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