I’m so excited to finally get to share Gloria’s story with the world. This series started at The Wardrobe Dinner Theater when an orphaned dancer and a photographer-turned-actress were two of many auditioning for roles in the upcoming season. During the audition, they met Gloria—the resident star—who quirked a finely plucked eyebrow and issued the challenge to “try to keep up.” Needless to say, the pampered diva was not happy to share a company apartment with the two newcomers nor thrilled when the spotlight later shifted. . .
Gloria Houghton turned away from the list and faked a smile as her castmates congratulated her on another supporting role. She forced herself to take a deep breath, and then one more, as she squeezed through the crowd of actors outside the dressing rooms at The Wardrobe Dinner Theatre.
Yet the light-headed feeling remained. What would it take to regain her status as the leading lady? Then again, who was she kidding? She’d hoped for a bigger part this time, but she also knew that her surgically repaired knee couldn’t take the beating. Oh, she could keep living on pain pills and ice packs and try not to limp through the season. The only other alternative was to tell the owners that she needed to take more time off—for what, physical therapy? Another surgery?
“Sing a New Song is the first book I have read by Candee Fick and it definitely will not be the last. I loved this book. Gloria and Nick’s are so very sweet, fun and delightful.”
“I’m stuck in the ensemble again. While Evan’s already flirting with his new costar. Ever since I hurt my knee, nothing’s gone my way around here.” A clumsy fall in her kitchen had torn her knee and ripped the starring role from her grasp, leaving behind the pain of dashed dreams and the nagging fear that she would never regain the spotlight.
“Nothing?” Liz gestured to the stage around them. “You’re about to be Milly.”
“A lot of good that will do, because the future isn’t looking so bright.”
“Some things are more important than the spotlight.”
“Well, I guess I haven’t found them yet.” Gloria looked around the stage area. Had it always been so small? “And I’m not sure I’ll ever find them here.”
“If you haven’t read the other books in this series, don’t let that stop you. Sing a New Song stands on its own. Then again, Candee Fick writes such good stories, it just makes sense to get all of the books and read them from the start.”
Maybe it was time for her to say goodbye to musical theater too and focus on singing instead.
“I hope you find what you’re looking for.” Liz smiled and then drifted away toward one of the wings, leaving Gloria alone at center stage.
Her voice could be her magic ticket to the future. But where?
She didn’t necessarily want a solo act, so those television audition shows to find the next voice were out of the question. And while actresses flocked to Hollywood or New York City, most singers usually ended up in Nashville—only to get lost in the crowd of hopefuls.
“Sing a New Song was a really good book! It is the first book that I have read by this author and will definitely not be the last. The characters in this story felt like real people! . . . Their romance was really well written. I look forward to reading more by this author.”
If only her new beginning didn’t depend upon a flawless first impression.
Gloria applied another layer of lip gloss and fluffed the curled blond hair around her shoulders. With one last rehearsed smile in the mirror, she stashed the makeup in her purse and exited Sherwood Theater’s restroom.
After a long-distance audition and weeks of rehearsing the music on her own, the time had come to meet the rest of the singers in the brand-new “Rockin’ the Decades” show debuting soon on the strip in Branson, Missouri.
“Not every book makes it onto my five-star radar, but occasionally I read something that truly makes me think alongside the hero. Flick has done an amazing job of carrying the reader on Gloria’s journey in a way that makes it personal. A tenderly crafted story about the real magic behind the lights, about what is true instead of what we pretend to be, Sing a New Song is a story that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.”
Nearing the backstage area, she scanned the map on her phone to locate the rehearsal room.
Almost there. Gloria glanced up just in time for her foot to slip out from under her on the wet floor. Her weak knee buckled, and the concrete floor came rushing toward her. Reaching for anything to break her fall, her fingers grazed the edge of a rolling bucket of mop water, tipping her phone into the liquid a moment before it—and the mop—toppled over. She landed hard on her right shoulder an instant before a flood of water soaked the upper half of her body.
Ouch. That would leave a bruise.
“This is a really good and well written book! A first for me from this author and I want to read more books from Candee Flick. I enjoyed following Gloria on her journey of finding a life more important than what she has previously lived. . . . I encourage you to grab a copy of Sing A New Song for your own enjoyment. You will find a story of love, forgiveness and redemption. A story of the importance of family.”
“The spark between the two of them is a slow burning flame that is refreshing to get in a romance novel these days. I felt like they also were able to teach each other a lot about life. And of course they were helped out a lot by Granny, who is the wisest one of them all. . . . once I got into it, I greatly enjoyed reading it. Again, I am interested in checking out the rest of the series now.”
Gloria swiped the mess away from her face in time to spot two dark-haired men exiting a nearby room—her destination. They elbowed past the janitor and helped her to her feet, one on each side.
While taking a moment to regain her balance, she eyed her handsome rescuers. Ah, yes. Thanks to her online research, she recognized them as members of the famous Sherwood clan, the family who was the headline act for this theater but also owned both the hotel down the hill and the cheesy tourist shop next door.
In the dim light, it was hard to tell which one was Gavin and which was Tyler. Still, the twins were even cuter in person, with black T-shirts hugging muscled chests and faded blue jeans encasing long legs.
“I especially appreciated the way Candee Fick made Gloria more relatable and likable in Sing a New Song. The challenges thrown at her from her entry into the theater in Branson are immediate and keep on building until she’s brought to her lowest point and something has to change. And a change of character starts with a change of heart. Gloria is making changes for the better. leaning into the Father she can always count on. . . . This book is an excellent addition to the series that shows that change and growth are possible for those you sometimes doubt the most.”
After an unsuccessful search in the supply room, Nick led her into the adjacent office. “Have a seat there while I look around.” He bypassed the desk and its cushioned chair, instead deliberately pointing to a five-gallon bucket of something as he made his way across the room.
Lovely. Did he think to punish her for falling, interrupting his work, and making a mess? Well, she didn’t have to stoop to his level of pettiness. At least not today.
The twins were her ticket to stardom in Branson, and she needed to make a better impression. Starting with what she could control. Like her hair.
A quick squeeze of the wet half sent a stream running down her arm before she fluffed the strands with her fingers. Even after it dried, the contrast between the curled and non-curled sides would look ridiculous. Unless…
“Sorry, Princess, but I don’t keep any mirrors or curling irons in here.” Nick bit his lip as if trying to hold back a smile.
“Seeing Gloria’s growth over the course of Sing a New Song is a delight, plus the romance she finds is entirely heartwarming. It’s the first of Fick’s books I’ve read, but I enjoyed it so much that I know it won’t be the last.”
Conscious of the passing time, Gloria scrambled out of her wet shirt and slipped into the gigantic dry one. She rolled up the sleeves, then gathered the mid-thigh-length fabric and tucked it into the waistband of her damp jeans. After wringing out her T-shirt into an empty bucket in the corner, she left the office behind and carefully retraced her steps toward the rehearsal room.
Late, damp, and in an oversized mechanic’s shirt.
What kind of impression would she make now?
“Sing a New Song is a love song to music shows (a la Branson or Gatlinburg), family, grace, and of course God who rejoices over us with singing. Gloria and Nick have a simmering chemistry right from the start and it only gets better from there! I’ve loved all the books in this series so far, and I think this one is the best yet!”
At the front of the room, Gloria took a place next to Brittany, who wrinkled her nose at Nick’s monogrammed shirt.
Brittany leaned closer. “Just so you know, there’s only room for one Carrie Underwood look-alike here.”
“I’m not really a fan of country music.”
“And you’re hoping to make it in Branson? Good luck with that.”
The pampered diva is about to meet her match
Songbird Gloria Houghton has always needed to be the center of attention, but the spotlight has shifted. Seeking fame and a fresh start, she finds a new stage in Branson, Missouri…only to risk being replaced by a manipulative rival. If Gloria can’t be the star, who is she?
Jack-of-all-trades Nick Sherwood is just one leaf on a vast family tree that includes a restaurant chef, hotel owners, and even the headline act at a family-owned theater. He’s seen how fame can blind a person with jealousy and is more than content to stay in the background thank you very much. If only he wasn’t so fascinated–and irritated–by the newest addition to the staff.
After a disaster of a first impression and financial difficulties land Gloria in the humblest of jobs—with Nick as her boss—it might be time for her to learn to sing a new song.
Other Books in the Series
About the Author
Candee Fick is a multipublished, award-winning author. She is also 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 writing, editing, or coaching other authors, she can be found cheering on the home team at sporting events, exploring the great Colorado outdoors, indulging in dark chocolate, and savoring happily-ever-after endings through a good book.
– One 1st prize winner will receive: the complete set of The Wardrobe Series (ebook only if international winner, otherwise print copies) plus a $25 Amazon gift card
– One 2nd prize winner will receive: Copy of Sing a New Song (ebook only if international winner, US winner can choose ebook or print) plus a $10 Amazon gift card
– Ends May 15, 2019
Q: What do you hope readers take with them after they’ve read it?
A: Since it’s a sweet romance, I want readers to leave with a sigh, a sappy smile, a warm fuzzy feeling, and a new book boyfriend in Ryan. I want readers to have experienced the highs and lows of the journey along with Liz and then participate vicariously in her victory. But mostly along the way, I hope readers feel the tug toward a deeper or new relationship with the Creator of everything who still wants to be their personal Friend.
At least she’d finally seen Jerry’s true colors. But was it too late to fight for her place? If she needed to stay, completing her degree would have to wait.
She squared her shoulders and faced her dad. “Logo designer aside, do these shirts mean I can finally start working with you? Because I’d love to see us expand into new areas and revamp our website.”
Dad waved a hand dismissively. “Jerry’s full of ideas for doing all that. What we really need is office support.”
More of Jerry’s words came flooding back to her. “You don’t need a business degree to answer the phones and stuff envelopes.” Liz’s stomach clenched along with her fists.
Better to know the truth than to cling to hope. “Are you ever going to give me a chance to step behind the camera?”
“This book does exactly what the title suggests. It focuses on love. . . .the love of family as well as friends, . . and a healthy helping of God’s love are all represented within its pages. . . .
I was a bit disappointed when I reached the end of this book. Liz and Ryan are people I could have hung out with for another hundred pages. But I will take comfort in the hop of another excellent read from Candee Fick in the future.”
Can You Really Find Love on the Job?
My husband and I met while working at a private high school. He taught math while coaching football and baseball. I taught chemistry and coached cross country and track.
We might never have talked outside of polite conversation at staff meetings, except for the fact we had a handful of matchmaking students in common. Have you ever been around hormonal teenagers especially near Valentine’s Day? They latched onto the idea that the single teachers at the school really should get married and brought up not-so-subtle hints about every other week.
“You look happy.” The man’s intense gaze swept over her face and she resisted the urge to squirm when he nodded, as if he had her figured out.
“I just got a miracle. Didn’t think God did those anymore, at least for me.” She really needed to thank Dani for praying.
The man smiled, and the serious expression on his face transformed into a look of one who enjoyed life. Laugh lines emerged beside his eyes, along with a deep dimple to the right of a crooked smile reminiscent of Grandpa O’Neill. “I believe He’s got a few more miracles up His sleeve. At least I hope so. Actually, that’s why I’m here.”
“Are you an actor?” With this handsome man around, the theater could get interesting.
His eyes widened in surprise and then shifted toward the ticket window with its display of show posters. “No.”
“Focus on Love is the first book I’ve read by Candee Fick and I really enjoyed it. Set in the Wardrobe Dinner Theater world of Colorado, we meet Liz and her two roommates, Dani and Gloria. Dani’s story was told in the previous book, Dance Over Me (which I’m eager to read), and Focus on Love is Liz’s story, which stands alone. . . .
The ending felt a little rushed, but hopefully we’ll see more of Liz and Ryan in the next book. Focus on Love is a sweet and entertaining read that I thoroughly enjoyed.”
“So is this guy any good, or does he just have a business card?”
Liz reached under the bed for her laptop and turned it on. “He has a website listed, so he might have a portfolio online. We’d better check him out and save Mr. Sheridan the hassle.”
“Sure.” Dani whacked her with a pillow. “Check him out or check out his work?”
Heat rose in her face. Curse her pale complexion. “Both?” Except, after Jerry the Jerk, the last thing she needed was to date another photographer.
Ten Workplace Romances On the Big Screen
In fiction—and in real life—romance can blossom in the middle of a working relationship. Come to think of it, each of my previous two novels have also featured couples falling in love while keeping up with the day job. But rather than discuss specific books with workplace romances—which perhaps not all of us have read—I started thinking about other stories we romance-genre-lovers can talk about. The stories on the big screen. The “chick-flicks” that make us smile.
So, without further delay, here are ten popular movies (including two classics) where two lonely hearts working together find love.
“Another sweet romance from Candee Fick! The warm characters move right into your heart, and the dinner theater atmosphere (with its delightful nod to C.S. Lewis’ Narnia) is vivid and unique. In fact, the photography and theater elements in Focus on Love give readers a fascinating picture into each of these creative worlds. Ryan and Liz are very relatable characters, and their attraction is palpable. (Some great kisses too!) Overall this is a heartwarming story of love and grace in various forms, and a great choice any time of the year!”
Within minutes, she had almost tripled the number of pictures on her memory card with a variety of solo and group shots. One of the actors suggested they silently sneak onto the stage itself since the curtain was down and the audience was making plenty of noise while eating their dinners. Soon she had close to live-action images, taken with the large props and backdrop, to add to her collection.
The buzz of energy grew each time the shutter clicked as Liz sank deeper into a creative zone. How was it possible to have such laser-targeted focus on her subjects that her camera almost became a natural extension of her imagination?
She hadn’t felt such freedom in years.
Liz Foster’s Practical Tips to Balance Work and Love (and Life)
Today I’d like to introduce you to Elizabeth Foster. In addition to acting at The Wardrobe Dinner Theatre, you’ll often find her with a camera strapped around her neck. Still, since it’s February and love is in the air, I thought I’d ask Liz about mixing romance with the theater.
Theater romances are unique. Of course, there’s the typical proximity factor because the cast spends so much time together during rehearsals and performances. However, sometimes an onstage romance between two characters bleeds over into a backstage attraction too, but those usually don’t last because it’s hard to tell when the acting ends and reality begins.
About a hundred feet from the front doors, she spotted the tall cowboy exiting a large truck parked nearby, and her stomach whirred like her fast-action shutter.
Of course, it had to be nerves about showing her pictures to the Sheridans in front of the professional photographer—nothing to do with how handsome he was.
Ryan grinned as his long stride brought him quickly to her side. “Fancy meeting you here this morning. Liz, right?”
“This author has been recommended to me by a couple of my dearest bookish friends so I had high expectations for this story yet Focus on Love did not disappoint! I’m so happy with this experience and I look forward to reading the author’s backlist and future works.”
Liz nudged her camera bag out of the way of her feet and swiveled to face Ryan during the drive.
Of course, from this angle she could easily admire the muscles in his forearms below the rolled-up sleeves of his dress shirt as he steered into traffic. A suit jacket hung on a hook behind his seat.
“My mom served on the foundation’s board for several years.”
“Wait a minute… I didn’t think you were from around here.”
“I’m not.” He glanced over with a grin. “I grew up on a ranch in Montana.”
“I simply loved Focus on Love! It is such a lovely story of faith, love and learning the incredible love that God has for us.”
Ryan Callahan’s Version of “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”
Today, I’d like to introduce you to award-winning photographer Ryan Callahan. My first question is how did a Montana cowboy like you end up working for the Bricker Communications empire?
Glad to be here. (Tips his hat) My adventure started because of a photo contest I saw advertised in my uncle’s camera shop. The grand prize was a trip to tag along with a famous photographer on a shoot. Well, he looked past my inexperience and eventually lobbied to get me an internship with the company. I’ve since moved up the ladder and my mentor is now the CEO. You could say it all started with a lucky break, but I know it was a God-thing.
“I should have guessed you’d be out here with a camera.”
She turned to face Ryan as he leaned out the open window. “You should have seen it. It was magical. And gorgeous.”
“Yes, I see.” He eyed her rather than the trees.
A sudden warmth flooded her cheeks as she swung her camera bag around to her side and hurried around to the passenger side of his truck. She’d be wise to remember that while flirting was fun, it was too soon to feel anything more than friendship for Ryan, no matter how tempting.
“I would highly recommend this book to other readers. It is a sweet love story and also has several life experiences that the characters have to make decisions about and then endure them.”
“Do you want to help me with the middle?” Liz grinned as the little girl nodded like a bobblehead doll. Soon she straddle-walked behind Hannah as they packed the snow tight, then angled their path to intersect where the guys smoothed out the giant base. The activity tugged at memories of the year Grandpa O’Neill had helped her build a snowman and stole Grandma’s scarf for a decoration.
“Hannah, that’s the best middle I’ve ever seen.” Ryan’s praise brought a sweet smile from the precious little girl, filling more of the lonely spots in Liz’s heart. “But do you think Liz can lift it up here?”
“You could help, you know.” Liz paused to straighten a kink out of her back.
“I could.” He waggled his eyebrows, then moved to face her.
With his arms under hers, they lifted the middle section and then sidestepped toward the base. One could imagine they were almost hugging … if not for the icy mass between them.
And only if one were prone to imagining the start of a romance where friendship grew.
February 13th 2018 by Bling! Romance
Free-spirited Elizabeth Foster turned her back on her father’s photography business to pursue musical theater, but a career on the stage remains second to a career behind the camera. The possibility of a one-show contract means she’s a few weeks from unemployment forcing her home, and her dreams of pursuing professional photography reemerge. With photography and theater opportunities unfolding before her, Elizabeth faces her biggest challenge yet—listening to her heart.
Meanwhile, sought-after photographer Ryan Callahan has put his career on hold to help his sister’s family, but the promise of a bigger assignment could lure him away so he can begin building a family of his own. With professional opportunities and personal obligations pulling at him, Ryan faces his toughest challenge—balancing family, relationships, and work.
If given the choice, what dreams would develop for Elizabeth and Ryan? And will they learn to trust each other enough to focus on love?
Candee Fick is a multi-published author in both fiction and non-fiction. She is also 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, writing, or coaching other authors, she can be found cheering on the home team at sporting events, exploring the great Colorado outdoors, indulging in dark chocolate, and savoring happily-ever-after endings through a good book.
1ST PRIZE: 1 winner will receive autographed copies of Catch of a Lifetime, Dance Over Me and Focus On Love, as well as a $25 Shutterfly gift card