Lessons From Google

PC: Instagram @bermudezeduardo

Long story short, I was reading up on the latest Apple vs The US Government face-off the other day and it sent me in a roundabout way to the article Why Are Google Employees So Damn Happy?  I was instantly jealous. Oh I’ve heard the rumors of what the Google offices are like. Little girls with ponies couldn’t be more excited than I would be going to work knowing trampolines and smoothie machines were awaiting my arrival.

But that’s not what the article was about and unfortunately most of us don’t work at a place like that. Read more

Love Them Anyway, The Paradoxical Commandments

PC: Instagram @youcanseestarsfromhere

Each day at least once it happens. Sometimes on particularly trying days, it feels like it happens all day long.

I get some bad news or I see something upsetting and I find the “Anyway” verses tapping me on the shoulder and wagging their fingers at me. For as far back as I can remember, these words come to mind: Love them anyway. Do it anyway. Create anyway. Read more

So, You Want to Write a Book? Part 2. My Story.

April and Decembers by Dawn QuarlesI 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

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!

A drawing by Ben.

A drawing by Ben.

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

O Captain! My Captain!

Gone With the Wind, 1939, Warner Brothers. Pictured: Olivia de Havilland.

One random topic of conversation always seems to lead strangely into another in the American History classes I am lucky enough to teach each year. I often find myself horribly off-subject as my almost-adult students and I slowly get to know one another and this week was no exception. Admiring from a safe distance how one of my female students boldly spoke up for another in a small spat of gossip, I commented to the young lady that she reminded me of Melanie Hamilton. The girl curled up her face as if I’d insulted her, although I was pleased that she even knew who I was talking about in the first place!

But, she has no backbone, right?” 

I laughed and explained that, in fact, Melanie Hamilton had quite the backbone and more courage and righteousness than any other character in literature, or in movies, or on television, that I could think of.

“She takes up for everyone,” I explained, “even people who have wronged her.  She always looks for the good in others and she forgives effortlessly.  She is even-tempered and never gets angry and she’s always wise to the situation and ready to offer a solid piece of advice.” 

In my opinion, it was a high compliment to be compared to Miss Hamilton, and as I heard myself explaining what it is that I love about this timeless Gone With the Wind character, the patron saint of goodness from antebellum Atlanta, I made a note to myself to try harder to be more like her. Read more

Towanda! My Favorite Female Authors

Photo Credit: Instagram @samanthagrander.

Southern women writing about the Southern things that all Southerners understand. Southern characters who bring memories and scents and nostalgia flooding to the surface of our recollections. What more can a person hope for, being a reader, than to be taken somewhere we’ve already been before, a place we know and remember fondly? To return to a time and place when something so wonderful happened, with people we don’t think about nearly enough…well that’s what makes a really good book.

I am partial to Southern female writers, but the authors I admire come from all over, and I am a better writer myself having read about places in America that I’m not familiar with. When I reflect on the kinds of books I love the most and the writers I most admire, I have worked it out quite simply… Read more