Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Importance of Group When The Power Goes Out

The mountains were chaos last week. We got 10" of rain in twelve hours. Trees fell. Power lines fell. Everything went dark. PG&E kept saying, "Tomorrow, you'll get power back." After the third day of listening to that refrain, I made up a ditty in memory of Annie: "Tomorrow, Tomorrow, you might get power Tomorrow. If not, the sun shines anyway."
By the weekend, when we still had no power, we decided to move our "campsite" to a real park. New Brighton State Beach. We were a big group of families and friends. My second son asked if he could bike down the Demonstration Forest Path (a 30 mile ride) and meet us there. I said sure, but he needed to include all his friends. One of those friends was not a biker. According to his mom, he had loved biking but had taken a really bad spill. That had been the end of his short biking career. She asked if I could give the boy a ride. When he came down to our house, though, all the other boys were getting ready to leave. "You coming with us?" they asked. "Come on. It will be fun." That boy looked at the group of enthusiastic faces and he got on his bike and rode that 30 mile ride. I still get teary-eyed thinking about it. About the power of positive support, the power of a group.
One such group for writers is the California Writer's Club which now has 18 branches throughout the state. (I had the pleasure of speaking at Southbay's publishing panel last week.) I've been a member of the group since we moved to the US ten years ago, and I'm sure I wouldn't be published if it wasn't for their feedback, networking and encouragement (especially when my power was out.)
Upcoming Events: November 4, 11:30, The Loma Prieta Club, Skyland Church, Los Gatos. I'll be discussing My Half of the Sky.
Book of the Week: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. This story is about a man who loses everything and his struggle to get back what he can. Garth Stein and I both appeared at NCIBA when My Half of the Sky and his first book came out. (How Evan Broke His Head and other Secrets). While I enjoyed that first book, I wasn't eager to read his second, only because I'd heard it was from the viewpoint of a dog. A dog? But then my neighbor, a fellow writer, who has never failed me on book suggestions yet, said "You gotta read this." She was right.

2 comments:

beckylevine.wordpress.com said...

Wow! I think my husband still wants to ride that trail--I don't even think it's an easy one. Good for friends who can invite in a supportive way, so the worried one can take the chance. Your son rocks.

It was good seeing you at the "Downtown" office during the power outage, too. Hope the camping weekend was fun!

Jana McBurney-Lin said...

From what I understand it is THE trail to ride--people come from all over to do it.
I have to add that Tianna, my ten-year-old, also did the trail (although I did my best to dissuade her, to need her help packing, etc.) She also made it down. And my husband pointed out that if either of them had been alone, they might have given up, thinking, "I can't do this. It's too hard." That's what made me think of writing. I can't count the times I've thought, "This is just too much." I'm glad for supportive writing friends. Like you.

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
Singapore

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