What Is Your Favorite Scene?

This may be a much harder question. Favorite scene of all time, whether you or someone else wrote it. What makes you love it so much? Do you re-watch/re-read it, teary-eyed?

Movies: The first one to pop into my head, believe it or not, is the carbonite freezing chamber scene with Leia and Han in Empire Strikes Back. I love it because it’s got tension and humor. That’s difficult to carry off.

You’re going to think I’m odd, but out of all the many scenes in the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice, I love the first proposal scene and the subsequent trip home where Elizabeth remembers Darcy’s words and expressions. Her garbled feelings are conveyed through the jangle of the horses’ gait and the carriage’s instability. That was a great notion of the director/cinematographer.

Books: Oi. I really don’t know about this one. I love the scene in Gaiman’s Anansi Boys where Fat Charlie sings his way through the obstacles and saves the day. I love the scene in Tigana where Alessan, Erlein and Devin are fleeing outlaws, but by the end of the sequence, they’ve joined the outlaws against Barbadian mercenaries. The whole scene speaks to me of heroism, humor and intelligence, all mixed in with great depth of feeling. Anyone who knows me is aware of how much I value these things in literature.

My favorite scene that I wrote is as follows:

When Jie returned to bed, he slept peacefully.
“Papa!” Jun said. “Papa, wake up!”
Jie opened his eyes. Relief flooded his heart. He was home.
Jun knelt at his side. Jiao brought tea and rice porridge flavored with salt pork. Steam rose from the bowls. It reminded him of the kuei.
Jie sighed, happy because there were no kuei. Twelve years of loss had disappeared. His sons were not dead. It was a terrible dream.
Daylight tried to break through the shutters. Jun laughed and opened the windows. Birdsong rang in the courtyards. Jie wanted to spend the day with his children. A trip to town with his boys sounded wonderful.
“I’m sorry, Papa,” Jiao said. He knelt with the porridge and tea kettle without spilling. He poured the tea and gave it to his father. Jie sipped it, cradling the warm cup in his numb hands.
“Sorry for what, son?” He wanted to treat them to sweets and a night of theatre.
“I’m sorry we’re dead.”
Jie choked. His tea was bitter. The icy cup cracked and shattered. The bright morning darkened to predawn blues. The birds fell silent.
“I’m sorry this is how we have to talk.”
“We wish we could be with you, Papa,” Jun said.
Tears wet Jie’s cheeks. He wanted to tell them, “You are! You’re always with me,” but his lips were frozen shut.
“Take him with you, Papa. He’s part of the family, too.” Jiao’s lips twisted in his sad half smile. He put his hand inside Jie’s numb fingers for a moment.
Stay! Stay here with me!
“Don’t forget, Papa.” Jun said, like he used to if Jie promised him a toy.
“Don’t leave me alone,” Jie pleaded.
“You know you’re never alone, Papa.” Jiao kissed him and was gone. Jun grinned and waved goodbye.
Jie woke. A frigid blanket of air wrapped around him. His eyes were glued shut and gritty with tears, but he could hear Mei’s rustling step. A bird chirruped outside as if testing the morning. He smelled steamed rolls and bacon from downstairs.
Mei put a warm cup of tea in his hands and molded his numb fingers around the smoothed clay.
He could hear her dip a cloth in the basin. She sipped from her teacup. It was familiar and heartbreaking. She wiped the dream away from his eyes, but it stayed in his heart. He’d prayed for guidance. This was the response. He felt heavy with care and older than his years.
Mei always knew when he spoke with their boys, but she never said anything. He appreciated her willingness to wait for their children’s message. She was tender and patient while they shared the basin for washing away sorrows.

Fun Stuff

I needed something to lighten the mood and I found the following at Cindy Pon’s Blog. Check it out (under my Blog Roll) to see Sarah Ockler’s responses. I thought I’d do my questions a little differently, and ask for my readers’ input.

1. Who is your literary crush? My biggest literary crush is Alessan bar Valentine di Tigana, from Guy Gavriel Kay’s “Tigana”. Who else should make it onto the list? Why? Why do we love these characters so much?

With Alessan, I love the concealed emotion that’s nonetheless obvious. I love it that he holds the fate of his friends, his family, his entire continent in his hands and yet still cares for each and everyone of those people as individuals. I also happen to love self-deprecating strategists and smart people. 🙂

Red Cliffs Trailer

For those of you who are not familiar with my book or with the history it’s based on, the John Woo movie, “Red Cliffs” covers the pivotal battle of the Three Kingdoms period. I thought you might be interested in seeing this trailer of the movie. I have seen the movie on DVD and it ends on a cliffhanger. I’ll warn you, the first ten minutes or so is bewildering to the unitiated who knows nothing of these characters or their struggles. After that, the movie is an excellent character-driven story based on two strategists from Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Red Cliffs has not been released to theaters in the U.S.

Here’s the link to the trailer: http://www.examiner.com/x-1378-LA-Foreign-Film-Examiner~y2008m10d25-John-Woos-epic-Red-Cliff-marks-monumental-shift-in-Chinese-cinema. I’ve also embedded the trailer at the bottom of the page.

Variety Magazine reports that this is the highest grossing film in the Chinese movie making industry’s history. What’s more, it’s only part one.

Asian Themed Books by Caucasian Authors

I thought this might be an interesting question. Does anyone have a list of reading material covering books set in or around Asian culture? Seeing as how I’m not Asian at all, but have an interest, I’m fascinated by those western authors who, like me, chose an Asian setting for their novels.

There are a few I can think of off hand:

  • Alma Alexander – Secrets of Jin-Shei and The Embers of Heaven (“Jin-Shei” is great. I haven’t read “Embers” yet, but I love that title!)
  • Daniel Fox – Dragon in Chains (I haven’t finished reading this, but the beginning is incredible.)
  • Adrienne Kress – Timothy and the Dragon’s Gate (I have to confess, it’s still waiting to be read.)
  • Lian Hearn – Tales of the Otori (I’ve also not yet read these. So much to do, so little time!)

Feel free to list any good Asian-themed books! These just fascinate me because of where the authors have come from.

ORA Conference Notes

The file attached with this post is a list of typical ways in which men and women behave, courtesy of Leigh Michael. She was one of the incredibly professional speakers at the Ozark Romance Authors convention. Alas, my notes are not as well-organized as her talk because I wasn’t able to write that fast.
I did try to put opposing behaviors together.
This is not meant to be a definitive list, neither is it to be used to pigeonhole characters. It is designed to help authors with appropriate dialogue and action responses as related to the sexes. For instance, you aren’t likely to hear a male character ask: “Does this look okay?” A male character is much more likely to say: “It makes you look dumpy.” Then that character must pay for his error in judgement. Use it sparingly. A little goes a long way toward making believable characters. A lot will make them garish stereotypes.