Writestream Tuesday welcomes author Leila Lacey on January 27

Romantic fiction author Leila Lacey.

Romantic fiction author Leila Lacey.

Please tune in to Writestream on Tuesday, January 27 at 1 p.m. Eastern when I welcome prolific Michigan-based romance author Leila Lacey to the program. Among others, Leila is the creative mind behind the The Curvy Goddess Series and the The Legacy Series, with a focus on innovative fiction centering on women with curves:

Love comes in many shapes and sizes. Rising Michigan Author Leila Lacey writes from the heart about the trials and tribulations of love and romance from a curvy woman’s perspective. With over 12 popular books on Amazon to date, she’s steadily claiming her space as a new romantic fiction author to keep an eye on.
Bow down to the curves. That’s the philosophy that’s motivated romantic fiction author Leila Lacey as she’s wrote over a dozen popular books taking a hot and exciting look at love and adventure from a strong, curvy woman’s viewpoint. The books have been received with enthusiasm, and it’s clear the best is yet to come.

“I think it’s important to present strong, beautiful, curvy women that have amazing female to female relationships,” commented Leila, on what motivates her. “If we don’t provide alternative role models for people, they could fall into the trap of not loving who is looking them back in the mirror. Romantic fiction should entertain, but it should also help build confidence and a great self-image. I’m trying to cover all these things and more in my books.”

According to the author, Lacey had a quite unexpected entry into writing. Although always interested in being a writer she never explored her skills fully until being convinced to join a writing contest. Within 30 days she had finished her first novel, won the contest, and never looked back. An example of a woman with confidence proving to herself, and the world, what can be accomplished when dreams are pursued actively.
Some of her most popular books include: Phoenix Rising; A Very Curvy Christmas; Dr. Black’s Patient; Love’s Legacy; Shelby’s Awakening; and many, many more.

Readers have responded to her work with enthusiasm.

A.C., recently said about Phoenix Rising in a five star Amazon review, “Wow this book was an emotional roll coaster, but I loved each every twist and turn. I don’t wait to give too much away because people haven’t read it yet. Phoenix is a sexy plus size women who is smart, strong, and loving. I can’t wait to read more about these guys. I give this book five stars and a must read! Keep up the wonderful work Leila!”

Leila is available for interviews and media appearances.

During the live show, we welcome your calls at (347) 945-7246 and your participation in the live chat room. To listen online, click on this link to Writestream Tuesday with Leila Lacey at 1 p.m. Eastern on January 27. Or to listen by phone, dial (347) 945-7246. If you want to speak to Leila on the air, be sure to press “1” to be placed in the queue.

Visit Leila Lacey Romance.com for more information about the author and her books. You can also follow her on twitter @LeilaLacey1 and like her Facebook Page, Leila Lacey Books. Looking forward to chatting with this incredibly talented and creative romance author on January 27!

 

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The Art of Giving Constructive Criticism

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toastmastersOne of the many reasons I joined a local Toastmaster’s chapter is to develop the ability to offer constructive criticism. While becoming competent in oral communication is a fundamental goal of membership in the organization, so is learning to become a better listener. Cultivating this valuable skill  makes it possible to offer thoughtful feedback on someone’s speech, but it requires genuine interest and focused concentration. At our last meeting, I took on the task of speech evaluator for the very first time as part of my effort to ease into the act of making my first speech (called an “Ice Breaker”) by starting with smaller roles first.

To say I was nervous about standing up in front of the room and making an oral critique would be a monumental understatement. There is definitely an art to providing meaningful, useful criticism designed to help a speaker acknowledge both their strengths and weaknesses in order to become an even better communicator. While I realize I have a very long way to go in this area, I appreciated the positive reviews I received from others in attendance, including the speech giver.

While Toastmasters focuses on the development of competent communication and leadership qualities for individual members, the same principles hold true for the written word. As an author and book reviewer, I understand this well.

Writer's BlockFirst, to take on the author part: I fully understand that as much as I strive to develop themes through my plots and character development in any given novel, not every reader is going to “get” them. We all process entertainment in the form of the written word (and on film and other mediums) though the prism of our own unique experiences, after all. When I sat down to write Water Signs, I never set out to produce a tawdry romance novel, but instead a coming of age story in which sex and attitudes about sex play an integral role. My main character struggles to balance her morality while living in a society that has all but abandoned the “old-fashioned” values with which she was raised. At the same time, she’s human. She experiences the normal desires that go along with being a young woman (and as the story progresses, an older and wiser one). Hence, her inner turmoil often manifests in self-defeating and even frightening ways (e.g. anxiety disorder). Having a much more worldly boyfriend complicates her own personal growth journey and relationship with main character, Ken — not to mention other guys she dates along the way.

However, I never intended the book to be perceived as yet another cheap, formulaic romance where meaningless dialogue and a canned plot provide filler in between raunchy, explicit love scenes. Up until now, no one (at least no one that I am aware of) has viewed it that way. Most readers (those who have contacted me personally and/or posted reviews) have perceived Water Signs as a contemporary romance with plenty to say about the modern dating scene and other realities of current times.

Let me clarify: I am seeking thoughtful criticism; I’m not expecting the whole world to fawn over my book, fall in love with its two main characters, or give me nothing but 5-star reviews. That’s completely unrealistic, not to mention a hindrance to my own growth and improvement as a writer. I do, however, appreciate it when someone takes the time to point out the good (even if it’s simply an acknowledgment of better-than-average writing skills, use of literary technique, or story pacing) while (as I am learning to do at Toastmasters) identifying areas that need improvement.

Which brings me back to my dilemma.

Are some reviewers just more thoughtful than others? Or is it all a matter of perception based on their own personal experience (and not so much what the author was attempting to say through plot and characters)? Perhaps it’s a combination of both? Can a reader who does not fit the parameters of your target audience even offer a balanced review to begin with?

WaterSigns2.jpgAll are important considerations.

Nevertheless, we as authors simply cannot control readers’ perceptions of our work — nor should we even seek to do so. While I am incredibly disappointed in the characterization of my book as a “bodice ripper,” perhaps it will attract a whole new audience. Who knows? Guess I’ll just have to wait and see, although my guess is that readers of Harlequin romances will most likely dismiss Maddy and her entire family as hopelessly out of touch and prudish.

Unlike speeches, books are much more subjective – unless of course, they are truly unreadable due to things like poor grammar and lack of a coherent plot – for which perhaps a 1-star review is appropriate. For the record, no one has accused Water Signs of either of these, although privately someone told me they hated my characters — to the point of wanting to take an ax to them. That was definitely a first.

Given that most others have had a completely opposite take, this is very perplexing. Whether you hate it, love it, or fall somewhere in between, referring to Water Signs as a bodice ripper completely misses the point. Which circles back to every author’s conundrum: we cannot control how others perceive our work because – as with many experiences in life – readers bring along their own preconceived ideas. In the case of my novel, maybe it’s about time a reader presented a different take on the story – whether I agree with it or not.

When I write a book review, I make an effort to specify the positive aspects, e.g. a hard-hitting scene, a particularly compelling bit of dialogue, or the writer’s remarkable talent for drawing the reader into the story through the use of descriptive prose — whatever elements I can honestly rave about. If there are things I don’t like, or believe could use some improvement, I point them out in a constructive way. At least, these are my goals when I sit down to write a critique. Am I perfect at it? Not at all. That’s where Toastmasters comes in, along with the practice of reading and reviewing books regularly. Learn and improve by doing.

As I move forward in my own professional development with Toastmasters, I hope I’ll not only become better at critiquing (and giving) speeches, but also reading and reviewing books.

As for my next meeting role, I’ll be the evening’s “Ah, Um Counter,” which means I’ll definitely be listening closely to all speakers. And as my involvement in the organization progresses, I hope to eliminate my own bad “Ah,” “Um,” and “You know” habits.

Stay tuned….and keep on writing!

 

 

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Great Reads, Great $2.99 Kindle Deals for Labor Day Weekend

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Love your freedom, a good read and a great deal? This Labor Day weekend the authors of the CLFA want to facilitate your reading enjoyment while keeping your wallet full and happy with special $2.99 Kindle deals. With a variety of genres from sci-fi to contemporary romance to dystopia, there is something for everyone. Support talented artists who tell compelling stories and love the USA!

Visit Nocturnal Lives for a complete run-down on all participating books. And don’t forget to like the CLFA on Facebook.

P.S. Water Signs is on the list. 😉

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Latest Reviews of Water Signs

My first novel is now on sale for $2.99 in Kindle format while I dedicate myself to completing the sequel this year. In the meantime, I am thrilled to have recently received the following reviews:

Water Signs is one of those rare books that makes you feel like you want to meet the characters in person. Yes, they are that real. It is beautifully written with passion for our country and romance. It is one of those books that is just like a good movie, where you hate to see it end. Speaking of more…please Daria, write the sequel as we are left sitting on the edge our seats wanting more. Madeline Rose and her charming husband Kenny will enrich your lives with their love for each other. Yes, a perfect romance does exist.

WaterSigns

I fell in love with Rose from the very beginning and couldn’t wait to know more and more about her story. I am rooting for her and hope the author will consider writing a sequel. I would like to be informed if she does. Her writing style kept me engaged and intrigued. I appreciate an author like DiGiovanni who has a keen knowledge of English language and who writes as if you were right there with the main character. Kudos to you!

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Water Signs on Kindle for $2.99

WaterSigns2.jpgBetter late than never, my 2008 novel Water Signs is now available on Kindle for $2.99. It’s been an interesting journey, navigating through this brave new media marketing world over the past six years. Although I haven’t actively promoted the book in a very long time, I recently realized that 1.) My network of contacts, friends and clients has dramatically increased thanks to platforms like Facebook and Twitter, providing a large new base of potential readers, and 2.) Now that I’ve completed two ghostwritten books and have a handle on social media projects for clients, I can make the time to (finally) finish Sea To Shining Sea.

One of the many benefits of being an independently published author is that you can never really penetrate your market; therefore, there are endless opportunities to reach new readers. And what better way to pave the way to sequel success than to have my audience fall in love with (or in many cases, all over again) Water Signs just before the sequel’s release?

If you would like to download Water Signs to your Kindle for $2.99, click here. For insights into the book’s various themes, literary techniques and characters, click here.

Thank you to everyone who supports my writing — I appreciate you! :)

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