Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Story, Edited

Since I think it's silly to try and review my own story, I decided once again to post it showing the edits that Johnene did. She changed a lot more on this story than she did on the last one. The type in blue is stuff she added.

All in all I thought she made the story tighter. You'll notice she took out the part where Julie and Daniel agree that the latest action flick was too predictable, probably because it was slightly negative (and unnecessary anyway.)

I don't really understand the new title she gave it. I think it's a reference to those combo type meals you can order in Chinese restaurants, but I never look at that part of the menu, so maybe someone can enlighten me. :)

I liked the name she gave the cat. I also liked the different ending. When I emailed her the story, I mentioned in the email that here in Southern California, where I live, it's perfectly plausible that someone might go on a picnic in early February, but in much of the rest of the country, that would be ridiculous. I told her that she might want to address that issue, and she did, finding a good alternative date for them to go on.

I'm pleased with the story. Now, I need to get going on the idea I got in the car the other day. This morning I came up with this great line for the hero to say: "I feel like we both showed up at the prom wearing the same dress." I'll leave you wondering why he'd say that. Mwah-ha-ha-ha.

A Good Sign Two From Column B
By Kate Willoughby

After a long day at work, I was way too tired to make dinner for myself, so I went to my favorite Chinese restaurant, the Mandarin Wok.
“Happy New Year, Julie,” Pearl said. Pearl and her husband, Raymond, owned the place.
Because New Year’s Day was a couple of weeks earlier, had been over a month ago. So I gave her a puzzled look.                                                
“Chinese New Year,” Pearl explained. “Year of the Snake.”
     “Oh, Happy New Year to you too then, Pearl,” I replied.
     I gave her my regular order ordered my usual—beef with broccoli and pork fried rice—and sat down to wait. It was a relief to get off my feet. I work in a department store, and today crowds of eager bargain hunters took advantage of a huge sale it had been a very busy day.
     Pearl came over and handed me a piece sheet of paper. “NIt's our new placemat,” she said with a proud smile. “See the snake?”
I’d see this type of thing many times before. The placemats displayed the twelve 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, and your listed the birth years determines your animal sign and corresponding characteristics and characteristics for each animal.
     I smiled. “Very nice.” I scanned the paper sheet even though I knew perfectly well what sign I was. Sure enough, there it was in black and white. I sighed, disgruntled. and when I spotted my birth date, I sighed.
     “What’s wrong?” Pearl asked.
     “Nothing. It’s justAccording to this…I’m a rat.” I tapped pointed at the bewhiskered rodent illustrated on the placemat and shuddered. “R Let's just say I think rats are, well, disgusting yucky.” At least that’s what my sister always said. She’d had the good luck to be born under the Chinese sign of the tiger.
     Pearl tapped the placemat with her index finger. No. TBut the rat is a good sign.," Pearl said. See what it says? ‘Charming and quick, clever and funny,’” she read aloud. “’They have excellent taste, are good friends, and are generous and loyal to others.’”
     “Whatever you sayIf you say so, Pearl…I said, smiling.
     The bell jangled on over the door when a man came in. He was Pearl looked up at the tall and good looking man who'd just entered. We exchanged smiles as Pearl bustled over. “Daniel, good to see you.,she said.
Good to see you too Hi, Pearl.” He inhaled deeply. "Mmm. “It sSmells so good in here. that I think I’m twice as hungry as I was before I got here. Tell Will you ask Raymond to make something good for me? His choice-- whatever he wants. I trust his judgment.”
First," Pearl handed him a placemat, "As soon as you look at our new placemats,” she said. “Wwhat is your Chinese zodiac sign?”
He scanned the print., then announced with a grin, I'm a Dragon.”
You are Then you're very imaginative and charismatic.”
His grin got broader and he rested an elbow jauntily on the counter. "Tell me more. I'm flattered."
“And,” Pearl continued, pointing at the placemat, “your ideal partner is a mMonkey or a rRat. Julie here is a rRat.”
     My eyes got wide as I smothered a gasp.  I shot a look at Pearl as Daniel turned to me and I got up, smoothing my skirt smiled, feeling self-conscious. My hair might have been be the worse for wear, but I was wearing one of my favorite outfits.
     “Julie the rRat, meet Daniel the dDragon.”
     “Nice to meet you,” Daniel said, shaking hands with me. He grinned and his beautiful brown eyes twinkled. “You’re too pretty to be a rat.”
     I laughed while Pearl, that crafty woman, returned went to the kitchen with to put in Daniel’s order.
     “Thank you. You’re not scaly enough to be a dDragon,” I countered.
     We chatted. When I found out he was the entertainment editor for the local newspaper, we compared notes on the new action flick at the Cineplex. that came out recently. I’d found it too predictable and cliché, and he agreed. We were still talking when Pearl brought out our food two takeout bags.
     “Raymond made you blackbean fish, winter melon soup, and salt and pepper pork chops,” she said to Daniel.
     “Brown rice?” he asked.
     “Of course.”
     “I always get the same thing—beef with broccoli and pork fried rice,” I said as Pearl handed me my bag, “but that sounds good interesting.”
     “I usually let Raymond choose for me, and I'm never sorry. Daniel cocked his head at me. "Hey, I have a crazy idea. If you're in the mood to try something new, H how about we share? Pearl could get bring us a couple of plates and we could eat here in the restaurant continue our conversation here. I’d much rather eat dinner with you than go home to You'll be a much more interesting dinner companion than my cat, Rocco,. Bbut if you ever tell my cat Rocco that, I’ll deny it,” he winked said with a twinkle in his eye.
     The fatigue that had been dragging me down before I'd been feeling vanished. Now I felt energized and excited. "That sounds like a good idea. And I'll never mention it to Rocco. Promise."
     After over two hours of almost non-stop conversation, We talked and ate for two hours. When we were done, Daniel said, “I had a great time tonight, Julie. You’re the nicest rRat I’ve ever met.”
I laughed. "And I'm relieved you're not the fire-breathing kind of Dragon."
"Hey, have you ever been to the comedy club in town? I mean, is that something Rats do in their spare time?"  as he went on, “I was wondering…do rats like to go on picnics? The park on Railroad Avenue is really pretty, and it has a duck pond.”
I looked down at the place mat. "It doesn't say anything about what we do for entertainment, but I can tell you that this Rat has always wanted to check that place out."
Daniel smiled. "Then maybe next weekend? Dinner here, then the show?"
I nodded my assent. Maybe it wasn't really so bad to be a Rat...and maybe this was going to be a great year after all!
     “As a matter of fact, we adore picnics and duck ponds,” I said, elated and glad, for the very first time to be a rat.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The New Neighbors

by Elizabeth Graham from the January 28, 2013 issue

Tagline: Karen's daughter was happy about the new kid on the block...and Karen was happy about the new kid's dad...

In a Nutshell: Karen is a divorced single mom and her six-year-old daughter is the only child who lives on their street, so she's excited when a new family moves in. It's a divorced dad and son. The kids hit it off and so do the parents.

Observations: This story shows the realism that Woman's World likes. Sometimes you'll get stories that ask you to accept the improbable, like The Locket. (Emily notices a man staring at the locket she's wearing. He asks if it might be the one his grandmother lost before she died. It contained a picture of his grandfather. It is. What are the odds of that???) But this week's story is nothing but plain old ordinary happenings. No strange coincidences or unusual settings. Cute story.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Waiting for Marcy

by Carolyn Martin from the January 21, 2013 issue

Tagline: Since he was a boy, Ted had loved Marcy from afar. Was it possible that now, years later, she could love him back?

In a Nutshell: Ted likes Marcy. He always has, but every time they bump into each other, she has to dart off. The first time, he offers her a gummi bear, but at the end of class she's hustled off by her friends. The second time, he catches her after she trips, but again she has to go take pictures with her family since they just graduated from high school. Third time's a charm though, and seven years later, they meet again. He refreshes her memory and they make a date for dinner.

Observations: This was a cute story that spanned quite a long time. Eleven years, I think! Ted may be the most patient Woman's World hero I've ever encountered. You can see him trying to get to know her better, but in the first two encounters, she has to run off. The man definitely gets an A for persistence.

I noted a nice character arc for him. Each time he meets Marcy, he gets more confident. The first time his voice cracks, the poor guy. The second time, he jokes with her. And by the end of the story, he is well able to ask her out for dinner. The author even points out...

"You're Ted! You caught me when I fell, [sic] and offered us all a ride to the party."

"That's right," he said, feeling unsure of himself--something he hadn't felt in a long time.

So we get the feeling that Ted is a man now, confident and mature.

Unfortunately, I wasn't as taken with Marcy. She was polite even as a ninth grader--I noticed she made a point of returning his pen and thanking him, but by the end of the story I would like to have seen her actually remember him. She doesn't, and that made me not like her as much. Granted, it was eleven years after they graduated from high school, but her character would have been a more likable one if the author had made sure Ted remained more firmly in her memory. I always want to believe that the hero and heroine have a decent chance of Happily Ever After, and I'm afraid Marcy isn't the right woman for Ted.

This is the first negative observation I've had in a while and was difficult to write. When I first started this blog, I was pretty much writing for just myself. No one really noticed or followed what I did here. Now, there are quite a few loyal followers, among them many Woman's World published authors. Sometimes the writers are not followers, but after Googling their names, find the blog and email me. Knowing that, it makes it more challenging for me to point out things that "don't work for me" every week. Even though I know we're professionals and should be able to take it on the chin, I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. So, I apologize to any writers who have been, are, or will be upset by any criticism I put forth here. I will always strive to be matter-of-fact when pointing out things that I didn't like so much, since I don't much like snarky reviews.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Aha Moment

So, I got my latest issue of Woman's World in the mail yesterday and was disappointed to see someone else's story in it. I thought for sure this would be the issue.

Then I realized and remembered that my story centered around the Chinese horoscope and Chinese New Year isn't until February 10. So I'm absolutely certain that they'll print my story in the issue that has their annual Chinese Horoscope spread. LOL

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Trip of a Lifetime

by Kay Layton Sisk from the January 14, 2013 issue

Tagline: Janine had doubts about the bus trip her grandmother had persuaded her to take--until she met the bus driver...

In a Nutshell: Janine's granny needs a substitute roomie on her trip to the Grand Canyon. Janine agrees, even though she finds out that she's probably going to be acting as a babysitter for the great-grandson of her granny's beau. Turns out the bus driver, a cutie, is said great-grandson. What a surprise. LOL

Observations: This is one of those stories that has a long lead up to the point where the hero and heroine meet. We're halfway into the story before she lays eyes on David.

It's funny how we readers can see the misunderstanding miles away. The minute we meet David the bus driver, we know he's the great-grandson, but we keep reading because we want to see how Janine reacts when she finds out. It's sort of like throwing a surprise party for someone. That's the main fun of this type of story. That, and the fact that it ends with the promise of "The trip of a lifetime!"

Photo by Grand Canyon NPS (cc)

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Welcome Sight

Look what came in the mail today.

O, happy happy.

I was beginning to wonder if it had gotten lost, but there she is. Now if my January 24th issue would just get here already!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Dinner for Two

by Tamara Shaffer from the January 7, 2013 issue

Tagline: Leah accepted Larry's dinner invitation before she even knew his name--which, under the circumstances, made perfect sense...

In a Nutshell: Leah and a stranger with a pizza is riding the elevator up to her apartment when it jolts to a stop. Turns out help will be a while before the repair crew can come. The stranger suggests they share the pizza while waiting. They get acquainted and make plans to spend more time together later that night.

Observations: I've seen this premise before, but in longer romances. One memorable story involved a woman and a shapeshifter and complete darkness. Obviously, Woman's World stories can be that fantastic (in the original meaning of the word,) but I thought the device was cleverly used.

What happened felt completely plausible with just enough detail to make me believe that Shaffer had experienced this type of thing, or at least knew someone to whom it had happened.

Shaffer also showed them connecting over a common interest--the TV show Law and Order. Personally, I find it more believable that the hero and heroine of a story will actually live happily ever after if they have stuff in common.