Midwest Author to Release Pagan Camping Book

Lori Dake, Chicago author and Independent Record Label owner, is set to release a book on Pagan camping by Ostara 2011.  The book is primarily focused on camping at Pagan festivals and gatherings, but also draws from years of camping at KOA’s and other non-Pagan camping and festivals.  Ms. Dake is seeking one last detail for her book, the cover, and she is willing to pay for the perfect photo.

A dining area set up at Sacred Harvest Festival - Photo credit, Cara Schulz

PNC – Minnesota interviewed Ms. Dake about her up coming book, why she wrote it, and the photo she is looking for as cover art.

PNC-Minnesota:  Many people who know you, know you through the music industry.  For those who don’t, could you tell us a bit about your Indie Label.
Lori Dake:
Yes, my husband Ron and I run an independent record label, Rotting Corpse Records. Ron came up with the name due to his love of zombie movies and heavy metal, and indeed the name does garner a bit more attention than the more subdued labels.

One of our bands, URN, has performed at many Pagan festivals, occasionally with the psychic vampire and author of numerous books, including the Psychic Vampire Codex, Michelle Belanger. Their recently departed vocalist, keyboard artist and flutist, Sophia, is also Pagan, so we obviously have a great deal in common beyond music. We get along fantastically, though it is sad our busy lives keep us apart more often than together.

All of the bands on our label are comprised of exceptionally talented musicians within their genres, and their relationship to Divinity is of no consequence to us. Be they adherents of various denominations of Christianity, Paganism, Satanism, Agnosticism or even Atheism, what matters most to us is they are good people at heart with a story to tell, brought to the forefront by their talents.

Of course, we do have certain caveats, one being we actually like their style of music – something that strikes a nerve and concerns (and perhaps even frightens!) the pearl-clutchers of society. I like it RAW, baby! Another caveat is we absolutely do not or will not release anything that is deemed as hate-speech. What people want to do on their own time is perfectly legitimate; we don’t have to like it. But, we will not fuel their insidiousness on our dime. Not only do we work with people who cross all sexual, racial and political lines, but if for any other reason, it’s just pain bad for business.

As we state in our pre-contact outline:

Necrophilia = good
Nazism = bad

PNC-Minnesota:  So how did you go from Indie Label diva to writing a book about Pagan camping?
Lori Dake:
It’s actually a bit of an accident. On my personal site, I’ve been hand-coding my ramblings over the last seven years, just as things came to me. After a while, it became rather arduous to go back and forth into the site, so over the winter holidays, I decided to move everything over to blog format. I figured too, it would be nice to get some feedback via comment postings.

While I was moving things over, I searched the string “pagan camping”, just to see if people even click over once in a while. Lo and behold, my camping section was the first and second result, with the third directing to it! The very first thing that came to mind was part of Sally Field’s famous Oscar acceptance speech:

“You like me! You really like me!” I was completely blown away! I was certain actual festival listings would appear on the first page of results and probably even the second. I took that as a cue I should consider publishing my information, since people obviously find it useful. My Muse jumped on my shoulder and had me begin to frantically flesh out, edit and add more information until I reached the standard goal of 40,000 words. I’ve already surpassed that, and with the recipes, introduction, chapter page and indexing yet to be written, I will definitely surpass that. Who knew there was so much to this festival-going thing?

It’s been quite the experience putting things together, and fortunately for me, running a record label has quite a few similarities to running a publishing company. In many cases, it’s a different side of the same coin. Because of the existence and wide variety of Print on Demand companies out there today, thanks to our modern technology, I feel confident enough to go DIY on the matter. I’ve always been the independent type, and people who tell me I can’t do something are my greatest sources of inspiration.

Will there be mistakes made? Without a doubt, especially considering this is my first crack at writing and publishing my own book. But, because I don’t have to abide by any contractual obligations, I can do things many authors cannot. The most important thing to me is I will retain the right to have my information freely available, in unedited, bite-size articles. Many established authors would scoff at such a notion; why buy the cow when one can get the milk for free?

The way I see it, my information is not for those who can afford it or whose libraries will carry it. Camping is for everyone who’s physically able! In business terms, I see keeping the blog open as no different than when our bands post their music in streaming format – it’s easy, free promotion. If someone likes something enough, they will buy it.  I’m not in this for the money. I’m not even looking at collecting adware pennies. I just really want to help people build community in relative comfort. Who knows, maybe I’ll make a couple more friends out of the deal, and to me, that’s the whole point of being here in the first place.

PNC-Minnesota:  OK.  I’m sold already.  That’s because I’ve been following your blog on livejournal and have read what you have written on topics like sexuality, how to dress up your campsite, the hidden costs of camping, and our mutually favorite topic – food!  But perhaps you should tell our readers a bit about what’s in your book!
Lori Dake: The book I’m working on is all about Neo-Pagan camping, primarily focused on festivals and gatherings. From my experiences at various fests and at KOAs (Kampgrounds of America) over the years, I feel safe enough to take my somewhat meandering articles to the next level by merging them into book form. I figured since a website can easily disappear, and because it can be rather hard to read an online article out in the woods, I should put the articles all together, just so people have something tangible to bring with them where they would need the information most.

Since I was a baby, my dad used to take us on these two week to month-long, cross-country, Griswold-type excursions every summer, on an extremely tight budget no less. (One trip did in fact include driving from Chicago to Wally World, errr Disneyland, and back!) We’d set out at 4am to beat traffic out of the city, drive our dad nuts in the back seat for hours on end, eat breakfast and lunch at rest stops out of a cooler, then drive a few more hours until we’d arrive at a camp ground. Each afternoon involved setting up camp, and each evening included making dinner over the fire – in all kinds of weather! Some nights, dad would be too tired to cook, so we’d have a pizza delivered to us, or we’d drive into town for a burger.

But for the most part, we were pretty self-reliant without many conveniences or luxuries, unless one considers old road-worn boat-mobiles luxuries. (Dad sure liked his Lincoln Continentals!) The following morning, we’d eat breakfast out of the cooler again, pack everything up and drive for several hours once again to the next campground.

It is from those experiences, as well as the ones I gained at fests (which are the same yet very different), I would like to share with the community so they can benefit from my successes – and learn from my many failures. I hate to see folks show up with little of nothing, because I know how humbling it is to ask for help on what should be simplistic and come as second nature.

We (sub)urbanites are so separated from Nature anymore, and we’re fused to a modern routine. Even the act of making our own meals with basic ingredients and tools can seem almost improbable anymore, especially when a delivery guy or microwave can handle that for us with little skill. Fests are intended as spiritual, community-building vacations – not chores. If I can sway even one timid soul to leave their modern trappings behind and dance beneath the stars, then I’ve done my job. My hope is not to make any type of real profit off the book, but rather to share what I know with others, be they first-timers or well-seasoned veterans.

The first part will focus on what to pack, ideas of where to go, what to do and what to expect. This includes my vending, workshop, work shift, musical performance and facilitating experiences. The second part will be about one of my many passions: Food! (I’m a native Chicagoan with the hard-vowel accent to prove it. Of course I like food!) I see so many people at fests “living” off energy bars and cans of ravioli, and while it may provide basic sustenance, it’s really no way to live, much less contribute to the community-building. Many wars have been settled over good food and drink, so I am making it a point to dedicate a large portion to setting up a working outdoor kitchen (my altar!) and what to create with it (my tools). I’ve never been much for following recipes, so writing them has already been my greatest challenge and reward.

PNC-Minnesota:  What kind of photo are you looking for to grace the cover?
Lori Dake: The cover will be laid out by my husband, who is rather talented in that department, and he is doing it because he loves me and of course for a copy of the book for his portfolio. (There’s always an ulterior motive, isn’t there?) While I have been searching stock photos of large cooking pots over open fires or silhouettes of drummers and dancers encompassing a roaring fire (Pagan + Camping), I have put out a call to Pagan festival-goers who just may have a usable photo in these veins. I would much rather pay and give them credit over something more anonymous and generic.

Images must be large and high resolution with a minimum of 300dpi and cannot have a watermark.  Photo credits will be listed in the book, per your specifications.  I will pay standard iStock costs which is $20 per 1000 images.  I’ll also give you a copy of the finishd book for your portfolio.  If you have a photo you think would make a great cover for a book on Pagan camping, email me at doom diva (at) yah oo (dot) com

PNC-Minnesota:  When will the book come out?
Lori Dake: Because I am purposely self-publishing this still tentatively-titled book (aargh!), I am free to set the release date pretty much at my leisure. I will be submitting it by the beginning of March, and I hope to make it available by Ostara. My thoughts are people will be beginning to plan their summer excursions by then, just when they’ll be needing my information the most. After all, what good would it do to release a book when people are carving pumpkins?

Editor’s note:  Lori Dake also writes for the Pagan Newswire Collective’s blog Warrriors & Kin, where she has been detailing her experience as the mother of a son entering military service.  Her blog on camping can found on livejournal.