Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Review Tour & #Giveaway for Like I Used to Dance by Barbara Frances

Welcome to my stop on the Review Tour, presented by Goddess Fish Promotions, for Like I Used to Dance by Barbara Frances.  Please leave a comment or question for Barbara to let her know you stopped by.  You may enter her tour wide giveaway, where one (1) randomly chosen commenter will be awarded a $25 Amazon/BN GC, by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.  You may follow all of the stops on the tour by clicking on the banner above, the more stops you visit, the better your chances of winning.  Good Luck!

Like I Used to Dance
By Barbara Frances

Publisher:  Positive Image, LLC.
Release Date: January 20, 2016
Genre: Fiction
Length: 396 Pages
ISBN: 978-1944071011

Buy Links:  AmazonLike I Used to Dance    

About the book:

“Oh, Grace, our kids,” laughed Bud. “Where did we go wrong? One marries God, another a Jew and the last one, the devil!”

Texas, 1951. The Wolanskis—Grace, Bud and their three grown children—are a close-knit clan, deeply rooted in their rural community and traditional faith. On their orderly farm, life seems good and tomorrow always holds promise.

But under the surface, it’s a different story. Grace is beset by dark memories and nameless fears that she keeps secret even from Bud. Their son Andy has said no to becoming a farmer like his dad and, worse, fallen in love with a big-city Jewish girl. Youngest child Regina is trapped in a loveless marriage to an abusive, alcoholic husband. Even “perfect” daughter Angela’s decision to become a nun takes an unforeseen turn.

And then Ceil Dollard breezes into town.

Ceil—wealthy, sophisticated, irrepressible—is like a visitor from Mars. She’s a modern woman. She drives a car and wears pants. She blows away tradition and certainty, forcing Grace to face her fears and brave a changing world. Through Ceil, Grace learns about courage and freedom—but at the risk of losing Bud.

Barbara Frances’ sparkling, richly human novel takes you back to a time when Ike was president and life was slower, but people were the same as now. You’ll encounter a cast of characters storm-tossed by change, held together by love. Written with compassion, humor and suspense, Like I Used to Dance will charm you, warm you and even squeeze a few tears, from its opening number to the last waltz.


Ceil had brought over a bottle of wine and some fancy cheeses. Grace felt like a celebrity. She asked Bud and Ceil to sit on the couch in the parlor. Slowly and carefully she furled the bed sheet from the easel revealing the newly dried canvas. It was a painting she had copied from an old black and white photo of the children.

Nine-year-old Andy stood on the creek bank with his little fishing pole while ten- year-old Angela held a wriggly worm for him. To the side and in the background five-year-old Regina looked on with awe at her older siblings.

There was a long moment of silence before Bud could catch his breath. “I’ve never felt anything like this. I’m… It touches my heart,” he said and began to applaud. Ceil joined in. Grace couldn’t remember such joy flooding over her, not even when her children were born. The wine was opened and for the first time in her life Grace got tipsy over the course of the evening. Sitting between Bud and Ceil, she hugged one and then the other like a child who had been away from its mom and dad for several days.

“Ceil, I know I promised you my first painting,” she said, slurring her words, “but this one’s for Bud. I hope you don’t mind.” Bud kissed her on the cheek. He felt like a prince.

Ceil paused with a serious expression on her face. “Well, I guess I’ll have to take back all the brushes, canvases and stuff I got you.” Laughter sailed through the open windows.

A few days later, Regina dropped by and stood for a long time silently taking in Grace’s painting. Grace marveled at how pretty she was these days. She was regaining her health and an interest in her appearance. Finally, Regina said softly, “You paint like I used to dance.”

 AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Barbara Frances has plenty of stories and a life spent acquiring them. Growing up Catholic on a small Texas farm, her childhood ambition was to become a nun. In ninth grade she entered a boarding school in Our Lady of the Lake Convent as an aspirant, the first of several steps before taking vows. The Sisters were disappointed, however, when she passed up the habit for the University of North Texas, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and Theater Arts.

Her professors were similarly disappointed when she passed up a postgraduate degree to become a stewardess for American Airlines. Barbara, however, never looked back. “In the Sixties, a stewardess was a glamorous occupation.” Some highlights include an evening on the town with Chuck Berry and “opening the bar” for a planeload of young privates on their way to Vietnam.

Barbara eventually returned to Texas and settled down. Marriage, children, school teaching and divorce distracted her from storytelling, but one summer she and a friend coauthored a screenplay. “I never had such fun! I come from a family of storytellers. Relatives would come over and after dinner everyone would tell tales. Sometimes they were even true.”

The next summer Barbara wrote a screenplay on her own. Others followed, including Two Women, a finalist in the 1990 Austin Screenwriters Festival. Three more were optioned: Silent Crossing, The Anniversary and Sojourner Truth. Barbara left teaching and continued to work on her screenplays. In 1992, exhausted by endless rewrites she did something many screenwriters threaten but few carry out. She turned down an option renewal, done forever with writing—or so she thought.

It was not to be. One day a friend’s child found and read Lottie’s Adventure, her script for a children’s movie. At her young fan’s urging, Barbara turned it into a book, published by Positive Imaging, LLC, her husband Bill’s press. For Like I Used to Dance Barbara drew upon childhood memories and “front porch stories.” Her next novel, Shadow’s Way, is a “Southern Gothic tale” about  a woman caught in the struggle to keep her beloved plantation home from a scheming archbishop.

Barbara and her husband Bill Benitez live in Austin, Texas. She can be reached at:

Blog and purchase link:

A cross between women’s fiction, family drama and coming of age story, Like I Used to Dance by Barbara Frances was much more than I expected.  Filled with colorful characters, lively dialogue, emotional angst, and a culture undergoing a rapid change, this well paced story grabbed my attention from the start and never let go.  If you enjoy reading books filled with close knit families, generational differences and an honest look at society, then this is a book you will certainly enjoy.

Ms. Frances does a good job developing the characters right from the start; I really enjoyed getting to know Grace and her family.  I was able to connect with Grace and her youngest daughter, Regina, right away and couldn’t wait to get their full story.  Written in first person, from several character points of view, Ms. Frances gives us a picture of what life would have been like in rural Texas in the 1950’s if you were a member of the working class.  A picture I’m sure is more realistic than what I’ve seen in several movies covering that time period and location. 

The secondary characters were also well developed and I enjoyed getting to know all of Grace and Bud’s family, as well as their closest neighbors (an African American couple who they like much better than their son in law).  The people in town are what you would expect in a small town with racial issues but there is one female character who seems to travel between both groups, with interesting results, due to her “spiritual” talents.  And of course when Ceil Dollard, a very modern “city” woman comes into town with new ideas, it’s interesting to watch the results.

Tackling several hot social issues; alcoholism, rape, racism, pre-marital sex, birth control, and even murder, Ms. Frances paints a picture of society that we can all identify with.  Especially since we are still dealing with these issues over 50 years from the books setting.  Giving us no blanket answer, each of the characters must make an emotional journey as they decide what answer works best for them. 

Will Grace and Regina deal with the emotional issues keeping them burdened with the past?  Will Grace embrace a more modern outlook and loose her family in the process?  You’ll have to read Like I Used to Dance to find out.  I really enjoyed it and look forward to reading more of Ms. Frances’ work.

My Rating:  4 out of 5 Crowns

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  1. Sounds like a great read. Thank you for the book review.

  2. I love the cover and I love your bio. On my summer TBR list. (

    1. Thanks, please let me know after your read it.

  3. Thanks, My editor came up with the design and my husband did the photoshop work. We love it.

  4. I loved the excerpt and I really loved the review.

  5. Great review - I'm definitely going to be reading this one :)

  6. How hard is it to establish and maintain a career in fiction writing?