~ By Samantha Robey, host and creator of the blog Chick Lit Plus

I often get asked why chick lit? Why did I dedicate my blog to this genre, which has been called less than remarkable words among “serious” literary folks? In all honesty, a few years back I was wandering through the library, not sure which direction to take. I had officially grown out of The Baby-Sitters Club books, outgrown the Sweet Valley High books, and wasn’t sure what to try next. Romance? Mystery? Nothing seemed right. But then I found a book with a hot pink cover, with confetti splashed across the front. Yes, the cover drew me in. The book was The Bachelorette Party by Karen McCullah Lutz, and I loved the story. On my next trip to the library, I hunted down more books with fun pink covers. I found The Agency by Ally O’Brien, and authors such as Sophie Kinsella and Emily Giffin. I really didn’t even realize I was reading a certain genre, until I decided to start my blog and post reviews. My world was opened up when I started “meeting” other great owners behind chick lit blogs, and I absolutely love the online community I now belong to.

Around November of last year, I started seeing a lot of Tweets and messages about different challenges readers could sign up for. Romance challenges, mystery challenges, sci-fi challenges. I started to wonder if anyone hosted a chick lit challenge. Why not? All these other genres were being focused on, someone needed to focus on chick lit! I waited a few weeks, not wanting to step on any of my fellow blogger’s toes if they usually host this type of challenge, but when no one came forward, I decided to host my first challenge. With the help of my followers, we decided on reading twelve chick lit books throughout 2011, with two of those being a debut from an author. I love working with debut authors on my blog, so I knew that would be a great element for the challenge as well. I have had great authors sponsor a month, and any reader who posts a review (either to their blog, Goodreads page, or another site such as Amazon) is entered to win that month’s prize. The response was better than I expected- almost ninety readers signed up to take the Chick Lit Challenge! I love reading their reviews, finding new authors, and watching the readers interact with one another. I am having a great time playing hostess, and am very grateful to all the authors and especially readers for making this challenge a success. If you want to sign up for the Chick Lit Challenge, there is still time! The cutoff month is October, so to sign up, just enter your name and blog URL on the Challenge page. If you do not have a blog, you can enter your GoodReads or Amazon URL, or send me an email at Samantha(at)chicklitplus.com and I will make sure you are entered. If you are an author and would like to sponsor a month (donate books as a prize) please email me and we can work out a timeframe.  Thank you to everyone who has helped make the Chick Lit Challenge a success so far and I look forward to the rest of the year. And thank you to the RWA Chick Lit Chapter for letting me come talk about myself and my blog. I hope to be back again!

Samantha Robey is twenty-three and living in Des Moines, Iowa. She started Chick Lit Plus in October of 2009 as a way to connect with other readers and authors. She posts reviews, author interviews, and articles on topics such as health, fitness, beauty, and fashion. She also offers freelance editing services and coordinates blog tours for authors. Besides reading and writing, Samantha also enjoys traveling and sports- especially watching her Green Bay Packers win the Superbowl.