Great review from The Roosevelt

16938539_1318118358275961_2333066865447284600_nCheck out this great review of The Black Lens novel by The Roosevelt Coffeehouse, the No. 1 coffee shop in Columbus according to Columbus Underground:

“It’s the type of day when you grab a hot coffee and a good book. We carry a book by the incredible author, Christopher Stollar, The Black Lens. It captures the fictional tale of a young girl caught in the human trafficking world. A great read and resource for recognizing evil and preventing it from rearing its ugly head.”

The Roosevelt is a social enterprise that uses coffee to fight hunger, unsafe water and human trafficking. You can pick up a copy of The Black Lens at their shop while sipping a cup of coffee or enjoying a pastry.

Columbus Underground also reviewed The Black Lens last year, saying it “is clearly the work of a journalist. It exists to inform and disrupt, and it succeeds.” Check out the full review here.

To read more reviews of The Black Lens, please visit the Reviews page or go to Amazon.

5-star review from a mentor of sex trafficking survivors

jack5.000x8.000.inddA mentor of sex trafficking survivors just gave The Black Lens novel a 5-star review on Amazon, saying this book “captures the essence of their stories:”

“Christopher did an excellent job of raising awareness of sexual slavery and human trafficking. Through my experience of being a mentor I have come to know several sex trafficking survivors quite well. This book captures the essence of their stories, their pain and their struggles to obtaining healing. The tragedy of human sex trafficking is alive and well in our cities and towns.”

Over 100 readers, reporters and bloggers have now reviewed or rated The Black Lens on both Amazon and Goodreads with a 4-star average. Here are two other reviews from survivors of trafficking:

“As a survivor of sex trafficking myself, I went in with concerns that this fiction book wouldn’t accurately portray the reality of trafficking. Society has so many misconceptions about human trafficking because of movies like Taken and false imagery of girls with chains … With that being said, my concern of this book adding to those misconceptions diminished more and more as I read. This book is not only an engaging page turner but also accurately portrays how some young girls get pulled into this horrific life. I highly recommend this book.”

Jennifer Kempton, survivor of sex trafficking and founder of Survivor’s Ink, a nonprofit organization that funds cover-up tattoos to replace slavery brands

“I am a survivor of this horrific crime and the author did a fantastic job capturing what a victim truly experiences. Though this book is fiction, it happens just like this in our country. It was compelling and riveting and I couldn’t put it down. It is a must read for every parent and teen.”

Theresa Flores, trafficking survivor, founder of TraffickFree and best-selling author of The Slave Across the Street

To read more reviews of The Black Lens, please visit the Reviews page or go to Amazon.

Fighting sex trafficking with coffee, clothes and books

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What does coffee, clothes and books have in common?

In Ohio, all three products are being used to raise funds and awareness for anti-trafficking organizations.

This month, I got another opportunity to speak at She Has A Name’s Anti-Human Trafficking Organization Fair. The unique event highlighted groups that are using their products and services to fight modern slavery, including:

  • The Roosevelt Coffeehouse, a social enterprise that uses coffee to fight hunger, unsafe water and human trafficking
  • UNCHAINED,  a nonprofit that uses a fashion show to raise awareness about human trafficking and ignite abolitionists worldwide
  • The Black Lens novel, a dark literary thriller that exposes the underbelly of sex trafficking in rural America
  • Freedom a la Cart, a social enterprise and catering service that employs survivors who can heal, learn and grow as they prepare for full-time employment opportunities in the community
  • She Has A Name Cleaning Services, a cleaning company that seeks to address issues of human trafficking and domestic violence by offering employment, education, awareness and collaboration with community partners
  • Eleventh Candle Co., a social enterprise that sells candles to redeem, restore, empower and equip those vulnerable to human trafficking, abuse, exploitation and addiction

Learn more about She Has A Name and its events here. To read reviews of The Black Lens or order a copy, please go to Amazon.

Top California paper covers book signing and anti-trafficking event

 

IMG_3043 (1)A top California newspaper just published a detailed news story about sex trafficking and my most recent book signing event for The Black Lens novel.

The Mercury News covered “Hope in the Darkness,” a unique event organized by Saratoga Federated Church’s human trafficking task force. The event took place on Jan. 29 and drew more than 150 participants who heard from the following speakers:

  • Christopher Stollar, author of The Black Lens novel
  • Jill Ranes, a survivor of trafficking and founder of the Out of Egypt Network
  • Brian Wo, co-founder of the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition

“This is a state, local and international problem,” said Saratogan Laurel Perusa, who is part of the human trafficking task force at Saratoga Federated Church. “I think it’s very important that Saratogans have their eyes opened to this brutal issue.”

The issue of human trafficking hit home for Saratogans in November 2015, according to The Mercury News. That’s when three San Jose residents were arrested for smuggling people from Spain to work in the South Bay, including at a restaurant and hair salon in Saratoga.

To help combat this issue, “Hope in the Darkness” also raised funds for The Nest, a safe house located in the South Bay and managed by Advent Group Ministries. The Nest serves female victims who have been rescued from commercial sexual exploitation.

“Human trafficking is a horrid issue, and it’s sad to say it is in every community in our country and around the world,” Perusa said. “It is vital to raise awareness.”

Learn more about the event here. You can also watch the full video on Vimeo, including a powerful song written by my brother, Garrett Stollar, an upcoming musician who was inspired by The Black Lens novel.

Grand Prize review from Writer’s Digest!

18829-ebk-gp-1A judge just gave The Black Lens one of the best reviews I’ve seen after my debut novel won Grand Prize in the 2016 Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards.

The Black Lens beat out more than 600 other books in this national contest, which “spotlights today’s self-published works and honors self-published authors.” My book received some of the highest rankings possible for the following categories (1 means “needs improvement” and 5 means “outstanding”):

  • Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5
  • Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 4
  • Production Quality and Cover Design: 5
  • Plot and Story Appeal: 4
  • Character Appeal and Development: 5
  • Voice and Writing Style: 4

Here’s the full review:

“Gritty, unforgiving and in some places downright shocking, THE BLACK LENS is nevertheless a stunning read, from the first page to the last.

Zoey James and her developmentally delayed sister Camille live a hardscrabble life in a trailer park. Photographer Aidan is bored with covering pet parades and illegal fireworks for the local newspaper and gets a tip that ‘something [is] going on — something big involving a lot of people — that’s going to blow up this f*** town.’ How their worlds collide combust into an explosion of sex and violence involving corruption, prostitution and human trafficking.

With an adept use of description, characterization and action and through use of simple yet powerful language, author Christopher Stollar alternates chapters from Zoey’s and Aidan’s points of view, further building suspense.

And the material is not just graphic for the sake of it. ‘There are 20.9 million victims of forced labor and human trafficking, including 5.5 million children,’ writes the author in an end note. And this book did indeed take a village: published with funds garnered from a Kickstarter campaign, the author is donating 10 percent all proceeds to organizations that battle modern slavery.

But with an eye-grabbing cover, a structure that seamlessly interweaves the overall theme of photography (and pornography), this book rivals — if not surpasses — its commercially published brethren. It may indeed raise awareness of human trafficking and exploitation of women in the same manner as UNCLE TOM’S CABIN and TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE did for slavery.”

To read more reviews of The Black Lens, please visit the Reviews page or go to Amazon.

Get a FREE copy of The Black Lens

black_lens_front_coverFor the next 5 days, you can get a FREE copy of The Black Lens through Amazon Giveaway.

The giveaway is open to anybody who has a Kindle e-book reader or the Kindle e-reader app on a smartphone, tablet or computer.

This deal only lasts 5 days, so get your copy today on Amazon. Please note that you do NOT need to have Prime membership.

While you’re on Amazon, check out the 51 reviews that people have posted — including some from survivors of sex trafficking and other readers who said they wanted to become more involved in fighting modern slavery as a result of reading The Black Lens.

The Black Lens wins national contest!

18829-ebk-gp-1My debut novel just won Grand Prize in the 2016 Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards.

The Black Lens beat out more than 600 other books in this national contest, which “spotlights today’s self-published works and honors self-published authors.” The Grand Prize includes cash and:

This is now the second contest that The Black Lens has placed in; after people cast more than 7,000 votes for 60 different nominees, I became a top-four finalist in December for The Liberator Awards.

That award highlights Ohio’s leading abolitionists of modern slavery. A survivor of sex trafficking nominated me and The Black Lens novel for this unique honor in October under the “Ohio” and “Individual” category. The final winners will be determined on Jan. 15, so stay tuned.

Join me at Stories of Human Trafficking

sad woman sitting alone in a empty room

Join me and best-selling author Theresa Flores on Jan. 17 at the Westerville Public Library for Stories of Human Trafficking, a unique book reading and discussion. The event is free, but seating is limited, so RSVP today.

About the event

Hear stories of human sex trafficking in America from Theresa Flores, survivor and best-selling author of The Slave Across the Street, and Christopher Stollar, former reporter and author of The Black Lens. These local authors will share passages from their latest books, answer questions and sign copies.

About the authors

Theresa Flores, a survivor of trafficking and best-selling author of The Slave Across the Street, will share her personal story and how it informed her latest nonfiction book, Slavery in the Land of the Free.

Christopher Stollar, a former reporter with a master’s degree in journalism, will talk about the three years he spent researching trafficking for his debut novel, The Black Lens. This dark literary thriller exposes the underbelly of trafficking in rural America. While The Black Lens is fiction, Stollar interviewed survivors, socials workers and police officers to ground the book in reality.

For more information or to RSVP, click here.

Finalist in The Liberator Awards!

14589875_10155342206108275_4375528061611630419_oAfter people cast more than 7,000 votes for 60 different nominees, I just became a top-four finalist in The Liberator Awards.

This unique honor highlights Ohio’s leading abolitionists of modern slavery. A survivor of sex trafficking nominated me and The Black Lens novel for the award in October under the “Ohio” and “Individual” category.

The final winners will be determined on Jan. 15, but check out the top finalists below.

Individual

Michelle Hannan: CORRC, Salvation Army
Lynn Greenfeder Stevens: We are Cherished
Christopher Stollar: author of The Black Lens
Tabitha Woodruff: volunteer for CORRC

Elected Official/Law Enforcement

Judge Marilyn Cassidy: Cleveland Municipal Court Trafficking Docket
Christina Conrad: Victims Advocate
Brent Currence: Missing Persons Ohio AG
Greg Dalga: Special Agent

Organization/Church/Civic Club

Gracehaven
Holy Angels Catholic Church Cleveland
She Has a Name
The Roosevelt Coffeehouse

Student/Student Organization

Abolitionist Plunge
Case Western Reserve University Law School Human Trafficking Clinic
Chole Carpenter: Ohio University Dance Group
Dawn Heideman: Walnut Ridge High School Be the One program

Volunteer

Krista Case
Sally Tobias Popa
Sister Sally Burk
Sarah Brown

Survivor

Gina Godwin-Burris
Jennifer Kempton
Nicole Lange
Harold D’Souza

Learn more about each individual and group or get a ticket to the Jan. 15 awards ceremony at http://www.liberatorawards.com/.

 

 

Great review from Writer’s Digest!

12561-selfpub-iconA Writer’s Digest judge just gave The Black Lens an excellent review in its 24th Annual Self-Published Book Awards contest.

While The Black Lens did not win the contest, the book received some of the highest rankings possible for the following categories (1 means “needs improvement” and 5 means “outstanding”):

  • Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5
  • Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5
  • Production Quality and Cover Design: 4
  • Plot and Story Appeal: 4
  • Character Appeal and Development: 5
  • Voice and Writing Style: 5

Here’s the review: “The Black Lens is a small-town thriller, following Zoey, a young woman trapped in an abusive home, who is coerced into a sex ring after she and her mentally disabled sister are slipped date rape drugs into their drinks at a party and photographed in sexually explicit positions. Determined to protect her sister and expose the men at the heart of the ring, she teams up with a photojournalist, Aidan, in an effort to free herself and her sister from the nightmare that she’s encountered.

The book gets off to a strong start, with an anxious and skin-crawling account of the party that Zoey attends with her sister, and only gets more tense from there. This reader finds this kind of tension uncomfortable, especially as it deals with the sexual exploitation of teenage girls, one of whom is mentally disabled, but the book does a very good job laying out how this kind of crime can happen in modern days with modern technology. Zoey is a likable and compelling character, and her pluck and determination in the face of the horrors she is dealt are admirable.”

To read more reviews of The Black Lens, please visit the Reviews page or go to Amazon.