Mentor Unawares: Candilyn Fite

Candi (2)
photo compliments of Candilynn from her Facebook page

I know everyone has had a special person in their lives who has encouraged, inspired, and challenged them simply by being themselves. Most often this influential person doesn’t even know he or she has affected anyone else. More often, the soul motivated by this incidental mentor, never gets the chance to say ‘Thank You.’

I’ve had a few of these awesome people in my life. Today, I’m thinking of one in particular. And I also have the awesome chance to tell her.

I met Canilynn Fite several years ago when I first joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, SCBWI, and attended my first group meeting in College Station, Texas. Candi smiled brightly and welcomed me warmly and made me feel like part of the family. I was moved by her glowing spirit and knew I’d made a friend who would forever change my life.

I just didn’t quite know how back then.

Every time I brought pages to our meeting for a gentle critique, she had wise words of advice and encouragement. I’d like to think I listened carefully and learned from her.

What she doesn’t know is what she taught me by example: The courage to step out by faith into an unknown world of book publishing, the terrifying (for an old person) universe of social media, the intimidating stage of book marketing, and the awesome opportunities of self-publishing.

I watched her push through the process of publishing her first picture book on a site called U-Tales Little Acorn(sadly, now defunct). The experience gave me hope that I could do the same thing. Together, Candi and I and the rest of the group learned about the self-publishing opportunities of CreateSpace, and I was encouraged to step into the world of technology by her enthusiasm. When Candi brought back the report of a wonderful, city-wide book and reading program, Texas Word Wrangler in Giddings, Texas, I became as excited as she was and vowed to finish my first little novel, The Black Pony.

In the meantime, I learned about blogging by following her, and eventually developed my own site. And I started using Facebook, in spite of my dreadful fear and mistrust of such techno-media. And it has proved beneficial. I think I may have even grown a couple of new brain cells, which is nothing short of a miracle.

Without Candi blazing the path, I may not have even had a clue where to start, let alone take the journey. But there are simply no words in the human language to describe the joy and pride I felt sitting next to her in Giddings Public Library, each of us with our first books. And the only way I could show my gratitude back then was a pitiful little gift of a crocheted acorn for her table. It was nowhere near the gratitude I felt.

I am still inspired by Candi; her flamboyant personality, her love of color, her uplifting smile, and now her most amazing paintings. Oh, yeah, and she’s a really great speaker. I learn amazing and valuable things from her every time she presents at our meetings.

And so, Thank you Candi.

You can find Little Acorn’s Big Fall on Amazon

And follow her amazing art at Gypsy Chick Art on Facebook

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