Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Christmas Match by Tina Radcliffe

From the December 19, 2016 issue

My apologies for being so behind on the blog. I have a novella due in mid January and I'm woefully behind. I'll catch up eventually.

Tagline: Anna never thought she would meet anyone special...then a handsome cabbie drove in to her life!

Woman's World Tropes: Man to the rescue, airport, weather problems

Observations: I liked this story a lot. Come winter time you can bet you're going to get a story set in an airport, and this is the second one we've seen in a little bit. I'm okay with it though. They were different enough that I didn't sigh and think, "Oh no, not another airport story."

One of the things I liked most about this story were the two black moments. The first was very subtle and had to do with the romance. She's just been dropped off at the airport...

"Happy holidays to you as well." She paused, thinking that she wanted to say more, but that was silly, wasn't it? She hardly knew the man.

You see the heroine actively turning away from "love," and the reader worries a little bit, but not too much because we know we'll get a happy ending.

Not too soon after, we get the plot black moment of her missing wallet. I thought it was very clever to insert such anxiety here for us. Woman's World frowns on a lot of drama, like arguing or over the top emotions, but when we read about the possibility of her missing her flight to visit her sister, the new mom, we worry for her. We don't want her to miss out.

The ending was a little tiny bit drawn out, in my opinion, but it didn't hamper my enjoyment of the story.

I want to know where I can get one of those blinking Santa pins!

Photo credit: Andrew Rivett via Flickr Creative Commons License

Friday, December 23, 2016

Shall We Dance? by Elizabeth Palmer

from the December 12, 2016 issue

Tagline: Allison and David wanted adventure for the holidays..and then they realized true love was more important!

Observations: OMG. I. Loved. This. Story. I have tears in my eyes and that hasn't happened in a long time. Let me try to put into words what made this story so outstanding to me.

First, we have an established couple. If you've ever tried to write a story that is not a first meet story, you know how difficult it is. What I have found to work is to find a tiny problem that a couple might have. In the second story I published with Woman's World, it was that a new mother was feeling fat and frumpy. In another, it was the mother of the bride feeling her
empty nest something awful, like Allison in this story. Then the husband steps in and saves the day, like he did in this story, by suggesting they dance.

Allie has a small character arc in which at first, she doesn't want to wear the Santa hat, nor does she want to dance, but she overcomes that reluctance. How does she do it? With that magical flashback memory that I saw just like it was a movie.

The "out-danced" line was funny.

There is sentimentality in droves. It's Christmas. It's their 25th anniversary. And let's not forget the newlywed couple. I was already misty after reading that Madonna flashback paragraph, but when it became clear the honeymoon couple were going to get their honeymoon after all...I was a goner. And then Palmer really nailed it when she had David and Allie go home. Did anyone else get the shivers when they read that final word, "home?" That word has power, especially because they spoke it together. It was the perfect ending.

Photo credit: David Fulmer

Friday, December 16, 2016

Puppy Love! by Tina Radcliffe

From the December 5, 2016 issue

Tagline: Mandy thought love would never find her...then she found puppy love!

Woman's World Tropes: Animals, Pet Shelter

Observations: Very cute story. I liked how time passed, making us feel as if the story was bigger than it was. They met accidentally at the pet rescue shelter. She approaches him at work to ask for a reference. She talks to him again to tell him the good news, and he takes it from there, offering to pick her up when she collects her new pet.

I thought the line about the cuteness factor was great!

Good job, Tina Radcliffe!

Photo credit: Sherry Venegas via Flickr Creative Commons License

Monday, November 28, 2016

Dinner and Romance by Shannon Fay

From the November 21, 2016 issue

Tagline: Carol decided to spend Thanksgiving alone...until gorgeous Nathan appeared!

Woman's World Tropes: Holiday, shy man, nostalgia (Wizard of Oz)

Observations: Here's another great example of a Woman's World strong heroine. She's alone for Thanksgiving and feels a little lonely but puts a positive spin on her situation. Note that Fay doesn't belabor the point. She could have chosen to emphasize Carol being by herself for the holiday and tweak our heartstrings, but she didn't. She shows Carol being okay with her life. There's only the tiniest hint that she's not completely content...

In many ways, I missed having someone to share my quiet holiday. My ex had moved on with his life, but since the divorce, no one special had crossed my path.

See? There's no drama or "woe is me" thoughts. This is important. While character growth is a good thing, don't stray too far into a heroine who is a whiner or pessimistic or is too happy wallowing in her problems. This is not the type of woman Woman's World likes to feature. Carol's problem is very subtly handled. You can feel her indecision at the end, but she chooses to step out of her comfort zone anyway.

Photo credit: Carmen via Flickr Creative Commons License

Friday, November 18, 2016

Leftovers for Thanksgiving by Mary Jo Young

from the November 14, 2016 issue

Tagline: Linda didn't have time for romance until she saw her neighbor in a new light!

Woman's World Tropes: Man to the rescue, friends to lovers

Observations: Mary Jo is having quite a run. I thought this was an adorable story. I loved seeing so much interaction between the hero and heroine, especially because they were working toward a goal together. I didn't get a super warm fuzzy feeling at the end, but I smiled the entire time I read it.

Photo Credit: Martha_chapa95 via Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Night at the Museum by Susan Hollaway

from the November 7, 2016 issue

Tagline: Katy didn't think her job at the museum could be better...until she met Logan!

Woman's World Tropes: "Freaky Friday" type switcheroo, matchmaker (sort of)

Observations: I'm going to do a stream-of-consciousness analysis today, which means I'll read it and comment as I go. I've fallen behind with the blog and need to catch up.

A museum is a fun setting and I've always thought those museum sleepovers sounded like fun.

Ah, we have a substitute security guard, who is--surprise!--younger than the normal one.

Hmm. The extended hand-grasp? It felt a teensy bit creepy to me since they just met. I'd have preferred for her to feel a tingle of awareness.

He asks to do a walk-through with her, which struck me as weird. It would seem to me that whomever he's relieving from duty would do that.

Oh, here's a surprise. We end the scene and jump forward in time a few days. I expected to see the whole night with the kids play out.

Awkward use of a word... Just then, the man who'd interrupted her thoughts since Kids' Night approached. Interruption is a brief occurrence, not something that can happen continually over the course of a few days.

Wait, Logan is the new owner of Sterling Security? I'm stopping here for a bit to try to understand the timeline here. Logan is apparently an entrepreneur and has been observing his uncle providing security for the museum for two years and then decides he likes the company enough to buy it? This is strange and confusing enough to pull me out of the story. But I put it behind me and keep reading.

Oh, the matchmaker dad is adorable.

Okay, I liked it with reservations about the fact that Logan was the new owner of the company. If you're a regular follower of this blog, you know I can be a very pragmatic reader and when the facts pull me out of a story, I get cranky. To me, it's important to ground a story in reality so that readers are able to participate in the romantic fantasy without interruption. I would have been happier if Logan had always been the owner. Then, hiring his uncle would have made sense to me. It's the fact that the's the new owner that's tripping me up. It's weird how big a difference one word can make.

Photo credit: M01229 via Flickr Creative Commons License

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Lake House Ghost by Jody Lebel

from the October 31, 2016 issue

Tagline: It was more than Mitch's ghostly tale that made Abby shiver...

Woman's World Tropes: Small town, new in town.

Observations: Now this is more like it. I thought this story was adorable, as was Mitch. The banter between him and Abby was so cute. The only thing that gave me pause was the cat thing. It seemed to not tie in to anything. I half expected Mitch to live next door to her and have a litter of kittens he was trying to find homes for. I read the story again to see if I'd missed something, like a cat sticker on Abby's car or a cat keychain or something. Nope. But it didn't really matter much. The story was great.

My favorite line:

"Random purring can be quite unsettling."


Photo credit: Kate O'Neill via Flickr Creative Commons License

Dinner Reservations by Cat Schield

from the October 24, 2016 issue

Tagline: Melody's game plan for romance was about to be thrown a curve ball

Observations: So, this is the second of the Harlequin stories and, in the words of Johnene Granger, it didn't work for me.

I found it a little hard to swallow that Melody accidentally put on a black dress and is only just realizing that she set up a romantic dinner with "flicking" candles and Kyle's favorite meal. I would rather have seen her dither in front of the closet wanting to wear something sexy for Kyle but having to remind herself that this was just a ruse. I would rather have seen her feel bad about the game playing. Then maybe I might have respected her more and been happy for her happy ending.

There was a legit black moment and Melody is faced with a hard choice at the end, but again, I couldn't like the way she handled it. I'm assuming Melody and Hunter's relationship was exclusive just by virtue of the fact that they'd been seeing each other for over a year. If Melody had a problem with him taking her for granted, she should say something to him, not concoct a fake relationship to make him jealous. I also thought it was callous how she held her hands out to Kyle and basically dismissed Hunter without so much as a by your leave. Granted, Hunter demanded that she choose, but I still would have preferred that she at least apologize.

Some might argue that this is just a story and I shouldn't be so preachy or judgmental, but in long novels or short stories when I have my reader hat on, I need to respect the main characters and I just couldn't warm up to Melody. Your mileage may vary.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Vacher via Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Romance Is In Your Future by Mary Jo Young

from the October 17, 2016 issue

Tagline: Rosalyn was interested in getting to know Hugh better..and little did she know that he felt the same!

Woman's World Tropes: Couldn't find any.

Observations: I liked this story a lot better than last week's story by Young. I remember a story about a Halloween carnival fortune teller, but it was so many years ago, this story felt fresh.

Anyone who has ever worked or volunteered at a school knows the cafeteria lady is always referred do as the cafeteria lady, so that rang true for me and gave me a chuckle.

I liked Rosalyn's spunky attitude here:

But she was just the "cafeteria lady" with the ponytail and shapeless uniform. Hardly competition for the cute English teacher or the girls' PE coach who ran around in shorts all day.

And then later there was this little bit when she was "telling his fortune..."

"I am beginning to get a picture of someone."

"Not the English teacher who likes to correct my grammar," Hugh warned, "or the girls' PE coach with that infernal whistle around her neck."

I thought that was cute and clever how Hugh unknowingly countered her self-doubt.

Photo credit: Milestoned via Flickr Creative Commons License

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Loving George by Mary Jo Young

from the October 10, 2016 issue

Tagline: Ruth thought love would never find her...until she met George!

Woman's World Tropes: a wedding, a last-minute substitution, a widower

Observations: This story reminded me of a trope I haven't seen for a while, but which is a tried and true one--the last minute substitution. Here, we have Bax, the delivery boy, going to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. So his father steps in to do his job for him. We've often seen this the other way around, where the father has the job and the younger son steps in. Either way, it works.

I didn't love this story, mostly because of some tiny details that took me out of the story experience. (However, remember I'm always in analyzing mode when reading a Woman's World story, so I don't read just for pleasure. I'm actively looking for things I can talk about.) I didn't understand what this meant...

The two owned Dream Weddings and for the last two years had been doing reception venues.

What does that last part mean, "doing reception venues?" When you're wedding planners, don't you automatically take care of decorating the venue? Admittedly, my wedding was in 1991, but if I were to hire a wedding planner, I'd expect them to make sure the venue looked good. Maybe some planners aren't hands-on. Okay, I could buy that, but I wish I'd had a tiny bit more of an explanation here so I wasn't pulled out of the story, confused.

I also wondered about their very tight timeline. If it had been a morning wedding, fine. I could totally believe they had plenty of time to get the tables and flowers set up if they arrived at seven. But if it was an evening wedding so I don't know. You can't have the ceremony too late, or there isn't enough time for partying. Getting the flowers to the venue by seven doesn't leave much set-up time, regardless of the appendectomy delay.

As you can see, I did a lot of wondering, outside of the story.

Still, I thought the George Clooney stuff was very cute. And I loved the visual of the sparkling water in the vases.

Photo credit: andervinny via Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Love Will Find A Way by Mary Davis

from the October 3, 2016 issue

Tagline: Becky didn't want to take a chance on love...until she met Tony!

Woman's World Tropes: a concerned friend, characters with a mom & pop type business

Observations: I thought this was a solid story, nothing particularly amazing.

I really liked how Becky ended up wanting to take a chance on love, but I wondered why I didn't feel happy for her until I went back to see how the author had established her hesitancy and fear. After re-reading, I saw no indication that she wasn't ready for love. Actually, she was just really (understandably) busy. So, I think that this story would have been better if we saw some hint that Becky was only saying she was busy to cover up the fact that she was afraid, for whatever reason--a bad break-up, being jilted at the altar, what have you. Then, we can properly applaud her taking that first step at the end of the story.

Photo credit: Sarah Horrigan via Flickr Creative Commons License

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bread and Jam by Melanie Dusseau

From the September 19, 2016 issue

Tagline: When April met Chad, it was a sweet surprise!

Woman's World tropes: a farmer's market/yard sale, coffee date

Observations: I swear this story felt like it was more than 800 words. I thought it was well done.

I have to admit I rarely go to farmer's markets, but I think they're terrific, not only to discover new food items and fresh produce, but as settings for Woman's World stories. There's that nostaligia/Americana vibe they have that appeals to both the readers and the editors.

I don't know why, but I felt the caramel macchiato references were a little forced. It may be because I'm a barista and caramel macchiatos are layered drinks, so there is a layer of sweetened milk on the bottom, then the espresso, then foam or ice, then caramel sauce. So, there is no one color.

However, I loved the idea of her selling jam and him selling bread and the random customer making the comment about bread and jam being the perfect pair. I loved the idea they had of giving out samples of both their wares. I really loved the old man tipping his hat to them in the parking lot. I really loved that little addition.

On a side note, last week, I was talking about a mid-point black moment. This week's story had no black moment at all, which is fine. I just thought I"d point that out.

Photo Credit: Scott Miles Love via Flickr Creative Commons License

Perfectly Imperfect by Kate Hewitt

From the September 26, 2016 issue

Tagline: The bride-to-be had cold feet...until a little reminder warmed her heart!

Woman's World Tropes: Troubled couple

Observations: I admit when I saw this was the first of the Harlequin stories, my expectations rose. I didn't know what to expect. Would the story conform to the types of stories we've become used to? Would they have the same sweet tone? I have to say yes and no.

We met a bride who was having second thoughts. Couples in trouble aren't unheard of in Woman's World, so that was fine. But the story just didn't grab me. When I got to the end, I didn't get a warm fuzzy feeling. I was glad for the heroine, but it felt a little like politeness--as if a co-worker had told me "My sister's getting married" and I said, "Oh, I'm glad."  It took me a while to figure out why.

Firstly, introspection dominated this story. We are in the bride's head so much of the time. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, and because of the type of story this is, I don't know that that could have been avoided.

Secondly, we never did learn her name. Again, this is not a big deal. Maybe Hewitt did this on purpose, so that every reader could put herself in the heroine's shoes and really experience the story on a more intimate level. If so, I'm not sure this is the type of story to do that with. In my opinion, better to do it with a story that is much more upbeat.

I think the main reason I wasn't crazy about this story is because I didn't have a chance to like the bride first. She starts out discontented. Yes, she was stressed out from her wedding preparations. That's understandable. Yes, I talk about minor character arcs--even in these short 800 words stories--and how it's good if a character grows and changes within the story. And there were paragraphs where she thought about positive things. But for some reason none of that quite won me over to her side. I found myself caring more about Sam than I did about her.

Your mileage may vary. I'd love to hear about it if your experience was different.

Photo credit: Cara Fealy Chote via Flickr Creative Commons License

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Throwback Thursday by Nell Musolf

From the September 12, 2016 issue

Tagline: Lane thought she might be too old to hear the bells ring again, then Will walked into her life!

Woman's World Tropes: Matchmaker, Old Flame (sort of), a repeated saying

Observations: Darling story. Here's a list of the things I liked about it.

I loved how Musolf brought a little of the current day into this story with "Throwback Thursday."

I liked how Lane admitted to herself that she wouldn't have contacted Will on her own.

The bells ringing motif was cleverly brought back when she heard the bell on the door of the coffee shop.

There was a black moment here, right in the middle of the story. I am wondering if this is a more natural place for it to occur in these short stories. In novels, usually black moments occur near the end of the story. Let's keep an eye out for that in the future. Not that it will be a hard and fast rule, but if it does happen near the middle, there's probably a reason and I'd like to explore what that is.

Photo Credit: Yogendra Joshi via Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Purr-fect Romance by Mary Davis

From the September 5, 2016 issue

Tagline: Lucy was tired of losing roommates then Milo came into her life!

Observations: Cute story. Like last week, this story is also tightly plotted. The whole bridesmaid stuff at the beginning is not only backstory to explain why she's moving to a smaller apartment, it sets up the occasion for which she has to dress up, so she can knock Mark's socks off later. I loved that. There was also the breakaway collar plot device, which forced her to see him again.

On a side note, I loved how the cat "talked." That was so cute and clever.

Photo credit: Helen Haden via Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Second Chance at Love by Diane Crawford

From the August 22, 2016 issue

Tagline: After years of being on her own, Carol was certain she'd never find romance again--then she met Nick!

Observations: I couldn't find much to talk about with this story. It was a solid story, well-plotted. I felt certain the hero and heroine would be going on many more dates. I liked how the last line tied in with the garden theme...

Carol wasn't a gardening expert, but her intuition told her that growing conditions were perfect for this new relationship!

Photo Credit: Robert Ashworth via Flickr Creative Commons License

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Missing Issue

I seem to be missing the August 22 issue. If anyone can send me a photo of the story for that week, I'd appreciate it.

Meant to Be by Mary Jo Young

From the August 29, 2016 issue

Tagline: Kate thought she was too busy to find romance...until she met Darcy!

Observations: I'm so excited because this story was full of teaching moments.

I liked this story. It was cute. I especially admired the part where Kate was lost in her own thoughts and then came back to the conversation...

Robin's chirpy voice continued as Kate's thoughts turned elsewhere. After work, she'd promised to take her niece to ballet class, then pick up groceries for her sick neighbor. Somewhere along the way, she would grab a sandwich and eat on the run. It would be a full evening.

"So would you be his date?" Robin's voice broke into her reverie.

"What?" Kate surfaced with a start. "Sorry, what did you say?"

See what I mean? I felt as if I had joined Kate on her reverie.

I also wanted to point out this one sentence, because this is a lesson I need to take to heart.

Kate's heart did a little rhumba.

Young could have used a cliche phrase, like "Kate's heart skipped a beat." I, myself, am guilty of using that one! Or "her pulse quickened" or something like it. But doing a rhumba? Very original. This is the type of thing that, if you don't think of it while you're writing, you can fix in the revision stage. Make it a point to read your story and to look for trite phrases like hearts skipping beats. The stories are so short, that you can designate one reading just for this purpose. It might seem like a little thing--this is only six words, after all--but I believe the little things add up, especially in an 800 word story.

Lastly, this story is a great example of a mash-up of Woman's World tropes. Tropes are great because they're ideas that have a proven track record. Yes, they can become cliche, but only if you write them as such. One way to avoid the cliche and embrace the familiarity of the trope that readers respond to is to take two or more tropes and combine them, like take a woman to the rescue and add a garage sale, or make the setting a high school reunion and throw in a lost pet.  This week's story took three--a wedding, a matchmaker, and a blind date. You can also take one trope and really do something crazy with it, like maybe two lost pets. Maybe the heroine, while out looking for her missing dog, finds the hero's missing dog. Wait a second...I think I'll write that story! But see what I mean? It can get your brain thinking.

Photo Credit: John Lodder via the Flickr Creative Commons License

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Yard Sale to Remember by Rochelle Banks

From the August 15, 2016 issue

Tagline: Olivia believed there was someone out there for her...but she never dreamed of meeting him at a yard sale!

Observations: I scribbled "a dance of conversation" in the margins, because what I really loved about this story was what was happening beneath the conversation. I think Banks did a terrific job of showing all the little things that had happened between these two, even though they'd never officially met until the day of her yard sale.

Her: She'd seen him riding his bike by her house and found him attractive.
Him: He'd noticed her (sans makeup) just after she'd moved in. (This part made me laugh. I loved the use of the word scampered.)
Him: He knew exactly how long it had been since she'd moved in.
Her: She'd been timing her breakfasts on the weekends so she could observe him going by, and she knew he was fibbing when he said he varied his route sometimes.

Banks gave us all this history while she was moving the story forward. (Did you also notice how she dropped in the bit about Olivia having broken up with her boyfriend as she talked about the bike?) Woman's World stories are so short that you really have to keep things moving.

Photo credit: r. nial bradshaw via Flickr Creative Commons License

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Her Own Blind Date by Mary Davis

From the August 8, 2016 issue

Tagline: Tired of blind dates, Carrie decided to take matters into her own hands!

Observations: I loved this story. It was totally a matchmaker story but with a twist I hadn't seen before. I literally have no criticisms. The sister relationship was spot on. I was a little suspicious when she found Jack at her sister's keyboard. I thought he was up to something nefarious. LOL. The office details such as doing system upgrades on the weekends were authentic. And the big reveal, when Carrie finds out that it was not a set-up is priceless.

Photo credit: sureV ainmO via Flickr Creative Commons License

Monday, August 15, 2016

A Yard Sale to Remember by Rochelle Banks

From the August 15, 2016 issue

Tagline: Olivia believed there was someone out there for her...but she never dreamed of meeting him at a yard sale!

Observations: I scribbled "a dance of conversation" in the margins, because what I really loved about this story was what was happening beneath the conversation. I think Banks did a terrific job of showing all the little things that had happened between these two, even though they'd never officially met until the day of her yard sale.

Her: She'd seen him riding his bike by her house and found him attractive.
Him: He'd noticed her (sans makeup) just after she'd moved in. (This part made me laugh. I loved the use of the word scampered.)
Him: He knew exactly how long it had been since she'd moved in.
Her: She'd been timing her breakfasts on the weekends so she could observe him going by, and she knew he was fibbing when he said he varied his route sometimes.

Banks gave us all this history while she was moving the story forward. (Did you also notice how she dropped in the bit about Olivia having broken up with her boyfriend as she talked about the bike?) Woman's World stories are so short that you really have to keep things moving.

Photo credit: r. nial bradshaw via Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Neighborly Love by Shelley Cooper

from the August 1, 2016 issue

Tagline: Simon desperately wanted to impress Julie...but he never thought it would be child's play!

Observations: I adored this story, mainly because I was scared to death when that kid was about to jump. I sure didn't see that coming and it made my heart race.

I loved his inner thoughts as he hopes Julie is watching him do push ups.

I thought the kid was believable and well depicted and the supportive sister was great too.

My only beef--and it's not huge--is that they called 911. He's got a hurt ankle. She could have driven him. Ambulances are expensive and it wasn't an emergency. But other than that, it was a fantastic story!

Photo credit: Martin Lindstrom via Flickr Creative Commons License

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Meeting of Hearts by Tina Radcliffe

From the July 18, 2016 issue

Tagline: Casey thought she didn't have time for a life...until she met Ben!

Observations: I haven't seen the woman in a "man's job" trope in a while, but it may just be because I haven't been paying attention. Woman's World likes to promote women doing whatever job floats their boat. I loved the little detail that she kept moist towelettes in her toolbox!

Using this trope does two things. It shows the heroine is a modern woman, one who isn't afraid to take on a profession dominated by men, which we admire. I sure wish I knew about cars. That could come in handy. It also shows the hero to be open-minded. While Ben does assume she doesn't know anything about cars, who can blame him? I don't think it's chauvinistic to make that assumption. I'd jump to the same conclusion.

The only thing that gave me pause was that the auto shop was adjacent to an accountancy office. In my experience auto body shops are not near nice office buildings. Otherwise, solid story.

Photo credit: Yasser Alghofily via Flickr Creative Commons License

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Shall We Dance? by Rosemary Hayes

From the July 25, 2016 issue

Tagline: Beth was overwhelmed by the idea of waltzing at her sister's wedding...until the best man came to her rescue!

Observations: I had mixed feelings about this story. There were some things I liked and some I didn't. Let's start with the postive.

We immediately feel empathy for Beth when we read about how she fell of the stage in high school. I also know that I'd probably feel nervous too, if I were called to dance in front of everyone at a wedding. (I didn't particularly like dancing at my own wedding, knowing everyone's eyes were on me.)

I also liked how Hayes developed the relationship between Beth and Jacob. It was a slow and steady build, even if I didn't quite believe they were in love by the time the wedding rolled around.

I didn't care for the repetition of the "It's as easy as ____" line. I was fine with the first time...

"Dancing is as easy as baking a cake."

I laughed. "I haven't baked an edible cake yet--just ask Emily."

That was cute, a witty reply and we get some information about her as a character.

But when it happens again...

"Just remember," he said. "This is as easy as riding a bike."

"It took me months to learn to ride a bike--I even chipped a tooth."

I was a bit annoyed with her. To me, it felt like she was being contrary. I thought to myself, "the guy is only trying to reassure you." I even wondered if they got married, if this pattern would continue, with Jacob saying something encouraging and Beth responding with something contradictory.

The third time...

"You'll be fine. This is as easy as washing a dog."

I almost cracked up. "I have a Great Dane."

It was slightly humorous, so this didn't irk me like the time before, and by now I had caught on to the pattern. By the time we encounter the fourth and final time he tells her it's as easy as something, I had forgiven the author the repetition because there was a purpose behind it, but unfortunately, my opinion of Beth had suffered. I started out feeling sorry for her and identifying with her fear, but by the end I was ready for her to put her big girl panties on. I would like to have seen her grow as a character during the dance classes and evolve to a point where she felt confident going out onto the dance floor with Jacob.

Your mileage may vary. I can totally see how someone would read this and not feel irritated with her, which only goes to prove that this is all so very subjective.  And yet, when I think about Woman's World and how positive they are and how they publish those "Moments for You," they want women to feel empowered and I think the character Beth could have used a little of that.

Photo Credit: Danca via Flickr Creative Commons License

Monday, July 18, 2016

Love Awaits by Mary Ann Joyce

From the July 11, 2016 issue

Hi, all, I was at the Romance Writers of America conference this past week. I had meant to bring my Woman's World magazines with me so I could blog, but I forgot them at home, along with my toothbrush and toothpaste. I had a blast. I learned a lot. I was able to reconnect with some Woman's World writers, even!

Tagline: Takeout Thursday is just another day--until Marcy receives a fortune that could change her love life!

Observations: I thought this story was adorable. Upon scanning it and looking for a teaching point, I thought I'd zero in on the hero, Jake. Often, when I'm editing a WW story for someone, the author spends so much time setting up the situation and/or describing the backstory that we end up with almost no interaction between the hero and the heroine.

This is a mistake.

You need to show them interacting so that we get some inkling that they're compatible and that they're a good match for each other. It's an instance of "show, don't tell." You can't just say, "They were a match made in heaven." You have to do a little showing as well.

Also, while the heroine may know the hero and be enamored of him, to the reader, he's a stranger. The man needs to be "on stage" long enough for us to get to know him. He needs to actually say something other than, "Nice to meet you, Mary. I'm John." Does that make sense?

In this story, Joyce did a great job of introducing Jake. The first thing that made him likable to me was when he looked around looking for food. I thought, "Typical man," and Marcy reacted like I would when she tried to feed him. Obviously, the dog anecdote endeared him even more to me.

I wanted to point out two more things I just noticed.

I'm not sure if it's foreshadowing, but did you notice Jake slipped the fortune cookie into his pocket? This is so he could write that fortune and leave it on Marcy's desk. Now, Joyce didn't have to mention that at all. If she hadn't, we probably would have assumed that he got the cookie when we "weren't looking." But because it is there, and in the backs of our minds we readers know it's there, it makes the story all that much tighter. It's little details like that.

Also, I loved that when Joyce introduced the fact that Jake makes special stops at Marcy's cubicle, she did it near the end and not at the beginning. I think this placement was very smart. As the story stands, there's a slight tension because we think oh, poor Marcy, she's been pining away for Jake and Jake doesn't even know she's alive. So, we're a little more emotionally invested. But then, later, we find out that Jake does these fly-bys and we feel a little zing of hope.

Now, take a moment and imagine it had been put in the beginning of the story, perhaps in that paragraph where Jake enters the break room. Then we have a story about a woman who has a work crush and a man who has a work crush and neither of them are doing anything about it. Different story, right? The way Joyce did it, we're rooting for Marcy. See what I mean? :)

Photo credit: Andrew Malone via Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Treasure to Remember by Kathy Hendrickson

From the July 4, 2016 issue

Tagline: Amy didn't think she'd ever find Mr. Right--until she met a gorgeous guy at the antiques mall!

Observations: Ah, the antiques mall. What a fun place to bop around and it's the perfect Woman's World type place to find romance. There's that Americana, Normal Rockwell atmosphere that really resonates with the readers of WW.

I found a few things to comment on, which is always a relief. LOL Sometimes I read a WW story and have nothing to say about it.

There was a bit of a repetition in the beginning...

Amy had all but given up on finding true love. She didn't even want to talk about it to anyone...

Then a couple paragraphs down...

"I know you don't want to talk about it, dear, but I know there's someone out there just for you!"

There was also some repeating at the end.

"How about we go to lunch and then to my grandfather's lock shop?"


"Great," he said. "Let's go have lunch, and then we'll stop by my grandfather's store to find a key for that box."

This may have been on purpose for emphasis, but it read repetitive to me. If it was an error, it gives me the opportunity to suggest you find at least one person who can critique and proofread your stories for you. Sometimes we miss things like this because we're too close to the story.

Hendrickson fooled me in this story. When the granny spouted a saying, I thought for sure the saying would show up again the the last sentence of the story, but it didn't. LOL

I loved it when Nicholas said "Don't leave. I'll be right back." There's a hero with just the right amount of assertiveness. He's also a great grandson, obviously. I also LOVED when the grannies exchanged that secret smile. ADORABLE.

All in all, a solid story that I enjoyed.

Photo credit: Paul Sableman via Flickr Creative Commons License

A Treasure to Remember by Kathy Hendrickson

From the July 4, 2016 issue

Tagline: Amy didn't think she'd ever find Mr. Right--until she met a gorgeous guy at the antiques mall!

Observations: Ah, the antiques mall. What a fun place to bop around and it's the perfect Woman's World type place to find romance. There's that Americana, Normal Rockwell atmosphere that really resonates with the readers of WW.

I found a few things to comment on, which is always a relief. LOL Sometimes I read a WW story and have nothing to say about it.

There was a bit of a repetition in the beginning...

Amy had all but given up on finding true love. She didn't even want to talk about it to anyone...

Then a couple paragraphs down...

"I know you don't want to talk about it, dear, but I know there's someone out there just for you!"

There was also some repeating at the end.

"How about we go to lunch and then to my grandfather's lock shop?"


"Great," he said. "Let's go have lunch, and then we'll stop by my grandfather's store to find a key for that box."

This may have been on purpose for emphasis, but it read repetitive to me. If it was an error, it gives me the opportunity to suggest you find at least one person who can critique and proofread your stories for you. Sometimes we miss things like this because we're too close to the story.

Hendrickson fooled me in this story. When the granny spouted a saying, I thought for sure the saying would show up again the the last sentence of the story, but it didn't. LOL

I loved it when Nicholas said "Don't leave. I'll be right back." There's a hero with just the right amount of assertiveness. He's also a great grandson, obviously. I also LOVED when the grannies exchanged that secret smile. ADORABLE.

All in all, a solid story that I enjoyed.

Photo credit: Paul Sableman via Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Wedding Wager by Shelley Cooper

June 20, 2016 issue

Tagline: Erin thought the spark she'd carried for Erik was dead...until she saw him again!

Observations: I'm going to do a stream-of-consciousness critique this week. I haven't done one of those in a while. This is where I just tell you my thoughts as I read the story. I hope the thoughts I have end up being good ones. LOL

Aww, they're childhood friends who went to summer camp together. I hated summer camp and only went once. I think it might have been a weekend and it was the most miserable weekend of my life. However, I'm well able to imagine that other people had a fantastic time, like in The Parent Trap (new version. <--one evah.="" favorite="" movies="" my="" nbsp="" of="" p="" very="">
Having your wedding at your old summer camp is a very quaint setting. I hope there's more meaning to this location.

OMG I love that she got the root beer float to share with her new friend. That's so sweet. Love that.

Planning futures with boy, can I identify with that. I used to write love letters in my diary to Rudy Baldoni who lived across the street from my dad's house. He was so out of my league it wasn't even funny.

Okay, LMAO. "It's been ten years, Mel. That spark is deader than the campfires we used to sing around."  Hilarious.

Oh! This is great. "Bet you a dollar, if you stir those ashes, you'll find an ember still burning." This is beautiful. It not only brings back their original bet to climb the rope, it connects with her spark metaphor. Awesome. This is the stuff that makes a story nice and tight.

Erik still hasn't shown. This is a Woman's World black moment. The point in the story where you are worried there's not going to be a happy ending. Usually in Woman's World, the worry is not very urgent or dire. Sometimes it's barely even noticable.

Erik arrives, finally! I love this moment, but I wish she'd elaborated more on what he looked like now and what that sight does to her insides.

Hm. The invitation to go for a walk seemed abrupt. I would have smoothed this out a little had it been my story.

They've just gone on their walk and he takes her hand and says he wants to get reacquainted and I'm feeling a little lukewarm. The story was going great and then it sort of lost steam for me. I am not feeling the attraction. Erik seems monochromatic to me. There's no life to him, no personality.

I'm finished with the story. I LOVED the friendship between Melody and Erin. I wish I had felt the same connection with Erik. He just felt flat for me. However, the whole bet motif was fabulous.

Photo credit: David Morse via Flickr Creative Commons License

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Passing the Test! by Elizabeth Palmer

June 27, 2016 issue

Tagline: Rachel had nerves of steel...until she met Kelly!

Observations: This was a refreshing premise I've not seen before. It was totally believable that a grown man from New York City would need driving lessons. I liked how the story spanned six weeks, however, I was still somewhat surprised when he leaned over and actually kissed her. It seemed a little out of the blue to me, but it wasn't enough to sour me on the story. I liked it a lot.

One other thing to point out is the use of the sexually ambiguous name to create a brief misunderstanding. This is another tool you have in your Woman's World Toolbox. The misunderstanding is a trope we see often in WW stories. They never last long, but they're handy. Usually the main character jumps to a conclusion, like in this story, about the sex of someone, or that the love interest has a significant other. It's good to know about all these tropes so you can mix and match and hopefully come up with something new and refreshing.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Running for Love! by Amy Michaels

June 13, 2016 issue

Tagline: Jenna isn't a natural at jogging...but the cute runner and his dog keep her going!

Observations: I loved this story for many reasons.

I really identified with Jenna. I hate running and this paragraph was funny...

The fact that I'm running at all is a miracle. I'm a nurse whose exercise routine has mostly consisted of carrying fast food up two flights of stairs to my apartment after a 12-hour shift.

So, the premise of the story is that Jenna is a proactive woman. She sets goals and she meets them. It's fun to see her try to meet the cute runner, and fail. We've all been there. We've all told ourselves we're going to do something and then chicken out. So we feel for her.

Here was another bit that had me laughing.

The next day I'm back at it, determined to speak to him when we pass. I've practiced running in place and talking at the same time until I can say a few words without supplemental oxygen.


Shortly after that, we have a mid-story turning point, which is a great thing. It's that point in the story where everything is turned on its ear. You think the story is going this one way and then BAM, it switches gears. Brent sprains his ankle and we suddenly have a woman-to-the-rescue story.

It's icing on the cake that he has to put his arm around her to hobble back to his car, right? LOL And then he confesses...

"To tell you the truth, I tripped because I was checking my watch to see when you'd appear."

Score! This shows he's attracted to her as well. Showing the attraction is something I think you should always do in a Woman's World story.

At the end of the story, Jenna overcomes her fear and asks him out. Okay, he already made it clear he'd be amenable, but still, she does it. I think that's a big part of why I enjoyed this story so much--I feel proud of Jenna at the end as well as happy that she's going to go on a date with Brent.

Photo credit: Candida.Performa via Flickr Creative Commons License

Friday, June 10, 2016

Perfect Casting by Nell Musolf

June 6, 2016 issue

Tagline: Caitlin found her leading man for what may be the role of a lifetime!

Observations: There wasn't really anything wrong with this story, but it didn't particularly grab me. The characters didn't engage me too much. When Nick tried out for the part, I wasn't sure if he was trying to appear bewildered or if he actually was. I think Musolf did a great job showing that they have a future together, but I find myself not that interested in reading about it. Your mileage may vary.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Cup of Love! by Rosemary Hayes

May 30, 2016 issue

Tagline: Nikki liked the coffee messages Ethan set to her...but would he ever ask her out?

Observations: Well now. I happen to be a barista with ten years experience, so the coffee shop details were particularly interesting to me. (The photo used in the magazine isn't true latte art. It looks like someone shook cinnamon onto the drink using a template.)

I liked, but didn't love, this story. I think I've seen this plot before: a character is stood up for a blind date at a dining establishment, and the owner or employee notices and commiserates, and they end up together. In fact, I kept thinking I'd actually read this story before.

My gripes...

There were more exclamation points than I like. (Sometimes if you add too many exclamation points to a man's conversation, it makes him seem a little silly, maybe even effeminate.) I counted nine and if it had been my story, I don't think any of them needed to be there. If in doubt, leave it out.

It's not "coffee art," it's "latte art." You can't make art in a cup of coffee because there's no foam. And you don't usually see words because the art is created by pouring the foam and sometimes using a tool like a toothpick to add detail. But this is not something your average coffee drinker would know.

I felt frustrated by the convenient interruptions by Ethan's somewhat incompetent employees and then his vacation on top of that...but I liked the ending a lot. It had that cheery optimism and was very believable.

Photo credit: Kenny Louie via Flickr Creative Commons

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Parking Spot by Kay Layton Sisk

May 23, 2016 issue

Tagline: Patience never dreamed she would meet a special someone at her daughter's softball game!

Observations: Unfortunately, this story didn't grab me. I didn't feel the connection between Patience and Ben was convincing. Perhaps it's because I've been in that situation where you're really wanting a spot and someone zips in and rudely takes it. That is some serious anger and frustration. Maybe Patience is a better person than I am, because I would have a very hard time forgiving that person. And Patience is peeved for quite a while, right up until he says his daughter is on the same team and then she gets kind of femininely flustered.

I thought his leaning close--because there was so much noise from the home run--was odd, especially considering what he said...

"Lisbeth told me her new friend's dad had died of cancer. Your husband?" he asked.

I nodded. "Heidi has a bit of the tell-all in her."

He laughed. "So does Lisbeth. I doubt there are any secrets between them by now."

That's kind of a personal question and an odd circumstance in which to ask it. Why not wait until you don't have to talk into her ear? Also, his laugher seems impolite. I would like to have seen him utter some sort of condolence or recognition of that horrible circumstance. That would have gone a long way toward me believing that these people have a chance at love.

And then, it's "break time" and the two girls come over to their parents. (I'm not a big baseball fan, but as far as I know there aren't any breaks during which the girls could leave the game, so maybe the game was over?) Anyway, the girls have come over and they all make plans to have pizza together and Patience's spirits soar. Again, I found this odd. She didn't like the guy at the beginning and not enough happened in the interim to convince me her tune had been changed to this degree.

However--and I haven't had to say this in a long time--my opinion is just that. Woman's World obviously thought enough of it to publish it and I am admittedly a very picky reader.

Photo credit: slgckgc via Flickr Creative Commons License

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Kiss The Cook! by Amy Michaels

Tagline: Sophie wasn't passionate about cooking until she got together with a chef!

Observations: I loved this story, partly because I LOVE TO COOK. I loved the authenticity. Michaels certainly knows how to cook, or she did a great job of convincing me.

I did wonder about a grocery store allowing a chef to come promote his restaurant, but I suspended my disbelief.

I thought the way Michaels arranged for Greg to help her with dinner was very natural, and like I said before, it was totally correct for the chef to disdain the dried herbs in favor of fresh ones, although it might be hard to find fresh bay leaves.

I disagree about cake being more trouble than creme brulee, but there's a much bigger wow factor with creme brulee and they did have five hours, so there'd be plenty of time.

I thought the ending was terrific and with just the right amount of intimacy--the cheek kiss--for the amount of time they'd spent together and their budding relationship.

Photo by Clotee Allochuku via Flickr Creative Commons

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Meeting Dara by Kim Winklhofer

May 9, 2016 issue

Tagline: Sam thought it was just another routine work assignment...then he met Dara!

Observations: I decided against showing the edits on this one, mainly because it takes a ton of time and there are several other mark-ups you can look at on other stories of mine.

I read the story again and I loved the ending. However, I have to confess, I didn't write it! Ms. Gaddis had Wyatt blurt that line out about them getting married and the rest of the story after that. So if the ending needs work, Ms. G will work some magic on it. HOWEVER, that doesn't absolve you of trying to write the BEST ENDING you can. Don't write a story with a mediocre ending and just think to yourself, well, the editor will just fix it. Just don't.

Photo credit: Jason Lawrence via Flickr Creative Commons

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Comfy Kind of Love by Nell Musolf

May 2, 2016 issue

Tagline: Beth worried that the magic had gone out of their marriage, but her husband knew better!

Observations: I applaud any writer who can write a Woman's World story about an already-established couple. I've only done it once that I can remember because it's very hard to do.

This story was adorable. The only criticism I had was, what were they thinking only going for pasta once a year? That's INSANE! LOL

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Meant To Be by Rosemary Hayes

April 25, 2016 issue

Tagline: Becky believed there was someone out there for her...but she never imagined where she'd meet him!

Observations: I liked this story. That it was centered around Little League is a bit of Americana that is something often welcomed in a Woman's World story. Sometimes reading a Woman's World story is like strolling down Main Street at Disneyland.

This week, I wanted you to notice the transitions--those places where you're fast-forwarding in time to move the story along to the next important part or move from one scene to another. In a Woman's World story, there are no chapter or scene breaks. I learned this the "hard way," when I submitted a story with a double return to indicate a scene break only to find when the published the story, the scene break wasn't there.

To compensate, you have to work a little harder to get the reader from scene to scene.

Hayes transitions three times.

1. We start with two sisters talking. Becky is going to take her nephew to baseball tryouts. Here's that transition:

The weekend dawned with clear skies and a happy ripple of anticipation.

She mentions that it's the weekend right off the bat, establishing that we've jumped forward in time.

2. Becky is in line to register her nephew and notices the hero for a couple of paragraphs. Then we hit transition number two:

It was only when I was sitting in the stands later, watching all the kids being put through tryouts that I heard a voice next to me.

3. Becky and Andrew introduce themselves and talk in the stands and then...

We spent the next three hours watching the boys, getting hot dogs from the food truck, and enjoying a great conversation.

Notice the time words in each transition - "weekend," "later," and "three hours." Also notice in the first two instances, the transition is settling us into the next scene. It's just to get our brains to jump forward. In the third transition, it's different. Instead of instantaneous time travel, we get a summarizing paragraph in which we're told, not shown, what happens. It's still a fast-forward in time, but with information about what happened. Sort of like the difference between being "beamed" from LA to NY in an instant and taking a supersonic jet and being able to see the scenery pass below you really fast.

Transitions are an essential tool if you want to write these super short stories.

Photo credit: Eastlake Times via Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Music of Hope by Tina Radcliffe

April 18, 2016 issue

Tagline: Josh never thought he would love again...until he met his son's piano teacher!

Observations: There were some aspects of this story that I liked and some that I didn't.

I liked that Josh was a strong enough person to take criticism about his cooking from a child. I liked that he was demonstrably grateful to his mother for helping out. I liked the tie-in between the canned spaghetti that Josh kept serving and the homemade lasagna that Maddy had made.

However, it read as if Josh didn't know his son was taking piano lessons at the beginning of the story. It might be because the son, Jake, had to explain how he'd had two lessons at Gram's house. This lead me to think there was an ex-wife and the dad just wasn't in the loop. However later, I found out that wasn't true. Josh is a widower.

Be careful about how you drop in backstory. Yes, it's great to do it in dialogue sometimes, but not in an "As you know, Bob" way. Some information should already be known to the characters talking and it doesn't make sense for Jake to tell his dad that he's taking piano lessons at Gran's house when his dad should already know this.

To me, Jake's character was hit and miss. Sometimes I really liked him and his dialogue sounded perfect. Other times, he did not sound like a seven-year-old.

I was unsure if Josh and Maddy lived in the same apartment building. Maddy, the piano teacher, just said, "We're in apartment 10, as if Jake knew where she lived. This is a tiny detail, but glitches like this can cause your reader to mentally stumble and take them out of the story. Do that more than once and you risk losing the reader completely.

So, a couple of confusing elements for me made it feel disjointed. Your mileage may vary. :)

Also is anyone else hungry for lasagna? LOL

Photo credit: Mark via Flickr Creative Commons license

Monday, April 4, 2016

Heart's Desire by Shelley Cooper

April 11, 2016 issue

Tagline: When Jill found her heart's passion, love wasn't far behind!

Observations: I really liked this story. I think there were a lot of small details in this story that Woman's World likes. I thought I'd list them. Small things add up.

1. A grandma is mentioned. Family is important.

2. Proving an old saying to be true, especially when a grandma is saying it, is a reliable trope for Woman's World.

3. Jill's sister is a stay-at-home mom. While Woman's World supports many modern beliefs, like women working, etc., they still do value old fashioned ones.

4. Brother is in the Navy, a noble career.

5. Jill's initiative is very important. She's such an upbeat character, you couldn't help but like her. If she's not happy, she doesn't mope around and complain or blame. She gets out there and does something about it. This is KEY.

6. Jill is full of gratitude and she's willing to demonstrate it.

7. Jill has a sense of humor and so does Jack.

8. Cooper adds so much romance by having Jack propose in the coffee shop where they had their first date. Not only that, but Jack thinks of getting her a heart-shaped diamond. Brilliant! (Pun intended.)

9. Cooper also brings the story full circle by quoting the saying again.

Photo credit: Marnee Pearce via the Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Cake to Remember by Rosemary Hayes

April 4, 2016 issue

Tagline: Megan's cake-decorating lesson proved to be sweeter than she ever imagined!

Observations: Good solid story this week. Nothing that stood out as exceptionally bad or good for me. I will say that there's a Woman's World trope here that we haven't seen too much of lately, which is a role-reversal. Woman's World has a somewhat traditional readership with a, shall we say, expectation for traditional male and female roles. But every once in a while, we see a female in a traditionally male career and vice-versa.

Here we see the hero is a cake decorator, which is kind of adorable. I've said it before and I'll say it again, you won't see a lot of alpha males in Woman's World stories, in fact, quite the opposite. You're going to see more of the guy next door. Keep that in mind when creating the heroes of your own stories.

Also, I know this cake doesn't have roses like mentioned in the story, but I thought it was too beautiful to pass up.

Photo credit: lynngrace23 via the Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Love In Bloom by Kim Winklhofer

March 28, 2016 issue

Tagline: After years of loneliness, Jessie had given up on love--then she met Christopher...

This was my story and I've always enjoyed showing you the before and after so you can see an example of what editors actually do. Words in blue were added by the editor.

You'll see there was quite a bit of work done. I can see that the bit about divorced women was removed, which doesn't surprise me. Why go the "negative" route when it's not necessary? In fact, many of the tweaks were in that vein. It's funny how I preach that in my class, but failed to follow my own suggestion. LOL

You'll also see the story was firmly planted in the April, so that it would connect with the time of year the story was hitting the stands.

At the risk of insulting the editor, I will say the ending didn't sing for me. I prefer it where it's is eagerness and joy that we're left with, instead of her soft reply. I think it's the word "soft" that bothers me. I think if she'd smiled or cocked her head or something, it wouldn't have felt so shy to me. However, in hindsight, I really should have written something in the first place that tied in with the theme of flowers and spring and blooming. Again, this is a tip I give in my class--to really, really work on the endings so that they are superb. I seem to have gotten a little lazy here. LOL

“You can’t believe everything you read have to keep trying,” Allison commented to her co-worker, Jessie, as they made
            Jessie frowned. She and Allison were crafting corsages and boutonnieres for an April wedding. It was prom season and Jessie’s flower shop had been flooded with orders.
            “I know,” Jessie replied. While she didn’t take that article about divorced women as gospel, it certainly had discouraged her.  According to the magazine, divorcees over a certain age had a slim chance of remarrying.
            “All you have to do is try,” Allison said.
            “What do you mean? I’ve been trying. Didn’t I tell you Jessie frowned. The flower arrangements trimmed in delicate ribbons only served to remind her that she was still single.
           "Oh, come on, Allison, do you really think I haven't tried? Have you forgotten about that blind date I had last month?”
            Allison finished tying a ribbon on  the bouquet she was making, then stood up to stretch her legs. made a face. “Month being the operative word…” She trailed off, her attention suddenly drawn to a car pulling up to the store. “I think  "Maybe you should go on the offense. Make a pass at the Harry Potter guy. someone, or at least show him you’re interested. Like the Man Wizard. He’s adorable. He doesn’t wear a wedding ring, you know, and he's adorable! Ask him out!. Would you go out with him if he asked you?
            "I'm so not listening to you," Jessie said, rolling rolled her eyes. Her matchmaking co-worker Allison loved to give nicknames to customers, and one of their most faithful patrons was Christopher customers had the last name of Potter, who often bought flowers for his mother. Allison had observed that w With his dark good looks and bookish eyeglasses, he really resembled Christopher Potter was like a hunky and grown up, hunky Harry Potter.
            Allison continued. He likes the beach. You both like the beach. He likes to travel and so do you. You both love Thai food... and Monday night football. Need I say more? go on?
           "That's true," Jessie said. "We do have a lot in common, or so it seems, but  All that was true. She and Christopher had chatted often. They did have a lot in common.
“I don’t know. Maybe.” Jessie tucked some hair behind her ear as an older woman got out of her car and approached the shop. “But don’t get any ideas. Christopher is a good customer and I wouldn’t want to lose his business him.”
            “Good customers, you we have. It's a boyfriend you want." a lot of. Boyfriends? Not so much.”
            The April showers had stopped, and the sun was coming out as an elegant-looking woman got out of her car and approached the shop. Just then, the The phone rang and Jessie went to answer it while Allison greeted the customer. 
            “Welcome to Flowers by Jessie," Allison said, ". How can I help you?”
            The woman smiled. “I’d like to send something to my son for his birthday. But do you have something a little more masculine than a bouquet?”
            Allison showed her some of the miniature bonsai trees and the woman loved them.
I believe this is something my son would like, and I want I’d like this to be delivered to him around six p.m. by Jessie. I’ll even pay extra for that if necessary if I need to, but it needs to be her.” At Allison’s quizzical look, the woman added: conspiratorially, “My son has given buys me flowers every single month, ever since his father my husband passed away, and he’s always talking about his florist, Jessie, and how pretty she is and I thought it would make his day for her to deliver them in person." , as a mother, it was my duty to…”
            A sudden suspicion bloomed in Allison’s mind as she got ready to record the necessary information into the computer. brain. “If I could have your name please?”
            “Deborah Potter. My son is Christopher Potter, and he lives at 105 Oak Lane.
            “Mrs. Potter!” Allison beamed. “You jJust leave everything to me," she said. "I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
            A few days later, Jessie pulled up at to Christopher Potter’s house with the bonsai tree on the seat next to her. Allison usually did the afternoon deliveries, but she practically pushed Jessie out the door, saying it was her big chance with Harry Potter. She was more nervous than she had a right to be. Christopher Potter was a sweet guy who obviously loved his mother a lot. He was funny and handsome and single. Whether he was attracted to her remained a question. She told herself to remain professional as she rang the doorbell. This was just an everyday delivery.
            When Christopher opened the door, her heart accelerated.
            "Jessie!" He grinned. "What a nice surprise!" Christopher’s eyes widened in surprise. “Jessie?”
            “Yep. I have a delivery for you.” She held out the bonsai tree his mother had chosen. “Happy birthday," she smiled. "It's from your mom.”
            “You’re kidding. Wow, and it's really great to see you again!" thanks.” 
            Another car drove up and a teenaged boy jumped out as he read the card. A kid got out holding a couple of bags. As he got closer, Jessie got a whiff of something yummy.
I have an order for Jessie and Christopher," he said. Order for Jessie?”
She and Christopher looked at each other, surprised.
“I’m Jessie," she said.
"I'm Christopher," he echoed, reaching for his wallet.
The kid handed her the bags "It's from the Thai Kitchen," the boy said, handing her the bags. "Already paid for." one of Jessie’s favorite restaurants. “Here ya go. It’s already paid for,” the kid answered as Jessie glanced at the delivery van where she’d left her purse. “The lady tipped me too.”
The kid turned to go, but Jessie called out, “Do you know who placed the order, by the way?” she asked.
“Allison from the flower shop," the boy called out while rushing back to his car.
Jessie gasped. She was going to kill Allison.
“Allison from your store?”
“It seems like it.”
Christopher chuckled. “It smells great. I love the Thai Kitchen.”
Jessie shook her head. “You realize what’s going on right?”
His eyes twinkled. “Sure. My mom and your friend think we need to spend the evening together eating eat Thai food together while and chatting about miniature potted trees.”
She couldn’t help laughing. “I’m really sorry about this," she said. .”
Jessie's heart fluttered as Christopher He gazed down at her with his and she suddenly felt quite small and feminine. He had the most gorgeous brown eyes. and a smile like a warm hug. "I'm not!"
“Don’t be sorry,” he said. “I’m sure not.”"Then neither am I," she replied softly.