By Karen Wills
This morning I read another list of memorable opening lines in literature. For one example, Melville’s first words in Moby Dick made the list with the famous, “Call me Ishmael.”
But shouldn’t there also be a list of novelists’ great last sentences? And if such a list could be compiled, what would make the lines memorable? I immediately think of Norman MacLean’s brief conclusion in A River Runs through It, “I am haunted by waters.” The words are simple, elegant, and strongly connotative. They resonate as good poetry does, and they suit and conclude the story of a brother lost.
Another fine last sentence ends March by Geraldine Brooks. Brooks won a Pulitzer for her story of what happens to the father of Little Women’s Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy, and the husband of their mother, Marmee, when he volunteers to serve as a Union Army chaplain in the Civil War. By the novel’s end, he’s been seared, scarred, and sickened by the carnage of war and the loss of loved ones. On his first night home, grief for those he’s lost, mostly freed blacks, nearly overwhelms him. But at twilight his wife enters the room where he sits reunited with his daughters. Marmee does the peaceful domestic act of lighting a lamp. Brooks ends her novel with the words, “For an instant, everything was bathed in radiance.” Whatever the future may hold, with this elemental imagery there is the arrival of healing and redemption. And there is the strongly connotative “radiance.”
Finally, let’s look at the late Susan Vreeland’s, The Forest Lover. It’s a novel based on the life of the artist, Emily Carr, an intensely creative painter who dared to venture into the turn of the century Canadian wilderness to find her subjects. She showed absolute courage in her life and originality in her stunning art. The last line reads, “She would drink the forest liquids and drench herself in possibility.” Don’t Vreeland’s words epitomize a brave woman in love with creativity? The image has mystery. The word “drench” suggests energy or passion. The sentence holds such promise.
These are my favorite lingering lines. What are yours?
Ricci Wolman, founder and CEO of Written Word Media, blogged about Top Ten Publishing Trends Every Author Needs to Know in 2018. Four predictions appeared most relevant to a recent discussion among Montana Women Writers:
- Authors will continue to grow ebook share
- More Indie authors will achieve success
- Marketing will become more expensive
- Authors must go ‘direct to reader’
Photo: Brook Cagle via Unsplash
Each published author in our group goes directly to readers in one form or another:
- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest
- Email newsletters and promotions
- Book signings and readings
- Speaking with book clubs
Obviously, social media is a godsend for authors like us who live in remote parts of the country. We do our best to connect in person with local book clubs and special interest groups, but we live in northwest Montana in a county the land size of Connecticut with a population of 100,000.
Our book club exposure is limited. Or so we thought.
Photo: Mike Coleman
We propose connecting with book club readers directly through social media. Skype and FaceTime will allow even those of us living in Montana to participate in discussions all over the world. Read one of our books, and then invite the author to your book club meeting.
Some of us have added book club discussion questions and personal contact information in the backs of our books. You can also find our individual author information on Montanawomenwriters.com, our individual author websites, or simply email me, and I’ll forward your request to the author you wish to contact.
Get to know us, and happy reading!
By Marie F. Martin
My younger sister, Doris, has dabbled with oil painting off and on for years, but never developed her craft until now. At age almost seventy she is going great guns with it. She has had a showing in Seattle and sold some of her work. It is so exciting. She is now planning to travel to Montana where we were raised and show paintings in July at Art in the Park in Kalispell. I no longer hear her complaining about age. The miracle of an active mind doing something that you love and get excited about is what the age specialist tell us to do. She has found her passion.
I was close to the same age when I published my first book. It has become a driving force in me and I have grown so much with new friendships and people willing to help me with my stories. It all has to do with us Connor girls facing older age and needing to kick start our creative talents.
My latest book will be published sometime this summer or early fall. The cover is already made. The blurb is a work in progress but here is what it says as of now: The red Corvette speeds into the night up a lonely stretch of curvy mountain road. Corinne Cooper figures they’re lost, but isn’t concerned about it. A few unexpected words with the man driving rekindles yearnings she thought were buried with her husband three years ago. Shocked by her thoughts, she is relieved to reach home safely. The next day, Corinne is still unable to set aside the desire to find a new love and seeks the help of her unpredictable sidekick. Edgy Brewster is delighted to assist in the search for a perfect companion, dragging her into questionable adventures. Troubles begin at a local honkytonk, multiply at a hilltop mega church, and reach critical mass at a secluded bingo parlor. Now a friend is dead, a nosey neighbor is found dead, and Corinne is the chief suspect in their murders. Every step she takes to prove her innocence digs her deeper, until. . . .
However my older sister, Norma, is now complaining that she hasn’t sold anything of a creative nature. She only spent her entire working career as a RN. Her talent or passion was used helping the sick and the aged, and besides I don’t feel sorry for a sister who looked like this.
I am relaying our experiences as encouragement to everyone who thinks they’re too old to start a new adventure. Just do it.
Once in a Blue Moon news!
Once in a blue moon means it’s a rare occurrence. How about once in a blue blood moon? January 31, 2018 not only brought us a lunar eclipse during a blue moon, it was during a blood moon when the moon is closest to the earth. As of Jan 31, my three new e-books became available on Amazon. It’s my once in a blue blood moon event.
The books were brought to completion with the help of my dedicated critique group, my husband Tom who formatted and uploaded the books, my sister Bev for cover design, and a wonderful professional editor, Kathy McKay. Her last name is the same as the protagonist, Kelly McKay, who lives in my medical thriller series. It must have been destiny for them to meet.
A romantic medical thriller set in Alaska and two books in my medical thriller series are now available.
A fourth book, Fatal Feast, will be submitted to Kindle Scout publishing contest later this month.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007BI6SW8
I thank Montana Women Writers and Authors of the Flathead for their support.