Friday, September 14, 2018

A Season of Change

by Tina Radcliffe from the September 3, 2018 issue

Tagline: Leslie was suffering from an empty nest, but Sam filled her heart with a new kind of joy.

Observations: This was an adorable story. I, myself, might be facing an empty nest soon. My own two kids are finally taking steps to move out together. I'm excited to have a room to myself and to get rid of some furniture we'd been holding onto in the hopes they'd take it with them, but I will miss seeing them everyday, not to mention the fact that I will once again be doing all the dishes. LOL

It's been a while since I talked about the three-act structure and how it applies even to very short stories like these. If you look back, most stories have a three act structure. This story, however, only has two. In the first act, we meet Leslie and see her in her "ordinary world," a term that comes from Christopher Vogler's A Writer's Journey, a book I highly recommend for fiction writers. We find out all the pertinent information about her--she's single, she has two grown daughters who just went away to college together, she has a crush on Sam the neighbor.

The second act begins the moment Sam appears. This is where we see the two characters connecting in a meaningful way. (Honestly, I wish I had a Sam who lived next door. I have quite a few home improvement projects I'd like to have done, but my dh is not very handy around the house.)

Another thing I notice--and perhaps it's because I am about to become an empty-nester--is that Leslie is very easy to identify with. When you're creating characters for Woman's World, you want to make them likeable. You want to give them traits or situations that the readers and the characters have in common. And on the pages of Woman's World, you also want to make those female characters strong. You'll never see any doormat women in Woman's World stories. No. They're women who set goals, who take action, who are willing to try new things.

Photo credit: Liz West via Flickr cc license

Monday, August 27, 2018

A Pair of Lovebirds

by Jill Weatherholt from the August 27, 2018 issue

Tagline: Myrna wasn't thinking about romance...until she met Jim!

Observations: Very cute story. I happen to adore hummingbirds. I have three feeding stations and have been battling ants this summer. They love the nectar as much as the birds to. I also lost a feeder to my gardener, who knocked it over while mowing the lawn, causing it to break. As a hummingbird aficionado, I also know that you should never buy the red dyed nectar. The dye damages the eggs. It's better (and much cheaper to make the nectar yourself. It's just one part sugar to four parts water.)

I admit I did not see Jim's third appearance as the one-man nursery crew coming. I was expecting her to go back to the store or something.

I think the ending was very well done.

She was thrilled that her new hummingbird sanctuary had not only attracted the birds but also a very special man.

Photo by C. Watts via Flicker CC license

The Lucky Penny

by Shelley Cooper from the August 6, 2018 issue

Tagline: Years ago, Lindsay tossed a penny in a fountain and wished for her Prince Charming...would it ever come true?

Observations: The most intriguing, different part of the story, for me, was when Lindsay realized her error. I found myself wondering what she was searching for in the fountain. That little mystery kept me reading. (Not that I would have stopped reading, because, you know, I have a blog I have to maintain. LOL)

When we find out the mystery, it's so touching...

"I'm not wading, officer." Then she told him about the coin her father had given her on her first day of school. A coin that he'd told her would always keep her safe. A coin she carried in his memory. A coin she'd mistakenly given to one of her nieces.

This story also made me chuckle out loud...

"My father taught me to always indulge the elderly and the infirm."

If you're a good student of Woman's World stories, you probably caught that little nod to independent women which was also the "black moment."

"Can I treat you to an ice cream?"

"No," she replied. A thrill shot through her at his obvious disappointment. "But I'd like it very much if you'd let me treat you."

Photo by Sam Howzit, via Flickr CC license

Saturday, August 25, 2018

So Much In Common

by Jenny Welsh from the August 20, 2018 issue

Tagline: Sarah and Cody were perfect for each other, but it took the matchmaker downstairs to help them see it!

Observations: Another adorable story! I loved the rooftop setting. (Coincidentally, the story I'm publishing next has a scene on a rooftop!) The piled up coincidences were funny and not the least bit annoying.

You'll notice that the hero and heroine don't get much on-page time together, which is unusual and a little counter to the advice I usually give you, which is to actively show them connecting. This way the reader believes they have a real chance to fall in love. Often, we've seen the couple on a date or having spent some time together. We end up feeling confident they'll continue to see each other.

In this story, you only see them together for about one third of the story. In this case, the "happy for now" ending ends a little sooner than many Woman's World stories and we end up feeling confident they'll have a conversation. LOL But it still works.

Photo by Eddie Welker (Flickr CC license)

Friday, August 3, 2018

Teacher's Pet

Photo by Magic Madzik (Flickr cc license)
by Diane Crawford from the July 23, 2018 issue

Tagline: When Abby attended a former teacher's birthday party, she didn't realize it could lead to romance...

Observations: Adorable story. Also, a setting/premise I don't remember seeing before - a former teacher's birthday party. I saw the chocolate bar gift coming, but it didn't diminish the delight I felt when I saw my prediction come true.

Did you notice the story had a villain? LOL It's kind of a stretch to call Dean a villain, but in Steve's mind, Dean was definitely a minor threat to his courtship of Abby.

Romance by Accident

Photo Credit: Rusty Clark (Flickr cc license)
by Ann M. Janis from the July 30, 2018 issue

Tagline: Amy wasn't looking for romance, but her improbable meeting with Jim was a nice surprise!

Observations: I think I'm going to do a stream-of-consciousness analysis today, which means I type what comes into my head as I'm reading.

First paragraph - I immediately sympathize with Amy and her feelings about the family reunion. Who among us has not ever felt like we weren't going anywhere with our lives and worried that people were judging us for our lack of forward motion? This kind of thing establishes a bond with the reader right away. They think, "I've felt like that too. I want to keep reading so I can see if things turn out all right for her." And the reader, after reading that Amy ends up happy, feels more optimistic about her own life, or at least feels happy for Amy.

After the crash - Hm. That guy seemed very cool and collected for someone who could very likely get chewed out.

The flowers were a nice touch.

"I was mesmerized by the hard hat's blue eyes." - Hats don't have eyes.

Thursday she receives the check - I am admiring Jim Stevens's persistence. LOL

I'm surprised at her suggestion of a picnic and super surprised about the reunion because I totally forgot the story started with that! Awesome.

Okay, I just got to the part where Jim explains to Amy how his family is sparse and widely scattered and that nailed it. This is what you should try to strive for in a Woman's World story. You tell a romance, yes. That's obvious. What's not as obvious is that you should try to show how a character grows just a little and learns a small (or even big) lesson about herself/himself or life in general.

Think about what the story would have been without that part where Amy realizes how lucky she is that she has this caring but sometimes annoying family. It would have been a cute tale about a meet cute and a construction guy who isn't afraid to go after what he wants. But with the realization, it becomes so much richer, plus it strengthens the two characters' relationship and brings them closer.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Announcements from Patricia Gaddis

So, Patricia asked me to pass on some information.

Stephanie Saible has retired and has been replaced by Carol Brooks. According to Patricia, Carol is a lovely person and loves the fiction in Woman's World. So everyone should just carry on as before unless otherwise noted. 

The second announcement is that her book, "Escape to the Biltmore" is available on Amazon and soon in hardcover. She has this to say about it:

"The story is loosely based on the life of my great grandmother who practiced medicine in 1895 and spent much of her time helping others. She was also friends with the Vanderbilts who owned the Biltmore House in Asheville. I am looking for people to review my book on Amazon, so anyone willing to participate will be greatly appreciated. Please, no less than 3 stars."

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Back in the Game

by Mary Ann Joyce from the July 9, 2018 issue

Photo: Hakan Dahlstrom (Flickr CC license)
Tagline: Ava had a crush on the cute guy at the gym...but would he ever notice her?

Observations: Ha! This was a story that used the title at the end successfully. When you do this, it has to make sense and not feel contrived. I thought the idea of physical therapy as a vehicle for a first meet was novel and his attempt to impersonate a jail bird was funny.

Pro tip: The humor in Woman's World stories is often slightly goofy like that. It's almost never sarcastic. It usually shows one or both of the main characters to be affably adorable.

Fireworks and Love

by Tina Radcliffe from the July 2, 2018 issue

Tagline: Kate thought the honeymoon was long over...then Jack gave her a surprise.

Photo: Jim, the Photographer (Flickr CC license)
Observations: I'm still having to get used to the thicker paper. More than once as I was thumbing through this issue, I thought I had two pages stuck together. LOL

Okay, I LOVED this story! Probably because it hits pretty close to home. My excuse for not prettying myself up anymore is because I had gained so much weight that I didn't like buying clothes, I didn't like trying to make myself look good because what was the point? However because of a new program I'm on, I've lost 17 pounds and I feel so great. TMI: I have shorts that I can pull off without unfastening. LOL Anyway, my point is, I could identify with a couple who don't go out of their way like they used to when they were first in love.

It's hard to write these types of stories and not have the wife or husband appear catty or disgruntled or complaining. Tina Radcliffe did this really well. She also showed both characters taking action, which is how it should be in a marriage. :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Man's Best Friend

by Amy Michaels from the June 18, 2018 issue

Photo: Jim Leary (Flickr CC license)
Tagline: Jeff and his beagle admired their neighbor...little did they know that the feeling was mutual!

Observations: Happy Independence Day, people! I hope you enjoy your holiday.

Before I get started, I wanted to also celebrate the fact that Woman's World is using thicker paper! Finally! I think too thin paper was why some of my issues were going missing. Either the entire cover or the part with the address label was getting eaten by the postal machines. I'm excited.

This was an adorable story! I was smiling throughout as I read it. I think part of it might be because it was written in first person, from Jeff's point of view. There was so much personality in the narrative.

My favorite line was, "Seriously, Oz?" LOL

The only slightly clunky thing was that man's best friend line at the end. It didn't seem natural for him to say that, so to me, it felt like they were trying to tie in the title but not very successfully.