Sunday, August 28, 2011

No Hot Water

by Lynn Cahoon from the August 29, 2011 issue

Tagline: Sheila was happy--in more ways than one as it turned out--that this particular plumber was available...

In a Nutshell: Sheila's water heater was supposed to have been fixed, but it breaks in the middle of her shower. She calls the plumber to complain. The owner of the company himself comes out to remedy the situation and it turns out he had once dated her in high school. They have coffee together.

Observations: This is a good example of taking an "everyday" situation/problem and building a romance out of it. In my workshop on how to write for Woman's World, I share a lot of ways to get ideas for stories, and this is one of them. Think of a problem and have another character solve it.

But this story had a great turned out to be a shared past/old flame story halfway through. I loved that little surprise. I also liked how they handled that..."Does he/she remember me?" awkwardness. Very smooth and cute.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Breaking the Spell

by Janice Sadler from the August 15, 2011 issue

Tagline: Luke was absolutely certain that he would never get past his heartbreak--until suddenly, he was ready to love again...

In a Nutshell: Luke declines an invitation to go to out with his co-worker Kay because he was dumped, but afterward starts to see what a great gal she is. A couple days later, the woman who dumped him stops by with tickets to an event. He realizes he's over her and that he'd much rather go out with Kay.

Observations: Wow. I loved this story. These characters were very real to me. I don't mind the big coincidences that often occur in Woman's World stories, but I found it refreshing not to see one (even if the setting was an animal hospital, cousin to the ubiquitous animal shelter setting.) Instead, the situation seemed extremely plausible. We also actually witnessed him falling for Kay. It felt like a long time had passed, but it really only took one paragraph:

Later, when we admit an injured puppy, I notice once again how very compassionate Kay is. While I'm examining little Bruno, I see Kay standing with her arm around the shoulders of his owner, reassuring the elderly lady that her little terrier will be fine.

Boom. There it is. The ex shows up, he rejects her and moves on. I liked how Sadler didn't demonize Emily the Ex and...

Holding my gaze, Kay says, "I thought you weren't free."

...she gave Kay a tiny bit of backbone at the end, which made me respect the character, because up until then I was thinking Kay was a little too nicey-nice. Lastly, everyone loves romantic gestures and Luke taking her hand in front of the people in the waiting room was a nice Hallmark moment.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Something Old, Something New

by Cynthia Howard-Hogg from the July 1, 2011 issue

Tagline: It didn't look like it contained any magic, but the old coin seemed to cast a spell on Anne and Tom.

In A Nutshell: Anne's sister is getting married and needs a coin to complete the saying "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a lucky sixpence in her shoe." Anne goes to an antique store and meets the owner. He invites her to tea.

Observations: I thought this story had a lot of heart. There were two sweet/sad moments in this story that tugged at my heart. The first is when the sisters are talking...

"If I ever get married, the something old will be me!" I laughed.

"Oh, you're not that old, Anne."

My laugh died away. Cassie saw my expression change and gave me a hug. "Annie, you're not old--and someday a wonderful guy will come along and not believe his good luck!"

I sighed. At 41, was it really very likely?

Doesn't your heart just go out to Anne? At the same time, don't you love the sisterly loyalty shown here?

The second instance isn't quite as hard-hitting, but it's sweet just the same. Anne goes to the antique store, remembering the older couple who owned it. She finds, instead, their son...

"My mother grew up in England."

"The sweet woman with the charming British accent--she's your mother?"

"That was my mum," he said softly. "Did you know her?"

"I remember her well. She helped me pick out a tea set for my first apartment and instructed me on the proper brewing method."

There you saw the very subtle hint that his mum had passed away. Anne understands and moves right along, not belaboring it and perhaps stirring up the sadness. This part made me fall a little bit for the hero and think to myself that these two sweet people deserve each other.

There was only one thing that gave me pause in this story. After shopping for a while at the store...

Suddenly an antique clock chimed noon.

"Look at the time!" I exclaimed. "I have to get going."

I was a little puzzled where she had to go in such a hurry and why they'd waited for an hour to even get the tray of coins out.

Still, cute story full of well-written emotion. Woman's World doesn't like for their romantic fiction to get too bogged down with sadness and this story was a good example of how to do it with a light touch.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Missing Issue

It's been brought to my attention that I skipped the August 1, 2011 issue. I hadn't realized. I think it's because I'm missing that issue. I just looked all over my house and can't find it. It wouldn't be the first time the postal service misplaced my issue.

Maybe I can still find it at the grocery store. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

It Happened One Night

by Martha Tidwell from the August 8, 2011 issue

Tagline: Sally and Mitch were friends and neighbors--until that warm summer night changed everything...

In A Nutshell: At their annual block party, during a sports metaphor-laden conversation, they discover that Mitch and Sally both want to be more than friends.

Observations: This story featured two characters who already had a history, which can make things easier in a Woman's World story, because you don't have to go through all the First Meet Story motions: exchanging names, a handshake, noticing the other person is single, etc. You can just jump right into the situation.

The banter in this story was important. First, it was amusing. Who doesn't like taking a joke and running with it with someone else? Second, it showed how long they'd known each other and how easily they got along. Third, it showed them testing out the romantic waters. Fourth, it allowed for that right and tight ending:

This year we'll celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. It looks like we just might go the distance.