Thursday, August 27, 2015

Three Cheers For Teens: Tara Brose

Tara Brose (MSA Models)

Although I heard countless stories prior to our introduction, I first met Tara face-to-face at a coffeehouse in SOHO, New York City. She is an incredible person who exemplifies what it means to fearlessly pursue a vision, trust God, and succeed.

Her responses to the questions below will not only encourage aspiring models but also show the trials one faces when following his/her dream and the triumphant outcome.

When did you first discover your love for modeling?

-- I always dreamed of becoming a model for as long as I can remember. When I would complain about being taller than all the boys growing up in elementary school, or feel awkward because I was taller than my older sister starting at a young age, my mom always told me that I should be proud of my height because one day I could become a model. I think she was saying that to make me feel better, but I actually believed her. 


Tell us about the moment you decided to pursue modeling? Who helped you achieve your dream?

-- I decided to pursue modeling in high school. I began in Atlanta, Georgia, but it wasn't until I decided to move to New York City that I really started to achieve my dream. Before it was just a hobby, or something I would do for fun when I had the time. When I finally made the decision to take my first semester off of college and move to NYC, I was finally on my way of turning my dream reality. 

My parents were a huge part in me finally pursuing modeling, but especially my mom. Without her encouragement and support, there's no way I would have made the move and be where I am today. 


How long did it take for you to find a “breakthrough”? What led to that opportunity? 

-- It is extremely hard living in NYC, especially when you're 18 years old. I don't think my "breakthrough" came until I finally decided to be comfortable in my own skin and be who I truly was. This was something that took a lot of time, lessons learned, and trials that I needed to go through. I was doing anything and everything I could to keep busy, find jobs, continue shooting, and make enough money to live off of. My biggest breakthrough was after I graduated college and started doing fit modeling full time. That is when I finally had steady work and no longer had to live from paycheck to paycheck. ((Fit modeling is working directly with the designers of a company to create the perfect fit of a garment. It is within the production process, after design and before the products are in the stores. Most people don’t know this job exists, but there is a lot of hard work that goes into making each and every garment fit the way the designer intended for it to fit. I spend my days trying on tons and tons of clothes, and working with the design and production department of multiple companies in order to fit clothing to my body. I work as a size 2 for some clients, and a 4 for others.))


What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome while pursing your goals and how did you conquer them?

-- When I first moved to NYC, I was constantly told that my skin was very bad and broken out, that I needed to lose weight, and that I was too short to model. 

I really did have horrible skin when I first started modeling. It actually was bad for several years, and I tried every skin care line you could think of to try and fix it. Every doctor would say that my acne was hormonal, but nothing seemed to help. Finally I realized that I was allergic to gluten, and now my skin looks and feels like a brand new face! I am very careful about not eating gluten anymore, and I do oil cleansing to clean my face. Having clear skin is very important for modeling, and I am so thankful that I don't have to worry about that anymore. Of course I have occasional breakouts, but they are nothing like what I use to deal with. 

As a fit model, I have to maintain my weight and measurements. I no longer am being pushed to lose weight, and also I can't gain weight, but I literally have to stay the same size. This has caused me to be much healthier because I am maintaining my natural weigh and measurements. I am not trying to be a certain size that I am not meant to be. This may sound crazy or seem very hard, but my body naturally stays the same for the most part, so this is not overly challenging for me. I am not someone who fluctuates often, which is why fit modeling has been so good for me.

As far as my height goes, obviously there is no magic formula to get taller! However again, as a fit model, they like my height. I am the "average" height for the clients that I work with (at 5’7) and I am exactly what my clients need. I don't have to stress about being two inches too short anymore because I don't do as many fashion jobs as I use to. And when I do, I don't care that I am shorter than the other girls because I am comfortable with who I am. 


Do you have any advice you’d like to give teenagers pursuing a similar dream?

 -- Absolutely! I would say that whatever is in your heart to do, go for it and don't let anyone tell you that you can't. Let that be what motivates you and keeps you moving forward! Most importantly, know your boundaries and who you are. Be you. Don't compare yourself to anyone else. In the modeling industry, there is SO much competition. But at the same time, there are SO many different companies and clients that are looking for different things. Just be yourself, and you will find a client that is looking for exactly you! Until then, keep moving forward and do not get discouraged when you hear a million 'no's' because it will be worth if for the time you finally get a 'yes!' 


Tell us about your accomplishments.

 -- It is now almost exactly 7 years after I moved to NYC after high school. I am 25 years old, recently married, and have been modeling full time since I graduated college in 2012. As a fit model, I have worked with clients such as Armani Exchange, Opening Ceremony, Steven Alan, American Eagle, Almost Famous, Onia, Whit NY, Swiss Army, Mara Hoffman, Joe Fresh, Vince Camuto, Amoi, and more. I have worked as a showroom model for companies such as Vanilla Star, Vogue, Splendid, Nike, Jessica Simpson, Helly Hansen, and New York & Company. I've done print work for Cosmopolitan Magazine, Seventeen Magazine, The New York Post, BB Dakota, Lauren Conrad for Kohls, Kings of Cole, and others. I have done background work for television shows and movies, such as Gossip Girl, White Collar, It's Complicated, Law And Order, CSI:NY, The Beautiful Life, and more. I have done runway shows for Sachika, Belabunda Swim, Oakley, Victor Harper Bridal, SARAR, and more. I am so thankful that I didn’t give up when I wanted to. Even though it has not been easy, it has been the adventure of a lifetime and I am extremely happy to be working in a field that I am so passionate about!


What are your goals for the next ten years?

-- Wow 10 years... Who knows where I'll be! I think it's important to have goals, absolutely, but I've always been a very spontaneous person. I could not have ever dreamed of where I am right now, so I honestly don't think I could dream up the next 10 years even if I tried! I will definitely have kids by then, which means a lot will change as far as modeling goes. However, I recently started a fashion + lifestyle blog ( that I intend to grow and see flourish in the next few years. There is definitely more longevity in modeling than people think, so I do believe I could continue with it if I wanted to. It wouldn't be as much fashion as it would be fit, commercial, or lifestyle jobs, but all of which I love to do! I don't know what all I will accomplish in the next 10 years, but I know that it will be exciting!

Click here to visit Tara's blog.


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.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Writer's Conference: What Every Writer Needs To Know

The publishing industry is a magic trick.

People like its thrill, excitement, and outcome but they don’t know how the “trick” is performed. Some assume that it just happens—the pretty lady just happens to survive being sawed in half; the wordy document on a writer’s computer just happens to turn into a bestseller. Others believe in the poofpoof, the white rabbit disappears; poof, someone has an agent and a three-book contract with HarperCollins.

I’d like to apologize now for the major spoiler.


I’ve been a part of the publishing world ever since I self-published my first book at age fifteen—three years ago. At the time, self-publishing wasn’t looked at as a credible publishing venue, which forced me to be my own advocate and publicist. I worked seven hours a day on my books—writing, editing, formatting, and marketing. It didn’t take long for me to learn that JUST HAPPENS and POOF were illusions.

Self-publishing has finally gained the positive reputation it deserves—credible, independent, time-consuming, a task for the relentless and fearless. Countless writers, authors, and professionals have told me that self-publishing is too much work for them, which doesn’t make such sense to me since working with a traditional publisher forces a writer to be dependent on someone else’s calendar and preference.

Stepping off the soapbox…

“Hard work and minimal success” should be the publishing industry’s subtitle. To breakthrough, an author has to query to the right agent, at the right time, have a book that appeals to the current trends, contract with the right publishing house, and pray that booksellers will give their work the time of day. Once a book makes it to shelves, the promotional work begins.

In other words, every aspect of the “equation” has to be flawless for a book to be successful.

Don’t feel discouraged. Although it is difficult to publish, there are ways you can boost your odds.

Last week, I was in New York City attending the Writer’s Digest Conference. My mission was to pitch my latest book to agents. I was successful! Even though it took several nights of freak-outs, a lot of praying, and hours of rehearsal, I managed to present my work to nine literary agents.

My best friend, Tessa Emily Hall (author of Purple Moon), found her publisher at a writer’s conference. Like she informed me, I want to inform you of the benefits of attending a writer’s conference.

The Strand Bookstore (New York City)
What is a writer’s conference?

A writer’s conference is an event designed to help writers develop their craft, network, and become aware of the current publishing market.

Why should I spend hundreds of dollars to attend one?

Writer’s conferences present a unique opportunity. They allow you to have face-time with professionals in the industry, learn insider secrets, and also connect with other writers.

Connections determine success! The people you know will decide how far you go.

Invest in yourself. A few hundred dollars might be your “foot in the door.”

What should I consider when choosing a conference?

Are you attending to learn more about the writing craft or to pitch?

If you want to develop your writing ability, attend a conference with a variety of writing-geared lectures and credible speakers.

If you’re in the market for an agent, choose a conference with a good number of visiting agents who represent your genre.

How can I prepare for the pitch?

Finish your book. Don’t pitch unless your work is ready to be sold.

Prepare and practice your pitch. Do this well in advance. You need time to write, practice, revise, and revise again. I changed my pitch ten times before the conference and rewrote it two hours before my pitch session. Be ready for last-minute changes.

Research. Make a list of the agents who represent your genre. Know what they’re seeking. Also, be aware of current book trends and know how your book might fit into the tough marketplace.

Below are some tips to help you craft an effective query letter. I’ll post a pitch tutorial vlog next week that will include pitch etiquette, proper format, etcetera.

The Dreaded Query Letter…. (Visit for more tips)

A query letter is a business letter meant to demonstrate your competence and entice agents to read your pages. Remember, formulating a query isn’t a creative writing assignment. You don’t have to showcase your writing abilities. Queries are supposed to be straightforward.

To an agent, your book is a product, not a piece of art.

There are two questions you must answer when writing your query.

1.      Who is your main character?

2.      What does s/he want?

How to convey what the book is about:

1.      The main character must decide whether to________

If s/he decides to do (this), the consequences s/he faces are________

The book’s stakes are of dire importance! I cannot stress this enough. If an agent reads your query and does not believe your main character has anything to lose, s/he will not ask for pages.


A query letter should include:

-        Word count

-        Title

-        Any publishing credits you have


Instant rejection phrases include:

“Fiction novel…”   DUH!

“Sure bestseller.”


“Film potential.”

“Dear agent.” – “Dear Sir or Madam.”



Proper query format….

Subject: Query – Title by Author

Dear (Name of Agent),

If you met them at a conference, tell them.

First: Answer the question “what is this book about?” Have a line break every three lines.

Second: Your writing credits and bio.

Third: Genre/ Word-count/ Title

Closing: Thanks for your time and consideration.

Your name
Physical address