Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Puppy Love

by Shannon Fay from the October 13, 2014 issue

Tagline
If Marina could rename the puppy her daughter had found, she might call him Cupid!

In a Nutshell
Marina and her daughter find a lost puppy under the porch of their new house. While putting up "found" posters, they run into a man and his son putting up "lost" posters.

Observations
This week we have a "Brady Bunch" story. A man and his son and a woman and her daughter. Not as many kids, same premise.

I liked Becky and how, even though she was disappointed that her mom said no to adopting the dog, she immediately brightened at the thought of trying to help the people who had lost him.

I LOVED how the two families met putting up their signs. What a great idea! Wish I'd thought of it.

The scene where the kids take off toward Becky's house to get the puppy was so funny and plausible. Any parent would identify with the line, "Ever feel like you're not in charge?" Hilarious.

I also liked the moment when, after she talks about her recent divorce, Matt says, "Believe me, it gets better." That was a real tender moment and an important one. I've mentioned before that it's challenging to get the reader to truly believe that a happily-ever-after could come true when you only have 800 words to set it up. But if you include a moment like this one, where the hero and heroine truly connect and where some real emotion happens, you're that much closer to pulling it off.

I wish the ending where she invites them to stay for pizza was a little less--dare I say it?--cheesy. If it had been my story, I'd have worked that line over until it hit the nail on the head. You could leave the set-up the way it is:

"Would you and Ryan like to stay for dinner?" Marina said. "We were just going to order pizza. Nothing special."

An average ending would be more like, "Pizza's our favorite. How about we bring a two-liter of soda to go with it?" Something along those lines.

Or I might try to tie in something from earlier in the story, like...there's a lost and found theme. Maybe Matt could turn to Ryan and say, "Well, son, we lost our puppy, but it looks like we found some new friends." But then, that's a little corny too. Hmm. Anyway, my point is, it needed some work, in my opinion.

Photo credit: Adrian Flint (Sony Digital Camera) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Some Enchanted Evening

by Susan C. Hall from the October 20, 2014 issue

Tagline
The moment Paige spotted the handsome stranger across the crowded room, she knew. Somehow...she knew.

In a Nutshell
Paige is a teacher. She notices one of the parents and finds out he's divorced. He asks her to help him cook an acorn squash. They hit it off.

Observations
This story didn't grab me. I thought it was strange that he would ask her out. I know his son was not in her class, but it still felt weird to me. Perhaps if they'd had more of a conversation than "Where can I find Mrs. Ericson's room" I would have understood and accepted that this was a normal progression, but it seemed out of the blue to invite her to his house for dinner.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get past that. However, I did think the end was clever.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

SOLD!

I was surprised to find an envelope from Woman's World today. I have not submitted a story for a very long time. Since June of 2012! Even more surprising was that it was a contract, not a rejection.

It's a holiday story. My very first holiday story sale to them.

I am walking on air!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sweet Lola

by Marie Anderson from the October 6, 2014 issue

Tagline
Phil had been keeping a big secret--and so had his wife. Only, her secret was even bigger than his!

In a Nutshell
Only days away from her wedding anniversary, Brie suspects her husband of having an affair. She's wrong. He was preparing a surprise present - a puppy! Well, that explains the blond hairs on his sweater and his mysterious meeting with the "other woman"/puppy owner.

Observations
Any of you long time Woman's World readers will probably be as shocked as I am. This story had a lot of drama! In my classes, I always caution people to beware of including too much angsty drama because Woman's World tends to shy away from it.

However, Brie's worrying time went on for most of the story. I'm not sure what to think. Does this mean we can start introducing drama into our submissions? Possibly. Or was this just a one-time anomaly? Hard to tell.

I loved the ending, though.

Photo credit: By Stefan Bauer, http://www.ferras.at (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Good Knight

by Marie Savage from the September 29, 2014 issue

Tagline
When the psychic predicted her romantic future, Kelly laughed. Then Kelly met John...

In a Nutshell
Kelly reluctantly goes with her friend to a psychic reading, but exits still skeptical. Later, when her car breaks down, it turns out the psychic's prediction was spot on.

Observations
This was basically the car trouble story with a twist, which I have said before is a tried and true way to construct a Woman's World story. You take a "cliche" and put a spin on it, in this case, the addition of the psychic prediction.

One of these days I should construct a Woman's World trope list. You could probably label the sides of dice with them, roll the dice and come up with the bones of a plot.

Matchmaker and the lost pet
Carnival and the gardener
New job and the precocious niece
Quirky shop/business and old flame

See? I'll bet you're getting ideas already.

 Photo credit: Johnny_boy_A via Creative Commons

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Welcome to the Neighborhood!

by Peggy L. Ellis from the September 22, 2014 issue

Tagline
According to the grapevine, Sue's new neighbor was a real catch. She decided to find out for herself...

In a Nutshell
Sue meets the handsome guy moving in next door when his puppy wanders over. She boldly asks him to share her pizza later that evening.

Observations
No offense to Ms. Ellis, but this story sits in the average category for me. I thought the heroine was spunky. I liked how she matter-of-factly ordered the pizza and invited Ed over to share it with her. But other than that...I neither loved nor hated it.

The only thing that pulled me out of the story was the invitation to attend the Chamber of Commerce meeting. I was wondering if a bank employee at Sue's level (accountant) would have any need or desire to attend those meetings.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ramblin' Rose

by Shelley Cooper from the September 15, 2014 issue


Tagline
Little Rose was as cute as could be...and so was her Uncle James!

In a Nutshell
Natalie lives next door to a hottie who's babysitting his niece while her parents are on a cruise. His niece unwittingly acts as matchmaker.

Observations
Everything old is new again. This is another story that had elements from a story I'd written for Woman's World years ago. My story also had a niece with parents on a cruise. The grandparents were supposed to babysit, but I think there was a medical emergency and the uncle had to take over.

I thought this story was adorable. The ending was super sweet and heartwarming.

One thing I wanted to point out was the structure of this story was a little different in that the backstory was in the middle of the story and brought out via conversation between James and Natalie.   Also, it was the niece's backstory, not that of the heroine or hero. As for them, we are just to assume they've been friendly as neighbors but never gone further than that.

Another thing...the dream. What a useful device. When a character dreams, it's a handy way to foreshadow and expose more of the character to the reader--his/her fears, wishes, or backstory. In "Ramblin' Rose" it's used to beef up the ending and help the reader dream too.

In an aside, I have a hydrangea bush with flowers like the one in the picture! I actually also have a next door neighbor named James, but he's married with kids. LOL

Also, reminder that when the author's name is in bold, it's also a hyperlink to all their story analyses on this blog.

Photo credit: Derek Ramsey via Wikimedia Commons