Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Lost Valentine by Elizabeth Palmer

from the February 12, 2018 issue

Tagline: Kathryn remembered Daniel from kindergarten, but did he remember her?

Observations: I have to admit I found myself reading on and reading on and wondering if Daniel was going to recognize her or if she was going to have to tell him. When he finally revealed that he knew who she was, the way he did it was adorable (if a teensy bit hard for me to believe.)

I thought that how the characters recognized each other was very clever. She remembered his head shaking gesture. His memory wasn't jogged until he saw her in her signature ponytail.

Woman's World magazine likes stories that tug at your heartstrings, like this one does with that long lost valentine being saved all those years. Stories with old flames in them usually have that built in. Sit down at your computer today and try to write one. Don't worry that this old flame story just appeared in the magazine and they won't want to publish another similar story so soon because it'll be a month or two before a story submitted today will appear.

Photo credit: David Rader II via the Flickr CC license

Friday, February 2, 2018

A Birthday to Remember by Elizabeth Palmer

from the February 5, 2018 issue

Tagline: Will wasn't looking for romance...and then he met Lily...

Observations: I'm in love with this story. It felt very complete and satisfying and the main reason for this is that we saw their relationship develop slowly.

They met in her classroom. He asked for the pictures and she texted them to him. They continued to text and get to know each other. They went on a date. She brought him birthday cake.

See what I mean? Because so much time had gone by and so much had happened, it seemed like a much longer story. It truly felt like we had watched their romance develop. If you ask me, this is something to strive for.

Photo credit: Liz West via the Flickr CC license.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Mini Mystery Writers

Hey, Patricia asked me to pass on a request.

"We are looking for more charming cozies where someone steals someone else's prize roses/recipe/whatever-- too many murder mysteries- making transition asap."

So, best get to your computers and start writing! :)

Friday, January 26, 2018

Cupcake Saturday by Tina Radcliffe

 from the January 18, 2018 issue

Tagline: When Drew offered to help Hanna with her cupcake business, things suddenly got sweeter...

Observations: Lovely story! We have a matchmaker tale that I didn't see coming for a full third of the story. I adored that Drew bartered his services for her cupcake business. What a great idea.

The grandma and the grandson playing Crazy Eights reminded me of when I used to play that game with my own grandma. Those are very fond memories and it made me think about me identifying more with the grandma than the heroine in this story. Which made me realize I should talk to you about your audience.

You would be smart to consider the older demographic of Woman's World readers as you're writing your stories. Here's a screenshot of some info from the Bauer Publishing website. As you can see the median age of our readers is 55.7 years old. Coincidentally, I am 55 years old. So the readership is my generation and maybe yours too. But even if it's not, you can do some research. There are websites on pop culture for the different decades. Pull stuff from there into your stories. Even in the magazine itself there's that little column on the right side that says "It Happened This Week." Look there for inspiration.

Cupcake Photo Credit: Jake Przesbo via Flickr CC license

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Teacher's Pet by Diane Crawford

from the January 22, 2018 issue

Tagline: With Nick in her cooking class, did Jo have all the ingredients for romance?

Observations: I have a confession to make. I'm a good cook, but I, too, have burned things. Mostly, it's because I start something and go back to my computer and forget about the food. So, been there done that. However, these guys had nothing else to do but watch their chicken. LOL

Still, I thought it was a cute story. I noticed that Crawford deftly managed to get the idea across that Nick was a single dad, without mentioning that the wife had passed away or whatever. I usually feel compelled to share the reason why, but she just had him say, "I'm raising a daughter by myself." Huh! No need to say why.

Photo credit: Patrick Mueller via Flickr CC license

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Christmas to Remember! by Brenda Minton

from the December 25, 2017 issue

Tagline: A past good deed turns into a special Christmas for Lydia and Jason...

Observations: I know I said I wasn't going to analyze the Harlequin stories, but I think they're getting the hang of writing for Woman's World, so here we go.

This was a lovely story. It was easy to see why they chose it to appear in the December 25th issue. In the past, I have cautioned against including too much sadness in your stories. This is still true. You can mention the death of a spouse, but you can't dwell on it too much. This story strikes the perfect balance between including the melancholy but still managing to be an uplifting read at the end.

Here's that poignant moment where that information is revealed:

"My daddy taught me that Christmas is always in our hearts," the little girl said with authority. "My mommy is in my heart too, even though she's in Heaven."

Lydia didn't know what to say. She knelt before the girl, putting them at eye level.

"I think that's a very wise thing your daddy told you. And since we both know Christmas is special, I have something special for you. Homemade peppermint sticks. Would you like one?"

So, you get that sentimental tug, you introduce the information that this man is a widower, but then you move on.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Merry and Bright by Elizabeth Palmer

Tagline: Dani was determined to get the Christmas lights up. But a power outage interrupted her long enough to have chicken soup with her handsome neighbor...

Observations: Wow. This was a really terrific story. As I read it, I got happy ping after happy ping. I always go into a story neutral and let it take me where it will. This one brought me to a warm fuzzy feeling.

1. I loved the pluckiness of the heroine. Of course, we all know how devastating it would be to suffer a broken engagement, but Dani is resilient and we like to show the heroines in Woman's World rising to challenges. Woman's World magazine is all about showing women how to live better, be happier, achieve their goals. This mission is also evident in the fictional stories as well.

2. I loved the humor in this story. The heroine meets the hero and sees they're wearing identical hats...

"I'm Rick Black and I see from your hat that you've already met my mother."

3. Another funny part:

"Would it help if I told you I was an electrician?"

"Only if you can turn the power back on."

4. I loved when Rick said, "You seem pretty capable to me, but I'd be happy to help out." That right there is a hero demonstrating a) he is easy with his compliments and b) he is willing to help. Both good traits in a love interest.

5. The ending was wonderful. Am I the only one who got a warm feeling when reading this?

When they stepped outside, she gasped at the sight of her brightly decorated home.

"Simply beautiful!" Rick said.

Dani turned to thank him, but it wasn't her house he was gazing at. She blushed and looked back at the glowing lights, filled with joy. "Yes, it is."

Photo credit: Dion Gillard (via Flicker CC license)