May I never grow too old to treasure 'once upon a time'. ~ Anonymous

Friday, June 25, 2010

Cathy's Chick Lit Holiday

I have loved Chick Lit since before I even knew it had its own label for the genre (or what I otherwise referred to as Women’s Fiction, for the majority of my life). Like with most things in my life, I go through phases of activity, intensity and duration of time spent and variation on the “genre that is keeping my interest at the moment” in relation to reading. When I lived in Boston, post-grad from college, Chick Lit was all the rage. I devoured the nail polish-color covered books one after another on my train ride to and from work. I could not get enough of them! I have always loved them for their quick, easy reading, humor, wit, charm and above all, their relatable content on everything from relationships to food , weddings to vampires and friendships to murder. Introduced to a select few authors, whether by word of mouth , visual awareness or at my local library, I found my favorite authors, who include, to this day, Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes and Candace Busnhnell. I have only recently (I don’t know what took me so long!!) added to this list, the woman I consider to be the queen of relationships in story telling, Emily Giffin.

I am constantly seeking to add to my list of favorite women writers, especially, since at this point I have read 99% of these three authors books (with only a few Marian Keyes books left to read…and maybe reread, since my memory just isn’t what it used to be) and as such, I have spent the better part of year trying to identify who I want to consider to add to my “Top Ten” list of female authors. So far, I can safely say that Lauren Weisberger, Kristin Harmel, Laura Caldwell, Carol Snow, Gemma Townley, Jen Lancaster, Madeleine Wickham (real name for Sophie Kinsella), Sarah Mlynowski and Kyra Davis are (relative) newbies to me and fantastic authors. I also have a list of authors that either I haven’t read enough of their books or they don’t’ have many books published for me to even check out. This includes books I enjoyed, like the Queen of Babble series by Meg Cabot, Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern, Brenda Janowitz’ Brooke Miller series, Kristin Gore’s Sammy’s series, The Bachelorette by Karen McCullah Lutz, Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston and Enchanted, Inc. by Shanna Swendson. It will be interesting to see if these authors move into my favorite list after reading another novel or two.

One author that I have been oddly surprised to find that I don’t have much appeal for (mostly of her established mainstream status and media following) is the duo Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. I have not read The Nanny Diaries but the movie was “okay” enough. I dragged my feet through the audio version of The Nanny Returns and about ¾ of Citizen Girl. I almost tried to listen to Dedication but couldn’t bear to within the first 10 minutes. I don’t mean to speak bad of any author, especially someone (or I should say two women) so highly acclaimed for their novel writing (maybe it’s just me and something I’m missing) but I just haven’t found a book by this pair that has made me want to run out and read another book by them. On the other hand, there is another author, who, thus far, I can go either way on: Plum Sykes. Her debut novel, Bergdorf Blondes was so hyped up that I ran out to get it right away but unfortunately, I was disappointed in it. However, this past winter, I picked up the audio version of her second novel, The Divorcee, and by about the halfway mark, I was hooked! I hope she puts out another novel because this seems like a woman who’s writing and story-telling improves with time and age.

In the Fall of 2009, I saw the release of one of my favorite authors’, Sophie Kinsella's Remember Me at the local drugstore and I had to pick it up. I don’t know why, but before that moment, I really hadn’t given much though to Chick Lit since 2005 or so. I mean, I still read from time to time, but it was more pure fiction type novels. Also, I went through a phase where I read strictly spiritual, growth, Buddhist and “find your own path” type books. Then, I hopped on the fantasy/paranormal band wagon and read (most of) the Harry Potter and Twilight Series. But reading Remember Me was different. Not only was it quick, fast, funny and lighthearted but it sparked in me something, more than a sense of enjoyment and pleasure, which I always get when I read a really good chick lit novel and it made me smile. Like my very own chick lit holiday or someting. From there I was off and running…

Since becoming (excessively) involved in the Chick Lit genre, once again, joining various book clubs on Goodreads and becoming a reviewer for the Chick Lit Club, my TBR list has become astronomically long! In fact, I saw a list recently on Goodreads that prompted me to write this blog. It was a poll of members’ “Can’t Wait List of 2010”. Readers’ choices for 2010 releases were ranked in ascending order based on the number of votes they received. I decided to create my own “Can’t Wait” List for 2010. It seems that every single one of my favorite authors has something new coming out this year. Some of the releases have already past (two, of which I read (Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin and The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell), others are sequels I’ve been dying to read the latest installment and still others, are authors’ I have been in anticipation of reading for sometime. If only there was more time in the day, in the week, in the month or even in the year to read all these books…and without further ado…

My “Can’t Wait” List for 2010

I Heart Hollywood by Lindsey Kelk 1/7/10

The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes 1/21/10

Chelsea, Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler 3/9/10

Just Like Me, Only Better by Carol Snow 4/6/10

The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell 4/27/10

Gimme A Call by Sarah Mlynowski 4/27/10

Spotlight by Ilana Fox 4/29/10

My Fair Lazy: One Reality Television Addict’s Attempt to Discover if Being a Dumb Ass is Not the New Black; or A Culture-Up Manifesto by Jen Lancaster 5/4/10

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin 5/11/10

Vows, Vendettas and a Little Black Dress by Kyra Davis 6/1/10

An Ideal Wife by Gemma Townley 6/22/10

Thin, Rich, Pretty by Beth Harbison 7/6/10

I Heart Paris by Lindsey Kelk 7/8/10

Deeply, Desperately by Heather Webber 8/3/10

Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger 8/17/10

Mini-Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella 8/24/10

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sister, Sister - Relations, Similarities, Connections and Cameos in Novel Writing

A while ago, I mentioned that series Chick Lit is one of my favorite types of novels to read. I think one of the main reasons I love it so much is that I get so attached to the characters and then become eager to follow them longer. If series take my number one rank, I would have to say that the appearance of character cameos (especially surprise mentions), is my second favorite. In a series, you expect the same characters to return, but in unrelated novels, by the same author, you wouldn’t necessarily have any expectation that the long lost heroine of your previous favorite novel would be back so soon in the latest release; but that is exactly what makes it so fun = the Unpredictability Factor of Surprise and Awe.

Originally the phrase "cameo role" referred to a famous person who was playing no character, but him or herself. Like a cameo brooch—a low-relief carving of a person's head or bust—the actor or celebrity is instantly recognizable. More recently, "cameo" has come to refer to any short appearances, whether as a character or as oneself.

Cameos are also common in novels and other literary works. “Literary cameos” usually involve an established character from another work who makes a brief appearance to establish a shared universe setting, to make a point, or to offer homage. Balzac was an originator of this practice in his Comédie humaine. Sometimes a cameo features a historical person who "drops in" on fictional characters in a historical novel, as when Benjamin Franklin shares a beer with Phillipe Charboneau in The Bastard by John Jakes.

One of my favorite authors, Emily Giffin does this in a few of her books. I felt so lucky when I won a “First Reads” copy of her latest novel, Heart of the Matter, through Goodreads’ author giveaways. I was even more delighted when it came in the mail and I could rip right through it as fast as my eyes would possibly read. One of my most favorite parts (other than the book, itself, being a new fabulous story of the intersecting lives of two women and their relationships and the very real turmoil that can occur when temptation, passion, lust and hindsight can cause all kinds of chaos amongst the lives of those you love most) was the cameo appearances of both Dex and Rachel from the beloved first novel , Something Borrowed. Dex is apparently Tess Russo's brother and we meet him again at family affairs and Tess even turns to hm and Rachel for advice as her life takes a parallel not to dissimilar from the beginning of their relationship. Unfortunately, however, because I was one of the first of my friends to read it, I had no one I felt I could share the good news with unless I was prepared to ruin the element of surprise that had made it so fun. Instead, I chose too vaguely refer to it in my review of the HOTM. You better believe it was the first thing I asked my fellow readers about when they had read it though:)

In such a way, a cameo appearance can be made by the author of a work to put a sort of personal "signature" on a story. Knowing this, I want to go back to the first Emily Giffin book I read that was actually her fourth book published, Love the One You’re With. It would be really interesting to me to see if these appearances pop up in more of her literary works.

On a similar note and as you probably have already been thinking about – cameos are much more commonplace in movies. As the definition, above, provided, a cameo is noted for its quick, yet unmistakable appearance and the actor, famous person, person of interest, etc. is almost never included in the credits for such a brief stint, which to me, brings even more of the magic and fun – similar to the element of surprise I referred to in HOTM. After all, a cameo wouldn’t be a cameo if we expected it to come.

I read recently (as I have been following, somewhat obsessively) that Emily Giffin will be making a cameo appearance of her own in the movie version of Something Borrowed, still in production in NYC. I read that other writers have done the same thing, including Lauren Weisberger, who portrayed Miranda Priestley’s children’s Nanny in the movie version of The Devil Wears Prada. I will definitely have to watch this movie more closely to witness this for myself. With all the Sophie Kinisella movies that have been in pre-production or at least picked up for thoughts of turning them into a screenplay, it will be really fun to see if there are any Shopaholic references or appearances by Ms. Wickham (Kinsella), herself!

I think it is important to note that stories or films that try to “hype” up their newest release by using characters from a previous work of fiction as a segue into the new novel are not included in the definition of cameos. Instead, these types of connections are called “spin-offs”. For example, in my era, Beverly Hills, 90210 was the popular show of choice for teens and women alike. To build excitement for the next soap opera, produced by media giant, Aaron Spelling, Melrose Place, Jake, a character from Melrose Place made his first appearance on 90210, as a contractor to Kelly Taylor’s mother’s home. In the first episode of Melrose Place, the crossover of characters continued as we see Kelly and friend, Donna Martin leave their famous zip code and venture on over to the apartment complex, soon to be just as famous, Melrose Place. Kelly and Jake have a (very) short-lived romance and sure enough, by episode three, Melrose Place had completely “spun off” on its own.

For now, I will continue to work on my own novel and who knows, if the characters become as likeable as I hope they will grow and develop to be, maybe I will be creating links, connections and future appearances in more of my own novels to come – and hey, if someone wants to put me on screen one day in the cinematized version of my book, please, by all means, count me in!

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I just wanted to apologize to my fellow bloggers for dropping the ball last week and not posting my usual Writer's Wednesday column. Things got really busy between work and (mostly) school; but now that my research paper is done, I am working on some great posts for this week.

One (that I actually started last week but just couldn't get it done in time) is going to be about how writers' use connections in their novel writing. Emily Giffin appears to be a follower of this trend. In her latest book, Heart of the Matter, we see the appearance of Dex and Rachel once again from Something Borrowed. Similarly, in Baby Proof, the lead heroine, Claudia works for a book publishing company and one of her favorite clients is an author from London, named Ethan, who is married to a woman named Darcy and she asks him about how his twin boys, John and Thomas (a reference to characters in Something Blue). I love reading cameos, connections and links like these! They make me smile and reminisce (especially if it was a really great book).

The second blog that I am going to be working on is going to be about using dialogue in writing. I have finally been picking up where I left off (eek! Months ago) in my own novel. Can you believe I even forgot one of the secondary characters names?!!!! That's when you know you are long overdue to get back to writing. Anyways, I worked on a few chapters yesterday, jumping around between chapters 2 and 3. filling in the dialogue I wanted to include to keep the storyline flowing and the chapters in order. I will be exploring the importance of dialogue and how you can reveal so much about characters through its use and examples of how to use it most effectively in your writing.

On another note, just to keep you all up to date on my To Be Read List, I have recently finished reading The Importance of Being Married by Gemma Townley, a new author addition to my list of chick lit faves. I also just finished wrapping up the audio cd of Secrets of a Shoe Addict by Beth Harbison, which to my delightful surprise was a spinoff to her first novel, Shoe Addicts Anonymous. As always, look out for my audio reviews at the Chick Lit Club.

I update my current reading list on Twitter a lot too if you want to follow me there as well. My username is cgraceh and my picture is the same as the cartooon pictured on my blog here:)

Thanks! Write a lot. Read more soon.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Importance of Being A Character: Revealing Personality through Action & Relationships in Chick Lit

As a psychology major I am constantly studying people – the way they think, the way they behave, the way they talk (and they way they don’t think, don’t behave and don’t talk) and who they are in relationship to other people. Perhaps that is why I am so attracted to the Chick Lit genre as it has been said before that “Chick lit is also a truly fascinating character study”. Every time I read one of Emily Giffin’s books, I am in awe of the depth with which she describes each character. Even greater than I am inspired by the depth of each character, I am more inspired by the way she brings life to each one, whether they are the lead heroine or the token stand-in character sitting on a bus. When I read her books, I find myself thinking about the characters when I’m not reading, wondering what they are doing, how they are feeling after, say, their husband just cheated on them, or their ex-boyfriend just contacted them out of the blue, and I have to remind myself that hey, it’s just a book - these are merely characters in a piece of fiction (a very moving piece of fiction mind you, but, nonetheless they are not real.) For the characters to blur the line of reality, to me, that shows great talent on the part of the author.

It was no surprise to me, then, when I read the line, “The single most important element of your chick-lit novel is your main character.” What readers love about chick-lit is that the heroine is them — but with more attitude, more courage, or maybe just more shoes. She is Everywoman, with quirks and problems that are believable yet larger than life. She’s confident yet insecure. Smart but naive. Loveable yet flawed.

How you create her your main character will depend largely on who you are and whom you’ve come into contact with in your life.” But “As long as the characters live and breathe, not an awful lot need happen. Don’t get too complex.” ~ Freya North

Emily Giffin has been quoted as saying something similar – that not a whole lot happens between the beginning and end of her books, but the character growth and relationships that are drawn out in her stories are incredible.

“The trick to making your characters sound different is to bury yourself really deeply in their head. Become them. Think like they would thinks. Speak like they would speak. Use words they would use. Today we're going to focus on using POV to make your characters stand out from each other.” ~ Stephanie Rowe

I love this quote because it reminds me of what I’ve heard from many authors, including one of my most favorites, Emily Giffin. I heard Ms. Giffin say in an interview after the audio version of Love the One You’re With, that before she even thinks about putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), she spends much time (months even!) getting to know her characters. I have heard other authors mimic similar advice, saying that before they begin writing, they know their characters inside and out. They know what their characters will be wearing on Tuesday, eating for breakfast on Thursday and where they will be going out Friday night better than they know their own plans! For me, this is something to aspire to as a “wannabe” chick lit writer. So far, as I work on writing my first Chick Lit novel, I have followed a wonderful outline (because in addition to my love for post-it notes, I love to be organized) from See Jane Write: A Girl’s Guide to Writing Chick Lit by Sarah Mlynowski and Farrin Jacobs:

Character Sketch

Answer the following questions about your characters:

Physical description
Five words that describe her personality
Her dream job, or dream life
Where does she work? Is she good at her job? Why? Or why not?
Things that annoy her
Her bad habits
What people like about her
Her roadblocks to happiness
The person she should trust most (and why)
Her dream guy
The person she trusts most (and why)
The worst day of her life
Before the book began, the best day of her life
What she does to relax

I’ve included some of my own questions/categories as I’ve moved along in my quest to “Get to Know My Characters.” For instance, I added “Birthday and Zodiac Sign Traits & Qualities”, “How She Met the Lead Character/Relationship to Main Character”. The list of questions, fill-in-the-blanks and other data you can gather about your character is virtually endless.

Other great advice I’ve received about characters - You don’t want your characters to be carbon copies of anyone, including yourself, for that matter. Think about it: There can only be one Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, one Elle Woods from Legally Blonde, one Beauty from Beauty and the Beast and the list goes on. Another pitfall of the “carbon copy” character – you don’t want your character to fall into any one stereotype or become a cliché. Especially in chick lit, many “type” characters have been overly cast and done to death. Some examples include the gay friend, the evil boss, the overbearing mother and the bubbly and near-perfect best friend. Here is a list from the Chick Lit Club’s Top Ten unforgettable (and unmistakable) Characters:

1. Bridget Jones - Helen Fielding
She makes you laugh, cringe and cheer. No woman sums up the life of a chain-smoking, social-drinking, weight-watching singleton better than Bridget.

2. Rebecca Bloomwood - Sophie Kinsella
Who wouldn't love this whirlwind with maxed-out credit cards? And the best bit is we can follow the Shopaholic's antics through five books.

3. Miranda Priestley - Lauren Weisberger
The female villain of The Devil Wears Prada is cruel, rude and overdemanding, and of course, exquisitely dressed. She'll definitely make you feel better about your own boss.

4. Walsh sisters - Marian Keyes
These Irish sisters have certainly added a few grey hairs to their parents' heads - there's Claire whose husband left on the day their baby was born; Rachel whose fondness for recreational drugs led her to a rehab clinic; Maggie who left her husband to head for LA; Anna who gets badly injured and Helen who never seems to be in work.

5. Tracie Martin - Alison Kervin
She may not be quite Posh Spice but Tracie is Queen of the WAGs in our book. Who else perfects the WAG look of orange skin, yellow hair, indecently short skirts and tower-high heels - while still being a charming, yet somewhat, clueless character.

6. Rose Feller - Jennifer Weiner
Apart from sharing a shoe size, attorney Rose is so unlike her wild sister Maggie. But in In Her Shoes, Rose learns to live a different type of life.

7. Rosie Dunne - Cecelia Ahern
From a naughty schoolgirl passing notes in class to a single mother trying to forge a career, we are with Rosie through several decades of her life and pray she'll get together with her soulmate in Where Rainbows End/Love, Rosie
8. Rachel White and Darcy Rhode - Emily Giffin
These best friends fall out over the same man but in Something Borrowed, then Something Blue your sympathies will swing between the pair.

9. Jemima Jones - Jane Green
You'll be right behind Jemima J as she undergoes her transformation to look like her altered after photo.

10. Kettle sisters (Cat, Lyn and Gemma) - Liane Moriarty
Right from the opening restaurant fight, the triplets of Three Wishes will leave a lasting impression.

In my journey to create a few (im)perfect characters of my own, I have learned that characters can be revealed in a variety of ways. Like the study of people in psychology, you can learn so much about characters through dialogue, action and relationships with other characters in novels.

Use dialogue to show your character — “A gushy person might say “darling” a lot, an older person will speak differently from a younger person. When a man doesn’t say much it adds to his mystique.” ~ Fiona Walker

1. Dialogue should be brief.

2. It should add to the reader’s present knowledge.

3. It should eliminate the routine exchanges of ordinary conversation.

4. It should convey a sense of spontaneity but eliminate the repetitiveness of real talk.

5. It should keep the story moving forward.

6. It should be revelatory of the speaker’s character, both directly and indirectly.

7. It should show the relationships among people.

-Elizabeth Bowen

As I read and observe the writing of other great authors, I’ve learned that the best practice behind character writing is to avoid giving all information and background through pure description (yawn!). For example, I just finished reading The Bachelorette Party by Karen McCullah Lutz (co-writer of Legally Blonde and 10 Things I Hate About You, among many other screenplays) and I was in awe of the information that came out about each character through the short chapters that made up this 256 page novel. Never before had I read an author who made such excellent use of every inch of paper she had! Despite the brevity of print, with each passing page, full of dialogue and (even more) action, I found myself getting more than acquainted with every character. While I had a hard time keeping track of the characters on page 5, by page 100 I could tell you exactly what type of woman Jane was versus Betsey, Marci, Kim, Helen, Skinny, Snotty or Zadie. An excellent piece of advice, however, Don’t force your character(s) to behave a certain way simply because that’s what you need her to do to make the story move from point A to point Hopeful Ending. If it doesn’t feel true, you may need to rework that particular plot point. The Bachelorette Party took on a life its own and despite some of the incredulous events that occurred, the fast pace action was highly entertaining and kept me interested, invigorated and eager tot urn the page. I know for me, that is the type of book I want to write – one where readers say, “Wow, I hope there is a sequel”; “I hope we get to find out what happens next in [insert main character’s name here]’s life”; or “I hope this book is turned into a movie”.

Finally, every character in a story must relate to the protagonist in some way (otherwise, there is no point for their existence in the plot). One great way of keeping track of your own story is to make a family tree, connecting each character to the main character and then (if applicable) to each other. Through their relationships, each and every character has the opportunity to reveal something new about the story’s heroine (or hero). For example, the antagonist is often what drives the heroine forward, leading to the story’s climax. *I have heard that making the Antagonist multidimensional is just as important as creating a well-rounded main character. Look at Gregory Maguire’s books – they are all built on a classic fairy tale, but told for the perspective of the evil nemesis, like the Wicked Witch off the West in Maguire’s Wicked or Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister’s Iris. Other key relationships in fiction include the “foil”, who has the ability to bring out the main character’s best and worst qualities. In Shopaholic and Sister, Becky Bloomwoods’s newfound sister turns out to be a great character addition to the series, adding more depth to the Shopaholic that we already love and know so much about. Through their relationship, we, as readers, are able to see many more sides to Becky, some more noble than others. In fact, each character who crosses Becky’s path reveals something different about the Shopaholic. Between her husband to be, Luke Brandon, best friend, Suze, parents and even bill collector, Derek Smeath, we learn so much about Becky, from being an adorable, loving, naïve, and innocent financial editor who hates her job to the manipulative, scheming, smart and funny woman who will do anything to maintain her addiction to coordinating shoes and handbags and clothes. It is the whole mess of traits, qualities and imperfections that made me intrigued to read more…and more and more…and with one blockbuster movie already under her belt, the success of Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series moves onto its 7th novel, due later this year.

All in all, you want to make sure to create likable characters. While chick lit is edgy and has been called “fiction with attitude,” the main character needs to be likable. Making her too strong may turn off an agent or editor, and you’ll receive a rejection notice. As I already mentioned with the success of one character, Becky Bloomwood, a long series was born with movie rights and no end in sight. That is my dream - To create a character that draws the attention of so many that it has them begging for more. To give you another example, I recently finished two two-book series by Brenda Janowitz, starring character Brooke Miller, and separately, Kristen Gore’s political chick lit series with hilarious (and hypochondriac) heroine, Sammy Joyce. I was so in love with the series that so far I have emailed Ms. Janowitz to see if she had any thoughts for a future novel with Miss Modern, Brooke Miller and I am still searching for a way to contact Ms. Gore to see if there is any chance for a political sequel for the zany Sammy Joyce.

Who are some of the characters who have moved you? I know for me, a general rule of thumb, if I can remember the character’s name and most of the predicaments that made up the story’s plot, it was most likely a story I would love to read a sequel – and a character I would like to emulate in my own work. What tricks, tactics or techniques do you use or write by to flush out your characters? Please share any (and every) thing with me in the comments section related to character mapping, creating or just your love of a certain character!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Chick Lit Writer Wears Prada: Exploring the Various Subgenres of Chick Lit

When Chick Lit first began, it was a fairly small genre within the realm of Literature & Fiction, some even considering it a subgenre of Romance Fiction. Most authors, publishers and readers will tell you that it all started with a quirky, smart and funny heroine named, Bridget Jones. Readers and writers alike, loved her and couldn't get enough....and as they say, "The rest is history." 

Over time, Chick lit has had many ups and downs. It made huge gains in noterity in the new millenimum with series by authors Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes, Emily Giffin, Lauren Weisberger and Candace Bushnell. TV Shows like Sex and The City and movies like Clueless were popular, showcasing shoes, clothes and shopping and the fabuolous lives of a whole new kind of woman, who was capable of doing anything and everything and always looking her best while doing it. From there, more and more publishers caught on to this new brand of women's fiction. Meg Cabot, Sarah Mlynowski, Jane Green, Katie Fforde, Cecelia Ahern, Sheila O'Flanagan, Carole Matthews, Wendy Markham, Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus, Jennifer Weiner, Jennifer Crusie, Jen Lancaster and so many more countless smart, funny, witty and talented female writers came on board. Movies began being made from the popular books of some of my favorite authors, including (but defintely not limited to) Legally Blonde, The Devil Wears Prada, The Nanny Diaries, P.S. I Love You, Confessions of a Shopaholic.

As I write, filming of one of my favorite books of all time, Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin is going on in SOHO, New York City.

The genre had become so big, in fact, that US publishing company and Romance genre giant, Harlequin Publishers created their a subdivison dedicated solely to Chick Lit, called Red Dress Ink. Soon enough, UK's Headline Publishing Group launched a similar publication company called Little Black Dress. Unfortunately, for Chick Lit lovers, like myself, Red Dress Ink called it quits in late 2008 but the genre still lives on! (Just ask Lisa Steinke and Liz Fenton, authors of I'll Have What She's Having, of the aptly titled website!)

Over the past decade plus Chick Lit has morphed, been revamped and changed right along with the women of the time and it has spawned countless subgenres within the subgenre of Chick Lit itself! We now have:

Mom & Baby Lit
Hollywood & Glamour Lit
Fashionista Lit
Bride/Wedding Lit
Working Girl Lit
Single City Girl Lit
Hen Lit
Sister Lit
Multicultural Lit
Christian/Inspirational Lit
Mystery/Suspense Lit
Paanormal/Fantasy/Magic Lit
Dieting/Big Girl Lit
Recession Lit
and even, Lad Lit!

Check out some of the "Top Tens" of the genres. (Adapted from some of my favorite resources for everything Chick Lit, the Chick Lit Club and Chick Lit Books.)


1. Shopaholic Ties the Knot - Sophie Kinsella
Only Rebecca Bloomwood could find herself organising two weddings on either side of the Atlantic.
2. Diary of a Mad Bride - Laura Wolf
Amy Thomas swore she'd never become an out-of-control bride, driving her nearest and dearest nuts with her demands. So why, now that she's engaged to Stephen and has a huge list of to-dos to get through, are people avoiding her.
3. Whose Wedding is it Anyway? - Melissa Senate
Who would turn down an offer for a $100,000 wedding in exchange for featuring in a bridal magazine? But Eloise Manfred soon discovers there's no such thing as a free wedding.
4. Hitched - Zoe Barnes
Gemma and Rory want a small wedding but when the parents start hijacking the arrangements, the couple decide to work hard to finance it themselves. The only hitch is they work so hard they start drifting apart.
5. Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married - Marian Keyes
The only bride-to-be to make this list without actually knowing who the groom is. But the tarot card reader swears that Lucy is getting married this year.
6. The Best Day of Someone Else's Life - Kerry Reichs
Vi is about to be bridesmaid three times over - and then attend more than a dozen other weddings.
7. Tales From a Hen Weekend - Olivia Ryan
What secret is Katie keeping as she heads off to Dublin for her hen weekend?
8. Amanda's Wedding - Jenny Colgan
A nasty bride who doesn't deserve her Scottish laird. And bridesmaids Mel and Fran are going all out to sabatoge Amanda's wedding.
9. I Do (But I Don't) - Cara Lockwood
The madcap world of weddings from the viewpoint of wedding planner Lauren Crandell.
10. The Bachelorette Party - Karen McCullah Lutz
After Zadie Roberts is left at the altar, she's not that enthusiastic about her best friend Grey marrying her cousin, Helen. But someone's gotta rev up the bachelorette party.


1. In Her Shoes - Jennifer Weiner
Sisters Rose and Maggie Feller may think they have nothing in common except their shoe size.
2. Three Wishes - Liane Moriarty
Follow a tumultuous year in the life of the Kettle triplets.
3. Those Faraday Girls - Monica McInerney
Four sisters help their youngest sister bring up her baby - until an incident tears them apart.
4. A Tale of Two Sisters - Anna Maxted
When Lizbet unexpectedly falls pregnant, her sister Cassie, desperate to have her own baby, finds it difficult to deal with the news.
5. The Other Woman's Shoes - Adele Parks
Martha has strived hard to create the perfect home for her husband and kids, while sister Eliza lives a carefree life. What happens when change means they may experience life in the other's shoes?
6. One-Hit Wonder - Lisa Jewell
When former pop singer Bea dies, it's left to her half-sister Ana to collect her belongings and uncover what became of her life.
7. Each Way Bet - Ilsa Evans
The Broadhurst sisters, Jill and Emily, decide to trade places with one another for a day.
8. The Alphabet Sisters - Monica McInerney
Childhood singing stars Anna, Bett and Carrie Quinlan haven't spoken for years. Then their grandmother calls them back together for her 80th birthday.
9. Shopaholic & Sister - Sophie Kinsella
How could Becky's long-lost half-sister Jess hate shopping, shoes and spending?
10. Special Delivery - Zoe Barnes
Ally realises her older sister Miranda's life isn't as perfect as she thought when she asks her to be a surrogate mum.

1. The Devil Wears Prada - Lauren Weisberger
Miranda Priestly is the boss-from-hell at Runway magazine where staff need to fit sample sizes and strut around in killer heels. About $1 million worth of designer clothing, including Prada, was showcased in the movie.
2. Fashionistas - Lynn Messina
A tale of an uprising against an unpopular Fashionista editor and dressing Jesus mannequins in designer frocks.
3. The Fashion Pack - Marion Hume
Life from the front row of the international fashion weeks, as seen by three editors of top fashion magazine Joy.
4. Handbags and Gladrags - Maggie Alderson
A magazine fashion stylist keeps herself sane on the fashion week circuit by embarking on an affair with a catwalk photographer.
5. Some Like it Haute - Julie K.L Dam
A style writer chases a reclusive designer after suffering a humiliating tangle with a model at a Chanel show.
6. Bergdorf Blondes - Plum Sykes
The glam world of Park Avenue princesses whose must-have accessory is a rich fiancé.
7. She's Got Issues - Stephanie Lessing
Gotta love a character who aspires to be shoe editor.
8. Shopaholic series - Sophie Kinsella
From the opening pursuit of a Denny and George scarf to investing her baby's future in Tiffany rings and a handbag website, Rebecca Bloomwood knows there's no fashion gain without financial pain.
9. The Favours and Fortunes of Katie Castle - Rebecca Campbell
Katie ends up in a sweatshop after losing her job with fashion designer Penny Moss. But her eye for design saves the day.
10. Elegance - Kathleen Tessaro
Lovers of vintage clothing will appreciate this character transforming herself with the help of a 1960s style bible.

1. Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft – Mindy Klasky
Good-girl Jane Madison, neither has a shot in hell of coming true -- until the day she finds she is capable of magic, has a warder and whole new life.
2. Truly, Madly (Lucy Valentine Series #1) – Heather Webber
Meet Lucy Valentine; sassy, fabulously original…and psychic.
3. Undead and Unwed (Undead Series #1) – Mary Janice Davidson
Meet Elizabeth (Betsy) Taylor who wakes up “undead” – in a coffin. After a few startling discoveries, she realizes that she is not only a vampire, but an extraordinary one with superhuman powers.
4. Enchanted, Inc. – Shanna Swendson
Meet Katie Chandler, a small town girl from Texas who is introduced to a world of magic, spells and creatures.
5. Charmed & Dangerous – Candace Havens
What do you get when you mix a witch, a warlock, a Sheik, a bunch of bad guys, tons of spells, and plenty of laughs?
6. Sex and the Single Ghost – Tawny Taylor
It’s a story about a girl named Claire who has sat in “Purgatory”, which is sort of like a version of the Afterlife, or Heaven.
7. The Diva’s Guide To Selling Your Soul - Kathleen O’Reilly
This novel is about a heroine, once a size 14 with lumpy thighs, a mediocre life and job, and miserable, who sells her soul to the devil in exchange for beauty, powers, wealth and fame.
8. Dating Can Be Deadly – Wendy Roberts
Meet Tabitha blessed (or is it cursed?) with the gift of clairvoyance, who sees visions of horrible things to come.

More Sub Genres…..

Hollywood Lit – Celebrity and glamour lit; LA Candy by Lauren Conrad; The Year of living Famously by Laura Caldwell; Mim Warner’s Lost Her Cool by Lynn Messina; Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger; The Truth About Diamonds by Nicole Richie; Model Incorporated by Carol Alt; Star by Pamela Anderson; Secrets of the Hollywood Girls Club by Maggie Marr

Mom & Baby Lit/Yummy Mummy Lit – Mothers, Pregnancy, Family, Babies; Baby Proof by Emily Giffin; The Yummy Mummy by Polly Williams; Luscious Lemon by Heather Swain; Notes from the Underbelly by Risa Green; Tales from the Crib by Jennifer Coburn; Gucci Gucci Coo by Sue Margolis; Mad Mom To-Be by Laura Wolf; The Thin Pink Line by Lauren Baratz Logsted

Lad Lit – Like its female counterpart, this includes a male heroine and subject matter; About a Boy; High Fidelity; How to be Good; Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby; Anything by Eric Jerome Dickey (Drive Me Crazy; Sister Sister; Naughty or Nice; Mistakes Men Make by Byron Harmon; Mr. Commitment by Mike Gaya

Inspirational/Christian/Church Lit – Incorporates religious beliefs; Christianity, Baptism, Judaism, etc; Dreaming in Black and White by Laura Jensen Walker; What a Girl Wants by Kristin Billerbeck; Emily Ever After by Anne Dayton and Mary Vanderbilt; Anything by Lori Copeland;

Multicultural Lit – Alisa Valdes-Rodrigues is probably the most famous of this ethnic genre and many more to come; Hot Tamara by Mary Castillo; Bollywood Confidential by Sonia Singh; Goddess for Hire by Sonia Singh; Imaginary Men by Anjali Banerjee

Mystery/Suspense Chick Lit – Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, Kyra Davis’ Sophie Katz series, Laura Caldwell’s Izzy McNeil series; Bulletproof Mascara by Bethany Maines;

Dieting/Big Girl Lit – With Jennifer Weiner’s Good In Bed came the rise of this now very popular sub-genre; Liza Palmer’s Conversations with the Fat Girl and Jen Lancaster’s Bright Lights, Big Ass and Such a Pretty Fat; The Next Big Thing by Joanna Edwards; Size 14 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot;

Recession Lit – Think Shopaholic Series gone awry, a more realistic and modern look at life as a single woman in our financial times; The Penny Pinchers Club by Sarah Strohmyer; The Hedge Fund Wives by Tatiana Boncampagni; Social Lives by Wendy Walker; The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund by Jill Kargman; Confessions of a Reluctant Recessionista by Amy Silver; The Sister Diaries by Karen Quinn; Save Karyn: One Shopaholic’s Journey to Debt and Back by Karyn Bosnak

City Girl Lit – Citizen Girl by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus; Unbecoming Behavior by Stephanie Rowe; The Journal of Mortifying Moments by Robyn Harding; If Andy Warhol Had A Girlfriend by Alison Pace; Bundle of Joy by Ariella Papa; See Jane Date by Melissa Senate; Couch World by Cathy Yardley

Irish Lit – Anything by Marian Keyes; Cecelia Ahern; Cathy Kelly; Sheila O’Flanagan; Kate Thomspon; Patricia Scanlon; Deidre Purcell; Sarah Webb;

And of Course; British Lit - Anything by Sophie Kinsella/Madeleine Wickham; Katie Fforde; Lindsey Kelk (though she is also a big NYC fan); Allison Rushby; Louise Bagshawe; Robyn Sisman; Gemma Townley; Helen Fielding.

What I am intrigued to find out from all the Chick Lit lovers, fans, writers, readers and ladies out there is what Chick Lit Sub Genre is your favorite and why? What Subgenre(s) do you think is/are missing? If you were to write a Chick Lit book, which subgenre would you choose to write it in? Why? Finally if you are a write, how do you choose which subgenre to write in? Or do you just let your story flow and wherever it fits, it fits!?

Please share anything relevant to Chick Lit writing here at Writer Wednesday’s. And if you have a topic that you want to learn about, know more about or contribute to, I want to hear from you.