Today we’d like to introduce you to Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
As early as elementary, I knew that I’d had a gift for writing, but at that time, I preferred poetry and short stories. I can remember borrowing my mother’s fabric and gluing it to two flat cardboard boxes in order to create a cover for my book. I was very excited to ask my family and friends to read it. The positive responses is what led to me continuing my writing in high school and eventually taking a few creative writing courses in undergrad.
A few years after graduation, I became a full-time teacher and pretty much put my writing aside. I remember one day sitting in my classroom trying to pinpoint what is missing in our educational system and what students need in order to thrive in society. That’s when I came up with the Little Kids, Big Voices series which is designed to help children find their inner voice.
From there, I joined a writing group, took courses at the Writers’ Program at UCLA Extension, and worked with various critiquers from Writers Digest in order to construct my manuscript, query letter, and synopsis. Also, I read tons of books and visited at least 100 websites and basically learned the business and everything there is to know about becoming a writer. It was a long journey. This process took about six years.
Once I felt that Broccoli Chronicles was ready for publication, I sent out my query letter to several agents. Many of them didn’t respond, but there were a few that told me that my story was interesting, but that they didn’t think that kids were ready to hear about death at such a young age.
I was really taken back by that because the highlight of my story wasn’t about death, but about this young girl finding her way in life and adjusting to her mother being gone. This humorous, educational, and inspiring chapter book, filled with secret clubs, rivalry, broccoli experiments, and more, proves that the voice of a child should never be ignored.
I disagreed with the agent and therefore created Building Voices, my own indie publishing company, and published the complete Little Kids, Big Voices series under it. If I could ever give any advice to an inspiring writer, it would be to never give up on your dreams. Yes, it is important to solicit opinions and learn the do’s and don’ts of the industry, but we owe it to ourselves to fight for what we believe in.
I am proud to say that my first novel, Broccoli Chronicles has won three literary awards and has been featured in several articles and media such as The Merced Sun Star, the IBPA’s Independent Magazine, the Chapman Alumni blog and so much more. Also, I have attended various book signings at Barnes and Noble and various elementary schools throughout California. I am very proud of my story and can’t wait for every child in the world to read it.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There has been many struggles and obstacles along the way from confidence, timelines, finances, lack of resources, support, etc.
First of all, many agents didn’t understand the need for Broccoli Chronicles and the positive impact it would have on the world. This made me question myself and if people would love the book or not. After several pep talks with my family, I began to realize that my story had a place in the writing industry.
Another challenge was putting together a budget. I was able to successfully raise $500 on Kickstarter, but that wasn’t enough to fund my complete project. Fortunately, I was able to get donations from family members and friends.
Lastly, my toughest challenge was balancing being a new mom and publishing my story at the same time. Although my daughter is the love of my life, it was extremely hard carrying a newborn in one hand and typing with the other. That being said, I was extremely determined to fulfill my dreams and make no excuses about it.
We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I am an award-winning author, educator, blogger, and entrepreneur. I am the author of the new children’s book series, Little Kids, Big Voices. In my spare time, I love reading and writing children’s books, primarily easy readers and chapter books. I also enjoy volunteering at my church and giving back to the community. My favorite vegetable is broccoli, and my favorite beverages are blue cream soda and sweet tea.
My first book, Broccoli Chronicles won three literary awards: the 2015 National Indie Excellence Award in Children’s Fiction, Honorable Mention in Foreword Reviews’ 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards for Juvenile Fiction, and silver place for the 2015 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award for Juvenile Fiction!
Some of my article’s and books have been featured in the Merced Sun Star, the Children’s Writer’s Guild, the Big Bear Grizzly, the Chapman Alumni Blog, the CSUDH Newsletter, and in other media.
It is proven that 15 minutes per day of reading improves vocabulary development, reading comprehension, and overall knowledge expansion. So that’s why I created Reading Builds Character, a nationwide reading initiative to encourage more kids to devote their time to reading. Regardless of your busy life, please find time to read to your children each night for bedtime. Their brains will thank you later!
In 2008, I started TCD Kids Foundation, a non-profit organization that offers tutoring, enrichment programs, and community awareness to youth and in 2011, I started Building Voices, an independent publishing company that specializes in children’s fiction. Please contact me for more details.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Right now, I am focusing mainly on my blog, growing my platform, and increasing my book sales. Within the year, I plan to finish my second novel in the Little Kids, Big Voices series and eventually start a whole new series which highlights the adventures of my daughter and her whimsical world.
This article can also be viewed here.