Thursday, September 4, 2014

When the Journey Feels Like a Never-Ending Story with guest blogger, Candee Fick

How do you know when you’ve turned the corner in your writing journey? Perhaps when you final in a contest—twice—or when you’re asked to guest-blog on Seekerville. I’m so thrilled to be here! Through the years, I’ve found such encouragement as one by one the original Seekers left Unpublished Island, leaving behind their vacated beachfront cabanas. This amazing community gave me hope that my dream could have a happy ending too.

It’s been ten years since I determined to get to work on my “someday I’ll write a book” dream. While I’ve accumulated a trail of non-fiction articles, books, and a blog along the way, I’m still pursuing my first love of fiction and still waiting for an agent or publishing contract. Some days it feels like this writing journey is a never-ending story, but here’s what keeps me going.

1. Remember why you began to write.

When slogging through word counts and revisions, it’s easy to forget why you wanted to be a writer. I like to go back to the beginning and remember that I began to write because I love stories. I enjoy experiencing new things, imagining the possibilities, and escaping the daily stress within the pages of a book. I love falling in love with characters, struggling alongside them to find solutions to their problems, and celebrating when they triumph. I write because the lessons shared through stories linger the longest. I write because I want to encourage others with stories of faith, hope, and love.

2. Mark the milestones and make a list.

Almost from the beginning, I kept a list of key events along the way. Brainstorming a book outline (2004). Writing “The End” on a non-fiction manuscript comparing faith and football (2005). My first writer’s conference (2006). Enrolling in a two-year mentored writing course (2006-2008). My first published article for pay (2006). Finding a publisher and watching my first book become a reality (2007). An article reprinted in German (2007). Another non-fiction manuscript to encourage other parents with special needs children (2007). A complete (but poorly-written) romance (2008). A rewritten version entered into the ACFW Genesis contest and becoming a Finalist (2009). And so on until I have a record of the journey so far.

3. Celebrate how far you’ve come.

If you are anything like me, just reviewing the milestones is proof that you’ve come a long way. My complete list includes five writers conferences, over a dozen published articles, three non-fiction books in print, two devotional e-books, five fiction manuscripts completed (three worth publishing), five years of blogging, requests for full manuscripts from both agents and editors, a Genesis Runner-Up in 2009, a Genesis Semi-Final in 2011, and a Genesis Double Final in 2014. When the journey drags on, it’s too easy to focus on how far we have to go and forget how far we’ve come. Instead, throw a party and reward yourself for having made it this far.

4. Find a cheering section to help when the ground gets rough.

Writing is a solo endeavor with hours spent staring at a computer screen, but when you hit a bump in the road, you need someone to cry with and then cheer you on. One of my lowest points came when my book-loving grandmother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I hurriedly had my novel manuscripts printed and in the mail so she could see the rest of my books for herself. She graduated to heaven a few weeks later and I felt like I’d lost my biggest fan. When I received yet another rejection on the anniversary of her death, I honestly felt like quitting. Then, my critique partner and my husband and a few timely posts on blogs like Seekerville encouraged me to keep putting words on paper. That was ten months ago, and if it wasn’t for a cheering section including accountability from my local writer’s group, I would never have finished my latest manuscript or entered the Genesis again or become a Double Finalist.

5. Look ahead down the path.

In any journey, it helps to know where you’re headed and chart a path to get there. Learning the craft, marketing, writing another story, and sending out proposals are all good goals to pursue.  As I prepare for the ACFW Conference later this month, I’m polishing one-sheets and practicing pitches in addition to researching the market, brainstorming my next projects, and continuing to build a platform through my website, blog, newsletter email list, and social media.  Every little bit is another step in the right direction. (Shameless self-promotion here since Audra said I could … visit my website at and find links for all of the above. I’d love to connect with you! Not to mention, newsletter subscribers get a code for a free devotional ebook.)

6. Trust the One who knows what the next chapter holds.

As an inspirational author, faith is a key element in my personal life as well as the lives of my characters. While I dream big and work hard, only the Author of my life’s story knows where this journey will actually take me. I also realize that getting a contract or agent is simply the next step in a continuing journey of more books, more marketing, more contests and awards and reviews on the way to foreign language rights, best seller lists, and potential movie options. A girl can dream, right? Yet, the journey continues for each of us because our story is still being written.

I brought breakfast burritos loaded with spicy queso along with a platter of fresh-from-the-oven, gooey cinnamon rolls. So, since I’m procrastinating about shopping for a Gala dress, let’s talk.  Where are you in your journey? Why do you write? When did you start? How far have you come? Who cheers you on? What’s the next goal you’re working towards? Where would you like this journey to end? 

Audra here. Candee's journey is an inspirational adventure for all of us. AND, she's been a fan of Seekerville for years!!! This kind of combination deserves reward. Leave a comment and be in the drawing for a $10 Amazon Gift Card, winner announced in the Saturday Weekend Edition.

 Candee Fick is a football coach’s wife and mother of three, including a special needs daughter. In addition to non-fiction articles, books, and a devotional-style blog, she has been writing fiction since 2008 and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is currently a Double Finalist in the 2014 ACFW Genesis contest Short Novel category. Find her online at


  1. Glad to have you here, Candee. Thanks for bringing her, Audra. Tina...I just couldn't wait. I bought your latest book!

  2. What an inspiration Candee. Thank you for sharing today.

    Have a blessed day everyone!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  3. Candeeeeeee!!!! I'm so happy that you're not an overnight success, that you're earning your stripes at my turtle/tortoise pace! Hang in there, girl!!!!!

    Oh my stars, we can all commiserate here, and you know what????

    I think the reality of publishing is so much easier to deal with WHEN YOU'VE BEEN KNOCKED ON YOUR BUTT A FEW TIMES.

    I don't say this lightly. Publishing, edits, deadlines, revisions, changes, promotions, all of the internal (and largely invisible) workings of the industry can be intimidating or frustrating, but if you've had to work your tail off for years, reaching for that gold ring, it's like the 8th month of pregnancy: YOU'LL DO WHAT IT TAKES TO HAVE THAT BABY!!!! :)

    You go, girl!

    Loved this post, and the spicy food that goes along with it!

    So glad you're here today and I'm raising a mug o' joe in your honor!


  4. Coffee's ready!!!!

    Pumpkin spice creamer, Italian sweet cream and plain old heavy cream, at your service!

    Also, you'll notice the new coffee central bar we've installed next to the food warming trays?

    We're trying a new food layout to make things more comfortable for our guests! Let us know what you think, okay????

    Virtual opinions rock!

  5. Huge congrats on your double Genesis final, Candee! That's amazing :)

    Like you, I definitely wouldn't have survived the roller coaster ride of this writing thing without my own personal cheer squad either!

  6. Candee, welcome to Seekerville!

    It really is so important to remember and to celebrate all the milestones along the journey. I think writers need some sort of support group to keep going when things just don't happen or when they get difficult.

  7. Congratulations, Candee! And thank you for an inspirational post.
    You reminded of what my mother always said—that anything worth having, was worth working hard for!:-)

  8. Way to go, Candee, for progressing this far into your journey! Well done!
    Alas, I am not a writer of books. I DO write poetry for friends, but I have no journey in that regard.
    MY journey is currently trying to find work that makes me happy. I type from home and WAS trying to find work outside the home, but I recently found that working inside the home is so much better for my health. So ... I hope that this particular journey comes to a satisfying conclusion soon, as it has been many months of a temporary job outside the home and now back to just working from home. My husband just turned 65 and I really would like for him to retire soon IF I can make more money than I currently provide....

  9. Good morning, Candee! Oh my how your story rings in my heart! I don't know how many times I apologized to God for not being "writing material" and then He'd send some sort of encouragement my way - like a final, a request, the Seekers-LOL - and I'd pull up my big girl panties and continue on my way.

    As a double finalist, you are definitely getting the message you're in it for the long haul!


  10. Ruthy, I thought you would relate to Candee's journey. Talk about perserverance. You two have it in spades!!

    It's that time of year again, isn't it? Pumpkin Spice Creamer. Gotta grab it while it's here!!!

  11. Mary Hicks, that saying should be posted in permanant marker where we can see it every day. We've got to work to make it happen.

    And everyone's jouney is different.

    Definitely have to keep that in mind, too.

  12. Candee,

    Congrats on your success!!!

    An article reprinted in Germany! How fun is that!!!

    Love what you said about your dear grandmother "graduating" to heaven. Such a good way to look at that transition from this life to the next.

    Cheering sections! So important. I told hubby when I was pushing to make my last deadline that I needed him cheering me on. He's always so supportive, but I needed his affirmation that I would get the work done, to my liking, and in on time. He understood what I meant and has been cheering ever since. I need to buy him pom-poms! LOL!

  13. Leaving--in minutes--and driving to Greensboro, NC, for the Writers' Police Academy!

    Travel prayers appreciated!!!

    Hugs to all!

  14. Well said! We aren't alone when we create!

  15. Inspiring post today, but then every day seems to be that here. Thanks for sharing your journey, Candee. I'll probably refer back to this when I get discouraged (because I know I will, a character flaw of mine...really should trust the Lord better, He DOES know what He's doing with me, right?)

    DebG - Godspeed and protection as you travel to the writer's police academy thing. Slightly jealous. It sounds like lots of fun.

  16. Hello Candee,
    Thanks for a great post.
    I do keep a log of achievement, including positive judges' comments and milestones. I call it my "encouragement" file.
    I turned a couple of corners this month. Finaled in the Maggies, which gave me the impetus to not turn back. It was a real validation for me. I Will Not Turn Back.
    The other validation was my scores from Lone Star. I didn't final, but the judges (were they sleeping?) saw fit to give me an 86, a 94 and a 100. That made me think I have something worth saying. I Will Not Turn Back.
    BUT, with that score, which my helpful crit partner averaged out at 93, I turned yet another corner. I actually wanted one of the scores to be lower, so I could "learn something" from the comments. This has never happened before. Am I going mad or what? Or have I reached the stage where craft isn't everything, it's the only thing?
    It has been a LONG journey for me, 30 years, and I have made every mistake imaginable. I tallied the things I had given up for this and was almost ready to give up when I got the final and the Lone Star scores. To whoever's hanging in there, HANG IN THERE.
    Kathy Bailey

  17. I was also helped by Cathy Yardley's plot consultation, Susan Brower's review of my proposal, and Jill Elizabeth Nelson's Deep POV class, ALL OF WHICH I WON ON THIS WONDERFUL SITE!
    Which is of God because I never won anything in my life, not even the "guess the jellybean" contest.

  18. Off now, real job, talk later.

  19. Well said, Ms. Double Finalist!

    You have come a long way and most of the Seekers can well relate. In fact I am pretty sure 99 percent of us can. You notice we are not all young girls. LOL.

    See you in St. Louis!@

  20. Oh, oh, oh, Candee! I forgot to congratulate you, my bad!

    I loved Noble Theme>Genesis. It was a huge help to me....

    Finaling is a wonderful feat!

  21. Awe, Marianne. Sorry I am so slow this month.

    Will send you a surprise for your sweetness. Well, eventually, haha, I am such a slackard.

  22. Kaybee! Jellybean contest? We could do that! Put all of our books in a giant jar/box and have a guess number of the books in the jar contest! Brilliant.

  23. Gee, how come I didn't know you live in Colorado? Just moved from there after 19 years. I love Colorado.

  24. Hi Candee,
    Wow, I'm going totally off topic here because like an arrow to my heart, God spoke to me through your quote,


    God himself is an Author, writing my life's story! That has me thinking about the verse in 2 Cor. 3:2, "we are living epistles read of all men".

    My thought to meditate on for the day~ Am I trying to make my life's story go where I want it to go? or is God in control to the point others see Him shining through me in that story?!

    My sympathies on the loss of your grandmother, but her graduation is definitely a promotion.

    Thanks for sharing today!

  25. Candee, this post is loaded with good advice. Writing is definitely a journey. A never-ending journey at that. Friends and celebrations are indeed a very important part of that journey.

    Hope to meet you at conference. :)

  26. Whew, you've all been busy this morning. Blame my tardiness on the time zone and packing lunches for the kiddos, but I'm glad I'm here!

    Marianne, Cindy W, and Cathyann40 - Thanks. It's my pleasure to share my story with all of you.

    Ruth - You just encouraged me with your turtle pace comment. Reminds me of my days running cross country in high school a gazillion years ago. ;-) Thanks for bringing the coffee, although I prefer my caffeine carbonated and have a Diet Dr. Pepper already opened.

  27. Kara Isaac - Thanks. I'm so glad you have a cheer squad. I can't imagine the journey without one.

    Cara Lynn James - I like your idea of a support group, too. Our local writer's group has turned into both a place to whine, brainstorm possibilities, and celebrate with each other. Priceless.

    Mary Hicks - I know your mother was right, just some days I wish I didn't have to work so hard. Then again, since I know the hard way what it takes to get this far, I can now be a cheerleader for someone else.

  28. Laney4 - I too work from home (for the day job, not just the writing dream). I love the flexibility!

    DiAnn - So true. We are never alone when we are creating. God plus a community of writers. Can't get much better than that!

    Audra - Thanks again for the invitation to share my story here. And thanks for being part of our local writers support group when the trail gets steep.

  29. Debby - My dad did my grandmother's service and "graduating" was the term he used. (Just need to give credit where it is due, especially since today is his birthday.) Safe travels ... and if you ever get your husband those pom-poms, please post pictures!

    Deb H - I can so relate to the discouragement slump. That's how I came up with this process in the first place.

    Kathy Bailey - KUDOS to you for 30 years of Not Turning Back. I love your idea of an encouragement file. I still have a printed copy of two emails from the first editor who accepted my article for publication. Congratulations on the Maggies and the other validations. Like Audra said, God seems to give us exactly what we need at just the right time.

  30. Tina and Mindy - I'll definitely be looking out for you in St. Louis, if only to hear more about your never-ending journeys.

    Tracey - I'm so glad you found encouragement in what I said about God being the Author of my story. On the days I question Him about why I have to face such-and-such bad thing, I sometimes imagine my characters complaining to me about the path their story is taking. Then I remember that as the author, I have a purpose to bring them to a place of internal change and then a happily ever after.

    God is SO much better at this Author thing than I am and He's a plotter. After all, "all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." (Ps 139:16)

    I have a quote from Mother Teresa taped above my desk: "I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world."

    Now that's something to think about!

  31. Love that quote Candee, I'm writing that down to display in my office too!

  32. Candee, I loved reading how you keep yourself moving forward. I've never thought to keep a list of things I've accomplished. What a great idea! It's so easy to look at how far I have to go—the road seeming to lead straight up with rocks to climb over—that I don't take time to remember what God's already helped me accomplish.

    God's timing is always perfect. That's what I keep telling myself. He knows my journey and the road ahead better than anyone.

    For cheerleaders: I have my husband, my kids and some friends. A couple in particular spurs me onward when I'm feeling discouraged. And my mom. Gotta love moms who pull out their pom pons from time to time! :)

  33. Great advice, Candee! I've wanted to write fiction novels all my life, but around two years ago I really put that dream in God's hands. Not long after, I was asked to write Bible curriculum for young adults. I am SO enjoying doing it, even though it's not anything close to what I'd ever imagined myself doing...

    Still want to write fiction one day!

    Thanks for your encouraging words.

  34. A beautifully encouraging post, Candee, and thanks for being our guest today! And congratulations on those important milestones you've already achieved!

    I have to agree with Ruthy--those of us who waited and hoped through long years and mounds of rejections appreciate our departure from Unpubbed Island even more. We already know we're in this for the long haul or we wouldn't have stuck it out so long. So all the behind-the-scenes dirty work that comes AFTER you get "the call" is worth it.

  35. Jeanne T - I've found when climbing a steep trail like we have here in Colorado that the necessary water/catch-your-breath breaks are the perfect opportunity to look back at how far you've come and enjoy the view from where you are. Sometimes we focus so much on the rocky path and putting one foot in front of the other, that we forget to look up and appreciate the scenery. And thanks for the reminder about God's perfect timing. I needed that today.

    Jennifer Smith - I'm glad you're enjoying what you write. Maybe someday you'll get to do the fiction dream, but for now you're learning priceless lessons about the work of writing and deadlines.

  36. Myra - Thanks. Glad to know that the hard work now is preparing me for even more hard work after I get "the call." Or maybe not so much glad as appreciative because God never wastes an experience and the ground-breaking work now will bear fruit later. Another positive something to think about today!

  37. Candee Fick said...
    Then again, since I know the hard way what it takes to get this far, I can now be a cheerleader for someone else.

    Oh, Candee, you have helped me realize something. Having a cheering squad of supportive friends and family is fantastic, but this is why it's especially important to have at least one other writer cheering me on ... only another writer really, truly, 'been there' understands.

    And I love the idea of rewarding ourselves for having made it this far.

    Congratulations on each and every one of your accomplishments!

    Nancy C

  38. Candee,
    I'm so glad you're here today. You reminded me to count my milestones and my blessings with those who help me continue my journey.

    Both of those are vital to the solitary pursuit of writing.

    Thank you reminders. Best of luck for your double finalist's books and for you.

    Wiping the queso off my lips.
    L.A. (aka Leslie Ann)

  39. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on sticking with our goals and dreams! Please include me in your giveaway :)

  40. Nancy C - Thanks. Seekerville is quite obviously full of people who "get it" about this journey. When my husband's eyes glaze over, I know it's time to email my crit partner.

    L.A. (Leslie Ann) - Thanks for your support. And as a friend I should point out that you missed a spot of queso. I hope you'd do the same for me. ;-)

  41. So happy to see you here, Candee. Your post had a message that I needed to hear again. Your writing journy encouraged and inspired me. I agree Seekerville is a special place. Congratulations on being named a double winner in the Genesis. You must be excited to be going to ACFW too.

  42. I'm refreshing the coffee pot. Have at it!

    I'm another of those who can appreciate your journey. I started writing back before I had heard of a computer, had kids in school, a job and a pastor husband. I didn't achieve publication until after I retired. But God knew what was best for me.

    Congratulations on your double final. Will look for you in St. Louis.

  43. Heidi - Thank you for taking the time to comment and you're entered for sure.

    Pat - Thanks. Seekerville is definitely a special place. Yes, I am excited to be going to ACFW and terrified and nervous and eager and more all at the same time.

    Helen - Yeah! More caffeine. Thanks for sharing your story and the reminder that God knows what is best for each of us. See you in (gulp) three weeks.

  44. Candee,
    You bet, I meant to tell you at lunch the other day, that green thing in your teeth? :)

    Really, you've inspired me to remember my journey. Thank you.


  45. Congratulations, Candee, on your double final!!! I'm about 3 1/2 years into my writing journey, and I so appreciate your inspiration. This year will be my second ACFW. See you in St. Louis!

  46. Oh, CANDEE, I am SO freakin' proud of you, my friend -- talk about endurance and inspiration -- you ROCK!!

    And SUPER CONGRATS on the double final, girl -- we will all be pulling for you to win and THEN hopefully get the call not too far down the road. Because it's coming ... I can feel it.

    My heart squeezed when I read about the loss of your biggest fan --she sounds like a precious lady and cheerleader for you, so I am so sorry about that. Hopefully you have other cheerleaders in your life, not the least of which are a crazy group of women on a blog. :)

    Hugs and more hugs,

  47. What an inspirational post! Thank you!

  48. Candee, enjoyed your encouraging. I am just a reader, and love to read.
    Thanks for offering a gift card!

  49. Candee, you've just reminded me to add something to my milestone list. Thanks.

  50. Meghan - Thanks! I'm pleased to provide a little inspiration for your journey and I'll look for you in St. Louis.

    (Note to self: Start a list so I can keep track of who I still need to find.)

    Julie - Thanks for leading the cheer with such enthusiasm! I have lots of cheerleaders, especially now. And Grandma Eugenia would have loved all of you.

    Amy C - Glad you stopped by and were encouraged.

    Jackie - The rest of us are on this journey toward publication for people like you ... readers who love to read. Thanks.

    Heidi Kortman - I'm wondering what you're adding to your milestone list. Hope it's not surviving me as a roommate at ACFW in Denver 5 years ago. Thanks for stopping by!

  51. Candee, first of all, CONGRATULATIONS on your Genesis successes! Yay! Your post was encouraging and so well expressed. I especially like your thought of God as the AUTHOR of our journeys. I agree that supportive people are so valuable...waving to CP Donna and everyone here in Seekerville. Thank you to both you and Audra for your post.

    Praying for Debby's safe travels and Laney4's job situation. Enjoying the burritos and Ruthy's coffee bar with Italian sweet creamer....which comes in sugar free now, thank goodness, and thanks to Helen for refreshing the coffee. :)

    Candee, you are so right about hiking the Colorado mountains with remembering to appreciate how far you have climbed! Enjoy your special time in St. Louis!

  52. Candee, Congratulations on your Genesis success! Your post was very timely. I submitted a non-fiction book for publishing and have already received a rejection. Actually a second for this book. I am not going to give up The e-mail said they did not have time to devote to my book. It is disappointing but not devastating. I wish though they would have given me more information as to what to change or improve.

    I hope you are all doing well today. As I commented last week. A rejection is the end of a dream. It is just a delay.

  53. Thank you for such an encouraging post, Candee. It was perfect timing for me. :)

  54. Welcome to Seekerville, Candee! Thanks for sharing your journey and tips on how to keep on, keeping on. The journey teaches us so much, if we can get past the disappointments and focus on the blessings.

    Congrats on being a double finalist in the Genesis! Hope good things come very soon.


  55. Sherinda - Thanks. It's been my pleasure to share my journey with all of you today.

    Wilani - Sorry about the recent rejection delaying your dream. Been there, done that for sure. Don't give up!

    Anna - I'm glad God used my words at just the right time for you.

  56. Candee, as a beginning novelist I appreciated your advice. I need to look at how far I've come when the road ahead seems daunting. I would love to win the Amazon gift card! Please enter me into the drawing.

  57. Janet Dean - You're so right. We learn a lot from the journey, especially if we keep our eyes on the blessings.

    Sandy Smith - Congratulations on beginning this amazing yet difficult journey. Hanging out here at Seekerville will get you much further than trying to go it alone. One step at a time.

  58. Welcome Candee! I really enjoyed reading your post. Such a good reminder to look back to see how far I've come. But also to look forward and to dream.

    Thanks for sharing your journey!

  59. Candee, thanks so much for sharing your loving wisdom with us today. You have no idea how often I grumble about my day job getting in the way of my writing time. I'm coming away with the thought of God has me right where He wants me...and how good it that!!

    Can't wait to see you in St. Louis (isn't that a movie?) and sharing caffeine with you - carbonated and non.

  60. I enjoyed your encouraging article. It's so nice to know you don't make the journey alone. Cheers

  61. Marilyn and Missy - Thanks for stopping by and your kind words.

    And Audra, thanks again for letting me be your guest. It's been a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of Seekerville for the day. I'll be looking for you and caffeine in St. Louis. ;-)

    Now, time to get the kids to bed on this school night and clean up the kitchen after the teenaged-son's post-football practice feeding frenzy.

    Enjoy the journey and keep writing!

  62. I am a reader, not a writer, so I am cheering you all on.

  63. Candee,

    Such an encouraging article!! Thanks for sharing your journey.

  64. Thanks for your encouraging post Candee. It inspired me to press on with my first manuscript which I started two years ago. Recently started a Blog with two other aspiring writers. Also just entered my first writing contest and will be attending my first conference later this month.

    The writing contest was quite frustrating, (long story you don't want to hear). However, along the way, 'journey', learning a lot and having fun responding to my call.

    Thanks again, God is Good !

  65. Very inspiring post, Candee. Thanks so much!
    ~Holly I. in Morehead, KY

  66. Breakfast burritos and cinnamon rolls sounds good. I'm hungry! Too bad it's just virtual food. Please throw my name in the cat dish for the drawing.