Thursday, March 28, 2013

My Three Best Friends

by Colette Shannon from the April 1, 2013 issue

Tagline: When Carey wouldn't take the first step on the path to love, her best friends took it for her!

In a Nutshell: Carey finds a bouquet of roses on her desk at work, but no card. Her three friends think it might be Freddie or Ted. When Freddie makes it clear he didn't leave the roses, Carey figures it must be Ted, so she waits for him in the parking lot at quitting time. He tells her he witnessed her friends leaving the roses. When he confesses he wished he had left them, Carey invites him to her birthday party that night.

Observations: This was almost a mini-mystery. We were all trying to figure out who left the roses.

I liked Carey's development as a character. She states that she's not looking for a boyfriend, having suffered from a bad break-up only a year ago, but by the end of the story, there's a moment where she makes the conscious decision to put herself out there. She is ready to enter the dating world again. That's showing, not telling, nicely done.

I wasn't crazy about how many names and characters swirled around. Mandy, Carey, Sheila, Stacy, Freddie, Ted. That's a lot of people for 800 words. I think the story could easily have worked with only one friend. But then again, the fact that there were three matchmakers made it a teensy bit different from all the other matchmaker stories.

I don't often see subterfuge in Woman's World stories (the friends leave the flowers and pretend not to know who them came from.) So this is different, too.

I also like my beta heroes just a tad more assertive than shy, sweet, blush-prone Ted. If I had been Carey, I might have gone for Freddie instead. At least he asked her out. Just my humble opinion.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Spring Sale

by Susan Province from the March 25, 2013 issue

Tagline: As she browsed the tables set up in the town square, Holly found some things and someone she really liked...

In a Nutshell: New in town, Holly is on her lunch break when she's surprised by the annual spring sidewalk sale. She finds some books that bring her right back to childhood and buys them from the man who owns the local bookshop. He invites her to come back after work and see if there is anything else she'd like. She returns and he gives her a book he thought she'd like and asks her out.

Observations: This is a story that is right out of the Woman's World romance playbook. It is set at a tag sale, a popular place for WW women to find love.

Real world: the Internet and bars.

WW: tag sale, animal shelter, vet office, florist, grocery store.

In this story, it's a tag sale for the entire small town, an annual event. That is the (very slight) twist to the cliche setting. The rest of the plot pretty much follows, according to the norm. Boy/girl finds item with sentimental value. Boy/girl doesn't obtain the item. The seller makes sure the boy/girl gets the item after all. In other versions of the same type of story, the seller regrets the sale and the buyer either can't go through with buying it, or after hearing why the seller might not want to part with it, they return the item later.

When I say cliche, that's not a slight. Obviously there is nothing wrong with following the formula. If you do it well, like Province did, you can earn $800.

Photo by jackieleigh (cc)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hearts and Crafts

by Elizabeth Palmer from the March 18, 2013 issue

Tagline: Ellen didn't know the man in the supermarket, but she recognized a good thing when she saw it!

In a Nutshell: Ellen, owner of a knitting shop, shows a man in the market how to tell if a cantaloupe is ripe. He's wearing a scarf she knitted, but he claims his girlfriend made it. A few days later, he comes to the shop and finds out his ex-girlfriend did take the class, but dropped it, so his scarf really was made by Ellen. They make a date to have coffee together.

Observations: So, remember how I'm always harping about how Woman's World dislikes negativity? Well, here is a story that kind of features it in the guise of the dishonest ex-girlfriend. She lies about having made the scarf. Plus she's a bad knitter. LOL I wonder if the fact that she's the ex made it all right.

I loved how the knitting ladies at her store usually went quiet when the UPS man arrived. Those UPS guys enjoy quite a reputation! My UPS delivery men aren't usually hunky.

There was humor in the banter between them, something I always like, and the story was jam packed with the ripe fruit detection storyline and the knitting mystery, but the ending was only so-so for me.

Photo by matryosha (cc)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Small Town, Big Hearts

by Shannon Fay from the March 4, 2013 issue

Tagline: It seemed to Tim that everyone in Pine Falls was weighing in on his date with Cheryl. But was that a bad thing?

In a Nutshell: Tim is on a coffee date with the new newspaper editor. They live in Pine Falls, a small town. The date goes a teensy bit south when Tim accidentally spills water on her. While she's in the ladies room cleaning up, several townspeople offer friendly advice.

Observations: I loved this story. I'm so thankful to Mary Ann for scanning and sending it to me.

Tim is adorable. He has quite a few heroic qualities. First, I love his uncertainty here.

When I asked her out for coffee, I hadn't actually expected her to say yes.

How cute is that? Also, you have the fact that he's a family practitioner, dedicated to keeping the people in his town healthy. But he's not a wimp. When he feels people are ganging up on him, he doesn't hesitate to (kindly) tell them to back off.

The part I really loved was when Cheryl was off stage. Those teenaged boys piping in. Hilarious that they're such dating experts that they're razzing Tim. Even funnier was Tim's thoughts...

"Thank you Jeremy," I replied and made a mental note to see if his shots were up to date.

Then the basketball coach tells him to stop monopolizing the conversation. Someone else suggests he ask Cheryl about her new job. The waitress brings a piece of pie that he's to use as a sort of apology. I can just picture that entire scene unfolding. It's everything we city people imagine small town life to be. All Andy Taylor and Aunt Bee-ish. Right?

And I often talk about tying the end of the story into something you mention at the beginning. This time, the author did it with something near the end of the story and it works just as neatly. After all those people offer all that advice, Tim thinks, Sometimes I really hate small towns. But at the end when everything turns out well, he thinks, Sometimes I really love small towns. Perfect, neat, and tidy!

Photo by Rocker_44 (cc)