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Posts tagged ‘Sex Trafficking’

Fallen Angel Salvage – Ebook – 99 cents

Fallen Angel Salvageis still on sale for 99 cents in digital format. An old black van. A missing child. Tatia and Jesse race through the city streets with a band of bikers while Johnny and Jade dig through the dark web and Detectives Nelson and Martin pound on doors. Will it be enough? Or will Joy become another statistic? Read the preface and Chapter 1, and then click the Buy Link at the end of the post to get your copy before the price goes back up.

Preface – The Letter

Thursday – 3:00 pm

Tatia stepped out the back door and stood quietly for a moment, watching her two children play tag in the small back yard. She smiled as Joy slowly jogged between the swing set and the sandbox with her younger brother in hot pursuit. Daniel lunged toward her, but she swerved at the last moment causing him to belly flop onto the soft grass.

“I almost got you,” he pouted.

Joy leaned over him and gloated, “You missed me by a mile, short stuff.”

He grinned up at her, touched her arm, and rolled away from her under the swing set. “Tag, you’re it!” he shouted in triumph.

Tatia laughed at the stunned look on Joy’s face and clapped her hands. “Nice move, Daniel! Now, recess is over, and we have a reading lesson to complete before we quit for the day. Dust yourselves off and get the mail on your way in.”

“I’ll get it,” yelled Joy as she took off for the front of the house.

“No!” wailed Daniel. “I won! I get to get it.”

“Okay, I guess you’re right,” said Joy, slowing down to let him catch up. Then, she tapped him on the shoulder. “But now you’re it!”

Tatia shook her head and went back into the house as the two tagged and shouted all the way to the mailbox. Joy must have been in a charitable mood, because a few moments later the front door slammed open and Daniel strutted into the living room with several envelopes clutched in his fist. He presented the mail to his mom as if he were handing her a dozen roses, and then headed to the refrigerator for a bottle of water.

“Joy, did you see that old van across the street?” he asked his sister. “It must have been about a hundred years old.”

“I didn’t see any old van, and I wouldn’t care if I did,” said Joy, her charitable mood long gone.

“Well, you should. The driver was staring at you.”

“There wasn’t a van and there wasn’t a driver! You need glasses!”

“That’s enough, you two,” said Tatia, hoping to restore some peace. “What kind of van was it?” she asked Daniel.

“I’m not sure, Mommy. I’ll go check.” He knelt on the couch and peered out the window as Tatia looked over his shoulder. “It’s gone now,” he said with a shrug.

“Good! Now we can talk about something important,” said Joy. “Like birthday cards! Mommy, did I get any more today?”

Tatia dismissed the uneasy feeling that tried to insinuate itself into her mind, and made a mental note to talk with Jesse about the van later. Right now, she had an almost-nine-year-old girl dancing from foot to foot, waiting for her to sort the mail. It was two days before Joy’s birthday, and she had received more mail in the last week than she had in the previous nine years. She loved the emails and ecards her mom and dad shared with her, but she loved the cards that came in the mail even more. They felt more like they belonged just to her. Tatia flipped through the small stack of envelopes and handed two of them to her daughter.

“It looks like there’s one from Alicia at school and another one from Grandma and Grandpa G. How many is that from them anyway?”

“Seven! One every day for a whole week! What about that one? Is it for me?” she asked pointing to the plain white envelope Tatia was staring at curiously.

“No, it’s addressed to me, and it doesn’t have a return address or a stamp.”

“Probably a bill,” said Joy, and she took her cards to the couch to read them.

Tatia opened the envelope and pulled out a single sheet of notebook paper. On it was taped a small article from the Cameron Morning Telegraph dated the previous Sunday.

Cameron, TX. After serving twenty years of three concurrent sentences for murder, aggravated statutory sexual assault, and human trafficking, Eric Hall was paroled from the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville this week. His conviction was the first of several that resulted from the testimony of a very brave young woman, later identified as Tatia Robins in her book, Groomed for the Streets. These convictions freed Cameron from the human trafficking trade that had plagued our city for years.

Below the article was a short, hand-written message:

I wonder if Joy is as brave as her mother.

Chapter 1 – The Nightmare

Friday – 4:30 am

Tatia fought, trying to free herself from the arms that grasped her, crying out silently for Mama. Mama didn’t come, though. She was lying in a box with Daddy, both of them cold and lifeless, staring up at her with painted faces that melted into piles of ashes. Eric grabbed at her, pulling her away from the casket and through the door of a shabby motel room toward a bed covered with dirty, rumpled sheets. On the bed lay her daughter, sobbing hysterically while the men who surrounded the bed chanted her name again and again. Tatia struggled toward another voice she could barely hear.

“Tatia,” it said softly. “Tatia. Sweetheart. Wake up.”        

The room behind her began to fade as Jesse’s gentle whisper drew her out of her tormented sleep and back into the safety of the bed they had shared for the last dozen years. She rolled over toward him and buried her face against his chest as he once again drew her out of the darkness that still haunted her nights.

“It’s okay, baby,” he crooned. “I’m here. I got ya.”

He felt the tension gradually leave her body, and as her ragged breathing evened out, he drew back slightly and gazed into the face he loved so much.

“Hey,” he said gently. “I’m not gonna let him hurt you ever again.”

She smiled weakly and snuggled closer. She lay there for a while, listening to him breathe, trying to feel the reassurance he offered. The peace wouldn’t come, though, and after listening to the sounds of her husband sleeping for a while, she slipped out of bed and into her robe and slippers to ward off the early October chill.

She stepped carefully to avoid tripping over Harley who purred and rubbed against Tatia’s ankles, happy to have some unexpected company in the pre-dawn hours. Tatia yawned as she pulled the bedroom door closed behind her so Jesse could sleep for a while longer. Then, she put a scoop of food in Harley’s bowl. While the fluffy kitten inspected her breakfast, Tatia went down the hall and looked in on her children. She lingered a little longer at Joy’s door, whispering a prayer for her protection now that a convicted felon knew her name. She dashed away an angry tear, fighting the rising rage at the man who had stolen so much of her childhood and now had invaded the sanctity of her home with his words.

Tatia sighed and shuffled to the kitchen where she turned on the coffee maker and selected a decaf coffee pod from the holder on the counter. Once the hot, fragrant drink was brewed and she had added some French vanilla creamer, she retrieved her Bible and prayer journal and settled into her favorite overstuffed chair in the corner of the living room. She opened the journal to the thanksgiving section, but she struggled to find any feelings of gratitude in the emotional turmoil that churned inside her. Harley was perched on the armrest next to her, and she absently stroked the purring cat as she sipped her coffee and attempted to lose herself in happy memories.

Buy Link: Fallen Angel Salvage

Blessings,

Linda

Tatia’s Tattoo – Ebook – 99 Cents

Tatia’s Tattoo is still on sale for 99 cents in digital format. As a successful D.C. lawyer, Tatia’s mission in life was to destroy the sex trafficking trade in small-town America. She knew where to find it. She’d been there. With only apathetic foster parents to protect her, she fell prey to the local pimp. Trapped in the sordid underbelly of a small Texas town, she survived by sheer will. Her friendship with her fellow victim Cindy was the only light of humanity in the darkness until she saw a familiar face.
Would Mrs. G, a mama bear of an attorney, still think she had strength and potential? Would Jesse, the young Christian tattoo artist and biker, still look at her with a twinkle in his eyes? Or would they both see only the mark of shame Eric had etched onto her forearm?

Click the cover for the buy link or scroll down to read the Preface and Chapter 1…

Preface – The Nightmare

Tatia couldn’t breathe. She could feel his weight on her chest, his hot breath on her face-and pain-she felt hot, searing pain running up the center of her body. Then, he rolled off of her, and she could breathe again, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to. If she could hold her breath long enough, maybe she could go where Mama and Daddy went, to their Father’s house. Suddenly, he grabbed her by the shoulder and jerked her off the bed into a standing position.

“Go clean yourself up. My friend will be here in fifteen minutes. Stop your bawling and freshen your make-up. You look like hell.”

He turned to the bed to straighten the rumpled sheets. When he caught sight of the fresh bloodstains, he threw his hands in the air in exasperation.

“Was this really your first time?”

The only reply from the bathroom was the sound of running water and soft sniffling.

“I could have charged twice as much,” he yelled.

Tatia woke with start as her alarm clock freed her from the nightmare she had re-lived for more than a decade. She turned off the alarm and slipped to her knees beside the bed, asking God to take away the horror of the dream and to replace it with His light. Basking in the love she felt in response to her prayer, she rose and picked up her partially packed suitcase from the floor. She placed it on the bed, ready for last-minutes toiletries, and headed for the shower. She had a plane to catch and girls to rescue.

Chapter 1 – Off to Camp

Tatia heard a car horn emit two quick beeps, and she knew her ride to the airport had arrived. She stepped out onto the balcony of her second-floor apartment and waved to the gray-haired man who stood beside the open door of an almost brand-new Lexus.

“Hi, Henry,” she called, waving and smiling as he looked up. “I’ll be down in two minutes.”

“No hurry, Miss,” he said, returning her smile. “We have plenty of time, and the traffic is light this morning, or at least lighter than usual.”

Tatia continued to smile as she closed and secured the sliding glass door. She was glad Henry had been available this morning. Her records at the executive car service she always used indicated that he was her preferred driver. She knew she could trust him to chat lovingly about his wife of nearly fifty years and his multiple children and grandchildren instead of hitting on her like some of the younger drivers.

She looked in the mirror and moved her arm into several positions to be sure her sleeve didn’t pull up and expose her mark of shame. Satisfied, she took a quick pass through the bedroom and bathroom in case she had forgotten anything vital. She closed the quart-sized plastic bag that held all the cosmetics she would need for a week at camp and tucked it into a corner of her small rolling suitcase. Then, she grabbed the laptop and the loose-leaf notebook that lay waiting on the ottoman in front of her favorite chair, slipped them into her shoulder bag, and headed for the door. She wouldn’t have time for work the next week, but she never liked to be completely out of touch-and she’d have time to review the notebook in the airport and on the plane. Before she shut and locked the door, she glanced around the tiny apartment that had been home since the previous year when the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act had been passed and she had been asked to chair the Council on Human Trafficking. The flat wasn’t much by Washington, D.C. standards, but as one of twelve trafficking victims whose job it was to advise policymakers, she wasn’t exactly an insider anyway.

“Good morning, Henry,” she greeted him again with a big smile. “Are you ready to roll?”

“Always ready to drive you wherever you need to go, Miss,” he replied with a grin. “You make yourself comfortable, and I’ll put your bag in the trunk.” He took her suitcase, knowing she would want to keep her shoulder bag with her.

Once they were on the road, Henry began a now familiar conversation. “Miss Robins, I don’t understand why a successful lawyer like you continues to live in a cramped walk-up in this neighborhood. I’ll bet you could find something much nicer if you looked around a bit.”

“I’m sure I could, and it would be much more expensive. Then, I wouldn’t be able to afford to have you drive me around, and that would be just too sad.”

Henry sighed and continued. “I worry about you. This area isn’t safe for a young, beautiful woman alone. You need a husband who will protect you.”

“Henry, I know you care about me, and I appreciate it. But you know I’m waiting for God to choose a husband for me. Until He does, I have my guardian angels standing guard.”

“So, I guess I should mind my own business and let Him mind His and yours. In the meantime, I’ll keep reminding Him that you need a good man in your life.”

Tatia laughed and changed the subject. “Henry, I’ll bet you can’t guess where I’m going today.”

“No, I can’t. But since you’re dressed in jeans and boots instead of a business suit, I’m guessing it’s not a business trip.”

“You’re right. No business for the next ten days. I’m going to visit some old friends, and then I’m going to summer camp for a week.”

“Summer camp, huh? My grandkids are each going to different camps this year.”

With that, Henry began talking about his favorite subject, his family. Tatia settled back into her seat and half listened while she thought about her first time at camp.

It was the summer of her twelfth birthday with nothing to look forward to but three months of Texas heat in a house crowded with too many foster kids and Josie, her pre-menopausal foster mom. Josie didn’t really seem to like any of them, and she usually took her frustrations with her absentee, truck-driving husband out on the kids.

At least Tatia would be free of the incessant taunting of her classmates as they droned on about their hectic vacation schedules and the hardship of finding time for cheer camp, youth camp, and several other camps between trips to the beach, the mountains, and The Continent. She didn’t bother to answer the snide questions about her summer plans, plans that consisted of remaining unnoticed and spending as much time as possible losing herself in a pile of books at the blissfully cool library.

Even those expectations were probably too high. Since she would be home from school, she would be noticed and subject to the Josie’s expectations. Josie didn’t like being called by her first name, but she would never be “Mama” to Tatia. She was more like the wicked step-mother in Cinderella. While she was finding relief at the mall or the movie theater, Tatia would probably be stuck in a house with a couple of ancient window units and a few box fans that did little to fight the triple digit temperatures. Instead of spending time in the library, she would be surrounded by sweaty, smelly kids with runny noses, dirty diapers, or both. At least they could all go outside and spray each other with the water hose to cool down and wash away some of the unpleasant odors.

The only break Tatia could count on was the weekly meeting with her social worker. It wasn’t really Ms. Dunham’s fault that their time together was spent checking on Tatia’s situation and filling out reports. Even though Tatia was smart, pretty, and sweet, she had issues, issues that had kept her moving from foster home to foster home instead of finding the forever home she longed for. Most prospective parents wanted newborns or at least a toddler to rock and cuddle. The few who would consider an older child wanted one who would respond to overtures of love and tenderness instead of an emotionally unavailable little girl who rarely made eye contact and who resisted all efforts to break through her ironclad defenses. It didn’t help that her files included accounts of frequent night terrors caused by recurring nightmares. Still, sometimes Ms. Dunham dropped the formalities and took her out for ice cream or shaved ice, and that was better than nothing.

With such low expectations, Tatia was totally shocked when, at one of their meetings, Ms. Dunham said, “Tatia, how would you like to go to camp this summer?”

 “Yeah, right. Like Josie would let go of that kind of money.”

Ms. Dunham smiled. “I know finances are tight right now, but this camp won’t cost Josie anything.”

“I don’t know. I spend enough time during the school year with those snobs. I don’t want to waste my summer with them, too.” The regular kids made life miserable for the foster kids, so Tatia didn’t want to spend any more time with them than she absolutely had to.

“You won’t be with your classmates from school. This is a camp especially for kids in the foster system, so everybody will be more or less in the same situation.”

“Ah, I see. It’s one of those ‘let’s take care of the poor foster kids so we can feel better about ourselves’ kind of thing. And I suppose we spend most of our time in group counseling sessions spilling our guts to perfect strangers.”

Ms. Dunham was accustomed to the defensive cynicism of her young clients, so she wasn’t put off by Tatia’s resistance. “No, as a matter of fact, there are no counseling sessions. If the campers want to talk to a staff member about something, that’s okay, but the purpose of the camp is to have fun.”

“Fun, huh? Like what?” Tatia’s curiosity was piqued in spite of her best efforts to remain disinterested. By the time Ms. Dunham had given her a more detailed description of the camp facilities and activities, Tatia couldn’t help feeling a little excited by the possibility, but after so many disappointments in her life, she was afraid, too. “Maybe, but Josie would never let me go. She needs me to help with the little kids.”

“I’ve already mentioned it to her. She said if all the kids can go so she can have a week off, she’s all for it.”

“Oh, I see. So, I get stuck with the same bunch, just in a different location.”

“No, Tatia. It’s not like that. The campers are divided by age group, and each counselor has two campers for the week. You’ll be paired with a girl your own age, and the two of you will get lots of one-on-one attention from a counselor who is already praying for you and looking forward to meeting you.”

“I knew there was a catch. This is a church camp with lots of preaching and telling me what a failure I am. Right?”

“It is a faith-based camp, and there will be a couple of Bible stories each day, but the focus is on how special you are to God. And I guarantee you won’t be bored with the praise and worship times. All I can say is you’d better take your dancing shoes.”

“Really? The way you describe it, it sounds too good to be true.”

“It’s better. I’m probably not doing it justice. It’s only five days. What have you got to lose-and you might have some fun.”

“Well, if you want to go to the trouble of getting it set up, I guess I could try it just this once.” She tried to retain her cool demeanor, but Ms. Dunham was thrilled to see a spark of something in Tatia’s eyes she hadn’t seen before-hope.

 “Miss Robins?” said Henry. “We’re almost to your stop. Are you checking your bag or carrying on?”

Tatia knew his question was his diplomatic way of calling her out of her reverie. She had lost a bag once, and not wanting to repeat the experience, she had learned to pack lightly enough to meet the strictest carry-on limitations.

“Just drop me at the curb, Henry-and thanks for calling me back from La-La-Land.”

He smiled at her in the rear-view mirror. “Anything for my favorite passenger. I hated to disturb you. You looked like you were enjoying your thoughts. Looking forward to your week at camp?”

“I am, Henry. It’s an intense few days, but it is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. And I get to do it with some very special people.”

“How special?” he asked mischievously.

“Henry, you’re impossible.”

She laughed as he stopped the car and moved quickly to the trunk to retrieve her bag. She was reaching for the door handle when her phone notified her that she had a text. She glanced at the screen and saw a selfie of Jesse in a do rag and Harley t-shirt. The brief comment said, Wanna race?

She grinned and responded. You nerd! I’ll be in DFW before you make your first gas stop.

So smart & beautiful! 1st gas stop already.

You cheated! Left early!

His reply began with a thumbs up symbol, then he continued. Making 500+ today. Stopping in Springfield, MO tonight. 400+ tomorrow. Breakfast Sunday?

Deal!

She slipped the phone back into the side pocket on her shoulder bag and slid toward the car door which was now open. As she stood up, she looked up into Henry’s grinning face.

“Very special, I think,” he said knowingly.

Tatia felt the heat rise in her cheeks, but she couldn’t help smiling back at him.

“Yes, I thought so,” he said as he pulled out the handle of her suitcase and handed it to her. “I’ve already scheduled myself for your return. I’ll be waiting in the cell phone lot when you touch down. Have fun.”

 “I will, Henry, and thanks.”

Blessings,

Linda

Buy Link: Tatia’s Tattoo

What you can do to fight human trafficking | by Linda Brendle

January is Human Trafficking Prevention/Awareness Month, and yesterday I posted an article about Cecilia Abbott, First Lady of Texas, who recently announced a statewide interfaith “Week of Prayer to End Human Trafficking” on Jan. 11-17. The article included daily prompts for those who choose to participate. Today I’m following up with some suggestions about what you can do after you pray.

Even though I knew child trafficking existed, in my mind it was a remote evil until I heard a presentation from an organization based fifty miles from my home who rescues girls and sometimes boys who have been trafficked. Since then I have written two novels in the hope of raising awareness about a tragedy that exists, not just in foreign countries or huge cities but in the towns where children you know and love play and go to school.

One of the most common questions I’m asked about my books is why on earth I chose to write about such a dark, heart-wrenching topic. I have a long, involved explanation, but basically the answer is that I want my readers to understand that sex trafficking is real and that it is here and now. I also want my readers to know there are things they can do to fight sex trafficking. Jesse and Mrs. G are a couple of my characters who exemplify some ways to help, but not many of us can offer cover-up tattoos or manage a rescue ministry. Everyone can get involved, though, and that’s why I’m sharing this post.

Educate yourself:

Here is a list of just a few organizations that fight sex trafficking. These websites and many others are good places to read about the extent and reality of this crime. And there’s always Google or whatever search engine you prefer.

Volunteer:

These organizations always need help. Each organization has a different list of needs, and whatever time or talent you have to offer can probably be used in some way.

Donate:

In addition, they always need money. If your schedule is already full, maybe you can donate to the cause.

Politics:

Maybe politics is your thing. Find out if there are any initiatives on the table to get more funding to fighting sex trafficking. Write your governor, senator, congressman, county commissioner, anyone who might have some influence to either propose or support such an initiative. Research other attempts to fight sex trafficking and throw your support behind them.

Finally, get involved one-on-one:

Personally, I’m not a big picture person. I prefer to try and reach the vulnerable before they become victims. I believe in working with kids one-on-one to make them feel worthy enough that they won’t fall for the schemes of someone like Eric, the trafficker in my books.

My church has active programs for children and youth that include Adventure Club and nursery for children, special programs for youth, and Sunday School and camp for all ages. All of these activities provide opportunities for adult volunteers to spend time with the kids in groups and also one-on-one, taking time to look them in the eye and say, in actions and sometimes in words, “you are important” – “you matter.”

Not into church? That’s okay. How about sports teams, cheerleading, FFA, all the many secular organizations for kids that always seem to be looking for coaches and team parents, adults who will give their time. What about becoming a mentor? Contact the counselor at a school in your area and make yourself available. I’ve been a mentor since 2014 and have been visiting with the same young lady for almost seven years. 

When I look at the magnitude of child trafficking, I sometimes feel like the old man in the starfish story. A little boy was at the beach after a huge storm and there were millions of star fish washed up on the sand. They were drying out in the sun and would soon all be dead. He walked along picking up one after another and throwing them back in the water. An old man was walking toward him, watching what he was doing. When he came close, he said, “Son, you’re not doing any good. There are too many for you to make a difference.” The boy smiled and picked up another small starfish. As he threw it into the water, he said to the man, “I made a difference to that one.”

I hope I make a difference with what I do at the church and at the school, and I hope I make a difference with what I write. I also hope each of you will look for ways to fight trafficking. If each of us does something to help one starfish, we really can make a difference.

Blessings,

Linda

Release Day: Fallen Angel Salvage

Fallen Angel Final Cover Front

He ruined her life once; will he do it again?

The rest of the story, from the author of Tatia’s Tattoo.

Tatia and Jesse have a perfect life in Chicago. Her testimony put Eric in prison in Texas twenty years ago. How could anything go wrong?

A mysterious envelope invades their home with news of a trafficker’s parole, and a handwritten note asks the ominous question: Is Joy as brave as her mother?

An old black van. A missing child. Tatia and Jesse race through the city streets with a band of bikers while Johnny and Jade dig through the dark web and Detectives Nelson and Martin pound on doors.

Will it be enough? Or will Joy become another statistic?

P R E F A C E

THE LETTER

Thursday – 3:00 pm

Tatia stepped out the back door and stood quietly for a moment, watching her two children play tag in the small back yard. She smiled as Joy slowly jogged between the swing set and the sandbox with her younger brother in hot pursuit. Daniel lunged toward her, but she swerved at the last moment causing him to belly flop onto the soft grass.

“I almost got you,” he pouted.

Joy leaned over him and gloated, “You missed me by a mile, short stuff.”

He grinned up at her, touched her arm, and rolled away from her under the swing set. “Tag, you’re it!” he shouted in triumph.

Tatia laughed at the stunned look on Joy’s face and clapped her hands. “Nice move, Daniel! Now, recess is over, and we have a reading lesson to complete before we quit for the day. Dust yourselves off and get the mail on your way in.”

“I’ll get it,” yelled Joy as she took off for the front of the house.

“No!” wailed Daniel. “I won! I get to get it.”

“Okay, I guess you’re right,” said Joy, slowing down to let him catch up. Then, she tapped him on the shoulder. “But now you’re it!”

Tatia shook her head and went back into the house as the two tagged and shouted all the way to the mailbox. Joy must have been in a charitable mood, because a few moments later the front door slammed open and Daniel strutted into the living room with several envelopes clutched in his fist. He presented the mail to his mom as if he were handing her a dozen roses, and then headed to the refrigerator for a bottle of water.

“Joy, did you see that old van across the street?” he asked his sister. “It must have been about a hundred years old.”

“I didn’t see any old van, and I wouldn’t care if I did,” said Joy, her charitable mood long gone.

“Well, you should. The driver was staring at you.”

“There wasn’t a van and there wasn’t a driver! You need glasses!”

“That’s enough, you two,” said Tatia, hoping to restore some peace. “What kind of van was it?” she asked Daniel.

“I’m not sure, Mommy. I’ll go check.” He knelt on the couch and peered out the window as Tatia looked over his shoulder. “It’s gone now,” he said with a shrug.

“Good! Now we can talk about something important,” said Joy. “Like birthday cards! Mommy, did I get any more today?”

Tatia dismissed the uneasy feeling that tried to insinuate itself into her mind, and made a mental note to talk with Jesse about the van later. Right now, she had an almost-nine-year-old girl dancing from foot to foot, waiting for her to sort the mail. It was two days before Joy’s birthday, and she had received more mail in the last week than she had in the previous nine years. She loved the emails and ecards her mom and dad shared with her, but she loved the cards that came in the mail even more. They felt more like they belonged just to her. Tatia flipped through the small stack of envelopes and handed two of them to her daughter.

“It looks like there’s one from Alicia at school and another one from Grandma and Grandpa G. How many is that from them anyway?”

“Seven! One every day for a whole week! What about that one? Is it for me?” she asked pointing to the plain white envelope Tatia was staring at curiously.

“No, it’s addressed to me, and it doesn’t have a return address or a stamp.”

“Probably a bill,” said Joy, and she took her cards to the couch to read them.

Tatia opened the envelope and pulled out a single sheet of notebook paper. On it was taped a small article from the Cameron Morning Telegraph dated the previous Sunday.

Cameron, TX. After serving twenty years of three concurrent sentences for murder, aggravated statutory sexual assault, and human trafficking, Eric Hall was paroled from the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville this week. His conviction was the first of several that resulted from the testimony of a very brave young woman, later identified as Tatia Robins in her book, Groomed for the Streets. These convictions freed Cameron from the human trafficking trade that had plagued our city for years.

Below the article was a short, hand-written message:

I wonder if Joy is as brave as her mother.

Buy at Amazon | B & N

Ebook available soon.

Blessisngs,

Linda

Happy Book Birthday to Tatia’s Tattoo | by Linda Brendle

Final_Tatia's Tattoo Cover trim size    Fallen Angel Final Cover Front

One year ago today, my first novel was released. Tatia’s Tattoo was a work of love inspired by the shocking knowledge that child sex trafficking takes place, not just in foreign countries and large metropolitan areas, but in small towns like the one where I live. This year I have been working on the second phase of Tatia’s story, and Fallen Angel Salvage is now available for preorder.

Tatia’s Tattoo

As a successful D.C. lawyer, Tatia’s mission in life is to destroy the sex trafficking trade in small-town America. She knows where to find it. She’s been there.

With only apathetic foster parents to protect her, she fell prey to the local pimp. Trapped in the sordid underbelly of a small Texas town, she survived by sheer will. Her friendship with her fellow victim Cindy was the only light of humanity in the darkness until she saw a familiar face. Would Mrs. G, a mama bear of an attorney, still think she had strength and potential? Would Jesse, the young Christian tattoo artist and biker, still look at her with a twinkle in his eyes? Or would they both see only the mark of shame Eric had etched onto her forearm?

Buy now in Paperback ($12.95) or Ebook ($2.99)

Fallen Angel Salvage

He ruined her life once; will he do it again?

The rest of the story, from the author of Tatia’s Tattoo.

Tatia and Jesse have a perfect life in Chicago. Her testimony put Eric in prison in Texas twenty years ago. How could anything go wrong?

A mysterious envelope invades their home with news of a trafficker’s parole, and a handwritten note asks the ominous question: Is Joy as brave as her mother?

An old black van. A missing child. Tatia and Jesse race through the city streets with a band of bikers while Johnny and Jade dig through the dark web and Detectives Nelson and Martin pound on doors.

Will it be enough? Or will Joy become another statistic?

Release date is July 30. Preorder now in Paperback (Ebook available soon)

Blessings,

Linda

 

Priorities | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on June 25, 2019:

inside-mind1As a writer, I have a tendency to live inside my own head, thinking about my next column, laying out the plot of a new book, or working on a tricky scene or bit of dialogue. It’s not that I’m disengaged from what’s going on around me. But even during the most interesting discussion, the most challenging chore, or the most entertaining activity, a part of my mind is always searching for an idea to be stored on my mental hard drive and retrieved later to see where it might fit into a work in progress.

This isn’t always true when we’re watching TV. While David is surfing YouTube, Amazon Prime, and other streaming sites for interesting videos on sailing, RVing, metal detecting, bloopers, and other topics that interest him, I’m usually, writing, cooking, reading, working crossword and Sudoku puzzles, or playing with my phone. Once in a while, though, something catches my attention, and that happened this week when he was watching a video on auto detailing. (more…)

Nightwalk for Hope by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on April 23, 2019:

For the silentAs a published author, the most common question I’m asked is what my books are about. I released my first novel last summer, and the short answer to that question is “it’s about human trafficking in small town America.” The second most common I’m asked about that particular book is “whatever possessed you to write about a subject like that?”

Before this book, my perspective on human trafficking, specifically sex trafficking of young girls, was very narrow, based primarily on movies and television crime shows. In my mind, this unspeakable crime was limited to the back alleys of foreign countries or a few mega-cities in the U.S. where orphans or run-aways were snatched from a hopeless existence and forced into something even worse. And it didn’t include children.

Then, one Sunday evening, a couple from Tyler visited our church. They had founded an organization called For the Silent whose mission statement reads, in part: we work to end sex trafficking and exploitation by empowering the voices of vulnerable and exploited youth. Their visit was a real wake up call.

Numbers are all over the place depending on which expert you read, but everyone seems to agree that over a million children are trafficked each year, and the average age when children are introduced into trafficking is 11 to 14. Not only is sex trafficking not limited to faraway places, it is not limited to nameless, faceless children who live in another reality. It is happening to girls – and sometimes boys – just like my grandchildren, the children and grandchildren of my friends and neighbors, the children I see every week at church or in the grocery store.

One of the stories the couple told us that night was about a thirteen-year-old girl who was targeted by a trafficker. She was an innocent, small-town girl who was approached by a stranger asking for directions. During their brief conversation, he gave her a non-threatening compliment then said good-by. Over the next several months, he “groomed” her. She “ran into him” frequently, and they became friends. At first they just talked, and then he began giving her small gifts. Their friendship grew, the gifts became larger, and she fell in love with him. He used her feelings for him to manipulate her into becoming part of his merchandise. Then, he continued to control her with fear and threats and violence. That’s why I wrote the novel I did – because I think the story of this girl and others like her needs to be told to people like me who don’t know these silent victims exist.

Nightwalk2When I visit various group to talk about my book, I offer suggestions about how each of us can help fight this horrible crime. One of those suggestions is to support groups like For the Silent, and an opportunity is available this week. The biggest fund-raising event for this Tyler-based operation is their annual Nighwalk For Hope. The following information is from their website:

 On the evening of Saturday, April 27th, we will come together as a community to shine a light on human trafficking in east Texas.

This family-friendly event includes multiple food trucks, bounce houses, music, face-painting, yard games, and more. As the sun sets around 8:15pm we conclude the night with a 2-mile walk on a section of the Rose Rudman trail.

Each participant will carry a lantern to light our way and to symbolize hope in the darkness.

[Online] registration is now closed. But worry not, you can register at the event!

Event Day Details:

 Event sign-in and registration begins at 5:30 pm in Rose Rudman’s Southside Park and we will start walking as the sun sets around 8:15 pm.

 T-shirts can be picked up at the sign-in table for participants who have pre-registered online. [Other t-shirts, tote bags, and souvenirs are available for purchase.] 

 We will have food trucks, kids’ activities, and music before the walk begins — so bring your family and a lawn chair or blanket, and enjoy a fun community atmosphere.

 We will have security, adequate lighting, and port-a-potties to help ensure everyone has a great time.

 For more information about Nightwalk For Hope or For the Silent, go to www.ForTheSilent.org or call 903.747.8128.

Blessings,

Linda

Final_Tatia's Tattoo Cover trim size

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Latest Review of Tatia’s Tattoo

kris morgan

March 12, 2019

Tatia’s Tattoo is one of the best books I have read this year. Ms. Brendle handles the horrors of human trafficking with honesty without being too graphic. Because of the subject matter I cannot say i enjoyed Tatia’s Tattoo, but I could not put it down, in fact at times I was moved to tears. If I had my way I would have all junior high students read this book to be aware of what dangers are out there. So grab a glass of mango iced tea, a box of tissues and settle in for an impressive read.
Blessings,
Linda
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Reluctant to read Tatia’s Tattoo? Read this brief post.

Final_Tatia's Tattoo Cover trim sizeSome people have expressed reluctance to read Tatia’s Tattoo because of the subject matter – sex trafficking in small-town America. Following are some excerpt from a Facebook conversation with a recent reader:
 
Very good! 5 stars so far. I’m about half way through. I didn’t get my nap in today because I couldn’t put the book down.
 
I’m not done, but already find myself looking forward to the sequel.
 
I really like your writing style, not too wordy.
 
Being a victim of abuse myself, I was a little worried going into it, being a book about sex trafficking. A lot of writers these days go for shock value. But you’ve handled those bits and pieces very tactfully and I appreciate that.
 
Thank you for being respectful and not making us that are victims re-live it and proving that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
 
You can read the Preface and the first two chapters by clicking HERE and then clicking Download a Sample below the book cover. There is also a buy link there.
 
You can also find it at AMAZON.
Blessings,
Linda

Tatia’s Tattoo: How to pronounce her name (Video) | by Linda Brendle

 

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Blessings,

Linda

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