Tell Me Your Love Story: My Love Story

I’ve been waiting for a special day to share this one, and today is that day. This is my very own story of true love and happily-ever-after.

In 1984, I found myself at one of those cross-roads in life. It was the summer between my junior and senior year of high school, which may seem as though it should have been a carefree time of fun, but I was always old for my age, and at that point, I was tired of high school. Tired of the needless drama, tired of the games and ready for my life to really begin. After years of straight living and toeing the line of good-girldom, in my junior year I’d gone a little wild. Now, trust me, ‘a little wild’ in my vernacular and in the mid-80’s was not today’s wild. It involved a little bit of alcohol, a little bit of dating–but ONLY dating–a series of boys, but I never did anything that would negatively impact the rest of my life.

Still, in early August before senior year, I was restless. I was done with high school guys, I knew that. I didn’t want to party away my senior year. Craving something more solid and real, I returned two stalwarts that had never failed me: books and my relationship with God.

Yes, I still have it!
Yes, I still have it!

I remember very clearly standing in the local Christian bookstore, looking for something to read, when a small wooden plaque caught my eye. It was Psalm 37:5: “Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you.” That verse resonated with me that day, and I bought the little wall hanging. I remember clearly the odd sense of rightness I felt. As I drove home, I also realized I needed a hook for the plaque, so I stopped at a store I’d never visited before, even though it had been around forever in our town. Kandle Lumber and Hardware just had never been on my radar, but it was on the way to my house, so I ran inside to find what I needed.

The man who helped me was the owner of the store, and I’d met him before. Actually, I knew the whole family vaguely: their son had begun West Point the year before, and he’d come to our house a number of times to chat with my dad, both before he’d started at USMA and then after, to share experiences. But up until then, Clint had been just one of many cadets coming in and out of my house. My father mentored quite a few.

I don’t remember exactly what Pete Kandle said to me that day, but it was something about his son, hinting that I should consider seeing him the next time he was home for a visit. Did I say I would? I don’t know, but that day stuck in my memory as a turning point in my life. I thought about it over the next few months.

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The Army-Navy game had long been a huge deal in my family, and we were pumped in early December of my senior year. For the first time in a long time, Army had a real shot at winning. My family had been invited to a post-game party at the Kandles’ home, and I brought along some of my friends, at Mrs. Kandle’s request. But what I remember most clearly was the hour I spent talking to Clint, leaning up against his dad’s desk in their den. The house was filled with people, and there was no place else to sit. Clint saw me on the floor and ran to grab a down-filled blanket to make me more comfortable. I didn’t know it then, but that was totally who Clint is: serving others, reaching out and giving of himself is at the core of his character.

I didn’t hear from Clint after that celebration, at least not immediately. But about a week before Christmas, he called and asked if I wanted to go Christmas shopping with him. He’d just gotten home on leave, and he needed to buy his mother a gift. What I remember about that day is that I’d never laughed more or felt immediately comfortable with any boy ever.

We went out a few more times over his Christmas break, but I wasn’t sure if we were just friends or . . . more. That is, until New Years Eve, when we went to a party at his friends house. As the clock struck midnight, ending 1984 and ushering in 1985, he kissed me for the first time.

Over the next months, we exchanged hundreds of letters, shared long phone calls (to the chagrin of Clint’s parents, who were footing his phone bill!) and I visited West Point as often as I could. He gave me an A-pin on March 1st that year. I was thrilled, and we were both deep in the throes of young love.

I started college that fall at the University of Richmond, but my heart was up in the mountains along the Hudson. Every Friday, I’d get on a train north, get off in Philadelphia, spend the night at my parents’ house, set my hair . . . and the next day, I’d drive three hours up to West Point, going to football games, dances or other social events, or just sitting with him in the lobby at the Hotel Thayer, doing homework and talking. The rules at West Point were very strict: no PDA, and no cadets were allowed above the mezzanine level at the hotel. Most weekends, Clint couldn’t leave post. But we always enjoyed just being together.

On Sundays, after chapel, I’d drive back home to New Jersey, repack and get on the train south, usually back in my dorm about midnight. It’s no wonder I failed calculus that semester, is it? I was miserable at college most of the time I was there. We knew once Clint finished at West Point, he’d be stationed somewhere in the world, and I’d still have two years of college left. At that time, this future seemed impossible.

And so we did what any two kids in love might: on Christmas Eve of my freshman year, after we’d been dating just about a year, Clint proposed and I said yes.

13391372_10153898748049145_8377456114474310888_oWe were married in June of 1987, ten days after his graduation. We spent our first six months together in Richmond as he attended Officer Basic and I got in another semester at Richmond, and then we moved to Hawaii for his first duty assignment.

That was four children, one son-in-law, many cats, dogs, homes and almost 30 years ago. We’ve lived in Virginia, Hawaii, Wisconsin, New Jersey and Florida. We’ve lost all of our grandparents and all but one parent between the two of us. We’ve weathered parenting, illness, homeschooling, many different churches, changes in career, moves and so many challenges . . . but 1610095_10152032355924145_1033576462_nthere is no one in the world I can imagine sharing my life. Clint has always been the first one to support me, the first one to tell me I can do anything I want. I know without a doubt that he would–and does–move mountains to make me happy. He’s still the same boy who will do anything to make me a little more comfortable.

312560_10150295218589145_1551940_nAnd almost 32 years after that very first date, he still makes me laugh more than anyone in the world.

I’m more in love with my husband today than I was when we got married. Then, I had no idea what love really was. Now, I think I’m beginning to catch glimpses of it. I think we need at least another thirty years to really get it down. I pray that we have those years together. When you’ve lost parents relatively young, you realize that nothing is guaranteed, and so I am grateful for every day we have together, and I am also greedy for even more.

This is a real happily-ever-after. It’s not all sunshine and cloudless skies; as my grandmother told me 12920242_10153768715739145_5181692080328787979_nonce upon a time, you must have just enough clouds to make a beautiful sunset. There must be rain to enjoy a rainbow.  But we’re living out our happy ending, day by day. That’s the very best kind of story in my book.

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DAYS OF YOU AND ME Release Day

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DAYS OF YOU AND ME

The final book in the Keeping Score Trilogy

is available now.

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Once upon a time, not that long ago, I had just about everything I ever wanted. I was a star football player at one of the best colleges in the country, and I had the girl I’d always loved by my side. The promise of a future most guys can only dream about was close enough to touch.

13509802_807323562701103_153972270_o (1)But if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that life is unpredictable. One twist can change it all, and suddenly, I’m alone. Even football, the one constant in all the insanity, somehow isn’t enough anymore, because without her, everything else is empty. Meaningless.

I’ve got one shot left. One more chance to win her heart. We’re not kids now, and I know that being good enough for Quinn isn’t some game I can fake my way through. She’s more than the prize; she’s my reason for living. The world only makes sense when we’re together.

And this time, I’m going to do whatever it takes to give us our happy ending.

 

Buy your copy today!

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And after you buy your book, join us Wednesday, September 28th as we celebrate the release! Some of the giveaway questions will require you to know the story~or at least to have the book!~but don’t worry: this is an open book test.

Join here.

 

Don’t forget that WHEN WE WERE US is free for a very limited time. keeping-score-12-graphic

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And HANGING BY A MOMENT is available at all retailers!

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2015AuthorPhoto (1539x1800)Tawdra Kandle writes romance, in just about all its forms. She loves unlikely pairings, strong women, sexy guys, hot love scenes and just enough conflict to make it interesting. Her books include YA paranormal romance,  NA paranormal and contemporary romance, and adult contemporary and paramystery romance. She lives in central Florida with a husband, kids, sweet pup and too many cats. And yeah, she rocks purple hair.

Follow Tawdra:

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And if you love her books, join the Naughty Temptresses!

Score Big With Football Romance!

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I’ve got the best news: this week is the official kick-off of football season in the US–and with college football back, too, we’ve all got lots of chances to catch our favorite teams playing our favorite game.

So what makes this even better? We have EIGHT football romances for you to huddle with right here, each of which is a touchdown (and the extra point, too!).

Check out each one–and as a bonus, each author is giving you her own favorite sports romance recommendation.

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Some Enchanted Season by Patricia Burroughs ON SALE for .99 at Amazon

Find Patricia on Facebook, Twitter and her website. And sign up for her newsletter!

Patricia recommends . . . Sosie Frost‘s Happily Ever All-Star, A Secret Daddy Romance. She hooked me with the sizzlin’ guy on the cover, reeled me in with “Secret Daddy,” and totally delivered with laugh-out-loud funny and heart-tugging sweetness.

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A Tempting Dare by Cathryn Fox only $1.99 at Amazon

You can find Cathryn on Facebook, Twitter . . . follow her on Amazon and BookBub, check out her website (for a free book!)

And sign up for her newsletter

If you’re interested in joining Cathryn’s Street Team, they’d LOVE to have you. They have a lot of fun over there, and lots of special prizes and contests for her lovely FOXY ladies!

Cathryn recommends . . .Dare to Love by Carly Phillips: A hot, heartwarming story about family, love and trust. Oh, and did I mention it’s HOT and FREE right now??

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Game Changer by Ann Jacobs

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Ann is on Facebook and Twitter . . . visit her website and sign up for her newsletter

Ann recommends . . .  Jaci Burton’s Play-by-Play series won’t disappoint you, no matter which pro sport you fancy! As a football fan and steamy romance lover, I have The Perfect Play high up on my keeper shelves—but there’s not a loser in the 12 hot novels and novellas. Check out Jaci’s website and get in the game!

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When We Were Us by Tawdra Kandle is FREE on iBooks/Barnes and Noble/Kobo/Google (and maybe on Amazon, if they get their act together.)

Visit Tawdra on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest/website, and follow her on Amazon and BookBub.

Sign up for her newsletter!

Tawdra recommends . . . Rookie Move by Sarina Bowen. She’s my favorite hockey writer, and this book has it all: sizzling romance, hunky guy, sassy chick and all the right moves!

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Bold by Nicola Marsh 

Amazon/Barnes and Noble/iBooks/Kobo/SMASHWORDS

Hang out with Nicola on Facebook and Twitter, and visit her website, where you can sign up for her newsletter!

Nicola recommends . . .  Nobody’s Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, part of her Chicago Stars series. Cal Bonner is a seriously hot hero and this book got me hooked on SEP. It’s on my keeper shelf!

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Playing for Keeps by Liz Matis FREE on Amazon/iBooks/Barnes and Noble/Kobo

Get to know Liz on Facebook, Twitter and on her website. Sign up for her newsletter!

Liz recommends . . . Blindsided by Jami Davenport, the first book in Jami’s Seattle Steelheads subseries. So much hot fun with these hunky football players . . . and some old favorites from the hockey books, too!

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Play by Holly S. Roberts is FREE on Amazon/iBooks/Barnes and Noble/Kobo

Meet Holly on FacebookTwitter and her website

Sign up for her newsletter!

Holly recommends . . . Diva in the Dugout by Arlene Hittle. Arlene is a riot to be around, and her stories are romantic comedy. Add baseball to the mix, and you’ll understand why I love this woman and her books.

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Under the Autumn Sky by Liz Talley is available on Amazon/Barnes and Noble/Kobo

 Get to know Liz on Facebook, Twitter and her website

Liz recommends . . . The Deal by Elle Kennedy, the first book in Elle’s sizzling and wickedly funny Off-Campus series: football players, snarky women and the bumpy road that leads to true love . . . eventually.  

 

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Tell Me Your Love Story . . . Mommy and Daddy

253191_10150894471864145_311115938_nThis is one love story that is very near and dear to me, since without it, I wouldn’t be here. Also, I got to witness a lot of it up-close and personal.

 

In March of 1943, Harry and Marian Thompson had their second child. Their first son had come into the family via adoption, as Marian thought she was unable to have biological children, but then about eighteen months later, she was proved wrong. They named their son Robert David. His middle name was after Marian’s brother who had been killed at Guadalcanal the autumn before; Marian was still grieving.

Bobby as he was called by his family was born in Philadelphia, although the Thompsons lived in New Jersey.

In July of 1943, in Billingsport, New Jersey, Robert and Martha Murray had their thirteenth child, a girl. As they were both over forty years old, Martha had suspected this pregnancy was a tumor before she realized she was in the family way . . . again . . . twenty years after her first child was born. They named the little girl Juana Regina after the nurse who had helped deliver their daughter Barbara five years before, but they mostly called her Jeanne or Jeanie.

Over the next 14 years, Bobby Thompson and Jeanie Murray would cross paths, though they never actually met. Both moved to Pitman, New Jersey (Bobby in 1949 and Jeannie some time in the mid-1950s).  They went sledding as children on the same hill in the small town of Pitman. They had mutual friends. But Jeanie, like her siblings, attended Catholic school, and Bobby went to public school.

But in 1957, Jeanne began high school at Pitman High. Outgoing and vivacious, she joined the cheerleaders and enjoyed her classes. But it was at a school dance that autumn that her life really changed. She was standing in the gym when one of her friends pointed out Bob Thompson, a guy well-known in the class as a football player, baseball player and class president. The friend had a crush and wanted to ask him to dance. Jeanne volunteered to tell Bob that her friend was interested, but somehow once she got over there, she ended up dancing with him instead.

13227791_10153871193734145_2852587171300094900_oBy that spring, the two were going steady, and they never stopped.

After high school, Bob went to West Point. For four long years, Jeanne made the trip up to the Academy every weekend. She didn’t miss a football game or a hop or any other event. As a matter of fact, when I was up there last May for my dad’s 50th class reunion, as many people recalled my mom as they did their classmate, my dad.

Ten days after graduation, on June 19, 1965, Bob and Jeanne were married at the Presbyterian Church 217898_10150894471319145_757475488_nin Pitman. Bob spent the next year going to Ranger School and Airborne School as he prepared for his first tour in Vietnam. He left in August 1966 . . . and when he left, I was already on my way.

They did meet in Hawaii that December for R&R, but Bob didn’t come home until June 1967. I was almost three months old by then. Another tour of Vietnam came when I was two years old. Those heartbreaking separations took their toll on both Bob and Jeanne, and they vowed thereafter that they wouldn’t be apart if they could do anything to help it.

Bob left the Army and began working for Proctor and Gamble, and then left that company to fulfill a lifelong dream of going to law school. He graduated in 1979. By that time, we were back in New Jersey, after living in Pennsylvania and California, where my sister was born.

While Bob attended law school, Jeanne went back to work as a secretary. She was glad to quit, though, once he was finished; being a wife and mother was all she’d ever wanted, and she was happy to be back at home, where she also helped Bob with his work on a regular basis.

Over the years, they gained a reputation among friends and family as the closest, most devoted couple 560265_10150894471504145_1024709765_nanyone knew. Neither liked to be away from the other. They did enjoy travel, though–Maui being the favored destination–and they were consummately focused on their family: children and grandchildren came second only to each other.

In early 2001, Bob was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, caused by his exposure to Agent Orange during Vietnam. Although he was very ill, Jeanne determinedly nursed him through an autologous stem cell transplant and into remission for nearly four years. In 2005, when he came out of remission, a subsequent bone marrow harvest was unsuccessful, and on June 9, 2006, forty-one years to the day after his West Point graduation and just shy of their 41st anniversary, Bob passed peacefully out of this world. He was 63.

Jeanne was grief-stricken, so much so that for a while, we chalked up her own sudden onset of symptoms to that emotional break with the man who had been her entire world for nearly fifty years. But two months after his death, she was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia and was in the same hospital, on the same floor, where her husband had just died. She fought valiantly to overcome the disease, receiving a bone marrow transplant from her sister Barbara. But whether it was the strength of her disease or her own broken heart, Jeanne left this earth one week shy of the one year anniversary of Bob’s death. She was 63.

527738_10150894471649145_997763577_nThere were friends and family who noted in the wake of my mother’s passing that they could never imagine the two being apart, so they were not surprised she had followed him so quickly. And that may be true. I like to think they’re together now in a place like Maui, which would be their heaven, for sure.

They left a legacy of a strong marriage, deep love and commitment to the family above all else.

What’s Cooking? Chicken Espagnole (Hanging By A Moment)

Various herbs and spices on black stone plate

By her own admission, Quinn Russell isn’t much of a cook–or at least she’s not very interested in the kitchen. (Will that change in Days of You and Me? Hmmm . . . stay tuned . . .) But her friend and college roommate Zelda Porter does love to cook and is something of an amateur chef. In this scene from Hanging By A MomentQuinn catches her friend making a special occasion meal . . .

“What’re you doing?” I closed the dryer and started it up, stepping away from it so I could hear Zelda.
“Uh, I’m cooking.” Her voice held a faint tinge of . . . I couldn’t read it. Embarrassment?
“Cooking? For you and Gia? Well, aren’t you a good roommate?” I flopped onto the sofa. “You never cooked for me.”
“No, doll, I’m not cooking for Gia. I have a . . . date. I guess. Sort of.”
If she had told me that she was a spy who was cooking for the head of the CIA, I wouldn’t have been more surprised. Zelda was predictable only in her cynicism about romance and relationships. She had regular sex with an abundance of men, and she liked men, but she didn’t trust them.
“Uh . . . okay. Can I ask the name of this date?”
“You can ask, but I’m not going to tell. This is way outside my comfort zone, Quinn. It’s probably not going to amount to anything. If I’m wrong and it does . . . then you and I can talk. I’ll tell you all the down and dirties. But until then—if there is a then—I’m going to play it close to my chest.”
When I didn’t respond right away, she hurried to continue. “It’s not that I don’t trust you, Quinn. I just don’t trust me. I’m going out on a limb here, and I’m actually scared shitless.”
“Zelda.” I crossed my legs at the knee and kicked one foot in the air. “I’m not insulted that you want to be, um, discreet. It’s your business. But don’t be scared, okay? You are the most incredible woman I know. You’re beautiful, you’re funny and you’re smart. Any guy would be lucky to date you. So don’t mess this up just because you think you’re not the relationship type, okay?”
Something sizzled on Zelda’s side of the phone. “I appreciate everything you said, Quinn. I don’t necessarily agree with you, but still, I’m grateful. I can only promise to do my best.”
“Good. Have fun, and don’t think I’m going to forget this. When I get home next month, you are so cooking for me.”
She laughed. “You got it, doll. We’ll be in our new apartment with a real kitchen, not this lame ass kitchenette. So I’ll make you something special to celebrate moving in, okay?”
“It’s a date.” I giggled at my own joke.

So who was Zelda cooking for, and what did she make? Well, no spoilers here–though you may have guessed the who–but I can tell you that for her mystery date, the enigmatic Ms. Porter prepared Chicken Espagnole, a dish that tastes fabulous and looks elegant but is actually fairly simple to prepare. This recipe was adapted from one served at The Gumbo Shop in New Orleans, where I’ve enjoyed all their food on multiple occasions.

If you want to know more about Zelda’s secret lover, preorder Days of You and Me–and then get ready for her spin-off standalone book, Wildest Dreams, coming in 2017.

Zelda’s Chicken Espagnole

2 small chickens, backs removed, cut in half

CHICKEN SEASONING:

3 tsp Italian seasoning

2 tsp cayenne pepper

4 tsp black pepper

4 tsp white pepper

5 tsp onion powder

5 tsp garlic powder

2 Tbs paprika

4 Tbs salt

***

3/4 cup butter

3/4 flour

VEGGIES:

2 medium  onions, roughly cut

2 ribs of celery, chopped

1 medium green pepper, chopped

SAUCE SEASONING:

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp sage

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp white pepper

1 tsp salt

***

4 cups chicken stock

6-7 baby bella mushrooms, sliced

5 green onions, diced

Directions:

Place chicken halves in roasting pan with sides at least 3 inches. Sprinkle CHICKEN SEASONING over chicken and roast in 400 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove and set aside.

While chicken roasts, in a large pot melt butter and add flour to make a medium roux. Add VEGGIES and stir until coated. Cook about 20 minutes, then add SAUCE SEASONING. Cook until combined, then add chicken stock slowly, stirring well. Bring to a boil and cook on low for about 20 minutes. Add mushrooms and green onions, mix well and remove from heat.

Spoon sauce over chicken in roasting pans and return to the oven, roasting at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until chicken is tender. Serve over rice.