Erika Liodice Tells Us How A Story Became Her Novel And Where She Finds The Writer-Support She Needs

If you’re an aspiring or published author of women’s fiction – or any fiction – hanging out on Facebook or Twitter, I bet you know our guest today.  Erika Liodice is knowledgeable and generous and personable — and she started her own company, Dreamspire Press, to first publish her own work and then to publish the work of others.  I feel strongly about focusing on traditionally published women’s fiction here on WFW, but Erika’s story is one that’s both relatable and admirable, even if you have found, or seek, a different path to publication.  

Please welcome Erika to Women’s Fiction Writers!

Erika Liodice Tells Us How A Story Became Her Novel And Where She Finds The Writer-Support She Needs

ASN: Your novel, Empty Arms, is about a woman who was forced to give up her baby for adoption when she was a teenager.  How did you get the idea?

EL: The idea for Empty Arms was inspired by a story that my Nana told me over dinner four years ago. She had discovered that her friend’s daughter had given birth to a baby girl when she was just sixteen years old. In order to protect her family’s reputation, she was sent to live at a maternity home until she delivered the baby. Once the baby was born, she was forced to place her for adoption and forbidden to see her ever again. Everyone told her that she would forget about the baby and eventually get married and have more children. But she never forgot her daughter. And it wasn’t until years later that she learned that she was infertile and couldn’t have any more children.

The cruel irony of this story stayed with me for quite some time. Curious about maternity homes and the heartless concept of “forced” adoptions, I started doing some research. I was shocked to learn that my Nana’s friend wasn’t alone. In fact, between the 1940s-1970s, four million women in the U.S. went through similar experiences. I was horrified as I read countless stories of girls who were banished from their communities, physically and mentally abused by their caretakers, and bullied by social workers in order to convince them to give up their babies. The more I learned, the more my interest (and outrage) grew, and eventually the idea for Empty Arms was born.

ASN: As we learn along the way, publishing a book is different from writing a book.  So now that we know how your book got published, how did you write it?  Did you outline? Fly by the seat of your pants?  Did you have a critique partner or writing group?

EL: With my first novel (which remains unpublished), I was a quintessential “panster”, writing as the words and inspiration came to me. And while it was great to dive right into the writing, it resulted in a tremendous amount of rewriting on the back end. Not to mention, that book never saw the light of day.

When I started working on Empty Arms, I wanted to be more efficient with my limited time, so I began with an outline. Having this road map was invaluable. Every time I sat down to write I knew where I was going and what I needed to accomplish. It really helped me maximize the two hour writing sessions I was able to sneak in before heading off to work each morning.

I don’t currently have a critique partner or a writing group, though I’ve tried (and failed) to find both. I hope to one day find that special group or person that I “click” with, but until then I’ll continue to rely on the camaraderie and resources that I find over at the online writing community, Writer Unboxed.

ASN: What’s next for Erika Liodice?

Lots of things! I recently started researching my next novel, which I’m really excited about. Like Empty Arms, it will be a work of “social impact fiction”…but that’s all I can say for now. It’s funny, this book is being born backwards; that is, I already know the title and I can see the book cover in my mind…now I just need to figure out the story!

In addition to that, I’ll continue writing my motivational blog, Beyond the Gray, where I share my journey to publication and encourage readers to reach for their own dreams. This has been my passion project for the last three years because I’ve found that there are so many smart, capable people who are unhappy and unfulfilled by their jobs but are too afraid to go after what they really want. I can relate to those people because I’ve been one of them. My goal is to help those people identify, acknowledge, and nurture their dreams so they can move beyond the gray into an inspired life. A life that is bursting with color.

And last not but not least, I’ll be working on growing Dreamspire Press and hopefully adding some new authors and titles in the near future. All in all, it’s shaping up to be an exciting year!

ASN: How would you define women’s fiction?

EL: Women’s Fiction is…for women by women about topics that stir our souls in a way that other fiction can’t.

ASN: What is your best advice for aspiring authors of women’s fiction?

EL: Never stop growing. I make it a point to attend writing classes, webinars, and conferences and to read a slew of craft books every year to ensure that I keep learning and refining my skills. Unlike other jobs, we writers don’t have bosses forcing us to attend professional development seminars, so the motivation to become a better writer must come from within. Hold yourself accountable to attend at least one writing event each year. You’ll be surprised at how much valuable information you come away with.

A message from Erika:

I’m donating 10% of Empty Arms‘ proceeds to Save the Children, because at the heart of every adoption story is a child. Sadly, there are millions of children around the world who don’t have a family to love them, clothes to keep them warm, food to nourish their growing bodies, a safe place to sleep, medicine to keep them healthy, or a decent education so they can thrive in this world. I’m proud to be supporting this fine charity through the sales of my novel. Together we can help save the children.

Erika Liodice is an award-winning blogger and author of the novel, Empty Arms (Dreamspire). She is the founder of the inspirational blog, Beyond the Gray, where she shares her journey to publication while encouraging readers to reach for their own dreams. She is a contributor to Writer Unboxed, The Savvy Explorer, and Lehigh Valley InSite. You can visit her at or follow her on Twitter: @erikaliodice.

Dreamspire Press is a Pennsylvania-based independent press dedicated to publishing fiction and creative nonfiction by emerging authors.


Why I Want My Women’s Fiction Published By A Traditional Publisher

Some people work out in a gym.  Some people work out at home. Some folks want to power walk with headphones.  Some want to sweat to the oldies.  Some want the support of a workout buddy or personal trainer. Some want fancy machines and some just want a mat in front of the TV and Jane Fonda leg warmers and a headband (who me?). If you do either of them right, one method  isn’t better than the other in terms of quality of the workout.

To me, the where-to-workout conundrum is a little like self-publishing vs. traditional publishing.  There isn’t right or wrong. Just like there are diehard gym rats and at-home fitness aficionados, there are writers with their dukes up on both sides of the publishing fence.

My thought, as a gym-goer and someone who wants to be traditionally published, is to do what is right for you that will actually get you the results you want.

For me and my novel — being traditionally published is what will work. Traditional publishers distribute books to the places my readers get books. So, that’s where I want to be — in bookstores, big box stores, online and in libraries. That broad umbrella of women’s fiction Jael McHenry wrote so eloquently of means I’ll need wide distribution to reach a diverse group of consumers.

Another reason I’m opting for traditional publishing? It’s a group effort. Writing is a wonderful yet solitary profession, and with a traditional publisher you benefit from the input of trained professionals when it comes to editorial input, copyediting, marketing, cover design, and sales. Publishers create ARCS and send them out for review, books are eligible for review in the trade publications, and for awards.

All of a sudden (after years of writing and editing) there will be a team behind my book. (note the optimism?)

I’ve been internet-admonished for saying self-publishing isn’t for me.  I’ve even felt picked on for coveting inclusion in the publishing machine. I’ve been asked why I feel I need the validation of an agent or publisher to think my book is good enough for a mass readership.

I’ll tell you why.  Because very often — these people actually know.  And there is no shame in wanting acknowledgement within an established industry. There’s no harm in looking for recognition from stalwart professionals. Don’t self-published authors want the recognition of their peers? Readers? Reviewers?  Same difference. (I love that silly saying.) But in my case – for my writing – for this book – for me – it’s this way or the highway or, in writerly terms, it’s this way or it’s going under the mattress.

I admire writers who self-publish with excellence and enthusiasm.  I have the same drive, the same dreams, the same raison d’être.

I just want to get there in the way that works for me.

Do you think self-publishing is a good option for women’s fiction? How do YOU want your book published? Classy dissension is welcome. Nastiness is not.