Melanie Dusseau from the July 15, 2013 issue
Tagline: After rushing to Lily's side when she fell from her ladder, shy Ben realized he'd fallen hard, too--for his pretty new neighbor...
In a Nutshell: Lily falls off the ladder while trying to clean her rain gutters. Hearing her scream, Ben rushes to help her, then agrees to help her realign the down spout and show her how to mow her lawn like a pro. She offers dinner as "payment."
Observations: Two things jumped out at me about this story, things that set it apart from the norm.
1. There was a surprising amount of description in the beginning of the story. Usually writers don't have enough room in the word count to include much description of characters or the setting. The fact that is here is a refreshing change.
2. There seemed to be an abrupt change of point of view right where the little quote from the story appeared as a graphic. I wondered if Johnene put it there to help the reader make the transition. If so, it didn't really help me. I still found it jarring to be reading about Lily and then go right to Ben hearing her scream. If it had been my story, I'd have remained in Ben's POV the whole time and if I felt I needed to describe what Lily looked like, I could do it from his eyes.
I recently took Angela James' workshop, "Before You Hit Send," on self-editing, and it was fantastic. In it, she said that overuse of exclamation points is a mark of an amateur. I'd like to add that I find it annoying as well. It makes heroines seem empty-headed and way too perky. Anyway, I think Lily had five.
I found Ben to be a little too beta for me. There's shy and then there's nerd. I know nerds are hot right now, but you will pretty much never see a hero of mine "blush." His cheeks might redden or turn red. He might flush, but he won't blush. Blushing, to me, is girly.
I did like the part about the pink tools. I've seen those in the store and always sort of wanted some.
Photo by Lee Jordan (cc)