Nancy: Some Love for Women’s Fiction

This past Saturday was Women’s Fiction Day! Don’t worry if you didn’t know and missed it. The celebration doesn’t have to be limited to one day. And if you’re wondering what, exactly, makes fiction women’s fiction and why does it need its own celebration, that’s okay, too. So let’s talk a bit about this often misunderstood and sometimes undervalued segment of the fiction market.

Most visitors to our blog are romance readers. Makes sense, as we 8LW ladies are romance writers. While a few of our followers are die-hard, romance-only readers (and we love you!), many read across a wide swath of fiction. Bonus points if the other-genre fiction has strong female characters with fully-developed inner lives and emotional journeys. If the female characters’ emotional journeys are the central storyline, what you have in front of you is women’s fiction.

Women’s fiction can be written, read, and enjoyed by people of any gender. (Yes, even straight, cis-gendered men can write women’s fiction). The stories can include mystery, suspense, adventure, intrigue, and romance! Some stories include a lot of those elements, and that’s fine. It’s still women’s fiction, as long as the very core story is about a woman’s emotional journey.

If you’re thinking, that’s an awfully big tent, you’re right. Continue reading

Nancy: Female Isn’t a Genre, Except When It Is

Kate Bush captured this photo of an exciting new genre! that is so NOT a genre.

Kate Bush captured this photo of an exciting new genre! that is so NOT a genre.

A few weeks ago, this bit of news hit the twitterverse, in which musician Kate Nash called out a record shop for categorizing widely disparate music by one unifying characteristic: being made by possessors of vaginas. I shouldn’t have been so shocked to learn of a whole store selling vinyl records (those crazy, retro millennials are no doubt driving this trend). I wish I had been more shocked that said store had reduced a collection of such wide and varied artists to the not-a-genre genre of ‘females of all description’.

This incident brought my own thinking back to a subject I’ve been pondering over the past few years: that of Women’s Fiction. As regular 8LW readers might know, one of the writing tribes I proudly claim is that of WF writers. The manuscript I wrote for our Jennifer Crusie-taught McDaniel writing program was a WF story (with an ever-changing title) that has three women friends at its core. I have plans for two more books that I would categorize as WF, and another that might be more mainstream/general than women’s fiction, because it includes male POV characters, but that I still might consider WF because one of the female POV characters is really at the heart of the story. I belong to WFWA, have pitched my manuscript as WF, and plan to continue doing so.

But should I? Should I be so quick to align to a ‘catch-all’ genre about the female experience, with books written primarily by women? While I have sought out the camaraderie and intelligence of these fellow writers and have enjoyed being in a creative space that embraces the feminine and celebrates a female view of the world, have I been too quick to overlook the built-in bias that attaches to my work by being dropped into what, on its surface, appears to be a default category? Am I, despite my own yearning for gender parity and inclusiveness, hanging a ‘no boys allowed’ sign on my books? Continue reading