Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Something Sweet

by April Serock from the March 2, 3015 issue

Tagline
Jaime had worked with Brandon for two years, but somehow she'd never seen him--or the love in his eyes...

In a Nutshell
Jaime and Brandon both wait tables at a pub. She is coming off a bad relationship with a guy who cheated on her. She realizes she needs to date nice guys, not handsome ones, and guess who's the nicest guy she knows?

Observations
First thing, I was excited to see that they weren't waiting tables in a small town cafe. Been there, done that a few times in Woman's World. It's a pub. In New York City, no less!

This was a friends-to-lovers type plot, one that's a favorite among many romance readers. What I wanted to point out was that the high-point of the story where there was the most tension was not an emotional black moment where you worry that they won't get together. Instead, it was Jaime having an epiphany. It's always nice to see one of the main characters growing as a person. You're always rooting for them to figure it out and you feel proud of them when they do.

I liked the romance of the snowfall in the city and that they were going to walk through it and I really liked the last line too. Sometimes it gets a little tedious to get those so carefully contrived last lines, so this one was a pleasant change of pace.

Photo credit: Richard Hurd via Flickr Creative Commons

Monday, March 2, 2015

Forever and For Always

by Shoshana Brown from the February 23, 2015 issue

Tagline

Eric was the love of Sherry's life--and the only one who could calm her pre-wedding fears!

In a Nutshell

Sherry is having second thoughts because she gave Eric an ultimatum. He reassures her he truly does want to marry her.

Observations
This is the first time I've seen a story about pre-wedding jitters. At the risk of repeating myself, I thought it was a novel idea for a story. I liked Eric a lot. He seemed like a great guy. Danni, the maid of honor, was terrific too.

Reading this story reminds me that one way to "attack" a story about an already-established couple is to identify a crisis moment or a problem like this and then get them past it, together. These types of stories are usually about the woman being afraid of something that has to do with their relationship. During the course of the story she is reassured. Sometimes it's a friend who helps her along. Sometimes she figures it out on her own. Sometimes, as in this story, the man reassures her. It's a nice option to consider if you're tired of writing first meet stories.

Photo credit: Suzie2q via Flickr Creative Commons

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Crashing into Love

by Carol E. Ayer from the February 16, 2015 issue

Tagline
When friends asked Laura and Brad how they met, they both had to laugh...

In a Nutshell
When Laura forgets to set the parking brake on her car while getting the mail, the car rolls down and crashes into her garage door. As her landlords assure her their insurance will cover it, their son makes an impression. Three weeks later, the son repeats the crash.

Observations
Only in a Woman's World story would landlords not be upset about a smashed garage door. LOL

This story had a good hook.

All I can say in my defense is that it had been a rough week.

I immediately want to know what is she defending herself against and what made it such a rough week.

I found nothing in particular to remark upon in the middle of the story, but I really loved the last line of the story about the flat driveway.

Photo credit: Alisa Cooper via Flickr Creative Commons

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

For You

by April Serock from the February 9, 2015 issue

Tagline
The wind blew and the snowflakes flew, but for Veroni
ca and Jon, Valentine's Day was bringing a warming trend...

In a Nutshell
Veronica works the reception desk for a big building and likes to cook up stories about who is behind all the flower deliveries that arrive for Valentine's Day. The delivery guy is enchanted.

Observations
I thought this was a fresh idea for a story, but I found Veronica a little too...I don't know, bland.

Because Jon kept returning, I figured, after the first bouquet, the flowers were from him because he was trying to find out what Veronica liked. After all, why wouldn't the shop he worked for deliver all the flowers to that building at one time?

The ending was sort of a miss for me as well. However, I liked that Jon actually verbally asked her out, instead of writing it on the card, which is what I would have expected. But I think that card was a missed opportunity. "For you" seemed unimaginative.

Photo credit: Natalia Wilson via Creative Commons Flickr

Monday, February 9, 2015

Back on Track

by Debra McNally from the February 2, 2015 issue

Tagline
After her divorce, Jenny fell into a comfortable but lonely routine. That changed when she met Mac...

In a Nutshell
Determined to get more exercise, Jenny meets a man at the gym.

Observations
This story is so special to me because it's one I helped the author with. And here it is! This is so exciting. After I went over the story line by line, Debra revised her story and sold it. AWESOME.

Jenny is the perfect Woman's World heroine--her divorce was a bit of a hurdle, but full of optimism, she's ready to move on with her life.

If you look closely, you'll see a gray moment when they go to their separate locker rooms. Because Mac is trying new gyms, you figure Jenny missed her chance and probably won't see him again. But, Mac comes back, of course, because he's intrigued with Jenny.

Then just as you think things are going to go well, she notices his "World's Best Grandpa" T-shirt. Damn. Black moment. He's married!

Oh, no he isn't! He's actually a widower. Whew. That was close.

The only oddity was that the entire story was present tense, except for the end, where it went past tense. It didn't bother me, but I did notice it.

So, congratulations, Debra! I'm so thrilled I was able to help you sell a story.

Photo credit: By aewolf from Denver (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sleepless in Cincinnati

by Shelley Cooper from the January 26, 2015 issue

Tagline
Thoughts of Dan were keeping Isabelle up at night. Turns out, Dan was struggling with insomnia too!

In a Nutshell
Isabelle and Don are best friends. They kissed once, but chalked it up to having both been recently dumped. Now that he gets a job offer that will take him far away, it looks bad, but Dan kisses her just to make sure and it's wonderful.

Observations
This is a friends to lovers story that pushes the norms a little in that the "meet cute" happens before the story even starts. We join their romance in progress instead of jumping in just prior to the meeting.

Also, there is a pretty hefty black moment in which Isabelle thinks Dan will be lost to her forever because he's going to take this amazing job. We see black moments, but they're not usually as intense as this. And this is tied to the fact that a majority of stories do show the first meet, so there isn't as much on the line.

I wanted to point out a couple of really romantic moments that gave me that warm happy feeling inside, and I think this is a real accomplishment for a Woman's World story, mostly because we only have 800 words to do this.

Moment One: When he hauls her into his arms and kisses her. OMG. I could SO picture this in my head. It was like something out of a movie. Sure, it was a little cliche, but it totally worked for me. Inside, I was like, "You go, Dan. Kiss the hell out of her!"

Moment Two: When he tells her she's his dream. Big Sigh. That sentence preceding it really sets it up, too. His gaze softens. Yowsa. That prepares the reader in such a subtle but important way.

I wish the author had milked that moment a tiny bit more instead of moving on so quickly to him suggesting he pick her up at seven and I thought the ending was a little lacking as well. With all the emotions she evoked in me, I was a little disappointed that all Isabelle seemed to get was a good night's sleep.

Still, fantastic story!




Thursday, January 29, 2015

Take Two!

by Tanya Michna from the January 12, 2015 issue

Tagline
Melanie's first date with Jason Hargrove had been a disaster. Was there any point in giving it a second try?

In a Nutshell
Their first date sucked. They meet again in the office building where she works. He has a new job in that very same building. (What are the odds? LOL) He apologizes for being unsociable, but he'd just lost his job.

Observations
I thought this story was the perfect example of what you should be shooting for in a Woman's World romance. Parts of it were very Woman's World familiar, but there was a twist. That's really sort of the key--giving them the same thing, but different.

This was a blind date story (with a light dash of man-to-the-rescue), except the blind date happened in the past. Notice the flipped-on-its-ear story structure in which we get a lengthy flashback, told, not shown.

I have to admit, I was very curious to find out what happened during that disastrous date, and when I found out why he was so unsociable, I really felt for the guy.

Also, I've talked before about bookending your story with something at the beginning that you echo at the end. Usually it's the title. (This topic comes up in the Basics Class.) Here, it was her dislike of Thursdays.

Beginning: Thursdays were Melanie's least favorite day.

End: Perhaps Thursdays weren't so bad after all!