Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pacific Grove Library Hosts Amazing Book Event

Last Thursday, Friends of Pacific Grove Library invited me to talk. There was a great crowd of fifty or so, all very interesting and interested people. Gerry Low-Sabado came all the way from Fremont...and took these photos.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Gerry Low-Sabado brings Chinese History in Pacific Grove Alive

The other day I attended my friend's award ceremony. Deepka Lalwani is one of those women who does everything--and does it well. Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski gave her the Asian-Pacific Islanders Award for her contributions to the Milpitas Community, especially her creation of the non-profit Indian Business and Professional Women.  IBPW supports women in their entrepreneurial endeavors and is a great networking place for the community.

As I turned to leave this lovely ceremony, a woman smiled at me-- "You look familiar."
It turned out this woman was planning to come to hear my talk at the Pacific Grove Library this Thursday and had just printed out the information and my picture. We were both amazed at the coincidence and traded stories.

Hers is fascinating.
Gerry Low-Sabado is a fifth-generation Chinese woman. Her great grandmother lived in Point Lobos...and there's a picture of her in the cabin on the property even today. Gerry has done a lot of research on Chinese in the area, gives an annual walk of remembrance through the help of numerous organizations in Monterey and Pacific Grove, and has created a video which details some of her family's story. She helps us all remember this forgotten history.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Blossoms and Bayonets Now In Paperback

Just held the real thing last week. It's such a thrill.
The book is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Please check it out. Or, if you've already read the book, please leave a review.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Diebenkorn's Advice on Art and...well...Writing

Like poetry, I don't always understand art. My artist friends help me to interpret bold lines and depth of feeling. Or they try to. Recently, a friend took me and my nieces from China to the Richard Diebenkorn exhibit at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. While others oohed and ahhed with wonder, and my guide for the day bubbled with enthusiasm, my nieces--one of whom is an amazing artist--giggled. What was THAT supposed to be? Was this really painted by an adult? I had to agree with them, and was comforted that I wasn't alone in my lack of appreciation (even if my company consisted of teenagers.)
Still, while I couldn't relate to the end product, I found a connection in Diebenkkorn's notes to himself on beginning a painting. I felt he could have been talking about beginning a story....
1. Attempt what is not certain. Certainty may or may not come later. It may then be a valuable delusion.
2. Use and respond to the initial fresh qualities, but consider them absolutely expendable.
3. Mistakes...can move you from your present position.
4. Tolerate chaos.
richard diebenkorn

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Toys for Trash

We import over 400 billion dollars worth of toys and goods from China each year. That's pretty well known. What is less talked about is that our biggest export to China is our trash. Imagine...
Reminds me of a scene I witnessed on the outskirts of Shanghai last year...

If you're in the neighborhood, you might stop in to hear what USC History Professor Joshua Goldstein has to say about recycling in China. 
Date: 9/12/2013
Place: Leavey Library, Leavey Auditorium, USC, Los Angeles, CA
Time: 4-5:30
Cost: Free 

Friday, September 6, 2013

September 26th Pacific Grove Public Library Speaking Engagement

This past summer was full of the unexpected. Among the highlights were several international visitors who spent a month with us--my two nieces from China and a French high school student. While I feared having them at the same time would be a disaster, it turned out that the mix of cultures was a bonus. There was no us versus them regarding eating, fashion, habits. It was us versus them and them which serves as a wonderful dilution. There was no 'dominant' language (i.e. English), so the goal just became communicating in any form possible. Charades worked well.
Our French friend was not fazed by much--well, except our eating...which was so early and where were the appetizers and the cheeses after dinner? He was a great fan of REALLY hardcore rap. I kept thinking that it was a case of him not understanding the lyrics. In fact, I hoped that was the case, as even MY teenagers would come to me, saying, "I can't take that music anymore." It was too funny.
Our Chinese nieces had visited before, but they had been toddlers at the time. They were struck by many things--the self checkout, the escalator that takes your shopping cart to the next floor, the variety of hair colors...and tattoos. We had fun.
In the meantime, some great book things happened. Blossoms and Bayonets came out in paperback form. Additionally, I was invited to speak at the Pacific Grove Library on September 26th at 7:30. While the flyer below focuses on My Half of the Sky, I'll be speaking about both books. I'll have both books for sale. So,if you're in the area, please come by.

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