Friday, June 20, 2014

An Interview with Ken Williams, author of Fractured Angel

Well, folks. We're back. We have yet another author that we'd like to shine our spotlight on and direct your attention toward. His name is Ken Williams and his newest book, Fractured Angel, is being published by independent book publisher, Sakura Publishing.

-Hi Ken! Thanks so much for agreeing to speak with us today. Your newest novel, Fractured Angel, is due to be released on June 7th, 2014. In writing this book, much did you rely on your own experience in working with the homeless? Is homelessness a theme that can be seen in any of your other works? 
KEN: All of my novels are inspired by events in my life, from the Vietnam War to working with the homeless in Santa Barbara for thirty years.  The heartbreak of seeing literally hundreds die on the streets has inspired all my writings and infused my novels, screenplays, poems and non-fiction articles with a gritty realism that, at the same time honors those who have slipped quietly into the gentle night.  In fact I began my writings as a journal when, during the AIDS and crack epidemics I was losing so many clients monthly that I found that I was beginning to forget the individual in the face of so much death.  I was bound not to let the voiceless and the disenfranchised die without someone documenting their passing.  As long as I remembered them in my journals and now dedicate my writings to them and their tragic lives and deaths they will remain honored and not forgotten.

-Have you always been a writer or is this a fairly new adventure for you?
KEN: I began writing screenplays when a Hollywood screenwriter encouraged me to use my knowledge of the streets to write them.  Having heard a lecture that I gave he came up to me and told me the stories that I included in the presentation were eye opening and extremely moving.  Novels soon followed, as did articles for the local media and now an online news service.

-Many of this blog’s readers are new authors still attempting to navigate the pitfalls of the publishing world. What advice can you give to those of us just trying to get started?
KEN: My advice to new writers:  Be prepared to have constant rejections, and be humble enough to learn from your mistakes.  And by all means KEEP writing.  Writing is a skill.  Like all skills the talent diminishes when not used. Don’t give up hope but don’t expect overnight success.  Writing is a marathon, not a sprint.  Good writing comes from within, it is not a luxury but a necessity something that builds within you that seeks an outlet.  Listen to that drive and write!  You must also learn to trust your publisher and editor.  The publishing of a novel is a partnership.  Never forget this.  If you don’t trust your publisher then you are in very big trouble.  You need to remember that you both have the same goal in mind and be humble enough to not think you know everything.  Egos sink more potentially successful projects than any other vices.  If you can’t communicate successfully with your publisher how can you hope to do so with a general audience? And live life!  Not only your material, but also the inspiration to write comes from the people around you.  Don’t think you come up with new material all on your own.  People: how they live, survive, their joys, triumphs and sorrows are the stuff of good literature.  A good writer also uses their own frustrations, desires, fears, heartache and setbacks to reveal emotional truths. Too many writers I know quit living and play the role of a writer thus depriving him or her of the challenges we all face in our daily struggles for existence.

-One of the most difficult aspects of becoming a published author is finding a home with a good publisher. Fractured Angel is your debut with Sakura Publishing. Can you talk a little to us about how you ended up with them and how you knew Sakura was a good fit?
KEN: After years of rejection I received two written offers the same week and another publisher wrote me that he was interested in the novel.  Three offers in one week!  Perseverance.  In fact, Derek Vasconi, the owner and publisher of Sukura Publishing was the third offer that week.  For me honor and personnel connections are all important.  The way he approached me, with honesty and yet passion for the novel convinced me to pass on the first two and go with him.  Sukura was a great fit!  Derek knows not only the publishing world but also the Internet.  He is not only extremely professional but easy to work with.  From what I can tell he is also a good guy.

-Are you working on anything new right now?
KEN: I have just completed another novel, Seven Levels, Homelessness, A Combat Veteran, Mental Illness: A Love Story.  It is about a returning Afghan Marine Vet who is at a lose as to where he fits once back in the states and his struggles with PTSD.  Joining the L.A. Sherriff’s Dept. he finds redemption amongst the homeless in an abandoned warehouse used as an impromptu shelter.
I have also recently completed a rewrite of a New Fiction novel written as magical realism:  For the Love of Death. This novel is about a young woman who struggles in the aftermath of not only her failed suicide attempt but also a violent assault by her boyfriend.  She is forced to confront the very nature of sanity vs. the mysterious universe and what price she is prepared to pay for love?  As you can see writing for me is in fact a driving force and not something that I can simply put down.  I am always writing something in a variety of formats. 

-You’re a Vietnam Vet. Would you mind sharing with us a bit about the process of writing China White?
KEN: China White was written years ago.  It was an emotional scar that I had to find a way to expose to light.  One of the enduring myths—rumors—legends that we heard constantly in Vietnam was that the bodies of dead Marines would be cut open and their internal organs replaced with China White, the world’s most potent form of heroin.  The caskets would them be labeled as “Remains Unviewable”.  Once passed customs it would be arranged for someone to intercept the caskets and remove the heroin.  This particular rumor was extremely unsettling to us.  By putting it into words, it was my way of dealing with a variety of emotional issues from the war.  China White also deals with the after-effects of that war, not only amongst veterans but also the Vietnamese –American community.  This interplay between two American communities hugely impacted by the war yet neglected in literature.

-Brief teaser for Fractured Angel?
How would you go about trying to help your daughter who, suffering her first psychotic break at fifteen, is chased by her wounded mind to the streets of Santa Barbara? That is the dilemma that Lynne Swanson faces. Out of her element, and definitely out of her comfort zone for this professional woman, she is forced to seek the help of Kerry Wilson, a social worker for the homeless. Unfortunately for her, Kerry is a rough-necked loner that has no inclination to hold the hand of a woman who he feels is out for a lark at the expense of his homeless clients. The harsh and deadly realities of the streets in one of the wealthiest cities in the world and an attempt to close a homeless shelter just as winter sets in produces a dramatic race against time with the life of Lynne’s daughter in the balance.

-Where can we buy Fractured Angel?
KEN: Fractured Angel can be preordered at:  July 7th it will be available world wide via Sukura Publishing, Amazon and most book outlets. China White and my other novel and non-fiction book can be ordered at Amazon.

Thanks so much for speaking with us today, Ken. It's truly inspiring and an honor to hear your story and I know our readers are going to feel the same. 

Please check out Ken Williams today and pick up a copy Fractured Angel.  For all you new writers out there, I highly recommend you take a peek at Sakura Publishing and everything that they have to offer. 

Keep checking back for more!

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Friday, June 13, 2014

The Monsterjunkies: An American Family Odyssey

To all of our readers out there who are craving some fresh, with a totally unique perspective, I kindly encourage you to keep reading today's post. We have for you a new book, recently brought to our attention, that seriously requires YOUR attention. As the tag lines states, "Everything you're looking for lies behind the mask you wear." Holy Cow's June 13th-book-alert-spolight-thingy is being shined directly on Erik Daniel Shein's and Theresa A. Gates' new series, The Monsterjunkies: An American Family Odyssey.
Welcome to the world of the Monsterjunkie Family...
Where being a normal family is a state of mind… 

In this first book, which is clearly just a prelude of much more to come, we are introduced to a fascinating world of otherworldly beasts in a coming-of-age story of profundity. This empowering tale encourages readers of all ages to let go of insecurities and concerns as to how others perceive you. Its refreshing originality, along with a modern ‘twist’, makes this novel incredibly relevant for the 21st Century and its target readership.

 Tucked away in a remote cul-de-sac on the Maine coast is a place where the strange is normal, and the bizarre, is everyday. This is a place, where, if you do not have an open mind, you will loose your mind in its reality and truths. This is the home of The Monsterjunkies, An American Family Odyssey. Residing at this place, Cromwell aka/ Crow and his sister, Indigo, along with their friends go down a reality curve to arrive at the harsh truth of the indelible hurt bullying, emotional abuse and prejudice can foster. The family faces ignorance combined with aggression at every step as they try to build a life for themselves in the home of their ancestors. We are all MonsterJunkies and wear masks during our daily lives, in school, during work, hanging out with friends, imitating, being people who we look up to and admire, or those we want to be. It is those people who take off their masks and show the real person inside who are the ones that truly find the meaning of their lives. The Monsterjunkies an American Family Odyssey, defines growing up through a cast of quirky yet engaging characters who also experience the same anxieties as any other family enduring the issues that portend 'coming of age.' Not all angst and agony, it marks a clear path to the ultimate form of acceptance, the approbation of self.

Here's what one impressed reader had to say about this original work:
 Eccentric, outlandish ideas and creative concepts fill the pages of this supremely singular story for Young Adults & Teenagers. The well-written narrative explores pain, joy and growth with acute poignancy and a deeply resounding look at self-evaluation. I was shocked by such an impressive and rather extraordinary read, so full of heart and containing many valuable lessons that strike a chord in us all. `The Monster Junkies' approaches bullying, peer-pressure, adolescent decision-making and many other strong themes which teenagers encounter with sincerity and touching truism. I can recall those feelings and anxieties that many of the characters within this book experience when I was this age, and so found the storyline highly relatable and current. Blending together the bizarre and brilliant in a fantastical fusion of colour and imaginative flair this quirky, idiosyncratic debut is a compelling read like nothing I have encountered before! Crow and his sister Indigo are likeable protagonists whose assured sense of inner-self and identity is something to admire and draw courage from. Finding acceptance and approbation of self (and self worth) is one of the most powerful topics within YA literature that can be examined, and so I would recommend this sensational story as a noteworthy edition to the genre. Refreshing originality along with a modern `twist' {contemporary feel} makes this novel incredibly relevant for the 21st Century and target readership. Similarly to books like `This song will save your life' this story highlights how we are all Monster Junkies: in that fa├žade's threaten to overwhelm us and lead us from the path of finding true meaning in life. This empowering tale encourages readers of all ages to let go of insecurities and concerns as to how others perceive you, so as to expose your inner-self and strength of heart. Through the cast of spunky, engaging characters I was able to draw meaningful connotation and impacting depth from the plot - - messages of hope, warmth and honesty. Not all about teenage angst and agony this story marks a clear path so that impressionable minds might not sway towards jealousy, but rather live life to the full through a comforting read. This striking story (with fantastic eye-catching, magical cover!) is a richly evocative tale that lingers on the mind and seeps into the soul...

What about the author?
Erik Daniel Shein was born Erik Daniel Stoops on November 18th 1966. He is an American writer, and Visionary, film producer, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, entrepreneur, entertainer, philanthropist, pet enthusiast and animal health advocate . He is the author and co author of over 30 nonfiction and fiction books whose writings include six scientific articles in the field of herpetology. His children’s book, The Forgotten Ornament is a Christmas classic, and was endorsed by Hollywood legends Mickey and Jan Rooney.

Where can you find out more and buy this book?
On the official Monsterjunkies website:

Go out now and buy some Monsterjunkies!