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.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

On Track for Love

by Jody Lebel from the June 11, 2018 issue

Tagline: Nora wasn't looking for love, but she found it on a romantic train ride...

Photo credit: Stanley Wood (Flickr CC license)
Observations: It's so good to see a story from my friend, Jody. I thought this was a charming story. It's difficult to construct a plot in which the couple meet while traveling because, in order for the romance to continue, they need to spend more time together--difficult to do if you live in different cities.

It was interesting to see a sort of "villain" in the story. If you're a regular reader of the Woman's World romances, you knew that Colette was not a serious contender. I think Jody did a good job of showing Nora analyzing the other woman without seeming catty.

Notice the moment when their hands touch near the beginning of the story. I thought that was a lovely snapshot in time. It also showed Ken being a gentleman.

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.