Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Embracing the Spotlight (Giveaway Alert!)

Today, the very sweet and fun Candee Fick, whom I had the absolute pleasure of meeting at the ACFW Conference in Nashville last month, is stepping into my role today to bring you a precious word. And a giveaway! So read on, then make sure you enter the giveaway for this beautiful book (I'm almost finished reading it, and I don't want to be!)

Embracing the Spotlight

What is it about being the center of attention that both attracts and repels us?

While it hurts to be ignored, intense scrutiny isn’t very fun either. We want people to notice us and pay attention to what we do, but hate it when people stare like we’re a specimen under the microscope. We want to be admired but don’t want our competition to get jealous and put a target on our back.

The main character in my just-released book, Dance Over Me, faces this dilemma. The story opens with a nerve-wracking audition while a snickering diva watches from the peanut gallery. Danielle, a.k.a. Dani, loves to dance and sing and longs to be a part of the cast at this dinner theater. She wants to bring a smile to the faces of the audience and inspire young girls to pursue their dreams. But Dani does not want to be in the spotlight, because the last time she got a starring role it cost her a family. So while it should be obvious (for the sake of the rest of the book) that she gets hired, what will happen if an understudy role ever turns into the real thing or a jealous cast mate starts grinding Dani through the rumor mill? Can she learn to embrace the spotlight?

As a writer, I’ve faced a similar love-hate relationship with the spotlight. In 2014, I was a Double Finalist in the ACFW Genesis contest. On the one hand, I was thrilled with the confirmation that I could write and so appreciative of how that information opened conversational doors with editors and agents. On the other hand, I still remember sitting at the conference awards Gala both hopeful and petrified that my name would be called. While I wanted to win for the credibility factor, I would have to walk up there onto the stage in front of hundreds of people and deliver a speech, knowing the entire event was being live-streamed across the world.

I won. I did not trip going up the stairs. I spoke. I survived. But that was not the end. I got my first book contract and suddenly I was thrust into a different spotlight called marketing. As an author, I need the publicity to get my name and books in front of new potential readers so I can boost sales, make my publisher happy, and get new contracts for even more books. But I daily battle my insecurities, alternating between fear that others might reject me and an insidious pride that whispers I am more important than I ever dreamed.

Since I’ve chosen the spotlight of being an author, how can I best embrace the necessary attention? By walking confidently in my God-given abilities while remembering both the source of those talents and their purpose. I don’t write stories for my own glory, but rather to encourage and entertain others while pointing them toward the true hope found in God. By keeping the focus on the reader’s experience and God’s blessings, I start to care less about my own reputation and more about being obedient to His plan.

Or as the book’s hero Alex tells Dani, “It would be an offense to God not to use the gifts He gave you.” Even if that means embracing the spotlight.

What about you? What spotlight are you avoiding or embracing? Why do insecurities choose to surface the closer we get to our dreams? Chime in (in the comments below) and be entered to win a free copy (winner’s choice of print or e-book) of Dance Over Me.


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.

Find Candee on her web site, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, and Google+.

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?

Find the book on Amazon as a paperback and ebook.

Don't forget to enter Candee's giveaway by answering her questions in the comments below! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Training for Our Dreams (And a Giveaway!)

Dreams. We all have them -- though some of you might have lost sight of them or might have buried them under piling to-do lists. But that's a post for another day.

Today, we're talking about dreams, tenacity, training, and ... admiration for those who do this well. There's a reason so many watched the Olympics. There's a reason I love Ninja Warriors and why I celebrate every time one of my friends receives a book contract or promotion, or whatever.

Dreams--a universal, sometimes fanciful, spark. But, other times these dreams were placed within us, I believe, by a loving, attentive, eternal God. This morning, my sweet friend, Shannon Taylor Vannatter, shares her thoughts on dreams -- and the recently concluded Olympics. As an added bonus, she's launched a fun give-away to celebrate the release of her latest novel, Reuniting With the Cowboy. Read through what Shannon shares with us, then make sure to read the instructions on entering her fun giveaway!

Training for Our Dreams
by Shannon Taylor Vannatter

I don’t do sports—at all and don’t have a competitive bone in my body. I love to swim, play badminton, and baseball, but that’s as close as I get and only for fun. I certainly don’t want to sit around and watch sports on TV.

Yet I anticipate the Olympics, can’t wait until they come around again. No matter what country the games take place in, for me they’re patriotic and I enjoy watching the medal count as the U.S. stomps everyone else. I was beside myself when the decision was made to separate the summer and winter games. Olympics every two years—yippee!

My favorite all time Olympics was Atlanta 1996. Despite the bombing, I enjoyed it most because my husband was out of town, I didn’t have a child yet, and wasn’t writing then. I had a long weekend off from work and slept in the living room floor because the TV was bigger. I watched the Olympics 24/7. I’d doze through reruns and then watch some more.

These days, I record every event, and spend my evenings watching for two solid weeks. When my
family wants me to do something like feed them—I complain, “You’re ruining my Olympic experience.”

My fourteen year old son’s two cents, “Can’t we watch something else?” In most individual events, I fast forward through the competitors and only watch the US. In swimming, track, and skiing, I fast forward through all the heats and see how many of the U.S. team qualified, then cheer them on in the finals.

If I wasn’t trying to pack twenty-four hours of events into one evening, I’d probably watch it all. If it’s something pretty, I watch every second. My favorites—synchronized swimming, rhythmic gymnastics, and ice skating. When the games are over, I always feel slightly lost. What am I going to do with my evenings now? There’s nothing on TV.

I also love singing competition shows. I’m still grieving American Idol. Though I don’t listen to secular music, nor do I appreciate some of the judges’ language, off-color remarks, and innuendos. Again, I record the shows, fast forward through most the commentary and listen to the competitors sing. I even fast forward through some of the songs if I don’t like the style or lyrics.

I cry with the contestants when they get cut. I whine and complain when the judges send the ones home that I really like, though I’ve never voted for my favorite. And when my pick doesn’t win, I rail
at the people who did vote.

So what do the Olympics, the Voice, X Factor, and American Idol have in common? The athletes who compete in the Olympics have dreamed, worked, and trained their entire lives. The singing competitors have dreamed, worked, and trained their entire lives. In pursuit of their lifelong goal. Watching these competitions inspires me.

I understand their tenacity. I share the same drive. Though it took me longer to figure out my goal, I dreamed, worked, and trained for nine and a half years. Then learned, cried, stressed, and hair-pulled through twelve published titles. I’m most at ease and most me when I’m with other writers. Because they get me—more so than my family and loved ones ever will. Now I teach writing at conferences and local group meetings because I want to share what I’ve learned. To feed the dream and stoke the drive in others like me.

And I cheer on Olympians and singers because though our dreams are different, we’re a lot alike.

A charming cowboy moving in next door shouldn't be bad news. But veterinarian Ally Curtis knows Cody Warren—she'd never forget the boy who left her when she needed him most. Cody is doing everything he can to show his beautiful neighbor he's not the wild bull rider he once was, from helping her find homes for her beloved strays, to protecting her when her business is threatened. But Cody has a secret that keeps him from fully reaching out. Yet as they continue to work together to promote her shelter, he can't keep himself from hoping that Ally might have a home for him…in her heart.

Get your copy now: AmazonChristianbookBarnes and Noble


Comment to enter the drawing for a copy of Reuniting with the Cowboy. Ten copies will be split among names drawn during the blog tour from Sept 1 - 27. One winner will receive a Noah’s Ark themed memory board personally crafted by the author. This fabric is special since it was in the Vannatter nursery 14 years ago and goes along with the float the characters in the book build for a parade. Great for a shower gift or displaying kids or grandkids. Winners will be revealed on the author’s blog on Oct 8th. Sign up to enter more giveaways: http://shannonvannatter.com/sign-up-for-shannons-newsletter/

Follow the tour:


Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife/award winning author. She once climbed a mountain wearing gold wedge-heeled sandals which became known as her hiking boots. Shannon writes inspirational contemporary romance and it took her nine years to get published in the traditional market.

Shannon hopes to entertain Christian women and plant seeds in the non-believer’s heart as her characters struggle with real-life issues. Their journeys, from ordinary lives to extraordinary romance through Christ-centered relationships, demonstrate that love doesn’t conquer all—Jesus does. In her spare time, she loves hanging out with her family, flea marketing, and doing craft projects.

Follow Shannon on her web site, blog, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Twitter.