What’s Coming Up?

When a writer like myself finally finds her groove, the projects pile up in my imagination like a week’s worth of laundry!

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I can’t wait for you to get your hands on my next book. I am honored to be collaborating with a true American hero as he and I march through the last one hundred years of American history as we tell the story of his extraordinary life. He is a bona fide Forrest Gump. Capt. Allen Brady painstakingly detailed his experiences on a  series of legal pads and he and I have worked together tirelessly to bring those handwritten notes to life. You will be inspired, you will be humbled and you will be amazed and honored to know that there are still some Great Men in the world. “Where Do We Get Such Men” by Capt. Allen C. Brady (USN-R) is slated to be finished by Summer 2017! Read more

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

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

I’m Sorry, Mr. Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway 1899-1961

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

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

Dear Teacher

PC: Instagram @monicabondurant

Dear Teacher,

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

My Dog Stinks and Other Reasons You Can’t Come Over

PC: Instagram @brittany_sherwood

The app on my phone says I have 7 days, 8 hours, 54 minutes, and 4 seconds left before I go back to work for the new school year. I definitely have mixed emotions about this. On one hand, my favorite (ok, only) son is a freshman and will be with me every day all day at the same high school where I work now, and I never get tired of him being nearby. However, on the other hand, I’ve had a rather horrible summer [what with the dog deaths and dog bites that caused me straight-up heartache over the last two months].

Nevertheless, as I do every year during the months when I don’t have to report to work each day, I develop some really bad personal habits. By the time August rolls around, I begin to actively worry about the discomfort that 5:30 a.m. is going to bring me, so much so that now I’m not even sleeping well at all; the stress of my backwards and excessive sleeping habits weighing heavily on me. I mean, my circadian rhythms are on vacation, too. Don’t believe me? Here was my day yesterday: Read more

The Three Books That Made Me Want to Be a Writer

So these are my favorite books, ever. If you are receptive to sincere recommendations, pick one of these. You won’t regret it.

writer-little-altars-everywhereLittle Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells (home state: Louisiana!) is THE short story that made me want to be a writer. When Wiletta recalled the night Vivi beat her children with a belt, I found myself hurling (hurling!!!) the book across the room because I couldn’t imagine bearing that kind of guilt. “Sweet Jesus, I seen they whole lives in front of them, how they would be when they was grown. I seen it all just by lookin at them….and it froze my blood.” That’s what a good book does…it affects you visibly, emotionally, and psychologically. As a writer myself, the best I can hope to do is simply write something that makes someone say, “Wow, she’s been through the same thing I have.” This, my friends, is the book that inspired that little voice in my head to say, “You need to tell your story too, Dawn,” and that story became my first book.  You’ve likely heard of Wells’ other, more famous work, Divine Secrets of the Yaya Sisterhood, and it is also a favorite, but make no mistake, Altars changed me. Read more