Show a Little Love


In a world of so much division and hatred, I thought I’d share a little short story that reflects how we might choose to handle life. This week, I want to be one that shows the love of Jesus in my reactions.

I’ve also made October the month of FREE books. With fall moving in, don’t you want to curl up with a good book and a cuppa (Aussie for tea, coffee, or hot chocolate)? Even here in balmy Southwest Florida, we’ve had a few nights of “cooler” (70 – LOL) weather. So after you read this little short story, head on over to Amazon where you can pick up the Kindle edition of Voices of the Past this weekend. It’s FREE starting yesterday, October 9 until the 13th.

Then from October 16-20th you can get Dangerous Ground for FREE.

New Release, When the Wind Blows, will be FREE October 20-24th. That’s a month of great reading! Starting with the story below. And don’t forget to show a little love…

Joy Wurshop yanked on the handle of her rolling briefcase. For the last time. The handle came off in her hand. The impact nearly threw her off her black high heels. Walking was no longer an option. She’d have to call a cab now. Ten minutes before her meeting started. Only a miracle would get her there.

“Taxi!” She scanned the crowded street for yellow while attempting to shove the bag’s handle back in place.

You’ll have to be aggressive in the big city. The unsolicited advice from her previous boss incited her to take a step off the curb. Without looking. A cab screeched to a halt inches from her black pencil skirt. Joy’s free hand flew to her mouth while her purse slid off her shoulder and down the grey and pink floral silk blouse adorning her arm.

“Lady, what the heck’re ya doin? Trying to get yourself killed? Do you want a cab or a coffin?”

“Cab, please.” She let the coffin remark slide. Gripping her broken briefcase and purse, she fumbled with the door handle. The driver turned, facing her, and yelled out the passenger window.

“Come on, lady. I ain’t got all day.” His booming expletive carried over honking horns blaring behind him.

Joy threw her belongings through the door and slid in beside them.

“Where to? Where to? Let’s get a move on.”

“27th Street. The Town Center Building. Please hurry. I have a meeting, and I’m already late.”

“Oh, miss fancy-pants wants me to hurry now. Dawdled getting in my cab, and now I’m the one to get her to her meetin’…”

Joy closed her eyes against the pooling tears as the man carried on. Not what she needed. Not today. Not when her career hung by a thread.

Drawing in a deep breath, she dug in her purse for a tissue, settling for a wadded piece at the bottom. By the time she removed mascara smudges and reapplied lip gloss, they turned onto her street. Joy prayed she had enough cash for the fare.

Flipping through all her cards, her heart plunged. Bank, credit, medical, pharmacy, Sam’s Club, library. Nothing. Opened her change purse. A couple of folded up ones and two pennies. They were pulling up to her building. Praying for a miracle, she peeked in a little, side pocket, fully knowing she never kept money there.

“That’ll be $17.50. No charge for not runnin’ ya over back there.” He howled a laugh.

Tucked inside the pocket was a folded bill. Thank God! But when she pulled it out, the sight elated and crushed her. A fifty. Since when…she never had that kind of money. But she knew what she needed to do. She closed her eyes with a sigh. A moment later, she opened them and handed the bill over, offering a shaky smile.

“Here. Keep the change.”

As she closed the door, she caught his muttering.

“Well, I never…”

And she guessed he never had.

When the Wind Blows is coming soon…

Speechless


woman in maroon shirt with black chain on her body
Photo by Markus Spiske freeforcommercialuse.net on Pexels.com

While doing some book research yesterday, I discovered an organization called Operation Underground Railroad that rescues trafficked children and helps them recover from their trauma. Since writing Dangerous Ground and all the research involved, I’ve been more acutely aware of these horrendous stories. As a matter of fact, even though I tried to carefully depict the tragedy of sex trafficking in my novel, I see now that what I found while researching was only the tip of the iceberg. The situation is even more horrific than the dozens of stories and statistics I read about. I’m so grateful for those organizations that are doing everything they possibly can to rescue, heal, and offer new life to those who have suffered in this way. I still continue to donate half of all the proceeds from my book, Dangerous Ground, to three such organizations.

But I was speechless when I found another group that claims to have rescued more children than all the other groups put together. They’ve been in business for 41 years. In Los Angeles. I had no idea that Children of the Night even existed. Their mission statement says “Empower.

But that’s not the speechless part.

As I scrolled through their board of directors, I saw the name Cooper Hefner.

That’s right. The son of the man who introduced pornography as America’s favorite pastime. Cooper is currently the CCO for the Playboy enterprise. He’s furthering his father’s legacy to expand the porn industry.

And sitting on the board of an organization that rescues children from the same people who feed on that industry.

Can we say “conflict of interest”?

I decided I had to write the founder and question how they could justify this. Here is the email I sent her and her response to me.

“I was so impressed when I found your site and organization. Sex trafficking is a horrific crime that needs to stop. I had no idea that you have been around so long. Your statistics are impressive. So I decided to look more closely into your team. I grew up in Los Angeles. Perhaps someone I know is part of your cause. I considered donating. Until I scrolled through your board of directors and see that Cooper Hefner, the CCO of Playboy is one of them. I’m still so stunned I can hardly believe it. How is it that the pornographic organization which exploits women, pretends that what they promote is in any way helpful, and promotes the very thing your organization fights is represented on your BOD?? Your mission is EMPOWER yet everything Playboy stands for is exploitation of women, children and even men. Where is the empowerment in that? I’m so glad that I looked deeper than the surface of your organization. I suppose some good has come from rescuing, but when you put these victims in the place to be rescued, how is that anything but you creating a situation for which you can pat yourself on the back when you save them? Is this just Playboy’s attempt to legitimize their actions by partnering with an anti-trafficking campaign? I’m shocked and saddened by the hypocrisy of it.”

 

“Hugh Hefner built my work with prostituted children into a corporation. Without his resources there would not be a Children of the Night.

We did this in 1977 because social workers and juvenile courts denied these children services because sex was involved in their victimization.
We have rescued over 11,000 children over the last 41 years starting before the word sex trafficking was created.
Your right it was tough for him to help me because of how he was perceived and he took risks to do so against his lawyers advice.”

Dr Lois Lee

Children of the Night
3450 Cahuenga Blvd
Unit 602
Los Angeles, Ca 90068-1592
I’m sorry. Why again was it tough for him to help? Because it was risky for him to build a corporation to save the children that were being exploited in part because of an industry he helped create?
Did rescuing those children make him and his empire feel better about their role in this evil perpetrated on the innocent?
As I said, I’m speechless. Am I missing something here?
I’m glad to know that there is hope for victims. That is the most important thing. They are loved by their Heavenly Father and Jesus and will use anything to rescue them. Even the misplaced motives of some.
Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Dream Big


IMG_3840Big dreams start with small steps.

I believe big things are coming in this new year. God has already done miracles in my marriage, family and business, and I believe he’s calling us to trust him for even more than we can hope for or imagine. (Eph. 3:20)

We have to think bigger.

Recently, in reading the passage in the Bible about Joshua and Caleb being sent with ten other men to scope out the promised land (Numbers 13), I was struck by a few things:

  1. God made a big promise – his plans were far greater than his people imagined.
  2. The land God was giving them was flowing with good things – abundance is God’s plan and promise for us.
  3. There were giants, obstacles and adversaries within the land God promised – it wouldn’t be easy, and they would have to fight for it.
  4. Only 2 of the 12 came back believing God’s promise, the other 10 chose fear instead and spread fear among their people
  5. The people had to step forward to move into the land. Just one step started the movement.

What does that have to do with me?

God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. (Hebrews 13:8) God’s promises may look different, but he is the same God able to speak what is relevant to us and make them come to fruition.

So, today, what is God whispering to your heart that he wants to do for you? Something bigger than what you think is possible?

Restoring a relationship? Starting a new business? Writing a book? Adopting a child? Overcoming an addiction?

Let’s ask God what his big dreams are for us. Let’s believe what he says – he’s the God of abundance and greatness. Let’s be willing to fight for what God promises – he will equip us and lead us to fight. Let’s speak  truth and hold onto God rather than giving way to fear. We may feel fear, but we don’t have to live in it and let it control us. Let’s be careful not to spread fear. We CAN dream big and see God deliver.

What are your big dreams? What is your first step towards it?

This is a message I received this past week from a reader. When I started writing books, it was a big dream that has taken years, tears and fighting to attain the promise, but God is faithful!
“Hi Laura,
I wanted to reach out and tell you that I just finished your book Dangerous Ground. I LOVED it so much. I read it in 3 days and never wanted to put it down. I especially loved all of the faith, and trust in God aspects you so wonderfully incorporated. It really helped me see many ways of looking for Christ in every situation. Such an amazing read. The trafficking awareness there is so important and I admire all that you did with this. I look forward to more of your books!” A.H.

Will You Join Me?


cropped-laura-half-moon-bay-008Just a quick post to give some news and invite you to join me for my first radio interview which will air at www.savvybusinessradio.com on Thursday December 6th. You can also listen at any of these other places:

We’ll be talking about my latest book, Dangerous Ground, and the sad truth about human trafficking. While Dangerous Ground is a novel, the story discloses the horrors about sex trafficking, a problem that is prolific here in the States as well as the rest of the world.

Half the proceeds of this book are being donated to three organizations which fight trafficking and rescue those in captivity or at risk.

A21 is an Australian based organization. (No, I didn’t choose it because of my Aussie husband. But how cool is it that our church supports them?) An interesting fact about the book is that the founder of A-21 first became attracted to this crime when she saw some photos in public of missing children. One young girl in particular, named Sophie, caught her attention and wouldn’t let her rest.

When writing Dangerous Ground, I named one of the abducted girls Sophia. It wasn’t until after the book was written, and I decided to learn more about A-21 that I found out the story. Those are the “coincidences” that I believe God orchestrates.

Another group is San Francisco based Not for Sale.

I knew nothing about human trafficking in the US until my husband and I stumbled on their store in Half Moon Bay, CA while on an anniversary trip. A store front boasting Not for Sale intrigued us. I read their book which shared horrendous stories of trafficked individuals four years before I wrote Dangerous Ground, but I believe it planted the seed.

Bridging Freedom locally (Sarasota, FL) offers a place of refuge for children trafficked to live while they heal and transition back into life. They opened their doors after a number of years and many prayers this past May.

Each group targets some different areas of trafficking. All of which are crucial.

Please join me in finding out more on Thursday’s interview and purchase Dangerous Ground to help fight this atrocity.

Everything is a Journey


Coastland Center Mall Book Signing

I had my first book selling event this week.

It came about unexpectedly and plunged me into the next step on my writing journey. A step I’ve longed for, thought about and feared for years. Now, in hindsight, it seems foolish to have dreaded (with excited anticipation) my first book event.

I’m not one of those people who hate talking in front of others. Book selling and signing goes with the territory. I want more people to know about me as an author. So what was I (a little) freaked out about?

The logistics.

I’m not even sure why. I’m asking for divine help in answering that question. But I realize it happens almost every time I find myself in a new, unfamiliar setting or situation. I’m far better now, but it still unsettles me.

Can anyone relate?

Spending hours preparing  by packing up, checking directions (a few times), re-reading instructions, listing needed items and imagining the trip or event several different ways. When I’m supposed to be getting much needed before-the-event sleep. Naturally.

Here’s the deal…

Even though I woke up with a migraine starting that morning, I quieted my heart in prayer and set about getting ready and to my destination. As I drove, I remembered that I had worked at a tuxedo shop a couple of decades ago so I attended numerous and regular wedding events. I also worked book tables for other authors.

I had experience after all. Go figure.

A nice man held the door for me as I lugged my box of books and such into the mall. Then it all came back to me once I started setting up. Arranging my books, cards and flyers was fun. I didn’t know what to expect, so I expected to wait and see what would transpire during the day.

Being at a mall, most of the sparse crowd came for specific purposes. Few stopped to browse. But both of my vendor neighbors were lovely ladies selling beautiful jewelry and handmade tote bags respectively.

We enjoyed some interesting and engaging conversation.

Later on, a couple of friends showed up to support me. I love connecting my friends who don’t know each other, but love me. Overall, I sold a few books, met some very nice people and ended up having a great experience.

All part of the journey.

It was a good day. Even the part when I drove out of the mall the wrong way and ended up circling a number of very long blocks to end up back where I started fifteen minutes later. Making mistakes is a part of learning.

I learned that everything is a journey.

We can keep moving ahead in spite of our fears or questions, or we can hold back and never start. Every new experience is just that–new. Which means we won’t know what to expect or what it will hold for us until we are participating in it.

But if we never take that first step into the unknown, we’ll never know. I’m so grateful for the experience. Every part of it (except that headache) ended up blessing me. And now I’ll be more confident the next time. I also want to keep pressing into what’s next.

Like a radio interview coming up this week.

I’m pretty excited in a nervous am-I-ready-for-this kind of way. I don’t feel ready, but I believe God opens doors at the right time. And sometimes he gives us a little nudge to walk through.

What step do you need to take today?

 

 

My Story’s Not Finished Yet


Having just completed my next book, Dangerous Ground, I’m extremely aware of what goes into writing a novel.

Usually the beginning is the easiest.

An idea grabs me, and my creative instincts take over, spinning a new tale with ever-evolving characters. It’s fun to get to know the players and see what they will do as the story unfolds. I also typically have a general idea of what the goal is, and therefore, what the ending will be.

But then, there’s the middle.

Ask any author, and they will tell you the dreaded middle is where we aren’t sure how it will all fit together, and whether the ending will actually play out, This is when we question our ability and desire to be a writer in the first place.

Recently, one of our pastors shared a message about having faith for the middle.

God often gives us a vision of what is to come in the future. He tells us where to start, and as we say yes to him, we’re launched into something we know will be great.

But then, the middle comes.

We don’t see the point, we’ve lost sight of the goal and we’re tired. And maybe confused. Things don’t look like we expected. As a matter of fact, they may even seem to be moving backwards.

Our pastor made some really great points about how to keep our hearts and minds in the right place when we’re in that middle space.

  • Don’t allow our feelings to determine our faith.
  • Don’t put our faith in things or circumstances.
  • Trust that God has a greater purpose while we’re in the middle.

I could relate to the idea of God working in the middle. That’s the messiest part. That’s the place where I fall in love with Jesus because I have to press close to him to get through. (You can watch his entire message here.)

Like in writing a book, the middle is where all the action is. It’s where the characters fall in love or start to see a solution to the crime. And that’s where we perfect the story.

In the middle, the story’s not finished yet.

Maybe you are in the middle of a story in your life. I know I am. It may feel like it will never end or certainly never end satisfactorily. But with God, there is always a good ending. Don’t give up while he’s writing the middle of your story.

I made it through the middle of Dangerous Ground, and while it didn’t exactly turn out the way I expected, I think it ended up being better.

Here’s a sneak peak of the cover. Thank you, CulpritMedia Group!

Look for it on Amazon in time for your Labor Day weekend reading!

The Writing Journey


Me at my desk

It’s been nearly three years since the idea for my next book, Dangerous Ground, began rattling around in my head. Bits and pieces flew at me on the road, in my sleep, in the shower and, well, just about everywhere.

It’s quite a journey to write a book.

Surprisingly, the idea originated with a writer’s group prompt. A local organization held a contest for a few weeks during which time they posted a picture in the newspaper and asked for short stories based on the photo. (The original is posted below.)

I’m not good at short stories, but I forged ahead with the prompt for our next meeting. What happened next? The beginning of a story unfolded.

No short story, either.

The picture inspired a scene which connected to a book on human trafficking I’d read a few years previously and turned into an idea for a novel. Of course that was only the beginning.

Three years later, a book is born.

It’s like waiting for a baby. Only longer. And the labor, rather than being a few hours to a couple of days lasts much longer.

So here I am in the final stages of that labor. I’m polishing words, sentences and formatting while the cover is being designed.

One exciting aspect about Dangerous Ground is that I will be donating at least half the proceeds to three organizations that fight human trafficking and help those who have been rescued. One is international, one is national and one is located near my home in Florida. In my years of research, I found that each one of these organizations has the same heart motivation, but targets a distinct need.

If you’re interested in checking out the organizations click on the links below:

http://www.a21.org/content/who-we-are/gnihwo?permcode=gnihwo&site=true

https://www.notforsalecampaign.org/

https://www.bridgingfreedom.org/

So every person who buys the book will also be helping an important cause.

I love that.

Look for your chance to be a part of changing the world one book at a time beginning in August. Release date coming soon!

Here’s a teaser:

Sierra tried to pull her eyes open. Through blurring slits, she saw the black car with its door open. She didn’t want to go in the big car, but her legs wouldn’t work when she tried to kick them to say no. Then the seat belt buckle hit her face. A trickle of something wet rolled down her cheek. The last thing she remembered was her body pressing against the seat as the car sped off.

 

 
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