Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Yard Sale to Remember by Rochelle Banks

From the August 15, 2016 issue

Tagline: Olivia believed there was someone out there for her...but she never dreamed of meeting him at a yard sale!

Observations: I scribbled "a dance of conversation" in the margins, because what I really loved about this story was what was happening beneath the conversation. I think Banks did a terrific job of showing all the little things that had happened between these two, even though they'd never officially met until the day of her yard sale.

Her: She'd seen him riding his bike by her house and found him attractive.
Him: He'd noticed her (sans makeup) just after she'd moved in. (This part made me laugh. I loved the use of the word scampered.)
Him: He knew exactly how long it had been since she'd moved in.
Her: She'd been timing her breakfasts on the weekends so she could observe him going by, and she knew he was fibbing when he said he varied his route sometimes.

Banks gave us all this history while she was moving the story forward. (Did you also notice how she dropped in the bit about Olivia having broken up with her boyfriend as she talked about the bike?) Woman's World stories are so short that you really have to keep things moving.

Photo credit: r. nial bradshaw via Flickr Creative Commons License

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Her Own Blind Date by Mary Davis

From the August 8, 2016 issue

Tagline: Tired of blind dates, Carrie decided to take matters into her own hands!

Observations: I loved this story. It was totally a matchmaker story but with a twist I hadn't seen before. I literally have no criticisms. The sister relationship was spot on. I was a little suspicious when she found Jack at her sister's keyboard. I thought he was up to something nefarious. LOL. The office details such as doing system upgrades on the weekends were authentic. And the big reveal, when Carrie finds out that it was not a set-up is priceless.

Photo credit: sureV ainmO via Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Neighborly Love by Shelley Cooper

from the August 1, 2016 issue

Tagline: Simon desperately wanted to impress Julie...but he never thought it would be child's play!

Observations: I adored this story, mainly because I was scared to death when that kid was about to jump. I sure didn't see that coming and it made my heart race.

I loved his inner thoughts as he hopes Julie is watching him do push ups.

I thought the kid was believable and well depicted and the supportive sister was great too.

My only beef--and it's not huge--is that they called 911. He's got a hurt ankle. She could have driven him. Ambulances are expensive and it wasn't an emergency. But other than that, it was a fantastic story!

Photo credit: Martin Lindstrom via Flickr Creative Commons License

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Meeting of Hearts by Tina Radcliffe

From the July 18, 2016 issue

Tagline: Casey thought she didn't have time for a life...until she met Ben!

Observations: I haven't seen the woman in a "man's job" trope in a while, but it may just be because I haven't been paying attention. Woman's World likes to promote women doing whatever job floats their boat. I loved the little detail that she kept moist towelettes in her toolbox!

Using this trope does two things. It shows the heroine is a modern woman, one who isn't afraid to take on a profession dominated by men, which we admire. I sure wish I knew about cars. That could come in handy. It also shows the hero to be open-minded. While Ben does assume she doesn't know anything about cars, who can blame him? I don't think it's chauvinistic to make that assumption. I'd jump to the same conclusion.

The only thing that gave me pause was that the auto shop was adjacent to an accountancy office. In my experience auto body shops are not near nice office buildings. Otherwise, solid story.

Photo credit: Yasser Alghofily via Flickr Creative Commons License

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Shall We Dance? by Rosemary Hayes

From the July 25, 2016 issue

Tagline: Beth was overwhelmed by the idea of waltzing at her sister's wedding...until the best man came to her rescue!

Observations: I had mixed feelings about this story. There were some things I liked and some I didn't. Let's start with the postive.

We immediately feel empathy for Beth when we read about how she fell of the stage in high school. I also know that I'd probably feel nervous too, if I were called to dance in front of everyone at a wedding. (I didn't particularly like dancing at my own wedding, knowing everyone's eyes were on me.)

I also liked how Hayes developed the relationship between Beth and Jacob. It was a slow and steady build, even if I didn't quite believe they were in love by the time the wedding rolled around.

I didn't care for the repetition of the "It's as easy as ____" line. I was fine with the first time...

"Dancing is as easy as baking a cake."

I laughed. "I haven't baked an edible cake yet--just ask Emily."

That was cute, a witty reply and we get some information about her as a character.

But when it happens again...

"Just remember," he said. "This is as easy as riding a bike."

"It took me months to learn to ride a bike--I even chipped a tooth."

I was a bit annoyed with her. To me, it felt like she was being contrary. I thought to myself, "the guy is only trying to reassure you." I even wondered if they got married, if this pattern would continue, with Jacob saying something encouraging and Beth responding with something contradictory.

The third time...

"You'll be fine. This is as easy as washing a dog."

I almost cracked up. "I have a Great Dane."

It was slightly humorous, so this didn't irk me like the time before, and by now I had caught on to the pattern. By the time we encounter the fourth and final time he tells her it's as easy as something, I had forgiven the author the repetition because there was a purpose behind it, but unfortunately, my opinion of Beth had suffered. I started out feeling sorry for her and identifying with her fear, but by the end I was ready for her to put her big girl panties on. I would like to have seen her grow as a character during the dance classes and evolve to a point where she felt confident going out onto the dance floor with Jacob.

Your mileage may vary. I can totally see how someone would read this and not feel irritated with her, which only goes to prove that this is all so very subjective.  And yet, when I think about Woman's World and how positive they are and how they publish those "Moments for You," they want women to feel empowered and I think the character Beth could have used a little of that.

Photo Credit: Danca via Flickr Creative Commons License

Monday, July 18, 2016

Love Awaits by Mary Ann Joyce

From the July 11, 2016 issue

Hi, all, I was at the Romance Writers of America conference this past week. I had meant to bring my Woman's World magazines with me so I could blog, but I forgot them at home, along with my toothbrush and toothpaste. I had a blast. I learned a lot. I was able to reconnect with some Woman's World writers, even!

Tagline: Takeout Thursday is just another day--until Marcy receives a fortune that could change her love life!

Observations: I thought this story was adorable. Upon scanning it and looking for a teaching point, I thought I'd zero in on the hero, Jake. Often, when I'm editing a WW story for someone, the author spends so much time setting up the situation and/or describing the backstory that we end up with almost no interaction between the hero and the heroine.

This is a mistake.

You need to show them interacting so that we get some inkling that they're compatible and that they're a good match for each other. It's an instance of "show, don't tell." You can't just say, "They were a match made in heaven." You have to do a little showing as well.

Also, while the heroine may know the hero and be enamored of him, to the reader, he's a stranger. The man needs to be "on stage" long enough for us to get to know him. He needs to actually say something other than, "Nice to meet you, Mary. I'm John." Does that make sense?

In this story, Joyce did a great job of introducing Jake. The first thing that made him likable to me was when he looked around looking for food. I thought, "Typical man," and Marcy reacted like I would when she tried to feed him. Obviously, the dog anecdote endeared him even more to me.

I wanted to point out two more things I just noticed.

I'm not sure if it's foreshadowing, but did you notice Jake slipped the fortune cookie into his pocket? This is so he could write that fortune and leave it on Marcy's desk. Now, Joyce didn't have to mention that at all. If she hadn't, we probably would have assumed that he got the cookie when we "weren't looking." But because it is there, and in the backs of our minds we readers know it's there, it makes the story all that much tighter. It's little details like that.

Also, I loved that when Joyce introduced the fact that Jake makes special stops at Marcy's cubicle, she did it near the end and not at the beginning. I think this placement was very smart. As the story stands, there's a slight tension because we think oh, poor Marcy, she's been pining away for Jake and Jake doesn't even know she's alive. So, we're a little more emotionally invested. But then, later, we find out that Jake does these fly-bys and we feel a little zing of hope.

Now, take a moment and imagine it had been put in the beginning of the story, perhaps in that paragraph where Jake enters the break room. Then we have a story about a woman who has a work crush and a man who has a work crush and neither of them are doing anything about it. Different story, right? The way Joyce did it, we're rooting for Marcy. See what I mean? :)

Photo credit: Andrew Malone via Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Treasure to Remember by Kathy Hendrickson

From the July 4, 2016 issue

Tagline: Amy didn't think she'd ever find Mr. Right--until she met a gorgeous guy at the antiques mall!

Observations: Ah, the antiques mall. What a fun place to bop around and it's the perfect Woman's World type place to find romance. There's that Americana, Normal Rockwell atmosphere that really resonates with the readers of WW.

I found a few things to comment on, which is always a relief. LOL Sometimes I read a WW story and have nothing to say about it.

There was a bit of a repetition in the beginning...

Amy had all but given up on finding true love. She didn't even want to talk about it to anyone...

Then a couple paragraphs down...

"I know you don't want to talk about it, dear, but I know there's someone out there just for you!"

There was also some repeating at the end.

"How about we go to lunch and then to my grandfather's lock shop?"


"Great," he said. "Let's go have lunch, and then we'll stop by my grandfather's store to find a key for that box."

This may have been on purpose for emphasis, but it read repetitive to me. If it was an error, it gives me the opportunity to suggest you find at least one person who can critique and proofread your stories for you. Sometimes we miss things like this because we're too close to the story.

Hendrickson fooled me in this story. When the granny spouted a saying, I thought for sure the saying would show up again the the last sentence of the story, but it didn't. LOL

I loved it when Nicholas said "Don't leave. I'll be right back." There's a hero with just the right amount of assertiveness. He's also a great grandson, obviously. I also LOVED when the grannies exchanged that secret smile. ADORABLE.

All in all, a solid story that I enjoyed.

Photo credit: Paul Sableman via Flickr Creative Commons License