Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Wandering Wednesday: From Georgia to Germany with Patricia Beal + a Giveaway

By Patricia Beal  @bealpat

Yesterday Narelle Atkins posted about my debut novel, A Season to Dance. A Season is the heart-wrenching journey of a small town professional ballerina who dreams of dancing at the Met in New York. It's about her, the two men who love her, the God who loves her even more, and the forbidden kiss that changed everything.

I hope you'll read Narelle's review (if you haven't yet) and participate in our giveaway. You can comment on either post to enter to win a signed copy of A Season to Dance. More details at the end of this post.

Today I want to take you behind the scenes into the real life settings of the book. 

Welcome to the world of A Season to Dance!

Brazil in the seventies. The beginning.

This is the real theater and the real marquee in Columbus, Georgia. I had to take some architectural freedoms to make the marquee scene work. I danced at that theater when my husband was stationed at Fort Benning. My daughter was nursing when I participated in the advertised shows. I learned nursing pads and snow costumes don't go well together :)

The RiverCenter in Columbus, Georgia

This would be the view during on-stage classes and rehearsals. This is also what Ana and Claus see when they go over corrections and before climbing the wobbly steps to Juliet's balcony. "I ran down to him. The melody became fully established. Luminous. Exalted. Beautiful. We locked eyes. We locked hands. We locked hearts. And then we danced." 

RiverCenter for the Performing Arts - Bill Heard Theatre

This is the sign Ana sees at the entrance of Callaway Gardens when she's looking for Peter. "If I wasn’t going to Mom’s and wasn’t going to Peter’s office, why was I still driving toward the park? Because I have nowhere else to go. That’s why…"

Callaway Gardens

Here's the Callaway Gardens chapel. "Tomorrow, I think. Today, I remember. I remembered the first day I’d met Peter. The chapel, the organist playing Vivaldi’s 'The Four Seasons,' and the little girl with the white sandals that showed her cute little toes, her dress flowing as she ran. I remembered the warmth and the sweet scents of that beautiful spring day. Turning the corner, my eyes looked for the bridge where we’d first seen each other." 

Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel exterior
Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel interior

Peter's bridge. "He stood on the bridge looking out at the lake. He was cuter than I’d imagined, and anything resembling quiet reverence departed from me fast. I just wanted to go behind an azalea bush and squeal. I started walking toward him. He turned to me and smiled. The scruff on his face and his tan made him look surprisingly boyish, and his dark blue eyes were even bluer than in the pictures from his profile. 'Hi.' I reached out for the metal rail to steady myself and breathed in his soapy smell. Everything about him was warm and inviting." 

Callaway Gardens
Callaway Gardens
Callaway Gardens

The real Barysh was a girl and a boxer. "My tan border collie, Barysh, scooted toward me when I opened the balcony doors. 'Here, let me help you.' Soon I would have to do something about him too. He hadn’t stood on his own in weeks and wasn’t getting any younger. I picked up his hips and helped him get outside."

Kyllian at Callaway Gardens the year before she died

Wiesbaden. "A white heron stood on the bank of the rain-swollen river, looking in the direction of the submerged rocks where he normally stood. Germany, huh?"

Wiesbaden was so fun to write. I lived there as a single public affairs officer in 2003. These images are from a visit in 2012. "Downstairs, a narrow stone driveway, edged by clusters of miniature roses, ended at a dark iron gate that led to quiet Blumenstraße, two long blocks from the downtown attractions and from the Warmer Damm Park, a large English landscape garden with a lake and a fountain, which bordered the southern façade of the state theater where Claus danced."

The real Di Gregorio
The theater
The neighborhood

Rüdesheim."Most restaurants and hotels by the water had the charming half-timbered architecture generally associated with Germany. Lush vegetation and vibrant flowers shaded outdoor tables, and window boxes overflowed with bright geraniums, petunias, and begonias. At a restaurant with a large courtyard and a fountain, a group of women— three generations for sure—danced the polka, accompanied by a live accordion, and a teenage boy who was watching them from the sidewalk picked up his girlfriend and spun her around to her giggles and protests. Everybody looked happy and relaxed, and I noticed that even though we were surrounded by vineyards, most people were drinking beer—vom Fass."

I love this place :)
Europe and the double-decker stroller
View from Germania
In the footsteps of Claus
A side trip to Prague for a performance. "We didn’t sleep. Instead, we watched the sunrise from the Charles Bridge, and his tender kisses were as precious to me as the pedestrian-only stone bridge in the soft light of the morning sun’s rays."

Charles Bridge in Prague

A Side trip to Mallorca. " 'Are you mocking me, Jody Sawyer?' Claus held his chest as if heartbroken. 'Shut up, Cooper.' The sound of our conspiring laughter rolled through the night air like the gentle waves that rolled into our Cala Romantica beach, rhythmic and unassuming. 'Can I speak seriously now?' His brows drew together. 'If you must.' Claus held my hands and looked into my eyes. He did look serious. I hadn’t seen him that serious since the day we left Georgia."

Cala Romantica in Mallorca
From Mallorca to Ibiza to Barcelona during a month in Spain

I wrote most of the Callaway Gardens chapters at Callaway Gardens but finished the first draft of A Season to Dance in Germany, at this square in Idar-Oberstein (after many trips to Rüdesheim). 


In a million ways, my ballerina dreams didn't work out. I was in pre-professional companies in three different continents. Never went pro, though. But now that A Season to Dance exists, it all makes sense. Every twist and turn of my life is in this story to one extent or another. Had my path been different, the novel would have been different. And it is exactly what it needs to be, I'm confident in that. God knew that A Season to Dance was the only way to my heart.

Because of A Season to Dance
Also because of A Season to Dance

Maybe there will be other published books, but if this is the only one I ever publish, if A Season to Dance is my life's work, I'm okay with that. I now know that I was born to write it and I did.

Thank you, Narelle, for loving the story and for feeling it intensely, like I do :)

I will close with the words of my protagonist:

"The studio was old—the best always were. The dark marley floor had seen years of pointe work, and the wooden barres looked worn—worn by sweaty hands holding tight to big dreams. 'You are so beautiful,' the girl cast as Dew Drop whispered. 'Thank you.' I grinned. 'Your variation is looking beautiful too.' Her cheeks turned pink, hiding most of her small freckles. A newer generation was dreaming now, but the ballet studio still was what it should be: a bastion of civility in an everything-goes world."
My little girl - the real Dew Drop :)


*Remember to comment to participate in the giveaway. The prize is one autographed print copy of A Season to Dance (open worldwide, void where prohibited). The deadline to comment is 11 p.m. EST on Friday, January 12. Participants can comment on the A Season to Dance review posted by Narelle Atkins on January 9 and/or on Patricia Beal's Wandering Wednesday real life settings post of January 10. People who comment on both posts get two entries. Winner will be selected via and announced on Saturday via comment on both blog posts. Thanks!

About Patricia Beal

Patricia Beal has danced ballet her whole life. She is from Brazil and fell in love with the English language while washing dishes at a McDonald's in Indianapolis. She put herself through college working at a BP gas station and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati with a B.A. in English Literature. She then worked as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Army for seven years.

 She now writes contemporary fiction and is represented by Bob Hostetler of The Steve Laube Agency. Her debut novel, A Season to Dance, came out in May (Bling! / Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas 2017). 

Patricia is a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist and First Impressions finalist. She and her husband live in North Carolina with their two children.

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  1. Patricia, I’ve loved seeing all of your stunning photos from the real life settings in ‘A Season to Dance’. The bridge in Callaway Gardens is just as I had imagined when reading those scenes with Ana and Peter. I love all of your gorgeous European photos. How amazing it must have been to write parts of the book in the real life settings so far away from your home in the US. Thank you for sharing your inspiring journey in ‘A Season to Dance’ with us. :)

    1. I'm so happy you enjoyed the story and happy to have this blog group to wander with :)
      Thank you!

  2. I love all the photos thanks for sharing them.

    1. Hi Jenny! I'm so obsessed with getting details just right. I take a ton of photos of my settings. Thrilled to share them here. Thanks! :)

  3. Oh wow ... thank you, dear Patricia for taking us on your journey through dancing in Georgia and your travels through Europe. I'm enthralled by it ... and Kyliian your gorgeous boxer.

    Now I simply must read A Season to Dance ... he says as he studies his bookshelves looking for it ... or is it on my Kindle?

    I love how you have such contentment in having written ASTD - yes, it may be the only one published (I hazard to guess you have other stories inside you) but what a journey with the Lord. Simply magnificent. A performance like no other.

    1. Your words bless my heart :) I hope you find your copy of A Season to Dance and that you love the experience. Thank you, Ian!

  4. Thanks for sharing your wonderful story, Patricia - I love how we can 'see' it via your great pictures! Looking forward to reading this soon :)

    1. Hi! Great to see you here. We've been hanging out at a lot of the same blogs lately. Thank you for the kind words :)

  5. Wonderful story, wonderful pictures! We have twin ballerina granddaughters--one of them wants to become professional. They live in Tokyo right now, so I resonated with your story on so many levels. Also, our grandson was stationed in Fort Benning and we visited him there.

    1. Wow! Small world. I miss Fort Benning. We were among the first residents of Patton Village, across from Sand Hill. Lovely time. Tokyo? How exciting! Ballet there is so strong right now. Good for them! Thanks for stopping by, Donna :)

  6. Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. Hi Beth! Thanks for stopping by and for entering the giveaway :)

  7. Congratulations, Iola Goulton! You're the winner of the autographed print copy of A Season to Dance! I hope you enjoy it :)