Saturday, November 30, 2013

Wooed and Won

by Mary Ann Joyce from the December 2, 2013 issue

Tagline: Sunny, smiling Meg had won Trey's heart without even trying. But how could he tell her what his feelings were?

In a Nutshell: Trey is shy with women after his divorce. He's admired the waitress at his favorite cafe from afar for too long. When he overhears her wish for a man who brings flowers and recites poetry, he makes that wish come true and she loves it.

Observations: Mary Ann Joyce can always be relied upon for a great story. There were several places that I smiled while reading.

1. "I just walked over. Didn't take a car or anything." He grinned. -- This made me smile. It showed he had a sense of humor. Also, no one really likes an eavesdropper, so by alerting her to the fact that he heard her, he's off the hook and it paves the way for him to use that information to his advantage.

2. "…deserve much better," Trey whispered to himself. -- My. I don't know how I expected him to finish his sentence, but this was very romantic and sweet. I liked this man before this point in the story, but when I read this part, my heart melted.

3. He nodded and headed out. He hadn't made his move yet, but he was thinking. -- I don't really know why I liked this part so much. It was a smooth transition, clearly ending the scene. It let us know that Trey wasn't giving up and that he thought enough of Meg to put some real thought into his approach. He wasn't just going to off the cuff say, "Hey, let's go out."

4. "Good," Trey laughed, "because I was about to sing next, and that might get ugly." -- Again, love the humor.

Photo by Muffet (cc)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Emily's Thanksgiving Wish

by Elizabeth Palmer from the November 25, 2013 issue

Tagline: Kelly expected to spend the holiday all alone, but little Emily had a different idea for her teacher--and her uncle…

In a Nutshell: Kelly is a teacher. When one of her students leaves a special Thanksgiving craft at school, she drops it off at her house and gets an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner with the student and her (single) legal guardian, Uncle Scott.

Observations: I don't recall seeing a story written in present tense in a while. This isn't my personal favorite, if only because I always have to get used to reading it. I'm so used to reading fiction in past tense.

The whole story was well plotted and written, I found it touching when I read that Scott became Emily's legal guardian four years earlier. I felt for both of them, and he seemed to be such a great adoptive dad too.

I did wonder why Scott's eyes were glistening after he saw Emily's paper plate art project. That suggested to me that he was on the verge of tears and I didn't understand why. I did love how he complimented his niece, but the project didn't seem particularly sentimental.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lost…And Found!

by Mary Haupt from the November 18, 2013 issue

Tagline: Christie's heart went out to the lost, frightened little boy. Then she met his uncle--and her heart went out to him, too!

In a Nutshell: Christie works at a department store. A little boy is separated from his uncle and she helps reunite them.

Observations: My apologies for the delay in posting. I'm trying to make the deadline on my second hockey romance and have been short of time.

While this story obviously made the grade for Johnene, it fell short for me.

I thought it was clever how Haupt introduced the fact that he was the uncle, not the dad, via the dialogue with the nephew. And I wanted to point out the tiny "black moment" when Nate almost leaves the store. I think black moments help and I try to include them in my stories when I can.

However, the entire premise of the story rubbed me the wrong way.

The backstory of how Christie was lost when she was little engendered not a lot of sympathy from me, but I used to teach elementary school, so I tend to think she shouldn't have been hiding from her mother. Although, I'm reading that part again and seeing it was a game they played together. So the mom was aiding and abetting! Again, I think, "Well, that's not a very smart game to play. Kids get snatched." And what mom wants to feel that panic when you realize your child is missing on purpose? I've been there and done that and it's scary.

Then, later? After a terrifying experience of being lost, Charlie goes off to hide again. First of all, he obviously didn't learn his lesson. Then the adults play along with him. Yep, the teacher (and mom) in me thinks, "Oh, that is a big mistake, making a game of it. You're just reinforcing his behavior and paving the way for another not-so-fun scenario next time the kid goes shopping." They should be seriously talking to the boy about not doing that so nothing happens to him, not going along with it.

So in summary, my teacher genes wouldn't let me enjoy the story as much as perhaps the rest of you. When you put your fiction out there, not everyone's going to like it. Sometimes, as in this case, that's not because you wrote a bad story, but because that person's experiences color their opinion.

Photo by Listener42 (cc)