- Posted July 17, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Impact Your World
From Basketball to Author: Erica Taylor: Inspiring Children One Story At A Time
What can you say about Erica Charlotte Taylor!!! She is a Mother, Wife, Basketball Player, Author, and Entrepreneur!!!
Erica Taylor pursed basketball by being committed to powerhouse Louisiana Tech University under the legendary coach Leon Barmore. There she was not only an outstanding basketball player earning prestigious awards such as WAC freshman of the year and Miss LaTech; she also earned a Bachelor of Liberal Arts in English. In 2005, Erica was drafted first in the second round by WNBA’s Washington, Mystics. In addition to Basketball, Erica always aspired to become a writer; however, Erica became a teacher of third grade at Little Rock Preparatory Academy. Although she enjoyed teaching all subjects, English Language Arts was her favorite. Erica was inspired to write her first children’s book, Figler My Imaginary Friend, because of her youngest daughter, Laila.
Erica Taylor is the mother of four plus one, Nia Jay, Tyra, Laila, and Jace, plus Jermain Jr. She is the wife (ten years) to boxing former Middleweight Champion of the World, Jermaine Taylor. Erica Taylor resides with her family in North Little Rock, Arkansas. When she is not writing books, Erica enjoys playing with her children, spending time with family & friends, dancing, and singing karaoke.
As you know the literacy industry is an easy network to enter, nowadays, with everyone either writing a book or publishing a book with the help of a ghostwriter. How has your journey been and what tactics do you use in order to make your writing stand out?
My journey as a writer has been a lot of persistence and not taking “no” for an answer. Becoming a published author was not an easy task for me. I wrote Figler: My Imaginary Friend three years before it was published. First, I called a publishing company and they needed at least $100,000 up front to even begin to work with me. Needless to say, that was out of the question and out of my budget! Next, I tried to self-publish an eBook. Well, I’m not the most techno-savvy person and I couldn’t seem to get my manuscript in the correct format to formulate an eBook, so that fell through. Lastly, I began to Google publishers and publishing companies pitching myself and my work… none were interested. I contacted Parkhurst Brothers and I was actually lucky enough for a “real” person to answer the phone. Ted Parkhurst answered but quickly informed me that he was not interested in children’s book at that time. I was crushed but my dream of becoming an author was still very real to me. I went on to teach school and an author came to speak to my 3rd grade class. She was awesome and at that moment I didn’t wait any longer. So, on my lunch break I called Parkhurst Brothers again (I mean, that was the only publisher that spoke the words “Hello”). I called and my exact words were, “Mr. Parkhurst, I know you don’t publish children’s books but do you know anyone who may be interested? He says, didn’t we talk a year ago? I replied, “Yes, sir”. He then stated, “You are persistent, go ahead and email me your manuscripts and I will get back with you”. So, right then, I danced the Pharrell Williams “Happy Dance” because this was my chance. My foot in the door. My realty to a dream I’ve had since sixteen. After Ted Parkhurst read my manuscripts he contracted me for two of my works!
I make my writing stand out by writing with purpose and passion! Everything I write I want the reader to take something away from it to make them better, to make them laugh, to make them want to achieve, believe, and have confidence. I want to share my experiences--basketball, motherhood, teaching school, being the wife of a professional boxer, a sibling, or being a friend--with my audience so that they will be better because my writing touched them in a positive way.
Being a professional basketball player (WNBA Draft by the Washington Mystics) and being married to former Middleweight Boxer Jermaine Taylor, What inspired you to become an Author or a Writer, in general?
I have always aspired to be a writer. When I was in middle school and in high school I always kept a journal. I wrote about a wide range of things from what my day was like at school to what grade I made a math test. When I got older, I began to start writing poems and making up stories with actual characters. I wrote for fun! Writing was very therapeutic for me. There is no wrong way to write when you’re writing for yourself. Writing to myself allowed me to be honest and pure, after all, I was talking to myself. When I got older, I remember being in Little Rock’s Airport Book store staring at the Best Seller section thinking how I wanted my book to be there someday. I took a picture of that section with my cell phone and viewed it daily. I truly believe that seeing is believing and achieving. Now, that I have a family, there is never a dull moment. My girls say things that one cannot make up. For instance, my daughter Laila said she was so hot that she was going to catch a “Heat-infection”. I started noting what they were experiencing at school and with friends, and of course Laila’s imaginary friend.
One thing I often hear from Mothers is the pain of traveling and being away from their kids to sell a book, sing a song, or act in the next movie, how do you balance your career as a writer, along with making sure your children and husband receive their time with you.
Being a writer has been the best thing for me as far as juggling my time with my family. First, I can make my own schedule for book signings and events so I make sure that they never conflict with a family function or any of my children’s activities. Being a children’s author allows my children to come along with me to enjoy the fun. My children love going to libraries and events with me as most events are kid-friendly. They are just as excited about Figler as I am. Laila’s imaginary friend has been apart of our family for such a long time (we even had him a birthday party at chuck-e-cheese). So, watching Figler come to “real” life and to be in a “real” book has been an exciting experience for the entire family.
“Figler My Imaginary Friend”, is a children’s book, because of your youngest daughter, Laila. Tell us a little about this book.
Figler: My Imaginary Friend is a poetic story about a child who discovers who he is inside vicariously through his imaginary friend, Figler. Throughout the story the reader recognizes that the child is not very confident and does not believe that he can do great things. By the end of the book, the child realizes that if he believes in himself not only can he do the same things as his awesome imaginary friend, but if he look closely in the mirror, he’ll see that he is his imaginary friend. I like to use the example that Beyonce has to turn into Sasha fierce to rock the stage, But they are the same person. Even when I played basketball, I had to dig down into my inner strength to be great on the basketball court but after the game I wanted my earrings and lip gloss!
Being an author, do you find it difficult to sell books, especially with Kindle and Nook taking over paperback.
I always thought that once I became an author, the book would sell itself. But quickly, I learned that how can your book sell if no one knows about it. I am my own publicist. I have “Smiled and Dialed” to land my way to local television stations, radio interviews, several Barnes and noble book signing, several magazine features, and so much more. I realized that people are willing and ready to support me, if they know how to support me. I have worked really hard to land great interviews including this one! Although I think there is no greater joy than cuddling in your favorite chair by the fire on a rainy day holding a book in your hands, I do agree that reading is reading. Although I’m grateful for technology devices such as the nook and kindle because they are great sources to meet your readers preference, nothing can replace a hand held book for me. Figler: My Imaginary Friend is also available on Kindle and Nook.
I read in your biography that you enjoy poetry. Who would you say is your favorite writer of Poetry and Why?
My favorite writer of poetry hands down is Mya Angelou. Not only is she from my home state of Arkansas, she wrote poetry with purpose. She wanted her readers to gain something greater from her experiences and works. She is one who I admire. I truly want my writing to be the “rainbow in someone else’s cloud”.
In 50 words or less, Why should our readers support your book and what lesson can we expect to learn?
CNNireport readers should support my work because not only my child suffered from not believing in her awesome self, so many other children go through the same thing. In life, believing in yourself is half the battle. I want to convey to readers, that having people cheer for you is great, but in life it is a must that you become your biggest cheerleader and your number one fan. I want children to know just because they couldn’t get something on the first try, doesn’t mean that they can’t do it. Children must learn at an early age that they can accomplish any goal they set. It doesn’t matter if they are autistic, have a poor socio-economic status, in a single-parent home, or any unfortunate situation, they are the ruler of their future. I also want readers who have children that have imaginary friends, to embrace their child’s creativity and intelligence.
So what can our readers expect from you, next?
My great publisher, Ted Parkhurst, signed me for two of my children’s books: Figler: My Imaginary Friend and I Conquered Making Friends In Kindergarten. While I have been busy promoting my first book, I was moved to write a story about bullying. Bullying has become so prominent and vicious in our nation that I thought if I can write a story to interest and target young readers, they would understand the damage bullying causes. When we are aware and educated on a topic, we are most likely to respond to it in the best way. So, I have submitted my story titled “Bull the Bully” and I look forward to sharing this with young readers throughout the world. I’m also busy working on a teen chapter book, an adult novel, and I’m even writing songs. So, needless to say, I love to write. Writing is definitely not a job to me, it is my passion!
To contact Erica,
Facebook: Erica Taylor and Erica Taylor Books
Learn more about the writer @ www.penlegacy.com