Thursday, April 17, 2014

Polish Your Writing So It Shines Bright Like A Diamond

On my recent college tour, I spent many hours in the air, adjusting my seat back and buckling my seat and perusing the information in the pocket in front of me. In one of those pockets I found an article written by Kathleen Parrish about her time as a stand-up comedian. Doing comedy was something on her 'bucket list.' What captivated me about the article was not only the woman's ability to just do it, but the advice her comedian mentor Jim Mendrinos kept giving her. Two of those pieces hit home:
No great art is ever accomplished in your comfort zone. You have to get your fingers dirty.
A joke (story) is a precious commodity. When you pull it from the ground, it doesn't look like a diamond.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Acupuncturists in British Columbia Needled By Language Issues

An old buddy of mine from Japan days is a doctor of Chinese Medicine in British Columbia. In fact, Louise Demorest helped pave the way for the profession to be recognized. Back when she started 15 years ago, she said that the therapy was viewed about on par with Voodoo. Today, apparently over one in ten residents seek out acupuncture therapy for a range of needs--from curing a sore knee to help with fertility issues. One would think that all is smooth sailing.
"Not so," said Dr. Demorest in a recent interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Company.
Up until now doctors have been able to study and take licensing exams in Chinese. Now the argument is that since the official languages of the country are English/French, the tests should be taken in English. The downside is that there are some amazing practitioners who do not speak English well enough to pass a test. The upside is, well, is there really one? What do you think?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Lovely Day at Cornerstone Cottage, Hampton, Iowa

This past week, my son and I flew out to Iowa (him to see the University of, and me to visit one of my favorite booksellers, Keri Holmes). Keri and Judy of Cornerstone Cottage arranged for me to discuss Blossoms and Bayonets at venues all over town. It was great, great fun to meet interested readers, including one man whose father-in-law was an aide to General MacArthur. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Blossoms and Bayonets Signing in Hampton, Iowa

Cornerstone Cottage owner Keri Holmes arranged for me to do a book tour in her neck of the woods--Hampton, Iowa. Thanks to a great many sponsors (the Hampton Public Library, Franklin County Arts CouncilFranklin, Friends of Beeds Lake, Franklin County Historical Society, Cornerstone Cottage ,El Paisita Family Mexican Restaurant and Godfather's Pizza) next Monday morning at 10am, I'll be talking at the Hampton-Dumont Highschool. In the afternoon from 4:30-6:30, I'll be talking and signing books at Godfather's Pizza. If you're in the neighborhood, stop by...

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Is writing worth the effort?

This afternoon I was at the Spring Boutique signing books. It was a record-breaking event. In addition, readers have been buying so steadily on Amazon that Blossoms and Bayonets is #61 in historical fiction. Despite these happy events, an author friend pointed out that a day of great sales (unless it's in the thousands) doesn't make up for the amount of effort.
"How many hours did it take you to write your book?" He asked. "To refine it over and over?"
I can't count that high.
The thought gave me a long depressing pause.
"Some days are long," another friend pointed out. "But this is what we signed up for."
Put that way, I'm inspired all over again.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Author Appearance/Spring Crafts

Next Saturday, I'll be with author Bob Davis signing books at the Saratoga Spring Boutique. 
Along with some fun books, there will be lots of arts and crafts developed by local artisans. 
Come by and check it out. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Recap of Blossoms and Bayonets Book Club Gathering

The following is from Melissa Maglio's Evening Book Club Blog :

" was fascinating to be able to read a novel and then have access to both the author and one of the characters in the book.  For those who read this story but were not able to join us last night, we learned a lot about storytelling and the power an author has to share someones life.  Hi-Dong Chai was Baby He-Dong in the novel, one of three voices we hear.  Many of the events in the story did happen and some did not.  He-Seung may not have repeatedly visited the prison and fed a Korean prison guard in the hopes of saving his father, but his determination and belief that his father would eventually be returned to his family was certainly not fictionalized.  

The historical information, and the vision of Korean life during WWII that we receive from reading and discussing this novel is important.  It is a good example of why studying history is so important.  When we are able to put ourselves into the shoes of a character in a book that is a real person in this life we can make better decisions.  We can become better people.  We may even find ourselves standing up for injustices that we may have previously not cared about. Being human is about making connections with other humans.  It is about having empathy and understanding of someone next to us who may have had a life much different than ours, much more traumatic then ours.  This story reminds us to forgive but not forget in order to heal the past.  Thank you Jana and Hi-Dong for sharing this amazing story."

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