Chick Lit Roots

For two years, Marley Gibson entered her chick lit manuscript in a variety of Romance Writers of America® (RWA) sponsored contests that claimed chick lit entries were permitted and accepted. Well, their intentions were good, but the returning score sheet didn’t indicate that the first round judges “got” chick lit, much less knew what it was or even read it. (One judge circled the words “chick lit” at the top of the entry and wrote: “what is this? Some sort of women’s fiction or something?”)

After many tears over being told her characters weren’t sympathetic and what do you mean the hero doesn’t appear in the first ten pages, and myriad other ridiculous comments, Marley was ready to pull her hair out and her very patient critique partner, Marianne Mancusi, was growing tired of telling her to stop entering her chick lit in contests. But then she said a magical thing. “We should have our own chick lit contest.”

What a brilliant idea! But how? Under what framework?

But it wasn’t just about contests, there was something more. Something deeper. It was about the genre, the books, the authors…needing a community, needing legitimization. Needing to stand up and say, “hey, we’re chick lit writers!” So that’s when the idea hit Marley. Why not start an online RWA chapter specifically for authors of chick lit? After all, our genre is all the rage and has even been recognized in this year’s RWA Golden Hearts and RITAs in the “Mainstream with Romantic Elements” category. Chick lit is hip, happening and here to stay. Of course on online neighborhood is the answer.

In order to get a cross-section of chicks from around the globe, as well as gather published and nearly-published authors, the three gals contacted some of their online chick lit buddies to see if they were interested in helping out. The response was immediate and exciting. One said she’d work on the bylaws and another said she’d coordinate the contest along with Marianne (and thus, the Get Your Stiletto in the Door Contest was born!) One chick was brought in to represent the writers from Down Under, another to represent our British chicks who started this craze, and Kwana Jackson, a real New Yorker (and what chick lit group wouldn’t be complete with a New Yorker) lent us her artistic talents.

Paperwork was requested from Nationals, questions were answered, e-mails flew frantically back and forth, server space and URLs were secured and thus, Chick Lit Writers of the World was born!