Posts Tagged With: animal training

Just One More Story

 

Photo By Gail Fisher, LA Tiimes

Photo by Gail Fisher, LA Times, 1980

 

It is really gratifying to be contacted by so many readers (many are fellow writers) requesting the background story on Almost Human. As a writer, it is a humbling experience to realize your work is reaching out beyond the private and often lonely effort of putting the words on the page.

Recently, I received an email from a reader in Russia (Russia!) who asked where I got the inspiration for Chapter 3, Lester and Girlie. That chapter is based on someone I knew years ago when I worked in the motion picture business who had a unique relationship with an aging chimp. He was an animal trainer in his late seventies or so. The old man and chimp were a real odd couple, who I enjoyed visiting from time to time.

Continue reading

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On Being Smarter

 

congo

Ken Decroo and Congo, African Elephant, Photo by Gale Cooper, 1981

 

Concerning the training of wild animals, I often speak on the importance of being smarter than the animal you’re training. When asked to elaborate on this concept, I immediately think of Congo, an elephant I worked many years ago.

While all elephants are smart, Congo was a genius. He was a big African male that stood almost twice as tall as my six feet.  At the time I met him, he lived at an animal safari park in California. I first met him when I was asked to work him for a photo shoot promoting the book, Animal People by Gail Cooper. I was featured in one of the chapters and Gail Cooper wanted a dramatic photograph.  Continue reading

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Kev’s Great Indie Authors – Interview with Kenneth L. Decroo

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Front cover photo/graphics by Casey Whitesell

Thanks so much to Kev’s Great Indie Authors for an insight interview! 

Click here for the interview. 

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Almost Human by Kenneth L. Decroo

Almost Human

by Kenneth L. Decroo

Giveaway ends September 18, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

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Book Signing – Hot Shots Coffee House – Blue Jay, CA – SAT – Aug 29 – 4PM

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For more details of the event click on the image above!

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Second Edition is Now Available!

The Beauty and the Beast!

The Beauty and the Beast! Thanks to Kat Gallego for providing the beauty!

The second edition of Almost Human is now available from Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

I’ve cleaned up after the proofreaders of the first edition.

Autographed copies of Almost Human can be purchased directly.

Buy Now Button

Shipping and handling listed in PayPal is for the USA (excluding Alaska and Hawaii). International shipping will vary.  

For information on book readings, signings and sparkling discussions go the my Amazon Author Page.

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What the Hell is a Book Signing/reading?

My friend, Jason, sent the perfect photo of how I read! Pacifico is a great

My friend, Jason, sent the perfect photo of how I read! Pacifico is a great “learning aid.”

Tomorrow, Sunday, July 12, at 3pm, I will do my first book signing/reading at Del Rio Vineyards and Winery in Gold Hill, Oregon.

I honestly don’t have a clue of what you do at one of these things. My agent was not much help as she suggested I “just be myself and sell books.”

I have to say that all the marketing part of the publishing business is a real mystery to me. I didn’t realize how much time I would be pulled away from writing my sequel, More than Human, to fulfill obligations that were in the “small print.” While it will be exciting to meet people in person who have read my book,  Almost Human, I am really nervous about doing this as I am completely out of my element. It borders on embarassing to me.

I plan to give the backstory of what inspired me to write the novel and some of what is behind the characters. Maybe talk about the craft of writing and answer questions if there are any.

I would love advice and suggestions. My reading is at 3pm tomorrow. HELP! 

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First Edition of Almost Human has Sold Out!

Advanced copies of Almost Human have arrived!

13 first editon copies of Almost Human are left

The First Edition of Amost Human has sold out! I have 13 copies left over from a book signing that the publiher authorized me to sell rather than send back. 

The next edition will be available soon according to my publisher. I am working on the revisions to the galleys for the next editon presently. I’m cleaning up after the proofreaders!

Autographed copies of Almost Human can be purchased directly.

Buy Now Button

Shipping and handling listed in PayPal is for the USA (excluding Alaska and Hawaii). International shipping will vary.  

For information on book readings, signings and sparkling discussions go the my Amazon Author Page.

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More Lessons From Writing My First Novel – Almost Human

Photo By Gail Fisher, LA Tiimes

Photo By Gail Fisher, LA Tiimes

It is really gratifying to be contacted by so many readers (many are fellow writers) requesting the background story on Almost Human. As a writer, it is a humbling experience to realize your work is reaching out beyond the private and often lonely effort of putting the words on the page.

Recently, I received an email from a reader in Russia (Russia!) who asked were I got the inspiration for Chapter 3, Lester and Girlie. That chapter is based on someone I knew years ago when I worked in the motion picture business who had a unique relationship with an aging chimp. He was an animal trainer in his late seventies or so. The old man and chimp, were a real odd couple, who I enjoyed visiting from time to time. The trainer was old Hollywood and claimed to have worked on many classic movies of the 30’s and 40’s. Also, he claimed that the chimp was Cheetah. Unfortunately, most of us in the animal world questioned the validity of that, but it made for a great story just the same.

Putting his claims aside, their actual relationship was touching. The chimp had the run of the trailer including her own room. Very often she even brought the old trainer coffee. The old man had the endearing habit of talking to her continuously. Their relationship was tender and loving. Clearly, they truly cared for each other in a way that blurred the line between what seemingly should separate them. He saw his chimp as a non-human being, but a being never-the-less.

I based Chapter 3 on this relationship. We, as writers, are hunters and gathers of experiences. We gather and store what we live, waiting for a time when we can re-work and insert those experiences into one of our stories. Simply, I believe a writer must live in a way that gives him material to gather, with the purpose of using it later. We always want to tell, “just one more story.”

Autographed copies of Almost Human can be purchased directly from the author.

Buy Now Button

Shipping and handling listed in PayPal is for the USA (excluding Alaska and Hawaii). International shipping will vary.  

For information on book readings, signings and sparkling discussions go the my Amazon Author Page.

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Lessons Learned From Writing My First Novel – Almost Human

What happens when the line between ape and man is blurred?

The full cover of the book.

I was in Baja last week and met a reader who told me he was writing a book. He paused and continued by lamenting that he had been writing it for many years and it was not anywhere near completion. I’ve met many writers who are in this same predicament. They’re writing or “gathering” but not any closer to finishing their book–their dream. Believe me I sympathize, I was in the same situation from many years.

Here’s a few strategies I’ve learned from writing Almost Human. First, and foremost, write the ending. I had been writing this book for years and my novel just kept growing. My editor and teacher, Kathryn Lynn Davis, after reading several chapters asked me, “How does the novel end?” When I couldn’t tell her, she gave me the single most important piece of advice that helped me finish my book! “Don’t send me another chapter until you’ve written the ending.” It took me several chapters to accomplish this but once I did, I had a road map to line up my plot development and character arcs. So, after many years of writing on and off, I finished the novel in the next six months! While this may not work for every novelist, it worked for me.

I set myself a goal to write three pages a day no matter what. Very often, on a particularly productive day, those three pages flowed and grew to twenty or more. But most importantly,  I wrote every day because that’s what we do, writers-write!

Also, I did very little editing as I wrote. I didn’t try to get my narrative perfect at the expense of the flow. I wrote and filled it out later. Sometimes as a warm up before my three pages.

I was fortunate to be invited to join a writers’ group that included several published authors led by a creative and insightful leader/author. The feedback and advice on how to to improve as a writer and navigate the publishing world was priceless. Just make sure it is a good group that truely critiques your work–no matter how painful. The goal is to become a better writer not participate in a mutal admiration support group. These writers were honest and skilled. I am very grateful.

And finally, I work hard at trying to live a life worth writing about. This can be referred to as “gathering” or “research,” I call it just having fun living life’s adventure. I feel drawing from our experiences makes our work ring true and gives it credibility.

I know while this worked for me and certainly is not exhaustive, it may not work for every writer. I wrote this because of how often I’m asked by readers how I managed to finish my novel.

Oh, it helps to have a worldclass, New York Times Bestselling author as your editor.  Thank you Kathryn Lynn Davis!

Autographed copies of Almost Human can be purchased directly from the author.

Buy Now Button

Shipping and handling listed in PayPal is for the USA (excluding Alaska and Hawaii). International shipping will vary.  

For information on book readings, signings and sparkling discussions go the my Amazon Author Page.

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