About the Book
Book: A Season to Dance
Author: Patricia Beal
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance
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?
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About the Author
Patricia Beal is a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist and First Impressions finalist. A Season to Dance
is her debut novel (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, May 2017). Her second novel comes out in February of 2020. Patricia graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati in 1998 with a B.A. in English Literature and has worked for the U.S. Army as a writer and editor for many years. Patricia writes from Fayetteville, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband and two children. You can find more info about Patricia on her website HERE
More from Patricia
A Season to Dance: The Book That Wrote Me
When I wrote the first line of my first novel in January of 2011, I wanted to get published because I was desperate to feel important.
I finished writing A Season to Dance that fall and hired coach Gloria Kempton via Writer’s Digest to look at the whole thing and tell me if it was any good.
She saw potential in the story of a small-town professional ballerina with big dreams, but explained I needed a clearer quest, more telling details, better scene structure, and better balance between sequels and dramatic scenes. I joined Gloria’s critique group and spent a year rewriting.
During that year, my husband got orders to move the family from Fort Benning, Georgia, to Germany, and he deployed for the sixth time soon after we settled on a lovely mountaintop in Idar-Oberstein.
When I finished rewriting, Gloria said the novel looked good and had everything a novel was supposed to have. But… “Something’s still missing. I don’t know what it is. We’ve covered it all.”
So of course I did what any writer desperate for validation would do. I told my coach that surely nothing was missing and that it was time to query. I hired a service to blast queries everywhere for me. I know… Shame on me… But God used that.
God’s Plan—Phase One
One query ended up with Mrs. Joyce Hart, of Hartline Literary. The novel wasn’t Christian—I wasn’t a Christian. She shouldn’t have received my query. But she did. She sent me a note saying she liked the storyline but that in Christian novels the protagonist couldn’t live with her love interest without being married. She was very kind and said that if she was missing the point and if the novel was indeed Christian that I should resubmit explaining the living together piece.
When I read it I laughed and rolled my eyes. I started typing a condescending reply. Something about Christian fairy tale brains and me living in the real world, but I decided not to send it.
Days passed. A week passed. A month passed. And all I did was collect rejections. I became bitter. Bitterly sad at first. Then bitterly discouraged. And then bitterly ugly. I’d never been ugly before. Not like that.
See, up to that point, I’d believed that there was some kind of “god” and that somewhere, somehow, being good was right and that it paid off. But with the disappointments of the publishing journey those beliefs became a joke to me. I stood in the middle of my empty German kitchen—husband deployed, kids at school, my first dog had just died. And I looked at that inbox full of rejections and stated to whomever or whatever was out there: “God is dead.”
Mercy. Surely I said that to the “god” of my imagination, and not to the real God—God as He reveals Himself in the Bible. But I know that He was in that kitchen with me. And phase two of His plan was about to start.
Luke 22:31-32: “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
God’s Plan—Phase Two
As I lost all restraint and became the worst version of myself, God removed me from my green German mountaintop.
After less than eighteen months in Germany, we were sent back to America, to the Chihuahuan Desert in West Texas. To a place called Fort Bliss—a place from which you can see a Mexican mountain with the words: “Cd. Juárez. La Biblia es la verdad. Leela.” That translates to “City of Juárez. The Bible is the truth. Read it.” Gotta love it. God is good.
During the first six months back in America, I went to two secular writers’ conferences and met more rejection. My lack of restraint and my selfishness didn’t really make me happy. I wanted to go to therapy. I wanted a job. I still dreamed of that book deal that had to be just around the corner. I wanted, I wanted…
But nothing happened, and it didn’t matter how hard I tried to get help, get happy, and find any kind of relief for the pain I felt. Nothing. Happened. I’d never seen so many closed doors—slammed-shut doors—ever in my life. Even the shrink kept double booking, closing early, and somehow cancelling on me. It was ridiculous.
The One Open Door
When God planted our family in the desert, He planted us two blocks from a friend from the Fort Benning years. A friend whose claim to fame was church shopping whenever the Army moved her family. I asked her to take me to church on the first Wednesday of January of 2013.
I fell in His arms. Surrendered, defeated, and dependent. Or what God likes to call—ready. I was born again two weeks later and was baptized on Super Bowl Sunday that February.
Gloria’s “Something Missing”
I had tickets to go to New York for the Writer’s Digest conference that spring, but sometime in March, it dawned on me: “You silly goose of a girl. You wrote a salvation story without the salvation piece.” My first coach, Gloria Kempton, had been right all along. There was something missing!
A Season to Dance isn’t just the story of a small-town professional ballerina who dreams of dancing at the Met in New York and the two men who love her. It’s also the story of a girl desperately trying to fill the God-shaped hole in her heart with often misguided career and romantic pursuits.
I deleted Mrs. Hart’s email that week. Yes, it was still in my inbox. Job well done, Mrs. Hart.
Now, I had work to do. I spent 2013 and the first half of 2014 rewriting the novel. Five ladies from my Sunday school read chapter after chapter as I produced them and cheered me on through that gruesome process. I couldn’t have done it without their support. God is good.
Jeff Gerke edited my novel in the summer of 2014 and had me read Robert McGee’s The Search for Significance: Seeing Your True Worth Through God’s Eyes. God is good.
I went to my first Christian writers conference, the ACFW 2014 in St. Louis. Two weeks later, Les Stobbe offered to represent me. God is good.
ACFW 2015 was fantastic and many houses are looking at that first manuscript. God is good.
In early 2016, we sold the manuscript to Bling! Romance, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. A Season to Dance released in the spring of 2017. God is good.
My family got saved, too. My husband in July of 2013. Our son in December of 2013. My mom in the fall of 2014. And our little girl just this past summer, the summer of 2015. God is amazingly good!
Sometimes broken dreams pave the way to our true calling.
Patricia Beal’s “A Season to Dance” is one of those books that I signed up to review on a whim. It’s not one that I would pick up for leisure reading; being a ballerina never appealed to me personally, and just the thought of such a highly-competitive career makes me cringe. Romances aren’t really my thing, either. Nevertheless, I want to broaden my literary horizons as much as possible within the Christian genre, and that means stepping outside of my comfort zone at times to explore books that I might then be able to recommend to others who would benefit from these stories and draw closer to God through them.
Setting chapter one almost four years later than the progression of the rest of the novel (save for the last couple of chapters and the epilogue), Beal immediately kicks off her debut with an adrenaline rush. This drew me in quickly, especially when I realized that the name of Ana’s husband is cleverly left out of the first chapter. However, after that, I had a difficult time getting into the story, even though it is narrated in the first person by Ana. I didn’t connect with any of the characters and felt rather disappointed in them and in their foolhardy decisions. Then, when a beloved dog dies, I cried because that is one of my deal-breakers in books—namely, I do not read books where dogs die, especially not in emotional scenes like this one. But at slightly past the halfway point, there is a shift that begins to occur. Circumstances begin to develop Ana’s nascent faith, leading her to start truly seeking the God she is so unsure about and wary of, and I was reminded that as Christians we need to plant seeds of faith and trust God to water and grow them, even when we may not perceive any discernible effects.
What at first seems to be a narrative wrought with discontent and unfulfilled hopes gradually transforms into a salvation story that demonstrates the unconditional, never-ending love of God, who is always with us in all seasons. As Ana remarks, “Spotting worked for life too. My husband was my spot. But while in ballet it’s ok to pick a spot that moves, like another dancer, it’s not okay to pick a spot that’s completely unpredictable. As my spot became more and more unpredictable, I could only hope that religion would work. I’d run out of other options.” God will use every situation to draw us to Him if we are willing to open our hearts to Him even a fraction of an inch; all we have to do is respond to Him!
While I recommend this book to readers of contemporary romance, to those who enjoy ballet, and to anyone searching for that missing piece of their lives, I do want to give a few trigger warnings. This is a clean novel, but there are: mentions of and allusions to sex, deaths, Huntington ’s disease, and unmarried people living together. “A Season to Dance” includes thoughtful discussion questions to ponder after reading the story, either individually or in a group.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
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To celebrate her tour, Patricia is giving away the grand prize package of a themed basket of book-inspired coffees and chocolate!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.