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Authors & Celebrities

Celebrities

Authors & Celebrities

We reached out to some of our favorite Authors & Celebrities to see if they had any advice for teens and young writers. In fact we asked them to tell us the best advice they would give to those just starting out as writers.  Take a moment to read what they have to say...

If you are a celebrity or know a celebrity who would like to share their advice, contact us.

Author Susan Wooldridge

Susan Wooldridge

Susan Wooldridge, Author of Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words, says...

"To Young Writers...

I always carry my journal with me to take notes on the world, catch ideas, overheard conversations and nurture the deepest part of my nature. My journal has kept me (and perhaps my writing) alive, young and free.  Most of my poems and many of my chapter ideas are generated there. I love a black book I can hold in my hands. I love pens, especially fountain pens and fine line black pens that flow.  I carry scotch magic tape and a small scissors.  I may tape in a photo of a blowfish, or a zebra and write in curves around it.  I may tape in pansy petals with their heart pattern.  My journal helps me play and notice the world, and that’s where good writing comes from.

 Make sure your journal isn’t fancy and expensive or you won’t write freely. Find an inconspicuous notebook with paper you like that you can carry with you.  This is a private place just for you.  Since my early teens I’ve called my journals “my little black books” and I don’t know who I’d be without them. My journal is a place of wild freedom.  It’s open and bottomless. We spend so much time online extending ourselves outward instead of diving within. My journal provides a place to go inside myself and gather ideas, beauty and words. Question, I may notice (and jot in my journal) hides the word quest.   Sometimes I write in the middle of the night.  In school I often dove into my journal and appeared to be taking notes.   Sometimes I drew with dots, barely moving the pen in a mini-rebellion against entrapment.  My journal is a world for my inner life-- a central source for my writing since I was thirteen.  Start with the present moment. Don’t go back.  Your journal is about NOW.."

--Susan


About Susan Wooldridge...

Susan presents writing and creativity workshops around the U.S. She’s in her seventh year of a series to foster creative expression among people of all ages and backgrounds in rural California libraries sponsored by Poets and Writers organization and the California Center for the Book.

To learn more about Susan, check out her website www.susanwooldridge.com

Author James Kristofic

Jim Kristofic

Author of Navajos Wear Nikes: A Reservation Life, says...

"Be Afraid Enough to Follow Your Dreams

    All those cheesy motivational posters hanging in the dimly-lit guidance offices of America’s high schools have got it right. You really should “Follow Your Dreams.”  What you won’t find printed beneath the streaming rainbows, smiling kittens, or happy balloons in the borders of those posters is how you are actually supposed to do that. To Follow Your Dream.

    Make no mistake. I’m following my dream. Sure I’ve got problems – my car breaks down, my eyesight is terrible, and I dislocated my shoulder last month – but I really am living the dream that makes me happiest: I’m a teacher and a writer. I published a book before I turned thirty years old. It’s won awards. I get fan mail from Missouri and Finland. And my beautiful wife is proud of me. My dog could care less.

    So now – ten years since any state or government mandated that I be educated at all – I am writing to you about one of the crucial pieces of advice that should have been stapled to that “Follow Your Dreams” poster:

    Find the Things that Scare You. Then Try Them.

    I had to change high schools halfway through my freshman year when my mom moved us from the small town on the Navajo Reservation where I’d grown up to the bustling metropolis of Page, Arizona – population 8,000. I mean, Page had a McDonalds. And a Taco Bell. And stop lights. It was like a different country. And it was a total reboot for me and my brother: no friends, no family nearby, and no home we could call our own. I spent that first year and most of the next studying the patterns in the drop ceilings of Page High School and practicing not-talking-to-people.

    But then I saw a flyer in the hallway that February. It was an audition bill for that year’s spring musical, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” I had never heard of it. But I liked acting and I liked watching cool guys like Bruce Willis and Clint Eastwood reveal the tortured but oh-so-masculine American soul as they brought down the no-good terrorists and cattle rustlers of this cruel world. I’d done some theater as the Santa Claus in the annual Christmas school play (which was easy since I was the only chubby white kid back on the Reservation). But I hated singing in front of people.

    Still, if I wanted to get on stage and maybe start talking to people again, I would have to pick up the sheet music from the choir teacher and belt out “Bless Yer’ Beautiful Hide” in the audition under the single spotlight in the dark cavern of the Page High School Cultural Arts Building.

  But I did try it. And I landed one of the lead roles. And I learned that I had a decent bass voice. And I learned I was even better at dancing. And I met other students and teachers who still impact my life to this day. Many of them are still close friends of mine.

    And I never would have known if I’d just kept walking past that flyer. Because – whether I knew it or not – I would have been stepping away from something I feared but needed to reconcile, something I would face over and over again throughout my life – whether on a high school stage or in a job interview or during a panel discussion at a book festival: the willingness to surrender my pride and risk appearing as dumb as I actually am.

    But it’s okay. When you try something you fear, you risk only looking like an idiot. But you need to get used to doing things while under the strain of fear.  It’s a small price. Otherwise, you might be too afraid to follow that dream until it was so far away that you could never catch up.

    I can’t think of anything more terrifying"

     --Jim


About James Kristofic...

Jim Kristofic grew up on the Navajo Reservation in northeastern Arizona, and has worked on and off the “Rez” for more than ten years as a river guide, journalist, ranch-hand, and oral historian. He's written for The Navajo Times, Arizona Highways, and High Country News. His memoir, "Navajos Wear Nikes: A Reservation Life," was released by University of New Mexico Press in spring 2011. It was praised for its “wit and keen observation” by the Arizona Daily Sun, and Booklist commended it for its ability to connect to teen readers. After beign released in paperback in October, it was named a 2011 Southwest Book of the Year and a New Mexico Book Award finalist.

Michael Patrick Walker

Michael Patrick Walker

Author & Composer Michael Patrick Walker says...


Buddy G. DeSylva and Lew Brown wrote the lyric “Life is just a bowl of cherries / so live and laugh at it all”.  It’s a nice lyric, but as a philosophy of life, you need more.  You could ask Buddy or Lew but, the problem is, they’re dead.  So when it comes to life advice, you’re stuck with me and my two suggestions.

First, worry less about what other people think and more about what you think.  It’s tough to override people’s opinions on so fascinating a subject as you, but try.  Be your own judge – not overly harsh nor overly lenient.  Hold yourself to your own standards and give yourself a good talking to when you fall short.  You can take other opinions into account of course, just never use them in place of your own.
Second, worry less about who you are and more about who you want to be.  You can’t change who you are right now – even if you decide to, it’s not “now” anymore and your chance is past.  But you can figure out who you want to be and make choices and take actions to become that person.  By the way, any change worth making takes time and effort, so you should start now!  You might not succeed, but trying is rarely something you’ll regret in the long run.

It took me a long time to learn those two things.  I certainly didn’t know them as a teenager and I don’t always remember them even today.  Still, I try to follow them as often as I can and I’m always happier – and usually more successful – when I do!  So, with due respect to Buddy and Lew, life may be just a bowl of cherries, but…what if you made them into a pie…? "

  --Micheal

About Michael Patrick Walker... Michael Patrick Walker

Born and raised in the small town of New Freedom, PA, Michael began his music education at the age of 5. Though he studied piano for many years, it wasn’t until the age of 13 when he played a 2-piano version of The Sound of Music at a local high school that he discovered his love of musical theatre. At age 17, he began to attend Carnegie Mellon University. Upon his graduation from CMU, Michael moved to New York City and was fortunate enough to begin working as a theatre musician almost immediately. He played on and off Broadway and toured the United States extensively with several musicals as both a musician and conductor. On one of these tours, he first met a musician named Gary Adler with whom he would begin to write Altar Boyz in 2001.

He is currently writing an original new musical with book writer Rick Elice (Jersey Boys, The Addams Family, Peter and the Starcatcher), developing an innovative dance musical with director Stafford Arima (Carrie, Altar Boyz) and choreographer Andrew Palermo (artistic director of dre.dance) and writing a new sung-thru musical called being theo.
Michael Patrick Walker
In 2011, Michael recorded his first album featuring only his music and lyrics. Out of Context: The Songs of Michael Patrick Walker contains songs from several of his upcoming musicals and a few from his “trunk” – performed by an amazing group of Broadway’s most talented singers including Cheyenne Jackson, Kelli O'Hara, Telly Leung, Lisa Howard, Michael Arden and many more. 

For more information on Michael Patrick Walker go to his website, www.michaelpatrickwalker.com

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