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.


Tracie Breiter said...

Kate, you mentioned that you emailed the story to Johnene. Is that something only certain writers can do?
As for the title, you're right. Menus used to have food items listed under column A and column B.
Also, I think I live not too far from you and was wondering if you know of any writers groups. I'd like to join a group where I can read my stuff and get critiqued, but I can't find one.

Melanie D said...

As I said on the yahoo group, I really liked this story. It is so interesting to see it with Johnene's edits. I can understand turning the picnic at the end into a comedy club date because it's winter most places, but I liked your original title much better. I think she is referring to the menus, but "A Good Sign" was perfect. I also liked that you called Pearl "crafty" due to her blatant but cute match matking.

These edits give me great ideas about what sort of flow and transitions WW looks for--thank you!


Linda King said...

Fascinating to see an edit like that - thanks for sharing. I preferred your title because I don't really understand the new one. I reckon you're right and it's to do with the menu.

Kate Willoughby said...

Tracie, as far as emailing the story is concerned, let me explain. When you receive an acceptance from her, Johnene asks that you email her the story. I assume this is so she can edit it on her computer. WW does NOT accept electronic submissions from anyone, so far as I know.

The Los Angeles Romance Authors is a fantastic group, but they're a chapter of Romance Writers of America, and so to join LARA, you must first belong to RWA. However, both organizations are outstanding sources of information and support. You might also look at WWWriters Yahoo group. I don't know if you're a member of that, but it's free and we're a very supportive group. I would be surprised if you couldn't find SOMEONE to exchange stories with.

Kate Willoughby said...

Melanie, I liked the word crafty, too. :)

Linda, I also liked my title better. I can see how the new title refers to a Chinese restaurant, but how does it relate to romance? Is it suggesting that the Julie and Daniel are both "from Column B?" *scratches head*

Mary Jo said...

Well, Kate, I never thought I would say it, but I think Johnene did an excellent job with the editing. Actually, I like her title because it is intriguing for those of us who didn't guess what the heck she was talking about. So, first of all I was drawn in by the title.

She really tightened up the story without changing your voice. I have only two criticisms with it. You/she gave me no clue that the girl dropped in for take-out. She immediately got a place mat, so I assumed she was going to sit down at a table to eat her meal. Same with the guy. Big surprise to me that it was take-out, or did I miss something?

Secondly, yes, the word yucky takes up less print space but it is totally inadequate to describe a disgusting rodent that is totally without virtue. You had the better adjective by far.

I know I always say that writers should write and editors should not; however, I think Johnene did you a great favor with the ending she gave your story.

The story is unique and yet very Woman's World. You had a great idea and ran with it. Congratulations.

Yeah, this time of year can be one of the best here in So Cal, like an early summer. Not the last few gorgeous days, though. I don't know about you, but I am freezing.

Mary Jo said...

I just read your comments above, Kate, and as far as "romance" in the title, I think the word "Two", itself, suggests that. Anyway, it did for me.

Melanie D said...

Do they often change titles? My first and only published story was originally title "Splendor in the Garage," which is so gawd awful I regetted it as soon as it hit the mailbox. When I got the contract, the title listed was "Fixed Up," which I thought was really cute because the story is set in an autobody shop and they make a date at the end. Then when it came out it was titled "Car Trouble," which is so generic it made me cringe. Titles either come to me right away or I labor over them till the end.

Fay Knowles said...

Thanks for sharing the edits, Kate. Most helpful!

Clever little story. I like the way you hooked Julie and Daniel up together. Smooth and seamless.

Which issue is this in? I haven't found a copy of Woman's World on the island since I obtained the January 14th issue, but I'm going to call around. Thanks.

Tamara said...

Kate, people are not voting "loved it" because it's your story, they are voting "loved it" because it's a great story. Outstandingly clever idea. And, I am echoing Mary Jo here -- I never thought I'd say it, but I liked Johnene's editing. She did tighten it up, and she didn't take out any pithy sentences as editors have been known to do. (I think you left out the word "man" in the paragraph starting with "The bell jangled.")Anyway, I repeat, clever -- the rat and dragon premise. No wonder they published this one.

Kate Willoughby said...

Mary Jo, you're right. REading it over again, I realized that I hadn't given any indication Julie had ordered take-out.

Melanie, I think they've changed two or three titles of mine that I can remember.

Fay, it was in the February 4th issue.

Tamara, thanks for the catch on the missing "man." :)

Kate Willoughby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kate Willoughby said...

I had posted twice. Doh.

Fay Knowles said...

Thanks, Kate. That issue probably hasn't arrived on the island yet, so at least I won't have missed it!

Jody E. Lebel said...

I also like Kate's title better. But I think Johnene did a great job of tightening the story. Thank you for posting the changes. What a great learning opportunity and a good lesson in cutting extraneous words. I sort of agree that 'disgusting' could be changed, but I'm not crazy about 'yucky' either. But that's a small detail. Overall this was a great story. WW worthy for sure.

Kate Willoughby said...

Jody, "yucky" made Julie seem juvenile to me, like a high schooler. Maybe "revolting" would have worked. Or maybe Johnene wanted a word with less umph. Who knows? :)

Tamara said...

Well, I see by the voting poll she changed the name of my Valentine story. :) I should be able to get a copy and see what else she did by tomorrow or Saturday.

Chris said...

Another really useful post, Kate, thanks. No one likes having their work edited but this was pretty sympathetically done. I preferred your 'crowds of eager bargain hunters', which painted a more vivid picture than the bland 'busy day', but otherwise I could see the thinking behind the changes. Ridiculous, isn't it - we labour away for days trying to come up with something fresh and original, only for our little gems to fall foul of the editor's red pen!

I didn't get the new title either. Two from Column B sounds vaguely military to me, but once you know the story's setting it makes more sense.

I hope you're successful in finding a writers' group near you, Tracie. I belong to two(our next meetings are today and on Monday) and they're invaluable for support, exchanging markets news and getting feedback. Maybe if you don't find one, you should start one yourself?

Linda said...

Hi Kate,

Very nice story and seeing the edits was very helpful!

I sent you an e-mail requesting your editing services but not sure if you got it?

Please let me know...

Linda (

Kate Willoughby said...

Hi, Chris, I'm actually weird in that I like getting edited. I'm always in agreement with probably 97% of their edits. Also, let me say this. I'm far more accepting of changes, even ones I don't agree with, when it's a story that appears for a week and then disappears. With my electronic novels and novellas, not so much. Those books will hopefully remain available for many more years, and so I'm more picky about the product I'm putting my name on.

Hi, LInda N.! By now you should have gotten my email reply. :D

Mary Jo said...

Kate, I am really glad you posted your story, editing included. Though I stopped at two big pharmacies this week, neither carried Woman's World. By the time I got to the grocery today, your issue was gone and the Valentine issue was out with Tamara's story. So now I am waiting for your review of that.

I hope WW's subscription service starts sending again soon. My sub was supposed to run until July and now I have missed over a month of issues. Thanks to the U.S. Postal Service.

Jane Smith Sibley said...

Kate, what a sweet story -- a great idea and well executed. Thanks for sharing the edited version! So very useful.

I also appreciate your comments about editing something with a one-week shelf life vs. something that is a bigger project and will stay out there forever. Good thing to keep in mind!

Kate Willoughby said...

I'm sorry you missed the issue, Mary Jo. I'm convinced it's the flimsy covers at fault. The USPS can't deliver something if the address label on the cover is unreadably mangled.

Thanks, Jane. :)

Mary Jo said...

But then how would the subscription service know it wasn't delivered to ME? That's why they cut off my service. I was told I wouldn't get any issues now for several weeks.

The Valentine issue of WW is out now, of course. I never heard word one from the editors about my Valentine story, so I guess it is hanging out there somewhere in limbo. Do you suppose when the stacks of submissions pile up to a daunting height, they just throw them in the recycling bin? I have never lost a story to them before, though.

Mary Jo said...

Hey, maybe Johnene lost my return SASE. I do have my name, address, phone number and email address on every page, though.

Chris said...

I've had a couple of stories get lost with Woman's World but then I always assumed it was the distance they have to travel from the UK. After about seven months I emailed and asked if there was any news and Jimmy Meiss (shows you how long ago it was) said they couldn't be found and agreed to let me resubmit by email - it was still a no, but at least they were accommodating.

Kate Willoughby said...

Mary Jo, I'm confused about what's going on with your subscription, but I hope everything works out. I don't think they throw stories out without looking at them. I think they're just inundated.

Yeah, I never heard anything about my Christmas ornament story either. :(

Fay Knowles said...

After calling around town, I found that Book World on Mackey Street, Palmdale, had the February 4th issue. This is where I used to buy them from in the past, but it's such a job getting there because of the horrendous traffic in the centre of Nassau! Anyway, they kept one for me and I picked it up.

It was great to see your story in living colour, Kate! It's very good. And you must have prompted the magazine to do some features centered around the Chinese New Year!

Bookworld sells magazines at U.S. prices, but sometimes it's false economy by the time I pay for gas to get there and have to put up with traffic jams. Sometimes it's easier and just as cost effective to pick it up from a nearby pharmacy if they have it, even though their prices are usually double!

If you are ever in Nassau on a cruise ship and want to buy a copy of Woman's World or any other magazine, look for Cole Thompson's Pharmacy or Friendly Pharmacy, both on Bay Street in downtown Nassau. You'll have to be prepared to pay double for it though!

Mary Jo said...

I thought I explained, but maybe not, Kate. My WW copies stopped coming, and after missing three issues, I called their subscription service and was told that an issue addressed to me had been returned to them by USPS as "undeliverable". So they had stopped my subscription. They said it would be two or three weeks before I started receiving them again.

Yes, sometimes the cover gets trashed, but so far as I know, the label does stick. However, I had missed a couple of other issues this past year, so maybe that was the problem then.

Carolyn Martin said...

Finally catching up on WW and delighted to see your story with edits marked. Aside from its being a wonderfully original idea, Kate, seeing the edits is so helpful!

Also comforting, as I was really shocked that half the words in my story (Waiting for Marcy - my first sale) had been cut and nearly an equal number had been added - made me feel as though the story was no longer mine.

I did some counting and calculating on your story and see that it, too, has not much more than half your original words, so I guess that is just the way it is.

Re the title change, think that must be an age factor. Johnene and Stephanie are probably in their mid-sixties, and apparently Johnene remembers the form of those menus in the little Chinese cafes in the 40s and 50s. Wouldn't be surprised that once J and S retire, WW fiction will be a thing of the past. Lesson to be learned: WRITE FAST!

Kate Willoughby said...

Bite your tongue, Carolyn! I sincerely hope that WW will continue to publish the romantic fiction. I think it's part of what sets them apart from the other women's magazines.