Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Love at the Library

by MaryAnn Joyce from the September 16, 2013 issue

Tagline: Rosie wasn't convinced that this "Books and Blind Dates" thing was a good idea--but she'd been wrong before...

In a Nutshell: Rosie's library is having a singles event--Books and Blind Dates. Dawn signed up, but is nervous when the big night arrives. So is her date.

Observations: I adored this story. It was charming and different, even though it very much reminded me of my Mr. Darcy Valentine's Day Blind Date story that got rejected. Joyce's idea is very clever. Who among us doesn't love libraries and books? I liked the mystery of Rosie not knowing what the book was either. It was almost as if she had two blind dates rolled into one.

We haven't had a first person-present tense story in a while, but there's proof that Woman's Worlds accept it.

You'll notice that there was a huge chunk of backstory. Almost a third of the story described the event, the two friends signing up for it and Rosie's romantic past. That's very unusual, but necessary in this case. The event isn't something familiar like the county fair or a parade.

The amount of time spent with the hero and heroine is therefore smaller, but didn't really affect the charm of the story. The author ended the story about five minutes into the date, but she did such a great job of setting the pair up that we feel optimistic that the date will go well.

--She thinks he's cute.
--She teases him and he responds with self-effacing humor, which I like.
--They both admit to being very nervous about the event.

I also liked that she grew as a character by approaching him and introducing herself and that he stood up when she came over, showing he was brought up with gentlemanly manners.

All in all, a fantastic story.

Photo by Gerry Dincher (cc)


Chris said...

Any story set in a library is fine by me and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I liked the neat twist on speed/blind dating and the fact that it had a hero who was sweetly nervy and slightly shy appealed to me. They are creeping in more often, I am pleased to see.

Pat said...

I also loved this story. I thought the whole blind date/book idea was wonderful. Guess I'm a softy for romance and books.

Mary Jo said...

I never heard of this kind of dating before. Is it a real library event or did Mary Ann invent it?

Nice to read a story like this that is a little different from the usual WW romance.

majbooks said...

@ Kate: Thanks for the nice review! Your blog is such a good sounding board for all the published writers and those trying to break in. I appreciate the thoughts you put forward here and you make it easy to track the trends, etc. You mistakenly called the heroine Dawn in your summary, at first though, and that's the best friend. The heroine is Rosie. :) That aside, I want to tell you that I thought your Mr. Darcy story was terrific! I thought it was so interesting the way you described the event and the interaction between the characters. The only thing I can think of, as to why it was rejected, is that maybe it was a little too highbrow for the average WW reader? But, trying something different in the way the couples meet is a good hook, I think.

@ Mary Jo: My story was based on a real covered book event we held at the university library where I work, however, we didn't go as far as having blind dates or matches for the students. Their date was with the book. That's as far as I'd like to go there! It was a little tricky to summarize the event in just a few sentences, and not use up too much of the 800 words.

I wondered if there was too much up front information, and not enough romance, but I sent this one in anyway because I think the heroine realizes by the end that taking a chance is sometimes a good thing, and the hero is a bit unsure, too, but not weak. They're deciding to test the waters again.

@Chris and Pat, you're always so positive and upbeat, or at least constructive if you don't like a story, and that's a really nice quality to have as a writer/reader. Good karma coming your way.

Betsi said...

Mary Ann and I read each other's stories last winter, and were encouraging but with some reservations. She thought "mixed up mail" had been done too often, and I wanted her characters to get together sooner in the story. I love her flirtatious dialogue, and felt there wasn't enough of it in this story.

But each of these stories sold. Which proves, once again, that we can't predict what Johnene will like. So take a chance. Toughen up your skin, because you WILL get rejections. The good news is that it's only an 800 word story, not a novel -- just sit down and write another one!

Chris said...

You're so right, Betsi. I reckon the only thing worse than getting a rejection letter is getting no letter at all because you didn't submit the story in the first place. And as you know, there's loads more markets out there for those rejected stories.

Thanks for the compliment, Mary Ann, and for the karma! Years ago I entered a short story competition and received an awful critique from the judge. I knew the twist-ending was unlikely but the story wasn't half as bad as she made out, yet she couldn't find a single good thing to say about it. Luckily I was sufficiently thick-skinned by then not to worry but it could have been so demoralising. So when I give feedback, I always look for good things to say as well as making suggestions for improvement.

Mary Jo said...

Very interesting chat, ladies. Maybe there is something wrong with me, but I am never demoralized by the rejection of stories. More likely I will get mad and then get even--write another story. Chris has listed the overseas markets for us, and I have a whole backlog of stories looking for another home.

I do appreciate the friendships Kate has fostered with her blog. Writers helping other writers may seem strange, but every success is something to celebrate.

Kate Willoughby said...

I wanted to go on record as saying that I am grateful for all the people who visit the blog regularly. It's a small little world we have here, but it's cozy, thanks to you all.

MAJ, I fixed the typo. Thanks for catching it. How embarrassing!

Sisker said...

I loved this story and kept wondering if it would work in our library, but I think not. We're too small a town for it. A neighboring town has a regular blind date with a book box and so often those skeptical of taking home the "unknown" come back to want the author's backlist!

Betsi said...

My husband is a library director, and he thought it over too . . . ultimately, he didn't think it was "inclusive" enough for a public library program.

A program called "Love at the Library" (although Mary Ann didn't call it that) would definitely bring out the community cranks who complain about the misuse of "their" money!

Mary Jo said...

Maybe a book store could do it, though. A small entry fee, say $10, would help cover the cost of the books for a group large enough to justify the blind dates. Could be good publicity for an independent store or even a chain.

Jody E. Lebel said...

I heard about a writer's group wrapping up books in brown paper and just putting the genre and a word or two to describe the read on the gift card, then swapping them as gifts at their Christmas party. I think the library date thing might work on a larger scale. Have say 3 single women and 3 single men all read the same book, then meet back for coffee and a chat. Choice is good...:)

This was a great little story.