Author Jeannie Lin Shares The Inspiration Behind Her Amazing Romances

Sometimes there's nothing more inspiring than other people. So I have decided to occasionally invite other creative sorts I admire to share what inspires them. For my first guest we have Jeannie Lin, she of the amazing Asian stories and gorgeous covers.

(Released Sept. 20, 2011...Woot!)

So what inspires Jeannie Lin?

I think this answer changes every time I think on it, but when I get down to the root of it, I'm inspired by my mother.

Of course, Mum is getting extra points right now because I'm back in southern California for a brief visit and she's been feeding me home cooked meals.

When I was in third grade, Mum told me how if you write down your stories and they were good enough that people liked them, they'd make your story into a book and pay you for it. Money for stories? I became absolutely enamored with the idea and wrote so much that summer that my hand seized up and I got a writer's callous that I can still feel to this day. It's my badge of honor (Writer's callouses -- do people get those anymore?)

So when people ask what inspired me to write, I like to say the money, but the truth is it was my Mom.
Her real inspiration for me was her attitude about getting things done. I think her response to my sister's lament of writer's block sums it up: "I guess you're not creative enough." This may come off as cruel and Tiger Mom-ish, but it's not. In my mother's universe, every problem has a solution and if you know that, then it's just up to you to find it.The answer is within your own grasp. When I was submitting BUTTERFLY SWORDS and facing rejection after rejection, I told myself one thing and it kept me going more than any words of encouragement ever could: "I guess the writing's not good enough...yet." 

grew up fascinated with stories of Western epic fantasy as well as 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. With two releases and four more upcoming titles all set in the Tang Dynasty, she's keeping her fingers crossed that this hard-sell genre will one day be hard to resist.

As a technical consultant, backpacker and vacation junkie, she's traveled all over the United States as well as Europe, South Korea, Japan, China and Vietnam. She's now happily settled in St. Louis with her wonderfully supportive husband, and she continues to journey to exotic locations in her stories.

Visit Jeannie Lin online at

Thanks for visiting Jeannie! And your stories are better than good glad you keep writing and showing that different or difficult stories can still find a place. You are inspiration.
Any questions for Jeannie? Who inspires you?


  1. Jeannie's story is inspiring! I'm wondering what she did to make her writing "good enough"? Jeannie, how many rounds of revisions, how many critiques, how long did it take? How did you know when you were good enough? What kept you from giving up on Butterfly Swords and moving onto a different story?

    Thanks and good luck with The Dragon and the Pearl! I'll be looking for it at my local bookstore.

  2. Hi Kelli!
    Good questions:
    I never knew when Butterfly Swords was good enough. In fact, it's published and I'm sure it's still good enough.

    I would submit it in rounds and if all of the requests came up empty, I figured it was me. I never blamed the market or the agent's taste or what not. So I kept on writing the next book as well as going back to take a hard look at the submission and seeing what was missing. There was a point I felt I had edited all the life out of Butterfly Swords and I hated it. But I think the key was that I wasn't stuck just polishing the same manuscript. I started the next story and not surprisingly, the opening to that manuscript (Now The Dragon and the Pearl) was the first time an editor or any contest took notice of my writing. Though rough, the editor placed it first in the Gateway to the Best contest and requested the full. But I didn't move forward with Dragon. I went back to Butterfly Swords, knowing that I had developed "something" in my writing now that I didn't have then. I think that something was Voice and I tried to strengthen it in Butterfly Swords.

    How many revisions and readers? Probably a good five full rounds with a bunch of minor rounds in between. So, so many. I wanted anyone with a set of eyes to read it and I took every critique to heart.

    Why this book? Why not move on to Dragon? I set myself a limit of 100 rejections based on a interview I saw of Sherrilyn Kenyon which inspired me. She had been rejected 150 times in one year. I told myself if I hadn't been rejected 100 times and was still getting requests, then it wasn't dead yet. Sometimes you have to want it and want it bad. I wanted to know I'd done everything. Rejections stopped hurting. I learned to love the pain and the process because it meant I was on the journey. If you ask me why negative reviews don't hurt now, that's why. I've been practically rejected by everyone in the business. No reader giving their opinions on my PUBLISHED books can hurt as much as hearing "no, no, no".

    Sometimes, you have to be a little crazier than everyone else. :)

  3. correction: "It's still NOT good enough"

  4. This is inspiring, Jeannie. Thanks so much to you and Rashda for sharing. I'm so glad we met in the Secret Agent contest and I look forward to reading "Dragon." :D

  5. I second Vic! Jeannie and Rashda keep me going every day. I've had maybe 100 rejections if you count agents who've never replied to my queries. I loved "Butterfly Swords" and just ordered "Dragon". Looking forward to "The Djinn's Dilemma", too!!

  6. Hi y'all!

    Thanks for visiting :) OMG,Vic, we did meet on the Secret Agent contest so very long ago. Yup,that was a very good thing!

    Thanks for you kinds words Susan!

    And thanks for a great discussion Jeannie!

  7. Does Victoria go combing the Secret Agent contests for new recruits? :)

    It's been a wonderful journey and the Asian novel group has been so helpful for those hard to find research issues.

    Susan- thanks and hope you enjoy "Dragon". I think it's a much more "Asian" novel than Butterfly Swords so I wonder how it will be received.