Monday, February 22, 2010

The Book of Love

by Elizabeth Palmer from the February 15, 2010 issue

Tagline: Holly had noticed the handsome grad student who spent so many hours in the library. Had he really noticed her?

Observations: First person present tense is not my preference, however, I think it worked for this story. It can keep the reader in the moment, making the action feel more immediate.

This story had your typical threesome: the hero and heroine, and a friend. The friend is handy character for getting backstory across.

Secrets in stories can go two ways. One, you keep the secret from everyone and reveal it as a plot twist. Or two, you reveal it to the reader, but not to the characters in the story. "The Book of Love" took the latter route. We know Byron likes the Sylvia. Sylvia's the only dunderhead who doesn't realize, but it can be fun for a reader to feel she's in on a secret. It's like being invited to a surprise party.

My Favorite Part: When Byron "peers up, as though the answer is on the ceiling." LOL

Friday, February 12, 2010

Like Clockwork

by Ann Poland from the January 25, 2010 issue

Tagline: Michelle had to know more: Who was the good-looking guy who walked by every day--and was he single?

In A Nutshell: Michelle is curious about the man who passes her hair salon every day at the same time. One day she follows him. She loses him. She follows him two more times and fails. Finally, on her fourth try, he smoothly ambushes her and smiling, tells her he knew she was following him. When she tells him why, he admits to being a detective! He's been visiting his grandfather at the residence hotel. They have coffee together, then many brunches.

Observations: I thought this story was cute. I liked the two plot twists. The first was when Michelle herself was surprised. The second was when we found out he was a detective.

I also noticed the backstory on this story is skillfully dribbled in, instead of presented at the beginning of the story, which is a nice change of pace.

As for the ending, it's one of those WW soft happily ever after endings, where they're not quite ready for a wedding, but they're in a relationship.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Old School Friends

by Ginny Swart from the February 1, 2010 issue.

Tagline: It took a ghost from her husband's past to remind Kelly just how happy she and Scott were in their marriage.

In A Nutshell: When Kelly's husband, Scott, finds old school chums on an online social network, she feels like she doesn't measure up to one of his old girlfriends. Kelly even sarcastically suggests he look her up while on his upcoming business trip. Luckily, Scott understands that Kelly is exhausted from tending their sick child. After confessing her woes to a friend, the friend sets her straight, so when Scott returns home from a business trip, she's her confident self again. They both realize how lucky they are when the old girlfriend proves to be completely undesirable when compared to Kelly.

Observations: I happen to know that this is Ginny Swart's first sale to WW. She did a fantastic job. I love this story. The "problem" of finding old flames on the internet is contemporary and is something the modern woman can relate to.

WW likes their stories to be positive, however that doesn't mean your characters have to be problem free. I loved how Swart showed the heroine's vulnerability and self-doubt without making her seem whiny. It was clear she was overtired from her duties as a stay-at-home mom.

Another thing I loved was seeing how supportive Scott was of her. Swart shows this in three places:

1. When he notices his wife isn't herself, he says, "I'll finish cleaning up. Go watch TV."
2. After doing the dishes, he goes to her and says, "What's up? You seem unhappy lately."

3. Kelly complains, "My guess is she'll (the old girlfriend) be driving a fancy car and have a beautiful apartment. And she'll look fabulous." To which Scott replies, "Like you do when our daughter isn't keeping you up. Beth's almost over the chicken pox. When she's better, you'll feel better, too. Being a mom is hard work."

4. Scott also gives a big speech at the end of the story in which he tells Kelly that seeing the old flame made him realize how wonderful their marriage is, something Kelly had already re-discovered while he was gone.
Swart really makes the reader want a man like Scott.

In My Humble Opinion:
This transition seemed abrupt, but perhaps was necessary considering the very tight word count.

Scott gave her a squeeze. "You're forgiven. And now that your patient is better, any chance of finding a babysitter so the two of us can have dinner out?"

They'd ordered dinner and were sipping their wine when Kelly asked lightly, "So did you see Charlene?"

See that? A zero word transition. One moment they're home and discussing a date and the next the date is ending and they're talking.
Also, while I really liked this story a lot, the ending didn't flood me with a super warm feeling like some WW stories do. It was a good solid ending, but not a superb one.