Notes from Candice Ransom

Poetry from Stones

Outside my window right now: bare trees, gray sky, a brown bird.  No, let’s try again.  Outside my window, the leafless sweetgum shows a condo of squirrels’ nests, a dark blue rim on the horizon indicates wind moving in, and a white-crowned sparrow scritches under the feeders.  Better.  Even in winter, especially in winter, we

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True Story

Recently I attended a writer’s conference mainly to hear one speaker.  His award-winning books remind me that the very best writing is found in children’s literature.  When he delivered the keynote, I jotted down bits of his sparkling wisdom. At one point he said that we live in a broken world, but one that’s also

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Party Like It’s 1908

I bought my first antique postcard around 1980.  Mama and I were junkin’ at Law’s Flea, a stockyard turned antique market every Sunday.  A man was selling postcards.  I flipped through a box and pulled out one showing a wild turkey sitting on a fence in the moonlight.  It was the prettiest thing I’d ever

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The Sameness of Sheep

Once, when I discussed my work-in-progress middle-grade novel with my agent, I told her the character was eleven.  “Make her twelve,” she said.  “But eleven-year-olds aren’t the same as twelve-year-olds,” I protested.  “Those are different ages.”  “Make her twelve,” she insisted.  “The editor will ask you to change it anyway.” I didn’t finish the book

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The Book Box

For a fiction workshop, I asked participants to bring in childhood books that influenced them to become a writer.  Naturally, I did the assignment myself.  Choosing the books was easy, but they felt insubstantial in my hands, vintage hardbacks that lacked the heft of, say, the last Harry Potter. When it came my turn to

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Windward into Revision

In August 2016, I traveled to Vinalhaven Island off the coast of Maine to participate in a week-long festival honoring former resident Margaret Wise Brown.  I gave an evening talk, and, most fun of all, led a workshop in which attendees penned poetry and even a picture book in Margaret’s lyrical style.  Back home again,

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A Working Writer’s Career, Part Two

In Part One, I sold my first children’s book before the age of 30 (a thing for me), well within my five-year do-or-die deadline.  This was supposed to be published right after Part One, but I wrote a post in between and forgot to see if this had been published in Bookology! After several months,

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How I Spent My Summer Vacation

September.  Yellow tickseed has overtaken chicory in roadside ditches.  Goldfinches are fixing to switch to olive plumage.  To me, it’s seemed like September since mid-July, when Walmart swapped beach towels and grill tools for back-to-school notebooks and gel pens. School supplies remind me of waiting at the bus stop the day after Labor Day, dressed

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A Working Writer’s Career, Part One

Note:  This is my latest Knock Knock essay for Bookology Magazine, an online publication about children’s books.  I am one of several contributors to the Knock Knock column.  One Sunday morning in May, 1970, I sat on the mustard-colored sofa in our living room with the Spring Children’s Books issue of the Washington Post Book

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Off the Grid

Saturday I jumped in the truck with a bottle of water and a 25-year-old Virginia topographical map.  Where I was going Mapquest, Garmins, and smartphones were useless.  I drove north on Route 11, then west on Route 220, then, after some miles, made a left onto a windy road that doglegged around Tinker Mountain, ran

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Hitting the Refresh Button

Confession:  I don’t know where the refresh button is on my computer, or what it does.  I only know I’ve been told to “refresh” a page for up-to-date information (I think).  I just click out of the Internet and start over.  Don’t laugh. In 1982, when my husband bought my first PC (an Osborne we

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Happy 25th Birthday, Big Green Pocketbook!

About this time 25 years ago a box of books landed with a thud on my front porch.  Comp copies of my first picture book. The idea for this book came to me in the summer of 1981.  We were living in our Greenbrier rental house.  My niece Susan was staying with us for the

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