By Barbara James
Happy New Year! I was delighted to serve as moderator at our first chapter meeting of the year on January 9, 2021, a panel on writing inspirational women's fiction and romance. I've since learned this was the first time the chapter discussed inspirational novels as a sub-genre.
Our guests were Laura Bradford and Toni Shiloh.
Laura writes for Kensington Publishing. She is a USA Today bestselling author of inspirational women's fiction set in the Amish country of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Toni is a hybrid author of inspirational romances and a member of the Virginia chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. Every week, she invites authors to send her their new releases which she then posts onto her blog. In celebration of the diverse Christian novels she enjoys writing, she hosts Diversity Between the Pages, a blog highlighting recent diverse releases: https://diversitybetweenthepages.wordpress.com.
The members learned a lot. Inspirational women's fiction focuses on the journey of a woman dealing with issues in life that force her to deal with a crisis. Her faith will be important to resolving the crisis she is facing. Her story may or may not have a romance included. But for many romance writers, the inclusion of a romance in a women's fiction novel is likely to be of paramount importance. Inspirational romances are those that inspire the characters through a faith based journey and a happily ever after.
It is challenging to write within the inspirational sub-genre, insofar as publishers often have very strict requirements. The goal in inspirational women's fiction and romance isn't to be preachy, but to help the reader to understand the universality of the characters in dealing with human emotions and experiences. There's merely an extra lens of faith which grounds the stories in a more conservative writing style--less explicit language and scenes.
This emphasis on less explicit language and scenes might be a draw for readers and writers who prefer that in their novels, whether or not they have a faith background.
Feel free to learn more about our guests and their books:
Barbara James is an RWA-NYC chapter member who writes sweet and inspirational romances: www.barbarajames.net.