Monday, April 27, 2009

Believing in Magic

by Nell Musolf from the May 4, 2009 issue

Tagline: Since her divorce, there'd been no room for magic in Lucy's life. Maybe that was about to change...

In a Nutshell: Recently divorced Lucy is at her niece's birthday party, at which a magician is putting on a show. Her sister informs her that the man performing is Matt, whom they knew in high school. Sister also made sure Matt is single and knows that Lucy is, too. After the show, Lucy almost works up the courage to ask Matt to coffee, but can't do it. A random playing card on the floor, the queen of hearts, and Matt's sincerity convinces her to accept when Matt himself asks her out.

Woman's World Standbys: a matchmaking relative, a heroine that needs to move on with her life, and a shared past.

Observations: This story showed a heroine with a character arc, which only makes sense considering it's about her getting on with her life after divorce. However, Lucy is a little reluctant still. Her reason for not asking Matt out? She had stopped believing in magic. If this were a longer, more complex story I would have wanted to slap Lucy upside the head and said, get over it! But, we only have 800 words to get this story wrapped up, and I thought that tying in the magic show and her not believing in the magic of love and fearing re-entering the dating arena was a nice idea.

There is a nice black moment when she almost turns him down, but of course, she accepts, showing her growing as a character.

In My Humble Opinion: It bordered on cheesy for me when Matt said, "You said you don't believe in magic. Maybe you'd give me the chance to help you believe again?"

Favorite Part: Matt says, "...In real life I'm a high school math teacher." Lucy replies, "Which explains why you got an A in geometry and I got a C."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Love Is in the Air

by Krista Weidner from the April 20, 2009 issue

Tagline: The world looked beautiful to Daphne and Rick as they floated over it in the hot air balloon...

In A Nutshell: Daphne's best friend, Kate, gives her a hot air balloon ride for her birthday. Kate is afraid of heights, but figures she'll be able to conquer her fear in order to share this special gift with her friend. However, when faced with getting into the balloon, Kate chickens out. Daphne goes up in the air anyway with Rick, the balloon operator. Turns out, Kate "strongly expected she wouldn't make it," and arranged the whole thing as a quasi-gift/fix-up.

Woman's World Standby: Yes, yet another matchmaker story.

Question: We readers want to believe that they will live happily ever after, so what signs does the author give you that Daphne is attracted to Rick? (You'll have to have a copy of the actual story to answer this question.)

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Little Chocolate Cake

by D.M. Dickey from the April 13, 2009 issue

Tagline: The bride had no doubt her big sister, Jennifer, would make the right choice...

In a Nutshell: Beth is getting married and is so busy that she asks her sister Jennifer to choose her wedding cake for her. At the bakery, Jennifer realizes she knows the baker, Mike, from high school. They'd had home ec together. On the day of the wedding, Beth reveals that she planned for Jennifer to "re-meet" Mike, thinking they'd hit it off. She was right.

Observations: While Woman's World is a somewhat traditional publication, it was interesting to see this story go against tradition in a couple of ways. First, the heroine was older than the hero by a couple of years. Also, the hero was the baker and she was the semi-professional.

There was one part I thought was strange:

Mike arrived early at the reception hall. Jennifer greeted him, then went to help her sister.

"Beth," Jennifer said, as she buttoned up the wedding dress. "It's about the cake."

Beth turned. "No, Jennifer, it was never about the cake." She smiled into her sister's eyes. "It was about the baker."

When Jennifer brings up the cake as a topic, it seems odd, like something was edited out. Other than that, I thought the story was cute.

Woman's World Standbys: Matchmaker Relative, Shared History/Old Flame

Question: Notice anything interesting about how the author handled point of view in this story?

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Face in the Crowd

by Terry Van Meter from the April 6, 2009 issue

Tagline: Anna was drawn to Eli--even before they spoke a word.

In a Nutshell: Anna is a portrait artist working the local art fair. To attract customers, she usually chooses a face in the crowd, snaps a picture, then draws that portrait during the fair. Today she chooses a handsome man and later, after conversing with someone standing behind her, observing, she discovers it's that handsome man she is drawing. He offers dinner in exchange for the portrait, and she accepts.

Observations: This story had a leisurely pace. Despite only being around 800 words, we get time to know Anna and see why she's attracted to this stranger. They even have a fairly long conversation, during which you can see the relationship start to develop.

This story also had a secret, but it was only a secret kept from Anna. Of course, the reader knows immediately that the man she's talking to is the man she's drawing, so that makes the story all the more fun to read. Readers LOVE being let in on secrets before the characters in the story. And isn't that true in real life? Isn't it fun to know in advance that Greg's going to propose to Lisa?

Finally, I thought I'd point out that this story is written in first person. The advantage to first person with these short stories is that it makes the reader feel as if the heroine is a friend, telling her story over coffee, perhaps. It's subtle, but it's there.