Little Women Love

Civil War Woman

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.” ~ Emily Dickinson

“I have decided to stick with love . Hate is too great a burden to bear.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

In this turbulent time, you might be looking for a book, or other entertainment, that makes you feel good. I have a recommendation for you. I recently finished reading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Somehow I missed reading it in school. I’ve seen three movie versions of the story and loved them all, so I want to see this latest version too. I missed it in the theater but being the story nerd that I am, I will watch it and make comparisons to all previous versions and the book.

The thing I’ve always loved about this story is the close family relationships. The way the March family looks for ways to help others, even though they are poor. They spread love wherever they go. That’s not to say they’re perfect. They make plenty of mistakes but their practice of helping those in need demonstrates that they are unique among their acquaintances. Their philanthropy rubs off on their surly neighbor Mr. Laurence and his grandson Teddy. Mr. Brooke, Teddy’s tutor also becomes part of the March family. It’s almost as if the March family are magnets for dejected, lonely, and wounded people. Something about the love they feel for each other bubbles over washing people to their shore where they are welcomed whole heartedly.

Some time last year, I listened to Anne Bogel’s new podcast “One Great Book”. This particular one was about the book Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos. Anne quoted Marisa as saying, I’m paraphrasing here, that she writes books that she hopes will make people feel good when they’ve finished reading. I love that philosophy. Those are the kinds of books I want to write and for the most part the ones I like to read. Because life is hard enough and it’s good to envision a world with lots of love in it. Little Women is a great example of that kind of book.

Some critics don’t like the book or the movies because the story is centered on the March sisters and their mother. But some of the most iconic books ever written were by and about women. I don’t want to make too much of the differences between male and female oriented books, though I do want to point out that in stories written by women, their protagonists have tremendous power over the men in their lives. Their power is subtle and non coercive, but highly effective.

The last chapter of Little Women, affected me the most. It’s Marmee’s 60th birthday. Jo and Friedrich have opened a school for boys in the house Aunt March left to Jo. The boys and the entire March/Brooke/Bhaer families have gathered for a lovely day of apple harvesting and feasting. The school is unique because the boys are treated with respect. They are encouraged to be themselves but always to think of others first. The celebration is full of warmth and love. Everyone is happy and fulfilled. They all honor Marmee and acknowledge that she is the heart of their family. The way Alcott wrote the scene, I couldn’t help but be affected by the shared affections of the characters. This is one of those rare books that made me want to savor the feeling it left instead of beginning another book right away.

There was one thing, however, that disappointed me at first. Jo was determined to open a school just for boys and not include girls. I didn’t understand that. Granted, the school took boys in need as well as boys who’s families could afford to pay, But previous to the last chapter, the book had been focused on the lives of the sisters, their dreams, their affection for each other and their choices to be the best women they could be. But then it occurred to me that Jo was performing a great act of feminism. What better way to change the world than to teach boys to respect and honor themselves and all people? The family already advocated for women. It was as if Jo saw where she could do the most good. I’m not sure Alcott even thought about this aspect of Jo’s decision to open a school for boys, but I’d like to think she did.

I highly recommend not only reading Little Women, but watching any or all of the versions as well to see how the story has evolved through the years. It’s a hopeful story and most of us can use a big dose of good feelings right now.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting on my posts. If you like what you read, please share this site with your friends.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2020

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Except that Jenna’s life is shattered and she must find a way to put it back together. When she finds old journals, she joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, rather than traveling physically. She is able to come back at intervals and apply what she’s learned to her own life situations.

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

To Redo or Not to Redo

Stressed Out.

“Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: now.” ~ Denis Waitley

This summer I’ve gone back to a project I started last summer. It’s the audiobook for my first novel, The Space Between Time. Over the intervening year I’ve learned a lot about audiobook production. I stopped working on my book to record one for a friend of mine, The Dragon’s Gold, by Debrah Strait.

But now that I’m back to recording my book, I realized I needed to begin again and apply my new knowledge. I’m grateful I did my friend’s book first and I’m still learning. After recording about six chapters, I realized I needed to save recordings of the various voices so I can replicate them in later chapters. Doing the different voices is a challenge for me. As an actor, I was never good at impressions or mimicry. And yet, it’s fun to make up different voices because the quality of a character’s voice can tell the listener something about his or her personality.

Something else has happened as I make the recordings. I find there are mistakes in the manuscript, or the writing is a bit clumsy. Part of me wants to go back and clean up the writing. I mean, my name is on it and I want it to be the best it can be. When I mentioned that I might want to make corrections to the book, Barry said, “We can do a second edition.” Wow! I loved that idea, but now I’m thinking that I should leave that project for another day. Perhaps after I finish the sequel, Time’s Echo. There is such a thing as overworking a piece.

This situation has me thinking about do overs and wondering if they are worth the time and effort. George Lucas did rereleases the first Star Wars movies he produced with upgraded special effects. As I recall, there was a lot of controversy about that. Some critics said the movies were like time capsules, they reflected the technology of the time in which they were made and that he should have left them alone.

I know that first books are, in general, not always the best work of an author. I freely admit I’m learning to be a good writer as I go along. But The Space Between Time has not been read by millions of people. If I improve it now, maybe years down the road after I’ve written many more books, I might have enough fans who will want to go back to read this first one. I want those people to enjoy it. Is that crazy?

I have to remember what I tell my students, you didn’t learn to walk in one day. It takes babies lots of practice to be able to walk without falling down. In terms of writing and producing a book and audiobook, the same principle applies. In a way, I’m a perfectionist, but it might be nice for people to see the progression of my work.

There is another thing that has been nagging at the back of my mind.My characters have been called too perfect by some fellow writers, and maybe they have that point of view because most of my characters reflect the people I was surrounded by as I grew up. Our family social life revolved around our church friends. And though no one is perfect, I saw my parents friends as kind, compassionate, and caring. There were, of course, conflicts but until I was a teenager, I was unaware of them. Those early years of feeling nurtured by my church family had a big affect on my outlook on life.

I’ve mentioned Anne Bogel’s podcast, “What Should I Read Next”, in previous posts. She has a new short podcast called “One Great Book” in which she pulls a book she enjoyed off her own book shelves and tells the listeners about it. I was catching up on this podcast this week and listened to one about Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos. Anne quoted Jane Austen from her book Mansfield Park, as an example of Marisa de los Santos’ work. “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery,” and Marisa takes that same view. Anne said, Marisa believes her role is to tell stories with happy endings. That resonated with me. That’s the kind of novels I write.

Since we writers create from our biographies, I can’t do anything but write what I know. But even good people face challenges and tragedies both external and internal. I certainly have. And though my characters experience dark events and feelings, they don’t wallow in them. At the end of each book I want my characters to have learned something about themselves and human nature.

Some people may say I write the kind of books Hallmark could produce. That’s okay with me. Right now, I’m into feel good entertainment. So, I’ll continue to write books with happy or hopeful endings. But my goal is to improve my writing skills, to be less wordy, and to create interesting characters and situations that give insights into what it means to be a human being.

Thanks for putting up with my recent political posts. One of the things I’m attempting to do is to be vulnerable and truthful about my feelings and point of view. That’s always a struggle for a devout introvert like me.

I hope you have a fantastic weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Except that Jenna’s life is shattered. When she finds old journals, she joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, rather than traveling physically. She is able to come back at intervals and apply what she’s learned to her own life situations.

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.