Friday, April 17, 2015

Life Happens

Two things.

One, I have not received the March 6 or March 13 issues. If anyone can scan and send to me, I would appreciate it.

Two, my father had a serious stroke recently. He is non-ambulatory and can't speak. It's been hard dealing with that and taking over his finances. So forgive me if my analyses aren't timely.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Romance Recycled

by Emma Courtice from the March 30, 2015 issue

Gayle enjoyed romance novels. Now it appeared some real life romance might be coming her way...

In a Nutshell
Gayle's granddaughter "needs a book for school" and the library is out of copies, so they must go to a used book store. The proprietor is a nice guy and it turns out he has a granddaughter too, who may or may not have had a hand in arranging the serendipitous meeting.

I wanted to point out a few of the things I noticed about this story. First, there was a nice addition of backstory in the sixth paragraph. The backstory is all the stuff the reader might need to know about the characters in order to enjoy the story that's unfolding now. We find out that Gayle is recently widowed. We had already discovered she has a high-school-aged granddaughter earlier. And we don't really find out much more than that at this point because it's not necessary. With only 800 words to work with, don't tell more than you need to.

There was a bit of characterization that I wanted to point out...

Gayle ran a finger along a row of titles. "Well, I used to read a lot, but nowadays it's hard to find the time."

"You have to find time for the important things," he said.

I loved seeing that he thought reading was important. I thought, "Gayle, he's a keeper."

I also noticed a sign that they were attracted to each other--or at least Bill was attracted to Gayle...

"Nice to meet you, Gayle." He held her hand a fraction of a second longer than necessary.

Notice, it's really not much. Just one sentence. But it's important to show the characters are interested in one another. It helps the reader believe the romance has a chance. Because haven't we all read stories where after you're done, you wonder if they're going to end up breaking up eventually?

Finally, I thought that the tying in of the important stuff line was perfect. We see the granddaughter, Kayla, speaking up and showing her true colors as a "meddling" matchmaker. We see that Bill isn't the only one who says that you have to make time for important things. (A tenet I believe, as well.) And we get that feeling of circularity--almost like tying up a loose end at the end of a novel--except this isn't a loose end. It's just that feeling of everything coming full circle.

Photo Credit: Stewart Butterfield via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, April 3, 2015

Rx for Love

by Julie Elstner from the April 6, 2015 issue

Jess realized that John Garrett might turn out to be just what the doctor ordered!

In a Nutshell
Jess is a reporter for the local paper and she has to do an interview with a doctor before her father's 60th birthday party. Later, she meets the doctor at the party.

I thought the "pink looks good on you" joke was cute and endearing. I liked the ending a lot and how Dr. John Garrett knows what he wants and isn't shy about letting people know.

However, I thought that the confusion about the name was (sorry!) a little weak. Jess, to me, is a female name. I had to actually think a couple of moments to think of what Jess would be short for if it were a man. Jesse, I guess. Whereas, Jess, in my mind is short for Jessica or Jessie. If you're going to go for the unisex name misunderstanding, then I would choose one  like Chris or Alex.

I also stumbled a bit when she finished the interview and went to get a bottle of champagne. Early in the story there was some concern over her being late to the party because of the interview. But then she takes the time to get the champagne. My thought is, poor planning, Jess. It's your dad's 60th. You shouldn't wait until 20 minutes before the party to think about a gift (if the bubbly was the gift.)

Photo Credit: CDC via Wikimedia Commons