Author Spotlight: Curvy Goddess Leila Lacey

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Over at Writestream Publishing, we just posted a feature article with the beautiful, talented #CurvyGoddess Leila Lacey about her books, career, and future plans. Visit Writestream Publishing to read the whole thing, but here’s an excerpt:

Why did you create the Curvy Goddess series?

Originally I didn’t intend for there to be a Goddess Series. The first book in the series is The Vixen. I have always wanted to read books with women that I could relate to, women who are smart, strong, successful, plus size, and loyal. To me that is the average everyday woman that isn’t getting a voice in romance. As I wrote the book and finished I realized these women (the core Goddesses are Vixen, Nya, Camille, Phoenix and Jackie) all had such a strong voice and distinctive personalities it would be cheating the readers not to give them all a book. So the Curvy Goddess Series was born

How have your own experiences shaped your plots?

I try and keep two main things in any plot that I come up with: laughter and a little bit of what myself or another woman may be going through on a day to day basis. While I want to entertain my readers, I want them to feel a sense of sisterhood with other women in the world, which I hope with translate to a movement of women having more respect for themselves and therefore other women.

Are your distinctive Curvy Goddess characters based on real people?

Yes, each woman is loosely based on women that I have known, for a great many years. Now while I know a lot of women, I chose these women because of the level of respect that I have for them faults and all. I guess the books are my tribute to the “type” of women these ladies are.

And if you would like to chat with the #CurvyGoddess, I invite you to join us on Twitter tomorrow night at 8 p.m. Eastern when Leila will also give away four of these beautiful shirts to randomly drawn participant winners. You must chat with us for the full hour to qualify.

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LeilaLaceyTShirt

See all of you Curvy Goddesses on Twitter tomorrow night — get ready to #BowDownToTheCurves!

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Writestream Publishing Talks with John Ricciutti

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While I’ve been visiting and working in PA, Lisa Tarves and I sat down for an interview at Radnor Studio 21 to talk ghostwriting, editing, independent publishing, Writestream Publishing and Writestream Radio Network with host John Ricciutti.

Click below to watch our interview with this gracious host.

Do you have a story to tell? Contact us at Writestream Publishing today!

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Support Writestream Radio

The Writestream Radio Network was founded in March of 2013 for the purpose of offering exposure to knowledgeable guests, and providing diverse programming and useful information for our listeners. Although Blog Talk Radio charges us $400 per year for the premium membership, we’ve never charged our guests a dime for appearing on any of our programs, and each of our hosts spends several hours per week on promotion of their guests, which includes booking appearances, creating the Blog Talk Radio episodes, and broadcasting across various social media platforms. Lisa Tarves and I put a great deal of time and energy into our individual shows Just Believe and Writestream Tuesday, and our mutual show Love Liberty & Lip Gloss — in addition to managing the Writestream and Love Liberty & Lip Gloss social media accounts. And this doesn’t include the effort we put into our individual businesses’ social media accounts.

WritestreamLogo-800x533We’re happy to do it, because Writestream benefits our guests, listeners, hosts, and individual businesses. All of this comes at a cost, however. It’s not just our time, but our resources. And for me personally, the time I devote to existing clients – whether I’m setting up a Word Press site, writing their book, or training them on social media – must be balanced with the effort to keep the client funnel full. That effort would be much easier with a marketing budget to enable me to do things like promote Facebook pages and sponsor tweets.

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So I decided to set up a Go Fund Me campaign, which you can read about in detail here. Any amount you can donate is greatly appreciated and will be applied toward our business goals. Thanks in advance!

And a big thank you to those who have already donated. I’ve reached out via personal email so I won’t mention names here but I genuinely appreciate the generosity of these individuals and look forward to making them proud with a tremendous growth year in 2015!

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For more information, visit GoFundMe.com/Writestream.

Wishing all of our listeners and supporters a very blessed Holiday Season!

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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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Writestream Tuesday with author Lilia Fabry and the Right Wing Riot

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I’m excited to welcome yet another talented CLFA author, Lilia Fabry, to Writestream Tuesday on August 26 at 1 p.m. Eastern to discuss her debut novel, Ordinance 93:

Want a Baby? Get permission. Four people are about to break this law.

With the blessing of the 55th President of the United States, the newly formed Office of Familial Equality

Author Lilia Fabry.

Author Lilia Fabry.

promises to end all the nation’s problems including poverty and illness with the Family Protection Act. The only catch is all pregnancies must be registered and approved.

All eyes turn to the first person to break the law, Justin Winters, an electrician suddenly turned subject of national attention. Joining him in the escape are the women known only as Spring, Summer, and Fall as they work together to run from the bureaucracy and national spotlight that pursues them.

Once the secretary of the OFE learns Winters has tested positive for causing multiple unregistered pregnancies, he comes after him full force, as the future of the Act rests upon if and how Winters and the women are brought in. Their successful defiance would lead to more defectors, their capture providing an opportunity to make an example of them all.

With little more than the clothes on their backs, the four set off on a quest for freedom and to keep the identity of the mother a secret. Most of all, they are running from an ordinance in the law which threatens what they hold most dear.

I’m looking forward to delving into the plot and themes of this haunting tale with the highly talented Lilia, who gladly welcomes your questions and comments during the live broadcast at (347) 345-7246.

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In the second hour, stay tuned for some “Public Service Satire” with the Right Wing Riot featuring the Luminaries of Liberty, Scary Smart, Ms. Always Right and the Prince of Whitebread.

To listen live online, click on this link. Or listen by phone at (347) 945-7246. See you Tuesday!

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