Category Archives: Young Adult

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

Order now:

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.

Connect with Hanne

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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.”

Accepted_1400x2100

Welcome, Coleen Lahr!

We’re excited to welcome Coleen Lahr to the Highlighted Author with her YA novel on life changing events, coming of age, and acceptance. All this from a gal who loves to write despite her avid reading schedule, helping run a family restaurant, and squeezing in an occasional Disney marathon! Enjoy the feature.

Jo Grafford, Highlighed Author Co-Hostess

Accepted

Accepted_1400x2100Ashley Smith spent her life being shipped from one family member to the next.  When Ashley’s estranged father dies, she finally has the money to go to college and the chance to find a place where she belongs.

Within days, Ashley has found the one thing she’s always longed for – a family.  She may have even found love.  There’s only one problem.  Ashley likes Colin…a lot, but so does Randi, and everyone likes Randi.  Randi’s approval is the single easiest way to belong.  Falling in love with Randi’s crush is the single easiest way to find one’s self on the outside for the next three years.

When Ashley arrived at college, she never dreamed she’d find this kind of happiness.  Will she allow herself to hold on to this happiness, and Colin, or will her fear of losing her friends, the only friends she’s ever known, dictate her actions?

Order now on:

Amazon

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Excerpt:

As I sat next to Colin in Organic Chemistry, I wondered if having classes together was actually a good thing.

Unlike my first professor, the Organic Chemistry professor comprehensively explained the syllabus, including course requirements, objectives, policies and assignments. All things I was sure were going to be important in the grand scheme of the course.

And I didn’t hear a word she said.

Once again, I was completely distracted by the man sitting next to me.

We were in another massive classroom dominated by stadium seating. We would, over the course of the semester, split our time between this room and the chemistry lab. There were no spaces between the seats, just a thin metal arm rest jutting out from the spot where the seat backs met each other.

Every time Colin moved — to grab his notebook, to turn off his cell phone, to turn the pages of the syllabus we were reviewing — his body brushed some part of mine. By the time we were on the third page of the syllabus, he had brushed me three times with his arm and once with his leg.

And I was frozen.

Every time he touched me, albeit accidentally, my stomach dropped, and my cheeks flamed. My entire face was on fire within the first twenty minutes of class, and I couldn’t concentrate on anything but the boy to my left. I was afraid to move even a quarter of an inch for fear that I would inadvertently shift myself too far away for his unintentional brushes.

To make matters worse, my mind, which never wanders in class, began to drift away and I, the girl who rarely loses focus on a task, drifted with it.

As I sat frozen in my seat, waiting for the next time Colin brushed against me, I wondered what it would be like if his brushes weren’t accidental — if he was touching me on purpose…leaning his leg against mine casually as he relaxed in his seat, running his fingers down my arms, holding my hand in his, entwining our fingers together…

And as I imagined this, I felt myself smiling, my fantasy becoming so detailed that I could actually feel his warm hand, his long fingers, wrapping around my wrist. I could hear him saying my name again and again, the concern in his voice growing each time he repeated it…

Wait…what?

“Ashley?  Ashley?”

Oh no. I looked over at him. His face was filled with concern. I cringed.

“Sorry.” I smiled sheepishly. “I’m just…” I closed my eyes and rubbed my face, which was on fire, in my hands. “…You know, taking it all in. E-everything’s a little o-overwhelming,” I stuttered. I hoped that being overwhelmed was a good excuse for acting like a lunatic.

He smiled. “Don’t worry, Ash. I’ll help you.” And as he stood, he put his hand under my elbow to help me up.

Thank goodness next class is in the lab.

About Coleen

headshotColeen writes young adult novels, loves running, rock music, the shore, daisies and bread.

When Coleen’s not plotting or writing her next book, she can be found making sandwiches in her family’s restaurant, running (but mostly walking) Disney marathons, reading any book she can get her hands on and playing with her adorable kid. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, daughter, two dogs, cat, and lizard.

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Lucid

Welcome, L.E. Fred!

We are particularly excited to feature L.E. Fred’s LUCID this week. Another fellow Astraea Press author, L.E. spins an amazing tale about dreams in the sleepy havens of R&R where we drift away each night (or at least attempt to following the crazy events of our days). L.E. takes it a step further and poses that freaky question of: What if we got stuck in our world of dreams? Go ahead. Read on, my friends and enjoy the feature! –Jo Grafford, Highlighted Author Co-Hostess

LUCID

LucidI know that most adventure/fantasy/whatever-you-would-like-to–call-these-stories start with something magical, but my story starts with something ordinary — dreams. I’m talking about the “I’m taking a test and don’t realize I’m in my underwear” kind of dreams. We have them every night, whether we remember them or not. Sometimes they leave us waking up with excitement or inspiration. Sometimes they cause us to wake with a shriek and to look around our rooms. Sometimes they leave us waking up confused or ashamed. These experiences are probably commonplace for most people, but I doubt any of you could ever say your dreams caused you to stay asleep for a long period of time.

What if your dreams made you disappear?

Available now on AMAZON and BARNES AND NOBLE.

About the Author

LucidAuthorL. E. Fred is a perpetual dreamer who writes about worlds both within and without this realm. With a degree in psychology, L. E. Fred tends to get lost in the mind, the greatest adventure of all. L. E. Fred is currently traveling the world, finding more adventures to inspire new tales of dreams and beyond.

Follow L.E. Fred on Social Media:

Facebook | Blog | Goodreads

 

Q & A with L.E.

Q: You write from the P.O.V. of a 15 year-old boy. Is there anyone who shaped Devon’s character as the protagonist.

A: A wonderful counselor-in-training that I worked with actually inspired Devon’s character. Real-life Devon, who shall be nameless, was one of those campers that turned into a CIT when he outgrew the camp’s age groups. I never went to summer camp as a child, so working at one was a very interesting experience. I got to witness real-life Devon change from being a happy-go-lucky camper to a miserable CIT. As for Devon’s personality, that was shaped by my own sense of humor. I wrote Lucid through Devon’s eyes, and my own commentary sort of slipped through. It fit his sarcastic nature, though, and rereading some parts still makes me laugh.

Q: What about the villains? How did they come to be?

A: Ever since I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by mythological monsters. There seems to be a common thread of villainous snakes and lions. A chimera combines these two deadly creatures, along with a goat, into one evil creature. I liked the idea of having three diverse villains; the more you get to know a villain, the scarier they can become for the reader and the heroes. As I wrote, Serpentine, Gruff, and Leona, seemed to appear out of nowhere to fit the evil villain’s roles. The Nightmares were a little trickier. I thought long and hard about how they should be portrayed, and I eventually started combining features of animals and creatures that people feared the most into one character. That’s why they have shark teeth and devil horns.

Q: Lucid is your first novel. Are you currently working on anything else?

A: Since Devon and his friends’ story didn’t want to finish at the end of Lucid, I’m currently working on the sequel. The story will continue our heroes’ adventure, but you’ll get to hear from other characters in it. It will also have much more of a fantasy element with an even crazier cast of characters. Aside from Lucid, I’m working on two more stories, both in the YA fiction genre.

Q: What inspired you to write YA fiction?

A: I’m a teacher, so I love working with young adults and teens. I’ve seen the power of books transform kids’ ways of thinking about the world and boost confidence. Never underestimate the power of reading. I know it played an important role in shaping my future, and I hope to reach out to as many young adults to inspire them to find their inner heroes and go change the world for the better.

L.E.’s Top 5′s:

5 favorite YA books/series

  1. Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
  2. Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan
  3. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
  4. Deltora Quest by Emily Rodda
  5. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

 5 fun facts about the Lucid crew.

  1. Devon’s favorite thing about the Dream World is the pink grass.
  2. Kyle is deathly afraid of insects. Devon hinted that his older brother screams like a small child when they find roaches in their houses.
  3. Mitch, despite his love for water sports, is afraid of open water. He saw JAWS one too many times to trust the murky deep.
  4. Viv fights with Elis frequently, but she is secretly jealous of his sword skills.
  5. Iven researched the history of human music (with the help of Sophia.) His favorite tunes come from 15th century Gregorian chants and 1980s pop.

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