Friday, January 28, 2011

CNN documentary -- Selling the girl next door

January 23, 2011 Aired at 8 PM EST

CNN’s Amber Lyon investigates teen trafficking in America

CNN’s investigative reporter, Amber Lyon hosted a documentary entitled “Selling the girl next door.”
According to their press releases, this broadcast would:
“Selling the Girl Next Door takes viewers into the world of underage American girls caught up in the violent sex trade. Hundreds of thousands of girls under the age of 18 are ensnared into lives of prostitution annually, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Many are runaways or “throwaways” trapped in “the oldest profession” by pimps who sell them using modern sales and marketing techniques.
In a year-long investigation, CNN correspondent Amber Lyon reveals the devastating realities of the business of underage sex – speaking to a young teen runaway sold online from a Las Vegas hotel, the men that obsessively seek Internet sex connections, and women long into careers as sex workers who were trafficked as teens or children.”
Did this program live up to the promise?

A superficial examination of the surface of a much greater problem

That’s my considered opinion.

Once again, like the FBI’s “Innocence Lost Campaign” this so-called in-depth investigation deals only with the most visible elements of a dark trade. We are told for the thousandth time, this problem affects mostly “runaways” and “throwaways.” In other words, the victims themselves are partially to blame for their own victimization.

Yes, in my experience many of the victims have deep underlying problems, but to suggest the child trafficking trade which gobbles up hundreds of thousands of children every year affects only those who are already at risk and on the streets is to deny both the scope and the organization of a much greater industry. Of the victims I’ve worked with, most were not runaways, not street kids – they were taken. Until we recognize this basic truth, we will never begin to deal with this growing threat to our children.
Please, if you have not already done so, take a moment to read the hub, “The Rape Trade” linked here for your convenience, before reading further. The scope of child-trafficking extends far beyond what you’re led to believe

The Rape Trade -- child prostitution
Another FBI/local law enforcement agency initiative has recovered a number of child-victims of the sex trade. This time the media took notice. But some of the information given left me uneasy. Here's why.
waiting, waiting, waiting...
Welcome back.

Now you understand this is a multi-tiered industry, and individual pimps and their victims, those for sale on the internet and on the streets represent only one facet of a burgeoning and highly profitable business.

Further, I take exception to the headline “teen trafficking.” The most insidious aspect of child trafficking is that the true victims of this hidden trade are far younger than that. And for all the obvious reasons, there is no overt advertising on the internet, no pictures, no headlines of “new booty in town.” 

Certainly communication exists, but according to those involved in the difficult attempt of ferreting out pedophiles, it is all in code. It is completely underground and involves children as young as infants and up to puberty.

Worse, it is widespread.

I am currently in correspondence with a now-grown mother of six who was prostituted out at the age of five. Is she an anomaly? Sadly, no.

For those that live long enough to pass puberty, the next step is the internet, the streets and a pimp. “Teen trafficking” is old for the child sex trade.

Having said all this, I want to commend Ms. Lyons for an excellent expose of the on-line trafficking of underage girls. What she fails to see is that many, possibly most were not runaways or throwaways, but survivors of a much earlier exploitation.

With all this in mind, let’s take a look at what she found.

For the full article, click here:   CNN documentary -- Selling the girl next door

Thank you for reading,

Sincerely yours,


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Bird in the Hand....

The doorbell rang while I was chopping vegies, getting ready to make supper.

“Back,” I said in my firmest tone, trying to peel two mastiffs from the front door. One thing about mastiffs, if they don’t want to obey, you’re not going to make them. Four hundred pounds of dog doesn’t move without cooperation, and when it comes to doorbells, they know their job. They have to see who it is before you do. Just in case. If you try to tell them otherwise, you’re only displaying your stupidity, but they won't hold it against you for the future.

So I squeezed in between them, opened the door just wide enough for me and peered out.

Already dark as night, this being January and the streets of North Port having no lights, all I saw were headlights on the street. Clearly something big. A large van.  I flicked on the flood lamps just in time to make out UPS as it drove away.

I looked down and found the small corrugated shipping box between the doors.

It was here. My book!

Yes, the long awaited moment had arrived. I grabbed the knife from the cutting board, carefully sliced the packing tape and held the first copy of This Bird Flew Away in my hand.

For months I’d dreamed of this moment. “Wait until you hold it,” said my friends who’d been there before. My sister suggested it would be something like having a baby. Without the pain, she added, though I think that’s debatable.  Lots of painful moments involved in the two years of producing this book.

In the writing, there were passages that ripped out my heart. There were times my fingers danced along the keyboard on automatic while I hauled long buried memories from somewhere deep and dark inside, and tears coursed down my face with the struggle.  It had to be honest. It had to be real.

But there were profoundly joyous times as well. Bria, my heroine, is gutsy, strong-willed, stubborn, smart and so sure she’s always right. She’s scrupulously honest with the reader, but a world-class liar to those around her. She makes me laugh.  I know her so well and she’s as real to me as anyone else in my life even if she is a figment of my imagination. But the real joy I found in Bria was the time spent building the teen-age version of her with my granddaughter. Paige, sixteen at the time, spent many an hour sharing what she felt the girl’s feelings would be, how she might react and even how she would speak. Through Bria, my granddaughter and I grew closer. Priceless!

Then there’s Jack, Bria’s beleaguered guardian. The eldest son of a domineering father with four younger brothers, a homely man, inept with women, morally principled and well-intentioned, he knows nothing of girls and even less about how they work. I love him, too. Sometimes stuffy, often lost, strongly guided by his moral compass, he means well and we watch him walk deeper and deeper into the mire that we see forming beneath his feet, but he does not-- not until it's too late.

And Mary, the mother figure to them all, living a lonely life within the confines of her Irish-American community, who gives Bria her first stable home and in turn, is rescued by the girl.

They all live.  Now I hold the chronicle of their lives in my hand. What started as a dream, as all my stories do, grew into a few strings of words on my computer screen, then a large mass of words in a file, was worked and reworked, edited by the talented Kathryn Lynn Davis and reworked again, has now matured into this beautifully produced book.

And that it is. My publisher, Black Rose Writing, has done a fabulous job of the cover and the interior design. The pages feel substantial; the binding is top quality. Most gratifying, they allowed me to produce the cover art, pick the font and the layout.  To say I’m pleased with the quality of the outcome is an understatement.

With pleasure, I checked the book very carefully one last time and emailed my approval. Tomorrow, it goes into production.

In a few days, it will be available to those who registered on the website, and to all who visit there in the future.

Soon it will be posted on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all the usual places for everyone to share.

But today, it’s still a private pleasure, as I hold this first copy in my hand.

Sincerely yours,

Postscript: The next day, I took This Bird Flew Away out for lunch to meet friends. Here's a photograph of the great occasion. Now be aware, this is one of the few times I've ever published a real image of myself. Yes, that lovely, elegant-looking, cultured lady you've come to associate with my name is an avatar. Some people have pen names. I have a pen image. Why? Privacy -- mine and that of some of the girls from the past, girls I worked with or fostered. 

Anyway, I'm the one in the black glasses. The other lady is my dear friend, Sharon. And the fellow in the back is a total stranger sitting at the bar. The place is our favorite local hangout, Joe Cracker, in Port Charlotte, Florida and if you're ever fortunate enough to be in the neighborhood, I recommend the coconut shrimp. PS They also make a mean margarita.  


Friday, January 21, 2011

A Case of Ne-ne-ne-nerves

It has to be nerves. There’s no other explanation. 

Well there is, but I don’t like it, so we’ll ignore it. 

Did I ever tell you about The Voice? Yes, I believe so, in my blog on making my first video. But it was just a passing allusion, not the whole picture. This isn’t something I talk about often, but  I’m passing through a trying time and need to share.

Besides, it’s my belief we all have one. A Voice, that is.

You know what I’m talking about. Whenever you embark on a new venture, when times are tough, when you feel vulnerable, sometimes when you’re really happy, or sad and blue, when you’re taking those first few steps in a new direction full of insecurity The Voice shows up.

The Voice lives inside my head. She – for she is definitely female – is a nasty-minded, over-bearing, soul-destroying harridan. Unlike any other personae in my life, She knows exactly which buttons to push to destroy any possibility of happiness, potential confidence or even simple contentment.  I don’t know where She came from, or when, for I cannot remember a time when The Voice wasn’t there.

The Voice is a bully. The Voice is mean. The Voice is destructive. If I had to spend any time with a human being who spoke to me the way The Voice does, I’d simply have to kill them.  Justifiable homicide.

For example, just the other day I was getting ready to go out. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, “Hey, I still look good, even at fifty-eight.”

“You need to lose ten pounds. Your belly is round as a beach ball,” said The Voice. “And your teeth are still crooked and you have a bad overbite.  Look at the lines around your eyes, not to mention the bags under them. And your jaw-line has jowls like a mastiff. You sure are getting old. No one likes old women. Your life is over, you know. Finished.  And don’t you think that dress is a little young for you? Who are you kidding walking around in a short skirt.”

“I have good legs,” I answered, my pleasure diminishing and my mood plummeting.

“Oh maybe once you did.” The Voice sneered at me; I could tell by Her tone. “But the flesh isn’t firm anymore and look at those spider veins around your ankle.  Won’t be long before you’ll be wearing support hose like all the other old women. When will you start acting your age? Do you know what a fool you’re making of yourself?”

As rebellious as any adolescent, I wore my short skirt out of sheer spite, but The Voice haunted me and not even the view of my long, well-muscled legs in the glass door nor any number of surreptitious admiring glances could dismiss Her words. Or regain my simple pleasure in my own self.

The Voice is a miserable bitch.

Lately, The Voice has been completely out of control.

As is only natural -- I hope -- I am nervous about the release of my novel, This Bird Flew Away, my first publication in over thirty years, and the lead novel in a series of three. I’m published by Black Rose Writing, an independent publisher, and I’ve worked really hard on the promotion and publicity necessary to get a book out there.  As the time draws near for the book launch my stress mounts.

No one loves my stress as much as The Voice. Sensing my vulnerable state, She moves in for the kill.“You’re going to be a laughing stock, you know. No one’s going to buy this drivel you’ve written.”

“But the reviews have been good,” I argue.

“Who cares about those guys? They’re not the important reviewers.  They wouldn’t even look at a stupid book, published by a small press and written by a nobody.  And don’t forget you are a nobody.”

“I’ve had over one hundred advance readers and they like the book.” 

“What else are they going to say, for crying out loud? You’re such an idiot. Of course they said nice things; they would hardly do otherwise. They all thought it was trash but didn’t want to hurt your feelings. Face the truth for once in your stupid life. No one will read it.”

“The website has had 25,500 visitors in five months. That means people are interested in it.”

The Voice cackles out a mean laugh. “People surfing about the web just stumble on the site. It means nothing. Anyway, I’ll bet that number’s a mistake. The counter is wrong. The proof will come in sales and no one is going to buy it.”

“Yes, they will,” I say, but my heart isn’t in it.

“Hundreds of thousands of books are published every year. For God’s sake, you know the stats. Most of them sell less than one hundred copies. And you think you’re so special, you’ll be the exception. You?”

“I’m not listening to you anymore,” I whine, covering my ears which is a pretty silly thing to do under the circumstances. I repeat my new mantra. “My book is good. It speaks to many people. I did a good job. Lots of people have read it and they like it. It will be a success. I will work hard to make it so. My book is good…”

“Shut up! That won’t work.” The Voice turns up the volume. “You’re a failure. You’ve always been a failure. Remember the time --”

“Go away,” I scream.

“I wish I could,” The Voice shrieks back. “Who wants to share a head with someone like you? But I can’t go away.” 

“Why?” I am ready to beat my head against the wall.

“Because,” says The Voice, “I am you.”

“No. It can't be so.” I want to cry. “Why are You so mean to me?”

“It’s for your own good,” The Voice says in a way that sounds strangely familiar, though I can't tell you why. "I'm only trying to protect you from yourself."

"Oh," I say, wondering if She speaks the truth.

That’s the story of The Voice. She has been my constant companion for the last few weeks. It must be nerves.

That other explanation, the one I ignore? I am losing my mind. There, I’ve said it.

You too have A Voice, don’t you?

Sincerely yours,


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Oh, no! How to recover your hijacked email account.

Oh, no! 

On January 17th, I dragged myself from my nice warm bed, tottered into the kitchen in search of that necessary cup of coffee, and as is my habit, turned on my computer to review my emails.

These days, I have a fairly busy inbox. Not only is my novel, This Bird Flew Away scheduled for release on the 27th which requires a fair bit of correspondence, I’m doing my own promotion, and that’s become very demanding. I also have a family and friends who keep in touch. I edit for new writers and there’s lots of back and forth there.
Did I mention I’m not a morning person? Getting into gear is a long slow process
But this morning, I awoke with a shock.
User name and/or password incorrect.
Now what? My still foggy brain stalled for a moment, trying to comprehend. 

I tried again.

Same result. I hadn’t made an input error. 

Like tens of thousands of other unsuspecting people of that morning alone, my email account had been hijacked. But I didn’t know it – yet.

No, it wasn’t for another hour and a half that fact became evident. Not until after I’d gone through the lengthy process of regaining access to the account. Not easy.

Google states they take your privacy and security very seriously, and to prove it, they’ve instituted a sort of merry-go-round guaranteed to have you gnashing your teeth.

Necessary, I suppose, but still annoying, like so many of those other things done for our own good.

For step by step instructions on how to recover from such a paralyzing blow, go to the full article published on hubpages:  Oh, no! How to recover your hijacked email account.
What they did 

Perhaps you, like me, are now asking yourself but why, why would they do this. What a good question.

The answer became apparent as soon as I got access to my emails (see full article,) around three and a half hours into my day. Every single contact in my file received the following message:
"I know this might be a surprise to you but I am sorry I didn't inform you about my traveling to Scotland for a Seminar.

I need a favor from you as I've misplaced my wallet on my way to the hotel where my money,and other valuable things were kept and

I will like you to assist me with an urgent loan of $2,500 U.S Dollars to sort-out my hotel bills and get myself back home.

I will appreciate whatever you can afford to help me with and I promise to pay you back as soon as I return home.

Lynda M Martin
author of This Bird Flew Away"
Now, I still don't get this. There are no instructions to send money, no emergency contact number or address, no way for anyone to do anything except send an email back. Which many of you did (thanks.)

Any possible benefit would only accrue if they managed to keep control of my email account long enough to enter into correspondence with someone, without me finding out about it. If there's a moral here it's check your email account regularly. Move with all speed if something is wrong.

But the very sloppiness of the whole think reeks of amateurism. It smacks of someone making mischief just for the twisted pleasure of creating trouble in a stranger's life.

After all, if I was going to Scotland (my birth place and where I have relatives I can turn to if desperate) trust me, I'd probably write about it and you'd all know. And wouldn't I be unlikely to leave a few days before my book is released? Nor am I the kind of person who'd ask relative strangers to send me money -- in case the situation every comes up again.

But to those of you who did react with best wishes, regrets you weren't able to help, who tried every avenue to contact me, even as to setting up a thread on Hubpages, thank you. It's nice to know so many cared.
The consequences

This has been a grave injury to my business, to my reputation and my pride.

Every contact got this message, including agents who had rejected me, publishers I'd been in correspondence with, and even a Senator and his wife who I'd met at a Christmas party. The Senator was very involved in combating child abuse and had sent me contacts in the government to help with my research. Ye Gods, even the government got a copy of this!

It took me two days to contact everyone. I first, sent out a blanket email to all addresses explaining the situation:
"Any email from me requesting a loan is spam and a fraud. I am not in Scotland. I am not broke. I am fine, safe and sound at home where I've been all the time. Lynda"
But we all know what happens to blanket emails. They go to Spam. So I've literally had to write to hundreds of people individually and tell them the whole saga.

Worst of all, all my emails dated before January 17 are now lost irrevocably. 

There are people who wrote to me wanting editing, people I was editing, people who wrote to me for help in dealing with sexual abuse issues, people who wrote wanting interviews or to highlight my book and the list goes on and on. 

All I can say is here's the situation. If you have anything outstanding with me, please contact me.               

I hope none of you ever go through this, but if it does happen, I'm happy to share with you all I've learned.
Sincerely yours, 

For step by step instructions on how to recover from such a paralyzing blow, go to the full article published on hubpages:  Oh, no! How to recover your hijacked email account.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Penurious Promoter #3 -- How to prepare for an audio-media interview

My problem and some good advice

So much to think about is a little overwhelming. But, it is basic common sense. Be prepared – check. Know your subject – check. Have a couple of little sound bites – check. Be conversational, animated and at ease – problem!

I’m not a great speaker. My forte is the written word where I have time to think, collect my thoughts and seek out the best words. When reduced to verbal communication only, my IQ drops to half it’s normal score. Nope – not a great orator. This self-knowledge makes me nervous.

I have spoken in public on many occasions, though and to a large live audience. How did I do it? I prepared my words ahead of time, practiced my delivery many times over, walked to the podium with an affected air of confidence, stood on quivering knees and went into autopilot. Seriously. I did not imagine the audience naked (God forbid!) or stare at the tops of their heads, or any of those other things speakers are often told to do. I didn’t see them. I didn’t see anything. The words flowed out of their own accord while I was in a fugue state. Possibly not the best solution and probably why I long ago decided my career in the public eye was limited. To say the least.

I suffer from extreme stage-fright.

So, having shared this serious personal limitation with a few friends, I’ve been given the following advice: If possible, have a trusted friend sit in the same room while I am interviewing by telephone. Pretend I am talking only to that friend and forget about the audience entirely. I am having a simple conversation.

Good advice. (And thanks, Dallas.)

End result?

So, now knowing so much about my neurotic fear of public speaking, you may be curious as to whether or not I can overcome my handicap and do a decent interview.

Will she? Won’t she? 

If you want to tune in and see if I fly or flop, here’s the place and time:

Jo-Anne Vandermuellen,

Hope some of you can join us.

Of course, I’ll be busy pretending you’re not there.

Sincerely yours,

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Penurious Promoter #2 -- What other authors are doing to market their books

The Penurious Promoter #2 -- What other authors are doing to market their books


Welcome to the second article in the Penurious Promoter series. There's a lot of information here in this fairly lengthy article. I've spent considerable time chatting with other authors and asking for their input into the whole promotion and marketing issue. This article sets out what authors are currently doing to promote their work. It will be followed by a series of 'how-to' hubs, giving a step-by-step map as to how to go about it -- or at least how I and other authors have gone about it.
Promotion requires creativity. I'd love to hear your ideas in the comment section. Lynda

Selling books proves to be a real tough job

“I am published with two novels and hoping for my third this year. Selling books proves to be a real tough job. Definitely tougher than creating them. I still don't see an effective and inexpensive way of promoting a book...”
This is the quandary faced by most authors these days, whether self-publishing, publishing through a small press, or through the traditional big-houses. Let’s face it, unless you’re a big-name, sure-thing the money allotted to your promotional campaign will be limited. Or nil.

We need to invest in our own work
‘Writers write, not sell’ insist those still living in yesteryear. If only that were true! Another old-fashioned idea: "writers get paid; they do not pay."


Did you think that advance (if you got one) was intended for you to take a cruise? No! If you’re smart, you’ll invest that money in your own book. If you didn’t get one, and you probably didn’t if you’re with a small press, certainly not if you’re self-publishing, and you’re on a limited budget (penurious) then this series is for you.

No, we need to invest in our own work, if not money (cause we have none) effort. What are other authors doing to promote their work, and is it working for them?

I began by asking authors to comment on their book promotion experiences and plans for the future.

For the rest of the article, click HERE.

I hope this is of help. It certainly is for me, if for no other reason than forcing me to get my ideas together.

Sincerely Yours,