The plot of my upcoming novel NEVER BROKENrevolves around human trafficking. To help raise awareness, I would like to introduce you to Laura Cusack, a crusader for human trafficking victims, whose work was a huge inspiration to me as I wrote this novel. Learn more about Laura, the release of NEVER BROKEN and my own writing journey in this month's issue.
Early praise for NEVER BROKEN
I am thrilled to share these early reviews from from authors whose work I admire. These reviews will appear on the back cover of NEVER BROKEN when it releases April 12.
“A dark, gripping plot and a daring main character you can’t help but
fall in love with. It’s my first Lisa Jamison mystery but it won’t be
– Steve Hamilton, Edgar-Winning Author of The Lock Artist and the Alex McKnight series
“Smart, brave, and filled with compassion,
journalist Lisa Jamison is the perfect sleuth for these challenging
times. Add in a plot that keeps readers guessing, and you get Never Broken, the stay-up-late-can’t-wait-to-read-the-next-chapter latest release by Lori Duffy Foster.”
– Elena Taylor, author of All We Buried and the Eddie Shoes Mysteries
“Kindhearted, tenacious, and fearless newspaper reporter Lisa Jamison wants answers no matter the cost. Lori Duffy Foster’s Never Broken
is a compelling mystery that explores the resiliency of the human
spirit. A page-turner with a protagonist we can all root for.”
– Bruce Robert Coffin, award-winning author of the Detective Byron Mysteries
Pre-orders of NEVER BROKEN, book 2 in the Lisa Jamison Mystery Series, are now available on Kindle. I will send a separate email when pre-orders for paperback and all other ebook formats are available. I am told that will happen shortly. Reviewers can find ARCs on NetGalley.
NEVER BROKEN releases April 12!
If you read and enjoyedA DEAD MAN'S EYES,please consider clicking on a rating or leaving a review on your favorite website, such as Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Book Bub. Reviews are important to newbies like me, who are also published by small presses. We greatly appreciate them.
If you haven't read the novel, you can order A DEAD MAN'S EYES through any of these links or from your favorite book store.
Book two in the Lisa Jamison Mystery Series arrives in bookstores in April 12! For a description of NEVER BROKEN and my other upcoming novels, click here.
Meet Laura Cusack
Laura Cusackis a Senior Crime Victim Practitioner at the Coalition for Independent Living Options, Inc. and currently serves as the President for the Human Trafficking Coalition of the Palm Beaches. Laura’s experience includes providing training to service providers on specific needs of crime victims with disabilities, human trafficking, online safety, domestic violence and sexual assault; facilitating psychoeducational groups for high-risk youth with trauma-related disabilities; and leading community outreach efforts to promote identification of victims. Previously, Laura instructed criminal diversion curriculum to men arrested for buying sex and has also conducted street outreach with law enforcement to women in street-based prostitution to promote safety and wellness. In 2017, Laura launched the Hope Campaign, a community outreach in Palm Beach County that works with local hotels to identify missing children and increase public access to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Laura is a member of the Palm Beach County Human Trafficking Task Force, Sexual Assault Response Team, and regularly attends the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking meetings. Laura earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW) from Florida Atlantic University and is certified in the My Life My Choice, iEmpathize Empower Youth Program, and Men Breaking Free national curricula.
Q: What drew you to issues of human trafficking and how did you first become involved?
Laura: In high school, I spent my summers living in Uganda doing mission work. I loved it and it changed my life, but my family lived on a pastor’s salary and we could not afford to keep going back. So I started to explore what else I could throw myself behind. In college, I met a social worker who provided direct services to human trafficking victims. During my senior year, I decided I wanted to study social work (too late to change majors at that point!), so I went on to graduate school and got an MSW in social work with plans of working in the human trafficking field. (The irony is, looking back, I did not realize that I had encountered human trafficking on my trips to Uganda, where I met people who had been forced into labor, forced sex slaves, and child soldiers by a rebel army).
Q: How do you deal with the emotions that come with your work?
Laura: I’m blessed to do so much on the prevention and outreach side. There’s a lot of hope in the work because I believe through prevention and education, we can truly reduce the number of victims. In most cases, victims do not understand they are being recruited for human trafficking. Many remain in these situations for years, not realizing the extent to which the trafficker is exploiting them. With education in the community, we can change that. It’s heartbreaking and difficult to understand that humans think it is okay to buy and sell other humans. It’s hard to think about how many people are creating the demand- for both sex and labor trafficking. To be transparent, I’m 100% certain that I have created demand for labor trafficking by simply purchasing items that were not fair trade and were likely made by individuals forced in factories to produce the products I buy. But I find hope in the fact that there is something I can do about it, and I work on this every day! (I also enjoy creating a butterfly garden, where I can see beautiful transformations of life that often remind me of the transformations Survivors go through when they finally get to regain and take control of their life again!)
Q: Who are the victims in your experience? Is there anything that makes them particularly vulnerable?
Laura: Right now, with the impact of the pandemic, we see a lot of youth being recruited online—that really picked up with the pandemic. Those coming here for work from other countries are also especially vulnerable to labor trafficking. We also know that people with disabilities are targeted for crime, including human trafficking, at far higher rates than their counterparts without disabilities. Other vulnerability factors include: history of abuse, substance use, homelessness, and financial need. Even just being naive or unaware of what human trafficking is and what recruitment can look like can make someone vulnerable because they won’t recognize that they are being recruited if it happens gradually over time.
Q: How has the attitude and approach of law enforcement changed toward human trafficking victims in the more than ten years you have worked in the field?
Laura: There’s definitely been more trauma-informed training—not enough, but more—at least in my area. In general, law enforcement has shifted their understanding from just seeing ‘prostitution’ to recognizing instead that people are being forced to engage in criminal activity against their will. What may seem like simple drug trafficking, or financial benefits theft, could really be a form of labor trafficking. This is such a complex issue, and working with victims has a lot of challenges, so more training is always needed. But there’s definitely been increased understanding of human trafficking that has allowed law enforcement to focus more on arresting the trafficker and not the victims. One challenge, however, is that these cases can take time, and it can be very difficult to find sufficient evidence to show that human trafficking is involved. This can be costly, burdensome, and taxing on police departments, especially small ones with limited resources.
Q: Can people who have been rescued from modern-day slavery every really recover? What support do they need?
Laura: Someone coming out of human trafficking will have a lot of unique needs, depending on the type of trafficking, age and gender of the victim, education level, cultural factors, etc. Typically, it will require several agencies working together to deliver holistic services. With labor trafficking cases where factories, or other businesses get shut down, there could be a huge influx (even hundreds!) of victims all out once. That can flood service providers and make service delivery challenging. Housing is a huge need, and that need has only intensified with the pandemic and housing crisis. There is very limited emergency housing, and even less long-term housing for victims, which can make aftercare service so challenging. For those who need substance use treatment, this can often be costly, and many housing programs require treatment before providing services, which can be a barrier. Therapy is crucial, as human trafficking survivors experience complex trauma that can take years to unpack under clinical supervision. Finding therapists who are have experience with this population is crucial but hard to find sometimes.
Q: Do you ever see a future in which human trafficking no longer exists?
Laura: I want to say yes. If I don’t say yes, then I could not have hope in the work I’m doing. But it’s going to take time and a lot of effort. I do think more focus needs to be made on the buying/demand side of both sex and labor trafficking. If we do not actively choose to seek out products that are guaranteed to be free of slave labor in all parts of production, then labor trafficking will continue- because where we put our money tells it to. If we don’t actively chip away at normalized beliefs that purchasing sex (including pornography) is okay, we will continue to have sex trafficking. So, unfortunately, I believe the big next step in this fight is to really examine how close to home this hits, how closely each of us is tied to the issue, and to be proactive in making a change in our own personal lives. That change is the hardest and takes the longest. But the entirety of this issue and eradication of human trafficking depends on it.
Q: What can the average person do to help combat human trafficking?
Share with others
Examine where in your life you may be contributing to the problem.
Take proactive steps to address it
Also- talk to your children about online safety and the risks of pornography and sexting. Volunteer in ways that assist vulnerable populations (serving at a food kitchen, helping the homeless, volunteer at a center for teen moms)- anytime we can help someone in need, we are filling the gap where a trafficker could come along and offer to meet that need for a price. Financially support (if you are able to) vetted and credible organizations in your area- funding is always limited!
This is where you will find me virtually and in person!
(For the always-updated website version, click here.)
News and Events
Here is a calendar of events along with links to already published interviews, guest blog posts, podcasts and virtual readings.
April 11, The Knoxville Public Library, 112 E. Main Street, Knoxville, PA, 6:30 p.m.NEVER BROKEN book launch celebration!
Get your copy of book 2 in the Lisa Jamison Mystery Series one night
before the official release. I will be reading from NEVER BROKEN and
selling and signing books. Refreshments will be available. I hope to see
April 22 – 24, Malice Domestic 2022, Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Bethesda, Maryland. I
can’t wait! I will be celebrating the release of NEVER BROKEN at this
conference and my debut novel, A DEAD MAN’S EYES, since last year’s
conference was cancelled. The slate of honored guests is amazing. Malice
Domestic is for both writers and fans of mystery fiction of all sub
genres. There is still time to register!
April 30, Barnes & Noble, 3956 NY-31, Liverpool, NY, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Book signing. I am excited to return to Central New York, the setting
of the Lisa Jamison Mystery Series, and to the bookstore I frequented
most often during my reporting days for a book signing. More details to
May 7, Sabinsville Spring Fling, Sabinsville, PA, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This
was so much fun last year that I can’t wait to do it again! Sabinsville
is tiny community, but the festivals draws more than forty vendors and
loads of people, many of whom are looking for unique, last-minute
Mother’s Day gifts. So, if your mom loves mysteries, I’ll be there to
hook you up!
This 1960 Allis-Chalmers tractor was used by my husband's grandfather when our land was his dairy farm. Now, my husband uses it to brush-hog trails, haul wood and tap trees. There is a lot to be said for the simplicity of its design. This cardinal appeared near our feeder early in February the day after my 93-year-old mother-in-law died. Cardinals were her favorite bird. I hadn't seen any at the feeder all winter. Coincidence? Maybe, but I like to think she had something to do with it.
What's up with my books?
Wow. I can't wrap my head around it. Only one more month until the release of NEVER BROKEN and NEVER BROKEN releases one day before the one-year anniversary of the release of A DEAD MAN'S EYES.
This year has flown by.
The months to come will be even more busy with my first standalone novel, NEVER LET GO, releasing in December. I seriously need juggling lessons because it's going to get crazy. While I work to promote NEVER BROKEN, I will also have to go through the manuscript for NEVER LET GO and make sure it is in the best possible shape for my editor when it is due in June. Then it's back to book three in the Lisa Jamison Mystery Series, NO TIME TO BREATHE. That book is due to my editor in October.
It doesn't end there.
Level Best Books will be releasing a novel of mine every six months until December of 2024. The good news is that most of these books are already written. The bad news is that the schedule (with all the rewrites, edits and promotion) does not leave me much time to write something new. I already have ideas brewing for book 4 in the Lisa Jamison Mystery Series. I don't want to rush it because I have seen what happens when authors do that. So, I am going to try to be patient with myself and let it unfold as it should.
I hope you will be patient with me as well.
What's up at home?
What a month! Indoor track wrapped up for our freshmen twins just before February break. My husband couldn't take time off, so I took the twins on my own to New York City for a few days. We had a blast. We heard from budding Broadway stars at Ellen's Stardust Diner and the boys were introduced to the songs of Frankie Valli through the musical Jersey Boys. We toured the American Museum of Natural History and, of course, the Nintendo store in Times Square. On the way home from New York, we took a detour through Philadelphia, where the twins got their Covid booster shots while waiting for their sister to finish her last class before Spring Break at Temple University. I will bring our daughter back to school this weekend when our oldest son returns from Penn State for his Spring Break, but we will all be together for his 22nd birthday. While the twins and I were away, my husband tapped trees for maple syrup season. The weather turned cold again, so we don't expect sap for at least another week. But when the sap does begin to flow, that will take all of our free time. We make just enough to get us through a year of pancakes and waffles and to keep our friends in family well supplied. Busy is good right now because it will all help the time pass until the release of NEVER BROKEN.
Happy writing and reading. Just over a month until the release of NEVER BROKEN!