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March 11th, 2008

On being a WORKING writer

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Candie
In the interest of getting back into the blogging-groove, here I am again with a few short thoughts. I'm waiting on calls for a piece I'm doing on banking technology, and in between, I'm trying to get my mojo back on a novel I started with a great deal of excitement a few weeks ago. That pesky life thing (see previous post) intervened, and I'd put it away for paying work.

As I've sat here comtemplating it, I've been thinking about a movie I watched recently, HOLLYWOODLAND, with Ben Affleck and Adrian Brody. The gist of the movie is that George Reeves, who played Superman on the wildly popular TV series in the 1950s, dies, and while his death is ruled a suicide, there is speculation that he was killed by the movie producer husband of the woman he was involved with for many years.


(HOLLYWOODLAND)

In the movie, George Reeves is bemoaning his fate to his agent—the fact that while he had dreams of being a serious actor (even starring in the wildly successful GONE WITH THE WIND as one of the Tarleton twins, as well as other movies)—he's now stuck in this cheesy TV role and will forever be typecast as the man of steel, hero to kids everywhere.


(George Reeves as Clark Kent and Superman)

George's agent, while sympathetic, tells him:

 "An actor can't always act. Sometimes you have to WORK."

I immediately wrote that down because it is so true for so many of us writers, too. 

Writers can't always write. Sometimes—most times—we have to work!

Granted, I'd love to have the luxury of spending all of my time perfecting my not-so-perfect novels, but I don't have that luxury. But I am a danged fine freelancer, and I remind myself on days like today that I ought to enjoy that fact—the fact that my work is seen every month by 50,000 people.

I feel fortunate that the bulk of my work IS writing, although I do a lot of other things, too, to make a buck. Because, as we all know, writing isn't the fast track to the big money.

Recently, on a list I'm own, a new writer was fretting over her manuscript and wanting to give up because she didn't feel she could change it—or wanted to change it—to meet editors' needs. There was lots of helpful discussion, to which I contributed (helpfully, I'm hoping, as we've all been there, done that), but the upshot of it all for me was this, as I posted on the list:

"Bottom line, and for those folks on this list who have known me a long time, this is boring old news, but here it is again: The children's writing business is NOT for the faint of heart or those without the intestinal fortitude to stay the course, persevere and try and try and . . . try and try and try and TRY yet again and again and again, ad nauseum! Giving up means that you'll DEFINITELY never get the story or stories published anywhere. I'm so thankful for all the writer-friends who told me, "Don't give up." And I'm still not giving up."

I remind myself of that ALL the time! 

On that note, I want to thank lkmadiganfor interviewing me (she asked some fun questions!). I so appreciate her kind words about my novel, The Legend of Zoey. Thanks, Lisa! Friends like you are what keep us all going! And I'm so fortunate to have wonderful, supportive writer friends—you KNOW who you are!

Okay, phone is ringing! Back to WORK!
XO Candie 

March 9th, 2008

Life is what happens while you're busy making plans. So true. I've been away from LJ for awhile, dealing with family and work, but I'm making baby steps toward getting back to my regular life. Talk about a long commercial interruption! When last I posted, I was in the throes of the last minute preparations for the SCBWI-Midsouth Annual Fall Conference, of which yours truly is a coordinator, a volunteer job I've happily done for six years now. I had to stop all and everything, mostly, to get that show on the road, but it was a lot of fun, the highlight of which, for me, was meeting my dear, dear friend, Syrl, who has been, with me, one of the charter members of my long-time, online critique group. Syrl is just as wonderful in person as she always has been via e-mail and the telephone!


(Here we are!)

It was also good to see many old friends, and my agent, and Lin Oliver and editor Jennifer Wingertzahn, whom I had the good pleasure of hanging out with for a weekend in the wilds of Arkansas a couple of years ago!


(It was great to catch up and have some laughs!)


(Lin Oliver enjoys being crowned "Queen of Country" for a day.)

The entire weekend was a blast. My co-coordinator, Genetta, always helps make it feel like it's running along smoothly. A wonderful time was had by all!


(Genetta looking beautiful—and calm—as always!)

Here's the short version of all that happened (family-wise) from September through the end of 2007, when last I posted (and only the FUN stuff)! I'm going to attempt to put this all here, behind an LJ-cut, so that you're not wading through a long post with TONS of pics! If it doesn't work, put it down to rusty blogging skills and forgive me, please! Enjoy.

Click here for: Life, Late Fall 2007Collapse )

So there's a bit of my life since September 2007 (the FUN stuff)! I'll continue to update until I get it all current. I'm looking forward to reading what's going on with all my LJ friends!
XO Candie

September 4th, 2007

. . . from my long-going and ongoing SCBWI-LA post—the post that keeps giving and giving and giving, LOL—to share some FUN news.

The Labor Holiday Hoopla is over—I hope everyone had a nice weekend? We sure did! Vanderbilt beat Richmond, 41-17 at Vandy!
Ever-Supportive and Neighbor Steve were there:



For Vandy fans, there is nothing better than starting off the season with a WIN!
Go Commodores!

This week, I received my copy of the 2008 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market book, often referred to as "the Bible" of the industry, and I was tickled to see my article in it!



My article is entitled "10 (Giant but Essential) Steps to Getting There." Besides a nice seven-page spread, Alice Pope, editor-extraordinaire, included a supercharged JPEG of the cover of my novel, The Legend of Zoey:





Here's a shot of the article inside the CWIM:



This year's edition has so many folks in it that I know, I feel like we're all having a party right within the pages of the book! I went through all my pic files to see if I could find photos of the people I know.

There's my good friend, Kathleen Duey:


("The Uneasy Marriage of Art and Commerce")

And Justina Chen Headley:


("The Heart's Journey")

Delacorte Editor, Krista Marino, on writing for boys:


("An Editor's Advice on Reaching These Often Reluctant Readers")

Henry Holt Art Director, Laurent Linn (who will be on the faculty of our own SCBWI-Midsouth conference in two weeks):


("Getting Your Art Noticed by the People Who Count")

New Friend, Carrie Jones:


(First Books Profile on Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend)

AND . . .

While I don't have pics, there was Sarah Mlynowski and K.L. Going from my YA list, Hope Vestergaard, Sue Bradford Edwards, Kelly Milner Halls and Greg R. Fishbone,

AND . . .

While I've only met him once, at SCBWI-LA 2006, and I'm sure-positive he would not remember me, I have to give him a shout-out because he's my daughter Chloe's "author-of-the-moment," she adores Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, and that's Mo Willems:


("Think About Your Audience, Not For Your Audience")

It's funny to think, but in 1979, I bought my first copy of Writer's Market, as I began a young adult novel featuring two kids named Kate and Steve. Each year, I bought the Writer's Market, and then in 2001, I began buying the CWIM, too. I pored over each edition, read every article, absorbed every word of advice—and, often, especially in the last six years, I was reading articles by people that I would meet in the future! Like two of my critique group gals, lisaalbert and Roxyanne Young!

In other news, the kids finally returned to school. Most of the kids in the US returned to school today, but mine are starting week four. Here are some fun back-to-school pics!


(Ever-Supportive and Kids)


(Because I like to compare, here they are in 2006.)


(Chloe, fresh-faced and ready!)


(Smiling Jack!) 

Next post, back to my regularly scheduled program of SCBWI-LA recapping. Wishing everyone a peaceful back-to-school week, if applicable!
XO Candie
 

September 1st, 2007

Happy September, LJ-Friends!

As usual, LIFE got in the way of me finishing my SCBWI-LA post—there just aren't enough hours in the day! So, I'll continue on from where I last left off, with lots of pics (politely hidden behind LJ-Cuts, so as not to overload folks), because I'm going to catch up with it all, right now, today, pinky-swear! Well, with my Friday recap, at least. If anything, hopefully, for some folks, I'm extending the fun of SCBWI-LA for another few weeks!

When last I left off, I'd arrived in LA, and I'd attended the Faculty Dinner. Okay! Friday morning was the official start of the conference. All the faculty has to line up and approach the microphone and say a word that represents their purpose at the conference. Last year, I was near the end of the line. All the great words were taken (reciprocity, joy, revision, hot-flash, LOL), so I was scrambling to figure out something to totally represent me and my "vision" and "purpose" for the weekend. Last year, I kept thinking of how I'd asked (bribed) a bunch of people to come see my workshop with the promise of adult libations . . . so I'm thinking, thinking, thinking as I get closer to the stage. When it was my turn, I was thinking of a great writerly word like, oh, self-editing. I got in front of the microphone . . . "My name is Candie Moonshower. I'm from Nashville. My word is KEGGER."



Yes, KEGGER. I've still not lived that one down. However, with that thought in mind, this year, I decided to have a related word, and a word that would serve as a pre-welcome to Lin Oliver, co-founder of SCBWI, who will be on the faculty of our SCBWI-Midsouth conference this month (I'm the fearless co-coordinator). So, I'm thinking, thinking, thinking this year as I get closer to the stage. When it was my turn, I was thinking of a great writerly (and conference word) like, oh, coordinator. I got in front of the microphone . . . "My name is Candie Moonshower. I'm from Nashville, and we're excited about Lin coming to see us next month. My word is HONKYTONKBADONKADONK."



Okay then! I was off to a great start, and the fun thing was the folks who came up after and said, "I remembered KEGGER from last year, and I couldn't wait to see what you'd come up with this year!" I hope I didn't disappoint!

Onward! So Friday, I went to a couple of great workshops, and I did some critiquing. I attended a workshop by those YA-ladies extraordinaire, Ellen Wittlinger and Sonya Sones, called "Writing Teen Dialogue," where I saw Richard Peck visiting, too! I had to cut out early to do some critiquing, but I enjoyed being there. Afterwards, I had lunch with the delightful Cynthia Leitich Smith (my Creek sister) and then hooked up with Lisa and friends in the ballroom!

Click on the link to check out my daytime pics:Read more...Collapse )

Friday night was the always fun Wine & Cheese Reception! I was SO proud to stand with my BFF Lisa Albert and ner new biography of Lois Lowry!

Click on the link to see some Friday night pics:Read more...Collapse )

It's ALWAYS fun to see Brad again!

(Me, Brad and Lisa, 2007)

And for a fun comparison:


(Brad, me and Lisa, 2006)

And going back even one year further:


(Lisa, Brad and me, 2005)

Suffice to say, Brad and Lisa and I have been good pals since Lisa and I attended our second SCBWI-LA in 2004. We always love to see Brad!

Lisa Yee brought a special friend this year:

(Lisa and Peep and Lisa Yee!)

And one final Friday night Wine & Cheese Pic. I had the great pleasure of meeting Paul and Tracy Grand, the JacketFlap folks, who posed for me:



That's it for now! Next up, Saturday, Saturday night and the Glittery Moon ball!
XO Candie

August 11th, 2007

SCBWI-LA: First Night!

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Candie
One year when I was at Writer's Camp . . .

Wow! I'm back, and I've been so busy getting the kids ready for school on Monday that I haven't had time to blog or write a word or even think. I've tried to catch as many of the LA Roundups as possible, and there have been some good ones—thanks, y'all!

After a slightly bumpy and bilious flight (my tumultuous tummy is famous for its flightmares) from my layover in St. Louis to LAX, I enjoyed a nice expensive cab ride to the Century Plaza Hyatt with Kirk, my Armenian-American driver, during which time I learned that he has lived in LA for 20 years, he's been a citizen for 14 years, he's divorced with grown kids but has a new girlfriend back in Armenia, and that he really likes Southerners (or so he said . . . LOL). We arrived, I tipped, and the weekend began!

In keeping with a theme this summer, first things first:


(Toes in LA—relaxing in the Lobby Bar for much-needed refreshments after enduring Rush Hour in a cab!)

First hugs went, of course, to my beauteous roomie and Storyboard crit-group member of FIVE years, Lisa Albert):


(lisaalbert  enjoys the view from our balcony!)

I then dropped off my bags and headed back to the Lobby Bar where I met up with old friends and new to catch up!


(Jen Waters, bluemalibu , me, seaheidi and pamm )

Then it was off to the faculty dinner, to which I was invited because I worked this year doing critiques. During the pre-dinner cocktails, it was fun to meet some of my YA friends including Ellen Wittlinger and Erin Vincent (photographs forthcoming in upcoming blogs!).

I was so fortunate to be seated with poet extraordinaire Lee Bennett Hopkins, Charles, Bruce Hale, Stephanie Gordon, Judy Enderle, Lindsey Davis and SCBWI staffer Liz Brown. We had a blast at our table.


(SCBWI staffers take a bow!)


(Kathleen Duey, Roxyanne Young, my Creek Sister, Cynthia Leitich Smith cynleitichsmith and I enjoy a group hug!)


(Me, Lindsey Davis, Lee Bennett Hopkins and Sue Alexander)


(So fun to see Kim Turrisi, Gee Cee Addison and Lee BH again!)

After the faculty dinner, it was back to the Lobby Bar and Patio to hang out and do more chatting and catching up, all in preparation for Friday morning and the official start of the conference.

As per usual, Lisa and I stayed up entirely too late, gabbing and laughing, but we justified it by reminding ourselves that we only have this one time a year to hang out and, in the infamous words I copped from the little ol' lady in the "You CAN learn to play the piano in ONE day!" commercial, indulge in "a whole lotta laughter and a whole lotta fun!" And I can testify to the fact that lisaalbert and I know how to do it RIGHT! My tummy and my face still hurt from laughing so hard. More about that later . . .

I'll post about Friday at the conference in my next blog. I don't want to overload the Friends page with too many pics or whatall, and I want to make sure I remember all the fun details (still feeling nutty)!

Until then,
Candie
XXOO XXOO

August 1st, 2007

The Giving Steve

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Candie
Generous friends are a blessing. Living in a multi-family complex for a long while, I've had neighbors come and go. I pride myself on being neighborly, but some neighbors don't lend themselves well to being friends. And it seems to go in cycles, which is nice in a way because all the bad mojo comes and goes at roughly the same time, leaving behind the good stuff, kind of like skimming the yuck off a pot of boiling potatoes.

At the moment, despite the construction chaos, we have a nice group of neighbor-friends that I really appreciate: Donna and Steve, Laura and Rich, Yvonne and Irfan, Heidi and Will, and John and Liz, to name a few. On Sunday, we went to see the Nashville Sounds play the Sacramento River Cats with our neighbors Donna and Steve, and their daughter Emily.


(Toes on the bleachers—and neighbor Donna's tennis-shod toes on the right!)


(The Sounds' Guitar Scoreboard)

Besides the fun of watching the kids enjoy a great summer evening, the highlight of the game for me was catching a foul ball. To his credit, it was the ball deflecting off Steve's glove that allowed me to catch it without breaking a hand.


(After much scrambling, this is where the ball roughly ended up, LOL!)

Steve was understandably disappointed that he'd come THAT close to catching a ball, but he was gracious. It didn't matter because our section of the bleachers was hot. Three more came our way, and Steve caught one, too.


(Steve did actually catch it in his GLOVE!)

Ozzie came to our section:


(Emily, Chloe, Jack and Ever-Supportive behind Ozzie's paw.)

The Sounds lost, but a good time was had by all. I'm bummed that the Dodgers have fallen out of first place in the NL West, but it ain't over 'til it's over.

Off to finish packing. I'm already looking forward to meeting my critique-ees at the conference. Just as I did last year, I had a stack of really lovely manuscripts to read and critique. Always a pleasure to see what other folks are working on!

See you after LA!
XO Candie

July 28th, 2007

Hello!

Sure, the first day of Autumn is September 23, and yes, it may seem like I'm MONTHS early in saying goodbye to Summer, but although August has not yet begun, here in Tennessee, summer IS winding down because school starts in two weeks. It's a bittersweet time, in some ways, because we all know that lazy days of swimming and reading and picnicking, and long evenings visiting with friends, will soon draw to a close, replaced by early baths and off-to-bed while it is still light and homework and Scouts and dance class and Brownies and all that the school year means. This has been a wonderful summer, despite the construction chaos (see blog about "the flood"). And it has flown by!

Summer evenings, even now, with three kids and a grown-up life, still remind me of summer evenings when I was a teenager—nights of going out, seeing friends, hanging at the pool, endless conversations that seemed more important than anything else could possibly be, and, as Toby Keith says in a song, "All the whole world had to stand still / And turn around us / 'Coz that was the deal."  Ah . . . Watch the video at: Toby Keith's "We Were in Love" You'll see hear what I mean!


(Summer, 1975)

Two weeks ago today, I had my toes in the sand of Fort Myers Beach:


(Ah, bliss!)

And last weekend, my feet were propped up as I read manuscripts on my front porch. It wasn't long before an impromptu outdoor party began to shape up at my house:


(Still sporting my festive Florida flower pedicure—thanks to Terry at Silky Nails!)

It was a nice, cool, dry evening. Neighbors began gathering . . .


(Donna and Steve)


(Roy, David, Gina and Yvonne)

Irfan and Yvonne, and their friend, Roy, brought out their African drums.


(Irfan, Roy and Yvonne have been taking drumming lessons.)

Ever-Supportive dances with Chloe's friend, Gracie:



Irfan teaches Chloe some drumming techniques:



Chloe picks it up quickly:



Irfan dances for us:


(Jack and Chloe accompany Irfan)

Then at another neighborhood gathering:


(Donna, Heidi and Laura visit.)


(Chloe enjoys a cupcake.)


(Chloe's friend, Emily, enjoys a cupcake, too.)


(Kids and Friends—what summer is all about!)

And what would summer be without baseball? Those of you who know me well know that I'm a diehard Dodger fan. I'm not from Los Angeles, but when I lived and worked in Memphis, way back in 1981, I spent a goodish bit of my time watching baseball games on the then-new wonder that was Cable TV. That year, Fernando (I feel I've earned the right to call him by his first name, being one of his biggest fans) and his screwball won the Rookie of the Year AND the Cy Young Award in the same season—the first player to ever do that, I think.


(Fernando Valenzuela, in his glory days . . .)

Anyhoo, the Dodgers just HAPPEN to be at the top of the NL West, and I've got high hopes. Brett Tomko starts tonight against the Rockies. I think he's on a roll.

Tomorrow, we take the kids to see the Nashville Sounds play against the Sacramento River Cats. The Sounds are the AAA team for the Milwaukee Brewers. The Sounds are leading the PCL American North League, too, so this is a sweet time for me!


(Sounds Jersey)


(My Dodgers Jersey—preferred sleepwear!)

Thursday, I'm jetting off to LA where, if I weren't going to be thoroughly enjoying the SCBWI annual conference and working at critiquing with other writers at all kinds of odd hours and times—not to mention living it up with Lisa, Brad, Roxy, David, Alice, Krista, Kathleen, Tracy, Genetta, Sid, Cheryl, Linda Joy, Mary, Sue, Lin and Steve, Lisa Y., Jen B., Meg, all the YA-listers that will be there, and the other 990 folks, and I cannot wait to see you all—I might try and slip away to Dodger Stadium where, in a perfect world, I'd sit in a skybox with Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda and watch a Dodger pitcher throw a no-hitter, as I once watched Orel Hershiser pitch a no-hitter (I think? I was having a WHOLE lot of fun, but either way, it was a phenomenal game, LOL) against the Cincinatti Reds during his 1988 Cy Young Award winning season (thanks to my friend, Ed, for including me on his road trips to eight or nine major league stadiums).


(Mr. October)


(The Man Himself)

So, this time next week, I'll be preparing for the annual poolside gala at SCBWI in Los Angeles. This year's theme is "By the Light of the Silvery Moon," and Lisa promises to bring lots of silvery, glittery fun stuff to toss on ourselves. I return on Tuesday and have to immediately register the kids for school and finish two pending stories, but before I know it, summer will be, for all intents and purposes, over . . .


(Laurent Linn, art director at Henry Holt, holds up my table sign at the 2006 Autograph Party. FYI: Laurent will be on the faculty at this year's SCBWI-Midsouth Annual Conference in September!)


(Lisa and Brad add to the fun at the 2006 Autograph Party!)


(Hey, hey, the gang's all here, including Mary, Sarah and Debby!)

Here's looking ahead to a productive Fall!
XO Candie
Goodbye to Summer:

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July 18th, 2007

The Eye of the Hurricane

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Candie
Good afternoon!

I'm back from Florida with tales to tell (and a few that shouldn't be told), and in two weeks, I leave again for Los Angeles, so I thought I'd better post!


(Goodbye, Nashville—well, the airport, anyways!)

The trip down to Fort Myers was good. Jack, notorious like his mama for motion sickness (I had a "flightmare" once, pre-blogging days, that has become legendary), almost made it to the tarmac without an incident, but did become violently ill on approach.


(I had the Handy Bag at the ready . . . )

I leapt out of my seat and raced uphill to the tail of the plane (we were in full descent-mode) and alerted the flight attendant. She graciously dunked some towels in the ice bin, and after much cooling of the neck and soothing sounds, we managed to land without utilizing the paper receptacle provided for just such occasions.


(Jack and Chloe in flight, pre-incident.)


(Jack and Chloe watch for David's arrival at the airport.)

Oldest Son, David, and his son, Blake, and his friend, Gwen, met us at the airport. It was great to see them as it has been MONTHS.


(David and Blake at the terminal.)

On to the beach to check into our hotel.


(Jack, Blake and Chloe check out the accomodations.)

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Fort Myers Beach, a lovely, old-Florida style hotel built around the pool and the Tiki Bar and within walking distance of the beach. This was the second trip there for the kids and me, and it was just as much fun this time as it was last November. This is a family-oriented spot, but with fun available for the moms and pops in the group, too.

So, first things first after arrival: We went to the Tiki Bar to celebrate our togetherness! I was happy to see Mary Sue there again this year, serving up the folks.


(Jack and Blake bond.)


(David and Jack catch up.)


(Chloe enjoys a cold Coca-Cola!)

After we felt refreshed, we traveled into town to celebrate David's birthday at Osaka.


(A hug for Mom from Oldest Son.)


(The Fab Four: Chloe, Blake, David and Jack.)

The next morning, we hit the beach!


(Ah! Toes in the sand; head in the clouds!)


(Jack and Chloe commune with the seagulls!)


(Jack and Chloe communing with the gulls in November 2006—they've grown!)

One of the most fun things we did last week, even in the sweltering heat, was to visit the Edison and Ford Winter Homes, the estates on the Caloosahatchie River that were built and lived in by Thomas Edison and his friend, Henry Ford.


(Me and the kids under Edison's famous Banyan tree.)


(Big Brother and Little Sister with Edison's statue.)


(Chloe examines Edison's swimming pool and diving board.)


(A view from the IMPRESSIVE porch of Edison's home.)


(Ever-Supportive enjoys a moment of shade.)


(The kids listen to the audio-tour.)


(Outside view of PART of the estate.)


(A view of the Caloosahatchie River from the home.)


(Edison's rubber-making laboratory.)


(David enjoys the lab tour.)

Another day on the beach . . .


(All My Children.)


(Ever-Supportive and Chloe bury Jack in the sand.)


(Resting after a busy day!)


(Saying goodbye is hard—especially at dawn!)

I cried to leave David and Blake, but since I'm the one who always has the camera in hand, no one caught it on film! I want to give a huge shout out to Mary Sue, bartender extraordinaire at the Tiki Bar; Bill and Ivy, the nice couple from New York City that Ever-Supportive and I hung out with at the pool each afternoon; the older couple at the Charlotte airport who patiently watched Jack's fifty different coin tricks and applauded each one of them; and the teens who partied outside our hotel room on the last night and helped themselves to the water bottles and soft drinks I'd left in a cooler outside our door—you saved me lugging them back to David's house! Most especially, thanks to Gwen, who kindly loaned us her car for the duration of our trip. What a sweetheart! It was great to see Rick and Sherry, too. And to David, the bestest Oldest Son ever: Thank you for making our family vacation so wonderful. Mama loves her some David.

I'm calling this blog the eye of the hurricane because in two weeks, I will be jetting off to Los Angeles for the SCBWI national conference. This is my fifth year to go, and I'm stoked. I'll be doing critiques again this year. (As a side-note, last year, I nominated a gal, Carole Dagg, for the Sue Alexander Award, the award I won in 2003 for my book, The Legend of Zoey, and she won, and she sold her book, too!) In the next two weeks, during the quiet, I need to wash a boatload of clothes, write an article, do the research on two more articles, and get my kids ready for school.



This has been a summer of introspection over writing, and that's okay. The time with my children has been wonderful, and I know from the experience of watching one go from birth to age 23 in the blink of an eye that, before I know it, this time in their young lives will be gone. So I'm enjoying every single minute of it while I can.

Next stop, Los Angeles!


(City of Angels)


(My heart bleeds Dodger blue.)

XO Candie
P.S. Thanks to Donna and Emily for taking care of Daisy and Lazlo—we appreciate it! 

July 7th, 2007

Hello LJ friends!

I didn't realize how long it has been since I posted until I got a nudge from my good buddy lisaalbert      letting me know that I've been playing hooky for a few months. What can I say except that I'm in the depths of The Abyss—or "summer vacation" as regular folks call it! My Abyss is sort of like a black hole in space, where all the energy in my life is sucked right out of me and into the children (who NEVER seem to lack energy).


(The Abyss)

I'm not complaining! I feel fortunate that I'm able to work from home and give the kids three lovely months to run naked like goats.



Since last I posted, I had a wonderful trip to Bowling Green for the Southern Kentucky Bookfest. The people that sponsor that event, and the folks who come in to meet the authors, are all wonderful. I had the delightful privilege of meeting Kirby Larson, Newbery Honor winner for her novel Hattie Big Sky.


(Kirby visiting my table!)

I also met Tedd Arnold, and boy, it's a small world! Tedd is in a critique group with Vivian Vande Velde, and I just finished writing a biography about Vivian Vande Velde for Enslow Publishers! I roomed with my good friend, Patsi Trollinger (author of Perfect Timing), seen here with author Chris Rumble (Moby Stink). Chris was my table-mate, and his daughter was such a delight! She bought my book and sat and read it while Daddy Rumble signed a BOATLOAD of his books for the kids!


(Patsi, center, and Chris on the right)

Alison and Frank Lyne were there:


(The Lynes)

Here's Melissa, one of the bookstore coordinators (and a dynamo on ordering and getting more copies of The Legend of Zoey overnighted after I sold out of my stack the first day) and her girls:


(Thank you, Melissa! I look forward to working with you again soon!)

And here are just a few of the great people that stopped to talk to me about ZOEY and left with a signed copy!





(The LOVELY and delightful Portia Pennington!)




A great time was had by all, especially at the reception held on Friday night for the authors at Western Kentucky University. That campus has changed and grown even more beautiful. The wine flowed (and the young bartenders remembered the beer, too), there was a delicious spread of food and live music. On the bus back to the hotel, we were feeling the love!

Just as there is March Madness in basketball, there is May Mayhem at Chez Moonshower. My kids' school can pack more activities into one month than the law should allow. There was Field Day, Beach Day, field trips, lunches with the principal, band concerts, etc., and there was also the last meetings of the Cub Scouts and Brownie troops. I was at school every day for weeks on end. All fun, but whew, exhausting! Add to that the fact that I was facing a June 1 deadline on my VVV book, and you have all you need for stressin' aplenty! June seemed almost anticlimactic!

Before I could kick off the pool-loungin' and naked-goat-running, though, I turned in my manuscript in the early morning hours of June 1, then I traveled to Knoxville that day for the 3rd Annual Knox County Festival of Reading. I roomed with Mary Ann Rodman (Yankee Girl) at a FAB hotel, the Cumberland House (thanks for the tip, Ed), and the festival was held outdoors in the World's Fair Park. I sat next to Alan Gratz (Samurai Shortstop) and his lovely wife, Wendy (who is also my Random House sales rep). My reading went well, with a good audience, and my books sold out, which is always good to hear! Ed Sullivan (The Ultimate Weapon: The Race to Develop the Atomic Bomb) and his sweetheart spouse Judy took Mary Ann and I out to dinner the night before the festival—we had a blast!

I raced back home on Saturday night, June 2, because Chloe was performing on Sunday in her fourth dance recital.

I'd been saying for months: "If I can just make it until June 4 . . ."

Finally, it was Monday, June 4. I was comatose, but I managed to drag myself to the pool with the kids. Since then, I've done a lot of thinking, a little writing, a bit of critiquing, and a lot of swimming and playing Marco Polo and games of UNO and Matching Ponies and SORRY! and baking cookies and herding around the ten extra kids that hang at my house with my kids. All fun! 

Also fun this summer: I've been taking a screenwriting class with my buddies Michael and Shawn. Tuesday nights have been a blast!

Summer for me is a time to ponder. June is always bittersweet. Every June 23rd, I think more about my father than I even usually do. This year, he would have been 78 years old, which is almost incomprehensible to me! When he was killed, he was 39. At the time (I was eight years old), I thought he was OLD, but now that I'm almost ten years older than that, 39 seems YOUNG. He was young and handsome and in the prime of his life.


(Daddy)

The day after his 39th birthday, June 24, 1968, he was killed when his helicopter exploded over Firebase Bastogne in South Vietnam.


(CSM L.J. Browning, June 11, 1968, two weeks before his death) 

It's no wonder to me, now that I have developed some self-knowledge, that so many of my books have "missing father" themes going on in them . . . This is the REAL black hole of my life.

Also this summer, I've reconnected with a couple of people that were very special to me in my long-ago youth. It has been wild to talk about old times and relive some of those "firsts" that we all experience. I can't believe the stuff I remember from thirty-two years ago! (Where did the time go?) I was inspired to start a companion novel to the YA I started in December (and finished in March). Part of this new work is based specifically on a relationship I had in high school—my first real boyfriend with car-dating and all that THAT means!—and I spent a day this week going through old letters and notes he'd written to me over the course of three years. (Note: I'm not a pack rat, but one of the things I have saved, always, are the letters and cards I've received. I have several old hatboxes full of letters from my high school years. At one time, I even had all the corsage boxes I'd ever received, but I finally let go of those . . . ) This was in the days of snail mail and, in my case, my mom's hard and fast rule of "no calling boys!" So if your boyfriend was in college an hour away from home, you watched the mailbox a lot, and waited for the phone to ring on Friday night! Luckily for me, the mailbox stayed pretty full and the phone rang! And I think I kept his mailbox from feeling lonely, too! (I've always loved writing letters, and I'm a great penpal!) What struck me about the letters (among the many things that struck me) was the fact that even though we were dating, it was understood that we'd both do our own things, too. He didn't assume that I would always be available every single Friday and Saturday night, and I didn't assume that he'd always be coming in from school for the weekend—and we both knew that if we weren't seeing each other for a date, we'd both be out and about, with other people, and not pining away at home. And that was okay. (Although, in retrospect, even with all the "Oh aren't we mature about it all," there was a bit of pining going on. We just didn't talk it to death!) We were young, yes, but it all seems now, in hindsight, incredibly adult of us. It has been good to catch up and, during this time of thinking and remembrance, it has been nice to see that while I've come such a long way in some areas of my life, I've held on to a goodish bit of my essential self—the self that believes in real love. 

Here I am as I looked during that time (ah sweet youth!):


(High School Days)

And in honor of remembering and reexperiencing young love, and because I've been obsessed with watching "Lost" this summer, thanks to my sweetheart neighbor, Donna, loaning me seasons I and II on DVD (because for some reason, I never caught even ONE episode!), here is a nice little youtube of what has to be one of the sexiest kisses ever seen on the small screen:

(Oh yeah—and anyone who knows me knows how I love LOVE and the whole idea of falling in love staying in love—and my deep conviction that it can happen!) 

Up next is a bit of traveling as I head down to the Sunshine State to see Oldest Son, and then to Los Angeles for the annual national SCBWI conference. This year I'm doing critiques, and I'm really looking forward to seeing my roomie, Lisa, and all my other writer friends. I'll take lots of pics! 

Until next time, XXOO Candie 
PS: Ever-Supportive and I celebrated an anniversary in late June:

April 30th, 2007

Back from the Flood!

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Candie
Dear LiveJournal Friends: It has been a long while since my last post, but I have reason. On March 28, disaster struck. Not the "act of Mother Nature" kind of disaster, but the "act of incompetent workers" kind of disaster.

Here's the short version. (Do you detect a deep sigh? It hurts to even think about it again! LOL)

There is a huge renovation going on in our complex right now—forty-year-old shake siding and flat roofs are being removed from buildings and replaced with wood siding and pitched roofs, blah blah. This complex has 330 units. The project started in the fall. Two different contractors have been fired or sued due to incompetence, not meeting fire codes in the rebuild, etc. etc. ad nauseum.


(Our front porch, pre-demolition.)

Tuesday, March 27, the demolition started on my building, so all of the shake siding was torn off our six-unit building, down to the felt paper covering the insulation, and the roof was removed. They started rebuilding the roof that Tuesday afternoon.


(Our front porch, post-demolition.)

Now I know roofing. Ever-Supportive does roofing. I watched that fateful Tuesday as they took the felt paper up and installed it across the building, and as they took the heavy roll-roofing up. I never saw the cans of roofing cement go up.

The weather report was predicting rain. We haven't had rain since March 1. The weatherman was saying, "It is not only going to rain, it is going to storm, torrential downpours, etc." I said to Ever-Supportive that Tuesday night, "Do you think this roof is prepared for rain?" He said, "Well, since I don't see a tarp, I assume that they've cemented it. But if it were my job, I'd have put a tarp up there, too . . . " (Famous last words.)

I finally went to sleep around 12:00. From 12:00 to 4:00, I dreamed about our bedroom ceiling falling in on us. I dreamed this dream over and over and over . . . waking up shaking each time.

Around 4:00 AM, I was awakened by the crack of thunder. Then, I heard the sounds of boots on the roof. I poked Ever-Supportive and said, "There is someone on the roof!" He said, "No, it's Bear next door, going to the bathroom." (Bear is our next door neighbor.) I said, "No, it's someone on the roof."

We jumped out of bed. Ever-Supportive ran downstairs and outside where it was starting to rain. Sure enough, there was a ladder propped against the roof. Then the heavens opened up and the rain began to fall.

At 4:30 AM, water began GUSHING into our bedroom. E-S and I were up pulling furniture out away from the walls and getting towels and buckets. By 5:30, it was gushing into the living room (below our bedroom). By 7:00, it was gushing into BOTH the children's rooms, who were up, by this time, eating breakfast standing in the kitchen.

It rained all day. The rain filled a fifty-gallon trash can just in OUR bedroom SIX TIMES before 2:00 PM. All the bedrooms had trash cans and other pans catching water. We had to poke holes in all the ceilings to release the water pressure as the dry wall started to sag. Our bedrooms are all pushed to the center and covered with tarps. Our living room? The same. The one blessing was that my office was untouched (Thank you, Jesus, Mary and Joseph!).


(Post-Tarping)

We were in a hotel for a week, but of course, we still had to get the kids back and forth to school, which necessitated digging through piles of STUFF to find their uniforms and the like. Chloe was crying and homesick and, of course, eating three meals a day OUT was mighty expensive, so we were worrying over that. The contractor did pay our hotel bill, which was a blessing, and I know that it could have been far worse, so I felt somewhat grateful.


(Chloe and "Plank"—a replica of the toy on the cartoon "Ed, Edd & Eddy"—calling for rescue from her tarped bedroom window!)

Coming back home was almost worse—a deep, dark depression overwhelmed me at the sight of all the clean-up I was facing. Meanwhile, of course, Spring had sprung and E-S was in the throes of a huge job and gone from bell-to-bell everyday.


(Chloe sends a message for HELP!)


(Just ONE of the hideous, ghastly examples of what I had to face . . . )

My mojo was feeling quite tender, LOL. It has taken me all of a month to get my house back in order, meanwhile still meeting my deadlines and caring for the kids and all the other things I have to do.

The good news is that I'm now the proud occupant of a clean house, and what I like to call my "Shiny, Happy Office." I tossed and thrown and torn and junked and gotten rid of and donated until I was spent.

Not all has been dark and gloomy. I had a WONDERFUL time at the SoKY Bookfest, which I will blog about next.

So, so SO glad to have things back to normal. It really makes me feel a lot of empathy for people who are the victims of natural disasters and who cannot, for whatever reason, get back on their feet quickly. This was a trial—but it was a short-lived one. It could have been life-threatening or worse.

Also, I made a lot of new friends—here are a few of them:


(My buddy, Kyle, who checked on me frequently!)


(Rico and Alonzo!)

It is times like these that I remind myself about the path in life:



I will post again in a few days about my trip to Bowling Green, Kentucky, for the Southern Kentucky Bookfest—an AWESOME event. I met a lot of wonderful folks there (and, of course, I took LOTS of pics!).

Until next time!

XO Candie
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