Friday, April 19

Under the Umbrella by Liz Flaherty

There was a chapter at the end of Little Women entitled "Under the Umbrella." I was trying to land in one spot when I started to write this week's blog, but as you'll see, I'm all over the place, yet still under my writer's umbrella. I hope you'll weigh in on how you feel about these things that fall between the ribs of the bumbershoot. (Ah, I do still love a thesaurus...)

Adding my cent and a half to Nan's subject matter this week, I will say with a heavy sigh that there has been much, MUCH discussion of how much money writers make--or don't. It is, no matter where you are on the wheel of publishing, depressing. It's hard to take. Everyone wants to be appreciated, and authors as an entity often are not. Even by each other.

Sometimes I'm one of them not being supportive or appreciative. If a book is poorly edited, I admit I don't even give it a proper chance. After the second you're instead of your, the third typo--hopped instead of hoped, the fourth or fifth comma left out, if we're still in the first chapter, I'm probably done. I am too distracted by the mechanics to ever get to the core. This isn't fair to either the story I'm not finishing or the author who worked her heart out writing it, but how far does a reader's responsibility go?

I remember years ago being in a discussion--perhaps on Word Wranglers--about what drew us into a book. Was it the plot, the theme, the story, the characters, the writing, the cover, the blurb, or a combination? For me, it was a combination of two, the writing and the characters. If the writing catches me and the characters become my friends or sisters and brothers, I don't care about any of the rest.

And, oh, the things I miss because of my self-set limitations. I've never read--gasp--Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, because I couldn't make myself care about the people in it. While I hope my mind hasn't narrowed terribly with age, I know my reading scope has. I have auto-reads, but one of my objections to many books is that they all sound alike. This doesn't make sense even to me, because what I want in an auto-read is that author's voice, which, regardless of story, sounds much like it did in her last book.

TV Insider  - Justin Hartley
Speaking of covers. I always prefer covers to not have people on them. And, if the publisher insists on having people, I don't want to see their faces. This is because I want to choose what they look like. If I'm seeing Justin Hartley in my reader's eye, I don't want marketing showing me Ryan Gosling. The other thing about covers is--and maybe I can go to hell for this--I don't care much about them. I don't even notice them on my Kindle, and I've never yet bought a paper-and-ink copy because of one. That being said, I've been known to wax rhapsodic when I get one I particularly like, so what do I know?
One of my rhapsodic moments.

It seems that so many writers are talking about quitting. I talk about it, too, but it's not writing I'm going to quit if I ever do--it's publishing. More to the point, book publishing. I will always write, because it's the same thing as breathing.

I've covered all the ribs of the umbrella I'm going to get to today. I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'll leave with this excerpt from the poem in Alcott's "Under the Umbrella" chapter. The way she could turn words definitely made me want to have a writing voice of my own. I hope I've succeeded in that.

"Jo" on the next lid, scratched and worn,
And within a motley store

Of headless dolls, of schoolbooks torn,
Birds and beasts that speak no more,
Spoils brought home from the fairy ground
Only trod by youthful feet,
Dreams of a future never found,
Memories of a past still sweet,
Half–writ poems, stories wild,
April letters, warm and cold,
Diaries of a wilful child,
Hints of a woman early old,
A woman in a lonely home,
Hearing, like a sad refrain––
"Be worthy, love, and love will come,"
In the falling summer rain. - Louisa May Alcott

2018's Christmas Town stories, including The Dark Horse, are in Kindle Unlimited and they're also on sale. If you missed them the first time, now's your chance to pick them up!


  1. What a terrific post! I'm with you all the way, although you had me at Louisa May Alcott, so... ;-) Thanks, Liz!

    1. Thanks, Nan. Sometimes I forget just how very good she was.

  2. great post, Liz! Writer World is in (another) growing-pain-phase, I think, and I'm not sure there is anything that can be done about except this: focus on what our individual goals are and keep working toward them. And be kind (loved your FB post this week!). And empathetic.