Five years ago, I spent the summer writing a book that was different from anything I’d released before. Meghan and Sam’s story was by far the sexiest story I’d told so far . . . but it also included laughter and tears, all set against the backdrop of a small town in Georgia.
THE LAST ONE was actually the first one in what would become my longest contemporary romance series. This set now includes twelve books, and it’s far from over.
But even a five year old series can use a little sprucing up now and then. When I finished writing the first four books in Love in a Small Town, I realized I had more stories here–so I launched the next set of books, also set in Burton–and I titled them the Always books (Always For You, Always My Own, Always Our Love) and then the next set were the Girl books (The Love Song Girl, The Meant To Be Girl and two more upcoming releases).
The only problem was that these title changes within the series sometimes confused readers who didn’t realize these books were all part of one small town. So in celebration of five sizzling, romantic years in Burton, Georgia, we re-titled and re-covered five of the books. They are now:
The Always One
The Hard One
The Forever One
The Love Song One
The Meant To Be One
If you haven’t read this series yet–now is the time! THE LAST ONE is free on all vendors right now.
When author Eva Pohler invited me to be part of Book Lovers Unite for World Suicide Prevention Day, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. My regular readers and friends know that suicide prevention is a cause close to my heart. I support organizations like To Write Love on Her Arms that help people choose not to end their lives.
But there are some intensely personal reasons for me to believe in this cause. At three different points in my life, I have seriously considered checking out early. Once was during my high school years, when I was struggling with an eating disorder. The second time was when I was in my early thirties and was facing an incredibly painful personal crisis. And the third time was in the past few years.
I want to say upfront that I am a woman of faith, and that faith has sustained me more than once. I credit my relationship with God and El’s grace with having saved me. But I’m all too aware that the church has not always been understanding and compassionate about mental and emotional struggles. Too often, women and men who needed the most help have been stigmatized as weak, shunned or ridiculed. The very place and people to whom we should want to turn have betrayed us.
It wasn’t the church that made me turn away from the dark. It wasn’t a doctor, although I believe strongly in therapy and counseling. It wasn’t my friends or my family, although they all loved me and hurt for me.
For each of us, where we find the small thread to which we cling is different. Where the light shines through can be varied. For me, the why was different each time. But ultimately, somehow, at the crucial point, hope broke through, and it was bright enough, even if it was only for a moment, to keep me on this side. And when hope came, it spoke to me through a book–a different one every time.
Suicide wasn’t unheard of in my family. I lost an uncle, a cousin and several other extended family to the dark. I remember my father often saying that suicide was a permanent solution to temporary problems, but for those of us who struggle, the problems don’t feel temporary. They feel huge and permanent and insurmountable. It doesn’t feel as though there’s life on the other side.
I remember reading something that changed my life and the way I looked at things. The gist of it was that we can’t always trust how we feel. While I know I should listen to my emotions and tune into them, consider what they might mean, I can’t make decisions based solely on how I feel, because those feelings aren’t reliable. They can be influenced by things like hormones and misunderstandings and whether or not I’ve eaten today.
That realization was a game-changer for me. I don’t mean it should be for everyone, but for me–it made a difference.
A few years ago, I wrote a quartet of books within my series Love in a Small Town. Although each book stands alone, there was an overarching storyline in these four books: the story of Jenna Sutton, who’d attempted suicide in the aftermath of a devastating rebuff. Jenna’s tale was very personal, especially as her story was seen through the eyes of her family, friends and others in her small town. I hope that these books help others, too, who might need to know they are not alone.
If you are on the precipice of making a choice right now . . . if you are choosing whether or not to stay . . . please hold onto these truths:
You are important.
Your story isn’t over.
Hope is real.
You are not alone.
You are not alone.
You are not alone.
If you need someone to talk to and you don’t want to call a suicide hotline (which is a wonderful resource, by the way), please know that you can message me on Facebook or email me, and I will be there for you.
That’s a promise, and it’s not just for you. Knowing there are people who are counting on me helps me, too, when I’m making one of those decisions.
I’ll stay . . . if you do.
Much love, now and always . . .
When I began writing The Anti-Cinderella Chronicles, I didn’t know much about the characters. I knew a bit about their history together, about what their future would hold, but as far as interests, careers . . . that was still hazy.
However, I knew from Fifty Frogs that Kyra’s roommate was Vivian’s sister Shelby, and Shelby was a graduate student at a college in Maine. So that meant Kyra was in Maine, too . . . and it just so happened that my youngest daughter had recently transferred to a college in Maine.
Unity is a young school, established in 1965. It is known as America’s Environmental College, and since my daughter was majoring in sustainable agriculture, it was her dream school. Winning the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship allowed her to realize that dream.
None of us had visited Unity the weekend that we dropped off Cate. But it made enough of an impression on me that I realized something important: both Kyra and Nicky were involved in sustainability in various ways, whether that was food sourcing, agriculture or the over-arching need to redeem our environment.
So that’s how two of my lead characters became activists.
From the beginning, a few readers mentioned this sub-story. For me, it’s important that my characters are well-rounded, with rich histories and deep passions not only for each other but for their talents, their careers or their hobbies. It made perfect sense that if Kyra was pursuing her graduate degree in sustainable ag, she’d have a lot to say on the subject (I might have first-hand knowledge on that!).
All of my books include details and some research into whatever career the characters have chosen. Thus I was a tad surprised that readers seemed to react strongly one way or the other to Kyra and Nicky’s work. And with the release of the latest book, those reactions seemed to ramp up a little more.
So let’s talk about this.
First, we’ll acknowledge the elephant in the room. Yes, I personally believe that climate change is real, that our planet is hurting and that humans are systematically and definitely destroying our one and only world. That’s something I’ve always acknowledged as truth, even back in the days when I was more conservative politically. I’m a product of the 1970’s, after all, when we were all trying to be more environmentally conscious.
But please keep reading, even if you don’t agree with me.
In addition to my sustainability and environmental beliefs, I also am convinced that climate change and ecological responsibility are not a political topic. Politicians of every stripe have attempted to make them political for their own advantages.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. My daughter and I were talking the other day. She said, “It just doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t take much to make some small changes, and even if you’re skeptical about whether or not climate change is real, it doesn’t hurt anyone to make those changes. Worst case, you’ve left the earth a little bit cleaner.”
Hey, I’m not naive. I understand that some of the changes needed aren’t little ones, and I know that they could impact the bottom line of big companies. If you don’t buy that the science is legit, you’d be loathe to make changes that would cost you some bucks.
And while I find recent studies very credible (and damn scary!), I also don’t believe that all science is right on target. After all, we’ve seen that things are changing all the time. But in this case, all the evidence points to the need for all of us, all over the world, to pull together and do whatever we can to help.
I think it’s important to note something, too. I write romance. Fiction. The books in question don’t claim to be treatises on this topic. They’re entertaining stories about people who came from my imagination. So while you may not agree with the inclusion of touchy subjects, please remember that this is all supposed to be fun.
I promise you, the book contains more couple time than controversy.
One reader asked me whether all of my books from now on would include some element of this ‘controversial’ topic. No. That would be silly and limiting, because not all of my characters are involved in this line of work. Kyra and Nicky are . . . and yes, there may be some of the same in the next book in this world, A Dozen Dreams. But I have 71 other books NOT in the Anti-Cinderella World that don’t even mention climate change or sustainability. Try those!
Will I go back and change things in the existing Anti-Cinderella world to avoid controversy? HELL, no. These are my books. These are characters created in my mind, people who are real to me and whose opinions, actions and emotions sprang from genuine inspiration. They remind me of the real-life people whose work I admire, of my daughter and her passion for growing food in a more sustainable manner, of those who sacrifice much in order to make this world a better place.
Today is World Environment Day. If you are offended by the idea of protecting our earth, if you are not alarmed by the dwindling ability of our planet to support its population, if you are not heartbroken by the growing numbers of extinct or endangered species . . . then maybe today doesn’t matter to you.
But it matters to me. It matters to my children, and it will matter to my sweet grandbaby. And if doesn’t matter to more of us, and soon, the consequences will force our hands.
Happy World Environment Day, y’all. Go hug a tree, plant a flower, turn off lights you don’t need, walk instead of drive, kiss a farmer . . . and hey, read the latest Anti-Cinderella book. Even if you don’t agree with climate change, it’s a dang good love story, and we all need more of those.
Welcome to Burton, a small town just west of Savannah where the men are sexy, the women are sassy and happily-ever-afters are a speciality of the house.
Meghan Hawthorne is restless and ready for a change. As she begins her final summer of college, Meghan’s looking for excitement and maybe a little romance. Nothing serious; this girl just wants to have fun.
Sam Reynolds doesn’t need excitement, and he doesn’t want romance. Fun is out of the question. He’s been the steady, responsible one since his parents died, and serious is his way of life.
When Sam rescues Meghan alongside a dark Georgia backroad, she falls hard for his deep brown eyes and slow drawl. But making him see a future beyond their summer fling feels downright impossible.
Sam’s tempted by the fiery young artist, even as he realizes that giving into his feelings will mean radical change . . . maybe more than he can handle. But Meghan makes him want to believe in crazy things like forever and happy endings.
He may be the last one she should want. She may be the last one he should need. But no one ever said love was easy.
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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 new adult and adult contemporary romance; under the pen name Tamara Kendall, she writes paranormal romance, and under the pen name Tessa Kent, she writes erotic romance. Tawdra lives in central Florida with her husband, two sweet pups and too many cats. Assorted grown children and a perfect granddaughter live nearby. And yeah, she rocks purple hair.
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