Jennifer Gilby Roberts

Women's Fiction/Chick Lit Author

Chick Lit Round-up (April 2014): Interesting Articles

Interesting articles I’ve come across this month:

Why books in a series should have a “previously on” page – Chick Lit Reviews & News

Jennifer Weiner on taking women writers seriously – Elle

Chick lit “harms body image” – The Guardian

Why guys should read chick lit – Becky on Books… And Quilts

In defence of predictability – Belinda Williams

A look at chick lit – Natflix & Books

7 reasons chick lit is not dead – Wow That’s Cool?

Why is chick lit such a derogatory term? – Fiona Drane’s Blog

A master’s in chick lit – NY Times

Jane Austen’s thoughts on novels – Kimberly Truesdale

Chick lit will survive, but don’t count all female authors in – Telegraph

International Chick Lit Month:

May is International Chick Lit Month, so keep an eye out for events

There will be a 99c Chick Lit Sale 5-11 May 2014 with multiple authors involved.  Follow ‪#‎99CentChickLit on Twitter.  Watch for more details on this blog.

Facebook party 8 May

Other stuff:

New chick lit bloggers: Aisha Reads Books, May the Book Be With You, Bookish Rants

Virtual book club: DC Ladies

Help wanted:

BestChickLit is looking for blog tour hosts

Fiction Dreams welcomes book news and posts

Masquerade Crew is looking for book cover designers

Writers’ Boost wants guest bloggers

Comet Babe wants guest bloggers

Chick Lit Plus is looking for guest blogger/reviewers

Sam’s Book Corner wants guest bloggers

Shaz’s Book Blog wants featured readers

For writers:

Shaz’s Book Blog is offering to spotlight posts to debut novelists and authors with series

This Chick Reads is looking for guest posts and giveaways

Dreaming With Open Eyes will do guest posts or interviews

Sky’s Book Corner wants guest posts or interviews

10 universities that offer free online writing courses

British Asian writer chick lit competition

Previous Round-ups
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013

1 Comment »

Does Love Matter in Chick Lit?

This was written as a guest post for Chick Lit Club Connect

When a heroine doesn’t find love, is it still chick lit?

Someone posted an interesting question on Twitter: can a book be considered chick lit if the heroine doesn’t find love at the end?  My gut feeling was yes, but it got me thinking.

Lots of people have tried to define chick lit.  I believe the key things that make a book chick lit are:

  • The main character in the book is a woman.
  • The point of view in most of the book is a woman’s (although you can write as a male character in parts).
  • The book is about the whole life of the main character, not only one aspect.
  • A light-hearted, humourous approach.  It doesn’t have to be laugh-out-loud funny, but it should make you smile and leave you feeling good.
  • A happy ending.

I don’t think this definition requires a romantic relationship.  The happy ending could be the main character achieving a major goal, repairing or building relationships with friends or family, ending a poor relationship, or just learning to be happy in herself.  The trouble was, I couldn’t think of any chick lit books that actually took this approach.

There are definitely chick lit books out there where the “getting the guy” part of the ending is massively overshadowed by the other changes in the heroine’s life.  A great example of this, which I read recently, is Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes.  The main character, Rachel (strangely enough), is dealing with her drug addiction.  I’ve heard some bad things about finding a man in New York, but I’m pretty sure it’s not as tough as that.

But what about books where there is no romantic relationship at all, or where the heroine dates but ends up single?  I asked for examples on Goodreads and got a few suggestions:

  • The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond
  • Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons
  • Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  • The Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft

However, I don’t believe these are chick lit.  I haven’t read the full novels, but from the descriptions these stories are too dark to fall under the chick lit genre.  Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner was also suggested and came the closest, although I still don’t think it fits.  The best suggestion I had was actually a film: My Best Friend’s Wedding.  Now that is definitely a chick flick.

So I turned to Google, and I may have come up with one possibility.  Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple is about a mother who goes missing and her daughter’s search for her.  Not obvious chick lit fare, but the reviews are quite definite that this is a comedy.  Then again, it was nominated for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and how often does that happen to chick lit novels?

So I’m drawing a blank.  Can anyone suggest a novel that meets the criteria above, but doesn’t include a love story?  Because, if there aren’t any, I may have to write one.  Or do you think I’m wrong, and a chick lit novel must include finding love?

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Why I Write Chick Lit

I was given (read: I chose) Longbourn by Jo Baker for Mother’s Day.  It’s a sort-of-retelling of Pride & Prejudice, from the point of view of the household servants.  It’s a wonderful book, but at one point I found myself feeling really down, because I felt that my books just couldn’t compare to it.  No rich detail in mine.  No beautiful descriptions.  Some drama, but not on that scale.  Generally predictable plots.  Chick lit, in other words.

The thing is, though, my books don’t need that.  I write contemporary fiction, so I don’t need to include lots of detail about what life is like for my characters as my readers already know.  As for beautiful descriptions – honestly, I tend to skip a lot of them when I’m reading.  Just give me the bare bones and I’ll make my own mental pictures.  I don’t think I’m alone in that.  If I had no imagination, I wouldn’t be reading fiction.  It’s the plot and the characters I’m interested in.

But the thing that really made me feel good about what I write was that I felt bad when I finished the book.  Although the end was happy, the whole thing painted a picture of bleakness.  Harsh, lonely lives of physical and emotional endurance, where moments of happiness were few and far between.  I spent half the evening feeling teary and depressed.  And, you know what, I don’t want to write books like that.  I don’t want to make people feel like that.

There’s plenty of bad in this world.  Most of the media seems to be devoted to reminding us of that.  I don’t want to add to that.  I want to make people feel better.  Remind them that there is still much good out there.  That just because today was crap doesn’t mean tomorrow will be.  That there’s humour to be found in everything.  And that’s what chick lit is about.  So that’s what I write.

4 Comments »

Chick Lit Round-up (March 2014): Interesting Articles

Interesting articles I’ve come across this month (quiet month, this)

March 2014 Chick Lit Releases – I Heart Chick Lit

The Bad Boys in Chick Lit and Romance Novels – Sara Daniel

Novel Escapes’ Best Indie Chick Lit List – Goodreads

Location, Location, Location – Jera’s Jamboree

Is There a Chick Lit Gap in African Literature? – Standard Digital News

Other stuff:

Site to check out: Romantic Fiction Online

Sign the petition to get bookstores and other literary organisations to accept indie authors

New chick lit (and crime) book blogger Book Addict Shaun

For writers:

7 Chick Lit Writing Tips – Quips & Tips

Houston Writers Guild will be holding a contest open to indie authors in the autumn (fall).

Comet Babe, Chick Lit v Fantasy, Sky’s Book Corner, Dreaming With Open Eyes, Chick Lit Club (email jade@chicklitclub.com) and This Chick Reads are looking for guest posts

Chick Lit Reviews & News want to do more author giveaways

Simon & Fig are looking to publish some “politically charged, DC-based chick lit”

Previous Round-ups
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013

1 Comment »

Best of This Blog (So Far!)

I can’t believe I’ve been blogging almost 7 months!  With that in mind, I thought I’d do a recap of some of the best posts on this blog, in case you missed them:

Most Popular Posts (that are still relevant)

Posts About The Dr Pepper Prophecies

Posts About After Wimbledon

Posts About Writing

Author Interviews

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Chick Lit Round-up (February 2014): Interesting Articles

Interesting articles this month.

Lucy-Ann Holmes: Why I Love Chick Lit – We Love This Book

Does “Chick Lit” Deserve More Literary Respect? – Stuff Mom Never Told You

What Is Chick Lit? – Love Chick Lit

February Book Releases – I Heart Chick Lit

Jill Mansell on Why She Doesn’t Like Her Chick Lit Label – Western Daily Press

Top Ten Books That Will Make You Swoon – Chick Lit Reviews & News

Meet the Blogger: Q&A With Leah From Chick Lit Reviews & News – Harper Impulse

Rosie Blake: Chick Lit is Good for Your Health – Jennifer Joyce Writes

ReadWomen2014: What Is Women’s Fiction Anyway? – Huffington Post

In Defence of Chick Lit – The Age

Chick Lit – A Force of Nature! – Best Chick Lit

Blogs Looking for Contributors

Chick Lit Plus is looking for reviewers and writers

Everything Books & Authors is looking for reviewers

Chick Lit Reviews & News is looking for reviewers

For Writers

Chick Lit & Wine are offering to review chapters of NaNoWriMo chick lit books

Houston Writers’ Guild Manuscript Competition (Unpublished writers, inc. chick lit)

Other Stuff

Which Jane Austen Heroine Are You? – Buzz Feed

For the Love of Books is setting up a book club

Previous Chick Lit Round-ups

January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013

4 Comments »

This Is Not Chick Lit

Marian Keyes is considered a chick lit writer, but I don’t think that’s right.  I’ve been reading Rachel’s Holiday and it’s not my idea of chick lit.  It is witty and not deeply gritty, but it’s not the light-hearted easy-reading I associate with the term.  The heroine, Rachel, isn’t addicted to chocolate and shoes; with her it’s cocaine and valium.  The book is about her being packed off to rehab by her family, after nearly dying of an overdose.  Hardly what you’d describe as ‘fluffy’.

I wrote a little while ago about what chick lit is (and isn’t).  There’s mass misuse of the term, sometimes applying it to any fiction written by a woman.  You see books by Jodi Picoult in ‘chick lit bestseller’ lists.  They don’t belong there.  I had to ban myself from reading them because they got me too upset.  Chick lit doesn’t do that.

Chick lit should make you smile more than it makes you frown and should leave you feeling happy and positive about life, because that’s the whole point of its existence.  I tweeted once that chick lit is like Rescue Remedy – it comforts and reassures.  It’s a hug, a fluffy pillow, a fleecy jumper, a hot bubble bath – just in book form.

That said, Rachel’s Holiday is a terrific book.  Keyes used her own experience as an alcoholic and it provides a fascinating insight into the mind of an addict.  And it manages to keep a positive tone while dealing with a serious subject.  Which is why I read it – it was research for my current project, which is about the experience of having a premature baby.  I very much recommend it (the book that is, not the premature birth!).  I do find Keyes a little long-winded at times, but it’s an interesting and educational read.

Of hers, I’ve only read that, Watermelon (which is much more chick lit like) and Under the Duvet.  What are her other books like?  Do you think she deserves her billing as a chick lit writer?

 

4 Comments »

Chick Lit Round-up (January 2014): Interesting Articles

Interesting articles I’ve come across this month.

Am I Writing Chick Lit? – Mystic Writes

Ultimate 100 Chick Lit Collection – Chicklit Club

Creating a Chick Lit Character – Sumner Tales

2014 Releases – I Heart Chick Lit

Written Off: Jennifer Weiner’s Quest for Literary Respect – The New Yorker

What is Women’s Lit? – Chick Lit and Cozies

Is Chick Lit Dead? – Girl Tries Life

The Entertaining Truth Behind Chick Lit – Elizabeth St

Get the Chick Out of Our Lit – Cosmopolitan

Chick Lit?  Hate the Term, Love the Genre – The Guardian

I Wrote a Chick Lit Novel and I’m Proud of It – Slate

Will #readwomen2014 Change Our Sexist Reading Habits? – The Guardian

Fancy a Chick Lit? – Deccan Herald

Chick Lit Hurts Women?  Jennifer Weiner Objects (Video) – Huffpost

Chick Lit Isn’t Dead, It’s Just Different (Video) – Huffpost

Men Write Novels, Women Write Chick Lit.  Not! – Read It Forward

Other Stuff

It’s the Chick-Lit Book Title Generator! – Tara Sparling Writes

Join the Chicklit Club’s Reader Panel

Keep Calm and Read Chick Lit – Pinterest Pic

New Site: Chick Lit Uncovered

New Site: The Window Seat

New Site: Tales for Females

Best of 2013

One More Page

Chick Lit Pad

Chick Lit Central

Chloe’s Chick Lit Reviews

Chick Lit vs Fantasy

Best Books to Read

Previous Round-ups
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013

6 Comments »

Writing Chick Lit

I was rather tickled to come across a link to a two-day course on how to write a chick lit novel.  Sadly it was in Sydney and, as much as I’d love to go back there, there is no chance I’m taking a toddler on a 24 hour plane journey.  It was enough of a trial just by myself.

Anyway, it turns out that you can also buy books on the subject:

The Chick Lit Cookbook: A Guide to Writing Your Novel in 30 Minutes a Day by Alicia de los Reyes

See Jane Write: A Girl’s Guide to Writing Chick Lit by Sarah Mlynowski and Farrin Jacobs

Will Write for Shoes: How to Write a Chick Lit Novel by Cathy Yardley

The Girl’s Guide to Writing Chick Lit by Sarah Mlynowski and Farrin Jacobs

If you are considering writing chick lit, my advice would be to:

* Read (duh)
Particularly the most successful authors, so that you understand what your audience expects.

* Write whatever you want to write
The important thing is to get going, not to worry about what will sell.  Think about that when you’ve proved to yourself that you can complete a novel (or a novella, or a short story – whatever you’re aiming at).

* Don’t obsess about being original
Again, the important thing is to start.  If you convince yourself that you need to redefine the genre on your first go, the chances are you’ll never begin, let alone finish.  It is perfectly okay to start with something in the style of your favourite author.  I wrote The Dr Pepper Prophecies very much in the Sophie Kinsella style, but as I write more I’m starting to find my own.

* “Don’t get it right, get it written”
Advice I received on a writing course, which I have found extremely valuable.  Don’t try to find the perfect words, the perfect opening scene… the perfect anything in fact.  Do a rough draft.  Once you have the whole thing down on paper, then start trying to make it perfect.  (NB be aware that it never will be – and that’s okay).

Anyone else want to share their tips?

3 Comments »

Chick Lit Round-up (December 2013): Interesting Articles

Interesting articles I’ve come across this month.

Should We Mourn the End of Chick Lit? – Guardian

The Death of Chick Lit – The Economist

Jane Austen Inspired Books – Chick Lit Club

The 10 All-Time Greatest Chick Lit Novels to Curl Up with This Winter – Babble

10 Great Chick Lit Novels to Curl Up with This Winter – The REAL List – Becky Monson

Chick Lit: The Cover-Up (Book Covers) – Clare Doran

Chick Lit is the New Therapy – Alanna Rosette

Name a Chick Lit Novel – Missy Kierstead

Best Chick Lit From 2013

The Irish Post

All About Romance

Sarah Louise Smith

Chick Lit Club

I Heart Chick Lit

Chick Lit Central

Chick Lit Pad

Chloe’s Chick Lit Reviews

One More Page (not just chick lit)

Previous Round-ups
November 2013
October 2013

4 Comments »

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