Saturday, June 26, 2010

Something To Smile About

by Karen Nikula from the June 14, 2010 issue

Tagline: The day she decided to get on with her life turned out to be the day everything changes for Jamie.

In a Nutshell: Jamie is divorced and is coming to terms with eating alone at one of her old favorite restaurants. Her friend suggests, "You can always bring a book for company." Lo and behold, she spots a man alone, reading the same book. They strike up a conversation and find they have things in common. He asks her out. She accepts.

Observations: I was surprised to see that the woman was reading a mystery instead of a romance. A lot of Woman's World stories feature romance readers, but when I saw the man was reading the same book, I understood why it couldn't be a romance. :)

I had high hopes for this couple because Nikula showed them connecting on so many levels.
  • They were reading the same book.
  • He was about her age.
  • They aren't too good at figuring out "who done it."
  • They liked the same writers and had similar taste in movies and TV shows.
  • They're both divorced.
  • They garden.
  • They like to talk about movies after seeing one.
I also liked the rosy ending:

He held open the Omelet House door and the two of them stepped into the sunshine.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Gift

by Anna Jo Christopher from the May 24, 2010 issue

Tagline: After 20 years of marriage, Carol knew everything there was to know about Dean. Or did she?

In A Nutshell: Carol is about to celebrate her twentieth anniversary, but she's not as happy as she should have been because husband Dean has been AWOL lately, helping his brother with home improvement projects. Turns out he was really constructing a bookcase for her as an anniversary gift. Awww...

Observations: Perhaps the trouble with analyzing the WW stories week after week is that I have become very savvy about spotting "surprises," and I did see this one coming the minute I saw this:

Carol gazed at the pile of books stacked beside her bed. Dean often teased her good-naturedly about her addiction with romance novels.

But this is actually great writing. Christopher plants that knowledge in the readers' minds in the middle of the story as part of Carol's backstory. The paragraph is actually describing the couple's early history when she worked at a bookstore and meanders on to talk about her current stack of books.

Then, a little while later, when the writer (and Dean) unveil the surprise, the reader thinks, "Oh! That's right! She's an avid reader! What a perfect gift!"

So, if you're planning to surprise the reader, you have to be clever and non-obtrusive about laying the foundation for it. Do it early and don't belabor it otherwise, it will red-flag it too much.

Friday, June 11, 2010


I sold my eighth romance to WW! I just got the contract today and I'm thrilled! It's called "Old Dogs Can" and it will appear in the August 5th issue.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

First Date

by Colette Shannon from the May 10, 2010 issue
Tagline: When work buddies Andy and Melissa got together outside the office, would friendship turn into something more romantic?

In a nutshell: Andy listens as Melissa bemoans the fact that her ex-boyfriend is now getting married. After work they walk in the park and then decide to go out for dinner together.

Observations: Melissa hasn't thought of Andy romantically, but there are a couple of subtle turning points which show her change of heart. Many aspects of fiction which are more pronounced in novels and novellas are understated in WW stories. The HEA is one of them. Obviously in romance novels, the Happily Ever After ending is tremendously emotionally fulfilling. At least, it's supposed to be. In a WW story, it is often much more mildly so, Like in this story, they end up just about to go on their first date.

But I've wandered away from those turning points... Here's the first one.

"Now I realize he just wasn't interested in marrying me."

"The guy must've been crazy," [Andy] said.

Andy's comment surprised me, and I blushed.

Here is the second:

Although we were sitting in the shade, I felt a warmth spreading through me.


I noticed for the first time how his eyes crinkled slightly at the corners when he smiled--and I suddenly couldn't remember ever feeling so at ease with a man.
Even with only 800 words to work with, Shannon showed Melissa falling for Andy, not in a huge way, but very subtly.