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A child of the 1960s, eleven-year-old Beth Brinkmann agonizes over the ruthlessness of “The Blob” as much as she delights in the fascination of Barbie. She lives in the lively little town of Mimosa, Mississippi, where she goes to movies, rides her bicycle, and darts about the neighborhood in the wake of the cloud-spewing mosquito spray truck. Then one summer day her next-door neighbor, Leonie Lunceford, gets a Chatty Cathy and Beth’s life is never the same.

The arrival of the doll, a gift from Leonie’s grandmother, coincides with Leonie’s mother getting sick. When Beth sees Mrs. Lunceford, she is horrified. This enthusiastic piano player and admired neighborhood mother has succumbed to multiple sclerosis which has robbed her of her beauty, speech, and agility. Beth dreads going near her but craves Leonie’s company as well as her newfound lifestyle: expensive toys, the latest fashions, generous grandparents, and an outlandish father who owns three capuchin monkeys. Leonie tells petrifying ghost stories and charms everyone with her smile. She makes good grades and receives the best Valentines, but most important of all, she’s a cheerleader, a status Beth craves more than anything.

As Beth grows older, leaving the familiarity of her little Catholic school and adapting to the public junior high, she is tormented by other fears such as dogs, the neighborhood busybody, and the probability she will never achieve her desire of being “popular.” And though she does not appreciate her own home situation, Beth has devoted parents and a good life. She loves to watch her father take photographs and develop them in his darkroom.

She also has her dad’s moxie. As the relationship between father and daughter deepens, Beth gains insight about her life while providing her dad with crucial insight into his relationship with his father, a most difficult man. She also comes to understand important things about Leonie and others who populate her small-town world.  The Dance Between is a poignant return to Mimosa, Mississippi, and a coming-of-age story of realizing true compassion in the face of great difficulty.




Born in New Orleans, I grew up in McComb, a small Mississippi railroad town just twenty miles north of the Louisiana state line. My father, a professional photographer, and my mother, who managed the studio in addition to retouching and hand coloring portraits, fed my imagination with their lively stories of growing up during the Great Depression. They also encouraged me in my pastimes of drawing, reading, and writing.

Those early affirmations were reinforced through my first published pieces which were cartoons for my junior high school newspaper. Editor of my junior college yearbook, I later worked as a staff writer for The Reflector, the student newspaper of Mississippi State University. At State I earned a bachelor’s degree in art education and studied communications. Later, I was certified to teach journalism. After graduating from college, I taught art and journalism for four years at St. Joseph High School in Jackson, Mississippi, where advising the yearbook and newspaper was part of my job. I then returned to my hometown to write for its local newspaper, The McComb Enterprise-Journal. That next year I married Frank Winn, a dentist, and we moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast where we have lived since 1982.

Throughout the years I was very fortunate to work as a writer and editor for several coastal newspapers, most recently as arts editor for the Ocean Springs Record. I covered myriad news events, took photographs, and wrote hundreds of feature stories. In addition to freelancing for mostly regional, and a few national magazines, I created various artworks in acrylics, watercolor, and pen and ink.

I also began to write fiction, something I’d wanted to do since my early teaching days. During a second stint as an educator—this time seven years at Resurrection Catholic Middle/High School in Pascagoula, Mississippi—I earned a master’s degree in art education and participated in three fiction-writing workshops at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. That’s when my novel took root. Thus began a long-lasting agenda of conferences, workshops, and seminars, all of which helped to form me as a writer.

I spent nearly eleven years submitting query letters to literary agents, being rejected, rewriting, submitting more queries, being rejected again, and rewriting again, again, and again. There were, however, times of celebration when an agent asked to read a full or partial manuscript. I was always grateful and encouraged whenever I received a personal response.

I have also been privileged to be part of a remarkable writing group. We call ourselves Women of Words (WOW). Interacting with these fine writers has been the most rewarding and educating experience for me. It was one of our members who encouraged me to query Joe Lee, the editor/publisher of Dogwood Press back in 2009. That query yielded a request for the first fifty pages, then the entire manuscript. Nearly eighteen months later I got the telephone call I’d been waiting for—publication at last!


honors & publications


Recipient of Literary Arts Fellowship from the Mississippi Arts Commission, 2008

Finalist in the James Jones First Novel Fellowship, 2002

Finalist in the Pirates Alley Faulkner Society Creative Writing Competition, 2001

Winner of several feature writing and photography awards from the Mississippi Press Association, 1984-1990

Freelance credits include publication in Mississippi Magazine, Mississippi Coast Magazine, Mississippi Coast Business Journal, Mississippi State Alumnus, Today’s Catholic Teacher, and others

Other work-related writing : News editor of the Ocean Springs Record and Gautier Independent, staff writer for the (McComb) Enterprise-Journal, staff writer for the (Pascagoula ) Mississippi Press, staff writer for the (Catholic Diocese of Biloxi) Gulf Pine Catholic. Stringer for The (Biloxi) Sun Herald

Editor of NMEA News, the quarterly newsletter of the National Marine Educators Association, 2004-2013

Voluntary literary arts director for the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center for Arts and Education, Ocean Springs, Mississippi