A new release for Alicia Joseph

 

Another bound-to-be best seller for Alicia Joseph has just hit the stands in e-book and print. This young author’s style and voice tear at your soul. Joseph delivers more than a pretty tale. Her words create a web that wraps around the reader and draws them into a compelling story.


“When a train runs over a penny, the penny changes form, but it can still be a penny if I want it to be. Or, I can make it be something else.”

Lyssa and her best friend Abbey discover a hideout near the train tracks and spend the summer before sixth grade hanging out and finding freedom from issues at home. Their childhood innocence shatters when the hideout becomes the scene of a tragic death.

As they’re about to graduate from high school, Abbey’s family life spirals out of control while Lyssa is feeling guilty for deceiving Abbey about her sexuality. After another tragic loss, Lyssa finds out that a penny on the track is sometimes a huge price to pay for the truth.

Prologue
1993

I was jerked from my sleep while the phone was still buzzing its first high-piercing ring. I glanced at the clock on the nightstand beside my bed. It read 4:17 a.m. I knew something was wrong.

The second ring was abruptly broken up and my mother’s muffled voice carried into my room. I was already sitting upright in my bed when my bedroom door squeaked open. My mother’s slight figure appeared as a shadow near my door.

“Lyssa? You up?” she asked.

“What’s wrong?” My voice was no louder than a whisper.

I watched my mother slowly make her way into the dark room. I couldn’t make out the expression on her face, but the stiff movement of the outline of her body was hesitant.

She turned on the lamp and sat down beside me. Her face was pale. She let out short, shallow breaths. It seemed difficult for her to look me in the eyes.

“What is it?” I asked. “What’s happened?”

Finally, my mother looked at me with pain in her eyes. “Lyssa . . .” She smoothed her hand gently across my arm. “Abbey’s dead.”

I took in her words without an ounce of denial. The reality of what my mother had told me was instant.

My best friend was dead.

Alicia Joseph grew up in Westchester, Illinois. Her first novella, Her Name, was published by Musa Publishing in 2014. Her Name is a sweet, romantic story about a woman who believes the beautiful woman she dreams about is the real love of her life.

Loving Again is her second published novella. Alicia is currently working on a new novel called A Penny on the Tracks, a coming of age story about love and friendship. Alicia has many works-in-progress that she hopes to finish soon.

When she is not writing, Alicia enjoys volunteering with animals, rooting for her favorite sports teams, and playing “awesome aunt” to her nine nieces and nephews.

Learn more about Alicia Joseph on her blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

A day in the life

You may or may not know (or care) that I’ve spent the last two years self-publishing a series as Marci Boudreaux–my sweeter self. I chose to self-publish because in the span of just a few months, three–THREE–indie houses I was with closed and left me with rights to almost all my books.

I didn’t want to deal with that again, so I ventured into self-publishing. And I loved it, but it is a lot of work and there isn’t that feeling of acceptance that comes with having a publisher (even a small one) believe in your writing. Recently, I decided to try my hand at the submissions game again.

And I immediately remembered why I hate this effing game.

Rejection is the real name of this game. Constant, unwavering, soul-crushing rejection. If you are lucky, you get a kind word to go with the form letter…if you get a form letter at all. Many editors and agents just don’t respond if they aren’t interested, leaving you hanging on to a thread of hope that they just haven’t read your manuscript yet and will be reaching out at any moment to tell you that you are brilliant!

After a recent string of rejections from agents and publishers, I confided in a friend that I feel like maybe this isn’t “my path.” Like maybe, I’m not cut out for this after all. I have thick skin, I know rejection is the norm and acceptance is the high we authors are addicted to and always seeking. I know all this.

But I guess I’d forgotten out hard it is to hear “no” ten times in a row and keep believing in yourself.

That sounds pouty, doesn’t it? Maybe it is. Maybe I am pouting just a little (maybe even a lot), but bear with me. That’s also part of this process we authors go through. Rejection stings. Even when you are prepared, even when it is part of the game, even when you know you should wear it as a badge of honor to prove that you’ve tried.

burnout [Converted]

Rejection. Hurts.

But we have to keep believing that we are talented. That if we keep working hard maybe more people will buy our books. That someday a big publisher or agent will see that we do have something to offer.

I’ve asked myself more than once during this particular rejection cycle why I keep going. Why do I keep banging my head against this wall?

Because I believe in myself. Because I know I’m talented. I know I have something to offer my readers–even if I haven’t found the right agent or publisher–I have wonderful readers who always say nice things when I meet them at book events or chat with them online.

Maybe I won’t ever be rich or famous or even more than moderately successful, but I have to keep trying. Because this is my path. I didn’t choose it. It chose me. And I’ll keep walking it until I get to the end.

I just hope that end isn’t another brick wall to bang my head against.

Welcome the latest addition to LLL!

Guys!! We at LLL are so very excited to announce author and margarita drinker extraordinaire Christine Cacciatore is going to be joining us as a regular blogger! Stay tuned! Her first post will debut on Monday!

chris

If you aren’t familiar with Chris’s work, you have homework this weekend!!!  Check out her exciting list of books and learn more about her now!

Go, go, go!

But not before giving her a big welcome and waving hello! And maybe having a drink to celebrate.

Welcome, Chris! We are so happy you are here!

Halloween Short Story

October is my favoritest time of year! I love the change of season, hot cocoa by a fire, falling leaves, pumpkins…and of course, Halloween!

Even though I usually write romance, I can’t help but get into a crreeeepy spirit this time of year.

Here is a short free Halloween read for you. This is definitely NOT romance. If you don’t like creepy things, maybe don’t read this one.

**Even though this is a free short story, please don’t use/copy without my permission. If you know someone who would like to read this story, direct them to this blog or to my website. Thank you!!**

 

The Lemon Drop

by Marci Boudreaux

 

My mother’s voice echoed through my head. “Never take candy from strangers.”

Her face, sweet and kind, filled my mind. I remember how she used to crease her brow as she gave me stern warnings borne from maternal worry. When I left for college, she told me not to walk alone at night. Not to leave my drink unattended at a party.

But she forgot to remind me to never take candy from strangers.

I wish she were here now.

But, I’m alone. Stumbling toward my car. Fumbling for my keys. Feeling like I was leaving a frat party instead of a gas station. The parking lot reminded me of a dystopian sunset—the area was encased in the orange glow of the low-pressure sodium lights high in the posts. Any moment zombies could come dragging themselves from the darkness at the edges of the lot. Rabid dogs could come charging. Giant spiders could descend from above and wrap me in a web.

Any of these things could happen and they’d make so much more sense to me than the reality of what was happening.

“Here,” the old man behind the counter had said as he handed me my change, “have a candy.” He had held his wrinkled hand out. His fingers had trembled as I looked over the various colored treats wrapped in clear cellophane.

After a moment, I chose a yellow piece.

He had smiled and winked. “Lemon. That’s my favorite.”

I had unwrapped the little lemon drop and popped it in my mouth before gathering my cold bottle of water and bag of salty chips. I still had an hour before I made it home for a long weekend and needed a snack to hold me over. Mom would have food waiting, she always did, but I needed sustenance now.

The citrus flavor burst over my taste buds and saliva instantly began to flow. It was much more sour than I expected. So tart that my tongue felt a little numb. I swallowed as my mouth filled with spit.

Holy cow! What kind of candy is this? I thought as I stepped off the sidewalk and stumbled. My water fell from my hand and rolled way. I watched as it seemed to go in slow motion. My body was starting to feel disjointed—like medicine head, only ten times worse.

Then I heard Mom say in the echoes of my mind, “Never take candy from strangers.”

I opened my mouth and spit along with what was left of the candy slid down my chin. My keys. Where were my keys? Oh god. Where? Where did I put them?

I patted along my pockets, but my hands felt like water balloons. Every time I touched myself, tingling waves rolled through my fingers, through my palms, and up my wrists.

I reached my car door but couldn’t open it. My keys. Where are my damn keys?

Like my hands, my legs began to feel too heavy, too thick. I tried to keep walking. If I couldn’t drive away, I could run. I could run to the road. Flag someone down. But who? This road was the shortcut. The country road. The out of the way, no traffic road.

Falling, I blinked when my cheek hit the pavement. That should have hurt, but other than that crazy wave of pins and needles, I felt nothing.

The old man kneeled in front of me. I could see it now. The menace behind the crooked smile. The filth of his teeth. The crazy in his dark eyes.

I hadn’t seen it before. How had I missed that?

“Yeah. Those little lemon ones are my favorites,” he said.

I tried to scream but my throat was too tight. I couldn’t move. Couldn’t make a sound. But I did feel the burning hot sensation of a tear leaving the corner of my eye and trailing down the side of my nose.

He scooped me up off the ground. A bitter scent filled my nostrils reminding me of when I was a kid and my dad would come in from working on his truck. Oil or some other fluid. I couldn’t place it. I’d always hated it, but now I inhaled deeply.

My dad was kind. He was gentle. He’d sit next to me at the kitchen table and coach me through my algebra. Even now, in college, I’d call him when I was stuck on a problem. I wanted to call him now.

Dad. Help. I think I’m in trouble. Daddy?

He didn’t come. He didn’t help. As the old man eased me down, the dampness of more tears trailed down the sides of my face and landed in my ears. They tickled as they pooled there but I couldn’t reach up and wipe them away. I couldn’t move any more now than I could when I hit the ground.

I stared up at a high ceiling. There wasn’t much light, but it seemed like a garage—the kind a mechanic works out of. There was a different smell now. I couldn’t place this one. Metallic. But not oil or transmission fluid. Not anything I recalled smelling on Dad.

It was almost…almost like…blood.

No!

I gagged. The taco from the drive through I gone through before leaving the city lurched up.

“Oh, careful now,” the old man said and turned me on my side. “Don’t want to drown in your own vomit.”

My body jerked involuntarily as he tilted my head over the side of the table. The floor was dirt so the bile and bits of undigested food landed in a puddle but didn’t splatter much. The dirt was darker in some places. Stained.

Flipping me back over, he smiled as he wiped my mouth. “All better?”

I couldn’t answer, but I wanted to beg. Beg for mercy. Beg for help. Beg to be let go.

He stroked my hair like my mother would when I got sick as a child. “Now don’t you worry. I can clean that mess up in no time.”

I wasn’t worried about the mess. I was worried about what was going to happen to me. Nothing good, that much I knew. But then he stepped away. I couldn’t turn my head, but my eyes tried to follow him. I couldn’t see him. Where had he gone?

Had he left? If I could roll over, maybe I could get off the table and crawl away. Maybe there is someone close. Someone who could help me.

Something snapped. Like a surgeon’s glove. Then again.

My hearing seemed to have increased, but I had to hold my breath because the rush of air in and out of my lungs started to drown out everything else. I stopped breathing.

Listened.

Material moved.

Soft footfalls on the dirt floor.

Then he started whistling.

An old song that my grandfather had on vinyl. He used to put the old records on as he painted landscapes. He wasn’t a good painter. I knew that even as a child. But the song took me back to his house. A tiny clean space with bad paintings on every wall and songs from the ’40s playing from scratchy records that spun and spun, the needle moving closer to the center with every quick pass.

Grandpa died four years ago. I didn’t keep a single one of his paintings. Why? Why hadn’t I taken just one? If I had, I’d hang it in my dorm room. Above my bed so I could see it every night and think of that time with him—back when my world was small and safe.

The whistling grew louder and the old man reappeared.

Don’t hurt me. Please.

I gasped as my body finally made me breathe again. As I did, more tears fell.

He smiled.

“Do you know why lemon is my favorite?” His breath was rancid as it hit my face. My stomach turned again. “Because the little girls who choose lemon take the longest to die.”

I wanted to scream. I did inside my mind but my voice still didn’t work. My muscles were frozen. The only thing I seemed to be able to control were my eyes and my breathing. And I looked everywhere my eyes could see when he left my side again.

When he reappeared, I noticed he had on long gloves. The snapping sound I’d heard.

He lifted jumper cables and smiled. “Do you like fireworks?” He touched the cables to a car battery and laughed when sparks flew. “Whew! Got a live one here!”

He tossed the cables aside and went to work on unscrewing the caps along the top of the battery. “Know what makes lemon taste so sour? The high level of acid. Yep. Lemon is my favorite.” He started whistling that damn song cheery again. This time, hard as I tried, I couldn’t conjure up images of my grandfather. Or of his paintings.

This time, I couldn’t stop staring as the old man tipped the battery and poured the clear liquid into a glass jar.

“That should do it.” He lifted the bottle up and smiled at me. “Have to use glass. Acid doesn’t eat the glass.” His smile widened. “Will eat you from the inside out, though.”

I tried to move. Tried to roll away. Tried to beg and scream.

I was frozen as he pulled the plunger of a large syringe, sucking the battery acid into the syringe. Showed me the full needle. Flicked the side like a television nurse, then focused on my arm. I couldn’t see what he was doing, couldn’t feel the prick of the needle, but he chuckled.

“You’re a bleeder, aren’t you? No worries. No worries. I’ve got bandages.”

He tore one open. It wasn’t flesh-colored. It had colorful little horses on the surface, as if that would magically make the injury better. My breathing increased—I no longer had control. My eyes darted back and forth—seeking, searching, but finding nothing.

My body started to warm. I couldn’t feel pain, but I could feel heat. Pulsing through me with every erratic heartbeat. Warming me, burning me. From the inside out.

There was no pain. There was only heat and fear.

And my mother’s voice.

“Never take candy from strangers.”

New Release!

Don’t you just love those words? New release. New book to read. New book smell… unless you use an e-reader.

This Old Cafe_PrintCover_June2017

This is the last book in my Stonehill Romance series. I love these people, this town, and this series, but I think five books in, I’ve told all the stories there are to tell here. That doesn’t mean the characters won’t be revisited down the road. Holiday freebies or novellas are always a possibility, but for now, we’re putting this one to bed.

And I have to say, Jenna and Daniel are a great way to go out.

Available at these super awesome sexy fine retailers:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Kobo

And more!

Dreams Collide Excerpt

Dreams Collide FINAL

Just wanted to pop in and share an excerpt from the last posted chapter of Dreams Collide–my reader-driven novel.

Chapter three is about to get underway, but it isn’t too late to have your say in what happens next.

If you haven’t yet, hop on over to my blog and give it a go…let me know what you think!

Here’s a little taste of what’s happening now…

 

Kendra squeezed her eyes shut and put her hands over them for good measure as Jax cued up her last two performances. “Don’t make me do this.”

“We’re supposed to analyze each piece you did to see where you need improvement, although I have a pretty good idea already.”

“Do I have to watch?”

“’Fraid so, darlin’.” He laughed as he gently pulled her hands down and clicked the mouse on the laptop in the small studio inside their house.

Her heart pounded at the heat of his fingers around her wrist, still holding her hands from her face even though she’d made no move to hide again. The warmth of his touch was forgotten, and she moaned with humiliation as she watched herself singing. Her voice was fine; her stiff posture was atrocious.

“This is terrible,” she said.

Jax chuckled. “No, it’s not. It’s real. It’s raw. That’s what made it so refreshing. We all—the coaches I mean—said the same thing. You have a true talent that doesn’t require fancy dance moves and flashy lights. You feel the music and it shows. That’s awesome, Kendra. We just need to work on making a stronger connection with the audience. You get up there and you’re in your own world.”

“Okay,” she drawled out. “But you just said you already know what I need to work on, so why are we watching this?”

He turned off the video and faced her. His dark eyes bore into her soul and she felt her cheeks warm. Damn her pale skin for always betraying her.

“Your simplistic performances work for now,” he said, “but when you get down to three or four competitors, it’s going to bite you in the behind. You can’t grab an audience by blending into the background. You need to pull yourself out of that bubble and look at what is going on around you. Look at the fans, connect with them.”

She exhaled slowly. “Yeah. Not so great at that.”

“Have you had any stage experience?”

“Not really. I got caught up in life and music kind of took a backseat.”

“Why are you coming back to it now?”

“I was forced.”

“Forced?”

She lifted her brows. “I always give the performers crap so my sister submitted a tape of me singing. But neither of us thought I’d actually get this far. Just getting past the regional auditions was unexpected, but to actually be in the top fifteen is insane.”

“It’s not insane,” Jax said genuinely and her cheeks grew even hotter. “You deserve to be here. Now we have to make sure you stay.”

“I’m not sure Justin Timberlake is the best tool for that. I’m not a pop singer.”

“I think you’ll be surprised what you can do when you step outside your box. What have you picked for your solo?”

“‘Heartbreaker.’”

“Pat Benatar?”

“Yup.”

“What did you sing for your audition piece? The night you got voted into the top twenty?”

Ooh, barracuda,” she sang.

He grinned. “Heart, Stevie Nicks, and now Pat Benatar.”

Kendra’s confidence fell. “Is that wrong?”

“Not wrong. Classic rock is your comfort zone, but staying in your comfort zone isn’t going to help you grow, and if you don’t grow, you aren’t going to win. Want to know what we’re going to do for you, Miss Kendra?”

“No,” she deadpanned.

He ignored her. “We’re going to yank you right out of that cozy little bubble and toss you into the spotlight for the world to see.”

“Yay,” she said sarcastically. Even with his cute dimples, gorgeous smile, and sexy Southern drawl, his idea sounded terrible.

Swing by the blog to vote and leave feedback!

chapter2

 

So I’m doing this thing

Dreams Collide FINAL

Little known fact: I cut my writing teeth on fan fiction long, long ago.

Not exactly returning to my roots, but in a kinda sorta roundabout way, I am. I’m doing this whole “reader-driven” novel. What does that mean?

Well, any fan fiction junkie knows that the stories are posted chapter by chapter and we needy writers LIVE for feedback from readers. So much so, that oftentimes the reader’s feedback has a huge impact on the direction of the story line.

I’m embracing that interactive style with this new story, Dreams Collide, which is being posted on my blog.

When Kendra Michaels gets a coveted spot on the reality TV show Music Star Dreams, the last thing she expects is fall for her coach–superstar Jax Landry. For Jax, taking on a team of wannabe singers is his way of bouncing back after an ugly divorce. He’s determined to prove he isn’t the bad guy his ex made him out to be in the tabloids, but that may not be as easy as he expected. Especially when one particular member of his team has captured his attention and maybe even his heart.

I am giving readers plenty of time to catch up and let me know what they want to see happen. Once the novel is complete, I’ll post the book in its entirety as a FREE download!

I’d love for you to join me and let me know your thoughts! Check it out!