Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hiker Friends for the Journey

We have a beautiful dog named Scotch. She is a sweet dog, and one of many dogs on the road...some of whom are not so sweet. In fact there's a posse of six right up the road who will bark at a falling leaf, and whose ferocity brings out the "flight" instinct.
Still, Scotch loves being outside and wandering, and she'll often go on walks with the neighbors. Then she'll stop and say hello to the friendlier dog population. At night, she comes back home.
This past week, though, she went out early in the morning and she didn't come back. So I called one of our neighbors and asked if there had been a Scotch spotting.
"Oh, yeah," he said. "Saw her heading up past the corral with another dog."
I got in my car and went looking. I drove past the corral down towards another neighbor's. Just as I pulled into her place, she was driving out with Scotch in her car, ready to bring this guest home. It wasn't the first time.
My dear neighbor had a theory that Scotch followed hiker friends up the road, but then was afraid to go back down, "past the barrier" of six barking soldiers on our road.
It seemed a funny thing. I mean why would she walk past this menacing barrier a first time, but not a second? Obviously having the hikers by her side made all the difference.
This episode reminded me of my own writing. About my barriers: How will I find time to write in the middle of x, y, and z? How should I start? How will I get past the murky middle? What will my mother (sister, brother, husband, friends) think of this? These barriers are no less daunting even though I've passed them before.
And I definitely agree with Scotch. It’s necessary to have "hiker friends"--CWC, my critique group, my writing buddies-- along on the journey.

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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