Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Setup

Photo credit: Josh Dionne (Flickr cc license)
by Anna Jo Christopher from the June 4, 2018 issue

Tagline: Cassie wasn't looking for love...but there was something special about Ben!

Observations: This week we had a matchmaker story about a game night. I love game nights! I recently went to visit my brother in Texas and we played games almost non-stop. But I digress.

I didn't see anything in particular I wanted to point out except for the fact that the suspenseful black moment happened in the middle of the story and not at the end. Did you notice it? It's when the mystery man is 20 minutes late. It's odd how in these short stories, you can get away with things you wouldn't normally be able to in a novella or novel.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Catch of the Day

Photo credit: Fuzzy Gerdes (Flickr CC license)
by Diane Crawford from the May 28, 2018 issue

Tagline: Paul was fishing for his dinner...then he caught Lynne!

Observations: Obviously, this story stood out a bit for being in the male, first person point of view. It was refreshing! It was also another example of a story that goes against my oft offered advice to give the couple more screen time together. This story mainly occurred in Paul's head. We get a very detailed picture of who this man is and we end up liking him.

I liked the surprise of Lynne being the one in the hat, and the moment he spotted the red cap, I knew it was her. Also I wanted you to notice at one point in the story, Paul wondered at the scarcity of women who liked the outdoors. Sure enough, he finds one right under his nose. Crawford didn't feel the need to repeat this info in a sentence like, "Paul knew he and Lynne would spend many a day in the sunshine and fresh air." It wasn't necessary. The reader already knows this is a good match.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Night Owls

by Nell Musolf from the May 21, 2018 issue

Photo credit: Alex Antonio (Flicker CC)
Tagline: Night shifts were really boring...that is, until Mark ran into Susan!

Observations: I think I can safely say that it's never a bad idea to show the hero and heroine of your story having something in common. In this case, it was the fact that they both work nights.

I wanted to point out something I haven't mentioned in a while. I always think it's a good idea to show your heroine making smart choices as a single woman. If you're a woman, jogging at night is probably not the wisest choice, especially if you keep to a predictable schedule. But Susan takes her dog with her, which shows she's a smart cookie. No one wants to read about a TSTL (too stupid to live) character.

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Prom Date

by Elizabeth Palmer, from the May 14, 2018 issue

Tagline: Jude regretted not going with Ryan to her high school prom. Now, 25 years later, she was given a second chance!

Observations: I enjoyed the black moment when you think all is lost...when she has to decline is invitation to coffee. We know that Ryan was shy as a teen, so we readers wonder if he's still painfully shy and not likely to work up the courage to ask her again. Including a black moment in these stories, even though they're only 800 words long, is something I recommend. It's not necessary, because I see plenty of Woman's World romances published that do not have a black moment, but I like to add them whenever I can.

What set this story apart was that secret compartment. That compartment served the story in a couple of ways I want to talk about.

First, it created a sense of mystery and made us wonder if there was one and if so, what was inside. Palmer nailed it when she made it a sentimental item and not a bunch of cash, which is kind of what I thought it might be. Woman's World loves sentimental stuff like finding a missing cameo that belongs to one's beloved late grandmother. Second, this cameo and the fact that she wore it to the prom allowed Palmer to bring the prom up into the conversation. This way the characters could clear up the misunderstanding from so many years ago and make a fresh start.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Putting the Pieces Together by Rosemary Hayes

Photo: James Petts
from the May 7, 2018 issue

Tagline: Emma and Joel had broken up...but was it really over?

Observations: This was a terrific story and unusual in that it was about a couple who were on the rocks. Those stories are so much harder to write and it's always refreshing to see them. (I'll bet Patricia is always happy to see a break from the norm too.)

This story is an example of why Rosemary Hayes's stories appear so often. It's just so tight. There's a part in the guidelines which says, "Every sentence, paragraph, and scene of the story should deliver more information about your characters and their situation and/or briskly advance the storyline." This story does this beautifully.

The beginning seems like just a package delivery, but it deftly shows Emma is recently single, that she still loves her ex, that she's got a mother who needs her.

Then we find out what the package is, we find out more about her and Joel's "friendship," we also find out about how they met at a game/puzzle store. See how tightly this is plotted?

Of course, we readers know the puzzle is Joel reaching out to Emma, but that makes it all the more fun to see her figuring it out. It's funny how I don't even "meet" Joel until the end of the story, but when he does make an appearance, I already love him! This is so contrary to the advice I usually give, stating the couple need on-the-page time to show their connection. In this story, the connection is taken for granted because they have a history together already.

As expected, the puzzle is a proposal and it's perfect. What a great story.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A Romance With Class by Amy Michaels

Photo: John Lodder via Flickr CC License
from the April 30, 2018 issue

Tagline: Liz's literature class focused on classic romances, but could a more intriguing plot be unfolding off the page?

Observations: Loved this story!! I liked the romantic literature focus of the class. I really liked the ending.

Notice there were two matchmakers in the story, rather than the usual one.

Going back and re-reading, I saw this and it made me laugh:

"Did you notice that our reading list is all classic romantic literature? I have it on good authority that our instructor is quite the romantic," Rick said.

We find out later that the instructor is Rick's uncle. LOL

Friday, April 27, 2018

Growing Love by Jenny Welsh

Photo by Ed Bierman (Flickr CC license)
from the April 23, 2018 issue

Tagline: When Harry offers to build a garden for Ellen, can more than just flowers grow?

Observations: This story was so different. I can't recall seeing very many friends-to-lovers stories in Woman's World. I thought this really worked.

I really liked her moment of clarity. I liked that she was ready to move forward and take action.

The story didn't wow me, but it was good.