Monday, March 29, 2010

A Man to Love

by Birdie Etchison from the March 15, 2010 issue

Tagline: Dave was always there--until one day he wasn't. That's when Carrie realized what she might be missing.

In A Nutshell: Carrie is a truck stop waitress. Dave is a regular customer who is sweet on her. She's afraid to say yes to his repeated attempts to take her out on a date. Just when she thinks she might have been making a mistake, she sees him with a young girl and she assumes he's married. This seems to be confirmed when he introduces the girl as his daughter. Turns out he's divorced and just got custody. Carrie and Dave start dating and end up getting married.


1. This was a tightly written story with a casual voice that makes you feel as if the author was a girlfriend. One way Etchison does this are these little asides (in bold):

"I like waitressing. You meet nice people and--" I pause and smile. "I get good tips." Dave is my best tipper, and I think he knows it.

The next day, the door opens at 12--did I mention Dave always comes at noon?--and in comes Dave with Hannah.

Also, the last two paragraphs are in such a friend-to-friend tone. There's no flowery, over-reaching vocabulary or sentence structure.

As for me, I have a man who loves me, and who I'm happy to love right back. How neat is that?

Lastly, she uses first person, present tense, like she's really there with you talking face to face.

2. Once again, we have a misunderstanding where the protagonist thinks, "Oh, no, he's married!" But it's quickly resolved, of course. But this is a handy and common way to create a climactic high point. Strangely, in WW stories, this climax is often two thirds of the way through, a little earlier than in longer fiction. I haven't figured out why yet.

3. This is the second story in a row to feature an epilogue paragraph, a highly unusual occurence! Really! If you're a subscriber, you know I'm not just making this up.

This story could have ended here where Dave has just asked her to go with him and his daughter to the zoo:

I nod and Hannah smiles. "Sounds good to me."

But no, Etchison shows us how the story really ends, which I like. The author even brings back Carrie's friend, Molly, for a little cameo-type appearance.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Rose's Roses

by M.L. Hickerson from the March 8, 2010 issue.

In a Nutshell: Rose owns a flower shop. A handsome man comes to order a bouquet. Rose assumes it's for his girlfriend, but soon finds out it's for his sister. The next day he sends Rose some flowers along with an invitation to dinner.

Observations: It's not unusual for the plot of a Woman's World story to hinge on a misunderstanding such as the protagonist assuming the love interest is married or taken when he/she is really not. Rose's Roses follows that "formula." However, what sets this story apart is the epilogue paragraph in which the two get married. That occurs very rarely.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Fortunate Encounter

by B.J. Heinlein from the March 1, 2010 issue

In A Nutshell: Jenny is at a charity bazaar and visits the fortuneteller. She is told that the man of her dreams will show up soon, wearing a blue tie with green stripes and that she will soon land a big marketing account. The next day, a man wearing just such a tie brings her a new marketing account, but only because his grandmother was the fortuneteller, filling in for the real one.

Observations: When I saw the story was about a fortuneteller, I wondered if the heroine was going to believe in them or not. She didn't, and it was easy to identify with her. She was smart about pinpointing clues that the fortuneteller's talent wasn't real, so when she leaves the tent, we're confident the lady was a fake. However, when the guy shows up wearing that (must have been ugly) tie, we're surprised and read on to find out was the fortuneteller for real?

The fortuneteller was equally smart, getting Jenny's business card so she knew where to send her grandson.

Cute story.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Matchmaker

by Tamara Shaffer from the February 22, 2010 issue

Tagline: Aunt Grace knew that all Laura and Grady needed was a little nudge in the right direction...

In A Nutshell: Grace has always wanted her niece Laura to find someone after Laura's husband died. When Laura needs someone to paint the exterior of her house, Grace suggests Grady, a friend of her husband's. They hit it off.
Observations: The matchmaker plot is nothing new to Woman's World, however, this story felt fresh. Why? I think it's because it came from the point of view of the matchmaker herself. Usually matchmaker stories are told from the point of view of one of the matchees.

Another thing that made this story a little different is that it really focused a lot on Grace's character. Sure, the hero and heroine are moving forward in their romance, but it's Grace's personality that really comes through.

She is so unapologetic about her endeavor.

Even my loving but skeptical husband, Charlie, is impressed with how neatly I managed this one.

You see more of Grace's feistiness here:

"He's available," Charlie said, giving me one of his looks, "for painting. I hope you're not trying to play Cupid again."

I went right to Laura.


"Grady invited me to a movie," [Laura] said, with more enthusiasm than I'd heard from her in a long time. "I can't thank Uncle Charlie enough for referring him to me."

And I couldn't wait to tell Charlie.

Monday, March 1, 2010

I Know You By Heart

by Kate Karyus Quinn from the February 8, 2010 issue

Tagline: Amanda knew that David was happy being "just friends"--but that wasn't enough for Amanda anymore...

In A Nutshell: Amanda is having dinner with her best friend, David. David cuts the evening short and Amanda is worries it's because of an offhand comment about the two of them knowing each other by heart. The next day is her birthday and she doesn't hear from him until late. A text message directs her to go to a certain restaurant. When David shows up with an engagement ring, Amanda realizes he loves her.

Observations: This was an amazing story. I loved it for so many reasons.

1. The title is probably the best WW story title I've ever seen.

2. She hooks you right off the bat with this paragraph:

"Happy Birthday, Miss Amanda May." These were the words Amanda's best friend, David, had greeted her with each birthday for the last 10 years. She was pretty sure she wouldn't hear them this year. Not after she had ruined everything.

3. Her third and fourth paragraphs pack a double whammy. They forward the plot AND give you their history.

4. The story is firmly set in the present. Sometimes these sweet stories seem like they take place in yesteryear, but David texts Amanda--very modern.

5. There was a black moment, something I always like in a WW story:

This is the part where he lets me down gently, she thought.

6. Throughout this story you find out so much about the couple. It's peppered in very skillfully--so skillfully I didn't notice one of the instances until after several reads.

There, on the lifeline she had traced during her palm-reading stage, was a ring with a sparkling emerald at its center.

7. The use of the title phrase, "I know you by heart" came up twice in the story. First, it was the phrase Amanda blamed for ruining their friendship, and later, after he'd proposed, she realizes that David knew her by heart, too. This is tight writing, building in a nice sense of closure.

In My Humble Opinion: It's only after reading this several times that I notice the text is pretty wordy.

Meet me at the bistro across the street from the Mexican restaurant with the awesome salsa, and next door to the bad dry cleaners.

If it were a real text, he probably would have named the restaurant and been done with it. However, I forgive the author this. We needed to be let in on their inside "joke." :)