Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Three Cheers For Teens

Model. Writer. Musician.

Being a teenager is hard.
I know.
I’m still a teenager.
Society continues to tell young people that being a teenager requires them to “make mistakes,” “live in the moment,” and that important actions must wait until adulthood. Those who rebel against this ideology are persecuted. Why?
Why can’t great things be celebrated even if the great-deed-doer is not a legal adult?
My goal was to be a published author by age sixteen. NO wasn’t a relevant word in my vocabulary. I was going to publish. My book was going to be read. By age sixteen.
It was going to happen.
At first, I wanted to traditionally publish. I submitted to several agents who all liked my book but wouldn’t represent me because of my age.
My age!
Because of self-publishing, I achieved my goal and am now pursuing traditional publication for my latest book. I’m passionate about inspiring teens to rise above expectations and do GREAT THINGS. Whenever I meet a young person who is pursuing their life vision, I get excited!
Age shouldn’t be a success-determining factor.
A crazy dream shouldn’t be discouraged.
Talent, drive, and hard work should be celebrated.
THREE CHEERS FOR TEENS introduces three teen success-stories from three different industries. It’s meant to offer encouragement to teenagers pursuing their dreams and motivate those who are trapped in “teen ideology.”
I hope the following interviews will inspire you as much as they inspired me.
MariBeth Nolte (LA Models)

I first met MariBeth when she modeled for the trial cover of my latest book. She has accomplished a lot and isn’t afraid to take a stand against people’s opinions and stereotyping of the modeling industry. Her work ethic, professionalism, and drive will take her far!

When did you first discover your love for modeling?
When I was just about 5 or 6 I loved posing around the house with my dad. He would tell me to show an emotion and take pictures of me all the time. If social media had of been as big as it is now he would have been one of those obnoxious parents posting pictures of their kid nonstop. I also did a few pageants when I was younger hoping they would lead to the modeling side of things, but they never compared to the instant love I fell into with modeling once we finally figured everything out.
Tell us about the moment you decided to pursue modeling? Who helped you achieve your dream?
The summer before my junior year of high school I decided I wanted to focus on modeling. Charleston is a big town but not a big town for the modeling industry. I did photo shoots for boutiques in Charleston. I met a photographer for Charleston Hospitality Group, and he helped me get a job doing weekly fashion shows at one of their restaurants. I began to network which helped me to get more jobs. I made the decision not to play high school volleyball that fall and chose to go to a casting call for Charleston Fashion Week. Out of the 1200 models who came out, I was chosen to be put in the model book with around 200 other models. I then went on to be chosen for Rock the Runway competition which was made up of 10 girls and 5 guys. While I didn’t win Rock the Runway it put me in the right place to meet the right people to help me make a move to a larger market.
How long did it take for you to find a “breakthrough”? What led to that opportunity?
When I finished my junior year I went to New York to meet with Karen Lee Grybowski, the lead judge from Charleston Fashion Week. We had met, and she liked my personality and thought I had potential. Karen had me darken my hair and do a couple of photo shoots for test shooting. I then looked at agencies in New York and Los Angeles, showing them my new test shots, and signed with LA Models!
What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome while pursuing your goals and how did you conquer them?
School was an obstacle I had to face. Originally I planned to attend college in NYC and model while I was in school. After learning more about the market I decided to model full time. At the end of my junior year I needed Government and Economics to graduate. So I took those online over the summer and will be finishing school a year early. I have a three year contract so hopefully by the time I’m 19 (almost 20) I’ll know for sure this path is right for me.
Do you have any advice you’d like to give teenagers pursuing a similar dream?
My main advice is to honestly be yourself. Growing up in a small town it was the thing to play sports. No one did anything but that. While I wasn’t picked on for modeling, other than the occasional mean girl comments everyone gets, it was obvious I was the odd one out. Luckily, I had the self-confidence to know this is what I wanted to do and went out and did it. Another awesome tip would be to become educated on the industry. If I didn’t have my mom to help me with all of it, I’d probably still be in high school dreaming of doing what I’m doing right now. It’s definitely a world where you have to make the connections.
Tell us about your accomplishments.
My biggest accomplishment so far is getting signed with L.A. Models, one of the largest agencies on the west coast. Smaller accomplishments like Charleston Fashion Week and getting a job that let me walk on a runway every Thursday helped me to be prepared.
What are your goals for the next ten years?
I honestly have about a million goals in the modeling business. Anybody who knows me should know my ultimate dream would be to walk as a Victoria Secret Angel. I also plan to one day walk in Miami Swim Week and Milan, Paris, London, and New York Fashion Week. I want to travel the world working as a model and have the reputation in the industry of being a hardworking and consistent model that people want to work with. Plus, being one of the models who become best friends with Taylor Swift would be super cool, too.

Instagram @itsmaribethbaybee

Tessa Emily Hall (YA author of Purple Moon)

Tessa dedicates her time to assisting young writers, inspiring teenagers, and drinking coffee. A lot of coffee. I met her last year when we reviewed each other’s first book and began scheduling an author tour. She has become my best friend, mentor, part-time editor, and “fellow soldier in the trenches of publishing.”

When did you first discover your love for writing?
I first fell in love with storytelling when I was 3-years-old. Any time I was bored, I would ask my mom, an art teacher, for a new project to create. This one particular time she suggested that I try writing my own book.
So, I dictated a story, The Colorful Dolphin, to her and illustrated the pictures. This was the first of many books I wrote throughout my childhood.
The process of capturing my imagination with only a pencil and paper was (and still is!) exhilarating to me. I never cared whether or not others read my stories; I simply found joy in becoming another person and “day-dreaming” through my pencil. 
Tell us about the moment you decided to pursue publication? Who helped you achieve your dream?
When I was in elementary school, I longed to have a book published.
I clearly remember running my hand along the cover of children’s books and smelling their pages, imagining what it would be like to have my stories printed as well. I couldn’t wait for my stories to become “official” and in the format of an actual book!
When I was in middle school, I made it my goal to become published by the time I graduated high school. It was also then when God laid it on my heart to write inspirational novels for teens.
At the time, I’d never even heard of the Christian fiction genre—but one day, I typed into Google “Christian fiction for teens” and was thrilled to discover that it was actually a genre!
The summer between my 8th grade and 9th grade year, I made a last minute decision to enroll in an online school so I could fit creative writing into my daily schedule.
That was the best decision I could’ve made.
My parents have always been supportive of my dream to become an author. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have attended my first writing conference at 16, which is where I met my future publisher.
And even though “being an author” sounds like a far-fetched dream for a teen to pursue, my mom always said, “Someone has to do it; why can’t it be you?”
How long did it take for you to find a “breakthrough”? What led to that opportunity?
It was completely a God-thing! I am still in awe when I think back to how He arranged everything.
When I was 16, I attended my first writing conference and brought the first three chapters of my novel, Purple Moon. I wasn’t planning on pitching to anyone. In fact, I didn’t think there was an agent or publisher at the conference who was looking for YA fiction.
The main reason I went was so I could learn more about the craft and network with other writers.
God, however, had other plans.
When I was speaking with an editor over a Christian devotion site about the possibility of writing for them, a man had overheard that I wrote fiction and asked to see my first chapter. After reading it, he seemed very impressed and asked several questions about the plot.
You can imagine my excitement when he told me that he was a publisher for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas!
At the time, they had only published non-fiction books but were just beginning to branch out into the fiction market. He then asked if I would send the rest of the manuscript once I returned home, of which I gladly agreed.
A few months later, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas offered a contract for Purple Moon. I didn’t sign it until six months later, after much prayer and consideration.
What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome while pursing your goals and how did you conquer them?
The main obstacle I’ve had to overcome was my fear of public speaking.
As crazy as it sounds, I’ve had a passion to be a speaker since I was, again, 13. I knew I wanted to visit schools to promote my book once it was published, but the idea of speaking to groups was terrifying!
So a year after PURPLE MOON was published, I took that leap. And guess what? None of those fears came true.
Do you have any advice you’d like to give teenagers pursuing a similar dream?
Make the most of your youth. This is the advice I give any teen when they come to me for advice on pursuing their dreams, and it’s stemmed from the scripture Ecclesiastes 11:9.
Years down the road, you may look back and wish you would’ve made the most of the time that you have today.
For many careers, including writing, it can take years for you to finally reach your goal. If you begin striving for your dreams now, then you will be spending your time wisely by getting a “head start”.
God has given each of us a gift that we are to use for His glory and to minister to others. He didn’t tell us to wait until after we graduate high school or college to begin tapping into these gifts.
Also, don’t compare yourselves to other teens. Embrace your uniqueness and the dream that has been placed on your heart.
If you follow the path that is specifically created for you and give your talents to Christ by using them for His glory, then He will open the doors—all in accordance with His will and His timing.
Tell us about your accomplishments.
Not the easiest task for an introvert … lol!
Other than fiction writing, I am also passionate about writing non-fiction articles and devotions for teens.
I am a former teen columnist for, a former editor over the faith department for Temperance Youth Magazine, former writer for, and am on the Teen Advisory Board for Devozine.
My articles and devotions have been published in numerous publications and websites, including: Guide Magazine, Devozine, Ibegat, Temperance Youth Magazine,, Imagine Magazine,, and Rad Revolution.
I currently write a column for teen writers, titled Dear Young scribes, at
I am also a screenwriter for Favoron Productions, have edited a screenplay for God of Moses Entertainment, and am currently gearing towards editing another screenplay for their upcoming project as well.
In 2013, my blog,, received 2nd place in the blog category at Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference.
In 2014, Purple Moon was a finalist in the YA Fiction and First Novel categories.
Okay, my bragging session will now come to an end. =) 
What are your goals for the next ten years?
I hope to continue having opportunities to reach teens through the words I write and the words I speak.
My ultimate desire is to write novels for teens that are inspirational, yet authentic when it comes to reflecting their every-day-lives. It is my goal, with every book, for teens to come away from it with a sense of hope for their own lives.
I would also love to continue writing for magazines and screenplays as well—any avenue that will allow me to minister through the process of creation.
However, even though I am a firm believer in dreaming big, I have learned to hold these plans loosely. The future I have in store for my life isn’t always the one God has in store—but I’m excited to see where the journey takes me!


Instagram @tessaemilyhall
Cameron Osceola (Musician, The Osceola Brothers)


Cameron and I met during Belmont University’s freshman orientation. He is extremely talented and has “trippy” style. His story will inspire young musicians to pursue their life vision.

When did you first discover your love for rock-and-roll?
I first discovered my love for rock and roll at sort of a young age. I remember having Elvis, Ritchie Valens and Hendrix when I was around 7 and it blew my mind! I loved their voices and the way they made me feel. At the time I had a little heap acoustic guitar but couldn’t play, so I sat around and learned from records. Then when I was a bit older, I heard the music of Led Zeppelin, Motley Crue, etc. I just loved the sounds of the guitars and the whole band going full out! It made me want to get an electric guitar and emulate what I heard.
Tell us about the moment you decided to pursue music? Who helped you achieve your dream?
The moment I chose to pursue music is the moment I realized I couldn’t see my life without playing guitar and making music. At the time that I was discovering rock and roll, I was also into baseball and sports. When I got into 8th grade I dropped sports and decided to make music my priority. At first I played solo a couple times with two guys who worked at the boys and girls club on the reservation that I grew up on. They put on some talent showcases and displayed the talent of the youth. I wasn’t a part of the boys and girls club, I only played at the events. After seeing groups like Aerosmith, Motley Crue, and The Black Crowes, I decided that I wanted to put together my own band, which became The Osceola Brothers. I got my two younger brothers and taught them the little what I knew on bass and drums and from there on we took off. The people that really helped us were my parents, they’ve been really supportive throughout the years and we are really thankful for that.
How long did it take for you to find a “breakthrough”? What led to that opportunity?
It took a little while to really get going with our music, but you have to do that to really gone your craft. We played many events where there would hardly be a crowd. After a while doing that, we got booked to play the Seminole Tribal Fair which was held in the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida. Still we were playing to not many people, but it was more than we played for. But from then on we booked better and bigger gigs.
What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome while pursuing your goals and how did you conquer them?
Some obstacles that I’ve had to overcome are just knowing that the road to success isn’t going to be easy. Also just not being taken seriously and underestimated at times by some people at events we played. I feel like they would think that we weren’t that good considering we were in our early teens at the time. The way we overcame that is just to keep on playing, not caring and just giving our all every time we play.
Do you have any advice you’d like to give teenagers pursuing a similar dream?
Some advice I would give teenagers pursuing their dreams are to never give up, the road to success isn’t going to be easy but don’t let that stop you. Also don’t let people try to tell you what you can and can’t do, always give 110% every time you play and just play like it’s your last time playing! Lastly stay true to yourself.
Tell us about your accomplishments.
Some accomplishments include some shows we have played. Over the course of the four years we have been a band we have gotten to open for some major acts such as Indigenous, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Sarah Evans, Candlebox, Creedence, Clearwater, Jonny Land and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Also I was blessed enough to be a part of the 2014 Experience Hendrix Tour. I got to share the stage with most of my heroes such as Eric Johnson, Chris Layton, Billy Cox, Jonny Land, Buddy Guy, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and more!
On a very recent note, just last month we were booked to play a festival before Lenny Kravitz and more in Barcelona, Spain, it was an amazing, trippy experience haha! We were also included in a documentary that aired on TV in June.
What are your goals for the next ten years?
My goals for the next decade are just to keep making music that I believe in whether or not I'm in the music business.

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