August 14, 2012

UNRAVELED, A Novel - by Sharon K. Souza

Unraveled: Masterfully Woven, Powerfully Tender

“Heart-of-the-matter Fiction with a good dose of humor” is a spot-on description of Sharon K. Souza’s latest work, an intelligent, engaging style of storytelling I thoroughly enjoyed. The writing is stylish and masterful, full of wit and fresh turns of phrase. The story is thought provoking yet entertaining, and full of endearing characters. I rarely find a story so hard to put down as I did this.

Eager and idealistic, Aria Winters sets out on a mission to be the “hands and feet of God” to those in need. It’s a great goal, especially for a young woman of privilege. She sees this year-long mission trip as a way to shed some self-absorbed attitudes as well as to get some distance from the safety-net of her family. Unfortunately, Aria has no idea how much shedding of her self, her presumptuous ideals, and the very basis of her faith she will face before her time is up.

The people of Moldova open Aria’s eyes to life and people outside the status and shelter of her comfortable sphere. Yet in Aria’s endearing, self-deprecating way, she determines to adjust and works hard to fit in, hopeful she might do some good, in spite of poor preparation and the handsome but terse co-worker who seems to see straight through her. Soon, this beautiful place, these people, and the eager children in her tutelage erase any lingering doubts she has about her purpose here.

 . . . Until a devastating tragedy occurs.

When the girl Aria has formed a special bond with becomes a victim of the worst kind of human-trafficking, Aria’s world is shaken. She is forced to face the horror of her own carelessness, the truth about her ideals, and her serious doubts about God. How can he allow such unspeakable horror? How can Aria “work for” someone who won’t protect the innocent?

And how can Aria make right the secret sins in her own life if God won’t listen to her prayers?

Unraveled is a powerful yet tender story full of wisdom and grace. Its sorrows and joys will move you, leave you feeling as though you’ve knelt alongside Aria and unpacked some difficult to grasp truths gently wrapped in layers of God’s grace and compassion. So gentle but direct, so straight to the “heart of the matter.” So like Jesus.

I was touched and encouraged by this beautifully woven story, one I sincerely hope won’t be Souza’s last.


++++++++++++++++++++


Author Website:
Sharon K. Souza



UNRAVELED
is available HERE on Amazon




August 3, 2012

Love Under Construction, a Short Romance


Just for fun, I thought I'd share super short romance I wrote recently. A complete story in about the time it takes to savor your favorite cup of coffee. Enjoy!
~c


by Camille Eide


Veronica Wells was a construction site safety hazard.
Doyle arrived at work early that day, hoping the extra time would be enough to get his head on straight. Forgetting to wear a hardhat or strap on tools before hitting the roof wasn’t healthy.
Plus... he didn’t need to get caught staring at the boss's daughter again.
When Ronie was hired on as interior designer, Doyle wasn’t prepared to find his oldest friend's little sister so grown up and so . . . breathtaking. And so aloof.
While discussing a delivery with Mr. Wells, Doyle glanced up. Ronie was headed straight for him.
Breathe. She’s not coming for you, idiot.
“Hey.” Smiling, Ronie pecked her dad’s cheek. Beneath her hardhat, Ronie's hair fell in shiny, caramel waves. Her warm smile squeezed something in his chest. Desperate for cover, Doyle glanced away. Checked his watch. Realized it was on upside down. 
While Ronie took her dad to a nearby table to see her newest designs, knuckles rapped on Doyle’s hardhat.
“Hey—you remembered your gear.” Jered grinned, then nodded toward his sister. “Come on, do us a favor and ask her out.”
“I can't, not yet. She’ll just think I’m a shallow jerk who only cares about how amazing she looks.”
“Right." Jered nodded, his expression full of mock seriousness. "Girls hate to be found attractive.”
“You know what I mean. She comes back from design school grown up and gorgeous and suddenly I’m interested? No. I’m not hitting on her. Not like that.”
Jered muttered something about the hazards of construction site romances and left.
Maybe Jered had forgotten how, as teens, he and Doyle ridiculed Ronie so she’d stop tagging along. Unfortunately, it had worked. She vanished whenever Doyle visited the Wells home after that. Her behavior when she took this job confirmed his suspicions. The first time she saw Doyle, she spun on her heel and disappeared.
Just before lunch, Doyle passed the drawing table where Ronie worked. When he heard her singing softly, he slowed his steps.
Don’t stop . . .
Doyle stopped, tuning out everything but the smoky caress of her voice. Soulful, like a distant lover’s summons. Tilting her head to examine her work, Ronie smiled.
You’re twisting my heart.
Don’t stop.
Ronie looked up, met his eyes, and froze.
Doyle pivoted, grabbed the nearest toolbox, and went outside. It wasn't until he reached his truck that he realized he’d grabbed his boss’s lunch.

* * *

Stunned, Ronie stared after Doyle. It wasn’t the first time she’d caught him staring. Was it her singing? Her cheeks burned at the memory of how he and Jered used to call her “Fatsy Cline.”
No. That was past. With Christ's help, she’d learned to let go of past offenses and to forgive. 
But what a strange coincidence, running into Doyle now. No longer a dreamy brown-eyed older boy, but a man.
Yes. Definitely a man.
A man who acted reserved around her now, yet so polite. Gentlemanly, even. Opening doors for her, going out of his way to get her bottled water. Staring---on several occasions. But never speaking to her directly.
Did he still see her as Jered’s annoying little sister?
With a sigh, she printed the new specs and took them outside to her dad's office. As he skimmed her revised lobby design, Ronie watched the workers buzz around the site like bees.
All but one. Doyle sat in his truck, forehead pressed to the steering wheel. Had he been sitting there all this time? Was he irritated that she was here, still “tagging along”?
No. Doyle had been nothing but kind and respectful toward her. And strangely uncomfortable. Why?
Could be the way I’ve been avoiding him . . .
As Ronie studied his slumped frame, a warm truth dawned. If not for her gigantic crush on him as a girl, his teenage taunts wouldn’t have hurt so much. But the truth was, she’d forgiven all that.
So why did she still avoid Doyle?
Maybe it was because he still made her heart flip.
What am I, twelve?
An apology was in order. Praying for an extra measure of grace, she headed for Doyle’s truck.
He scrambled out as she approached, then exhaled in a rush and met her eyes. “Ronie, listen. I should have said this a long time ago. I’m really sorry about all the rotten things I said back when—”
“No, Doyle. That’s all forgotten.”
He stared, confused. "It is?"
Ronie nodded.
He studied her in a way that sent her pulse racing, like he was allowing himself to see into her in a way he hadn't before. He frowned. “Then why—ah. Okay, I get it.” He nodded, then looked away. His face flushed. “Jered told you.” He heaved a heavy sigh. “I’m not a safety hazard. I just . . . can’t think straight when you’re around.”
She pressed a hand to her chest to calm her racing heart.
Doyle looked at her, alarm cinching his brow. “Are you okay? What do you need—water?” He searched his truck cab, shoving piles off the seat, then held up something flat. “Snickers?”
Ronie bit back a smile. Sweet Doyle. She tried to laugh at his attempts to treat her “emergency,” but his concern somehow made her teary.
Stepping closer, he searched her eyes. “Ronie?” The way he whispered her name felt like a gentle caress.“Talk to me.”
She couldn’t. The truth hit her like a boom truck, stealing her air. Pulse racing, she leaned close and placed a soft kiss beside his mouth. When she pulled back, his eyes remained closed.
“Uhh, could you . . . repeat that?” He opened his eyes and smiled, then took a swaying step and staggered back against his truck.
“Careful, Doyle,” Jered hollered from a few yards away. “Told you construction romances were hazardous.”

ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE MYSELF. . . .

RANDOM FACTS ABOUT ME:

I've published three novels and a novella (more about those on my website.) I've been writing all my life, but decided in 2007 to get serious about being published.

I love action movies and Jane Austen. (she’s dead, I know. I found that out when I tried to get her to endorse my novel)

They let me play Bass guitar and sing in a worship band.

I can produce 4 dozen homemade cinnamon rolls in a flash for a crowd of drooling young adults. Or publishing house editors.

I used to have a Harley. Now we have twenty-something kids. Decent trade, really. The window-rattling grumble isn't quite the same, but we are still enjoying the ride.

I am a proud Grammy. Don't even think about taking candy from my babies.

I hate shopping (Yes, I'm aware that I'm a girl)

MY ROOTS:
I've lived in Oregon all my life, spent time in Eugene (Go DUCKS!), Springfield, Reedsport, and Smith River. Which is not really a town, but a river, about 70 miles long, a tributary of the Umpqua River in southwest Oregon.

Although it's not a town, it is a community with a strong sense of pioneer history. It's cool to say you've lived there, especially if you lived there during the days when you had to take a boat to school. No joke! The old farmhouse my grandfather and my mother grew up in still stands, nestled into a narrow, pasture carpeted valley, complete with a swimmin' hole and its own 'crick'. It may turn up in one of my novels.

There's a rumor that my ancestors had a connection with the Mafia back in Sicily. I used to fantasize as a kid about a big black limo with tinted windows pulling up and whisking me away from school. Ahhh. So THAT'S why I'm having so much trouble conjugating my dangling participles now.

NOT RANDOM: I am challenged by the truth and amazed by the grace of God. And it's either in spite of or because of that grace that I hold a PhD in Learning Stuff the Hard Way.

Camille's Books

Visit www.camilleeide.com to sign up for book updates and giveaways.

Visit www.ashberrylane.com and sign up for book news.

Like There's No Tomorrow, Like a Love Song, and The Memoir of Johnny Devine are available in print & eBook at Amazon, B&N, Audible, Smashwords, iTunes, & Kobo.