Wednesday, October 28, 2009

About the Book:

(Eugene, Oregon) - An arranged marriage, a runaway bride, and an ugly family heritage of brutal and inhumane slavery operations leave no room for a fairytale story. Grace Winslow, daughter of an English sea captain and African princess, finds herself in a horrific position of betrothal. Doomed to marry an obnoxious white man, whom she does not love, Grace runs away to escape the slavery she's been surrounded by all her life. Instead, her journey from home brings her face-to-face with issues of extreme slavery, abuse and human trafficking. In the end she discovers slavery is more than just chains and finds grace that exceeds a name given to her by her parents.

Written by Kay Marshall Strom, The Call of Zulina links historical slavery issues with the modern-day crisis tainting many countries. On the heels of important legislature regarding human trafficking, Strom tackles the subject boldly as she sheds light on the practices and techniques used by angry slave traders. Seen as an advocate for those who have no voice, Strom finds words to communicate the message of history to today's readers. While this book shines the light on an uncomfortable subject, the message of hope, freedom, and justice prevail and eternal truths discovered.

About the Author:

Author Kay Marshall Strom has two great loves: writing and helping others achieve their own writing potential. Kay has written thirty-six published books, numerous magazine articles, and two screenplays. While mostly a nonfiction writer, the first book of her historical novel trilogy Grace in Africa has met with acclaim. Kay speaks at seminars, retreats, writers' conferences, and special events throughout the country and around the world. She is in wide demand as an instructor and keynote speaker at major writing conferences. She also enjoys speaking aboard cruise ships in exchange for exotic cruise destinations.

Blog Tour Interview:

1. How did you come up with the storyline of The Call of Zulina?

While in West Africa working on another project, I toured an old slave fortress and was struck dumb by a set of baby manacles bolted to the wall. The characters of Lingongo and Joseph Winslow, Grace's parents, are modeled after real people who ran a slave business in Africa in the 1700s. I "met" them when I was researching Once Blind: The Life of John Newton, a biography of the slaver turned preacher and abolitionists, author of Amazing Grace. The more I thought about them, the more I wondered, "If they'd had a daughter, who would she be? Where would her loyalties lie?"

2. What inspired you to write a book so entrenched with uncomfortable issues?

I used to think that non-fiction was the meat and potatoes of writing and fiction was the chocolate mousse dessert... fun, but not of much value. But I've come to understand that truths can be revealed through fiction just as powerfully as through non-fiction. Sometimes, more so! The fact is, for so long we have tried to look away and pretend that this horrible chapter in history never happened. But it did, and we still feel the effects today. Moreover, the roots of slavery--hunger for power and money, fear and diminishment of people unlike ourselves, and humanity's endless ability to rationalize evil actions--abound today. The time seemed right.

3. How haveyour travels around the world equipped you for writing such a historical novel?

People ask me where my passion for issues such as modern day slavery come from. To a large degree it is from the things I have seen and heard on my numerous trips to India, African countries, Cambodia, Nepal, Indonesia, and other places around the world.

4. Tell us a personal story regarding modern day slavery.

A most pervasive type of slavery is what is known as bonded servitude, where entire poor families are bound into virtual slavery--sometimes for generations--because of a small debt. This is especially common in India. I visited a village in central India where the women had been freed from bondage and set up with a micro loan that allowed them to raise a small herd of dairy cows. They worked so hard and saved every rupee. When they had enough saved, they persuaded a young teacher to come and start a school for their children. Then they used further profits to make low interest loans to others in the area so they could start their own businesses, too--a little bank. I sat in a circle with the five women who made up the "board of directors." Only one could read and write. I asked, "How will the next generation be different because of what you have done?" They said, "No more will be like us. When people look us, they see nothing. But when they look at our children, they see real human beings with value."
From invisible slaves to human beings... all in one generation!

5. Grace, the lead character in The Call of Zulina, forsakes all to escape the slavery of her parents and an arranged marriage.How common is this scenerio today in other countries?

Horrifyingly common. Slavery today takes many forms. According to UNICEF's more conservative count, there are about 12 million people living as slaves today--three times as many as in the days of the African slave trade. As for child arranged marriages, I have talked to girls "enslaved" to husbands in many countries. Examples include a girl in Nepal married at 9 to a middle-aged man, one in India married at 11, a 13-year-old in Egypt married to a man older than her father. I've seen it in Africa, Eastern Europe... so many places!

6. What about in America, are there slavery and trafficking issues here?

Unfortunately, there are. The U.S. State Department estimates between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the Untied States each year, although it concedes that the real number is actually far higher. And it's not just states like New York and California that are affected, either. According to the U.S. Justice Department's head of the new human trafficking unit, there is now at least one case of trafficking in every state.

7. You've had 36 books published, and more written and contracted for future release. How has this one impacted your own life?
Some books report, some tell stories. This book has torn my heart.

8. Briefly tell us about the next two books in this Grace in Africa trilogy.

In Book 2, Grace watches her reconstructed life smashed by slavers and revenge, and she is forcibly taken to London. There she faces a new kind of tyranny and another fight for freedom... and for her husband, who is enslaved in America.
Book 3 is set in the new United States of America, in the heart of the slavery. It is a story of slavery at it's worst and redemption at its best.

What Can Concerned Citizens Do to Raise Awareness?

Find out all you can about Modern Day Slavery: then watch for chances to pass on what you have learned.

Write to your elected officials: Petition them to place a high priority on enforcing anti-slavery laws and to put pressure on countries that tolerate forced labor or human trafficking.

Buy Fair Trade products: Fair trade provides a sustainable model of international trade based on economic justice. To find out more, see .

Support organizations that are in a position to make a difference. When you find an one that is doing a good job on the front lines, contribute to their cause so they can continue on.

Be willing to step into the gap. If you suspect someone is being held against his or her will, call the Department of Justice hotline: 1-888-428-7581. Or you can call 911.

Grand Prize Giveaway!!!

Post a comment on this blog and I will pick one winner to enter in Kay's contest on November 2nd!

Kay Marshall Strom is giving the following books to one fortunate commenter from The Call of Zulina blog tour. The prize package includes several of Kay's books:

Seeking Christ: A Christian Woman's Guide to Personal Wholeness & Spiritual Maturity

John Newton:The Angry Sailor

Making Friends with Your Mother

Making Friends with Your Father

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fall is in the Air!

Okay, I couldn't resist the plug for 'autumn.'  This is one of my favorite seasons of the year.  I love the leaves changing color, sweater weather and the delicious scent of mums and leaf mold. So, I'm odd - I won't deny it.

  • Decided to just make a list of several things I got done today - so it looks like I actually do something with the day.
  • Answered several emails.
  • Deleted a bunch of emails.
  • Looked at some of my email settings in the hope of learning something new.  I didn't.
  • Went to town for groceries.
  • Stopped to admire an Amish horse and buggy tied to a street light in the grocery store parking lot and watch a lady taking photos with her cell phone. (I'm sure that's a scene in a book somewhere.)
  • Read a mystery.
  • Did four crits.
  • Did school with the boys.
  • Jarrod and I helped a friend store her outdoor furniture.
  • Added the NaNo badge to my blog.
  • Found the rest of the Jenny book I needed.
  • Found the synopsis I needed to copy for the Bloom Award.
  • Looked at the Bloom Award questions I need to answer before sending out my contest entry.
  • Fed cats.
  • Prayed - a LOT!
  • Updated my blog.
  • Tried out a couple of new things on my blog.
And that is probably it! 

Monday, October 05, 2009

This is so cool!  I happened to have a few minutes while chatting with Judy and decided to check out my blog. Figured it was time to blow away a few cobwebs and try to keep this up. Since so many good things are happening in my writing life, I need to take this more seriously. So, I decided to change to the 'new editor' on blogger.  Added an inspirational thought for the day too.

Would have loved to change my blog picture but realized since the great MSN upgrade sweep, I have no pictures on my computer. Have only a couple of favorites so far and all the files in My Documents fit in one window.  My poor computer is practically bare right now.

It will take a little time to add other features. I'd love to rearrange things, change colors, make a clean sweep, but that will take time.  For tonight I'm just happy that I'm able to figure out a thing or two such as the inspirational thought for the day. I'm not a very technically saavy person so I approach any changes with a one-toe-in-the-water hesitancy.

As most of you have figured out, I am not in Malaysia. Thanks to everyone who would have helped, sent money and/or prayed if I had been in a foreign country without aid.  I guess I can laugh about it now but it was a hectic couple of days restoring my email. My friend, Gwen, even used the story as the basis of a newspaper article!  She said she had to use my name in her Clark Bar Devotions.  Hm. . .

Although I wasn't in Malaysia, I did recently come home from a writing conference.  I met an agent who seemed to like my current WIP.  He gave me some great advice and suggestions for revisions.  I know he's right about some things so I'll be working on that in the next couple of weeks. . . . among other projects.

Am I doing NaNo?  I'll let you know. First, I have to make it through October.