A CUBBIE GIRL LIVING IN A WHITE SOX WORLD
I am a third generation Chicago baseball fan. The trouble is, according to my family, I am devoted to the ‘wrong’ Chicago team. My grandpa was a White Sox Fan, my mom is a White Sox Fan, and my two older brothers are White Sox Fans. So why am I a devoted, some would say rabid, Chicago Cubs fan? Aside from my penchant to be different, some call it being weird, I have always cheered for the underdog. And let’s face it you don’t get much more under than the Chicago Cubs.
The last time the Cubs won a World Series was in 1908. My mom would not be born for another thirty-three years, and I would not be born for another fifty-nine years. My great-uncle/godfather was a fan his entire life. Season after disappointing season, he believed what the rest of us Cubs fans believe… there is always next year. Well, it is October 16, 2015, and from all appearances this may very well be THE year.
I have not felt this much hope since October 14, 2003. It was on that date that in the eighth inning of game six of the NLCS series between the Chicago Cubs, and the Florida Marlins that one unfortunate fan became part of history, and likely the most hated person on the planet in Cubs fandom. It was during that game that Mr. Steve Bartman became a scapegoat, representing yet another year of crushing disappointment for Cubs fans.
While attempting to catch a foul ball off the bat of Florida second baseman, Luis Castillo, Mr. Bartman attempted what every single fan sitting near him attempted to do. He reached over the wall with his glove. Accused of disrupting the play by Cubs outfielder Moises Alou, it was the start of a grandiose collapse by the Cubs. It did not matter that Alou later stated to Jim Litke of ESPN that he ‘wouldn’t have caught it.’ The damage was done.
Four outs away from winning their first National League Pennant since 1945, ahead in the game 3-0, and holding a three game to two lead in the best of seven series, the team fell apart. Likened to the Curse of the Billy Goat in 1945, and the Black Cat in 1969, Steve Bartman would go down in the failed history of the franchise. Florida came back to win, and eventually won the World Series that year.
I was pregnant with my son during the Year of Bartman. Now my son is in sixth grade, and he thinks I have gone crazy every time the Cubs play. I find myself standing in front of the television towards the end of every close game. I cheer with my fellow suffering Cubs fans when the team wins, and I suck it up with dignity when they lose. It is what we do. We are ever hopeful, loyal, and will never give up on a team that will eventually bring a pennant and series title back to the Northside of Chicago. If not this year, there is always next year.
Candace C. Bowen
October 16, 2015
*UPDATE: NOVEMBER 2, 2016
THEY FINALLY DID IT! The Chicago Cubs are WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS!
This post is for the younger versions of me.
I recently read The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chbosky. After I finished the book I came to realize decades late that I was not alone. Although I participated in sports and made the homecoming court two years running while in high school, I completely empathized with the Charlie character. Like everyone else trying to fit in, I bought into the hype of having to have the latest designer craze. I even lied about my age to get a job at fifteen when my mom refused to pay an exorbitant amount of money for an ordinary pair of jeans with a designer label.
While I may have seemed popular on the outside, I always felt like a loner on the inside. I guess most introverts do. It was an effort for me to be outgoing when I was more comfortable staying home curled up with a book. Peer pressure had me going to parties in an attempt to fit in with my contemporaries and I can clearly recall how exhausting I found it all. For years I pretended to be someone I was not in order to feel like I fit in. My greatest fear was that my friends would consider me weird.
Now that I am older, I realize that there is absolutely nothing wrong with me and there never was. I don’t need anyone’s approval to be myself and you don’t either. Being a writer has taught me that you will never please everyone. What one person loves another will loathe. It is all just part of the journey we call life.
Being a lifelong people pleaser, I always shied away from conflict. In the past if I was faced with a difficult situation I would emotionally shut down and go through the motions of existing. After an acrimonious divorce forced me to stand up for myself, I realized that life is too short to put up with anything that does not make you happy. The most important thing that you need to remember is that you are only given one chance at life. Years from now it will not matter if you had the latest must have item, or if you were considered weird because you would rather read a book instead of partying with your peers. I promise you that no one will remember anyway. What they will remember is how you treated them. So whether you want it or not, I am going to offer you a piece of advice. Be good to others and live your life, but most of all, be true to yourself.
Candace C. Bowen
December 11, 2014
Plagiarism: What's the Big Deal?
In my opinion, a plagiarizer is no better than the common thief. The only difference being in that thieves are more honest when it comes to their illegal profession. If thieves break into a home or business there is little doubt why they are there. A plagiarizer on the other hand is nothing less than a coward who uses the anonymity provided by the internet to perpetrate their crimes. Whether it is for profit or for some twisted sense of self-worth, by taking what does not belong to them, each of these types of individuals victimizes innocent people in order to benefit themselves.
The recent plight of Best-Selling Author Rachel Ann Nunes has highlighted this downside of publishing. It is also a perfect example of every writer’s worst nightmare. When third grade teacher Tiffanie Rushton a.k.a. Sam Taylor Mullens plagiarized Rachel’s novel A Bid for Love, she did not just steal a bunch of words on a page, she stole much more.
While Rachel has over forty titles in her portfolio, I am currently working on my eighth novel. Whether we are talking about one novel, forty, or a hundred, in the eyes of the author who created it from nothing, it does not matter. A writer’s work becomes part of us. When a plagiarist steals that work, it feels like a personal attack. An author breathes life into the characters they create from nothing. In most cases, these characters become our fictional friends and we have a vested interest in what happens to them.
With the advent of self-publishing, plagiarists feel they can safely copy and paste an author’s work. By slapping on a different cover and a fake pen-name, they can release numerous stolen titles online for profit. In the unlikely event they are caught, they can slink away to create another pseudonym to try again at a later date. Before Tiffanie Rushton was exposed, I found myself wondering what kind of immoral person would do such a thing to another for so little reward. When I found out Sam Taylor Mullens was actually Tiffanie Rushton, a married mother and third grade school teacher from Utah, I was floored. Not only did Tiffanie Rushton steal Rachel Ann Nunes’ novel, she victimized her further by waging a cyber-bullying campaign against her after she was caught and exposed. If a school teacher is immoral enough to do such a thing, anyone of like mind can do it as well.
While Tiffanie Ruston is facing justice in a court of law, countless other plagiarists are succeeding where she has failed. Applications are being used more often to combat the growing rise of plagiarism. Until it is standard operating procedure for online booksellers like Amazon, it will continue to be a very personal crime against authors.
Candace C. Bowen
October 17, 2014
WHERE WAS I?
(A Personal Reflection on September 11, 2001)
Candace C. Bowen
September 11, 2014
In times of tragedy, I think it is normal for a person to recall what they were doing when they heard the news. I clearly remember the moment I heard the news of the Challenger explosion on January 28, 1986. I was working for a Florida State Representative and my grandmother called to tell me. Whether you wish it otherwise, such devastating news has a way of staying with you.
I was on the trip of a lifetime with my mom on September 11, 2001. We had flown to London to take a North European cruise on Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL). Our stops included; Stockholm-Sweden, Copenhagen-Denmark, Berlin-Germany, Tallinn-Estonia, and St. Petersburg-Russia. The highlight of the trip for me was Russia. I had always been fascinated by the architecture and culture. We had scheduled an excursion with a stop at The Hermitage, and I couldn’t wait.
On the Tuesday of the 11th, we had a full day’s excursion planned in Berlin, Germany. We took the train from the cruise port in Warmunde. It was a rainy day, and it took us over two hours to arrive in Berlin. We went on a highlight city bus tour, which included seeing sections of the famous graffiti covered Berlin Wall, and the now empty lot where Hitler committed suicide in his underground bunker. We drove past Checkpoint Charlie, and the Brandenburg Gate.
We stopped at Bebelplatz square where Hitler infamously burned books to see the haunting memorial built in the plaza after the war. The memorial is belowground, set into the square itself. In a profound statement to what had occurred prior to the war, it consists of empty bookcases. It stands as a stark reminder of the twisted ideologies of an evil tyrant from an earlier generation.
I clearly remember driving past the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. For the most part, Berlin had become like any other metropolitan city. To see a WWII bomb damaged landmark surrounded by contemporary office buildings was a striking contrast.
We stopped for lunch in an ultra-modern downtown hotel. Our last stop before the train ride back to the port was to be Berlin’s WWII Allied Museum. It isn’t a very big museum, but I looked forward to seeing it. It is mostly known for a Guard Watchtower, and Checkpoint Charlie Guardhouse.
After lunch, we boarded the bus and the world changed for me. Have you ever had that feeling when you could just sense something is wrong? I had that feeling the moment I looked at the bus driver. I am one of those dork’s who smile and greet everyone. When I smiled at the driver, he had this look on his face that is hard for me to describe. I wouldn’t call it fear it was more like alarmed disbelief. The moment our tour guide boarded, the driver started speaking to her in rapid German. I don’t remember much about the tour guide. I remember she was blonde, professional, and very stylish. After listening to what the bus driver had to say, she did not seem so put together anymore.
It was a fellow American tourist who also spoke German that broke the news to the rest of us. He told us America was under attack. The Twin Towers were gone, Washington had been attacked, and there were fighter jets in the air. I could not believe it. I did not want to believe it. The tour guide quickly realized her private conversation was being translated and attempted to control the situation as an entire busload of people fired questions at her. She calmed us down the best she could by acting like nothing was wrong. Unbelievably, we continued on with the excursion. I wish I could say I enjoyed my trip to the museum, but the truth is, I don’t recall very much of it.
I felt disconnected from what I was seeing. My mind was filled with what was happening at home.
After that day, the irony of our visit to Berlin on the day of September 11th did not escape me. I love history and am well versed in Germany’s role in WWII. I could not mentally create a more bizarre series of events that led to us being in Berlin at that point in time, and I have a very vivid imagination. We were visiting the city of an evil 20th century dictator who dragged America into WWII, while his 21st century counterpart orchestrated an act of war against the United States. I suppose truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.
The fear hit me when we arrived at the train station. Hustled from the bus, we were herded like lemmings towards the platform. Our entire path from the bus to the train was lined with stoic German soldiers armed with assault rifles. The fact that not one of the soldiers would meet my gaze alerted me to the fact that whatever happened, or was still happening, was bad. Feeling like a foreigner who could not communicate with the people herding us did not help matters. I am not sure who was responsible for the protective escort, but I later learned we as Americans were considered targets. While I was scared at the time, I am grateful now.
The two hour train ride back to the port was eerily quiet. People made small talk, but I am positive the scope of the unknown was on everyone’s mind.
It was dark and raining when we arrived at the port. Despite the weather, we were greeted by a group of locals from Warmunde. The enormity of their kind gesture did not sink in until much later. We were escorted by cruise line personnel onto the ship. The captain was making announcements over the intercom while we rushed back to our cabin. We had cable access to CNN and wanted to know exactly what was going on.
I remember Wolf Blitzer was reporting. We caught the beginning of one of the replays showing the smoking Twin Towers. I needed to disprove what I had heard. Seeing the towers still intact, I latched onto the only positive thing I could find. I told mom that the guy on the bus was wrong. The towers were on fire, but they were still standing. It was bad, but I wanted to believe it was like the February 26, 1993 failed terrorist attack on the towers. At some level, I needed to believe it.
While we watched, the recording reached the part where the first tower collapsed. I don’t remember sitting on the bed, but I sat in front of that television for hours after. I vaguely recall the look of fear on mom’s face. The captain came over the intercom to announce all fees would be waived if American passengers wanted to call their families in the states. Mom waited in the radio room for hours to get a call through to dad (we didn’t have cell phones at the time). When she finally got through to the house, dad was out walking Ripper and Louie. Mom had to leave him a message on the answering machine.
The vacation was over for me at that point. I never felt so far from home. All I wanted was to get back to my country. Russia was our last port-of-call and it was all a blur to me. I don’t know about mom, but I went through the remainder of the trip on auto-pilot.
When the cruise finally ended, we had to spend the night in Heathrow Airport since all flights were backlogged. The moment the plane lifted off, I felt better. We were one step closer to being home. Over an hour into the flight the pilot announced there was a problem with the landing gear door so we were returning to London. We waited on the tarmac at Heathrow while another plane was readied. We then had to board a shuttle to drive the length of a football field to board the waiting plane. After all we had seen and heard, it was frustrating and it was frightening.
When we finally arrived in South Florida, it felt like I had been gone for months instead of only a few weeks. Aside from the displays of patriotism everywhere, home looked the same, but it had forever changed for me. No longer did I feel that sense of security I once felt. My country had been violated in the worst possible way. Up until that point, wars were something fought far away in foreign lands. It took a group of evil men filled with hate to bring it to the country I love.
I wanted revenge for the innocent lives lost that day. When President Obama announced that SEAL Team Six had killed Osama Bin Laden on May 1, 2011, it did not make me feel better like I thought it would. Don’t get me wrong, I was glad he was dead. I was not surprised to hear that he died like a coward while ordering his disillusioned followers to sacrifice themselves for his warped ideologies. In the end, however, his death changed nothing. The nearly 3,000 innocent victims were still dead, their families still grieving. And another hate-filled extremist would be waiting in the wings to take Bin Laden’s place.
The memory of the 343 firefighters and 72 law enforcement officers who lost their lives rushing into the towers while working people rushed out will live with me for the rest of my life. First responders have died from cancer and are still dying from breathing in toxins from the rubble that had once been The World Trade Center.
The terrorists may have stolen America’s sense of peace, but in return they gave us a firm resolve. Evil can bend us, but as a people, it will never break us. We are Americans. One World Trade Center now stands where the Twin Towers once stood. A beautiful memorial has been built on the site that one day I intend to visit.
Today, marks the thirteenth anniversary of the terror attack. I still cannot watch a documentary about that day without crying. I wrote this first-person account for my son, Clayton. My greatest wish would be he never be forced to witness such an event in his lifetime, but I know it is not a realistic wish. There is evil in the world, and on the eleventh day of September 2001, it struck America.
Author Candace C. Bowen
My Writing Process – Blog Tour
Monday, April 14, 2014
Hello, my name is Candace C. Bowen. Today is my day to post and participate in the continuing series, My Writing Process Blog Tour. My fellow writing friend, Roxe Anne Peacock, who writes mysteries, non-fiction, and science fiction, posted for the tour last week. You may read her blog at: http://www.civilwarcooking.blogspot.com
What am I working on?
Currently, I am working on several projects. My sixth novel, Voodoo Fire, becomes available this month so I am working on the final edits. I am well into my seventh novel, The Order of the Knightshades – The Stygian Stone. The Knightshades Series is an exciting project involving a group of fantastic authors. Based on J. Kent Holloways novel entitled, The Djinn, each follow-up book by a different author will incorporate elements from the first novel. Along with the Stygian Stone, I have been working on the third novel in my historical romance series, A Knight of Valour. I also have a sequel planned for Voodoo Fire entitled, Malevolence. If I ever find the time, I also have a story lined up about a cursed trunk that spans several centuries entitled, The Curse of Allister Mage.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I make it a point to be different. I do not follow the current trends and likely never will. Growing up a huge fan of romance and horror novels, I tend incorporate a little of each into my stories. Aside from the Knight Series, which is strictly historical romance surrounding the reign of England’s King Henry I. A Knight of Silence was my first novel and I’ve branched out since then.
Why do i write I do?
I need to be challenged and I love history. The Knight Series takes place in Medieval England, Jack of Hearts in Victorian England. Spur of the Moment in 12 century Cornwall and its sequel, Wicked Embers, in modern day England. Voodoo Fire takes place in modern day New Orleans, and the Stygian Stone in Nazi Germany during WWII. To be historically accurate and true to the location I am writing about, I had to do extensive research. To me, that’s half the fun of writing.
How does my writing process work?
It’s hard to explain my writing process since I really don’t understand it myself. The best way I can explain it is that I start off with an idea. I do not use outlines, storyboards, or any of the other writing tools some authors use. I basically have a beginning and end in mind before I start then I let the story tell itself. Twice now I have written the last lines of my stories before typing the first sentence.
Thank you for taking the time to learn a little bit more about me. You can find my Author Page on Facebook and I am on Twitter @candacecbowen. My books are available in Paperback, eBook, and two (Spur of the Moment, Wicked Embers) are in Audiobook. If you would like to find out more, please visit my website: www.knightseries.com.
THE INNER WORKINGS OF A WRITER’S MIND
I have been asked where the ideas for my stories come from. The short answer would be from my life.
The long answer is a bit more complex. By going in the order they were written, I will try to break it down by novel in a way you can understand the inner workings of my mind. I guess the most important thing to know is that I start a novel with a general idea for a story. Once I start typing, the story takes on a life of its own.
A KNIGHT OF SILENCE (2008):
Having realized too late that I legally bound myself to a man who was not who he initially portrayed himself to be, I was unhappy and looking for a way to escape. I found that escape through writing. Don’t get me wrong, I never expected a perfect relationship, I don’t think they exist. However, in Fulke and Reina’s story, I created two imperfect halves that together formed a complete whole. I think Plato states it best in The Symposium: “According to Greek Mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate beings, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.” I believe that if you love someone, you do not continually point out their flaws to keep them on a level you are comfortable with. You build them up and rejoice together in the success that follows. I did not have that so I escaped to a fictional world where I could.
SPUR OF THE MOMENT:
While writing Bronwyn and Euric’s story, I pretty much realized I had reached the end of my marriage. Already an introvert, my only emotional outlet during this time came from the interaction with my son and through my writing. In the story, Bronwyn’s life mirrored my own. She was in a place she wasn’t meant to be. The only reason I held onto the relationship was for the sake of my young son. I knew he had to reach an age where he could rationally think for himself without being influenced by the petty immaturity of others.
During Wicked Embers, I found myself in a holding pattern. Only in this case, I related to the nemesis of the story, Jaenelle. While she waited centuries for revenge, I anxiously awaited my freedom.
JACK OF HEARTS:
If you know anything about Victorian Society, you may know women of the era were confined by the dictates of society. Guilt for what I wanted for myself weighed heavily on me. Who was I to destroy the only life my son had ever known? I’m his mother. It’s my duty to protect him. If not for a catalyst that forced my hand, I often wonder how much longer I could have held on to the marriage. In a moment of anger, the carefully maintained façade that had fooled so many people, myself included, slipped. Only then did I realize that by staying I was doing more harm to my son than were I to end the marriage. The drama that ensued was even worse than I expected, not unlike the chaos created by Jack the Ripper himself. While still young, I am blessed that my son inherited a level of maturity far beyond his tender years. He handled it far better than I could have ever imagined. Thank heaven for mitochondrial DNA.
A KNIGHT OF BATTLE:
The second book in the Knight Series came upon me unexpectedly. The last thing on my mind while going through a bitter divorce was romance. Believing it would take my mind off of the turmoil in my personal world, I escaped to my fictional one. Still, I wasn’t too surprised when my mom read the first draft and didn’t like it. I couldn’t blame her. I knew it wasn’t up to par. Somewhere in the legal mess, I lost my passion for writing… and that made me mad. How could I allow someone who was legally fighting for half of everything I had worked so hard for to take away one of the things I loved most? Determined, I scrapped the entire first draft and started over. Whether anger or determination reignited the fire within me, I completed Albin and Lecie’s story within days of the deadline. My mom approved and I can honestly say I am proud of the story for more reasons than one.
I will always look upon March 10, 2012, as the date I took charge of my life. Seven long months of legal hassles later, I was finally free. In order to put aside the anger within me, I once again turned to my escape; writing. Voodoo Fire is a cautionary tale of what could happen when you push a good person too far. Subliminally, it was also my therapy. When I finished the story, I felt like I could breathe again.
My past is exactly that and I have no intention of ever looking back. I have a brilliant and beautiful son who made every second of my decade in purgatory worthwhile.
I don’t think I will ever understand how the creative part of my mind works. All I do know is that I have never been happier. Where that will take me in my writing, only time will tell.
Love and light,
Candace C. Bowen
January 29, 2013
Below is my contribution to the 'Authors Tagging Authors’ Blog Hop.’ After being tagged by fellow Rhemalda Author, Cas Peace, I figured I better figure out what this blog hop business was all about. Cas is the author behind King’s Envoy and King’s Champion part of the Artesans of Albia Series. They’re amazing stories that you should definitely check out.
So without further adieu, here follows the questions and my answers:
My current work in progress is entitled, Voodoo Fire.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
My maternal grandfather was born in Garyville, Louisiana. I have always found the city of New Orleans and its culture absolutely fascinating. With its above ground cemeteries and multi-cultured history, the story of a séance going wrong at the tomb of the infamous voodoo queen, Marie Laveau, just played out in my head.
What genre does your book fall under?
I would call it classic horror with a romantic element. I don’t think I will ever escape from romance when it comes to my writing. After making a few bad personal life decisions the happily-ever-after element of romance appeals to me very much.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I could definitely see actress Amanda Siegfried in the role of the lead character Willow. Amanda has a wide-eyed innocence that would be perfect for a possessed mid-western college girl. The hero would be somewhat harder for me to cast as I based him on someone special to me. I would have to give that choice a lot of thought.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Queen Marie is back and she’s not happy…
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Voodoo Fire is currently scheduled for a fall 2013 release through Seven Realms Publishing.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I am currently still working on it. My writing goal is no less than a thousand words a day. I usually surpass this mark, but I like to set a reasonable goal since I have a life outside of writing.
What other books would you compare this to within your genre?
I try to make each of my stories totally unique so I have never read or heard of anything similar.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I tend to have a moral to all of the stories I write and this one is no different. In the midst of a major life change, I was forced to endure the petty vindictiveness of a few people. Voodoo Fire is a tale of what happens when a person takes a negative path as opposed to a positive one. On a more personal note, it’s also about what can happen when you push a good person too far.
What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
I think Voodoo Fire has a little of something for everyone. There’s non-explicit horror, suspense and a hint of romance. Since the romance takes a backseat in the story, I also think it’s the first novel in my catalog that will appeal to both women and men.