by Tamara Shaffer from the February 27, 2012 issue
Tagline: After her divorce, Leah isn't sure she wants to risk her heart again. Then she meets Greg...
Observations: If I were to categorize this story, I'd label it Moving On, First Meet, with a hint of Matchmaker at the end. Well done mash-up.
I wanted you to notice that the backstory about Marsha's divorce doesn't show up until midway, a refreshing change-up from the beginning where it usually appears. I also wanted to point out how Shaffer doesn't put too much of a woe-is-me spin on the divorce and Marsha's feelings about it. She just keeps it matter of fact. Woman's World is all about optimism and positive change. Yet, the divorce is obviously still something Marsha has to get over, and we see this occur. Character development is possible in 800 words.
Finally, I liked the ending for several reasons. One, the Friend morphs into a Matchmaker at the very end. Second, Shaffer cleverly used Greg's profession--being an actuary--so that he could make that witty quip, "What are the odds?" Loved that. Funny! Humor makes a hero likable. Finally, we see that profession appear one more time with the last line:
I accept his invitation, thinking the handsome risk assessment expert is worth taking a risk on.
With that last line, she ties in the story title and the profession, and pushes her heroine over that emotional hurdle. I've said it before and I'll say it again, with only 800 to work with, you have to double- and even triple-up on story devices.