Monday, January 14, 2013

Top 10 Best Moments

Inspired by our dear friend, Cathy, and her entertaining “Top Ten” (especially love the Big Wheel), I’ve been considering my own best moments in life. It’s been a good exercise, to help remind me where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. I didn’t include obvious things like the day Scott proposed (which was pretty cool), our wedding, the birth of my kids, or the day we brought home our first dog. Buying our house isn’t here, either, though this place has continually boosted my spirit. Specifically, I tried to pinpoint moments of pure joy, when my heart felt as full as it could be. Beginning with one of my earliest memories, and progressing mostly chronologically from there, I humbly give you my Top 10…

1. Singing, “Jeremiah was a bullfrog,” in my grandparents’ rec room. I was very young, maybe six or nine, and all the family had finished dinner and gathered to watch the show. I clutched the microphone that attached to my mom’s cassette recorder, the shades were drawn, and Grandpa spotlighted me with a flashlight. Beyond the obvious, I couldn’t have had any idea what the words in “Joy to the World” meant. I’ve found they fit me pretty well today.

2. Winning a bike in the egg drop contest in fifth grade rocked, but there was a better moment a few years later: The day in 1978 when the winner of Grand Mound Middle School’s Presidential race was announced on the school’s PA system. We were sitting in homeroom (I think). In my opinion, the other candidates were smarter and/or more popular, and a girl had never before been elected as school president. I couldn’t believe I won.

3. Driving my first car – alone – to my first job. What a rush! Got a speeding ticket on the maiden voyage. When the officer first approached the driver’s side window, I apologized and told him it was a habit. My mom got a lot of miles out of that story. Knowing it always amused her long ago made up for the embarrassment.

4. Standing in the ruins of the Temple of Apollo in Pompeii, Italy, beneath the watchful eye of Mount Vesuvius. Beyond saying it was surreal, I shouldn’t have to further explain this one.

5. Sitting on a wrought-iron park bench in Jackson Square, at the heart of the French Quarter, with a Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane in my hand, on my birthday. I’d left my daughter and her friend in the pizza place and took a short stroll around the square. Since the first breath I drew there in 1993, on a day trip with my parents and grandfather, New Orleans has been a special place for me. Might sound cheesy, but the energy there restores my soul. It was a couple years after Katrina. The streets around the square, normally full of sidewalk vendors and starving musicians, were painfully empty. A few days later, I mistakenly drove through a particularly devastating stretch of I-10 and sobbed for almost an hour. But, on my birthday, and despite the quiet streets, I felt hope for New Orleans. The Crescent City will never be the same, but her light shines on.

6. Watching my son graduate from boot camp. Fort Sill, Lawton, Oklahoma. Scott and I drove there from West Palm Beach. We’d had so much trouble with him for so many years. The event was a milestone for all of us. I wanted Chris to see proud smiles, not tears, so I kept the emotions in check. After the ceremony, on our drive back to the hotel, I had to pull over and cry.

7. Christmas morning, when Casey was about three or four. She got an Easy Bake Oven. After dinner, she baked a cake and insisted everyone – all 10 of us – share in her bounty. On large paper plates, she commenced to distribute the tiniest slivers of frosted chocolate cake to each one of us. We laughed for days. Actually, I suppose we’re still laughing.

8. Typing “The End.” Can’t say the feeling was better with either the first book or the second. Following a crude, mostly biographical (and totally lame) attempt at writing a book, IMMORTAL BONDS became my first, real, fully fictional, 90,000-word novel. My family and I sacrificed a great deal on that year-and-a-half learning curve. Somewhere in the middle, I actually had to set the manuscript aside for six months to help rebuild the townhouse after Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne tore off the roof. Wish I could say CKR was easier. Though it was written in a flurried three months, editing took a grueling, life-changing four years. Holding it in paperback for the first time seemed like a miracle.

9. Sharing a shisha with a Palestinian gentleman in a courtyard cafĂ© flanked by the Pantheon in Rome. It was summer 2010. The courtyard, known as the Piazza della Rotunda, was filled with tourists from all over the world. The Fontana del Pantheon, a massive marble fountain topped by a steep, Egyptian obelisk, adorns the center of the piazza. Steps to the fountain create a large seating area for visitors. Street performers entertained us with music and hilarious pantomime. I wish I’d taken more pictures. Also wish I’d taken more than one draw of that sweet peach tobacco, but the two hours spent in conversation with him – parenting, drugs, religion, government, terrorism, the meaning of life – were priceless, truly beyond measure. Seated only steps away from a two-thousand-year-old temple dedicated to ALL Gods, the scene could not have been more inspiring.

10. EVERY moment with the Kid Rock family. Seriously. Our first Chillin’ the Most Cruise in 2011, CTM2, departed from New Orleans. As we motored along the Mississippi River on our way to the Gulf of Mexico, the sail away concert featured an amazing sunset over the Louisiana landscape. I literally hit happiness overload. Shortly after that, a few Facebook friends and I started a little group called the Kid Rock Life Line. We’ve raised thousands of dollars and orchestrated the distribution of countless care packages, cards, and prayers for Kid Rock fans dealing with tragic life events and the aftermath of natural disaster. Meeting the Life Line Admins, in person, for the first time was an emotional high. Meeting the single mom who lost her house and belongings to Hurricane Irene, the loss that sparked the group’s creation, was more exciting than the Kid Rock concert that had drawn us all to the Orlando Calling festival. Then, there was our second cruise, CTM3, in 2012. We traveled with six good friends from here in the West Palm area. Though we’d been relatively anonymous the first time around, Scott and I felt like we shared Redneck Paradise with hundreds of our closest friends. And New Year’s Eve! Just two weeks ago, we opened our home to a van full of strangers from Detroit. Well, five strangers and two Life Line Admins. Plus another Admin from St. Louis, who flew in the following day. All were bound for Kid Rock’s New Year’s Eve concerts at the Seminole Hard Rock on the 30th and 31st. Two crazy nights at the “campground” and two, back-to-back concerts in Hollywood later – which we spent with an additional 50 or so more members of our Kid Rock family – we all discovered we’d not only made dear new friends, we’d added another moment to our Top 10. I can’t wait for March and CTM4!

Should you ever get the opportunity to really, truthfully, look back on the moments in your life that brought you joy, I highly recommend it. We move so fast today and spend too much time struggling to get from one thing to the next. It’s easy to forget how blessed we’ve been – how blessed we ARE. Every day can’t be filled with magic, but some rare moments are bursting with it. I hope you find more than ten. I also hope, during your voyage of discovery, you realize the best moments are yet to come.

~ Dawn

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Will Write for Beer

Besides the groupie shit I tossed out a few days ago, I haven’t posted in a while, so let’s start with some FAQs, K? Beginning with the obvious: Yes, I’m working on a third book. Yes, it’s historical fiction, set in Malta, circa 1565. No, it’s nowhere near finished. Yes, it’s a prequel (as opposed to a sequel) to my first book, IMMORTAL BONDS. Yes, I plan to make DeSAIN, the villain of the first book, the hero of the third. No, it won’t be anything like CKR (except, maybe, for the orgy scene). No, Kid Rock will NOT appear in the third book, although there is a Joe C. And, no, I’m not rolling in dough. Yet. Why? Let’s just say this gig ain’t as easy as it looks.

Back in ’06 or ’07, I set the sales goal for my second book at “more than Paris Hilton and her dog.” I’ve so far fallen short by a few million units. Granted, Tinkerbell had a better marketing staff. Every time I think about it, though, I’m further disheartened by the fact that I’m actually competing with a dog. And not even a “real” dog, a purse dog! With or without sales reps, you’d think I could outsell a fuckin’ teacup Chihuahua.

Of course, I knew this would happen. One could even say I set myself up. I wrote a book I didn’t want to write, then named it after a guy who’s barely in the book. I used settings like strip clubs and NASCAR races, things that attract an audience not generally known for their literary inclinations, and those who pride themselves on their reading material will instantly – mistakenly – wave it off as an amateur attempt at a groupie how-to. No wonder the dog’s selling better.

Part of the problem is that I have an aversion to asking people to “buy my book.” Okay, it’s a big part. But I’ve said it before: I’d prefer the words speak for me; if people like what I write, they’ll look for more. In my opinion, my limited Facebook (Twitter, Classmates, Google+, LinkedIn…) time is better spent peppering witty and charming comments on friends’ pictures than cramming their news feeds with links to Amazon. They’re easy enough to find. I’m here to entertain, not sell. Don’t see that changing.

Another (rather large, seemingly impassable) hurdle is the book, itself: it’s raunchy. Remember that strip club remark a couple paragraphs back? Though most enjoy it, some are hesitant to admit it. Consequently, not every reader recommends it to someone else. Perched where I am in my career, I depend on word of mouth. Surely, you can see where this “pucker effect” might be a hindrance.

Why is it raunchy? you might ask. Because I wrote it for men who don’t read. (Yeah, that’s an issue, too.) Specifically, I took a long, hard look at my husband, his friends, and my own male friends and acquaintances and asked myself, “What would THEY want to read about?” Answer: Penthouse, fart jokes, binge drinking, and morning wood. Easy enough, right? I’d been monitoring trends in technology and social networking for several years and had noticed more men were communicating, but few exhibited a mastery of the English language. Armed with the knowledge and strong, personal belief that vocabulary improves with reading, I thought it was time to give “the boys” something on their level – or, at least, something that appears that way. Enter Redneck Fiction. Just don’t tell them it’s actually literary-quality shit.

The title doesn’t help, either. On the one hand, I elected to use an acronym for the cover and spine because (a) it was never my intention to capitalize on the Kid Rock name and (b) I didn’t want to discourage non-fans from picking it up. On the other, by not printing the full title on the book, and by using only an acronym in marketing and advertising, I’m not catching the attention of fans and am routinely missing out on the opportunity to reach a fair share of my market. It’s basically a “fucked if you don’t, fucked if you do” scenario.

Why not change the title? Because, given that it seems more accurate to say HE’s chasing ME, I think it’s funny as hell.

Though every coincidence further convinces me I’m doing the right thing, every break that’s come along has been whisked away just as quickly as it appeared, with no progress to show for it. (What was it Garth Brooks said about unanswered prayers?) Then there’s the self-published, Print-On-Demand label that keeps the book off retail shelves. And the industry expectation I wholly disregarded: As a new, breakthrough author, I’m supposed to stick to a genre. My first novel, IMMORTAL BONDS, was paranormal suspense. CKR is contemporary. The next will be historical. Agents and publishers can’t ignore me fast enough.

But there IS hope: BeanPods Press, a small publishing firm created by dear friends Maggie West and David Bean. The first short story I ever published was released earlier this year as a part of their compilation, BIOHAZARD 2012, and they’re bravely taking me on as a permanent author. Their 2013 anthology, FIRST LOVE, will include my second published short story. In a couple months, they’ll be re-releasing IMMORTAL BONDS as an e-book. Next year, we’re looking into offering a collection of my earlier, favorite blog posts and (maybe) an easy-to-follow, illustrated version of “The CKR Diaries.” If I can git ‘r done, they’re hoping to release DeSAIN in 2015.

As for CKR, I might consider re-evaluating my sales goal. Selling millions of copies would be nice, but – at this point – I’d be satisfied if royalties covered my vices and helped me feel like more of an asset around here than a liability. To make that happen, all I need is 200 e-book sales this month. And then, again, next month. And the month after that. And so on. It’s do-able. I’m an award-winning, thought-provoking, genuinely-published author (that’s two novels, six magazine articles, and a short story, for those keeping track), and CHASING KID ROCK is a damn good book! The profanity, alone, will keep me off Oprah’s reading list, but who needs Oprah when I have … well … you, and the handful of others who “get” it. Plus, I have faith in the powers that guided my hand to write the story in the first place that it will get where it needs to go. In the meantime, I’ll keep pecking away at my keyboard and dreaming of the day I get to tell Scott the advance check arrived and he can quit his day job.

Anyone know how to get in touch with Tinkerbell’s marketing staff?

~ Dawn

Monday, January 7, 2013

I'm Not a Groupie, Bitch: An Open Letter to Kid Rock

Let me first repeat the comment I posted last week on your Facebook page:

Fuck David Von Bader. In the ass. With his smart phone. Anyone who reports people having a good time on New Year’s Eve as “heartbreaking” is a narrow-minded idiot. You are who you are, and that’s all you’ve ever claimed to be. Neither Von Hater nor the New Times deserve your attention. Let the review go, and have faith karma will balance the scales, maybe with a nice venereal disease.

Okay. With that of the way…

Growing up on a small family farm, nestled in the foothills between the Olympic and Cascade Mountains in Washington State, I wasn’t exposed to much beyond C.W. McCall, Dionne Warwick, and Barbara Streisand. Television was worse. As a band geek, I broadened my horizons. As a teenager, I discovered KISS and Alice Cooper. In 1990, I got married and moved to Florida. My husband brought home DEVIL WITHOUT A CAUSE in 1998. Since then, watching you develop, both as an artist and as a human being, has been one of the highlights of my adult life. When you played “So Hott” in Times Square a few years ago, I grinned from ear to ear. I was tickled for you, proud of you, and honored to be a fan.

But it’s not just me, which prompts me to wonder: Back when you were an egotistical, crotch-grabbing, foul-mouthed, punk-ass kid from the suburbs, did you know how many lives you would change? Did you foresee fan sites like Extreme Kid Rock and Facebook groups like KRF and Chillin’ the Most, where thousands of fans would flock to share their love for you? Did you know those fans would band together, travel from one concert to the next, form life-long friendships, and forever defend your honor? Did you imagine The Sisterhood of the Traveling Banner, an international network of fans that ensure the same banners pop up at show after show? Did you expect the creation of groups like the Eye Candy Friday club, who share photos and videos of you daily and donate thousands of dollars to the Rainbow Connection every year? Or the Kid Rock Life Line, a non-profit that offers support during personal tragedy and has shipped countless boxes of needed supplies to fans across the country who lost everything to fire or flood? Did you know, then, that thousands of Kid Rock fans would follow your lead and strive to make this world a better place by performing small, random acts of kindness every day?

Did you know? Or has this all been a divine accident? Not that it matters. Either way, I’d like to thank you: for the friends, the memories, and the example. I wouldn’t be me without you. (No shit.) Now, get back to work and kick some more ass!


Dawn Scovill
Hillbilly, Patriot & Proud Kid Rock Fan