Follow me:

Author of the Week – A Guest Post by Carol Balawyder

Not By Design

I recently had someone write to me to tell me that she wasn’t going to read my latest book Not By Design because she doesn’t read chick-lit.

At first I felt insulted and my initial reaction was to say but my book is more than chick-lit. And then I thought, why wasn’t I owning up to the chick lit label? Some of my favorite reading is chick lit and I’ve often written in defense of chick lit on my blog. Here are a few samples from posts I wrote.

As I was reading Meg Cabot’s The Royal Wedding I felt a bit guilty enjoying it so much. After all, I’m way past her twenty something target audience. Shouldn’t I be reading something more age appropriate?

Am I that immature?

Yet, I love reading novels that are light and fun.

So maybe I still have the twenty something inside the sixty something me. 🙂

I also waved the chick lit banner when May came along and I celebrated Chick lit month on my blog with this postcard from PostSecret.

carol post

So why this hesitation about embracing chick lit? I suppose part of it has to do with the fact that

Chick lit is the latest genre of women’s writing to be ridiculed and criticized.

Even though we are now in the twenty-first century, it seems not much has changed in terms of the reception of women’s novels, as many of the same criticisms are used today regarding chick lit as they were in the nineteenth century in relation to the female writers of that time. For many, the phrase «chick lit» is seen as a derogatory term used to dismiss «any possible literary worth in a text which deals with the intimate life of a young urban professional single woman» (Whelehan, 2005: 213). 

And I also posted this:

Some take offense at the label chick lit. I know. I know. I do too. At times. Depending who and how it’s being said.  The tone can be demeaning and dismissive.

Chick lit has been described as trashy, fluffy, frivolous, lacking substance,  mind-numbing all about shoes and hair styles and martinis … ohh…martinis!

Sure not every chick lit novel is great but you can say that of any genre, can’t you?

And not all chick lit is trashy. Far from it.

Take Anna Quindlan’s latest novel  Still Life With Bread Crumbs which is posted as chick lit.

Still Life with Bread Crumbs is a deeply moving and often very funny story of unexpected love, and a stunningly crafted journey into the life of a woman, her heart, her mind, her days, as she discovers that life is a story with many levels, a story that is longer and more exciting than she ever imagined.

Doesn’t sound like shoes and hair styles to me.

Even if it was about shoes and hair styles no chick lit novel is solely about that. There are many levels to a chick lit novel. In my novel Not By Design my protagonist, in having to deal with Multiple Sclerosis and financial issues, learns how to become independent and to respect her own system of values.

About the Author:

Carol Balawyder


Carol Balawyder holds an undergraduate degree with a major in English Literature and a graduate degree in Criminology. She has taught English in various colleges in Montreal, Concordia University and Ho Chi Minh University of Technology in Vietnam. During this phase of her teaching career she developed teaching material including Open For Business (Harper & Row), Windows on Sci-Tech (Thomson Publishing) and Pour Etre Ganganat (Beauchemin Publishers).

In the second half of her teaching career she taught criminology in Police Technology and Corrections Programs. She helped set up and animate a writing workshop for women in prison and has worked in halfway houses and drug rehab centers. 

She has self published Mourning Has Broken (a memoir on grief) and her Getting to Mr. Right Series. Her short stories have appeared in Room Magazine, The Canadian Anthology of Fiction,, Between the Lines, Carte Blanche and she was given an honorary mention for a play submitted to The Canadian Playwright Competition.

Find her here:
Website –

About her newest Book:
(click on cover to go to amazon page)
not by design
Love, Reality Style

Ever since she first appeared in Getting To Mr. Right, Felicity Starr has been struggling to find her own kind of contentment. Now, at thirty-five and living in Rome, Felicity is about to break into the world of fashion design, and caught in a flurry of plans for her wedding when calamity strikes.
Her father’s sudden death brings into question the whole meaning of success. Then Marco, the man she’s about to marry, leaves her when he learns of her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis.
Forced to return to Montreal, Felicity finds her life thrust into unexpected turns. As she confronts the on-going challenges presented by her disease, she gains the strength to let go of old beliefs and face her inner truths.
Love, friendship and rewarding work come in different forms and Felicity finds it all in ways she never imagined – in a life that’s not by design.


Carol is giving away 5 copies of Not By Design.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Previous Post Next Post

You may also like


  • Reply Carol Balawyder

    Thank you Aimee for having me as author of the week. 🙂
    I’ve posted links to your blog on my blog at

    June 14, 2016 at 7:03 am
  • Reply Tess

    Wonderful post. I l.ov.e. to read anything and everything, no matter what genre. ChickLit does have a bad wrap, but I cannot understand why. It’s fabulous reading. <3 <3 <3

    June 14, 2016 at 9:00 am
    • Reply Carol Balawyder

      Tess, I think that one of the reasons that chick lit gets a bad wrap is that it is often equated with “frivolous” aspects of life: women friendships, romantic love, careers. Some don’t consider these issues serious depending on one’s viewpoint. But I agree, Tess, chick lit is fun to read and I tend to find it relaxing and entertaining. Thanks for your comment. Your presence is always appreciated. 🙂

      June 14, 2016 at 6:44 pm
  • Reply Annika Perry

    Great guest post, Carol. I have an equally ambiguous attitude to the term chick lit – I have read lots of books under this umbrella term but would not consider them chick lit! Your latest book has so many issues and seems so varied I wouldn’t have put in that category. Maybe I just object to the word chick – a derogatory term I find. Entered the draw!! Also just bought on Amazon your Mourning Has Broken. Look forward to reading it – think it will help me through difficult times.

    June 14, 2016 at 10:51 am
  • Reply dgkaye

    Well said Carol. Certainly Chicklit is a popular genre and covers a wide scope within it. The same was said of memoirs years ago, then they became popular again. There’s something for everyone, and we may not be able to please all, but no matter the genre, there is an audience for every genre.
    Lovely to see you being spotlighted. 🙂 <3

    June 14, 2016 at 7:08 pm
    • Reply Carol Balawyder

      So great to see you here, Debby. 🙂 You’re so right that the chick lit genre (as the memoir) covers a wide scope, just as the characters in the genre come in all shapes and sizes with all sorts of different problems. One thing for certain, whatever the genre, if it’s good writing it really doesn’t matter what the label is. Actually your memoirs often have the qualities of chick lit: they have humor, talk about women’s contemporary issues and are warm and fuzzy. And the cover of your book Have Bags, Will Travel has a classic chick lit cover.*Version*=1&*entries*=0

      June 14, 2016 at 7:42 pm
  • Reply Carol Balawyder

    So happy to see you here, Annika. I know the word chick can be derogatory especially when used disrespectfully. It can have very negative undertones and there are many arguments against its usage as a genre.
    I see chick lit simply as a sub genre of women’s fiction and although we may not like the label it is a popular genre that discusses issues which are important to women: gender roles, consumerism, and heartbreak and loss. It’s a genre that makes you feel good about yourself. I too wish there was another label for this genre but I think that it’s here to stick and although the label itself hasn’t evolved, its content is always evolving.

    Thanks, Annika, for buying Mourning Has Broken. I sincerely hope that it does help you through difficult times. <3

    June 14, 2016 at 7:29 pm
  • Reply Robin O. Cochran

    Annika, we might try to change the group label to women’s themed literature or popular literature. I like how magazines call it poolside books or Beach reads. I like to read books with serious elements, including humor, family and strong characters who are feminists~ women who believe in themselves and are confident.
    Carol, your books contain wonderful stories and realistic characters. Your newest, Felicity character, seems to have quite an interesting journey and has to overcome challenges.
    You gave a great descriptive and informative explanation of the parameters of “chick lit.” The label doesn’t bother me, but others may wish we could find a more favorable label. Smiles, Robin

    June 14, 2016 at 8:31 pm
    • Reply Carol Balawyder

      Oh, Robin I love the term pool side books and beach read for although “chick lit” could deal with more serious issues and the women tend to be on their way to become strong, independent women it is also a genre that has humor and lightness in it.
      Thanks for being here, Robin, and for your insightful comments. 🙂

      June 15, 2016 at 7:32 am

    Let's Chat

    %d bloggers like this: