Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Mystery of Women’s Fiction

with guest Orly Konig.

Ask five people for their definition of “Women’s Fiction,” and you’ll get varying definitions from each one. As one of the founding members of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, I’ve been through countless attempts at nailing down a definition that’s broad enough to encompass all of the subtleties of the genre without being so broad that it loses its impact. Each exercise leads us a step closer until someone raises a “but what about …” question and then we’re right back where we started. 

To me, that very head-scratching aspect of the genre is what makes it so special. Women’s fiction can be literary or commercial; it can be historical or contemporary; it can be mainstream or inspirational; it can have elements of magical realism, mystery, romance, thriller; they can be light reads or heart-wrenching dramas; but at its core, all women’s fiction is about relationships – whether between a couple, family, friends, or co-workers – and the emotional journey of the main character.

Women’s fiction is issue driven. The books address topics people deal with in their everyday lives – family dysfunction, divorce, infidelity, parenting, mid-life crisis, identity crisis, career changes, illness, mental illness, suicide, death, abandonment, to name just a few. The stories touch readers, make them feel and think, hope and dream. They’ll see parts of themselves in the characters and, hopefully, walk away feeling transformed in some way.

Women’s Fiction as a Label

There’s been an ongoing debate within the writing and publishing community about using the term “women’s fiction.” Why label “women’s” fiction when there isn’t such a thing as “men’s” fiction? If you go to a brick-and-mortar bookstore, you won’t find a section for women’s fiction. Those books are shelved within the general fiction stacks. If you shop online, you will find a women’s fiction category, although I’m always slightly amused by the books categorized under that label as well as those that don’t show up.

So why do we even need the label? As writers, we need it to know who we’re writing for and how to market our books.

I know, I know … you want to write what the muse tells you to write. Absolutely. Except that you probably also want to sell what you write. Luckily these days, there are more options for publishing and finding readers. That means books that mix-and-match-and-morph multiple genres have a platform. But for those writers who are still looking to go down the traditional path, agents and publishers will generally look for a book that fits within set genre boundaries.

When you query an agent, they’re looking at where you see your story fitting in the crowded marketplace. Those genre labels then help the agents identify the right editor to submit your work to. And those editors who buy your manuscript will be able to more effectively market your book.

Even if you’re self-publishing, you need to know how to market your book. The genre will largely dictate your cover options, the language you choose for your back-cover copy, and the places you target to reach your desired audience.

That’s not to say that genre-straddling books don’t sell. I know many authors who’ve written brilliant novels that don’t cleanly fit under one label. But there’s almost always one label that they fit under a bit more than the others.

As a writer, I don’t hesitate to tell other writers or agents or anyone in the industry that I write women’s fiction. My books address the real-life challenges all of us deal with. They mostly appeal to women, and I’m good with that. It helps me focus my stories and narrows down my target market.

The kicker is when I talk to readers. Most give me a funny look and ask what I mean – “like romance?” is their usual follow up question. For that audience, I usually add that my books are “family and friendship dramas, books about issues we deal with in everyday life.” 

Women’s Fiction as a Writing Home

When I first started writing, I struggled finding the right resources to help expand my craft. I joined several writer’s groups and associations and while each one had something helpful, none addressed how to get to the core of the conflict that my characters were dealing with. 

It wasn’t until I met a group of women’s fiction writers that I finally realized what had been missing for me – a tribe of writers who understand what I’m writing and who are facing the same challenges. 

In 2013, a handful of women’s fiction writers came together with the belief that every writer needs a tribe and every genre needs a champion. That’s the foundation that we built the Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) on. It’s what keeps us questioning whether we have the clearest definition for the genre and how we can best support the writers and the books that fall under that umbrella. 

I learned a lot about the structure of a story, about story arcs, author platforms, pitching and querying, in the other groups I belonged to. But it wasn’t until I started interacting with women’s fiction authors and taking workshops with presenters who understand the nuances of this genre, that I was able to fully grasp how to mine the emotional depth of the characters and tug at the emotional heartstrings of the reader.

Four years after it was launched, WFWA is 1,000 members strong and offers resources that are uniquely tailored to this genre. It’s a fabulous community of writers who understand and appreciate the crazy ups and downs that accompany writing, rewriting, rewriting again; the querying and submission phases; and the glory and heartbreak of reviews. It’s a safe place to discuss those writerly mood swings that baffle our families and friends.

I credit the WFWA community for getting me from fledgling writer to published author. Through the process of launching the association, I learned that I can push myself out of my comfort zone and survive. Not just survive, but thrive. And through daily interaction with members, I learned that with perseverance anything is possible.

Are we any closer to a solid definition for women’s fiction? Probably not. A few months ago, I was at a conference and participated on a panel about women’s fiction. The introduction defined it as books for women. The following discussion showed how much more complex the genre actually is.

But I think the one thing all of us on that panel and within WFWA and any other women’s fiction author can agree on, is that our books are written for people like us.

I enjoy books in many different genres, but I admit to mostly reading women’s fiction. As an ambassador for the genre, I appreciate being able to de-mystify what the label means and introduce readers to new (or new to them) women’s fiction authors. And I love hearing from readers that a novel helped them get through a difficult stage in their lives. That’s why we write women’s fiction. 

Do you write or read women’s fiction? What drew you to this genre?

About Orly

Orly Konig is an escapee from the corporate world where she spent roughly sixteen (cough) years working in the space industry. Now she spends her days chatting up imaginary friends, drinking entirely too much coffee, and negotiating writing space around two over-fed cats.

She is the founding president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, an active member of the Tall Poppy Writers, and a quarterly contributor to Thinking Through our Fingers blog and Writers In The Storm blog.

Her debut women’s fiction, The Distance Home, released from Forge, May 2, 2017. Carousel Beach will be releasing May 2018.

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Happy Birthday Seekerville!
Day 19 and our 10th Birthday Celebration Rages on. 



Leave a comment today and you can win an ecopy of Orly Konig's debut release The Distance Home or our second giveaway, your choice of writerly mugs. 
Two winners will be posted in the Weekend Edition.



157 comments :

  1. Welcome, Orly! Thanks so much for sharing this post with us. As an avid reader, I tend to lean toward historical or contemporary romance, although I've read a few women's fiction stories that I've thoroughly enjoyed. As a writer, I'd only written in the romance genre---until a story idea came to me while at a cardiologist appointment (of all places, LOL). Now, seven years later I finally decided to write that particular story and it suddenly hit me that it would be considered women's fiction! :) I have to admit I've loved working on this story and these characters (4 women---different age groups) have captured my interest enough so I'll *have* to complete their story. ;)
    Thanks again for your post, and when I read your bio I smiled at the coffee and overfed cats comment---I can relate to both!
    Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

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    1. Hi Patti Jo (although I LOVE "CatMom").
      I'm glad you listened to those characters and started on their story. Sounds like they have a lot to say. :-)
      Coffee cheers and cat hugs!!

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  2. I'm not really sure if I've ever read women's fiction or not and I've read a million books in my lifetime....okay so I don't know EXACTLY how many I've read but you get my point :-)

    I like Kellie Coates Gilbert (Christian writer), whom I would consider writing in this genre but her books do contain romance. For me, the lines blur at Women's fiction because I'm not sure what is or is not considered in this category. I'm sure you get that from a lot of readers Orly...lol! I read Christian fiction only and I mostly stick with historical romance or romantic suspense with a few contemporary thrown in here & there. Maybe that has something to do with my vague knowledge of Women's fiction. I wonder if some of our other readers or writers can give me a few authors I would be more familiar with?

    Even reading your post through several times didn't clarify for me, so I'd love to be educated more about what constitutes Women's fiction :-) Maybe I might discover some new-to-me authors in the Christian fiction market to try!



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    1. Seekerville's own Myra Johnson writes WF. Check out her book. An Imperfect Christmas.

      Ruth Logan Herne is preparing to debut a WF release.

      Lisa Wingate's The Prayer Box.

      Okay, writers, help me out here.

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    2. More..

      Lisa Wingate Dandelion Summer

      Deb Raney has written many.

      Carla Stewart's releases are all WF.

      Kellie Coates Gilbert's Mother of Pearl

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    3. Ok, I've read Lisa Wingate's "The Story Keeper" and have two or three more on my Kindle, as well as three paperbacks by Deb Randy on my shelf. Myra Johnson's book is a definite must-check-out and I've never heard of Carla Stewart. You've brought quite a bit to my attention, Tina!! Thanks for those.

      I do adore Kellie Coates Gilbert's writing, anything by her is a must-read! I'll need to add "Mother of Pearl" :-)

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    4. Autocorrect strikes again, that's suppose to read Deb Raney! OY!

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    5. I don't like to delve into WF that's too issue-driven... that brings me down. Hoity-toity, I do not need the pages of a book to depress my jovial spirit! :) And Trixi, I like some romance with my Women's Fiction, so all three of my Franciscan books have romance... but The First Gift and Refuge of the Heart are Women's Fiction with romance... More Than a Promise is more evenly slated as a romance.

      They kind of measure this stuff by degrees... And I hope you love Welcome to Wishing Bridge when you read it!

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    6. One criteria we use when we define submissions for WFWA is whether the book can be shelved under another category. For example, if the story is held together by the romance, then it would be shelved under "romance" and wouldn't be categorized as WF. If it's shelved as "thriller" then ... you get my point. Women's fiction can be light or serious, historical or contemporary, it can have romance or suspense in it, but the heart of the story is the character's emotional growth. The character will have learned something about him/herself by the end of the book.

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    7. I'd also add Susan Meissner to the list. She's brilliant!

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    8. Thanks for the mention, Tina! I consider Pearl of Great Price women's fiction, too.

      And do check out Carla Stewart's books! She's a dear friend of mine and an excellent writer!

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    9. Trixi, I think you're right, the lines do blur between WF and Romance and some other genres. I think we see elements of mystery and suspense and romance in many books. I suppose this is why, as Orly said, WF has been difficult to define. I've read many of Lisa Wingate's books, several of Deb Raney's and Susan Meissner's, and I do love the fact that the characters overcome and learn rather than spiral down into the morass of their mess!

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    10. ORLY...honestly that sounds like every book I've read, lol! Character growth is so important to me as a reader, lessons learned in a story that can apply to my own life. If there's no character growth, then it would be pretty bland in my mind anyway! But I think I'm starting to understand more what WF is...it's stronger in character driven fiction with the focus on the heroine (if you will) and subtler on the romance, suspense or whatnot. I guess I've not read as much WF as I first thought...lol! Now I have a few more authors to check out and find what constitutes WF through their books. I've not heard of Susan Meissner, so I'm definitely going to look her up. You've definitely opened my eyes a bit more! Thanks for that.

      RUTHY...does that mean I might get a copy of "Welcome to Wishing Bridge"?? I would love that because (without being presumptuous) I had wanted to be on your team. I know you are super busy with the farm with it being pumpkin and fall produce season :-)

      DANA...I would hate a book that ended "spiraling down into the morass of their mess"! How utterly depressing...lol! I would probably throw the book across the room and mutter under my breath on how I would never read another novel by that author. I like happy endings with a lot of character growth, finding their strength as the story unfolds, and becoming better in spite of less than ideal circumstances. I definitely must catch up on some WF novels! :-)

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    11. Adding Cynthia Ruchti to the list!

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    12. Trixi - I posted a link to the WFWA Pinterest boards. You'll see lots of sub genres. As you said, WF is character-driven. There can be a romance but the romance isn't what's driving the story.

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    13. Tina...I have read "Restoring Christmas" by her and enjoyed it tremendously! I think I have three more titles in my shelf as we speak. Guess I know more WF authors than I thought :-)

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  3. Orly, Women's Fiction is tough to define. All I know is I enjoy many stories by Women's Fiction authors. I love the relationship aspect between the characters.

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    1. Hi Terri!
      The relationships are what I love about this genre as well. For me as an author, I love exploring the various relationships -- between friends, family members, and as in the case with The Distance Home, even with animals.

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  4. Orly, congratulations with the debut! Blessings to you!

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  5. I have read women's fiction but it's not my main interest, but I remember a book once, I remember SO LITTLE ABOUT IT, but the end of the book the woman kind of shook off all the troubled relationships she'd been struggling with and just said, "I'm never going to lie again. I'm going to be myself. I'm not going to pretend to be who I think people want me to be. They can like me, or love me, as I am, but what is the point of tricking people into loving me by not being real."

    It was something like that and it struck me as so WISE. And I guess to me that's the heart of women's fiction. A woman struggling and coming to terms with her life and loving herself.

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    1. I am not an Orpah's Book Club Women's Fiction writer or reader.

      I want issues, but I want them conquered. I don't want them to conquer the woman... or her to cower.

      Cowering annoys me.

      I'm clearly an unsympathetic person.

      BUT WE ALL KNEW THAT. ;)

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    2. I love books like that, Mary. The ones that leave a little piece of themselves with you long after you've put it back on the shelf.

      For me, women's fiction is about women taking control of their lives. They face the issues that come at them and deal with them in their own way and they learn to let go of the things that have held them back in some way.

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    3. I have to agree Ruth! No cowering allowed, it annoys me as a reader too! A woman can be meek & mild but still have a strength that comes out when tough times come or facing some kind of obstacle she needs to overcome. There's where that character growth comes in. :-) On the flip side, I don't want my women to be so strong minded that she doesn't bend AT ALL so therefore she doesn't grow much. There needs to be balance, I think. Meekness doesn't equal weakness :-)

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    4. Couldn't agree more!!!! I hate cowering. And I hate female characters who CAN'T learn anything.

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  6. And now let me OFFICIALLY welcome Orly. My big question is..do you have a British accent? Just in case, the answer is yes, I brought blueberry and cinnamon scones to munch on. Tea and coffee of course.

    Thanks so much for being with us!

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    1. Toss me a blueberry scone please!

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    2. Thank you so much for having me, Tina!! It's an honor to be here!!

      My stomach just grumbled a loud "yes please." :-)

      So, British accent - I did and now only when I'm tired. It's an endless source of amusement for family and friends.

      And a quick note ... I have to run to the dentist but will be back to answer questions once they're done torturing me.

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  7. Hello Orly!

    I picture WF as a story about a woman. Her struggles whatever they be. If there's romance, it's still not the main focus. It's her life and how she deals w/it.

    And toss my name in for the Killing It writer's cup. Cute!

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    1. I agree, Connie, those mugs are adorable!
      Thanks for reading,

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  8. As a reader I just find women’s fiction so relateable.

    The mugs are fun.

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    1. Hi Mary.
      That's why I love reading women's fiction. There are definitely times I don't want to deal with "real life" and that's when I reach for other genres.

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  9. One item I struggle with in creating a WF novel is whether it's "taboo" to include a male POV. Your thoughts?

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    1. Hi Elaine.
      Have you read Barbara Claypole White? She writes from a male POV in many of her books and they're solid women's fiction.

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    2. Excellent suggestion and feedback. Thanks so much, Orly! So good to know.

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  10. I have read several women's fiction novels and enjoyed them. I do prefer a good romance or suspense novel though. I am trying to venture out and try a few different genres though.

    Thank you for the post and I would love to have my name tossed in for the writerly mugs.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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    1. Hi Cindy,
      I pick a couple of books each year that are genres I don't normally read for my reading challenge list. Thanks for reading!

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  11. Welcome to Seekerville, Orly. This is an interesting topic as I've always enjoyed reading Women's fiction. Romance novels are great, but I love to be introduced to other relationships outside of the hero. Thanks for visiting! Please toss my name in for the writerly mugs.

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    1. Me, too, Jill. There's so much more to characters' lives than just the romance.

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    2. Me, three. :-)
      And thanks for the warm welcome!!

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  12. Orly, welcome aboard! And what a timely post when Women's Fiction is on the upswing again....

    And isn't that a women-type thing to have to categorize everything? We're so funny!!!!

    I'm writing a WF series... I love it. But it's got a romance thread, too, because I like my WF with a shot of romance.

    The first book "Welcome to Wishing Bridge" releases in a month... and I hope folks love it. It's fun to explore what makes women "tick", what makes us appear downright crazy to the opposite sex, and why we do what we do.

    Definitions aside, I like exploring topics but I love happy endings, and I don't want my women to be cowed... I want them to be the overcomers I believe they can be.

    Great topic, and great post! Thank you!!!!

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    1. I agree, Ruthy--I enjoy a romance thread in WF. It was a disappointment when RWA ended the Novel With Romantic Elements category. This new one they introduced to replace it allows for broader stories but still requires a central romance.

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    2. I agree that women are overcomers and that's why I enjoy women's fiction so much. I prefer reading about main characters who take charge of their happiness and their future.

      Thanks for the warm welcome.

      And Myra, totally agree. But I do owe them a debt of thanks because that's really what pushed us into creating WFWA. :-)

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    3. My books MUST contain romance...lol!! That's why I probably don't know what WF is exactly, but I'm learning a lot more reading the comments here. It's been rather educational!

      Do you want to know what I honestly thought WF was?? Fluffy chic-lit which I abhore with a passion!!! I will run...not walk...the opposite direction in a real big hurry from that. I don't like fluff, I want substance to my book...definitely a meaty story, something I can sink my teeth into :-)

      Now you know more than you ever wanted to know about me..haha!

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    4. I love the meaty stories as well!!

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  13. Hi Orly, welcome to Seekerville! A few years ago I wrote a romance and pitched it. The agent looked at me and said she thought it was women's fiction. I enjoyed your post today.
    And those mugs are great!
    Congrats on The Distance Home!

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    1. Well yay for women's fiction. :-)
      And thank you!!

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  14. I have long said there should be more books than romance, since I am sure I'm not the only one who has not had a happily ever after in the romance department. I'm in my 60's and never been married.

    I was so glad that Women's Fiction is an option.

    Today will not go as I planned. Seeing as I fell out of bed and woke up as my hip hit the floor. In a lot of pain and waiting for Doctor's office to open. I can walk but the pain takes my breath away. We never know what new adventures life will bring our way.

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    1. I'm so sorry about your fall, Wilani. Praying you get answers and relief from the doctor.

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    2. Oh no, Wilani! Hope you can get quick relief! Take care!

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    3. Oh, Wilani, I hope you're feeling better by now! Take care of yourself. And maybe today should be sitting someplace comfy and reading a great book!!

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    4. Thankfully I didn't break anything. Just badly bruised and sore

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  15. Hi Orly,

    I really enjoyed your post and am glad to know others may scratch their head over what women's fiction really encompasses!

    Good luck with your upcoming book releases!

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    1. Hi Rose!
      I laugh because I always think women's fiction is such an easy genre to identify until you attempt to define the boundaries of what it isn't. That's when the fur begins to fly. :-)
      Thank you for the warm welcome!!

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  16. Hello Orly! I don't think I've read women's fiction. Thank you for the great post!

    Blessings!

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    1. Hi Caryl.
      Chances are, if you read widely, you probably have and just never realized that was the "label" for that book. :-)

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  17. Interesting post, Orly. I was glad to read this as I think the book I'm writing would probably be categorized as women's fiction. I have several POV characters, two of whom are male. It centers around a tornado that destroys a small town and their church in particular and how each deals with issues in their lives as they rebuild from the tornado.

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  18. Hi Orly. I've always been confused by the definition of women's fiction, but I know what it is when I read it. Thank you for a very informative post.

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    1. Hi Cindy!
      We always chuckle over that line - "I know what it is when I read it." Crazy but that's often how we have to define submissions as well.

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  19. Orly, welcome to Seekerville! Thanks for defining women's fiction. I've read and enjoyed the genre. As an author, inspirational romance has my heart. Still you've made me think. That's always a good thing!

    I'm impressed that you and others formed the Women's Fiction Writers Association. I think writers need a supportive professional group so I'm not surprised it's flourishing and helped you reach your goals.

    Janet

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    1. Thanks, Janet!
      I'm sure there are more inspirational women's fiction with romantic elements than you probably imagine. How's that for a genre-stew?! :-)

      Completely agree about having the supportive professional group. WFWA has been such a sanity-saver for me over the years. Well, crazy making at times but I love the WFWA community and the amazing friendships that have developed as a result.

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    2. Orly, I think the great part about Women's Fiction is how versatile it is! Btw, I love stew! :-)

      Janet

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    1. There are days when I wonder if my writing is killing it or its killing me. LOL

      Janet

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  21. Orly, great to see you here! Congratulations on your release. Thanks for the post on women's fiction. I was never really sure what it was. Love the cover of your book.

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  22. Orly, welcome!!! I have been looking forward to your visit ever since Tina announced you were coming! I joined WFWA several months ago but have mostly been a lurker. Women's fiction is where my writer's heart lies, but I've had to fulfill some romance novel contracts in the meantime.

    Not to say I don't love writing romance, but I much prefer digging deeper into the characters' lives--going beyond boy-meets-girl and probing the other issues, backstories, and emotions that make them who they are. Just this week, I've picked up the threads of a WF I began a long time back and am working on finding the story again. It's returning me to my happy place as a writer!

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    1. Myra!!!!!!
      You need to come out of the lurker bushes. Really. It's such an easy going group and wonderfully supportive. We have a lot of members that cross genres. You're in good company. :-)

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    2. btw, have you looked on the WFWA Pinterest page under Inspirational WF? :-)
      https://www.pinterest.com/WF_Writers/inspirational-wf/

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    3. I just checked and MYRA is on that page. What fun!

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    4. Myra...I'm incredibly lacking when it comes to having many of your stories on my shelf (though I do have the Flowers of Eden series & maybe a smattering of LI titles)...I must remedy this!! I didn't realize you wrote more with a WF twist or that is where your heart is. I hope you get to fulfill that dream soon!

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    5. Thanks, Trixi! That's what I'm hoping for!

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  23. Hi, Orly, and thanks for de-mystifying WF for me. At times I thought I was reading WF, but they all had a touch of romance. Now, I will be sure to check out some of the authors mentioned above to see what it is all about.

    Please enter my name for a copy of The Distance Home, then I'll surely know what WF is!

    Blessings,

    Marcia

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    1. Hi Marcia,
      Women's fiction with romantic elements is absolutely a thing. And a big sub genre actually. I responded to Tina below with a link to the WFWA Pinterest boards. You'll see lots of sub genres and titles ... I wouldn't be surprised if you recognize quite a few. :-)

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    2. Thanks for that, Orly! I follow Laura and Maggie, and love their books! Since I write western romance I followed Western WF so I can see how they write it. Interesting.

      Forgot to say, I love WITS, too!!!

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    3. Laura Drake is awesome!!! Did you know she's working on a new one? (speaking of, must get back to critiquing before she comes after me!!)

      YAY for WITS. :-)

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  24. Well, Orly has already added some new names in Women's Fiction for me to read. Thank you.

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    1. I'm always happy to pad someone's TBR pile. :-)
      Especially since mine looks more like a mountain than a pile. Gahh!!!

      For anyone interested in getting a broader sense of titles that fit under the various sub-genres, you can visit the WFWA Pinterest boards -

      https://www.pinterest.com/WF_Writers/boards/

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    2. Well, I had no idea that was there. THANK YOU!!!!

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    3. Awesome Orly, I will head to the Pinterest board! Thanks for sharing this :-)

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    4. See ... I'm full of fun rabbit holes. :-)

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    6. I'm now following the board!! I will have to explore it more in length later, may even find new authors, who knows? :-) I'm good at rabbit trails or holes too Orly...lol! I'm a good tracker!

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  25. BTW, I will say that I am a card carrying member of WFWA. I joined earlier this year and am already getting a lot out of it.

    A long time pal Marilyn Brant is a founding member as well.

    Here are the founding members.

    THE WFWA FOUNDING TEAM:

    Orly Konig www.orlykonig.com

    Kerry Lonsdale www.kerrylonsdale.com

    Laura Drake www.lauradrakebooks.com

    Linda Avellar www.lindaavellar.com

    Marilyn Brant www.marilynbrant.com

    Maggie Marr www.maggiemarr.com

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  26. HI Orly, While I read any genre of fiction that's clean--historical, thriller, romance, suspense, cozy mystery--I love women's fiction.
    As a writer, I've been creating stories for middle grades, which has been a steep learning curve for this new writer. I also have a book 2/3 written that qualifies as women's fiction. What I've realized is that I need to learn much more of the writing craft to author a complex story. I will be searching for information on WFWA on the web later today!
    Please enter my name for a copy of The Distance Home. I'm sure I'll love it!

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    1. Good to see you, Linda. I'm like you, I read widely across genres. Isn't it nice to that the tides have turned and WF is now the HOT genre.

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    2. Turning tides . . . I've been waiting a loooooong time for this!

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    3. Hi Linda!
      There are a lot of great craft workshops out there. I've gotten the most out of Donald Maass's books and workshops to be honest. He's a huge supporter of women's fiction and does regular workshops for us (he was also one of our very first members - yes, I was fan girling!!).

      I love following #MSWL and seeing all the agents who are looking for women's fiction.

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    4. Thank you. I'll be on the lookout for the books and workshops, as well as #MSWL. By the time I feel my WF is ready, the tide may have turned! LOL!

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    5. Women's fiction has been around a long time, it just wasn't necessarily labeled as such. I think you're safe. :-)

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  27. Hey, Orly -- WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE!! And like Marcia said above, "Thanks for de-mystifying WF for me!"

    The line that nailed it to the wall for me most was: "Women’s fiction is issue driven."

    YES. YES. YES!!!

    I am first and foremost a die-hard romance writer, who I will admit, was not enamored with Women's Fiction, primarily because the romance wasn't central to the theme. In fact, I've turned down several great opportunities to endorse Women's Fiction books because I was afraid I wouldn't do them justice because of my insatiable drive for romance.

    And, yes, I really AM that shallow! ;)

    BUT ... I think I turned a corner when I wrote book 1 in my Isle of Hope series, Isle of Hope: Unfailing Love, because it was loosely biographical, based on my dysfunctional relationship with my estranged father. Suddenly I had a book on my hands that felt far more like Women's Fiction than romance, and I didn't know what to do!! 😳

    It seems like Women's Fiction has been on the back burner for so many years now, that I am thrilled to see it has forged to the foreground once again, successfully swinging on that pendulum of popularity.

    You asked: "Do you write or read women’s fiction? What drew you to this genre?"

    No, not really, because I am more of a character-driven author than issue-driven, focusing far more on the emotions and romance than the issues. But I do see the benefit in it, and I have read some pretty outstanding Women's Fiction before (Cathy Gohlke, Lisa Wingate, etc.), so more power to it!

    Congratulations on a wonderful post and your success with WFWA -- may your numbers soar to the sky!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. Hi Julie,
      So let me correct myself a bit before I have the die-hard women's fiction group at my door ... women's fiction is character-driven. But the stories deal more with issues than romance (for example). The driving force behind any women's fiction is the character's growth arc.

      And thank you. <3

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  28. Orly, it's so great to a '17 Scribes friend here. :) Your extended definition of women's fiction helped me understand my genre much better. Previously I identified my genre by process of elimination (more or less). My book wasn't a romance (although it has a romantic thread). It wasn't mystery/thriller (although it has an element of that as well). It wasn't a lot of things...but women's fiction seemed to fit my story best. As to what drew me to this genre, I'll blame my Italian grandparents who felt emotion very deeply and passed that trait to me. I like to experience deep emotional connections with books I read, so that's what I attempt to write. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise today!

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    1. YOU'RE ITALIAN? Karen! Seriously? We must talk over biscotti and espresso, dear.

      My Italian family throws things and then doesn't talk. ha!

      What is '17 Scribes????? Nosy people want to know.

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    2. Karen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Tina - '17Scribes is a group of debut authors. We share experiences, poke at questions we were too afraid to ask the outside world :-) , combine resources for events and marketing, etc. It's a mix of genres for adult and new adult (no YA or kid lit), but all with debuts releasing in 2017. It's a fabulous group!

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  29. Orly, I enjoyed your post. I cut my writing teeth on women's fiction. My first two stories were WF. I tried my hand at romance for my third book, and I'm back to WF for my fourth story, which I am currently developing. I appreciate how you described what defines women's fiction stories.

    Your cover is gorgeous. I'm so glad you are here today!

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    1. I was waiting for you to chime in, Jeanne. Jeanne is a fabulous WF writer, Orly. I know her first sale is imminent.

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    2. Hi Jeanne! What's your last name so I can find your books? :-)

      I'm always on the lookout for a fabulous read!

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    3. You're sweet, Orly. Actually, I'm not published yet. But, working in that direction. :)


      Thank you for your kind words, Tina!

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  30. Hi Orly:

    I'm fascinated with your name! I keep thinking about the Wright Brothers and landing in Paris years ago. Is there a story somewhere in this name? Great for a writer. It's an easy name to remember at the bookstore.

    I also like your cover art: no face, no man, lost in thought. Trouble! Could it be more apropos?

    Women's fiction could be fiction women write. It also could be fiction women read. It might even be lies women tell to themselves like, "I'll change him after we'er married." :)

    I love the idea of your writer's group. Will you let me join? I have my check ready to mail.

    While every writer needs a tribe and every tribe needs a champion, all stand in need of at least one philosopher. Even champions must live an examined life.

    A sample:

    I'm also a marketing guy and I have my own working definition of "Women's Fiction" that you might even consider.

    "Women's fiction is of particular interest to women and tends to be more serious and deeper in its relationships with others while at the same time displaying a tendency to be more of a romance with life (both happy and tragic) rather than one of love. Women's fiction also, much as life itself, fails to provide a guaranteed a happy ending."

    One good thing: while I may not be able to perfectly define Women's Fiction, I know it when I see it. :))

    "The Distance Home" -- how is it measured? In time, miles, healing, regrets, forgiveness, heartache, redemption, losses, the space behind the eyes?

    Interesting title. Please put me in the drawing. Also please let me know if a man can join your group. (Also, is there really no start-up fee like other organizations? Brava...if yes!

    Vince

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    1. Hi Vince!!
      So first ... we have plenty of men who belong to WFWA. And, I love saying this, the first year we ran the Star Award for published women's fiction, the winner of the general category was a fabulous author named Scott Wilbanks.

      As for my name - it's actually Israeli. I was born there. The funny twist ... my husband is French. I had a very interesting experience years ago traveling in France when a very kind Air France attendant tried to change my ticket because the rest of my family were flying to Roissy (Charles de Gaulle Airport) while one of us was flying to Orly. :-)

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  31. You're published with Tor/Forge. I have always had Tor/Forge in my brain as a Sci Fi and Spec Fiction publisher..obviously I am not correct. Must look into this :)

    Can you share a tiny teaser about your next release?

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    1. Tor is the Sci-Fi side. Forge is the mainstream imprint. They've been a dream to work with. My editor is BRILLIANT!!!!!!

      Teaser for Carousel Beach:
      A cryptic letter on her grandmother’s grave and a mysterious inscription on a carousel horse leads artist Maya Brice to Hank Hauser, the ninety-year-old carver of the beloved carousel she has been hired to restore in time for its Fourth of July reopening in her Delaware beach town. Hank suffers from Alzheimer’s, but on his “better” days, Maya is enthralled by the stories of his career. On his “off” days, he mistakes her for her grandmother—his secret first love.

      While stripping chipped layers of paint from the old horse and peeling layers of fragmented memories from the old man, Maya untangles the intertwined secrets of love, heartbreak, and misunderstandings between three generations of strong willed women.

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    2. This sounds like an amazing story, Orly!

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    3. Orly, everything about your story fascinates me!! I'd love to have the talent to restore a carousel horse!

      Janet

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  32. As a book blogger I appreciate the definitions and explanations for women's fiction! Before I had a vague understanding but this really helps me see that it's issues and life relationships that are the focus rather than romance.

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  33. Welcome, Orly! This is such a great post about women's fiction. I have written one WF manuscript that my agent suggested probably needs to stay in the drawer. :) But I might try my hand again someday. I LOVE reading them!

    Your story sounds amazing!! I plan to go buy a copy asap!

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    1. Hi Missy!
      For what it's worth, I have two manuscripts that will probably never come out of the drawer. :-)

      Thanks for the warm welcome!!

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  34. Been a member of WFWA for a couple of years now. I have gotten a lot out of the workshops and Facebook interaction. My stories do fit into this genre as they always include relationships between families - women and daughters - women and fathers, etc.

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    1. YAY, Linda!!!!!
      Thanks for stopping by and saying hi. :-)

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    2. Linda, I'm the same way with my stories. I often have to hold back some on the family relationships in my shorter romance novels. That's why I think I'd like to try writing another women's fiction story to just let myself loose with the family dynamics that I tend to want to put in.

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    3. Missy
      WFWA helped me define what I have been writing all along. It has been very helpful and I look forward to the workshops and pitch sessions. I met my critique partner there through the last workshop. Wonderful group of ladies.

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  35. Welcome to Seekerville, Orly! I love WF but prefer those stories with a strong romance. I had a very hard time classifying my first novel because I felt like it blurred the lines between romance and WF. Congratulations on your releases!

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    1. Josee, my manuscript was that way. I tended to call it a romantic WF. I don't even know if that's a real term. :)

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    2. Missy, I think some novels can be pitched as either romance or romantic WF, depending on the agent. :)

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  36. Orly, such a delightful and informative post. How wonderful that you created a home for writers of women's fiction. Congrats on establishing the WFWA! A thousand members strong! That's amazing. Women's fiction rules the bestsellers lists, or so it seems to me. Strong sellers, for sure, and stories that women love to read.

    Thanks for being with us today!

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  37. Orly, your name is unusual. Is it a family name?

    Janet

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    1. Hi Janet,
      Nope, it's Israeli. And very common there. :-)

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    2. I'd never heard it before. Wonder if Debby has. She's been to Israel multiple times.

      Janet

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  38. Thank you for your interesting post, Orly.
    I love women's fiction and recommend novels by Cynthia Ruchti, Ann Tatlock or Lisa Wingate as great reads.
    Please put me in the draw for your book.

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    Replies
    1. Ruth, great to see you, all the way from South Africa. Always good to see your smiling face.

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  39. I never really thought about woman's fiction. This is very eye-opening. Thank you.

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  40. Orly, this was so interesting. I enjoy reading women's fiction but never realized how wide the span of areas it covers.

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    1. Thanks for reading, Sharee. Always great to "meet" a fellow WF fan. :-)

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  41. Orly, I know it is about SUPPAH TYME on the East coast. We'll have some stragglers to this party of course, but I know you have a life too, ...don't you? LOL. Just wanted to say thank you for spending the day with us and patiently answering all our clueless questions. Praying for continued success in reaching the hearts of WF readers.

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    1. SUPPAH in my house is late. Very late. My boy child has karate soon though so will be offline for a bit. But I'll check back before bedtime to respond to any other questions/comments. :-)

      Thank you again for having me. This is such a fabulous group!

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  42. Thanks for such an interesting post, Orly - and congratulations on the release of your book!

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  43. Orly, thank you for enlightening me about Women's Fiction.

    I was going to mention I've read two Barbara O'Neal books, The Lost Recipe for Happiness and How to Bake a Perfect Life, which I considered WF because of the emotional journeys of the female protagonist. However, I see the author has won six RITAs. Obviously I need to rethink my definition of WF and read some more books.

    Having passed through some of those real-life challenges...not perfectly, but I survived because of my faith, I may have some inspirational WF writing in my future.

    I'm looking forward to reading some WF. As you mentioned, books which offer hope as we navigate those life challenges are so important. Thank you for visiting Seekerville and sharing your thoughts with us. I wish you great success with your fulfilling writing career and the WFWA community. Blessings!

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    1. Barbara O'Neal is one of the many authors who've written in both genres. The two you mention are indeed WF - I've read them both and loved them.

      Thanks for reading!

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  44. I have to be completely honest, I've never put much thought to Women's Fiction. Maybe it's the name. I read Women and I think, well I'm not a woman yet and I go on my merry way without a second thought to the genre.

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    1. Hi Nicki,
      The age range for WF varies. There are books that are geared at the younger range as well although the target audience is probably still older than for New Adult.
      Thanks for reading! :-)

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  45. Orly, thank you for the great discussion revolving around women's fiction. I don't know if Haywood Smith's novels are women's fiction, but I love her books. I've read some of Kristin Hannah's later women fiction novels. And I'm excited about Kristan Higgins' latest which I haven't read yet. Thanks for the great definition and discussion.

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  46. Thank you Orly!

    I love women's fiction and read a lot of it.

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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    1. Thank you, Phyllis! Always great to connect with fellow WF fans.

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  47. Welcome to Seekerville Orly, and thank you for such an interesting post. I've always wanted a good definition of women's fiction. You provided an interesting take. Congrats on founding the Women's Fiction Association. It always helps to network and have friends to talk with about this crazy business. Thanks again for joining us.

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  48. Love those mugs. Did you find those Tina or did Orly? Where? I want to order one.

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  49. Hello Orly:

    I just signed up! Glad that you have male members right from the start. From what I've read so far, it looks like it is going to be very interesting.

    I have some authors that I really love and I believe they write Women's Fiction…but I'm not sure.

    I've read "Talk Before Sleep" many times. Here is what the editor wrote about the book:

    "What do women talk about when they know they don't have forever? They talk about what they have always talked about, only they go deeper and more honest: with outrageous humor they try to mitigate pain. Intimate and uncensored sharing, the kind of connection women prize, is at the heart of this deeply moving novel about the grit and power of female friends."

    My favorites:

    Elizabeth Berg
    Annais Nin
    Joanne Harris
    Elizabeth Cadell
    Joanna Trollope

    I think "Women's Fiction" is as good as any other literature.

    Vince

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    1. Welcome to the WFWA tribe, Vince!
      Your favorites are among my favorites. :-)

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  50. Women's fiction is a favorite.
    Love the mugs!

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  51. Very thought provoking! I am going to save this for future reference! Thank you for sharing with us!

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  52. Thanks for a great post. Yes, I do read Women fiction but hadn't really thought about that label until I read your description. Thanks for your giveaway and I love the mugs!
    Blessings
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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  53. Orly, Thanks for your great column promoting Women Fiction. I try to read mostly woman writers. I once heard a man’s comment, who said he doesn’t read any woman writers. Others with him agreed. I was terribly annoyed and found out that early woman writers sent in their books or stories with their initials for their first name to try and fool the male editors. Women have come a long way in the book world today. Keep on writing everyone,

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