Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Best Christmas Gift

by Kate Willoughby from the December 29, 2014 issue

Tracy had been keeping a secret. On Christmas morning, she shared her news--and her joy--with her husband...

Before, when it was my story, I showed the story in its original form, the way I submitted it, but with the edits that Johnene did. Personally, I always found it interesting to see the changes. However, it was pointed out to me that the new contract prohibits publication, except by Bauer Publishing.

My apologies.

Photo credit: By User:hmbascom (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Helping Hand

by Tracie Rae Griffith from the December 22, 2014 issue

Alison needed help decorating her tree this year. Fortunately, her handsome neighbor was happy to oblige...

In a Nutshell
Alison broke her arm and is trying to decorate her house for the holidays. To her great surprise, the EMT who helped her shows up to shovel her walk.

You know, maybe Johnene was putting all those neighbor stories in the magazine to throw us off and make us nod our heads knowingly when we read this story, only to have our expectations turned on their ear. I don't know if that was your experience, but it sure was mine.

I thought for sure that the guy shoveling the walk was her neighbor, but when it turned out to be the EMT, I was like AWESOME. Then, when he was the neighbor, I was totally fine with that. Griffith had already surprised me, so the "tired" neighbor scenario didn't bother me at all. I really loved that as the EMT who treated her, it was logical and very plausible that he would know she was incapacitated. (When I thought the mystery shoveler was the neighbor, I predicted that he'd observed her wearing the cast and surmised she needed help.)

I loved the humor.

"I'd been wondering who Mrs. Morgan had rented her house out to when she moved to Florida. After last night's snow, I thought maybe you'd need a hand. Pun intended."


I also smiled when she realized his house was the one with the inflated snowman family in front. That's the type of guy I want for my heroines. Someone who has a sense of fun and who isn't afraid to throw himself into the holidays. You see a guy like this in the story and you automatically hope the heroine hits it off with him. (Unless the author didn't do justice to the female protagonist, which makes the reader not really care as much.)

One last thing. I thought I'd point out some of the tried and true Woman's World themes that are in this story.

  • Man to the rescue
  • Neighbor love interest
  • New to the neighborhood because of a job

Terrific story!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Romantic Comedy

by Mary Ann Joyce from the December 15, 2014 issue

Jess and Mat might joke around a lot, but their mutual attraction was no act!

In a Nutshell
Jess's sister strong arms her into volunteering to build sets for the community theatre. The other set builder is a hunk. They hit it off.

I know when I read Mary Ann Joyce wrote the story that it's going to be a great one, and I wasn't disappointed.

I was smiling throughout this story. I loved the comparison of Jess's break-up to a bad haircut. Awesome. I loved the banter between the sisters. I LOVE a man in a tool belt. So, thanks Mary Ann for that awesome image. I was cracking up at their playacting--get it? Playacting?

As for a teaching tip, notice how there is a good passage of time that happens in this story. There are four--count 'em, four time transitions.

1. She tells her sister she's not a theatre person and then "So Saturday, we went to the theatre..."
2.  "Before long everyone was joking..."
3. "Over lunch one day..."
4. "The next night..."

In my opinion, this passage of time reinforces the feeling that a reader might have that the couple has a good chance of ending up happy with each other. It helps the reader feel like they got a lot more than 800 words.

On a sidenote, this wasn't a holiday story at all. I wonder if that was a choice Johnene made, to give people a break from holiday themed stuff, or if she didn't get enough good submissions of holiday stories. Something to keep in mind. It might behoove people to write some holiday stories now, while you're in a holiday mood and the holiday ideas are bopping around in your head, and submit, because it seems as if the mail room at Woman's World is moving more slowly than it used to.

Photo credit: By Baytownbert (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, December 15, 2014

Welcome to the Neighborhood!

by Anna Jo Christopher from the December 8, 2014 issue

Penny hadn't even met the new guy on the street, but that didn't stop her neighbors from making plans...

In a Nutshell
The ladies of the homeowners association where Penny lives tries to set her up with the man who just moved in.

I don't recall reading a group matchmaker story before--at least not recently. That was a twist on the trope, but other than that, this was an average story. Neither the characters nor their conversation was particularly engaging, but I really liked the ending line.

I may never know which matchmaking board member stuck the flyer in Drew's door, but it doesn't matter--at our next meeting, I'm voting to re-elect all of them!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Tall Tale

by Mary Haupt from the December 1, 2014 issue

Angie and Luke's first date led to a sweet love story!

In a Nutshell
Angie is tall and was looking for a tall man, but literally bumps into a shorter guy who turns out to be perfect for her.

I adored this story. It felt like a much longer story than normal. We started out with Angie's childhood as a tall girl. We get a little bit about her current situation with her matchmaking friend. We see her go on a less than wonderful date with a tall Mr. Wrong. Then we see her go on another date with Mr. Short-but-Right and see them have a very sweet moment together after the date is over. That is a lot to pack into 800 words!

I loved the moment at the end when Luke proves himself by asking if she'd consider dating "someone like him." My heart just melted. I'm like, "Dude, you are ADORABLE. I want to take you home myself." I loved Angie's reply to him as well. It was perfect for the woman we'd come to know via the rest of the story. She had a lot of personality and self-confidence. Great characterization by Haupt.  Great story, period.

Photo credit: Jake Wasdin via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mr. Romance

by Le Ann Dowd from the November 24, 2014 issue

Dannie and Shane had met one Thanksgiving and fallen in love. Could another couple have the same luck?

In a Nutshell
Dannie and Shane are newlyweds. Shane's dad is a widower. Shane wants to fix him up with the new neighbor and Dannie doesn't.

All in all, this was a good story. I liked the freshness of a male first-person POV. I really liked the idea of two "victims" of a fix-up were paying it forward. What a cute and original idea. However, I did have a little criticism.

Sometimes writers, usually beginners, feel they have to get creative with dialogue attributions. They are usually afraid that "said" is boring and repetitive, therefore they pepper their writing with synonyms. (Disclaimer: I have no idea if Dowd is new to writing. I don't even know if she was the one getting attributively creative.) However, using these types of attributions too much can feel strange to readers.

"That's me," I teased. "Just call me Mr. Romance."

"Really, Shane? A fix-up?" Dannie chided. "Has that ever worked for anyone we kmow?"

"It's kind of last minute," Dannie fretted. "She probably has plans."

If this were my story, I would not have used "teased." If we use "said" instead of "teased," we still get the humor. Better yet, delete the first part and make it say "Just call me Mr. Romance." "Tease" isn't the right word to use here anyway. Who is he teasing? If anyone, he's teasing himself. As the narrator of the story, why would he point out that he's teasing himself?

I would have gotten rid of "fretted" as well. If you read the dialogue without it, you still get the feeling she's fretting by virtue of her words...

"It's kind of last minute," Dannie said. "She probably has plans."

Out of the three of them, I'd have kept "chided." That puts a nuance on what she said that wouldn't otherwise be apparent.

So, to reiterate, never feel weird about using said over and over, unless it's already clear who's talking and it's unnecessary to point it out at all. Readers are used to "said" and don't even notice it. "Saids" just fade into the background.

One last small point--I understood that she didn't want to make French toast because there was so much cooking ahead. Hey, I totally identify with that predicament! However, at the end of the story, after they decide to invite the neighbor, she decides to make it after all. I didn't understand what made her change her mind. Maybe one of you can enlighten me. :)

Photo credit: Chef Sean Christopher (Directly from the Author) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, November 24, 2014

Good Sports

by April Knight from the November 17, 2014 issue

Julie and Will met and discovered they liked an didn't like a  lot of the same things!

In a Nutshell
Julie is thinking about changing jobs so she'll meet more men. While staring at a sporting goods store window, lost in thought, she meets a man who is just as non-athletic as she is.

I wish I liked this story more than I did. This one came in solidly average to me.

My favorite line was "Hey, would you like to have a coffee with me?" He pointed to a cafe across the street. "We can discuss all the things we aren't good at."

Photo Credit: ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Wrong Number, Right Man!

by Anna Jo Christopher from the November 10, 2014 issue

Becky's silly mistake resulted in a very romantic outcome!

In a Nutshell
Becky is helping her grandmother out, changing the batteries on her wall phone. When she accidentally direct-dials the police department, an old flame comes to investigate the emergency.

This story was everything we'd expect in a Woman's World story and done well. I wrote many positive comments in the margins. First, I loved the foreshadowing in the very first paragraph:

Sometimes I think nobody in the world makes the kinds of silly mistakes I do. But then I think, if I hadn't made that one silly mistake, I wouldn't have become the happiest woman on earth.

Not only do I identify immediately with the heroine (because I make a lot of silly mistakes), but I find out that I am in for a full-on happy ending. Woman's World stories rarely end with marriage, but judging from this paragraph, I am hopeful.

Next, the whole problem with getting the phone back on the wall...that is also totally me. I have been there, done that. So I sympathized with the heroine. I have not, however, accidentally called the police. (Although I sort of wish I had.) I loved this surprise, which I didn't see coming. I did notice some odd attention spent on describing the memorized emergency numbers, but didn't think anything of it.

I was surprised a second time by the fact that the cop and the heroine knew each other. Old flame stories are not exactly uncommon, but I wasn't expecting this twist. Perhaps because usually there's only one surprise to be found.

I liked the humor too:

"Those were fun times," he said. "Cops and robbers. We terrorized the neighborhood."

I raised an eyebrow. "Glad to see you chose the more ethical road." 

And finally, there was the hinted-at happy ending. The marriage, the tying in of the snickerdoodles mentioned at the beginning of the story, and a reminder about the silly mistake wrapped everything up beautifully.

When comparing this week's story with last weeks, I think these are both familiar plots, but story two had a couple of surprises and some humor, which made all the difference.

Photo credit: Nightflyer via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


by Pamela Hart from the November 3, 2014 issue

Rosie had a feeling a little black cat would bring her luck. And she was right!

In a Nutshell
Rosie adopts a black cat. Two little trick-or-treaters, dressed as black cats, come to the door with their handsome (divorced) dad. They all just moved into the neighborhood.

I was not wowed by this story. There was nothing wrong with it. It just didn't stand out in any way. We've seen these characters before--the single woman, the divorced dad, the happy kids. We've seen this plot before--two people meet because of some activity the kids are doing. There was no outstanding banter or emotion or a creative twist. I read it and shrugged. Maybe you had some other reaction.

Photo credit: By Chris Yarzab (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Full Moon Madness

by Lisa Weaver from the October 24, 2014 issue

When Alex met Katie, Halloween went from scary to enchanting!

In a Nutshell
A woman is out on Halloween and a werewolf notices her being followed. When she is ambushed, she takes down one guy herself and the werewolf, an undercover cop, captures the other. They make a date for coffee.

This was a very unusual story in that it was bursting with surprises! I very much enjoyed the first person hero POV. It was refreshing. The beginning was very "telling," and you really get a narrator feeling from the guy. It might have been dull except for the fact that he's in protector-mode, which is a great trait to have if you're the hero in a romance story.

My first surprise was when the woman took the one guy down with a karate chop. That was awesome and so unexpected. Then, when the werewolf turned out to be a copy, I was like, "Whoa! Double whammy!"

However, there were some fight mechanics that were a bit off. Forgivable in a story like this, but in a more gritty and realistic story, would irritate me. Katie manages to take a guy down with karate and still hold onto the basket. I questioned why he didn't cuff the first guy before taking him back to the scene of the crime. I also thought with all the grabbing and karate chopping, the cupcakes would either have flown out of the basket or been hopelessly messed up.

I also thought it was a little stupid of her to go down that street, especially after his seminar at her school was one on safety. Knowledge of karate doesn't mean you should take unnecessary risks.

But, still, a great story!

Photo credit: By Kristin Ausk (originally posted to Flickr as Cupcake sampler box) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Puppy Love

by Shannon Fay from the October 13, 2014 issue

If Marina could rename the puppy her daughter had found, she might call him Cupid!

In a Nutshell
Marina and her daughter find a lost puppy under the porch of their new house. While putting up "found" posters, they run into a man and his son putting up "lost" posters.

This week we have a "Brady Bunch" story. A man and his son and a woman and her daughter. Not as many kids, same premise.

I liked Becky and how, even though she was disappointed that her mom said no to adopting the dog, she immediately brightened at the thought of trying to help the people who had lost him.

I LOVED how the two families met putting up their signs. What a great idea! Wish I'd thought of it.

The scene where the kids take off toward Becky's house to get the puppy was so funny and plausible. Any parent would identify with the line, "Ever feel like you're not in charge?" Hilarious.

I also liked the moment when, after she talks about her recent divorce, Matt says, "Believe me, it gets better." That was a real tender moment and an important one. I've mentioned before that it's challenging to get the reader to truly believe that a happily-ever-after could come true when you only have 800 words to set it up. But if you include a moment like this one, where the hero and heroine truly connect and where some real emotion happens, you're that much closer to pulling it off.

I wish the ending where she invites them to stay for pizza was a little less--dare I say it?--cheesy. If it had been my story, I'd have worked that line over until it hit the nail on the head. You could leave the set-up the way it is:

"Would you and Ryan like to stay for dinner?" Marina said. "We were just going to order pizza. Nothing special."

An average ending would be more like, "Pizza's our favorite. How about we bring a two-liter of soda to go with it?" Something along those lines.

Or I might try to tie in something from earlier in the story, like...there's a lost and found theme. Maybe Matt could turn to Ryan and say, "Well, son, we lost our puppy, but it looks like we found some new friends." But then, that's a little corny too. Hmm. Anyway, my point is, it needed some work, in my opinion.

Photo credit: Adrian Flint (Sony Digital Camera) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Some Enchanted Evening

by Susan C. Hall from the October 20, 2014 issue

The moment Paige spotted the handsome stranger across the crowded room, she knew. Somehow...she knew.

In a Nutshell
Paige is a teacher. She notices one of the parents and finds out he's divorced. He asks her to help him cook an acorn squash. They hit it off.

This story didn't grab me. I thought it was strange that he would ask her out. I know his son was not in her class, but it still felt weird to me. Perhaps if they'd had more of a conversation than "Where can I find Mrs. Ericson's room" I would have understood and accepted that this was a normal progression, but it seemed out of the blue to invite her to his house for dinner.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get past that. However, I did think the end was clever.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


I was surprised to find an envelope from Woman's World today. I have not submitted a story for a very long time. Since June of 2012! Even more surprising was that it was a contract, not a rejection.

It's a holiday story. My very first holiday story sale to them.

I am walking on air!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sweet Lola

by Marie Anderson from the October 6, 2014 issue

Phil had been keeping a big secret--and so had his wife. Only, her secret was even bigger than his!

In a Nutshell
Only days away from her wedding anniversary, Brie suspects her husband of having an affair. She's wrong. He was preparing a surprise present - a puppy! Well, that explains the blond hairs on his sweater and his mysterious meeting with the "other woman"/puppy owner.

Any of you long time Woman's World readers will probably be as shocked as I am. This story had a lot of drama! In my classes, I always caution people to beware of including too much angsty drama because Woman's World tends to shy away from it.

However, Brie's worrying time went on for most of the story. I'm not sure what to think. Does this mean we can start introducing drama into our submissions? Possibly. Or was this just a one-time anomaly? Hard to tell.

I loved the ending, though.

Photo credit: By Stefan Bauer, (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Good Knight

by Marie Savage from the September 29, 2014 issue

When the psychic predicted her romantic future, Kelly laughed. Then Kelly met John...

In a Nutshell
Kelly reluctantly goes with her friend to a psychic reading, but exits still skeptical. Later, when her car breaks down, it turns out the psychic's prediction was spot on.

This was basically the car trouble story with a twist, which I have said before is a tried and true way to construct a Woman's World story. You take a "cliche" and put a spin on it, in this case, the addition of the psychic prediction.

One of these days I should construct a Woman's World trope list. You could probably label the sides of dice with them, roll the dice and come up with the bones of a plot.

Matchmaker and the lost pet
Carnival and the gardener
New job and the precocious niece
Quirky shop/business and old flame

See? I'll bet you're getting ideas already.

 Photo credit: Johnny_boy_A via Creative Commons

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Welcome to the Neighborhood!

by Peggy L. Ellis from the September 22, 2014 issue

According to the grapevine, Sue's new neighbor was a real catch. She decided to find out for herself...

In a Nutshell
Sue meets the handsome guy moving in next door when his puppy wanders over. She boldly asks him to share her pizza later that evening.

No offense to Ms. Ellis, but this story sits in the average category for me. I thought the heroine was spunky. I liked how she matter-of-factly ordered the pizza and invited Ed over to share it with her. But other than that...I neither loved nor hated it.

The only thing that pulled me out of the story was the invitation to attend the Chamber of Commerce meeting. I was wondering if a bank employee at Sue's level (accountant) would have any need or desire to attend those meetings.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ramblin' Rose

by Shelley Cooper from the September 15, 2014 issue

Little Rose was as cute as could be...and so was her Uncle James!

In a Nutshell
Natalie lives next door to a hottie who's babysitting his niece while her parents are on a cruise. His niece unwittingly acts as matchmaker.

Everything old is new again. This is another story that had elements from a story I'd written for Woman's World years ago. My story also had a niece with parents on a cruise. The grandparents were supposed to babysit, but I think there was a medical emergency and the uncle had to take over.

I thought this story was adorable. The ending was super sweet and heartwarming.

One thing I wanted to point out was the structure of this story was a little different in that the backstory was in the middle of the story and brought out via conversation between James and Natalie.   Also, it was the niece's backstory, not that of the heroine or hero. As for them, we are just to assume they've been friendly as neighbors but never gone further than that.

Another thing...the dream. What a useful device. When a character dreams, it's a handy way to foreshadow and expose more of the character to the reader--his/her fears, wishes, or backstory. In "Ramblin' Rose" it's used to beef up the ending and help the reader dream too.

In an aside, I have a hydrangea bush with flowers like the one in the picture! I actually also have a next door neighbor named James, but he's married with kids. LOL

Also, reminder that when the author's name is in bold, it's also a hyperlink to all their story analyses on this blog.

Photo credit: Derek Ramsey via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Fifth Wheel

by Tamara Shaffer from the September 1, 2014 issue

It looked like Julie's summer was going to end on a romantic note!

In a Nutshell
Sandra goes to the carnival with two couples. A handsome dude rear-ends her on the bumper cars. Later they ride a roller coaster together. The ferris wheel is their last ride...or is it?

The carnival is the type of setting that Woman's World loves. It can be romantic and it has that old-timey Americana feel to it.

Sandra skated the line for me because she started out so negative. Five paragraphs of a bummer attitude. But then, in the sixth paragraph, Sandra turned herself around. If I were a beginning writer, I'd be wary of doing this type of thing in a Woman's World story. They aren't keen on negativity.

This was an average story for me, nothing particularly special made it stand out.

Photo credit: Solipsist via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Welcome to the Neighborhood

by Martha Freeman from the September 8, 2014 issue

Elsa was unsettled by her recent move to a new home...until she met her kind (and handsome) new neighbor

In a Nutshell
Elsa is new to the neighborhood. On her walks to and from work she notices some free tomatoes on a neighbor's stoop. After taking a few, she leaves a tin of cookies in thanks. One day, the tomato grower makes contact and a date.

This story reminded me a lot of my very first Woman's World sale back in 2005. I think I include it in my basics class packet. It was called "Her Lucky Stars." In that story there were also notes between strangers. So it was fun to be taken back.

Today I'm going to go through the story paragraph by paragraph and point out the function of the paragraph. I hope this will be helpful.

1, 2: Freeman starts out with Elsa's backstory--something in longer fiction we tend to frown upon--and we immediately get a feel for what type of woman she is. It's a great two paragraph look at Elsa.

3: We see her current situation--why she moved, that she will now be walking to work, what her job is.

4: Here's where we see "the problem." She doesn't quite feel at home yet.

5, 6: The story finally starts. Elsa comes upon a situation. We "meet" the hero via his note and his harvest.

7: Elsa makes a decision.

8: This is a transitional paragraph that "tells" us some time has passed and what went on. I often talk about how telling--as opposed to showing--is often necessary in a Woman's World story.

9-15: New scene. We've entered the second act of the story. With the help and prodding of her friend, Elsa makes another decision. She's going to make contact with the tomato man.

16: Transition in which we watch Elsa put her plan in action. She's being assertive and taking control of her own life, not waiting for things to happen to her.

17: New scene and the beginning of act three. It opens with the "black moment" when the reader thinks all is lost.

18-27: Contact! They officially meet. They talk.

28: Elsa makes a move. We're moving the plot forward.

29-33: More of a connection is made between them as they talk and make a date to cook together.

34: We end with the optimistic "Happily Ever After, Eventually Maybe" ending that is so prevalent in Woman's World stories. We also see that the problem we saw in paragraph 4 is solved.

I hope this look at the skeleton of this story helps you construct your own.

Photo credit: Ramashng via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sweet Treats

This is gelato, not ice cream, but the pic was so beautiful
by April Serock from the August 25, 2014 issue

One thing Jilly knew for sure: the good looking guy in the white pick-up loved ice cream as much as she did!

In A Nutshell
Jilly owns a drive-through ice cream shop. One of her regular customers is cute and he comes every night. Eventually he asks her out.

Nieces and nephews are handy props in Woman's World stories.

1. They act as decoys--when the author wants us to believe that one of the protagonists is married with children.

2. They can be matchmakers who want their aunt/uncle to find someone special.

3. They can be tools to show that the hero or heroine is a wonderful person who spends time with their younger relatives.

4. They also come in handy when you need the hero or heroine to attend a certain event or do something that they might normally not, again, showing they are being a good aunt/uncle.

In this story, the niece served as that last one. What a complete surprise to find out the hero didn't really like ice cream. Were you like me, reading along and thinking to yourself, "Wow, that guy really likes ice cream?" (And also, "Of course, he's a man and can afford to eat ice cream every night and not get fat, darn it.")

I liked that double whammy ending. First you have that "awww" moment when he confesses he had been coming night after night just to see her. Then, you find out he's been giving the ice cream to his niece all this time, which made me laugh. Also, the "secret" of his lactose intolerance was aided and abetted by the tagline Johnene chose. Before we even start the story, we go in believing he loves ice cream.

I thought this story was very cute. Plus, I thought the idea of a drive-through ice cream place to be clever.

Photo credit: Solitude via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sew Much Happiness!

by Marti Attoun from the August 18, 2014 issue

Julia was an expert seamstress, but it seemed John Garwood might be the man to stitch up her broken heart!

In a Nutshell
Julia is surprised when a man with an emergency alteration bursts into the store. When he comes back to pick up the pants, he brings muffins and asks her to lunch.

Characterization -- This story had two likable characters. Julia is happy and isn't one to dwell on her problems. She is successful. She loves what she does. Her life is terrific, but she wouldn't mind a little romance.

Enter John. He's funny. (Duct tape!) He's thoughtful (the muffin) and resourceful (gets the lowdown from Sarah at the bakery.)

However, the only thing that sort of made this story stand out for me was that she was a seamstress. That was a profession I don't see a lot within the pages of Woman's World. Other than that, it was, in my opinion, average.

Photo credit: KoS via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Marry Me

by Shoshana Brown from the August 11, 2014 issue

Katy loved Jack, but she didn't think they were ready for marriage. Jack didn't agree. Who was right?

In a Nutshell
Jack proposes before going overseas for a tour of duty. Katy isn't sure he's the one. She realizes shortly after he leaves that he is  The One.

Story Structure - You know the formula: Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl. Well, this story created its own formula: Boy proposes to girl, girl loses her mind, boy gets girl.

I can't recall seeing a story begin with a proposal before--maybe you long-time readers can help me out here. I think that might be the first time I've ever seen this. And I loved it. Not only that, but the black moment occurred at the beginning too. Amazing. Right off the bat, we feel that tension when she puts him off. We worry right at the beginning whether she'll come to her senses, or worse, that Jack will be unable to return to her. Which brings me to my next observation.

Risk Management -  This was a risky story to submit. We all felt the fear Katy felt because Jack was in dangerous territory and might never come back, and usually Woman's World shies away from nasty stuff like that. I'm kind of surprised they went with it. On the other hand, it's clearly a wonderful story. It even made me tear up. So, maybe they said, "Screw it. We're going with it," because it had such a heartwarming overall feel.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Falling for You

by Suzanne Jackson from the August 4, 2014 issue

Kathy's sprained ankle was a real pain--but it turned out to have an upside!

In a Nutshell
Kathy meets a man while waiting to get her ankle x-rayed. They connect. He invites her to coffee afterward.

Cliche Done Well: At first I thought this story was going to be the same old sprained ankle story and was prepared to be...well, bored. But I was pleasantly surprised. I liked the humor. I liked the good start these characters got off to. The dialogue was very realistic. I really loved the ending. So even though I've seen probably fifty sprained ankle stories over the years, I still enjoyed this one.

Photo Credit: Keith Parker via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, August 4, 2014

Running into Mr. Right

by Patty Murray from the July 28, 2014 issue

Patricia never expected to fall so hard for a man she'd just met...

In a Nutshell
Patricia is texting while walking and gets knocked over by a cute jogger. Her phone breaks, but she won't let him replace it. He asks her to dinner instead and months later, they end up a couple.

Characterization: We got a lot about the heroine this time. Murray showed us how strong and independent she is, professionally and personally. We see that she's ready to meet the man of her dreams. Murray also showed us the hero's good qualities: he takes care of himself (exercises), he has a strong sense of right and wrong (offers to pay for a new phone), and he's thoughtful (lets her use his phone to call her mom).

I've said this many times before and I'll say it again, when you do a good job with characterization, readers are more apt to believe the two characters have a bright future together, which is what we want.

Pacing: Did you notice the revved up pace at the end where we fast forward to months after their first date? If you're a regular reader of Woman's World, you know how unusual this is. I liked it here. It only took one sentence, and it made it easier for us to believe the last line--that he really was Mr. Right--because they'd been dating for months.

I loved the last line, too. Very cute!

Photo credit: This is actually a decal to put on your phone so it only looks like it's broken! You can get them at

Monday, July 28, 2014

Yours, Mine, Ours

by Jan Pierce from the July 21, 2014 issue


When new neighbors meet, who knows what can happen?

In a Nutshell

A divorced mother of two sons, Greta can't get her lawn mower started. The new neighbor next door helps. She invites him and his daughters to dinner. The girls compare them to the Brady Bunch.


I'm afraid I have to put on my critical hat. I liked the story, except for one thing, and the one thing ties into the entire theme of the story. I couldn't buy that these little girls, aged 12 and 9, would know about The Brady Bunch. 

I dislike when pop culture references don't synch with the age of the character who is making them. For instance, I'm very careful to make sure if my character is 25 years old, he is not quoting Hogan's Heroes. Of course, it is possible that these young girls have seen that show on DVD. If there had been a line explaining that their dad bought the boxed set for them for Christmas one year and it's their favorite, I would have been fine with that. But there was no such explanation, which made me shake my head, unfortunately. 

Except for that one omission, I liked the story, but in the long run, I'm not all that important. Johnene is the important one and she liked it as is and paid Ms. Pierce $800 for it. 

Photo credit: ABC Television via Wikimedia Commons

My People!

There is no way to explain how I happened to run into two Woman's World people at the Romance Writers of America Conference other than Fate.

I was sitting at breakfast and a woman asked if anyone was sitting next to me and I said no. Now, you have to understand this is a giant room with hundreds of people. Lo and behold, it was Lynn Cahoon! We squealed! We hugged! We smiled and chatted all through breakfast. It was so much fun to meet someone from the Woman's World World in person. (Sorry about the horrid selfie. I suck at selfies.)

Then, literally five minutes after I was finished with breakfast, I was in the Goody Room putting the last of my promotional pens in the basket I had brought. (The Goody Room is a room where authors can leave items of all sorts for other writers to grab. Pens are very popular, but I picked up mints, a fan, lollipops, a screen cleaner, lip balm, among other things.) I was about to leave when someone said, "Kate?"

There was Linda Nielsen! Again, there was squealing. There was hugging. Neither of us could believe we'd found each other among the 2000 some writers attending the conference.

It was so wonderful to not only meet her, but sit next to her at a workshop on how to "Quiety Make Six Figures in Indie Publishing." We both left that workshop with stars in our eyes about what kind of options are open to authors today. 

Linda, Lynn, I am SO glad we met. If you're going to the New York conference, we have to get together, all three of us!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Good Home

by Elizabeth Palmer from the July 15, 2014 issue

Lily's trip to the shelter brought more than two sweet kittens into her life!

In a Nutshell
When Lily wants to adopt two cats from the shelter, the previous owner, who has been transferred overseas, wants to meet her first. Lily is touched by how devoted he is to his pets. When he returned unexpectedly, He wants to see Lily as much as he does the cats.

Cliches with a twist: I would venture to say at least one Woman's World story a year revolves around a pet adoption or has an animal shelter as a setting. I believe the reason is, adopting a pet is an altruistic thing to do. It shows good character and we want our hero and heroine to be admirable.

The trick to writing and selling a story with this animal adoption/shelter trope is to make it your own by putting a twist on it. In this case, Palmer had the (male) owner request that he meet the potential adopter. This tweaked my interest because it was an odd, but understandable request. Not only that, but it went a long way establishing what a caring man Adam is.

Safety First: It can be a dangerous world for a single woman. Always keep in mind that you don't want to portray your heroines doing stupid things, like agreeing to meet a man she met online in a secluded place. I noticed that when the pet adoption facilitator asked if Lily would agree to meet the cat owners, we found out that the man was her neighbor. It's not like the man provided ID and clearance from the FBI that he did not have a criminal record, but the fact that he was the woman's neighbor provides a tiny bit of security. It's a small detail, but one I thought worth mentioning.

Photo credit: Denniss via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Work Buddies

by Melody Murray from the July 7, 2014 issue

Grace knew that things don't always work out as you hope they will. But, she discovered, sometimes they do!

In a Nutshell
Grace flips houses. She hires the handsome Randy to help her with the heavy tasks. She thinks he's not interested in her until the job is finished and she finds out that he was only waiting until she wasn't his boss anymore.

Description: In general, because of the very small word count allowed by Woman's World, I usually counsel writers to minimize descriptions of characters. However, this story had a quite hefty description of Randy.

The friend was right. Randy was worth any two helpers she had hired before. He was strong and precise in his work. He was also very handsome.

The "I would love for him to be attracted to me" kind of handsome. The "why do I have to always be such a mess when he's around" kind of handsome.

His dark hair fell across his forehead[,] calling attention to his blue eyes. As if that weren't enough, the T-shirts he wore stretched most attractively across his broad shoulders.

Three whole paragraphs! This is quite unusual, however, please notice that the author did not just describe Randy, she also established the fact that Grace is attracted to him.

Characterization and Gender Roles: Woman's World loves traditional values, however, has slowly but surely included "new-fashioned" ideas like gender-norm reversing. Here, you see Grace restoring a house. If there ever was a male-dominated job, construction worker is it, right? So when writing your stories, or looking for ideas, take those gender norms and turn them on their ears.

Photo credit: BaytownBert via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, July 6, 2014


by Pamela Hart from the June 30, 2014 issue

With her ex out of the picture and her dog on vacation, Lindy would be alone on the Fourth. Or so it seemed...

In a Nutshell
Lindy brings her dog to the kennel every year because fireworks scare him. There she meets the son of the kennel owners. They agree to meet the next day to watch the fireworks together.

I'm going to try a different set-up with topics and see if that works. Bear with me. I'm always looking to improve things.

Story Ideas: This is one of those stories that makes me think, why didn't *I* think of this? It reminds me of a great tip for finding story ideas.

Think of a minor problem that you or someone you know has, like a dog that freaks out on the Fourth of July. Build a story around it. I have a cupboard with a  broken latch. I think to myself, what if a woman didn't know how to fix that and knew her new neighbor was handy that way? What if she offered to bake him cookies or a pie in exchange for fixing her cupboard? OR, I think, what if I put a twist on it and make it a man who doesn't have a drill, but has noticed his neighbor working on projects in her garage? Maybe he offers the baked goods in exchange so we break free of the gender norms... See what I mean. Let your brain go places.

Characterization: Notice how Lindy has just broken up with her boyfriend. She has some "woe is me" feelings. That's natural, but in a Woman's World story, you don't want to belabor that. In fact, you should show the character overcoming that and moving forward. That's the type of optimism and mindset that Woman's World likes.

Driving to the kennel, Lindy thought about tomorrow--she was looking forward to the parade and the fireworks, but the picnic? No. After her break-up with Josh six months earlier, Lindy would be flying solo in her group of married or seriously dating friends. She sighed. She was not going to let Josh ruin the holiday.

Very succinct and to the point. You can feel Lindy's determination and admire her for it. Keep this in mind when dealing with a character with a "tragic" past.

Photo credit Ltshears via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Shakespeare and Love

by Tamara Shaffer from the June 23, 2014 issue

Tagline: Jessica had never realized just how romantic Romeo and Juliet really was!

In a Nutshell: Jessica and her little boy meet a man and a little girl at a statue of Shakespeare that they visit often. One day it rains and the four of them have cocoa together. Oh, and the little girl is his niece and he's single. Score!

Observations: There was a lot about this story that made me think, "This was written by a pro," and it was. Shaffer has several stories published by Woman's World.

Realism--young children do crave repetition, so I thought the fact that Billy wanted to keep visiting the statue was perfect. And if you've had kids, you know they like to do things "all by myself." So, another realistic touch there that will ring true for a good portion of Woman's World readers.

Misdirection--when magicians direct your attention one way while they're doing something sneaky somewhere else, it's called misdirection. Shaffer did this when she had the hero say, "...your mom'll have dinner on the table." Of course, as seasoned Woman's World story readers, we know he's available. Personally, I suspected he was divorced, like she was.

Transition: Even the three rainy days that kept us inside didn't completely erase him from my mind. That part was terrific. With 800 words, you don't have a lot of wiggle room and this sentence both establishes a passage of time and shows us her frame of mind.

Foreshadowing: I hope you noticed the author foreshadowing the rainstorm. This ups the tension a tiny bit for the reader. We feel a light sense of impending doom or romance, depending upon your outlook. LOL

Humor: 'But soft!'" He struck a dramatic pose. "'What light through yonder window breaks?'" He winked at me. "I hope it's the sun coming out." Loved that. I also loved this line: "See you tomorrow at the park--same time, same statue?"

Characterization: We want to read about heroines with whom we could be friends and I appreciate humility and the ability to make fun of yourself as Jessica did at the very end of the story where she pokes fun at her unfamiliarity with Shakespeare's work.

"As Romeo--or no, I think it was Juliet--said, 'Parting is such sweet sorrow.'"

I giggled. "Hey even I remember that line!" I said, thinking, I couldn't agree more.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Real Prince

by Kathy Hendrickson from the June 16, 2014 issue

Tagline: It appeared a little bit of bad luck was going to bring a lot of happiness to Princess Amanda...

In a Nutshell: Amanda is a princess-for-hire but gets a flat tire on her way to her first gig. A man comes to her rescue.

Observations: I feel like I've read a story about a birthday party princess before, but it doesn't really matter. Story elements have a way of reappearing in Woman's World stories. This was still fun and cute.

I haven't talked about story structure in a long time, so today's a good day for that.

The first part of the story introduces the heroine, her situation, the hero and his daughter. It takes us continuously all the way from Amanda's flat tire to the party.

Then, notice there is a "tell" paragraph to transition us to after the party. There's no room to show everything in a Woman's World story, so when writing your own stories, make strategic use of summarizing the action like Hendrickson did. This transitional paragraph kind of serves as the second "act" of the story.

In the last portion of the story, there is no "black moment," per se. You have that worry in the back of your mind that Eric is married because he has a young daughter, but really--this is a Woman's World story. The reader knows deep down he's single, and yet the tension is still there subtly. Black moments are good, but not necessary.

Photo Credit: Alesgab93 via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Dream of You

by Barbara Glass from the June 9, 2014 issue

Tagline: A conversation with an old friend, a vivid dream...and suddenly, Helen's thoughts were filled with Robbie.

In a Nutshell: After talking with an old high school friend, Helen is reminded of her first boyfriend, Robbie. She immerses herself in photos from the period and loses track of the time. Her friend comes to pick her up for their lunch/movie date, but just as they're leaving, Robbie calls.

Observations: I've said it before, and I'll say it again--Woman's World romance stories are all about possibilities. Often, first meet stories end with someone asking someone out on a date and getting a "yes," and the reader is left feeling optimistic for the couple.

In this case, we don't even get that far, but we still feel Helen's giddy excitement. But I'll admit I have a soft spot for old flame stories. There's a guy in my past that crops up in my thoughts every once in a while.

So, the story is very much in line with what we expect from a Woman's World romance. However, it's also contrary in that Robbie doesn't even show up until the very end--and he's not even there in person. It's only his voice on the phone! The majority of the story is reminiscing via the conversation between Helen and her friend. Usually, I don't like stories that don't show the hero and heroine interacting for a decent amount of time because it can make it hard for the reader to believe they really made a connection and have a bright future as a couple.

However, this one worked for me. I think maybe because it was an old flame story, so we almost have a connection built in, assuming they're still compatible after all those years. That assumption I'm willing to take as a reader, because I'm hopeful and optimistic. I think also because the story ends on the cusp of their conversation, the author isn't forcing us to believe two people just met and connected enough to make future plans. Glass wisely stopped us short of that. She also used the friend cleverly too.

Sarah, the friend, leaves at the very end of the story, literally closing the door on what's going on with Helen and Robbie on the phone. I felt like I was perching on Sarah's shoulder as she left the lovebirds to catch up with each other and it was as if all her hope for her friend was transferred to me.

In my opinion, this is what Woman's World--the entire magazine--tries to do. Lift us up. Show us that life is good, and if at the moment it's not quite so good, things can and will get better.

Photo from

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Imagine That

by Kathleen E. Dunlap from the June 2, 2014 issue

Tagline: Karli was a hard worker, but she was also a dreamer--and when she met Tony, her flights of fancy took a romantic turn!

In a Nutshell: Karli owns a diner. Her oven breaks. The repairman is cute. He comes back later to sample her biscuits.

Observations: This is going to be a rough one. I didn't sleep well last night, but I've put off my analysis for too long already.

Let me start with what I liked. In the last third of the story was a part I really enjoyed. It's the moment when Karli realizes how attracted to Tony she is.

The diner was busy that night. As promised, Tony had repaired the oven by noon. When she paid him, their hands had touched. Remembering, she felt her face warm.

That was perfectly done. We want to see that the characters are attracted to one another.

I also liked the last line and how it ties in the title and Carli's Walter-Mitty-like daydreams.

On the other hand, many things pulled me out of the story.

1. I've watched way too many shows about restaurants so there were a few things that seemed off to me. For one, June the cook goes to the store for cinnamon. Restaurants do not get stuff from grocery stores. They have them delivered by suppliers. But let's say that they legitimately ran out unexpectedly before their order comes. Then I wonder what kind of business owner she is. If you see you're running low on something, you get more before you run out. I suspect this was all because the author didn't want June there when the repairman came, but I don't think it was necessary. She was making pies. She could have just stayed on task and let Karli deal with the repairman.

2. One of my pet peeves is using a word incorrectly.

As June whisked away, Karli poked her head inside the oven...

"Whisk" is a word that needs an object. It's like "planted." You wouldn't say, "As June planted." You need to mention what she's planting. At the very least, it should have said, "As June whisked herself away."

3. The next thing that confused me was how Karli knew his name was Tony. I'm assuming he was wearing a name tag, but that isn't mentioned in the story. The humor about his name is kind of cute, but if you're going to crack that type of joke, you need to work it. There should have been a little more about it than him saying his parents met in San Francisco. It should become an inside joke between them. Them and the readers, by the way.

Wow. Epiphany there about humor for me. I never realized that before. After all these years analyzing these stories, I love learning stuff!

So, to summarize: if you crack a little joke, don't miss out on the opportunity to make it an inside joke, between the hero and heroine and the reader, too. This will add humor--always a good thing in a Woman's World story--and create a connection between the reader and the characters.

4. Karli asks him to check the light on the stove hood. I'm pretty sure commercial stove tops aren't like those we have at home. I would bet money they don't have lights, only huge exhaust fans to suck up all the grease and smoke. So once again, I'm pulled out of the story by doubt. BUT, your average reader probably isn't as nitpicky as I am and they probably got more sleep.

5. Last thing that bothered me was a question I had near the end. Karli tells June she'll take out a basket of biscuits. First of all, June's the cook. She wouldn't be taking them out. But my real question was, did Karli know they were for Tony? It's not made clear and it's really important that we know.

If she did know he was there, then we learn something about her--that she's not afraid to go after what she wants. We may admire her for this. :) It helps us understand who Karli is as a person.

If she didn't know he was there, then it's a complete surprise and we want to see that surprise unfold into happiness when she sees him and realizes he came back, perhaps because he's interested.

So, see what I mean? Because we don't know the situation, we are cheated of feeling either. I'll be interested to find out what you all thought.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, June 7, 2014

How It Begins

by Tracie Rae Griffith from the  May 26, 2014 issue

Tagline: Jodi and Nick had noticed each other in their writing class, but it took a simple mix-up to get them together...

In a Nutshell: Jodi takes the wrong coat after writing class and is sitting in the cafe across the street. When the mix-up is figured out, the owner, a handsome dude, of course, brings her her coat and they have coffee.

Observations: This story resonated with me because I took an adult creative writing class way back when. Unfortunately, there were no cute guys in it and the teacher wasn't particularly good, but it was nice to read about two people who have the same dream to be published. I also love drinking double tall lattes, so Jodi and I have something else in common.

I recently was at a workshop on creating likable characters, and the presenter talked about the importance of making the heroine someone you'd want to be friends with. I think Jodi here fits that bill for me.

I haven't talked about feminine initiative in a while, so maybe this is a good time. Woman's World cherishes the traditional, but also embraces some of the more modern ideas, like women being pro-active when it comes to their love lives. Your best bet is to aim for having both.

For instance, Jodi buys him a latte, and jumps right in telling him she admires his blog. And yet, the hero, Nick, wasn't just a do-nothing bump on a log. He took the initiative at the end suggesting that they spend the next several hours together and that the night might be the beginning of something.

One other thing I wanted to point out is that both these characters have goals they're working toward. This is a quality that people admire, and so it makes them likable. I mean, haven't you ever watched a movie where none of the characters seem to be redeemable people? None of them are likable? I have, and I usually don't care for those types of movies. I don't like to spend time with mean, selfish, conniving, greedy and so on people, especially if I paid $10 to see them.

Photo credit: Broken Segue via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Small-town Charm

by Rachel Carrera from the May 19, 2014 issue

Tagline: Cindy thought she would never adjust to small-town life--then she met someone special and changed her mind...

In a Nutshell: Cindy is offered a promotion in a small town. She visits the town to check it out. During her trip, she meets a guy who shows her how wonderful small-town life can be. Plus, he's cute!

Observations: This was a delightful story. We got a realistic situation/problem. The heroine can score a promotion, but she has to relocate to a small town.

We got a biased but open-minded heroine. She doesn't think she'll like the town, but is willing to check it out and see.

There's that small-town setting that Woman's World loves, even if only a small part of the story actually occurred in the town.

There's humor. I loved Evan's line--"Uh-oh. I'm not working fast enough for you?"

I especially liked the solution to the hotel problem. It was perfect and, for me, unexpected. OF COURSE, his sister and her husband own the hotel. It's a small town!!!

Usually, I like to see more interaction between the hero and heroine, but in this case, it was unnecessary.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Picture This

by Cynthia Acee from the May 5, 2014 issue

Tagline: Matt's sister tried to convince him that visualization would bring the perfect woman into his life. Matt didn't believe a word of it--or did he?

In a Nutshell: Matt finds a dog and takes it in for the night. The next morning the owner comes knocking at his door.

Observations: So much to like about this story. I liked the first person male POV. It's refreshing. We got to see Matt's open mind at work. The author showed him taking his sister's advice. We got to see what he thought of himself and that he had a nice healthy level of self-esteem. In my opinion, a lot of what was great about this story was the characterization.

I also enjoyed the humor.

" do want to meet someone, don't you?"

"Of course," I admitted.

"Then visualize, brother dear," she coaxed. "Visualize."

"But visualize what? The dog or the woman?"

Acee plotted well with the grocer being the middleman who put the owner and finder in touch with each other. And the ending? Superb. She came full circle to bring the visualization back in very neatly.

Photo credit: Janine via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Aglow with Love

by Michelle Martin Dobbins from the May 12, 2014 issue

Tagline: Ann knew it was love that put the sparkle in her marriage...but she still missed the diamond she'd lost from her ring...

In a Nutshell: Ann lost the diamond in her engagement ring a while ago. Busy lives and a stretched budget have made it impossible to replace. Until now.

My apologies. I skipped an issue and went out of chronological order. Sorry!

Observations: Okay, I am going crazy! I read this and thought I've read this story before! The feeling was so strong, I went through the blog looking for my review of it. I couldn't find it, but if someone else remembers a story a while ago that had a couple going down to a lake for the romantic end of a story, please tell me!

Anyway, I thought this story was the perfect Woman's World mix of sentimentality and positive lifestyle. It's so common these days to see stories about divorce and unhappiness and well, people bitching, so it's nice to have Woman's World here to show examples of how to not succumb to that negativity. (On that note, have you looked at Closer? It's similar to other celebrity rags, but with positive stories, not dirt and scandal. I liked the issue I bought.)

In fact, let's do a comparison, just for fun.

WW: Ann gives a positive message to the bride-to-be in the opening scene.

"It's not about the sparkling diamond, it's about love--and you and Ted have plenty of that."

A Reality Show: A bride-to-be would most likely be criticizing the ring and comparing it to those of her friends and either finding it lacking or happy that it outshone theirs.

WW: We see Ann is reconciled with not having the diamond replaced. Her family comes first.

A Reality Show: The "star" of the show would probably be looking among all her other jewelry and wondering why she shouldn't just go to the jewelry store and upgrade her engagement ring herself.

WW: Ann is eager to go on the anniversary date.

A Reality Show: The woman might be "busy" doing something not really important and therefore is late to the anniversary dinner.

WW: The husband had worked for a long time to make his wife happy. Their love is reaffirmed.

A Reality Show: The ring would be flashier, but the marriage would not be fortified. The meaning of the gesture is lost when the recipient is gratitude-challenged and the giver is taken for granted.

Photo credit: Derek Ramsey via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, May 5, 2014

Harry Makes Some Magic

by Jenna Tousignant from the April 28, 2014 issue

Tagline: Rachael was too shy to tell Walker  how she felt about hi, so she let Harry Potter help her get the message across...

In a Nutshell: Rachael the librarian has a crush on a patron who is going through the Harry Potter series. She tucks a note inviting him to coffee inside the last volume.

Observations: I thought the premise of the story was cute. It reminded me of a co-worker who recently asked a guy out by giving him her phone number on the sleeve of his coffee drink. (Everyone in the store was on pins and needles wondering if he was going to call her. He did, but has a girlfriend. :( Alas.)

There wasn't a lot of interaction between the hero and heroine in the story and I missed that but am not sure if it's something that should have been there, considering the fact that at the end, they still haven't really had a date because the man hasn't read the note yet. It's all just hopeful, which I suppose is just fine. Woman's World is nothing if not cheerful and optimistic.

Although I suggest people have a dark moment in their stories, I wasn't sure the red herring sister was necessary. It didn't add anything to my enjoyment of the story. I think I would have preferred a little more conversation between Rachael and Walker. Maybe a discussion about which of the Potter books was the best, or which character was their favorite.

I'll be interested to hear what everyone else has to say.

Photo credit: Joe Mabel via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, April 25, 2014

An Accidental Meeting

by Nena Jover Kelty from the April 21, 2014 issue

Tagline: It looked as though young Danny's mishap would have happy consequences for his big brother and his pretty neighbor!

In a Nutshell: Big brother Eric comes home to visit. Little brother Danny breaks a windshield with his errant golf ball. The owner of the car almost threatens Danny's idyllic time with his big bro, but everything works out in the end because it's Woman's World!

Stream of Consciousness Observations: I love the interaction between the brothers. I didn't have a big brother, but if I could conjure one, Eric would be very much like him.

Oh, dear. I had a golf ball hit my rear windshield once. Big pain in the behind, but the culprit did come forward just like in the story, so that was good. :)

Okay, job interview...very clever and believable way of pushing the hero and heroine together after the initial meeting.

"Even a ten-year-old could see where this was going." -- Aww. I feel for the kid.

And perfect resolution. We see Eric holding onto his title of "good big brother." We see Danny not being a snotty brat. It's nice to see a kid being respectful and honest, even if the kid is fictional. We see Danny is okay with the three of them seeing the movie together and his logical and, again believable, reasoning.

Good solid story.

Photo credit: Derek Jensen via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Don't Go Breakin' My Heart

by Mary Ann Joyce from the April 14, 2014 issue

Tagline: When Sophie broke up with her ex, she thought the music had gone out of her life. Then she met Aidan...

In a Nutshell: Sophie is getting over a break-up with a singer so she's not particularly up on singing herself anymore. Enter the man who works on the floor above hers. When she finds out he's going to karaoke, she can't resist.

Stream of Consciousness Observations: I got halfway before I realized I hadn't stopped to make any comments. LOL Going back to rethink.

Although I personally hate going to listen to karaoke because bad singing makes me want to crawl into a hole and not come out, I think the idea of karaoke in a Woman's World story is cute.

I like the progression of Sophie's attraction toward Aidan and how we see the tiny little scenes.

LOL at what his mom used to say to him in church.

Okay. Done. LOVED IT. The character arc of Sophie, going from dejected, "washed up" singer, to a woman with optimism who sings with a new guy.

There's a reason why Johnene keeps buying Joyce's stories.

Photo credit: Treyhatfield via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, April 11, 2014

Second Chance at Love

by Tina Radcliffe from the March 31, 2014 issue

Tagline: Who knew a worried mother's rush to the emergency room would lead to romance? (Um, I did. LOL)

In a Nutshell: When Emily's daughter visits the emergency room with a "superficial laceration," Emily notices the handsome doctor. An affinity for beagles is agreed upon, then lo and behold, they meet again at the dog park.

Stream of Consciousness Observations: Risky business to have the daughter be born after the dad died, but Radcliffe managed it without turning off the editors or getting too sappy in describing the situation.

I like Maggie. She's spunky. Radcliffe does great job of showing us Maggie's personality quickly. (This is just another adventure to Maggie. And Most children are afraid of doctors and nurses. Not Maggie. Sitting on the exam table, she holds the compress with one hand while she inspects the room.)

Funny guy: "Which one of you young ladies is seven-year-old Maggie?"

"Tetanus shot up to date?" - This says authentic doctor's office visit so much to me! They engage the child and still talk to the parent about the necessities.

Oooh! An unwitting child matchmaker. We see a lot of matchmakers, but most of the time they're working their magic purposefully. Maggie doesn't even know she's doing it which makes her so cute.

Love this line. So symbolic of her situation and poetic at the same time: I feel a hopeful expectation I haven't felt in a very long time. It's sort of like being gently roused from sleep.

Hm. I wasn't crazy about Emily's behavior at the end. I didn't like how obvious she was in her question, "Do you and your wife take Henry here often?" And then, "Are you and Henry ready of this, Steven?" Seemed just as forward. If I were Henry, I'd be like, "Ready for what?" I half expect Emily to take his hand.  Otherwise, cute story.

Photo credit: Cmee2 via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Love on Laurel Lane

by Terry O'Brien from the April 7, 2014 issue

Tagline: Ellen had already fallen in love with her new house when she met her new neighbor...and fell in love all over again!

In a Nutshell: Ellen moves with her two daughters to a small town for a new start after her divorce. Next door is a divorced man with two daughters.

Stream of Consciousness Observations: First paragraph, I like the setting--it sounds exactly like the type of small town Woman's World adores. Me too, for that matter. Plus, we get a quick backstory for the heroine. However, I have to say, if she's "recently" divorced, she may not be in the best shape for finding love right off the bat.

All right, I'm fairly deep into the story. I'm glad to have read that "The following weeks were busy ones," because this makes it more plausible. Scratch the previous comment. :)

And I'm done. Nicely written. My worries were unjustified. O'Brien did a fine job of convincing me that they were on the path to an HEA. She summarized their courtship, which was necessary because this is an 800 word story, not a novella. I haven't said this recently, but with Woman's World stories, you often have to "tell, don't show," which is the opposite of what you so often hear.

Also--and this is not to knock "Love on Laurel Lane," but in general, I find it unrealistic to show the kids of divorced parents to be so gung-ho about a) their parent finding a new partner or b) moving to a new place (especially if it's pulling them away from all their friends. I lived through my parents divorcing and it sucks. You never stop wishing your parents will get back together. Acceptance eventually comes, but the devastation is never forgotten.

Photo credit: Fae via Wikimedia Commons

OOPS: I skipped an issue. I'll critique "Second Chance at Love" next time.