Thursday, March 23, 2017

Erin's Lucky Charm! by Elizabeth Palmer

from the March 13, 2017 issue

Tagline: Josh didn't think he would ever love again...but his daughter's lucky charm changed all that!

Observations: Elizabeth Palmer is one of Woman's World's most prolific and skilled authors. I was amazed at how many clever bits of foreshadowing she packed in here. Just for fun, if you have the story in front of you, reread it and see if you can find the same three that I found. I'll put the picture here so my list isn't so easily seen. You're looking for details that seem unimportant when you read them, but come into play later.



All right. Let's see if our lists match up. The first two are subtle. The third, I'm sure you all caught.

1. He showed her Erin's kindergarten picture on his phone.

I thought this little detail was brilliant. Parents are always willing to show us pictures of their children. Josh is no different. So when he does this, we think nothing of it, but later, it becomes critical that Serena recognize little lost Erin when she sees her at the parade.

2. "I'll be there with friends."

Again, this seems like a normal thing to say and that's good. You don't want your foreshadowing to be super obvious. However, it's this offhand statement that creates the second black moment in the story. The first black moment was obviously the scary few minutes when Erin was missing. (This did fly against the normal "no intense drama" quasi rule that Woman's World usually adheres to, but that just goes to show you that if you write it well, you can get away with stuff.) The second black moment that I'm talking about is when Erin puts her matchmaker hat on and suggests they all go for green pancakes together. Josh knows--because of the offhand comment--that Serena is there with friends, so we are disappointed that things didn't work out after all, but Serena fixes that little problem while at the same time showing Josh that she's interested in taking this further.

And did you catch Josh's signal that he was interested too? It was back when he introduced her as his...friend, not his last-minute substitute hair stylist. So Palmer deftly showed us that both parties were open to taking that next step.

3. Josh smiled as he fastened the shamrock pendant, making a mental note to replace the flimsy chain before she wore it again.

This was the most obvious bit of foreshadowing, but I think it was only obvious because the stories are so short. Unlike in a novel, there's no time/space to insert a lot of happenings between the foreshadowing and the event the foreshadowing foreshadows. Such is the reality of writing super short stories. (Which is why I so admire the mini-mystery writers so much. Those stories are even shorter, yet the clues are all there.)

I'd be interested to find out if Palmer planned those or if she went back and added them during the revision stage, because the weak chain? That was probably planned. But maybe she's happily writing and gets to that part where Erin slips away and she thinks, "How can I get Serena to find her? Ah! If Josh showed her Erin's picture way back at the beginning..."

LOL I have such an imagination.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

An Unexpected Win! by Kay Layton Sisk

from the March 6, 2017 issue

Tagline: Lisa didn't realize the bowling match would be full of striking possibilities...until she met John.

Observations: I wanted to point out how tightly Sisk communicates some pertinent information about the setting and situation. As we all know, Woman's World stories can only be 800 words long, so succinctness is paramount.

Lisa Appleton pulled the old bowling bag from the car and caught up with 10-year-old Katie as she entered Star Strike Bowling Alley. The sound of rolling balls and crashing pins brought back good memories. A banner greeted them: Welcome Grover Elementary Third Annual Bowl-A-Thon.

It might be the PTA's third fundraiser, but it was Lisa and Katie's first. What better way to get to know parents, teachers and students when your job change meant a midterm move?

Lots of info there in a a mere two paragraphs. Personally, I think it's best to use the bulk of the story to establish a connection between the hero and heroine, show their attraction, show ways that indicate they would make a good couple.

I loved the puns at the end. Lately the endings of the stories haven't been as strong as I like, but this one was amusing and felt fresh.

Photo credit: Will via the Flickr Creative Commons License.




Missing Issue

Hi, folks. I did not receive the March 6 issue. Is there anyone who can email me a picture of that week's story? Thank you!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Superman Saves the Day! by K.C. Laine

from the February 27, 2017 issue

Tagline: Kelly believed there was someone out there for her...but she never dreamed of finding her own Superman!

Observations: If I were to make a general checklist of things you might want to include in your Woman's World story, this story had several of the items.

1. We had a plucky heroine who grew as a character during the course of the story. She started out with faltering confidence, and ended up with a boost to her self-esteem for having stepped out of her comfort zone and applying what she'd learned.

2. It had a solid three-act structure--act one in the present, act two as a summary, then act three the hero and heroine are reunited.

3. We saw how Kelly was attracted to David in a few discrete places.

4. There was a nice guy hero who was funny, helpful, supportive and thoughtful. He, too, made a journey from shy to assertive. Double whammy there on character development.

5. We have a saying that was proven true--"Fake it 'til you make it." Obviously, you don't want to have a saying in every story. Then readers would probably start rolling their eyes, but every once in a while, it's a great jumping off point.

All in all, a solid and cute story.

Kooky thing that probably only I would notice...David kept "sneaking up on her." LOL I was like, what? He's there behind her again?

Photo credit: JD Hancock via Flickr Creative Commons License


Friday, March 3, 2017

Old Friend, New Love by Jamie Pope

from the February 20, 2017 issue

Tagline: Could a childhood friendship blossom into something so much more?

Observations: This is the latest Harlequin Mini-Romance and I enjoyed it. It was very narrative-heavy, but that didn't bother me. It was also much more emotional than the normal Woman's World story. I wouldn't necessarily recommend leaning that way because I feel these stories from Harlequin authors are sort of a subset unto themselves.

The only thing that kind of bugged me was when he prompted her to "say something." And she said, ""Where's the waitress? I'm hungry." I often use humor to lighten up a heavy moment, but this felt weird to me. The guy had just laid his heart bare and she notices how nervous he is. So what does she do? She makes a joke. (Her matching declaration of love comes after the joke.) I felt bad for James and felt she was a tiny bit insensitive.

Other than that, though, I thought it was well done.

Photo credit: Hsiang Hsun (Sonic) Wu via Flickr Creative Commons License