~Deception, greed, and fame dismantle their lives~
Charlene and Raven, mother and daughter, are woven together by blood, but separated and haunted by circumstance: personal struggles, concealed demons and uncovered skeletons.
Fifteen-year-old Charlene Shaw is frustrated with life. She embodies every young woman’s starry-eyed dreams and heads for Hollywood. On her rugged road to fame, Charlene’s using everything in her might to erase the past–even at the point of compromising her own love story. Charlene still can’t wipe away her deepest fear that shakes her very core… Raven.
Raven Shaw grows up in her mother’s tiny Christian town Bellwood, North Carolina. She’s a feisty, confident young thing who won’t hesitate to use her fist when bullies mock her as a bastard. Overcoming teen depression, she finds love. A first love, a teenage romance to die for. Now, Raven can’t be fully committed to the man that has her heart until she learns shy she’s been neglected.
When their path’s collide, Raven asks to questions–two family secrets–that can ruin their lives, leading mother and child on the road of feeling like a “Miss Nobody”
The instructor had on leggings, as if there wasn’t something bulging in the front of his pants. His belly protruded like a Teletubby. He wore a French beret cocked to the side of his head, and his silky, curly hair looked even better than Charlene’s.
Charlene didn’t find out how difficult the class was until standing on the stage in a historical theater attempting to “act.” Every time she read her lines, he shot her down.
“No! No! No! Charlene!” The instructor snapped his fingers as he walked onto the stage. Stiletto heels clicked on the floor emphasizing his disagreeable words. “More dismal. You’re acting is… shitty! I don’t even know how you got in my class.” He put Engine Red nails to his temples, massaged. Rolling his eyes, he added, “Ugh! Not another one–wasting your sugar daddy’s money because you’re bored when he’s working.”
Then he tried on his gloomy face, mascara eyelashes fluttered. “Listen, the script says that your husband has just cheated on you with a sexy man, almost as sexy as me! And you look like that? You must be ecstatic? Want your husband to leave?” He enunciates every word when explaining the script, as if English was her second language.
She huffed, having read the lines a thousand times. If only I hadn’t dreamed about Roy last night. Charlene had taken a couple of pills on the way to class. It was the only place she normally went without taking the Valium. Thinking about Raven, she contemplated what life would be like if she’d cared for her daughter. Her daughter would be starting senior year soon. Tears streamed down her face as she spoke the lines from memory, all the while, thinking about all the milestones in her daughter’s life that she would miss. Graduation…prom…tours to college campuses… In the zone, she began.
When she finished, the theater was quiet as the instructor and the other students stared at her. Warmth crept across her cheeks as she ran off the stage, feeling like a nobody. I was awful! I can’t act… great! Seventeen years and I can’t act!
In the empty bathroom, she grabbed tissue paper from one of the stalls and wiped her face. I don’t deserve to cry. I abandoned Raven for nothing. She opened her purse and pulled out the pills and took a breath. Then on second thought she put the pills back. Looking into the mirror, tussled her curly hair. She put a cold paper towel on her eyes to get rid of the redness. With her head held high, she walked back out of the restroom, into the theater, and onto the stage, ready for the instructor to ridicule her again.
A round of applause echoed across the room.
She was all smiles.
“Charlene, I felt sooooo sorry for you. Honey, with that face you can take a man for all his dough!” The instructor waved his hands around delicately for the crowd to stop applauding. When it was quiet, he added, “I think you’ve got it!” as he clapped, he jumped, he smiled as tears pooled at the corner of his eyes.
Charlene’s face streaked with streams of mascara. I can use my guilt over leaving Raven to my advantage!
Nicole Dunlap holds a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and Child Development, and a Masters Degree in Educational Counseling from Azusa Pacific University. She lives her dream of counseling in the inner city of San Bernardino; motivating teens dealing with depression, pregnancy, gang membership and abuse. But, she admits to two passions–writing being her first love. She has been self dubbed the “gumbo genre” novelist, because books shouldn’t be lightly seasoned… Her stories revolve around family and relationships, women’s issues, drizzled with drama, peppered with suspense, and finished off with aromatic notes of romance.
The Shaw Family Saga pays homage to dysfunctional mother-daughter relationships, with well developed characters that readers can root for; love them, hate them, cry for, and most of all, yearn to flip through the pages to the end of that character’s journey.