Today's author spotlight is on Candee Fick. She has graciously offered to give away a copy of her new book. Be sure to leave a comment or ask Candee a question in order to be entered into the giveaway. :)
Welcome Candee. What is your most difficult writing challenge?
The dreaded blank page—especially for the first chapter—is a big hurdle and I find it drudgery to revise previous manuscripts multiple times when I’d much rather start on a fresh idea. However, my biggest challenge is carving out and protecting chunks of creative time for those first drafts followed by keeping those appointments with myself when I’m tired at the end of a long day and would rather read a book than write one. While I work from home for my day job and therefore have flexibility in my scheduling, I’ve also got three kids including a special needs adult daughter who can provide multiple interruptions every hour. I can jump in and out of editing, blogging, or marketing tasks, but the initial creative process requires a different level of focus and concentration. Making writing a priority in my daily schedule is definitely a challenge.
Balancing responsibilities is a difficult task. How did you develop a 'love of story'?
I was the kid who got so caught up in television shows that I’d forget they weren’t real and once I learned to read at age four, my eyes were opened to an even bigger world of stories to immerse myself in. Throughout elementary school, I spent many recesses with a few fellow bookworms acting out and creating new adventures as if we were the characters in Little House on the Prairie, The Borrowers, James and the Giant Peach, or Island of the Blue Dolphins. If I could read it, I was there.
I’ve always been an avid reader, but I love a good movie too because it can pack an entire character’s adventure and transformation journey into a small window of time. And as a busy working mom, time is precious. But no matter if they are written or shown, the best stories are those where the characters continue to live in my imagination and pop up in my dreams. Of course, along the way, I’ve encountered plenty of story duds—those books with cardboard characters, rehashed situations, and unbelievable plot lines. While some might consider the “duds” a waste of time, they are the reason I started writing—to create the kind of stories I love to read with characters that come to life. As a bonus, I also get to stretch my story muscles by imagining the changes that would transform the dud into a delight.
I like that...'dud into a delight'. :) How does faith play a part in your writing?
Faith is such an integral part of my personal life that it can’t help but spill over into my writing. My characters are flawed Christians who try to do what’s right in the face of challenges and I try to make that struggle believable enough that readers come away from my books with hope for their own faith journey. Of course, there’s a whole lot of prayer that happens when I’m staring at a blank screen or trying to brainstorm a believable plot twist. But I think the most important thing is that I try to show at least one aspect of God’s character in action through the story. For example, my debut novel, Catch of a Lifetime, explored the idea of stereotypes and how God looks below the surface to see our hearts while my newest book, Dance Over Me, reveals God as an adoptive Father who is also at work behind the scenes.
I know what you mean about faith spilling over into our writing. Tell us about your new book.
Dance Over Me is an inspirational romance with an adoption reunion theme. Set in a dinner theater in northern Colorado, imagine a lot of tap dancing, musical numbers, and Big Band trumpet playing along with backstage rivalries and diva drama. Here’s the back cover blurb:
Danielle Lefontaine, a fledgling actress raised to the lullaby of Broadway, searches for her long-lost brother and her place on the stage, but a jealous cast member and numerous fruitless leads threaten to drop the curtain on her dreams and shine a spotlight on her longing for a place to belong. Meanwhile, Alex Sheridan is living his dream except for someone to share it with. When Dani dances into his life, he hopes he’s found the missing piece to his heart but fears the bright lights of a bigger stage could steal her away. Will the rhythm of dancing feet usher in their deepest desires or leave them stranded in the wings?
Sounds like an interesting read. What is your 'how I got published' story?
My ‘how I got published’ story is evidence that hard work pays off and that God can orchestrate all the little pieces into a perfect moment. A little history: By the time I was married with three little kiddos running around the house, I also had a file folder of assorted scribbled story notes for that “someday” when the kids were a bit older and I had time. In 2004, God said it was time to stop waiting and start writing. Ten years later, I had dabbled in non-fiction devotionals, articles, and blogging in addition to attending writing conferences, starting to build a social media presence, and writing “The End” on five different fiction manuscripts.
In 2014, despite numerous rejections by editors and agents along the way, two of those manuscripts were Finalists in the ACFW Genesis contest. I returned home from that conference with a very pretty trophy and requests for full manuscripts from multiple editors and agents. All of which I sent. All of which were later rejected. But, a month after the conference, I got a Facebook message from a managing editor at a small publishing house who wanted to know if a certain manuscript of mine was still available for publication. The name recognition from the conference awards had led her to my website where a book blurb about my fiction projects piqued her interest enough to track me down on social media and request a proposal. How’s that for God connecting the dots? A month later, I signed my first contract and in November of 2015, my debut novel was published.
Wow! Definitely a God thing. Thanks for sharing that with us. Do you listen to music or snack while writing?
Both! Sometimes I think I must have a mild form of ADD because I have to be doing something with one part of my brain in order to set the creative part free to romp across the page. When thinking about where a scene should go, I have a lump of Silly Putty or “thinking putty” on hand to stretch, fold, and pop bubbles with. I definitely munch on popcorn, almonds, or dark chocolate chips way more than I should, washing it down with Diet Dr Pepper to balance out the calories. I also like to listen to either instrumental hymns to calm my frazzled working-mom brain or a handpicked soundtrack to get me into the mood for the scene I’m writing. For example, when writing Catch of a Lifetime (set around a college football program) I listened to the music from the movie Rudy and when writing my newest book, I often listened to the soundtrack from 42nd Street complete with tap dancing feet.
:) What are you working on now?
When writing Dance Over Me, I fell in love with the cast of characters and what was once a standalone story has turned into a series. I’m currently polishing book two, tentatively titled Focus On Love, and have started writing book three, Sing A New Song, where I’m having fun redeeming the diva by serving her a meal of humble pie. Of course, my multi-tasking brain is also filtering through future ideas for at least three new stories and musing over how to ramp up the tension in my award-winning manuscript that still hasn’t been contracted. I am so thankful for the Scrivener program where I can jot down my snippets of ideas and jump right back into the current project.
It's always fun to plan and start new stories. Thank you for stopping by today. If you had to give one piece advice to unpublished authors, what would it be?