Wednesday, October 30, 2013

USC to talk of how US-China see each other

When living in Asia, I often felt loud, arrogant, not quite dressed. At the same time, I viewed my neighbors as shy, only willing to admit an ability under extreme duress, and always dressed like they'd just stepped from an important board meeting. (I remember one Chinese friend who even wore his suit and dress shoes with us on a fishing boat to Malaysia.)
This week USC US-China Institute will be discussing how China and the U.S. view each other. If you're in the area, it should be a fascinating conference. If not, you can download the videos afterwards.
This week is also your chance to win a free copy of Blossoms and Bayonets. If you haven't signed up at Goodreads, do so today. There are only twelve hours left.
Finally, don't forget to stop by the Martin Luther King Library on Saturday to get your fun fill of books, books, books. I'll also have special bookmarks crafted by Madame Paper Cutter.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

When Writing that Application, Write to Your Friend

I was recently asked to comment on responses to an application. The answers were stilted. The descriptions drowning in words like 'exciting,' 'adventurous,' 'go-getter.' Yawn. What made this so difficult to read was that I knew the person, an amazing woman of many talents.
The advice I suggested (and which I must remind myself about everyday) is
Don't just tell this stuff, show it.
Imagine that computer screen is your best friend--share your stories to him/her.
Remember that even a best friend will lose interest if you're just connecting impressive-sounding words together.
This should be fun.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Great Portal for Unique Tidbits on China

I'm always on the lookout for places talking about China. One great spot is the USC-China Institute. Visit their website and click on the videos underneath a speech that interests you. Learn about the garbage city of Wenan that American exports helped create. Or Government control over television. Or Chinese research into bright people's DNA. The site is a great resource.

On another happy note, a Goodread's Member Nona Mock Wyman today wrote the following about Blossoms and Bayonets:
"I was apprehensive about reading Blossoms & Bayonets, because my interest was not about war. But once I started the book I could not stop. The author's unique style describing the emotions of each character in their own separate chapter seeps into you and becomes a part of you! 
As an author, I had questions in my 1st book, Chopstick Childhood about war. These questions were unexpectedly answered ~ educating me decades later!
Definitely a 'Goodread' for everyone. (5 stars)"

If you don't have your copy yet, enter to win a free one.

  Goodreads Book Giveaway

This is the last week of the drawing.
If you can't wait, get yours at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.  Happy reading!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Nov 2nd Satisfy Your Literary Cravings at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Library Author Fair

I'm one of thirty Bay Area authors who will be at the upcoming Author Fair held at the Martin Luther King Jr Library on Nov 2nd from 1-4pm. Authors will not only be autographing books, but also talking about their work. From memoir to non-fiction, poetry to literary fiction--you'll find books to satisfy every reader. Look forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Japan Just Apologize

When I was sixteen, some friends of my parents who lived in Kobe, Japan, invited me to spend the year with them and go to school. I remember being nervous about navigating my way on foot from the train station to the school, thrilled with all the quaint shops and corner vending machines, and super busy adjusting to a new country, new language, new friends, new family. The last thing I was thinking about was reporting to the local police station within a month of my arrival. So I didn't.  31 days later, a police officer showed up at the door. Why hadn't I reported my presence?  "Well, here I am," didn't amuse the officer.
I had to go to the official downtown immigration office and explain in writing why I'd neglected this important duty. I gave the officer at the desk my letter which included the above laundry list of reasons. He looked at the sheet and shook his head. Handed me back the paper. "I don't need to know your excuses. You just need to apologize." I returned home and re-wrote the letter with just the words, "I'm sorry." I was forgiven.
Japan would do well to take its own advice. (Or at least this one officer's advice.) In the meantime, perhaps we all could nudge them a bit to do so.
Toronto ALPHA  (Association for Learning and Preserving the History of WWII) has joined the Korean Council for Women in the 100 Million Signatures for Grandmas campaign which is seeking support in asking Japan to just apologize. Please take a minute and add your signature.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Just Put One Word in Front of the Other To Get that College App Out

It's college apps season in our house. How does one explain a lifetime in 1500 words or less? A unique quality in 500 words? Each time I ask about the C-word, my son cringes. "You're stressing me out."
I understand how he feels. I really do. My life is one never-ending application.
Through the years I've made a list of things I remind other writers, things I try to remember myself, things that might be helpful in finishing those applications:
1) Know that that there will ALWAYS be other things you need to do. While they seem of vital importance now, you will remember them as unnecessary distractions.
2) No matter how hard you sit and watch that flashing cursor, nothing is going to emerge magically onto the paper until you start typing.
3) Know that you CAN tell your story. It's inside you (perhaps not always burning to get out.) But it's there.
4) Know that those first words, no matter how well thought out, will either be deleted or moved around. So just start typing.
Put one word in front of the other.
Soon you'll be walking out the door...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Blossom and Bayonets Book Giveaway!

The month of October Goodreads will be giving away copies of Blossoms and Bayonets. 
Click for your chance to win!



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