Wednesday, July 25, 2012


A rejection for a story submitted May 9.

Form letter.


The good news is that the story I submitted BEFORE that one didn't get rejected yet. I have hope!

Unlock My Heart

by Nancy C. Johnson from the July 23, 2012 issue

Photo byAndy Roberts Photo (cc)
Tagline: Jessica couldn't help wishing that she and her acting partner weren't just pretending to be in love...

In A Nutshell: Jessica has joined the community theater and has a crush on her leading man, but judging from the woman and little girl who meet him after rehearsal every night, he's definitely taken. But wait. His wife passed away three years ago and that woman is his sister.

Observations: I really liked this story, even though it was formulaic. If you've read many Woman's World stories, you know that if there's another woman standing in the way of romance--be it a wife or girlfriend--by the end of the story, you know there was a mistake. This is the formula I mentioned before. Formula in this magazine isn't a bad thing. As long as you pen an engaging, well-written, romantic story, you can earn $800 for it.

First off, the opener is a doozy.

Sam is going to kiss me. His arms tighten around my waist as he pulls me closer. His dark eyes gaze into mine as I tile my head back and close my eyes.

We rarely see a kiss right off the bat for obvious reasons, but this definitely catches our attention.

I thought it was cute how the six-year-old daughter, Paige, made a connection with the heroine with that smile in the middle of the story. Also, at the end, we see this:

I hear Paige's giggling voice call out, "Daddy's kissing a girl!"

From that we can see that the daughter is fine with Dad moving on, and as readers hoping for a bright future for the three of them, the fact that Paige seems open to getting a step-mommy bodes well.

Only thing that bothered me--the title. I read the story and couldn't recall any mention of a lock or key, so I went back and found this:

After breaking up with Alex last year, my heart was on lockdown...

Hmm. Seems to me like it would have been more appropriate to connect the title with kisses, or the stage, or acting or rehearsal...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Love Is In the Air

Photo by Jim, the Photographer
by Shannon Fay from the July 16, 2012 issue

Tagline: A mix-up with some seats, an act of kindness...and Pamela found herself sitting beside a man who might just be her Mr. Right...

In a Nutshell: Pamela agrees to change seats on the airplane so a wife can sit with her husband. Divorced, she wistfully comments on how nice it would be to experience such a long marriage. Her new seat mate replies that she's mistaken about the older couple. They only got married two weeks ago. Pamela thinks she recognizes his voice, and sure enough he's a news reporter for her local radio station. They go out for coffee.

Observations: In a way, this was two romance stories in one. You have Pamela's story, which unfolds as we read "Love Is In the Air" (which is a wonderfully clever title) and then you also have the old woman's story as she recounts it to Pamela. (This actually occurred in last week's story, "Fireworks," too, but I only just noticed it.)

Airport/airplane stories have an inherent difficulty to overcome: the characters are obviously traveling some distance. The reader will wonder how will they develop a relationship. Usually, the man she sits next to would just happen to be from the city she lives in, a fact that I would have to begrudgingly accept. But Fay cleverly had them returning from wherever they had been. So it's actually likely that they both live in Phoenix. Smart!


by Elizabeth Palmer from the July 2, 2012 issue

Photo by bayasaa
Tagline: When Sara met Jack, she couldn't help hoping for an instant replay on a romantic old story...

In a Nutshell: Sara is interviewing an older woman about how she met her husband. She offers to enlarge the tiny photograph she has. When she delivers it, she is surprised to meet the grandson who is the spitting image of the man in the photo. They decide to go see the fireworks together.

Observations: I thought this story was very sweet. Again, Woman's World seems to like nostalgia and you really get that feeling here from the mention of the soldiers and the USO and Clark Gable (on whom I used to have a crush, even though he had been gone many years).

Something clever I wanted to point out was how the author lead you to believe that Helen was suffering perhaps from dementia when she said she saw John all the time, but then--surprise!--the grandson turns out to be John's spitting image. I love plot twists, and they're difficult to pull off in 800 words. I did happen to see the twist coming, but only because I've studied hundreds of these stories.

The part I liked best was the private exchange at the end between Helen, the old woman and Sara. 

See, when Helen met her husband, he asked her if she liked fireworks, and decades later when Sara meets the grandson, he asks the exact same thing. The two women look at each other knowingly, and you get a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Perfect.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lucky in Love

by Lisa Weaver from the July 9, 2012 issue

Tagline: As far as Sarah was concerned there was nothing unlucky about Friday the 13th. After all, that was the day she met Brian!

In a Nutshell: Sarah's Friday the 13th isn't going well, but she still refuses to believe in superstition, even when the handsome cop pulls her over for a broken tail light. They chat and when he finds out she's a teacher, he invites her to drop by the station sometime so they can discuss a safety awareness program he's been thinking about. She does. They have dinner.

Photo by Clotee Pridgen Allochuku (cc)
Observations: I have to admit, I thought "Bridesmaids" when I read about the cop pulling her over for the broken tail light, but other than that it seemed like your basic WW story.

Notice the tiny black moment when Sarah thinks Brian is taken.

     "I'm looking for Officer Reynolds," I tell the woman at the front desk. "Is he here?"
     "He went off duty at four, but he should be back soon," she says. "He went out for a run with Holly."
     Holly? I wonder. Who's Holly? I can't see myself trying to pry information from the woman, so I just say, "I"ll catch him some other time."
     "It looks like you won't have to," I hear someone say.
     I turn around to see Brian coming through the door walking a German shepherd.

LOL. I've never seen a WW heroine find out the "other woman" is a dog. What a bitch! LMAO.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Puzzling Romance

by Veda Boyd Jones from the June 25, 2012 issue

Tagline: If asked, could Heather and Ted find the words to describe their instant and mutual attraction? Probably!

In a Nutshell: Heather is minding her own business, working the crossword during lunch. The man who constructed the crossword happens to sit next to her. They talk and connect. Using crossword lingo, he asks her out to dinner.

Observations: I love crossword puzzles. Using them as a device to get a couple talking was something I haven't seen before in a Woman's World story.

This was one of those stories that took place all in one scene. You get some backstory for Heather, the hero shows up, and the events unfold to the conclusion with no transitions or passages of time. This gives the reader a chance to really see the couple interacting.

I also noticed a pretty long description of Ted.

...when a man about her age, late thirties, stopped by the bench. He wore khakis and an oxford shirt with the sleeves rolled up, obviously ready to enjoy the sunshine, too. Laugh lines around his eyes gave him a good-natured look, even before he smiled at her.

How nice to have that luxury. Perhaps the lack of scene changes allowed some extra wiggle room.