Blogosphere Day #21: Ngiyabonga!

NGIYABONGA!  Thank you to everyone who joined the RUBY’S WORLD “Blogosphere” Tour.  Your participation made it a lot of fun.  If you missed any of the posts, and would like to catch up later, here’s a selected list of topics:

Just a Dumb Ass!
Interview with the NABBW
What’s in a Name?
Cracking Open Your Soul
I’m How Old?
Interview with A FRESH CHAPTER
Best Choice

I’d love to hear from those of you who received a free copy of UNLOCKING THE DREAM.  Did this short story answer your questions about why I trucked off to Africa alone?  Maybe you have some of your own dreams that led to a life-altering experience?  Do share!

Even though the free promotion is over, if you’d still like to read UNLOCKING THE DREAM, the prequel to RUBY’S WORLD, it’s available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

In July I was appointed as the American Ambassador to the Rural Women’s Movement of South Africa.  I am both humbled and excited about this position.  In the four short months since, my life has turned inside out … again … all in the name of supporting women in South Africa, a country that is under my skin in a way that I can’t explain.

At the onset of the “Blogosphere” Tour I boldly promised an announcement at the conclusion.  Now, I’m scared, feeling the risk of stepping through that portal.  But here goes!


2013 will see the launch of a non-profit organization dedicated to the service of women around the world.  Our VISION: A world where every woman has self-directed freedom and moral independence within her own life.  Our MISSION: To increase the voice of women in developing regions of the world through partnership with indigenous movements that provide shelter, food, clothing and education.

I wish I could announce the name of the non-profit, but the wheels of bureaucracy move slower than I realized … something I’ll have to learn to accept.  I’ll let you know as soon as it becomes official. 

Our first project is an auction of quilts made by women in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.  The auction begins December 16th, on CBS Bay Sunday, in San Francisco.  You’ll also be able to bid on the quilts HERE, as well as my FaceBook page.

Our second project is an anthology of the rural women’s stories. Their lives are incredible and they deserve a voice in the world.

Our third project is a set of bi-lingual reader books for elementary school kids – their own lives reflected back to them in their native Zulu tongue and English, the official language of the country.

And we are already busy exploring projects in India and Peru.  There are a multitude of ways to support women around the globe.

Thank you, ngiyabonga, for your support and encouragement.  Stay tuned … the pace is picking up!


Blogosphere Day #19: Choose Your Perspective

I love it when readers “get” Ruby’s World.  Not only the complications and stark contrasts of the dual worlds that Ruby lives in, but also that we Americans are not that different.  We can choose our perspective!

Today’s review on the “Blogosphere Tour” comes from Melissa Clark at Charisma Media. Kudos to Melissa who is actually willing to state that despite the obvious differences between American and Zulu culture, there are “so many similarities.”

Here are some excerpts from her review:  “What an amazing story!  Karen Baldwin left the comfort of her life in America to be a teacher for a rural school in Africa.  The things that she witnessed while there were funny, heartwarming, heartbreaking and appalling.  There was a clash between the modern world and the traditional customs of the Zulu people as people who carried cell phones and visited Internet cafes and malls also believed in witch doctors and spirits.  

“Her relationships with the children, some of the staff at the school and Ruby’s nephew, Thulani, were ones that I know she will cherish forever.  I’ve never met them, but they touched my heart through her words.  I know those kids will cherish her as long as they live as well.

“There were times I was on the edge of my seat, figuratively speaking, eager to find out what happened next.  I smiled; I laughed; I was teary-eyed; and I felt outrage.  I really think that you should read this book to share in Karen’s experience.  You won’t regret it!”  You can read the rest of the review HERE.

I can hardly believe that tomorrow is the last day of my “Blogosphere Tour.”  There are still so many stories and photos to share.  And tomorrow is the last day you can get a FREE COPY of my latest book, Unlocking the Dream, the prequel to Ruby’s World.

As much as I never intended to write a book about my experience in South Africa, I also never intended to write a second book.  But Ruby’s World raised so many questions for readers:  Why I went to Africa in the first place?  How I chose Zinit?  How did I prepare for my trip?  What was I trying to accomplish?  Unlocking the Dream answers those questions.  Download your FREE COPY HERE … but don’t wait.  This offer ends tomorrow.


Blogosphere Day #18 – Horrified & Mesmerized

I am humbled today to receive this review from Ruth Hill, at MyDevotionalThoughts.  Not much more for me to say … only that I deeply appreciate how Ruth captured the essence of Ruby’s World.  Perhaps I should also apologize for my use of profanity …

Here is an excerpt from the review:   “My rating: 5 of 5 stars. What can you say about a memoir that touches you so deeply that you can’t stop thinking about it?  Such is this memoir by Karen Baldwin.  Before reading this book, I knew very little about modern-day South Africa. I used to work with a teacher who came out of the apartheid, but of course, that is all in the past, right?  I invite you to read the book to find out!

“Kudos to the author for capturing the Zulu people and their culture so well.  I kept saying that she had to take copious notes in order to share so much detail.  I have been on a missions trip to the country of Yemen, but I was in a “Western compound” so culture shock was no big deal. I was horrified and mesmerized as I read this book that is raw with emotion and real life.

“I will warn you.  There are adult topics and some profanity (but not much).  There are religious issues that will probably shock you and may even offend you.  But you cannot get away from this fact–it is real.  If you want to know how things really are in South Africa (or at least how they were back in 2008–I honestly doubt it has changed much) from an outsider’s eyewitness viewpoint, this is the book for you.

“As another side note, I have to say that reading this book when I did was perfect timing.  I completed it the day after the 2012 presidential election was decided.  I can’t tell you how often I found myself so grateful to be an American.  We may not have a perfect country, but we have worked on our democracy for over 200 years, and I wouldn’t wish to build my life anywhere else!”

You can read the entire review at MyDevotionalThoughts.  Yes, I filled 3 journals while I was in South Africa … conversations, events, feelings … never intending to write a book, just hoping to one day make sense of it all.

There are 3 days left to receive your FREE COPY of Unlocking the Dream, the prequel to Ruby’s World, the story of why and how I got to South Africa.  To download your copy, click HERE.


Blogosphere Day #16: I Voted

I stood in line this morning at my polling location … and cried.  Not because the line was long, but because I am so grateful to live in a free country!

I cast my vote today without fear for my life, without concern for retribution that I will lose my job, or have my house burned down, or my family tortured because of my political views.

Maybe a safe and free vote doesn’t seem like a big deal … but it is.

At the post office this afternoon, as I was sorting my “take home” mail from my junk mail, the man standing on the other side of the table pointed to the “I Voted” sticker on my jacket.  He smiled through his tears, and said, “Me, too.”  

I returned his smile as he pulled his cell phone from his pocket and showed me a photo of his daughter.  A beautiful young woman in her 20s, she’s an ex-pat living in Cairo, Egypt. The photo showed her standing in front of the Cairo American Embassy, tanks and Marine guards in the background, pointing to the “I Voted” sticker on her shirt.  Her text message to her father said, “I voted, Daddy.  I hope you did, too.”

I cried along with this gentleman who is so proud of his daughter for risking her life to perform her civic duty.  I am in awe of his ability to support her, despite the danger she put herself through to cast her vote.

The women of rural South Africa have been on my mind a lot today.  They’ve had the right to vote for 18 years now, ever since the end of Apartheid.  But having the RIGHT to vote doesn’t guarantee them safe passage to the polls.

Phyllis and I had quite an argument the very last time we saw each other … mostly revolving around women’s politics in both countries … a conversation that still mystifies me.  If you read Ruby’s World, I’d love to hear your opinion on what it was all REALLY about.

I’d be the first to admit we have “issues” in our country … but they still hold us up as a shining example of democracy.  I don’t want to disappoint them.  I voted today.  I hope you did, too.

Blogosphere Day #15: All Things Books

As the Ruby’s World “Blogosphere Tour” draws to a close – only 4 days left – I’d like to share a few reviews and excerpts that have cropped up.

The review tally on GoodReads is growing.  And no less than 59 reviews are posted now on Amazon.  Thank you to every reader who has taken the time to share their emotional response to this story.  

All Things Books has posted an excerpt from Ruby’s World.  If you’ve ever wondered what the Sahara Desert or Congo Basin look like from the air, this might be the excerpt for you.  Spoiler alert: it also includes a hint at the dramatic ending.

And NewsBlaze has posted their review!

I’m thrilled that the reviews are so positive … even emotional. Well, there is the one exception … the woman who told me I was a “dumb ass.”  You can read all about her opinion here.

There are still 4 days left to download your FREE copy (click HERE) of my latest book, Unlocking the Dream, the prequel to Ruby’s World.

When I wrote Ruby’s World, it never occurred to me that anyone would really care WHY I went to Africa.  Silly me.  Turns out that’s been a point of curiosity since the day Ruby’s World hit the big world.  Unlocking the Dream addresses that question.  I’m even pleased to say there’s already a review of Unlocking the Dream on Amazon.

Four more days left.  I’m enjoying myself … hope you’re having fun, too!