World Magazine's Last Lines Contest

My name appeared in World Magazine this week. They’d asked for submissions of favorite “last lines” of books. I got so excited, because I do have some favorite last lines. But alas, there was a 50-word limit, and my favorite ending required contained a few words more to complete the sentences. So I submitted my second favorite ending, from Gone With the Wind. Four others also submitted this one. Our names appear beneath our entry.

But I still contend that if I’d been able to submit from my first choice, it would have been in the running to win. So since I have the forum to do it, I thought I’d share it here. Below are my favorite “last lines” of a novel. In fact, I’ve often wanted them framed so I could read them as I pass by. They are beautiful not only for their sentiment, but for their poetry.

From The Train to Estelline by Jane Roberts Wood:

I sat on the steps and watched Christobel, who loves Mr. Sully, Berl who has nobody, and Mr. Dawson, who had wanted a boy, watched them dancing, and I said to myself, “Lucy, you could sit here on these steps forever, waiting for things to be right.”

And I got up and walked out to where the dancing was.

I hope instead of spoiling the book, these lines intrigue you enough to read it!



A good movie does what a good book does: it shows, it doesn’t tell. However, sometimes books and movies have lazy writers who tell instead of show. The people who create the Pixar movies very seldom fall into that category.

We saw Up last night. Wonderful movie. But from the “short” before the main feature through the end of the film, I was also fascinated by the mastery of the writers in showing, not telling.

Have you ever considered the Pixar short films? They are completely wordless, yet you don’t just know what is happening in them, you know who it is happening to. The sense of character is extraordinary, even with no words spoken.

I found this to be particularly true of the beginning sequence of Up as well. We see, we experience, Ellie and Carl’s years together in a way that impacts us emotionally. (Ok, I cried.) Having Carl say, “Ellie and I had a good, long marriage. I miss her,” wouldn’t have had the same effect. Likewise, throughout the movie, even the dialogue revealed character with a subtleness of getting to know a new friend.

I highly recommend this movie for writers. But I also highly recommend this movie for everyone else, too. It will make you laugh and cry and inspire you to go back to your life and live it.


The Making of a Great Day

I had a great day yesterday. A productive one. Laundry done. Nine pages edited and sent to my critique group. 4175 new words written. I worked out, had some time in God’s word, and even managed to watch a movie in bits and pieces as I folded clothes. But those things, which normally would have defined my great day, weren’t the reason for it.

The best part of yesterday was receiving a call from a friend that morning to pray for her and finding out that afternoon that the Lord had intervened in a miraculous way. Even if I hadn’t marked one thing off my to-do list yesterday, it still would have been a great day just because of that! I love it when the Lord so clearly shows Himself!


The Parties Are Over

I’m not a very good party giver. I prefer to play hostess to more impromptu and casual affairs. On those occasions, it doesn’t bother me that my house is less than stellar, nor do I care that the food is not five-star quality. I just enjoy the fellowship and don’t worry about the rest. But a planned event is a whole different thing in my mind. I get majorly stressed—over the house, the food, the people attending. I want it all to be right. And I want everyone to have fun.

I gave a graduation party two weeks ago and a bridal shower yesterday. As usual, I didn’t feel like either went the way I wanted them to. But as I considered it later, I wondered if my stress colors my perception of the outcome. Perhaps both parties were nice and fun. Perhaps people enjoyed being there. Perhaps everything really did go according to plan but the details that required my attention from beginning to end skewed my view of each party as a whole.

Thinking these things still doesn’t make me want to give a party again anytime soon. In fact, it makes me grateful there isn’t anything like that on my calendar in the near future!


Delighting in Dickens (Yet Again!)

The sheer size and density of each Dickens’ novel intimidates me. I think I’ve said that here before. And yet when I finally take a deep breath and crack open the cover, I revel in the world he creates, marveling at his genius as a writer. 

I just finished Little Dorrit. I picked it up after watching the new Masterpiece Classic version on PBS. And what a delightful read! As usual, Dickens ability to create character is almost unparalleled. This one, in particular, used some great devices to show character, whether through speech or mannerisms or thought processes. 

For instance, throughout the entire book Mr. Pancks is described in terms of a steamboat. It is amazing how Dickens makes the reader see Pancks by this extended metaphor. 

Flora,  a woman stuck in the past, runs her mouth continually in stream-of-consciousness dialogue (or rather monologue, since other characters can barely get a word in!) Dickens SHOWS this trait by writing her dialogue with almost no punctuation. Lines after line of it, subject constantly changing, with only the occasional (very occasional) comma and period. 

The Marshalsea Prison becomes a character and is even described as one would a person, both in looks and thoughts. It becomes a living, breathing part of that world, not just a “setting.” 

Of course, being Dickens, these characters are only a few in a cast of many. I could go on and on concerning the “dream sequences” of Afferty, the unique physical appearances of Flintwinch and Mrs. Clennam and Blandois and “the Bosom.”  Add in the irony of the Circumlocution Office and Society and this romping satire of politics and society make this Dickens novel another jewel for both the reader and the writer. But I think my favorites might be the cast of truly “good” characters. Amy Dorrit. Arthur Clennam. John Chivery and his father. These are characters you root for, and ones who do not disappoint in the end.




Home Again

Elizabeth got home last night from her senior class trip to Cancun. They had a great time. We asked her if they got on each other's nerves. (It's a small school. These kids are almost always together!) Her reply? "Nope. We got along great. It was like one big family vacation."

Wow! I love that! She said when they ventured out from the resort a couple of times, the guys were extremely protective of the girls, stationing themselves before and behind the group. I love these kids! I love the relationships she has had with these boys, how they have been good friends to the girls and treated them with respect. I hope she will find some more of these types of friends as she goes off to college! 

I'm glad she got to celebrate her graduation with her friends and with a few days of fun and sun. Now it's back to the real world: work and getting ready for her Ghana trip!


Busy As Bees

Have I mentioned how much I hate to work outside? Don’t get me wrong, I love a beautiful yard as much as the next person, I just hate the hot and the dirt and the bugs! But my in-laws love it. When they come to visit, they take on the projects I don’t have the time or inclination to do. Like cleaning out the flower beds and trimming the bushes and re-cementing the mailbox (we had it propped up with bricks!) and staining the deck. 

I wish I had some before and after pictures, but since I don’t, here are the after pictures. It’s all beautiful! And just in time for me to give a bridal shower next weekend. Thanks, Bernie and Jane!


A Routine Search

I’m at the beginning of an unusual summer for me. Generally, after a school year of routine, I’m ready for a few (and I do mean few!) weeks of unstructured time. However, this school year never felt like it fell into a predictable rhythm for me. Between my volunteer responsibilities and my kids, something urgent seemed to crop up almost daily. Thus, I find myself on the precipice of summer searching for that which, at this point in the year, I usually despise: routine. 

This summer, my goal is to find a daily routine that encompasses ALL of my priorities—time with the Lord, physical exercise, writing, and family—as well as a weekly routine that allows me to maintain my home, my relationships, and my sanity. Sound impossible? Probably. But if I can even gain a good foothold this summer, the transition to the school year shouldn’t be overwhelming with just 2 high school boys, both on the same schedules of sports and things. 

Of course this is all easier said than done. And I know that even finding a good routine doesn’t guarantee that it will happen every day. After all, life happens. But my routine will never happen if I don’t try!