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Win An Agent Critique!

Thanks to Jeannie Lin for posting this. I thought I’d follow suit.

THE TAGLINE/TITLE/TEN LINES AGENT READ CONTEST
Submit the tagline, title, and first ten lines of your manuscript, and you could win one of two critiques of your partial + synopsis from Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency!
The contest is divided into three phases and runs from July 23 to August 10.
Refer a friend, and you could win a box of spa/author goodies!
For more information, visit Dawn Halliday’s website. The link is in this post’s title.

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. 🙂

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.

Subject Matter for the Next Book

Oi, I forgot how hard it was to nail down what I did and did not want to cover in “Romance”. It took me a year plus five more years of learning how to write a God-awful first draft! I’ve read about 1/4 of Outlaws of the Marsh/All Men Are Equal and while the stories have high points, there’s nothing yet that moves me so much that I want to write about it. Let’s face it, you have to be in love – in long-term-LUST – with your source material to write an historical novel. I just haven’t hit on the story line yet. I will keep reading.

Went to a wonderful Writers Conference over the weekend. It was the Ozark Romance Authors’ conference and not only were they a warm, fuzzy group, the speakers were also terrific. I will try to post my notes in a few days as the material’s worth putting out to my (massive) public forum of readers.

I met Angie Fox at the conference and look forward to reading her books, once I’ve got a break in the deluge of reading material I requested from the library. Have you ever noticed how it all comes at one time? I’m returning much of it unread. I’ve kept notes on what I’ll need to re-request. Sigh.

Any way, Angie was an amazing source of information. I really hope I meet her again someday. Maybe when I’m on the other side of the book signing desk and I can tell her what our talk meant to me. I tried after the conference, but I didn’t want to hog everyone else’s time. I do need to query her agent. She suggested I do so.