Sunday, November 4, 2012

Rules Are Rules

by Rosemarie Naramore from the November 5, 2012 issue

Tagline: Officer Holly Tanner knew that if she started making exceptions, the owner of the trucking company might start taking advantage...

In a Nutshell: Holly pulls over an 18-wheeler. When the driver, new to the job, doesn't have the vehicle's registration, she insists on the driver calling his boss. Holly insists he bring the registration to her, or the truck isn't going anywhere. The boss, Dave, unhappy at having to make the trip, produces the paperwork, and calls her nitpicky. When the driver is appalled, Dave offers to take her to dinner to make up for it, then takes her into his arms. What??? Turns out Dave the Boss and Officer Holly are married!

Observations: OMG. Talk about a Sixth Sense twist!!! I was totally pulled in by this story and didn't begin to suspect the twist until way later than I would have expected. I absolutely loved how different this was from the usual, and flabbergasted and delighted that they chose to publish it. If I had thought of this idea, I might not have submitted it, thinking there was little chance they'd buy it. I would have been very wrong!

For those of you who doubted the wording of the guidelines where they talk about "relationships" not romance, here's proof. This is clearly a story about their relationship and how a husband accepts that the wife is merely doing her job and needs some tender loving care because she's been doing entirely too much of it lately. When I read this story, I got a warm fuzzy feeling about marriage and what a good one looks like.

If you haven't read the story twice, I highly suggest you do. You'll see exactly what I'm talking about, everything appears totally different when you read with the knowledge that they're married.

He passed her the paperwork and their hands made brief contact. Holly felt a jolt pass between them. She knew he felt it too when their eyes connected over the document.

Here you see the physical attraction, just like a normal Woman's World story. That's where you take the bait. Then, Naramore reels you in a little, here:

Dave walked over to the driver. She watched him walk away. Tall and well-built, he looked great in his jeans. She shook her head, rejecting the thought. She was working, for Pete's sake.

Seems like a regular first meet, but knowing they're married, that last sentence makes sense from a different perspective.

Also way back in the beginning, this paragraph:

She realized [the driver] was nervous about his mistake, but she couldn't let this particular trucking company off the hook. Even if they had the biggest fleet of trucks in town, they had to follow the rules, same as everyone. Besides, the driver's boss, of all people, knew better than to let a driver leave without that registration.

See what I mean? "This particular trucking company" and "the driver's boss, of all people," are phrases that don't raise any flags when you read the first time, but take on a new meaning the second time around.

By the end of the story when Dave is crossing the line verbally and physically invading Officer Tanner's personal space, you're realizing and smiling and nodding.

I thought this story was masterfully written. Brava!

Photo by Timitrius (cc)


Kate Willoughby said...

I just realized, while linking Naramore's other story to this post, that her other heroine was named Holly, too. Coincidence? LOL

Tamara said...

They've changed the tone of the little lifts; maybe they're expanding on their romantic themes a bit. I was pleased to see that this one made it.

Mary Jo said...

Wouldn't you know this is the one issue that did not make it to my mail box? I wonder if it is still available on the magazine stands. What was the date of her previous story? Maybe I can go back and read that.

Kate Willoughby said...

Tamara, once in a while they throw in a story that steps out of the box, and it's really refreshing, isn't it?

Mary Jo, I'm convinced that the times my issues didn't arrive is because it got chewed up. I've gotten a couple before where the front page was mangled but the address label happened to still be attached by a thread. I think it's because the covers aren't any thicker than the rest of the magazine. But that's only my theory.

Mary Jo said...

Yes, Kate, you are probably right. Though this is the first missing issue in a subscription of a year or two, I have received copies with the "cover" torn to pieces. I can zip that address label off on any issue. I must go to the post office tomorrow so I will stop somewhere and see if the Nov 5 is still on the stands.

I am thrilled if Johnene is finding good stories to publish. She liked the last story of mine that she rejected, but whatsername the Ed in Chief didn't. The reason being, "She said it couldn't happen." That made me think they just wanted the same old blah stuff, which I don't care to write. I am sure this story is good news.

Pat said...

Mary Jo,
Call the subscrition service. Number is in the magazine. Tell them the date of the issue you didn't get. They will offer to add a magazine to the end of your subscription. Explain you need the dated issue and they will send it to you. I've done this three time in the last year because I never received an issue that either Kate reveiwed or one of my critique partners had a story in. You may have to wait until it is pulled off the stands. One time they told me I could receive the issue later. I didn't and just called them again.

Pat said...

Kate, I also loved this story when I first read it. I realized all the clues were there, I just read over them. Loved the twist.

On another note, not sure you are aware that your poll hasn't been working for the last four stories or so. I vote but nothing shows up. Just thought I'd let you know.

Kate Willoughby said...

Mary Jo, I think they're always looking for a fresh story and if one sends them something different and it gets rejected, it may very well be for a reason other than that difference.

Pat, I thought it was just ME having problems with the poll. Grr. Okay. I'll pull the ones that aren't working. Thanks for telling me.

Mary Jo said...

Kate, there are only 52 slots a year in the WW Romance page, and I am sure one major criterion is to choose stories that will appeal to their demographics. I just happen to think that American women (women anywhere) are so much smarter than that. Are writers writing only what they have seen before? Only the editors know. Your own analyses usually have the highest praise for stories that are different from the usual offerings.

Kate Willoughby said...

Smarter than what, Mary Jo? I'm not sure what your point is. But put yourself in the editor's shoes. The median age of their readership is 51. This age group, for the most part, isn't running around seeking change, change, change! They like things a certain way. Their readers also have expectations. If you don't fulfill those expectations, you risk losing them as readers. I'm sure choosing the stories is more complicated than we think. I'd say I wouldn't want that job if you paid me, but I actually think it would be a blast. LOL

Tamara said...

Yes, Kate, I often think I'd love to be a first reader, but perhaps the reality is that it's a gruelling, at times tedious and thankless job. It might actually be more fun to think up stories and send them off and watch the mail impatiently (sort of like I'm doing now). I also think that, while we might feel that the different stories are a breath of fresh air, they know their readers, and what they've done so far has worked. The stories, while not great literature, appeal to a wide variety of readers--some with advanced degrees. I think the romance story is a brief interlude for some people.

Mary Jo said...

Smarter than the editors give them credit for. I have many good friends in the 50-ish age group and they are very sharp. Well, maybe they don't buy the WW magazine. I will have to ask them.

I wonder if being an editor is something like being a gift wrapper in a store. The first few packages are fun and after that it is grueling. At WW, I expect that Patricia has the heaviest work load, going through all those hundreds and hundreds of story submissions.

Does anyone know how the magazine's offices made out in the Sandy storm? I googled it on Maps and it looked like a massive building.

Tamara said...

Oh, cool. I didn't know you could do that, Mary Jo. I'm going to try it now.

Your analogy is funny.

Kate Willoughby said...

I think being the first reader would be more like being a treasure hunter. :)

Mary Jo said...

It must take a special kind of person to be an editor. Some are so good at it, they become more famous than their writers. It means real dedication to the job and to their authors.

The Google Maps don't show current conditions, so far as I know, Tamara. They are just photos of a satellite view. Your house is probably there. Mine is. I can even see one of my friends out in her front yard in Washington State.

I hope the WW plant didn't get flooded.

Tamara said...

That is amazing, Mary Jo -- the neighbor in the yard, I mean. Just how do you go about seeing that? I did see the Bauer building, but it wasn't that clear a picture.

Mary Jo said...

Are we going too far afield here, Kate, and Rosemarie Naramore is saying, "Hey, what about my story?"?

Anyway, Tamara, you just type in the address of the place you want to see and when the satellite map comes up on your screen, enlarge it until you get a photo of the place. Yes, some photos are a little blurry, but most are amazingly clear.

Weather is coming back to the Jersey shore tonight. I hope they make it through.

Kate Willoughby said...

Nah. Feel free to talk about whatever you want. Not all the authors know about my blog, so Naramore might not even know we've been discussing her story.

Anonymous said...

Regarding, "I think being the first reader would be more like being a treasure hunter. :)"

Very well put!


Pat said...

Last night's storm didn't prove to be as bad as predicted. We had little wind but more snow than expected. Some people who had gotten power back are out again and some new places are without. I'm not sure how WW office made out. I'm about half hour or so south of them. I haven't heard their town on the news as being without power, however, a lot of towns I know have been out since Sandy and still don't have power are not named on the news either. I have not received either the Nov 12th or the Nov 19th issue that was just announced as on sale on FB.
I have noticed we are getting small amounts of mail and sister and Hubby noticed it also. Not sure if a USPS sorter place is without power anywhere.

Just thought you might like an update.

P.S. Kate I didn't forget about your story, its just that I've been swamped.

Jody Lebel said...

When I got to the part where she put her head on his shoulder, my mouth dropped open and I was rolling my eyes. What!!? Then the twist came and made me smile. I DID have to read it again. Sooo glad new material is coming through in the mag. Gives us hope...

Linda B said...

I have a different viewpoint on this story. I agree that the twist is good, but my opinion of Officer Tanner is not good. I feel that if the reader doesn’t like the heroine, there’s a problem, because the reader has to visualize herself in the love story, and I don’t connect with Officer Tanner. I agree that it’s hard to create a believable story, and writers take liberties, but these are the points that gave me trouble:
1. Officer Tanner is aware that she must treat this trucking company in a fair manner with no special treatment even though they are the “biggest fleet in town”. She says to the driver, after the boss appeared, “I clocked you at five miles over the speed limit.” Most people drive the speed limit, so pulling an 18-wheeler over for speeding at 5 mph over the limit seems overzealous. In any event, the driver should have been told when he was pulled over, that he had exceeded the speed limit and that is the only reason he was pulled over. He was entitled to know, and could have asked, but she made him wait the 15 min until the boss arrived, which was not considerate.
2. When the driver could not produce the registration she says: “Call your boss. I need to speak to him.” I would not expect her to want to talk to the trucking boss as it was the driver’s responsibility to produce the registration. He could have phoned his office for another employee or even a taxi to deliver the document to them on the highway. Once Frank has the boss on the line, he says to her: “Dave-that’s my boss-wants to talk to you.” Dave could have said instead that he would arrange for the registration to be taken out to them. He can’t think of any other way to solve this problem but to leave his important meeting and drive out with the registration. Both Dave and Officer Tanner want to talk to each other.
3. Office Tanner asks why the registration was not in the vehicle and the answer was that “…Frank is not clear on procedures.” You don’t have to be a commercial driver to realize that the registration of a vehicle should remain in the vehicle. She says that “…the driver’s boss, of all people, knew better than to let a driver leave without that registration”. She puts the blame onto the boss, but Frank should be competent enough to check his paperwork before driving.
4. She says that if she does not get the registration that the truck will be out of service. Why doesn’t she write him a ticket for failing to produce his registration? Is she threatening to have the 18-wheeler towed? There is no indication that the truck is not properly registered, and she knew that information from her police computer when she put in the licence number, so why not just give him a ticket?
5. If Officer Tanner needed to see Frank’s medical card she should have asked him for it at the time she asked for his licence and not ask the trucking boss to produce it. She made her request after the registration was produced, as if it was an afterthought.
Officer Tanner appeared to me as unprofessional. I have the feeling that it was a slow day in Commercial Vehicle Enforcement and that she was picking on her husband’s company and not being neutral. The twist of course worked because we don’t suspect the relationship.

Tamara said...

I think you're right about most of this, Linda B, and it confirms for me that in some cases, when the editors find one of my stories implausible for some stated reason, it may not be the real reason they don't publish it.

Kate Willoughby said...

LInda B., it just goes to show you how subjective this can be. I appreciate your different viewpoint. :)

Linda B said...

I think that writers can get away with bending things a bit because the story line is the most important thing, and a few details don't really matter. However the central characters must make a connection with the reader and in this case the heroine did not make a connection with me.