Notes from Candice Ransom

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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Chicken, No; Donuts, Yes: A New Year’s Day Journal

Is it Saturday?  Every day the last few weeks has seemed like Saturday.  Or a holiday fixing to get ready to happen.  In grocery stores, I squint over lists of special food for Christmas Eve, Christmas morning, Christmas day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day breakfast, New Year’s Day. Today when I woke up, I

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It’s Coming on Christmas

You are ten in 1962 and it’s coming on Christmas.  At W.T. Grant’s you buy a one-inch tall plastic nativity scene for a quarter.  It looks like the nativity your mother has only much smaller.  You don’t think about the religious connotation.  You want to shrink and slip inside the manger scene. At Drug Fair,

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Happy Thanksgiving . . . from Atticus!

Read my face: disgusted.  I’ve been living in this house almost a year but if the people here don’t shape up, I’m leaving. First Mama got sick.  They say cats love sick people, and it’s true to a point.  Nothing better than a warm body in the bed, somebody bringing food.  But Mama kept emitting

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Tell Me About Your Book . . .

This past weekend, I went to our regional SCBWI conference, a happy gathering of children’s book writers and illustrators.  I believe there were 265 in attendance, not counting the faculty.  The ballroom at the Holiday Inn Dulles was comfortably packed and energy crackled. I always love waiting for this conference to begin, the year-long work

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Pumpkin Day!

Welcome my latest book!  Pumpkin Day is my first pre-K reader, about a family that visits a pumpkin patch.  Erika Meza did the cheerful, autumn-perfect illustrations. I never went to a pumpkin patch when I was a kid.  We raised our own!  Pie pumpkins (smaller, for cooking) were grown next to the corn in our

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