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.
Get to know Nicole:
When did you begin your writing journey?
I remember being in my mom’s busted-up car when I was little. We didn’t have a radio and had to travel from Long Beach to the desert. I’d sing–unfortunately, I was no Alicia Keys. I’d gotten threatened so many times to be put out, so I started telling stories.
Why the title “Miss Nobody”?
Though bound together by blood, mother and daughter–Charlene and Raven–, go through high-and-low moments in life. Charlene has abandoned Raven at birth. Just the thought of Raven puts her in fear to the point where she self-medicates. On the other end of the spectrum, Raven grows up and seems to be able to cope. However, after meeting each other, mother and daughter descend down a road of feeling like a ‘nobody.’
Where did you get the inspiration to write Miss Nobody?
I was initially inspired to write about Raven in this dysfunctional mother-daughter story. I counsel a lot of teens who’ve been abandoned by their parents. Some of them have a very tarnished outlook on reality. They grow older; and if lucky, overcome the negative mentality they’ve created. Others, like Raven, have a hard time coping.
Is there a message in your book(s) that you want readers to grasp?
Miss Nobody shows that others’ can talk about you, hate you, bully you, but only you can determine the path you will take. Another take away is “what are the lengths that you will go for love. While Raven grows, she deals with “first love.” The world’s greatest man can come along, but it can be a very trying time for a woman whose been abandoned by her parents. How can another man love you when the two people who brought you in this world don’t? How can you love yourself?…These are just a few of the messages.
What sets your books apart from others in the same genre?
I write character-driven books where readers can fully relate. As humans–I’m only referencing those who strive for the best in themselves– we are neither perfect nor are we imperfect, villain or heroine. In The Shaw Family Saga, a reader may not like every character all the time, but at some point, will grow to love Charlene and Raven. The Shaw woman will rattle your nerves. That’s life. If readers don’t relate or feel for the characters because the book is solely focus on plot, why would the reader care about his or her issues?
What’s next for the Shaw girls? Will Charlene and Raven find peace?
I’ve already published the second book in the Shaw Family Saga, Miss Scandalous. It will present new family secrets. Charlene will have a trying time coping with the anger that Raven has built. Can a mother’s love overcome a daughters revenge? Well, Miss Scandalous will bring the jaw-dropping moments of drama and suspense. Their faith and love will continue to be tested.
Where can your fans reach you?
I’m a Pinterest fanatic and have picture boards for Raven and Charlene. Feel free to Facebook or tweet with me about anything under the sun. I have book discussions for book clubs at the back of my novels and enjoy being invited to meetings.