Weina Dai Randel – Contemplating Love

Hi friends!

Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month 2016!

If you’re a new visitor to RARM, I hope you’ll come back every day in August to read all the wonderful pro-romance posts this year. Check out the full calendar here. You can also find links to the last three years’ posts from the boxes in the sidebar, and if you’d like, you can follow RARM on Facebook. Enjoy August!

#LoveRomance

Speak gently, love

Love, as I see it, is like water – you have to be gentle with it, for if you become desperate, trying too hard MooninthePalaceto grasp it, it’ll flow through your fingers, and it’ll leave you with an empty hand, and an empty heart.

What I would like to share with you comes from memory of my life in China. It was in the 1990s, and I was going to high school.

My parents sent me to a private boarding school. The school, like many public schools in China, was walled in with only two entrances with gates and guards – yes, the schools are still like that in China. Once a month, I was allowed to go home for a visit, and for the rest of days at school, I studied in the morning, afternoon, and night, almost 12 hours a day, everyday, six days a week.

The isolation from the outside world was beneficial to students, I was told, so we, the youngsters with fragile mind and untainted heart, would not be distracted by the temptations and ugly forces of the outside world and could concentrate on study. The rigorous schedule was also necessary to train us with academics, so when we took the college exams, we would excel and beat other competitors.

Going to college was very competitive in China in the 1990s; the country had millions of students, and only one out of ten thousand had a chance to receive higher education.

I was a good listener, following the rules and keeping my nose to the math sheets and history books, but Empress of Bright Moonseveral of my friends felt restless. One of my best friends, also one of my eight roommates, couldn’t participate during the night study hour. She often slipped out and returned at the bed time before the dorm’s gate was closed. Lying in bed, she would talk about her secret meetings with a boy from another school who snuck in through the gates or flipped over the wall to meet her. I would giggle with other roommates, and our faces flushed when she whispered how the two of them hid under a bridge and cuddled. I was only fifteen then, had never held a boy’s hand, or kissed anyone. It was thrilling to listen to her tryst.

But one day she was called by the Principal and when she returned, her eyes were red from crying. She was sent home.

For one month, she didn’t return to school. The teachers refused to talk about her, and none of my friends knew what happened to her. Her bed remained empty, and she missed many lessons and tests, and her grades were falling behind. I was very worried.

When she finally showed up in the dorm, she looked subdued, her eyes sad, and there was something else different about her. After many prying, she finally told me that her parents were very mad at her for dating the boy in secret, and they forced her to break up with the boy. When she refused, her parents locked her up in her room. Frustrated and angry, she had attempted suicide. If her parents didn’t find her on time, she would have died – she showed me a deep, long, red scar on her wrist.

Twenty years have passed since then. We have both grown up, tasted joy, sadness, the fickleness of love and the very depth of it. But sometimes memories won’t slip, and my friend’s story stays with me even though we’re seven thousand miles apart.

Having been living in the U.S. for almost fifteen years, I probably won’t do what my parents did – sending me away at a young age. I don’t think kids in the U.S. face situations like my high school friend did, as American parents, in general, are more open and understanding. But love, denial of love, and rebellion against denial will likely be a dilemma for many of us.

My friend is married to the boy now, and they have one child, who’s about ten years old. We keep in touch, and when we speak of our past, our love, our love in the past, we speak gently.

Weina Dai Randel recommends: 

Elsa Hart   –  elsahart.com  –  (at Amazon) author of historical mystery Jade Dragon Mountain; sequel White Mirror comes out in September

Susan Spann –  susanspann.com  — (at Amazon)  author of Claws of a Cat, a Shinobi mystery; sequel Ningja’s Daughter comes out in August

Cheryl Honigford – cherylhonigford.com –  (at Amazon)  author of upcoming novel historical mystery The Darkness Knows, released in August

H. P. Wood  –  www.hpwood.net  –  (at Amazon) author of Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet

Aimie K. Runyan  –  aimiekrunyan.com  –  (at Amazon)  – author of Promised to the Crown, just released in May, sequel comes out in September.


Questions for the Author:

Tell us about a moment in your life when you felt romance surrounding you.

Last year, after living in the U.S. for fifteen years, I went back to China with my kids and husband. I had IMG_2805left the country as a twenty-four-year-old single woman and now returned as a mother and a wife. My excitement was difficult to contain, and I was eager to introduce China to my kids. But the flight was sixteen hours, and by the time we rode to the hotel, they were exhausted and confused. And then, to my surprise, my two little kids, looking outside the window, watched the street signs in Chinese, which they couldn’t read, and began to sing in English in unison:

“One two three four five, I caught a fish alive,

Six seven eight nine ten, I let it go again.

Why did you let it go? Because it bit my tiny toe.

Which toe did it bite? The little one on the right.”

It was a very sweet feeling, and I was proud that my kids, even though they don’t understand Chinese very well, had this comfortable connection to the country where I was born and grew up. 

Do you have a place in the world or a sound that you equate with romance?IMG_2800

A classic Chinese garden. I don’t know why. I love classic Chinese garden.

Tell us about someone special in your life (other than your partner) with whom you share romance.

My friends in high school. I had four.

Who is your (or a) favorite romantic couple?

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Don’t laugh at me.

Tell us about your dream date. 

A trip to Europe with my family and we can eat snacks at a piazza, does that count? 

Weina is generously giving away one signed copy of The Moon In The Palace to one lucky reader (U.S. only, apologies to international friends). To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below or on the *Facebook post you’ll find here (or both – Share the Love!) ;o) by 11:59 pm PST Aug 9, 2016. Good luck! 


Author photo originalWeina Dai Randel is the debut author of The Moon in the Palace and The Empress of Bright Moon, historical novel series about Empress Wu, the first and only female ruler in China. She was born and raised in China. English is her second language. She came to the U.S. at the age of twenty-four, when she began to speak, write and dream in English. She has worked as a journalist, a magazine editor, and an adjunct professor.

Read more about Weina on The Wall Street Journal China Real Time, Library Journal, The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and other publications.

Learn more:

weinarandel.com     |     Facebook     |     Twitter

Buy Weina Dai Randel’s books:

availableon-amazon       availableon-nook    availableon-kobo

*Please note that the Amazon button, most cover images and many text links connect to a Read-A-Romance Month affiliate portal. Thanks so much for your help and support!

  • Sue G.

    Your friend’s story is both happy and sad. I cannot imagine having to live a life so contained when you are young. That’s the time you should be learning so much! I’m glad it had a happy ending though!

    • Weina Dai Randel

      I know. She’s the lucky one. So am I. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
      Weina

  • Nita Gill

    Such a sad story about your friend. But I’m happy to read they are still together!
    I love your beautiful book covers.

    • Weina Dai Randel

      Thank you, Nita!

  • Cheryl Honigford

    Lovely post, Weina. (And I’m glad it had a happy ending!)

    • Weina Dai Randel

      Thank you, Cheryl!

    • Hi Cheryl

      You’re Weina’s winner. :o) Please either reply here, send a mssg to the RARM FB page, or send an email to denise@readaromancemonth.com – include Weina Dai Randel winner in the subject please – with your email address and we’ll get your book to you.

      I hope you’re following all of the Read-A-Romance Month posts. xo

  • Patty Vasquez

    I love your opening words: “Love, as I see it, is like water – you have to be gentle with it, if you become desperate, trying too hard to grasp it, it’ll flow through your fingers, and it’ll leave you with an empty hand, and an empty heart.” I think people sometimes fall in love with the idea of love and find themselves with the empty heart. Beautiful words and thoughts.

    • Weina Dai Randel

      Thank you, Patty! Glad you like it.

  • What a fascinating story! I’m so glad that she didn’t have a tragic ending. <3

    • Weina Dai Randel

      Thank you, Susan.

  • Kathy Nye

    I recommend Susan Spann’s books also.
    And I agree with you that classic Chinese gardens are beautiful and romantic.

    • Weina Dai Randel

      Thank you, Kathy.

  • Heather Roach

    What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.

    • Weina Dai Randel

      Thank you, Heather!

  • Sharlene Wegner

    Whew! I was so glad you told us your friend and the boy got married. We needed a happy ending to that story! Thank you for sharing!

    • Weina Dai Randel

      A happy ending is always in my consideration when I write a novel. Glad I’m not alone. 🙂 Thank you, Sharlene.

  • Pamby50

    I love a romance book that gets HEA. So glad your friend received hers with the boy she fell in love with in high school. Adding you to my TBR pile.

    • Weina Dai Randel

      You know, with all your response of relief, I’m glad I add the happy ending. 🙂 Thank you, Pam.

  • Eileen Aberman Wells

    Thank you for your lovely post. I’ve heard about your books and they are on my to be read list. I’m so glad your friend had a happy ending, marrying her boyfriend.

    • Weina Dai Randel

      I’m so glad you’ve heard of The Moon In the Palace and The Empress of Bright Moon!!

  • K Davis

    I enjoyed the post. Your writing style is so beautiful, and poetic. 🙂

    • Weina Dai Randel

      Aw. You made my day. Thank you!! 🙂

  • Linda Henderson

    To me it’s always interesting to hear or read about life and love in different countries. I’m glad your friend ended up with her first love.

    • Weina Dai Randel

      Thank you, Linda! 🙂

  • Mary McCoy

    What an intense high school experience!

  • Molly

    I really want to read this book. High was a really rough experience.

  • Julie Nieves

    Your book covers are gorgeous. I can’t wait to read them. Thank you for sharing such an intimate story about your friend. How wonderful that she and her boyfriend are living their happily ever after!