Tag Archives: Blessings in India

I’ve moved!

Check out my latest posts at www.kaystrom.com/blog .  And be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss my upcoming posts on writing, global issues, and everyday observations.  I’ve so enjoyed having you follow Kay’s Words.  Come on over and follow me on my website~

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Laboring Through the Day

When I was young, my parents told us kids that Labor Day was a day set aside for families to labor together. Clever spin. Every year, on the first Monday of September, we were awakened early to start a day of cleaning out the garage… or weeding the garden… or scrubbing floors… or canning peaches… or whatever.

Funny thing—even after all these years…

***Read the rest at www.kaystrom.com .  Click on “blog.”  And please click on subscribe. See you at my new blog address!***

 Kay

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Lazy, Busy August!

You gotta love August! It’s the month of sunshine and vacations. The year’s break to kick back and slack off, to eat hot dogs and potato salad off paper plates. The month to go to the fair and eat a frozen banana on a stick, to ride the Ferris Wheel—and whatever they call all those new upside-down-make-certain-your-soul-is-in-God’s-hands rides. It’s the month to pig out on watermelon, and tomatoes still warm from the garden, and zucchini from everyone else’s.

So, what’s with all the writing business in this lazy month? The third and final book of my Blessings in India trilogy, The Love of Divena, released. I finished the sample chapters for another book. I met a great guy who’s interested in pursuing one of my movie scripts (I had to edit it). I got my India visa squared away. Oh, yes, I’m also scrambling to complete the children’s church curriculum I’m writing with a friend.

Smoky helping with my book signing at the fair

But August is also the month I’ve finally taken an important step: I’m revamping and moving my blog. (Yep, that’s why I’ve been off-line for a month. That and all the above.) Instead of my two blogs—Kay’s Words and Grace in Africa—and continually struggling to update my website info on a regular basis, I will be doing it all on in one place–on my website! (“It’s about time!” my web-building friend Michael Reynolds says.)

Stay tuned. And feel free to chip in your two cents worth.

Hey, you gotta love August~!

 

 

Merrily, merrily, shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.
~ William Shakespeare~

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Me and the ALA Convention

I don’t do a lot of book signings these days, but when I was invited to sign my soon-to-be-released book The Love of Divena at the American Library Association convention in Anaheim, I couldn’t say no. I mean, librarians would be there. City and county and school librarians.  Some of my very favorite people in the world!

The Love of Divena is the third and final book of my Blessings in India trilogy.  The series follows two families through 20th century India: one a family of “untouchables,” the other the high caste Christian-in-name family that owns them.

Okay, back to Anaheim (home of Disneyland, for those not in the know). The Anaheim Convention Center is huge!  So when I saw that Abingdon Press’ booth was at the far end of the hall, my spirits sank.  Books, books everywhere.  How many people would keep walking the aisles until they got to me? 

Well, as it turned out, lots of folks did. I started signing at 9:30 a.m. and didn’t stop until the last book was gone at 12:10.  And people were still in line. 

I met library folks from all across theU.S., and from many other countries, too: Ireland, England, the Virgin Islands, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Kenya, India…  People were so excited to see that the series was set in India.  And everyone asked if I had been there.  Fortunately, I have, because  many knowledgeable people wanted to engage me in discussions. 

Most frequently asked questions: 

  • How many times have you been to India?
  • Answer: Eight.  Ninth time this coming October.
  • Is this a Christian book?
  • Answer: “Yes, but not tacked on Christianity that hits readers over the head.”
  • Is it suitable for young people? 
  • Answer:  “Absolutely! Acceptable and also historically accurate.”  

Sign me up for next year!”

Me

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Before Freedom… The Better News

Okay, I promised that in my follow-up post on human trafficking, I’d pass along some good news. Here goes:

  • Myanmar (Burma) not only has a significant traffic problem, but also trafficks girls and women to other Asian countries. The positive? The government finally acknowledged the problem and is trying in significant ways to address it.
  • The Czech Republic has introduced a series of anti-trafficking laws and is actively convicting traffickers.
  • Iceland, Israel, and Nicaragua all made progress this last year in facing up to their countries’ trafficking problems, and all are taking major steps to fight it.
  • Lithuania gets high praise for punishing trafficking criminals, for improving its system of identifying victims, and for actively investigating crimes and prosecuting the criminals.
  • United States State Department’s just-released report on Human Trafficking ranks it as one of the most active countries in combating human trafficking.  Still, it needs to better collect local, state and federal data so it can better monitor trafficking trends.
  • Finland prohibits buying sexual services, but only from trafficking victims.
  • Sweden has a unique law that criminalizes the ones who purchase sex. Passed in 1999, the law targets only the purchaser, not the victim. The penalty is a fine or up to six months in prison.  As a result, the country’s trafficking problem is small.
  • Norway, seeingSweden’s success, is preparing similar legislation.

Yea forSweden!  Its approach has proven to be the most effective by far.

How can sex trafficking be defeated?  By severely punishing the ones who profit form it. By arresting its customers. By offering a way out to those held in its bondage. By creating good alternatives for at-risk girls and women.

“We need to ensure that all survivors have that opportunity to move past what they endured and to make the most of their potential.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

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7 Steps to Writing Historical Fiction

I just got two more books in the mail today. That makes six books on various aspects of a murky time in Ireland’s history, the subject of a book I’m just starting. I love writing historical fiction because I love to read it. Getting totally immersed in a rollicking good story, then discovering you’re a quasi-expert on a particular era in history?  What could be more fun!

But the only way historical novels work is if the story is rollicking good, and the history is accurate.  These 7 steps will get you off to a good start:

  1. Read the kind of books you’d like to write.  Historical romance?  Historical mystery?  Historical adventure? Each is different in pace and approach.  Also read about the period of history that interests you.  A book on the crusades will much different than one set during the Roaring 20s.
  2. Consult many different sources.  Authors make mistakes. They also tend to tweak facts to fit their stories.  But readers of historical fiction expect you to know what you’re talking about, and to get your facts right. If you don’t, you will hear about it.
  3. Know your setting. I personally make it a rule not to write about places I haven’t been.  True, Ireland has changed since the seventeenth century.  But it is still Ireland.  I can describe the green hills in spring, and the baby lambs gamboling through it, far better for having spent time there.  And since I’ve pretty much traveled the entire island, I have an idea of the difference between the east and west coast, between the north and south.
  4. Lay out your story.  Your story doesn’t really have to be rollicking, but it must be compelling.  All your research will mean nothing if you fail to build a good story.
  5. Gather reference pictures.  What do your characters look like?  What makes a ship of the era unique?  If you refer to something in particular—a locket, say, or weapon or a unique toy—have a picture of it before you.
  6. Decide on the manner of dialogue.  It’s important to establish and hold onto the flavor of your characters, but I can tell you from experience, it is really hard to tell a story in dialect.  Telling your story from third person will help.  Also, decide on a few patterns of speech you can use consistently, then let go of the rest.
  7. Keep your story moving. I know, I know, the history tempts you to slow down and throw in a few more interesting tidbits.  But your story must continue to be engaging. If you lose that, you’ll just be writing another history book. 

 Write on!

 “To see the years touch ye gives me joy,” he whispered, “for it means that ye live.”

Author Diana Gabaldon, Outlander

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Sari Blues to Sari Joy

Have you ever put on an Indian sari?  It’s tricky.  If you don’t have the proper paraphernalia, it’s nigh unto impossible.  The sari itself is just a 6-foot or so length of beautiful fabric—often decorated along one edge.  You do need a blouse top, or it will get mighty drafty, and if you are in India, you may be thrown off the local bus.  You also need a petticoat with a drawstring waist.  (Don’t be tricked into thinking an elastic waisted slip will do, because it definitely will not.  The weight of the tucked-in sari will stretch out the elastic and pull both the slip and the sari right off you!)

I have one simple sari petticoat, but it’s blue, which means I can’t use it under my red sari or my yellow one.  Which means whenever I have occasion to wear a sari, I just wear my red one.  Always.

Sunday afternoon, I was at my friend Bethel’s house. She brought out several suitcases filled with heirlooms handed down through generations of her family.  One piece was an intricately sewn petticoat from the late 1800s, with beautiful details and delicate lace, hand-stitched with loving care.  

“Oh,” I blurted.  “Just the thing to go under my saris!”

“You can have it,” Bethel said as she handed me the petticoat.  “I will never use it.”   

Today I carefully hand-washed the lovely garment and hung it out to dry, and to sun bleach the stains. Tonight I stitched up the rips and mended worn seams.  Tomorrow I will try it on with my yellow silk sari.

Don’t you love it when joy comes in a totally unexpected package?

“True happiness brings more richness than all the money in the world.”

Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi

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