New book about Scientology: Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley, by Carol Es

Discussion in 'News and Current Events' started by CommunicatorIC, Feb 23, 2019.

  1. New book about Scientology: Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley, by Carol Es [@esart on Twitter].

    Amazon: Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley, by Carol Es


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    Kindle: $14.99

    Six houses, five apartments, three motels, a Hollywood mansion, and a small vegetable farm in Pennsylvania. Experiencing the early life of self-taught artist, writer, and drummer, Carol Es was enough to confuse any kid. Carol grew up believing she was inherently bad; she'd suffered psychological abuse of her mentally ill mother, an unstable family that moved around a dozen times before her ninth birthday, and endured horrific sexual molestation. By the age of 15, she felt compelled to ditch a rootless, dysfunctional family circus and head out on her own. From there, she wound up trapped in a cult for the next 20 years.

    Seduced by the celebrity that lured her into Scientology and their magic promises to fix her broken life, Carol buried herself in the concepts and philosophies of L. Ron Hubbard. Meanwhile, she hopelessly denied and hid her own underlying mental illness which went on untreated because of her belief in a doctrine that made psychiatry out to be an evil hoax. Throughout suppressing the pain she was living through, and that of her past, she somehow remained truly bonded to art and music as a means of survival.

    After a tumultuous childhood and years of mind control, Carol has taken a huge stride out of the blackness of fear and silence by completing her book, Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley—where she shares an unexpected perspective through moments of true vulnerability, gallows humor, and genuine honesty. Illustrated with original sketches throughout, she invites the reader into her confidence, laying bare her most raw and intimate revelations as an artist and a woman finding self-worth, something she had to build upon with only a fragile foundation. It is a courageous, relatable story that will keep you turning the pages.

    Carol Es has earned many honors during her career in the arts, including a Pollock-Krasner and the Wynn Newhouse award. Her work can be found in the Getty Museum, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and MOMA. As a musician, she has worked with renowned producers, recorded with artists such as Rickie Lee Jones, and has toured North America. She lives in Los Angeles, where she enjoys studying cultural anthropology and spending time with her partner and their little gray dog. For more info, visit Carol's blog at

    Editorial Reviews


    "...acerbic, warm, and funny. A captivating account filled with sharp perspectives on mental illness, childhood trauma, Scientology, and art."
    -Kirkus Reviews

    "Carol Es has written about our essence and blasted it across the stars. I could not stop turning the pages. Her book is insightful, funny, horrifying, and beautiful, like life itself."
    -Michael Phillips, Author of Riding Out the Dumb Silence

    "Carol's deeply moving and inspiring story sheds light on the resiliency of the human spirit to overcome profound childhood sexual abuse and neglect."
    -Magen Todd, Ph.D., CSAT, Trauma Specialist

    "While seemingly strapped to a spinning wheel as a blindfolded carny throws knives at her, knives tipped with the poison of her off-kilter family, sexual assault, Scientology and abusive relationships, Es takes us through all this with a singular voice full of humor and warmth."
    -Stephen Hines, Author of The Late Season

    "With her strong voice and talent for descriptive experiences, Carol Es's writing is raw and original, giving you a sense that you are right there with her. Definitely a memoir to be enjoyed!"
    -Nancy Many, Author of My Billion Year Contact: Memoir of a Former Scientologist

    From the Back Cover

    Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley is a guided tour through a Tilt-A-Whirl life that takes so many turns that you may find yourself looking up from the pages and wondering how the hell one person managed to fit them all into 40-odd years. And many of them are odd years indeed. From a rootless, abusive childhood and mental illness through serious and successful careers in music and art, much of which were achieved while being involved in a notoriously destructive mind-control cult. Carol Es presents her story straight up. No padding, no parachute, no dancing around the hard stuff. Through the darkness, she somehow finds a glimmer of light by looking the big bad wolf straight in the eye, and it is liberating. When you dare to deal with truth, you are free. Free to find the humor that is just underneath everything and the joy that comes with taking the bumpy ride.

    Illustrated with original sketches throughout, Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley is not just another survivor's tale, it's a creative ride where raw and intimate revelations are laid bare. As an artist and a woman finding self-worth, it's a truly courageous, relatable story that will keep you engaged.

    Product details

    File Size: 8319 KB
    Print Length: 537 pages
    Publisher: Desert Dog Books; 1 edition (April 6, 2019)
    Publication Date: April 6, 2019
    Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
    Language: English
    Text-to-Speech: Enabled
    X-Ray: Bot Enabled
    Word Wise: Enabled
    Lending: Not Enabled
    Screen Reader: Supported
    Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled



    Los Angeles writer, musician (drummer), and self-taught artist Carol Es writes for the Huffington Post, Whitehot Magazine, and Coagula Art Journal. She’s been published with Bottle of Smoke Press, Islands Fold, Chance Press, and her Artist’s books are featured in the Getty Research Library, Brooklyn Museum, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Awarded grants from the National Arts and Disability Center and Asylum Arts for writing, she’s also a two-time recipient of the Durfee Foundation’s ARC Grant. Additionally, Carol is a Pollock-Krasner Fellow and won the Wynn Newhouse Award in 2015.

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  2. Kirkus Review: Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley, by Carol Es.

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    A Los Angeles artist revisits her volatile life as a Scientologist rocker in this debut memoir.


    But in recounting her adult life, Es truly taps into intriguing self-reflection. She writes of the moderate success that her band, The Extinct, attained by touring with comedian Pauly Shore and of her brainwashing in Scientology. Being “in a band made up of Scientologists? It’s a cult within a cult,” she writes. Even as it became apparent that she had major health issues and had inherited her mother’s mental instability, the author refused to seek care, opting for a Scientologist’s self-reliance. She provides engrossing details about cults, playing with the peculiar vocabulary of Scientology to craft hilarious and terrifying illustrations of people constructing their own realities. (One memorable fight with a boyfriend named Peaches ended with Es screaming “REFUND CYCLE,” apparently violent words considered a “high crime.”)


    A captivating account filled with sharp perspectives on mental illness, childhood trauma, Scientology, and art.

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  3. Incredulicide Member



    This book has gone through many transitions since I started it in 2010 — well before I decided to publish it. Almost nine years later, it’s finally finished. I can’t believe it.
    In December 2016, I set up this blog because I wanted to start
    complaining about
    documenting what this process has been like, writing my first full-length book. I wish I’d thought of setting up a blog sooner since I’ve actually been talking about this thing publicly once I knew its title in 2012. That was about when I mentioned it on my artist’s blog, Carol’s Bloggie.

    I’d like to first acknowledge the help I received for editing, made possible by grants from Asylum-Arts, and the National Arts and Disability Center and the California Arts Council’s Technical Assistant Grant. I also worked with writer/editor/mentor, Lisa Teasley for about a year to get the manuscript from its first “final” draft (I thought it was the final — ha ha!), to a better place for which I could work from.

    When I finally sat down to write this in 2010, I figured, if I ever did publish it, I’d have to write it as a fiction piece. And honestly, I always knew I’d write this book. I even had portions of it written out since 2004, and parts, even some lines — verbatim — since the early 1980s (my 20s!). I saved all of it because I knew my early life was not normal. I had a plethora of material to glean from. My family members alone were the most interesting characters in contrast to the many other people I’ve known, and I know literally hundreds of people — musicians and artists alike — all of them with interesting stories and endless antics. I’ve lived in countless neighborhoods, traveled all over the country, and, I just happen to be a magnet for the weird. A lot has happened.

    The reason I figured I’d have to make it fiction? I felt that no one in their right mind would ever believe me. In the meantime, I decided to just write. I wasn’t going to think about it being fiction, nonfiction, autobiography, or sci-fi. For about two years, I wrote everything I could remember about my life. At the time I stated, I’d been grieving my mom’s death for a year, so my feelings were out there. Raw. Open. I wasn’t exactly “finished” grieving (do we ever?).

    I typed and typed, never going back to edit one bit of it. It looked like a gorilla typed it. I just spewed it all directly from my gut. Nothing was in order. Nothing was connected. Some of it meant nothing to me, and some meant everything. And no human being would’ve been able to decipher this gobbledegoo. I was hardly able to myself.
    I went back over all of it, corrected everything, and made it make sense. Once that was done, I put it all in chronological order the best I could. It was not so easy to get this exactly right…until I began separating everything in bits according to where I lived at the time.

    That’s when I got Scrivener, probably one of the greatest things to happen to me as a writer. It helped me to turn 316,000 words into a story line. I was able to carve one out by 2014 and whittled it down to 188,000 words. During this process, I made decisions back and forth about whether I’d publish it. The book went from fiction to nonfiction, my partner got me to see that the strongest thing about the story was that it was true. Nonfiction it is.

    Still, 188,000 — too long. No one in the publishing industry wants to read a book that long, and upon testing it out on private readers, there were just too many stories about other people and not enough about me. The book was supposed to be about me, right? Well it took me something like seven more rewrites to understand that. I rewrote the book from scratch.

    It took me many years of writing this book previously in order to write my second book and make it my first real book… Does that make sense?
  4. Incredulicide Member

  5. Review by Anthony Avina (author of the "Welcome to Nightmare Academy" young adult series) of "Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley."

    Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley by Carol Es Review

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    The Review

    This has got to be one of the most detailed and emotionally powerful books of not only an ex-Scientologist, but of a survivor in general. Having overcome so much hardship and struggles in her life, author Carol Es has delivered an emotionally driven, informative and down to earth retelling of the events that shaped her life, and her journey to overcome those experiences.

    While I will reiterate that his novel has some powerful themes and stories that can be triggering for some (and should not be read by anyone who is triggered by these stories or children), the story is one everyone should get an opportunity to read. The life led by the author has elements many people can find a way to relate to. Whether it’s the abuses she survived, the indoctrination in Scientology, (one of the biggest cults currently running in the world), a troubled childhood and family life and coming to terms with that while dealing with loss, the highs and lows of the music industry, and even those struggling with autoimmune illnesses like MS and Lupus, this novel has something most readers will be able to relate to and identify with.

    The Verdict

    This is a must read novel of 2019. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say it’s a top contender for best nonfiction and top read of 2019 on my website. It’s has humor infused in a natural way, while also incorporating emotionally charged stories that not only showcase the worst of humanity, but also shows the power of resilience and fighting for a brighter, better tomorrow. An in-depth analysis of Scientology as well, viewers of the show conducted by former Scientologist Leah Remini or former scientologists themselves will be shocked, surprised and relieved to see someone give such an accurate and powerful account of what life in this organization is truly like. If you enjoy powerful memoirs, real life accounts of life inside of a cult and stories of overcoming great odds to find a brighter future, then grab your copy of Carol Es’s novel “Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley” on April 6th, 2019.

    Rating: 10/10

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  6. Hardcover and special editions of Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley are now available.


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    I’m finally feeling like I’m getting things done, probably because I AM! The To-Do list is finally getting shorter (I never thought that would happen), and I sent out my newsletter on Tuesday. (Sign up now!) I wanted to give my mailing list first dibs on pre-purchasing signed copies of my books and giving them first crack at the big discount on the limited edition copies. Everyone gets a bit more than two weeks at the pre-sale price, which is a $100 savings. Lots of bang for your buck, as they say. But there was one piece of news I had to leave out of the newsletter that I will announce now.

    UPDATE: I guess I should’ve also mentioned that the signed trade copies that are available for pre-sale on the Desert Dog Books website are for the same low price as Amazon with free shipping. Those of you that received the newsletter would have known that.

    I had to keep it under wraps until it was officially announced, or I would have tooted my shofar since I’m pretty thrilled about it. I was awarded the Bruce Geller Memorial Prize WORD Grant for Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley. This is an amazing honor and it still hasn’t really sunk in yet. This award is a project of the American Jewish University’s Institute for Jewish Creativity which supports artists living and working in Los Angeles. The funding for my project is one of nine awards given out for 2019. Pretty awesome!

    Also, I’m going to be doing a blog book tour. I don’t have all the blogs booked yet, but check on my blog tour page in the coming days/weeks to see what’s happening.

    Now I’m putting the colored pencil drawings inside all the editioned books. It’s the same drawing (of a cake stand?) that varies every time I draw it. I wanted it to be pretty consistent since the watercolors are already completely different in every single book.'


    All the pattern drawings are done. Maybe I didn’t mention that yet, since I finished them last Friday and took them to Jeff Kies, my framer (who is also an artist). He’s framing 15 little pieces. I have one oil painting to go, and as of 5:00 a.m. I was able to finish up the first 10 of the book drawings. The above isn’t really finished. They get slightly more detailed, but not by much. With everything else going on, I can do about four a day. I still have to go back to sign and letter them though.

    Oh yeah…I was informed by Craig that I gave out the wrong RSVP number for the gallery in my newsletter. I gave out the fax number. Gah! I will remedy that in the show announcement when I send that out around the 1st, but the gallery number is (310) 828-6410. Sorry about that!

    The oil painting is loosely sketched out onto the canvas and roughly looks like this (but don’t ask!):


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    Exclusively From Desert Dog Books

    Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley Special Edition

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    Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley by Carol Es Special Edition. These beautiful specimens are limited to 29 copies. There are 26 lettered copies, an Artist's proof (signed), a Bon á tirer (unsigned), and a Hors de Commerce (unsigned). There is one "mystery copy" that is one of a kind. Only the 26 lettered copies are available for sale.

    Printed on 60# Accent warm white paper and hardbound in starched linen, and the title stamped with red foil on the spine, the book also comes with a dust jacket. Every copy includes an original colored pencil drawing on the first page, a totally unique 5 x 8 inch watercolor and ink painting on #140 watercolor paper, and a cassette mix tape of 1970s and 1980s music. All books are lettered and signed by Carol Es.







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  7. PODCAST: Interview with Carol Es: Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley.

    This Is Not A Test - Interview with Carol Es: Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley

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    In this ear-crushing aural assault on the senses, artist and author Carol Es talks to us on the day her debut memoir Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley is published. Okay, it’s not really an “ear-crushing aural assault on the senses,” it’s just an interview, but lend a crushed ear to hear about Carol’s adventures in writing and publishing a book, as well as her take on how Scientology ultimately affected her approach to the book (probably not in the way you might think), how her friends and family have reacted (before even reading the book), about her upcoming book launch/art show at the Craig Krull Gallery in Santa Monica, and how ultimately the truth will always set you free.

    Links mentioned in the episode:

    Interview with artist and writer Carol Es
    Desert Dog Books
    Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley
    Los Angeles artist Carol Es – THIS IS NOT A TEST #3
    The death of the truth

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    The podcast is on YouTube.

  8. Carol Es has posted about the launch event for her book about Scientology, "Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley." The event featured appearances by Tory "Magoo" Christman and Dennis Erlich. Carol read from her book. There was also a solo show of her art.

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  9. Carol Es has created a second edition of her book "Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley" to correct errors in the first edition. That and other news can be found at her following blog post:

  10. Review on Indie Reader.

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    IR RATING: 4.5
    Posted by David Herman
    October 30, 2019


    Some of the most compelling pages of the memoir are those in which the author provides an insider’s account of Scientology—its global reach, its doctrines, and its practices. Es spent decades embroiled with this organization, and readers unfamiliar with other exposés are likely to be shocked by her description of practices such as “auditing” (with or without “e-meters”), “Fair Game,” and “Purification Rundown.” In a moving chapter late in the book, the author recounts how she was impacted by the realization that she could no longer participate in these practices, and that so much of her life had been devoted to an institution she came to see as fraudulent and destructive.


    Carol Es really did encounter SHRAPNEL IN THE SAN FERNANDO VALLEY—familial, psychological, job-related, and other—but she has lived to tell about it in this well-paced, captivating memoir, a transcendent story about how fostering one’s own creativity affords resilience and the means for survival.

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