Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sent It

I finally have a story out. Put it in the mail a couple of days ago. It was the fastest story I've ever written for Woman's World. I'm happy that it's one of those stories that has no time period associated with it. It'll fit in at any time of the year.

Some key elements in the story are french fries and some cryptic writing.

I should really get another one going because likely it'll be months before I hear back.

Photos by Brandi Jordan and Carabou (cc)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Meant To Be

by Anna Jo Christopher from the March 11, 2013 issue

Tagline: After their chance meeting, Tara doubted she would see Jon again. Fortunately, she was mistaken...

In a Nutshell: Tara and Jon meet on the bus and talk about a favorite author. Coincidentally, Tara has coffee with her neighbor, Louise, every Saturday and Jon always shovels her walk when it snows.

Observations: I haven't talked about a three act structure in a while. This story is a great example of that. In the first act, we see the boy meet the girl. They make a connection, discussing books and movies. This is important, because we readers want to believe that this couple has a chance of living happily ever after. They part, neither expecting to see the other again.

In the second act, we meet Tara's neighbor and friend, Louise. This is an extremely brief scene in which Tara tells Louise about the nice guy she met on the bus.

Third act we cut to the next Wednesday. Louise has asked Tara to lunch. The surprise guest is...Jon! Lo and behold, Jon helps Louise shovel her sidewalk when it snows. Louise got both sides of the story from each of them and literally, put two and two together. Christopher ties it back to their conversation on the bus when Jon suggests they go to a reading by their mutual favorite author.

This story structure is classic because it works. Notice that the "black moment" occurs after the first act. That's a bit different from novels in which the climax occurs near the end. Sometimes, in WW stories, there isn't a black moment at all.

Photo by jubike9

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mystery Date

by Jody Lebel from the February 25, 2013 issue

Tagline: When Karen met Dan, she couldn't help thinking: it's amazing the things that turn up at yard sales!

In a Nutshell: Karen is having a yard sale. A man buys a tackle box her late husband got himself at an estate sale. Later that evening, the man returns. He'd found a monogrammed high school ring in the tackle box and suggests they track down the owner together like Sherlock and Watson.

Observations: Lots of stuff to like here.

I liked the realistic details in this story. I've held yard sales before and could readily sympathize with Karen, especially considering she was doing it on her own.

I liked that grabby first line.

Good-looking men don't show up on your lawn everyday.

I liked the minor black moment when he returns with the tackle box. She's worried he wants to return it, and if the author has done her job right, the reader worries, too.

I liked how subtly we see that Dan is interested in Karen when he lingers for a while after he's made his purchase.

Solid story.

Photo by nathanmac87 (cc)

Monday, February 18, 2013


So, I'm driving to work early this morning and am thinking hard. The car is always a place where my writing brain seems to want to work. Anyway, I was thinking about Valentine's Day and how my husband surprised me in a really wonderfully thoughtful way. (Hmm. I may have to write a story inspired by that, too.) I was thinking about how we'd spent our last anniversary, at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

I thought, not everyone loves garlic like you do, Kate. People might even go so far as to think garlic is a particularly non-romantic food item.

So, I thought, what about a story that just involved tasting food. What about putting anniversaries AND tasting food together, maybe at one of those "Taste of" events, where restaurants serve tiny portions of yummy food and you get to walk around and stuff yourself sick for one fee?

My brain went nuts. I was in the zone. The plot unfolded over only about four minutes. I thought of a nostalgic element, and a cute surprise for the hero to spring on the heroine... It's gonna be a good one.

I'm in the middle of writing it right now and trying to keep negatives out of it or at least tone them down.

I sure love being in the zone. It's a place I'd like to visit more often!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Coffee Mates

by Emma Courtice from the February 18, 2013 issue

Tagline: Carla's perfect date was in the coffee shop all along. She just wasn't looking in his direction...

In a Nutshell: Carla has been using a cafe's Internet dating service but not having much luck. When talking with the barista about the last dud, she sees him in a new light.

Observations: You know those romance novels where the best friends end up lovers? One of the characters knows the other person is The One, and it takes a whole book for the other person to realize it too. This story reminded me of that, but only 800 words long.

You can tell Eric has been observing her for a while and just biding his time. The fun is seeing Carla realize what she'd been missing. First, she notices he's cut his hair. From the description--"a head of longish thick waves to a short neat trim--he underwent quite a change, so seems to me she'd have noticed the moment she got her coffee from him, but I let that pass.

Next she realizes he's older, or old enough rather, and that he has nice laugh lines around his eyes. She finds out he has a graduate degree and will be working as a veterinarian. Poor Carla didn't stand a chance. Cute story.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Secret Valentine

by Tamara Shaffer from the February 11, 2013 issue

Tagline: Mary hadn't opened her heart to anyone for a long time...and then she met Todd. But what happened next?

In a Nutshell: Mary and Todd work at the same department store. Mary likes Todd. Todd likes Mary. Although neither is particularly brave, they end up giving each other secret valentines.

Observations: I had a couple of glitches that pulled me out of the story. First, is it just me, or does this first sentence read awkwardly?

Mary was helping a customer when Todd walked past the checkout at the store where she worked as a cashier, headed for the greeting cards display.

Yowsa. That last phrase is so kooky, but I think it's saying that the cashier is heading for the greeting card display...

The other hiccup was here:

That's when Mary had an idea. Maybe she could distract him from this other person who occupied his thoughts. I mean, it's not like Todd is actually dating someone else, she reasoned.

Right where it says, "I mean," it felt, not like the characters thoughts, but more like the narrator's intrusion, until I got to "she reasoned," and then I realized it was Mary thinking. I'm not sure why they didn't just use italics, but maybe they wanted to reserve that for the text of the Valentine cards...

Anyway, I was really liking this story. I noted the point of view change, but wasn't bothered too much. I was all geared up for the reveal when she saw the rose and the card and it was really sweet. But...when Todd swooped in and touched his lips to her ear, I went, "Whaaat?" To me, that was too pushy of him. He went on to hug her, too, but by then I was still a little bit in shock. He had been too shy to even approach her, and then bam, suddenly he feels free enough to ambush kiss her on the ear. This didn't ring true for me, unfortunately.

Still, usual disclaimer, Johnene bought it and WW published it. All this is just my opinion. :)

Photo by XPeria2Day