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