Notes from Candice Ransom

The Books We Keep Forever

In late September of 2018, I stood at the corner of 37th and Madison Avenue in New York City and gazed longingly at the elegant pink marble building that housed J.P. Morgan’s library, now the Morgan Library and Museum.  I’m willing it to be January 25, 2019, the opening of the Morgan’s exhibit: “Tolkien: Maker

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Resolutions? Goals? Or Status Quo?

In exercise class this week, various instructors asked us if we’d made resolutions, or had goals for the new year.  At 66, I am over resolutions.  How much of my life can I meaningfully change at this stage?  It’s enough to keep moving forward and maintain goals made in the last few years.  Watch my

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What I’m Reading: The Third Mushroom

I’m a huge fan of Jennifer L. Holm’s books.  I’ve taught her Newbery Honor historical middle grade, Turtle in Paradise, in my writing classes.  And The Fourteenth Goldfish will be a mentor text in my week-long middle grade writing intensive (next summer, Hollins University).  I loved the idea of a scientist grandfather who finds the

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Daniel Boone Days

This blog has been sadly neglected.  Too much teaching, too much writing, too much—well, ignoring the blog!  In the past, my blog has been a place for me to write photo essays.  My monthly column at Bookology Magazine is home for my children’s literature essays.  And I contribute articles on the writing process to Children’s Book

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Joyful Writing Places

A recent blog post by children’s author and friend Claudia Mills titled “Can the Joy of Time Away from Home Inspire Joy upon Returning?” made me want to write about the same topic.  Claudia and I both taught at Hollins University.  Mornings, we walked the “campus loop.”  Even talking ninety to the minute, we always

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Behind the Sign

I came down with the flu.  After weeks of dragging myself to the computer, I finally listened to the doctor and let myself be sick.  One afternoon I pulled out my old journals.  I haven’t kept a journal in the last few years, instead a planner dictates my days.  My composition notebooks are a mishmash

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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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