Many, many good things -- and I'm back

Hello everyone. I'm back!!!   Well, I really never left. Only had one of the busiest years of my life.  And it keeps on coming. To give you an idea, I just finished sorting over 4,000 emails and have put together a  breakdown of all the events (presentations, book readings, lectures, interviews for radio, meetings with survivors, etc.) and they total 54 separate events for last year alone!  This has been great, but only left me time to post short sentences on Facebook, in place of posting here.  So, my apologies. I haven't given up on Dawn-Schiller.  This is where my online journaling began and I don't intend on giving it up.

Many good things have been happening, especially with E.S.T.E.A.M.  We have an amazing board of directors who have been working hard to gain a sense of direction and focus to have the best possible outcome for the teens/young adults we want to help. Our website is getting updated, volunteers are being organized, and subcommittees are focused on particular tasks. In addition, our mentoring piece of advocacy has taken on quite a positive spin, and in August I will be coordinating, teaching a memoir writing workshop and co-sponsoring a 9-12th grade camp for girls who don't have a home life that is positive. (I'll leave it at that for now.)

Heads up also, as I'll be the keynote speaker for the North West Regional Conference for the Soroptimists of America on April 29th in Vancouver, Washington.  Come stop by if you can.  I'd love to meet you and talk about how we can help our kids.  Soroptimist Keynote

I also did an interview with CBS KOIN Local 6 news and Amy Fraiser.  I think they did a great job.

CBS KOIN News - Dawn Schiller

I want to thank everyone who sent me their stories of strength after reading my book.  I want you to know how important it is to hear those messages. It tells me that the reason for me to write my story goes way beyond what I could have envisioned, and that all the hard work was worth it, a million fold.

More great things to come,


Empowering Successful Teens through Education, Awareness & Mentoring (E.S.T.E.A.M.) Appeal

To all of you who have read my book, believe in me and have encouraged me on this long journey, THANK YOU! It is my hope to continue to use my voice to help prevent teens from experiencing similar horrors to mine. As with any cause, it needs financial support. For a one-time donation or a continuous gift of as little as $10.00 per month to E.S.T.E.A.M. you can help me: *Take my presentation to at least 6 major US cities *Recruit and establish an on-line mentoring team for the E.S.T.E.A.M. website *Develop outreach materials to reach throwaway teen populations Please visit our webpage at All donations are tax deductible.

Together WE can change the lives of teens and young adults.

With love,

Dawn Schiller


I'd like to share one of the poems mailed to me by Pat Green from Chicago who started a group called Y.A.S.O.  (Young Adults Speak Out).  This poem was one of many poems and letters written from teens who are trying their best to figure out life.  These kids have a voice!


Empty, broken-hearted and alone. I spend my life blasting music and trying to come up with a reason as to why everything must suck so much, and stressing out about what's going to happen next. My parents fight 24/7 and take alot of their anger out on my little sister and me. I'm hated by most and loved by few. Y.A.S.O. is the only thing I have to a real family and I only have that once or twice  a month. It's my one and only escape from stress and thoughts of suicide. The pressure of keeping what little things I have left is slowly killing me. What hurts the most is knowing I'm one of many. Knowing others have it the same or worse. And for those freaking out about boyfriend or girlfriend problems or why a couple people dislike them...appreciate what you do have. Because you never know, it could all be gone in the blink of an eye.


Turning Twelve, A New Awareness, and A Documentary on Throwaway Teens

On July 22nd this year, I marked my twelfth year clean and sober. Not a small feat considering my drug infused past, and I am beyond grateful that I have made it this far.  I have so many blessings in my life today. Blessings I never, in my wildest dreams, believed would be realities for me. It seemed any happiness was unattainable, not in my cards, someone else's story, any excuse, but not for me. I had so much pain from a youth that haunted me, and I saw no way to live with myself except by numbing it out to escape.  I was a shell of a person who, even though I had survived my experience with John Holmes, was killing myself.  In the end, I had lost my home, my friends, my family, and my connection with God.  But I wouldn't die.... When I share this experience with others, I remember  it like this: A day came when I was particularly despondent, coming out of a fog that I had literally prayed I wouldn't wake up from.  It was mid-day and for some reason I turned to look toward some dusty bushes rustling in an unexpected breeze.  I stared at them, watching the wind curl a random pattern through their brown-tinged leaves. There, I was suddenly struck with an understanding...a deep new awareness that came to me clear and simple--"it was time I change".  Then almost as randomly, an acquaintance happened to show up and offer me help... this time I took it.

It was tough in the beginning, but with God's Grace I'm making  it, one day at a time.  My journey has been a path of amazing revelations--of who I was, who I am, and who I am supposed to be.  Also, came  a wonderful reconnection with God and some amazing opportunities. So much of my pain was connected to abuse, and with my abuse there was the theft of my God given voice.  With sobriety came healing and from healing...the publishing of my book. I have been given my voice back in a big way.

The Grace and opportunities haven't stopped. My voice has now grown into a conduit for other voices.  The voices of those throwaway teens who are still suffering, reaching out, and seeking to be heard.  A documentary is on the horizon.  Today, I am humbled and again blessed to be given the chance to produce a film depicting the plight of these teens.  With the support of Medallion Media and award-winning documentary film maker Justin Hunt ("American Meth" and "Absent") this film will become a reality, and another new awareness will be realized by many.

To think, twelve years ago I wanted to die. I had no idea that I was worth anything, for myself or much less for others.  But God did.

Thank you all for being a part of this journey with me. I am grateful beyond words.


An old song that said it all....

I watched the movie "Harold and Maude" with John in the seventies. My world was turning upside down. While this song played in the film, I was drawn to stare at John asking him "why". He squirmed uncomfortably in hisgreen vinyl chair, knowing I could not go on much longer. Here is Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam singing that song, "Trouble" by Cat Stevens.


I want to share some amazing reviews that have come in.  Sometimes, a person is just not prepared.

“When I got an advance copy of The Road Through Wonderland, I thought I already knew the story. I picked it up casually, and then l could not put it down. I was up till 3 a.m. reading it. The power of Dawn Schiller’s writing is that within a few pages, you are so drawn into her harrowing, roller-coaster life with her fractured family and then with porn star John Holmes, that you almost become her while reading it. There is not much separation between writer and reader. Schiller draws an unforgettable portrait of a lost, drug-addled corner of late 1970s Los Angeles and what it was like to be a lonely girl targeted by a predator in that world. The most mesmerizing memoir since Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle, The Road Through Wonderland is one long, chilling money shot.

~ Dana Kennedy, correspondent and journalist, AOL News, The New York Times, People, Time

"Dawn Schiller’s chilling account of her youth as the underage mistress of legendary porn star John Holmes is infused with the goodness and humanity that ultimately delivered her from her abusive ordeals. A classic story of an innocent young woman’s descent and self-redemption, The Road Through Wonderland is gritty and starkly honest; it is at once a horror tale and a story of triumph."

~ Mike Sager, writer at large, Esquire; author of Scary Monsters and Super Freaks

“. . . Dawn Schiller manages to write so beautifully about something so shatteringly repulsive. Her picturesque descriptions [demonstrate] her ability to somehow connect with the beauty of the natural world while being neglected, exploited, and abused by the human world.”

~ Mitru Ciarlante, Youth Initiative Director, National Center for Victims of Crime

"Dawn’s writing candidly weaves through her horrifying existence during what should have been her carefree and innocent teenage years. I helplessly experienced her body, mind, and spirit being gnarled by the very adults who should have protected her but chose instead to destroy her. At times I was not able to put the book down; at others, I had to cry and hug my own teenagers, desperately wanting to comfort the girl on the pages. . . . This book is an absolute must for teenagers and especially for the adults who should be safeguarding them against the evils in this world."

~ Paula Lucas, founder and executive director of Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center

"A compelling book by an unwavering woman who tries to take back control of her life after living in a world of drugs, murder, abuse, and human trafficking¬—all under the control of one man, porn idol John Holmes. The emotions are strong throughout this well-written book and lead the reader into a world few travel and survive. I was unable to put the book down!

Though Hollywood used the real-life tragedy of the Wonderland murders to produce a pretty, neatly packaged movie, Dawn Schiller’s life was anything but neat and pretty. "

~ Susan Murphy Milano, violence expert and author of Time's Up: A Guide on How to Leave and Survive Abuse and Stalking Relationships

“The Road Through Wonderland is a gripping and beautifully written memoir about Dawn Schiller’s teen years with John Holmes. This riveting account moves the reader from Dawn’s impoverished beginnings in a rough neighborhood to a much worse life under the spell of John Holmes. Drug addiction, sexual abuse, hooking and being sold for drug favors, suicide attempts, physical abuse that almost left her dead, psychological trauma, and being way too close to multiple murders: Dawn endured far too much for any teenager. This book is a firsthand account of Dawn’s descent into hell and her struggle to survive.”

~ Lois Gresh, New York Times best-selling author of The Twilight Companion: The Unauthorized Guide to the Series

Throwaway Teens Highly Vulnerable to Pimps

When children, teens in particular, are tossed aside by their guardians they are extremely vulnerable to the lecherous side of society.  One of the more devious class are the pimps. Men that groom and work these young kids, who are often homeless, into sexually exploitative situations first befriend them and gain their trust. They buy them the basics to survive and kids being so desperate for food, clothing, shelter and love, accept these back-handed promises while talking themselves into believing that this is all they deserve in life.  When the pimp grooms them and then later controls them with force, it is extremely difficult to identify them. They move or are  moved and don't trust adults, especially law enforcement. Often, they don't think of themselves as victims. Still, there is hope.  Some signs to identify them  include:

  • Highly controlled or restricted schedule, money or communications
  • Unidentifiable source of income
  • Unexplained absences of days at a time
  • Unexplained source of new clothing and personal items
  • Bruises or other physical signs of abuse
  • A tattoo that the young person is reluctant to explain (for instance, being “branded” with an exploiter’s name on the neck, chest or arms)
  • Isolation from family, friends or other social networks
  • Secrecy or vagueness about whereabouts
  • Gaps in life story or defensiveness in response to questions or concerns
  • Paranoia or lack of trust
  • Self-blame or feelings of humiliation or shame
  • Disassociation or lack of connection to the outside world
  • Malnourishment
  • Untreated health and dental problems

No one chooses to be sexually exploited. A child doesn't say one day "I want to be sold for money". But when it happens, it didn't happen overnight.  It can take a long time for a teen to overcome a life wrought with abuse and degradation. Be patient, be aware and above all don't judge. These kids deserve a better life.

For further information please visit the National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth website.

The Tragic Consequences of Throwaway Teens

In an April 28, 2009 article in the San Francisco is the story of three teenage girls, Felicia, Jillian and Kim.  Besides being young teenagers, they had a couple more things in common--they were all three throwaways--and they were being tried for murder. In the article titled, Pretty Bad Girls, it states, "All had come from broken families, eventually becoming what investigators called "throwaways," the catch-all term for girls on their own at a young age. Struggling to support themselves and their drug-addled lifestyle, the teenagers had become close and built a family of their own."

The article details the events of one ill-fated evening in San Francisco where they lured a young man to the beach, shot and robbed him.  This horrible tragedy, detailed in the link below, is yet another story of the terrible consequences of a throwaway teen. When teens have to run from abuse and neglect they often fall into hard crime on the streets to survive.  Here, the ultimate crime was committed, and the biggest tragedy of all is clearly the loss of that young man's life.  But the article also accurately states, "the situation of the throwaway girls is also tragic. They are these kids on the street, living adult lives. Kids that are raised in dysfunctional families...have very short childhoods. I think childhood is so painful for them that there's a tendency to want to grow up quicker just to get away."

These girls now wear prison garb and have to take responsibility for the pain they have caused--and I agree they should.  But I also can't help but wonder if they were ever given any hope in their lives.  Hope to see that there was much more in the world for them, and that they deserved to reach out and own it.  I said...I wonder.

San Francisco Weekly

The Road Through Wonderland's First Review

Yesterday, I received my first review on my unedited manuscript from New York Times bestselling author, Lois Gresh.  For me, to write is an art, and many times the art was my only source of light in the darkness of writing  my story. Thank you Lois,



The Road through Wonderland is a gripping and beautifully written memoir about Dawn Schiller's teen years with John Holmes.  This riveting account moves the reader from Dawn's impoverished beginnings in a rough neighborhood to a much worse life under the spell of John Holmes.  Drug addiction, sexual abuse, hooking and being sold for drug favors, suicide attempts, physical abuse that almost left her dead, psychological trauma, and being way too close to multiple murders:  Dawn endured far too much for any teenager.  This book is a firsthand account of Dawn's descent into hell and her struggle to survive.

Lois Gresh, New York Times best-selling author of _The Twilight Companion: The Unauthorized Guide to the Series


Medallion Press Launches Website for "The Road Through Wonderland"

Medallion press launched a new website for my book, The Road Through Wonderland.  The address is Check it out! There is still much more to be added as we go along, including linking this web blog to the site.  So come back whenever you can to find out about additional speaking engagements, etc.

I'd love to hear what you think, so feel free to leave a comment.  You can also find the group "theroadthroughwonderland" on facebook that is also new, where you can leave direct comments as well.

Thanks for all your support and love.  I am inspired by YOU!


How Teens are Responding...

I want to share some of the feedback I received from the teens who came to my presentations, "Our Throwaway Teens: Who Are They and How Can We Help?"  These comments are so important as they reflect a teen's view on abuse and neglect today!


"I thought you did a nice job on your presentation. I must say I didn't feel very affected by it simply because I know so many people already who are in abusive stiuations. However, I could tell that the adults around me were. It's great that you are making this effort to spread awareness. We both know that an actual solution will be a horribly difficult thing to put into play. Keep up the good work :)"

"Your presentation was powerful, however I do feel the statistics were way too low. Even as it was though, it provided a great amount of insight into the world of a throwaway teen. The only thing I can think of that would make it more powerful would be more firsthand accounts of your life or of others teens. I think it is wonderful that you took the hard life you've had and have turned it around so you can help others. Good luck!"

"It was a presentation filled with information that got you thinking and feeling about things you had not before. It gave so much information that I didn't know and opened my eyes to the issues of throwaway teens."

"The thing that struck me the most about the presentation was how many "throwaway" teens there are. It made me start thinking about other kids I know who might be going through those kind of things, and now I know why/how to sympathize and have extra compassion for those kids."

"It was very informative and the visuals were good. I liked how you showed ways to help these teenagers and how easy it is to help."

"I love the recordings, it brought the facts to life. I didn't feel you were trying to pressure me to feel something. I just did."

"I thought it was great. It was very emotional, yet very informational. I can really relate to lots of people and their own struggles."

"Your presentation was very interesting. I enjoyed all that I learned from it and it reached my heart. Powerful, disturbing, informative."

"It was an eyeopening experience to the realities of life and the stuff we don't all see. It brought me to a completely different world and I learned so much. Good presentation."

"Your presentation was really informative. It was also very emotional. I could tell how much of your emotions you put into it."

"Your presentation was very moving. The images and dramatic readings gave the presentation a new dimension that allows for your listener to connect to the situations."

"The presentation did a good job at shedding light on an unfortunately hidden problem."

"Powerful, moving presentation... For those of us who lived it, I hope we can help to save others from going through the same."




"I really liked your presentation. It was close to me because I've gone through similar accounts. I thank you for using my essay."

All my love and thanks for these comments and for coming to listen to such a hard topic.  Also, for being willing to see how you can possibly help.


GRACE. It Feels So Good to Turn...Eleven.

ARIZONA DAWN 21537_241383129456_666264456_3153678_4750610_N_crop This may or may not be clear to people, but I have two birthdays. My bellybutton birthday on December 29th and another, July 22nd, the anniversary of the day that I got sober. It has been over a decade since I turned away from the need to numb out my emotions. What a journey so far!

I remember in the beginning the sheer agony of being in my own skin. Every reflection of me was like a million shards of "my" broken mirror slicing through my very soul. My wounded past was overpowering, and I was afraid to move. I was a walking, breathing bomb of fire...explosion...then ashes. A pile of rendered dust. Chaos surrounded me, threatened to suck me back. Fear was very angry.

Then Grace came. A tiny pin-point of light. Warm hands held mine softly in a circle and said "pray". I took steps that measured nano-seconds, then seconds, then minutes, and hours...and I didn't die. I began to have moments of clarity and peace, and I clung to them as my armor for when fear would try to return.

Grace continued to come. My prayers grew stronger, and I learned the word faith. The light, soft, pure, resilient, wrapped around me. Nonthreatening and tiny at first, it was stronger, more beautiful than I ever imagined...and the scary things slowly lost their shape and disappeared. I learned the word trust.

Grace remains. The events of my past haven't changed. I have. I have turned the glass over, and it is more than half full. It is in fact, many times brimming over. In my wildest dreams I never thought I'd get to be part of a better day for others, but here I am. Today, I have happiness, purpose, joy and love in my life. I have learned that the light is God.

A Note From My Daughter...

I found this on the side of my refrigerator. It has been there for about a year-and-a-half, written by my then almost 8-year-old daughter. She knows I have written this book. She knows it is about a real hard time with a man who hurt me, but she cannot comprehend the depth of cruelty that occurred and how humans are capable of inflicting terrible pain on one another.

Still, she will get older and with age have more exposure to an unfair life. With the passage of time, I hope she will see why I wrote this book. I hope she will see how my intention was to expose an ugly truth that is too often swept from sight, and passed off with excuses as okay. I hope she will see how I wrote this book with her in my heart, her mom's story of pain and consequences, to protect her.

She cannot change who her mother is, and she does not need to take on my path. She has her own story, and I love her for drawing me this picture....

Dawn ____________________________________________

My Voice to Help Throwaway Teen Abuse... My Presentation

I finish my studies on Throwaway Teen Abuse Prevention. In the next few weeks I will be turning this into a power point presentation and putting it out to the public on June 10, 2009 at my local university to faculty, students and the public. Through a grant I received from our tribal foundation and sponsored by my local shelter, I am able to give my presentation at three venues. The second presentation will be at the local library in town and the third will be a the university's  Writing 131 class during summer session. As some of you know, I come to this topic because of my own story. I was a throwaway, a kid who grew up with violence and neglect at home. I was abandoned and left vulnerable as a teen, that in my case, made me "easy" to approach and seduce by John Holmes.

I don't always understand why it doesn't sound strange to people that a 32 year old porn star was seeking out the company of a 15 year old kid. He buddied up to my dad and sold him pot. My dad looked the other way. In truth, everyone looked the other way. Why?

As I conducted my research for this presentation, it truly sucked discovering how much of a statistic I was. Along with the overwhelming government statistics I found, I also uncovered terrible hidden narratives, short stories written anonymously in classrooms, that to me, more accurately represents the many unreported teens living today in painful and unfair circumstances. Knowing this also made me very aware that I was/am not the only one, and ignites my passion to raise awareness and educate communities to prevent and care for these throwaway teens.

Stay tuned please. The more I discover the more I want to share the hope.


Women of Vision and Courage!

It's high time to be posting something...anything! Right? I'll start with news of a committee that I sit on. The President's Commission on the Status of Women, or PCSW. This is a committee based out of my local University, and every year during National Women's Week the PCSW selects from a pool of outstanding women from the community, faculty, staff, and students. This is my second year serving here and there is always alot of work to get things organized, but everything finally came to fruition the first week of March. Kathleen Dahl won for outstanding faculty and Sharon Mendoza won for outstanding citizen. Professor Dahl had quite a history of being the odd woman out and standing strong, so her success as this year's awardee was deserved. But Ms. Mendoza was the underdog, and won my heart.

It snows where I live in the Winter. Well, let's be real. It snows Fall, Winter and half of Spring to be modest. At the corner of our town square, every Friday early evening a small handful of people stand waving a blue flag with the words "peace" sewn in white. The thing is, on many of the blustery, freezing, evenings there is only one person standing waving her flag for peace. It is Ms. Mendoza.

That image, the one of her standing with her flag in some of the most frigid weather in Eastern Oregon, was the face of courage and bravery to me. And as I closed my eyes to contemplate on the cast of deserving nominees, Ms. Mendoza's lone figure wouldn't leave my thoughts and I placed my vote.

It's tough to pick an awardee out of a pool of very deserving women, but we (the committee) did good. Dawn


MEDALLION PRESS LAUNCHES A NONFICTION LINE!St. Charles, Illinois "August 1, 2008” Medallion Press, Inc., is pleased to announce the debut of a nonfiction line, with the first title available in stores August 2010. This new imprint will cover areas of motivation and strength, self-help, and autobiographies. This will be the seventh imprint for Medallion Press, adding it to the family of fiction imprints, including the new Medallion Masterpiece Collection, which will unveil its first title in November 2008.

The first release of our nonfiction line will be an autobiographical look at the life of Dawn Schiller, a woman who, as a teenager, became wrapped up in the bizarre life of legendary porn star John Holmes, and the drugs, beatings, and murders that soon consumed her world. In The Road through Wonderland, Dawn will give a recounting of her life, starting with her childhood, leading through her relationship with John Holmes, and through the struggle she encountered to overcome her past. In 2003, Lions Gate released the film Wonderland, a look at the life of John Holmes and his connection with the Wonderland Murders. Actor Val Kilmer, who played John, and actress Kate Bosworth, who played Dawn, will both contribute a foreword to the book.



Today is John Lennon's birthday.....

Today marks six weeks since my daughter's surgery, she has been given the all clear by the doctors. We call this her recovery day.

Today I can announce the news that "The Road Through Wonderland" has found a publisher.


Thank you all for keeping the faith,


Bluesman's Birthday Bash

My latest DV Shelter event took place last night. I would like to share with you some of the wonderful people that gave of their time and talent. The event was an amazing success. I will post pics later along with many more thank yous to all the volunteers. All my best, Dawn

A good-bye to Gloria

It is with the heaviest heart that I inform you that my webmaster, Gloria, passed away from complications brought on by cancer. Gloria was strong to the end and, I believe, not planning on leaving us. For this reason, this website has been stagnant and had some technical difficulties. There has been a changing-of-the-guard, and this blog will remain up and running. There are even plans to improve.

It is hard posting here without Gloria's keen eye and expertise watching my every move. She blocked the spam, intercepted the hurtful comments, and kept track of some craziness. She has left some awesome people behind to take her place, but no one can replace "our Gloria". While going through some of the initial posts to this site, I found a comment to me from Gloria. It is as if she is speaking to me from where ever she is now. It reads:

"Great post, Dawn. You offered your readers a view of your world in a heartfelt and spontaneous way. Those moments of complete perfection are not always seen or felt, let alone expressed, even though they skirt the edge of what we think of as real and wait for that one moment of discovery. Beautiful is the word that comes into my mind that describes what you wrote. You showed what beauty looks, feels, and sounds like rather than trying to tell your readers what beauty is. This is a sign of a good writer, one who can give their readers an opportunity to have an experience without getting in their way by telling them what they should feel and think about an event and/or story. Showing the experience and allowing your reader to join you as it unfolds gives them a experiential peek into your world, whether it be today, yesterday, or tomorrows world. Very well written. If this short piece is any indication of the writing style in your book, I can't wait to read it. Glo "

Miss you Wildmind.