blurb / synopsis
Nobody is perfect. Through the scandalous family lies that bind them all together the Shaw women have survived. Four generations of women have tackled ups and downs: now, Annette is perfectly comfortable wither life. Charlene has tasted the bittersweet notes of success. Raven is preparing for the wedding of a century, and a life rich in love afterward. Beautiful, young Royael has all the pleasures of a princess…
While Dallas is in uproar over a gruesome rape-homicide, a lead Detective transforms into the ultimate stalker. A hitman lurks nearby. And death will surely come. The list of those wanting vengeance has reached its peak, but the Bible says that “God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.”
Take one last roller coaster ride with the Shaw and Devereux families. Will there be rest for these souls?
Describe what "gumbo genre" is to your readers.
I’ve dubbed myself as “the gumbo genre” novelist because books shouldn’t be lightly seasoned. I write stories with drama, drizzled with suspense, seasoned with romance, and peppered with a few good laughs and an occasional cry. I try to be unique, especial with series’ so readers aren’t seeing patterns throughout the installments. For example, the Shaw Family Saga, Miss Nobody was a mixture of drama and touched on suspense. The future books add fire of emotions, action, suspense, spiritual awakening. With gumbo, every bite is new and unique.
2. What is one experience as a counselor that had the most impact on you? Has it influenced your writing?
I’ve listened to horror story after horror story–that is life for teenagers and little children. A student whose mother was murdered by a Los Angeles serial killer–I’ll never forget his motivation to succeed through it all. A five year old that is left at home alone, a high schooler that comes home to find the apartment empty and parents have moved without telling him, so now he’s a gang member. They believe that being in a gang provides them with family. One girl similar to teenage Raven is in an abusive relationship. These girls lose themselves in guys that are “popular” as Raven did with Chris in Miss Nobody. Their stories work on my emotions slowly, and I can literally feel Raven’s depression in the first books. By the time the series ends, the readers are dealing with a lifetime impact of family issues.
4. How do your characters deal with their abandonment issues?
Charlene redirects her issues into the form of acting. She will overcompensate for not taking care of Raven. Raven is very internal, holding in her problems and tries to keep secrets. I do show theme evolving somewhat, because learning to cope takes years.
5. Describe your writing process.
I co-weave drama by writing the first draft of a story and making bullet points for some of the plot to be answered in other series. There are issues from Miss Nobody that have traveled over to Miss Perfect. Not big ones where the reader gets frustrated, waiting for a resolution. I wouldn’t do that. It gets annoying. But when you get to book three and four, your bottom lip will drop, realizing that a small issue in book one was sooo very important.
6. What advice can you offer to new writers?
Get a thick skin. Not all stories are for everybody. You will get a review from a reader who thinks the story should have gone left when it went right. Read every review, take some of your fans advice, oftentimes it is useful. I’ve had book clubs invite me to discussions, and they come up with themes in my stories that I didn’t even know I had. It is awesome.
“I’m going to kill myself…” The words pulled Raven in and shook her to the core. She closed her eyes momentarily and rubbed her face with the back of her hand.
Why of all times?
Her mind, her body, her soul warned her to hurry to the jaded teen, but the ease of the Marcielago engine indicated that she might not make it down the hill if she sped too fast. Less than fifteen minutes later, Raven slowed down in Sadie’s neighborhood of three-story mini mansions. She parked on the driveway of Sybille’s Spanish-style villa and hopped out of the car.
In distressed jeans and a long tee, Sadie loomed on the wrought iron banister from her bedroom balcony. The sun had been cast out by the willow trees, the day already misty–a muggy wet summer indeed–Sadie’s Converses could slip from the banister and down she’d go. All because she couldn’t take Raven’s breakup. Jon wanted Raven to rid herself of Tyriq, and knowing that brother and sister were so close, she’d called Sadie over to tell her the same.
“Please!” Raven held up her hands, eyes wet with worry.
“Come up, Sis. Come see me.”
“Okay, oh-kay…” Raven hurried to the front door, her hands went to the knobs and she yanked them both open. Mud on her feet trekked over the white carpet as she took the stairs two at a time. Inside Sadie’s room, with its mellow yellow walls, butterfly and smiley face stickers, scattered makeup. It was a room for… a confused soul who knew not if she wanted to transform from child to adult, a mixture of confused adolescence. When Raven stepped out onto the deck, there was no trace of Sadie.
“Sis…” Sadie called.
Raven turned around. She hadn’t seen this area before. There should’ve been just a wall with posters of young rap groups and pictures but no, the wall was gone. Within the folds was an opened stainless steel door.
“Sadie,” Raven hurried to her. She could’ve slapped the teen, but hugged Sadie instead. “Don’t ever do that again. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. That was stupid of me, but don’t…” her voice broke as Sadie let her go. The apology for abandoning a friend lay dormant within the bristling of her belly. She knew disregarding Sadie because of her brother, Tyriq was–
“Raven.” Tyriq spoke her name in multisyllabic, as if years apart had torn his heart into pieces and just this mere sight of her, slowly intertwined the meat of it back together.
She glared at him.
The steel door slammed shut. Raven looked around. His sister was out of sight, except for a few monitors linked to the panic room. Sadie stood just on the other side of the partition, looking into the camera.
“I need you and Tyriq to talk things out.” Sadie smiled, wiping away tears.
The five-by-five safe room decreased in size. Raven refused to look at him. Refused to acknowledge his presence, even though he tried. Too angry to retort, she glared at Sadie’s innocent eyes. A few minutes later Sadie asked how it was going.
Tyriq pressed the intercom, “Not well.”
“Have you lost your mind?” Raven asked.
He let go of the button. He looked at her with eyes that bore right through her soul. “Do you know how much you hurt Sadie?”
Forget that, she asked, “Was this your idea?”
“How could you let your little sister stand on the ledge like that!”
“Sadie can tightrope walk. Look,” he began with a seedy breath. “This is not you–the breaking up of friends? That’s ridiculous. Even if we have a falling out, Sadie has nothing to do with it.”
“Well, you just brought her in to this!”
“I didn’t know what she planned. She just told me you’d be here today.”
“Okay, Detective,” she smirked in disbelief.
“You didn’t grow up putting friends aside. You’ve always been very loyal to the point of being at fault. Remember the time you picked up Sadie from that town at the tippy top of Texas! She’d shoplifted with her rich friends. You wouldn’t just stop being friends with her…”
Raven batted back tears. He was right. Though she wouldn’t admit, she hummed within the confines of her brain trying not to hear the things she’d done for Jon. Whatever her husband wanted, he got, and would always get.
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