Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Cellphone Wager by Tina Radcliffe

from the July 24, 2017 issue

Tagline: Hannah loved social networking...could she drop it for 24 hours?

Observations: This was a clever premise--and one I think teaches us a valuable lesson. I see far too many people on their phones when they should be interacting with each other. I feel a keen disappointment and a little anger when I see a parent on their phone when they could be talking to their child, like at restaurants or when shopping. I'm guilty of too much phone use myself.

I'm not sure why Jane was so invested in Hannah unplugging, but I went with it. Maybe she was just that concerned about her friend being too immersed in her own world. There was a tiny coincidence in this story--that Cute Guy happens to live in her building. But coincidences thrive on the pages of Woman's World.

Also notice that Hannah not only finds romance, she grows as a person and learns the lesson that her friend Jane was trying to teach her. She starts out reluctant and a little nervous, but bit by bit, she gradually realizes what she's been missing. At the end of the story you even see this little tidbit:

Someone's cellphone rang. Its discordant tone was a rude interruption.

I loved this little detail and how it showed how Hannah's perception of phones had changed.

Photo credit: Gonzalo Baeza (cc)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Love on the Vine by Shannon Fay

from the July 3, 2017 issue

Tagline: Carol wasn't looking for love, but then she met Paul...

Observations: What a great story this was. I loved the setting of a winery, a setting I don't remember seeing before. I loved the little mini-love story.

This is the perfect example of a "meet-cute" story in which you only show the couple meeting. There's usually so
me set up then they actually meet. Make sure you show a real connection between the pair. If you look at this particular story, we get just enough to convince us that Carol and Paul will enjoy themselves at that Independence Day party.

There's also a small dark moment when the interview is over and Carol thinks she might never see Paul again, but of course, she's wrong. After that, we wrap up with the two people arranging to have a first date. The end. :)

Photo credit: Tim Corradino (cc)

On a side note, my father passed away on Tuesday. He left peacefully in his sleep, which was a blessing. He's been bedridden and unable to effectively communicate for over two years as a result of a stroke. Thanks for understanding why the blog isn't current.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Catch of the Day by Rosemary Hayes

from the June 26, 2017 issue

Tagline: Ben's smile warmed Maggie more than sunshine...

Observations: There was some cute banter in this story. The niece, Phoebe, acted as the matchmaker--something children unwittingly (or sometimes on purpose, as in this story) do in Woman's World stories. I thought the hero and heroine were nice. I liked the last line and the play on words about catching each other's heart.
The only thing that I wondered about was why Phoebe had to wait her turn if Ben had an extra rod.

Photo credit: Ralph Daily (cc)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

New Beginnings by Scarlet Wilson

from the June 19, 2017 issue

I know I said I wasn't going to analyze the Harlequin Mini-Romances, but I just wanted to say this story really felt like the perfect, regular, Woman's World story. I wonder if Scarlet Wilson is a fan of Woman's World?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

One Morning in the Park by Jenny Welsh

from the June 12, 2017 issue

Tagline: Ellie knew no one in town...then she met Danny and Sophie!

Observations: This story is a direct opposite from the story last week. Last week, we had a widow who was at a crossroads. She felt something was missing in her life, but was reluctant to move forward for fear that it would mean saying goodbye to her late husband.

This week, we have a heroine who is completely content. She is on the brink too, but is in a state of happy anticipation, eager to see what life brings her. She's proactive and optimistic.

There's also a time-honored trope here I thought I'd point out - the often-maligned misunderstanding. In the pages of Woman's World, you will often see a story in which a character appears to be married or taken, when in fact, just the opposite is true. Ellie sees a man with a little girl and assumes he's her father. Another variation is seeing someone with a person of the opposite sex--walking together, shopping, kissing a cheek or hugging, driving in the same car--the possibilities are endless. It's natural to assume they might be a couple. You will also see a heroine jump to conclusions if the hero is doing something to suggest he's a parent. Maybe there's a carseat in his car, he's carrying a shopping bag from a toy store, he shopping in the children's section of the bookstore.

Regardless of how they come to the conclusion that the person is married/attached, obviously the truth must be found out. Here Ellie hears the girl call him "Uncle Danny."

Photo credit: Sebastien Launay (cc)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A Wave of Romance by Mary Jo Young

From the June 5, 2017 issue

Tagline: When Lydia met Sam, the connection startled her!

Observations: This is a good example of showing a character getting past a hang-up they have, something that you can really hang your hat on with a Woman's World romance story. It's one of the ways to come up with story ideas I suggest in my "How to Write and Sell Romance to Woman's World Magazine" class. Think of a problem in the hero or heroine's life and tell the story of how they overcome it. It can be an emotional problem, like in this story, or a real life problem, like they need to find a new apartment.

Here is how Young did it. Note there are only two acts, not the usual three in this story, but it works.

Act 1: Young set up the "problem" by showing the widow Lydia talking with her daughter about finding someone special. Lydia is an active woman who seeks an equally active guy, but the men she meets her own age are couch potatoes. The daughter suggests she find someone younger and Lydia balks at first, but does feel lonely.

Act 2: We see Lydia is involved in community theatre and she meets the new manager. He's cute. They talk about surfing, something they both enjoy doing. Lydia, afraid, puts it right out there that she's got grown children and she's a widow and the hero doesn't bat an eyelash. He's not that much younger than she is.

Here's where we see Lydia turn the corner.

Divorced, Lydia surmised, and he didn't wear a wedding ring. Maybe she needn't be so hung up on the age thing.

After that, it's smooth sailing. There is no black moment in this story, but as I've pointed out in my class, that isn't a mandatory thing for a Woman's World tale.

Photo credit: Eugene Kim, (Flickr CC)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Game of Love by Mary Davis

from the May 29, 2017 issue

Tagline: His eyes held hers and Kelsey's heart skipped a beat!

Observations: Alas, although hockey is my sport of choice (watching, not playing!) I did enjoy this softball story. There was some cute banter between the hero and heroine, which I think is always a good thing. First, it's banter! Who doesn't like banter? Also, it shows us the hero and heroine interacting. Readers want to believe the couple has a chance of making a go of it, and showing them on interacting on the page is usually a step in the right direction.

I also liked how both characters stepped out of their comfort zones. Steve did it when he asked her to accompany him to the party. Kelsey was brave when she admitted she had a crush on him. That last one really requires some daring, because we can all imagine the awkwardness that would follow if he didn't feel the same way about her.

Photo credit (cc): Erik Drost