Tag Archives: jeannie lin

Losing Your First Kiss

21 Aug

Jeannie Lin kicks of this week’s Month of Kisses with a great view into culture and the kiss!

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I remember my first kiss. I think most people do.

I was in high school and my first boyfriend and I had been going steady for over a month. When I first agreed to be his girl, we hugged and I gave him a kiss on the cheek, but that was it. He never tried to kiss me.

Finally one night when he was taking me home, he brought it up, saying that we’ve only had that one little peck. He asked me if it would be okay if he kissed me. My heart was beating real fast and in my head I was saying, “Well, duh. I’ve been waiting for an entire month!” but all I said was yes.

He was really tall and lanky and I’m tiny and he leaned down and I had my first kiss right there on my front step. The whole affair was weird and awkward and really, really wonderful.

Imagine that time when a kiss meant everything. When it wasn’t a starter act, the first step. There was one point in your life when you’d never been kissed. (Or maybe that point is now?) Maybe you’re hoping to be kissed soon and hoping it will be someone special and you’ll remember it forever.

Think of all that anticipation building. And all that fear of what it will mean.

Now take that feeling and multiply it.

Since I write historical romances set in Tang Dynasty China, of course I had to research kissing in Chinese culture. At one time, when Westerners came into broader contact with Chinese culture in the 19th century, they noted that Chinese people were shocked by the sight of couples holding hands or kissing in public. This lead to the misconception that Chinese couples didn’t kiss at all and were sexually repressed.

Given the number of people who today (let alone two centuries ago) are uncomfortable with PDA, is that really a fair conclusion?

Hopefully that old stereotype of sexual repression is starting to fade, but we still see echoes of it in how Asians are portrayed in movies or television. Or how they’re NOT portrayed as three-dimensional people with real desires. Every culture has specific rituals and expectations around romance and courtship. In traditional Chinese culture, and especially back in imperial times, kissing was seen as a very private, very intimate act. As intimate as giving your body to another person.

In Chinese culture, girls can speak about their first kiss as intensely as we would expect to speak about losing our virginity. In fact, it’s common to say “I lost my first kiss.”  (我失去了我的初吻)

During my research, I encountered a site about dating, courtship and relationships in China that wasn’t fetishized. While reading a post on LoveLoveChina about losing that first kiss, I came across some quotes that tried to express that feeling of deep intimacy.  (http://www.lovelovechina.com/dating/chinese-girls-first-kiss/)

Quotes:

“He wanted to kiss me. I said that we have to wait until after marriage. At that time I didn’t know [about sex]. I was afraid I’d have a baby once I touch him. Every time he wanted to kiss me, I would move my head away.
I planned to let him kiss me on his birthday, but one evening I felt I wanted. We were sitting on the ground, his body leaning against my leg. Suddenly I felt that I want to kiss him very much, so I gave a kiss on his neck.”

“He tried to kiss me, but I instinctively moved back. He got angry and complained that I push him away.“So, tell me what I should do” – I replied. After hearing it, he immediately moved forward and gave me a kiss…
I almost fainted…
All the way back home I couldn’t stop thinking about it… The first kiss was wonderful.”

“At the beginning, I tried to hide and pushed him away. After we kissed, I suddenly felt that I gave all my life to him and he seemed to be responsible…
I clearly remember how scared I was…The feeling was as I am not virgin anymore.”

“First kiss should be beautiful and sweet. However, my first kiss was lost without any feeling of sweetness. It was robbed when I was crying [after I drank alcohol]. When I recall that kiss, I don’t feel any happiness.”

Some of the snarky comments on the post made me angry and sad. They criticized Chinese culture for its lack of sex education and called these girls naïve and stupid for thinking a kiss can make you pregnant.  They made fun of women who were twenty years or older before having their first kiss.

Here’s the thing: learning about this nuance of Asian culture – about how precious and risky that first act of kissing can be – didn’t make me think of Chinese people as being repressed or backwards or other. It took a universal concept, the first kiss, and elevated it to something even more special.

I know that not EVERY woman in China has this feeling about kissing. China, like the US, like any culture is in a constant state of evolution, with a wide spectrum of attitudes about love and intimacy.

What these accounts did, in the extreme vulnerability of their emotions, is yield the language to describe a feeling that we’ve all felt, but have lost the ability to recapture as that moment becomes buried under  time. As we see kiss after kiss on TV, selling gum, selling toothpaste, selling lip balm. As kisses become a joke and a gimmick and a throwaway. First base.

It reminded me of my own so brief time of innocence, when the sight of others kissing seemed a little scandalous, and the thought of giving away my first kiss meant everything. This is why romance and especially historical romance are so appealing to me in the way that the pages try to embody and elevate and celebrate that first kiss. For the brief space of those pages, I can return to the exhilarating age of innocence when I had never yet been kissed and a kiss meant everything.

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A note from Bria:

I knew once I saw the characters for “I lost my first kiss” you’d all want to know exactly the same thing I did! How to write just “kiss” – so I shot Jeannie a note and she sent me back this lovely picture so it would be really clear.

Thanks again Jeannie Lin!

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Jeannie Lin grew up fascinated with stories of Western epic  fantasy and Eastern martial arts adventures. When her best friend  introduced her to romance novels in middle school, the stage was set.  Jeannie started writing her first romance while working as a high school science teacher in South Central Los Angeles. After four years of  trying to break into publishing with an Asian-set historical, her 2009  Golden Heart Award-winning manuscript, Butterfly Swords, sold to  Harlequin Mills & Boon. Her first three Tang Dynasty romances have  received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Library Journal and  The Dragon and the Pearl was listed among Library Journal’s Best  Romances of 2011.

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BUTTERFLY SWORDS – The Winner

13 Oct

And now, the winner of Jeannie Lin’s BUTTERFLY SWORDS…

Below are the entries, and I can tell you from personal experience that the winner is going to love this lush, vivid, sexy read.

Check them all out first:

LANAE is entry number 1:

Ms. Teh Awesome with Entry #2:

Entry #3, Dara would like us to know those milk crates are at least 2 books deep!

Entry #4 wishes to remain Anonymous….but look at all that culture!

Entry #5 is from FredTownWard…. Who tells me YES! There is room for BUTTERFLY SWORDS there…somewhere…

Another Anonymous entry. But I think we all know who it’s from. Doesn’t he have a show to host?

AND THE WINNER IS: Entry #2! Honestly, that looks like a Jeannie Lin shrine and we weren’t sure if we should mail you the book or call the FBI for stalking 🙂

Email me your address and I’ll get your book in the mail!

Jeannie Lin’s BUTTERFLY SWORDS Give Away

9 Oct

Let’s start with the most important part (to me) Jeannie Lin is a fabulous, lovely, smart woman who I adore and consider a close friend. Buy her stuff just because she rocks.

AND, I just happen to have two to give away 🙂

What do you have to do to win? Prove to me with a picture that you’re one of the following:

  1. a voracious reader
  2. a huge fan of Asian stories/culture
  3. a huge fan of Jeannie Lin
  4. just a plain old nut who really wants to try a new book

Pictures must be emailed to me by Tuesday night…. Tuesday night being anytime before I get online Wednesday. I WILL be posting these pictures on my blog… You better really want this book 🙂

 Email pictures to me at briaquinlan at aol.com

Pictures must be PG. Sorry international friends, but no shipping outside the US for this one.

LANAE is entry number 1:

Ms. Teh Awesome with Entry #2:

Entry #3, Dara would like us to know those milk crates are at least 2 books deep!

Entry #4 wishes to remain Anonymous….but look at all that culture!

Entry #5 is from FredTownWard…. Who tells me YES! There is room for BUTTERFLY SWORDS there…somewhere…

Another Anonymous entry. But I think we all know who it’s from. Doesn’t he have a show to host?

Job Description: Author/Marketeer by Jeannie Lin

15 Feb

I haven’t written a word in seven days.

It sounds like confession when I say it like that.

For the six months after The Call, I stayed really busy. Butterfly Swords required two rounds of extensive edits before being accepted. I then wrote and sold a related short story to Harlequin Undone. I had completed three manuscripts before selling. My editor wanted to see the other two so I polished the follow-up novel, The Dragon and the Pearl, and also completely re-wrote the first book in the series. After I sent both manuscripts to my agent, I finally had a moment to catch my breath.

Now what? Do I try something new? Maybe something in  a more popular genre? Or do I expect my agent to peddle my hard sell manuscripts forever? I couldn’t decide.

Fortunately, my editor dangled a possible release date for Butterfly Swords in front of me. The perfect distraction. So here’s my new job description, one which I’ll have to execute alongside my writing tasks.

Marketeer Extraordinaire

Responsibilities:

  • Assign and procure marketing budget
  • Research marketing options – ads, bookmarks, giveaways, flyers, etc.
  • Create marketing plan
  • Identify venues for ads
  • Design promotional materials
  • Schedule opportunities to network, blog, and go to conferences
  • Negotiate time with Author Extraordinaire for PR activities such as networking, blogging, and going to conferences

When I first started writing, I thought a great book would sell itself. I’m sure that’s still true to some extent. But a book is a product. How are people going to know to buy it if they’re not aware it’s out there? Ay, there’s the rub.

I went full steam for about two days before reality set in. Already the marketing budget is edging on the entire amount of my first advance. I had dreams of advertisements in multiple languages and bookmarks and little customized charms.

There’s so much to do! It’s a fast and furious marketing strategy for what will amount to about a two month window of opportunity. The task is shiny new and challenging. Most importantly, I’m getting excited all over again about the book and, in turn, it’s making me more excited about starting the next writing project.

Which brings me back to the beginning.

Author Extraordinaire is what I set out to be. Without her, Marketeer has nothing to sell. On the other hand, I can see Marketeer robbing Author of her precious writing time by justifying that this could be their one and only book if sales tank.

They say the best way to increase your sales is to write the next book. And then I suppose I should write one after that and another one after that. When’s the right time to focus on marketing? And how much is too much? Do debut authors make the rookie mistake of spending too much time on promotion or not enough?

Marketeer Extraordinaire wants to know. She’s quite new at this and it took Author over four years to just begin to figure out writing. Marketeer doesn’t have that much time to learn, so she’s going to need a little help. And soon, very soon, Author is going to want her stage back.