A Season to Dance: A Novel by Patricia Beal

Posted by on May 12, 2017 | 14 comments

A Season to Dance: A Novel by Patricia Beal

A Season to Dance has an amazing story all its own. I know you will love meeting author Patricia Beal as she shares her journey to becoming an American citizen, a Christian, and a published author. Please leave a comment and sign in on the Rafflecopter at the bottom to win an autographed copy of her debut contemporary Christian romance!

 

Fabulous Fridays

A Season to Dance

Welcome, Patricia! Tell us a little about yourself and your family!

Hi! Thank you for having me here! I’m from Brazil and moved to the United States in 1992. I fell in love with the English language while washing dishes at McDonald’s and learned enough vocabulary to pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). I put myself through college working at a BP gas station and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati in 1998 with a B.A. in English Literature. After an internship at the Pentagon, I worked as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Army for seven years. I fell in love with a handsome airborne infantryman during a stint at Fort Bragg, married him, and quit my special operations speechwriting job to have his babies. We have a boy and a girl. Soon came the desire to have book babies, too.

When did you first know you were a writer?

Writing a novel was an old dream. It first crossed my mind in 1987 when I read Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. But for years I didn’t have a good idea. In January of 2011, on I-40 (somewhere between Nashville and Winston-Salem), I finally had a good idea.

Since English is not your first language, how does it feel to have your debut novel published in English?

It’s awesome and not awesome at the same time. Awesome because English is my third language. And I’m autistic. And I came to faith late in life—I was born again in 2013 because of A Season to Dance. Put that all together and this novel is a little miracle that I pray will touch other lives in the same way it touched mine and that of my husband and children. The sad part is that my parents, brothers, and extended family don’t speak English, so they can’t read my novel. But God’s doing something. I have almost 20,000 Brazilian Facebook followers. I pray a Brazilian publisher will invest in the novel one day. The financial situation is bad though. So far, my agent and I haven’t had any luck.

A Season to Dance meme

What inspired A Season to Dance and how does it relate to your personal life story?

The novel began in my mind as a single scene—a ballerina stuck at the top of a marquee, something that kind of happened to me once. From there it grew a chapter at a time, one per Saturday, during a six-month period.

I wasn’t a Christian when I wrote the first version of A Season to Dance, so the story was initially just about big dreams and dreamy suitors. But the whole time, God had me writing my own salvation story.

I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, but for most of my life I believed there had to be some kind of god out there and that being a good person was important. But in the summer of 2012, that early version of the novel was rejected in three different continents on the same week. I was tired and lonely, and I freaked out. I decided the notion of a loving god was absurd. There was no loving god, if there was a god at all.

Self-gratification became the chief end of my existence, and I looked behind every door for happiness and satisfaction. I didn’t find anything worth keeping though, and at the end of every new pursuit, I was still tired and lonely.

Then Jesus passed by. I was born again in January of 2013, and soon after that, I realized the novel wasn’t complete. I cancelled a trip to a secular writers’ conference and started a fourteen-month rewrite. This book, A Season to Dance, wrote me—not the other way around. I journeyed with Ana and pray that now others will journey with us, beyond expectations and suffering and to the very heart of Christ.

Your story is partially set in Germany. How did you go about researching your setting?

Ah! I was there. I lived in Germany twice—first as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Army and later as an Army wife.

In your mind, what distinguishes A Season to Dance from other books in the same genre?

The authenticity of every aspect of the story. I really was lost when I wrote the lost parts. I really was discovering Christianity when I wrote those parts. I really was at Callaway Gardens when I wrote Callaway. I was in Germany when I wrote Germany. I was losing my dog, when I wrote Ana’s dog. I was born again when Ana was born again. There was a personal surrender that went along with her every surrender. And I really am a ballerina, too. But she’s better than me. I never moved beyond pre-professional companies.

What do you want your readers to gain from your book?

Jesus is still the answer. Only God can fill the God-shaped hole of the heart. No amount of romantic love and professional success will bring lasting joy. And for those who already know all that, I pray the novel (and the story behind the story) will encourage them to keep praying for the lost sheep in their lives. In July of 2012 I said to the god of my imagination, “god is dead.” Six months later I was putting down my sword, surrendering, and giving my life to Christ. That person who seems a million miles away from God could be closer to their season to dance than you think. Keep praying.

Some people have a problem with Christian romance, what would you say to them?

I’m not sure I’ve been a Christian long enough to understand the depth of the concern. My church family, to include the pastor, has been very supportive and instrumental even in my writing journey. But the church bookstore won’t sell the book. There’s no fiction at all at the store. Does that bother me? Not at all. The pastor has his vision, marching orders, mission, piece of the pie. I have mine. Where the two can walk hand in hand, great. We will have an awesome book launch party at church on May 13, and more than one hundred people have RSVPed already. Many tell me they feel like A Season to Dance is their own book because they’ve been praying about every step of the publication journey and every conference since 2013. The pastor doesn’t have to change his vision for the store to validate my ministry. If God ever decides the pastor should promote fiction, I’m sure He will put that in his heart.

What was your greatest roadblock in writing A Season to Dance, and how did you overcome it? 

Starting the rewrite of 2013/2014. I knew it was going to be brutal. Five ladies from my Sunday school volunteered to read the chapters as I finished rewriting them. We did that from March of 2013 to July of 2014. Then Jeff Gerke helped me polish the whole thing in the summer and Les offered to represent me in the fall.

Please share the opening scene of A Season to Dance with us.

CHAPTER 1

November 12, 2011

This is for them. This is for the magic. This is for every little dreamer in the room.

Dozens of little awestruck faces crowded the large studio as I took position to practice my Sugar Plum Fairy solo. Everyone in the company and the school had come together for the first full-length rehearsal of The Nutcracker season.

I’d been in every one of those shoes: mouse, soldier, angel, every flower, every food, and every country. Now I was the Sugar Plum Fairy at long last, the one role that eluded me all those years. Had it been worth the wait?

Images of the first Sugar Plum Fairy rehearsal I’d ever seen flashed before my eyes—a beloved mental movie my heart flocked to every year around this time.

Could a young dancer ever forget the magic of watching the Sugar Plum rehearse her solo for the very first time? I hadn’t. I peered toward the girls from beneath the bright studio lights. And they wouldn’t.

This moment was going to last forever in their little minds. And I knew that, within the next three minutes, most of them would be thinking, “That will be me one day.”

My breathing quickened with the first notes of the music, and I moved to Tchaikovsky’s composition in steps that were delicate, like the heavenly sounds of the celesta, and precise, like the pizzicato—or pinched—sounds of the string instruments. The descending bass clarinet punctuated the variation.

Tchaikovsky used the celesta, a keyboard instrument new in his time, to make the music of the Sugar Plum Fairy sound like “drops of water shooting from a fountain,” the imagery Petipa, the choreographer of the ballet, had requested. I imagined the fountain: sparkly, flowy, and elegant.

Glittering bell-like sounds inspired the gliding steps that followed, and regal arm movements came naturally in a variation that suited my strengths.

Sure, twenty-nine was ridiculously late for a professional ballerina to dance the role of Sugar Plum Fairy for the first time, but I didn’t let that bother me.

Piqué, retiré, balance. For a quick moment everything stopped, my legs forming a number four, one of the most traditional ballerina poses. Again: Piqué, retiré, balance. And one more. Sharp. Balance. Good. Catch your breath.

No, this isn’t the Met—it’s not New York. That stage couldn’t be further from my reality. But look at these girls. Look at their little eyes. I want to remember this forever too.

Mrs. B., the teacher and owner of the company, stood at the front right corner of the studio shepherding the girls to squeeze against the mirrors and walls to free up more space. I would need all the space she could give me because the manège at the end of the variation was more like a geyser—thirty-two counts of spinning madness that used up the whole stage.

Last slow steps. Nice arabesque. With my whole body supported on one leg and the other leg extended horizontally backward, I studied the dance space.

The girls were still too close, and I wouldn’t be able to go full out. Or would I? No, best not to. That was okay, though. I could still make the end of the solo look pretty for them.

I took position in the front left corner of the studio and squared my shoulders to begin the big circle of turns. My heart beat so hard and so fast that my whole chest vibrated. That second before the manège part of the music is the longest in a ballerina’s life.

What was it about pauses that made me nervous? I never felt nervous while in motion. But pausing? Pausing was hard. I would much rather stay in motion.

Here we go. Goodbye droplets. And hello flood.

Piqué turn, turn, turn, turn, chaîné tuuuuuuuurn. I spun as fast as a child’s top, and perfect spotting kept me from getting too dizzy. Piqué turn, turn, turn, turn, chain tuuuuuuuurn. But unlike a top, as I spun, I drew a perfect circle using the whole dancing space—without stepping on children.

The choreography ended with a diagonal of additional fast turns. Here we go. Turn, turn, turn, turn, pa, pa, pa, pa. One more set, hit the brakes, step-up, go to fourth, sous-sus.

Yes!

“Brava!” Mrs. B. clapped enthusiastically.

The studio erupted in excitement and cheers.

Everything spun like a round-up ride. But I stood and I smiled. Worth the wait. The studio would stop spinning soon. I curtsied, riding the joy, and made sure to face every direction—even the windows, crowded with parents.

If only the rest of my life could stop spinning, too.

Book Blurb:

Ana Brassfield has her path to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House all figured out until her first love, renowned German dancer Claus Gert, returns to Georgia to win her back. Despite a promising start towards her ballet career and pending marriage to landscape architect, Peter Engberg, Ana wonders if her dreams of dancing at the Met are as impossible as her previous romantic relationship with Claus.

Then, an on-stage kiss between Ana and Claus changes everything.

Convinced the kiss is more than a one-time mistake, Peter breaks off their engagement. With an old dog crippled by arthritis and dreams deferred but not left behind, Ana moves to Germany to be with Claus. But the ghost of his late wife, Ana’s own feelings for Peter, and the pressure of earning a spot in a large ballet company are a high price for a shot at success. Ana seems on the verge of having everything she ever dreamed of, but will it be enough?

Patricia Beal, authorAbout the Author:

Patricia Beal is a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist and First Impressions finalist. She is represented by Les Stobbe of the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency, and A Season to Dance is her debut novel (Bling! Romance / Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, May 2017). Patricia writes from El Paso, Texas, where she lives with her husband and two children.

Connect with Patrica:

Website: www.patriciabeal.com

Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/patricia.beal.author

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/patriciasbeal

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/111243901516914631366

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/bealpat

Twitter: www.twitter.com/bealpat

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/patriciasimoesbeal/

Book Link:A Season to Dance cover photo

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Season-Dance-Patricia-Beal-ebook/dp/B06XT5CSH5/

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14 Comments

  1. A great story, both of the author’s journey, and her novel.

    • Thank you so much! I hope you love the story 🙂

  2. What a great interview! I love how finding Jesus added an entirely new dimension to an already-finished book (and it’s challenging enough to finish a book *once*, right?). Looking forward to reading it!

    • Thank you, Kate! I hope you love it 🙂

  3. This sounds absolutely beautiful, Patricia!!! Congratulations and I love YOUR story 🙂

    • Thank you Pepper. And congratulations on your writing journey. I enjoy watching you grow. I know it’s not easy <3

  4. Inspiring and uplifting post! Adding this to my TBR list!

    • Yay! Thanks, Gail! I hope you love it 🙂

  5. I’ve always admired dancers. So graceful and elegant. I’m excited to read this one.

    • Hi Caryl! Great to see you here. Hope you love the novel 🙂

  6. I used to study ballet and then point or toe until I was 14. I got an invitation to audition for Martha Graham…I was so shy then that I did not pursue it. It has stopped me from several things in my life..I would love to read about your amazing journey in life while you are still young enough to do so and improve yourself..that I have been trying to do. I would really enjoy a chance to read your story it sounds amazing..thank you for the chance

    • Hi! Thanks! I hope you love the story. You should take classes again. I’ve taken classes with ladies of all ages and levels. Adult ballet is so popular right now. I bet you would enjoy it 🙂

  7. Nice interview with Patricia Beal. I enjoy watching dancers.

    • Hi, Marilyn. Thank you 🙂

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