A new book, “Alice’s Boys,” by Greeley resident Ken Newens, takes readers through historical events experienced by three generations of fictional characters.
The book follows the extraordinary life of Alice Jenkins, beginning with her escape from her parents’ ranch in New Mexico Territory in the 1890s. Over the years, Jenkins and her two sons experience wars, depressions and the changes associated with an ever-changing America, while desperately trying to keep family secrets a secret.
Newens describes the novel as a “historical-Western-romance-military-science-fiction piece that takes readers from the days of the Old West to the age of nuclear weapons”.
Keen to ensure historical accuracy, Newens painstakingly researched a number of events that are featured in the book.
“I don’t know how anyone wrote historical fiction before the internet,” the author said. “It took me five hours on the internet to see if there really was a stagecoach line that ran through Ft. Sommer in 1900.
Newens does a great job of molding his characters and storyline and the surprise humorous ending wraps the novel up really well. “Alice’s Boys” is fun and appropriate reading for teens and adults alike.
“We weave our way through life, as individuals and families, trying to be in control, but we all run into events that will only later be called ‘the story.’ — Prologue” Alice’s boys”
“Alice’s Boys” is actually Newens’ second attempt at writing a novel.
“I was 380 pages away from my very first novel, which was kind of an apocalypse based on faith and prophecy when Tim LaHaye’s ‘Left Behind’ series came out and hit the market. So, I threw that away,” Newens said with a laugh. “This story had been buzzing in my head for two or three months and when the pandemic hit I had time to write.”
Each writer has their own writing process, including Newens who wrote the first 200 pages from the beginning, then moved on to writing the end and filling in the middle in between.
“With fiction, for me, it’s almost easier to write upside down,” he said. “Okay this just happened and how do I configure this. Then go write the configuration. I kind of wrote it upside down in chunks which apparently isn’t what most people do.
When he started writing “Alice’s Boys”, Newens was focused on creating an adventure. However, as he progressed through the book, he realized the story was more about the family.
“The book is more about a family and how you can stay together through really trying and amazing things,” he said. “And my family has been through some tough and amazing things, so it’s kind of a tribute to them.”
Some members of Newens’ family inspired characters in the book, such as “Bob”, which is based on his father.
“I put out a lot of Easter eggs for people who really know me. So they’re just there for family and friends,” Newens said.
From first word to final release, the project took about nine months, Newens said.
“It was just sitting at night watching a little bit of TV and ideas came to mind,” he said. “Some nights I would write two paragraphs and other nights I would look up and it was 2:45 a.m. and I had written 17 pages.”
The book is published by DeerVale Publishing, owned by University of Northern Colorado alumnus John R. Spencer. Spencer has published six of her own books through the company. The Iowa-based company was created to help other authors publish and market their works.
“He put together a really nice package and he found someone to do the cover art, formatted the final draft and arranged for printing,” Newens said. “I’ve lost more money on cattle deals than I’ll ever lose on this book, so it’s all good.”
While Newens enjoyed the process of writing “Alice’s Boys” and was thrilled to see his work come to fruition in a book, he’s not sure yet if he’ll tackle another writing project.
“Part of the sequel is already on the hard drive,” he laughed. “If I manage to break even on this book, I’ll reinvest and write another one.”
A fourth-generation Colorado native, Newens’ great-grandfather lived in Schneider and Newens grew up in Fowler where he helped his two uncles farm and feed livestock. After graduating from high school, he attended Colorado State University where he earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. Newens worked as a vet in La Junta for 24 years before moving with his wife to Greeley.
When he’s not writing or working, Newens enjoys trout fishing and tending to his own animals.
“Alice’s Boys” is available for purchase online in paperback or e-book from Barnes and Nobles and Amazon.