A Perspective on Writing Romantic Women’s Fiction

RWF is pleased to have one of our own as our guest blogger. Violet Howe, author of Tales Behind the Veils series and the Cedar Creek Series, shares some of her thoughts on writing. 

Violet Howe picture for blog  

Sometimes I envy authors of paranormal romance or historical romance. When they’re asked what they write, they can answer and expect a nod of recognition in return. When I respond that I write Romantic Women’s Fiction, I usually get a puzzled look instead.

For me, it’s simple to understand but harder to explain.

I usually give a loose definition that it’s the story of a woman’s journey with love along the way. If they want more, I explain that it’s a tale of her personal growth as she encounters external and internal obstacles and seeks to triumph over them. Somewhere between beginning and end, she finds love, and because it is a romance novel, somehow they end up with a happily ever after.

But a key difference in romantic women’s fiction and a traditional romance is that the happily ever after between the hero and heroine is not the answer to all her problems. It’s not the pinnacle of her growth. Whatever happens in her love life is just a part of her story and her evolution, not the only catalyst or primary end goal.

Another difference is the romance is not the only relationship of importance in the plot. Her interaction with friends, family, and/or co-workers plays a large and sometimes more important role in shaping who she is from start to finish.Violet Howe owner. Depositphotos_31800765_l-2015 For VH's RWF blog

To me, romantic women’s fiction seems more representative of real life than its more sugar-coated counterpart.

Relationships do not exist in a vacuum with just the hero and heroine and their love for each other. We are influenced by those around us, and the issues we face in the workplace, in our families, or among our closest friends affect how we deal with life and love.

Romantic love is not the only love we need, and it’s not the only love that can cause us great joy and crippling pain. Those other relationships must be factored in to create a well-rounded story of personal growth.

Reality casts a woman in many roles. Daughter, Friend, Sister, Cousin, Mother, Lover, Wife. To be true to my main character and her story, I can’t focus on one role and ignore the others. I have to flesh out the many facets of her life and explore who she is and how she got there, then invite my readers along for the ride as she discovers where’s she’s going and who she will be at the end.

I believe this ultimately helps us relate to each other. After all, womanhood is in many ways a sisterhood. Even when our circumstances are vastly different, we can find common ground in our relationship experiences. Through shared stories, we can commiserate. We can understand each other. We can support each other.

Violet Howe owner Depositphotos_31707891_l-2015

Experiencing life through another woman’s eyes may even help us process our own failures, shortcomings, and victories.

Maybe the simplest definition of romantic women’s fiction is stories of women living their lives. And that’s what I write.

Interested in Violet’s newest book, Building Fences? We’ve got the cover and the blurb!Violet Howe's book 0218_BuildingFences_JF_Ebook

Caroline Miller has often fantasized about finding the mother who’d given her up for adoption. When an unexpected phone call gives her the opportunity to meet her birth mother face-to-face, she jumps at the chance.

But as the weekend turns into a series of mishaps and disappointments, Caroline wonders if she’ll ever be able to find peace with her beginnings.

Could a case of mistaken identity lead her to find the life she’s dreamed of and the family—and love—she thought she could never have?

This MeetCute novel by Violet Howe is the first volume in the Cedar Creek Family Collection.

Thank you, Violet, for giving us a glimpse of your view on writing romantic women’s fiction.

Violet Howe enjoys writing romantic women’s fiction and romantic mystery/suspense. She lives in Florida with her knight in tarnished armor and their two handsome sons. They share their home with three adorable but spoiled dogs. When she’s not writing, Violet is usually watching movies, reading, or planning her next travel adventure. You can follow Violet’s ramblings on her blog, The Goddess Howe. 

Author Website:  www.violethowe.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/VioletHoweAuthor

Facebook Reader Group: Ultra Violets https://www.facebook.com/groups/VioletsUltra/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/violethowe

Twitter: www.twitter.com/Violet_Howe

Violet’s Latest Release:



Interview with Mary Gardner

18 RWF Interview Photo Mary Gardner










We are excited to learn more about last year’s RWF Secretary, Mary Gardner.

Would you say you write women’s fiction or romantic women’s fiction?

I write more romance than women’s fiction. My stories have a strong love story with a happily-ever-after, but primarily focus on the women’s journey.

Want to tell us what you’re working on?

My current project, MISSING, is a 95,000-word contemporary Christian romantic women’s fiction novel about a thirty-one-year-old woman who wins the lottery and learns she was kidnapped from the stroller she shared with her identical twin sister while her biological mother was shopping. An ex-FBI agent seeks to protect her from her adoptive family, who set out to kill her for her lottery winnings and helps her reunite with her biological family.

What are your favorite books to read?

My favorite books fall into the category of contemporary romance and romantic women’s fiction.

When writing do you read in genre your writing in or something else?

I’m trying to read more in the genre while I’m writing. I think it’s part of the business to stay current in the area you’re writing. My time is limited when I’m in the middle of the project, so I’m selective. I also like to read craft books.

Do you have a running theme for your books?

I write small town heartwarming books with running themes of trust, hope, healing, family, and the power of forgiveness.

Which do you feel you learn more from – an online class, local workshop, or writer’s craft book?

This is a hard question because I learn different things depending on each category. I’ve had more ah-ha moments from online classes, especially if they are interactive. I’ve learned more about making connections, building networks and platform building at local workshops and conferences. I’ve learned a variety of different writing techniques from writer’s craft books.

Where do you find inspiration?

I think most of my stories are based on what-ifs from stories I’ve seen on the news. The story I’m working on now came from two types of events. We’ve all heard about people who have won the lottery. Unfortunately, we’ve also heard of children disappearing and never being found. I remember hearing about a woman who took a baby and was found living in the same city as the child’s biological parents.

How do you fit writing into your life?

It can be hard to balance writing with life. I’m learning to say no to things I’d like to do in order to make more room for writing time. I find I get too caught up in other activities and allow them to eat away my writing time. The one thing I don’t say no to is my family. In fact, I’ll always pick family first. I raised two boys and always went to their events. I don’t regret a single second of the time I gave them that might have been spent on writing. I know that will be true with my granddaughters too.

How do you fit editing into your writing life and the one you actually live in?

As an unpublished writer, I don’t have the conflict with writing deadlines conflicting with the need to edit a different project.

Are you a plotter, pantser, or combination of both?

I’ve always been a pantser. I’m learning to do a combination. My manuscripts are longer and after getting lost in a few stories I’ve learned that I need an outline. The plot outline is never set in stone for me, but having a guide keeps me focused on where I want to go. Sort of like taking a trip and knowing where you are going to go but not necessarily how many stops or detours you’ll make along the way.

Do you plan your writing time? Or do you go with the flow of family to-do’s and work out your writing in between?

I’m in a different stage of life that allows me to plan my writing time around my family activities. I don’t have the day-to-day care of anyone other than my cat. I can schedule my writing time around my granddaughters’ activities.

Do you prefer to write at home or go somewhere to write?

Home. I’ve tried to write somewhere else but unless I’m alone I get distracted by what’s going on around me. I’m a people watcher.

Do you first come up with a setting or character for your story idea?

My stories are character driven. I know my characters before I ever sit down to develop an idea. Setting may change, but it will always be a small-town. A lot of times I know the basics of the plot at the same time I know my characters, but I have to spend time developing the journey.

Mary’s Bio:

Mary Gardner’s writing journey came in two phases. The first was focused on contemporary category romance and ended in 2008. Her second began in 2016 when she felt called back to writing. This phase of her writing is focused on novel-length Christian romantic women’s fiction.

She joined Romance Writers of America in 1981 and is also a member of several online RWA chapters and the local chapter. She also belongs to American Christian Fiction Writers and the Indiana Chapter of ACFW.

Prior to 2008, she attended several RWA National Conferences. During that time, she was blessed to final in thirteen contests, winning her category in seven. A previous version of MISSING won the Grand Prize in the Marlene Awards Fiction with Romantic Elements in 2006. Another manuscript, ALL MY TOMORROWS, was a 2007 RWA Golden Heart finalist in the Long Contemporary Category, and 2nd runner up in the Harlequin Super Romance Conflict of Interest Contest in 2008.

After a 2006 early stage breast cancer diagnosis, surgery, and developing lymphedema in her arm, combined with other life challenges, she began to doubt that writing was her calling and in 2008 decided to put her writing on hold. During the pause, her youngest son blessed her with two beautiful granddaughters. Sadly, her oldest son went to Heaven at age forty-two after a twenty-year battle with cancer. Seven months later, her husband joined him after a long battle with an early onset Alzheimer-like dementia.

As she began to settle into her new normal, she began writing again. Unlike the previous phase of her writing, she knew that her focus needed to be on contemporary Christian romance or romantic women’s fiction novels and began focusing on small town, heartwarming stories about love, hope, healing, family and the power of forgiveness.

Currently her agent, Cyle Young, and his Jr. Agent, Bethany Morehead, from Hartline Literary Agency, LLC, are submitting a proposal for MISSING to multiple publishers.

You can find out more about Mary at www.marygardner.net

Personal Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/mary.gardner.581525

Author Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/marygardnerauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaryGardner6

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mary-gardner-600b1740

Thank you Mary for being a part of our RWF Interview series. If you have any comments or questions for Mary, we’d love to hear from you.



Interview with Tina Newcomb

Tina Newcomb pic

Today we meet Tina Newcomb.

RWF:  Would you say you write women’s fiction or romantic women’s fiction?

TN:  I write sweet contemporary romance/mainstream with romantic elements (I know that’s a mouthful, but it’s the closest description I can come up with). I am working on a women’s fiction novel that I hope to pitch at RWA in 2018.

RWF: Want to tell us what you’re working on?

TN: I’m working on a series set in a fictional town of Eden Falls, Washington. I’ve finished five books and hope to complete at least one more by the end of 2018. I plan to self-publish this series (one book a month) starting in July of this year.

RWF: What are your favorite books to read?

TN: When I have time to I read, I turn to women’s fiction. Just a few of my favorite authors are Karen White, Barbara Delinsky, Sarah Addison Allen, Barbara Claypole White, and Barbara O’Neal.

RWF: Do you have a running theme for your books?

TN: Each book in my Eden Falls series is loosely based on different occupations. Book one is about a flower shop owner who uses the Victorian language of flowers to build her bouquets. This art is mentioned in each book.

Eden Falls has small town charm where smiles are frequent and a helping hand is always near.

RWF: Which do you feel you learn more from – an online class, local workshop, or writer’s craft book?

TN: I think I learn more from local classes or those I attend at the RWA Conference. I don’t have enough discipline to follow through with the online classes—I would rather be writing. I have a whole library of craft books that have never been opened.

RWF: Where do you find inspiration?

TN: I find my inspiration while traveling. I usually start with a setting and add characters. My husband and I take a two-week driving vacation every year and I always come home with a rough outline for a book. The series I’m working on came after a trip through Washington State. My women’s fiction will be based on an island we visited while in Maine.

RWF: How do you fit writing into your life?

TN: I write six days a week. Even if I can only edit a page or two, I make time to sit at my computer and write.

RWF:  Are you a plotter, pantser, or combination of both?

TN: I’m a pantser. I know the beginning of my book, I usually have an idea for my black moment, and I know how it will end, but the middle is a total mystery until I get there. I’ve tried to outline and plot several times, and I’ve tried several different methods, but I end up frustrated.

RWF: Do you plan your writing time? Or do you go with the flow of family to-do’s and work out your writing in between?

TN: I watch my grandson during the day, so I have to work around visits to the library, or the museum, bike rides and trips to the park. I wake up early and try to write an hour before he comes. I also try to get in an hour or so after his mom picks him up in the afternoons.

RWF: Are the stories you write based more on the woman’s journey or more on the romance?

TN: I believe my stories are based on my character’s journey whether male or female. I sprinkle romance in and I always have an HEA.

RWF: Do you prefer to write at home or go somewhere to write?

TN: I write in my office, on my bed, or in the family room.

RWF: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo?

TN: I love NaNoWriMo! I’ve participated twice and completed both projects I started. Having only thirty days, really pushes me and keeps me focused. I do have to plan a rough outline (eyelid twitches) for NaNo.

RWF: Do you first come up with a setting or character for your story idea?

TN: Setting always comes first.

Thank you, Tina for sharing your writing time with us.

About Me

I was born and raised in Utah on the foothills of the spectacular Wasatch Front, where life as a kid was magical. Summers were spent hiking or swimming in the neighborhood pool, winters were for sledding down mountain hills. I acquired my love of reading from my parents. My mother was a librarian and stacks of books were always close at hand. I wrote my first (more than three page) story in fourth grade. Tobie, my heroine, bravely solved The Mystery Behind the Iron Door. I took writing classes in college and stories began to develop.

I moved to Memphis, Tennessee as a young mother and lived there long enough to learn “Bless your heart” is almost always followed by an insult, fried chicken is a staple, and any measurable snow will, most likely, close the schools for days. I do miss the dogwoods in spring and the smell of barbecue permeating the air at Memphis in May.

My pen and paper were put away as adult life and motherhood took precedence. Three kids later, I wrote my first novel, but had no idea what to do with it. It ended up in a box on a shelf. Numerous years later I came across the manuscript in a closet. I pulled it out, dusted it off and started all over again.

I now live in beautiful Colorado with my (amateur) chef husband. Six of our eight kids and one of three grandkids live nearby.

Fun Facts:

  • I have the most loving, generous, PATIENT husband in the world.
  • I’m grateful for my kids.
  • I adore my grandchildren.
  • My mother introduced me to The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart.
  • My father introduced me to non-fiction.
  • My favorite author is LaVyrle Spencer.
  • Crazy as it sounds, I love to clean.
  • My favorite ice cream is pralines and cream.
  • I don’t have a favorite color or a favorite flower.
  • My least favorite flower is a sunflower. (I know, I’m damaged).
  • I love Bear Lake, Utah, raspberry shakes and Miami, Florida strawberry shakes.
  • Country is my music of choice.
  • My favorite season is spring (closely followed by fall).
  • Chinese or Mexican food? Don’t make me choose.