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. :)