Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sew Much Happiness!

by Marti Attoun from the August 18, 2014 issue

Tagline
Julia was an expert seamstress, but it seemed John Garwood might be the man to stitch up her broken heart!

In a Nutshell
Julia is surprised when a man with an emergency alteration bursts into the store. When he comes back to pick up the pants, he brings muffins and asks her to lunch.

Observations
Characterization -- This story had two likable characters. Julia is happy and isn't one to dwell on her problems. She is successful. She loves what she does. Her life is terrific, but she wouldn't mind a little romance.

Enter John. He's funny. (Duct tape!) He's thoughtful (the muffin) and resourceful (gets the lowdown from Sarah at the bakery.)

However, the only thing that sort of made this story stand out for me was that she was a seamstress. That was a profession I don't see a lot within the pages of Woman's World. Other than that, it was, in my opinion, average.

Photo credit: KoS via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Marry Me

by Shoshana Brown from the August 11, 2014 issue


Tagline
Katy loved Jack, but she didn't think they were ready for marriage. Jack didn't agree. Who was right?

In a Nutshell
Jack proposes before going overseas for a tour of duty. Katy isn't sure he's the one. She realizes shortly after he leaves that he is  The One.

Observations
Story Structure - You know the formula: Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl. Well, this story created its own formula: Boy proposes to girl, girl loses her mind, boy gets girl.

I can't recall seeing a story begin with a proposal before--maybe you long-time readers can help me out here. I think that might be the first time I've ever seen this. And I loved it. Not only that, but the black moment occurred at the beginning too. Amazing. Right off the bat, we feel that tension when she puts him off. We worry right at the beginning whether she'll come to her senses, or worse, that Jack will be unable to return to her. Which brings me to my next observation.

Risk Management -  This was a risky story to submit. We all felt the fear Katy felt because Jack was in dangerous territory and might never come back, and usually Woman's World shies away from nasty stuff like that. I'm kind of surprised they went with it. On the other hand, it's clearly a wonderful story. It even made me tear up. So, maybe they said, "Screw it. We're going with it," because it had such a heartwarming overall feel.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Falling for You

by Suzanne Jackson from the August 4, 2014 issue

Tagline
Kathy's sprained ankle was a real pain--but it turned out to have an upside!

In a Nutshell
Kathy meets a man while waiting to get her ankle x-rayed. They connect. He invites her to coffee afterward.

Observations
Cliche Done Well: At first I thought this story was going to be the same old sprained ankle story and was prepared to be...well, bored. But I was pleasantly surprised. I liked the humor. I liked the good start these characters got off to. The dialogue was very realistic. I really loved the ending. So even though I've seen probably fifty sprained ankle stories over the years, I still enjoyed this one.

Photo Credit: Keith Parker via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, August 4, 2014

Running into Mr. Right

by Patty Murray from the July 28, 2014 issue

Tagline
Patricia never expected to fall so hard for a man she'd just met...

In a Nutshell
Patricia is texting while walking and gets knocked over by a cute jogger. Her phone breaks, but she won't let him replace it. He asks her to dinner instead and months later, they end up a couple.

Observations
Characterization: We got a lot about the heroine this time. Murray showed us how strong and independent she is, professionally and personally. We see that she's ready to meet the man of her dreams. Murray also showed us the hero's good qualities: he takes care of himself (exercises), he has a strong sense of right and wrong (offers to pay for a new phone), and he's thoughtful (lets her use his phone to call her mom).

I've said this many times before and I'll say it again, when you do a good job with characterization, readers are more apt to believe the two characters have a bright future together, which is what we want.

Pacing: Did you notice the revved up pace at the end where we fast forward to months after their first date? If you're a regular reader of Woman's World, you know how unusual this is. I liked it here. It only took one sentence, and it made it easier for us to believe the last line--that he really was Mr. Right--because they'd been dating for months.

I loved the last line, too. Very cute!

Photo credit: This is actually a decal to put on your phone so it only looks like it's broken! You can get them at DecalTop.com.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Yours, Mine, Ours

by Jan Pierce from the July 21, 2014 issue

Tagline

When new neighbors meet, who knows what can happen?

In a Nutshell

A divorced mother of two sons, Greta can't get her lawn mower started. The new neighbor next door helps. She invites him and his daughters to dinner. The girls compare them to the Brady Bunch.

Observations

I'm afraid I have to put on my critical hat. I liked the story, except for one thing, and the one thing ties into the entire theme of the story. I couldn't buy that these little girls, aged 12 and 9, would know about The Brady Bunch. 

I dislike when pop culture references don't synch with the age of the character who is making them. For instance, I'm very careful to make sure if my character is 25 years old, he is not quoting Hogan's Heroes. Of course, it is possible that these young girls have seen that show on DVD. If there had been a line explaining that their dad bought the boxed set for them for Christmas one year and it's their favorite, I would have been fine with that. But there was no such explanation, which made me shake my head, unfortunately. 

Except for that one omission, I liked the story, but in the long run, I'm not all that important. Johnene is the important one and she liked it as is and paid Ms. Pierce $800 for it. 

Photo credit: ABC Television via Wikimedia Commons

My People!

There is no way to explain how I happened to run into two Woman's World people at the Romance Writers of America Conference other than Fate.

I was sitting at breakfast and a woman asked if anyone was sitting next to me and I said no. Now, you have to understand this is a giant room with hundreds of people. Lo and behold, it was Lynn Cahoon! We squealed! We hugged! We smiled and chatted all through breakfast. It was so much fun to meet someone from the Woman's World World in person. (Sorry about the horrid selfie. I suck at selfies.)


Then, literally five minutes after I was finished with breakfast, I was in the Goody Room putting the last of my promotional pens in the basket I had brought. (The Goody Room is a room where authors can leave items of all sorts for other writers to grab. Pens are very popular, but I picked up mints, a fan, lollipops, a screen cleaner, lip balm, among other things.) I was about to leave when someone said, "Kate?"

There was Linda Nielsen! Again, there was squealing. There was hugging. Neither of us could believe we'd found each other among the 2000 some writers attending the conference.



It was so wonderful to not only meet her, but sit next to her at a workshop on how to "Quiety Make Six Figures in Indie Publishing." We both left that workshop with stars in our eyes about what kind of options are open to authors today. 

Linda, Lynn, I am SO glad we met. If you're going to the New York conference, we have to get together, all three of us!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Good Home

by Elizabeth Palmer from the July 15, 2014 issue

Tagline
Lily's trip to the shelter brought more than two sweet kittens into her life!

In a Nutshell
When Lily wants to adopt two cats from the shelter, the previous owner, who has been transferred overseas, wants to meet her first. Lily is touched by how devoted he is to his pets. When he returned unexpectedly, He wants to see Lily as much as he does the cats.

Observations
Cliches with a twist: I would venture to say at least one Woman's World story a year revolves around a pet adoption or has an animal shelter as a setting. I believe the reason is, adopting a pet is an altruistic thing to do. It shows good character and we want our hero and heroine to be admirable.

The trick to writing and selling a story with this animal adoption/shelter trope is to make it your own by putting a twist on it. In this case, Palmer had the (male) owner request that he meet the potential adopter. This tweaked my interest because it was an odd, but understandable request. Not only that, but it went a long way establishing what a caring man Adam is.

Safety First: It can be a dangerous world for a single woman. Always keep in mind that you don't want to portray your heroines doing stupid things, like agreeing to meet a man she met online in a secluded place. I noticed that when the pet adoption facilitator asked if Lily would agree to meet the cat owners, we found out that the man was her neighbor. It's not like the man provided ID and clearance from the FBI that he did not have a criminal record, but the fact that he was the woman's neighbor provides a tiny bit of security. It's a small detail, but one I thought worth mentioning.

Photo credit: Denniss via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Work Buddies

by Melody Murray from the July 7, 2014 issue

Tagline
Grace knew that things don't always work out as you hope they will. But, she discovered, sometimes they do!

In a Nutshell
Grace flips houses. She hires the handsome Randy to help her with the heavy tasks. She thinks he's not interested in her until the job is finished and she finds out that he was only waiting until she wasn't his boss anymore.

Observations
Description: In general, because of the very small word count allowed by Woman's World, I usually counsel writers to minimize descriptions of characters. However, this story had a quite hefty description of Randy.

The friend was right. Randy was worth any two helpers she had hired before. He was strong and precise in his work. He was also very handsome.

The "I would love for him to be attracted to me" kind of handsome. The "why do I have to always be such a mess when he's around" kind of handsome.

His dark hair fell across his forehead[,] calling attention to his blue eyes. As if that weren't enough, the T-shirts he wore stretched most attractively across his broad shoulders.

Three whole paragraphs! This is quite unusual, however, please notice that the author did not just describe Randy, she also established the fact that Grace is attracted to him.

Characterization and Gender Roles: Woman's World loves traditional values, however, has slowly but surely included "new-fashioned" ideas like gender-norm reversing. Here, you see Grace restoring a house. If there ever was a male-dominated job, construction worker is it, right? So when writing your stories, or looking for ideas, take those gender norms and turn them on their ears.

Photo credit: BaytownBert via Wikimedia Commons