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.


Jody E. Lebel said...


As long as you are not snarky, don't feel bad about giving an honest critique. If everyone tells an author her work is wonderful when it really isn't, that's not a help to her. WW changes these stories a lot. Maybe some of the changes cause the negative observations.

I started the same type of blog where I slice and dice the mystery stories of WW each week. Last week I had to do John Floyd's story!! He has sold 50 stories and here I am with 2 sold...telling the world what I think about his story! I was sweating. He was very gracious, and funny in his comments back to me. He's a class act.

So just be honest. We don't check out your blog to hear false praise. We want to know the scoop.

Jody E. Lebel said...

I didn't care for this story either and it was because of the Marci character. She told Ted she wouldn't forget his name, but she did. He had to remind her. She is portrayed as only loving herself. I wanted to tell Ted to run the other way.

I also found problems with the POV in the first few paragraphs.

I'm thinking that WW fiddled with this one so much we lost the warmth and likability of the female.

Carolyn Martin said...

Thank you Kate for noticing the growth of the character of Ted and thinking that Marcy should have remembered him. When I sent the story to Johnene, Marcy DID remember, but J changed 70 % of the 3rd scene--and nearly 50% of the whole story. The 1st scene is pretty much as I wrote it, and in the 2nd scene, J added the parents wanting to take pictures, which I thought was a good addition.

Here is my original 3rd scene. I apologize for sending such a long comment (but thank heaven for control C and control V!)
The third time Ted spoke to Marcy another five years had gone by. This time he looked up from behind the prescription counter where he worked summers at the local drug store and saw her standing at the pick-up window. For once she wasn’t surrounded by a crowd of giggling females. Smiling to himself he ambled toward the window. “Are you waiting for a prescription?” he asked.
“Yes, please, for my mother. Her name is….”
“I’m sorry,” he interrupted. “It may take some time. Would you like a magazine while you wait?”
Marcy looked up at this tall, brown-haired stranger with the deep voice who was being especially thoughtful. “That’s very kind of you. How long will it be?”
“With waiting you never can tell. Sometimes it can feel like a lifetime.” He was smiling broadly.
Marcy wondered why he was so amused. “Do I know you?” she asked, the smallest of frowns wrinkling her brow.
“Oh, Marcy, Marcy,” he said, shaking his head from side to side as if dismayed. “You said you wouldn’t forget.”
“Forget? What did I forget?”
“I understand about the Gummi Bears,” he said with studied patience. “After all, that was a long time ago. But the night we graduated you said you’d remember my name…you promised.”
Marcy began to see that he was teasing. Then her eyes opened wide as she started to remember. “Ted? Ted O’…something….”
“O’Brien,” he said, helping her out.
“You offered us all a ride to the party.”
“I’m thinking of offering a ride again…just to you…to dinner?” He peered down at her over his glasses.
Marcy couldn’t help noticing the lock of his hair that fell forward in a most beguiling way. “Ted O’Brien, I would love to have dinner with you!”
“At last,” he sighed, contentment lighting his face. Marcy was not disappearing this time.
Apparently J doesn't want the characters to wear glasses, and I can understand her wanting the female character to be more pro-active, as Marcy is in J's version, but as you say, perhaps less likable.

Thank you for all you do!

Jody E. Lebel said...

I knew it! WW took the life out of Marcy. I'd like to be a fly on the wall in Johnene's office to see what they're thinking over there on the west coast. It's a mystery....

Carolyn Martin said...

Oh dear, here I am again.

Because I included a hefty section of my Waiting for Marcy story in a previous entry here, I wanted to say something about First North American Serial Rights (FNASR).

I am not a lawyer, but I did a google search re FNASR and having read several of those sources, it seems quite clear that WW has the right to publish the story FIRST, but just once. After the story appears in WW, the rights revert to the writer, except obviously, the writer can no longer give "FIRST" rights. There appears to be no waiting period to regain rights. I think the references to "6 months" that appear in some sets of WW guidelines merely means WW has to publish the story within 6 months or their rights to do so is lost, which is perhaps the reason the 6 month reference is not in the contract sent to writers - or at least it wasn't in the ONE I've seen.

Kate Willoughby said...

Interesting to see the original ending. I'm afraid I still wouldn't have been happy with your Marcy, Carolyn. Your Marcy doesn't really remember without a lot of prompting by Ted either. I would have liked it if, the moment she saw Ted behind the counter, she realized she knew him. I would like to have seen her confess that once in a while during the past eleven years she thought about that boy who came to her rescue and wondered what happened to him. Something like that. But we all have our own opinions. Bottom line, you got a fantastic big fat check and a byline in a national magazine. Congrats. :)

I really can't wait to see what J did to my story! :)

Mary Jo said...

I do have to disagree with you ladies. Mine is the Loved It rating on the box you provided, Kate. This is a romance that takes a long time to blossom, and for all those years, it is only in the mind of Ted. Marcy, a very lovely and kind girl as she is described, bumped into the guy twice when they were very young. Let's be realistic. I will assume that Ted, as a grown man, has changed quite a bit. Even if he hasn't, how many women recall every kid they hardly knew in the past? Why would she have given him a thought? She has a life.

No, this is a fresh meeting and a new attraction between two adults. I love both characters and think Carolyn did a very nice job with them.

My only problem with this story is the speed bumps in POV. Please, please, please pick a character and stick with him. 800 words is too short a piece to be bouncing around in more heads than one.

Then, of course, there is Johnene mixing it up in another writer's story. Isn't it about time for her to retire? I think she has been there at least 30 years, hasn't she?

Chris said...

Living in England, I don't get a chance to see the stories in WW, but going by your precis, Kate, I think I'm with Mary Jo on this one. If the last time Marcy saw him was seven years before, she'd likely need her memory jogged. There she is, picking up her mother's prescription, when suddenly the pharmacist is indicating he knows her. Caught off-guard like that, it would take her a moment to catch up. I liked their conversation, especially his wry way of speaking. He's instantly likeable.

Having read the extract Carolyn posted, the amount of editing done is surprising. It must be galling when you've done such a great job to see so much alteration, but the story was good enough to get accepted and that's the main thing.

(Couldn't help noticing, some of the posts about the editors are quite, umm... frank! I assume you're all happy that no one from the mag will see them?!)

Jody E. Lebel said...

RE: the editors seeing our comments. We're not happy that our work is being changed to the degree it is. I don't think that will upset the editors. They probably think we're being divas... but we'd love to know how they think so we can mold our stories to what they want. Their guidelines are pretty basic.

Now, I don't know about the 'retirement' comment...haha. I wouldn't have put that in writing.

Kate Willoughby said...

Mary Jo, I can see your point about Marcy remembering, I guess. Perhaps it just needed some tweaking to make Marcy seem like she'd grown up as much as he had. I still got a flighty impression from the adult Marcy. *shrugs*

Chris, I know that Patricia is aware of this site, so Johnene might (probably?) know about it, too.

Jody, I have never been unhappy with the edits my stories received. One time I was miffed because Johnene replaced my Chihuahua with a Yorkie, and I'm not a big Yorkie fan. But as I've said before, that $800 check helps me get over any minor upset like that. I think that in order to know what they want, we have to analyze the stories they publish, which we do. We can also look at our individual stories and the editing they did to them. But honestly, when I look at what she did to my last story, I can't really glean any info about "how she thinks." There is nothing there I could use to help me with the next story. I think it will always be a hit or miss thing.

Betsi said...

I agree with Kate, about not being able to glean much insight from the edited stories. Writers have commented that they find it helpful to get the edited versions (turned down by the EIC) back, because they can learn from them. Well, apparently the EIC turned down the EDITED version, so how does that help? And Johnene usually edits heavily, so we aren't making sales based on how little work she has to do to them! There are many factors affecting whether or not a story sells, most of them beyond our control.

As for comments about the editors, I LOVE these ladies, even if the edits sometimes seem arbitrary. They take the time to comment on the stories, and sometimes ask an author to resubmit. And I certainly don't want J to retire after she's bought so many of my stories! Even though she hasn't been so fond of them lately. ;-)

Jody E. Lebel said...

Betsi...that was very tactful and definately CYA. Yes, yes, we ALL love those ladies. :)

WW has been around 30 years? Doesn't seem possible, but the Internet says they started in
1981. I wonder why it's not available worldwide? It's definately a hit.

Jane Smith Sibley said...

In my other life, I do some work for a company that really really knows its customers. While sometimes I get frustrated at the directions they want me to go, I always remind myself that it's their company!

While it's frustrating to get rejections -- I got another today -- I also know that I can choose to write for WW or not. And as long as I'm enjoying the process and like my own stories, I'll keep doing it.

I have so much respect for you, Kate! You focus on the positive elements of stories and you own the things that "don't work for you," whether they "work" for Johnene or whoever else, wherever. It's a great model of respectful expressions of taste.

Would that more public sites kept that cordial feel and tone! Thanks for setting a good example.

Mary Jo said...

It is my understanding that most editors do not stay in one job for more than a few years. Maybe that is because many of them are young and the pay is low. They move on to greener pastures. Or they are terminated.

As far as the editors at WW are concerned, I have a particular fondness for Patricia, the assistant fiction editor. I have spoken with her on the phone, and she is particularly nice. Also, she has forwarded almost all of my stories to Johnene.

I would suppose that Johnene learned early on what was expected of her and has delivered it. Otherwise, she wouldn't have lasted at WW a year, much less 30, or however long it has been. I doubt she cares one way or the other what I think of her "editing" skills. I do not sign her paycheck. I really don't know what she is faced with. Not every good story is well written. Some may need a rewrite from the ground up. It is her call. At least, you would think so. I do wonder about some of her selections being rejected at the top by the EIC. After all these years?

So, who is twisting my arm, forcing me to submit yet another story? Oh, that's right, no one.

Tamara said...

I wonder why she switched the breed of dog in Kate's story? 'Cause she likes Yorkies maybe? (I know it doesn't matter, but I just wonder what they think.)

majbooks said...

I bet just to save word space. Chihuahua is longer than Yorkie. Of course, "mutt" would've been even shorter. In one of my stories they changed the horse's name from "Satan" to "Demon." LOL
--Mary Ann

Betsi said...

Mary Ann, I'll bet you're right! Of course Saton and Demon are both the same length -- I've always thought she did that because "Satan" sounds more -- well, Satanic!

Tamara said...

Yes, Satan was probably too strong for WW. I hadn't thought of the letter count; that might be it.

Mary Jo said...

Jody, if you are still there, would you please tell me how to leave a comment on your blog? I have no idea what those Profile things mean, and I do not belong to any of them anyway. What I was going to say about that insurance fraud case was:

Who in his right mind would torch a 1967 Cadillac? That would have been his baby. No insurance company is going to give him what it's worth. This story does not make sense.