Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Rejected Story - Love in Bloom

As requested, here's that story that was recently rejected. :)

“You can’t believe everything you read.”

            Sarah frowned. While she didn’t take that article about divorced women as gospel, it certainly had discouraged her.  According to the magazine, divorcees over a certain age had a slim chance of remarrying.

            “All you have to do is try,” Autumn said. The two women were crafting corsages and boutonnieres. It was prom season and Sarah’s flower shop had been flooded with orders. 

            “What do you mean?” Sarah asked. “I’ve been trying. Didn’t I tell you about that blind date last month?”

            Autumn made a face. “Month being the operative word…” She trailed off, her attention drawn to a car pulling up to the store. “I think you should go on the offense. Make a pass at someone, or at least show him you’re interested. Like Tom, for instance. He’s adorable and no wedding ring. Would you go out with him if he asked you? I think he likes you.”
“I don’t know. Maybe.” Sarah tucked some hair behind her ear as an older woman got out of her car and approached the shop. “But don’t get any ideas, Cupid. Tom Kennedy is a good customer and I wouldn’t want to lose him.”

            “Good customers, we have a lot of,” Sarah said. “Boyfriends…? Not so much.”

            The phone rang and Sarah went to answer it while Autumn greeted the customer. “Welcome to Flowers by Sarah. I’m Autumn. How can I help you?”

            The woman smiled. “I’d like to send something to my son for his birthday, but do you have something a little more masculine than a bouquet?”

            Autumn showed her some of the miniature bonsai trees and the woman was thrilled.

“This is perfect. Now, I’d like this to be delivered around six p.m. on Friday—by Sarah herself, if that’s possible. I’ll even pay extra for that if I need to.” At Autumn’s quizzical look, the woman added conspiratorially, “Ever since my husband passed away, my son has sent me flowers every single month. Since he’s always talking about his florist and how pretty she is and I thought, as a mother, it was my duty to…”

            A sudden suspicion bloomed in Autumn’s brain. “If I could have your son’s name, please?”

            “Tom Kennedy.”

            Autumn beamed. “Mrs. Kennedy, let me assure you I understand completely. In fact,” she said, lowering her voice, “if I might make a suggestion, maybe a little dinner would be in order, as well...”

            A few days later, Sarah pulled up to Tom’s house. She was nervous. He was a really nice guy and one that she wouldn’t mind dating. But, she reminded herself this wasn’t a date. It was a delivery and she needed to remain professional.

            When Tom opened the door, his eyes widened in surprise. “Sarah?”

            “It’s me, all right.” She held out the bonsai tree his mother had chosen. “Happy birthday from your mom.”

            “You’re kidding. Wow, it’s beautiful.” A grin appeared on his face and she noticed for the first time his warm brown eyes had flecks of gold.

Another car drove up, and a teenager got out holding a couple of bags. As he got closer, Sarah noticed the food was from her favorite Italian restaurant, Luigi’s, but Tom protested he hadn’t ordered any of it.

“It’s already paid for. By someone named Cupid,” the kid said.

After the teen drove away, Tom turned to Sarah. “You know,” he said, somewhat sheepishly, “this is a lot of food. Are you hungry?”

Deciding to go on the offense like Autumn had suggested, Sarah nodded and minutes later, she was having dinner with him.  He was so easy to talk to, but that was no surprise. They’d chatted before. Tonight though, she found herself watching his face. His eyes were so expressive and they crinkled at the corners when he smiled, which was often. Time flew as they laughed and talked, and at the end of the evening, she thanked him.

His mouth twitched with a wry smile. “You should probably thank my mother,” he said, “because I’m pretty sure she had more than my birthday in mind when she requested that delivery and ordered this food.”

Sarah felt a blush warm her cheeks. “Actually, if you want to know the truth, I’m pretty sure the Cupid who sent this food is my friend Autumn.”

“Autumn who works at your store.” He chuckled and gave her one of his eye-crinkling smiles. “We didn’t stand a chance, did we?”

Sarah gave a happy sigh when he reached out and took her hand. “No, I don’t suppose we did.”

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bad Timing?

Another rejection came in the mail today. It was for "Love in Bloom," my 37th story, set in a florist shop. This one did have a note from Johnene, though.

Sorry this one didn't work for me. We've had a spate of florist stories!

Darn. That happens sometimes. Something else must not have been up to par, otherwise I think she probably would have kept it for future use. Oh well, I still have three more out there.

If people want me to, I'll post the rejected story. :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Looking Forward to Christmas

I wrote a Christmas themed story a few months ago and filed it away because it was way too early to submit it. But it's almost June. Time to send it!

When I got it out on Monday, I realized that the ending pretty much sucked. LOL I worked on it for an afternoon. It didn't really get better. I worked on it more and it still felt flat. Because it was Christmas-themed, I thought it really needed to engender a warm fuzzy feeling.

I finally think I got it last night. I don't often write holiday theme stories, so I'm interested to see if it flies. I have one written for the Chinese Horoscope issue, too, but it's a chancy story because it's in the POV of a Chinese American matchmaker, whom I gave a cultural flair. We'll see if they go for it. :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

All On My Own

by Gary Delafield from the May 21, 2012 issue

Tagline: Katie was an excellent baker, but hopeless in the romance department. Until a really cute guy just happened to find his way into her shop...

In a Nutshell: Katie owns a bakery. Her friend is intent on setting her up, but Katie says she's too busy with her new business. However, one of her new regulars is "tall, dark and dreamy." The friend gives Katie two tickets to a play and suggests she ask him to go with her. He ends up asking her instead.

Observations: Ooh, I was worried that this story wouldn't be good. The last story that had a male name attached to it wasn't so great, but this one was terrific.

One part I really liked was when Katie "blew out a quiet breath as she watched him check out the pastries in the display case." I could totally picture this. I also liked that her reaction was subdued. It fit her shy character perfectly.

I also chuckled at the name of the play, "Kiss Me, Kate." LOL Cute.

When the black moment occurred, I laughed:

Katie tried to make her shrug appear casual. "A customer left them for me. I'm probably not going, but if you'd be interested...?" She hoped she didn't seem too obvious.

"Wow. Thanks!" He picked up the tickets. "Are you sure?" At her nod, he slipped them in his shirt pocket, then paid for his doughnuts.

Katie's heart sank.

I thought it was a fantastic black moment. Katie's been working so hard to get a date with the guy and she finally overcomes her fear and asks him (sort of) and he misunderstands! As a reader, my heart sank, too! But then the guy turns around and asks her to go with him. I didn't think it was very nice of Mark to let her finish the transaction before letting her in on his little joke, but Katie seemed to forgive him, so I did, too.

The last thing I wanted to point out was the surprise that crafty Sarah, the friend, had orchestrated it all from the very beginning. Sarah had suggested that Mark visit the bakery. Then, once the relationship had been established, she swoops in with those theatre tickets. Heh heh. Who doesn't like a good plot twist?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It's A Small World

by Diane Crawford from the May 14, 2012 issue

Tagline: Laura was so sure she wouldn't like Graydon, she considered not meeting him at all. That would've been a mistake...

In A Nutshell: Laura's mom wants Laura to show the son of a friend around town since he's relocating there. She agrees and sets up a meeting, intending to duck out ASAP. But he's handsome and nice. Luckily, he likes her too.

Observations: Diane Crawford is a regular contributor to Woman's World. Her stories are always sweet and realistic. The coincidence you're asked to swallow is not that huge, because we all know what a small world it is! Laura's parents retired in Florida, and her mom makes friends with a woman whose son is relocating to Laura's town. After that one small coincidence, the rest of the story plays out believably.

The story is in Laura's first person POV, and it's easy to identify with her. She has all the thoughts we ourselves might have. She's reluctant to meet the guy. Then she makes it clear that she "has plans" after the movie so she can duck out as soon as possible. And when Grady seems like a nice guy she'd like to see again, she regrets her earlier claim that she had plans after the movie. This helps make her character more sympathetic to readers. We're like, "Yeah, I'd probably do that, too."

There was a nice black moment at the end when Grady doesn't call for a week. But then, of course, he does call. :)

Crawford also takes the time to show the connection between the hero and heroine being made.

First, Laura finds him handsome. (See "My Favorite Part" below.)

Second, in the movie...

I'd chosen a good movie, and before long we were both engrossed. But not so absorbed that I didn't feel a little tingle the few times he leaned close to whisper comments in my ear.

Finally, there's this...

He walked me to my car, a gentlemanly gesture that made me like him even more.

It didn't take a lot of words, but Crawford clearly showed Laura's attraction. That's important in Woman's World stories. We want the readers to believe that the couple has a chance at long lasting happiness.

My Favorite Part: After Laura's hemming and hawing and dread, the big day arrives:

On Sunday, I got to the plaza early and stood waiting for Graydon Wentworth.

Finally[,] I spotted him.

Tall, dark and handsome pretty much covered it. 


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Rejected. Darn!

Got a rejection in the mail a couple of days ago. I was already irritated because my 18 year old son insists on being a backseat driver. So when I saw the rejection, it just added to my bad mood. When I saw the envelope, I got excited, thinking if it was an acceptance, I'd snap out of it right quick. Alas, there wasn't even a hand-written note from Johnene.

I still have two stories out there and I just sent another earlier in the week. I'm determined to sell at least three stories to them this year.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

by Le An Dowd from the May 7, 2012 issue

Tagline: Who'd have imagined that meteor showers and a trip to the emergency room would lead to romance? Not Michael. Nor Lucy, for that matter...

In a Nutshell: Michael is an astronomy geek who has never been too smooth with the ladies. When trying to view meteor showers on the roof, he falls off the ladder. At the emergency room, the intake nurse is as geeky about the human body as he is about astronomy.

Observations: I can see why Johnene published this story. It follows the Woman's World recipe: boy meets girl, boy and girl click, boy and girl have something in common. But what made this version so charming was the flashback to Michael's childhood.

Another thing I liked was that Michael didn't really change who he was for the sake of love. His apology was about his rambling, not about his interest in astronomy. That's a great message for women, I think. Stay true to who you are.

Also, it's in the man's point of view, first person. A few weeks ago we were talking about the frequency of the man's POV, and here it is. :)

My two favorite parts:

"A meteor's only classified as a meteorite if it crash-lands on the Earth's surface," I explained to Danielle and her friends.

Silence. "You know," I continued, "instead of burning up in the atmosphere."

LMAO. Here, Michael has just arrived at the E.R.

Once there, my brother helped me into a wheelchair, then wheeled me to the intake receptionist. My foot was killing me, but there was nothing wrong with my eyes. She was beautiful!


"Lucy," I answered, completely distracted.

She laughed and pointed to her name tag. "What a coincidence!"

And speaking of coincidences, of course, her name had to be Lucy because of the title and the comet diamonds, but it worked for me. I plan on writing a story very soon called "When Gary Met Sally," but I have no idea what the plot will be.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Car Trouble

by Melanie Dusseau from the April 30, 2012 issue

Tagline: Cassie was charmed by the dog that rushed to greet her when she pulled up to John's auto body shop. And then John came out...

In a Nutshell: Cassie's car needs fixing and John's the man to do it. She tells him she's going to her aunt's coffee shop to wait and he mentions he loves the pie and pot roast there. When she returns, she brings him some, then gives him her phone number.

Observations: I have one word for this story: ADORABLE! There are a lot of things I want to point out.

1. I loved the humor and wit in this story. Here are two examples.

She rose to her feet and smiled. He returned the smile. Dimples.

Making the word "dimples" its own sentence put such a delightful cuteness on it that it made me smile, too.

"I'm John. And that pile of fur is Bear, my guard dog." John laughed. "Protects my castle."

Again, John is so cute. And he makes pies! At least, I think he does because he's been trying to get LouAnn's coconut cream pie recipe for a while. Also, check out how he doesn't speak in complete sentences. That is one of the keys to writing convincing, realistic dialogue. (Another is to use contractions.)

2. Here, Cassie shows that she is just as witty as he is. Their banter shows them connecting as a couple. This is an important thing to do when writing Woman's World stories. 

"Did you get me the recipe?" he asked.

"No, but I did get a swat with LouAnn's spatula."

LOL. That cracked me up.

3. I loved how she used the dog to advance John's cause.

John looked hopeful and Bear cocked his head. Cassie was charmed.

So was I.

Bear sat beside John, gazing at her with what looked like a hopeful expression.


4. There is a terrific time transition in the middle of the story. (By the way, this story has two acts, not the normal three.) Check it out:

John took her keys and Cassie set off for town, the morning sun at her back and John's gaze following her. 

She returned with two carry-out boxes. "Hello?" she called standing next to her car. Bear loped over to greet her.

Bam. No wasted words transitioning from morning to afternoon.

5. For those of you who took the class, did you notice the very subtle Coincidence story element? I didn't even notice it was there until I looked for it. I was reading the story, thinking, "Hmm, there's no coincidence. How interesting. I should mention that in my observations." Then I double checked just in case, and sure enough, I found one.

I could believe Cassie wanting to pass the time at a coffee shop "up the road." I could believe that John was a regular patron of the nearby cafe. What was a little--and I mean little--hard to believe was that her aunt was the owner. But like I said, I swallowed that so easily when I read the story, that I didn't even notice this as being odd.

This was a great teaching story. Thanks so much, Ms. Dusseau.