Monday, September 21, 2015

Could It Be Magic?

by Shelley Cooper from the September 7, 2015 issue

Tagline: Though Maggie no longer believed in magic, she'd fallen under Max Bennett's spell!

Observations: This will be a stream-of-consciousness critique which is where I type my thoughts as I read the story. I haven't done that in a while and I'm on a tight deadline this week, so here we go.

Magicians! Cool! I love magicians. I watched the TV movie Houdini with Adrian Brody and found it very interesting. But I digress.

Her dad performed at bar mitzvahs? I never got to see a magic show at any of the bar mitzvahs I've attended. That would have been fun.

Ooh, I'm jealous of Maggie having learned all those tricks. I used to know a couple of card tricks. They're fun, especially when you show them to kids. However, I am wondering if Maggie the little girl would really have been upset that they were tricking people. Maybe my sister and I were weird, but we loved baffling our friends.

Okay. Here's the scene:

"People want to believe in magic," my father told me once when I balked at performing.

"But we're tricking them!" I protested.

"No, Maggie, we're giving them hope. Magic--real magic--is in the eye of the beholder. You'll understand when you're older."

Hm. The hope line isn't flying with me. When I see a magic show, I'm not sitting in the audience hoping the trick will work or that magic exists. I feel this line is a bit contrived for something that I have yet to read in the story or is an attempt to get sentimental and evoke emotion. I'm going to read on and see.

Ah, we meet the hero. I like the description of him and I like how he's a magician in the booth at the school where the festival is going on.

 LOL. I love how she's standing there, arms crossed, and knows how he does all the tricks because she knows from her days with her dad.

Okay, I got engrossed in the story for a bit because it got good. We meet foster kid, Sarah, and get back story on her. I care about Sarah and I suddenly admire Maggie a bit more. The kids' interaction is spot on. As a former elementary school teacher, I'm sensitive to kids being portrayed in a not so realistic manner, and the way Tommy yells is perfect. I adored finding out about the diaper in the bag!

The line about her heart soaring was a tiny bit too much for me.

Oh, wow, she reconciles with her dad? AWESOME. That tying up of a thread isn't something you see every day in a Woman's World story.


Mary Jo said...

Uh, Kate, I think you got a double negative in that last sentence. You must really be under the gun.

Did we read the same story? I thought this was a perfect WW story. You see what a really talented writer can do with only 800 words. I think Shelley Cooper deserves a big round of applause.

Kate Willoughby said...

Whoops! THanks, MJ. And I didn't say I didn't like the story. I made two critical comments. The rest was complimentary. So...?

Mary Jo said...

I know, reading the written word is really subjective. I think I liked the story more than you did. For instance, in the previous story about the wedding, my first thought was, "Oh, here we are with the ubiquitous flower shop." I am glad that WW still publishes fiction, even these tiny stories. Wouldn't it be wonderful if other women's magazines would do the same?

Sandy Smith said...

I really enjoyed this story. I thought she did a wonderful job telling a lot of story in just 800 words. I do agree with you, Kate, in that I'm not sure a child would be so upset about tricking people with magic. After all, I think most people who enjoy magic shows know that it isn't really "magic." They just enjoy being amazed.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Maggie.

I like your blog. I once earned $1,000 with a story of mine Woman's World published. Now I can't even find out if they're accepting submissions. They aren't very encouraging to writers, would you agree? I would like to submit to them but although I'm a really good typist, I'm not a techie and don't think I can submit the way they want you to. Would you be interested in doing this for me for a fee? Let me know at

By the way, you must have been under the gun: you wrote bar mitzvah's!

Athea Marcos Amir
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Kate Willoughby said...

Hi Athea. I'm Kate and there's no Maggie here. :) Yes, Woman's World is still accepting admissions. The guidelines are here on the site somewhere. You don't have to be a techie to submit a story. In fact, you could do it with an old-fashioned typewriter. Although I'm sure you must know someone who has a computer and a printer...

Chris said...

I really enjoyed this story, although I do go along with your doubts about the 'magic giving people hope' bit, Kate. Thought that was a bit contrived. But otherwise, a great little read.

Athea... Maggie was a character in the story, so maybe the name just stuck in your head. Kate provides lots of useful info on this blog, WW's latest guidelines included, so check them out. Submissions have to go by post (mail), which is a drawback in this day and age, but if you've been published by them before you should definitely give it another try. Good luck.

Tamara said...

Athea, I have made up a page with WW guidelines for the two genres, which I give to people I think might want to submit. If you email me, I will send it to you. I'm at Kate tells us, on this blog, a lot about what works and doesn't work in the story lines when she does these critiques. You probably already have an idea of that, though, since you were published previously.