Welcome to the website born from my 1980s tale of being an undergraduate at Florida State University and a bartender at Tallahassee Airport pre-September 11, pre-COVID-19 and pre-Individual Disability Education Act. For me, the 80s was much more than big hair; it was about dressing up and pounding the pavement -- about showing up, then coming home to slide into my favorite pair of jeans. In 1987 I was a 22-year-old woman who had learned early that life was not easy, and I was determined to finish school. Possibilities were endless. My real-life experiences and those of my friends, were my teacher. Our many close calls, struggles, dreams for change, and near-misses with danger were the stories of our lives. Timeless stories that could serve up an ounce of prevention to the future. Near miss situations are full of valuable lessons for us and others. Not only do they make super story content, but by telling them, we serve to prevent similar future catastrophes. Tell your kids near miss stories. They'll learn from your experiences, and if it's too personal, you can always say it happened to a friend.
During the 80s, like in every political era, underneath ran an undertow of hidden agendas put into motion. And little beknown to me at the time, the era's climate in my periphery combined with all my experiences and the experiences of the people around me influenced every aspect of my life. All of it in hindsight made me consider that Catholic priests need a term limit on celibacy. College fraternity and sorority members should not mistake bonds established in sick secret humiliating initiation rituals centered around drugs and sex, and recordings of the same, for real friendship. All living creatures need love and respect. All first-generation college women are complex. Trauma makes you weird inside. White privilege exists. Things aren’t always as they seem. And if you can’t be good, you should be careful.
My book was born from these considerations mixed with lessons learned from my near-miss stories and those of my friends during the late 1980s. It is my hope that you'll consider reading my book--not just because I want to make a sale, but because I want to appeal to you on a level of the sameness in us all. If you decide to read my story, may you not only be entertained and amused, but also may you gain an appreciation of the verdant nature of Florida’s panhandle and the City of Tallahassee and its establishments, many of which have been shut down and demolished. May you learn some Reagan era history and life lessons from your journey through my pages. May our near-miss situations serve you an ounce of prevention.
D.S. Marquis here, story-teller! If you reached this paragraph, I'm glad you're still reading, and if you happen to be one of my 1st edition book readers, know that I am truly grateful for you. Thank you for wanting to read my book and for all your time spent reading it. I'm humbled and honored by your labor writing and posting reviews. If a book isn’t talked about, written about or read, or visible by others, it means nothing by itself. The saddest of days for books are when they sit alone on a shelf without eyes on them. They only take on meaning when someone reads them. So, to you I say thank you for giving my book meaning.
As you read this, I'm probably having a cup of coffee, playing frisbee with my dog, working my day job, completing chores, or maybe I'm on the phone with my kids. I'm a proud parent of an artist and an attorney. And I never miss a chance to say that I'm proud to be a mom or that I'm a book lover.
As for the beginning of my love of books, I knew I was going to be a big reader when I fell in love with a book called Rabbit, and Skunk and Spooks. I must have been five or six. This was the first book I read all by myself. In my grandmother’s kitchen I read that paperback over and over. It was a Halloween book. I was proud of the sound of my voice reading aloud. My grandmother and my mother were proud. Learning to read is a milestone and it levels a person up.
When I was sixteen, my great grandmother was in her late 70s and she called me to sit next to her in her favorite chair, where she proudly announced, "Nana has a surprise for you." She held the newspaper in her hand and lifted it like I had seen her do often when she would browse the paper looking at pictures. "Nana learned to read," she said. And that was the first time she read aloud to me.
I never considered becoming an author as an achievable goal. Juggling work & family, has always taken precedence for me, but my fascination with truth in hindsight has never wavered. Jokingly saying things like, Man, I could write a book about that are words that often come from my mouth as I observe life around me. But time – time to write -- that’s another matter. I owe having time to write to the pandemic shut down. Like so many other people, my hours were cut at work. My kid Zoom-schooled and I wrote. Anyone can write a story, but not everyone has the time.
I had just returned from grocery shopping when the UPS man tossed a book-sized box on my doorstep. From the address label, I knew it was the proof copy of my book. The cardboard was the same as all the other cardboard I'd handled, and the box was one of countless others I had retrieved from the doorstep over the years. But I carried this one into the house and up the stairs with a sense of wonder, like there was something mysterious, something that would change things, something that would bring life to another level inside of it. I set it on the kitchen bar, where it remained untouched for twenty-four hours.
The thought that there might be something wrong with it, and that I might feel disappointed by that, kept me from opening it. Instead, I focused my energy on preparations for my daughter's Sweet Sixteen Birthday Party. Shopping, baking a cake, filling Tiki torches with oil, making a slide show of all my kid's birthdays, my book club meeting. Everything took precedence over opening the box. The family egging me on all the while to open it only made me move the box from the counter to under the bed.
I kept thinking about all the labor that had gone into the contents of that box. I wanted to be rested, so I could really enjoy the moment when I would open it. To savor all of what I was feeling about finally reaching this point.
I have found that the process for becoming an author is a real triathlon, especially for a self-published author. Writing a book is only the foundation. The marketing, publishing, and selling are a whole lot of work. A book is intellectual property that will collect dust, if you don't keep it moving. Also, book business is very subjective and there is a lot to learn. In fact, recently this book business has taught me that I can write a screen play. Yup, I wrote my first short screenplay, Holiday Hitchhiker, an adaptation of a scene from my book, Of School and Women. Writing a script was easier than I thought it would be. I even surprised myself, when I submitted the script to a competition and later made the list of finalists.
If you want to become an author, to you I say, Persist. Don’t worry about perfection. Progress is more important. Get your story out. Finish. It could be just the story someone else needs to read to feel like they’re not so alone in this world. And like with most of life, pace yourself. Take breaks to replenish your spirit, because it is in the human spirit where stories’ magic lives.
I really have loved being a part of the reading and writing community. My reading community loves the protagonists, Lynette and Marie, the two badass undergrads in my debut book. Also, readers have mentioned that when they read my book, they really felt like they travelled back to America in the 1980s, a time that wasn't just about big hair. It was a time when people were upfront and in person. Notes were written on napkins, and music came from a juke box. As for the writing community, I have enjoyed so many new indie authored books.
About my education and work experience: I was brought up and educated in the United States and moved a lot while growing up, living on the East Coast, West Coast, and down South. I returned to the East Coast and currently live north of Boston in the state of Massachusetts. I earned my BS in English Education from Florida State University and I'm a member of The Authors Guild. My experiences include work as a property manager, teacher, paralegal, military reservist, a variety of odd jobs, raising a family, and writing and researching first and second editions of my book, Of School and Women, a story based on real life events.
I will be donating a portion of the profits from this book to a charity that supports survivors of human trafficking. To learn how you can help, visit amirahinc.org.
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© 2020 D.S. Marquis