Saturday, October 6, 2012

Help Support Breast Cancer Research - and Read A Good Book

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. You can help support breast cancer research by sending me a note verifying your purchase during the month of October of any copy of Next Time I'm Gonna Dance. I will donate $1.00 for every verification. Just email me.

Next Time I'm Gonna Dance

When Emmie Steele is diagnosed for the second time with breast cancer, she thinks about regrets. Emmie struggles with the finality of ending her marriage, but is surprised to realize her one regret is that she never learned to dance. This becomes a metaphor for Emmie as she goes through surgery, treatment, and recovery, accompanied by her four best girlfriends. As she heals from both the divorce and surgery, Emmie embraces a third chance and learns to dance with her feet and with her heart.

(* This scene takes place after Emmie has lost her hair and her four best friends had their heads shaved as a sign of their solidarity with her. Emmie is coming to close to finishing chemo and able to look toward the future.)

            "If there's one thing I've learned, it's to celebrate life's moments as they come. Let's have music and room to dance."
            "Dance? You don't dance!"
            "Correction—I didn't dance. I'm gonna learn to dance, and you're gonna teach me."
            That evening Emmie pushed and Polly pulled on the kitchen table to move it out of the way. Polly set the CD player on the counter and went through Emmie's collection of music. "Did you stop listening to music in the eighties?"
            "I happen to like the music of the eighties. I think I'd make a great disco queen."
            Polly shook her head. "I don't know about this. I mean, someone has to lead and someone has to follow, and I'm used to following. I think we need a man for this."
            "Don't be ridiculous. We'll do fine without a man. You just have to think in opposites to lead. Even I know that."
            "Oh, yeah, that'll be easy. I'm not sure I can think and dance at the same time. Okay, here goes. Let's start out with something slow."
            Polly turned on the music and held up her arms for Emmie to step into them. They fumbled to establish posture until Polly switched her arms around to the lead position. There they were, two nearly bald women, stumbling around the kitchen, with Emmie either stepping on Polly's feet or turning the wrong way.
            As they passed the window, Emmie saw headlights flash in the driveway. She stopped and looked out the door at the red pickup truck. "Oh, my God, it's Sonny. What's he doing here at this time of night?"
            "Relax. It's only eight o'clock, and you look fine. Here, let me get your wig." Polly grabbed the wig and flopped it onto Emmie's head, slightly askew. She straightened the scarf she had wrapped around her own head.
            When Sonny knocked at the door, Emmie opened it, breathless.
            He stepped inside and looked at the table pushed to the wall and the open floor space. "Hi. What's going on here?" he asked, his head cocked slightly to one side, and his eyes fixed on Emmie's head.
            "Dance class," Polly said, waving her hand in front of her face to cool off.
            "What brings you by, Sonny?" Emmie asked, straightening the wig.
            "I was on my way home from work. A customer gave me two bottles of this wine, so I thought I'd drop one off for you."
            "You have impeccable timing. We're planning a celebration, and the wine will be put to good use. What are you doing a week from Saturday?" Polly asked.
            "Nothing I know of. What are we celebrating?"
            Emmie smiled broadly. "I have one more chemo treatment, and then I'm done. After a few weeks of radiation treatments, I can start back on the road to recovery. Oh, yes, and Wes filed divorce papers. See, all the bad things are coming to an end at once."
            Sonny stammered, "That's…that's great news, Em—all of it—I guess."
            "Sonny, do you know how to dance?" Polly asked.
            "Sure. Why?"
            "And you know how to lead, I presume?"
            "Well, yeah."
            "Good. I'm going to have a drink. Here are some CDs. Pick a song and teach this one how to follow," she said as she pointed at Emmie. "My feet can't take anymore. Good luck." With that, Polly made a gin and tonic and retreated to the living room.
            Sonny hit the play button on the CD player and a waltz came on. He went to Emmie, bowed deeply and extended his hand. "May I have this dance?"
            She laughed and accepted his hand, letting him pull her into dance position. He was sure easier to follow than Polly had been. Emmie managed to step on his feet a few times, but soon got the hang of it as he gracefully waltzed her around the kitchen. She was breathing hard when the music stopped.
            "Are you okay? Do you need to sit for a minute?" he asked.
            "No. I've done nothing but sit and rest for weeks now. This is fun. Teach me another one."
            Grinning broadly, he changed the CD and a slow dance came on. He took her in his arms, telling her to look at him and let her feet follow.
            She tried, but stumbled over his feet. Laughing, he lifted her and placed her feet on top of his.
            "Hey, dancing is so much easier than I thought. Why'd I wait so long?"
            "You just need the right partner." His eyes were fixed on hers and warmth spread up her neck.        
            She slid her feet from his as the song ended, needing to create some space between their bodies. "Thanks, Sonny, but I think I've had enough for tonight."
            They sat at the table while Emmie caught her breath.
            "I'm glad I stopped by when I did," Sonny said with a grin.
            "I'm glad, too. Polly really can't lead, and I was worried someone would come by and see the two of us dancing around in here and wonder what was going on. She's definitely not my type," Emmie laughed.
            Sonny gazed at her, his eyes twinkling. "What is your type?"
            Emmie felt a shift in the air between them. She caught her breath. "Well, definitely not female redheads who can't lead a waltz."
            Polly shouted from the living room, "Hey, I heard that!"
            "So, about the dinner I promised you two. How about next week?" Sonny asked.
            "Can we wait until after I'm all finished with the chemo? I know it sounds like I'm putting you off, but food tastes like nothing right now."
            "Sure. Whenever you're ready. Are you up to another dance?"
            "I think I'll stick to the waltz for now, if that's okay. I'm kind of tired. It was nice of you to stop by. Thanks for the wine."
            Emmie watched with interest as he stood and ran a hand through his thick black hair, pushing the lock that had fallen onto his forehead back into place. Her hand tingled as she imagined doing that very thing.
            "I'll see you next week," he said, leaning quickly to kiss Emmie's cheek. "Goodnight, Polly," he called out as he headed for the door.
            "Goodnight, Sonny. Thanks for taking over the lesson," Polly called back.
            "My pleasure," he called back to Polly, his eyes again fixed on Emmie as he spoke. "Goodnight, Em."
            Emmie sat for a moment, her hand against her cheek, feeling warmth where he'd kissed her. She joined Polly in the living room. "Well, I can waltz now. You were right—all I needed was a man." Seeing Polly's smirk, she quickly added, "To lead. I needed a man to lead."

Next Time I'm Gonna Dance is available in both ebook and trade paperback at Champagne Books as well as at and B&

If you purchase the ebook by October 20 from Champagne Books, you can get a 45% discount during our Thanksgiving Sale. (Yes, it's Thanksgiving in Canada! Lucky you!) Just use the above link to go to the Champagne Bookstore and use the code: TGTK2012 when you check out.

Thanks for helping me support such a wonderful cause. Breast cancer is something that is a concern for all women, not only those who are diagnosed.


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