If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Here are the upcoming WWK interviews for the month of July!

July 4th Christopher Huang, A Gentleman's Murder

July 11th V. M. Burns, The Plot Is Murder

July 18th Edith Maxwell (Maddie Day), Death Over Easy

July 25th Shari Randall, Against The Claw

Our July Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 7/7--Mary Feliz, 7/14--Annie Hogsett, 7/21--Margaret S. Hamilton, 7/28--Kait Carson.

Our special bloggers for the fifth Monday and Tuesday of July--Kaye George and Paula Gail Benson.

Please welcome two new members to WWK--Annette Dashofy, who will blog on alternative Sundays with Jim Jackson, and Nancy Eady, who will blog on every fourth Monday. Thanks for blogging with us Annette and Nancy!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Annette Dashofy's Uneasy Prey was released in March. It is the sixth Zoe Chambers Mystery. The seventh, Cry Wolf, will be released on September 18th. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Annette on September 19th.

Carla Damron's quirky short story, "Subplot", was published in the Spring edition of The Offbeat Literary Journal. You can find it here: http://offbeat.msu.edu/volume-18-spring-2018/

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), was published on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here. He's working on Seamus McCree #6 (False Bottom)

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in July 31, 2018.


Monday, July 31, 2017

My Weakness - Yard Sales

by Shari Randall

Okay, so I’m a procrastinator. My fellow bloggers here at Writers Who Kill are used to me sending in my blogs for peer review on the Friday before my Monday slot. Well, full disclosure: sometimes I squeak in on Saturday. And if I’m being completely honest, even Sunday.

I really intended to get up early this morning (Friday) and work on my blog but it was a beautiful day and the yard sales were calling.

Yard sales, garage sales, or as we say here in my corner of New England, tag sales, are one of my weaknesses. For me there’s not much that's more fun than poking around lots of fascinating old stuff. Nothing better than the high of a great Find (with a capital “F”) at a bargain. It’s the thrill of the chase, the chance to exercise those ancient hunting and gathering skills that kept our prehistoric foremothers alive.

Around here, sales tend to fall into three types: yard sales, estate sales, and mega sales. Yard sales are the most common. Usually it’s the more organized among us unloading stuff they no longer need – Little Tykes toys, outgrown clothing, too small bicycles, treadmills that have turned into clothes hangers.

Estate sales are the Olympics of yard sales. They are for the more advanced yard salers. They offer the chance for really fascinating stuff but you have to bring your A game. At estate sales you’re competing against antique dealers, lovers of vintage clothes and jewelry, collectors – the pros who will have their finds on ebay by the end of the day, the early birds who have no qualms about showing up for an 8 a.m. yard sale at 6 a.m.

Mega sales are done by liquidators who sell the contents of businesses that have closed. Usually they have lots of one kind of thing – car parts, paint -  but sometimes they can surprise you.

I grew up in an antiques loving family. My folks still have an antiques shop in Connecticut. Over the years my interests and tastes have shifted. Being married to a military man and moving many times over the years has made me tamp down my urge to collect anything but my absolute favorites.  I still get excited about finding a great piece of McCoy pottery, or a great piece of art, or mid-century souvenirs, but now I’m pickier. Plus I’ve found another way to enjoy yard sales. I approach them with a writer’s eye. What other chance do we have to go into complete strangers’ homes? There is often so much drama and family dynamics at play at these sales.

Every yard sale is different, but often the story is the same – younger folks have inherited a relative’s house and a lifetime of things that they don't want.

In a tidy brick rambler I stopped at today, one young man proudly showed me his grandmother’s needlework while his brother rolled his eyes and tossed her silk opera gloves and hats into a stained cardboard box. “Crap,” the second brother muttered.

A lifetime can be read in objects. Another yard sale had a table of cameras, carved African masks, little Dutch wooden shoes, Spanish castanets, and battered suitcases next to a metal walker. $2.

I did a drive by of a tired duplex. A young man stalked past a stained sofa and a rusty mismatched patio set with a box. As he tossed it onto the table, photo albums and sepia tinted portraits spilled from within.

So. Much. Stuff. But for me, no Finds.

So I slammed on my brakes when I saw a small sign by the road: Mega Sale. The yard sales I’d been to had been disappointing, so I decided to give it a shot.

I followed the signs down a driveway, through a fence, to a rutted parking lot. At one end of the lot was a small warehouse. Between me and the warehouse were row upon row of unopened boxes and Tupperware containers.

The heavens opened. Angels sang.

A young woman unpacking a box of books told me that the Mega Sale was done four times a year by a storage company. Unclaimed storage lockers are unloaded and their contents sold for rock bottom prices.

I put on my game face and dove in.

Sure, it was box after box of Stuff. And not great stuff either. America, you have a problem with holiday decorations.

There was the good – a brand new Portmeirion serving bowl in pristine condition, crystal wine glasses, punch bowl sets (remember those?), vinyl records, books galore. All tempting but I passed them by. See, I have some self restraint.

There was the bad: box after box of the aforementioned Halloween and Christmas decorations, yellowed bed sheets, half finished macramé pot hangers, chipped World’s Greatest Grandpa mugs.

And there was the ugly: weirdly alive antique porcelain dolls that looked like they had a score to settle. I gave them a wide berth.

Just as I was about to leave I noticed a box shoved under a card table. I dragged it out and opened the flaps. Inside were dozens of items wrapped in newspaper so gray and old it was practically dust. I gingerly unwrapped a plate, a souvenir plate for Gillette’s Castle in Connecticut, one of my favorite places. The newspaper, soft as tissue, was dated July 5, 1975. I unwrapped several more. To my delight there were four more mid-century souvenir plates – Kentucky, Connecticut, Story Land, and Atlantic City. The young woman running the sale said I could take them all for a dollar.


Now, you know that my hubby and I just moved into a new house and the last thing I need is more stuff. So don’t tell him I went yard-saling this morning, okay? It will be our little secret.

What’s your weakness?


E. B. Davis said...

Oh Shari--shame on you! You just culled your stash during your moving and now are building it back up again. I hope you find that piece worth a fortune--if not, your kids are going to hate you one day.

I keep hoping one day that all my shells, which I can't help but find on the beach, will become valuable--artifacts after the oceans die (a horrible thought) and my kids will make millions from my precious beach finds. My dream catch? Extremes--the tiny baby Scotch Bonnet and the huge granddaddy Scotch Bonnet, which I'll put on display with lights. Pie in the sky? Yep. I'll let everyone know if I find them.

Margaret Turkevich said...

I'm searching for a special kind of vase, with the hunt as much fun as the actual find (if I ever succeed).

Warren Bull said...

My weakness is books. I just can't help it.

Shari Randall said...

Hi EB - I know, I know, I can't help it! I also love shells - I hope you'll share pictures. My dream is to walk on the beach at Sanibel, where the shells are supposed to be so plentiful.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Margaret, what kind of vase? I'll keep my eyes peeled at the yard sales.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Warren, you are not alone!

Jim Jackson said...

I'm not into new acquisitions -- but it's darned hard to let go of all my "treasures" from the past.

Julie Tollefson said...

"A lifetime can be read in objects. Another yard sale had a table of cameras, carved African masks, little Dutch wooden shoes, Spanish castanets, and battered suitcases next to a metal walker. $2."

I can't decide if this is the saddest short story I've ever read or the most inspiring. Either way, I can't shake the mental images.

My weakness is glassware. I love wine glasses and crystal cocktail glasses. I don't need any more - I can only drink out of one at a time, after all - but that doesn't stop me from looking!

Shari Randall said...

Agreed, Jim. My kids are not going to be happy about my treasures.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Julie,
glassware can be so appealing! I found two vintage martini shakers at a sale. Had to have them. No idea why - I'm not a martini drinker.

Grace Topping said...

I am trying to get rid of things, not acquire them. But occasionally I find myself picking up something at a yard sale, especially the ones at my church sponsored by the youth group, that I can't resist. I recently found a beautiful Lands' End down-filled coat in perfect condition for $10. I couldn't resist. Perhaps the donor was moving to Florida and no longer needed it. I put it in the closet right next to the Lands' End down coat I already owned. I know, but it was such a bargain compared to what I paid for the one I already owned that I couldn't resist it..

Shari Randall said...

Ha, Grace, I would do the same thing! A fashionista friend told me once that if you find something that works - that fits well, does its job, feels good on - then you should buy one in every color. Great advice if one has an unlimited budget, but if you can find things at a bargain price - score!

Kim Striker said...

Oh, Julie, I had the same thought! The saddest short story ever.

Shari, my husband will threaten me with blinders if I see a tag sale sign. Like you, that box of plates -SCORE! I'm an angel and cat figurine collector, with depression glassware tossed in for good measure, and oh yes, can't resist McCoy or Southern Pottery. What can I say. I'm not to be trusted on my own at a tag sale. There's always something.

Glad you had a good day.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Kim, LOL - My husband's the same way! But we don't let that get between us and a good piece of pottery, right?

KM Rockwood said...

We recently had our kitchen and dining room remodeled, and I am left with boxes of the types of things one sees at yard sales. But these are mine! The handblown glass whale my daughter gave me. My grandmother's paintings. A few things from my mother's house that I loved as a child.

I think they will go in plastic storage containers at the back of a closet. It will have to be my daughters who consign them to either strangers or the trash.

Meanwhile, however, I try to keep away from yard sales and thrift shops. There's always something I never knew even existed that I now need.