Monday, May 23, 2011

My Apologies

I'm late posting and I completely forgot to put up the poll for the "Stars Aligning" story. Unfortunately, I don't have time to post an analysis this week. I'm on a very tight deadline for a book. Forgive me and come back the first week of June.

Thanks for understanding!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Sometimes the Stars Align"

by Kate Karyus Quinn from the May 9, 2011 issue

Tagline: After all these years, for Julie and Greg, the time was finally right.

In A Nutshell: Julie has been a widow with three children for five years. One day she's particularly tired and the manager of the grocery store helps out with her kids. Turns out they almost became a couple back in high school. Now, they continue to "see each other" at the grocery store until he asks her out on a picnic with her kids. Nervous, she says no, then a week later decides she made a mistake.

Observations: I thought this story was fantastic. First off, Quinn starts with a hook:

Julie was primping for a trip to the grocery store.

And just like that, you're sucked in to find out why.

Also, I immediately sympathized with Julie's situation, having to raise her kids by herself. Quinn did a great job of describing the sad situation without getting overly maudlin, something Woman's World shies away from.

The history Julie and Greg had together was completely realistic and romantic at the same time. I'm always a sucker for "the one that got away" stories. It's here also that Quinn cleverly inserts that "stars aligning" phrase that is the title and also the ending.

What follows is a pretty long "telling" summarization of the courting. Oddly, we don't see a lot of interaction between the two characters. I always maintain that it's important to see the hero and heroine face to face in a story so we get to know them and they get to know each other, but I was surprised to see that Greg only actually speaks twice in the entire story! In my own defense, I have to point out that those two lines are killer and the romance holds up despite the lack of dialogue and the preponderance of narrative. There's a brief "black moment" when Julie doesn't go on the picnic with him, but Quinn follows that with a paragraph that shows Greg to be hero material.

Greg wasn't a high school boy anymore, though, and he didn't give up as easily this time. "Julie," he said, "maybe it's still not the right time. If you're not ready, I'll wait."

I just fell in love with him right there.

You hear all the time that women of a certain age--especially with three kids!--have little chance of finding someone special, but this type of story gives us hope and a warm feeling in our hearts. This is the type of story we all want to write. It's no wonder the editors pounced on it.

Friday, May 6, 2011

"One Sweet Guy"

by Susan Holloway from the May 2, 2011 issue.

Tagline: Josie had a weakness for chocolate--and, it turned out, cute guys in running shorts!

In a Nutshell: Josie slips while jogging backwards to ogle a cute guy, also jogging. Hearing her cry of pain, he returns, assesses the situation and calls the paramedics. The next day he shows up with a pizza and brownies because they both love chocolate. She has a broken ankle, but they make plans to have dinner again.

Observations: Man to the rescue stories are popular with Woman's World. Just a couple of weeks ago we saw "There's Always a Bright Side," also about a jogger. (Apparently jogging is a very dangerous pastime! LOL) These plots aren't too complicated to construct. You create a problem for the heroine, being careful not to have it too dire. Then have the hero comes along to help her out. Make sure the two main characters are attracted to each other and set up a date. That's all there is to it.

Regarding this particular story, there were a couple of places that confused me. I wasn't sure what the man was referring to when he said, "That was quick." Her hurting herself was quick? Another moment of confusion for me:

At the hospital, Josie was x-rayed and sent to the OR. One moment of guilty pleasure, and she ended up in surgery.

I'll admit to being dense enough to have stumbled when I read this. Obviously her guilty pleasure was gawking at the hero, but the way it's written, one could believe she has a kinky fetish for being x-rayed. LOL

Lastly, he comes to visit her in the hospital the next day which, of course, is terrific, but I found myself wondering if the doctors would actually have kept her there or sent her home with her cast on. These days it seems like hospitals don't keep you over night unless it's absolutely necessary. Then again, I could be wrong, but I'll admit thinking about that took me out of the story.

Even so, it was a cute story even if the magazine put a photo of chocolate pie instead of a brownie. :) I really loved when she realized she hadn't shaved her legs. LOL. That cracked me up.