Tag Archives: North Star to Freedom Series

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#Caged – Book 3 of the North Star to Freedom Series

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The final installment of the North Star to Freedom series is here!

The amazing Heather Horrocks has written a gut-wrenching but ultimately triumphant tale about saving kids from child sex trafficking.

I laughed. I cried. I may have cheered.

Scroll past the book to read how Heather got involved in this project!

The ebook is 99 cents this week!

Autumn Eldridge considers herself one of the lucky ones—after all, she got rescued from a life of horror after just six months. That was three years ago. Now she has a black belt in karate and she is never going to be a target again. So when billionaire Cyrus Black invites her to help other teens from being taken in the first place by joining his elite team, she jumps at the chance.

She is partnered with the mysterious Noah Fuller, and she wonders why he is on the team, since he’s the only team member who was never trafficked.


Destiny Wexler has had an incredibly bad year. First her mom died, then her dad remarried way too quickly, and she just found out she’s pregnant. When her jerk of a boyfriend breaks up with her, she turns to a friend she met last year in a chat group for teens who have lost their mothers. Finally, things are starting to look up. She’s just met two new friends. Even better, her chat room friend is going to fly in and take her to lunch.


But when she lies to her new friends—who she doesn’t realize are on the team trying to save her—and meets her “friend,” she finds herself #caged and betrayed. She can’t believe how deep the lies have gone and she’s terrified no one will be coming to save her.

How Heather got involved in this project:

Heather Horrocks

This project was scary. A group of three PG-rated clean romance authors decided to do a series about teens being groomed to be stolen and forced into sex slavery. We knew we could write from the beginning to the abduction and from the rescue to The End, but how could we possibly tackle the middle of their stories which were basically XXX-rated? How were we supposed to pull that off without going to the dark side, as it were? But we felt impressed to proceed, and the ideas began to come.

We decided to write from two points of view—both the targeted teen as well as a member of a special team formed of trafficking survivors. The team was organized by a man (Cyrus Black, whose story was told in #Lost) whose daughter was stolen away. We knew we needed to entertain while we taught about the dangers, so we added the undercover team, taking our inspiration from 21 Jump Street and, later, The Thundermans, both of which meet Taken.

We hope our books open the eyes of young people to the dangers around them. If we can keep even one teen from falling for the enticements and lies, we’ll feel it was totally worth the time and effort. This was a hard-written book. Hard to plot. Hard to write. Hard to live through vicariously as I wrote. Hard to face my own PTSD from my own childhood abuse.

Like the others, all the profits from my book are being donated to the anti-trafficking or aftercare of our choice. I’ve chosen to donate my profits to Tim Ballard’s organization, Operation Underground Railroad, so that I can aid in rescuing children. When I watched his first documentary, I was touched when he said to use your unique talents and skills to help. So now I have.

 


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#Lured – Book 2 of the North Start to Freedom Series

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For the past few weeks I’ve been sharing the books in the North Star to Freedom series.

Well, this week it’s my turn!

#Lured is my book in the series, and I have to say, I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.

Anyone who has read my Jagged Scars series won’t be shocked that Warren, the trafficking survivor in this book, deals with some serious PTSD.

I have to admit it was difficult to put myself in Warren’s shoes. I’m fortunate not to have abuse in my past, so I had to imagine what it might be like being a sex trafficking survivor. Not my favorite topic to think about, but I feel like I scraped enough of the surface to make everyone reading feel for Warren.

Scroll down to see how I got sucked into this project!

The ebook is 99 cents this week only!

The girl being lured away

The trafficking survivor trying to save her

Kaylee Roberts, sophomore and varsity soccer player, is furious when her arch nemesis not only beats her for the half-back position on the team, but then sends a picture of Kaylee’s eczema-covered face on fire to the whole school. It’s not like she needs a reminder about her skin condition. Lucky for Kaylee, she’s been chatting online with a basketball player from another school who appreciates her photography skills and likes her for who she is.

Seventeen year old Warren Scott’s plan to get out of juvie and rescue his best friend from a trafficker goes out the window when he gets into a fight defending another kid. He’s expecting a reprimand, but instead gets an offer: join a specialized team of sex trafficking survivors who go into high schools to find and warn teenagers who are being targeted by predators. The rich guy in charge promises Warren help finding his friend in exchange for his time.

Warren agrees, but while he and his partner are desperately trying to find the target, he starts having crippling flashbacks of his old life. In the meantime Kaylee’s amazing and supportive online boyfriend tells her he loves her. She loves him too, and wants to show him.

Can Warren find Kaylee before it’s too late, or will Kaylee be #Lured away to a fate Warren knows all too well?

 

How I got involved in this project

JO SCHNEIDER

Taylor Hart approached me about this project early in 2019. We were sitting in a crowded Olive Garden and she was telling me stories that she’d heard from Cammy Bowker (see her forward at the beginning of the book) about child sex trafficking and exploitation in America. Right here in our home state. I was blown away. Of course I knew it happened, but had never looked too close. Like many of us, for me ignorance was bliss. That night Taylor destroyed my ignorance, and I’ll be forever grateful.

Taylor said she wanted to join the fight, and asked me if I would be willing to write a book and donate all of the proceeds to charity. Duh. Yes. When do you want it?

Our original idea was to write sweet romances, which I write under my pen name Karly Stratford, and donate the money. Then Taylor ran into Tim Ballard, founder of Operation Underground Railroad, at the mall. I saw a picture she’d posted on Facebook and I sent her a text asking her if she was stalking the poor guy! Nope, not stalking. A fortuitous, and possibly inspired, meeting. Taylor thanked him for all he has done, told him we were authors, and asked him what we could do to help. When he said he would love it if we would write books directed at the teens, because more and more get taken every day, that threw a wrench in the plan.

At this point, Heather had joined our little party, and the three of us were a bit dumbfounded. Most of the group write sweet and clean romance…how are we supposed to write something to teens on the topic of sex trafficking?

I’m the young adult writer of the group, so I started thinking. And praying. And thinking. Here’s the thing, in young adult books you need to empower the teenage characters. They have to be driving the story, not be bossed around by their parents or teachers. And we didn’t want to just focus on a victim after they’d been taken—first too grisly, and second most teens won’t relate to the situation. Finally, after a few weeks, I had an idea. If you remember the old 21 Jump Street, with Johnny Depp, you’ll know that young-looking cops got sent undercover into high schools to sniff out drug and theft rings. In the process they usually helped teens who were in trouble. Then it hit me. What if we used young trafficking survivors as our 21 Jump Street-type teams, and they went into high schools to help kids who are being targeted by predators? That way we could tell a story that would be familiar to teens (high school), as well as explore a victim of trafficking after they’d gotten out!

It took a lot of work, praying, planning and coordinating, but in the end it all came together!

I’m not often public about my religious beliefs, but I certainly felt a divine hand holding mine more than once as I researched this brutal topic, planned my book and then wrote it. There was also plenty of opposition as we fought to get this project finished and out to the world.

I hope these books made you just a little bit uncomfortable, but I also hope that you go away from them with a better understanding of the process predators use to lure people into their traps. The internet is not going away, and the best defense against it is open communication with friends and family and as much knowledge as you can gather about the dangers that lurk behind the screen.

 

 

 


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#Lost – A Prequel

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I’ve been vague-booking about a project , and it’s finally time to make it public!

This all started when my author buddy, Taylor Hart, asked me if I would be willing to write a book and donate all the profits to the fight against child sex trafficking.

I didn’t have much real-life knowledge of child sex trafficking, but duh. Yes. I’m in.

Then things got…complicated. Instead of just writing a sweet romance and donating the profits, which would have been easy, we got the nudge to write cautionary tales for teens about how these things happen here in the United States.

So we did.

Much more on that later.

Today is the official launch of #Lost, a prequel to said project.

Co-written by Taylor Hart, Heather Horrocks and myself, this novella tells the story of billionaire Cyrus Black whose daughter was taken by a sex trafficker.

The end of this story sets up the rest of the series, which will launch a book a week for the rest of the month!

Get your copy of #Lost today!

Free for Kindle Unlimited readers, or 99 cents for the ebook

 

All billionaire Cyrus Black wants is a chance to spend a month in Paris and repair the fractured relationship with his wife and daughter. But things don’t go as planned. Frantic, he realizes his daughter has left without telling anyone where she’s going. When he finds her phone dumped in a garbage can, he grows even more frantic. Though the police assume it is a kidnapping, and tell him to wait for a ransom note, he calls in associates who might help him find her.

Marcella Black is looking forward to spending time with her parents, especially her father whom she’s hardly seen since her parents separated. But when her father is late—as usual—and her mother is having a melt-down, and she can’t face the fight that’s sure to come, she turns to the only person who understands her—@JamesKind.

She met him briefly in Paris last year and has since fallen in love with him. When he asks her to come meet him, she happily goes. Because he loves her, too, right?

When the expected ransom note doesn’t arrive, Cyrus fears his daughter might be #lost—maybe forever.

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Stay tuned for next week’s launch of #Seen


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