Pensacola News Journal Feature

Local author inks book deal and shares her struggle

In the midst of marital struggles, and through the suggestion of a counselor, Dawn Quarles began keeping an elaborate journal.

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.

“The main thing I took away from the book was how raw and honest it was,” Murray said. “I don’t know that I could be that honest with myself, and really take ownership of all the details, good and bad.”

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.

Read more

Cover Reveal for Aprils and Decembers

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

Sneak Peek at My Forthcoming Memoir, Aprils and Decembers

Today I’m thrilled to share a sneak peek at my forthcoming memoir, Aprils and Decembersavailable on December 10, 2015 from Black Rose Writing!

An excerpt from Aprils and Decembers
(*all names besides my own have been changed)

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

The Horns of the Bull

PC: Instagram @_becky_newman

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

Sex and Economics

PC: Instagram @thepetitereader

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

Interview With a Lover

Photo Credit: Instagram @hannahames.

I was married for a really long time, and then my husband and I split up.

The End.

I wish it were that simple. I was alone by choice for several years. I remained married in my mind if not on paper and insisted on maintaining (with a death grip) my own self-imposed isolation from the dating world. Then, after several years of this lonely nonsense I decided to get my groove back, shake off my love martyrdom and get back out there. Almost immediately I met Someone Else and I almost married him right out of the gate without considering any other candidates and without entertaining what other choices might possibly be behind door number two and three. I shop for clothes the same way: I see something I like, so I buy it before thinking about what could go wrong if I take it home and it doesn’t fit. Read more