Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Seekerville Welcomes Marilyn Brant

-->I’m so excited to be visiting Seekerville today! Many thanks to Tina for inviting me and to all the Seekers for being such gracious hosts.
When Tina and I were first discussing what the topic of this post should be, she suggested I write about women’s fiction, also known in RWA circles as “mainstream novels with strong romantic elements.” It’s a genre I hold close to my heart since this was the Golden Heart category in which I entered my debut novel during the year Tina and I were GH finalists together. (Yay, ‘007s!) Also, it can be a bit tricky to define. So, I jumped at the chance to talk about it and share my perspective as a writer (and a former reviewer) of both women’s fiction and contemporary romance.

Something to know about me: I love romance on its own and romance mixed with other genres (romantic suspense, paranormal, inspirational, etc.), and I especially love happy endings. In a romance novel, readers can count on all the hero and heroine getting together in the end. They can be sure that lots of narrative time will be devoted to the development of the romantic relationship and, if other genres play a part in the story, how the relationship is impacted by secondary characters and additional storylines. Women’s fiction frequently taps into all of these, too, but, in my opinion, there’s a crucial difference: the focus of the story.

While a romance needs to chronicle the relationship and character development of the main couple, women’s fiction is all about the woman’s journey. It’s HER story—with or without a man. It may feature one woman or a small group of them, but the big important question is not whether she (or her friends) will end up with some love interest, it’s whether she’ll be able to transcend whatever issues she’s been battling in her life to get to a slightly (or significantly) better place at the end of the book. A place that, at the story’s beginning, seemed way out of reach.

Often a romantic partner plays a major role in helping the women’s fiction heroine along on her journey but, just because he’s involved and has been helpful, the heroine is not required by any genre conventions to end up with him. In fact, sometimes the heroine’s journey revolves around the end of her marriage or her struggle with a life-threatening medical diagnosis or the ever-changing (yet often ever-the-same) interpersonal dynamics of siblings or parents or children. The story’s tone can be delightful and upbeat, poignant and lyrical or thought-provoking and heartbreaking. Unlike the assurance readers get with romance that—no matter how painful the struggles of the characters may be, they’ll figure out a way for love to conquer all—women’s fiction offers no such guarantee.

BUT, it does offer an opportunity for the reader to jump aboard for a twisty ride. To see and explore the world through the lens of a typically complex female character. And, ideally, to grow with her as she ventures into an experience that will ultimately change her in a substantial way.

That’s certainly the case with my main character, Ellie, in my debut novel According to Jane. Even with the ghost of author Jane Austen giving Ellie the benefit of her wisdom regarding dating and relationships, it still takes my heroine many years and scores of mistakes before she’s able to acknowledge the need to listen to her own voice and be responsible for her own actions. Part of why I needed to write this book as a women’s fiction project rather than as a romance was because Ellie weaves in an out of a number of relationships (not just one) during her 20-year, Odyssey-like romantic journey. The original tagline for the book was “A novel about Pride, Prejudice and the Pursuit of the Perfect Guy,” a nod not only to Austen’s P&P, but to the impact of her own (and Jane’s) “pride” and “prejudice” as Ellie searches for her idealized relationship with frequently less-than-ideal results.

But readers and critique partners have asked, “Why isn’t this book a romance? There’s such a huge focus on relationships? And the ending is really optimistic…” Right. And, as I said, I love happy endings. The point of this story, however, is not who Ellie ends up with; it’s that she needed a journey, took it and made changes in her life that had nothing to do with any man. No matter how attractive. The narrative focus remained firmly on her voyage of self discovery.

For other writers wondering if their story’s premise might be women’s fiction, consider the path of your main character. Was the narrative directed at her growth and change? Do we see the world predominantly through her eyes? At the end of the book, whether she’s involved in a relationship or not, is she in a better place (mentally, socially, spiritual, etc.) than at the start or, at the very least, has she learned something significant that she’ll carry forward with her? If so, chances are, you’ve written a women’s fiction tale. And chances are even higher that it’s one I’d be thrilled to pick up at a bookstore and take home with me to enjoy!

Side Note: Here are 2009 GH entry stats:
Contemporary Series Romance: 103
Contemporary Series: Suspense/Adventure: 29
Contemporary Single Title Romance: 111
Historical Romance: 107
Inspirational Romance: 40
Novel with Strong Romantic Elements: 152
Paranormal Romance: 141
Regency Historical Romance: 62
Romantic Suspense: 110
Young Adult Romance: 46
Perhaps because there is a lot of storytelling leeway within the Strong Romantic Elements category, it was (at least for the 2009 competition) the largest of the GH categories. Interesting to see all the data in one spot, eh?

Marilyn Brant has been a classroom teacher, a library staff member, a freelance writer and a national book reviewer for Romantic Times. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and son, surrounded by towers of books that often threaten to topple over and crush her. A proud member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, Marilyn’s debut novel, According to Jane, won RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart® Award. Readers can visit her at This month you can also find Marilyn in the August PRO spects, the newsletter of the RWA PRO community. Look for her article, A Moment with Janet Evanovich. You can also find her in the October 2009 issue of Romantic Times, where she discusses the difference--emotionally and logically--between being the reviewer vs. the person whose book was being reviewed

Today Marilyn is giving away an arc of According To Jane, her October release from Kensington Publishing, to one of our Seekerville visitors. If you would like to be in the drawing you must put your email address in your post and/or tell us you want to be in the drawing. Drawing is tonight at 8pm MST.


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Congrats, Marilyn!

Great post.

Thanks for visiting Seekerville.


Eliza Evans said...

Great post, Marilyn! You've clearly defined women's fiction, enough so that I'm now certain that my current project falls in that genre.

Tina M. Russo said...

Do you people sleep? Welcome to Seekerville, Marilyn. I'll be back later to put on the coffee. Starbucks Mocha Java in your honor and the chocolate chip muffins will be ready then too.

Maria Geraci said...

As usual, great post, Marilyn! I so can't wait to read your book!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I got the coffee covered!!!

Marilyn, I just got your book. No time to read it as yet, more's the pity, but your words are wonderful!!!

And it's interesting to see the GH stats and note that so many people want to write and streeeeeetch the boundaries of romance just a smidge. Or more!

Thank you so much for being here today!!!!

Tina's got the chocolate chip muffins coming, and I did a selection of coffees to jump start us on these back-to-school mornings.

It kind of feels good to have a schedule again, doesn't it?

Chocolate velvet coffee, Vanilla cafe', Amaretto, and plain ol' Joe.

Grab a cuppa. Douse it with decadent creamers. And I brought more of that wonderful oatmeal cake with broiled coconut frosting.

Oh mylanta, SO good.

Marilyn, here, dear, have another piece!!!


And welcome to Seekerville!


Tina M. Russo said...

I forgot to mention that Marilyn is a honest to goodness coffee diva like you Ruthy.

I recently got to sample Starbucks VIA which is instant coffee, thanks to her. It was awesome. The stuff is as yet only available in Chicago and Seattle.

Good morning Marilyn and Seeker guests, BTW.

Tina M. Russo said...

Ruthy darling, I have you on the Austen whirlwind. You got the other book. Marilyn will forgive you since her book doesn't release until Sept 29 on Amazon. I preordered it. AND you can too.

~Tami said...

I'd love to win the book. Tami
Mymadakaja at yahoo dot com

Rose said...


Very informative post.

Thanks for sharing the GH stats.


RRossZediker at

Glynna Kaye said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Marilyn! Thanks for helping solidify a definition of women's fiction vs romance. I've already put your book on my next order list!

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Marilyn. Congratulations on your debut!

Thanks for defining women's fiction and giving us a look at the GH category stats. Wonder how they compare with the Ritas.

We're into contests here in Seekerville so I have to ask. Was your sale tied to the Golden Heart?

Ruthy, thanks for the yummy spread on the buffet this morning.


Donnell said...

I would love to be entered in this drawing. According to Jane sounds like a fabulous book, and I can't wait to read it, whether I win it or not. LOL. Congratulations, Marilyn!

Cathy Shouse said...


This really clears up the question of "What is the definition of women's fiction." Thank you!

I'm also interested in the numbers you posted about the Golden Heart. Do you happen to know if these numbers reflect how things end up, as far as the percentage in each category? I'm saying, does one category typically get a lot more than the others? Also, how many entries usually come in?

Since you brought up the Golden Heart and are so good with definitions :) could you explain where a mystery would fit into this category? Where would Diane Motts Davidson of the famed caterer mysteries fit in? If it's all about suspense (and I'm hearing that it is), is there any point in entering a mystery in a contest these days?

I'd love to win!

cathy underscore shouse at yahoo dot com

Missy Tippens said...

OH. MY. Gosh. Marilyn!! I judged your story in the GH! And I picked up the phone and called my good friend and told her I'd just read a story that WOULD be sold by the time the GH ceremony arrived. It was amazing!! I'm so, so excited for you that it's being released soon. I'll be ordering it asap! :)

Welcome to Seekerville. I'm so glad to meet you--the author of that wonderful GH entry!! :)

Missy Tippens said...

By the way, for those of you like me who look forward to fall each year because of the Pumpkin flavored creamers come about again...well, I found it yesterday!!! So go stock up. It's usually gone by January. :)

Marilyn Brant said...

Oh, wow! Good morning! I'm thrilled to see so many people here already :). I just put my son on the bus and will be popping in as often as I can throughout the day...

Cheryl~hi and thanks for the welcome!

Eliza~good! I was thinking of you and some of the questions you'd asked about women's fic. when I wrote this :).

Tina~LOL! Good morning to YOU. Thanks so much for having me here, hon. And yeah!! Thanks for the coffee and chocolate-chip muffins. Mmmmmmm.

Maria~thank you for visiting. I'm looking forward to Bunco Babes Gone Wild this fall!!

Ruth~you're wonderful! Coffee and treat choices and such a warm welcome--I may never leave Seekerville! Also, I haven't eaten breakfast yet, so the mere mention of all these goodies is making me hungry ;).

Brenda said...

Great post!
I'd like to be entered to win the book!

Cara Slaughter said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Marilyn! Great information on writing women's fiction--which I love even better than romance. Please put me in the drawing for your new book.

I especially like women's fiction with a romance intertwined. I think that's the best of both worlds. Also, a little mystery involved would add even more spice.

Marilyn Brant said...

Tami~thanks for stopping by!

Rose~you're welcome, but I have to credit Tina on finding them first! I actually DID credit her but the sneaky girl cut her name out of the post!! She was the one who pointed them out to me (Thanks, Tina. :)

Glynna~thanks for adding JANE to your list!!

Janet~I wish I could say the sale was a direct result of the GH, but no... I do think having finaled/won really helped as far as editor interest and recognition, but my agent had submitted the novel to a number of editors before, during and after the GH, and we kept getting the same response: "We love the story but don't know how to market this." In the original version, I wrote the book completely chronologically, which meant there were high-school scenes for quite a few chapters, leading some editors to think it had too much of a YA feel for a book that definitely turned into women's fiction (with strong language and some very adult love scenes later...). It's NOT a YA, so I had to restructure the book--using flashbacks--to make sure readers understood that, while the high-school memories were critically important to the story, it was based in an adult world. Once I did that (post GH), it sold.

Back again in a moment!! (This is so fun--thanks to everyone for your great questions and comments. :)

Happy to Be in Oregon said...

I'm so glad I got a Tweet that sent me over this way to Seekerville. Yet another blog to follow. *sigh* Love Marilyn's perspective and look forward to reading the book, as I love all things related to Austen.

Please definitely include me in the drawing.

kimm-barnes at

Marilyn Brant said...

Donnell~hi!! *waving* So wonderful to see you here--thank you!

Cathy~great questions! I do know that the GH/RITA categories with the largest number of entries also have the largest number of finalists, with 8 being maximum (or 9 in the case of a tie). So, while the GH finalists are supposed to reflect the top 10% of the entries, if there are 150 entires in a category, 15 of them should, ideally, final. But really only 8-9 do... Therefore, it's my understanding that once a category gets above 80 entries, there will be some top-10% stories that aren't in the finals--meaning there are some really exceptional manuscripts out there that didn't necessarily get recognized in the contest, but could very well sell. Altogether, there are usually 1100-1200 GH entries (across all the categories) per year. I believe 25 entries is the minimum for RWA to keep a category. But if there are only, say, 30 entries in one of them, there would be just 3 finalists for that category. As for your mystery question, you probably have some leeway with this: if you didn't think the suspense was hard-hitting enough for the RS category, the book could definitely go into Strong Romantic Elements. I remember several of the past GH winners (including Gemma Halliday and Kate Carlisle) who won in the SRE category for their light, comedic mysteries. Hope this helps!!

Suzie Johnson said...

Marilyn, this sounds like a fascinating book. I can't wait to read it. Thank you for the great insight into women's fiction. And here I thought I was writing it...I guess I'll have to redefine the book I thought was women's fiction.


sdjohnson (at) praisemail (dot) com

PatriciaW said...

Very illuminating post. I would have thought the contemporary series romance was the category with the most entries.

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, Marilyn! What a great description of WF! I love to read it and I love to write it, so your pose was especially meaningful to me.

I do enjoy well-written romances as well, but the one thing I don't like as much about romances is the predictability. No matter how many twists, turns, and obstacles the couples face, you know in the end they're going to end up together. I love it when a good romance writer takes me on a wild (and somewhat unpredictable) ride through the courtship.

Myra Johnson said...

Your POSE??? Sorry, that should be POST!

Marilyn Brant said...

Missy~OH MY GOSH back!!!!!! I'm incredibly thrilled to meet you!!!! THANK YOU!! And thanks for judging "Jane" way back then and for being so enthusiastic about it :). You're the first person who's ever told me they judged the story...I can't tell you how glad and grateful I am that you liked it. (We may not have met before, but I'm hugging you anyway! *hug*)

Brenda~thanks! I'm so glad you took a little time to visit :).

Cara~thank you for the warm welcome :). I love it when mystery is intertwined in a story, too!! It's funny, I've been thinking a lot about that genre lately also because of Janet Evanovich's presentation at RWA and because Hank Phillippi Ryan invited me over to Jungle Red last week. Reading mysteries was my first love... I just couldn't help but think, back when I was devouring all of those Nancy Drews, that the emotional-romantic element with Ned was REALLY in want of some enlivening!!

Happy to be in Oregon (Kimm)~so wonderful to meet another Austen fan!! Glad you enjoyed the post today and stopped by :).

Connie Marquise said...

Marilyn: Wonderful insight and more info to munch on. I'd love to win a copy of your book. Thanks for the opportunity.

nvgrams at yahoo dot com

Audra Harders said...

Good morning, Marilyn! Welcome to Seekerville!

Your words are true and applicable to so many areas of life!

Marilyn said: Even with the ghost of author Jane Austen giving Ellie the benefit of her wisdom regarding dating and relationships, it still takes my heroine many years and scores of mistakes before she’s able to acknowledge the need to listen to her own voice and be responsible for her own actions.

Oh my goodness! Does this not reflect the writer's life? How long will we continue to make the same mistakes? When will we learn from them?

Thanks for defining the rules of Women's Fiction. Great advice.

Congratulations on your successes!

How about a wonderful Southern Pecan blend of coffee with hot pecan buns. Hmm, I think I want seconds... : )

Marilyn Brant said...

Suzie~glad to have helped a little and very best wishes on your story (no matter what its genre :)!

Patricia~Me, too! I thought the number of entries is "series" would be exceptionally high, although I did know--just from the number of finalists listed--that the SRE category typically has a lot of entires.

Myra~thank you and LOL about "pose" vs. "post"!! I'm actually afraid to read back my comments here today because I've been writing so fast (in between sips of delicious coffee :) that I know I've probably made a bunch of typos! I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that the end result is still somewhat sensical!

*BTW, the stats for both the 2009 GH and the RITA are posted on the RWA website. Go to "Contests and Awards", click on either GH or RITA and there will be a link on the left for these stats.

Tina M. Russo said...

I didn't even realize that was THE Bunco Babes author who stopped by. I read her blog all the time.

So Marilyn what's next for you? What are you working on now?

Tell us about going to a Jane Austen Convention. What's it like and how does it differ from RWA/writerly type conferences we are accustomed to.

Marilyn also just came back from a tour of the real Sturbridge Village and the pictures are really awesome, especially if you are a historical author.

Marilyn Brant said...

Connie~thanks for the visit and for taking time out of your morning to read my post :).

Audra~you are speakin' my language with all this talk of pecans!! Thanks for the lovely welcome (Seekerville and all of its visitors and inhabitants are simply wonderful!), and I so agree about the mistakes and the years it takes to come closer to getting it right--in both writing and in life/love. Sigh :).

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Ugh, Tina, you're right! Marilyn's was the preorder.

Egg on my face, but that's okay because I went back and checked (Amazon had to split my available order) and I hadn't pre-ordered it, but I will now.


Blame it on sleep deprivation, but Marilyn, Tina has encouraged me to Austenism...

I'll have her keep me on task with my Austen challenge and I'll stick with food.


I'm SO LOOKING FORWARD to getting your book, LOL!

And I brought some fresh upstate NY peaches with real whipped cream, so help yourselves, everyone.


Pepper Basham said...

Congratulations, Marilyn.
Ooo, Jane Austen's ghost? Love the idea- and all things Austen.

Please put me in the drawing.

Marilyn Brant said...

Ruthy~LOL! No worries! I'm *always* confusing the books I've read with the ones I own (and I own so many that I haven't yet read!!) and also with the ones I've been meaning to read, etc... I not only need more bookshelves to house this ever-growing collection, I need someone to pull me away from the computer so I can actually relax with a book again. And, yeah, the number of Austen books alone on my TBR list is enormous!

Tina~first of all, Yes! THE Bunco Babe herself--the kind and amazing Maria Geraci :). Her debut novel had so much warmth, humor and heart, I can't wait for the sequel!

You asked about a Jane Austen conference... I've been to 2 of them so far and have enjoyed both. There are about 600 people there (so, smaller than RWA National), but JASNA offers workshops, too, and several choices within each time slot. There might be presentations on such topics as: JA and gardens, how JA's letters reveal her feelings about family, an author talking about JA's use of irony, what typifies an "average" JA reader, a scholarly presentation on religious symbolism in Mansfield Park or a collection of clips from the films to show costuming, etc. There is also a place to buy books (I'm sure that shocks you!) and other Austen-inspired items (calendars, magazines, jewelry, those little cloth reticule bags, tea/biscuits). There several whole-group presentations, too (i.e., during last year's conference, the creators of the new P&P Broadway musical came in--they spoke then SANG for us a couple of songs from the production--it was wonderful!). AND there's a Regency Ball where attendees can dress up and dance Regency dances (they have lessons at the conference prior to this event, so dancers don't end up hurting each other while attempting to replicate the complicated steps :).

Oh! You asked what I was working on now--the editorial tweaks for book 2, which is out in Oct. 2010. It's a modern fairytale about 3 very different suburban women (all friends) who shake up their marriages and their lives when one of them asks a surprising questions...

*Is it time for a mid-morning snack yet? I'm bringing in some white-chocolate-covered popcorn to share! Hope you'll all like it ;).

Julie Lessman said...

Marilyn, welcome to Seekerville! And thanks for explaining the difference between women's fiction with strong romantic elements and romance -- you nailed it in a way that really helps me to understand it a lot better.

I was always told that a woman's fiction is a story that can stand alone without the romance, while in a romance, the love factor IS the story, and without it, there would be no story. I like your definition better.


Mary Connealy said...

Hi, Marilyn, thanks for being on. I love the look at Women's Fiction. You did a good job of explaining it.

I usually fumble it when I try so if it comes up, I'll quote you.

The book sounds great.

Marilyn Brant said...

Pepper~thank you!! This is one thing that I think is wonderful about the Internet--it's just SO great that fellow Austen fans are able to find and connect with each other :).

*Also, for those interested in some big-name, NYT-bestselling authors specifically known for their women's fiction, here are a few authors/books (the tone of the stories vary, depending on the author, from very serious relationship dramas to ligher and funnier):
Sue Miller (Oprah--While I Was Gone)
Elizabeth Berg (Oprah--Open House)
Anne Tyler (Ladder of Years)
Alice Hoffman (Practical Magic)
Anita Shreve (Oprah--The Pilot's Wife)
Patricia Gaffney (The Saving Graces, used to write romance, too)
Jennifer Weiner (Good in Bed)
Emily Giffin (Something Borrowed)
Susan Wiggs (Just Breathe, also writes both contemporary and historical romance)
Lolly Winston (Good Grief)
Audrey Niffenegger (Time Traveler's Wife)
Sue Monk Kidd (Secret Life of Bees)
Sophie Kinsella (Shopaholic series)
Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones's Diary)

*Be back soon!

Pamela Cayne said...

Great post, Marilyn! I especially loved seeing the GH stats compared to subgenres--fascinating!

And I'm glad you wrote ATJ the way you did--it's such a powerful (yet sweet) story!

Wanda said...

I would love to be entered in your draw. The book looks great!
wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

Marilyn Brant said...

Julie~thank you! I'm really glad my explanation helped clarify a bit. Women's fiction can be a slippery little animal, can't it?! And it doesn't help matters when there are such enormous differences in tone and theme. One women's fic. novel can be as serious as Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones (which I forgot to mention in my list!) and, yet, it can also encompass "chick lit"-like lightness with only a smattering of poignant moments... I've always thought that if the film "When Harry Met Sally" were a book, told from Meg Ryan and Carrie Fisher's POV, it would be the kind of women's fiction I love best: funny and optimistic, but still so insightful about human behavior ;).

Mary~I'd be absolutely honored if you ever wanted to quote me!

Pamela~Aww, thanks, my friend! It means a lot to me that you enjoyed it...

Wanda~Glad you stopped by--thank you!!

**ALSO--Tina--when you do the drawing tonight, could you please choose 2 names instead of just one? So many kind people have taken time to visit today, I'd like to give away a couple of ARCs! (Thank you. ;)

Tina M. Russo said...

Two it is!!! Woohooo!!!

You lucky people. I have to wait until September 29.

Renee said...

I <3 pretty much anything that involves Pride and Prejudice or Jane Austen! I'm participating in the Everything Austen Challenge and would love to talk about this According to Jane ARC for an "extra" for the challenge!Please enter me!


Tina M. Russo said...

So Marilyn, since I confess my subscription to RT has expired, what is it like to be a recovering reviewer, now debut author?

Do you get nervous when you read reviews? Do you Google yourself and keep a bottle of Tums nearby? LOL

And your next release sounds wonderful. Congratulations on the sale.

pat jeanne said...

Congrats on the GH award and on your publication success, Marilyn. And thank you for the description of novel with strong romantic elements vs romance. I'd like to enter my novel in the RWA's GH contest but was unsure as to what category it would best fit in to. It's historical and the time period is the 1930's and also inspirational.The romance isn't the main focus but rather the woman's journey. Still, I wonder if it would have more of a chance in the inspirational category. With the RWA is there a clear cut divide between inspirational and the other categories like historical and SRE.Any thoughts on this?

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks for the great post and wonderful comparison of romance and women's fiction.

Loved your journey to publication. You mentioned editors liked your story but didn't know how to market it, which often happens to unique stories that don't fit the usual mold. Good for you! You saw what needed to be changed and reworked the youthful intro that threw them off base.

IMHO, sometimes a small change or shift in direction can mean the difference between rejection and a sale.

Congrats on your debut!

Marilyn Brant said...

Renee~oh, good! Another Austen fan--yay!! Welcome and thank you :).

Tina~it's really scary on both sides--but it's scarier to be the author!! I used to be a teacher before I became a parent, and I felt the same way about parent/teacher conferences. It's an anxiety-producing event for the teacher because you want to be fair, honest, encouraging but also help the parent guide the child. It's FAR more frightening going into it as a parent, though--wondering what this stranger will say about my child! For the most part, I do believe reviewers (and teachers) aren't trying to be cruel. In both cases, they're just expressing an opinion based on their impressions, experience and taste. Sometimes you get lucky and have a reviewer (or a teacher) that really "gets" you and your baby...sometimes, not so much!!

Debby~thank you for saying you liked my pub. journey! At the time, all those revisions seemed a bit (A LOT) overwhelming! I still feel really fortunate that, in the end, the changes worked well enough to get my editor to buy the book ;).

Pat Jeanne~I'm honestly not positive, so I don't want to steer you wrong. It's my understanding, though, that the historical and inspirational categories are specifically for *romance* and that a love story has to play a significant role in the novel for it to qualify there. You may want to ask the opinion of a critique partner or someone familiar with the complete plot of your story--but if your heroine does not end up with a man at the end of the book (or if there were multiple heroes involved), it's not technically a romance. It would, of course, be fine from a judging standpoint if it were entered in Romantic Elements. Here are the guidelines for the Inspy Category for GH/RITA from the RWA website:

Inspirational Romance
Romance novels in which religious or spiritual beliefs (in the context of any religion or spiritual belief system) are a major part of the romantic relationship.

Judging guidelines: In this category, religious or spiritual beliefs (in the context of any religion or spiritual belief system) are blended with and form a significant part of the love story, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying and optimistic.

Hope that helps!

Laura in Texas said...

Very helpful post. And I'd love to be in the drawing. lauramctx @ yahoo.

Pepper Basham said...

Oh Marilyn,
JASNA is pretty awesome, isn't it? I've printed so many articles from their online journal I could create a library out of them :-)

Thanks for sharing all your knowledge.
Oh - and I'm a Nancy Drew/Ned fan too ;-) The newer books just can't compete with the older versions.

Camy Tang said...

Thanks so much for blogging today, Marilyn! I love the premise of your book. And how cool you went from GH finalist to published author! I love writing journeys like that.

Thanks also for a great post about women's fiction and how to define it--I think too many people think women's fiction is always sad, when it's not necessarily depressing--it's uplifting, many times!


Edna said...

I would like to be in this drawing because I love to read, and can't write anything. I am an advid reader and read each night after I read my Bible, so please enter me.

May God bless


Tina M. Russo said...

Marilyn, thanks so much for being our guest. I know we are a chatty bunch, but hey we like you. We like you.

I'll be back in two hours for our drawing.

Marilyn Brant said...

Laura~really glad you stopped by--thanks!

Pepper~oh, yes! The online JASNA info is GREAT! Ooohh, you just reminded me that I wanted to look something up on their site! Thank you :).

Camy~thanks for the wonderful welcome--you have all made it so easy and fun for me today. And, btw, your Sushi Series sounds fantastic!!

Edna~thank you so much for visiting. I love to read, too (I think that's true for many of us here!), but I haven't been reading every night lately, and I miss that! Hope you have a great week.

Tina~and I like you all back! This was an exceptionally fun day. Now all Seeker ears will be ringing for the next month as I tell everybody how terrific you all are! I'll be back later tonight, too...and thank you again for the day.

Tina M. Russo said...

CONGRATULATIONS TO KIMM BARNES (Happy to be in Oregon) and Donnell who are winners of arcs of According to Jane.

Please check your mail boxes for an email.

The rest of us can preorder the book online.

Marilyn, again thanks for being with us and for your generous arc giveaway..and for spending so much time sharing your insights.

We wish you much success and hope to see you here next year for book 2!

Sara Daniel said...


Fabulous explanation of women's fiction. You are so articulate! I can't wait to get my hands on According to Jane!

Marilyn Brant said...

Sara~oh, thanks for visiting me here! Always good to "see" you :-).

Tina~yay! I'll get those ARCs out this week--thanks for having the drawing, and an even bigger thanks for hosting me. I had a blast in Seekerville!!

Kimm and Donnell~hope you'll both enjoy the book but, regardless, I'd love to hear your thoughts... ;)

**Just an FYI for anyone who's on GoodReads: my publisher and I are giving away 10 more ARCs over there (the contest closes on Sept.7th and GoodReads will then notify me of the winners), so if you're interested, the link to my giveaway page is:

Hope you all have a wonderful rest of the week/long weekend. Thanks so much for sharing part of your day with me :).

Happy to Be in Oregon said...

Thank you so much Tina & Marilyn! I'm very excited about this win!! It's my first ARC win ever, and the fact that it's an "Austenesque" book is simply PERFECT & DIVINE. I look forward to reading it as soon as I can tear the wrapper open. :-)


Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Marilyn, I know I'm late- but wanted to add a thank you for a great post.

Thanks for hosting, Tina. Cheers!

Marilyn Brant said...

Kimm~you're very welcome! Hope you'll like the ARC ;).

Nancy~thank you so much for stopping by to read my post!!

Have a great weekend, everyone!