Skip to content
May 11, 2010 / theoldsilly

VBT Feature Post – Dallas Nicole Woodburn

Time for my monthly participation in the Yahoo Group, VBT – Writers on the Move feature-a-fellow-author post. Today we have with us Dallas Woodburn, a twenty two year old literary woman wonder. Here is her impressive resume:

Dallas Woodburn, 22, is the author of two collections of short stories and a forthcoming novel. She has written more than 80 articles for national publications including Family Circle, Writer’s Digest, CO-ED, Justine, and The Los Angeles Times, and she writes a regular column for Listen magazine. Dallas is the founder of the nonprofit organization “Write On! For Literacy” that has donated nearly 11,000 new books to disadvantaged children. Her latest endeavor is starting a publishing company, Write On! Books, that publishes the work of young writers. In addition, she hosts frequent writing contests, teaches writing camps for kids, and is coordinator of the Young Writers Program at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. Dallas graduated this past May from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in Creative Writing and Entrepreneurship. Contact her at her website or blog

Envious is The Old Silly. Twenty two? Gimme a break, young lady! Here is one of her publications, a collection of short stories, titled, 3 a.m.

If you click on the cover image you can read some excerpts.

As part of this feature I was privileged to have a short interview with Dallas. Let’s get into that now…

Marvin: Dallas, you are just in your early twenties, and already have published two books, with an impressive amount of published articles. I’m curious … were you born with a pen and paper in hand? How long have you been writing?

Dallas: It’s funny, but looking back it’s difficult for me to remember a time before I loved to write! I learned to read when I was four years old, and I gobbled up books. Like many kids, I made up stories; I was compelled to write my stories down. I think this was largely due to the fact that my dad is a writer. Every night, my parents would read me bedtime stories, and every morning I would come downstairs and see my dad writing. As a result, I was very aware that someone had written the books I so loved to read. And I decided that I wanted to be someone who writes books for other people to enjoy.

My dad is my biggest fan and is the first person who reads my work – his feedback and encouragement are invaluable. I remember when I was little, he would let me type out stories on his computer once he had filed his column for the day – how special that was! I am incredibly blessed that my parents and teachers were so encouraging of my love of writing from a very young age. Also, when I was in the first and second grade I was lucky to have an amazing teacher, Diane Sather, who encouraged my love for writing. I remember she had me read one of my stories to the class. I got such a burst of joy from sharing what I had written with others. It never crossed my mind to just write for myself.

Marvin: You’ve created an organization called Write On! For Literacy. Tell us some about that … what does that entail?

Dallas: In a recent national assessment conducted by the National Literacy Institute (NLI) of fourth-grade students, 13% reported never reading for fun on their own; an additional 16% only read for fun once a month. I think this is a travesty. Reading has brought me so much excitement, confidence and has opened so many doors for me, including a tremendous college education and a career that I love.

Writing and reading have given me so much fulfillment and self-confidence, and opportunities that I never would have been given otherwise – like traveling to New York to be a guest on The CBS Early Show when I was writing a column for Family Circle magazine. I feel other kids should be exposed to writing and reading as well, to encourage their self-confidence and self-expression. When I published my first book, There’s a Huge Pimple On My Nose, in fifth grade, the teachers in my elementary school asked me to talk to their classes, and then I spoke to other classes throughout the school district. I still enjoy talking to kids about writing. At the beginning of my talk, I ask the kids if any of them are interested in writing, and usually a few shy hands raise. In contrast, at the end of my talk when I ask the same question, a lot more hands raise. The students told me they didn’t know that kids could be writers. They thought they had to wait until they were adults.

I started “Write On! For Literacy” in 2001 to encourage kids to discover joy, confidence, a means of self-expression and connection to others through reading and writing. My website features writing contests, book reviews, fun writing prompts, and more. I also hold an annual Holiday Book Drive to collect and distribute new books to disadvantaged kids — more than 10,000 books have been donated to date.

Marvin: If one of our readers wanted to sponsor a local holiday book drive for your organization, what should he or she do?

Dallas: That would be wonderful! Write On! would love for you to start a Holiday Book Drive chapter in your area! It can be as large or small of an effort as you have the time and energy for. Many chapter leaders begin book drives by inviting friends and relatives to get involved, and then broaden their efforts to area schools, churches and community groups. I have found in my own efforts that often people in the community want to get involved with literacy endeavors, but aren’t sure how — when they hear about the Holiday Book Drive, they are very excited to help out.

If you are interested in starting a Holiday Book Drive chapter, please e-mail me at and I will add you to our chapter list. I can also send you flyers to help spread the word and get the ball rolling!

Marvin: Do you have a set time when you write, or just whenever you get the urge?

Dallas: I try to write every single day – I am most productive and happy when I have an established routine. Even if I don’t feel like writing, I tell myself to write for just fifteen or twenty minutes, and usually by the end of that time I am in the groove and write for longer. My goal is to write 1,000 words every day. I am a night owl, so it is not unusual to find me at my computer writing after midnight, when the world is quiet and I am alone with my thoughts.

Marvin: I always like to ask writers this next one. Who is your favorite author?

Dallas: Oh, I have too many favorite authors to count! I love Harper Lee, J.D. Salinger, and F. Scott Fiztgerald. I also adore Lorrie Moore and Salman Rushdie. Aimee Bender is not only a fantastic writer, she is also a phenomenal teacher – I was lucky enough to have her as a Creative Writing professor at the University of Southern California, where she helped me take risks and grow enormously as a writer.

Marvin: Have you ever had writer’s block, and if so how do you get rid of it?

Dallas: One of the best things for me to do when I am facing writer’s block is to step back from the story and get away from the computer a bit. I love to go volunteer at schools and teach writing activities to kids. This is one of my favorite activities – it gives me great joy and fulfillment. Whenever I am feeling discouraged or creatively drained, going to schools and speaking to students inevitably recharges my batteries and gets me excited about writing again. So much energy and enthusiasm! It’s contagious!

I also frequently post tips for busting through writer’s block on my blog,

Marvin: Dallas, what do you recommend to aspiring authors?

Dallas: Write every day, read as much as you can, and enjoy the process! As John Wooden says, “The journey is better than the inn.” In addition, publishing my books has taught me not to be afraid to take risks, and to take the initiative when you have an idea and make it happen yourself rather than letting fear and doubt make you wait. Because, why wait? Take small steps towards your dreams, and small steps can snowball into amazingly big opportunities!

Marvin: Dallas we greatly appreciate your being with us here on Free Spirit today. I know you are an inspiration to many, and am honored to have had the opportunity to expose you to my readers. Please do stop in from time to time today and interact with everyone, I know this feature will stir up some interest and desire to ask questions of you.


Alright, peeps, let’s show Ms. Woodburn some love in the comments gallery. Fire away with anything else you like to know from her, okay?

Chow, gang … blog back in tomorrow for another Hilarious Hump Day post … I got a real gut-busting, knee slapping lollapalooza planned for y’all.


Click on Tweety Bird and Tweet this post if you liked it!

Tweet Me from The Old Silly's Free Spirit Blog



Leave a Comment
  1. Stanley Berber / May 11 2010 5:39 am

    Very impressive Dallas. Great thing to do with “Write On!”, and best wishes for a long and successful career!

  2. Martha Swirzinski / May 11 2010 6:38 am

    Dallas, you are doing such a wonderful job encouraging children to write. Keep it up!
    Martha Swirzinski

  3. Cactus Annie / May 11 2010 7:04 am

    What a wonderful idea and thing to do, encouraging youg people to write, Dallas, and you being so young yourself you can be the perfect role model. I’m going to tweet this post … thanks Old Silly and Dallas, for this nice feature post! 🙂

  4. Helen Ginger / May 11 2010 7:34 am

    Thank you for the reminder that taking small steps can lead to big things. That’s true with just about anything, but especially for writing.

    Straight From Hel

  5. Mason Canyon / May 11 2010 7:38 am

    Great interview and thanks for introducing us to Dallas. Wishing continued success to her.

    Thoughts in Progress

  6. Stephen Tremp / May 11 2010 7:54 am

    Good interview and good advice. Small steps are important to pace oneself, especially during those droughts and the dry places we all find ourselves in at times. I think of What About Bob and the baby steps Bill Murray took at the beginning of the movie. Best wishes Dallas for your continued success.

    Stephen Tremp

  7. Jane Kennedy Sutton / May 11 2010 8:58 am

    To be that together at such a young age; to be that together now… Sigh. I enjoyed the interview and learning more about Dallas. And Dallas, I admire how you are already passing along your passion to kids.

  8. Arlee Bird / May 11 2010 9:49 am

    When I was 22 I was a success at partying and being an aimless buffoon. Congratulations for being so industrous at such a young age.

    May 17th Fifteen Fantasy Island Favorites

  9. Darcia helle / May 11 2010 10:01 am

    Arlee, I was thinking the same thing! Although I always loved to write, at 22 I had absolutely no direction. Aimless buffoon about describes it!
    Dallas, you are an impressive young lady. Congratulations on all your successes!

  10. Nancy Famolari / May 11 2010 10:42 am

    I love your idea for Write On. Kids need encouragement to continue to be creative. Too many classrooms burn it out of them. Keep up the good work!! I admire what you’re doing!

  11. Dallas Woodburn / May 11 2010 12:08 pm

    Thank you so much everyone for your kind words! And thank you Marvin for featuring me on your blog. I feel really fortunate to have discovered what I love at a young age and, moreover, to be able to pursue it. And I’ve found that it really is true what they say about “giving back” — I get as much (if not more!) out of “Write On!” than the kids do! 🙂 They are amazing and inspire me to no end.

  12. Alex J. Cavanaugh / May 11 2010 12:24 pm

    All that at 22? I feel so old…

  13. Carolyn Howard-Johnson / May 11 2010 12:26 pm

    Ahhhh, two of my favorite sillies in one place. Two great talents in one place. Two great writing souls in one place. What a treat!

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson

  14. ReformingGeek / May 11 2010 12:36 pm

    Wow! Congrats to Dallas for a successful career at such a young age.

    Thanks for sharing, Marvin!

  15. Gary Murning / May 11 2010 12:45 pm

    Love your attitude to writing, Dallas! A routine is vital for me, too. Often find that the days when I least feel like writing are when I do some of my best work. The initial push is difficult but once you get going it’s amazing what can be achieved, isn’t it?

  16. Kari Wolfe / May 11 2010 1:06 pm

    Everytime I hear about you, Dallas, you blow my mind 🙂 Write On! sounds like a great idea–I was writing and reading at that age, but I was never really encouraged to keep writing, sadly enough.

  17. yvonne lewis / May 11 2010 2:06 pm

    Excellent interview Marvin, so young yet so talented(Dallas I mean)

    Have a good day.


  18. Leeuna / May 11 2010 2:25 pm

    What a wonderful interview. Dallas is an impressive lady. So talented and so together at 22. I think it is also wonderful that she is encouraging youngsters to read more. I have always loved books and I’ve tried to pass that love for books along to my children and grandchildren. I’m off now to visit her website and learn more about her. Thanks for sharing this interview with us, Marvin.

  19. Janet Ann Collins / May 11 2010 3:39 pm

    I’m impressed. Like all the others who commented, I agree that Dallas is doing something important for the next generation and it sounds like she’s doing it well.

  20. ann / May 11 2010 3:50 pm

    How impressive at such a young age. WOW

  21. kathy Stemke / May 11 2010 4:59 pm

    I’m shocked about this study: “fourth-grade students, 13% reported never reading for fun on their own; an additional 16% only read for fun once a month.” I had no idea it had gotten sooooo bad. Dallas, thank you for encouraging kids to read and write.

    Good luck with your own published books! Write on!

  22. J. Aday Kennedy / May 11 2010 5:33 pm

    You’re an interesting lady.
    J. Aday Kennedy
    The Differently-Abled Writer
    Children’s Picture Book Klutzy Kantor

  23. Dana Donovan / May 11 2010 5:47 pm

    How exciting watching this wonderful talent on the lift pad, boosters engaged for a remarkable launch. You have such momentum on your side, Dallas, and such a bright future. Shoot for the stars for they are surely within your reach.

  24. Magdalena Ball / May 11 2010 5:56 pm

    Great interview Dallas. I read and really enjoyed the excerpts, and also love your way of dealing with Writer’s Block (imagine that many a story idea comes from that volunteer work). thank you!

  25. Katie Hines / May 11 2010 9:24 pm

    Wow, only 22 and so many accomplishments under your belt. Congratulations! I can see that your writing future is looming large indeed.

  26. Karen Cioffi / May 12 2010 2:15 pm

    Dallas, you’re an amazing young woman. It’s such a pleasure to learn more about you. You are a great example of giving and paying it forward!

    I didn’t know you were on the CBS Morning Show – very impressive!!!

  27. heidiwriter / May 12 2010 2:36 pm

    I’m always impressed by you, Dallas!
    Keep up the good work.

  28. Marietta Taylor / May 16 2010 1:27 pm

    To say I am impressed with all Dallas has accomplished would be a gross understatement. Dallas, you have a bright future ahead of you! Just keep doing what you are doing. Bravo!

  29. Kissie / May 18 2010 1:23 pm

    So inspiring, I love this. Everything about this post was excellent.

    Introduction (you had me at hello)




    Thank you so much for the introduction. (I could have just use all of the “I” words and made this comment cuter but ….it’s over a week old….is it?) Anyhowzit, thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: