The Bystanders, by Dawn Major: Coming April 2023

Image provided by Mandy Haynes, creator, designer, editor, and publisher of WELL READ MAGAZINE

So, you have written a book. You even have a contract to publish your book. You know your settings, the buildings that make up your town, you have travelled every footpath and road, but you can’t find that perfect image for your cover that expresses your overall narrative. While your publisher will provide an image, you’re wondering if it’s going to be the right one. Let’s face it; readers judge a book by its cover. I certainly do!

That’s where I stand right now. Photos of the real town and surrounding area along with my fictional settings are swirling through my head. But the crucial, that ever so important cover art, alludes me. How can I start promoting without an image? No one is going to click on a blank page, right?

This is my approach. One, I have a theme that runs throughout the book. Can you guess it? Yes, the bystander effect. Two, the story is about a town and that town’s reaction to new arrivals, but it also about the response those newbies have towards their new home. So, I built a collage of images and hope and pray the cover artist gets my vision.

Fellow writer, new friend, creator, designer, editor, and publisher of WELL READ MAGAZINE, Mandy Haynes, offered this image of a cover reveal while I ponder what best fits The Bystanders. If you click this LINK, and click tp pages 34 & 34, you’ll see an image of one of the real settings of the Dew Drop Inn circa 1980s and you can read a synopsis of my story.

One great option I hadn’t realized was available is to create a mock or a temporary cover. You can start promoting and get the opinion from your readers. So, the great experiment begins.

Please share with your friends and on social media!

In Spring of 2023, you can put “The Bystanders” by Dawn Major on your Bookshelf

Image provided by Nick Fewings

I am happy to announce that I signed a contract to publish my book, The Bystanders, with Moonshine Cove Publishing. The Bystanders is scheduled to be released in Spring of 2023. To say this has been a journey is an understatement. Thanks to all my family and friends–writerly or otherwise–for all the support. You never write a book all by yourself. You need an army of writers to push you through editing, submitting, and rejection after rejection after rejection. Did I mention you’ll get rejected? Once you do get an offer, the work is far from over. In this world, most small publishers have limited funds to market your book, so be prepared to make your book your absolute favorite topic of conversation without coming off as a total narcissist. Anyway…those are steps for the near future. Right now, I feel like I did something right for once with the writing gods. Gotta go light a candle and make some more offerings.

To learn more about my book visit: The Bystanders

Happy Writer, Happy Life

“Nativity,” a Classic Christmas Story full of Mirth by Dawn Major

Writers are always attuned to sources of inspiration. A word, an expression, or even the smallest shared story works its way into an author’s headspace and becomes the basis of stories, poems, novels. The chapter titled “Nativity” is a collage of two real pieces of inspiration that came together in my novel, The Bystanders. It may be read on its own as a story, or as a chapter from the novel.

When my family moved from Los Angeles in the late 1980s—to live off the grid—we found ourselves outside the small town of Lawrenceton, Missouri. It was quite a culture shock. We went from the city to rural living, but it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever lived. And the people were amazing.

At my family’s first Midnight Mass at St. Lawrence Church, I was selected to play the part of Mary in a live nativity. I was in third grade at the time, and I recall being concerned people might think I gave birth to Baby Jesus, so that was kind of funny. But the live nativity element was the first bit of inspiration for this chapter/story.

The second part that influenced “Nativity” was one of my mom’s most precious possessions, a Vatican commissioned nativity scene that cost a fortune. It’s stunning, but it was a pay-as-you-go program and every month a new piece arrived, except the most important character of all, Baby Jesus. For three years mom received, lambs, cows, multiple angels and shepherds, but no Baby Jesus. As you can imagine, she was getting upset. And then one day Baby Jesus arrived, and my dad and sister got to him first. Big pranksters, these two. They wrote an official looking letter from the Vatican apologizing because they weren’t going to be able to send Baby Jesus, they had discontinued the collection, and to please accept a cow in his place. They found one of the many cows in the collection and replaced the cow with Baby Jesus. My mom was livid when she opened that box and read the letter. Eventually, they fessed up and now the nativity scene takes up her mantle during the holiday season.

Mom’s Nativity

With “Nativity.” I wanted to write a classic Christmas story. So many of our modern holiday stories are really new versions of classics. I also wanted to share one of my favorite family memories. I hope you derive some mirth from “Nativity” as my family and I have over the years.

St. Lawrence Church

photo by Linda Bayles Fitzgerald


Lena and Holda were twins; however, most parishioners didn’t see them as two eccentric hens, but as one big lady who cracked in half. They lived in a ninety-eight-year-old house that once served as the rectory for Saint Lawrence Church. After the last full-time priest passed, the diocese decided the new priest, Father LeClair, should split time between the two town parishes—Lawrenceton and Bloomsdale. Hoping to preserve one of few original structures left in town, the ladies bought the rectory, and moved in. In turn, the parish supplied them a tiny income to keep up the church. They attended every Sunday Mass, every wedding and Baptism. They were at church for each feast day, every saint day, and most importantly, Midnight Mass—they had overseen Christmas almost as long as Christ. READ MORE…