Wednesday, November 15, 2017

An amazing event!

Had a great time with the Asian Art Society of Monterey, discussing My Half of the Sky and the projects that have emerged as a result.  Thanks to President Jean Hurd for hosting me.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Meaningful Time in San Diego at APHAFIC

Discussing Stories that Must be Told

Smiling with the Board of APHAFIC

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

If you're in the San Diego neighborhood on 2/25,stop by...

Winter meeting on Saturday, February 25, 2017
1:30 pm-3:30 pm
University Community Library,
4155 Governor Dr. San Diego, 92122, CA (858-552-1655 )
Program: Keynote speech and book sign, refreshment.
Free admission. Public is welcome
Jana McBurney-Lin speaks on
“Stories That Need to Be Told”

Author Jana McBurney-Lin will discuss her second novel, Blossoms and Bayonets (樱花 和 刺刀), which follows the family of one of the first Christian ministers in Korea during WWII--a time when the only permissible god was the Emperor of Japan. The story, co-authored by Dr. Hi Dong Chai (崔 熙東)who lived the history, not only follows his family in Seoul from 1942-45, but also offers an account of the War in the Pacific. Jana will talk about how this story found her, how the telling of it healed some of Dr. Chai's wounds, and the numerous stories she has uncovered since.

For reservation and information, please contact Lilin Wang 858-246-6165 ( or Camellia Yeqing Chen, 858-212-3645 ( Board of Directors: Jack Meng, Michael P. Lee, Lilin Wang, Mary Lee, Camellia Yeqing Chen, Ronghui (Lily) Xu, Winner Davis, Yuman Yang and Nancy Lo.

Jana McBurney-Lin, a native of Illinois with a degree in Communications, lived in Asia for 15 years—specifically, Japan and Singapore. There she worked as an editor for ALC Press, while freelancing for media sources around the world, including National Public Radio, Hemispheres magazine, Singapore Straits Times, and dozens of others. She wrote two novels: My Half of the Sky and Blossoms and Bayonets. She served as president of the California Writers Club, and the U.S.-China Peoples Friendship Association. She formed the first writers camp for kids in the mountains and recently started a blog highlighting Chinese-American views on ways to improve relations called, “Bridge over the Pacific.” (

Monday, November 28, 2016

Books--The Best Gift

If you're in the area, stop by. Dozens of vendors will be sharing their crafts. Author Bob Davis and I will be talking about our books. It's a great place to pick up gifts for all. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Write those thoughts while they're still hot

Yesterday I was walking with a friend who mentioned she had to write an essay. "As soon as my brain started thinking up ideas, I had to write them down." (Nevermind she was in the midst of a group of people.)
If we all were so attentive to our thoughts.
I used to wake up in the middle of the night, when hit by a scene or an image, tiptoe to my desktop, and release those thoughts onto the page.
These days getting those thoughts down requires a bit more persistence. For, while turning on the computer, I get distracted by my phone, catching up on the latest political fiasco or reading urgent mail. (Maybe even playing a few moves in 'words with friends.') By the time I sit down in front of the screen, the burning idea inside me has been diluted by thoughts of a foolish comment by a presidential nominee, concerns for parents who have lost children in a senseless shooting, worries about exactly how much time I have to finish editing stories just sent to me. That initial idea that had pulled me toward the computer in the first place--that fire--has dwindled to a few cold embers.
So, when your mind is churning--and your heart heats up--get those thoughts down while the feeling is still hot.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Tell Your Story First....Then Write It

My aunt told me a joke once. "This man walked into a bar and began swinging his dog around his head. Do you know why?"
"He was cruel?"
"No, no. It was a seeing-eye dog." She laughed. "And he was having a look around."
 I scratched my head. "Wait, it was a blind man?"
The next time she told that joke she remembered to describe the man as blind up front. The more times she told the joke --it was unfortunately an old favorite--the description was more and more embellished, with him feeling for the door handle of the entrance, etc. Although it was a pretty lame joke to begin with, the more practiced she became at telling it, the better it got. So, she wasn't the only one laughing at her joke.
As I watch my daughter worry over SAT writing tests and English essays, I tell her to practice by talking. Tell me a story a day. Take an event--no matter how trivial--and create a story from it, using important description, tension, a climax. Then, when faced with actually having to write something, the process will come with more ease. Give it a try.

What People Are Saying About My Half of the Sky

My Half of the Sky was the BookSense Pick for August 2006 as well as a Forbes Book Club Pick.

"McBurney-Lin tells a wonderfully entertaining story with the traditional coming-of-age theme (which is experienced universally)...weaving in the cultural challenges of growing up in China's rapidly changing social system."
Mary Warpeha, co-President of the Minnesota Chapter of US-China Friendship Association
March 2010

"The novel ...includes many of the tales and the folk ways of the people living in the rural areas of South China, still followed provincially. The story takes place in current China, but could relate the dilemma of any young woman in rural China through the ages."
Kitty Trescott, National Board of the Midwest Region of US-China Friendship Association. March 2010

"A lot is expected of a young Chinese girl. My Half of the Sky by Jana McBurney-Lin is the story of Li Hui, a young girl who has just achieved marriageable age. She seeks to make the most of herself, but the expectations all around her make it difficult, as her parents seek to use her as pawn to their advantage, she is faced with what she believes to be true love. She must balance career, romance, and family, all to somehow make everyone happy, a tough endeavor indeed. An engaging and entertaining read from beginning to end, "My Half of the Sky" is a poignant tale of the modern Chinese woman, and recommended for community library collections.
--Midwest Book Review November, 2008

“It is a rare women’s novel that sensitively describes the life of a young educated woman in modern-day China in its full complexity, without resorting to unnecessary sentimentalism. Jana’s deep knowledge of the realities of life in China and Singapore makes the reading extra rewarding. In fact, with every new page the novel gets harder to put down and you find yourself gobbling it up before you know it. Finally, the author has given a voice to the Li Hui in all of us, as we struggle for the golden middle between tradition and the modern momentum of our world.”
Isabella Sluzek
Friends of the Museum Book Review 2008

You'll be rooting all the way for Li Hui as she struggles, ahead of the curve, to be her own woman in an emerging, modern China. Jana McBurney-Lin's My half of the Sky is a beautiful, witty, touching debut novel.
Thomas B. Sawyer
Head Writer TV Series "Murder, She Wrote,"
Author - The Sixteenth Man

A complex and mesmerizingly original tale of a young Chinese woman caught between the modern world and the pull of her ancient culture. McBurney-Lin’s intimate portrait of China sparks with insights and is peopled with characters so rich and alive, they seem to breathe on the page. Dazzling and unforgettable.
Caroline Leavitt,
Author - Girls in Trouble

McBurney-Lin's debut novel is a gift. Li Hui is a memorable heroine, a young woman torn between her heart and her culture.Her daunting journey is a trip into China's complicated soul, and a deeply moving exploration of love, honor, duty, and loss." Frank Baldwin, Author - Balling the Jack

My Half of the Sky is a wonderfully-crafted story that was obviously written with a piece of McBurney-Lin's heart. A masterpiece."
Lee Lofland, Author - Howdunit: Police Procedure and Investigation

My Half of the Sky heralds the arrival of a fantastic new storyteller. With artistry and precision, Jana McBurney-Lin's clear-eyed prose takes the reader on a new journey into a past world that speaks to a modern sensibility, a modern world, a modern woman. This is a book to be treasured.
Emily Rapp, Author - The Poster Child

Through vivid descriptions of sights and smells, Jana McBurney-Lin's My Half of the Sky is a haunting, emotional journey of what it means to be an honorable female in modern China. Jill Ferguson, Author - Sometimes Art Can't Save You