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Author pursues her passion, follows heart
After a career of writing books-and an unfortunate set of circumstances-successful author Candice Ransom writes for herself for the first time

 After 30 years of writing nonfiction, author and Spotsylvania resident Candice Ransom now pens for herself.
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Date published: 11/11/2012


After Candice Ransom had written more than 110 books, she finally got the chance to pen the kind of stories she was meant to write.

But the way the successful Spotsylvania County author came to follow her heart--and not the specifics of her book deal--may be a path others don't want to take.

It was 2008, the economy had tanked, and her career was taking a nosedive. She had run herself ragged the year before--selling 12 books--but the old contracts were gone. Publishing houses she dealt with were either changing direction or going out of business.

Bookstores were doing the same, and schools couldn't afford to hire her for workshops.

To make matters worse, her depression flared, and the medicine she took left her with horrid side effects.

She suffered bouts of insomnia that lasted up to 48 hours. She couldn't tolerate bright light. She had no energy or desire to work.

"I was down, but not out," Ransom said, looking back.

Characters who were a mixture of her imagination and childhood called her to the computer.

"I sat down and wrote for myself for the first time, and that was the thing that got me out of bed," she said.


Ransom wrote about a girl like herself, "only braver." That was 8-year-old Iva, who wanted to use her great-grandfather's treasure map to discover long-lost gold.

The girl lived in Mineral, in Louisa County, but Ransom changed the name to Uncertain to reflect her state of mind.

The book, "Iva Honeysuckle Discovers the World," was launched--and published by Disney-Hyperion.

It got rave reviews from Kathi Appelt, winner of a Newbery Medal for children's literature. She said Iva Honeysuckle "is destined to become as distinctive and well-loved as Pippi Longstocking. Here is storytelling in its full glory."

Ransom followed that with an even funnier tale for middle-school readers. "Rebel McKenzie" is about a preteen who wants to be a paleontologist, "the Ice Age kind, not the dinosaur kind."

When her parents won't put up the money for her to go on a kids' dig and safari--saying their busted refrigerator is the bigger ice-age issue--Rebel runs away. Police bring her back with blistered and bloodied feet, the same situation Ransom suffered years ago while growing up in Centreville.

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Candice Ransom knows she's got some explaining to do when she says she wants to be like a buzzard.

She spent several years researching the birds for a book and found them quite enchanting. She ordered license tags with "BUZARD" and subscribed to what she calls the Turkey Buzzard School of Writing.

She doesn't want her work to read like the buzzard on the ground: ungainly, clumsy, busily doing its job. She aspires to be "the turkey buzzard in the sky, soaring effortlessly with scarcely a wing flap."