Friday, March 25, 2011

Do Unto Others ... Everybody Else Does

My brother, Jack, claims I stuck a pair of scissors into the back of his leg when we were kids. He said I threw them from across the room. On one hand, I have no recollection of the incident and can’t believe I was that stupid and cruel. On the other, the idea that – as a child – I could fling a pair of scissors across a room and hit a moving target is impressive. Maybe I missed my calling. I could have been a Ninja.

Barring that and other childhood follies I’ve mentally blocked, I consider myself to be a reasonable, courteous human being. I return my shopping carts; park between the lines, not over them; hold doors open for people behind me (and I know they’re there because I check); almost always tip 20%; pick up after my dog on the beach; turn off lights when I leave a room; replace the roll when it’s empty; and buy Girl Scout cookies from everyone who asks. Not that I’m perfect (heaven help the asshole who tailgates me on the freeway) or feel in any way superior doing it, I just feel better being nice. [Sidenote: I’d hoped to pass along some of that sense to my children, but it turns out leading by example only works on people who value your opinion (what does “Mom” know?). Imagine all the wisdom I’ve wasted!]

I know others like me are out there – and I thank you – but there are days when I feel the extra effort is not only wasted but given the finger. I follow someone into a convenience store and catch the door inches before it hits me in the face. I gesture to a pedestrian that it’s safe to cross in front of me and wait as she and her trailing children walk diagonally to the last car in the row. Handicapped spaces are full of discarded shopping carts. Ashtrays – some atop garbage cans – are full of garbage. Public restrooms are … well, I suppose I don’t have to tell you about those.

Granted, if everyone was nice, ALL the time, we’d have fewer people to laugh at. News anchors and bar bouncers would be out of a job. I wouldn’t have anything to bitch about leaving Costco (or Home Depot or Ross or Walgreen’s or…). But it would be cool if just a FEW more of us, just a LITTLE more often, chose to be courteous instead of self-centered. Spent a few more minutes a day smiling instead of pouting and complaining about the things they can’t/don’t have (or pissed away). Offered a friendly, sincere smile that said “Welcome” instead of “Get your shit and get out.” Took the time to wipe off the seat.

It’s hard not to be disappointed with the human condition. I know some spectacular event will eventually come along to lift my spirits and change my mind – like a visit from my brother (in 8 days!) or a cruise to Mexico with Gretchen Wilson, Rev Run, Carlos Mencia, and Kid Rock (in 13 days!) – but today, like too many others, I’m questioning the Golden Rule. If I’m so rarely treated as I treat others, what’s the point? And why ARE so many people clueless to courtesy, or just plain shitty? Is there a benefit to it that I missed? Is it more satisfying to steal candy from a baby than help an old lady cross the street? Is there a rush? Does Progressive give a discount for that?

Just a few of the many questions I’ll be pondering throughout my life … as I wait for the toll operator to hang up his phone …

Monday, March 7, 2011

CKR: March 2011

(continued from January - February 2011...)

MARCH 2011

“CKR” Diary Post No. 54
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
Another year, another concert… Next Tuesday, Scott and I will be heading back to the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood for our 4th (or is it 5th?) Kid Rock concert. We’re riding down with the neighbors and (hopefully) hooking up with a few other friends once we’re there (same friends who took a copy of CKR with them on the cruise last year). I don’t expect anything more exciting than a rock concert to happen, though it would be nice if something did…

“CKR” Diary Post No. 55
Monday, March 07, 2011
FINALLY! Back online in “real time”! Getting the Diary posted in its entirety took a few weeks, but it’s all here now in an easy-to-read format. Even have 8 followers already! Granted, that’s not exactly proof that I’m able to “cultivate an audience online,” but you’ve gotta start somewhere, right? And 8’s a great number, given it’s part of my favorite number, 28. Funny how those things follow you.

So far, I’ve heard nothing from either agent I queried last month. Not a shocker. If I’m still empty-handed in a couple weeks, I’ll send a letter to Kid Rock’s agent. Since they don’t accept unsolicited queries, I have to be sneaky. Rather than approach her with a book idea for ME, I’ll try to convince her it’s a great project for HIM. Whether I fail or succeed, at least I can say I tried.

[Sidenote: In case you’re wondering why I’m looking for an agent when I already have one, you might recall Tom is an entertainment attorney (among other things), not a literary agent. He took on the task a while back as a personal favor because the agent I was given for “Immortal Bonds” SUCKED ASS. He also thought he could help. Since then, nothing’s moved forward, so I’m starting from scratch.]

The BIG “Kid Rock Chillin’ the Most” cruise is only a month away! I can still remember the day tickets went on sale – I posted a “guilt trip” on my Facebook status, hoping peer pressure would convince Scott to go (it worked). He and I had to reluctantly pass on the first one last year as we’d just spent all our money (and sanity) buying a house. This time, though, I couldn’t resist – especially when I heard it was (a) close to my birthday and (b) departing from New Orleans. Anyone who knows me, even a little, is aware of my fondness for The Big Easy. It’s a city unlike any other. PLUS it comes with my best friend, Vicki, who lives only minutes away in Baton Rouge.

There IS one downside to the cruise, however: My brother, Jack, who’s NEVER been to Florida, is arriving with his wife and daughter on April 2 and leaving April 9. The cruise departs April 7. We’ve known about the conflict for a while, and we think we’ve found a solution (i.e., they can spend the last 2 days of their visit in Orlando), but it’ll be VERY hard to leave while Jack’s here. We’ve also been dragging our feet with respect to travel arrangements; I’d rather fly into New Orleans the morning of the cruise (2 hours), Scott’s thinking about driving up (14 hours!). We’ll get there, one way or another – WITH a fresh copy of CKR. Either way, I’m about out of my skin in anticipation.

But first we have the concert tomorrow night. We have general admission tickets, which means we’re on the floor. For me, that’s like a free pass to the front row. Scott, on the other hand, will likely protest any and all attempts on my part to get close to the stage. I’m hoping, if he drinks enough beer, he won’t notice. ;)

“CKR” Diary Post No. 56
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Our neighbors are awesome. Not only did they drive all the way to Fort Lauderdale, they got us french fries for the trip, introduced us to parts of the Hard Rock property we hadn’t seen before -- including the parking garage and a bitchin’ BBQ joint – AND showed us how to navigate the casino and find the hotel. We’d have been lost without them.

Our friends are awesome, too. They had a room for the night and invited us to a pre-concert party. There was a small issue with the exact room number, but, once we stepped off the elevator on their floor, the iPod was easy to find. Being Fat Tuesday, I brought everybody beads, and we passed around the Jack – which tastes best straight out’ the bottle. It was a perfect way to kick off the evening.

Then there’s my husband, who’s the awesomest. We stood some three people deep from the railing, maybe 15 feet from the end of the stage. Had the lights been brighter, I think we might have seen the blue in Kid Rock’s eyes. In the car on the way down, Scott and I picked songs we thought he’d open with. He chose “Don’t Stop Believin.” I guessed “American Badass.” We were both right.

The long-haired, redneck son of Detroit brought the strippers back for a song or two. That tickled me. The pyro blasts might have singed my hat, but they were really cool. He chastised people for throwing beads on the stage and, for those who didn’t like a particular song, he suggested they reserve judgement and wait a song or two, because the genre would change. Being short on one end, I didn’t have a good view of Jimmie, but Jason stood in front of us most of the time, Stefanie kicked some slipper-footed ass, Jessica wailed, and everybody sounded “on.” In short, they rocked the house. I was disappointed there was no encore, which – note to R.J.Ritchie – should have been “Rock ‘n’ Roll Jesus.” But the night was … well, awesome, and worth the bruises and hangover.

Photographic evidence is available on Facebook, though I took none of the pictures. I snapped one shot of the stage with my phone before the lights went off, just as a testament to being there. It was Scott’s 6th Kid Rock concert, my 5th. We’ve seen him from nearly every angle, but have never been that close. His energy is amazing. I can’t wait to meet him next month…

…it’s about damn time.

"CKR" Diary Post No. 57, or Why My Husband Rocks
Monday, March 28, 2011
My husband never intended to remodel a house … in two months. The idea, back in December, was to “update” the guest bed and bath before my brother and his family arrived. We had until April 2. Around Christmas, Scott started ripping out bathroom fixtures and came across some, shall we say, creative plumbing and electrical work. To get a better look, he removed a wall. Then another wall. And the suspended ceiling. With the framework exposed, the walls appeared to be free-standing, as in not attached to the roof. So Scott tore out a few more walls.

Behind the sink and toilet wall is the laundry/utility room/storage closet, where the new hot water heater was to be installed. Behind the shower wall are the bedroom closet and main dining area. By the time demolition ended, every interior wall on that side of the house was gone. Only a few hanging wires and lots of exposed fiberglass insulation remained as proof any of the rooms existed.

Scott grabbed a hammer and a few two-by-fours and – when he wasn’t at the office or jetting around the country – re-built the framework for the walls separating the bedroom, bathroom, closet, and utility room, then re-wired every light fixture, switch, and outlet; re-directed the plumbing to accommodate the new shower, sink, and hot water heater; hung drywall on all the walls and new, raised ceilings; sprayed knock-down on the bedroom, bathroom, and utility room walls; painted primer on the walls and ceilings in the bedroom, dining room, and down the hall; mixed concrete (with help from the fireman next door) and poured the contoured floor in the shower (it’s a multi-day process); and installed all but a few of the new light fixtures, switches, and outlets, including the ceiling fan and light in the bedroom, which he sorta had to do twice, but he says fans are always a bitch.

He’s had a little help. Our friend Billy, among other things, installed the hot water heater. I understand there’s a good story there, involving 40 or so gallons of water (disbursed at high speed all over the newly-knock-downed drywall), but it’s better when one of them tells it. The boy installed several of the electrical outlets, and he and his buddy (our “other son”) helped a bit with the framing. The teenager pitched in once or twice, though she’ll insist she contributed more. And I’ve done some things along the way, too, like dusting and painting and dusting and painting and dusting and … our neighbor and I even finished the exterior trimwork and painted the downstairs façade, facing the road. It looks awesome! (Sidenote: Scott says the jury’s out on the yellow front door upstairs. I love it. We’ll have to take a poll to see if it stays.)

This past Saturday, Scott and I tiled the shower. I measured and cut, he laid … from 10am to 9pm. Sunday – with help from the neighbors – the toilet, sink, floor, and door went in, and the girls finished priming the front balcony for paint. Scott flew out this morning to … um … (Ohio?) I forget, but he needs the rest. He’ll be home Wednesday night in time to lay grout. While he’s gone, I’ll finally be able to clean and clear a lot of the clutter and reclaim the house. Tools and materials are everywhere. Drywall and knock-down make an incredible mess. I refinished a chest of drawers that I can’t wait to get into the bedroom. The mattresses can be moved out of the living room and the bed set up. I’ve been furnishing and accessory shopping for the past few weeks and stowing things away in my office. With everything out, I can extend the bed and convert the space into a guest room for my niece.

Of course, none of this has anything to do with CKR, but it does explain why I won’t be writing or posting again until after my brother’s visit, and after we’ve returned (and recovered) from the Kid Rock cruise. It’s hard to type when you’re installing and hanging window treatments. I wouldn’t be sitting here now if it wasn’t raining (which I hope the gutter guy has noted – after a nasty car accident Friday morning, he and his team ran short on time and haven’t installed downspouts yet). The whole job won’t be finished before Jack gets here, but he’s already said he’d sleep in a tent in the yard, so whatever state it’s in won’t matter. He also said not to pamper him too much or he wouldn’t wanna leave. Hmmm… (1) This is the first time he and his family have visited Florida, (2) I only get home to Washington once a year or so, and rarely find more than a day or two (sometimes only a few hours) to hang with him, and (3) we haven’t shared five whole days together since we were kids. You know I’m turnin’ this place into Shangri-frickin-La.

Scott will have Thursday and Friday evenings (after work) to do last-minute stuff, like install shower and bathroom fixtures, caulk the tile and sink, and affix the bathroom door knob. His Mom and Dad are driving over from Sebring in the motor home to help with the final push. We’re hoping they bring Bailey – Rocko will be so excited! Saturday will be spent cleaning (seems it never ends). Jack and Co. arrive in West Palm around 5pm. I’m bringing them the scenic route home (partially to stall, partially to show them the area), then we’ll immediately open the first of many cold ones, light a fire, and officially kick off our five-day celebration (Happy Birthday to me!!). The party starts at eight.

I don’t know when Scott’s going to find time to cook.
(to be continued…)

CKR: Jan - Feb 2011

(continued from August - December 2010...)


No entries were posted this month


“CKR” Diary Post No. 49
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
The chapter numbers have changed again. Feeling inspired by a recent editing spree with DeSain (thanks, Gale!), I slashed and combined the first two chapters of CKR and entirely re-wrote the opening. At the risk of repeating myself, I think it’s MUCH better this time…

The knob was in my hand. I could have turned it, walked out, shut the conference room door, grabbed the legal pad off my desk, and hauled ass back to the motel room my wife had exiled me to. But, although leaving Alex alone with a pretty girl is like walking a small dog in the Everglades – stupid and dangerous to attempt, but entertaining to watch – leaving him at the station with a pretty reporter seemed a threat to my career. I had no choice.

I was thinking of changing Jimmy’s character from British to Australian, too. For personal reasons. But I like him the way he is, so I’ll go back and correct the few changes I’ve already made. Cuz fuck personal reasons; Jimmy was British going into this gig – unless I’m told different, I think he oughtta come out the same way.

It’s no secret I’ve been stalled lately in both promoting CKR and writing DeSain. But I recently took on the task of helping a friend with her first novel. The exercise and energy have been good for my mojo. I’ve been producing material, moving forward, for a couple weeks now. Last night, with Scott in his new territory of Ohio, I wrote in the office ‘til one a.m., set up the trundle bed next to Rocko’s bed, then woke up, ready to write, at eight. It feels great to be spurred on. For a while, I couldn’t chisel out the time between the house and kids and dog to write. When I did, the task seemed like drudgery. To be excited about writing again is…well, exciting.

Aside from looking forward to the concert in Hollywood on March 8 (only a month away?!) and the cruise that boards April 7, there’s not much Kid Rock news to report. He’s still in the dark as far as I know with respect to the manuscript. I have a lead, though: a woman in Virginia wrote his biography and got his attention. Hopefully, she can suggest a contact. Now that the ms has changed (again), I’d like him to have the new, improved one.

I’m also going to start seriously submitting to agents. That’s something else that inspired the re-write. Leaving CKR to gather dust in the closet is contributing to my high blood pressure. Even if I get rejected, at least I’ll feel like I’m doing something. Waiting for Kid Rock to show up with a pen has so far, as a strategy for success, earned itself a check in the “NO RESULTS” column. If that changes, I’ll let you know...

Post Script, Wednesday, February 02, 2011: You know that tingly, nervous, anxious sensation you get during a scary movie, just before you know something’s about to happen? What does it mean when that same sensation creeps up on you in “real life”? Could it be a sign? Or a warning? I remember sightseeing once, while on a business trip at the Homestead Resort in Virginia, and driving past a beautiful gorge and waterfall. Camera in hand, I pulled over and started walking down the steep, winding path and was suddenly overcome with fear. For over an hour, I’d been driving around taking pictures of the landscape. I’d stopped the car and explored a dozen locations, including a cemetery. Wanting to get a closer look at the waterfall, I tried to brush off my anxiety. Every step closer made me feel more and more like throwing up. I finally had to turn around. My heart was pounding, my skin tacky with sweat, and my chest heavy. I was literally, though irrationally, terrified. Once back in the car, I felt better immediately – except I was pissed I hadn’t gotten the photo.

I have no idea why I couldn’t walk down that path. All I know is that “something” didn’t want me to. Maybe my senses guessed the climb was too dangerous in those shoes. Or that the ravine was a former (future?) crime scene. Having heard nothing about the place, before or since, all I can do is speculate. Whatever the reason, my body reacted to the energy there and sent me what I interpreted as an unmistakable message: Get the fuck out.

That same nervous, anxious chill hit me this morning while I was typing the Diary entry you just read. In fact, I’ve experienced it a lot with regard to this book. It’s accompanied nearly every Diary entry, including the introduction on the original site. At every Pens meeting I brought chapters to I got goosebumps. While doing Internet research, drafting emails, or writing blog posts dealing with CKR, I regularly feel light-headed and tingly. I’m actually feeling it right now. I’ve come to expect it. What’s funny is, until today, I hadn’t really noticed.

Here’s what I think: In February 2006, I interpreted the feeling as a warning, like I did in Virginia. It would explain why I fought the idea of the book so hard. Why would I pursue a project that made me almost literally sick whenever I thought about it? Thing was, in Virginia, moving forward made me feel WORSE; with CKR, moving forward makes me feel BETTER. Same sensation, different trigger. Think of it like anxious versus eager (aka murder trial vs. christmas morning), or tears of sadness versus tears of joy.

How I came to this theory began with a search for potential agents on Preditors & Editors (dot-com). Scanning names and genre preferences, while experiencing that familiar tingle running and up down my spine, I got a wild hair and jumped forward to check out my agent for IB, who was suggested by my publisher. Reading the words “Conflict of interest” and “Not recommended” made my heart flutter. Then I read my publisher’s listing: “Strongly not recommended...1/16/07: P&E has received numerous complaints about this publisher.”

I wasn’t surprised by the strong sense of loathing that engulfed me or that it reminded me of how I felt descending that path in Virginia. But I WAS surprised to notice that it felt an awful lot like the sensation I’d been experiencing immediately before I looked up Barbara Casey and ArcheBooks. Without the second, I might never have noticed the first. What made it enlightening was that, although the two sensations were similar, their messages were completely different: one felt like GO, the other like STOP.

Though I’ve shared this thinking you’d get a kick out of it, its significance has more to do with my morale than anything else. The few times I’ve noticed any butterflies-in-the-tummy thing, I’ve blown it off as guilt – so many people told me CKR was a waste of my time, working on it became a guilty pleasure. As a result, despite consistently believing in it, I’ve treated it like a forbidden fruit and been ashamed to admit I’ve worked on it. Now, I understand the butterflies are simply my body reacting to energy and sending a message. I just wish I knew what the damn thing was…

“CKR” Diary Post No. 50
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
A letter from our mortgage company, stating our payments were going up $500 a month in response to unreasonable insurance rates, prompted me to stop stalling and get an agent query out. I’ve gotta make some money. Artists & Artisans, Inc., say they’ll respond quickly if they like the project, not at all if they don’t. Let’s hope my inbox starts humming soon…

“CKR” Diary Post No. 51
Friday, February 11, 2011
Wasn’t going to query more than one agent at a time (it’s common, but – I think – rude), but saw someone’s bio and couldn’t help myself. Based on what I’ve read on agent sites, I’ll be hearing from these people in 20 minutes to 3 months. Tick…tick…tick…

“CKR” Diary Post No. 52
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Posted the first four months’ worth of entries on yesterday. In my search for agents, which consists of a lot of website scouring, I found a lot of material on “how to” and “how not to” get their attention. A couple of people stated they’re extremely interested in bloggers, specifically good writers who’ve learned to cultivate an audience online. I thought, “Hey, I can do that!” I also thought, if an agent happened to like the idea of posting a journal about a book to generate interest in the book, I’d rather not direct him/her to MySpace and FreeWebSpace and say, “It’s all there - figure it out!”

The plan is to post all 65, single-spaced pages of the Diary to, possibly prior to the Kid Rock Cruise on April 7. That’s roughly a month and a half. After the cruise, I’m seriously hoping this ride takes a new direction. With all posts situated online, in an orderly fashion, I’ll be able to start clean from there and share in real time again.

“CKR” Diary Post No. 53
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Our neighbors dropped by last night with a program from a friend’s retirement party. The retiree was a fireman, as is our neighbor. On the back cover was the story of the firefighters’ red, eight-pointed cross and the history of firefighting, in general. It seems their roots began with the crusades and the Knights of St. John the Hospitaller, otherwise known as the Knights of Malta. Hence, the Maltese cross. (What are the odds?)

Guess you could say we have a knight next door. I find that comforting.

His wife (whose name, as I've mentioned, happens to be Ted’s pet name for Kate in CKR) had a great suggestion for creating a buzz about the book: Have two hotties walk around an event wearing t-shirts that say “CKR.” Provide them little or no information, just let them draw attention and make people wonder. It’s a great idea for the 500, but I don’t think the conflict of interest would be beneficial to Scott’s career. Plus, I Googled CKR and got a string of sites that have nothing to do with Kid Rock or the book, making the context of the 500 too broad to be effective.

On the other hand, I Googled Kid Rock and CKR and a few links to the Diary popped up. That makes it a fabulous idea for the concert and the cruise. Problem is, I couldn’t bring myself to ask strangers to “wear my t-shirt,” whether I could pay them for it or not. And I couldn’t do it, myself; I’d feel like a walking business card. Then there’s the question of whether Scott would even let me do it. He certainly wouldn’t join me if I did. Oh, the trials and tribulations…

I did come across a bit of what could be good news in the quest for an agent. While checking into contact information for Kid Rock this morning, I found his talent agent is based in Los Angeles at an entertainment and LITERARY agency…


The odds that what Wikipedia reports as being “the leading talent agency” will represent me are beyond slim (look up Creative Artists Agency and see for yourself). I’d be lucky if they read my query letter. Luckier still if they answered it. A foot in the door—like a recommendation from an existing client—would certainly help. Anyone know how to get in touch with Brad Pitt, George Clooney, or Oprah?

(to be continued...)

Because I Miss You

Robin Stuckert was a musician. His hero was Neil Young. His music a mixture of bluegrass and folk. I wouldn’t call him tall, but he was taller than me, and much – too much – smaller framed. His humor was dry and witty, sculpted by years as a host of old-school talk radio. He loved books, particularly old, historic ones, and vinyl LPs and The Love Doctors and coffee with a touch of honey and milk. He especially enjoyed sitting with good friends on the couch, listening to records, chain smoking, talking about nothing, and swapping ideas about the universe and karma and why success changes people. It was one of the things I loved most about him.

His talent and intellect went largely unnoticed and unappreciated, but I don’t think he cared, though it seemed to make things harder on him. He rented a house on the street adjacent to the art museum where he and I worked. Whenever the band practiced, the night usually turned into a block party of sorts. Sometimes I wrestled myself away from the kids and the husband, sometimes the husband came along. Robin played drums on a song or two, but Muscadine Wine was essentially comprised of three guitar-banjo-mandolin-bass players, an occasional keyboard player, and periodic “guests” on bongos, tambourines, and what not. There was always a house full of warm, down-home people. It was a good time.

He’d come from parts of Ohio that still idolized and admired John Chapman, a man the rest of us remember, if we remember him at all, as Johnny Appleseed. In addition to the hours Robin and I spent talking about talk radio and free speech and vampires and how I could bring comedy to an otherwise serious novel, he told me stories about John Chapman and how the things he’d done had changed the course of the country. With his apple orchards, he’d not only spread goodwill, he’d sprinkled the countryside with the main ingredient for the settlers’ beverage of choice: cider. Yes, the “good” kind. He also helped establish towns that eventually became cities, banded people together in times of war with restless natives, and shared wealth and knowledge to all who came in contact with him. In essence, he spread love. Whether Robin consciously strived to be like Chapman, or Neil Young, or John Lennon, it was a vibe I always got from him. Love. Peace. Hope. That was another thing I loved about him.

Robin had heart and lung trouble in 2007, the year I spent in my own hell with kids and book signings and family issues. We talked as much as we could. Another friend and I went to see him shortly after he was released from the hospital in early 2008. I sat across from him at the table, but, even at that distance, he said the cigarette smell on our clothes made it hard to breathe. We didn’t stay long. It was agony saying goodbye, for all of us. I saw him once more after that, heading south near Congress and the airport. He was driving his van. We waved and gestured that we’d call. A couple days later, he collapsed, and the world lost a friend.

To be accepted for all my flaws is all I’ve ever hoped to gain from this life. Robin offered that to me in spades. I never felt threatened or judged, only embraced and understood. When you come across someone who touches you like that, they stay with you. It’s been three years, and I still forget sometimes that I can’t just pop in on a Monday morning like I used to and pour a cup of coffee and sit and laugh at The Love Doctors and talk about how, when we make a lot of money, we’re going to give it away to schools or public radio. I really miss that. I really miss him.

Someday I hope to write the screenplay for the movie Robin always wanted to make about Johnny Appleseed. I took notes. Until then, this small, overdue, virtual remembrance will have to carry forth his message. It’s not nearly enough, but Robin would understand. I think he’d even blush. And give me a big hug. Then he’d pour another cup of coffee, turn on the radio, light one up, and smile…

CKR: Jun - Dec 2010

(continued from January - May 2010...)


No entries were posted these months


“CKR” Diary Post No. 48
Thursday, September 02, 2010
When I booked our summer trip to Malta (and Italy, to celebrate our 20th Anniversary), sometime last spring, my intentions (and I think Scott’s wishes) for the break were to wash myself clean of CKR and fully immerse my psyche in the Sixteenth Century, specifically the childhood world of Moncado LaCassiere DeSain. Yes, I can submit CKR to another publisher since, as I was informed in an email I read just after our vacation, Two Dollar Radio Publishing isn’t interested. But I’ll get to it. Eventually. For now, for the sake of my family and in the best interests of my fragile, easily-distracted mind, I need to let CKR go. For a while. Maybe a long while. It (apparently, hopefully) made it into Bob Ritchie’s hands—the best place for it to be—whatever will happen will happen, and I can’t sit on my ass waiting for it. Last spring, I knew I needed to distance myself. Malta, a tiny archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea located just off the southern tip of Sicily, seemed like the perfect place to do that.

Two weeks before we left, I saw status updates on Facebook announcing Kid Rock was in Malta. I refused to believe it. The next day, there was a picture posted of him standing on the docks at the Msida Marina. Of all the ports on all the rocks in all the oceans…Malta? Having given up the “coincidence” theory long ago (sometime after the concert Josh and Chris were at/in when we all made the list, but no one got into the after-party, but before we knew about Katie – and Emily – next door), I took it as a sign. I just wasn’t sure if it was meant as an approval, saying I was right to go to Malta and, thusly, work on the DeSain book, or as a distress signal, alerting me not to let Malta get in the way of CKR. That’s the trouble with signs, they can be interpreted in as many ways as imagination allows. Especially when the plot thickens…

On a two-hour stroll around Malta’s northern harbor, starting from the tip of the Sliema peninsula, Scott and I, inadvertently, walked by the Msida Marina. Stopped and ate, too. I don’t think he was aware of the…coincidence. I brushed it off; it’s a small island (world), after all. Around midnight, aching and sweaty from ending our leisurely stroll with a grueling hike up a long, merciless incline, our hotel finally came into view. Approaching the crosswalk at the end of the block, four sheets of paper, taped to the chain-link, privacy fence running along the sidewalk, caught our eye. We stopped to read them. DRESSING ROOMS, complete with directional arrow, was printed in big, bold letters on the middle sheet. Above it, and barely visible until we stood directly in front of it, were the words KID ROCK. We’d stumbled onto the two-week-old remnants of an MTV concert venue. After a day of pretending to each other we weren’t curious as hell to know, Scott finally asked someone at the front desk if Kid Rock had stayed in our hotel. The clerk said he had, two weeks earlier. He’d checked Rock in, himself.

Of all the hotels on all the rocks in all the Mediterranean…

Undaunted by what I’ll admit started to feel like a purposeful attack on my concentration, I dove into DeSAIN shortly after our vacation ended. Skimming over my character sheet one morning, I decided I didn’t like Raffaello Balzo as Moncado, a decision I’d made a few weeks earlier. Instead, I moved the Italian actor’s picture to the yet-to-be-named, best friend-slash-cousin character, and went to to check out Talbot from TRUE BLOOD as a possibility for my main man. He’s older than I’d like, but not much, and his look is exactly how I’d pictured the young version of IB’s villain. In order to Google him, though, I needed his name, which HBO helped me with. Turns out, the actor who plays Talbot—fabulously, I must add—is Theo Alexander.

Now, I get that two out of three, though a majority, still means you’re holding a losing ticket, so, like the rest of these mental distractions, I’m not giving much weight to the connection-slash-“coincidence” involving DeSAIN and CKR. Don’t get me wrong, had the guy’s name been Theo J. Alexander, I might have shit myself. But this? Barely a blip on the radar. So the guy playing the title role in my new book has the same name as two of the title characters from my last one. So what? It’s a small world (island) and blah, blah, blah. Right? Besides, given HBO’s (seemingly unending, persistent) tendency to steal my ideas*, it’s more of a shock these things don’t happen more often.

But I hope they don’t. Seriously. To be honest, if I didn’t know better, I’d think the Gods were screwing with me. It’s like I’m on some fourth-dimensional Kid Rock mailing list, maybe one I automatically enrolled in when I signed on—against my will, I’ll remind you—to write the book. When I least expect it, POOF! Kid Rock shows up in my cosmic in-box. Not that it’s a bad thing. It’s just that…I mean...come on. Aren’t the mood swings, hot flashes, and run-ins with the teenage daughter entertaining enough to watch from those lofty heights? I’d really like to get back to work.

* No, HBO doesn’t actually, literally “steal” my ideas. We do, however, seem to be drinking the same Kool-Aid.


No entries were posted these months

(to be continued...)

CKR: January - May 2010

(continued from October - December 2009...)


No entries were posted these months

APRIL 2010

“CKR” Diary Post No. 46
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Well, Kid Rock’s Chillin’ the Most Cruise #1 sets sail this afternoon from the Port of Tampa, just a few hours’ drive from here. Unfortunately, I’m not on it. BUT, thanks to our new neighbor who introduced me to a friend who’s as crazy about the K-I-D as I am, a hard copy of CKR is (go, Kathleen!!). For what it’s worth, she’s going to attempt to place the 3-ring binder in someone’s hands…ANYone’s hands. Or at least talk endless shit about it. On a cruise ship, you’d think you’d have enough of a captive audience for word to get around - like an infectious game of telephone. I just hope, by the time news reaches where it needs to, the story lives up to the hype.

Ah, hell. Who am I kidding?

And, speaking of rocking, have I mentioned our new, next-door neighbor’s name is Katie? I was showing her what a 90,000-word manuscript looks like last week when she happened to notice some of the dialogue. Until that moment, it had completely slipped my mind that Ted Seever often calls his wife Katie. Oh, and Katie’s friend, Kathleen, also told me the other day that Kid Rock’s parents live in Jupiter…which, as of May 29, 2009, is also where I live. Could this journey possibly have any more coincidences? I mean, seriously.

Progress on anything – be it creation or promotion – has slowed considerably these days, given that (because mowing two acres, tending a garden, watering countless plants, maintaining a pool, and taking care of a 5-year-old black lab we “inherited” a couple months ago weren’t keeping me busy enough) we’ve brought home our very first puppy. He’s a chocolate lab whose full name is Rockford P. Beauregard Sampson-Scovill, but we call him Rocko. He is the epitome of adorable. As a cat person, I’m finally beginning to understand why people get so attached to their big, stupid mutts. I LOVE this little dog!

Rocko and Bailey are sleeping peacefully in the man room right now, which is why I’m able to be here, typing, instead of out there, playing in the yard, and why I’m soon headed to the couch for an hour or so. I wish I could write more, and more often, but my life is full…and satisfying…and happy. To want more would be selfish – not to mention masochistic, how on earth could I handle MORE?

“CKR” Diary Post No. 47
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Last Sunday, I was sitting by the pool, watching Scott prep the back house for the new deck while the puppy hovered beneath the ladder (I assume in the hopes the occasional falling nail would turn into kibble) and listening to my daughter’s boyfriend tell me some story about his sister or mom or something, when I thought I’d better check my phone to make sure it was still on; it hasn’t worked right since that “accidental” swimming thing, and I was quietly hoping someone would take pity and surprise me with an invite for an at-home, deep-tissue massage (I would have settled for a Valium…or a nap). Turns out I’d missed three text messages from Kathleen, beginning with this one (and I quote):

“Ur script is on it’s way to Stephenie biotch!!!!!”

I had to excuse myself and run upstairs to take a shot of Jack, so I wouldn’t pass out from hyperventilation.

Now, I haven’t heard the details yet, but – if it’s true – CKR might finally have gotten somewhere. The cruise was over on Monday, so I don’t expect to hear from anyone for a while. Even Kathleen and her partner, Sherri, are still recuperating. I realize, too, that it’s very likely no one will EVER contact me. The manuscript is bulky and intimidating at first glance, and Kid Rock and his posse no doubt have other things to do. But it’s impossible not to hope this is the break I needed (and I would appreciate everyone keeping their “I’ve heard this before” comments to themselves…for now – I’ve had a rough week and am currently enjoying the thoughts of sugar canes dancing in my head).

The only other little tidbit I have to pass along is that we finally got the sweet potatoes we ordered from Park Seeds back in January. The bulbs arrived Tuesday, carefully bunched and rubber-banded, along with a blue slip of paper identifying their specific type…which just happens to be BEAUREGARD.

And with that, I’m off to play with the puppy and return you to your original programming…

(to be continued...)

CKR: Oct - Dec 2009

(continued from August - September 2009...)


“CKR” Diary Post No. 45
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Been skimming over earlier Diary entries today. Damn this project’s taking a long time! (Wonder how many times I’ve written that?) Life has changed so much. My daughter was only 12 when I started CKR (she’s almost 16 now). My son was nearly 20, living down the road from home, and blissfully ignorant of his future in the U.S. Army. Scott hadn’t read anything by David McCullough (or anyone else) yet. We lived in a townhouse and had an entirely different set of friends. IB was finished and sold, but hadn’t been printed. I had a writers’ group.

Three Daytona 500s have been run, beginning with the race that started it all. I got so tired of worrying about changing the book every time there was a 500 that I finally made one up, fictitious winner and all. Disney’s Pleasure Island has closed, too. I set several scenes there that I would be very sad to lose, so, instead of moving venues, I edited narrative and switched the story from present day to recent past. Countless references (gas prices, politics) became irrelevant and had to be tweaked. The longer it takes to finish, the more the world moves on.

Kid Rock’s released two albums since February 2006. I’ve seen him in concert three times. He’s changed managers, launched a clothing line, and is getting ready to debut his own brand of beer. (Yes, beer – Bad Ass, to be specific.) I was hoping he might be interested in dipping his wick into the literary market, too, by endorsing the book I’ve been working on for the past three and a half fucking years. Thought he’d even get a little excited about making a film. Turns out he’s got better things to do. According to his manager, anyway. After leaving several messages, Tom finally got through this past Monday. The response wasn’t encouraging.

I suppose I shouldn’t have expected anything different. The number of people trying to lay their hands on Kid Rock can’t be a small one. And, of all those phone calls and emails and text messages and MySpace/Facebook/Twitter updates a business manager has to wade through, what percentage of the requests do you think come from desperate fans, stalkers, and snake oil salesmen? How many get any real attention?

I’m very grateful to Tom for bullying his way in on my behalf. The answer wasn’t the one I wanted, but it was an answer. Since I’d always planned on proceeding with or without the endorsement of the man who inspired all this anxiety, I submitted the manuscript to its first prospective publisher this morning. Horror stories abound for this part of the process. Waiting for a reply can take months, sometimes years, and what comes back is almost always an impersonal form letter (sometimes a skewed, faded copy of one) that graciously says NO. Then you submit the manuscript somewhere else and wait some more.

The road to literary success is no different than any other road: littered with obstacles and overflowing with people who shouldn’t be there. I’m glad Tom’s in my corner and that, like me, he’s not giving up. He continues to search for a screenwriter who’ll adapt the book for film, and his encounter with Kid Rock’s manager left him convinced the only way to get the man’s attention is to get to “the man,” himself. I’m leaving that hurdle up to Tom…well, and anyone else in a position to help. If that happens to be you, I’ll be eternally grateful.

However, while I wait for fame and fortune to descend on their own, I figured I’d start work on my third novel, DeSAIN. Just in case. No doubt I’ll mention its progress on the blog and elsewhere periodically, but I will NOT be creating another diary, so don’t ask (or worry). It’s time-consuming. I also expect the process of writing DeSAIN to unfold basically the same way it did with the first two: amid hurricanes and tragedy, celebrations and joy. As Scott continually reminds me, it’s what we call Life. It won’t stop for love or money or poetry, so I can’t expect it to stop for the crazy shit I come up with.

Stay tuned…


No entries were posted these months

(to be continued...)

CKR: Aug - Sep 2009

(continued from March - July 2009...)


No entries were posted this month


“CKR” Diary Post No. 42
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
BIG mistake!!

Somehow, throughout the chaos of 2007, the recovery of 2008, and the mind-boggling move of 2009, I missed that Kid Rock’s manager resigned, retired, and got replaced. No wonder my agent’s attempts to contact him have failed – we’ve been barking up the wrong goddamn tree!

Granted, I don’t exactly hold my finger on the pulse of the American music industry (to be honest, I wouldn’t even know where to put my finger), but you’d think I’d have thought to consult “the Google” once or twice between now and October of two-thousand-fucking-seven, just to make sure the management company we were attempting to reach was the right fucking one. The instant I confirmed (which took all of about 5 to 10 seconds online), I emailed the updated info to Tom. Maybe we’ll finally get somewhere now.

I feel like such a dumbass.

Oh, well - the renewed prospects of making contact have at least inspired me to get back on my ass and work. Everything happens for a reason, right?

On a more festive note, we’ve finally set a date for the housewarming party. Yes, we’re aware it’ll be four months after our move in. Scott wanted to finish at least part of the deck off the main house before we invited large groups of people over. We’ve got tons more to do, but the place is coming along great. We’re excited to share it with our friends. I’m especially tickled for the opportunity to show off my office; Scott’s nearly done with the remodel and the place looks (and smells) fantastic! When I get a minute, I’ll upload a photo or two.

In the meantime, I’m gonna get back to that book thing I’ve been working on for-whatseemslike-ever. It’d be nice to have a completely clean, totally perfect final draft to pass along to the K-I-D if (when) he asks. And, if (when) we do manage to score a meeting with him, it’d probably be a good idea to color my hair…

“CKR” Diary Post No. 43
Monday, September 14, 2009
It’s amazing how quickly things happen when you dial the correct phone number.

Tom called tonight and said he’d made contact with Rock’s new management company. He spoke to an assistant. Someone’s (supposedly) calling him back to discuss specifics. If not for the dentist appointment I have mid-morning, I’d plan to wake up early, open the manuscript, and get back to the business of correcting the few remaining typos, so we’d have a finished product to pass along. Unfortunately, it’ll have to wait.


I’ve been accused of making excuses and mismanaging my time. Some believe I’ve had writers’ block. There was, indeed, a point during this 3- (now almost 4-) year process when I felt I was subconsciously stalling, specifically to avoid the conversation I knew I’d have with my husband after he read the manuscript (remember, the theme of this book isn’t exactly “monogamy equals happiness”). But that time has long passed. I truly WANT to get this project off my desk and move on to the next one. Scott’s so sick of talking about it his eyes glaze over at the slightest mention of “the book.” Yes, I’m excited about possibly meeting and maybe even working with Kid Rock, and a movie would be cool. But, given that I’ve persevered through some very dark moments while penning this story, simply seeing it in print will be a tremendous joy. Make that relief.

I hope your fingers are still crossed….

P.S. Shortly after typing this – maybe two hours or so – I was 20 pages into edits and feeling in the zone when my eye started blurring. One glance in the mirror freaked me out; the pupil in my right eye had dilated to nearly the size of my iris. A few minutes on the Internet convinced me I had no other choice but to visit the ER. Three hours, one CT scan, and a $150 co-pay later, I was sent home with antibiotics, steroids, and Flonase and the news that I had one rip-roarer of a sinus infection. What caused the dilated or “blown” pupil was the nose spray I’d been using to combat congestion. The eye surgery I had last year left me with a larger drainage duct than most people and, probably when I sneezed, a bit of the nose spray got into my eye through the duct. My question is: Would the interruption be considered an excuse? Or simply mismanaged time?  :)

“CKR” Diary Post No. 44
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Yesterday, I stopped working on page 244 out of 312. Today, I re-read The End. Karen’s edits are finished, the manuscript is clean, and it’s no longer a lie when I say the book is done.

It’s really, really done.

Next week I can start shopping it around, unless I hear otherwise from Tom. A tip of the hat from Kid Rock would help big in the department of scoring a good publisher. I’m just not sure if I should wait for the tip or start sending it out now.

(to be continued...)

CKR: March - July 2009

(continued from January - February 2009...)

MARCH 2009

“CKR” Diary Post No. 40
Friday, March 20, 2009
Kid Rock’s playing with Lynyrd Skynyrd down the road from here in June. Tom wants to set up a meeting. My job between now and then is to finalize (for real) the ms, come up with a hook and a pitch to convince him to jump on board, and not let buying a house, moving, counseling, and/or Casey’s hormones get in the way.

I’ll let you know how that works out.

Post Script, 7/8/09: It didn’t work out. Borrowing money to buy a house from owners reluctant to sell while selling the place you live in while you’re living in it is harder than it sounds.


No entries were posted these months

JULY 2009

“CKR” Diary Post No 41, or Transmitting from the New Lair
Monday, July 06, 2009
Tom didn’t get us the meeting with Rock. But the West Palm concert was good. His best so far. Skynyrd opened. Scott and I drove to St. Pete Beach the following morning for Brandon High’s 25th Reunion, passing between the Tampa Amphitheatre and the Hard Rock hotel on I-4 about mid-day. The billboard flashed an ad for the Rock/Skynyrd show taking place that night. I felt a sense of déjà vu.

I’m not faulting Tom for missing the opportunity to pitch Rock. Since my last Diary entry, I haven’t done a thing to further this book. Or my writing career. Instead, we sold our townhouse (had 4 offers in under 2 weeks), bought a 1.8-acre slice of The American Dream, moved a decade and a half of memories and other shit we’d accumulated via POD and Uhaul from points A, B, and C to a destination some 20-plus miles north of where we’ve called home for 15 years, and have settled into an existence largely consumed by pool maintenance and mosquito warfare.

All of June was spent unpacking boxes, acquiring tools and equipment, servicing and/or (but most often and) repairing and/or replacing well water and pool filtering systems, emptying the septic tank, learning to operate a riding lawnmower, building a perimeter fence, and coming to terms with our new reality. Our pool has the same dimensions as our townhouse patio. We used to sit for hours and chat, surrounded by abundant and familiar greenery. Now the plants we used to think we had too many of sit dwarfed in a vast sea of oaks, pines, mossy cypress, cabbage palms, citrus trees, and too many bushes, vines, blooms, berries, and nuts to count.

Believe it or not, I haven’t missed hearing neighbors’ car doors slam at all hours of the night at all.

We worried every day that it might not happen. In the end – once the lender, realtors, and accoutrements stopped calling and demanding things and we no longer felt we had to will the deal to go through – we closed on the townhouse in Lake Worth in the morning and closed on the new house in Palm Beach Gardens later that afternoon. That was Friday, May 29. Sunlight has (both literally and figuratively) streamed in through our bedroom windows every morning since.

I like to sip my coffee by the side of the pool and just…watch. Most days the bulk of Wild Kingdom activity is attributed to the squirrels running up, down, and around the trees and bounding through the grass. A peacock visited us almost daily the first few weeks. We named him Charlie, and he liked the critter food I set out for the birds and squirrels. Cardinals, blue jays, and what I think are mockingbirds seem to appreciate the bird feeder on the grapefruit tree. A hawk regularly sits atop a high branch on a tall pine tree along the west fence to eat its prey. One day I saw a black snake take out a frog mid-hop. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but it’s beautiful here. Like camping every day.

Scott especially likes that he can pee in the yard.

With the boxes now all unpacked, and despite the gnawing draw of the flora and fauna, I’m feeling the pull to write. On my Facebook status, I called it nesting. One of the more appealing attributes of this property was that it had a guest house: an entirely separate, two-story, two-bedroom, two-bath house. For me, that meant office space outside my living space. A commute that required I exit the house. Hell, the bedroom. I’ve been putting off moving in and getting attached because (a) Christopher was thinking of coming home for a couple of weeks and we thought it best for all involved that he not stay in the main house and (b) why settle in to a place in July when it’ll likely be a construction zone for the better part of August? But Chris isn’t coming ‘til fall, now, and I can’t wait another day to write another word.

So here I am.


To offer a perspective of where I’m coming to you from, the back house sits just across the pool from the main house. The ground floor consists of two carports, separated by a 500ish-square-foot, two-room, wall-unit air-conditioned Man Room (I don’t think the term “shed” does it justice). That’s where all the power tools are. The living space is all on the second floor. It’s built on pillars and has a deck along the entire north side, overlooking the canal. Scott’s sister is coming to stay with us for a while, so she’ll have most of the deck and house, including the larger bedroom and bath. The other bedroom, however, in the southeast corner, facing the main house and pool to the south, canal to the north, is my new writing space. My office. My lair.

It smells like Hell and a thousand enchiladas right now, but that’ll improve with the remodel (and time). For now, the perceived isolation and view out my 6-foot, sliding glass door of a window are worth enduring whatever amount of incense I have to burn to kill the smell. The kitten’s curled up on her box in front of the south window, and the daughter’s outside doing her chores. The sun is shining. The shade trees are swaying. Butterflies are fluttering by. Running alongside the vine-covered fence line, the canal could easily be imagined as the branch of a wandering creek, the towering pines and scrub brush beyond as the outer edges of a grand forest. Given the time.

Hmmm. Anybody else need a beer?

Which reminds me - to mark the occasion of my first writing session in the…the…I’ve gotta come up with a name for this place… I brought up a six-pack and a camera, so I could maybe write more colorfully and share the day with you. I’d be sharing with my husband, too, if I could. None of this bliss would be possible without him. Then again, I suppose that would defeat the purpose of celebrating my newfound solitude – and, therefore, my ability to write. He’s in North Dakota, anyway, bound for Des Moines this afternoon. But he IS with me in spirit. Every day.

And he knows I’ll drink one (or two) for him.

Dear reader – wherever you are - I hope you know I’ll knock a couple back for you, too.  :)

(to be continued...)