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
Today I’m thrilled to share a sneak peek at my forthcoming memoir, Aprils and Decembers, available on December 10, 2015 from Black Rose Writing!
Excerpt from Aprils and Decembers, a Memoir by Dawn Quarles
And so it was for four days. That pep rally I’d given myself on my drive home from Troy’s house, the one about being strong for Tate, wasn’t playing out the way it was supposed to. I did not eat, or bathe, or function like a person should, especially one who has a child who’s grieving and dogs to feed and friends who just want to know you’re okay. I did nothing except move from bed to bathroom and back to bed, my old fallback habits when my life absolutely and completely crippled me. My mother cared for Tate, fed him, entertained him, and distracted him, just like she had when I left Troy the year before, because I just couldn’t do any of it. I was useless, again, save for one thing: lying with him in bed on those nights talking about his dad. I knew that arrangements were being made for Troy’s funeral but I was left completely out of it, as I expected to be. I resurrected myself in brief chunks of time to make phone calls to the insurance companies and to answer lingering questions about Troy’s personal affairs and accounts to employers and others not personally involved in his death. Oddly, many of the folks I had to deal with regarding Troy’s business treated me as if I were still his wife and when that happened, things moved smoothly, thank God. Read more
A couple of years ago, I set a goal for myself to start reading the American classics. It made me feel smarter to think I might one day know how to namedrop all of our most famous literary icons with real authority. I wanted to know all about the ones about whom my friends say, “Oh my God! He’s my favorite author!”
I especially wanted to fall in love with Ernest Hemingway. I’d saved myself for him, for after I finished writing my own book and was no longer in the middle of any other novels. I wanted to give him my undivided attention because everything I’d read about him pointed towards adoration. I anticipated a long, sexy summer reading about falling in love during the Spanish American War, bullfights in Spain and cafes in Paris, and salty men repairing fishing nets…all being ideas that made me swoon in romantic anticipation. I bought six of his most famous works and downloaded them all at once. Satisfaction was 100% guaranteed. A perfect collection of beach books, right? I nestled in. Read more
Go five years in reverse from today and you would’ve found me getting adjusted to living all by myself for the first time ever in my life. I was in the middle of a heartbreaking divorce, holed up in a tiny, sterile apartment grieving, wondering how I could ever be happy again without the safety of my marriage and my family…a marriage that, incidentally, provided me with many years of a different kind of grief altogether. Obviously, I was forced to get used to it against my will. Some things are completely beyond our control and divorce is sometimes one of them. In the beginning of my transmutation from couplehood to spinsterhood, I still had a small child at home but since then he has grown into an independent young man with an affection for X-treme sports and his own vehicle. As a result, I’ve stayed home by myself a lot over the last few years. Yes, it gets too quiet sometimes, but I’m thankful for the slow boil of my seclusion over the years in this state. Read more
In 1991, I was forced to enroll in your typical, freshmen-level Economics-101 class. It was utterly coma-inducing to be honest, like you probably think this blog post is going to be after seeing the word Economics in the title, but stay with me for a minute.
Knowing that only a small fraction of the 80 or so students in the class would ever need an in-depth knowledge of supply and demand curves, the professor offered us an alternative assignment: Read “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand and complete a 2000-word essay on what we learned. Anything we learned. However we interpreted it, let it be known that we gleaned something inspiring from the mammoth 1000-page novel. So thinking it was the easier option, I read it as a teenager and predictably wrote my paper on the value of capitalism.
I’ve since traversed through my 44 years never needing to know too terribly much about surpluses and shortages, just as my professor predicted. This past year, I found myself teaching Economics to my 12th graders and believe me, it’s a class that’s still coma-inducing. So I made them the same offer: read Atlas Shrugged and tell me what you get out of it. I also decided to give the book another run-through myself just so I could be prepared to answer their questions.
It was like I was reading an entirely different novel! All the capitalism/socialism stuff remained familiar but there were new ideas in there about sex and the relationships between men and women that I couldn’t have or wouldn’t have appreciated when I was 19 years old. Ayn Rand, a woman whose fame comes entirely from her Objectivism philosophy and her knowledge of the path of the American economy, also incorporated an incredible understanding of the sexual tendencies in men and women. Read more
I am writing this love letter to a specific handful of very busy men and women I know. Wondering if I mean you? Read on.
You folks that I work alongside, all of you who talked for weeks about the coming end of the school year and how “it will be soooooo nice not to have to get up and ‘do anything’ every day! Oh my GOD!”
But I see you. You haven’t stopped moving since the last period bell rang two weeks ago. You are still going 100 mph in twenty directions and your summer vacation is already two weeks old. There are only nine weeks left and you are still, technically, working. Why? Read more