Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Year of Goals

Did I set any goals this year? I don't think I did. As a matter of fact, I think I just allowed myself to be carried along by the tidal wave that was 2015. I would have been too busy to accomplish any goals anyway. Actually, I did set one: to read 25 books for my Goodreads Reading Challenge. As of today, I still need to finish two more to make the goal. I'm trying to get that done today as I cook, clean, and prepare for guests tonight.

With this year behind me, I do plan to make 2016 a year of goals. Actually, I had dreams of setting goals last night, so I think God may be telling me something. My prayer is that 2016 will be the year of positive change in my creative and professional life. I recognize the need, and now I need to act and move in that direction. Along with finishing a new novel, continuing to edit for Pelican, and possibly starting up my own business, I really want to make my spiritual life a priority as well. My prayer time and Bible reading have really gone by the wayside since September, so those must move to the top of my list.

What goals (if any) have you set for yourself this year?

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Giveaway of CAPTIVES

Enter the giveaway on Goodreads for a free paperback copy of  Captives. The winner will be randomly selected on January 31st.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Captives by Megan Whitson Lee


by Megan Whitson Lee

Giveaway ends January 31, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Friday, December 18, 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I can't believe it's almost 2016 ... but it's coming ready or not.

I won't be blogging next week since we're traveling to South Carolina, hanging out with family, etc. So I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and holiday season.

See ya'll next year!

Anyone going anywhere or doing anything fun for the holidays?

"Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey."

~Zechariah 9:9

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Meet the Characters of CAPTIVES

Three very different people--all of them on a journey where their lives intersect...

Blaise Timothy is a world-renowned cellist who has made her living traveling all over the United States and Europe, but her success in her professional life is in direct contrast to the failure in her love life. Moving from man to man, she is easily sucked into romantic relationships that are toxic and ill-fated. When her sister, Amy, goes missing, Blaise puts her life on hold to search for her younger sister. In the process, she learns more than she ever wanted to know about human trafficking as well as the darkness of her own heart.

Andrew Victor lives across the street from where Amy’s body is found and witnesses her covered body being carried out of the ravine. By profession he is an artist, but at thirty-one he has returned home from New York City without any money or direction. Andrew must live with his parents as he struggles to gain control over his life and an ever-increasing and dangerous addiction to pornography.

Asha Edgewater and her husband live in Washington, DC and work as missionaries. As a girl in Nepal, Asha was sold into sexual slavery—a bondage she didn’t escape until she was well into her twenties. Haunted by her past, Asha attempts to help others who have fallen victim to the enslavement of prostitution, and she feels a particular connection to Amy Timothy—the young girl whose life is snuffed out too soon. But for the grace of God that fate could have been hers…

Who are some of your favorite characters in literature?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Guest Spot Today for CAPTIVES!

I'm very excited to be a guest today on the site of my blog buddy, Stephanie Faris! Stephanie writes middle-grade and children's fiction. She is also a freelance writer with thousands of articles to her credit.

She's featuring Captives on her blog today, so stop over to her site to check it out. While you're there, check out Stephanie's wonderful books, Piper Morgan Goes to the Circus, 25 Roses, and 30 Days of No Gossip.

Have a wonderful and blessed weekend!

Link to Stephanie's Site is HERE.

By the way, Captives is now available for order in paperback as well as Kindle format!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

An Excerpt from CAPTIVES

Okay, folks! Here’s a short excerpt from the opening of Captives



my’s coffin had been closed for over an hour, but Douglas Timothy still couldn’t get the image of his daughter’s dead body out of his mind. The girl in that box looked nothing like the Amy he had known—the Amy he had loved and raised. Instead, the girl in the coffin was an emaciated skeleton with sunken-in cheeks and eyes, pierced and tattooed beyond recognition. It had been difficult for them to dress and make her up in a fashion that hid signs of the life she had been leading before her death.

When they identified the body, Anne, his wife, had even gone so far as to say, “That’s not Amy. That can’t be Amy. It doesn’t look anything like her!” In his own desire to believe that Amy might still be alive, Douglas had been swayed momentarily. Maybe it wasn’t her. Maybe she was still out there and they just needed to keep looking. But he knew it wouldn’t do them any good to deny the truth. It might not have looked like Amy, but there was good reason for that.

Amy had been seventeen when they last saw her, a junior in high school preparing for college. Although hospitalized briefly when she was sixteen for an eating disorder, she had always appeared to be a strong-minded girl who filled her life with all sorts of activities. Amy was a member of the school’s swim team, drama club, and her church’s youth group. She was, by most accounts, a typical seventeen-year-old. The girl on the slab in the morgue was twenty, a prostitute shot full of drugs, a victim of sex trafficking.

Friday, December 4, 2015

A Glimpse into Captives

So what is Captives about?

Captives is a novel that explores the consequences of a society demanding, distributing, and enslaving through sexual exploitation, but offers a message of hope, recovery, and redemption through God’s saving grace.
Here's the summary:

When seventeen-year-old Amy Timothy disappears from a rural Virginia truck stop, world-renowned cellist Blaise Timothy puts her life on hold to join the search for her sister. While conducting her own investigation into Amy’s disappearance, Blaise seeks solace in addictive and destructive relationships.

Three years later, the search for Amy becomes a homicide investigation and catches the attention of national media and sex trafficking activists. Less than a mile from where Amy’s body is recovered, Andrew Victor attempts to manage a failing career in art, an addiction to pornography, and a family secret that links him to the murder investigation. In Washington, DC, Asha Edgewater knows first-hand the horrors of sex slavery and lends support to the Timothy family even as she comes to terms with her own past. As all three lives intersect in their search for redemption and healing, they find it is only possible through God’s saving grace.

Captives is available on Amazon Kindle and will release in paperback by next week.

Have a blessed weekend!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Captives Released!

It's out! Well, at least it's out on Kindle. The paperback version should be available by next week.

For the next few days, I plan to post on Captives, its characters, and its inception. I will also have a few posts on the very real problem of sex trafficking.

This novel has a long history that starts in 2006 with a paragraph I wrote as a brainstorming exercise. I’d wanted to write about human trafficking for some time, but the right story never surfaced. At the time, a good friend of mine was the sexual trafficking liaison at the Salvation Army, and she had supplied me with tons of good material, case studies, and statistics. It was grim reading, but I realized then that this was something important that people needed to know about (and a lot of people really didn’t know about it).

I started with Blaise’s narration telling the background of her sister’s disappearance via trafficking; I later added Asha’s story to show the international side; once I realized that pornography and prostitution were linked, Andrew’s narrative came into play.

The novel originally came out in 2009 and was titled All that is Right and Holy. That year it won second place in the Christian Choice Book Awards through Xulon Press.

In 2015, a lot has changed in both the spectrum and spread of trafficking, especially within the United States. With that in mind, I decided to update the novel and re-release it under a different title. My husband designed the new cover. I love it! What do you think?

When did you first become aware of human trafficking?

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Balancing Act

Balance is precarious. This is especially true when real life is involved.

Ever since I started back to my full-time job, I'm having trouble balancing everything. My regular job as a high school English teacher is very stressful, demanding, and exhausting, and on a national scale, education is undergoing transition and moving toward more of a business model, so these days teaching is more like working within the corporate world.

However, I'm thrilled to have joined the staff at Pelican Book Group as a full-time editor. This has been a wonderful opportunity. Not only do I absolutely love reading manuscripts for evaluative and editing purposes, but it's also an opportunity for service to the Lord (Pelican is a Christian publishing company). The downside is that I have to edit in the evenings once I'm home, and I usually do this until bedtime.

This leaves very little time for my own writing and time with my husband and dogs.

Cooking has gone out the window. Our school has moved to a different bus schedule, so I get home later now. In order to save time, I buy ready-made meals at Trader Joe's (and they are delicious). But I miss making food from my Southern Living recipes, and I miss down-time in the afternoon and chatting with my husband on the back porch or by the fireplace, catching up on how his day went.

I've only been keeping this schedule for two months, and quite honestly, I'm wondering how much longer I can hold up. I'm praying for strength from the Lord and am hopeful that something will change in the near future so that I can have a little more balance in my life. Either that, or I'm going to have to improve my skills as a Proverbs 31 woman.

How do you keep balance in your life?

 But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. ~Isaiah 40:31, NLT

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse: Six Years

It has been a long time since I’ve read a novel that has made me want to read everything that author writes. I have found that magical connection with the books of Harlan Coben. 

For the second month in a row, I’m choosing one of his books to feature as the best book I’ve read this month in the blog hop through The Cephalopod Coffeehouse
Six Years Paper Back

Six Years is the story of Jake Fisher, a man plagued by the memory of the woman he watched marry Todd Sanderson six years before. He wonders if he missed out on the best thing that might have ever happened to him. Should he have been the one marrying Natalie?

At the time of Natalie’s marriage, he promised that he would leave her alone and never try to contact her. But when he comes across Todd Sanderson’s obituary in the paper, he decides to break that promise and contact the woman who once meant so much to him. Jake attends the funeral to pay his respects, but when he catches a glimpse of Todd’s widow (a woman to whom Todd’s been married for over ten years, apparently), Jake knows the widow is not Natalie.  

As a college professor, Jake is well-versed in the methods of research, and he begins an all-out search for the woman named Natalie. As he tries to untangle the sticky and confusing web of Natalie’s whereabouts, he finds that no one will talk to him, no one remembers him, no one saw or knows anything. Even friends with whom he and Natalie had once socialized don’t recollect ever having seen them together.

In the midst of it all, Jake finds himself entangled a dangerous game that threatens his very life—the life he lives and the life he thinks he lives. Is Natalie’s whole life a lie? Or is his?

Just like The Stranger, Six Years is a compelling page-turner. From the two books I’ve read, Coben appears to a master of the guessing game. What is going on? How did this happen? How will he get out of this?

I love it when an author weaves a tale in which I cannot figure out the answers until the end. Coben does not use plot conveniences, but he capitalizes on jaw-dropping plot twists. His characters are flawed and damaged, yet human and understandable, invoking a willingness to follow and believe them.

I loved this novel, which was recommended to me by my blog buddy and author, Stephanie Faris. She has a great list of books every month, and I always try to snag one from her list to read.

Upcoming for me this month are the following books and their accompanying blurbs from Amazon. I’ll let you know next month if one of them turns out to be my best read of the month.

The Watershed by Wilden Turk

There’s something in the water… Or so believes muck-raking journalist Owen Fisher. When he’s suddenly arrested under suspicious circumstances, he can only assume that his latest article went viral, the one in which he accused the world’s largest water company of selling tainted water. If he’s wrong, only one person’s life is over: his own. But if he’s right, the world as we know it is on the brink of collapse.

The Beautiful Daughters by Nicole Baart

Adrienne Vogt and Harper Penny were closer than sisters, until the day a tragedy blew their seemingly idyllic world apart. Afraid that they got away with murder and unable to accept who they had lost—and what they had done—Harper and Adri exiled themselves from small-town Blackhawk, Iowa, and from each other. Adriran thousands of miles away to Africa while Harper ventured down a more destructive path closer to home.

Now, five years later, both are convinced that nothing could ever coax them out of the worlds in which they’ve been living. But unexpected news from home soon pulls Adri and Harper back together, and the two cannot avoid facing their memories and guilt head-on. As they are pulled back into the tangle of their fractured relationships and the mystery of Piperhall, the sprawling estate where their lives first began to unravel, secrets and lies behind the tragic accident are laid bare. The former best friends are forced to come to terms with their shared past and search for the beauty in each other while mending the brokenness in themselves.

Tell me what good books you have read this month. Then head on over and check out some of the great books on the other stops of this blog hop.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

It's WRAP week!

This week, October 25-31, is the annual White Ribbon Against Pornography week. WRAP week is a gathering of national and state groups and organizations focused on bringing awareness to the harmful effects of pornography.

Begun in 1987 by Norma Norris, a Pennsylvania woman concerned about hardcore pornography being sold and distributed in her neighborhood, the initial campaign included local government involvement, big white ribbons, a motorcade, and the bulldozing of a local porn shop (purchased specifically for that purpose).

More recently, WRAP week has been observed by wearing white cause bracelets, displaying bumper stickers, distributing educational pamphlets, and participating in local events. Click HERE for a list of events to commemorate WRAP week and to learn what you can do to help. Both national and local groups are organizing all sorts of activities to educate people about the resources available for those ensnared in the bondage of pornography.

wrap magnet

*White Ribbon photo from National Center on Sexual Exploitation website

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Amnesty for Pimps?

Help Wanted. No experience required. Training provided. Minorities are encouraged. Job location: various, and may include cars, alleys, motels, and flop houses. Schedule: at the discretion of manager. Dress: whatever the client requests. For outdoor assignments: Comfortable clothing and shoes appropriate for running should be worn.  Weapons carried should be relegated to those which cannot be taken from you. Compensation: 100% of profits will be paid to manager. Potential work hazards: abuse, violence, rape, drug addiction, and/or death may occur.

Amnesty International has long been known as an organization in defense of human rights—an advocate for the vulnerable, those whose lives are at stake, and people in need of refuge. In essence, their push has been to free those enslaved by moral injustice. In an ironic twist of policy, Amnesty International is now calling for a sweeping international decriminalization of prostitution, allowing pimps free rein (and reign) and increasing the victimization of women.   
Yes, this is hard to believe, in light of Amnesty International’s long track record of good work. This movement stems from a misguided belief that legalizing the sex trade protects vulnerable people, and that prostitution is “sex work” and a legitimate occupation.

But studies show that normalizing the sex industry does not protect women and children. In fact, it only serves to increase sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. This can be seen in countries where prostitution has been legalized. Even Amsterdam has pared back their red light district. Women are not lining up to fill “sex worker” positions. In reply to this reduction of supply, young women are trafficked from Asia and Africa (where poverty dictates desperation and begets exploitation) into cities like Amsterdam and Sydney for the purpose of forced prostitution.
A recent Chicago study shows that 50% of women prostituted through escort services have been raped. 21% of women prostituting within their homes have been raped ten or more times. If these women who are prostituting voluntarily (assumedly) are raped and abused with such regularity, higher statistics may only be expected within the violent underworld of street prostitution.

Many have asked over the years why there can’t be union oversight and government regulation. Wouldn’t that curb these numbers? When a practice is entirely based on violence, abuse, and exploitation, what is there to unionize? Better rates for being raped? Cushier digs in which to be beaten and violated with foreign objects? No. This will simply force exploited women into deeper shadows of shame and allow the abuse to continue under the guise of regulation.
Although the victimized and prostituted person shouldn’t be criminalized, those who victimize and prostitute them should. The men and women who prostitute vulnerable people are often directly connected to organized crime and other illegal activities. These are not promising and enterprising young men and women with business acumen; they are traffickers, exploiters, and criminals.

One final note in address to Amnesty International’s push to decriminalize prostitution. Historically, Amnesty International has fought for the release of prisoners of war. POW torture takes many forms. One of these methods includes isolation of the prisoner while subjecting them to severe discomfort. Sometimes the prisoner is not allowed to sleep, thereby causing disorientation and anxiety. This deprivation is then tempered by the occasional treat, supplied by the captor, creating a Stockholm Syndrome-type of attachment. 

This is exactly what pimps do.

Don’t be fooled. Pimps do not deserve amnesty.

Take Action

There is something you can do.

I’m honored that one of my best friends, Lisa Thompson, is the Vice President of Education and Outreach for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. All of the information I have provided above comes directly from them. You can access their website here

As one of their many projects, NCOSE is organizing an outcry against AI’s move to decriminalize prostitution. On their website, they list several ways you can help through e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook. You can check out the movement and the website here.

The only true answer to the violence and exploitation of prostitution is to abolish it.