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.”


Nell Musolf said...

I like this story, Kate! I got a rejection today too. Bummer.

Mary Jo said...

Well, RATS!! Isn't Johnene buying anything lately? Yes, I got a rejection today, too. At least she said she was "sorry", and I appreciate that. This particular story wasn't my favorite, though, so I will continue to hold out hope for the other four that are still lying around in the WW shop.

Kate, maybe Johnene has seen too many divorcee stories lately???? Nell had a cute one in the current issue.

Tamara said...

This is a good story, Kate. I felt as though I was reading it right out of the magazine. I really like the title, too. Where did you get the Bonai picture?

Tamara said...

Make that "Bonsai."

Kate Willoughby said...

Sorry about the rejection, Nell. I'm sure you'll sell one soon.

Mary Jo, I' m not all that sad about it. I never know what she will like. I wasn't all that attached to this one. I thought it was cute, but not a shoe-in.

I just googled bonsai images and picked one of the dozens that came up. :)

Nell Musolf said...

Thanks, Kate. I always feel very disappointed the first day and then try to forget about it. It is hard to know what's going to be a hit and what's going to be a miss. I found an old WW from the late 80s and the stories looked to be about 2000 words long. I wonder how something that long would fly now? People seem to like short and sweet.

Tamara said...

Kate, are you sure she ever keeps stories for future use? I didn't think WW did so because they get so many submissions and want to keep it simple.

Kate Willoughby said...

Personally, I never liked really long short stories that continued on so long that I had to turn to different pages in the magazine, which frustrated me because the page numbers never appear on ads. When WW stories were 1100 they fit on one page. There just wasn't an affirmation or crossword solution.

I really have no idea whether she keeps stories or not, but I thought she did because they ask for the seasonal stories so far in advance...

Mary Jo said...

I have the impression that story submissions sit around in the WW main office until someone decides to ship them off to Patricia. How long she takes to go through them, I don't know. Then off to Johnene for her decision and then on to the editor in chief to get her okay. Somewhere along the line, Johnene rewrites the story. Sometimes it takes six months to get a rejection back.

It is not an encouragement to be required to provide the editor with 800 well considered words when there obviously is print space for only 600 to 650 words.

Oh, oh, Kate, I see that your sign-out "words" include one of those black blobs. Frankly, I cannot read it.

Tamara said...

Yes, I don't understand the practice of asking for 800 and printing 600-650. I found that the 1,000 word count was the easiest to accommodate in terms of story quality.

Rena George said...

I enjoyed your story, too, Kate. Sorry about the rejection.

I found your blog by accident and thought it was so helpful that I posted a link on my own blog - http://www.renageorge.com/ - I hope you don't mind.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kate,

I really liked this story just the way it is as well. If I had to guess why it was rejected my thoughts are: Perhaps the bit at the beginning about the divorcees isn't in keeping with the upbeat/positive message that WW likes to have in stories. The other thing is that both characters seemed passive in getting together (except for when she said yes to dinner). Perhaps if one of them had been a bit more pro-active themselves?

Just my humble opinion of course. Now if only I can look at my own stories this objectively, lol.

Thanks for sharing your story. Very helpful.


Marion Agnew said...

Kate, thanks for being so positive and forthcoming. I got rejection #2 today and don't have high hopes for the other two submissions of mine that they have.

Plus, I live in Canada, and apparently an IRC isn't enough postage to send a manila envelope back. (I thought, since they cost $5 here, you could buy $5 in US postage with them. Not so!) So I can expect that the other two I sent will also be annoying to them. Not a great way to build a name they're excited to see on a manuscript! :)

I came here to get cheered up, and as usual, it worked! On reading your charming florist story, I can see that you're right -- rejections are often about things beyond our control.

And I still can't help but feel that someone with an entrepreneurial bent is missing out on an opportunity to publish perfectly good short romances...

Kate Willoughby said...

Mary Jo, you mean that word you have to type to prove you're a human? I have no control over those.

Tamara, I loved the 1000 word length. Wish it were back.

Rena, of course I don't mind! PR is always good. Thanks!

Rosemary, I've seen divorcees before, so I know that's not the problem. To be honest, I'm not losing a lot of sleep wondering why it was rejected. It happens. :)

Kate Willoughby said...

Marion, hugs on the rejections. They happen to everyone. Keep trying. I know people who have sent over a dozen stories and gotten rejected every time. If you keep at it, you'll sell. It just might take longer than you'd like. :)

Tamara said...

I agree, Marion. Keep on writing and sending.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kate,

Sorry, I didn't mean being a divorcee itself, I mean the magazine info the woman mentions about divorcees. But I'm glad you've taken it all in your stride, a great attitude.
I'm sure your next sub will hit the mark.


Marion Agnew said...

Thanks, you guys, for the encouragement. I'm not disheartened -- as long as it's fun to write them and I'm learning from the experience, I'll keep it up.

Mary Jo said...

Marion, don't waste a lot of money on a manilla return envelope. Johnene only needs a #10 to return. She told me so. Kate has said the same thing.

Kate, yes I meant the "prove you're human" words. I don't know where this new series came from, but some of them are impossible to read. You may never hear from me again.

Also, if you have sold nine stories to WW, Johnene obviously likes the way you write and feels you are a perfect fit for the magazine. However, if you were analyzing this story for your blog, I think you would pick up on a few things.

For example, the name Sarah fades into the woodwork in comparison to Autumn. The first line of the story is not really attributed to anyone. Sarah is shuffled off stage in the middle of the story. Is that a good move, considering there are already only 800 words (actually 650)to relate to her? We are left with a satellite view of Autumn and Tom's mother. In fact, Autumn is more interesting then than Sarah. Finally, why is the charming Tom home alone on a weekend night? It is his birthday. Didn't any of his friends care enough to throw a little party for him?

Okay. Those remarks and a dollar will get you a copy of the Sunday paper.

Tamara said...

Kate, about your comment that you don't lose sleep over rejections, I think that's a good policy. I, too, complain a bit and then write another one. But -- and I wonder whether the rest of you have this experience -- once in a while I send one in that I just KNOW they're gonna love, and it falls flat. The last one was about an Elvis impersonator; I thought it was so adorable. Well, it came back from Patty with no comment. I'm still wondering...how come, Patty? I wish she'd said something, anything.

Kate Willoughby said...

Mary Jo, thanks for the analysis. :) I appreciate it.

Yeah, I still remember a Thanksgiving story I wrote that I thought was a shoe-in. It got rejected. Just goes to show you that we can't predict. On the flip side, there are stories that get published that leave me scratching my head, thinking, "Really? They chose that over my ___ story? Really?" LOL.

Tamara said...

Yes, I've said exactly those words many times, too.

Kate Willoughby said...

You win some, you lose some. :) It's the nature of the business.