A new book, “Alice’s Boys,” by Greeley resident Ken Newens takes readers through historical events as experienced by three-generations of fictional characters.
The book follows the extraordinary life of Alice Jenkins, beginning with her running away from her parent’s ranch in the New Mexico Territory in the 1890s. As the years progress, Jenkins and her two sons de ella live through wars, depressions and the changes associated with an ever-evolving America, while desperately trying to keep family secrets under wraps.
Newens describes the novel as a “historical-western-romance-military-science fiction piece that takes readers from the days of the Wild West into the age of nuclear weapons.”
Wanting to ensure historical accuracy, Newens painstakingly researched a number of events that are featured in the book.
“I don’t know how anybody wrote historical fiction before the internet,” the author said. “It took me five hours on the internet looking to see if there actually was a stagecoach line that went through Ft. Sumner in 1900.”
Newens does a great job molding his characters and storyline and the humorous surprise ending really wraps up the novel nicely. “Alice’s Boys” is a fun read and appropriate for teens as well as adults.
“We blaze our trail through life, as individuals and families, trying to be in charge, but we all collide with events that will only later be called ‘history’.” — “Alice’s Boys” prologue
“Alice’s Boys” is actually Newens’s second attempt at writing a novel.
“I was 380 pages into my very first novel, which was kind of a faith-based, prophecy-based apocalypse when the Tim LaHaye ‘Left Behind’ series came out and hit the market. So, I threw that away,” Newens said, chuckling. “This story was just buzzing in my head for two or three months and when the pandemic hit, I had time to write.”
Every author has their own process of writing, including Newens who wrote the first 200 pages of the beginning, then switched to writing the ending and filling in the middle in between.
“With fiction, to me, it’s almost easier to write backwards,” he said. “Ok, this just happened and how do I set that up. Then go and write the setup. I kind of wrote it in backward chunks, which is apparently not what most people do.”
When he first started writing “Alice’s Boys,” Newens was focused on creating an adventure. However, as I have progressed through the book, I have realized the story was more about family.
“The book is more about a family and how you can stay together through some really trying and incredible things,” he said. “And my family has been through some trying and incredible things so it’s kind of a tribute to them.”
Some of Newens’s family members inspired characters in the book, like that of “Bob,” who is based on his father.
“I put in a lot of Easter eggs for people who really know me. So they are just in there for family and friends,” Newens said.
From first word to final draft, the project took about nine months to complete, Newens said.
“That was just sitting at night watching a little TV and ideas would pop into my head,” he said. “Some nights I might write two paragraphs and other nights I’d look up and it’s 2:45 am and I’d written 17 pages.”
The book is published through DeerVale Publishing, owned by University of Northern Colorado alumnus, John R. Spencer. Spencer has published six of his own books by him through the company. The Iowa-based company was formed to help other authors get their works published and into the marketplace.
“He put together a very nice package and he found someone to do the cover art, formatted the final draft and made arrangements for the printing,” Newens said. “I’ve lost more money on cattle deals than I’ll ever lose on this book, so it’s all okay.”
While Newens enjoyed the process of writing “Alice’s Boys” and was delighted to see his work come to fruition in a book, he’s not sure yet if he will tackle another writing project.
“Part of the sequel is on the hard drive already,” he said, laughing. “If I break even on this book, I will re-invest and write another one.”
A fourth generation Colorado native, Newens’s great-grandfather homesteaded at Schneider and Newens grew up in Fowler where he helped his two uncles farm and feed cattle. After graduating high school, he attended Colorado State University where he earned a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine. Newens worked as a veterinarian in La Junta for 24 years before relocating with his wife from him up to Greeley.
When not writing or working, Newens enjoys trout fishing and taking care of his own animals.
“Alice’s Boys” is available for purchase online in paperback or as an e-book from Barnes and Nobles and Amazon.