Monday, May 19, 2008

You want me to do what?!!

I have a teenage son. He doesn't say too much, a sizzle here or there. But then he bursts forth with a real need. Today. Right this second. Now.
Most recently, I heard mumblings about friends who were on the Water Polo team. Then, last Monday, he said, "I need a water polo ball. I want to practice for the team. When can you pick me one up? Today? Tomorrow?"
So, I raced off when I had half an hour of free time between one appointment and the next, and stopped at Big Five. I wasn't quite sure what a water polo ball looked like, but surely it couldn't be that hard to find. The store had an entire wall of balls--beach balls, volleyballs, softballs, hardballs. Then, I saw them in the corner. Water Polo Balls. I could identify them clearly, as written prominently across the box were the words, "Women's Water Polo Ball."
I looked along the wall further for more that said "Men's Water Polo Ball." But there weren't any. Surely men's and women's water polo balls couldn't be different...could they? I searched out an assistant to ask (which was harder than locating the ball.) I finally found a young woman loitering near the cash register, popping a wad of gum. I asked her if she was an employee. (Or daughter of?) Could she help me?
"What's the difference between a men's and a women's water polo ball?"
"They're both about the same," she said.
It was then I noted that--not just on the box--but written across the face of the ball were the words, "Women's Water Polo." Hmm. This might not work.
"Let me see if we have any men's," she said.
I assumed we would walk back to the wall of balls and look together. Or that she would disappear into the back room and come out with one ball which hadn't yet been put on display. But, no. Instead she chewed and popped her way over to the computer and typed in a bunch of stuff.
"All we have is two women's water polo balls," she said.
"Oh, you have more than that," I nodded to the back wall. "I was just over there. You've got a good supply."
"No," she said, pointing to the flashing cursor underneath a column. "We only have two."
I had to laugh. Here, this young woman--without even investigating the physical evidence --put all her faith in whatever the computer said. Me? I'm not that computer confident. A computer has always been a typewriter with pizzazz. So, when friends mentioned I should have a blog, I arched my eyebrows and tried not to be offended. A what?
Fortunately, my friends are much more savvy than I. Bookstore owner, Paul Stone ( has been holding my hand the whole way. Last week, I--We-- got the blog up and I sat back with a sigh, thinking, "There. Now I can rest for a while. Perhaps take a hike in the woods."
But no.
As soon, as writer/editor, Becky Levine spotted my blog on the internet, she "meemed" me. Again, when I heard that word--which I'm still curious as to the origin--I arched my eyebrows.

But the rules of meeming are pure and simple.

1. Each player answers the questions about him/herself.

2. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, writes on their blogs to let them know they've been tagged.

3. Each player lets the tagger know when he/she has posted answers.

What were you doing ten years ago?
I was trying to get cool, I'm sure. We lived in Singapore--a degree away from the equator--and no matter what we we did, profuse sweating was always part of the program.
Seriously, in between mommying for three young children, I freelanced for magazines/newspapers on a variety of topics--from where to shop in Singapore to the way the islanders on Pulau Aur tricked the Japanese into leaving them alone during WWII. I had also started working on my first novel.

What are five things on your to-do list today (not in any particular order)
Just five????
write this blog entry
write in my journal
write three pages of the sequel to My Half of the Sky
edit with co-author HD Chai the latest draft of a historical fiction project about a young boy growing up in Korea and surviving WWII/Korean War
Find a men's water polo ball

What snacks do you enjoy?
It be easier to say which snacks I don't enjoy. I don't enjoy nachos covered in plastic squeezed-out-of-the-tube cheese, cheetos, doritos, Durian fruit, winter melon, pig's feet...and that's about it.

What would you do if you were a billionaire?
Money equals time not spent looking for the best bargain on shoes, the least expensive meal. Time to do all the things I've been saving up for or putting aside. More traveling would be a definite. I'd take the kids out of school and we would just travel the world, one country at a time. Also whenever my husband and I thought of an idea (we're always coming up with things) we'd get people to work on them right away. Until that billion arrives in the mail, though, I'm waiting for the clones.:)

What are three of your bad habits?
Only three?
Drinking too much coffee
Sitting in front of the computer too long--and foregoing a hike in the woods
Waiting for the clones to clear up the living room and fold the laundry and organize my office and clean out my closet and ...

Who have you tagged?

I'm hard-pressed to think up five people who blog. So, let's make it, two. Two fantastic writers:

Terri Thayer

Cliff Garstang

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