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The Black Lens: A Year in Review

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I can’t believe it’s been almost two years since publishing The Black Lens.

So much has happened in that time frame — especially this year — that I thought it would be good to give a quick update on my debut novel. But before I do, I want to thank God, the Great Author. Without Him, none of this would have happened. I also want to thank my wife, Natalie, along with all of the survivors, partners, reviewers and Kickstarter backers who made this book possible.

Here are just 10 highlights of what has happened in 2017:

  1. Winning Grand Prize in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards
  2. Becoming a Finalist in the Indie Book Awards
  3. Becoming a Semifinalist in the Book Pipeline Competition
  4. Earning third place in the Oregon Independent Film Festival Screenplay Competition, thanks to the hard work and adaptation by Jonathan J. Anderegg
  5. Becoming a quarterfinalist in the national Scriptapalooza Screenwriting Competition, thanks again to Jonathan Anderegg
  6. Speaking at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference in New York City about self-publishing The Black Lens novel
  7. Speaking at “Hope in the Darkness,” a unique event organized by Saratoga Federated Church’s human trafficking task force in California that drew more than 150 participants from the Bay Area
  8. Doing an interview with the national Writer’s Digest magazine, which ran a front-cover feature story about The Black Lens in its May/June print edition that reaches about 70,000 subscribers across the country
  9. Receiving 100 book reviews, thanks to all of the readers, reporters and bloggers who have given my debut novel a 4-star average between Amazon and Goodreads
  10. Earning media coverage in The Oregonian, The Mercury NewsThe Columbus Dispatch and several other major news outlets

Thanks again for all of your support of The Black Lens. From friends and family to readers and reporters, I couldn’t have done this without you.

I look forward to what the Great Author has planned for 2018!

 

 

The Black Lens novel hits 100 reviews!

perf5.000x8.000.inddThe reviewers have spoken — 100 of them, to be exact.

The Black Lens just hit 100 book reviews, thanks to all of the readers, reporters and bloggers who have given my debut novel a 4-star average between Amazon and Goodreads. Here are just a few of my favorite reviews over the past two years:

“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

“After many years of research and interviewing, Stollar peels back the curtain on prostitution in America. Although The Black Lens is fiction, it’s pretty close to the truth and it’s a gut wrenching book to read … Stollar paints a sad picture of society that screams for a solution and an end to human trafficking. Read it and weep for the poor women trapped in a terrible situation. Everyone should read this book.”

— Miriam Kahn, book reviewer for The Columbus Dispatch newspaper

“To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960, won The Pulitzer Prize for fiction. One critic called the book ‘the most widely read book dealing with race in America, and its protagonist, Atticus Finch, the most enduring fictional image of racial heroism.’ The Black Lens could have a similar impact – it is superbly written, and is getting a lot of attention. It recently made it into the Kindle books Top Ten Crime Thrillers. But the book is not an easy read. It made me feel gritty. It is disturbing. It is hard and raw. Stollar’s wordsmithing skill is that good. Above all, it made me wonder what I could do to help.”

— Leon Pantenburg, former reporter at The Bulletin newspaper

Chris Stollar uses all of his journalism skills to bring this meticulously researched novel to life while shedding light on one of the more horrific aspects of modern culture and globalization. Chris’s book puts you into the nitty gritty of how trafficking function in contemporary society. A helpful and engaging read for those diving deeper into this difficult subject.”

— Ken Wytsma, author of Pursuing Justice and founder of The Justice Conference

“This fictional account of sex trafficking was a fast paced page turner. It also has an important message regarding the horrors of this heinous growing industry. It takes brave people like C Stollar to help draw out an intolerance in our society for a crime that goes on under our noses.”

— The Guardian Group, a nonprofit organization that fights sex trafficking with the help of former elite military and special operations forces who work directly with law enforcement agencies across the country

“The Black Lens book written by author Christopher Stollar is by far the best of our time. It provides compelling truths of how greed and corruption thrives at the expense of our most vulnerable, our children, in his thrilling novel. A must read. We’re very proud of Mr. Stollar for his great efforts in shedding light on the greatest human rights violations of our time.”

— Dance For Freedom, a nonprofit organization that provides education on how to combat human trafficking

“Christopher Stollar did years of research into this hideous industry before writing The Black Lens and whilst it’s not an easy read, certainly not a fluffy subject matter, sometimes fiction can get the message across just as well as, if not better than non-fiction. The Black Lens endeavours to get this powerful message across and does it really well.”

— Maxine Groves, top 100 best global reviewers on Goodreads

“Sex-trafficking is a dark subject and the author has done a remarkable job in getting a message across. Looking at his ‘resume’, it shows that he spent several years digging into this subject and it has paid off with an extraordinary book … This was a very well-written compelling story.”

— Linda Strong, top 100 best U.S. reviewers on Goodreads

“This excellently written book is suspenseful, entertaining, hurtful, moving, thrilling and true … Yes, this is a Christian book, but unlike other Christian novels it doesn’t shy away from graphic descriptions of the cruelties. The language isn’t ‘clean,’ and although there is one Christian secondary character it’s not at all preachy or evangelistic. In (an) interview Christopher Stollar quotes C.S. Lewis: ‘The world does not need more Christian literature. What it needs is more Christians writing good literature.’ Christopher Stollar does just that.”

— Barbara Tsipouras, top 100 best German reviewers on Goodreads

“I definitely recommend this book as an ‘eye-opening’ piece of fiction. It will change the way you see things for ever.”

— Nicki Southwell, top United Kingdom reviewer on Goodreads

To read more reviews of The Black Lens or write your own, please go to Amazon.

The Black Lens script takes 3rd Place in Oregon Independent Film Festival!

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The Black Lens script just placed third in the Oregon Independent Film Festival Screenplay Competition, thanks to the hard work and adaptation by Jonathan J. Anderegg.

This is now the second screenplay competition The Black Lens has placed in. Last month Anderegg’s script also became a Quarterfinalist in the Scriptapalooza Screenwriting Competition. Founded in 1998, Scriptapalooza has helped more than 100 writers sell or option their scripts.

Anderegg’s screenplay is also still being reviewed by Script Pipeline executives after my novel beat out more than 1,300 other books to become a semifinalist in the national Book Pipeline movie competition.

17883750_1760778074252251_5766554001723858637_nThat means The Black Lens will continue receiving consideration for industry circulation and personal development assistance from Script Pipeline executives as part of this national contest, which awards “authors with material appropriate for film or television adaptation.”

The Book Pipeline competition builds upon the success of Script Pipeline, which has discovered hundreds of new writers over the past 16 years. Book Pipeline aims to deliver unique, compelling stories to the industry with the specific intent of getting them on the fast-track to film and television production.

Here’s the official review of my debut novel from Book Pipeline:

“A provocative story through and through that exposes the “underbelly” of sex trafficking in America. Revolving around two daughters and a mother who struggle to survive in a cruel and day-to-day lifestyle, the story is both gritty and incredibly eye-opening to a world that has remained largely ignored or hidden due its depraved and illegal nature.

The writing style was extremely vivid, pulling the audience into the raw realism of a chaotic environment and the constant state of self-preservation victims of the sex trade have to endure. This narrative also seems to promise a gripping progression of events when one of the daughters chooses to pursue vengeance on her pimp for killing their mother. From what can be seen here, it seems very plausible that a concept of this design would garner interest from producers or studios seeking to adapt an original dark thriller.” 

This is now the fifth contest total that The Black Lens has placed in. My debut novel also won Grand Prize in the 2016 Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards and became a Finalist in the Indie Book Awards.

Learn more about the Oregon Independent Film Festival here, or buy a copy of The Black Lens on Amazon.

Live from New York, It’s the Stollars!

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Since I first started working on The Black Lens novel, my wife has always been my strongest supporter.

And this week we both got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend the annual Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City, where I talked on a panel about self-publishing The Black Lens.

IMG_0562The invitation came 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.” The Grand Prize included books for sale at the actual conference and:

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My wife and I decided to arrive a few days early so we could tour the city,  dine at some local restaurants and catch a show on Broadway.

This was the first time away from our kids for such an extended period of time (thanks to Natalie’s parents!), so we had a wonderful time experiencing the city together. We got to:

 

My actual panel presentation took place on Saturday. The session was titled, “Is Self-Publishing the Path for You?” Here’s the description:

IMG_0576 (1)“Independent publishing is no longer a path of last resort. For many authors, it’s a business decision, and an exciting one at that.

What makes a successful indie? For whom is this a viable choice? Let’s talk about the pros and cons with a diverse panel of writers who’ve blazed an indie trail.”

In case you haven’t read it yet, here is the official book review of The Black Lens from Writer’s Digest:

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

The Black Lens: Back at The Book Loft!

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The Black Lens just came back to The Book Loft, one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores.

Located in the heart of historic German Village, The Book Loft boasts 32 rooms of bargain books in pre-Civil War era buildings that were once home to general stores, a saloon and even a nickelodeon cinema.

I joined about a dozen authors on Sunday at a book signing organized by a local authors group.  This was my second time attending an event at The Book Loft, which is now selling The Black Lens in its general fiction section, right next to The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

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The Book Loft has also published a great review of The Black Lens  from Miriam Kahn, a librarian, historian and writer for The Columbus Dispatch newspaper:

“It could happen in your neighborhood, to your neighbor or child, to a friend or someone down on their luck. Sex trafficking or human trafficking, formerly called prostitution, is one of the rampant crimes and addictions in America and across the globe. This is a crime that pulls in the unsuspecting and traps them in a never ending cycle of degradation, abuse, crime, drugs, and addiction. There’s nothing pretty or sexy about this crime.

After many years of research and interviewing, Stollar peels back the curtain on prostitution in America. Although The Black Lens is fiction, it’s pretty close to the truth and it’s a gut wrenching book to read.

IMG_0537Stollar writes about sex trafficking in small town Oregon. The main characters are a journalist, who follows a lead, two sisters, Zoey and Camille James who are unwittingly forced into prostitution. The head pimp addicts the women he enslaves to meth. Poor, mentally deficient, hopeless, and/or without good role models, the women are forced into sex working.

Descriptions are graphic and corruption and coercion is found at all levels of the community, where you’d least expect it. Classmates, supervisors, police, and authority figures identify Zoey, Camille, and others. Blackmail and drugs make it impossible for the girls to break out of the cycle of sexual abuse and addiction without serious help from the outside.

Stollar paints a sad picture of society that screams for a solution and an end to human trafficking. Read it and weep for the poor women trapped in a terrible situation. Everyone should read this book.”

To read more reviews of The Black Lens or order a copy, please go to Amazon.

The Black Lens script places in national screenplay competition!

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The Black Lens script just became a quarterfinalist in a national screenplay competition, thanks to the hard work and adaptation by Jonathan J. Anderegg.

The Scriptapalooza Screenwriting Competition, founded in 1998, just announced the quarterfinalists. The top 100 semifinalists will be announced this Sunday and get access to more than 150 producers for a full year. The top prize earns $10,000 and face-to-face meetings with Justin Ross from Bohemia Group Originals. Founded in 1998, Scriptapalooza has helped more than 100 writers sell or option their scripts.

Anderegg’s screenplay is also still being reviewed by Script Pipeline executives after my novel beat out more than 1,300 other books to become a semifinalist in the national Book Pipeline movie competition.

That means The Black Lens will continue receiving consideration for industry circulation and personal development assistance from Script Pipeline executives as part of this national contest, which awards “authors with material appropriate for film or television adaptation.”

The Book Pipeline competition builds upon the success of Script Pipeline, which has discovered hundreds of new writers over the past 16 years. Book Pipeline aims to deliver unique, compelling stories to the industry with the specific intent of getting them on the fast-track to film and television production.

Here’s the official review of my debut novel from Book Pipeline:

“A provocative story through and through that exposes the “underbelly” of sex trafficking in America. Revolving around two daughters and a mother who struggle to survive in a cruel and day-to-day lifestyle, the story is both gritty and incredibly eye-opening to a world that has remained largely ignored or hidden due its depraved and illegal nature.

The writing style was extremely vivid, pulling the audience into the raw realism of a chaotic environment and the constant state of self-preservation victims of the sex trade have to endure. This narrative also seems to promise a gripping progression of events when one of the daughters chooses to pursue vengeance on her pimp for killing their mother. From what can be seen here, it seems very plausible that a concept of this design would garner interest from producers or studios seeking to adapt an original dark thriller.” 

This is now the fourth contest that The Black Lens has placed in. My debut novel also won Grand Prize in the 2016 Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards and became a Finalist in the Indie Book Awards.

Learn more about the Scriptapalooza competition here, or buy a copy of The Black Lens on Amazon.

Speaking next month at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference

Cover Art and Head ShotThere’s just one more month until I get to speak at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference in New York City about self-publishing The Black Lens novel.

The invitation came after my debut novel won Grand Prize in the 2016 Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book AwardsThe 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:

Here is the official review of The Black Lens from Writer’s Digest:

“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.

Book review: “I vowed to do my part to make things better”

perf5.000x8.000.inddSince 2016, more than 100 people have reviewed or rated The Black Lens on both Amazon and Goodreads.

But every now and then, I see a review that strikes a cord with me because it gets to the heart of my debut novel. I think to myself: this writer clearly “gets it.” Today, I read one of those reviews:

“I’m still shaking with emotion after reading this book. This book is painful but necessary. I read it in one setting, both because it was compelling and so painful that I knew that if I stopped I wouldn’t start again. When I finished, I shook/cried for an hour. I was disgusted and horrified and I vowed to do my part to make things better.

The gritty world depicted and the way our “invisible” children in poverty as consumed on the lusts of the more affluent are something I can’t tolerate as a mother or a follower of Christ. I hope more people will read this book and then realize what they purchase with that “not hurting anyone” pornography that inundates our society. A portion of the proceeds go to groups that fight human trafficking, so I hope this book ends up on every kindle.”

Not only does this reviewer understand my reasons for writing The Black Lens, but she also vows to do her part to “make things better.” And she’s not alone. Several other readers have said they wanted to become more involved in fighting sex trafficking after finishing my debut novel.

As an author, I couldn’t ask for anything more.

The Black Lens is coming back to The Book Loft

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This summer The Black Lens will be coming back to The Book Loft, one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores.

Located in the heart of historic German Village, The Book Loft boasts 32 rooms of bargain books in pre-Civil War era buildings that were once home to general stores, a saloon and even a nickelodeon cinema.

Join me at a book signing from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 6, at 631 S. Third St. I’ll be joining about a dozen other authors from central Ohio. Learn more about the event at http://www.yourbookmybook.com/.

“It could happen in your neighborhood, to your neighbor or child, to a friend or someone down on their luck. Sex trafficking or human trafficking, formerly called prostitution, is one of the rampant crimes and addictions in America and across the globe. This is a crime that pulls in the unsuspecting and traps them in a never ending cycle of degradation, abuse, crime, drugs, and addiction. There’s nothing pretty or sexy about this crime.

After many years of research and interviewing, Stollar peels back the curtain on prostitution in America. Although The Black Lens is fiction, it’s pretty close to the truth and it’s a gut wrenching book to read.

Stollar writes about sex trafficking in small town Oregon. The main characters are a journalist, who follows a lead, two sisters, Zoey and Camille James who are unwittingly forced into prostitution. The head pimp addicts the women he enslaves to meth. Poor, mentally deficient, hopeless, and/or without good role models, the women are forced into sex working. Descriptions are graphic and corruption and coercion is found at all levels of the community, where you’d least expect it. Classmates, supervisors, police, and authority figures identify Zoey, Camille, and others. Blackmail and drugs make it impossible for the girls to break out of the cycle of sexual abuse and addiction without serious help from the outside.

Stollar paints a sad picture of society that screams for a solution and an end to human trafficking. Read it and weep for the poor women trapped in a terrible situation. Everyone should read this book.”

To read more reviews of The Black Lens or order a copy, please go to Amazon.

Sneak peek of new cover art

perf5.000x8.000.inddThe Black Lens novel is getting a makeover.

My publisher, Boyle & Dalton, is creating new cover art for The Black Lens since it placed in three national writing competitions in just one year — beating out almost 2,000 other titles:

“We’re thrilled about the success of this title,” says Brad Pauquette, CEO of Boyle & Dalton. “People who buy The Black Lens not only get a great story, but they’re also making a difference in the lives of victims and survivors because author Christopher Stollar is donating 10 percent of his earnings to organizations that battle modern slavery.”

None of this success would have been possible without God, my wife, my pastors, my anti-trafficking partners, the survivors who let me interview them — and the dozens of individual supporters who helped bring my debut novel to life in the first place.

Boyle & Dalton is still creating the cover art, both front and back, but the new version will be available on Amazon soon. In the meantime, you can still order a copy or write a review here.