Today we’re joined by children’s author Mary Elizabeth Jackson. Mary, thank you for joining me today. If you could share a bit about yourself and your writing?
I am a wife, mother of three kiddos, children’s author, advocate for special needs and disabilities and live streamer. I am also a ghostwriter and the voice on the app Sports2Gether. I am passionate about helping children, teens, and adults to believe in themselves and to know their own empowerment. I am fascinated by smart people and love being around comedic people. We all need a good laugh in our lives. My focus for my writing right now is educational and motivational books for kids and adults with some humor thrown in because people love to laugh and they learn more when they are having fun. My main genre has been children but I will be branching out next year to some adult books. My first love is poetry but I have not published any yet and writing children’s stories comes easier because I have a young child that is always inspiring me.
Thanks! If you could also share a bit about your latest work, ‘Poohlicious Oh the Wonder of Me’?Poohlicious Oh the Wonder of Me is the third in my children’s series and moves into ages four to eight and the amazing world they live in. The book is about the awkward, silly, and uniqueness of that time. From silly crazy hair, to big ears, to wide open spaces in their mouths when they smile. This book focuses on the differences that exist and about accepting themselves just the way they are.
For those unfamiliar with the Poohlicious series, what can you share about it?
The series was inspired from my late in life son. It was originally intended to follow the timeline of his life so the first one is about newborns and littles. The second one is when children are sitting, crawling, and learning to stand, and the third one goes into pre-k and elementary school. All three-focus on helping children accept who they are and they are loved no matter what. Each book has an I AM page in them to help children get started young with this language and vocabulary. The books have large font so they are also great first readers for older siblings. In the back of the third book I write about how I have used positive affirmations in my life and with my own children and how to get started doing the same.
You’ve worked with a solid team for the series, what can you share about how you got together?
I wrote the first book and didn’t do anything with it for two years because I really did not know what to do. I thought I would save it but something kept nudging me to try and get it published. I went to the headmaster at the school where my older daughters attended at the time and he introduced me to Thornton who was already published several times. We hit it off immediately. He loved what I wrote and asked me if he could write ten original songs for the first book. It was amazing and the songs are beautiful. I was so excited. My daughters recorded the songs and the cd is for sale on Amazon. I then asked the art teacher at the same school if she would be interested in doing a few drawings and it all came together like magic. The book won the Gold Maxy Literary Award three months after it was published in 2017.
What has made your team so successful in collaborating? Have there been any challenges?
I really like working with a team especially when everyone works easily together like the three of us have. Because I also ghostwrite I have to work with others quit a bit so this has been good training. The key to the success of a team working together is being able to be honest and apply constructive criticism that helps make each project the best it can be. It’s also important that everyone involved have the same frame of mind or similar ideas or if they have different ones, everyone being open to them. More people can mean more creativity that can take a project in a whole new direction that can be more successful. It also means the workload can be shared. I like a team also because if one of us gets stuck we can bounce things off of each other. Thornton and I do this with one another even when we are working on a solo project or with someone else. The difficulties we have had to over come have been busy schedules and having to wait for something to be finished in the process of putting a book together. There are many moving parts.
What can you share about your upcoming works?
Yes I do have another in the works and it will include children with challenges. I actually have a couple of books written but they are waiting illustrations and I have not decided if they will be in the Poohlicious series or in another one. Thornton and I have our next book coming out this coming October and it is a middle grade reader called Cheers from Heaven, (Tuscany Bay Books). So I am very excited about it! We are hoping it will be turned into a film or movie for television. We are in the beginning stages as well with an eight-book series that will be stories teaching social and life skills, with mindfulness and how to process emotions included.
Outside of writing, you also help run the Writers Corner Live Show. What can you tell us about that?
In 2017 a friend of mine and I wanted to start a show and I said let’s do a show that is a platform for authors and all about the writing world. So we created the Writers Corner Live Show. We will celebrate our third year this month and have interviewed authors from all over the world. From debut to New York Times best sellers, International and National best sellers, to multi award winning authors. It has been an amazing journey and we have met some fascinating authors, publishers, and illustrators. Our show airs Tuesdays 10:30-11:00 am central time on Amazon Live, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. All of our past interviews are on the Facebook page for Writers Corner Live TV Show.
If that weren’t enough to keep you busy, let’s hear about your other project, Special Needs TV!
Special Needs TV started the same way. It is very close to my heart. I have two children on the spectrum and being an advocate I felt like it was very important to have a show that provides resources, interviews, and information for families because it is a very difficult and challenging world to be in. So I hope this show can bring some value for others.
Finally, you’re also an ambassador for AutismTn, what can you share about it?
AutismTn is a nonprofit organization in Nashville, Tn that provides families with resources, classes, and information to help them with a family member that is on the spectrum. I became an ambassador several years ago and we help out in our communities to share information, put together workshops and events ect. I have teamed up with our local library and helped create a resource area for families in the library as well as get it more sensory friendly and last week we just cut the ribbon on a beautiful sensory room for children with needs to come to so that all children will feel welcome and safe in the library. We have some really wonderful local organizations here.
Where were you born and how has that impacted your writing?
I was born in Orlando, Florida and my first job I danced at Disney World in the Electric Light Parade. We could see the fireworks from where we lived each night. I love the beach and sunshine anytime. I worked at several different tourist attractions in shows and did some film and TV before my husband and I moved away. I think growing up riding horses, being in nature a lot, theater, and film with working at Disney has influenced my writing so much. When I was a child we were outside more using our imagination all of the time and we were not in front of a screen. I love the wonder of life and the way a child sees life so I would say all of my experiences in life and having a child so late in life have brought all of what I do and write together magically.
How and when did you start writing?
I loved reading as a child and escaping to somewhere else so I started writing poetry very young. Being in nature always inspires me to write and I wanted to be published as an adult but I had no idea it would be children’s books. My son definitely inspired the first book. It was a hard birth and recovery for both my son and I and out of the recovery and in a place of incredible gratitude for being alive is where the first book was born. Writing has always been an outlet for me and a way for me to process anything I was ever going through. Sometimes its easier to say what you need to say on paper and “paper never judges.”
Who are your favorite authors that you must recommend to readers everywhere?
I am in love with the writing of Natalie Reeves Billings right now and Terry Shepherd. They both wrote great empowering children’s books through the pandemic.
Finally, Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?
Thank you for this opportunity to share my story and journey. Most of us have no idea where our lives will go or what will be in store for us. We are not aware of the trials and tribulations that we will over come but we can and if you want to do something, if your heart is pulling you in some direction then do it. You are never too old. On this writing journey I have taken risk and chances I never imagined I would and I am so grateful I did. Believe in yourself and teach this to your child or little person in your life. You may be the one person that helps them feel empowered. Please join me to help empower children and along the way we pick up some empowerment too.