by Mary Ann Joyce from the October 18, 2010 issue
Observations: I usually tell people to avoid too much sadness in their stories. Woman's World shies away from negativity. Their mission is to lift the spirits. So when I read the following paragraph in this story, I blinked in surprise.
When his wife died four years earlier, Ben had been devastated. If it hadn't been for Cooper, he'd probably never have left the house once he got home from work. But being a single parent forced him out--and he was glad for that. Cooper grew, time passed. They managed.
I thought, whoa. That's verging on no-no territory. However, if you really look at it, it's just a very factual telling of his history, very succinct and well done.
When I then got to the part where Cooper shows his dad the book he made illustrating a story his late mom had written, I got a little teary. I hadn't seen that coming.
Joyce doesn't let you wallow too long in that moment, though. She snaps you right back into the action as Cooper excitedly calls to Miss Penney, and when Ben invites her to Taco Night at their house, she accepts. So, although the story briefly visited a sad place, most of it was very upbeat and active. Like they say on TV, though, don't attempt this at home. I mean, it's a tricky thing to do and don't be surprised if you try it and get rejected. If I'd written this story, I'd have been completely prepared for rejection.