Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Just One Word (original and edited versions)

by Kate Willoughby from the July 22, 2013 issue

Tagline: Libby loved the story of her grandparents' romance. And she loved it even more the second time around!

As usual, instead of analyzing my own story, I am posting it here with all the changes Johnene made to it. I do this for myself as much as I do it for you guys. It's always interesting to see exactly what she did. New material is in blue.

Libby and her grandparents, Eugene and Pam, were attending the Taste of Newhall food festival. The evening was pleasant, and the three of them took their time as they walked from booth to booth, sampling foods from, where for a fee, they had their pick of samples from dozens of local restaurants.
When they reached the booth for Home Sweet Bistro, a dark-haired man in a white chef’s jacket greeted them.
     “Good evening,” he said. “I’m Aaron Porter, chef and owner of Home Sweet Bistro.”
     Libby smiled at took in his friendly demeanor smile and warm brown eyes. “I’m Libby Wells and these are my. My grandparents, Eugene and Pam Hardy. We’re shopping around tonight and I are looking for a place to hold their fiftieth anniversary party.”
     Aaron whistled. “Fifty years. Congratulations.”
     “Thank you,” Grandpa Eugene said, then, That looks like Is that meatloaf and mashed potatoes,?Grandpa Eugene said. He’d been relatively silent so far, letting Libby and Grandma Pam discuss the food.
     “It is,.” Aaron said, handing handed them each a samples. “My Our specialty is comfort food with a twist.”
     “I love Can’t beat comfort food.,” Eugene said. “This meatloaf is almost as good as yours, Pam.” He winked at Aaron. I vote for this place,” Eugene said, still chewing. 
     “Be honest, sweetheart,” Pam said, “this is better than any meatloaf I ever made.”
     Libby silently agreed with her grandmother. She chewed slowly, tasting—what was it?
     , finding the meatloaf moist and delicious, flavored with s”Sundried tomatoes and roasted pine nuts.,Aaron said, as if reading her thoughts.
     “This is better than my meatloaf,” silver-haired Pam exclaimed with a delighted smile.
     “Delicious,” Libby said.
     After visiting the restaurant with her grandparents a The next day, Libby and her grandparents had dinner at Home Sweet Bistro; two few days later, Libby met again with Chef Aaron, this time to discuss the party menu.  
Aaron led her to his cubbyhole of an office, then asked, “Where are Eugene and Pam?” he asked. They sat in his cubbyhole of an office.
“Grandpa wasn’t feeling well and Grandma Pam didn’t want to leave him. She said whatever I decided on would be fine.”
“Nothing serious, I hope?” Aaron’s face showed concern. expression darkened with worry. “I hope it’s not serious.”
“No, just a cold,” Libby said. she answered. “A little tender loving care and he’ll “He’ll be back on his feet in no time.”
“I read somewhere that said married men live longer,” Aaron said, smiling.  Just goes to show you what the love of a good woman can do. “How “So, how did they meet?” Aaron asked.
     Libby smiled. “When he Grandpa was in college, Grandpa he waited tables at a diner, and Grandma used to go in and ask to sit at his station. I guess he was kind of shy and couldn’t work up the courage He wanted to ask her out but didn’t have the nerve. But one day, because she always ordered French fries, he knew French fries were her favorite, he included arranged for a little surprise on her plate.”
     “What kind of surprise?” was it?” Aaron asked, leaning forward.
     “An invitation to dinner.” Libby held back a smile. She laughed.
     “On a napkin?” Aaron asked.
     Libby laughed. “No! One word, written on the plate with a squeeze bottle of ketchup. “A really small invitation. All it  It said was ‘Dinner?’ Grandma said yes, and the rest is history.”
     “That’s it? One word?”
     She nodded. “Written in ketchup. That one word was enough. Grandma said yes and the rest is history.”
     Aaron grinned. and leaned forward.So we definitely serve We need to have French fries on the menu for at the party.”
You’re right!” Libby said. “And what if I’m making make a little program type thing.? I’m thinking a little A storybook that tells about my grandparents’ about their life together. Of course, it’ll start with the French fry story.”, including the tale of how they met, so the guests will understand about the fries.”
     “Now you’re talkin’,” Aaron said. “We can pair the fries with a nice sirloin?, or maybe a filet.” Aaron suggested.
     “Grandpa’s a loves meat and potatoes kind of guy,.Libby agreed.
     “Now all we have to do is decide on And what about dessert?.
     Libby looked at the suggestions he’d jotted down. “If it were me,” Libby said, “I’d have the chocolate cake, but my grandparents love Grandpa loves strawberries. So does Grandma.”
     “So, it looks like we’ll have the strawberry shortcake?.
     “They’ll love that. This is going to be the best fiftieth anniversary party ever.” “Perfect,” Libby said.
     After Libby handed over the a deposit check, and rose to leave, she sighed inwardly. She was sorry their meeting was over. Aaron was so easygoing. and he had this And there was that adorable dimple in his left cheek.
All rightOkay, Libby,” he said, standing fingering the check thoughtfully. “I guess we’re all set.”
Tucking a lock of brown hair behind her ear, she managed a smile. She nodded. “I guess we are.”
She had gone as far as When she reached the doorway when he said, “Libby?”
“Yes?” She turned with a questioning look and held her breath.
“Tell your grandpa Eugene I hope he feels better.”
“Oh, sure. Of course.”
She told herself a man like that Aaron probably wasn’t single anyway.
The night of the party two weeks later was a success. , everything went splendidly. The guests of honor and all the friends and family loved Libby’s grandparents were thrilled with the storybook she’d made “in honor of their storybook romance,” and everyone raved about the food.  how the food tied in with Eugene and Pam’s fifty years together. Libby got a warm feeling in her heart every time she looked at her grandparents and how happy they were. When the strawberry shortcake was served, everyone it was time for dessert, all the guests agreed it the strawberry shortcake was the best they’d ever had.
All except Libby.
She didn’t get strawberry shortcake. The Because when the waiter brought her dessert, it wasn’t strawberry shortcake. Instead, it was a thick slice of luscious chocolate cake instead. And across the white plate in chocolate syrup she saw one word.: Dinner?
She looked up to see Aaron standing across the room, smiling at her. When their eyes met, he When she gasped, her grandma asked, “What is it, Libby?”
She held up her plate in answer just as she noticed Aaron entering the room. He lifted an eyebrow questioningly, that dimple of his winking, and she beamed at him and nodded. Libby smiled at Aaron and mouthed one word: Yes.
The rest was is history.

I have to admit, my finger got tired from going back and forth to the font color button. The ratio of original words vs. revised words is quite a bit larger than in previous stories of mine. Some of the changes I could see the reasoning behind. Most of them had me puzzled. 

I wish she would have left the part about Libby getting a warm feeling when she looked at her grandparents. I also liked her sharing Aaron's message with her grandmother and I was sad to see both parts edited out. 

But hey, a sale is a sale!

Photo by Biyu


Mary Jo said...

Holey Moley, Kate! Well, as I said, Johnene likes a story she can get her teeth into.

Mary Hicks said...

Hmm, Kate, thanks for sharing this with us. It does seem a bit extensive—but I agree with you, a sale is a sale and it's still a good story! :-)

Do you mind if I ask what WW pays for the short romance? I've heard different amounts.

I submitted a story last week—waiting to hear! :-)

Chris said...

Crikey Moses, Kate, they really went to town on that one. I'm with you on those last two changes, I liked Libby's getting all mushy when she looked at her grandparents together and also her showing the plate to her Nan. I wasn't so hot on the 'winking dimple' though. That made me slightly uncomfortable for some reason, so maybe Johnene got the same feeling. Good story, though, well done on another sale.

Kate Willoughby said...

Mary Jo, I think Johnene got every one of her teeth into this story!

$800 for romantic fiction story, Mary.

Thanks, Chris!

Mary Jo said...

To Mary Hicks: Since you got no reply yet to your question about WW pay, you will find the magazine guidelines over on the right under the link Kate has provided. Currently it is $800 for an 800 word romance. You have 52 chances a year to hit the jackpot. As you can see from the story by a pro like Kate, it is just a crap shoot.

If you write a mystery for them, I doubt that the editor can make many changes in your story as everything has to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. I could be wrong, though. $500 for 700 words and another 52 chances.

Mary Hicks said...

Thanks, Kate. That's what I understood it to be, but others doubted me when I quoted that amount.

I liked your story! :-)

Thanks Mary Jo ( I'm mary Jo too ), I read Kate's info and then relayed it to another person who didn't seem to agree with $800. I thought

I ask someone who's just sold a story to WW!! You know, from the horses mouth! This is a great blog!

Mary Jo said...

Yeah, Kate, it is quite amazing isn't it? I see you got to Mary's question a few minutes before I did. Do you suppose it would help if all of us prayed earnestly for the American market to open up to short fiction again? Actually, I think most of the women's magazines are fading fast without us. How many of last century's magazines are even publishing any more?

Chris has been so helpful about the foreign market, and if you read the guidelines there, I think you will find the whole editorial attitude so much more welcoming. And respectful.

Pat said...

Great story, Kate. I am amazed at the amount of changes, but I do see the point on most of them.

Anonymous said...

I stop by your blog from time to time, and I just wanted to say that I think this was a great story! Best wishes!

majbooks said...

I thought your story was perfect for WW. You managed to fit a lot of real STORY into the short word requirement, and that's not easy. I also think Johnene's changes were fine. They helped the story to flow smoothly. It was very cute. Good job!
--Mary Ann Joyce

Kate Willoughby said...

I don't think it's a matter of disrespect. I think it's a matter of knowing the Woman's World readership and the magazine itself.

Thanks, Karen, Mary Ann, and Pat. :)

Bernadette said...

I really liked your story, Kate, and while I didn't think the edits made it worse, I didn't think they improved it either.

I haven't subbed to WW for a long time as the postage is so tricky and I got no response to the last few I sent, as I mentioned before. It's such a tight remit and so many of the stories seem so similar to me (though of course I only read the summaries on here)that I find it difficult to think of things that are similar enough to fit while still being different enough to catch the editor's eye!

However, I think your story did just that and it's made me want to try again, so thanks for that.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks a lot for sharing your edits, Kate - they're helpful for any story market. Love your story - I had a definite emotional reaction at the end!

Sisker said...

Following your previous example of sharing your edited version with the original, I did the same thing with my last WW printed story. Egad! While the first two pages had pieces of red ink on them, the third one bled!

It is very revealing to see syntax and style changes and hopefully I can remember those when I next submit.

Thanks for sharing this with us.

Kate Willoughby said...

Bernadette, that's the spirit. Keep trying.

Aww, thanks, Rosemary!

Sisker, it's really enlightening to compare the two versions, isn't it? I know I don't have a prayer of internalizing the syntax, so I'll just keep sending them with the knowledge that she'll do her thing. :)

Mary Jo said...

By Kate Willoughby (or fill in the name) as told to Johnene Granger. Has anyone noticed that all the men in the WW stories lately have "warm brown eyes"? It used to be that they were all "handsome". Maybe not so much now.

I have been reading with admiration some of the stories in the UK publications Chris was kind enough to send to me. Even in a single magazine, they are all different. Each has a charm of its own.

The Bauer guys could take a lesson.

Lorraine Furtner said...

Great story!
Thank you for posting this, and for writing your blog. It's very helpful. I just got my second rejection from WW. The first one came quickly, however this time it was from Seattle after they'd had it for five months. However, since your FAQ section indicates that means it reached Johnene and since I got a hand written comment "nicely written, though", I felt encouraged---not as encouraged as if I'd received a contract, but combined with the information you've posted: encouraged.
I like that you post the submitted / edited version. It's beneficial to observe how she thinks as I start constructing # 3.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Congats on getting a note from Johnene. We all don't get that, trust me. She thinks your work has merit. Send her another one.

Chris said...

Well done, Lorraine, on getting as far as Seattle. I haven't had a note from the fiction ed since the days of Jimmy Meiss. It used to be such a boost to think she'd spent a few moments jotting down her thoughts on why the story didn't quite make it, and made you all the more determined to get it right next time. So far, I've had no joy, but this site is soooo helpful in showing what works and what doesn't. Stick with it.

BTW, how about trying your 'nicely written' story with another mag?

Kate Willoughby said...

Congratulations, Lorraine. It does help when she jots a note. As Jody said, she doesn't have to do it, nor does she. :)

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melanie D said...

Lovely story, Kate. I liked the date request written in ketchup and then chocolate--very clever.

Chris: thank you, thank you for all those helpful links and your stories from overseas markets. I'm going to send a few and see what happens.

Chris said...

Good luck with them Melanie, let us know how you get on.

Curly Girl 4 God said...

Love your blog, Kate and was so excited to read your recent story straight from the magazine. I have been trying to catch every issue to study what is published and I really felt your story was head and shoulders above many of the others. I have submitted quite a few stories and haven't heard back on any. I always send them one story at a time with a self addressed stamped envelope - will I, at some point, receive at least a rejection in return? Just wondering about what you have found to be a typical (if there is such a thing) response time. Thank you soooo much for your blog - I appreciate your generous spirit and insight! Lynne

Chris said...

Hi Lynne, I just got a response back to a romance submitted in April LAST YEAR. Ok, I am in the UK, but that seemed exceptional. How long have you been waiting?

Curly Girl 4 God said...

Oh boy! I've been waiting about 5 months on my first submission, and I am feeling a little impatient after hearing how long you had to wait! And Chris, that was so wonderful of you to compile the possible markets outside of the US! What a great resource. I am very new to this, so it's great to find new places to send stories ~ there are so few left anymore.

Kate Willoughby said...

Curly, thank you! I don't really think there's a normal wait time. Sometimes I get rejections quickly, sometimes, not. I'd say average 4 months, but with months on either side of that average. :)

Chris said...

No problem about the markets, Lynne, I hope they come in useful. I know of one WW writer who's recently sold a story to Fast Fiction in Oz and I'm dying to see who's going to be next. If you want any feedback on a story before you try it overseas, I'm always happy to do that. Email;

world for women said...

thanck you so much for this nice blog ♥

Curly Girl 4 God said...

Hi all! So, right after I posted asking about response time, I received the response on my first submission. Ask and you shall receive, right? LOL! It was a form rejection, but I tried to celebrate that at least I took the first steps in submitting. Then this week I received my second response ~ another rejection, form letter, but I did notice that the postmark was from Seattle ~ so I celebrated the rejection, hoping that this story might possibly have gone up a rung on the reading ladder based on what I have read on your wonderful blog, Kate. Thanks for the feedback, encouragement and community here. Hoping we can all celebrate our "wins" when they happen! God bless! Lynne

Kate Willoughby said...

Aw, Lynne. Sorry about the rejection. Rest assured it happens to ALL of us. Keep trying. Persistence is crucial.