Friday, August 16, 2019

A Fresh Start to True Love

by Marti Attoun from the July 29, 2019 issue

Tagline: Romance is the last thing Bonnie expects to find while selling produce at the local farmers market...but when she meets Jim, love begins to bloom.

Observations: Reading this story was like visiting a real farmers market. Couldn't you just smell all the fresh produce? (Incidentally, I do not think tomatoes smell like compost.) I thought Attoun did a great job setting the scene.

Cute little matchmaking story!

Photo by Paul Wilkinson via Flickr CC license

Monday, August 12, 2019

Pure Poetry

by Susan Jaffer from the August 5, 2019 issue

Tagline: When Pete stops to deliver chairs to a poetry reading, he hopes that no one recognizes how out of place--and unpoetic--he is. But when Marci appears, it seems Pete has finally met the muse he's been longing for.

Observations: I'm excited to see a character of color in this Woman's World story. I think this is a welcome change. However, there is some debate on whether or not comparing skin color food/drink is mildly offensive to people of color.

On Writing with Color, a website dedicated to "writing and resources centered on racial and ethnic diversity," there is a well-written article on describing skin tone. Part 1 of the article centers on why it might not be a good idea to compare skin to chocolate or coffee and the like. Whether you agree or disagree with the reasons, you should look at Part 2, which gives you a really excellent resource on how you can richly describe a character's skin tone.

As open minded as we all think we are, it's always possible to learn something new.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Promise of New Love

by Jessica Roach Ferguson from the July 22, 2019 issue

Tagline: When a beach trip stirs memories of a past love, Katherine is certain she'll never feel it again...until someone from her past rekindles the hope in her heart.

Observations: Here's how I feel after reading this poignant but somehow uplifting story... I'm sighing with a quiet happiness. I can practically feel the chilly ocean spray on my cheeks.

This story conveyed just the right amount melancholy and longing without being maudlin. Ferguson does a beautiful job of showing the hero and heroine dancing around each other while trying to find out if the other person shared their feelings. The emotions all felt appropriate, not overblown or overwritten.

I only wish I'd known how old she/they were before the middle of the story when we find out he's forty. Otherwise, this was a fantastic story.

Photo by Alon via Flickr CC license

Home Is Where the Heart Is

by Mary Ann Joyce from the July 8, 2019 issue

Tagline: Melody struggled with the idea of becoming empty nesters and moving to a smaller home...until her husband surprised her with a beautiful gift.

Observations: Dang! I was going to write an empty nester story, but now I guess I've got to put that on hold for a while. LOL

Okay, THAT WAS AN AMAZING STORY. Way better, in fact, that the story I was working on.

What stands out most to me is how thoroughly Joyce showed us how much these two people love each other and how solid and long-lasting their relationship is. Check it out:

  • Hank apologizes for being late. 
  • Melody doesn't put up a fuss because she understands the reason.
  • Melody "knew what her husband wanted to hear" about the grey hair, so she says it to him. 
  • They tease each other playfully.
  • He notices her expression and ditches the humorous tone and tries to comfort her.
  • He brings pizza home in an attempt to recreate a memorable picnic in the house that they're planning to sell.
  • He gives her a meaningful gift to show he understands how much she will miss their house. Not only that, but he had it made ahead of time, so this guy really thought about the perfect anniversary gift for her.
  • He offers her the chance to stay in their big house.
By the time you get to the end of the story, it's very clear that these two would be happy anywhere. I just reread the last paragraph and the hairs on the back of my neck went up (in a good way.) This is a perfect example of why Mary Ann Joyce has so many stories published in Woman's World

Photo by Zulio via Flickr CC license

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Fireworks of the Heart

by Elizabeth Palmer from the July 1, 2019 issue

Tagline: Feeling homesick, Olivia agrees to attend her new neighborhood's Fourth of July picnic, but it's a handsome sergeant that sends her spirits soaring.

Stream of consciousness Observations:
That first paragraph...LOL. I have sometimes been asked if I work at the grocery store by strangers and I wonder what about my clothing identifies me as an employee? Usually grocery store employees wear some kind of uniform or name tag. So I'm liking Olivia right off the bat.

Okay, joke's on me! The guy asking the question was teasing her.

Aha, so we've skillfully established that Olivia knows this guy and has a wee crush on him. (I say "wee" because I've been binge-watching Outlander. LOL)

Oh, his name's Noah. Happy sigh!

I really love this part:

His dimpled smile warmed her heart almost as much as the promise.

Notice that the mid-point of the story happens to align with the gutter in the magazine.

Oh, I love a man in uniform.

He has a kid? Uh-oh, that can only mean...yep. There's a mommy. As you'll no doubt realize, this is the black moment of the story, when poor Olivia thinks he's married.

Oh, I absolutely adore this description phrase too...

But when it came time to make her contribution to the picnic, she discovered he was manning the grill (pun intended??? LOL), his dark-lashed cobalt blue eyes rendering her speechless.

The addition of the white hot sausages is genius. It's imperative in Woman's World stories that you include connections between the hero and heroine. The fact that they grew up in adjacent suburbs of New York gives them so many things in common, which consciously or unconsciously gives the reader hope that this couple will find happiness together.

Ha! Palmer totally surprised me. I thought Noah was divorced. Turns out the boy wasn't his.

Oh, that ending was perfection. Fantastic story.

Photo by Steven Depolo via Flickr CC license

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Daring to Start Anew

by Tracy Savage Wilson from the June 24, 2019 issue

Tagline: When a lost dog shows up at Lisa's coffee stand, she goes on a mission to return the pup to his handsome owner...and finds love along the way.

Stream of Consciousness Observations: Right off the bat we get a backstory paragraph, which I've said before is just fine in a Woman's World story. You have such a limited number of words that you must convey information as efficiently as possible. Immediately, we learn she's divorced, going back to school, taking night classes and working.

As a thirteen year barista, I know about regular customers, so this part rings very true. I, too, have people switching it up occasionally.

Oh, she's interested in this particular regular. Heh heh. Once in a while we get some eye candy and the cougar in me growls. LOL

I like how the author used the morning rush as a way to stop the main characters from connecting longer. Putting obstacles in the way of your protagonists is a good way to keep reader interest.

Okay, she just found the dog hanging around the coffee stand after her shift and I'm finding it a little hard to believe. I hope the author convinces me this is plausible later in the story.

"We were at the park when he escaped..." Hm. Yeah, I'm still not buying it. In my experience, dogs who are bonded with their owners don't escape, especially at a park where I'm assuming he was leashed. If the author had said the dog chased a cat and had yanked the leash out of Dave's hand...that would have been a little different.

Ah, coming back to the coffee stand for a biscuit makes a little more sense.

"Of course. It's my favorite part of the day, seeing your beautiful smile every morning," Dave said huskily, taking her hand in his softly.

I am so accustomed to the tone of Woman's World stories that the word "huskily" actually made me rear back and think "ew." I think his statement would appear normal, coming from a regular customer, but if he said it huskily, that goes into creeper territory for me. Then, add the taking of the hand... Yeah, I think he's moving a tad fast.

Photo by Alper Cugun via Flickr cc license

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Picture Bliss

by Mary Ellen Main

Tagline: When art teacher Sue Becker assigns her students a special Father's Day project, she never imagines it will color her life with new love.

Observations: I thought this was an adorable story. When the call went out recently for Father's Day stories, I was like, "What? How does anyone write a story based on Father's Day?" Well, Main did. :)

I liked the humor about Simon's stick figure drawing in the middle of the story. It's always great to add humor and to show your characters having a sense of humor. That's one of the most popular traits people look for in mates, isn't it? But I was puzzled about this part:

"Would you consider going out to dinner with me tomorrow evening, get to know each other a little better?"

"I'd like that," she said, her heart swelling. "On one condition."

"What's that?"

"That Simon doesn't draw any pictures of what we look like together."

Carson grinned. "Well, I"m sorry but I can't promise that," he laughed, squeezing her hand in his. "He loves to draw what makes him happy."

Why didn't she want him to draw a picture of them? She's his kindergarten teacher and hopefully appreciates children's artwork. Maybe someone can explain it to me in the comments. :)

Photo credit: Ruth Hartnup via Flickr CC license

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Secret Recipe for Love

by Julie Brookman

Tagline: When Chelsea Edwards is pitted against her handsome nemesis, Joel, in the annual barbecue competition, the grill isn't the only thing heating up!

Observations: Chelsea was a sassy heroine, one I admired. She stepped up to grill by herself when her dad couldn't compete. She was able to hold her own when Joel was teasing her. She was pretty canny when she realized Joel was "trying to throw her off her game."

Usually when there are stories that revolve around cooking, I find something to gripe about. I've watched a lot of cooking shows and I am a good cook myself, but I saw nothing to ping my radar. Yay!

The bad news: I totally have a craving for ribs now.

Tropes: second chance, enemies to lovers

Photo credit: David McSpadden via Flickr CC license

Love on Page One

by Alyssa Symon from the June 3, 2019 issue

Tagline: When Bonnie boards her flight to a literary conference, she's given up on love--until a handsome stranger rewrites her story.

Stream of Consciousness Observations: The man is wearing a suit on the plane? He must be a business man going on a business trip. Gone are the days when people dressed up to travel.

Hm. Her heart throbbed? Odd word choice.

I like the stubble paragraph. I'm fascinated with facial hair. Wait, that sounds weird. I mean I just find stubble attractive. LOL

Even though I never saw the movie, I immediately think of "Weekend at Bernie's" when I see his name is Bernie.

Connecting over books? OMG. I'm jealous of Bonnie. My husband is not a Reader.

Black moment arrives. Of course, they have to part at the baggage claim. But being a savvy WW story reader, I know he's going to show up at the conference.

OMG. I LOVE how he reveals his presence at the conference! Although I totally expected him to be there, when he taps her on the shoulder and says she's in his's perfect.

I loved this story.

Photo credit: Stevep2008 via Flickr CC license