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1. On being a WORKING writer

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.


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 [info]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 

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2. John Lennon once said . . .

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.

In October, Oldest Son came to visit, and he brought a young lady with him, MJ, who will soon be an official member of the clan!

(David and MJ)

Jack and Chloe were so excited to see their brother!

(Chloe, David and Jack)

In late November, I went to Alabama for two days for a lovely visit to two schools. I stayed with my friend, Pat, and her husband, Ronnie, and they were kind enough to take me horseback riding while I was there! I also participated in a street fair and led a schmooze. Pat kept me running, and we had a whole lot of fun!

(Kids at Forest Hills!)

(The Weeden School)

(Hanging out with Sheila from SCBWI-Southern Breeze)

(Pat wrestles with her adorable puppy!)

(EARLY morning ride with Gizmo—a patient sweetheart of a horse!)

(SCBWI-Southern Breeze Schmooze)

Back home again to pick up with the kids and their various activities:

(Chloe and Jack working with their ZOO PALS Art Cards Kits, the recent kid-lit debut of my friend, Linda Ragsdale!)

(Thanksgiving with the kids: Stephen, Jack, Lindsey, Chloe, Andrew)

(Uncle Jack and Aunt Bee)

(Back to front: Me, Susan, Mother—FYI: Susan, my aunt, is my mother's baby sister.)

(Fun with Christmas Crafts!)

(Jack has a band concert.)

(Jack's loot at Aunt Susan's!)

(Chloe enjoys Aunt Susan's gifts!)

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

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3. We Will Now Take a Commercial Break . . .

. . . 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, [info]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

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4. Playing Catch Up! Friday, SCBWI-LA

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:

(Ellen Wittlinger and Richard Peck)

(Feeling the Love with Erin Vincent)

(Lunch with Cynthia)

(Lisa, Kelly, Tammi and me)

(Lisa and Emily Jiang)

(Emily Jiang and yours truly!)

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:

(Lisa and her book!)

(Hanging with Lisa and Cynthea Liu)

(Flora Doone)

(Brad & Darlyn)

(Lisa and I with our books!)

(Three of the Storyboard girls—Roxy, me and Lisa!)

(Jen Barnes and Jo Wittemore, the cutest gals in SCBWI!)

(Jo, Linda Joy, Cynthia and Verla)

(Tonya from MN, new to SCBWI-LA!)

(Alice Pope, CWIM editor, takes a gander at ZOEY!)

(Carole Dagg, whom I critiqued and nominated for the Sue Alexander Award in 2006—and who won the award!)

(Tracy Barrett, fearless Midsouth Regional Advisor, shows ZOEY the love!)

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

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5. SCBWI-LA: First Night!

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):

([info]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, [info]bluemalibu , me, [info]seaheidi and [info]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 [info]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 [info]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,

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6. The Giving Steve

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

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7. A Pictorial Tribute to Summer!


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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8. The Eye of the Hurricane

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! 

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9. Summertime . . . and the living is (finally) easy!

Hello LJ friends!

I didn't realize how long it has been since I posted until I got a nudge from my good buddy [info]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.


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:

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10. Back from the Flood!

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!).


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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11. My First Friday Ten

It was, I believe (but correct me if I'm wrong) [info]jbknowles who started The Friday Ten, and I really like that idea—particularly since today my thoughts are random and my post is theme-less. So I'll give it a whirl!

1. I've been offline for the usual reasons—writing, writing, writing. And MORE writing. In the last two weeks, I finished two big freelancing jobs (thank you, Editor Mike).

(Editor Mike . . . editorializing.)

2. I worked on my contracted biography.

3. And . . . drumroll please! I finished the YA I started December 5!

Zokutou word meter
67,000 / 67,000

4. I spent time watching American Idol, which has yet to thrill me this year, I'm sorry to say. What happened to the electric moments I remember in seasons past, such as when Bo Bice sang "The Whipping Post" by the Allman Brothers?

This year, I've mostly felt squirmy and depressed that Sanjaya, sweetheart though I'm sure he is in his real life, has not been voted off yet. I LIKE him as a person, but he has as much vocal POWER as I do, which is NONE. His voice is pleasant, but he doesn't make me FEEL anything. The pre-Final 12 shows were rushed and weird this year, and now, decent singers with some promise, like Sundance and Sabrina, are voted off while dear, sweet, pure-love Sanjaya stays on. This past Tuesday, I used his segment time to load the dishwasher. I honestly didn't want to watch. As it is, I've gotten more enjoyment out of reading Linda Sharp's take on AI than actually WATCHING it . . . Check her out at:

Linda Sharp's Don't Get Me Started!

She's . . . plain-spoken, but she'll make you laugh.

5. I helped my children with a 4-H poster, an Early Tennesseans poster, and a Crocodile poster.

(4-H: Head, Heart, Hands, Health!)

(James Robertson: "The Father of Tennessee")


6. I finally changed my wallpaper on my computer from David Cassidy (spurred by my recent crush-revisited) to a soothing green nothingness. It was beautiful while it lasted . . .

(I cherish you, too, David . . .)

7. I reconnected with an old friend, someone I've known since what I like to call my "gym-suit days"!

8. I delivered all my daughter's Girl Scout Cookies and turned in the money—a HUGE relief. I also participated in a sale whereby I sat at a grocery store with my buddy, Wendy, and we tried to hawk cookies to everyone and their fifth cousin. We were quite successful. Even though people would ATTEMPT to tell us, "Ohmigosh, no! I have eight boxes at home!" they were powerless when we put the hard sell on them. They folded. Here are some of my favorite lines of the day:

Husband stops. Wife: "But honey, we've got eight boxes at home!" Husband: "I want to pick out my OWN cookies!"

Man stops. "My wife bought $56 worth of cookies, but I don't like any of them. Give me $56 worth of Samoas and Thin Mints!"

Woman stops. "Do you have any more Thin Mints? They're the only kind I like. I won't buy anything but Thin Mints!" Us, sadly: "No, sorry, we just sold the last box." Woman: "Okay, give me two boxes of Tagalongs and two boxes of Do-Si-Dos."

Selling delicious Girl Scout cookies is like shooting fish in a barrel. Thanks to everyone who supports Girl Scouts!

9. I had a wonderful long talk with Oldest Son, who lives far away. That ALWAYS lifts my spirits.

10. I wept with joy at Vandy's win yesterday over George Washington University, 77 to 44, in the first round of the NCAA tournaments. Go Vandy! It is often hard to be a Vanderbilt sports fan (football, anyone?), but I'm loyal to my team!

(Vandy celebrates!)

And that's my First Friday Ten! Whew.

This weekend, Arena Football with the Webelos Den. Go Nashville Kats!

Spring is attempting to Spring, and I hope everyone in this hemisphere is looking forward to barbecues and hanging out in the yard as much as I am! This has been a LONG winter.

XO Candie

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12. Writing: The Importance of Reaching "The End"

Hello LJ Friends!

I've been offline since February 17, and for good reason, so if I've not read your blogs lately, trust that it's not because I haven't wanted to (I love reading and commenting on blogs!). Staying away from blogs, e-mailing and IMing are a sure way to stay on-task, and I've needed to be on-task.

I've been busy writing "The End" on several projects. And as I've been in the process of that, I've thought a lot about how I've grown as a writer, and being able to write "The End" is a big part of that growth—a skill that literally helped me leap a huge mental hurdle in my writing career!

Literally putting "the end" on a piece of writing is important, I've learned over the years, and never more so than when you've reached a stage where you have the fever to make a go of it with your writing.

For years, I toyed with writing.

(My kids' toy, the "IllusStory" Kit: "IlluStory is a multi-award winning kit that lets you write and illustrate your very own professionally typeset, hardbound book!"If only it were that easy, right?)

I started stuff. I started LOTS of stuff. I started stuff because starting stuff is fun! The joy of a new character, a new situation—even a new high-brow thought in an essay I would start and not finish—all fun. Writing-just-begun sparkles with newness that writing-in-progress never has, like how a new dress has the perfect finish and hangs just right on your body and never looks the same after that first wearing, no matter how carefully you have it dry-cleaned or wash it on gentle and hang it to dry. Or crisp, linen dinner napkins that never look as starchy and fresh as that very first time you placed them on the table. New stuff is just more shiny and fun and gleaming with prospects.

(Beauteous Hemstitch Napkins from Accent Linens & Embroidery)

In writing, following through is often not fun. About the time you hit the first major turning point of your story, you get bogged down. It isn't amusing to sit, fingers still on the keyboard while you contemplate your sagging middle. For me, this was always a good excuse to stop one project and start another.

It was a no brainer: "Shiny, New and Fun to Work At" versus "Dull, Old and Hard to Do."
Who wouldn't pick the former?

Then, along came The Legend of Zoey. I had started writing a middle-grade novel about a girl, Zoey, who travels back in time to the winter of 1811, when the New Madrid Earthquakes struck the wild western frontier of Tennessee. My critique group loved the idea and supported this new venture (they'd seen the beginnings of several other projects). I'm sure they hoped I'd finish this one! I felt darned good about it all, and I wrote and wrote. I finished Act I—the set-up and the first major turning point. Then I quit. I started something else.

In July 2003, I won a grant to attend the national SCBWI conference in Los Angeles. My crit group encouraged me to sub Zoey for a critique.

(Roxyanne Young, a founding member, along with me, of our crit group, The StoryBoard, in LA in 2003.)

The fee was high, but since I'd won the grant, I forked over and mailed the first forty pages out west. I went to the conference, and I met the delightful [info]lisaalbert . I mention the delightful Lisa because she's a true BFF and we're still roomies and she's a crit member now, too!

(My LA Roomie and co-grant winner and now member of The StoryBoard, Lisa Albert, in a photo taken by YA author-extraordinaire Sonya Sones.)

I had my critique with the lovely Mary Wade of Houston, and she nominated The Legend of Zoey for the Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award. And I WON!

(Mary Wade, "godmother" to The Legend of Zoey)

I figured I'd get a nice certificate of achievement.

("Way to Go!")

But SCBWI didn't send me one. Instead, they sent out a press release to a bunch of publishing houses announcing the award. And editors began to call. All good, right?

(My phone rang off the wall.)

These editors wanted to read my award-winning manuscript, The Legend of Zoey. Wonderful!

There was only one problem. There was no book. There were only the aforementioned forty pages. I wanted to give up, but smarter, inner voices prevailed, and so I lied and said, "Yes, indeedy, I'll send my manuscript right out to you!"

Then I went to work to finish the book, right?

Well, no. I started another book. Was I crazy? Yes, crazed with fear. Fear of the work it would take to finish the book.

So, I wrote eighty pages on a new, exciting, gleaming new book. Meanwhile, Ever-Supportive and Editor Michael and my crit friends were all contemplating whether or not they should have me committed somewhere. "But this is how I work," I justified it all to everyone.

(Those 80 pages that distracted me from the work of finishing Zoey.)

It's not that I didn't know how to finish things. I'd raised a child to adulthood. I'd written academic papers for years. I'd been freelancing for several years by that time, and I'd never turned in a half-written article. I knew, theoretically, how to finish things. But finishing a novel—writing 40,000 or 50,000 or 100,000 words—it all seemed too daunting. Too undoable. Too unfinish-able. So I did what I did best. I started something new, even as my fib to all those editors (who had been nice enough to respond about my award) rang in my head.

Within a month, my conscience got the better of me, and I pulled out the Zoey manuscript. And I started doing the work to finish it. And I reminded myself of what Anne Lamott writes in her book, Bird by Bird, about sh*tty first drafts—and how we should just allow ourselves to write them. So, while it was hard work, I kept at it.

(Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott)

And I reminded myself of something novelist Jane Smiley said in an interview once. She said: "Every first draft is perfect because all the first draft has to do is exist. It's perfect in its existence. The only way it could be imperfect would be not to exist."

(13 Ways of Looking at the Novel by Jane Smiley)

And I forged ahead. And I reached the end. And while it was a perfect rough draft, it sure as heck sucked. Jane and Anne both would have been proud!

I rewrote the book, which was far easier. Then I subbed it, and after a couple dozen rejections, I sold it, and last year, it made its debut:

(The Legend of Zoey at Davis-Kidd Booksellers, Nashville, July 11, 2006)

My point?

You cannot sell a half-written story. You cannot sell a novel that is in your head. You must finish things.

But people sell stuff on proposal all the time, I hear you rebutting me. But they still have to WRITE THE STORY. They still have to FINISH THE BOOK. And those folks selling stuff on proposals are writers who have moved beyond toying with their work to the hard job of finishing their work.

I learned something invaluable from FINISHING The Legend of Zoey. I learned how to finish an extended project. I learned what works. I learned what doesn't work. I learned how to figure stuff out. I learned how to get to those two magic words: THE END. And the day that I reached "The End" for the first time on Zoey, a cold, wintry day three years ago, I ran outside to where my husband, Ever-Supportive, was prone, under the car, and begged him to come in and look at the computer screen, and when he read those two words aloud to me—"The End"I burst into well-earned tears.

(Ever-Supportive under the car, because he is also Ever-Handy, too, about cars and stuff.)

That is why I've been offline. I've been writing "The End" on several things because I'm about to launch into a new project. In the last couple of weeks, I accepted a contract offer to write a biography of young adult writer Vivian Vande Velde! I'm so stoked. I have met Vivian, and she's a super lady, not to mention a fun person to hang out with, and a fabulous writer, too! I wrote a detailed outline and the first chapter, but while waiting to hear if I would get a contract offer, I took on a lot of freelancing projects, and I'd started on a YA that I was having a blast writing. When the contract offer came through, and while the negotiations were taking place, I knew I needed to finish the freelancing on my desk (paying deadlines are wonderful motivators).

But I also wanted to finish my YA-in-progress. Because I've learned over the last three years that finishing something—even if it is rough and ghastly—is better than leaving it half-finished. It is hard to go back to a half-finished manuscript, months or years later, and regain your momentum.

Spring is a time of new beginnings, true. We want to launch into new, fresh, lovely-smelling, crisp-looking things that make us smile. And I'm all for it. But first finish those projects that may be dog-eared, shabby, stained and, probably, frustrating for you to even think about. Finish them because by finishing them, you'll have moved a giant step further along the path. I challenge you!

(The Path is sometimes littered with obstacles, but don't let that stop you!)

Okay, back to work for now! I have writing to finish!
XO Candie

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13. Finishing Up with Valentine's Day . . .

Being the proud mother that I am, I had to post a pic of my heart-shaped cake mentioned in my Valentine's post:

The kids were amazed and delighted. I love how easy-to-please children can be! What took me very little time and effort was greeted with squeals of joy.

Tonight was the annual Girl Scouts' Father-Daughter Dance. This is Chloe's first year to attend, and she was so excited. I took her to the salon yesterday and had a few inches of her hair trimmed off in honor of the occasion. Normally, she wears her hair in a tight braid, but we blew it out and put a pretty bow in it for the dance:

Here's a proud Ever-Supportive, about to escort his daughter to her first dance:

Sigh! Now I completely get why my mother made such a to-do over these things.

This was especially poignant for me because, as I posted on [info]sartorias 's blog tonight, my father was killed when I was only a few months older than my daughter is now. I never attended any father-daughter dances with him. When Chloe was born, and I mean during the actual HAPPENING of her birth, I reached up and grabbed my husband by the collar and yanked him down to me and said, "Don't you EVER leave her!" I pray he never does, because I know how much I've missed out on.

Here's to you, Daddy—and your fortunate granddaughter! And here's to all the Ever-Supportives out there escorting their baby-girls to the Father-Daughter Dances!

XO Candie

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14. Valentine's Day Tributes!

Hello LJ Friends, and Happy Valentine's Day! I'm going to get sappy here, because loads of other folks are getting sappy! I freely admit I love Valentine's Day and all the romantic hype. I'm completely and utterly into it. No apologies!

I'm waiting for the heart-shaped cake that I'm making for my children to finish baking before I go out and meet Ever-Supportive for a nice, adult, private, romantic, sans-kids lunch, so I thought I'd post in response to [info]beberly  's question about teen crushes. I'm going to show my age here, but other than the Beatles (who transcend teen crushes), whom I fell totally in love with at age six, thanks to my brother's MEET THE BEATLES album (I still have it—on the original Capitol label), my first celeb crush was on David Cassidy when he played uber-cool Keith Partridge on "The Partridge Family," a megahit TV show in the late 1960s/early 1970s. I collected posters of him out of TigerBeat magazine and never, ever missed the show.

In honor of my first crush, and for any of you out there old enough to remember, here's a tribute to David Cassidy:
Thank you, David Cassidy, for being a perfect first crush. You could do no wrong in my world. Happy Valentine's Day!

I love thinking about love—and writing about love—both the teen kind and the adult kind. I have the fondest of memories of all my major boyfriends growing up, but I reserve all my lifelong love and passion and respect and laughs for Ever-Supportive, aka Carl, my husband of almost 15 years. Carl is the kind of husband every mother hopes their daughter ends up with for the long haul. He's handsome, smart, sweet and easygoing; he's a great father; and he makes me laugh every single day. He looks good in a tool belt and, better yet, he's VERY handy with wood, cars, technology and other things that sometimes need fixing. I can fix things, but I love knowing I don't HAVE to fix things. And did I mention that he makes me laugh every day? That's saying something. For Valentine's Day, so far, he has gifted me with a lovely card, a box of chocolates and a bag of Pepperidge Farm's Brussels cookies. 

[Ever-Supportive, being ever-supportive, is off buying milk and antifreeze for my car—milk for the kids, ha—so I'm editing to add that I also got JEWELRY this year, ha!  A gorgeous pair of yellow and white gold earrings with diamonds. He surprised me at lunch—the aforementioned quiet, sans-kids, romantic lunch. This is the first jewelry since Christmas '05, and it was worth waiting for, yes indeedy. He also got the kids boxes of candy, too. He's the bestest. If you're reading this, honey, I love me some Ever-Supportive!]

Thanks for being the best husband EVER! Happy Valentine's Day, Carl!

I also love my family and friends. I feel like one of the most fortunate gals in the world to have such a wealth of great friends and a nice family, too. We never, ever get trashy and fight on the holidays! A special Valentine's kiss to Susan, my same-age aunt, who has been with me from the cradle, through thick and thin! Here we are in (for me) thinner times:


Happy Valentine's Day, Susan!

And my children! Oldest Son, David, has called twice to wish me a Happy Valentine's Day. Jack and Chloe both gifted me with CARS Valentines that had lemon gummy-hearts in them. Those are the things that make life worthwhile!

So, the cake is out of the oven and cooling, and I want to throw on some lipstick and go meet my handsome Valentine for lunch, but I want to send big SMOOCHES out to all my LJ friends! I hope you have a wonderful day.


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15. Back from Houston!

Wow! What a wild week!

I left for Houston Sunday night, flying on a buddy pass. My good friend Karen's husband flies for Continental. Flying on a buddy pass is great, but it is not for the faint of heart. You're on standby, which means that you are among the "non-revs" (those of us without reservations), and you will get on the plane if, and only if, the seats aren't all bought up and filled. Sunday was cool. Up until an hour before flight time, there were still several seats left, so I headed on out to the airport, fairly confident I would get on.

I was only able to catch the first quarter of the Super Bowl as I was en route Sunday night, sitting in the Nashville airport bar, drinking beer with a lot of strange men, and missing a good party at my brother-in-law's house, ha! I was totally rooting for the Colts, given my Indianapolis connection, when, about .34 seconds into the game, on the first kick-off, the Bears ran for about four-zillion yards and scored a touchdown. On the FIRST play of the game. I was feeling mighty fickle for a few minutes, but I decided to be strong and keep my head on straight and hang with Peyton Manning and the Colts. Before too long, I was called and informed I had a seat, so I had to forego the rest of the game. The pilot kept me updated on the score though, and I was glad I hadn't given into my fair-weather fan tendencies, because the Colts came back and TOOK IT! I was happy for Peyton Manning and his Super Bowl MVP win, I have to say!

In Houston, I stayed at Karen's house. It was late, so we chatted and then went on to bed. Over the course of Monday, we yakked and chatted and went to lunch, and then it was time to go to dinner before the SCBWI meeting at which I was presenting. We went to a German restaurant called Rudi Lechner's ("Serving Houston for 30 Years!"), where Karen and I dined with Susan Mitchell, my beloved Mary Wade, and Carmen Bredesen.

(from l-r: Susan, me, Mary, Karen and Carmen)

We had a lovely dinner, then we headed over to the place (I knew NOT where I was) where the monthly meetings of the Houston-area SCBWI are held. I was in for a treat! About 40 folks showed up, including a number of visitors! After monthly business, I performed my Harried Housewife slide show and then talked a bit about The Legend of Zoey and how that all came to pass, and then I did a Q&A. The Q&A lasted for a good 45 minutes, which was so exciting because everyone asked the BEST questions! Here are a couple of pics of my audience:

(That's my bud, Dotti Enderle, in the jersey-type shirt and smiling! To her left (our right) is Vicki Sansum, and the two of them have written a picture book together that will be coming out soon! You go, girls!)

(Lovely Houston Writer and Hostess-with-the Mostest, Karen, far left in black, and Mary in the middle of the background.)

After the meeting, Karen and I went to a fun English pub in The Woodlands and toasted the trip and had a good time talking, but we didn't stay out too late, as I was on standby for the earliest flight of the day leaving Houston, which meant we had to leave for the airport no later than 5:45 AM. I couldn't sleep. I finally got out of the bed at 5:00 and headed into the bathroom. Just as I was ready to jump into the shower, Karen tapped on the door to let me know that the flight had filled up overnight. So I went back to bed, read for an hour, then dozed until 10:00. Then we chatted the day away about writing and a number of other things, then headed to the airport at 5:30 to get me on the LAST flight of the day. The porter outside pulled up my name and told us that there was some manner of "restriction" on me. I never did get whether it was about time or my baggage or what, but he grabbed up my suitcase and told me to follow him. We ran into the airport where he busted a move to the head of a long line and got my bag checked in the nick of time, it appears, then flew me over to security and pushed to the front of the line. I gave the man five bucks and told him to go back and tell Karen (who was waiting on the curb) that I was making it through security and I'd call later. I reached my gate, breathless and worried. Now, I have to say that the gate setup in Terminal A in Houston is totally RIGHTEOUS. Right beside my gate was a nifty snack bar/bar. And sitting around the bar were several OTHER Nashvillians flying on standby for various reasons. We ended having an impromptu "Miller Time" party and discussing which of the already ticketed passengers we each thought we could take on in an arm-wrestling contest, if it came down to it. No arm wrestling was necessary, I'm happy to report. We all made it onto the plane, happy and smiling. We did, however, fight over the bathroom on the plane a few times . . .

I want to give a GIANT shout-out to Continental. The planes were comfy, the flights were good, and we got where we were headed!

I reached home again about midnight Tuesday night, fell into the bed and got up at dawn Wednesday to finish up my piece for THE WRITER. Of course, disaster struck. My dining room ceiling was falling in from an undetected leak, and I had to endure two whole days of drywall crews in and out for hours at a time, noisily singing and talking in Spanish (which they did NOT realize that I completely understood, ha, but, fortunately, no one said anything bad about ME!). So I was trying to write my article and its accompanying three sidebars, tired and under less-than-stellar conditions but, somehow, I persevered and subbed it, on time.

Friday, I spent hours on the phone chasing down two stories for Business Tennessee Magazine. One of the pieces I'm working on is a big focus on Montgomery County, where I spent a number of my formative years. On Monday, I'm riding up there early to go with a group of Clarksville and Hopkinsville citizens, on a bus, up to Fort Campbell, KY, where I was born, and where my father was stationed for many years, to attend a briefing with the new Commanding General. I'm totally stoked. I'll report more on this later.

My writing life will continue its wild pace, as I'm in the process of signing a contract to write a biography (more about this later), and I've already lined up pieces due in February, March, April and May. I plan to spend some quality time with my calendar tomorrow and map out a schedule that will accomodate my LIFE (husband, the kids, their school and extracurricular activities) as well as the WORK. In the meantime, I plan to finish my YA-in-progress, which has been languishing since last I wrote at 44K words, alas! I hope to finish that draft by February 27. That's the plan, anyway . . . 

All of this is uppermost on my mind, too, due to a revelation/epiphany I had a couple of months ago about being a working writer and what, exactly, that means. Still formulating my thoughts, but I plan to post about that soon.

Meanwhile, Nashville is COLD for Nashville. Here's a reminder that summer WILL come!

(Jack feeds the seagulls in Fort Myers!)

Until next time!
XO Candie

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16. Writing Life: Tagged! Snowy Groundhog Day!

Hello everyone!

Again, an interesting week for me. I'm in contract negotiations for a nonfiction project; I'm up to my eyeballs in freelance deadlines (four within the next two weeks); I'm leaving for Houston Sunday night (waving to all my Houston SCBWI friends!); I spent several days cleaning my mother's condo; today is a RARE snow day, so the kids are out of school; and I've been tagged!

(Jack enjoys the snow!)

Tagging first! [info]writerross   tagged me with the following:

The rules: Each participant shares five little-known facts about themselves. Those tagged are asked to do the same as well as reiterate this guideline. Each select five folks to be tagged and list their names. (Leave a comment letting them know that you've tagged them and that they may see your blog as an example.)

Hmmm. Five little-little known facts about Candie . . .

1. I hate admitting this, but I enjoy airline disaster movies, like the original one, Airport (the book was written by Arthur Hailey), its followups, Airport '75, Airport '77, and Airport '79—The Concord. It's not that I enjoy watching people in distress on airplanes. But if I have to watch a scary movie, to me, watching a disaster movie (especially with airplanes) is my choice every time. I'm not biased either—I like ship disaster movies and skyscraper disaster movies, too. Oh, and by the way, I'm not afraid of flying.

(Airport Terminal Pack available on DVD!)

2. I, like [info]writerross   , am deathly afraid of fire. I'm not afraid of lighting fires, though, or matches or candles or the like. I am, however, afraid of death by fire. 'Nuff said.

3. I learned how to operate a motorcycle at age 19. I wore my cowboy boots . . . and that's all I'm saying.

4. I won the "Sombrero Award" in my high school two years running, ha! What does that mean?I have a great facility for languages. I pick them up easily, which may have begun when I was a child, living in Okinawa, and learned to speak a smattering of Ryukan, Chinese and Japanese. In high school, folks predicted I would one day work for the U.N., as a translator, perhaps. I didn't do that, but I still enjoy using my language skills whenever I can. Except for Spanish, though, I'm getting rusty, alas!

(The Sombrero Award!)

5. I'm a proud Army Brat and super-patriotic. Well, that's probably not a secret, but if you don't know me well, you may not know that yet!

(With my father, Okinawa, December 1963)

Okay, here are my tag-ees:


[Edited to say: I noticed that my buddy Jo was already tagged, so how about you, [info]robinellen , and you, [info]moniquemadigan , and you, [info]newport2newport ? I'm spreading the love!]

It's Groundhog Day, and Punxatawny Phil did NOT see his shadow this morning, which means Spring is coming soon. Thank goodness for that, as Ever-Supportive works OUTDOORS (need I say more? LOL). Spring may be springing soon, but we had our first blast of really wintry weather this week here in Nashville—our first snowfall, in fact, of the season. Chloe, who wore her pajamas inside-out for two nights running, is convinced that SHE is behind this miracle of Nashville-nature!

(Chloe, Snow-Girl)

(This is our backyard today, as compared to:

. . . Our Autumnal Yard in November . . .)

I'm heading to Houston on Sunday. I think I'll be in the air during the Super Bowl, which kind of bums me because I've been super-excited about this one. I lived in Indianapolis from 1983 through 1990. I was a huge Bears fan, and when the Colts moved from Baltimore to Indy in 1984 (the year Oldest Son was born), I became a Colts fan. (Sidebar: Of course, I'm a Tennessee Titans fan now, but since the Titans aren't in the Super Bowl, I'm free to spread the love!) While I'd be happy to see either the Bears or the Colts win this year, I'm leaning toward the Colts because of Peyton Manning, the Colts quarterback, previously of the University of Tennessee Volunteers football program! Also, this is an historic game—the first Super Bowl match-up in which both head coaches are African American, and how pertinent is that during Black History Month? All-in-all, the makings of a GREAT game. In the words of Bocephus (Hank Williams, Jr.): "Are you ready for some football?"

Until After Houston!
XO Candie

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17. Writing While the World Whips By!

Good Friday, all!

This has been a GOOD writing week for me. Fired up by my online critique group's enthusiasm for my YA romance-in-progress, I added several thousand more words to get me up to 44K and heading into the home stretch on that first, finished, rough draft. I've written before about how I am a firm believer in getting that first draft OUT and DOWN. For me, that is the only way that works. If I spend too much time tweaking as I go, I never reach "The End."

Here's a visual of my progress:

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
44,000 / 50,000

Other than that, I had a kind of "social" week, LOL. Tuesday was my local face-to-face critique group, which my good friend Shirley just joined, too, so Shirley and I went down to the main public library (downtown Nashville) and wrote for two hours, then met with the group for two hours. Wednesday, I had coffee with the lovely Gretchen, a gal in the Midsouth SCBWI that I found out lives only practically across the street from me! We had a great time. Then, I traveled back downtown for lunch with Michael, my editor at Business Tennessee, which was great—he wined me and dined me at Ted's Montana Grill—then asked me if I could do an emergency writing job that was due last week . . . HA! And he needs it ASAP. Priority One. Of course, I said yes, as I slurped up the last of the homemade chocolate milkshake dessert he had INSISTED I have, LOL!

Thursday was my regular writing day at the cafe with Shirley, where I racked up lots of new words on the aforementioned YA-in-progress. There is such a great vibe at City Limits, where we meet each week, that even when they are standing-room only, I can usually have a 5K-word day! I count on this big day each week to keep my momentum up and my mojo working, especially when I'm first-drafting. I really recommend finding a spot you can go to, regularly, where you can write without the siren call of your washer/dryer set or e-mail. At City Limits, there are no phone jacks. They don't have WiFi access. And getting away from the Web and e-mail is HUGE for me. It may take shopping around for just the right spot (Shirley and I have tried several), but once you find a great place where you accomplish a lot of work, consistently, you've found GOLD. I know that no matter what, at least once a week, I'm going to have a writing day of 3K to 5K words.

Last night, Ever-Supportive and I went to school to see Jack play in his first band concert! He was so much better than we'd been expecting, LOL. The elementary band, which was all fourth and fifth graders, sounded fairly polished. I don't see Jack practice a LOT, and I don't nag about it because I played the clarinet in concert band while in high school, and I never practiced. I did, however, have a lot of fun. (Once, when I was at Band Camp . . . ) Jack sounds like he's either A) a much better musician than Mom—more of a natural like his Uncle Jack Browning (my brother, now called "Big Jack" as opposed to "Little Jack"), who is a phenomenal musician and can play any instrument, or B) secretly practicing.

("Big Jack," jamming, back in the day, Bellevue High School, circa 1973)

Today, I spent the better part of the morning shoveling out the kids' rooms. My aunt is coming in for the weekend so that we can go and attack my mother's house (my mom, while she can still drag in to work six days a week, is about completely disabled otherwise right now—she desperately needs a double hip replacement, methinks, but she's afraid).

I wasn't on the main computer much at all (did all my BIG writing on the Internet-free zone of my laptop), so if I've missed any important news from my LJ friends, forgive! I'll try and catch up on blog-reading soon. When I get into a groove on a new project, all else falls by the wayside!

Oh, oh, I also found time this week for a little baking with Chef Chloe and her Easy-Bake:

(Always important!)

Next week is crunch-time: a deadline for Michael, my WRITER deadline, and the working of two BIG writing jobs that are both due Feb 15. Also, I'm heading to Houston February 5 to speak at their SCBWI Chapter meeting—and I'm so psyched to see several of my Texas friends again, and meet new ones, too! I love me some Texas! I'll be presenting my "Harried Housewife's Guide to Writing Your Novel in Seven Free Minutes a Day" slideshow.

XO Candie

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18. Writing About Love!

In my December 29, 2006 post, I wrote:

PS: Edited to add this nifty word count meter that I saw on [info]ravelda   and others' posts, on which I'll keep tabs of a new YA-WIP I began the first of December and that I'm LOVING! I'm having SUCH a blast with it. Just plain fun to write.

28,500 / 60,000

And I see that my buddy [info]thunderchikin   is keeping a meter, too! So, I'll continue with mine!

My new YA-WIP is going along swimmingly, considering that I had to take about a two-week break to meet some all-important (paying) deadlines. But I got back on it this week, and I'm madly distracted by my boy MC, which makes things fun, too. He's an amalgamation of all the things I remember about my teenage crushes—and the things about Ever-Supportive—that make my heart beat faster!

The subject on my mind today is young love, specifically first love, and I'd love, love, LOVE to hear from you about any WONDERFUL memories you have regarding your own first loves. Don't be shy!  EDITED TO ADD: If you'd like, I can publish some small excerpts you've written . . . Let me know!

(Me and my first crush—at 13! He might have been ducking down to hide from my big, older brother . . . 
Also, check out those totally groovy bell-bottoms. Those WERE the days!)

If you don't have a first love yet, tell me what you IMAGINE that first love might be like!

How did you meet?
What was the first meaningful thing he/she said to you?
That first kiss . . .
How long did you go together?
First big disagreement?
If you broke up, how did that happen?
If you did NOT break up, how long have you been together?

Comment here, or feel free to write me off-blog at CandieMoonshower @ aol dot com. If you want me to keep your memories confidential, write me off-blog!

Meanwhile, here's my update:

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
31,961 / 60,000

XO Candie

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19. Tributes: Mouse Calls, Woodland Middle School and Dinner Out with Like-Minded Friends!

Good morning all!

I've been computer-challenged this past week, due to some malfunction within my PC that I cannot even begin to explain, but thanks to the good folks at Mouse Calls in my neighborhood, and my main-MouseCalls-man, Tim, and Sarah and Paul, I'm up and running and better than ever, thank goodness. I was starting to get the shakes, no kidding, especially with several deadlines pending. And, of course, not being able to catch up with e-mail, which I am, admittedly, addicted to, and blogging and blogging pals!

(If you're in the area, call 615.662.0235, or go to www.mousecallsonline.com! These folks are the BESTEST! Also see www.mousecallshelp.com)

Long overdue is my tribute to the great students at Woodland Middle School! I visited Woodland a couple of weeks ago for an all day event, and it was fantastic. I arrived early and met Lindsey Anderson, Media Specialist Extraordinaire . . .

(Lindsey and me)

and Karolyn Marino . . .

(with Karolyn)

and then I was trotted off to the first of three planned writing workshops! My first group was sixth graders, followed by seventh graders and, finally, eighth graders. Each group of students were those that have expressed an interest in writing, so I made all the workshops very hands-on and interactive. We wrote and shared, and these kids were so much fun, and so funny (which I especially appreciated)!

(So many great students, so little space!)

(Sixth Grade Writers)

(Seventh Grade Writers)

(Eighth Grade Writers)

After the writing workshops, I was the guest of honor at a lovely lunch supplied by the PTO for me and those students who had read my book. We ate and then chatted. They asked wonderful questions about my book and the writing life.

(Lindsey preps the lunch!)

(Lunching in the Atrium)

(More lunching)

(Lunchtime Q&A)

(Lots of great discussion!)

Then it was back to the library, where I sat in on the Scholastic Book Fair and talked to a lot of other terrific students, and some great Mom-volunteers, too, manning the Book Fair registers.

(At the book fair, talking to students!)

(My friend, Byron, on the left)

(Byron's Sharpie, which he kindly gave me for signing books—thanks!)

The next night, I was fortunate enough to be included at a dinner with Lindsey, Kathy Patten, a professor at MTSU and a VIP with TASL (the Tennessee Association of School Librarians), and the wonderful MG and YA author, Vivian Vande Velde! We talked about a number of subjects including but not limited to possums. Laughter was non-stop!

(From l-r: Vivian, me, Kathy and Lindsey)

For now, that's all and enough, I'm sure, but I'm happy I had this opportunity to salute some of the great people who've made me smile in recent weeks!

XO Candie
Coming soon: "The 2006 Candies" (Somewhat like Oprah's "fave things" list, but affordable.)

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20. Random Holiday Silliness!

I've been watching all my friends' posts and loving all the memes and quizzes and stuff, and I collected and saved a few up for just such a holiday mega-post, so here goes!

First: I've been tagged by [info]thunderchikin!! And since I'm momentarily caught up on work, I'm playing!

Tag says:
List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether or not they have words, or even if they're not any good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying now. Post these instructions in your livejournal along with your seven songs. Then tag seven other people to see what they're listening to.

1. Come a Little Closer - Dierks Bentley
2. I Wish it Was You - Trace Atkins
3. Mary, Did You Know? - Kenny Rogers w/Wynonna
4. In My Life - The Beatles
5. A Wonderful Christmas Time - Paul McCartney
6. (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons - Nat King Cole
7. Stardust Melody - Hoagy Carmichael


And while I'm SEMI on the subject of Christmas (I listed TWO Christmas songs!), here's a fun holiday thang!

Your Holiday Personality is Caring

You like to reach out to people all year long, but you're especially giving during the holidays.
Make those you love homemade presents (like cookies or scarves). Call someone who might be feeling a little down. Give to your favorite charity.

And even yet MORE holiday fun:
You Are Apple Pie

You're the perfect combo of comforting and traditional
Those who like you crave security

And one more, just for having taken the time to post all this, ha!
You Are the Furthest Thing From Grinch

You love and live for the holidays. You even love the Grinch!
You're in the holiday spirit year round... because you're all about celebrating and giving.

Love and Holiday Cheer from Caring, Apple-Pie, Non-Grinchy Candie! XO
[Edited to add another song, which [info]thunderchikin reminded me of: Nat King Cole's "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" Christmas song!]

Edited YET AGAIN to add this Holiday fave:

On the twelfth day of Christmas, c_moonshower sent to me...
Twelve darcypattisons drumming
Eleven mamaips piping
Ten annemariepaces a-teaching
Nine dotificus blogging
Eight sports a-reading
Seven friends a-writing
Six politics e-mailing
Five be-e-e-eatles
Four writers conferences
Three csi shows
Two eloisa james
...and a travel in a vietnam war history.
Get your own Twelve Days:

I ALWAYS knew there were five Beatles! Here's to Billy Preston! XO C.

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21. Christmas Memory

Merry Christmas and Happiest of Holidays to all my LJ friends.

An e-mail from a friend this morning who is writing a newspaper story about a young man who got married and then immediately left for Afghanistan, along with the lovely post about her father by [info]aprilhenry made me remember a Christmas long ago—Christmas of 1962.

(Daddy looking dapper!)

This is, in fact, my EARLIEST childhood memory. It was November of 1962, and I was all of two and a half years old. My father, a career soldier, got orders to report to Okinawa and then Vietnam, in an advisory position. He had to leave before Thanksgiving.

My great-grandmother on my mother's side, Sweetmama, who ADORED my father, decided that we would have Christmas early. So she pulled out all the stops, putting up her Christmas tree, decorating the house, cooking all the traditional foods and inviting everyone from near and far to come celebrate Christmas with my father, before Thanksgiving had even arrived. And everyone came.

I remember sitting at the little counter in her kitchen with my aunt, Susan, who is my exact same age, eating turkey and dressing, and Sweetmama telling us she'd pay us a dime to clean our plates.

It has been 38 years since my father was killed in Vietnam in 1968, the day after his thirty-ninth birthday, and after over 20 years in the military, at the rank of E-9, Command Sergeant Major, with the 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, KY. He was set to come home in November.

Here's to all the fathers who aren't with us any longer—and to the ones who are!

(Happy Times! November 1961, me, Daddy and my brother, Jack)

(Daddy, June 11, 1968, just two weeks before his death)

Wishing he were here to see MY kids at Christmas!
XO Candie

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22. Okay, I'll play, too!

You had me at 'Moonshower'.

Which movie was this quote from?

Get your own quotes:

Edited to add this one, which in my fever-crazed state, seems, somehow, to fit . . .

My Fortune Cookie told me:
Try spearmint-flavoured wallpaper in the bedroom.
Get a cookie from Miss Fortune

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23. 2006 Year-End Writer-Life Musings

Good day, LJ Friends!

I'm not yet ready to set New Year's goals (still mulling), but as I dragged my cough-wracked, fever-weakened self out of the warm coziness of my bed this morning and to the cold, not-coziness of my office chair (way too early for a mom with kids on vacation who would sleep for two more hours) in order to finish editing and sub an article due today, I had what I like to call an "epiphanic moment."

(PART of my office . . . Can we add "organization" to our resolutions? I think so.)

And now that the article is done and out the door, I can articulate my epiphany! And the epiphany I had was about how far I've come in the last six years or so with MANAGING my writing life.

Previously, I could only manage my fiction writing if I had only ONE other deadline at a time, say, one article a month. And even then my confidence was shaky about finishing the article and getting it in on time. I always DID finish it, and get it in on time, but I fretted myself silly in the process (something EXTREMELY easy for La Moonshower to do), even as I had the best of worlds in working with an editor at BUSINESS TENNESSEE who allowed me to have editorial meetings at fun places like Ham 'n Goodys with my bestest assistant in the world, Chloe:

(Very Important Editorial Meeting)

Over the years, even as I sold and began revisions on my novel, THE LEGEND OF ZOEY, my freelance work was picking up (and keep in mind that until May of 2005, I also had an outside job, managing a Kumon Learning Center—what I call my so-called, part-time job, because it was NOT so-called, nor was it part-time).

Even as my assignments grew in number (and difficulty), I found I was fretting less. I liken it to the question of how do you go about eating an elephant—answer being "one bite at a time."

(I do NOT recommend eating or harming elephants in any way, and no elephants were ever harmed in the production of this blog and, in fact, I am a huge fan of The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennnesse, an elephant rescue association. Go see them at:
http://www.elephants.com . . . and make a donation!)

This past month, I've had two deadlines in the midst of all the holidaze fun, and I've known about upcoming January 10 and February 15 deadlines. In the midst of it all, I've had an opportunity to sub something somewhere by January 2 (yes, I'm being deliberately vague, ha), and then I received a long-awaited call the day before Christmas about an acceptance on an article I queried about long ago—and they want it on February 1. Meanwhile, of course, I've had the pending deadlines I'd already undertaken, and Christmas, and my kids being out of school for 24 days because of construction on their school, all on my plate and then, after bragging to someone (yes, indeed, it was you, [info]lisaalbert) about not having a cold in over a year, I was felled by the flu.

Still, I got up for the last three days, showered, dressed, sucked down some meds and forced myself to sit up at the computer and work on the two most pressing things—the article due today and the something-else I'm subbing Tuesday, Jan 2.

(Michael Burgin, Managing Editor at BUSINESS TENNESEE, fishing . . . I mean, editorializing.)

My epiphany this morning (or maybe I'm just in the grips of a cold-med-overdose) was that I'm not AFRAID anymore. Multiple deadlines have become a way of life. Of MY life. Of the life I always used to DREAM that I would have some day—the life of being a working writer!

(The SECRET office of most working writers with kids . . .)

Along with my epiphany, this is, traditionally, the time of the year that I (like so many people) enjoy pondering the successes of the previous year and planning ahead for the upcoming shiny-with-possibilities new year.

I think it is good to remind ourselves of the things we DID accomplish (as opposed to all the things we did NOT get done, i.e., lose weight, exercise every day, give up chocolate or whatever your vice happens to be). I like to think POSITIVE!

My most wondrous professional success, of course, was the publication of my middle grade novel, THE LEGEND OF ZOEY, with Delacorte Press, which hit the shelves on July 11, 2006.

(Lovely cover art by Jessica Allen)

(On the shelf at my local indie book store, Davis-Kidd Booksellers)

Another big success was that I scored a cover story for BUSINESS TENNESSEE magazine, a big coup for a freelancer. I wrote about Dolly Parton for the annual "Power" issue:

(Tennessee's own "Iron Butterfly"Fabulous cover art by Tim Williams)

Other things I accomplished: I sent out invoices for some manner of writing-related work every month of 2006. I did several booksignings. I proposed and taught workshops in several venues and visited several schools. I wrote three new novel drafts this year. I participated weekly in my online crit group of almost six years. I WON NaNoWriMo! I began my LJ blog, thanks in LARGE part to the friendly urgings of [info]lisayee and [info]lisaalbert.

(Lisa Albert and Me. Photo taken by the wonderful YA-author, and new friend, Sonya Sones, at SCBWI-Nationals in Los Angeles 2006)

And, MOST importantly, on a personal level, I worked hard at being a fun wife, and I got my youngest two through Kindergarten and Third Grade and into First Grade and Fourth Grade, the first nine weeks of which they made the Principal's List and Honor Roll, respectively. I was always available to talk to Oldest Son, who lives far away from home. I was a good friend and neighbor.

(Me, trying to meet a deadline AND be a good neighbor, simultaneously . . .)

So, while I didn't exercise every day, unless you count chasing the kids, and while I did not give up chocolate (who in their right minds would?), and I did not get my office organized, and I probably did not accomplish a number of other things I could have, or some might say I SHOULD have, all in all, 2006 was a BANNER year.

(Banner of ZOEY with Alan Gratz's SAMURAI SHORTSTOP and Helen Hemphill's LONG GONE DADDY)

I'd love to read everyone's musings on their accomplishments in 2006! Give yourself a round of applause for what you've already achieved as you plan next year's successes!

Coming Soon: "Moonshower Resolves To . . ."
XO Candie

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24. Day Two—and We're Off!~

Wow, the New Year has begun with a bang, and I'm hoping that's a good indication of things to come. No, I'm not twenty pounds lighter, and I haven't started a new exercise regime, but I've been busy, busy, finishing three pieces in the last two days AND getting my house de-Christmas-ified, or "undecorating" as [info]dotificus called it, which tickled me! And I do have plans to de-mess-ify my office, too.

First, I'm honored to be a featured writer on AUTHORLINK for their January 2007 issue, with an interview about my journey as a children's writer. The interview, entitled "Moonshower’s Heart Leads Her Back to Children’s Books," is up at www.authorlink.com, or:


but it will only be visible for free for a few days, I'm told.

The interesting thing about an interview like that is that it really makes you stop and think about all the turns we take on the road toward publication. I appreciate the good questions that Susan VanHecke asked me! She really made me think.

I am still mulling my resolutions, but I did write a short piece for the January issue of the SMARTWRITERS JOURNAL about goal-setting, and how my paradigm shifted a few years ago regarding HOW to set goals, and what works best for me. The article is available at:


Tonight, my online critique group is having our biannual New Year's cyber-cocktail party, where we will discuss the upcoming year and our goals and dreams. It's a fun time to catch up with each other! I say our "biannual" party, because we have another "goals discussion" each year right before school starts, which seems a good time to renew oneself.

That's it, for today! Still pondering the goals . . .
XO Candie

PS: Edited to add this nifty word count meter that I saw on [info]ravelda and others' posts, on which I'll keep tabs of a new YA-WIP I began the first of December and that I'm LOVING! I'm having SUCH a blast with it. Just plain fun to write.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
28,500 / 60,000

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25. Moonshower Resolves to . . . Clean Up Her Act!

Good morning LJ friends!

I have been SICK! After bragging that I hadn't been sick in over a year, which will teach me! And I've been SO busy! But I'm back, and I'd like to talk "office clutter" with you.

On December 29, 2006, I wrote:

Coming Soon: "Moonshower Resolves To . . ."


On January 2, 2007, I wrote:

I am still mulling my resolutions

AND I wrote:

And I do have plans to de-mess-ify my office, too.


And then I fell off the map with deadlines. The good news is that I finished my contracted piece for the 2008 CWIM and submitted it on time (more about that as pub time approaches), and I finished two other major deadlines, and I am in negotiations on the "sub [of] something somewhere" that I mentioned in my December 29 post—so all good!


I'm NOT still mulling my goals. I finally came up with an ambitious list of goals for my writing life. But I've been procrastinating on giving deep thought to one important mission I need to undertake:


DE-MESS-IFY-ING my office, which has gotten completely OUT OF CONTROL.


Of course, I was PLANNING to clean my clutter, but I was laid low by a ghastly flu bug. And SICKNESS is, of course a valid excuse reason for procrastinating delaying a big project. One must be well, after all. 

Meanwhile, my workspace continues to grow in strength and width and height of stacks of stuff—I worry that one day it will simply explode off the back end of my house, sending up a mushroom cloud of copier paper, yellow legal pads and Berol Black Warrior pencil stubs.

In talking with[info]newport2newport, we discovered that we have a similar problem, and (probably in an effort to further delay the inevitable), we're toying with the idea of starting a special LJ community for those of us who are challenged in our offices—a small community of folks who would like to work on their offices and be accountable about it. Of course, in keeping with our current skills at putting things off, we've stalled by asking questions and further pondering. But even after a week or so of mulling, we still like the idea.

But is there such a need? We wondered. So we decided to post a poll.

I will definitely figure out how to post a poll and post one. Check back.

DRAT! Still figuring. In the meantime, you may answer in the comments:

1. Would you join an LJ support group to help you clean out and maintain your office or workspace?
A. Yes, I'm trembling with JOY at the prospect!
B. Maybe, but can I tell you later?
C. No, I'm too busy putting it off for another year.
D. Other (please explain in comments)

2. If you are trembling with anticipatory joy, or even only mildly intrigued, which of these potential LJ community names best reflects your own "workspace issues"? 
A. Office Space
B. Cubicle Clutter
C. Archeological Digs
D. Back from the Brink
E. Hand Me the Lighter Fluid and a Match
F. Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here
G. Other (please explain in the comments) 

3. Are you feeling major love for
[info]newport2newport for this clever idea? And, oh yeah, [info]c_moonshower too?
A. You kidding me? I wish I'd thought of it myself.
B. Oh yes, I most assuredly am.
C. Maybe. I have to procrastinate weigh in with my thoughts for a while.
D. Go Away. This discussion makes me want to take a nap!

Once we get started, we'll have different topics each week, special guests, confessions, pics, behind the scenes updates, contests, cyber-cocktail parties and major cash awards small but uplifting rewards!

We hope to hear from you!

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