Ballerina Dreams

Santavuori-balettia-kaikille-grandplie.pngQuaking in my tights and ballet slippers, I considered making a run for the door and forgetting about my dream of making it into New York City’s High School of Performing Art. But my sweaty hand was already in a death grip on the dance barre with other hopeful applicants, and the audition was underway. I was trapped.

An instructor clapped a rhythm and barked out orders, “First position…second position…demi plié…relevé.” She walked up and down the line of students, stopping now and then to reposition a girl’s hips, or tell someone to keep their chin up or ribcage lifted.

walnuts-649721_960_720.jpgMy knee made a rather loud cracking sound like that of a walnut fracturing in the grips of Thanksgiving pliers at my first grand plié, or deep knee bend, then did it again on the second…and third dips. The girl behind me let out a muffled giggle, but if anyone else noticed, which I’m sure they did, they had the good graces to remain silent.

ballerina-307584_960_720.pngballerina-308925_960_720Two girls with contortionist-like flexibility at the far end of the barre garnered the lion’s share of the instructor’s attention. They were able to lift their legs sideways and press their calves to their ears, a feat that seemed almost magical to me. I was sure they had exquisite stage-worthy names like Katarina, or Angelique, and without a doubt, the pair would find acceptance letters in their mailboxes as soon as they arrived home.

Tearing herself from the shoo-in sisters, the dour-faced instructor took a final walk down the line. My heart froze as she stopped next to me and demanded more than asked, “What is your name?”

I took a huge gulp—one that, had I been a man, would have sent my Adam’s apple yo-yoing up and down my neck. A mousey “Irene” squeaked from my vocal cords.

“Irene,” she said, then tapped my backside with a narrow baton of sorts, “Tuck in your derrière.”

I squeezed my cheeks as hard as I could and pushed my hips forward, but it was no use. My rather bulbous derrière was as tucked as it was going to get. The mistress of dance turned, walked away, and never so much as glanced at me again.

people-2587349_960_720.jpgMy ego couldn’t have been more deflated as I rode the subway home. What had I been thinking? Me, a girl who’d started late and studied ballet for a mere year and a half while in junior high school? I’d ventured into territory more fitting for those who’d worn leotards and ballet slippers since they were toddlers. It came as no surprise when I received a rejection letter from the prestigious school.

I’d stepped out, tried my best at something new, and ran headlong into failure.

After striking out at Performing Arts and, later, The Bronx High School of Science, I was accepted into Dodge Vocational High School. For many months, I felt like a loser who got stuck with a consolation prize.

The tide started to turn, though, when I met Mr. May, an English teacher with an infectious enthusiasm for his chosen subject. He spawned in me a desire to once again try something new—creative writing. I remember his excitement as he helped me put together an article for the school newspaper titled, “Smash, Crash, Window Bash,” about a recent spate of window breakages at the school. Who knew a simple story could be so invigorating?

Now, with three novels under my belt, a fourth in the pipeline, and another sixty-percent complete, I can honestly say that taking a chance on a writing career has enriched my life in more ways than I can express.

laptop.jpgMy body may have never fit the mold of that of a prima ballerina, but it’s a perfect fit for my office chair where I pen the stories for my next novels. Who knows, my next heroine may be a ballerina, and I’ll dance vicariously through her.

 

 

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An Army Marches on its Stomach

Soldier and gun croppedWhen my husband, Jim, was in the army, one of his duties was driving the mess truck—a 2½-ton vehicle, commonly called a deuce and a half. I’ve heard it said that the guy who brings the food to feed the troops’ empty stomachs is one of the most appreciated people in the army. I’m sure there’s a lot of truth in that.

Jim described what it was like to drive in a convoy through thick woods in the dead of night without the use of headlights. Small red taillights of the vehicle in front of him guided his way, and were the only thing he could see in the pitch-darkness. Often, hitting potholes, washouts, and rocks was unavoidable and elicited complaints from the men riding with him. But, no matter how rough the road, he couldn’t risk slowing down and losing sight of the red taillights.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe deuce and a half seemed to fascinate the men, and many of them begged Jim to let them drive. Who knows, maybe the novelty of driving a large army vehicle fulfilled a boyhood dream. Whatever the reason, they got a kick out of slipping behind the wheel and bumping down the road in the old beast. 

~***~

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Hank Fleming, the hero of my latest novel More Than a Soldier, is a former Spec Ops demolitions man who had begged to drive his buddy’s deuce and a half while in Afghanistan. Later, while driving in a convoy, the truck was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, leaving Hank the sole survivor in the attack. Now, several years later, latent PTSD sets in and manifests in nightmares that make him relive the explosion that took the lives of several men.

When Hank meets Cindy Giordano, his foster brother’s biological sister, he falls hard and fast for her and sets out to win her heart.

Cindy finds herself drawn to Hank, but she’s instantly wary. With her ex-fiancé’s betrayal still fresh in her mind, friendship is about all she can muster.

When shadows from Cindy’s past threaten, Hank’s protective instincts go into high gear, and he realizes everyone has their own battles to fight. But the road to healing would be much sweeter with the right person by his side.

FUN EXCERPT:

     “It’s nice to be a passenger for a change and be able to kick back and enjoy the ride.” Cindy’s lazy half-smile oozed with serenity.

     “Good, I’m glad. You— Whoa, did you see that?” Hank slowed the Jeep and pulled onto the shoulder.

     Cindy dropped her feet to the floorboards and twisted around in her seat. “See what?”

     He backed up, stopped, and pointed to a smallish sign that barely stuck up over the roadside shrubbery. “That.”

     “All-you-can-eat pancakes, all day long, six ninety-nine,” Cindy read aloud before looking back at Hank. “So?”

     “What do you mean, so? I thought I saw a halo floating over that sign as we passed.”

     Cindy laughed. “I take it you’re a flapjack fan?”

     “Fan? You have no idea.” Hank put the Jeep in gear and merged back onto the road. “I love pancakes. Can’t get enough of ’em. Let’s go shut that place down for the day.”

Buy now on Amazon!

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***Hank’s “Can’t Get Enough of ’em” Pancakes***

pancakes-951029_960_720 pixabayIngredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ scant teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Directions:

  1. Combine dry ingredients, except pecans, in large mixing bowl.
  2. Mix buttermilk, egg, and melted butter together in medium bowl.
  3. Pour buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients and mix until lumps are gone.
  4. Add nuts, if desired, and mix into batter.
  5. Heat a skillet over medium heat and coat with cooking spray.
  6. Pour batter, using a ¼ cup measure, onto the skillet
  7. When bubbles appear on the surface, flip pancakes over and cook until browned on second side.

     More Than a Soldier

    Buy now on Amazon!

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Liar, liar, pants on fire!

I’ll be honest. I’ve told some whoppers in my time. In fact, one particularly distasteful lie from my past proves that I am not immune to the temptation of the lie.

I was nine, maybe ten, a latchkey kid that sometimes came home to an empty apartment on the fourth floor of a South Bronx, New York tenement building. Dad worked night shift at a cab company, and Mom worked days at a thrift shop and didn’t come home until six-thirty.

My school, PS27, was a block and a half from our apartment. Often I arrived home long before my two brothers did from their respective high schools. They rode buses, and I walked. Sometimes, for whatever reason, my Dad wasn’t home, and I was alone. And scared.

Noises frightened me: the refrigerator compressor coming on, Cindy our dog barking at nothing…or something? the cat staring into space and being frightened by… what?

I was terrified of being alone. But, how could I tell my parents my fears when I knew they both worked to keep us afloat financially?

One day, Cindy barked wildly at the door, hackles up. I looked out the peephole and saw nothing. With a clear view to the apartment across the landing, and a partial view of the stairs to the door that led to the roof, I figured Cindy was mistaken. Still, I was shaken. When my parents and brothers came home, I fabricated the lie of all lies.

Fire escapesI told them that while I was alone, a man appeared at the kitchen fire escape. Describing him with the minutest detail, I explained that he had tried to get in through the window.

Needless to say, my parents were distraught. My father called his friend who worked at the Bronx’s 50th police precinct department. Soon, the policeman friend was at the apartment gleaning information from me. The lie became elaborate. I then described the fictitious man’s clothes: red plaid shirt, jeans, dark hair, etcetera.

The cop made phone calls. My parents paced, and I saw the turmoil in their faces.

In a whirlwind of emotions, I couldn’t take it anymore, went and lay down in my bed, and cried.

Soon, my great Aunt Irene (my mother’s aunt), whom I was named after, came and sat on the side of the bed. “What’s wrong, Renie?” she asked. The love in her voice made me cry all the more.

“I lied. There was no man on the fire escape. I’m just scared to be alone, that’s all.”

With tenderness and understanding, my great Aunt Irene took me in her arms, kissed me, and told me everything would be all right. I doubted it. I’d lied, and caused a great deal of concern and commotion as a result. But, Aunt Irene loved me. She smoothed everything over.

Soon, my father’s policeman friend left. Aunt Irene went home.

Later, my mother came and asked why I didn’t tell her how afraid I was to come home to an empty apartment. I began to cry once more and told her I understood how hard she and Dad worked to take care of the family, and I knew I was safe as long as Cindy was there to protect me, and the door was securely locked. I had no real reason for the lie. Except that I was afraid.

It took a long time to forgive myself for that lie. Afterward, my parents were more in-tuned with my need to feel secure, and made sure I was never left alone.

web-663012_960_720.jpgLies. We all have reasons for them, don’t we? Almost everyone could forgive a not-so-honest, “You look nice in that dress.” But, there are lies we have a hard time forgiving, such the tangled web of deception used to cover well-kept secrets.

 

~***~

 

In my novel, Singapore Secrets, Julia Windsor, a Louisiana Senator’s young-adult daughter, runs off to Singapore to dodge the constant barrage of bodyguards and paparazzi caused by her father’s engagement to Hollywood sweetheart’s Kara Bordeaux.

Her father, who loves her dearly, hires Gabriel (Gabe) Davenport, a former Special Forces soldier to trail her, and make sure she’s safe.

Sparks fly when Julia meets fellow-American “tourist.” But will sparks be enough when Julia discovers Gabe’s true mission for being in Singapore? Find out in…

Singapore Secrets…          Singapore Secrets Cover Concept (Flattened - revised)

ABSOLUTION by Dana K. Ray

Absolution, the first installment of Dana K. Ray’s Luciano series, is a riveting story full of intricate plots, interesting characters, and page-turning danger. Once I started it, I couldn’t put it down.                                       
Absolution cover_final

AN EXCERPT YOU’LL ENJOY…

She [Zoë] turned to him [Antony] and tried to act cool, but she did need something from him. That fact gave her a strong desire to slap the grin off his face. “Okay, I need a date for the reception.”

“And I came to mind? Don’t we love to hate each other?”

Zoë placed both hands on her hips. “You got a date or not?”

Antony sat on the overstuffed black chair and placed the tumbler on the round, cherry coffee table. “Why would you ask me?”

“I hate going stag to these big social events.” Zoë sat on the gray Bancroft sofa. The taffeta pillows crinkled as she leaned against them. “Besides, I know you’re not seeing Lauren anymore.”

“Have you been spying on me?”

“No.” She crossed her long legs, then tugged at the hem of the dress as it crept up her thighs. “We’ve got a secretary down at the station who is infatuated with one of the richest and most eligible bachelor’s in the world. Isn’t that what People called you? She clips everything out about you then proceeds to fill me in.” Zoë flirtatiously flipped her hair over her shoulder. “In fact, she’d die if she knew I was here.”

“Maybe I should take her to the reception.” The grin never left his face.

“You’re going to make me beg?”

“The best of them do.”

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Meet the Luciano family

Coming soon in the Luciano Series:

Mercy

Everlasting

Redemption

 

Dana K. Ray
Dana K. Ray

 

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Meet Susan Karsten…

Susan KarstenI’ll admit, when I first joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) in 2012, and met Susan Karsten through their critique group, I wasn’t sure about linking up with a critique partner who wrote historical romance. After all, I wrote contemporary stuff with Special Forces military men as my heroes, and had a grittier sense of story-telling. But once she and I started trading chapters, I was enthralled with her style and grace in writing.

A Match for MelissaNeedless to say, I’m thrilled to announce the debut of the first book in Susan Karsten’s Honor’s Point Series, A Match for Melissa. Just look at that awesome cover! It’s gorgeous

From the back-cover blurb:  

*Melissa Southwood goes along with her ambitious father’s matchmaking schemes until one event throws all into question.

Amidst balls, carriage rides, dinner parties, and danger, Melissa must navigate an arranged courtship as well as the attentions of another nobleman.

Which aristocratic suitor will win her heart?*

Here, I’ll let some of the reviews on Amazon speak for themselves:

A Match for Melissa Reviews

It’s with great pleasure that I fully endorse A Match for Melissa. If you’re a fan of historical fiction (and even if you aren’t), I trust that you’ll enjoy this book as much as I have. Highly recommended.

Check it out on Amazon.com now.

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Beatrice Fishback Presents…

Bethel Manor Reborn, a sequel to Bethel Manor

If you enjoyed Bethel Manor, you’re sure to like the Bethel Manor Reborn. Follow the continuing story of James Blackwell and Clair Shaw Blackwell as they travel the road of life together with a new baby to care for.

When trials come their way, will they be able to overcome them and remain strong in their faith and commitment to one another? Read Bethel Manor Reborn. You might be surprised at the outcome.

Set for release on May 29, 2017, Bethel Manor Reborn has already garnered 31 positive reviews on Amazon.   Check it out and pre-order NOW:

BM Reborn.jpg

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How I met this awesome author:

I met Beatrice Fishback through ACFW’s (American Christian Fiction Writers) online critique group and was immediately drawn to her chapters of Dying to Eat at the Pub, a cozy mystery she’d just finished writing, and is now available on all major online bookstores. I’d chuckled out loud at her prose and even shared it with my husband. In short, I fell in love with her style of writing.

Bea Fishback Photo.jpg

With eagerness, I asked if we could be critique partners, and we began sharing chapters of each other’s work. Our relationship was cemented by an in-person meeting in upstate New York at Pomodoro’s Italian Eatery in Catskill, New York where we ordered a 24” pepperoni pizza and did our best, unsuccessfully, to finish it off. Yes, twenty-four inches. Biggest pizza I’ve ever seen, and I’m from Bronx, New York.

24

Since our meeting, Bea has written several books, with Bethel Manor Reborn being the latest in her repertoire.

Check out Bethel Manor Reborn. If you haven’t already read Bethel Manor, I suggest you buy it as well and read it first.

Beatrice Fishback has also authored several other books you may be interested in. Click on the book covers below and go to the Amazon page to read more about each book.

In short, I LOVE Bea Fishback’s writing. I think you will too.

Bethel Reborn Book CoverBethel Manor CoverDying to Eat at the Pub Book CoverLoving a Selfie Book CoverYOLO Christmas at the Corps Book CoverBea yellow hat copy

Think Big, But Start Small

paint brush

My youngest son, Jesse, then eleven or so, was elated when we bought him an inexpensive paint set and an eight-by-ten mounted canvas. He couldn’t wait to get started on a project that would hold a place of preeminence on our living room wall.

 

We had often watched Bob Ross, an artist on PBS, who painted land and seascapes from start to finish, all within half-hour weekly segments, and made the endeavor look like a piece of cake. Everything looked simple. I’m sure that other viewers, like us, said to themselves, “I could do that!”

I asked Jesse, “So, what would you like to paint for your first project?”

Mona_Lisa,_by_Leonardo_da_Vinci,_from_C2RMF_retouched

His reply? “I think I’ll start with something simple, like painting the Mona Lisa.”

What could I say? If Bob Ross could paint a beautiful vista in less than thirty minutes, who was I to say that Jesse couldn’t paint the Mona Lisa, a rather blah looking woman, if you ask me, over the course of a few days, a week, a month, or however long it took?

I said, “Have at it,” and left the artist to himself.  

 

 

 

 ritz-crackers-originalA few days later, Jesse was ready for the unveiling of his masterpiece.

Instead of the Mona Lisa, which he deemed just a tad too complicated, he had decided he’d use a box of Ritz Crackers as his model, and painted it instead.

Yeah, Ritz Crackers. Sorry, Mona.

It was rudimentary at best, but totally recognizable as a Ritz Cracker box. Sorta.

We can all laugh at the story. It is kind of funny how the vision devolved from the lofty, Louvre-worthy Mona Lisa to a lowly box of Ritz Crackers.  But in reality, how many of us are guilty of rushing things? Things for which we might have a pound of talent, but not an ounce of training or preparation. Things that, if we’d just waited, studied, and truly gotten a grasp on, would have blossomed into something beautiful and extraordinary.

Whether your art is painting, drawing, sculpting, singing, dancing, or writing, you need to educate yourself in the craft. Study from the greats. See what made them successful. Model yourselves after them. See what the current trends are for bringing your masterpiece into the public eye.

Is the Mona Lisa beyond your abilities? Draw the Ritz Cracker box instead. Paint the Coca-Cola logo, or sketch Captain Crunch. Write a short story or a poem about the place you lived as a child. Paint the living room walls, then one bedroom at a time. After that, paint the eaves, fascia boards, and shutters of your house.

Start anywhere. But START. Think big, but start small. Bite off small, manageable tasks. Master those, then go on to bigger, better, badder things.

Make your world come alive with your art. Even if you never make a red cent with it.

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If you’ve enjoyed this blog, you may enjoy my inspirational romance novels. Check me out at AMAZON.COM.

 

 

 

 

 

Dying to Eat at the Pub

Presenting…

Dying to Eat at the Pub

A Jim and Dotty Weathervane Cozy Mystery

by Beatrice Fishback

dep-collage

Dying to Eat at the Pub, is set in a small English village adjacent to a U.S. military base. It’s the perfect place for Americans Jim and Dotty Weathervane’s leisurely life after Jim’s retirement from the U.S. armed forces. This backdrop of mixed cultures is ripe for misunderstandings and perhaps even murder.

Join the gregarious Dotty and her husband Jim, along with a slew of locals who try their hand at solving two deaths: one an American ex-serviceman and the other a beautiful woman named Amy.

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ON SALE NOW! Click HERE for more information on purchasing.

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We Weep With Those Who Weep

vincent_van_gogh_-_weeping_woman_f1069Today is the first anniversary of the death of Jim Lindsay, my good friend Nancy’s soulmate. I hadn’t realized it had been this long until I saw her post on Facebook. A post that brought me once again to tears.

To me, it seems like yesterday that news of Jim’s terrible illness and subsequent death reached me through a series of texts from a mutual friend. But the sorrow I see in Nancy’s eyes, and the pain in her voice every time she speaks his name lets me know that to her, Jim has been gone for what seems like an eternity.

Truthfully, I didn’t know Jim very well. The first time I met him, he was living in a genuine teepee while working with my husband at a refuel outage at a nuclear plant. I found him to be an extremely fascinating man.

Jim smoked a pipe, knew how to tie all sorts of knots, live on a shoestring, and loved his wilderness cabin in Montana where he enjoyed beautiful vistas of forested mountains from his back porch. And of course, he loved Nancy.

We weep with those who weep because love binds our hearts in inexplicable ways and causes a measure of their pain to become our own. This is part of friendship, of family. Of love.Jim Lindsey.jpg

 

Jim Lindsay

November 24, 1951-

September 29, 2015

 

We celebrate your life, Jim. Thanks for sharing it with us.

The Stink Bugs of Life

 

stink-bugs-of-lifeMy double purple trumpet flowers are by far the most beautiful feature of my little garden. This morning I thought I’d spied a rare triple bloom about to open and pushed aside two stalks of leaves and flowers to take a closer look.

Without warning, a stink bug from hell dive-bombed past my ear with a sound like that of a chinook helicopter, and another one took off, crossing my field of vision just inches from my face. Auuuggghhh, I screamed, lunatic style, then flailed my arms around my head while high-stepping it, double-time, back into the house.

It wasn’t the first time a bug had chased me from my garden. Probably won’t be the last. The shame of it is, stink bugs don’t bite or sting, and I know I shouldn’t be afraid of them.double-purple-trumpet-flower

It makes me wonder how many stink bugs I’ve allowed to come between me and things I want to enjoy?

I recently took a trip to Montana to visit a friend who lives near the Bitterroot Mountains. Nancy’s a good driver, but the fear of heights kept me from enjoying the breathtaking views as we drove the rural mountain roads through clean, fresh air and Ponderosa Pines. I’m calling STINK BUG on that fear.

Some fears I have are many years old. Like the fear of (go ahead and laugh) the dark, especially the fear of dangling my feet off the bed in the blackness of the night.

But other fears are relatively new – or at least more pronounced than they used to be. Like the fear of criticism or rejection. As a writer, I’m elated when my novels get good reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, and brought to a low place by bad or mediocre ones. This fear has no basis. My self worth isn’t determined by what other people think of me or my work. I’m throwing the STINK BUG flag on that fear.

I’m sick and tired of the myriad of unmerited fears that make me run off screaming with arms flailing and feet stomping. So from now on, when I go to the garden, I’m going to stand my ground. And if one of those darn six-legged monsters even thinks of looking at me crooked, I’m going to yell STINK BUG and keep looking for that triple bloom if it kills me.

Or, gulp… Run.