Egg and the social scene of 1920s New York. The Great Gatsby is narrated by Gatsby’s neighbor, Nick Carraway, a humble guy trying to make it as a bond salesman after serving in the Great War, as so many men did during this time. I always thought this work was not only a relatively easy read, but richly written in a simple manner. The novel includes intimate detail of a variety of overarching concepts, including the values, ideals, hopes, and dreams of Americans in the Roaring Twenties. Fitzgerald glamorizes a time that is far behind the current technologically-obsessed age — but still made it feel modern.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee


Trying to describe how many groundbreaking lessons about civility, humanity, and equality are woven into this novel in just a few sentences is impossible, but I’ll try. The novel is made friendly and warm by its focus on the Finch family, made up of six-year-old Jean Louise Finch (Scout), her older brother Jem, and their widowed father, Atticus. It takes place in the town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Great Depression — in which the town is not immune. Scout, a young girl wise beyond her years, experiences firsthand the period’s ill-regard and discrimination against not only African-Americans, but women, and, particularly, a misunderstood shut-in by the name of Boo Radley. Much of the novel is centralized around the trial of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a local girl. In short, the book is beautiful, humble, heartbreaking, and reassuring. If you’ve read it before, just read it again — I guarantee you’ll get more out of it the second time around. If you’ve never read it, buckle up.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell


A novel that reads like a movie — epic. As alarming as Orwell’s depiction of this dystopian world is, it’s incredibly gripping. The novel’s plot, largely focused on the horrors and manipulation of an omnipresent government, presents issues of privacy and the hierarchy of humankind you wish were a stretch. However, many concepts mirror today’s ongoing struggle between government and the people. You almost feel as though “Big Brother” is watching you through the novel, which takes place in Airstrip One, a region formerly known as Great Britain. The main character, Winston Smith, works for “The Ministry of Truth,” a branch of government in charge of spreading propaganda and revising history. You’ll accommodate Smith on a whirlwind journey as he attempts to live, love, and grapple with his sense of self and individualism.

Overall, the lightest read on the list is probably The Great Gatsby, followed by To Kill a Mockingbird, and then Nineteen Eighty-Four. You’ll still feel feelings and think thoughts reading Gatsby, mind you, but there’s a higher level of darkness on occasion in the latter two novels you should prepare yourself for. My final comment aside, happy reading!


Curl Up With a Book on Valentine’s Day

By Danielle Lieneman

Happy Valentine’s Day! In my opinion, there’s no better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than jumping back into some of the greatest literary relationships of the ages. As lame as it may sound, there’s nothing more relaxing (or romantic) than getting lost in someone else’s love story.

jane-eyreJane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

This classic Victorian novel was ahead of it’s time in many ways. The reader follows Jane through her childhood and education to her eventual assignment as a governess with Mr. Rochester. Through Jane’s journey into adulthood, there is a clear exploration of class, sexuality, and the early stages of feminism. The romance builds slowly throughout the novel as Jane discovers herself and what is important in a romance and a marriage.

anna-kareninaAnna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

An intimidating near brick of a novel, Anna Karenina is a classic for a reason. The novel focuses on the drama of Anna Karenina and her affair with Count Vronsky. By breaking societal expectations Karenina finds herself on the outside looking in, providing an interesting perspective of the repercussions of our choices, love, and societal expectations. With secondary characters that are frequently the subject of narrative with the alternating chapter style, the reader is easily immersed in the many aspects of Russian society in the       eighteenth century. (It’s like the  Gossip Girl of the Russian aristocracy).

gone-with-the-wind-front-coverGone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Set against the American Civil War, Gone with the Wind provides an almost too real insight about life in the South before, during, and after the war. While annoyingly condescending and conceited, Scarlett accurately represents the entitled attitude of the upper class in Southern society. Her wild love affair and struggle for survival as the tide of the battle turns toward the North leave reader rooting for the once barely palatable main character.


Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austenpride-and-prjudice-penguin

It wouldn’t be a list of great literary romances without including Jane Austen’s iconic Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. While their relationship may be a central focus throughout the work, Austen’s searing satire leaves little doubt about her critique on the societal expectations placed on women and the structure of marital relationships during the late 18th century. Even if you’ve already read this novel (because honestly, most of us have by now), it’s well worth a critical reread.
I’m a strong proponent of reading the original novels (obviously — this is a blog about reading after all), but if you want to share these stories with a loved one the movie adaptations do the story justice. Gone with the Wind is a classic American film of the 1930s, but If you want a more modern film, watch the 2012 adaptation of Anna Karenina or the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice (both featuring the charming Keira Knightley as the heroine).


Giveaway: Blind Date with a Book

With an idea shamelessly inspired by our intern Kylie’s efforts at the University of Florida library (read about it here), we’ve decided that our Valentine’s Day giveaway will be our own “Blind Date with a Book.”

If you’d like the opportunity to be a part of your very own “Blind Date,” please read the rules below:

Any one of the following count as a 1 entry:

Contestants are able to enter up to 6 times with no more than 2 entries on the same social media platform. For example, you could share on Facebook 2 times, retweet 2 times, and comment 2 separate times tagging a total of 4 friends on Instagram for a total of 6 entries.

The giveaway will last a week from today, closing at 11:59 pm on February 21.

Once selected with a random generator, the winner will have the opportunity to pick from 3 wrapped books.

*Giveaway open to U.S residents only*

Don’t miss out on this easy and fun opportunity!


Blind Date with a Book: A Perfect Way to Spend Valentine’s Day

By Kylie Widseth

Blind date. I’m guessing a range of emotions come to mind when you think of these two words. Overall, I imagine the words that come to mind are mainly negative. The idea of going on a blind date terrifies me, but going on a blind date with a book? Now that I like.

wrapped-gift-heartI recently started a book club at my college, and was asked if my club would like to help
with an event put on by the library staff. This event would be called Blind Date with a Book, and the idea was that we would pick out a few books, wrap them out, and write some key phrases on the cover of the books. If these descriptions sounded interesting, students could come and check the books out.

I was in love with this idea. I’ve seen this done at bookstores before, but I’ve just never purchased one. I liked that the books used would be library books in case a student hated the book. It’s really a win all around.

We weren’t really sure how popular the event would be, so we started small. The librarian said that if even a few books were checked out, she would be really happy.

We wrapped the books and eagerly awaited to see students’ responses.

The books started flying off the shelves. The librarians couldn’t even keep up. I was seeing the event talked about all over Twitter, and people were contacting me because they wanted to interview me for stories they were writing about the event.

I was in shock, to say the least. I always seem to naively think that I’m the only nerd at college who likes to read. Heck, I was afraid to even make a book club for years because I had always imagined it being a party of one. Clearly, I’m wrong on many accounts. There are other avid readers at college, and I just don’t seem to realize. (Also, where are all you book lovers because I need to meet you!)

People asked me if I expected the event to be so popular. I said I had hoped that it would be, but I definitely didn’t expect it.

I think the event also went so well because so many students don’t realize that college libraries have more than just textbooks and educational reads. They also have books that you would find at any other library, some good fictional, leisurely reads. I think this event helped people realize that libraries can actually be really fun. Does that sound cheesy? Probably, but it really is true!

I hope this Valentine’s Day is perfect for you. Whether you’re spending time with a special someone or curled up in bed with a book, make sure to spend it with the ones you love and er, the things you love.

Also, this is my little message to really go and check out your local library, you might be surprised with what you find.



Keeping up With Reading When Life Gets in the Way

By Danielle Lieneman

It can be difficult to find the time to keep up with your daunting pile of books waiting to be read once life gets in the way. As much as reading is an enjoyable and relaxing part of my book stack w: mug.jpgday, all too frequently I realize that it’s been three weeks since I’ve touched a book that wasn’t for work or school. Here to help combat life (and that Netflix addiction), I hope that your love of reading is fulfilled.

Create a set amount of time that you want to read every day.

Treat this time like an appointment and put away all distractions (Twitter can find out what your reading AFTER you’re done!). This time can be entirely dependent on your schedule, as long as you make it a part of it, and can be as long or short as you want. You’ll be surprised how quickly 15, 20, and 30-minute increments can add up.  Last semester, I started setting my alarm 40 minutes earlier than I needed to actually wake up to give myself some time to read while enjoying my morning coffee, and I managed to get through five books!

Carry a book with you everywhere you go.

While the daily commute on the bus or subway can seem like a waste of time, if you’ve got a book in your hands what better way to pass the time! If the doctor’s office is behind (as always seems to be the case), or your ride is running late, you won’t be bored if given the opportunity to read a few pages. This doesn’t need to be a physical, hardcopy of a book because those can get cumbersome while on the go, but downloading the Kindle app on your phone is a great way to always have access to thousands of books.

Listen to audiobooks.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of audiobooks for the longest time, but now I can’t get enough of them. They’re the perfect companion when driving to work or school or walking around campus. Although as a disclaimer, I must say be careful when choosing your book choices for that car ride. I just finished Lauren Graham’s Talking As Fast as I Can and between laughing and crying at the Gilmore Girls reminiscing I swear I was about to crash my car!

Make a book club with your friends.

I know that book clubs are something only middle-aged women do, but I’m here to tell you
that simply isn’t the case! What better way to motivate yourself to make time for reading than the promise of discussing it with your best friends over brunch. No one wants to be book club .jpgthe only one who didn’t finish and who doesn’t love a good reason to eat a Belgian waffle from your favorite brunch locale? Book clubs are also a great way to find new books that wouldn’t typically be up your alley. There’s even some celebrities who have a running book club list (Emma Watson, Oprah), so there’s not even the excuse of being unable to pick a book!photo-jan-15-3-14-59-pm

I know it’s easier said than done, but once a routine has been established, it becomes much easier for reading to become a part of your regular daily habits.


So You Want to be a Fashion Designer

By Danielle Lieneman

The fashion industry is one that’s alluring to many, especially with shows like America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway dominating cable. It’s an industry that’s competitive, creative, and captivating. There’s nothing more awe inspiring then seeing the formal gowns donned by movie stars at the Oscars or the edgy outfits gracing the models on the cover of Vogue. We’ve had the pleasure to speak with Ermelinda Manos, a Las Vegas based fashion designer, about what inspired her to join the fashion world, her creative process, and the industry as a whole.

My inspiration when creating a collection comes from films, traveling, and fabric sourcing. My designs are effortless and timeless. I like to accentuate the female form, as I design for a confident and elegant woman.

First, I start off by making mood boards, with inspirational images that help me keep ermelinda-case-study-1focused on the style I want to design. This is helpful to maintain a cohesive collection. Elements, styles, and colors within the collection should be cohesive and all effortlessly flow together, or be able to mix and match the looks with each other. I start sketching my ideas out on my sketchbook, and I sketch the entire inspiration based on how I envision the model on the runway— from hair, makeup, shoes, and accessories to go with the design. After I make several sketches, I make a list of the elements that stand out the most and the fabrics I want to use. I always do a color and trend forecast to make sure that the colors I pick are in season. One of my favorite parts of designing is going to the garment district to source the fabrics, trims, the beading, and all of the materials needed for each design. Sometimes, the design is created after I find the fabric that inspires me.

Next, I lay out all of the fabrics and the materials as I play around with them and create more sketches. This allows me to have a clear vision of what each design will be, as I narrow down my sketches to six to 12 looks that would be the final looks created for the collection.

Ermelinda Case Study 4.jpgThe production begins, and I always have music playing in the background as we start creating the samples. All of the patterns are either draped or drafted, but I prefer draped a lot more. I’m very hands on with the sample processes as it is the most crucial part of the design; there’s room for adjustments during sampling that you cannot do once it’s finalized. I love to sew by hand, more than sewing on the machine, which is why you will find my designs have a lot of details that are handmade. Usually, our fit model is always a standard size when we try on the designs to ensure they are wearable and fit correctly for the ideal woman we have in mind— and that the design is flawless. Once the sampling and fit is approved, we then produce the final look or make multiples of the design.

Hand sewing and creating dresses has been my first love since I was a child. I’m fortunate to be able to live out my childhood dream, but the fashion industry isn’t always so glamorous. I spend many hours in the studio sewing, sampling, or running around downtown for endless hours to find the right bead or the right zipper. It’s a fast-paced industry, and there’s not a lot of time to sit and daydream when creating. Sometimes I have deadlines to create a design within hours, which is a lot of pressure. The results are very rewarding— the moment you see the gown draped on a woman’s body, and the woman feeling confident and beautiful in my design. To be able to have my designs be part of women’s lives, to be a reason for them to feel beautiful and smile, that is what makes everything worth it.

Her advice is so intriguing! I never thought about how fast paced the industry must be and the constant struggle of being creative on a deadline. What do you find most fascinating about the fashion industry?

If you’d like to learn more about the fashion industry, please reach out to us or preorder our book on Amazon!



Senioritis: 4 Tips to Cure the Inevitable

By Danielle Lieneman

It’s senior spring for many of you. You’re almost there! It’s such an exciting (read: completely overwhelming) time, and sometimes it just seems easier to give the bare minimum to your schoolwork. To be completely honest, I think that my senior spring was spent stressing over college decisions, ignoring all responsibility while watching movie musicals, freaking out over financial aid and paying for college, reading the entirety of the brick that is Les Miserables in a week (I still don’t know how I had that much focus), and finally cramming for my AP exams at the last minute.

As someone who’s going through her second round of senioritis, I have some tips that I wish someone had told me while I was in high school.

  1. Find motivation. Whether it’s to get into your new university’s honors program, move up in your class rank, or even just the satisfaction of beating your sibling’s grades, having a set goal will allow you to stay focused and on track. Your grades really do matter, and colleges have been known to revoke admissions for students whose GPAs have fallen too low. organized-desk
  1. Make a schedule. As you might remember from my organization tips post, I have quite a love for organizing and scheduling. While my high school planner wasn’t color coded, it did have scholarship and letters of recommendation deadlines, exam and project dates, and a study schedule. I find that if you take the time to plan out your week and schedule study time, it’s a lot harder to procrastinate with a good conscious, and the guilt will force some studying to occur.
  1. Leave time for fun. As important as grades and scholarship applications are, take the time to hang out with your friends and family. In a few short months, you will be however many miles away at college, simultaneously making new friends, and missing your high school BFFs more than you think you thought possible. The plans can be as big as a multi-day road trip or as small as a “road trip” to the beach/lake when the weather is warm enough. Explore the nature trail you always drive past but never ventured into or go prom dress/tuxedo shopping in the next town over. What
    beachyou do doesn’t matter so much as who you’re doing it with.
  1. Don’t forget about self-care. This is different from the above recommendation, I promise. Sometimes having a weekend entirely dedicated to dates, mall trips, and family outings adds to the stress, and exhaustion that inevitably come with senior year. Take some time to focus on you and only you. Whether that comes in the form of doing your nails and watching Gossip Girl (is that a show that people still watch? Please tell me I’m not that old), working out and watching the newest Marvel movie, or curling up with a book you’ve been meaning to read since you bought it over winter break, the ability to turn off all outside stressors for a few hours will do wonders for your stamina as your high school career comes to a close.

The biggest thing to remember as your high school career comes to a close, is to be proud of yourself. It’s been a long journey since getting dropped off at kindergarten with your cartoon character backpack, one that has been full of ups and downs, more memories than you know what to do with, and an experience that can never be relived. Enjoy that walk across the stage, you deserve it!


The Music Industry: Everything You Need to Know

By Danielle Lieneman

The music industry is one that, while enticing for many, that’s hard to break through. photo-jan-27-12-02-52-pmThere are options other than the traditional pop star who makes millions however, as Daniel Ennis reminds us. Ennis is an English and advertising student at the University of Florida with a passion for music. Here’s his unique take on the subject:

“I have played in several bands over the last seven years, and before coming to college, I used to set up shows for other musicians to play too. We recorded a lot of music in those bands but didn’t have much interest in making money from it. We mostly just ended up handing CDs out at cost or giving free downloads to people. We didn’t make money, but we had a reputation in our hometown.

With websites such as Bandcamp, MySpace, Facebook, and other social media channels, music can be spread with the click of a button. This can be advantageous for do-it-yourself types because relatively unknown bands can easily attract fans all over the world, but at the same time, it’s detrimental to the record label system that has been in place since music has been recorded. Anybody can download anything. Social media and the internet perpetuate this spread of information and give opportunities to bands that wouldn’t ordinarily get attention. At the same time, the notoriety of bands that become known on e-zine and music community websites such as Pitchfork Media (http://pitchfork.com) or Stereogum (http://www.stereogum.com) has a shorter shelf-life. Bands come and go as frequently as the seasons, and trends in styles come and go at the same time. It’s a very interesting time, with a lot of opportunity for the early adapters that are willing to take a little risk and play the game.

If you have a DIY label, one of the biggest difficulties is creating interest. If the music is good enough, then it will speak for itself, so to speak. But it’s not always that easy. When the label promotes its artists through shows to create a grass-roots feel, while at the same time utilizing new forms of social media such as YouTube, it is easier for the listener to participate in generating interest, which makes it easier for the DIY label to exist.

Communication with potential fans is also a key. Communication, always seeming “new” and in the moment, always creating new things, or giving the impression that new things are always coming out is really important. But at the same time, you don’t want to saturate your audience with too much all at the same time. If the band can find the right balance between saturation and silence, they are likely to be able to get interest and notoriety enough to build a network of fans that come back for more.

The best way to succeed on Twitter is to be interactive. If you’re talking a lot, responding quickly to anyone’s retweets and mentions, they’re more likely to have a conversation with you. Conversation is a big way to get attention that can then promote music.

Social media is moving very fast all the time that it’s hard to predict which direction will be next. I would like to be able to say that Facebook will be around forever, but I know that’s not true—not by a long shot. Commercialization takes away the appeal of many sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr, so people are more likely to abandon one social medium in search for another that doesn’t disrupt their day-to-day socializing as much.

People will want to keep finding ways to communicate on the internet and find new ways to interact so they can find new music (and other things such as news and videos). Still, it’s hard to say what’s next. Maybe Xanga will make a revival, but for the sake of people on the internet everywhere, I hope it doesn’t. (Xanga was notorious for illegal file sharing and pornography.)”

photo-jan-27-12-01-14-pmAs someone without the ability to even carry a tune, I have a lot of respect for those who dedicate their lives to music in any sort way. If you’re musically inclined and want to read more about what exactly the industry is about and how to get involved, be sure to check out one of our newest releases So you Want to…Join the Music Industry, available on Amazon.


Staying Organized with Atlantic Teen

By Danielle Lieneman

It’s the beginning of a new semester, and that means it’s time for my guilty pleasure: organizing my planner. There are actually people who thoroughly enjoy that task, hard as it might be to believe. Sometimes I find myself spending more time planning out when to do my homework than actually studying … I’m sure that’s an excuse as to why I didn’t do my reading … right? No? Wishful thinking, I guess.

Anyway, as someone who color-codes her life, I’m here to provide some helpful tips to keep our readers organized.

Find the right planner 

Go for a sturdy, well-made planner. While these can sometimes be a bit of an investment imageinitially, they’re typically well worth it in the long run as that $30-$50 planner will often last 12-16 months (I even like the ones at Target!).

Size is an important consideration as well. Too small, and it won’t hold all of the information it needs to. Too large, it becomes cumbersome and won’t easily fit into a backpack or a purse. Think about what you anticipate your workload to be and what you will realistically be willing to carry around and try to find a happy medium.

In this digital age, it’s also important to consider a digital form of a planner. Most email servers have a calendar system that has the capability to sync with most devices, including phones, computers and laptops. It’d be pretty impossible to forget a meeting if you’re getting reminders on a device you have with you almost all the time.

Write Everything Down

I always find it helpful to plan out the entire semester. It seems crazy to write a test date for April 30th down in January, but it’s better to be over prepared than have a surprise a week or two, or even a few days, before an exam.

On that note, make sure to double-check your dates, both that they are correct and to remind yourself of upcoming assignments, so that you don’t accidentally miss a deadline. Procrastination may be appealing, but it shouldn’t be an accidental thing.


Find Your Style

There are all types of styles when it comes to keeping a planner organized. I personally have a color-coded system with a Washi tape/pen pair that correlates to each class, my sorority, other extracurricular obligations, and my internship here at Atlantic Publishing. While it seems redundant to use both tape and a pen for each obligation, I find that it really helps to have a system for standing deadlines and meetings (the Washi tape) and one for daily tasks that need to be accomplished (the pen).

imageIf that type of a system is too high maintenance, there’s no shame in having a planner with only the basics written down. What’s important is that the planner doesn’t stress you out even more, but acts as a legitimately helpful tool to help keep track of school, work, and personal obligations.

Remember that staying organized is only half the battle. Make sure to look at your (newly organized) planner daily in order to keep track of all of the information.  For more in-depth tips and advice on how to study more efficiently and effectively, check out our new book College Study Hacks: 101 Ways to Study Easier and Faster. Preorder available on Amazon.