Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Losing It All by Marsha Cornelius (Virtual Book Blast)

In association with author Marsha Cornelius, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host a Virtual Book Blast event for her latest novel, Losing It All!

Losing It All by Marsha Cornelius
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: April 1, 2013 / 1st Publishing: March 8, 2013 - Hickory Flat Books
Format: Paperback & eBook - 359 pages / Kindle - 602 KB 
ISBN: 0615764894
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Romantic Suspense

BUY THE BOOK: Losing It All

One week only April 1 – April 7

Only 99¢ on Amazon.

Author Marsha Cornelius Discusses Losing It All


I’m a fan of stories like The Hunger Games, where Katniss must hunt for food to keep her family alive, or The Glass Castle, where a family lives in a deserted train depot. Stories about how people survive without money.

When I first moved to the country north of Atlanta, I came across an abandoned house along a dirt lane. The structure itself was nearly covered in vines and weeds. The windows were busted, the front door was hanging; but inside, the floors were sound, the roof was dry. And I thought to myself, who would appreciate having something like this?

Frank would. A former Vietnam POW, he’s been living on the streets of Atlanta for the past 12 years. He’s happy eating at a soup kitchen; he sleeps in a lean-to of boards cobbled together. His only indulgence is smoking, but he manages to scrap up enough nickels and dimes by collecting aluminum drink cans from the trash to buy a pack.

Now Chloe’s a different story. Her pink nail polish has to match the pink in her blouse and she spends a lot of time on her hair. Her two young children are well-behaved; she keeps an immaculate home for her husband.

I decided to write about what happens when bad times hit these two people at opposite ends of the spectrum. For Chloe, her misfortune drags her into homelessness, while tragedy drives Frank off the streets.

They meet at the soup kitchen and make a connection. It isn’t a slurpy love-at-first-sight moment, but he feels sorry for this woman in her still-fresh clothes and curly-clean hair. And she sees a kind face beneath his straggly beard. She hears the reassurance in his voice.

Too bad their paths won’t cross again until Frank is living in that abandoned house, and Chloe has hit rock bottom.

Book Description:

Frank Barnes is content living on the streets of Atlanta. A soup kitchen and a makeshift shanty sure beat his days as a POW in Vietnam. But Chloe Roberts can’t handle the eviction that sends her into the hell of homelessness. With no family or friends to turn to, Chloe and her children are sucked into the traumatic world of night shelters, and dangerous predators.

When they bump into each other at the soup kitchen, Frank offers Chloe a glimmer of hope that she can pull her life back together. She rekindles his lost sense of self-worth by taking his mind off his own problems. But they will not meet again until Frank is riding high as a working man, and Chloe has hit rock bottom.

By helping Chloe rebuild her broken life, Frank banishes the demons from his own past. Unfortunately, the past comes strolling back into their lives, threatening to destroy the happiness they have finally found.

Book Excerpt:

Because Losing It All is written from two POVs, we're including excerpts from the first two chapters, which introduce Frank and Chloe.


Pain’s a bitch.

The doctor at the VA called it phantom pain, nerve trauma that would eventually go away. Yeah, right. Frank was twelve years and counting.

This morning, he woke to a cold, sluggish fog that had his foot throbbing before he even stood. His only relief was to shift his weight to his toes and keep pressure off the heel. Of course, the gimp-walk didn’t do much for his appearance. People already shied away from his long hair and shaggy beard. The shuffling limp and tortured expression convinced onlookers that he was a derelict.

They should have seen him twelve years ago at the VA. The pain was so intense all he could do was lie in bed, groaning and thrashing, his hospital gown soaked in sweat. Once he was up and around, he’d rolled down the hallway in his wheelchair, ranting at other Vietnam veterans with missing legs and arms. His rage seemed to ease his pain, but like a drug, he needed more. So he started ramming into other wheelchairs, then chasing after those who could walk, bruising their ankles with his metal foot-plates.

On his feet, Frank was a regular fighting machine, wielding a crutch like a club, or throwing sucker punches when least expected. It never occurred to him that those guys were battling their own pain.

In desperation, he pinned a doctor to the wall with his own clipboard, threatening to decapitate him if he didn’t up Frank’s morphine dosage. An orderly put him out on the street.

Then the pain really took hold. The dribble of morphine still in his system wore off while he slouched in the back of a city bus headed for downtown Atlanta. When he threw up in the aisle, the driver tossed him off. Unable to stand, much less walk, Frank crawled into an alleyway and passed out.

A wino rummaging through a trashcan woke him. Frank offered the bum some dough for his bottle of Thunderbird, and slugged the wine down in one long gulp. From there it was all downhill.


Clutching a metal cash box, Chloe slipped into her checkout lane at Foodtown, a pitiful excuse for a grocery store, with rusty stains on the floor tiles, and the rancid odor of old meat. She slid the box into her drawer and turned on the light.

In the next lane over, Jennifer popped her gum as she swiped food items across her scanner. “You’re late again.”

“Sorry.” Chloe gave a weak smile. Just because she worked in a rundown part of town didn’t mean she shouldn’t look her best. It took time to find just the right shade of eyeshadow to coordinate with her lavender blouse from K-Mart. Chloe wasn’t the type to just smear a quick coat of lipstick on her mouth. She outlined her lips with a deeper shade, like she’d seen in the magazines. And after what she had paid to get her hair colored, she wanted to make sure it was teased and sprayed to look just like Lucy Ewing on Dallas.

Jennifer’s Foodtown smock was unbuttoned enough to show a peek of the red bra she wore. Chloe bristled as a construction worker buying a sub sandwich and a quart of beer bent in for a closer look. His hands were filthy. Was he going to wash those hands before he ate?

Puffing out her chest, Jennifer grinned at him! Sure, Duane loved to see Chloe dressed in short skirts and low-cut blouses. But not the whole world.

Once the construction worker left, Jennifer leaned against her register, and dug something out of her teeth with a polished fingernail. “So, what’s your excuse today?”

Chloe reached under the counter for a bottle of glass cleaner and spritzed her scanner. “You know how my niece Staci has been babysitting for me? Well, she was late because she had to stay after school to meet with a teacher.”

“Yeah, right.” Jennifer snorted a laugh. “You believe anything, Chloe. That’s why you’re in deep shit.”

Chloe glared at her. “I do not.”

“Right. Your husband took off, and you think he’s looking for a better job in Chattanooga.”

“He is!” Chloe felt the heat rising up her neck. “He should be back any day now.”

“Back my ass.” Jennifer’s glossy red lips curled into a sneer. “It’s been three months.”

“He’s training for a career,” Chloe repeated what she had been told. “Not just a job.”

Jennifer wasn’t buying it. “Wake up. He hasn’t even called you. And as close as Chattanooga is, surely he could get away to come home some weekend.”

Chloe’s bottom lip quivered as she swirled her paper towel over the glass.

About The Author

Marsha (M. R.) Cornelius lives in the suburbs north of Atlanta with her husband and two spoiled cats who refuse to wear socks and dust the furniture. Her two college-aged sons visit regularly for clean clothes, food and money.


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