Tag Archives: human trafficking

Interview: K.L. Ditmars, Canadian author

Author K.L. Ditmars

K. L. (Kelly) Ditmars is a Canadian writer of inspirational fiction, whose debut novel, All That it Takes, released January 2021. The opening chapters of All That it Takes won a Word Award in 2020 in the unpublished fiction category—a promising endorsement!

Welcome, Kelly, and congratulations on your new release! What is your book about?

My book is a fictional story about Julia Bowen whose husband is murdered.  As she navigates her grief she discovers that he died at the hands of a human trafficking ring which she attempts to expose. It is also about her spiritual journey and how the people that help her in her efforts against the trafficking ring also help her come into relationship with God.

What sort of research did you need to do for a subject like this?

To realistically address the issue of human trafficking, I read a lot of books about the human trafficking issue in Canada.

I also have friends who have worked in anti-human trafficking efforts for decades, so I was able to draw on their experience through interviews.

One of the main characters lives on a boat. I live on an island where a segment of the population lives aboard their boats, it wasn’t too difficult to find friends of friends to interview.

Two characters in the story were veterans of the Canadian military service and shared an experience as peacekeepers during the Rwanda genocide. To research this, I read a lot. Two specific books written by General Roméo Dallaire, the Canadian commander of the peacekeeping mission during the genocide, regarding his experience in Rwanda and dealing with post-traumatic stress: Shake Hands with the Devil and Waiting for First Light.

This list is just a tip of the iceberg of research resources I used while writing my book. But it is a good start for anyone looking to read more: klditmarswriter.com/resources.

Do you remember the first germ of idea for All That it Takes?

Most definitely. The beginning of this story came from a dream. In this dream I was fleeing from a friend’s house into the forest behind their home. Of course, when I woke up, I had no idea why I was fleeing. I immediately wrote it down. A month later I had written 52,000 words and had a rough first draft of All That it Takes.

Wow, that’s a fast start! Do you have a favorite character in the story?

Yes, Charlie is my favorite character, I had fun writing him and using him as a vehicle to share God’s love. A close second is Angus, the Irish wolfhound.

Glad I’m not the only writer who loves the animal characters as well as the humans. I see this is book one in the Where Can I Go? series. Will the next book continue Julia’s story or what connects the books in the series?

Yes, the next book will continue Julia’s story as she helps bring the human trafficking ring to justice. It will also be a thriller based around the real battle faced by law enforcement and the legal establishment to charge and convict human traffickers. The whole series not only sees Julia’s efforts against human trafficking, but also her spiritual journey, as she discovers a God who is present through it all. Her spiritual journey begins with an introduction to faith in God and coming to the understanding that God is with us and we are never apart from him. Even though we may not realize his presence, it is always there.

His presence makes all the difference. Can you share any special God moments you experienced working on this project?

I wrote a lot of Charlie’s faith journey from my own experience and when I did it caused me to look back at my own life and see God’s hand. I think writing this story was an affirmation of God’s faithfulness in my own life.

How long have you been writing? And what got you started?

I have memories of writing stories when I was a little girl, of course I don’t have any of those early scribblings, I’ve moved too many times in my life for them to have survived successive purges. A lot of my early writing experiences involved writing stage plays in church. It was my church youth group and creative ministry departments at the churches I’ve attended throughout my life that encouraged and fostered this aspect of creativity in my life.

Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

I still feel I am a beginning writer as this is my debut novel.  I guess I would say, keep writing, keep improving your craft. Take classes, learn from people and authors you admire and who are further ahead in the publishing journey. Go to conferences and mingle with fellow writers and authors.

Figure out what you have to do to make it a reality. I remember when I went to my very first writers conference in 2015,  I had a reality check regarding all the things on top of writing that an author has to do. It’s a little daunting and overwhelming at times but basically, it’s an ever-evolving machine to not just write books and stories but also to make sure that they come to be noticed out there in the world and to find their place on the shelf next to other writers.

Wise words. Thank you. Is there a particular song or scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?

Worship music for me is a huge influencer. Worshipping God and loving him through music and declaring his worthiness of his place in my life has always been a vehicle to really hear him speak to me. It puts me in a place where I can hear his voice and seek direction and just nurture that love relationship with him. So, no one song in particular, just the act of worship has made a difference.

There is one verse from Deuteronomy that seems to come to mind more often than any other.  Chapter 5 verse 29; “Oh that there were such a heart in them that they would fear me and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever!” I come back to this verse quite often when I struggle with bad choices that I’ve made and circumstances I find myself in. It grounds me in knowing God has my best in mind, and always will. His commandments are there to give me direction and purpose, that I might live the best life possible and be an example and hopefully influence those around me.

I can hear God’s yearning over us in that verse. Now, for something a little lighter, to finish: Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or tea?

Definitely chocolate and definitely tea.

I have always loved chocolate.

As far as coffee goes, I have never developed a taste for it. I have had sips of coffee throughout my life but could never get past the bitterness.

It was only in my early 50s when I actually had my first cup of coffee. I was in Bulgaria and visiting a monastery with a group and we were offered coffee. I have been a missionary and we were taught that if someone offers you something you graciously accept it. So, that afternoon in Bulgaria, sitting in the courtyard of a beautiful monastery, I drank my first cup of coffee. I even took a picture to prove it. It was thick Turkish coffee, but served in a small demitasse cup and laden with sugar, which helped me finish it. I can still taste that bitter flavor to this day, and I hope I never have to drink another cup of coffee again.

Tell us something you appreciate about where you live.

The mountains, ocean and the mild climate on the west coast. I grew up in northwestern Ontario, and lived a number of years in Alberta, so I have experienced the frozen Canadian winter for much of my life. The rainforest climate here, despite the cloudy wet days in winter, make a lush green background to living that I am enjoying at this point in my life. My mother use to always say, ‘you don’t have to shovel rain.’

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever done?

I think the most unusual thing I’ve ever done involves travel. I’ve been a missionary and lived and traveled to a number of countries, but in 2012 during my undergraduate degree at the University of Victoria, I went to Bulgaria. I participated in a three-week field school in which we documented, through photography and drawing, frescoes in medieval churches in the Balkan mountains. It was fascinating and educational and in a part of the world that I had never been to and I still long to return to.

Where can readers find you?

I have a website www.klditmarswriter.com where you can learn about my books and my writing journey.

Author Bio:

K. L. (Kelly) Ditmars was born in Kakabeka Falls, ON Canada, and has lived in several provinces since. She has lived and traveled to several countries both as a Christian Missionary and as a curious human soul. To support her traveling habit, she has worked in various industries and occupations throughout her life, from part-time catering to clerking in the Supreme Court of BC. Kelly completed a degree in Medieval Studies at the University of Victoria. She now lives in Victoria, BC where the adventure of life and her writing continues. All That is Takes is her debut novel.

Kelly loves to connect with her readers. You can find her on the following platforms.

www.klditmarswriter.com

Instagram

Facebook – I have a private Facebook Group called Readers of K.L. Ditmars. I have a live event every Sunday (6:00 pm Pacific) where I talk about my writing journey. This is a new platform for me and I am enjoying this new means of engagement with my readers. Readers can join it via my Author page, through the link provided.

ORDERING INFORMATION:

All That it Takes is available to order through your local independent bookstore (with the exception of Chapters/Indigo in Canada).

Book details:

Title: ALL THAT IT TAKES

Author: K. L. DITMARS

ISBN: 9781777410100 (paperback); 9781777410117 (ebook)

ONLINE ORDER LINKS:
Amazon.ca – Kindle & Paperback
Chapters/Indigo KOBO – eReader – Canada
Amazon.com – Kindle & Paperback
Barnes & Noble – Nook eReader & Paperback USA
Amazon.co.uk – Kindle & Paperback
Amazon.com.au (Australia) – Kindle & Paperback
Angus & Robertson ebooks – Australia

Survivors and Overcomers—In Fiction and in Real Life

Violence against women, especially sexual violence, scares me. Even in fiction. So why is the heroine in my Green Dory Inn Mystery series a survivor of human trafficking? Short answer: I don’t know. Longer answer. I don’t know, but the idea kept popping up until I decided I’d better cooperate in case there was a …

Click to continue reading at the International Christian Fiction Writers site.

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Interview: Suspense Author Lisa Harris

Photo of author Lisa Harris

Lisa Harris

Lisa Harris is a Christy Award winner and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 from Romantic Times. The author of almost thirty books, including Dangerous Passage, Fatal Exchange, and Hidden Agenda, Harris and her family have spent twelve years living as missionaries in southern Africa. They currently live in Mozambique where she leads a women’s ministry and runs a nonprofit organization that works alongside their church-planting ministry. Learn more at www.lisaharriswrites.com.

Janet: Welcome, Lisa, and thanks for taking time to join us. I’m sure this is a busy time for you, with the release of your new novel. Each installment of Southern Crimes builds on the previous ones, and Hidden Agenda has a pretty major spoiler for the earlier books: Michael Hunt is alive. I’d been secretly wishing for this, and I hope he can stay alive until the end of the book!

Lisa: Thanks so much for having, Janet! I knew from the beginning I wanted to tell Michael’s story. There was something about him that just wouldn’t let me go! 🙂 So, yes, I loved writing his story, and don’t worry… I had to have a happy ending to the series!

Janet: Hidden Agenda is book 3 in the Southern Crimes series. Do readers need to read books 1 and 2 first? Tell us a bit about the series.

Lisa: I did my best to make each story a stand alone book, meaning the main mystery in each book does conclude. But the three books are definitely tied together. So while you can read book three by itself, to get the entire Hunt family story, it’s best to read them in order.

Janet: I agree! One thing I’m curious about: you’re serving as a missionary in Mozambique, an exotic location in its own right. Why did you decide to set these stories in Atlanta?

Lisa: Several years ago, I wrote Blood Ransom, a novel that focused on human trafficking in Africa. At the time, I had no idea this was an issue in the US. With this new series, I decided that setting this story in the US, the backdrop of human trafficking would not only make an exciting story, but would also help people become aware of this very real issue. Atlanta ended up being the perfect backdrop then for this new series.

Janet: I see your Love Inspired novel, Taken, which releases next month, is set in the US and in Paris. Might we see some fiction from you that visits African settings?

Lisa: Yes! I have several, actually. Blood Ransom and Blood Covenant are both romantic suspense set in a fictional African country and deal with human trafficking and refugee camps. An Ocean Away is a historical set in Rhodesia and New York City in the 1920s. Earlier this year, LIS published Deadly Safari that is set in South Africa. I’m really excited because LIS wants me to continue writing international romantic suspense which I love! I just finished another one for them that will come out next fall and is set off the coast of West Africa.

Janet: It’s great to see more international fiction! Lisa, in the Southern Crimes series, you don’t just give us “cop dramas” – your characters have complicated family dynamics and relationships, which makes them feel more real. Avery is dealing with life as a widow and single mom, Emily hears her biological clock ticking but doesn’t need a mate to be complete, and Michael’s humanity will come out as we read his story. I’m sure this helps you relate to them as you write. What do readers say about your characters?

Lisa: That is exactly what I want my readers to feel, Janet! I want my stories to be fast-paced and exciting, but I also want to show how real people might react to difficult, intense situations. And how God can use them in spite of their weaknesses. My publisher just showed me a review from Suspense Magazine that I love. The reviewer said, “Harris’ appealing characters—especially deaf and brilliant Ivan, a great example of someone with a sensory challenge who is not disabled because of it…” I loved that a reader saw that.

Janet: Now that I’ve read the novel, I can say I appreciated Ivan as well. Do you have a favourite character in the series?

Lisa: That is so hard! I’m going to go with Emily in book two, because I think she’s the most like me. I would have been terrified in the situation she faced, which is why I loved watching her struggle and grow through the experience.

Janet: Thinking about Hidden Agenda, what’s the novel’s theme? Or what do you want readers to take away when they’re done?

Lisa: I’d like them to be able to look at their own lives—their own faith—and realize that God is still in control even if everything seems to be falling apart. At one point in the story, Michael says, ‘Sometimes there simply aren’t answers. At least not the answers we’re looking for. Walking through the fire forces us to face God. To strip our souls of all of the charades we play, until we see only Him.‘ That’s what I want for my own life. To truly see Him!

Janet: Michael’s experiences earn him the right to speak like that. There’s nothing trite in his words. These novels must have required a lot of research. What’s the oddest bit of trivia you’ve picked up?

Lisa: You’re right. I Google the craziest things, sometimes. Things I wish I didn’t know about the cartel, the beautiful Georgia barrier islands, electronic bugs, spy equipment, and bombs for example. One interesting bit of trivia I recently learned was that you can pretty easily escape if ever tied up with duct tape. (At least according to YouTube). That was a surprise to me. One of the most interesting books I ever had to research was An Ocean Away. I read a couple fascinating books about the culture of Rhodesia that were almost a hundred years old, as well as New York City trivia from the 1920’s. I had to force myself to stop researching many times in order to actually write!

Janet: Is there another Southern Crimes novel in the works, or what’s next?

Lisa: No, sadly I’ve had to leave the Hunt family behind as far as writing goes. But I’m not currently writing another series for Revell that will come out next Fall that I’m super excited about! It’s a series about a missing person task force. More information about it soon!

Janet: I’ll be watching for it! What got you started writing?

Lisa: It was something I always wanted to do, but didn’t really start until my eldest was born. He was the perfect baby and slept a lot while I was a stay-at-home mom with no car. So I decided to write a book and I did. I haven’t stopped writing since!

Janet: What’s life like when you’re not writing?

Lisa: While I do write pretty full time (this year especially) I’m also very involved in our ministry here in Mozambique. And until a few months ago, was also homeschooling at least some of our three kids. I also coordinate our women’s ministry and run a non-profit (www.theECHOproject.org) that allows us to help people’s physical needs we encounter every day alongside their spiritual needs.

Janet: Tell us something you appreciate about where you live.

Lisa: While we don’t go often enough, I love going to the Indian Ocean and watching the humpback whales breach while they’re migrating off the coast. It’s so beautiful!

Janet: That would be amazing. What’s one thing you wish people knew about life as a missionary?

Lisa: I think some people tend to romanticize mission work, but it’s not as exotic as it might seem. Life here is day in and day out a part of people’s lives around us. Like everyone there are ups and downs, and we see a lot of really tough things along the way. But in the end, we know we’re called and the hard parts are worth it.

Janet: What do you like to do to recharge?

Lisa: Somewhere quiet outside, like a drive through Kruger Park, or a walk along the beach. A place where I can be reminded of God’s presence.

Janet: Is there a particular song or Scripture verse that’s made a difference for you?

Lisa: I like to remind myself that this life is temporary and heaven is waiting! I love Paul’s reminder in 2 Corinthians 4:17 that our “momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison!”

Thank you so much for having me, Janet!

Janet: Thanks again for visiting, Lisa. Readers, feel free to leave questions or comments on this post, and please note that Lisa is offering a free cozy mystery ebook when you sign up for her author newsletter.

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For more about Lisa Harris, including her books and ministry and photos of Africa’s wild side, visit her website: lisaharriswrites.com.

Hidden Agenda, by Lisa Harris

Hidden Agenda, by Lisa Harris (Revell, 2015)

Michael Hunt is alive—and on the run. Presumed dead by friends and family, the undercover assignment he’s been working for the past eight months has just been blown. With a hit out on his life and corruption inside the Atlanta police department, Michael finds himself hunted by both the cartel and the law. His only hope is the daughter of the man who wants him dead.

Book 3 in the Southern Crimes series.

Review: Dangerous Passage, by Lisa Harris

Dangerous Passage, by Lisa Harris (Revell, 2013)Dangerous Passage, by Lisa Harris

When a second Jane Doe is found dead in Atlanta, Georgia, Detective Avery North fears she’s dealing with a serial killer. Can she find—and stop—him before another young woman dies?

As a single mom, Avery’s life is filled with work and family. She barely has time for a pedicure, so how could she add a relationship with the handsome medical examiner, Jackson Bryant? Or is she simply afraid to let herself love again?

The hunt for a serial killer uncovers a twisted net of illegal arms shipments and human trafficking. And the killer’s mind games threaten Avery’s stability. Especially when it looks like there’s a connection with the unsolved murder of her brother, an undercover officer killed in the line of duty.

I enjoyed the mystery and the action in this novel, as well as the glimpses of how Avery learns to balance work, family, faith and personal breathing space. We’re not all detectives, but most of us have more to do in our days than time to do it, and it’s good to see how other people handle this struggle.

Forgiveness is another key theme in the novel. Avery and family have lost her brother, Michael, and she blames another member of the force. There’s no proof—yet. But she can’t stop digging. Michael’s case isn’t solved in this novel, and I expect to see more of it in the next book in the Southern Crimes series.

Lisa Harris is an award-winning author of inspirational romance and suspense. She and her husband are serving as missionaries in Mozambique. For more about the author, check out her website: lisaharriswrites.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Moon over Maalaea Bay, by H.L. Wegley

Moon Over Maalaea Bay, by H.L. WegleyMoon Over Maalaea Bay, by H.L. Wegley (Harbourlight Books, 2014)

Moon over Maalaea Bay is book 3 in the Pure Genius series, and it picks up hours after the end of book 2 (On the Pineapple Express). If you plan to read this series from the beginning, stop here or you’ll find out more than you want to know about plot points from the earlier books.

Still with me? Okay. Brilliant and beautiful Jennifer Akihara and her fiancé, Lee Brandt, were instrumental in breaking open one arm of an international human trafficking ring and rescuing teenage girls who would have been sold into terrible situations.

The couple has earned a break, and how better to spend it than honeymooning in Hawaii? Except now there’s not just one group of villains wanting revenge on Jennifer, there are two. Thanks to the publicity surrounding the captured girls’ rescue, both groups know where to find her.

One takes her. Frantic with worry, Lee doesn’t trust the local police (and the FBI who quickly swarm the area) to move fast enough. He, Jennifer’s grandfather, and Katie, who will be the Brandts’ adopted daughter as soon as the paperwork is finished, set out to find Jenn before it’s too late.

The novel alternates between Jenn’s and Lee’s points of view, and the pace doesn’t let up. I’m glad I read the previous book and developed a trust for H.L. Wegley’s writing. Jennifer’s enemies have an extremely bad ending planned for her, and I wouldn’t have wanted to risk what a new-to-me author might include in the text. Mr. Wegley conveys the danger without anything graphic or gratuitous.

The entire novel spans roughly 24 hours as Lee races to save his wife and Jennifer uses all her wits to find a way to escape. This is a Christian novel, and one of the things Lee grapples with is how much harder it is to trust God to look after the woman he loves than it is to trust Him with his own life or death.

As well as the action (including some impressive Karate from Katie) I enjoyed the chance to vicariously swim with the giant sea turtles off the Maalaea Bay beach. An end note from H.L. Wegley reveals that Hawaii is his favourite vacation spot, and I’m sure that has a lot to do with how authentic the setting feels.

There will be one more book in the Pure Genius series, releasing later this year. H.L. Wegley blogs at The Weather Scribe, and his novels offer “A climate of suspense and a forecast of stormy weather.”

[Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.]

Review: On the Pineapple Express, by H. L. Wegley

On The Pineapple Express, by H L WegleyOn the Pineapple Express, by H. L. Wegley (Harbourlight Books, Pelican Book Group, 2014)

You’d think monitoring messages in a rural part of coastal Washington State would be safe, even boring. But Jennifer Akihara has intercepted a coded message about a human trafficking ring selling teen girls—or younger—from the US to offshore bidders. She has to act. Now.

Jennifer’s contact with the FBI needs more proof before he can mobilize a team. That makes Jennifer and her fiancé, Lee Brandt, the team on the ground.

Jennifer and Lee have survived what they hoped was a once in a lifetime brush with death in book 1 of this series, Hide and Seek. They’re smart (she’s brilliant), brave, and they know whatever happens, God is with them.

But will that be enough to save these young girls? Especially the one Jennifer can hear crying in her mind?

With time running out, and a killer storm moving in, Jennifer and Lee take some crazy risks to find the traffickers’ hideout.

Human trafficking is one of those hard-to-read-about subjects, but H. L. Wegley delivers a story even teens could read without scarring themselves. It helps that the buyers want these girls “unspoiled.” And readers don’t see inside the girls’ heads, although we’re told that one of them hanged herself with her own shoelaces rather than face what their captors had planned.

On the Pineapple Express is a fast-moving, adrenaline-laced adventure, clean and gripping. The banter between Jennifer and Lee provides breaks in the tension, but not for long. It’s also a story with some surprising, heart-warming moments.

Favourite quotes:

If he [Lee] believed in luck, his would have been all used up by now. But a good and gracious God transcended that thing called luck. Kindle Location 520

The wind volume cranked up several decibels, sounding like a crowd of demons rooting for the devil. Kindle Location 1674

Author H. L. Wegley is a former meteorologist, and his weather knowledge lets him write detailed storm scenes. You can learn more about Mr. Wegley and his writing at his website. On the Pineapple Express is book 2 in the Pure Genius series. Book 3, Moon over Maalaea Bay, releases June 2014, with book 4, Triple Threat, slated for Fall 2014.

[Review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review.]