The summer after Junior Year is the closest Tessa George has ever been to happy. She’s finally clawed her way to popularity in her rich high school, despite living in poverty with her alcoholic mother. She’s dating the Johnny Hollis. She’s the star of her dance company. But when summer ends, the result of one season of bliss is growing inside her—a secret too alive to ignore.

Tessa’s mom insists on an abortion, but after Tessa sees her daughter on the ultrasound, she’s not about to let go of the only person who can give her the love and family she needs. Not even when her mom kicks her out for refusing to abort, and all her friends believe Johnny-the-Liar when he tells all of Facebook the baby’s not his. Tessa just rides away from home with nothing but her bicycle and her backpack, and sneaks into her former dance teacher’s basement studio to make her bed on a pile of dance mats. Now Tessa only has a few more months of pregnancy to find a way to keep her baby, hoping desperately that one small person can finally make her whole.


For Sydney Harrison, perfection is more than just a lofty ideal. It's her only hope of escape from the new life she will never accept. When her dad's stroke left him disabled, she lost her best friend, her home, and her sure testimony all at once. Now she's living in a broken-down trailer with her family of seven, eating donated food, and making big plans. Armed with only her scholarly prowess and unwavering work ethic, Sydney is working hard her senior year to trade in her thrift-store jeans for an Ivy League education. There is no room for distraction. But there's one thing she hasn't counted on: Sheldon Miner.

When Sydney gets stuck tutoring the rich, popular sports hero, her rigid focus on her goals becomes more of a floppy blur. Suddenly she can't remember why she should avoid distractions like mid-study-session snowball fights, or kissing boys in giant coat closets lit with twinkling Christmas lights. Sydney is sure her only hope lies in holding firmly to her plan. But maybe the right distraction can help her open her heart to faith, share her fears, and accept her life as it is. If only that didn't mean forcing herself to try all the things that terrify her—just this once.

JUST THIS ONCE is a YA contemporary novel, complete at 94,000 words. Its humorous and tender honesty will appeal to readers who loved DAIRY QUEEN by Catherine Gilbert Murdock.


  1. Heather, I can't thank you and Nikki enough for doing these webinars! Your teaching style resonates with me and has made a world of difference. Keep on writing - I love your books (even though I write in a different genre - your style sucks me right in:).

    1. Wow, Paige. I'm so glad you enjoyed them. What is your genre? I'd love to know more about what you do! We have fun with the webinars, but don't know if they're really helpful. So glad to know they helped someone!!