Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Pretend Pirate

by Patrice Howell from the October 29, 2012 issue

Tagline: When the make-believe gypsy met the make-believe pirate, their mutual attraction was definitely for real!

In a Nutshell: Jen doesn't want to go to a friend's Halloween party because her ex will be there. She stays home to greet trick-or-treaters instead. As the number of kids decreases dramatically, a little mermaid appears, accompanied by her pirate father. Turns out they just moved in down the street. Also turns out he's going to the party Jen didn't want to go to, but when he asks her to go with him, she changes her mind!

Observations: I saw a few things in this story that I wanted to point out.

Jen is your everyday woman. We've all been in her shoes...not wanting to attend a party for one reason or another. We feel slightly guilty about not wanting to go and perhaps even throw ourselves a small, private pity party. We try to lift our mood in some other way. Jen immerses herself in the fun of Halloween. Creating a heroine we can identify with is a good thing.

Did you notice the foreshadowing?

Then a man I didn't recognize strode past. Hmmm, I thought, leaning forward to see where he was headed. Probably the house on the corner. I'd seen a moving van last week, and a child's tricycle in the drive. 

Of course, that's our hero.

I really liked how the little girl had difficulty with her Rs. It was cute. I also thought her dialog was very believable, unlike in that movie Liar, Liar that I had the misfortune of watching part of the other night when my son wanted to watch it. That kid laughed at jokes that no five year old kid would understand. It was ridiculous.

At its core, this story is just like any other cute meet story in WW, but it happens during Halloween. Perhaps that's something to take into consideration. The only exception I can think of is Christmas themed stories because I think those need to be a bit more poignant and meaningful.

Photo by wwarby (cc)

New Service

A comment from a reader yesterday got me thinking. She said she'd been trying to get published by Woman's World for ten years. Ten years! That's got to be a lot of stories. When I read that, I immediately wanted to get a hold of all her stories and skim them to see if I could pinpoint the problem for her.

It got me thinking again about my editing service. For a while now, I've been wanting to create a new, quicker, more general service for you guys that isn't so expensive. Forty bucks is a lot to pay, even though you get a full line-by-line edit for your money.

So I wanted to float a couple of ideas off you.

1. What do you think of consultations? You could send me a story and we could instant message about the story for a certain length of time, perhaps half an hour. We would discuss general things--tone, characterization, plot, beginnings/endings, dialogue, etc. We might even end up brainstorming.

My son suggested Facebook as a vehicle for communication... My problem with this is that I suck at figuring out time zone changes. LOL I'm thinking $20/hour.

2. The other idea I had was to offer a service in which I look at a story and rather than do a line-by-line edit, give a 500-1000 word general opinion of it, similar to what I do on the blog but obviously about your story, not someone else's. Price...$10?

3. The last idea I had was to look at three rejected stories and give you my short opinion (a paragraph or two) as to what might have been the problem. I'm thinking $10/three stories for this also.

Comments? Suggestions? Are these services that would interest you?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Woman's World Fiction Guidelines



Romance guidelines:

We buy contemporary romances of 800 words. Stories must revolve around a compelling, true-to-life relationship dilemma; may feature either a female or male protagonist; and may be written in either the first or third person. Characters may be married, single, divorced or widowed; should be down-to-earth (no yuppies or jet-setters); and their dilemma should be poignantly or humorously conveyed. Please think carefully about a story's setting, mood and plot, and tell the story with interesting action and dialogue. (Every sentence, paragraph, and scene of the story should deliver more information about your characters and their situation and/or briskly advance the storyline).

We are not interested in stories involving life-or-death matters, nor are we interested in fluffy, flyaway-style romance. When we say romance, what we really mean is relationship--whether it's just beginning or is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The emphasis in our stories is on real life-which is why we do not buy science fiction, fantasy or historical romance.

We pay $800 per romance and retain First North American Serial Rights for six months after publication.

Get to know us: Please familiarize yourself thoroughly with our romances and mini-mysteries before submitting your work.


Manuscripts should be double-spaced in legible size type. 

Please send as an attachment.

Include name, address, phone number and email on the manuscript.

Where to send manuscripts: 

If you have not previously been published by Woman's World magazine: to Patricia Gaddis' attention   

If you have had a romance or mini-mystery published by Woman's World: to Patricia Gaddis' attention

For problems only you may contact Patricia at

Woman's World does not send rejection notices. If you have not heard from them in four months, assume your story has been rejected.

Edited 8/4/16 to add: There is an automated response system that should notify you when your first submission has been received. If you do not receive notification, your spam filters may be set too high. After that, subsequent submissions do not trigger an auto respond.

Edited Feb. 2, 2018 to add: They are looking for more charming cozies where someone steals someone else's prize begonias/recipe/whatever. There are too many murder mysteries.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Love in Disguise

by Lisa Weaver from the October 22, 2012 issue

Tagline: When Dan met Laura on Halloween, they looked all wrong together. But Dan had a feeling that in this case, appearances were deceiving...

In a Nutshell: Dan notices a woman dressed as Wonder Woman has a flat on the side of the road. He's dressed as a vampire himself, but she doesn't mind when he stops to help her. They connect and make a  date for dinner the next week.

Observations: I thought this was a cute, if formulaic story. I've seen man-to-the-rescue car trouble stories before many times over the years. (And I kind of wish they weren't a librarian and a teacher. Those professions seem to be over-represented in the pages of Woman's World stories, too.)

What made this one different was it was first person, present tense, and from the man's point of view. I always find it fun to temporarily inhabit a man's head, even if it's fictional. I thought this man was funny.

My favorite lines:

1. It's not the spooky atmosphere that concerns me as much as how the super heroine will react to a vampire stopping to lend a hand.

2. Still, despite her heroic appearance, this avenger of truth and justice is having a hard time budging the tire wrench.

3. "I would have looked udderly dashing in it, don't you think?"

Photo by skyfaller (cc)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Darcy Story

A while back I had posted about a story of mine that got rejected. People said they wanted to read it and I said I would post it. Someone reminded me that I never did, so here it is.

Finding Mr. Darcy

by Kate Willoughby

     Gillian wished that gloves weren’t part of her costume. She was nervous and her hands were sweaty.
     “I’ll never find him,” she said to her friend Sue.
     “Yes, you will. He’s already checked in. Look for a top hat.”
     Sue was an up and coming party planner. This Valentine’s Day costumed mixer was her promotional brainchild, a brainchild that had gone viral within the singles community of Woodland Hills. The rules were simple. If you wanted to go, you paid the fee and RSVP’d online. The catch was that you had to come as one half of a famous pair—Antony and Cleopatra, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, Bonnie and Clyde, etc. When you arrived at the party, you were supposed to find and dance with your other half.
     Gillian had always loved Jane Austen’s work. Pride and Prejudice was her favorite, so she wanted to go as Elizabeth Bennett, but although she’d posted her character/costume choice early, no one signed up as Mr. Darcy. Finally, on February thirteenth, Sue called—a Mr. Darcy was coming.
     “Thank goodness!” Gillian had exclaimed. Even though Sue had planned other ways for people to mix and meet besides destiny, Gillian had imagined how romantic it would be to interact with a man in Regency clothing and who probably liked Austen as well. She speculated about the type of man he was. Tall, hopefully. Funny. Humble. Not living with his mother.
     Now at last, the moment of truth had arrived. Gillian tried not to be obvious as she made her way around the room, searching, but although she spotted Romeo, Superman, and Indiana Jones, she saw neither hide nor hair of Mr. Darcy. Until...
     “Pardon me,” a voice said behind her.
     Turning, she saw a man magnificently dressed in a cut-away coat, brocade waistcoat and boots. No top hat, but a nicely tied cravat that looked like it might have been a wedding veil in another life.
     “Elizabeth Bennett?”
     She curtsied and managed to stammer, “Y-yes.”
     His smile was warm and his bow, utterly romantic. “I came especially to meet you, Miss Bennett. Would you care to dance?”
     She focused for the first time on the music, a techno club song that didn’t lend itself to the gentility of their costumes. “I’d actually rather talk if you don’t mind,” she said.
     Offering his arm, he suggested they venture outside. The night air felt refreshing as they exchanged real names. She discovered that Thomas had been born and raised in Los Angeles, like she was. He managed a pub not to far from where she lived. She told him about her job as a pre-school teacher.
     “So, let me get this straight. You make a conscious choice to spend the day with small uncivilized children?”
     She laughed. “It’s my job to civilize them. Besides, you make the choice to spend the evenings with intoxicated adults...”
     “Touché,” he said with a wry, Darcy-like smile. “You’re absolutely right.”
     They spent an hour there, away from the party, discussing Jane Austen’s work, more recent fiction (they were both avid readers), and their mutual wish to visit England someday. Just as they were about to go inside, his phone rang.
     After glancing at the screen, he apologized, checked his watch, and texted a reply.
     “I’m sorry,” he said afterward. “My mom wanted to know what time I’d be getting home.”
     Oh, no! Gillian blanched and her heart sank. He did live with his mother. This was a disaster. He was such a mama’s boy he even had a curfew.
     She must have let her emotions show on her face because he frowned. “What’s wrong?” Then it dawned on him. “Oh, it’s not like that. I have my own place. Mom’s recovering from a hernia operation and since Dad passed away and I’m an only child, I’ve been helping her out since she got released from the hospital. In fact, that’s the reason I waited so long to RSVP for this dance. I wanted to make sure she was healing up all right.”
     Smiling in relief, she said, “I think it’s wonderful that you take care of your mother like that. I’m afraid I jumped to the wrong conclusion.”
     “No harm done,” Thomas said, laughing. “Say, my house may not be as grand as Darcy’s, but maybe you could come over next Friday for dinner. Mom should be fine by then and I’d like to show you that book I was talking about.”
     Gillian was happy to accept his invitation. In fact, a few months later, she accepted another of Thomas’ invitations—this time not for dinner, but for a lifetime. The next Valentine’s Day at Jane Austen’s house in Chawton, she and Thomas got married, dressed in the very costumes they’d worn when they first met.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Garage Sale

by Sheila Cronin from the October 15, 2012 issue

Tagline: Doug and LeAnne discovered that, sometimes, getting rid of old memories opens the door to new beginnings...

In a Nutshell: Doug and LeAnne's marriage is crumbling. They hold a garage sale to get rid of their stuff. They each foil a possible sale because the item was one that was important to the other and realize maybe they can work things out after all.

Observations: This is a plot that you don't see often in Woman's World--the troubled marriage story. I think it's because this is difficult to pull off. Perhaps it's personal though. My parents divorced and it deeply affected me. I had harbored hopes for a long time that they would get back together, but they never did. As a result, I think I'm more cynical about this type of story.

I didn't quite believe that Doug and LeAnne were going to succeed. LeAnne seemed negative to me. When someone buys the clock, she mutters "Good riddance." Then when she sees Doug chatting with customers, she thinks, "When had he last paid her any real attention?" Doug seemed a little snippy when he said, "I need some help over here."

True, the author showed LeAnne refusing to sell the painting that was special to Doug. That was a nice gesture. In the same vein, the hero sold the boom box because of the look of pain on LeAnne's face, but in my opinion, the look of pain was because of the music, not the box. Lastly, the couple have a moment agreeing that they always shared the same taste. Hm. Sharing taste is not the basis for a strong marriage. I realize that this is only the catalyst that makes them realize they should give it another go, but, cynical me, I thought it a bit weak.

I also thought the ending felt tacked on. A good inch and a half of space was dedicated to the exchange between their neighbors.

But again, I can be a tough audience with these types of stories, and obviously Woman's World liked it enough to publish it.

Photo by Eastlaketimes (cc)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Beginner's Luck

by Diane Crawford from the October 8, 2012 issue

Tagline: Laurel had been attracted to Jared from the start. Turns out Jared felt the same way about her...

In a Nutshell: Laurel is attending the company picnic and spots a guy she's had her eye on for a while. He's by the horseshoe pit. A rival for his attention declines the invitation to play, so Laurel gets him all to herself. They strike up a conversation and make a date for dinner.

Observations: What I found interesting about this story is that it had a villain. There are almost never villains in Woman's World stories. First of all, there usually isn't room. Eight hundred words doesn't allow for a lot of extra characters. Plus, villains are inherently negative. Negativity is something Woman's World likes to avoid. However, Crawford managed to insert a female villain in "Beginner's Luck."

Laurel's friend says:

"Celia the Piranha sashayed over there as soon as she caught sight of those guys from Tech."

This is pretty catty, but it's the friend saying it, so we readers can understand. Friends can get away with stuff the heroine can't. And yet, Laurel herself thinks Celia is overdressed. Again, this is acceptable. We've all seen people who overdress for this or that occasion.

Celia has perfectly manicured nails. Laurel doesn't. Crawford turns this difference into an opportunity to show Laurel as a more three dimensional character with worries about her appearance, just like all of us. We identify with her because of this. We all have things we wish we could change about our appearances. We know how Laurel feels.

To perhaps balance some of this, Crawford has Celia behave in a civilized way. Sure, the two women are basically competing for the guy, but they don't play games. (Actually, I guess Laurel does because it's horseshoes! LOL) Celia makes it clear she's not the horseshoes type and let's Jared know where she'll be should things not work out with Laurel.

Of course, things do work out with Laurel. Jared makes it clear he's not interested in the well-manicured, well-dressed Celia, and the way is clear for our heroine. Yay!

Photo by tehbieber (cc)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Missed Bus

by Sheila Llanas from the October 1, 2012 issue

Tagline: When he missed the bus, Drew's evening commute took an unexpectedly romantic turn...

In a Nutshell: Drew falls while running to catch his bus. A pretty woman helps him up. Neither of them catch their bus because they go out to dinner together.

Observations: It's really funny how many times I'm surprised by the mundanity, yet freshness, of a premise. Hello. I see buses all the time. Have I ever thought about writing a WW story about someone who misses their bus? NO. Llanas did, and she did a good job.

I loved Drew's reaction when he saw the woman:

     Was he imagining this beautiful woman?

I laughed, thinking he really did fall hard.

I laughed again, harder, at this:

     "Nice to meet you," he said. "Do you work around here? I must've looked like a klutz."
     "Yes," she said.
     "Yes, what?"
     "Yes, you did look like a klutz."

I also liked seeing how Drew started out slow, but gradually got himself together enough to ask her out. At first he's dazed. Then he's flustered and can't think of what to say. Then, he realizes he'd better get his butt in gear because she's leaving.

I also thought this story was a little subtler in bringing back a phrase than "Out of the Blue," in which I thought the phrase/idea "dropped into her life" was used one too many times. Here, we have the falling hard idea mentioned at the beginning, but with slightly different wording.

Half a block from the stop, he dodged a dog-walker, snagged his foot, and hit the cement hard, landing in a heap.

At the end of the story, which was super-cute, we see this.

     Melissa tucked her arm through his. "If they notice [your pants], we'll just tell them you fell hard."
     Drew looked into Melissa's pretty hazel eyes. "Yes," he said. "I certainly did."

It's a tiny bit forced. I don't really see someone telling the restaurant host, "He fell hard." They'd probably say, "He fell." But, I was willing to let that go.

Photo by MrMPD (cc)