Great News Article In the Mountain Alpine News!

 By MARY-JUSTINE LANYON

Lake Arrowhead, CA

Editor

For fans of Ken Decroo’s Almost Human series of books there is good news: The third and final installment is in the editing process now and should be released just after Christmas.

The Running Springs resident told members of the Mountain Sunrise Rotary Club that “you write what you know. For some of us, that can be harder than others.

“In this respect,” Decroo said, “I’ve written about the life I’ve lived, in fiction, training wild animals, working in research facilities and films.”

When he writes a book, Decroo told the Rotarians, he never knows at first how it’s going to go.

“When I wrote Almost Human, my agent asked me after I had submitted 10 chapters how it was going to end. My answer was I really didn’t know. The characters were writing it.”

The agent told Decroo not to send her another chapter until he had sent the last chapter.

“When I wrote the end, I suddenly had a goal, a light that directed me to the end. Then I didn’t meander as much in my writing. My focus was sharper.”

In the school districts where Decroo has worked – including the Rim of the World Unified School District – he found that if he could give the students a focus, it made all the difference. “For some,” he said, “it gave them a focus for the rest of their lives.”

Decroo told the Rotarians that he has been graced. “I had a story to tell. I wanted to go back and revisit a very special time in my life but I didn’t want to write a memoir. I wanted to combine some of the incredible characters I’ve met, tell the story and make it come out how I wanted it to come out.”

Almost Human grew out of a conversation he had with two of the actors on the set of the movie Animal Behavior. Decroo was on set with Mike the chimp, whom he had taught some sign language. One of the actors, Armand Assante, told Decroo he couldn’t believe how humanlike Mike was.

“I put on my professor hat and told Armand about the similarities between humans and chimps,” Decroo said. “There’s a difference of one chromosome. The chimp is more closely related to us than the gorilla.”

That conversation led to Decroo sitting down at the typewriter and writing the beginning of what would become his three-book series.

In Almost Human, creatures with the enormous strength and power of a chimpanzee and the intelligence and size of a human are discovered in a remote area of equatorial Africa. Drs. Ken Turner and Fred Savage follow the rumors of these chimp-human hybrids, wanting to study them. The government, however, wants to exploit them.

In Becoming Human he has tried to “flush out the ethics of science and our human relationship to animals – how it can go awry very quickly. Some of the characters are in it for the pursuit of knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Others are in it for how that knowledge could profit them,” Decroo said.

In Dr. Turner, readers will see the “ethics of what we owe animals.”

Much of what happens in Becoming Human actually occurred when Decroo was working with Washoe, a chimp he taught to communicate using 350 words of American Sign Language. “We were approached by the Department of Defense, offering us strings-attached grants to do research on the retrieval of dangerous devices using chimps. They put a lot of pressure on us but we weren’t interested,” Decroo said.

In the book, however, “they do bend. It’s tempting when there’s that kind of money involved.”

Decroo’s series of books “has to do with the ethics of science and the ethics of people who work with animals – what is expected of us. We don’t always come up to snuff,” Decroo said.

Becoming Human sets up the third book – More Than Human – in which Decroo will tie in some of the mysteries and myths of the Pacific Northwest.

Decroo said he usually writes late in the evening, when it’s quiet. On a good evening, he said, “the characters come to visit you and tell you their story. On a bad evening, you stutter around and try to make it work.”

He explained the editing process to the Rotarians, noting that a book first goes through a developmental edit, when the author may see substantial changes in the structure of the book. “The editors are thinking of marketing,” he said. “They may want to strengthen the lead-in or change the ending.”

His first publisher wanted him to edit out Lester, a character he considers crucial to the story. “The rep said, ‘He’s an old man. You have him trekking through the jungle.’ I hung up on her.

“You don’t have to agree with everything they suggest.”

The next step is copyediting, where the prose is examined. “They may tell you you have used a certain word too many times.” Then comes line editing, looking for typos. The process, Decroo said, “takes a while.

“There were substantial changes in my first book. As I got better, knowing how to structure a novel, there were fewer.”

Book sales have “gone crazy” during the COVID-19 pandemic, Decroo said, with audio books selling especially well. Almost Human and Becoming Human are available on Amazon.  

Audiobook of Becoming Human

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The audiobook of Becoming Human is about to be released. The actor/narrator, Kevin Chambers did an excellent job of bringing my humble effort to life. Here is a link to a sample: https://www.dropbox.com/s/agrbstuyvd98rzu/becoming%201st%2015%20edited%202%20mp3.mp3?dl=0 . Please let me know what you think.

I’m Bicycling from San Francisco to L.A. to Raise Money for the Arthritis Foundation

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On September 18, 2018, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. This was after several weeks of debilitating pain in my hands, wrists, and shoulders. I was fortunate to have an excellent team of physicians who, with therapy and medications, have given me my life back.

I have learned from this wonderful foundation (Arthritis Foundation), that people with arthritis are warriors, boldly facing the pain, limitations and challenges the disease causes. Challenges like getting properly diagnosed, multiple doctor’s visits and treatments, a maze of insurance procedures, missing school or work, being unable to perform normal, everyday tasks or enjoy favorite hobbies and activities. I am facing these challenges and do not plan to give up my active lifestyle any time soon.

This year on September (2019), my wife Tammy and I, will be bicycling from San Francisco to L.A. in an effort to raise money for the Arthritis Foundation. I ride to cure arthritis to improve the lives of arthritis warriors. This incredible event is the largest gathering of the arthritis community in the world, raising funds for resources and research, to find better treatments and a cure.

Please donate to help me reach my fundraising goal and help the Arthritis Foundation conquer arthritis once and for all.

See what my publisher and readers are saying about Becoming Human

 WHAT READERS ARE SAYING: “Becoming Human by Kenneth L. Decroo is a frightening tale of science unguided by ethics, and the devastation that can be wrought by government agencies that operate without benefit of effective oversight. Step-by-ominous-step, the author takes you from the relatively benign environs of Reno, Nevada to the dark menace of the Congolese jungles, to the even more dangerous environs of smuggling dens in Germany and the Netherlands. An eclectic, and all-too-believable cast of characters will hook your interest from page one, and at the end, leave you breathless and looking over your shoulder and wincing at every sound.” Charles Ray, Awesome Indies Book Awards.

 

AIAPUBLISHING.COM
When Kenneth L. Decroo came to me with Almost Human, he told me he had 2 more books in the series to come. I was so impressed with Almost Human that I agreed to publish the whole series, but saying something like that is always a risk – the next book could have been terrible! …

My Teacher – Mr. Kazmerscky – The Kaz

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It had seemed like a good idea at the time. We had sneaked over the fence and waited in the shadows outside the football field lights for the right moment, the crowning of the homecoming queen, to turn on the sprinklers. The powder blue, Cadillac convertible rolled up in front of the bleachers and stopped at the podium where the superintendent of schools and high school principal stood ready with the crown. My ex-girlfriend was preached on the top of the back seat next to the captain of the football team. They struggled to negotiate their way out of the Caddy and up the steps.

Continue reading “My Teacher – Mr. Kazmerscky – The Kaz”