Friday, December 18, 2015

There Will Be Mistletoe

by Lisa Weaver from the December 14, 2015 issue

Tagline: A kiss under the mistletoe...Noelle couldn't imagine a more delightful holiday tradition than that!

Observations: I had mixed feelings about this story and a lot of circled things I wanted to talk about. I'll just cover them, point by point.

1. I was a little confused at the beginning of the story. At first Noelle seems excited about the costume. It seemed like it was her idea to dress so crazily.

"Are you really going to wear that?" My best friend Kim arches an eyebrow as she nods at the outfit in my hands.

"Why not? 'Tis the season to be jolly," I say, heading for the dressing room.

So, Noelle seems fine with the costume. Then...

When I emerge decked in the green velour vest and matching shorts, Kim can't contain her amusement. "Those red and white striped tights and pointy-toed slippers really complete the ensemble. Now I'm doubly glad you volunteered to take our shop's shift at the mall's gift wrapping booth."

"If I'd known about this costume beforehand, I might not have," I say.

See what I mean? Now it seems as if she was reluctant, after the fact. Also, that is a bit of a clunky expository-heavy statement that sounds distinctly, "as you know, Bob..." For you newer writers, I'm talking about having a character say something that is unnecessary because the character they're talking to already knows this. It would seem much more natural for Kim to have said, "Now I'm doubly glad you volunteered."

2. I think the word "fell" should have had quotes around it. That would have made it clear there was a double meaning.

You could say I fell for him.

3. I found it doubtful that they had a wooden ladder. If it was a grandma's ladder or an old ladder someone found in the basement, then maybe. I think they're all made of metal these days.

4. The first time kissing balls are mentioned, it's in quotation marks. That made sense to me. I've never heard of kissing balls. When I see mistletoe, it's little beribboned sprigs. Is this term/item common enough so that later in the story when Tyler talks about it, he calls it a kissing ball? Has everyone heard of these but me?

5. The fall... Hm. I accepted that he was in the right place at the right time. I accepted that he was strong enough to catch her. What I couldn't accept was that after she fell and was caught, she "was still holding up the kissing ball." This stretched reality a little too far for me.

6. I didn't see Tyler's standing her up coming, so that was a nice little plot twist. It's hard to surprise me.

7. I felt there should have been a tiny bit of inner dialogue here:

And when he invited me to meet him for coffee at the end of my shift, it was like something straight out of a fairytale...until my "prince" didn't show 

Dragging my focus back to Kim's comment, I say, "He stood me up, Kim. Obviously, he had second thoughts."

"There may be a good reason he couldn't make it," she ventured.

I roll my eyes, then I smile. "You're such a romantic."

(The missing period was in the magazine.) I felt we should have gotten maybe one sentence about how Noelle felt about this after that "prince" line, but instead we go right back to the present. Then, I would have expected Noelle to be upset, insulted, irritated...something. Unless she has amazing self-esteem, being stood-up isn't something most of us would take on the chin so cheerfully. I say cheerfully because she smiles at Kim. 

8. Later, when she sees Tyler in line, her heart gives a little leap. Again, I shake my head a little. This is not the reaction I would expect from a woman who was stood up with no explanation or even a phone call. At the very least, I'd expect her to feel mixed up. She can still be attracted to him, but be miffed about being stood up.

9. My brother never gave me jewelry for Christmas. I'm just sayin'...

10. Okay, Tyler had a great excuse, but he could have called the shop. If I ever stood someone up, I'd be obsessed over making sure they knew I didn't do it on purpose. 

11. I thought the black moment (Noelle asks if the gift is for Elle, who signed his cast with a heart, and he nods) was great. (I might have picked a name that wasn't so similar to the heroine's.)

So, yeah. I enjoyed the story and some of this is nit-picky, but this blog is about what I think of the stories. I encourage you to agree or disagree in the comments. :)


Pat said...

Nice review, Kate. It gave me a lot to think about.

I loved this story, probably because I wrote a similar scene once. My character fell off a ladder and was caught by the hero. LOL

I will admit that I read the opening twice because I was a little confused also. I did know what a kissing ball is because I used to read a lot of English Regency romances books.

I thought the costume bickering was funny once I understood it. My thought on her being stood up was that her was more disappointed than angry so I fell for what Lisa Weaver wrote. I guess because I know a WW story will have an HEA.

Gabrielle said...

About how much time passes between sending a story in to WW and hearing back anything? Thanks! I love your site.

Anonymous said...

Now, that's a good question. Over the past year and a half I feel that most of my stories sent to WW have gone down a dark hole. That is, no response. Have they joined the league of the majority of magazines that respond only with an acceptance?

Mary Jo said...

No, I'm not Anonymous. I thought I put in my name.

Betsi said...

No, Mary Jo, they still send rejections. I got 3 for mysteries this year, and members of the Yahoo WW group have reported getting rejections recently. Some of them within weeks. So Gabrielle, the answer is that you should here sometime between 3 weeks and never!

Betsi said...

Of course I thought I typed "hear!" Haven't had my coffee yet.

Gabrielle said...

Thanks, I've been wondering if the holidays (I mailed it in right before Thanksgiving) would affect the time. It was my first submission.

Sandy Smith said...

Interesting comments on the story, Kate. I don't get a chance to do any serious thinking on the stories because I read them quickly while standing in the grocery store, but I also thought it was a bit confusing about the outfit. I agree about your "as you know, Bob" comment. I usually try to reword something another way in order to avoid those kinds of sentences. I also did not know what a kissing ball was but maybe it is a term used in some places that others would know. I also agree that I would have thought he would try to call. It would have been better if he had said he tried to call and couldn't reach her or something.

Kate Willoughby said...

Thanks for the comments, gals. I'm not sure about what goes on in the editorial offices. I believe they get hundreds, maybe thousands of story submissions per month. And mail sorters probably aren't particularly well-paid or motivated. Sorry I don't have more information.

Beth said...

So this was only my second woman's world story. I bought a copy years ago the first time I decided to try to write for them (I later decided I couldn't write a story in 800 words, so this never happened.) and hated the story. I thought this one was cute and fun. You are right about her not having a reaction to all at being stood up though. Since this there has been another about a woman helping her new neighbor babysit. This is my favorite of the 3.

Kate Willoughby said...

Beth, are you saying you're Lisa Weaver?

Mary Jo said...

I wondered that, too, Kate. Maybe Beth means she has read only three WW Romance stories?