Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Women's Fiction in Romance #MSWL

I read a lot of Romance novels. It's my not-so-guilty pleasure and one I'm never ashamed to speak about or seen enjoying but it wasn't always the case.

While living at home (with my very religious mother), I had to sneak my romance novels (and any horror or suspense books) into my room or leave them in my band locker to read during lunch or between class periods and band practice so my mother wouldn't throw them away. But many of the Women's Fiction titles I'd bring home, my mother simply glanced at the cover and "paid me no mind." What's interesting is that some of the WF titles I'd read in the late eighties/early nineties while in school were steamier (and sometimes scarier) than some of the romance novels, horror books and suspense titles I'd be shamed for reading at home.

In Women's Fiction, as a young woman, I'd find more main characters that looked like me where romance was still very much about the love and pleasure of the Caucasian, heterosexual, cisgender female finding her happily ever after with the equally labeled man of her dreams, in titles like Waiting to Exhale and The Joy Luck Club, I saw women of color dealing with heartache, abuse, oppression, and shame, then standing up for themselves to change the world around them. Sometimes there was a handsome man courting them, sometimes there were sex scenes, abusive scenes but like in the romance novels, there was hope and a future for the heroine.

In the 80s and 90s, there seemed to be a very distinct line between the two genres (at least on the shelves of the library sales I'd shop as a teen). Today, that line between Women's Fiction and Romance is blurring (if the Goodreads genre lists are any indication) and allowing for a greater crossover for authors whose works fit both the romance formula as well as what the Romance Writers of America organization defines women's fiction to be: "a commercial novel about a woman on the brink of life change and personal growth. Her journey details emotional reflection and action that transforms her and her relationships with others, and includes a hopeful/upbeat ending with regard to her romantic relationship."

So, all of this is to say that I'd love to see more of that crossover in the queries I'm receiving. Do you have a Sophie Kinsella meets Debbie Macomber? A Terry McMillan meets Beverly Jenkins? An empowering tale of a woman getting her company AND her man? I'd love to see it! Follow my submission guidelines and send me your query today.