Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Patricia Beal {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Patricia...

Patricia Beal has danced ballet since her childhood and has performed with pre-professional companies in South America, Europe, and the United States. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati with a B.A. in English Literature and worked as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Army for seven years. Her feature story on a day in the life of “Bad Luck Squad” in Iraq won a Keith L. Ware award in print journalism. She’s an Army wife for life, an Army editor, and forever a ballerina. Patricia writes from El Paso, Texas, where she lives with her husband and two children. A Season to Dance is her first novel.

Connect with Patricia...

Blog: (group)

Get to know Patricia...

You and Writing

Hi Emilie! Thanks for having me on the blog 😊

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. But I didn’t have a good idea until much later—2011. That’s when I started working on A Season to Dance.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book....
A Season to Dance is the story of a small town professional ballerina who dreams of dancing at the Met in New York, the two men who love her, and the forbidden kiss that changed everything. But it’s more than big dreams and dreamy suitors. It’s about a young woman trying to fill the God-shaped hole in her heart with misguided career and romantic pursuits.

Here’s the best part: I wasn’t a Christian when I started. 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, and 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, an early version of the novel was rejected in three different continents on the same week. I was tired and lonely, and I freaked out. Big time. 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—and this time surrounded by a darkness and a hopelessness that was brand new and incredibly scary.

Then Jesus passed by, and where I saw the end, He saw the beginning. He fought for me, lifted me out of what had quickly become a murky and joyless existence, and brought me into His perfect light.

I was born again in January of 2013, and soon after that, I realized the novel wasn’t complete. I canceled a trip to a secular writers’ conference and started a 14-month rewrite. This book, A Season to Dance, is the book that wrote me. I journeyed with Ana and soon (May 9!) others can journey with us.


Let’s talk about your writing life....

What’s your encouragement for younger writers aside from “keep writing”?
If you have a great novel that’s not selling because of the market, write a different novel. If you have a great novel that’s not selling because the writing is not as mature as it needs to be, keep improving the same novel, or you’ll repeat the same mistakes in the next one.

How many rejection letters did you get before being accepted by a publisher?
Three hundred (in about four years), and I’m shooting low. No wonder I had a breakdown—three hundred rejections will do that to you. Good thing Jesus was there to pick up the pieces.

Are you a Panster or Plotter?

What did you learn along the path to publishing that you’d care to share as encouragement?
I learned a lot along the way. Here are a few things I did right that I highly recommend. I worked with freelance editors and coaches, went to writing conferences, and built an online platform. One of the main reasons my agent offered to represent me was because the manuscript was polished by two people he knows and trusts: Gloria Kempton and Jeff Gerke. I met all the big players in my career (and writing friends!) at conferences. St. Louis 2014 was my first Christian conference and, while there, I met a young woman with a weird dream. She’d just finished a masters in technical writing and was looking for a job editing fiction—her passion in life. Edit away! Have fun! We exchanged cards. Her name? Marisa Deshaies. A year and a half later, I got an email from her saying she’d been working for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and had just been promoted to managing editor of one of their newest imprints. She’d been following me on social media since we’d met, loved everything about my online presence, and was dying to see my proposal. Two weeks later she requested the full manuscript, and in four days my agent had an offer.

Are there any books or resources you could recommend to younger writers looking to grow in their craft?

Absolutely! Here are my favorites:

For writing: The First 50 Pages, by Jeff Gerke.
For writing for the right reasons: The Search for Significance, by Robert S. McGee.
For deep POV: Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View, by Jill Elizabeth Nelson.
For encouragement: Victim of Grace, by Robin Jones Gunn.
For book proposals: Step by Step Pitches & Proposals, by Chip MacGregor with Holly Lorincz.
And my newest favorite: The Story of With by Allen Arnold. What's the fuss all about? For me, this book gives me permission to be sane when the whole world screams, "do more." I'm sure it's many things to many people. It addresses our addiction to approval, the toxicity of expectations, and the uselessness of pursuing control and even balance. Revolutionary. A must read.


Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what do you listen to?
When I write, yes. When I edit, no. I have to organize a playlist for A Season to Dance. From Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev to Blake Shelton, there’s a little bit of everything. Here’s one of my favorite songs from the novel. It’s in Chapter 7 and it’s called “Come Home” by OneRepublic. It touches me every time because the need to come home spiritually is so central to the novel, and after all these years, I’m still so in love with the story, its people, and their brokenness.

What is your favorite season and why?
My favorite season? A Season to Dance! Lol…

What is your favorite genre to read? Why do you enjoy it?
I like stories that transform me. Books that I will remember forever. The genre is secondary. And I'm a sucker for a good tearjerker. Ah, the power of a good cry…

Thanks for all these fun questions! 😊

Thanks so much Patricia! Fellow readers, check out this awesome giveaway Patricia is offering - a copy of the move Letters to Juliet. Enter below:

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

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