Stories of Faith, Hope, and Love
by Candee Fick!
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.
Today we welcome author Candee Fick to the Diamond mine!And don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Candee's latest book!
Hi Candee! Great to have you on the Diamond Mine!
I see that you’ve written a number of non-fiction books before your fiction novels. What made you decide to write novels, and was it a difficult transition?
I actually started out trying to write a novel, but in the process of taking an online writing course, I was assigned a few non-fiction articles that led to books and so that’s where my publishing journey began. Along the way, I continued to write fiction on the side, grew in my craft as a storyteller, and regularly submitted my work to critique partners and contests until I finally attracted the attention of an editor. My experience with non-fiction, including blogging, taxes, queries, and proposals, has made the business side of the transition easier, but I’m still learning how to write a better novel faster.
Me too! So, how do you get your story ideas?
Some of my best story ideas have come either while waking up from a dream or when daydreaming about a person or situation I observed. My two favorite questions to ask are then “Why?” and “What if…?” because that’s where I discover who these people are and why they are in this current situation. If I’m interested in the answers, I’ll dig deeper with more questions until I’ve harvested the foundation for a short story, novella, full-length novel, or even a series idea. Some story nuggets have been percolating on the back burner of my brain for a very long time.
I can really relate to that, as I'm sure so many writers can!
Do you plan out your story with an outline or general framework, or do you write as you go?
I definitely work out a general framework for the story before I start writing, but I leave plenty of room for my characters to walk onto the page and surprise me. There’s a lot to be said for a solid believable plot that initiates an internal change in the life of the characters, and both plotters and pantsers eventually reach that same destination. Personally, I don’t like investing time in extensive rewrites so I’d rather put in the work ahead of time to make sure there’s a solid story arc with good character motivations before I start romping on the page. As long as I don’t stray too far from the framework, I can enjoy the journey while minimizing the necessary time for revisions.
How much of your own life and self do you put into your characters?
I definitely invest myself emotionally into my characters. While I might not be an athletic trainer in a football program or a tap dancer at a theater, I know a lot about trying to come up with a Plan B, struggling to forgive, or wishing I could fit in with the popular crowd. The situation might be different, but I can identify with the basic emotions that make us human. That said, I like to write about things I enjoy so watching a college football game, attending the dinner theater, or even hiking in the Rocky Mountains have made it into my stories.
Are any of your characters based on real people?
Yes…and no. Certain antagonists may or may not have been inspired by the actions, words, or sneers of real people I’ve known, but I’ve certainly changed names, professions, physical characteristics, and more to protect the guilty. I’ve even combined several “inspiring” folk into a single antagonist before. As for my good guys, some of them might do or say something that a real person in my life did, but the rest of the character is unique. For example, my husband started our first date with prayer but he can’t play an instrument or even enjoy watching a musical. When my mom read an early draft of my latest release, she immediately recognized that event in the story, but it was clear that my trumpet-playing, theater-running character was a completely different person.
I know what you mean about weaving in some reality throughout our stories!
Tell us a bit about the main characters in your latest book, and what you like best about them.
Danielle, aka Dani, is an orphan who survived years in foster care, discovered the joy of dancing, found a new home, and now is forging a path toward a professional career in theater while still searching for the younger brother she was separated from at age six. I love her sense of humor and the deep spiritual connection she shares with God while dancing. Alex on the other hand is a talented musician and college business student who is using his gifts to help run his family’s dinner theater, but he’s skittish when it comes to dating an actress because his last girlfriend put advancing her career above their relationship. I love his charming mixture of stability and vulnerability…and those dimples are so adorable!
They sound like very engaging characters!
Since you’re writing romance stories, what part of a romance do you find most compelling?
I like the part where a couple falls in love because it’s a journey of discovery filled with giddy emotions and confusing signals. Does she like me? He just brushed up against my arm and I still feel all tingly. What is that look supposed to mean? People rarely fall in love at first sight and so there’s a natural progression of attraction and getting to know each other and being turned off by one thing about the other person while adoring another aspect. Until they finally kiss for the first time and tentatively form a couple who then navigate the rest of the story. I love discovering what draws my characters together and then what makes it stick for the long haul.
If your stories have a basic interwoven theme for the reader, what is it?
As a faith-based writer, I tend to weave in some aspect of God’s character in such a way that my characters’ journey can inspire the reader as well. For example, in Dance Over Me, I wove in the idea of God as an adoptive Father as well the idea that He is at work behind the scenes in our lives. My tagline is “Stories of Faith, Hope, and Love” because my mission is to show God’s love through a romance story, illustrate genuine faith in action through the challenges my characters face, and then leave readers with hope that God is real and they too can overcome their challenges with His help.
I think all faith-based writers can relate completely to your sentiments, and share the same hopes as you've just expressed.
What do you like most about being a writer?
I love the creative process where I get to dream up interesting people and situations, block them into a corner, and then figure out a way to rescue them. I especially love it when my creative juices start flowing and the perfect plot twist drops into my imagination. That’s when I can’t type fast enough to keep up with the story unfolding in my head. Those are the moments where I feel God smiling as I write. (Unfortunately, even when writing inspired, I still have to edit and revise. Bummer!)
I hear you!
What are you working on now?
I’m currently updating an older manuscript that has yet to be sold. Once that proposal is back out the door, I’ll give the sequel to Dance Over Me another revision pass with fresh eyes before diving into the fast draft of the third book in The Wardrobe series. In the meantime, there are a few more ideas clamoring for their turn. I have to keep telling myself to focus on one book at a time.
Thanks so much for the interview Candee!! It's been a pleasure.
Readers, remember to leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Candee's latest book.
Here's a short excerpt from Candee's book: Dance Over Me:
(Partway into the Prologue)
After introducing herself, Miss Amy put her hand on Dani’s shoulder. “Mrs. Johnson, this is Danielle Barker.”
Dani reached out her hand to Mrs. Johnson the way Mommy had taught her. “Nice to meet you.”
Mrs. Johnson’s hand felt warm as they shook hands. “Welcome to our home.”
“Dani’s joining her brother, Jacob.” Miss Amy squeezed Dani’s shoulder.
“Jacob?” Mrs. Johnson’s face got really white. “He’s gone.”
Gone? That’s what they said about Mommy and Daddy. Dani’s heart stopped beating for a moment and then pounded under her sweater.
“Nobody told us there was a sister. The Wilsons took him home yesterday.” Mrs. Johnson sounded mad.
Dani’s arms tingled and a noise like a waterfall echoed inside her head. “Why did the Wilsons take him?”
The grown-ups got that look like when they forgot kids were listening. Mrs. Johnson pulled them inside the house and shut the door. Miss Amy left to use the telephone. Trembling, Dani stood by the wall. Mrs. Johnson sat on a chair and covered her face with her hands. Down the hallway, music played and children laughed.
After a long time, Miss Amy returned. Her eyes looked sad as she got on her knees in front of Dani. “You’re going to stay here with Mrs. Johnson. But your brother’s being adopted. He has a new family now.”
A new family?
Dani shook her head and tears filled her eyes. No. J. D. was her family. They couldn’t take him away. Not with Mommy and Daddy gone to heaven. She had to take care of him.
She pushed Miss Amy away and screamed.
Danielle Lefontaine wiped sweaty palms on her short skirt. Auditions always put her off balance.
“Next up. Number seventeen.”
Dani rolled her shoulders once, gave each leg a shake, took a deep breath, and clicked her way up the three steps to the polished hardwood. Approaching center stage, she scanned the house and zeroed in on the older couple seated behind a table on the second level.
“And what will you be showing us this morning?”
Dani’s gaze skipped over the tall woman who’d checked her in earlier and focused on the middle-aged director who was busy rolling a pen between his fingers. She swallowed hard to dissolve the cotton-like feeling in her mouth.
“I’ve prepared a series of tap combinations.” Dani did a quick shuffle step to draw attention to her footwear and break the tension that seemed to have paralyzed her body.
A snort of laughter erupted from an area to the right of the judges’ table.
Dani shifted her gaze to the critic. Female. About her age. The blonde bombshell diva-type leaned over to whisper something in the ear of the dark-haired man beside her as two other women giggled behind them. Based on the logo on their T-shirts, they were part of the theater company and therefore in a position to enjoy watching the auditions without the fear of dashed hopes.
“Do you have accompaniment?” The director rested his chin on folded hands.
“I do.” Heat from the stage lights sent a trickle of sweat down Dani’s back.
“Whenever you’re ready.”
She glanced at the cluster of actors. The diva picked at her nail polish, and the others looked equally bored. Time to let her feet do the talking.
She stepped into position and nodded in the direction of the soundboard on the third level at the back of the room.
Okay, God. Here we go.
And readers, there you go! A little taste of a wonderful story!
And here's a short bio about Candee:
Candee Fick is the wife of a high school football coach and the mother of three children, including a daughter with a rare genetic syndrome. When not busy with her day job or writing, she can be found cheering on the home team at football, basketball, baseball, and Special Olympics games. In what little free time remains, she enjoys exploring the great Colorado outdoors, indulging in dark chocolate, and savoring happily-ever-after endings through a good book.
And here are her social and purchase links: