Notes from Candice Ransom

Between Selves

Recently I attended our regional SCBWI conference.  It was a great conference, as always, and like old home week.  Lots of people came up to me:  Hollins students, retreat attendees, critique clients, workshop attendees, even someone who heard me speak at a romance writers panel in 1982 (“You were a girl!”).  I was pleased that

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Why I Went Back to Jazzercise

As you grow older, you realize there are a great many things you can’t get back:  your childhood home, your size two body, your mother’s moonstone pendant you lost in the front yard and never found no matter how many times you raked through the grass.  In this era of ever-facing forward, you may think

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Cleopatra’s Robe

When I think about the stars and how far away they are and how many, I get so I have to sit down. And then I remember that matter cannot be created or destroyed, which means nothing ever leaves.  Not dogs or fleas or mockingbirds or Jefferson’s eyelashes.  The dust stirred by the hem of

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Strawberries in May

No tuna for the cats this week.  These are the first of the season and Social Security only stretches so far.  Time for homemade strawberry shortcake with real cream. Fifty years ago you kissed Estee Lauder Swiss Strawberry off my lips.  When all the kids had measles, you picked tiny wild berries and put them

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“The Way Mama Could Peel Apples!”

Something was wrong. Sick of being buttoned-up, jammed-up, grown-up, I tore out in the Little Red Truck, down a wide-open highway, windows down, eating a Twix bar, CD player blaring Waylon and Willie in “Good-hearted Woman.” It wasn’t too long before I met the girl who used to drive barefoot down tree-dappled backroads, sipping the

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Are You a Hummingbird or a Jackhammer?

Last fall, social media buzzed with Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk on creativity.  Gilbert, who has led workshops on finding your passion, presented the flipside at Oprah’s event.  While she herself has followed her passion all her life, she understands that not everyone is cut out of the same cloth.  She divided people into jackhammers—those who doggedly

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Not-So-Secret Source: My “Paper Man”

At the writing retreat in Luray a few weekends ago, participants wanted to know where I got the variety of ephemera I use in writing-related art projects.  “My Paper Man,” I said. Since I’ve been collecting–well, anything, I’ve had a source.  Bottle Man, Postcard Man, Teddy Bear Woman, Depression Glass Man.  Right now the “man”

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Celebrating Spring with the Dead

Yesterday I discovered a new British writer whose work (what I’ve read of it) makes me gasp.  Yesterday, our first real spring day with daffodils blooming and birds carrying twigs, we went to Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, the second most visited cemetery in the nation ( after Arlington). I’ve always loved cemeteries, especially ones with

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Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Last week I read this wonderful book, My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop.  I lapped up every syllable about 82 independent bookstores, envious that I don’t have a bookstore where everybody knows your name, where books are recommended, where your own books are promoted. The first bookstore I ever

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A Novel Needs More Than a Postcard

The early stages of working on a novel are like the bright winter sky the day after a snowstorm.  Clear, expansive, filled with promise. You and your new project stride hand in hand toward a great working partnership. Then you get busy and soon it’s been months since you and your novel have so much

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In Search of the Perfect Planner

Every December, when my life unravels due to too many cookies and too little real work, I begin my search for a planner.  I have started many planning systems. Teacher planners, DayRunner (remember those?), ARC (Staples system).  Last year I began a bullet journal. Bullet journals are wildly popular and I loved the idea of

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Wheels on the Pavement

My new planner set the course last week: work, two trips to the library, three trips to the gym.  Time to crack the whip!  Get back in the harness!  But by Thursday, I was sick of my own dictums.  I needed to get away from my desk, my office, my house.  The wheels of the

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