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


Mary Jo said...

The premise did not seem accurate to me, so I found it hard to accept the whole story, even though Anna Jo always writes well. Whenever I have had to call 911, I have been connected with a dispatcher who asks what the problem is and sends the necessary help. Is it different in your area? You ring the emergency service and a policeman comes to the door?

Betsi said...

Mary Jo, if you accidentally dial 911 and don't realize it--don't speak to whomever answers--they will send someone to check it out. Because in a real emergency, you might not be able to speak.

I agree with Kate, I think this story had a lot more "going on" than last week's, and that made it more interesting and engaging.

Susan said...

When my oldest son was a toddler, he accidentally pressed the auto dial 911 button. Of course I didn't realize it until an officer knocked on the door to ask if everything was ok. I was at my brother's babysitting my nephew, so imagine my shock! We had a good laugh later, but it was certainly embarrassing. Good solid story. I enjoyed the surprises.

Joyce Ackley said...

I thought this story was delightful. However, at the risk of sounding dumb, I'll go ahead and bring up a question. I didn't think old fashioned wall phones had batteries. I thought they operated from a jack you plug in the wall. What would the battery have been for? Maybe the lighted numbers on the dial?

Anonymous said...

Sorry to say I wasn't a fan of this story. Although I do agree that it was humorous about the cops and robbers comment.

Agree with Joyce about the old-fashioned wall phones having batteries. That part seemed a little odd to me too.

Pat said...

I loved this story. It was so true to life. I have a wall phone and it is a pain to get back on when you have to take it off to replace it. Never gave the battery thing a thought. Guess I enjoyed the story so much I didn't care. The writer did a great job and fit a lot into an 800 word story.

Sylvia Ney said...

So glad to find your blog! I've only submitted to them one time, but didn't make it. I'm really enjoying looking through your posts and reading your analysis - very informative!


Chris said...

I assumed the handset was one of those you can detach and walk around with (not like the one in the illustration above) and I think they have to have a battery compartment because they aren't connected to the rest of the phone. That's my guess anyway. Either way, I enjoyed this one, the humour worked well and wasn't just shoe-horned in for effect, and I do like a bit of banter between characters. Haven't got the foggiest idea what a snickerdoodle is but it sounds painful!

Had no replies from Johnene in ages, so beginning to think my romance and mystery subs from earlier this year have fallen in to that black hole we're always talking about again. Thankfully I did get a yes from Woman's Weekly here in the UK of my 8,000 worder, which is in their current Fiction Special, and Ireland's Own are still taking my children's stories, so that's something. I seem to have got into the habit of writing these longer stories lately, as my current one is also getting on for 8,000. Satisfying to write but you don't get a chance to send anything else out for ages (or contribute so much to blogs!). Hope everyone's okay over there in these freezing temperatures we're hearing about on the news.

Betsi said...

Chris, a snickerdoodle is a type of cookie (biscuit). Not painful at all!

Joyce Ackley said...

Chris, congratulations on your recent sales. Sorry about the WW subs, but do keep trying. You may hit it just right one of these days.

You may be right about the phone. Some cordless phones can be wall-mounted, but the battery would be in the handset, like any other cordless. I don't know why the plate would have to be taken off the wall. Things like this bother me. The story was really good and I enjoyed it, but things I can't figure out make me think too much. I think I have a problem! Really.

Kate Willoughby said...

Now that you mention it, when we had a wall phone, I can't remember if we had to change batteries. I do remember sometimes we had to take it off the wall and I could never get it back on without a lot of trouble. Still, as picky as I usually am, this didn't bother me.