Monday, February 19, 2018

A SEASON TO DANCE - Patricia Beal - One Free Book

Welcome, Patricia. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
In the debut, I wrote a lot of myself into Ana. We both made a lot of mistakes and experienced great heartbreak because we lived life without God for too many years. We heard the Gospel for the first time well into our adulthood and came to saving faith practically together. But she’s better than me when it comes to surrendering. I look up to her now in matters of dying to self. In fiction you can make everything bigger and better, right? She’s a professional ballerina. I danced pre-professionally in three continents, but never earned a penny dancing ballet. Not one. I got a free costume once. Oh, and I never had a Baryshnikov lookalike and/or a Blake Shelton lookalike fighting over me. I did manage to land a handsome paratrooper who’s been putting up with my writing madness and other insanities for more than twelve years now.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I wanted to write an accurate scene about a frustrated woman destroying a pregnancy test. So I purchased a First Response pregnancy test, used it, waited as the character would have, then threw it against the bathroom floor to see if it would break, and if so, how and in how many pieces.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?
The desire to write a novel came thirty years ago, when as a teenage girl back home in Brazil, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist touched my heart. I wanted to do that to people, touch their hearts with a simple story that had something to say about the human condition. I moved to the United States, learned English, and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati with a B.A. in English Literature. It was in college that I learned how to write and realized that the writing dream was possible. I was the news editor of the university newspaper for two years and continued in journalism after college while trying to come up with a story idea for a novel. After an internship at the Pentagon, I worked as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Army for seven years. Then came marriage and babies. Then the story idea and the book baby—at long last.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I read friends’ books more and more these days because I love them and know how hard it is to birth a book baby. So whatever they write is what I read. I find myself reading more historical novels and speculative novels than I ever thought I would. But I also read a lot of contemporary fiction and devotionals.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I don’t. I’m either crazy and running or sane and still. When I figure out how to run sanely, I will let you know how I got there.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
I usually have faces in my head first. Then I begin toying around with names—names that match the faces. Ana’s name is spelled this way because her mom grew up in Brazil and was also a ballerina. So she’s named after beautiful Brazilian ballerina Ana Botafogo. Peter is a man she mistakes for stability for her soul when no mortal men can give her that. What she really needs is the real Rock, the Lord. There’s a quirk about all the names of the people in her journey in the novel. I have a note on that in the readers guide. I won’t spoil the surprise. I do look at names’ meanings before going final on them. I also look at those long movie credits for last names.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Taking the leap and becoming a homeschooler. I thought for sure 2017 would go down in history as the year I got published. But no. Becoming a homeschooler is far more historical. See, I received an Asperger’s diagnosis in 2014. This thing is now considered an autism spectrum disorder—I’m not certain I understand or agree with that, but I’m not a doctor. Anyway, having Asperger’s makes me clinically selfish and giving my children my most productive hours when their peers are in school and mine are at Panera is a big deal to me. But the Lord is blessing our home school, and I’m proud of each of us for the work we produce and the love we share around our family table daily. There’s joy in obedience, right?

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A backyard bird. Mine bring me great joy—to me and to my children. We have woodpeckers, chickadees, cardinals, tufted titmice, and many others who visit daily and fight the squirrels for the food we put out. If I were an animal, I would want to bring that kind of joy to those who hold down the fort day in and day out. Flying would be cool too.

What is your favorite food?
Churrasco! Have you ever heard of it? It’s a way of grilling different meats in the south of Brazil, where I’m from. We’re like the Texans of Brazil. Unique. There are several Brazilian-style restaurants in the U.S. that serve a good churrasco. But my dad’s is the best.

There was a Brazilian-style restaurant near us for several years. They are rather expensive here. (I live in Texas.) James and I went to eat there twice, and the meat was so delicious and tender. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Being lost. I didn’t write with an awakened heart. How I overcame it? Jesus passed by. I became a Christian during the writing of the novel. When I finally understood the Gospel and surrendered to Christ, I realized I had to rewrite the whole story. My novel wasn’t just the story of a woman looking for love and professional success. It was about a woman trying to fill the God-shaped hole in her heart with terribly misguided romantic and professional pursuits. She had to come to faith first. Then she could find sufficiency, love, and professional joy. Boom! God had me writing my own salvation story all along. Here’s how it happened:

Awesome. Tell us about the featured book.
A Season to Dance is the heart-wrenching love story of a small town professional ballerina who dreams of dancing at the Met in New York, of the two men who love her and of the forbidden kiss that changed everything.

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 toward 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?

Please give us the first page of the book.
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.

I’m eager to read the rest of the story. How can readers find you on the Internet?

Thank you, Patricia, for sharing this book with me and my blog readers. I know we’ll all enjoy reading it.

Readers, here are links to the book.
A Season to Dance - Paperback
A Season to Dance - Kindle

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

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The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

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Lucie Ulrich said...

Sounds like a great read. My daughter is a dancer, so anything with dance resonates with me. :)

Patricia Beal said...

Hi Lucie! Thank you for the kind words and for stopping by :)

Vivian Furbay said...

Sounds like a good romance with a possible triangle. Vivian Furbay of CO

Melanie Backus said...

What a great book! Patricia sounds like such an interesting person. She is new to me so I am thrilled to know her. Thank you for the opportunity. Melanie Backus, Tx

VanG said...

This is a new author to me, and I loved getting to know a little about her. Great interview. This sounds like a delightful book, and I would love to win a copy. Thanks for the chance. 😍
VanG in NC

rubynreba said...

I'm a small town girl and I always enjoy reading books featuring small town girls!
Beth from IA

Patricia Beal said...

Hi ladies!
* Vivian - Indeed. A most unusual triangle ;)
* Melanie - Nice to meet you! I miss Texas. The Army had me there three times: Fort Worth (Corps of Engineers), Fort Hood, and Fort Bliss :)
* VanG - Nice to meet you! I'm now in North Carolina too. My husband retired from the Army last year, and we came to our first home by Fort Bragg. Airborne! :)
* Beth - I hope you like Ana. She's a piece of work and has a hard start. For most of her life, she simply doesn't know any better. When I look back at my life without the Lord and Ana's, I often think of Nehemiah 8. I love how people react to God's Word. It's brand new, and it's convicting. They had no idea they were not living right. They had no compass... Iowa! I've never been to Iowa. I don't think the Army has large posts there--that might explain it. But my big sister was an exchange student there a long time ago :)

Thank you all for stopping by. How fun to meet new people. I'm getting to fall in love with this debut all over again as I work with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and ACX on the audio book version. We finished chapter six yesterday :)

Danielle H. said...

I've had my eye on this book for too long and would love to read it. The voice of the main character from the first page caught my right away. I can't wait to get to know this dancer better. Danielle from Michigan

Abigail Mitchell said...

This looks good! Would love to read it.
Abigail in VA

Raechel said...

I've been wanting to read this book - thank you for the giveaway and interview!
Raechel in MN

Patricia Beal said...

Hi ladies!
* Danielle - I hope you get to read the novel! Thank you for the kind words :)
* Abigail - These are exciting times for this novel with the audio book in production and an amazing foreign-rights announcement about to be made any day now. I hope you get to read it :)
* Raechel - You're welcome. Glad you're here. I hope you get to read the novel soon :)

Thank you for stopping by!

Connie said...

Hi Patricia, this book sounds fascinating! Thanks for sharing a chance to win.
Connie from KY

Patricia Beal said...

Hi Connie! I wrote chapter one back in January of 2011. It was a long journey to publication, but all these years later, the story still excites me. I'm having a blast working with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and a wonderful narrator to bring the audio book to life here soon. I hope you get a chance to read it (or listen to it!). Thank you for your kind words and for entering for a chance to win the paperback :)

Patricia Beal said...

Lena, a note on churrascarias in the United States: If you go at lunch time, it's often half the price. They have less variety, but the traditional picanha will be available ;)

Sharon Bryant said...

Enter me in your awesome giveaway!!
Conway SC.

Patricia Beal said...

Hi Sharon! Done. You've been entered :) Thanks for stopping by!

Shelia64 said...

Sounds good! Shelia from Mississippi