Saturday, February 16, 2019

A Super Bowl Surprise

by Jill Weatherholt from the February 4, 2019 issue

Tagline: After her husband passed away, Janie couldn't even think about playing the field...until a chance meeting got her back in the game.

Observations: This was a cute Super Bowl-themed matchmaker story. I enjoyed it. I was surprised to see the actual words "Super Bowl" used in the story because the NFL is notorious about protecting their copyright. I was in Las Vegas during Super Bowl weekend and the Aria Resort and Casino didn't even use the words Super Bowl. Instead, they said "The Big Game." But then again, they were using the words to advertise an event, so maybe that's the difference. Does anyone still have the magazine? Because I'd expect they would not be able to use Super Bowl on the cover, since the cover sells the magazine.

Janie Edmiston tried not to smile. -- I find myself wondering why she didn't want to smile.

I liked the idea of them meeting at the sporting goods store while buying jerseys, however, they're going to buy full-on jerseys? Just for the party? Maybe this is just a case of the author and/or editors not really differentiating between shirts and jerseys, because why not just a T-shirt? Jerseys run about $75 to $150. Maybe I'm just cheap, but I attended a 60s themed party once and I wanted to spend as little as I could get away with because I wasn't going to wear any of it again. Also, of all the Super Bowl parties, I've attended, I've never seen anyone actually wear team colors, let alone actual gear. But maybe, because I live in LA, people are just "too cool" to do that kind of thing. LOL

Seasoned Woman's World readers will immediately realize Janie and Drew will end up at the same party. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Often, it gives readers that feeling of being in on a secret that the characters are unaware of, sort of like being invited to a surprise party, which is so much fun.

"...the door opened with a sweeping gesture." -- Is this grammatically correct? It's clear what the author meant. We can all picture it, but I think the sentence is suggesting the door gestured.

She stopped just shy of the fridge, her heart hammering in her chest. -- I notice this is the third time her heart did something. As a writer, you may not notice that you are repeating yourself or that you are using a "crutch" word or phrase. I find my characters constantly chuckling, smiling and shrugging. It's something I have to be on guard for and sometimes it's better to have someone else read over your story because we often don't notice our crutch words in our own work.

"I can't wait to see what happens next." -- This struck me as a kind of odd thing to say, especially as the ending sentence of the story. If it had been my story, I might try to throw something football related in and I would have had to reach out to friends who are football fans because I'm a hockey girl, through and through.

I think it might have been good to include one more mention of Janie's getting over the death of her husband two years prior. We get that info at the beginning of the story and then never hear anything more. To show Janie's growth more clearly, I would like to have seen her think about her late husband just once more -- perhaps a memory of how much he loved her salsa or maybe he insisted on buying jerseys for the team he was rooting for, so that's why she spent so much money, to keep the tradition alive.

As always, these are just my opinions. Your mileage may vary. :)

Photo by: Ted Kerwin via Flickr CC license


Monday, February 11, 2019

More Than Puppy Love

by Alyssa Simon from the January 28, 2019 issue

Tagline: Erika had given up on finding love, content with the unconditional affection from her furry friends, until a serendipitous accident gave her new hope.

Observations: I wanted to analyze the black moment in this story because it was particularly nice.

Boy meets girl.
Boy tends to girl's bumped head.
Girl confesses:

"I love animals. I had a dog growing up, Scotty. He was my best friend. My parents worked a lot, but Scotty was always there for me. I wanted to give other kids the opportunity to have a best friend like Scotty..."

Boy goes silent for a moment.
Girl thinks boy thinks she's wacko for having a dog for a best friend.
Boy confesses...he's a vet!

I really liked how Erika's self-doubt made us really feel for her. We've all felt that uncertainty that we've stuck our foot (or paw!) in our mouth.

I also thought the ending--where he brought the hot cocoa to her, and they drank a toast to animals--was perfect.

Photo credit: Marco Verch via Flickr CC license

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The True Love Experiment

by Elizabeth Palmer from the January 21, 2019 issue

Tagline: Christie was having no luck finding her Prince Charming using her friend's supposedly fail-safe dating method...until Dan stepped in to save the day.

Observations: I loved this friends-to-lovers story.

Elizabeth Palmer is a regular contributor to the magazine and this story proves she knows what she's doing. At the beginning of the tale, she talks about Christie suffering through some bum dates. She could have described them, perhaps milking them for comic effect, which is something I might have done. But she chose not to, which is another perfectly valid choice, because Woman's World magazine celebrates the positive. It's almost like that old saying, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." If you go that route when writing your stories, you'll probably not go wrong.

We saw Dan being chivalrous (but with an ulterior motive, of course), which is always a good trait in a Prince Charming and in a Woman's World story hero. We also saw the heroine not being passive by saying, "Well, I'm free tomorrow night." That's right, Christie. You go, girl.

Palmer also nailed the ending with that text.

Photo by Ian Lee via Flickr CC license

Monday, February 4, 2019

News from the Editor

There is a Facebook group for WW Writers (link in the side bar) that Alessandra Renna, the new Fiction Editor, visits and posts on every once in a while. I'm going to make an effort to pass on the info here for those who don't use Facebook. These are her words, cut and pasted.

Jan 11, 2019  Jan 31, 2019
Firstly, and most importantly, in our romance section, we have started to promote books and novellas by our wonderful authors! What this means for writers who have submitted or have had their pieces accepted to appear in Woman's World is that alongside your submission, we would also love to hear about any books you have upcoming or have published in the recent past (2-3 years ago), where they are available for purchase, and for you to attach a hi-res jpeg of the book cover for us!
Secondly, the criteria for selection have been altered slightly, so I wanted to offer some quick 'guidelines' so everyone knows what's being looked for (and chosen!) for both romance and mini mysteries. Here are some quick things to include in future submissions, as well as some themes that our editors are loving right now!
Romance:
—your contact information (name, address, e-mail, phone #)
—stories with LOTS of chemistry, i.e. gazing into the eyes, stomaches erupting in butterflies, etc. NOTE: this does NOT mean racy! Just evocative description of the sparks of first love flying
—hopeful endings/kickers that leave the reader feeling like the future is bright and anything is possible
—love in later life—our readers are LOVING stories about people who find love later in life, so keep them coming!
—witty banter/flirtation
—love-hate stories. Our editor has a fondness for stories where the protagonist has a love/hate relationship that quickly turns to love
—super seasonal stories. As we are a weekly, be sure to keep in mind the holidays/weather patterns that are in play for your selection. As we are moving into April and May, Mother's Day comes to mind 
I just checked in with my colleague in accounting here at the magazine, and she suggested that it would be helpful for any writers who have not been published within the last 12 months or for writers who have never published with us before to indicate that fact alongside their submissions. It would be as simple as adding a line at the top of your submission stating, "I am a new writer for Woman's World" or "I haven't been published in the magazine for the past 12 months".
This will flag our accounting team that you are a new writer who will need to receive a W9 alongside their contract, should your story be selected! As usual, please include your full name (the name you will be using on the contracts, as well as your pen name, should you have one), address and a line indicating that you are a new writer alongside any submissions. For those of you who have already submitted and are new to Woman's World/haven't been published in the last 12 months AND have had a story selected for publication, you can always e-mail me at apollock@bauerpublishing.com to let me know that you are a new writer, and I will give our accounting department a heads up.
In the coming weeks, we will be looking for Easter-themed submissions for both mini mysteries and romance selections, so please feel free to send any and all that you may have in the works to us at fiction@womansworldmag.com. 

Monday, January 28, 2019

A Truly Special Treat

by Veda Boyd Jones from the January 14, 2019 issue

Tagline: After her husband died, Cheryl lost all of her joy. But on a trip to the Grand Canyon, a handsome stranger showed her how beautiful life can be.

Stream of Consciousness Observations:

First paragraph, we get her backstory. As noted before, the stories are very short, so best to get that important info across succinctly. She's a widow and it's been two years. If you're a regular reader of Woman's World romance, you already know this will be a "moving on" story.

I like this description: But as the deep reds and golds of the canyon swirled on her television...

Time to start living again. -- Yep. A "moving on" story, all right.

Another very nice description: She shivered, eyes wide at the wondrous pageant before her as the rising son illuminated the canyon's rich purples, reds and golds.

"Over here, Angie." -- Ah! It's also a misunderstanding story. Again, veteran readers will know that Angie's not the wife. She's a sister or friend or co-worker. LOL This doesn't take anything away from the story. This is the "black moment" of the story when we think there won't be a happy ending. Notice that it occurs in the middle of the story, whereas in a novel, it occurs more in the last third of the book. We still feel the Cheryl's disappointment, but as readers, we also are in on the secret that Glen is actually available and we anticipate that moment of surprise when she finds out the truth.

Angie's the sister. Called it!

I love the conniving sisters. LOL

More vivid description: Outside, the sky lit up in fiery yellows and magenta, as the shadows of the canyon turned gorgeous royal purple.

This story had a strong color motif, which is something I don't see often in Woman's World stories. Nicely done. This story also felt more romantic than the last few stories. Having read the story, I think the title could have been more clever.

Photo credit: lwtt93 via Flickr CC license

Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Man with a Plan

by Kay Layton Sisk from the January 7, 2019 issue

Tagline: Tom is dying to meet his beautiful new neighbor, Jennifer, but can never find the right time...until a snowstorm gives him a chance to warm her heart.

Observations: I remember back when I was first targeting Woman's World as a publication I wanted to write for, the first story I read in their magazine had a dog in it. There came a time when people noticed that they liked dogs in their stories--so much so that they eventually put the kibosh on dogs for a little while because they were getting so many submissions with canines. LOL

This was a cute story. I liked all the action in it. There was a nice "full-circle" element--starting with the snowstorm and the good news/bad news thing and ending with the line:

"As Tom felt a radiant warmth spread in his chest, he realized the snowstorm was good news after all."

I did catch a typo. Did anyone else see it?

Photo credit: FarCryStudios via Flickr CC license

Monday, January 7, 2019

New Year, New Beginning

by Nina Singh from the December 31, 2018 issue

Tagline: Gina's New Year's resolution is to take more risks, but when her business partner, Rafe, puts it to the test, will she be able to make the leap?

Observations: This week I'm going to do a stream-of-consciousness critique, which means, I read the story and type my thoughts as they occur to me.

"One tall peppermint latte with a shot of espresso." - Tall lattes automatically have a shot of espresso. Maybe he meant an extra shot.

...tall, dark and handsome man - Not loving the cliche.

"That's why our partnership works so well." - I'm wondering what business they run together.

"These peppermint lattes should be available all year," Gina said. - I work for Starbucks and as a public service announcement, I will tell you that you can, indeed, get peppermint lattes and peppermint mocha lattes all year. The only thing that will be missing are those chocolate shavings on top. The shavings we only get during the holidays.

You two are so cute when you almost-flirt. - Love this line. I love snarky secondary characters.

There was so much to do before they began decorating the small advertising agency. - Aha! It's an advertising agency.

"Didn't she tell you? She said she had to run out. It's just you and me, it seems." - Okay, wait. It's only a three-person office? Before it said "They both had so much fun planning the event and pulling it together." That's a bit of an overstatement if the party only involves three people, max. Maybe I'm just lazy, but I'd never throw a party, complete with streamers, for three people unless it was extenuating circumstances, like someone was sick in the hospital and the party was in their room.

Edited to add: someone pointed out to me that it was probably a party for clients as well. Now I feel dumb for not realizing! LOL

"We seem to have found ourselves under leftover mistletoe from the Christmas party." - I'm being really snarky here, but obviously they enjoy throwing parties for just three people.

I'm at the end of the story and I know it's only 800 words, but I think I'd like to have seen that conversation in which they resolve the problem be a little meatier. I feel like it wrapped up too fast, like they didn't address the possible problems well enough. Of course, this isn't their only chance to talk about things, but just a sentence or two more from Rafe when he was declaring his feelings would have made me feel better about their budding romance.

Also the photo of the two people holding the heart balloon is a strange choice.

Even so, I did like the story and am glad that the Harlequin authors' stories seem to be fitting in more with the tone of the "normal" Woman's World stories.

Photo credit: skeddy in NYC via Flickr CC license