Sasha Kulenovic

Welcome New Author: Sanja Kulenovic

KiCam Projects is delighted to welcome Sanja Kulenovic to our family of authors!

Sanja KulenovicSanja’s book, which will publish in September 2019, tells the story of the Bosnian War through the lens of Sanja’s own family. Having grown up in Bosnia, Sanja was in California on her honeymoon when war broke out in her homeland in 1992. As the country of Yugoslavia broke up, Sanja and her husband, Djeno, found themselves stateless refugees, worried about their family and loved ones who were suffering thousands of miles away.

Sanja’s book includes heartfelt letters sent from her loved ones who lived daily with the horrors and uncertainty of war. Meanwhile, Sanja and Djeno worked to build a life from scratch, forced to take on menial jobs while they waited to hear if they would be granted the right to stay in the United States.

Today, Sanja lives in Southern California, where she works as a financial analyst. She and Djeno are parents to two adult daughters, and all are proud to be both Bosnian and American. Sanja supports the Bosana Foundation, which provides scholarships and other programs for Bosnian students in Bosnia.

Sanja’s book reminds us of the horrors of war and the dangers of division. It’s also an inspiring story of resilience and determination. As Sanja’s daughters told her, “You refused to live like a refugee. You built a wonderful and successful life for yourself and your family.”

We’re proud and excited to publish this book, which puts a personal face on recent world history and encourages all readers to fight through whatever obstacles they might face.

Welcome to the KiCam family, Sanja!

Headshot of Kathleen Cadmus

Q&A with Author Kathleen English Cadmus

When Kathleen English Cadmus found herself sitting across a table from a bounty hunter she was hiring to find her missing daughter, she was shocked by the surreal turns her life had taken.

Headshot of Kathleen CadmusShe’d lost her son Shawn to a tragic accident, endured a divorce from her college sweetheart, and now she was trying—again—to track down Laura, the beloved daughter she had adopted from Korea and who was in flight mode brought on by bipolar disorder.

Like all moms, Kathy’s experience of motherhood is at once unique and universal. Her debut book, Intertwined: A Mother’s Memoir, is a raw but loving tribute to the pain and beauty of motherhood and to the way a mother’s life and her children’s lives are distinct yet inseparable. Here, Kathy describes her writing process and shares what she hopes readers will think, feel, and learn from her memoir.

What inspired you to write your memoir and share your story with the world?

I started out a few years ago wanting to write about my son Shawn’s life and sudden death. I felt there was something there that might help other parents who had lost a child. My daughter, Laura, and I enrolled in two online writing classes at our community college. This led to my enrolling in graduate school and earning my MFA in creative writing five years later. As I became braver and bolder in my writing, and with the help of my writing mentors, I came to understand that Shawn’s life was the backstory to my unique mother-daughter journey. It was the writing and reflecting that made me realize my journey could help others. Writing inspired me to want to share my story.

What was the most challenging part of revisiting the difficult moments in your past?

In terms of the writing process, the most challenging part of revisiting these difficult moments of my past was knowing what to include and what to leave out. Intertwined spans a thirty-year period, which makes using the right words in the right place in the book crucial so that those “difficult moments” are reflected correctly and are conveyed at the time when the reader will most benefit from hearing about them. To help me decide what to take out or what to leave in, I challenged myself throughout the writing process with my mentor, Thomas Larson’s, question: “Does it serve the story?”

In terms of the emotional process of writing memoir, the most challenging part of revisiting the difficult moments was dealing with the pain that comes to the surface so abruptly when pulling up the old memories again, and in addition, processing the change in perspective on those memories that comes with the passage of time.

Was there a therapeutic aspect to your writing process?

Absolutely! And pursuing an MFA in creative nonfiction when your thesis is memoir is the best, albeit most expensive, form of psychotherapy available. I would have found it very difficult without the support of a writing community who understood the emotional transformation that most often accompanies the writing of memoir.

How did writing Intertwined affect your relationship with Laura? And with your sons, Pete and Ryan?

Writing Intertwined strengthened my relationship with all of my children. I would consult Pete and Ryan whenever I wrote chapters centered on their brother Shawn. They would provide a different perspective on the events or remember other details that I had forgotten. Sharing those perspectives with them as the adults they now are brought us closer and increased my understanding of the experience of their loss.

Since Laura is ten years younger than Ryan and fifteen years younger than Pete, she has no memories of the years surrounding Shawn’s death. She has read most of my completed memoir and has encouraged me to tell events that help the reader understand the situation, even when those events are painful memories for her. She has clarified events and made suggestions on my writing. It’s not easy being a character in a book! There were sections where I felt I needed to hold back or minimize events, but Laura would encourage me to write more. “It’s your story, Mom!” is what she has repeatedly told me. She is amazing. But Laura is a writer too and is currently completing her own MFA in creative writing. Laura and I share our writing with each other. It is one way to share our thoughts and feelings that is natural for both of us. This has given us better understanding of each other and brought us closer. And, I believe it has made us both better writers and stronger and better humans.

What did you learn about motherhood as you looked back on your life as a parent?

Writing about my mothering involved intense reflection on my own childhood and how I was parented. What stands out most to me now is the awareness of how fortunate I was to have both a mother and a father who trusted me and believed in me. Because of the parenting I received from them, I grew up believing I could do anything I chose to do. But, more importantly, I grew up feeling valued for being me. I believe that is reflected in my parenting of my own children. Writing this memoir made me more aware, sometimes painfully so, of how the joys and traumas of my own childhood shaped how I responded to each of my children’s joys and traumas.

How did your experience as a nurse, especially someone with expertise in mental health, inform your writing about Laura’s bipolar disorder?

As I wrote about Laura and her anxiety, depression, and subsequent diagnosis, I tried to provide a balance between the objective facts and the subjective experience of the emotions that both she and I experienced. Since most of my career has been centered in the mental health arena, I had to be reminded at times that the reader needed more explanation. It was a challenge for me to give the reader information about bipolar disorder without sounding too clinical and have the information still serve the story that needed to be told. I am also aware that many readers have had their own issues with depression or anxiety and bring that experience to their reading of my book. There may be similarities with their experience, but hopefully the reader comes away feeling everyone’s experience is uniquely their own.

What has been the most fulfilling aspect of writing and publishing your memoir?

The most fulfilling aspect of this experience has been the effect it has had on my relationship with my daughter, as well as with my sons. I love writing and what it does for me. The cherry on top for me is knowing that my story will give other grieving parents hope and that the short but full life of my son Shawn will help others.

What is the primary takeaway you hope readers get from Intertwined?

Most people who decide to read a memoir do so to get lost in a real-life story, to learn something, and/or to be inspired. I want readers to experience all of this and come away instilled with hope regarding their own human experience, whatever that may be.

Camille Patton

Kudos to Camille and the Little Free Library

Earlier this summer, KiCam Projects was thrilled to donate books to a Little Free Library being established by Camille Patton in Leland, Mississippi.

Camille Patton

Camille Patton and her Little Free Library in Leland, Mississippi

Camille, a rising senior at Isidore Newman High School in New Orleans, wrote to us to request help in making a dream of hers come to life.

As Camille said, “I have been very fortunate to have a mother who is a teacher who encouraged me to read, and I have always had access to books through my school, nearby libraries, and bookstores. However, I acknowledge that this is not the case for many people.”

She chose to build her Little Free Library in Leland, a rural town in the Mississippi Delta, because it’s her father’s hometown, where her grandparents and extended family still reside.

“My library is located at the main playground in Leland, where many children and teenagers are able to access it,” Camille explained. “While collecting books to put in my Little Free Library, I am trying to represent diverse age groups and authors to capture the attention of more readers. I am conducting book drives in New Orleans and will be taking books to Leland each time we visit. My aunt, who lives there, will refill the library whenever it begins to be depleted. My library is the first of several I will build for the Delta.”

Camille was kind enough to send us a photo of the installation of her Little Free Library, and we could not be more proud to be part of this project.

Young people like Camille are amazing examples of how each of us can change the world, one act of kindness at a time! Kudos, Camille!

Do you know of teens and young people doing extraordinary things? We’ d love to tell their stories! Email us at submissions@kicamprojects.com with details!

Peter Boling Anderson

Welcome New Author: Peter Bowling Anderson

Peter Boling AndersonKiCam Projects is delighted to welcome Peter Bowling Anderson to our family of authors!

Peter’s book, which will publish in September 2019, shares the inspiring and humorous story of his time working for, and becoming friends with, Richard Herrin, a middle-aged man with cerebral palsy. Richard overcame a lifetime of obstacles to earn multiple degrees and become a gifted motivational speaker. Peter worked full-time for Richard for five years, tutoring him, feeding him, dressing him, and taking care of him in every other way.

“I learned many invaluable insights from him, not just about the best ways to care for the physical and emotional needs of someone with CP, but also about perseverance, joy, and the proper perspective on life,” Peter says. “He’d experienced much over the years and possessed a wealth of wisdom. The book is about how limitations should never be placed on someone, either by others or by the individual, simply because of a physical challenge or disorder.”

Peter, who lives in Shreveport, Louisiana, has a master’s degree in communications/writing as well as a master’s in teaching (English, sixth-twelfth grades), and his work has appeared in The Connect MagazineMotherVerse: A Journal of Contemporary MotherhoodGoodtaste International MagazineBecause We Write Magazine, and Ezine Articles.  Peter shares his life with his wife, Leslie; son, Henry; and daughter, Clementine.

Peter’s story is heartfelt, poignant, and laugh-out-loud funny in places! We’re absolutely thrilled to bring this book to readers around the world.

Welcome to the family, Peter!

Purdy-Games Scholarship Winners

KiCam Publisher Part of Local Scholarship Committee

KiCam Projects’ mission is to bring both inspiration and information to the world, so where better to start than in our own community?

Jay R. Purdy

Jay R. Purdy

Our publisher, Lori Highlander, was thrilled to be part of the selection committee for the Purdy-Games Memorial Scholarship created by her stepfather, Jay R. Purdy, who passed away in 2017. Purdy’s bequest of more than $1 million will provide for an annual award of up to $10,000 in post-secondary scholarships for students graduating from Ripley-Union-Lewis-Huntington High School, Highlander’s alma mater. (Purdy’s mother, Helen Games, was an elementary teacher in Ripley.)

In its first year, the Purdy-Games Scholarship was awarded to Whitney King ($7,500), Kamri-Beth Offutt ($7,500), Brian Dunn ($2,500), Andrea Preston ($2,000), and Madisyn Blackburn ($1,500). Winners were selected based on criteria including academic performance and grade-point average, ACT score, extracurricular activities, employment history, financial need, and strength of a written essay.

Purdy-Games Scholarship Winners

Purdy-Games Scholarship winners, from left: Madisyn Blackburn, Whitney King, Kamri-Beth Offutt, Brian Dunn, and Andrea Preston.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to know Jay has left such a legacy right here in our own backyard,” Highlander says. “Jay was an amazing man, and I’m thrilled to be part of this scholarship fund, making it possible for our local graduates to further their educations and better themselves.”

Congratulations from KiCam to all of this year’s winners. Your futures are so bright!

For information on 2019 scholarships, please email RULH counselor Jasmine Osman

Digger the Hero Dog author Kilee Brookbank

IBPA Member Spotlight Features KiCam Projects

Digger the Hero Dog author Kilee BrookbankWe’re honored and delighted to have been featured in the Independent Book Publishers Association‘s most recent Member Spotlight!

Not only did they publicize the news about our recent opening of KiCam Books & Gifts, but they gave us the opportunity to tell our backstory and share our philosophy.

We also got to offer some advice to other indie publishers while talking a bit about what we’ve learned over these past two-plus years. (And we’ve learned a LOT!)

The IBPA is a phenomenal resource for small publishers and self-published authors, and we’re absolutely thrilled to be part of this organization and to be given the chance to introduce ourselves to anyone who might not have met us yet.

Speaking of meeting us, we’ll be on the floor attending Book Expo this week in New York, and we’ll be exhibiting at the American Library Association’s annual conference next month in New Orleans.

Stop by and say hello, and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Q&A with ‘Going Through Hell to Get to Heaven’ Author Dr. Scot Hodkiewicz

Scot HodkiewiczDr. Scot Hodkiewicz is a veterinarian who lives in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, with his wife, three children, and a menagerie of animals. He never intended to be a writer until he
was moved to share the story of his near-fatal car accident—caused by a drunk driver—and his resulting journey of faith.

With Going Through Hell to Get to Heaven, Scot hopes his memoir becomes a trusted companion for other Christians seeking to walk more closely with God.

What prompted you to write your memoir and share your personal experiences with readers?

We went through an incredible journey. It started out tragically, and through all types of twists and turns, ups and downs, and surprises that no one could have foreseen, it ended up as the best thing that could have happened to us. I could never have guessed that I would be saying that after having my entire family—everything that was important in my life—very nearly destroyed in an instant. It is a truly amazing story of how tragedy can be a blessing. This story just had to be told.

Going Through Hell to Get to HeavenHow did reliving your most painful experiences—a near-fatal car crash, the ensuing recovery, your addiction to pain pills—affect you? Did it feel therapeutic, or was it harder than you anticipated?

Reliving this was very painful. I had buried the hardest parts of our ordeal far away; they were just too upsetting to deal with. Writing the book brought all those memories back to the surface and forced me to explain each one of them in great detail. It would have been easier to gloss over things as I told the story, especially my drug addiction. Yet it was those very raw and painful moments that connect with people. It took me years to write this book and to get it right. That time allowed me to fully understand how these events changed me. Reflecting upon the struggle we went through and how it directed us onto God’s path was the best therapy I could have asked for.

What did you learn about yourself in the process of writing your book?

The first version of the book was more just a chronological narrative of what happened. To be honest, it was not very interesting. There was a message there that had to get out. This is a story of hope, not just a series of events. God kept telling me, “You can do better.” When I listened, the story told itself and people connected.

Why do you feel your story is suited for Christian groups and readers trying to grow in their faith lives?

When the crash happened, I was Christian in name only. God used this terrible event to wake me up. He showed me what I refused to see: that He was in charge and I needed to listen to Him. It was a slow process with a lot of wrong turns, but He kept turning me back to the faith. Christians always want to grow closer to the Lord. For me, I had to give up the control we all want and think we can achieve. Our story shows us that control of our lives is an illusion. Once we give that up, we can finally see all the wonders of this world and God’s love for us. God was with us in our struggle, and that struggle brought us closer to Him. As people learn to trust in His plan, not our own, we get ever closer to God. Completely trusting in Him is true faith.

You’ve lived through some extraordinary tragedies and challenges. Why does your book resonate with readers who have not endured such difficulties?

I was leading a pretty easy life before the crash. I grew up in a stable, loving family in a supportive community. I had achieved everything that I had set out to do, and life was going well. I reference my “great plan” for my life and I was following it to the letter. That plan was taken away through no fault of my own. Those who have not endured challenges are like me before the crash. At some point, we all will face adversity. What I learned is to embrace these challenges because they are what push us to grow in faith and strength. They are the spiritual workout we all need to find God and find our heaven. For those who have not gone through their own hell, they will be prepared when that day comes.

What’s the primary takeaway you hope readers get from Going Through Hell to Get to Heaven?

Our crash showed us that there is Hell on Earth, but our recovery showed us that Heaven is here also. It took nearly dying and a terribly painful recovery, but I finally saw Heaven through the angels that came into my life. Though it was not my choice to be in the Hell I was in, it was my choice whether I stayed there. Leaving Hell is easier said than done because you have to do something that we are all reluctant to ever do: You have to leave the anger and hate behind. If you hold onto those things, you will be stuck in Hell. The hard part is that you can only get rid of hate and anger through forgiveness, and forgiving someone who hurt everyone you love is not easy. I finally took the Lord’s Prayer to heart and listened to His words: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Once I forgave the man that nearly killed myself and my entire family, I was able to leave my Hell and see God and Heaven all around me. The best part is that once I forgave the man who did something that terrible to me, it became really easy to forgive everyone else. That peace that forgiveness brings opens the doors to Heaven, and it is right here on Earth. I know, because I now see it every day.

Welcome New Author: Kathleen English Cadmus

Kathleen CadmusWe’re delighted to welcome author Kathleen English Cadmus to the KiCam family!

Kathleen’s memoir will publish in March 2019, inviting readers to explore a mother’s journey through the loss of a child, the end of a marriage, the adoption of a beautiful baby girl, and the ups and downs of that little girl’s experience with bipolar disorder.

Looking back now, Kathleen views the highs and lows as the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of Laura, whom Kathleen adopted from Korea.

“Laura is the daughter I needed,” Kathleen writes. “Seeing life through her eyes gave me hope and resiliency and immense joy.”

Kathleen’s story will touch the heart of anyone who has known loss and who has worked to rebuild life after that loss. The book also speaks specifically to mothers and to loved ones of individuals with mood disorders and mental-health issues.

Kathleen, a healthcare professional from Columbus, Ohio, says one of her strengths is being a lifelong learner.

In her forthcoming memoir, she teaches us all about acceptance, healing, and learning to let go. We cannot wait to share Kathleen’s book with readers around the world!

Welcome to the KiCam family, Kathleen!

KiCam Projects Opens Bookstore in Mount Orab

KiCam Books and GiftsWe have exciting news! Here’s the press release we sent to the media. Come see us!

KiCam Projects, an independent publisher based in Georgetown, Ohio, recently opened a bookstore in Mount Orab, Ohio, to serve suburban and rural readers on the outskirts of the Cincinnati area.

KiCam Books & Gifts, which highlights KiCam Projects’ catalog of inspirational books, will celebrate with a grand opening May 12, including a signing of Digger the Hero Dog, the first children’s book by Benjamin Franklin Award-winning author Kilee Brookbank.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to connect with local readers and to create a gathering place for book lovers,” said KiCam Projects publisher Lori Highlander. “We’re opening in an area that’s rapidly changing and growing, and we envision our store as a hub for the community.”

The 1,100-square-foot store, located at 309 N. High Street, opened April 14. After a soft launch with limited hours, the store will be open seven days a week.

Founded in 2015, KiCam Projects is dedicated to changing the world one great story at a time by bringing to life true stories of survival and recovery—from illness, addiction, tragedy, or other challenges—that will inspire and empower audiences.

Sharon Leder holding her book, The Fix

‘The Fix’ Author Leder Creates Program for At-risk Teens

Sharon LederSharon Leder, author of The Fix: A Father’s Secrets, A Daughter’s Search, has used proceeds from her novel to establish Creative Outlets: Finding Your Voice Through ARTS! at the Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis, Mass.

The free program for youth ages 12-16 is offered Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. beginning April 15. Leder, who lost her father to his heroin addiction when she was a teen herself, is driven to help other young people affected by addiction.

“My writing helped me overcome the stigma of my father’s overdose death,” says Leder, a finalist for a Benjamin Franklin Award in the Best New Voice, Fiction category. “I want young people with stresses to know that words, and all the arts, can help them pull through difficult life challenges.”

To sign up or get more information about upcoming workshops in writing, music, visual art, drama, cuisine, piloting, and more, visit www.ccmoa.org/creative-outlets or contact Benton Jones, Education and Outreach Coordinator at the Cape Cod Museum of Art, at 508-385-4477, ext. 15, or Benton@ccmoa.org.

KiCam Projects is honored to work with purpose-driven authors like Sharon Leder. We’re all partners in changing the world, one great story at a time!