Happy One Year Anniversary to my little book 💍
It took 6 years to write.
And 2 years to edit.
I waited 3 months for it to be picked up by a little Texas publisher…one who made me a real-life published author on December (of course!) 10th, 2015, which in itself was a huge, painful anniversary. Then in a moment, everything changed.
What came next gave me just slightly more than 15 minutes of fame, but what I hope will be a lifetime of literary circulation. Books, after all, are forever.
This book has given me more strength and self esteem than any other one thing I’ve ever done for myself.
And it continues to make me a bit of money. Imagine that.
Who woulda thought….
…that my little story about bring-you-to-your-knees pain, and intimate love, and beautiful sons, and confident daughters, and true beauty, and unavoidable ugliness, and crippling weakness, and then soaring strength would turn into a story that so many people told me was just like reading their own.
Ben hasn’t read it. Won’t. He doesn’t read books. Sadly. And he definitely gets that from his dad. But maybe one day he will think it’s awesome….rather than just ‘kinda cool”…
…that his mom published a little book about her life called Aprils and Decembers, and dedicated it to him. Anyway.
In June of 2015, I gathered 20 of my best friends together to celebrate the completion of my memoir, Aprils and Decembers. Much of what we talked about that night was how I got here, how I got to be the luckiest person in the world, one who lives through a bunch of tough stuff and still emerges from it with a blessed life and a published book. In other words, in this picture the girls are getting the backstory. (Jaco’s Restaurant, downtown Pensacola)
For you, here’s a little more of my backstory…
- I absolutely cannot stomach horror movies and I am a staunch critic of tattooing oneself. Having said that, Dexter and Sons of Anarchy are two of the best shows I have ever watched. Ever. (once again, mothering determines everything)
- My guilty indulgences include chocolate milk and french fries. I need to make note here that the chocolate milk I like the most is light brown (you could say I like chocolate-infused milk) and I love my french fries a little soggy, if I’m honest.
- I am extraordinarily easy to wait on in a restaurant. After waiting tables all through college, I can promise you, it pays to be kind to the waitstaff. I know their power.
- I tried to train my dog not to jump on people by pinching his paws. Now he refuses to shake hands. My mistake. #dogwhisperingfail
- I once had a vivid dream that I had surgery for stomach pain and when they opened me up all of my insides were microwaved. I haven’t been back to a tanning bed since.
- When I was little, my mom told me that Jesus doesn’t like it when you write on yourself. So I don’t EVER write on myself. Thanks for that warped guilt, Mom.
- I can get lost in watching someone cut the grass. The sounds, the smell and the linear, methodical nature of their movement makes me unusually content.
- I never wear yellow. No one should decide to bury me in yellow, either.
- I own a first edition printing of Gone With the Wind. I bought it for $1 at a flea market in North Dakota in 1991. It’s worth a lot more now, folks.
- When I write a blog like this one, I have to proofread it on each of my devices before I publish it. I think psychologists call that OCD.
We’re all a just little bit nuts, aren’t we kids?!
If you’d like to know more about my journey as an author, and by more I mean more important than my tastes in junk food, I invite you to check out the Frequently Asked Questions link above! Enjoy!
It was a pleasure to visit the set of “Conversations With Jeff Weeks” on WSRE in Pensacola, our local PBS affiliate.
It was more fun than I can explain in words to have the opportunity to speak with Donna Saul yesterday on her radio show “Bring Back the Balance” on WCHE 1520 out of Philadelphia.
Local author inks book deal and shares her struggle
Several years later, the stories and feelings documented in her journal would become a memoir of her struggles, fears and mistakes titled “Aprils and Decembers.”
Quarles grew up in Milton. She married young, traveled while she could, went to college, divorced, and returned to Pensacola in 1995. One year later, she met Bob, and the two were married by 1999. In 2004, she accepted a teaching position at Pace High School, where she teaches politics.
Bob and Quarles had a son, Ben. In 2008, Quarles and her husband experienced difficulties in their marriage and Bob became sick with the flu. He was never quite able to kick the illness. Despite counseling, the two divorced in 2009.
Bob committed suicide the following year.
“I think he knew he was never going to get well again,” Quarles said. “At the time he died, my son was 9 and I was worried he would only remember the bad stuff, so I started writing down our good stories.”
Quarles was concerned about the mental health of her son, and how he would develop and process memories about his family and early childhood.
The journal that housed the stories Quarles hoped to pass on to her son also became a grief journal.
“You start to piece the missing parts of the last 15 years together, and it became this enormously long, complicated journey,” she said.
Quarles decided to make pieces of the book into a memoir for friends, family and herself.
She sent various portions and copies of her story to more than 75 publishers.
“You have to look through which publishers accept first-time authors — which ones will take memoirs — and then go through the remaining list and find out what they want from you,” Quarles said.
A small publisher in Texas, Black Rose Publishing, picked up the book. It was released Dec. 10.
The local support has been tremendous, Quarles said. Several books clubs in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties have chosen to read “Aprils and Decembers,” and have asked Quarles to attend their final discussions.
“You don’t usually get to meet the author of the book you just read,” Ashley Murray said. Murray is part of a book club in Santa Rosa County with 10 other women. The group plans to gather on Jan. 12 to meet Quarles and discuss the book.
Murray noted the vulnerability she imagined Quarles experiencing after releasing such personal details.
“She said things that would be hard to admit to yourself, much less thousands of people,” Murray said. “And she really wanted to create a legacy for her son, Ben, for him to know her for who she really is — good and bad.”
As much as the story is about relationships and struggles, it is vastly about parenting and the lasting impressions mothers and fathers leave on their children.
“The process of documenting and remembering has really helped me heal,” she said.
Quarles will do a public book reading and signing at Barnes & Noble on Airport Boulevard on Jan. 23.
“We like to bring in local authors, so the customers can get a feel for the area,” said Laura Ferrer, community and business development manager. “You get to meet these different characters, and they are right here in our city.”
To get a copy:
“Aprils and Decembers” is available online at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Smashbooks
Hard copies will be available at Barnes & Noble in Pensacola on Jan. 23 book signing
For more information, visit dawnquarles.com.
I have a queasy stomach tonight, sort of like butterflies, you could say. At the moment, I have the kind of nerves that perhaps anyone might get when their whole world is about to completely change.
My first book comes out tomorrow. I’ve been pretty much forced against my will to promote it and solid sales have been the goal of my publisher more so than myself. But we can all take heart; tomorrow it’s done. The nerves will go away and much like a wedding that took months of planning, in a poof! the whole thing will be over. I am as ready as you are, believe me. See, my book is a memoir. Private stuff. Sentimental stuff. Personal stuff. Painful stuff. Read more
Really? Are you SURE?”
I am always shocked at how many people say, “I need to write a book.” It wasn’t something I became acutely aware of until I’d actually done that thing myself. It was hard! So now when people so flippantly throw that out there I say, “Ok then, because if you’re serious, start writing. I want to help you do it.”
Once I was really, genuinely serious about the commitment to pound out a novel, the FIRST thing I did was to find someone who had already done it, all the way through to the end, and then I got them to shoot straight with me. Read more
Friends! Women! Mothers, and Sons with Strong Mothers! My long, wonderful, painful, magical journey culminates here and I am so, so excited to be sharing this dream-come-true with you. Today, I’m revealing the cover for my forthcoming memoir, April and Decembers.
I am a writer who loves to talk about my journey, the journey we’ve all taken in fact, through lives that are often extremely complicated but that are also wholly universal and entirely magnificent. My experiences will become part of your journey too and my first book Aprils and Decembers promises to share something everyone can relate to as we each stumble and soar through private lives that are inherently intertwined by our unique experiences. Read more