Lessons from a garage sale

Over the past three years, since my husband’s ministry launched, we’ve had a lot of garage sales. Honestly, we’ve always been a family who did sales about twice a year, but when having one can mean the difference between eating and not, they tend to take on a different meaning.

I have often been guilty of just dragging out the stuff we’re selling and determining price when someone’s interested, but for today’s sale, I actually spent time organizing it, pricing it and having everything set up on tables so that I could just open the doors at 8 AM. I posted an advertisement on Craig’s List, listing a bit of what we were selling.

This morning at 7:30, I went out to finish up the last few things before opening the garage door. When my husband came in from a quick grocery store trip to get coffee, he told me there were three cars parked outside, and someone had asked him if we were opening at 8 on the dot.

That isn’t entirely unusual; particularly if you advertise certain items, early birds will show up. Still, I decided that since I was all set, I’d go ahead and start opening the door a bit early, at about 7:50.

I was not prepared for what met me. People standing outside the door began pushing in, all of them yelling and asking me where the jewelry was. I had had the foresight to keep the more valuable pieces inside, so no one could get to it, even as they attempted to begin combing through items on the tables, as my husband and I tried to move things out.

It was bedlam. Once I’d moved the tables into place, I brought out the pricier jewelry. And then things really got interesting.

People yelled. They grabbed. I was scratched on the arms as each one tried to snatch up his or her fair share–or more. They fought with each other. They were nasty, mean-spirited.

In the end, while I sold all of the pieces save one, I’m sure I was taken advantage of in terms of price, because I was completely overwhelmed and almost sickened by the entire process.

In all of my years of hosting sales, I’ve never seen anything like this. I’ve met quirky people; I’ve certainly met pushy customers who have tried to get me to lower the price on things that they knew were valuable. I’ve met those who bordered on rude. But most people who frequent sales are kind, generous, friendly and interesting. We’ve been especially impressed by how many people are supportive of the ministry and eager to help us keep it going, or at least want to know more about our mission.

Today was beyond the pale.

It wasn’t long before all of the ravenous gold buyers had left, and one man who’d arrived later lingered. He’d seen the tail-end of the feeding frenzy and asked me about it. I told him a bit of the bedlam, and then I offered to let him look at the one remaining ring I had, the piece that had been at the center of much of the contention.

He examined it and handed it back to me. “Your price is right on,” he told me. “Don’t let them talk you down.” A few minutes later, he left and then came back with an official gold scale, weighed the ring for me and showed me the value, proving that what I’d been asking for wasn’t unreasonable.

In the face of so much greed and nastiness, he was kind and generous with his time and information.

A little while later, a lady who’s been at my past sales came by. We chatted briefly about the jewelry vulture experience, and then she said, “Well, hopefully you made enough to make your rent.”

I sighed and told her that we hadn’t yet. She nodded.

“I’m not a religious person,” she began. “I don’t really believe in anything. I don’t go to church. But I was here before, and I heard you telling someone that everything works out. You said that God had taken care of you before. I remember you saying that. If he did then, I think he will now, too.”

My breath caught because this woman was saying precisely what I needed to hear, at the moment I needed to hear it. She didn’t buy anything, but she actually gave me more than anyone else did today.

As I sit tonight, considering how the day went, I could focus on the people who swarmed me early in the morning. I could be sad that we didn’t sell more, that my porch is filled with unsold items that will be donated later this week.

Or I could be grateful for the man who reassured me that I hadn’t held out too long on the price of the ring. I could focus on the woman who reminded me that it’s going to be okay, who reminded me of my own words. I could appreciate that we did make something toward the amount we need.

You don’t have to be religious or even spiritual to choose your point of focus. You just have to shift perspective . . . make the choice to see what is positive. I’m not preaching here. I know how hard life can be. Trust me.

But I’m going to do my best to look at the sunny side whenever can. Won’t you join me?

 

2020: The Year of COMMIT

Last November, I was privileged to attend an amazing author intensive learning weekend, hosted by the fabulous Skye Warren. Romance Authors Mastermind weekend was mind-blowing and life-changing.

One of the presenters asked us all to choose a word to represent our goals, our hopes and our plans for 2020. At the time, I wasn’t sure what to choose. I like to think that my relationship with my readers is marked with affection and compassion (it goes both ways!). But that didn’t feel quite right. I told some of my fellow authors that maybe my word for 2020 should be MINE, in that I’m making these twelve months my own. Good still, but not quite.

Tonight, I realized what my word for 2020 is, and it hit me with certainty and a sort of fierce determination:

COMMIT.

For a long time, I’ve toyed with the idea of quitting this authoring business. While I love it, and being a published author is a dream come true, it’s also hard and painful and disheartening. More times than I can count, I’ve wondered if I’m meant to be doing this.

This past year, I came closer to throwing in the towel than I ever have. My sales are down. I don’t have money to re-invest in advertising. I’ve questioned if what I write really matters.

But in 2020, no more questioning. No more self-doubt. My word is COMMIT, and that is the word I am living out. I’m hoping y’all will hold me accountable, and if you see me wavering, just email me or comment here or post on social media to me:

COMMIT.

And if I can do that–and I CAN–then 2020 will not only be mine . . . it can be ours.

THE LOVE SONG GIRL is LIVE!

Welcome to Burton, Georgia, a small town just west of Savannah. In this farm community, the women are sassy, the men are sexy and happily-ever-afters are a specialty of the house. 

Who doesn’t love a love song? Especially a love song that’s crooned by Hunter Jaymes, the hottest new star in country music?

Tori Westin doesn’t have time for love songs. Now that she’s finally moved off her parents’ farm and ditched her cheating, lying boyfriend, she’s ready to start life on her own terms. Those terms definitely do not include falling in love with the sexy and irresistible Hunter. Yes, he’s the kind of guy who makes her laugh, takes her breath away with a single touch and tempts her to imagine what could be . . . but he’s also not planning to stick around Burton.

When Hunter looks at Tori, he sees the possibility of forever. The road is his life, and she feels like the home he craves. Convincing Tori to give love a chance will take more than a romantic ballad, but Hunter knows they belong together.

Now he just has to convince her.

Buy It Now!

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Enjoy a little sneak peek from THE LOVE SONG GIRL:

I trailed him up the wide staircase, our footsteps muffled by soft carpet. At the top, Hunter paused, his fingers fidgeting with the strap of the bag he carried.
“So . . . I have a housekeeper.” He said it as though it were confession of sin, and I couldn’t help giggling.

“That’s okay, Hunter. It’s perfectly acceptable for you to have someone helping you here. Hell, if I could afford one, I’d have one, too. I promise, I don’t think any less of you. No judgement here.”

He rolled his eyes. “That’s not what I mean, smartass. What I was going to say, if you’d let me finish, is that I asked my housekeeper—her name is Betsy, and she’s great—I asked Betsy to get one of the guest rooms ready for you. You know, change the sheets, vacuum, whatever might be involved with that.”

I nodded. “All right.”

“But the thing is, if I’m being honest like I promised, I don’t want you to stay in that guest room. I want you to stay in my room. Sleep in my bed, even if all we do there is sleep. I don’t want to be that far away from you when you’re only here for three days. If that makes you uncomfortable, I understand. We didn’t discuss expectations for your visit here, not the way we did when we were in Burton.”

I smirked. “You mean when I was crystal clear about no sex over those two weeks?”

“Yeah, exactly that.” He regarded me steadily. “I didn’t ask the question, because I was afraid to hear an answer I didn’t want to hear. But I should be more like you, I guess. I should have asked.”

I dropped my purse onto the floor, where it fell with a thud onto the polished hardwood of the hallway, and I took a step toward Hunter. “Ask me now.”

The tip of his tongue darted out to swipe across his lips. “Tori, will you sleep with me in my bedroom? No.” He shook his head, correcting himself. “What I mean is, will you do more than just sleep with me there—will you let me make love to you in my bed, the way I’ve been fantasizing about doing from the minute I came back home from Georgia?”

I held his gaze. We were both serious now, both intent and focused on the words between us. “Back in Burton, my rule made sense, because we didn’t know each other. We knew more by the time you left. And now, we know even more.” I eased forward. “I still like everything about you, Hunter Jaymes. I flew on that plane all the way here to be with you, not for any other reason. All I’ve been thinking about is being with you. So if you don’t plan to take me into your bedroom, right now, and drive me out of my ever-lovin’ mind the way you did over the phone the other night, I might just burn up from the inside out. And it’d be a shame to leave a scorch mark here on your lovely wood floor.”

Read ALL the Love in a Small Town books here! 

 

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 young adult and new adult paranormal romance, new adult and adult contemporary romance and adult paramystery romance. She lives in central Florida with a husband, kids, sweet pup and too many cats.

And yeah, she rocks purple hair.

You can follow Tawdra on Amazon to receive updates on her releases. You can also visit her website for more information, and subscribe to her newsletter  for sales announcement, special exclusive content and promotions!

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Giveaway: Win Free Reader Registration to Lori Foster’s #RAGT18

I am tremendously excited to announce that I am going to be participating in an epic event! Lori Foster’s Reader and Author Get Together (#RAGT18) is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and this year, I am privileged to take part in it.

If you’re not familiar with RAGT, you can read more about it here. I’ll give you basics now:

It’s June 7-9, 2018, at the Cincinnati Marriott North. It includes two days of signings, parties, a Friday morning breakfast sponsored by three authors pals and me, lunches and dinners . . . wow!!

Tickets go on sale in March, and they always sell out FAST. Think minutes.

That’s why this giveaway is so exciting. Lori has graciously allowed us to sponsor a very few reader registration giveaways–and I’m doing one of them. My co-sponsors are my author buddies Violet Howe and Sloane Savage.

Time is of the essence here, folks. Enter the giveaway NOW, because the winner will be chosen on February 28th.

Please note that the giveaway includes only the Reader Registration. It does NOT include any travel costs or the hotel. But the winner will be guaranteed a reader spot at the event, no matter how fast registration goes. Your paid spot is yours, no matter what. It cannot be transferred.

Go forth and enter!

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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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