A Voice Among The Thorns

Dawne Webber Young Adult Fiction Novel

A seventeen-year-old girl forms an unlikely friendship with a reclusive, unstable young woman who possesses a unique gift of sight and discovers the meaning of being true to oneself.


A Voice Among the Thorns

Seventeen-year-old Jersey Alexa (Jax) Mason is allergic to drama. But that’s what she gets when her boyfriend dumps her on a crowded dance floor. She would have preferred a text message. Amanda Rosenbaum’s reappearance and rumors of her time in the “looney bin” help take Jax’s mind off the break-up drama.

Amanda ran away when she was seventeen and Jax was four. Thirteen years later, Amanda returns to their sleepy town of Rudds Mill to live with her mother. Jax escapes to Amanda’s moss-covered patio when things get tense at home. She’s drawn to the fragile, unstable Amanda despite the fact that they spar over everything. Amanda has one foot in this world; the rest of her lives in a dark place inside her mind. But she’s aware of things that Jax has never considered. Important things about hope and life. And she knows all about the secrets Jax hides. How can someone so lost in her own world see inside of Jax’s?

Ethan, the new guy in town, starts hanging out on Amanda’s patio too. Chemistry sparks between him and Jax, but Amanda cryptically predicts they’re not meant to be. They try to blow her off. Amanda’s crazy after all. And she can’t always be right. As summer marches towards autumn, Amanda slips deeper inside herself, battling her mysterious past. Jax and Ethan need to save her before she disappears altogether.

This is my latest project for those of you who’ve been asking (and those of you who haven’t). It’s a contemporary young adult novel but, with all due respect to Ruth Graham, anyone can read it. At this point, I’m seeking representation by a literary agent. I’ll be posting updates, and bits and pieces about it on the A Voice Among the Thorns page.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about it.


Under Construction

Michigan State TreeIt’s time for a face lift. And since I can’t afford one, I’ve decided to give one to this tired old blog. Over the next few days, I’ll be experimenting, changing things, having fun, changing things, getting frustrated, changing things and swearing. I’m a perfectionist for details (the big picture escaped my notice many times), so depending on when you pop in, things may change right in front of you. Don’t worry, it’s not your electronic device. It’s me.

Humorous side note: Most of the photos I found for barricades were taken in Michigan. The construction barricade is the unofficial state tree. Just one more thing that makes us Michiganders proud to live here.



Reverse Impressions

I met our new priest this weekend. At confession. Confession is not the place to make a good first impression. But that got me thinking (dangerous, yes). I came to the conclusion that we’ve been doing it backwards. First impressions shouldn’t be good.

Okay, I’ll try to explain my logic (not always easy). Nobody is perfect. (If you suffer from that delusion you need more help than I can give.) So what happens when you make a good first impression? The impressee puts you on a pedestal, granted it may not be a tall one, but size doesn’t matter here. The moment you do something less than perfect, the pedestal cracks. The more the impressee gets to know you, the more hits your pedestal takes. Soon you’re left standing on a heap of rubble and the impressee feels cheated. You never live up to a good first impression.

angel, pedestal

A bad impression on the other hand leaves room for improvement. Making new acquaintances would go something like this:

Me: Hi, I’m Dawne. I can be a snarky bitch.
You: Oh, thanks for the warning.

The expectation is set. You expect me to be a snarky bitch. But when I  do something nice for you—”This round’s on me.”—you are pleasantly surprised. And when I say something unbitchy—”You make the best margaritas ever!”—you begin to think, Hey, she’s not such a snarky bitch after all. Enter pedestal.  When I revert to snarky bitch, you’re not surprised and the pedestal remains intact.

I think I missed my calling. Move over Socrates.

socrates, philosopher, philosophy



The Other Woman

I wasn’t worried when she appeared in my husband’s life or that they had to spend some time together—for work. I didn’t realize how serious it was between them until my husband announced she would be joining us on a trip.

“Are you serious?” I asked. I think I was giving him that squinty look. You know, the one that creases your forehead and narrows your eyes.  The look you give a person when you’re thinking REALLY? Then I said, “We’re only going to the store. We know how to get there.”

But when we climbed into the car, she was there between us in the front seat. My husband’s GPS.  “Her name is Lwaxana,” my husband told me as he handed her to me. Lwaxana? I can’t even pronounce it, but it rolls off his tongue like melted butter.  He even had reason for giving her that particular name. That’s when I realized I had some competition. That smooth talking machine was vying for my position as navigator and who knew what else.

Lwaxana and Deanna Troi Star Trek The Next Generation

Lwaxana and Deanna Troi.

“I know how to get where we’re going,” I said, looking at her slim, black case with distaste. He ignored me and left her on the console. After a few months, I gave in and used her for longer trips. I’d grudgingly hold her and relay her directions to my husband; her voice is too quiet to hear over the noise of the road. “I’d rather use a print-off from Mapquest,” I’d mutter to her. She didn’t fool me; I knew she was expendable. And she knew that I knew it.

I’m a great navigator. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but after years of living in New York and Ohio, and after our many road trips, I know how to read a map. I have a good internal compass, too. Granted, I screw up occasionally. “The Alibi is on Rochester between Wattles and Long Lake,” I’ll tell my husband confidently when he asks. But after circling the same stretch of a mile for the fifth time, we realize that I’m three miles off, and we’re a half-hour late to meet friends for dinner; I’m remorseful and apologetic. Lwaxana has yet to apologize for her screw ups. And she has made a few.

When we leave to attend a function on Belle Isle in Detroit, my husband hands me Lwaxana before backing out of our driveway. “Start out going south on John R,” she says in her confident, silky voice.

“I’m taking Fifteen Mile,” my husband says.

“She doesn’t like it when you mess her up and she has to recalculate,” I tell him. “She may not say it, but I know she’s waiting to taser me because you’re not listening to her.”

“She doesn’t mind if I change routes.” He defends her. But he’s wrong. She’s a woman and I know she’s planning her revenge on me. I’m not stupid; I read The Help. 

The Help. Kathryn Stockett

Sharpening their tools.

“I think I’m going to write a blog post about her,” I inform him. “Your other woman.”

“That’s a great idea,” he says and offers to come up with a list of our similarities and differences.

Go right ahead, I think. And when you’re sleeping on the couch, we’ll see if Lwaxana can keep you warm.

We continue our ride downtown. Thank God it’s mostly expressway driving, so Lwaxana remains silent for most of the drive. Maybe she’s using this time to plan how she’s going to taser me the next time Dave doesn’t follow her directions.

By the time we reach Detroit, it’s snowing so hard we see five cars that have spun out and a semi-truck has jack-knifed. Finally, we cross the bridge to the unfamiliar terrain of Belle Isle. Now the snow’s so thick we literally can’t see more than five feet ahead of us. And I say for the first time, “I’m actually glad we have this thing.” I point to Lwaxana because I’m not about to say her name. We follow her directions through the blinding snow and end up at… gates that are chained shut. Obviously the wrong place.

I wouldn't let her steer my starship.

I wouldn’t let her steer my starship.

After a half-hour, we find our destination with no help from Lwaxana. She does nothing to correct the directions and doesn’t apologize for steering us wrong in the first place.

Later that evening my husband hands me some papers. “Here’s some information on Lwaxana Troi for your blog post,” he says. “I’m working on the list of similarities and differences.”

Dave’s List:

How Dawne and Lwaxana are alike

  • I look to both of them for guidance
  • I don’t always take their advice
  • They both speak softly into my ear

How Dawne and Lwaxana are different

  • Dawne always laughs at my jokes
  • Lwaxana never gets angry when I ignore her
  • Dawne is taller

I guess he doesn’t have to sleep on the couch.


TBT post from March 2013


Ready. Set. WRITE! Week 9

writing, writing group, support


Monday, August 3 Week 

1.  How I did on last week’s goalsI didn’t participate last week. I was immersed in the world of Twitter. I received a few passes on my query, so I revised it and sent out a few of the revised versions.

2.  My goal(s) for this week-

  • More waiting. Waiting is good. It builds character.  At least that’s what I tell myself.
  • Even though I was excited about some new projects, I decided to go back to another WIP that I’d put aside. It’s a 150K word behemoth. I’ve been moodling on how to break it into two novels and I’ve got some ideas. I’d like to divide and conquer it this week.
  • Get comfortable with the Twitter thing.

3.  A one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised- 

Oliver knew the precise moment she penetrated him, made her way into his blood. He could lie in bed and live it all over again. Sometimes he’d do it deliberately. Other times he’d try to ignore it, block it, crush it, but it would crash over him and, unable to stop it, he’d become lost in it.

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write)-Waiting for responses to the queries and the usual juggling life and writing.

5.  Something I love about my WiP-Getting back into this WIP after a hiatus, and feeling good about breaking it up into two novels. Two of my favorite secondary characters will have their time in the spotlight now.

Thanks everyone for your encouragement.  Good luck to you on your goals!

If you’re wondering what Ready. Set. WRITE! is all about, it’s a summer long writing intensive with the purpose of writing, revising, planning, and keeping each other accountable. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison Miller, Katy Upperman, Erin Funk, and Jaime Morrow. If you’d like more information or to participate in Ready. Set. WRITE click here.




Never Say Never

At one time or another I swore:

  • I would never ski. My husband finally wore me down. We lived in upstate New York at the time. How could I pass up the opportunity to ski down a real mountain? Actually, I didn’t ski. I rolled all the way down the bunny hill. Hubby was wrong. I didn’t love it.

Not my idea of a good time.

  • I would not have five children. There were five siblings in my family growing up. I would not be crazy enough to repeat that. Granted, I was the only girl and the fact that I had four brothers may have had something to do with my attitude. When my husband mentioned early in our marriage that five kids might be nice, I hit the roof.  But Hubby was right this time; I love having five kids.
  • I would not wear shoes with anything higher than a four inch heel. Then it became difficult to find shoes with anything under a four and a half inch heel. I learned that four and half inch heels aren’t so bad.
I really wanted these but they're 5". That's over my limit.

I really wanted these but they’re 5″. That’s over my limit.

  • I would never have a blog. Enough said.

For years, I’ve sworn with fiery passion that I would NEVER tweet. I should have known it was only a matter of time. I admit, I was excited to get a Twitter account. That was before I realized I’d have to learn Twitter speak. It’s an entire language unto itself. My next venture may be classes in TSL  (Twitter as a Second Language).

I still swear with a fiery passion that I’ll never, ever sky-dive or wear five inch heels.


Puppy Love. Puppy Hate

Puppy Wedding

Love is keeping the promise anyway.

I have five kids. I’ve become adept at ignoring the whine of youth. My brain tunes out the words and only hears the annoying drone. One day my youngest daughter followed me around whining about something. Finally, a word— divorce—penetrated my consciousness. I started to listen, although the droning whine made it difficult.

“He can’t divorce her. He just can’t.”

“Who?” I asked. I wasn’t aware of anyone we knew contemplating divorce.

*Leon wants to divorce *Lulu. But Lulu doesn’t want to get divorced. He promised they’d be married forever and now he’s changing his mind,” my daughter said, her whine changing to anger.

She and my youngest son had gotten stuffed dogs from Build-A-Bear-Workshop years ago. Leon and Lulu married soon after. They’d had a beautiful wedding.

My daughter faced my son with her hands on her hips. “You can’t get a divorce. You said they could stay married forever.”

“He can get divorced if he wants, and you can’t stop him.” My son remained icily calm.

While my daughter fumed, I asked  my son why Leon wanted to divorce Lulu. He shrugged. “She’s always all over him. He never gets any time to himself. She never leaves him alone.”

It’s true what they say about a woman (or stuffed puppy) scorned. My daughter and Lulu flew into a rage. “That’s not true. She does not. You just don’t want to be married anymore. She doesn’t want a divorce!”

stuffed animal, suitcase

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

The thing is, those are the exact words my kids used (I knew it was great blog post fodder so I wrote them down right away). They sounded bizarrely real. If I didn’t know better, I’d say it was an argument they’d heard daily for years. But they hadn’t. I took Pscyh101 in college. I knew all about self-fulfilling prophecies. So my husband and I agreed that the word DIVORCE would be off-limits (spoken aloud, anyway).

So where did this come from? I think it must be something in the dogs from Build-A-Bear.

* Real names have been changed to protect their privacy.


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