Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wrong Date, Right Guy

by Elizabeth Palmer from the April 12, 2010 issue

Tagline: Merilee had to give Susan credit--her timing might have been off, but her matchmaking instincts were perfect!

In a nutshell: Meriliee arrives for dinner at her friend's house and meets another guest, Kyle, out front. He's the carpenter who redid the hostess' front porch. Turns out, the hostess wrote down the wrong day for her dinner party and is unprepared, so Kyle and Merilee go out for dinner instead.

My opinion: This was a very cute story, one I wish I'd thought of. What's nice about it, and so many other WW stories, is that it seems entirely possible. These could be real people. The characters in books are often larger than life and their circumstances are unusual, but not in WW stories. So, keep that in mind when you're writing them.

One trick I use is to think about what's going on in my life or in the lives of friends or family. Once, a friend of mine was stressed out because she'd committed to help frost a a hundred cupcakes for her niece's first birthday party. I plan to write a story around that event someday.

This was a solid cute first meet story.
The painting of the geraniums is by Rae Friedman.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Beautiful Life

by Sheila Llanas from the April 5, 2010 issue

Tagline: When the handsome stranger appeared, Sarah wondered if her dream was about to come true...

In A Nutshell: Sarah owns a thrift shop. One of her best customers almost buys a snow globe that Sarah loves because it makes her imagine and hope that her life might end up as perfect as the snow globe scene. The customer's brother comes in. He's inspired by the globe to ask Sarah out on a "date."

Observations: You've heard of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl. In Woman's World it's often girl meets boy, girl assumes boy is taken, girl finds out she's wrong, girl dates guy. If you're looking for a formula to follow that WW seems to love, this might be the one.

In My Opinion: I liked the fresh idea of using a snow globe to spark romance, however, there were a few things that detracted from my enjoyment of the story.

There was tad too much description of Nell, the sister/customer, to suit me. Clearly the author wanted to set up a contrast between her and the traditional Sarah, however, this wasn't a story that dwelled on Sarah's character/emotional arc, so this entire paragraph seemed unnecessary.

What I would like to have seen more of was interaction with Sarah and Dan, the hero, and more of Dan, period. One of my goals with heroes is to create one that I'd like to fall in love with, and Dan fell short of that for me. He asks Sarah out, but to go for a walk. I'm like, "Dude. A walk? Seriously?" He doesn't even spring for the bread for the ducks. LOL

Monday, April 12, 2010

Something Magical

by Clare Mishica from the March 29, 2010 issue

Tagline: On a starry, moonlit night a beautiful raven-haired woman helped Zach's heart begin to heal...

In a Nutshell: Zach is a widower who reluctantly goes to his sister's place for the weekend and a party. When he finds his daughter, not in bed like she's supposed to be, downstairs with a female party guest, he finds himself as enchanted as his daughter. Turns out the woman is his nephews' teacher. They find they have a mutual dislike of party scenes and make a "date" to have coffee in the kitchen instead.

Observations: With "Something Magical," we get a very good feel for Zach and what a good father he is, how shy and sad he is. Readers seem to like seeing wounded characters--often widows/widowers--find love again. They enjoy seeing the sun come out on these characters' lives and helps us feel more optimistic about our own lives.

Notice the "lesson learned" ending. This type of ending typically shows the character reflecting on their own character arc. Sometimes it's even something a loved one or friend talked about at the beginning of the story and when the author ends the story with that same observation, it gives the story a feeling of having come full-circle.

For example, the ending for "Something Magical" is:
Zach climbed the steps two at a time, thinking how sometimes you don't realize that there's something missing in your life until, unexpectedly, you find it.
This would have been one of those full-circle stories if Mishica had had Zach wonder that something was missing in his life or have him feel like he needed to find something. But I can see why she didn't do the former. If you're a widower and single father, if you start thinking something's missing in your life, it would seem pretty obvious what it was. :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Once Around the Park

by Diane Crawford from the March 22, 2010 issue

Tagline: Mix three dogs, two dog-walkers and a sunny spring morning--and you've got all the ingredients for a brand-new romance!

In a Nutshell: Shelly is dog-sitting for her aunt and uncle. At the park, a man's dog tangles his leash with Shelly's dogs' leashes. Shelly and Tim hit it off while walking. Later, after Shelly figures she'll never see the man again, he contacts her uncle asking for her phone number.

Observations: I found the humor in this first person story to be very appealing. For instance, Tim says, "Luke's starting his obedience classes this week--which, as you can see, he desperately needs."The pets' names, Lucy and Ethel and Starsky and Hutch, were also cute.

Again, we have the misunderstanding where one of the protagonists sees the other with someone and assumes they're married or taken. However in this story, Tim is alert and explains, "Someone I work with. We're brainstorming a new project this week." So, Shelly's mistaken assumption doesn't last long. Tim's hasty explanation is a subtle indication that he's interested. He wants Shelly to know he's unattached, obviously! Nice touch. That makes me like Tim.

I also liked that both the hero and heroine were proactive people. Shelly wasted no time in calling Tim once she had his phone number. Tim returned to the park several times, hoping to run into Shelly again. However, the ending didn't make sense to me. (See below.)

Favorite Part: Shelly wants to circle the part once more time and:

[she] could've sworn the little dogs rolled their eyes at the suggestion.

In My Humble Opinion: "I'm pretty sure the dogs will be tied up."

Maybe someone can explain this ending to me. The only thing I can think of is that this was a reference to the dogs tangling their leashes at the very beginning of the story. If that's it, it's not that amusing. Also, why would the heroine even suggest that Luke (the dog) accompany them to dinner? She doesn't even own her own dog...