Jeannie Lin

The Taming of Mei Lin Review

A local corrupt magistrate has proposed marriage to Wu Mei Lin and it’s not an honorable proposal, but an offer to make her his second concubine. Though it will buy her family a certain amount of freedom, Mei Lin can’t do it. She promises she will marry the man who can best her in a sword fight, never foreseeing the number of brutes her estranged suitor will send against her and her family. Then one day a handsome stranger comes to town….

I really enjoyed this story, but not just because of the quality of writing or plotting or anything “writerly,” and not because the author is a friend. My enjoyment was for personal reasons.

Like Mei Lin, I have the same problem with my hair never staying out of my face. Neither Mei Lin nor I have ever felt particularly pretty, either.  And then there was the following scene. It comes at the end of the hero and heroine’s sword fight:

     “You’re good” he said.
     She parried and twisted his blade aside. “I don’t need you to tell me.”
     He grinned and pushed her further until she had to fight for balance. She wasn’t done yet. Boldly she ventured closer to where his longer blade would be less effective. Most practitioners weren’t comfortable there, but Shen Leung found her rhythm and flowed with her. The edge of his weapon broke through her guard.She stepped back, knowing it was too late.
     But he missed.
     The blade whistled past her ear. She stared at him in shock while he regained his stance and prepared for another advance.
     She had him. It had nothing to do with skill. They were closely matched in training, but there was so much more that went into a fight. The honorable Shen Leung was unwilling to hurt her. He didn’t realize it yet, but the battle was hers if she wanted it.
     With her new confidence, she could see all the openings. A warrior had to be ruthless and strategic. That was what she had been taught. He became a series of targets in her eyes. All she needed to do was catch another moment of hesitation and she would break through.
     And once she won… what then?
     Someone else would come. Another one of Zhou’s henchmen now that he was bent on revenge. Or maybe no one would ever defeat her or care to approach her with a serious marriage proposal. She’d have nothing but this speck of a town and the noodle stand. Shen Leung’s arrival had broken through the clouds. She might never feel this way again about anyone.
     They said he was a good man, a just and courageous one.
     She decided then. She met his attack edge on edge, loosening her grip slightly with the impact of their blades and the strength of his next attempt wrenched the hilt from her grasp. A collective murmur went through the crowd when her sword fell to the dirt. For a second, it almost seemed they had been cheering for her. Supporting the local madwoman.
     Shen Leung’s sword darted forward to stop just shy of her throat. She grew still beneath his gaze. He regarded her with admiration and something else, a fire she’d never seen before.
     He rested the tip of the blade gently against her collarbone, almost like a caress. “Do I need to draw blood, my lady?” he asked softly.
     He had already pierced her, deeper than he knew.
     It was Wang who broke the standoff. “Claim your prize, Master Shen!”
     “Prize?”
     The blade fell back. The exertion of the battle began to sink into her along with the oppressive heat of the afternoon. She wanted to wipe the perspiration from her face, but she didn’t dare move. She didn’t dare breathe as she watched Shen Leung’s reaction.
     “Take your bride,” Wang said. “From your battle, we can see your wedding night will be quite an adventure.”
     His cronies hooted with laughter. She considered blackening both of Wang’s eyes and perhaps breaking his nose as well.
     “Don’t be ridiculous, brother Wang,” Shen Leung looked embarrassed when he glanced back at her. “There will be no wedding.”
     Her chest squeezed tight. Heat rushed up her neck and flooded her face while he bowed once more. The noble swordsman didn’t want her.
     “Thank you for the match. Lady Wu is a formidable opponent.” He turned to leave. The cronies chanted their congratulations and ushered him toward the taverns to celebrate.
     Mei Lin was left alone, her sword fallen in the dust. The curious eyes of the townspeople bore into her while the cruel sun beat down upon her back.
  
It’s one thing to be sought after without wanting the attention. It’s quite another to make your choice as to where you will go and with whom, only to find out you’re unwanted. I’ve been in that situation and wouldn’t wish it on anyone. At the end of this scene which is also the end of Chapter One, I had wet cheeks. In short, I had a strong character identification within a few paragraphs. And isn’t that one definition of quality writing?

The fight scenes are filled with realistic action and the love scenes are tastefully done, but after the opening scene, what grabbed me most unexpectedly about this story was the humor. I noticed I smiled a lot while reading, which is always something I cherish. Making me smile or laugh aloud is a far more difficult trick than making me cry and Jeannie Lin accomplished both. I’ll share one of the fun situations tomorrow, so make sure you tune in. (I typed it up today and ended up re-reading the entire scene because it still makes me laugh.)

In closing, I wish more time had been given over toward character development and showing us the world these characters live in. Not because the story lacked those things, but because I could have happily lived there far longer.  Fortunately, this was the first of at least two Jeannie Lin adventures set in the Tang Dynasty. “The Taming of Mei Lin” is the romance of a character who also appears in Jeannie Lin’s “Butterfly Swords,” but you don’t have to read Mei Lin’s story first; just make sure you do read them both. “The Taming of Mei Lin” is available from Amazon.com (via kindle), E-Harlequin, and on the Nook. “Butterfly Swords” will be in bookstores on October 1st, but you can order it from Amazon.com now.


Finally, make sure you head over to Jeannie Lin’s blog for other book and story coverage and to her contest page (select the linked picture to the right) for upcoming opportunities to win all sorts of prizes including twin butterfly swords!

Coming later this week, a guest blog from Jeannie Lin, author of “The Taming of Mei Lin” and “Butterfly Swords.”

Upcoming Book Release Event

I met Jeannie Lin about four years ago as of this coming October. We had both competed in a Miss Snark competition and I loved her entry involving a warrior princess on the way to her wedding and some serious kick-butt action. Since then, Jeannie won the 2009 Golden Heart award and I’ve been so delighted to rediscover Jeannie. She’s a terrific author and mentor and I couldn’t be more tickled that her book, “Butterfly Swords” will be released on the four-year anniversary of when we met – give or take a few days. (I’m SURE the publisher planned it that way. ;D)

Coming up in September, I’ll start a Jeannie Lin season involving give aways, a guest blog with the author, reviews of first her short story, “The Taming of Mei Lin” and then in October, “Butterfly Swords.” In the meanwhile, feast your eyes on this fabulous book trailer:

Then head over to the “Butterfly Swords” promotion page and sign up to win a free copy of “Butterfly Swords” among some other really cool stuff.

Crested Butte Coverage Continues and Other Goodies

Just when you thought I was done, head to Janet Lane’s site. She has blogged on part of James Scott Bell’s talk that I didn’t touch on here.

And speaking of conferences, contests and other alliterations, check out these opportunities:

The WriteOn Free Online Conference will take place August 10-12, 2010. It will be attended by HOSTS of agents and authors. For the complete schedule, go to the WriteOn website.

The 2011 Missouri Writer’s Guild Conference will be in St. Louis this year. Marcie Posner from Folio Literary Management and Kristin Nelson from the Nelson Literary Agency are just two of the many agents in attendance. I’m delighted to say one of the Masters Class presenters will be Jeannie Lin from All That You Desire. The conference will be on April 8-10, 2011, so save your pennies.

Addendum:

I just heard about this tonight, or I would have posted all of this together:

The 2010 Montezuma All-Iowa Writers’ Conference will be held in Montezuma, Iowa at the Montezuma Community School on Saturday, September 18 from 9 – 5, with registration starting at 8:30. It’s an all-day event where you can learn writing tips, get advice on how to choose a publisher and learn new ways to market your work. Iowa authors scheduled to attend and inspire include: Donald Harstad, Shirley
Damsgaard, Kathy Bacus, Leigh Michaels, Tamara Siler Jones and Kali Van Baale. Admission is only $25! If you have ever dreamed of writing a book, this is a must-attend event. Email debwrite [@] zumatel.net for more details or look them up on Facebook at Our Front Porch Books Publishing Company.

Details and a registration form will soon be available at http://www.ourfrontporchbooks.com/. Many thanks to Tammy Jones for posting this information!

Chase The Dream Contest

The third annual CHASE THE DREAM contest will officially kick off on January 1, 2010. Once again, author Rachelle Chase (www.rachellechase.com) and Leigh Michaels are teaming up to offer what may be one of the best contests in the romance-writing world.

Details about rules and prizes and how to enter are on the contest website at http://chasethedreamcontest.wordpress.com/

But here’s the short (unofficial) version: Enter the first 1,000 words of a romance novel (or novel with a romantic theme). Each week Rachelle chooses a finalist; each week author Leigh Michaels of Harlequin Romance fame will choose a non-winning entry to receive a mini-critique.

The eight finaling entries will all be reviewed by a panel of editors and agents. (This year’s agents and editors include Alex Logan of Grand Central Publishing; Deb Werksman of Sourcebooks; Theresa Stevens of Red Sage Publishing; Susan Swinwood of Harlequin/Mira/Spice; Esi Sogah of Avon Books; Kelli Martin of Kumani Press; Christine Witthohn of Book Cents Literary Agency, and Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary Agency — with more to be announced.)

No promises about what might happen this year, but in previous contests, many finalists have received offers of agent representation and requests for full manuscripts, and several have been published as a result of entering CHASE THE DREAM. (See my friend Jeannie Lin’s story on her blog, All That You Desire.)

The contest is free, and they have great prizes — including a free class donated by Gotham Writers Workshop, manuscript critiques, books, and other goodies. Check it out — and polish up the first 1,000 words of YOUR book to enter!

Excellent Article on Pitching

Check out this article on how to pitch. For that matter, check out http://shywriters.blogspot.com./What a great idea for those pale, furtive creatures who never see the light of day, let alone other people. You know the ones, they’re called “writers.”