Category Archives: Young Adult


Welcome, K.S. Jones!

We’re excited to welcome K.S. Jones to the Highlighted Author.  Born in California’s San Joaquin Valley, she was literally raised “on set” for her Depression-Era novel, Shadow of the Hawk. Writing all of her life, this is Karen’s  first published full-length novel and the start of a  whole new career in writing. Up next? Another novel already in the final stages of edits. Can’t wait to see what’s next for this author!

–Jo Grafford, Highlighted Author Co-Hostess

Shadow of the Hawk

ShadowOfTheHawk_1600x2400Shadow of the Hawk is the story of Sooze Williams who sacrifices everything, including love, to save her family during the Great Depression.

It is May 1932 and life in the timbered rise and fall of Western Arkansas has just gotten harder for sixteen-year-old Sooze Williams. With debt mounting and both friends and family fleeing, Sooze is determined to “do the right thing.” She promises her heart to a well-to-do man believing true love is just another loss along the way.

But when her uncle is murdered and family is accused of the crime, Sooze vows not to be beaten. Is salvation within her grasp by relying solely on truth, or is it in the security of her intended’s money? Sooze must decide before it’s too late.

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About K.S. Jones

KS JonesAuthor K.S. Jones, whose first name is Karen, has been writing most of her life, usually in stolen moments between raising children, caring for elderly parents, and working a real job. She spent fifteen years writing and researching her Depression-era debut novel, Shadow of the Hawk. During that time, she had short pieces published, but it wasn’t until 2014 that her writing took a giant leap forward. One summer morning, an email arrived announcing she had won Southern Writers 2014 Short Story contest. While reveling in the moment, a second email chimed – a publisher was offering a contract on her novel! That same week, two more publishing offers arrived for the same novel, and she hasn’t looked back since. Another novel, a middle grade fantasy, is now under publisher’s review, and finishing touches are in process for another MG.

Born and raised in California’s San Joaquin Valley — the destination of thousands of families fleeing the Dust Bowl during America’s Great Depression — the author’s favorite childhood pastime was reading. She especially loved The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill A Mockingbird, and The Education of Little Tree, plus all the Jack London novels. Who could expect Shadow of the Hawk to sound any differently than it does? She now lives in the beautiful Texas Hill Country with her husband, Richard, and their two dogs, Libby Loo and Red Bleu.

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Excerpt from Chapter #3

As we neared Uncle Ray and Aunt Lissie’s farmhouse, the front left wheel, which was already whopper-jawed, hit a pothole in the road. Smack! The bolster clapped against the wood under our feet, and Cora nearly flew off the wagon seat. I caught her by the brown puffed sleeve of her dress and pulled her back toward me, holding her tight. Pulling hard on the leather reins, Daddy stopped the wagon. We could hear Uncle Ray yelling.

“You get off my land, and you stay off, you no-good little thief!”

Busting out the door of the hen house, Henry’s friend Benny was running like a wild man. His black hair was whipping across his face like strings from a wet mop, and he had his dirty white T-shirt pulled up like a hammock at his belly. It was filled with eggs.

“Go on, scram!” Uncle Ray came out the door of the hen house, swinging a leather strap. “If I catch you here again, I’ll beat the tar out of you, boy!”

Benny was in a dead-run. As he skidded around the back of our wagon headed for town, I saw a red welt the size of Uncle Ray’s leather strap across his cheek.

“What’d he get from you, Ray?” Daddy called.

“He stole my whole batch of eggs!” Uncle Ray walked toward us with one shoulder of his blue bib overalls hanging. He wasn’t wearing a shirt underneath to hide his big belly or a hat to cover his balding head. “I knew movin’ in this close to town would just invite the hoboes and hooligans.” He stopped at the wagon, reaching up to help Cora down off the seat, and kept right on talking. “But that boy — that loony little two-bit thief — he’s the worst of ’em all. If he was stealin’ so’s he could feed his family, I might look the other way once in a while. But when I get to town later today, I’ll bet I see a fresh batch of brown eggs for sale at Huckabee’s. All that boy does is sell what he steals from me so’s he can gamble and booze.”

“It ain’t right,” Daddy agreed, shaking his head. “It just ain’t right. You want me to go get the sheriff and be an eyewitness? A complaint is easy to file.”

“Won’t do no good,” Uncle Ray said. “With only one lawman in town, the sheriff said I needed to catch that boy red-handed myself and hand him over. But who can catch him? Did you see the way he lit out of here runnin’ like a jackrabbit?”

What Reviewers are saying about Shadow of the Hawk!

“The realism of John Steinbeck meets the thrill of John Grisham in this tale of love, sacrifice, and betrayal.” ~ Reader’s Entertainment Magazine

“This is one of those young adult novels that every adult will want to read. It’s filled with wonderful characters and a heartwarming story set in the midst of America’s darkest days, the Great Depression. Jones’ voice is reminiscent of Steinbeck’s at his best.” ~ W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear, USA Today and New York Times bestselling authors of People of the Thunder

“With a clarity reminiscent of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, K.S. Jones gently draws the reader into a masterful description of the grit and hard times of one farm family’s struggles during the Great Depression.” Alethea Williams, author of orphan train novel Walls for the Wind

Shadow of a Life Cover

Welcome, Tifani Clark!

We’re excited to bring a lover of unsolved mysteries to the Highlighted Author this week! Tifani Clarks’ books are based on real events in history — ones that spark questions and beg for answers. Missing people, missing relics, and (of course) ghost sightings. After reading the book blurbs and watching the attached trailers, I immediately added Shadow of a Life and Haven Waiting to my own TBR list. I’m such a sucker for unsolved mysteries myself. Sigh… Enjoy the feature!

–Jo Grafford, Highlighted Author Co-Hostess


Shadow of a Life CoverJamie Peters plans to spend the summer before her junior year with her nose stuck in a book—not saving lost souls. Usually the girl that blends into the crowd, Jamie’s world is turned upside down when a mysterious ghost begins to follow her.

But Sophia isn’t just any ghost.

A hundred years earlier, Sophia’s disappearance sparked a national mystery that remained unsolved. Jamie knows the legends surrounding Sophia’s disappearance, but she never dreamed she would find out what really happened . . . or that her family might have had something to do with Sophia’s disappearance.

Determined to set Sophia free, Jamie blows the dust off her family’s past and unearths clues to discover what she must do to save Sophia’s soul. She enlists the help of childhood friend—and secret crush—Peter Ashby as she sets off on a dangerous quest to find a missing map. Spending the night in a graveyard, crawling through a dilapidated barn, and staring down the barrel of a gun aren’t enough to deter Jamie from helping Sophia. But can she find the answers she needs before another ghost gets revenge on her and Sophia?


“Jamie, I know this is odd and it’s a lot to take in, but I really want you to hear me out. I’m thinking the only way to convince you is to just show you. I’ve never shown anyone that I was a ghost before so don’t freak out, okay?”

I didn’t respond.

[Sophia] stood up again, breathed in and out a couple of times, and said in a sing-song voice, “Now you see me . . .”

With her words, she vanished before my eyes and the world around me was completely silent, except for the sound of my heart that pounded so hard it threatened to burst through my chest. I sat motionless, not knowing what to do, until I heard a whisper in my ear, “. . . now you don’t.”

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Haven Waiting Cover (1)Fifteen-year-old Jamie Peters is a Soul Saver. She helps ghosts finish their business and move on. When a mysterious map comes into her possession, she knows a new adventure is waiting. With the help of her friends, Peter and Camille, she follows the map. Her friends hope to find treasure, but Jamie suspects there is more to the map than riches. She never imagined the map would lead her to Haven—and a book of spells.

Haven Mills was accused of practicing witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. Unlike the other women hung during the trials, Haven wasn’t as innocent as she claimed to be. In one moment of weakness and desperation, she did something sinister—something that has been bringing evil to the world for centuries.

Jamie promises to help Haven, but the reality of what that promise entails comes back to haunt her as she fights not only for Haven’s soul, but for her own as well.


I leaned in, close enough to examine my face, but as I stared at my image I began to feel uncomfortable.

And then it happened.

As I gazed into the mirror I saw a shadow cross behind me, moving from the window across the room toward my bedroom door. It moved too fast for me to completely see it, but it had an almost human form . . . and it seemed to be red. I whirled around, but the shadow had passed.

“Haven? Is that you?”


“Haven? Please. This isn’t funny anymore.”

My hands trembled as I lifted them to my chest. I could feel my heart pounding through my shirt and I had to work to keep the knot in my throat from erupting into a scream. Breathing heavily, I slowly walked toward my bedroom door, taking one cautious step after another until my trembling hand reached out and turned the knob. I threw the door open and looked out. The hall appeared to be empty and so was the staircase leading down to the rest of the house.

I quickly shut the door again and flipped on my lights. I peered into the closet and under my bed. I even looked behind my curtains. Nothing was there. I had not explanation for the shadow.

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A Note from Tifani

Tifani - Author PhotoI grew up on a potato farm in southeastern Idaho with two brothers and two sisters. Because of our location, I had a lot of space to imagine and daydream, and I often pretended to be a character in a book. More than once I fashioned a hula hoop and fabric into a hoop skirt so I could be Scarlet O’Hara. I’m married to the love of my life and am the mother to four fabulous children. When not writing, I enjoy playing the violin and piano and traveling to new places on my quest to see all fifty states.

I’ve always loves mysteries and I hate it when one goes unsolved. That’s how the Soul Saver series was born. Each book takes on a real event from history. Shadow of a Life revolves around the 1800s, Haven Waiting the 1600s, and the third book—which is nearly complete—will be centered around the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

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Welcome, Hanne Arts!

This week we are excited to welcome an eighteen-year-old, debut author — Hanne Arts. Still in her last year of high school, she is living her dream as a debut novelist. After two years of writing and revisions, her first novel Just Perfect is hot off the presses. It’s about love and acceptance, friendship and equality. Enjoy the feature!

–Jo Grafford, Highlighted Author Co-Hostess

Just Perfect

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000446_00058]When sixteen-year-old Christina Jacobs comes to school one day and discovers that life will never be the same again, she soon finds herself sinking away into self-doubt, haunted by her troubled thoughts and experiences and striving for acceptance and equality. 

Fate was never easy on her, having given her an appearance far from desirable and a family situation far from the norm, but when she is forced to face it all on her own, forced to battle her inner demons, she knows she needs to give all she’s got to fight her way back to the surface and get her life back on track.

“Just Perfect” is a grippingly honest account of love and friendship, betrayal and trust, and inner demons and the fight for a better tomorrow.

Trailer for Just Perfect

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Paperback and Amazon

About Hanne

IMG_1448My name is Hanne Arts and I’m an eighteen-year-old budding author, currently in my last year of High School (IB). I moved to Slovakia one and a half years ago, before which I lived in Hungary and, earlier still, Holland and Belgium.

Writing has been my passion since I was seven years old, and I am proud to announce that I have recently made the big step into the publishing of my first full-length novel entitled “Just Perfect” (link below). For over two years, I had been working and reworking this story, which finds its roots in the difficult times I have gone through. Feeling the need to help others through the sharing of my personal struggles – experienced by so many others as well – I believe it would be incredible to share my work with the largest audience possible.

Before the publishing of my book, I participated three times in Short Story Competition Hungary, for which I received the Short List Award in 2011, Honorable Mention in 2012, and Second Place in 2013. I was shortlisted in the Nancy Thorp Poetry Competition in 2013 and Junior Author Short Story Competition in 2014.

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What Reviewers are Saying about Just Perfect

John Yeoman: “A charming and intriguing story, written with a finesse and maturity of style that would flatter an author of far more seasoned years. Its ironic wit and acuteness of observation are a joy to read and its insights into the problems of mental depression are helpful and acute.”

Koen Maegherman: “The young author Hanne Arts has written a surprisingly nice piece of literature. The novel describes how the main character, partially because she is suffering from bullying, gets more and more dissatisfied with her body and sinks in an eating disorder. Hanne is also able the catch the almost incomprehensible dilemma many youngsters in a similar situation suffer from: What was wrong with me? Why could I not just flip the switch and see all the brightness ahead if only I chose the correct path? Or rather, why could I see the correct path but not choose to tread upon it? The writing style also endorses the main message: with a broad variety of metaphors and similes she sharply and sensuously describes the physical characteristics of her and others’ body. And as such she is able to go beyond the rather simple storyline and to craft a very nice novel that will for sure appreciated by many people (children, youngsters, parents, partners …) who encounter a similar problem.”