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Author pursues her passion, follows heart page 2
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.
REZA MARVASHTI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 11/11/2012

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The only difference was that Ransom was trying to get to New York City to become a writer.

"To this day, I can't wear closed-back shoes," Ransom said. "I didn't become a famous writer, either. And I can't stand New York City."

A COLLEGE DEGREE AT 52

Ransom is 60 and lives off Gordon Road with her husband, Frank, and their cats.

She's spent more than 30 years writing historical fiction and nonfiction, biographies, board books and picture books.

She's written series about Time Spies and Boxcar Children and has had 45 titles translated into 12 languages.

Everything Ransom knows about the writing process, she taught herself--until she got a college degree at 52.

"I wanted the dorm experience," she said, then realized what she needed more at that point in her life was her own bathroom.

She earned a master's of fine arts in writing from Vermont College in 2004 and the same in children's literature from Hollins University three years later. She teaches a six-week summer course at Hollins about writing for children.

While earning her degrees, Ransom noticed her real-world experience set her apart. Classmates would be analyzing why a writer chose a particular turn of phrase. They'd cite a Freudian cause or some other deep-seated condition.

"I would say, 'She probably couldn't think of anything else to say' or 'Her editor probably changed it.' "

Still, Ransom wouldn't trade the tools she acquired through her degrees.

"I learned so much, even about sharing the bathroom," she said.

THE BEST MATERIAL

Ransom says she doesn't have time or the luxury to travel to new venues to find subjects for her books.

"I don't need to," she said. "The best material is right in my own backyard."

She giggled that she gets excited when she sees a place name like Snell on a map. She and her husband set out, checking out old houses, unusual names of businesses and hole-in-the-wall restaurants.

She regularly eavesdrops on conversations and stores them away for future books.

She's enjoying this new phase of her career as she draws on her own experiences and people she's known for Iva and Rebel--and future books and characters.


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BE LIKE A BUZZARD

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."