Monday, December 26, 2011

Fun with Antiques

My younger son is into photography these days. So, one of the big gifts I gave him this Christmas was a "real film" camera from the back of my closet. He thought it was so "cool." I got a kick out of the idea that something I'd used as a young adult was an antique, and was thrilled to be able to actually teach him something. (Usually he's the one showing me how to set a password or download an app.)
By the way, one of his photos was chosen for a city contest
Please take a look and vote---the beautiful blue rose picture is his. Merry Holidays.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Amazing Coincidences

This past month, I had the good fortune to visit England and Denmark. Our eldest was doing a semester at Warwick and, as the Brits don't do Thanksgiving, we took it to her....and to a smattering of relatives who have lived overseas so long they've forgotten about that particular tradition. There were a great many amazing moments (which I won't tire you with). I did discover the fact that Warwick Univ --of all possible places in the universe-- has a sister relationship with NTU-Singapore. So I arranged to drop off a copy of My Half of the Sky for their library. That was definitely fun.

Book of the Week: Shelter Me by Juliette Fay. When the story opens Janie, who has two small children, has just lost her husband in a freak accident. Seems like a real downer, but the voice of Janie is strong and funny, and made for a good read.

Monday, November 14, 2011

One Hunk No Longer Enough

A few years ago my husband went out and bought a mega-drive (as in I don't know how big it really was. Just big.) I backed up writings and kids' work and pictures--tons and tons of pictures. In fact, I spent an entire summer scanning old photos which I then gave over to this hunk of a drive.

This weekend, as my youngest and I were preparing to go to England/Denmark for ten days, I thought it best to back up the latest drafts of my new novel. I plugged in my hunk of a drive. The light came on, but the hunk was not there. The Geek Squad informed me the hunk had died. That they could not retrieve the information....although maybe a stronger engineering team could. (stronger meaning mega-expensive.)

How could this happen? I felt sure that one hunky drive was enough. Even my engineering husband had been confident.

I asked Mr. Geek how he did back up. He said he had four drives, did four back-ups of all his information, and checked the drives weekly to see they were working.

He must have some serious information he's worried about losing.

Then he went on, "But, if you have documents you're really concerned about, you might want more than four back ups."


So the one hunk is not sufficient. But four? How many back-ups do you do?

Books of the week

Quiet as they Come by Angie Chau is a series of short vignettes about a family of Vietnamese who are trying to make it in America. They live one family to a room in a dilapidated apartment. There is never enough food or clothing--even love is sometimes in short supply. The writing is beautiful, the stories very touching. It's well worth the read.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Biggest Ghost in Our Family's Past

With Halloween coming up--and kids digging through the crafts box to figure out what to dress up as--I was reminded of the biggest ghostly incident in our family.

We were living in Singapore and had traveled to Bintan Island, Indonesia for a holiday. They had nice shacks lining white-sand beaches, coconut trees swaying in the breeze, lovely coral filled the water. It was idyllic except for the neighbors who started drinking before noon and got progressively louder.

We quickly took the kids out for a swim, enjoying the lovely coral, the pretty fish, the warm water. We stayed out all day, only coming in as the sun was setting and we were hungry, tired, and salty.

As we passed the neighbors, there was no more raucous laughter. "Did you see a middle-aged man out there swimming?" One of them came up to us and asked. "Our friend Suzuki is missing. "

There had been a bunch of teens splashing around near the rocks, a lone woman snorkeler. But no Suzuki.

My husband went off to help locate the inebriated Suzuki. The sky was turning a light shade of pink. It would be dark soon.

I took the kids into the shack alone to help them shower. As I stood in the shower, I felt a shiver. Why would Suzuki just disappear like that?

We dressed and hurried to join the search party. Now there were dozens of people lined up along the beach. One of the friends suddenly tore off his shirt and raced into the water. "I'm coming." he shouted as he swam toward the deep waters. "Hold on."

"You found him?" I asked looking into the dark water. For now it was so dark it was hard to see.

"There." My husband pointed.

I squinted at the dark, menacing waves and could just barely make out a head. I held onto my children, remembering how much this man had had to drink all day and wondering why in the name of anything he was out here swimming.

More people gathered, pointing and murmuring. Finally, a motorboat sounded in the distance. A rescue was on the way.

"What's everyone doing out here?" A man came racing down the beach. He was dressed up for dinner. He was loud.

"Suzuki?" Someone called. "Is that you?"

It was. He had been waiting in the restaurant the whole time. So who was in the water being rescued?

The rescue boat shone its light across the waters... on the swimming heroic friend and then "Suzuki"...a big bobbing coconut.

We all got a good laugh out of that. But, it made me realize how we are so easily dominated by imagined fears. How quick we are to see dangers that don't exist. It is a reminder--although my kids are usually the ones to do the reminding--to embrace adventure and not look for the bobbing coconuts.

Book of the week:
Inkblot by Johnson Naigle is a fun young adult story about a teen who creates this ingenious personality profiling software which he hopes to one day use for the good of society. Unfortunately his love interest decides it could be used for the good of her career first. It is an easy, cute read.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Never Too Late to Apologize
The Chinese Exclusion Laws involved legislation Congress passed between 1879 and 1904 that explicitly discriminated against persons of Chinese descent based on race. The laws imposed increasingly severe restrictions on immigration and naturalization. Congress repealed the laws as a wartime measure...but they never looked back, never thought to apologize.  

On October 6, 2011 the Senate (finally) passed S. Res. 201--the resolution addressing and expressing regret for the Chinese Exclusion Laws--by unanimous consent. We could not have done this without the considerable constituent support that all of you provided, or the inspiring and tireless leadership of our prime sponsor, Senator Scott Brown.  Now we're hoping for similar success in the House.

To learn more about these miserable laws and to write a note to your Congressperson, go to The 1882 Project

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tossing Out My Swear-Meter

I used to have a swear-meter, counting cuss words in movies, and making the kids stop watching if the count went higher than six.
"Who cares about plot?  If they can't get the story across without cussing a blue streak, then I don't want to hear it."  That was my motto.
But I didn't stick to it.  As the years went on, I realized I was missing a lot of good movies.  I think I was the last one on earth to see Saving Private Ryan.
That same motto was not relaxed with books...until recently.
Over the summer, my son came home with a book.  He wouldn't show me the title, but I often heard him off in the corner giggling and finally I couldn't stand the suspense. He was busting his gut over Shi*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern.
I was immediately turned off by the title.  But the memory of those giggles stayed with me.  So, the other day, when I saw it on my other son's Kindle, I thought I'd read a bit.
I happened to be at my youngest daughter's piano lesson--not in some studio waiting room, but in the living room of our neighbor three feet away from my daughter and her teacher.  I soon found myself giggling so hard I thought my stomach would break and trying not to given the circumstances.  Afterwards, my daughter asked, "Mom, why were you crying?"
It's definitely worth reading, although perhaps not at a piano lesson and not with your youngest daughter...too many swear words.


Monday, October 10, 2011

A Cure for the Dentist's Drill

This afternoon I had to have a crown redone.  It sounds like such a lovely event, complete with swishy red velvet dresses and diamonds and dancing til dawn.  But we all know better.  The only thing red is--well I won't go there.  Not at all looking forward to this, I thought of an escape: my son's Kindle (which at some point in time had actually been a gift to me.) I seemed to remember that it has a text-to-speech function.  Of course, I couldn't figure out how to use it so I asked my friend, Google.  Sure enough there was even a You Tube Video on the subject.  Armed with my Kindle I entered the world of doom and gloom.  I must admit the robotic voice was irritating as I sat looking out the window awaiting my fate.  But, let me tell you, even robots sound like old friends when compared to the drill.  I won't be visiting the dentist again without my Kindle.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

China's Not So Far From Oz

A couple weeks back I went to Kansas City, Missouri for the US-China People's Friendship Association's National Convention. I kept thinking, "Kansas City?  Only Oz is further."
As it turned out, Kansas City is very close to China--
Edward Snow was born here and his legacy continues,
Kansas City is sister cities with Xian,
Missouri State has an amazing Asian Studies Program, and
the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum has a huge Chinese art collection.
Everywhere I turned there was a link to China.
I guess the lesson here was not to judge a state by a musical (although I did see my fair share of ruby slippers.)
I'm pleased to say that Missouri State has a copy of My Half of the Sky in their library and the Nelson Atkins has autographed copies for sale in their bookstore.
Books of the Week:  Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.  Ford writes of the period during WWII when the US was in a panic and every Japanese was spy material.  His hero is a young Chinese boy who must wear a badge around which reads, "I am Chinese."  He doesn't understand the point of this until his new best friend, a Japanese girl, is taken away to a relocation camp.  The badge turns from something pointless to a valuable shield.  It's a fascinating and well-told story.  (My only complaint is that the Japanese translations are off.)
A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer--This was really long and overdramatic story which couldn't decide if it was a romance or a mystery.  However, the history in here about the development of penicillin (and the way people dropped off like flies before it) was fascinating.  

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sentiments that live through the ages

Several years ago, a Korean gentleman approached me. “Your book reminds me of old Korea.Will you help me tell my story?“ This man grew up in Korea during WWII and the Korean War (1950’s). His father (A Christian minister) and two older brothers were killed during these wars, all by different regimes. He wasn’t out to point a finger and say, “This country was bad to us.” However, he wanted people to understand that when a country has a bad leader—any country—the innocent suffer. He said his deepest wish is that all people of the world hold hands across the oceans in peace and brotherhood. This past week, one of the lovely Afghan Women writers wrote a poem, the following of which is an excerpt: Dear people of world and friends Dear people who are black, white, yellow, and from every race, every country Let us put our hands together To help prevent another murder I was struck by the similar image, an image many of us dream of but cannot grasp. (In fact, I’m often struck by how I have so much trouble with just the people next door.)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Memories from around the world

As I mentioned, this month I'm lucky to be able to mentor Afghan women writers, as they work to express their thoughts. Today, one of my writers--Yalba --is featured on the blog as she recalls what 9/11 meant to her family. It's an amazing story. Please visit Islamabad and 9/11 and leave feedback.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Labor Days

Five years ago a friend set up a website for My Half of the Sky. I didn't get the chance to use it—as KOMENAR publishing had different plans. And, while recently the publisher gave me the green light, my friend had moved onto different projects. So any updating and setting up of a website was now in my lap. Ugh.

This past weekend, my computer engineering husband took pity on me with my html-code cheat sheet. But even with the two of us hovered next to the screen, we spent all the holiday sighing and looking at the ceiling and asking the screen, “What do we do now?” Days of intense labor. Please come take a look.

I had a worst-books kind of week. I just read a book put out by a big publisher (Houghton-Mifflin), so I assumed it would be wonderful. The writing was choppy and disjointed with points of view popping up for no apparent reason, with chapters hinging on unbelievable details (like a guy having sex with his girlfriend and not noticing she is five months pregnant.), with main characters acting deliberately dumb. The author got lost in what felt like a moral crusade to preserve life. The book was instructional to me on how not to write. But gosh, it was painful to read. Have you read anything good lately?

Friday, September 2, 2011

An interesting book and fascinating project

Last weekend, I had the chance to hear Ying-Ying Chang talk about her new book, The Woman Who Could Not Forget. I had not heard of the book, but I knew Mrs. Chang was the mother of Iris Chang, an incredible author who wrote several books including the most definitive, well-documented (and readable) book on the rape of Nanking. Iris Chang suffered depression and shot herself in 2004.

Her mother, Ying-Ying, in an effort to squash rumors surrounding her daughter’s death, wrote a book. It’s a charming read, one that is so sad, yet so full of hope. She talks about Iris’s life as a child, a mother, a writer. One line stuck out for me in an e-mail Iris had sent her mother: “Words are the only way to preserve the essence of a soul.”

So true in many ways.

Iris Chang believed words were one way to be immortal—marveling at the works of Churchill and Darrow and Napolean. Another author believes that words are one way to keep the soul alive. Masha Hamilton, who has also written many wonderful books-- my favorite being the Camel Bookmobile—started a writing project a little over two years ago to give Afghan women a voice.

I've been following the project since its infancy, marveling at the stories these women share, despite the danger to themselves and their families, despite the long and arduous journeys they must often make to get their words out. This month, I am privileged to get to work with some of these writers.

Please stop by Afghan Women Writers Project, see what they’re writing about, and leave a comment or two. Your comments and encouragement mean the world.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A New Convert to the E-Reader

I never caught the e-reader bug. I bought one for my mother and tried it out. But I prefer having a book in my hands, turning real pages, going back to a passage I enjoyed without using a "search" function.
However, a dear friend recently gave me a Kindle and I thought I'd try it again. I didn't even get the chance. My children swooped down on that thing like pigeons spotting a bread crust.
What's so fantastic about that is none of my children were avid readers. They would read their school texts and maybe a few extra books for pleasure each year. But that was it...
Until the Kindle. The week we got it, my son devoured an entire series. My daughter, who fought for time, read two books. I eventually broke down and bought another one--this time a Nook, as I understand colleges are making materials available on it.
I'm now a devout worshipper of this device, and enjoy knowing that the kids are scrolling through book after book after book.
Book of the Week: Eden Close by Anita Shreve. Shreve's use of language is always a treat. This story is too. A thirty-something man returns to his hometown for his mother's funeral, to pack up the house. He plans to just get in and out, as his high-powered job in New York is calling. However, he begins revisiting memories, including those of his friendship with the girl next door.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I'm In Control

Recently, my younger son was struggling with grades. I wasn't sure what the problem was. He's intelligent. He's capable. So, why all the missing homework? The low test scores?
I kept asking him, "What's the problem here?"
"It's nothing," he kept saying, "Don't worry, Mom. I'm in control."
I trusted that elegant pronouncement....for a long time. Then I found a place called All Minds Matter.
The first question the Academic Coach, Caitlin Hoffman, asked was, "Does you son have a cell phone with him when he studies?"
"Of course," I said. "But you know these young people. They're so capable of multi-tasking."
"No, no, no," she said. "Take the phone away when he studies."
The first time I took the phone away, it was like taking opium from an addict. But I wrenched it from his hand. I put it downstairs near me. I was doing some research.
Bzz. Bzz. Bzz. The thing went off.
I found my spot again and continued reading.
Bzz. Bzz. Bzz.
I was interrupted mid-sentence and forgot what I'd just read.
Bzz. Bzz. Bzz.
That damn thing went off--with someone's text--every five minutes. The noise alone made me lose focus. I could just imagine my son attempting to study anything. Unless it only took four minutes to do, it wouldn't happen. It was an eye-opening experience. And I came away wondering about my own forays away from the page. The occasional click to check e-mail or look at ratings.
It's nothing, as my son would say. I'm in control. Or am I?

Books of the Week: Lost Names by Richard E. Kim--Kim writes of a young boy growing up in northern Korea during WWII. He takes you through the injustice, the fear, the hunger, the sorrow of growing up in an occupied nation as a young boy, and the exultation yet concern of being suddenly set free with the end of World War II as a teenager. It's a lovely story, and I only wish he'd kept going to deal with the moments when North Korea became a state in its own and yet another war broke out. Oh, wait, he does. But, it's another book. (The Korean War) Goody.
Rescue by Anita Shreve-- This more recent book of Shreve's is of an EMT who falls in love with a woman he rescues, and then must deal with the fall-out of that disastrous relationship. The writing is beautiful, of course. It's an interesting read.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Yes, and...

Tina Fey in her book Bossypants, which I've already lent out so I can't quote from, talks about tricks she learned doing improv. She'll stand on stage and her partner will say, "Hey, Mom, I just realized I'm from Mars." Instead of saying, "No, sweetheart," she'll say, "Yes, and isn't that a wonderful realization?" In fact, the rule of thumb in improv is that you don't use the word,"No." You accept any and every suggestion which is thrown at you, and move with this new body of information.
Just for fun, I started counting the times I say (or think) No to someone else's ideas, beliefs, suggestions. (I decided improv would not be a good profession for me.) Seriously, though, it hit me this week, as I was struggling with my manuscript, that one of my critiquer's ideas --to add another character's voice-- was just what I needed. When she had initially suggested this six months ago, I thought, "No way. She's nuts." If only I'd read Fey's book earlier.
So I've decided the Fey approach might be the key not only to improv...but to writing, to life in general.
Books of the Week: On A Night Like This by Ellen Sussman: The main character of Sussman's book discovers she has cancer and is going to die very soon. She is a mother of a teenager, and has no other family around. I kept thinking, "How can this story end well?" This is going to be maudlin and mushy and sad. It wasn't. While there were a few too many forays into discussions on love and dying, it was an interesting and meaningful read. One that will stay with me for a long time.
Bodysurfing by Anita Shreve: The book reads like a poem--throwing out images rather than holding my hand and guiding me in the right direction. I, at first, thought this would get tiresome. Instead, I stayed up half the night wanting to know what happened next. Shreve has a way of placing you right there in the middle of the action--and lots of it. I hated for the story to end.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Surely even Kipling expected us to take a water break

My eldest daughter sent me three e-mails this week. All one line, no frills updates. She wasn't coming home, as she wanted to take summer school classes; she wanted me to edit a donation-request letter for her Medical Brigades trip to Honduras; her wisdom teeth were bothering her. I had heard about all these activities (minus the wisdom teeth), but hadn't realized just what a pile it had become. I picked up the phone to find out how she was doing. She said she felt stressed--thus the short e-mails. I listened to her schedule which was jammed, every unforgiving minute full of sixty seconds worth of distance run, until January of 2012 and understood why. I had the urge to grab onto her, make her look back a moment from whence she'd come before moving on, make her take a water break. Surely even Kipling intended us all to do that.
Talking with her inspired me to take my own advice. This time of year is always stressful. It's the end of the school year--my children are already celebrating with beach days and pajama days. I'm still trying to force out another chapter--some days even another paragraph would be welcome. After talking with my daughter, I got on the computer, not just to stare at the cursor on my current chapter, but to look back at all the projects I've done over the year (and okay, I looked back even further.) I got lost remembering the fun of that project, the inspiration for that, the multitude of tasks I'd forgotten I'd accomplished. I haven't felt so de-stressed in weeks. You should try it.
Book of the Week: Bossypants by Tina Fey. Tina Fey has a witty stream-of-consciousness style that makes you feel like you're sitting against the bleachers with your best buddy. I haven't laughed so much in a long time. If looking back isn't your thing, this is a good 'water break.' I'd do both.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Imperfect Action

This past weekend, I got to be a part of the National League of American PEN women's presentation, awarding generous scholarships to women in art, music, letters. I told the Race Story (as it's come to be known in our family.) How my daughter once joined the track team and was invited to this big meet where she could join any event she dared. We all went to watch, lugging babies and babydom to what felt like the other side of the country. (It was really just a half hour away.) But we couldn't see my daughter. Which race was she participating in? We finally spotted her sitting in the middle of the field chatting with friends. When I went to find out why she wasn't running any of races, she mumbled,
"I don't want to. What if I lose?"
"Just run the race, Love. Run the race."
Her raw fear feels true to me everyday--it's so much easier to sit on the field (whether you have finals coming, a concert, a book project, whatever) then to stand up and give the project in your heart your damndest and fail.
I still congratulate these young National Pen women scholarship applicants for running the race. For winning.
Along this theme, fellow author Jane Parks-McKay pointed me to a great video: Artist Michele Theberge talks about how to move forward when your mind is giving you a thousand reasons why not to work on your project : I don't know how to start it. I don't have all the research. I don't have all the materials. Who will be interested? She calls it Imperfect Action and says, "Just take one step. Action begets action." A great reminder. (
Book of the Week: Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown . The book's construction was fascinating, told from the we-POV of the sisters. It was as if these three sisters were one body telling this story. For that alone, I think it is worth the read. That and the lovely turns of phrase. The plot? Uh--well, that kind of fell off the table....

***As a side note: If you know of any young (I know we're all young, but in this case highschool and college age young) female artists, musicians, writers, who are live in the Bay Area, point them in the direction of the National Pen Women. The scholarship info for next year should be up on the website in a couple of months.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Some good books

The Imperial Cruise by James Bradley. Ever wondered how the idea of Nazi-ism got started? Why the sudden push for an Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere? What sparked WWII? I always thought the world had just gone mad (a bad 60-year cycle, as fengshui people would say). Not so, writes James Bradley, documenting early Americans and especially focusing on the first President Roosevelt who promoted a Japanese Monroe Doctrine. The work is eye-opening....and humbling.
A Helmet for my Pillow by Robert Leckie. HBO did a series called The Pacific, which documented some of the worst battles in the Pacific during WWII (and with Steven Spielberg directing, no gore was left to the imagination.) While I had trouble watching the series, covering my eyes each time bombing started, I was fascinated that the characters in the series were based on real men. One such man was Robert Leckie who wrote a bunch of books about his wartime experiences. A Helmet for My Pillow was like reading someone's letters home--funny, endearing, heartwrenching.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Awe-inspiring Grace

The buzz in my children's worlds recently has come from UCLA. A student there got on you-tube to offer her opinion of library manners--or the lack thereof. While I hate to subject people to such nonsense, and cringe everytime I hear her talking about "hordes of Asians" --as certainly 99% of them are Americans who happen to speak more than English--one must see the video in order to understand one man's response. And there was an outpouring of response. Shame, anger, disgust, etc. I fell in the latter category, as in "How did someone like that get into UCLA???? Is this the type of politician we have to look forward to?" But one man--Jimmy Wong--wrote a song. It's tune is fun and simple, the lyrics poke good-natured fun (all the way down to his exaggerated Japanese accent), and the monies he receives when you buy his song as an i-tune download go to Tsunami Relief. Ching-Chong. I'm in awe of such grace.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Places to Help Japan

The other day I was talking with a friend about Japan, and she said she hadn't heard of any fundraising efforts. I was thinking that all I've seen is fundraising for Japan--but then perhaps it is because I'm looking, looking, looking. For those who also haven't seen any fundraising efforts, I found a great blog which listed places to help out Japan Let me know if you find other places.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Deliver Me From the Stone Age....Please

This past week was midterm week at the high school. Oh, so much information. Where does one start? I suggested my son make flashcards.
A pile of cards later, he looked more frustrated. How would he ever remember all these battles? Dates? Cell parts?
Hmmmm, what about the internet? Perhaps someone had developed a game--like jeopardy or concentration--which would make the info fun and easy to remember.
Nope. He found something even cooler.
Online Flashcards
Perhaps I'm the last neanderthal to have made this discovery. But just in case there are a few others remaining, let me say it is the greatest tool. You create your own flashcards and then can test yourself. What's more, for a small fee, you can download the info to your ipod. All week, wherever my son went, he could pull out his ipod and test himself.
I'm now looking at a pile of index cards on my desk--not for midterms, but for my novel. An unwieldy bunch of cards, denoting characters and their traits, place names, chapters and their happenings. I'm thinking it's time for me to join the new century and do some of this online flashcard stuff....but then perhaps there's a better internet application specifically for writers. Any thoughts?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Run the Race

Years ago, my eldest daughter joined the school track team. One of the first meets was away, and the coach encouraged the runners to join as many events as possible. I dragged my whole crew to this far-away school to support her.
We couldn't find her. At least not on the track. After numerous races, a diaper change, a juice-box break, I spotted her sitting on the field surrounded by a bunch of friends.
"Why aren't you joining any of the races?" I asked.
"I don't want to," she mumbled.
"Why not?"
"What if I lose?"
That raw emotion stays with me. I was reminded of it this week when my son did his best to ignore impending finals--surfing the web, making plans to build half pipes, playing video games.
I'm reminded it of it each time I put off my own writing in favor of something mundane like cleaning out a closet. For certainly it's easier to say I didn't have time to put my whole self into something then to do my damndest and fail.
But as I said to my daughter that day, as I told my son, as I must remind myself everyday:
Run the Race.
Book of the Week:
Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt. It's been months (a long time for me) since I found a book that grabbed me, one that I looked forward to reading for more than sedative purposes. Pictures of You kept me up half the night as I longed to find out what happened to these dear characters thrust together as the result of a horrific car crash. A good--and fast--read.

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