Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Why Love A Man Who Loves An Ugly Car

If any one is looking for the complete story from the beginning you can find it from the beginning on the last wednesday of every month. The first is titled "For The Peanut Gallery", The second is titled, "Its Ugly Car Week Again", and all others are found under "Why Love A Man Who Loves An Ugly Car. Enjoy!

Alex dropped her phone into her lap, gnawing on her lower lip. Something was going on with him. The fact that he wouldn’t tell her what made the eternal night seem even longer. A part of her mind worried, but another part wasn’t sure she wanted to know.

    Her heavy sigh was followed by the monotone announcement of another departing flight crackling across the P A system. Alex dropped the phone back into her bag with a yawn.  The manuscript lay curled in her lap and she dug through the pages in search of the last paragraph she had read.  Skipping over a portion of crossed out material, she settled into her stiff chair, bracing her back against the crisp air still creeping through the icy windows. The slow tick of delayed flights leaving stymied her thoughts of being patient. She could only hope to get lost in the story if she wanted the night to pass.
#9 April4
          “Just before we left the club tonight, we were all sitting in Laura’s truck waiting for the parking lot to empty. Mel, and I were talking about the next day’s plans when Laura suddenly interrupted us with a weird gasp.
     “Trish, there’s that cute guy we met tonight.”
     We meet cute guys every night we dance, that cute guy didn’t mean anything to me so I looked to where she was staring.
     His glacial blue eyes and crooked smile had not vanished into the night after all. He was still  here, leaning against his car and flirting with a gorgeous red head. Laura looked like she was in pain as she watched him and I thought she was jealous of the rather sultry girl. When the girl had turned and waved goodbye to him though, I noticed Laura was actually staring at his car.
     She looked at it like it might come to life and swallow her whole, but she quickly snapped her mouth shut and muttered under her breath.
     “What is that thing he’s driving.”
 While she pulled her truck up beside him Melanie told us the story of the car. She said a few years ago when she first met him, he told her  that it was an old body from a 79’ Ford Mustang, but it had only smatterings of primer paint and rust still adorning it.  he built the car from spare parts and pure know how about five years earlier. Back then it had been nothing but an empty chasy, and hours of work and patience had kept it running.
          “Are you still driving that thing.” Melanie scolded, when we were talking to him through the trucks window. “It was a piece of junk all those years ago, buy yourself a new car.”
     I watched his face become ice hard as he glared at us.
     “She, works perfectly and her name is Betsy, not ‘it’,  or ‘that thing.’
     Maybe I’m crazy but I thought it was so cute that he named her. The other girls seemed more flippant than impressed and I shook my head. He named his car, he built it, he wouldn’t give her up, no matter how out of style she was in comparison to the fancier cars in the lot tonight.
     Laura acted like she was oblivious to the car, blowing the whole thing off. She  concentrated instead on getting him to come to church with us the next day. She told me on the way home tonight that he had admitted to dating a girl in Las Vegas and she was not going to let him get away. I didn’t think she had been that impressed, but she made it clear to all of us that she wanted him and it was our job to help her. I wonder though…can you fall for a girl that hates your car?

Alex’s  nose wrinkled when she stopped reading and shook her head again. The page was full of text, blacked out portions, and women’s names, but as she scanned it she couldn’t see a male name besides Mike or a subject beyond the roommates boy troubles. ‘Nice story, different book???” She wrote, once again  jumping past more of the black marked page, still wondering where her mom was going with this.
 Stretching her legs and back against the chairs stiff frame Alex pulled the bagel and soda she bought from the all night coffee shop out of the paper bag at her feet.  With a twist of her wrist and a sidelong glance, she opened the bottle and checked the next flight’s departure time.  3: 20  it reminded her, one more hour.  A hunk of the cheese bagel tore off in her frigid fingers as Alex nibbled distractedly while regaining the journals next entry.
Entry # 13 May 7
    Laura and I were gone this weekend and its only now that I realize that what happened  two days ago changed me and I will look back and wonder why I never bothered to write it down.It didn't seem like anything at the time, but after writing the story I will feel like less of a dork about it and more like it was meant to be.After all, they never call me. Not for real dates anyway. They call me for "Let me cry on your shoulder about the girl i want, can't get, blew it with, or don't understand. But, they never call me like ----- did. “
Alex winced as she pulled her hair yanking the pencil from her ear. “Who, mom? Who called?” She scowled at the page where a name had been blacked out.She glanced at her watch tempted to call her mom and demand the guy’s name. With a tired sigh, she replaced the pencil and went back to the manuscript.

     Friday, he called me. He hadn’t been around much lately but we had spent lots of time deep in phone conversations.  Maybe that was why I was off  guard when he asked if I would go to dinner with him. I was already going to where he lived for a visit with Laura and I thought he wanted us all to get together. He had quietly insisted it be just us that he needed to talk.
      My new roommate Anne, teased me that this was a date, but I knew better. Anne will soon learn that friends don’t ask me on dates. They ask for advice or moral support but the ones that want to turn friendship into dating make me nervous and most of them end up needing restraining orders to help them get over it. My mom calls it my tractor beam for losers.    
     I wasn’t expecting anything different that night as I waited for him at the end of the driveway. Nervous about what all this meant. The nervousness  should have been my first clue  something was off. When he hugged me too tightly and looked at me like he could see through me, red flags definitely went up. It was just a moment though and before long we were laughing and talking easily and the previous all too intimate moment vanished.
     Except... it didn’t, not completely.  Every now and then I caught a look on his face, a smile, some expression that made me feel drawn to him in a way I never had before. We lingered over dinner, we walked to a nearby park and talked. It got later and later and I kept trying to remind myself it was time to go, but…
I didn’t want to.
     It must have been about two o’clock in the morning when the warm moments we had been sharing late into the night suddenly became charged with nervous energy. Before I was certain of what was happening he had tangled his long fingers into my hair and was kissing me.
 Part of my mind wanted to argue at this intimacy, but he’d been so tender, sincere, and genuine in his feelings. He hadn’t wanted advice, or a band aid for a broken heart. He wanted to talk about the fun and friendship we'd had for the last month or so.  I allowed my heart to be swept up in the emotions that felt as if they were burning in my chest. I wanted to fight, I knew better than to fall for a friend, but as he released me to catch his breath, he whispered into my ear.
     “I’ve wanted to do that for a long time now.”
     “How long?” I asked my voice shaking.
     “ever since I found out that you were finished with Mike.”
    I swear the air was vibrating all around us. Maybe it was just the blood rushing through my ears but  the way he said it made me think he meant every word.
“Now, Its my turn to be your best friend,” he said.  “Best friends with benefits.”
Better, Alex murmured, lifting her concentration from the page to look at the clock on her phone. She still had twenty minutes before boarding and she took the chance to use the pencil once more. Nice Mom,’ Alex wrote. ‘this ties in well with your opening paragraph.  Keep this guy.’  She took a sip from her bottle of soda, finishing off the remnants of her bagel and replacing the manuscript and pencil in her bag.  The flight was beginning its pre-boarding announcements and Alex knew she would have to just pace anxiously until the flight was boarded, waiting to find out whether or not she could finish the last leg of her trip.
A part of her longed for another delay to flash across the digital feed. It would be all she needed to go back to Las Vegas. The PA system crackled with another flight’s boarding instructions as Alex wrapped her fingers around the straps of the bag on her shoulder. Fate, or destiny, or maybe just luck had rolled the die. She had to make it through this one final flight and she could work it all out.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Why A Picture Book?

I started a Father's Day tradition with my husban when my kids were just little. They each bought Daddy a picture book to tell him how they loved him. I thought it was just a sweet way to express the love of my little boys for their Dad. I recognize all these years later though, that bringing the ability to read into a child's life is a gift for the child.
Alicia Lloyd's picture book, "When The Monsters Are quiet, is an example of her stron belief that bringing reading into a child's life is priceless.

"Reading is a tool that you can practice over and over again and it is only going to benefit you more and more. There is no age that is appropriate to start reading to your child. You can start to read to your child from day one. It still helps them develop and grow each time they hear new vocabulary and fluency. When the Monsters are Quiet is a children’s book that is typically a first to second grade reading level; however, it comes equipped with early reading strategies and comprehension questions, in the back of the book, so parents can start working with their children at home, regardless of age. Three and four year olds are not usually proficient readers yet, but it is amazing to watch a child skim through a book and tell their own story based on pictures. I felt like reading comprehension is an important skill that I wanted to tie in with my book so children can start to learn how to retain important details of the story line. Asking your children questions before, during, and after reading is a great way to start the habit to see how they are comprehending information. Phonemic awareness is another great tool as well. This helps with enunciation. Phonemic awareness is a broad term for many things, however rhyming is usually one of the first steps to reading. I specifically pulled out words that are used in my story so children can start to notice the resemblance of rhyming. Word families are a way to boost confidence! If your child can spell the word can, they also can spell ban, fan, man, pan, tan, and ran. Start with these strategies at home with your young ones, so they can be and feel like star readers in first grade!
Alicia Lloyd is a senior at West Chester University of Pennsylvania and is working towards her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Grades Preparation (PK-4) and Special Education. She has a strong passion for working with children and loves to write! Alicia lives in Oxford, Pennsylvania surrounded by her wonderful friends and family. 
You can find out more about Alicia Lloyd, her book and World of Ink Author/Book Tour at
Follow Alicia Lloyd on Facebook at

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Legend Of The Clean Romance

I never intended to write romance. I've always thought my tastes in literature were far too intellectual for me to be a 'romantic'. The truth is...
LOVE is fun. The insane lengths we are willing to go to in our search for it.The bizzarre circumstances that bring strangers together. The things we learn about ourselves when we realize it is the core of what life is about.
Whether it is lost, forbidden, unwanted, or unattainable. Loving and accepting ourselves is what makes happiness possible, being loved, and loving others makes any story better.There is no denying love rules the heart and mind of every individual. Whether it is in the desire to attain it or the fear of the pain that loosing it can bring.
One of the reasons "Romance Writers" have the ability to write the same seven story lines  a thousand times over is because they understand. Those basic stories have different characters, different jobs, and different plots , but you know where the story is going. To that happily ever after where you, as the reader, have a little piece of you fall in-love.  The warm excited feeling that brings is the reward for buying the book. It is a reward that readers come back to claim. 
A "clean romance" is this same principle but with out a sexual element. It shouldn't be that complicated.
I'm reading a book right now as part of some research I'm doing on different types of romance, which is the story of two best friends who haven't seen each other in 13 years. HE finds out SHE is tired of men who let her down and is going to hire a male escort for public appearances instead.
The plot is a bit predictable, like most romances. He becomes said male escort. SHE falls for him while finding out HE is long lost best friend.
Here is where the secret of Romance comes in. The development of the characters and their journey toward love is what sells romance. The fast paced, interesting plot twists and unsolveable situations that come about create the desire to keep turning pages. The inclusion of sexual content in some romance books provides this same feel, but how often can you be satisfied with someone  else's fantasy? For romance readers-the satisfaction is overwhelming but wanes without the hormonal pay-off having to increase . A challenge for any writer, but especially for those who write romance .Writers in other genre's can include little or no romantic content  and never have a problem.

My challenge for you writer's of romance is this...Can you create great romance, character development, plot urgency and satisfying results without using sex?
If the legend of good, clean romance is just that a legend; then why is the Young Adult genre, , traditionally clean, the most infiltrated genre in publishing right now?
Are we drifting in our tastes toward instant gratification in our reading because it is so prevalent in our society? Can we as writers provide the pay-off our readers want without being trapped into writing trendy content?
"Think out of the box." and "Tell me a story that is different than any other." are directions a lot of writers hear. There are 30,000 plus books published every year on alone. Only 940 of those are categorized under 'clean romance'. Those numbers are a far cry from 'inside the box'.
I don't know about you, but that sounds like a wide open market. A challenge, perhaps, but it might be worth it to become a legend in your own time.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

When The Monsters Are Quiet

Powerful childhood fears can leave a lasting Impact. Even as adults we still tremble with the sounds of the creepy night, the crack of an open closet door, the shadow that looks like an ax murder outside the window...Okay the last one is totally me, but you see what I mean?

 This 25 page, friendly picture book is a fun way children can start to become proficient readers by reading about one of their biggest worries- bedtime!"When Monsters Are Quiet" is a reminder to never be afraid of your monsters and has helpful hints for parents to help their children by exploring with early reading strategies
at home. 

You can find When Monsters Are Quiet for sale at,, and Barnes & Noble

ISBN Number: ISBN 13: 978-1-61244-219-8

Alicia Lloyd is a senior at West Chester University of Pennsylvania and is working towards her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Grades Preparation
(PK-4) and Special Education. She has a strong passion for working with children and loves to write! Alicia lives in Oxford, Pennsylvania surrounded by
her wonderful friends and family.  

You can find out more about Alicia Lloyd, her book and World of Ink Author/Book Tour at

Follow Alicia Lloyd on Facebook at

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Today is the first day of...

Happy New Year has held the connotation of starting over, beginning something new, or setting a goal that is important on this the first day of the new year.
New Year's resolutions always sound best on this day but seem more like ignorance  and folly the farther into the year we progress. On January first, losing x number of pounds was a totally doable plan. There are 365 days before you. Why not?
By the time March rolls around the practical application of this little bit-every day goal has lost it's luster. Research shows that half of people have given up on their New Year's resolution by March, most won't even admit to having a resolution because they gave up on it the first day it was hard, uncomfortable or inconvenient to follow through.
That's the problem with Today being the first day of the rest of...whatever. If it doesn't work out right now, you've got year after year of calender's to find the "first day" again.
Back in November when I started NaNoWriMo(, I had already broken the 50,000 word count challenge down to a daily goal. I figured I shouldn't set goals for the days I may not get the chance to write because my kids had activities, my nephew got married, my family celebrated Thanksgiving, and I celebrated my anniversary. This left me with 25 days. I devote my time on Sunday's to my faith and my family and I don't work on those days. This left me with 21 days. My word count daily goals were getting higher and higher and I could feel the pressure building along with my shrinking calender.  I am a firm believer though, that realistic expectations of what you can count on happening turn into feelings of accomplishment when you do more than the expectation allowed for.
At first I celebrated just meeting my daily goals. However, the more I accomplished the daily goals the more I realized I could get ahead by surpassing them. One of my girlfriends and I would call each other and check on the word count and then figure out how early we could finish if we wrote an extra thousand today, or didn't stop until kids came home from school. It was invigorating at first, and before I knew it I was a mere 1500 words away and it wasn't even Thanksgiving. By setting a word count goal perdiem, and them by-the-week, I was able to finish my 50 K words in 16 days. Now before you curse me as an arrogant braggart, for alot of writers that's pretty pathetic. I have a friend  who can write an entire novel in 17 days. (
Emergence: C. Michelle Jefferies: 9781599928722: )
My husband is friends with the author of Monster Hunters International ( that guy can crank out 10 K a day sometimes.Also keep in mind just because I wrote the 50 k doesn't mean they were great literature or instantly publishable.
The only reason I bring this goal up is because a lot of people have asked me what my New Year's resolution is for 2014. Honestly, I don't have one.
I have a goal for how many books I want to write this year. I have a goal for expanding my writing practice by writing a short story every month. I have an expectation to sign my parallel novel "Burning Bridger with a publisher or agent in the next three months. And I have a goal to blog, today. Work on my new novel, today. Enjoy the last day of Christmas vacation with my family, today
Most importantly---To make this the first day of the best today can be.
Happy New Year. May 2014 bring you everything you need. May it begin TODAY