Author Liz Flaherty Talks About Women’s Fiction, Romance and E-Publishing

Have I mentioned lately how much I love authors?  I love authors of all kinds but especially the authors that land here one way or another.  I first met Liz Flaherty and our email went directly to the umbrella of women’s fiction — and I asked if her book was women’s fiction or romance.  She made such a good case for it sort of being both, that I asked if she’d discuss this often blurry line with me on Women’s Fiction Writers.  And she did!

Liz Flaherty is the 40th author to be featured this year!  That’s right, so far we’ve had 40 authors and over 20,000 visitors since March 2011.  And of those 20,000 visitors more than half of those were unique visitors.  (Yes, I think you’re ALL unique, don’t worry!) That means more than 11,000 times someone has come to this blog to read or lurk or comment or hang out.

That’s awesome.  But it’s only half as awesome as Liz’s insights on women’s fiction and romance and the cover of her latest book, ONE MORE SUMMER.

Please welcome Liz Flaherty to Women’s Fiction Writers!

Author Liz Flaherty Talks About Women’s Fiction, Romance and E-Publishing

ASN: When we originally corresponded, we agreed that the overlap between romance and women’s fiction can be fuzzy at times. Can you tell us why and how ONE MORE SUMMER straddles that line?

LF: ONE MORE SUMMER is the romance of Dillon Campbell and Grace Elliot. Their story picked at, pulled at, and shredded my heart with the writing of it. It’s also the story of Grace and her best friend, Promise Delaney. Writing it picked at, pulled at, and shredded my heart. That, in a nutshell, explains the straddling of the line to me. The fact that the relationship of best friends affected me as strongly as the romantic one in the book—and that I most sincerely hope it involves readers in the same way—makes Grace’s journey a true genre-jumper.

ASN: I think that so many aspiring women’s fiction authors worry about categorizing their novels. And where is that line for you? What would have made ONE MORE SUMMER a “true” romance?

LF: I think I’m more annoyed than worried. Most of us just want to write our best book and readers just want—and deserve—to read our best work. I categorize ONE MORE SUMMER as a romance because, in all honesty, that’s how my publisher sees it. If Grace and Promise’s story was a less integral part of the book, it would be a “true” romance, but Grace would also be a very different woman than what she is. I don’t think I would have liked her as much.

ASN: Would you consider your book Women’s Fiction with Strong Romantic Elements or a Romance with Strong Elements of Women’s Fiction? And – does it matter to you?

LF: I consider ONE MORE SUMMER a Romance with Strong Elements of Women’s Fiction. And no, it doesn’t matter to me. I don’t want to read romances without  strong elements of women’s fiction in them, and my favorite women’s fiction titles have some romance in there, too. I feel the same way about what I write.

I have been reading romance novels since Harlequins were 40 cents apiece. I’m not sure when that was, but it’s been a while! The gradual emergence of women’s fiction storylines or subplots in romance novels was—to me—a growing up of the romance genre. As lovely as true love and happily ever after is, we still need girlfriends, sisters, and just women we talk to stall-to-stall in the restroom.

ASN: On Women’s Fiction Writers we feature and focus on traditional publishing — and your publisher is an e-publisher. Another fuzzy line! What have your experiences been publishing with an e-publisher? Can you explain how it’s different from self-publishing?

LF: When I first stuck my toes into e-publishing water, it was an iffy prospect. My second book, BECAUSE OF JOE, has been published three times because two of the publishers went under very quickly. However, e-publishing is a much bigger fish in that water than it used to be, and getting bigger all the time. My experiences with e-publishers have been positive, as have the ones with traditional publishing. I’ve been blessed with superb editors. If anything, the personnel with the e-publishers have been more available and quickly responsive, but that could be just my perception, too.

I can’t address the differences because I haven’t tried self-publishing, although I’m not opposed  to it. The only reason I haven’t self-published my first book, ALWAYS ANNIE, is that I’m inherently lazy and don’t want to learn how to do it.

ASN: What is your definition of women’s fiction?

LF: Well, we’ve been talking about the line between women’s fiction and romance, so I’m going to jump over it again. Romance is often classified as fiction written “by women, about women, and for women.” Obviously there are exceptions to that, but it covers a lot of territory. And it works for me in women’s fiction, too. At the risk of gender-bashing, I’m quicker to pick up a book written by a woman than by a man and much more likely to be satisfied by the reading of it. Although I don’t necessarily demand a happily-ever-after, nor do I want the UNhappily-ever-after I’ve found to be prevalent in fiction written by men.

Amy, thank you so much for having me. Women’s Fiction Writers is one of my favorite blogs and I am so excited to be here—I feel as though I’m doing a guest shot on The View. Surely Whoopi and Barbara will be calling me any day now!

Liz Flaherty retired from the post office in 2011. Worried about what she was going to be when she grew up, she kept writing and started college with the ultimate goal of having a good time. So far, that’s working out just fine.

She lives in Indiana with her husband of 40 years and never, ever brags about their grandchildren, the Magnificent Seven.

24 thoughts on “Author Liz Flaherty Talks About Women’s Fiction, Romance and E-Publishing

    • Hi, Nicole. I feel bad about the tendency sometimes, too, because just as I don’t want to be the target of sexual bias, I don’t like being the perpetrator, either. That being said, I think I’d lean toward the same books if I wasn’t aware of who wrote them.


  1. I’m trying to recall the last book I read (by choice – our bookclub one was) by a man and I can’t recall it. WOW!! Anyway your book sounds fantastic and don’t Carina do simply lovely covers?


  2. What a cogent description of the romance genre evolution … developing with women’s fiction subplots! I’ve been struggling with defining my stories with the existing fuzzy romance genre line. I want my readers to come away with learning something they didn’t know before they read the book, and that subplot adds immeasurably to the substance of the story. I knew they were more than Romance and the only other classification was “mainstream with strong romantic elements.” What it is really, is Women’s Fiction. Thank you Liz Flaherty for sharing your thoughts. Great interview!


  3. Liz has been one of my favorite authors (regardless of gender) since I met her in the early ’90s when we were both unpubs but eager to get there. And I’m proud to know that Liz has published and gives terrific interviews and is still my great friend. I learn something new from her nearly every day. Thanks, Liz! And keep on writing…I need something good to read. Soon! Judith


  4. Liz, I loved your comments about women’s fiction versus romantic fiction. I agree that we all want to simply write–and read–the best stories out there, and it’s too bad that we have to think about genres at all. But the reality is that selling a book sometimes does require us to shoehorn it into a particular category–and a category that publishers recognize as marketable, at that.


    • I know you’re right, Holly, about the shoehorning. As I mature…all right, as I age, I grow less comfortable with that whole concept. Resentful even, because I feel the readers are being shoehorned, too, and I’m a reader first. That whine aside, there are more and more good books out there.


  5. Congratulations Liz! Looking forward to reading your work:)

    I thought I was writing romance when I began my Arbor University series (sorry, shameless plug there!), until it was pointed out by an editor (thank you for telling me!!) that I was actually writing Women’s Fiction, since most of the story revolved around the social issue of the heroine. And I blur the line even further, because what I write under Molly is too graphic for Young Adult, yet not graphic enough for Adult. It’s sort of in it’s own little genre of YA/Mainstream/Women’s Fiction/Romance. I jokingly call it ‘YA Smut with a Twist’.

    I happen to love medical thrillers, so I read a lot of Robin Cook, Michael Palmer, and the one I’m reading right now is Next by Michael Crichton, which deals with genetic engineering.


  6. Liz, I love the point that WF is Romance, grown up. That’s exactly how I’ve felt about it, but never verbalized (especially not that well!)

    I’m so glad to see that WF is moving into the digital circle — when I talked to an ebpub a year or so ago about my WF novel (I tend to blur the line as well) they told me they weren’t handling it yet, thinking that older women read it, and they didn’t buy ereaders.

    Ugh. Stereotypes. Hate em.

    Your post gave me hope that we’re getting there!


  7. Thanks, Laura. I hesitate a little bit, because I don’t think romance as a genre is immature in any way, just a narrower POV (how often do writers hear that particular term?) than I want to write. I do hope we’re getting there, too!


  8. Hi Liz,

    I totally agree with you about the evolution of the romance industry. Books without strong elements of women’s fiction–by that I mean strong women, learning and growing throughout the timeline of the book–just aren’t as appealing, and I think a lot less common. I hate having to categorize my books into genre because they never quite fit.

    Great interview, ladies!


  9. Enjoyed your interview, Liz. Gender bias is wrong, but it’s natural to read what you enjoy most and to heck with political correctness. One of my SF novels, Beyond Those Distant Stars, focuses on a woman warrior. Since it doesn’t have a Happily Ever After ending or even a Happy for Now ending, women writers and readers didn’t see it as Romance but as something else, SF with romantic elements. Perhaps they’re right. Sometimes I chafe at labels.

    Good fortune on your tour!


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