Who Am I Now?

I am the mother of Hannah, the wife of Marshall, and the only child of Jim and Betty Cannon.  We all live together in Virginia.  Mom and Dad live in the basement apartment of our house and Marshall, Hannah and I live on the upper two floors.

I’ve been a prosecutor, a legal publisher, and am now a children’s author.  My debut novel, When the Whistle Blows, was published by Philomel Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, in 2009.  It got great reviews – Kirkus described it as “an unassuming masterpiece” – so much so that it scared me that I could never write something that good again!

On January 17th, 2016 I was unexpected diagnosed with brain cancer.  I had brain surgery – partly while I was awake – on February 11th, 2016.  After my diagnosis and surgery, I don’t feel scared at all about writing anymore!

There’s a theme in When the Whistle Blows of helping others, of being part of The Society that reaches out to those in need in one’s local community.  Little did I realize when I was writing my book that I would one day very much need a Society of my very own to help me through my cancer diagnosis.  Being here on my website makes you part of it.  Thank you.

Since When the Whistle Blows, I have been writing and researching a number of books – both novels and picture books.  My terrific agent, Linda Pratt, with Wernick and Pratt Agency, is working on selling a couple of them for me right now.

Although I have not made it widely public, I have also done some contemplative writing through the years.  I am an Oblate of St. Benedict affiliated with the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia – the convent of Catholic nuns that taught me in elementary and middle school when I was growing up.  They are a group of wonderful, strong, spiritually giant women whom I admire greatly and whom I am grateful to know and be a part of.  I sometimes joke that I was raised by a bunch of nuns, and it is only half a joke.  Anyway, my spiritual journey has been an important one for me in the last 20 years, and as I work through what it means to live with brain cancer, it really feels like I have been prepared in many ways with tools that are essential for this “unexpected journey.”

It’s an odd thing to try to describe who I am now that I have been diagnosed with brain cancer, since the brain is such an integral part of personality and self-understanding and self-image.  Happily, my brain surgery does not seem to have injured my cognitive or emotional capacities at all.  This is a great blessing, because I dearly love to write.

I am extremely grateful that I am not on this journey alone.  I know that many of you  are sending your love and light with me as I undertake this journey.  I could not do it without you.  My plan is to be an open book here on my website – I have to be in order to process it all for myself.  Transparency is the only way.  Hopefully, I will learn something and grow and transform and become more whole along the way.  And maybe what I say will be useful for others too, if they find themselves facing similar thoughts, feelings, or situations.

Thank you for joining me on my unexpected journey.  Thank you for your many kindnesses already extended, and for those I know will be given in the future.  Please feel free to leave comments – as much of a luddite and critic of social media as I have previously feigned to be, your comments do make me feel connected, cared for, and loved.  Thanks for sharing my journey with me.

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