By Isabella Scipioni | Journalism Student
Freedom High School | Bethlehem, PA
Lehigh Valley native Erika Liodice has been writing professionally since 2011 and has written and published three books, Empty Arms: A Novel, High Flyers: Rookie of the Year, and High Flyers: Pigeon Poacher Strikes Again. She has also contributed to Author in Progress (Writer’s Digest, 2016), a guide for aspiring writers with excerpts and tips from published authors. Although she is still early in her professional career, Liodice has been writing for as long as she can remember.
“I crayoned my first novella when I was five or six years old; it was called The Boy and Girl Got Married. Writing has been my passion ever since,” said Liodice via an email interview.
Liodice’s first novel Empty Arms tells the story of a teenage mother searching for her daughter years after giving her up. In addition to kicking off her career as a professional writer, Empty Arms introduced Liodice to the business of self-publishing, and she started her own company, Dreamspire Press. She appreciates how independent publishing gives her more creative control over her projects, but also many more responsibilities. In addition to writing her novels, Liodice works to make sure her writing is error-free, has appealing cover art and illustrations, and is properly laid out in print and digital copies.
“It’s an exciting time for writers who have an entrepreneurial spirit, like me. No longer do a handful of publishing houses hold the keys to the kingdom. Self-publishing tools have democratized the industry, making it possible for writers to reach readers directly. Since my background is in marketing, advertising, and sales, becoming an ‘indie author’ seemed not only like a logical choice but an exciting one,” said Liodice.
After publishing her first novel, Liodice unexpectedly broke into the new venture of writing children’s books after being inspired by a quirky sport.
“I decided to try my hand at children’s literature a few years ago when I had an idea for an illustrated chapter book series about a team of racing pigeons. The idea wouldn’t let me go, so my husband encouraged me to write a first draft. That draft helped me realize just how much energy and enthusiasm I had for the project. Since I hadn’t written for children before, I knew I had a lot to learn. I decided to hire writing coaches and take classes to learn the ins and outs of writing for children,” said Liodice.
Pigeon racing is a sport that’s origins trace back over 200 years. Homing pigeons, which can fly at speeds up to 65 miles per hour, are trained to race to their home location. After driving with her husband past a truck with a sign reading “Contains Live Racing Pigeons,” Liodice couldn’t stop thinking about an idea for a new project. Soon after, she started writing the tales of the High Flyers, a series of children’s books following a team of racing pigeons competing to be the fastest in their league. Liodice has published two books in the series and is currently working on a third, but she’s done more than just write about racing pigeons.
“I also adopted a team of racing pigeons who travel with me to schools, libraries, and youth organizations to teach kids about the sport and allow them to see a real, live pigeon race,” said Liodice.
Liodice travels with her quick-flying team to promote the High Flyers and teach young readers about pigeon racing. Along with teaching readers about the sport, her audience gets to view an actual pigeon race. Liodice holds many responsibilities in her roles as a publisher and a pigeon-racer, but she is first and foremost a writer and advises other young writers to put aside their fears and get creative.
“Focus on the writing first and save ‘the worries’ for another day. There will be plenty of time to figure out how you’re going to get your book into readers’ hands. Don’t let the noise distract you from telling the best story possible,” said Liodice.
Isabella Scipioni is a senior at Freedom High School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where she is studying Journalism.