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.

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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:
https://www.books2read.com/b/BuildingFences

 

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Meet the Author on RWF

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It’s the first day of autumn, and we have our hard-working President here for an interview.

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

JL: Romantic women’s fiction. I need my romance! See my article here for my personal definition of the genre.

RWF: Do you write in other genres?

JL: I’ve written a couple of short stories in other genres. Second Chance Dress has no genre that can I name, but you can get a copy of it for free when you sign up for my newsletter. 😉 The other one is a time travel (yes, me!) that I’m waiting on for rights reversion before I self-publish.

 

RWF: What is your last published title?

JL: Sight for Sore Eyes. Here’s the blurb.

How many stick and stones can one woman survive?

Emma Finn once dreamed of being a photographer, capturing exotic landscapes and poignant vistas. Then a series of tragedies tore her life apart. All she craves now is stability—reliable, boring, safe.

How many bumps and bruises can one man take?

Ophthalmologist Asher Stockdale left big city life when his ex-wife took his young son away. When he met Emma, he pictured her as the centre of his new life in Clarence Bay. So why is he encouraging her to resurrect her old dream and go gallivanting around the globe? Dare he ask her to stay?

How many roadblocks can one romance encounter and still cherish the love?

If Emma goes to India, will she be able to heal, or will she regret her choice?

Carpenter ants, a rescued Pirate, and a pair of scheming seniors help Emma and Asher to see what really lies before their eyes.

You can read an excerpt at www.JoanLeacott.ca

 

RWF: What would be your number one tip you’d give to someone who’d just finished their first manuscript?

JL: Celebrate the amazing thing you’ve accomplished! Treat yourself to something special. Then let yourself, and the story, rest for three weeks before you start editing. That way you’ll both be fresh and ready to go. For the first pass, just read; resist the urge to edit. Note where you catch yourself smiling or are confused, angry, or tearful. The places of confusion get your attention first.

 

RWF: Do you have a running theme?

JL: Reconciliation. I didn’t start out with that in mind; a friend pointed it out. I find the revelations and growth required for honest reconciliation to be an endless source of conflict and resolution.

 

RWF: Where do you find inspiration?

JL: In the bottom of a pail of dirty water. 😉 When I’m engaged in mindless chores like washing floors, I reflect on events (large, small, recent, and past) in my life and that’s my greatest source of inspiration. My first story grew out of the sentence, ‘A woman goes home to help her sick mother’. I was cleaning my mom’s house while she was receiving chemo treatments.

 

RWF: Do you have a job outside your writing?

JL: I’m self-employed as a book formatter and Microsoft Word educator. You can see more at www.WovenRed.ca. The job came out of the technical skills I acquired as a self-published writer.

 

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

Definitely a plotter—I Y Excel to weave plot lines and keep a series bible.

 

RWF: What’s a surprising or little-known fact about you?

JL: I’m taking piano lessons. My parents were immigrants with five children and not a lot of money. Once I had the time and resources, I realized a life-long dream to make music.

Thank you, Joan, for taking time out of your busy schedule to come share a bit about yourself and your writing.

 

Joan is a renaissance woman. She is skilled in many arts—sewing, knitting crochet, cross-stitch, painting, and piano. Oh, and writing contemporary romantic women’s fiction. The skill favored by her husband and son is cooking. She spends her winters in Toronto attending plays, ballets, Pilates and Yoga classes. Whew! Her summers are spent on the shores of Georgian Bay relaxing with a book and a glass of wine on the deck.

When does she write? In every moment left over!

 

Interview with Anne Parent

AnneParent

For our interview today, we welcome Anne Parent.

Good morning, Anne.

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

AP: Women’s fiction with romantic elements and contemporary romantic fiction.

RWF: Do you write in other genres?

AP: Not currently, but I hope to write an early 20th century historical. In addition, I have an idea for a late 19th century romance.

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

AP: I’m working on the story of a divorced professional woman who is willing to do anything to have a child of her own, including making a deal with a man for his sperm. She has to face the complications of her first pregnancy, which ended in miscarriage and guilt. This leads her to break the agreement with the man who provided the sperm, creating chaos in both of their lives.

RWF: What are your favorite books to read?

AP: I read a wide variety of books: women’s fiction, contemporary romance, craft books, mysteries, and classics.

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

AP: I prefer to read in other genres while I’m plotting, but I read in my genre once I’m well into the book to see how other authors have dealt with specific situations. I read craft books for inspiration and to learn new techniques all through my writing process.

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

AP: I always include a social issue to add depth to my books.

RWF: Do you read non-fiction? What kinds?

AP: I read a wide variety of craft books, as well as books on subjects that interest me: gardening, knitting, travel, and photography. I was an essayist prior to writing fiction, so I enjoy reading well-written essays.

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

AP: This actually depends on what I’m looking for. When I first began this journey, I took online classes for everything. Now, I limit my online classes. I’m willing to pay more for a class that pushes me, such as Mary Buckham’s power plotting webinar. I love conferences, but this year I’m devoting my time to finishing this book. I’m a sucker for craft books. I have a library to rival the bookstores. They are my go to inspiration, as well as problem solving resource. I have bookmarks (my book darts) and notes throughout many of them. People have asked if I’d read all of the books in my library. My answer: bits and pieces of all of them, and cover to cover for quite a few of them.

RWF: Where do you find inspiration?

AP: For my current book, the inspiration came from my daughter, who discovered a health condition which caused her miscarriage. Thanks to insightful doctors, she now has two beautiful children. My book is my way of giving back. Other inspiration comes from things I read which interest me, as well as daily living. I had a college professor who told me inspiration is all around us and writers are observers of life. This was the best writing advice I ever received.

RWF: Do you have a job outside your writing?

AP: I am fortunate to be able to give my time to my writing. I had to retire early due to an illness, which was actually a gift to my muse.

RWF: How do you fit writing into your life?

AP: For the past two years, I let my writing become secondary to building a house and moving in. Prior to that I was actively involved in my local RWA chapter, which allowed me to use it as an excuse not to write. However, I now have a commitment to my writing I’ve never had before. I use a Franklin planner and record my writing time, as well as distraction time. When I see my writing time is slipping, I set it as my priority. This is helping me stay on track.

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

AP: Ah, editing! I love making my writing stronger, but I have to have complete silence with no distractions when I edit. When my office door is closed, my husband knows not to enter unless it’s an emergency. I can write with distractions around me because I’m putting the story together, but editing requires my full attention.

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

AP: I’m both plotter and panster; however, on the continuum between the two, I definitely lean in the direction of plotter. I like to know the key points I’m writing toward. I’m willing to let my characters lead me in some instances, but it usually ends up down a path with a dead end. Thus, the struggle with my current WIP. I let the panster take over and I’m now re-writing the last third of this book.

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?

AP: I tried going with the flow when I lived in Wisconsin because I helped my daughter a lot. Since my husband’s retirement to Tennessee, I’ve found I’m much more productive planning my time. Distractions still arise, but I can limit them more here. I have trouble saying no to family. Although I try to keep my mornings free Monday through Friday, things still creep into my time if I’m not diligent.

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

AP: I like to have a strong romantic element, but I focus my writing on the woman’s journey.

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

AP: I prefer to sit at my desk and write; however, if I’m stuck I may go to a park or coffee house to clear my head. Sometimes it helps, but not always. I’m fortunate to live on six wooded acres which allow me to find various spots to set my muse free, so I take my laptop and walk until I find a place of inspiration.

RWF: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo?

AP: I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo in the past, but I’m a slow and deliberate writer. I find it pushes me to put words, not clarity on the page. It has been counterproductive to me and my writing style.

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

AP: This is a difficult question for me. Setting plays an important role in my writing and becomes a character to some degree. I usually start with a question and let the setting and character lead me to see if there is substance to it.

Thank you, Anne, for sharing a little bit of your writing world with us.

Anne Parent  married her soul mate and they raised three glorious children. She now has six phenomenal grandchildren. She comes from a background of vital women, including a beloved grandmother, the last of the true Southern ladies. She has always stayed in touch with her Southern roots through her best friend Wanda, who happens to be the daughter of her mother’s best friend and the sister of her brother’s best friend.

She began her journey into higher education at the age of 18 at the University of South Carolina (nursing, math, and journalism) before finally deciding she needed life lessons in order to decide on a career. She pursued engineering at Greenville Technical College, before figuring out this wasn’t the direction either, and studied at Butler University (couldn’t decide between English and journalism). She took some time to build more life lessons in raising children before deciding on her final path, a degree in English from Indiana University – Indianapolis with a minor in American Studies, at the age of 45. A true late bloomer!

Anne now lives in Tennessee where she writes romantic women’s fiction set in Southern towns, both imaginary and real. She adds a contemporary social issue to her books as part of the woman’s journey. Her hope is that her characters will take her readers away from reality and they will come away feeling ready to tackle whatever they find holding them back in their own lives.

You can find Anne atwww.anneparent.com; FB : Anne Parent and Anne Parent Author; Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnneWParent

 

 

 

2017 AGM with Jodi Thomas “World Building and Walking the Land”

On Wednesday, July 26th, we held our annual general meeting with guest speaker, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author, Jodi Thomas. She has also won five RITA’s, is in the Romance Writers Hall of Fame, won the National Reader’s Choice Award and written over forty novels and numerous short story collections.

How privileged we were to have her!

All who came to hear her discuss world building listened with intent. I wanted to be able to hold onto her words, hoping later to recall every bit of the information she’d shared.

2017 AGM Jodi Thomas2c

As a writer, she is passionate about others learning the craft. In her unique style, she explained her process of discovering and creating her story.

Since her goal is to sell, she begins with marketing. She said we needed to know our goal, in other words, our purpose in writing the story and the amount of time we intended to invest in the project.

2017 AGM Jodi Thomas4

Jodi writes five days a week, approximately three hours a day.

For those of us who have trouble staying on track, she said to find a writing buddy that would keep us accountable in reaching our goal.

She suggested we study five books in the genre we plan to write. Use them to discover how much dialogue, points of view, etc. that these publish authors have written in their story. Simply put, use the novels like study guides.

After some brief conversation, she paired us off into threes where we created, using her technique, a workable story.

2017 AGM Jodi Thomas

Once she begins her project, she takes her idea and then builds her world (setting), and then “walks the land” (learns about the area and the people to get an understanding of the characters she plans to write.) “You need to know how the people in that locale do things, say things.” Ms. Thomas stated.

She explained how to take a location, narrow it down to a specific place. And she instructed us to take time to learn how the community does things.

For example: Who ran the town, in other words, who was “royalty?” Who was in charge of the specific place you chose—was it the patriarch of the family? The matriarch? What were the laws of the community? Their customs? Who were the givers and the takers in the town?

How did they use or tell time? Example: In New York, people might determine how far it is to a place by how long it takes to get to that location, whereas, in Texas it would be determined by how many miles they had to go.

“You need to understand your characters. Each one is like a coin—it has a good and bad   side, so to speak.” Put another way, for every good trait there is a bad one.

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Before closing, Jodi took time to talk with us about making our group better—more useful for all of our members.

Some great ideas were generated and hopefully, we’ll be able to adopt them into our online group.

Stay tuned to hear more.

sheila RWA Florida 2017a

Avery Cove is currently VP of Communications for RWF. Also, she’s held the position of Secretary. She was a 2017 finalist in the Historical category for WisRWA Fab 5 contest. She writes both historical and contemporary romantic women’s fiction. She has a degree in Creative Writing and has been PRO for several years. Before she goes to her day job, she wakes up each morning to walk her very spoiled dog as the sun rises. She is working on book one of her contemporary series, loosely based on a town in the Ozark mountains.

Avery is a member of RWA and many online chapters. She can be found at her Facebook page and Twitter. Her website is www.averycove.com and she writes at http://averycove.blogspot.com/  and Sheila’s blog.