Monday, January 28, 2013

Book Signing in Sonoma

When I drove up to Sonoma on Saturday, the Friends of the Library, interesting patrons, even the sun  greeted me for two library discussions about My Half of the Sky and Blossoms and Bayonets. What I love about these events is meeting the people: a man whose family escaped China when Japan/China were fighting, a woman who lived in Kyushu after WWII and remembers South Koreans fleeing to this recent-enemy territory, a woman who worked in the US Embassy in China and fears for the future of our two countries. ("The US would never want to be #2"). It was a rich, rewarding afternoon. Thank you, Sonoma County Friends of the Library.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Book Signing in Sonoma

Saturday January 26th, please come join me:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Prime Minister Says There Was a Massacre in Nanking

Recently Japan's Prime Minister Abe has been waffling on the subject of the Nanking Massacre which took place during WWII in China, and even on the topic of sex slaves conscripted by the Japanese army. He's hemmed and hawed, and it made me wonder how anyone like that made it to power. (I can't see a German Chancellor being allowed to make such a doubt about the holocaust and stay in power---or perhaps even in the country.) I was tempted to send PM Abe a copy of Blossoms and Bayonets to fill the obvious gaps in his knowledge of history. I don't have to. Today Former Prime Minister Hatoyama visited Nanking...apologized for the atrocities, planted a gingko tree (a symbol of hope and  peace) at a memorial site, and said, "I will be back again." One small step for humankind.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Twitter Forces Truth

The US Embassy in Beijing began monitoring air quality two years ago, much to the dismay of the Chinese government. Through tweets, the Embassy would update whomever wanted to know. Last July this came to a head when the Chinese government said it was offensive.
"What if we monitored US air quality at our embassies in America?" the Chinese officials asked.
"Go ahead," came the response.
Unable to convince the Americans to stop watching--and more importantly, reporting on--their air, the Chinese government is now fighting to be the first to report. The truth. (Or at least closer to the truth than before.)

This past weekend the particles of yuck in the air surpassed 700 micrograms (20 is considered safe according to WHO).

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Not A Terrorist --Really

When we visited Canada, we were welcomed with open arms into the country at the crossing between Washington and Vancouver. Why are you here? How long are you staying? Have a great trip. I can't say enough about the beauty of the land...or the hospitality of the Canadians.
Our return was another story.
At the border, I got in what was called a Nexus Lane. It was closest to the Duty Free shop where we stopped so my son could use the restroom, predicting with great clairvoyance that we might get stuck waiting for a half an hour.
Or More.
The Nexus lane, as it turned out, was a fast lane--like FastTrak--on the highway. Who knew? At least FastTrak sounds like what it is. (I thought Nexus was the name of the Duty Free Store.)
I didn't think it was a big deal. I mean at the end of the lane was a border policeman. But this man went through the roof. I had violated the rules and was subject to a fine of up to $500, did I know that? I said I had no idea. He didn't want any of my "excuses." I should have known better. He was writing me a ticket right then and there. He fastened that ticket to my windshield like he'd just bagged a carload of terrorists and sent us all off to  "the building."
I felt miserable. Had there really been signs? Why had I ignored them?
Then again, it was a mistake for goodness sakes. I hadn't done anything with bad intent, no matter what the man outside thought. There was no reason go beat myself up.
I did anyway.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. How could I have been so stupid? To the tune of $500.
The building was like every immigration building I've been in, full of foreign-sounding people and disgruntled officers. Except for one. The man who took our "case" seemed nonplussed that we were even there, chitter chattering about what souvenirs we had bought and where we lived. Didn't we have a border crossing near us? He gave us our passports and sent us on our way.
Perhaps he'd want to trade places with the bulldog outside. Although next time I'll know. No Nexus Lane.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Impromptu Book Signing in Whistler, Canada

Over the holidays, our family drove to Whistler, Canada (to see an old friend from Tokyo days, to play in the snow.)  Carol Shore, the hostess of our lovely Bed and Breakfast  is an avid reader/art collector. She and her neighbor Valerie, another B&B owner, took it upon themselves to arrange a book gathering. I was awestruck. I still am.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

It's not in the Achievement; It's in the Goal-Setting

I've been asking those close to me about New Year's Resolutions and surprised by the number of people who say, "I don't make resolutions. Too much pressure." This past holiday, while driving to Canada with the family, I had a small discovery about goal-setting. I noticed that when we were in a town with no plan, we all became nervous, unhappy. However, as soon as someone threw out an idea--Let's go to the Taco place--the atmosphere turned to one of anticipation. In this instance, the taco place was closed. But we were in an eating area. We easily found someplace suitable. This goal-setting/failure/revision of plan happened over and over. It made me realize that it's not the achievement of a particular goal that is important. It's the setting of the goals that makes the difference. So, go ahead, tell me your goals for 2013.

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