Tag Archives: YA Books

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#Caged – Book 3 of the North Star to Freedom Series

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The final installment of the North Star to Freedom series is here!

The amazing Heather Horrocks has written a gut-wrenching but ultimately triumphant tale about saving kids from child sex trafficking.

I laughed. I cried. I may have cheered.

Scroll past the book to read how Heather got involved in this project!

The ebook is 99 cents this week!

Autumn Eldridge considers herself one of the lucky ones—after all, she got rescued from a life of horror after just six months. That was three years ago. Now she has a black belt in karate and she is never going to be a target again. So when billionaire Cyrus Black invites her to help other teens from being taken in the first place by joining his elite team, she jumps at the chance.

She is partnered with the mysterious Noah Fuller, and she wonders why he is on the team, since he’s the only team member who was never trafficked.


Destiny Wexler has had an incredibly bad year. First her mom died, then her dad remarried way too quickly, and she just found out she’s pregnant. When her jerk of a boyfriend breaks up with her, she turns to a friend she met last year in a chat group for teens who have lost their mothers. Finally, things are starting to look up. She’s just met two new friends. Even better, her chat room friend is going to fly in and take her to lunch.


But when she lies to her new friends—who she doesn’t realize are on the team trying to save her—and meets her “friend,” she finds herself #caged and betrayed. She can’t believe how deep the lies have gone and she’s terrified no one will be coming to save her.

How Heather got involved in this project:

Heather Horrocks

This project was scary. A group of three PG-rated clean romance authors decided to do a series about teens being groomed to be stolen and forced into sex slavery. We knew we could write from the beginning to the abduction and from the rescue to The End, but how could we possibly tackle the middle of their stories which were basically XXX-rated? How were we supposed to pull that off without going to the dark side, as it were? But we felt impressed to proceed, and the ideas began to come.

We decided to write from two points of view—both the targeted teen as well as a member of a special team formed of trafficking survivors. The team was organized by a man (Cyrus Black, whose story was told in #Lost) whose daughter was stolen away. We knew we needed to entertain while we taught about the dangers, so we added the undercover team, taking our inspiration from 21 Jump Street and, later, The Thundermans, both of which meet Taken.

We hope our books open the eyes of young people to the dangers around them. If we can keep even one teen from falling for the enticements and lies, we’ll feel it was totally worth the time and effort. This was a hard-written book. Hard to plot. Hard to write. Hard to live through vicariously as I wrote. Hard to face my own PTSD from my own childhood abuse.

Like the others, all the profits from my book are being donated to the anti-trafficking or aftercare of our choice. I’ve chosen to donate my profits to Tim Ballard’s organization, Operation Underground Railroad, so that I can aid in rescuing children. When I watched his first documentary, I was touched when he said to use your unique talents and skills to help. So now I have.

 


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#Lured – Book 2 of the North Start to Freedom Series

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For the past few weeks I’ve been sharing the books in the North Star to Freedom series.

Well, this week it’s my turn!

#Lured is my book in the series, and I have to say, I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.

Anyone who has read my Jagged Scars series won’t be shocked that Warren, the trafficking survivor in this book, deals with some serious PTSD.

I have to admit it was difficult to put myself in Warren’s shoes. I’m fortunate not to have abuse in my past, so I had to imagine what it might be like being a sex trafficking survivor. Not my favorite topic to think about, but I feel like I scraped enough of the surface to make everyone reading feel for Warren.

Scroll down to see how I got sucked into this project!

The ebook is 99 cents this week only!

The girl being lured away

The trafficking survivor trying to save her

Kaylee Roberts, sophomore and varsity soccer player, is furious when her arch nemesis not only beats her for the half-back position on the team, but then sends a picture of Kaylee’s eczema-covered face on fire to the whole school. It’s not like she needs a reminder about her skin condition. Lucky for Kaylee, she’s been chatting online with a basketball player from another school who appreciates her photography skills and likes her for who she is.

Seventeen year old Warren Scott’s plan to get out of juvie and rescue his best friend from a trafficker goes out the window when he gets into a fight defending another kid. He’s expecting a reprimand, but instead gets an offer: join a specialized team of sex trafficking survivors who go into high schools to find and warn teenagers who are being targeted by predators. The rich guy in charge promises Warren help finding his friend in exchange for his time.

Warren agrees, but while he and his partner are desperately trying to find the target, he starts having crippling flashbacks of his old life. In the meantime Kaylee’s amazing and supportive online boyfriend tells her he loves her. She loves him too, and wants to show him.

Can Warren find Kaylee before it’s too late, or will Kaylee be #Lured away to a fate Warren knows all too well?

 

How I got involved in this project

JO SCHNEIDER

Taylor Hart approached me about this project early in 2019. We were sitting in a crowded Olive Garden and she was telling me stories that she’d heard from Cammy Bowker (see her forward at the beginning of the book) about child sex trafficking and exploitation in America. Right here in our home state. I was blown away. Of course I knew it happened, but had never looked too close. Like many of us, for me ignorance was bliss. That night Taylor destroyed my ignorance, and I’ll be forever grateful.

Taylor said she wanted to join the fight, and asked me if I would be willing to write a book and donate all of the proceeds to charity. Duh. Yes. When do you want it?

Our original idea was to write sweet romances, which I write under my pen name Karly Stratford, and donate the money. Then Taylor ran into Tim Ballard, founder of Operation Underground Railroad, at the mall. I saw a picture she’d posted on Facebook and I sent her a text asking her if she was stalking the poor guy! Nope, not stalking. A fortuitous, and possibly inspired, meeting. Taylor thanked him for all he has done, told him we were authors, and asked him what we could do to help. When he said he would love it if we would write books directed at the teens, because more and more get taken every day, that threw a wrench in the plan.

At this point, Heather had joined our little party, and the three of us were a bit dumbfounded. Most of the group write sweet and clean romance…how are we supposed to write something to teens on the topic of sex trafficking?

I’m the young adult writer of the group, so I started thinking. And praying. And thinking. Here’s the thing, in young adult books you need to empower the teenage characters. They have to be driving the story, not be bossed around by their parents or teachers. And we didn’t want to just focus on a victim after they’d been taken—first too grisly, and second most teens won’t relate to the situation. Finally, after a few weeks, I had an idea. If you remember the old 21 Jump Street, with Johnny Depp, you’ll know that young-looking cops got sent undercover into high schools to sniff out drug and theft rings. In the process they usually helped teens who were in trouble. Then it hit me. What if we used young trafficking survivors as our 21 Jump Street-type teams, and they went into high schools to help kids who are being targeted by predators? That way we could tell a story that would be familiar to teens (high school), as well as explore a victim of trafficking after they’d gotten out!

It took a lot of work, praying, planning and coordinating, but in the end it all came together!

I’m not often public about my religious beliefs, but I certainly felt a divine hand holding mine more than once as I researched this brutal topic, planned my book and then wrote it. There was also plenty of opposition as we fought to get this project finished and out to the world.

I hope these books made you just a little bit uncomfortable, but I also hope that you go away from them with a better understanding of the process predators use to lure people into their traps. The internet is not going away, and the best defense against it is open communication with friends and family and as much knowledge as you can gather about the dangers that lurk behind the screen.

 

 

 


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#Seen – Book 1 of the North Star to Freedom Series

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Last week I shared a bit about how I got involved in fighting the biggest growing crime in the world.

Sounds dramatic, right?

Well, it is.

This week  book one of the series, #Seen, is out!

Scroll down past the book to read Taylor Hart’s “Why”
I should warn you, she’s a bit…intense. 😉

The ebook is 99 cents this week only!

She loses her prom date, her chance at cheer captain, and her friends all in one day! Will Sammy Lewis ever get her chance to be #Seen? Good thing there’s two new kids at school to help her out!

Zoey Thompson never expected to get hand-picked by a philanthropic billionaire Cyrus Black for an elite, undercover team to stop online predators from targeting teens. And she really never expected to have a broody, hot partner named Nicholas who keeps telling her not to ask about his past. Sheesh—he’s not the only one with secrets, so whatever!

Enter Sammy Lewis, sixteen-year-old cheerleader at Montrose High. Sammy has everything—a boyfriend, two best friends, and a shot at becoming cheer captain for the upcoming state cheer competition. Too bad she loses them all in one day. Good thing she has Instagram and @hunterlives, the only guy who really understands her.

Posing as cheerleaders, Zoey and Nicholas think they’re getting through to Sammy about the dangers of her situation. That is, until Sammy runs off in search of the guy who really isn’t her boyfriend at all.

Will they get there in time, or will it be the last time Sammy Lewis is ever #seen?

From Taylor Hart


Super Secret Terrifying Project I’ve been working on.
Seriously you guys, my hands are shaking.
Why?
Because this project has been—INSANE!
Insanely hard. Insanely awesome! Insanely Fun!

Drumroll.

I know you’re ready to hear the two-second newsclip version of what I’ve been doing, but I’m sorry—I have to tell you more!

Have you ever had that moment when you see a world’s problem and then you look away quick because–

1-it’s scary
2-YOU CAN’T DO ANYTHING.
3-it doesn’t do any good to think about it.

Me too.

For the last—10 years I won’t even watch the news.

My parents think I’m unpatriotic

Seriously.

But—I had one of those experiences—that grabbed my attention and inspired me to try to MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

And it involves these AMAZING BOOKS I’m RELEASING with 2 other AMAZING authors over the next few weeks!

Here’s how it went:

A couple of months I saw a FB Live between Timothy Ballard speaking with Tony Robbins.

Tony Robbins has been a personal hero of mine for roughly 15 years. I love his personal development material and he really helped changed the way I look at the world and he has helped me gain strategies to more effectively deal with my emotions and my business, etc.

Timothy Ballard was a special agent for Homeland Security for ten years, then he left and has made it his life mission to rescue children from being trafficked. I have read many of his books and he has a love of country and he’s a man on a mission.

During this FB Live, Tony asked Timothy Ballard—what can people do to help. And Timothy said, “I don’t mean to sound preachy about it, but I feel preachy—talk about it, blog about it, write a book on it.”

And—I felt it. Call it—the spirit, my inner voice, or whatever you call it. But, I felt that rush of inward, outward chills and I heard a little voice say—‘you could write a book about it.’

Seriously, at this point I said, out loud, “I don’t write books about that.”

Ha! I argued WITH GOD.

It’s not a good thing. In fact—don’t do it! 🙂

But–I write books about fun romances. Not-child trafficking.

Right!

I don’t even want to think about it. I have four children and IT SCARES ME.

And—then I HEARD what I had said—I have FOUR children.

I knew, I had to do something. But I pushed it away.

Two months later, I met Cammy Boker—and she—is AWESOME.

HER website is here. But she has made helping children her mission too.

This was when I discovered that predators. Online predators, trafficking rings and CRAZY WEIRDO. Bleep bleep bleep kind of people are trying to get to OUR children.

Right here. In America.

In my own city.

Of course, once you start digging, you find more and more. That’s what I discovered. I interviewed parents whose daughter LEFT WILLINGLY on a bus for Vegas, because she thought she had a boyfriend.

Another girl—thought she was going to be a model.

These psychopath predators are pretending to be friends, boyfriends, modeling agents to our CHILDREN.

Not just girls.

Boys, too.

They are getting our children to be ‘friends’ with them—through instagram, facebook, snapchat, etc. etc. etc. AND send SEX TEXTS back and forth with them—and then they Blackmail them.

Tell them—they will kill their siblings, their parents, etc. Convincing them that they are BEYOND LOST.

Ok. End rant.

You are getting the idea.

Soo—drumroll…I teamed up with 2 other amazing authors. And—it was ROUGH.

Miracle—I met Timothy Ballard—walking out of the mall.

And-I told him what we were doing and he said—‘write the books for the teens, I get more calls everyday about the teens.’

How were we going to write these books for kids?

Jo Schneider is a dear friend of mine and when I spoke to her about this she was in and it made my heart soar. And she came back with an amazing idea to have a team of kids go in under cover. Do you remember the old 21 Jump St.? With Johnny Depp? Honestly, I have never heard of it.
So I went back and I watched some of the old 21 Jump Street they are available on prime right now for free 🙂 and I knew Jo had been inspired.

Because it gave us a format where we could write these books in a fun way we can have a quickie team of kids going in under cover. But the kids would have a past of getting out of being trafficked. No not all of them have been trafficked but their lives have been affected by it maybe it’s one of their siblings or friend.

Heather Horrocks, who is a friend of mine and Jo’s got involved with us. And Heather brought so much excitement and energy she passed the project forward to completion.

I’m not gonna lie to you, as a mother ever so many times I wanted to quit. And there was so much opposition to bringing these books forward.

But our mantra became #justonechild #justoneteen #justonegirl #justoneboy

If we could raise awareness and PREVENT #justone

From getting caught up in sex trafficking, then … it will be worth it.

So now I’m here … asking you … NOT to turn away. Not – to push this email out of your mind. NOT – to ignore these books.

Read them.

They are clean. No swearing. No sex. You do—know bad things have happened and it is alluded to and talked about.

How can we NOT talk about it?

Phones—are NOT going away. Apps—different apps, new apps—are going to keep coming.

THE ONLY THING WE CAN DO IS VACCINATE OUR KIDS AGAINST THIS.

Talk to them.

Explain it.

Have them read these!

Have them learn—through our characters—what NOT to do. And what to do!
Help them!!
Educate them!
Inform them!
Save them!

You!

It’s intense. I know. I feel intense about it! And—I’m asking for your help to spread the word.

All of the profits of these books are being donated to O.U.R. or to GlobalEP.

That means—OUR ONLY GOAL IS TO RAISE AWARENESS AND PREVENT THIS FROM HAPPENING!

So I don’t feel bad being preachy! And I don’t feel bad asking.

My hand—in your hand.

The best part about the WORST THING—is just like the times of the Civil War—when there was LEGALIZED SLAVERY in this country—

AND GOOD MEN AND WOMEN STEPPED UP TO END IT!

Now.
Now.
Now.

WE HAVE A CHANCE TO STEP UP NOW!

You have a chance!

Read them! Talk about them! Blog about them! Social Media Share! Tell your kids! Your sister! Your brother!

Open your mouth!
#Justone
#Justone
#Justone


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The Phony Prince is Here!

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Today is Launch Day!

Get your copy of The Phony Prince now!

99 CENTS TODAY ONLY (Or always FREE on Kindle Unlimited)

I started writing my Fairy Tale Academy series last November. Eight novellas and six months later, we’ve come to the end of the journey.

Remember Prince Edward from The Golden Girl? Yeah…he’s not really the prince. Thomas and Prince Edward have been trading places since they were kids, but when the Prince gets trapped in another kingdom Thomas has to take his place at the Academy.

I also brought back Kyla, one of Ariel’s sisters. Because who else is going to put up with a cranky pauper turned prince?

And now, without further ado, I present, The Phony Prince!

This is the 8th and final book in my Fairy Tale Academy Series!

If you missed the first chapter, click here to read it.


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