Freebie Days are back! Amazon.com is offering Ravenscraigfor a free download today and tomorrow. Available in the US and in the UK.
Why free? This is part of the Kindle Select Program and the idea is to help authors become known to a wider audience. I am very pleased that we had over 10,000 free downloads in the last free days over a month ago.
I am even more delighted with the readers who took the time to write a review for Amazon. 11 of the 15 reviews currently posted are Five Star.
I am excited to let you know that Ravenscraigwill be offered as a special promotion this week. From Oct. 10-12 it will be available for free download on Amazon. Click here to download the book….but wait until Wednesday, Oct 1oth, and please be kind enough to send this message on to everyone you know.
So why does a writer support giving a book away for free? The idea is the more people who download the book, the better chance this story, and this author, have of finding a readership. In this new world of enormous strain on traditional publishing combined with the desire for instant access downloads, I think this might be a most welcome manner to get a Canadian story out to a wide audience. I am particularly hopeful that someone in Scotland who lives within driving distance of Ravenscraig Castle might download the book.
You will find a short book trailer at the bottom of this post.
About the book
Romance, scandal, and tragedy grip the lives of two families and threaten to destroy them both in Ravenscraig, by Sandi Krawchenko Altner.
Winner of the 2012 Carol Shields Book Award, Ravenscraig, pitches rich against poor in the height of the immigration boom a century ago. Rupert Willows buries his cruel past and schemes his way to wealth and power when he buys his opulent home, Ravenscraig Hall. Zev Zigman, a devout Jew, mounts a desperate struggle to bring his family out of czarist Russia.
At the center is the feisty Maisie, who hides her Jewish roots to enter the world of “The English” and a better paying future at Ravenscraig. Love, anger and determination fuel the treacherous journey ahead.
About the author:
Sandi Krawchenko Altner is a former television news reporter, anchor, and radio host who enjoyed an award-winning career in broadcasting over two decades in Montreal and Winnipeg. She is a fifth generation descendent of the first colony of Ukrainian immigrants to settle in Manitoba in 1896. Sandi grew up with a keen interest in her roots and a deep love of history. A Jew by choice, she celebrated conversion in 2005.
Sandi moved to Florida in 2001 where her passion for family histories gave rise to her business as a personal historian, and documentary producer. She specializes in interviewing people about their lives and creating tribute video projects. Ravenscraig is her first novel.
I am very excited to announce that I will be participating in the Jewish Book Council Network. What a fantastic organization. The Network program supports authors who write books that are of appeal to a Jewish audience.
From the JBC website: For authors, this is an opportunity to go on an all-expenses-paid book tour around North America. For program directors, it is the source of a wide selection of interesting authors who will speak in your community without an honorarium.
In June they will bring together a couple of hundred people from all over Canada and the US who are looking to book authors for events and speaking engagements. Authors, like me, will have a two minute opportunity to make an impression that will hopefully lead to invitations to speak. It has been described by one participant as a combination of the Gong Show and Speed Dating. Can’t wait. Here’s a little video about the event.
More to come. I will update you on all of the details of my trip. I am set to present on June 3rd. It happens that my daughter, Katiana Krawchenko, will also be in New York, so I am looking forward to memories that will be made. Katiana is a journalism senior at the University of Florida and has been granted a ten week internship at CBS News in New York. How proud are the parents?
What an incredible honour it is that Ravenscraighas been recognized as the winner of the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award. I am at a loss to describe how deeply moved I am that this has happened.
Carol Shields was born and raised in Chicago, but lived in Canada from 1957 until her death in 2003. She wrote ten novels and two collections of short stories in addition to poetry. She won the Pulitzer Prize for The Stone Diaries, which was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and she won the Orange Prize for Larry’s Party.
The Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award is presented by the City of Winnipeg and this is how it is described on the city’s website.
In 1999 the City of Winnipeg established its first book award. The first Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award was presented in 2000 at Brave New Words, the Manitoba Literary Awards. The Award is a juried annual prize honouring books which evoke the special character, and contribute to the appreciation and understanding of Winnipeg. All genres are eligible. The Call for Submissions is issued in late fall. The Award and its $5000 prize are presented at Brave New Words, the Manitoba Writing and Publishing Awards Gala.
Some years ago, I had the privilege of interviewing Mrs. Shields when her novel, Larry’s Party, was released, and I was working in television news.
Warm, quiet and dignified, is how I remember her. She was a small and gentle woman who seemed somewhat overwhelmed by all of the attention that was paid her at a rather large and boisterous book launch party.
That gentleness shone through in every interview I’ve heard with Carol Shields, including this one, in a biography produced by the CBC in 1982.
Carol Shields was not only wonderfully gifted as a storyteller, she was an inspiring force who shined a light on Winnipeg through her writing about streets that were familiar to her and home to her characters.
In 1992, she was interviewed about her new novel, The Republic of Love. The interview took place in Vancouver and Mrs. Shields found herself being questioned about her choice of Winnipeg for the setting. I love her answer.
INT: It warmed my heart considerably in reading this novel to see Winnipeg portrayed so affectionately because so many people seem to have had the experience – so many Canadians seem to have had the experience – of passing through Winnipeg. It’s a place they’ve been when they’re on the train, it’s a place they’ve flown over and I don’t know that it has ever been done quite this way before.
Carol Shields: Of course I am very fond of Winnipeg. I’ve lived there now eleven years. It somehow seemed right, now, to write about it. The time had come but I’ve wanted to do a couple of things a little differently. I wanted to talk about Winnipeg in the spring, summer and fall and not just in the winter because that is, of course, the stereotypical picture that we all have of it. I also wanted to talk about it as a cosmopolitan centre. It does have more than 0.5 million people and I think that always surprises people that it does function in this big city way as well. So those were a couple of things. But I have to tell you that I did worry quite a bit about setting this book in Winnipeg because I know Canadians are familiar with Winnipeg or at least with the mythology of the city. But this book was being published inNew York and in London as well and I expected at any minute to get a phone call from these people and say “Look, we cannot publish a novel set in what is this place? Winnipeg?” And I had prepared a defense. I was going to say that if Anne Tyler can write about Baltimore, I can write about Winnipeg. But you know? No one even raised this issue so I certainly didn’t raise it.
How fitting that the City of Winnipeg has chosen to honour her memory with the annual literary prize that celebrates Winnipeg.
It’s been a very busy and interesting April with a book tour that took me to Montreal and Winnipeg. I met with old friends and new and was thrilled to discuss Ravenscraig with impassioned readers who had much to say about Rupert Willows and the early days of Winnipeg when it was among the fastest growing cities in North America.
It was great fun to do my first international radio interview a couple of weeks ago, with Marc Montgomery of The Link on Radio Canada.
Click on the photo to link to the interview.
An updated version of the book trailer was posted on Youtube today.
And I am deeply honoured to be in the company of such a fine group of talented writers who have been nominated for the Manitoba Book Awards, which will be announced on Saturday night, April 28th. I am still pinching myself that Ravenscraig, a debut novel, has been short listed for the Carol Shields Award.
One of the things Canada’s public broadcasting company, the CBC, does well is encourage Canadians to read and to write. There are recommendation lists, interviews, contests and hoopla that all quietly support a sense of national pride in the simple act of enjoying a good story.
Today the winners of the short story competition in CBC’s“Canada Writes” competion were announced. Out of more than 3750 entries, the grand prize was awarded to Daniel Karasik, an Ontario poet and playwright. His marvelous story, Mine,is well deserving of the honour. You can find it here, on the CBC website.
Here’s what the CBC shared on their website about Daniel Karasik:
Daniel Karasik’s award-winning plays have been seen in Toronto, New York, and Germany. He is the author of The Crossing Guard and In Full Light, a volume of plays published by Playwrights Canada Press, and is one of eleven poets featured in Undercurrents: New Voices in Canadian Poetry, a Cormorant Books anthology; Cormorant also plans to publish his first poetry collection in 2013. He recently completed his first novel, for which he received the Alta Lind Cook Prize and the Norma Epstein National Literary Award.
The Manitoba Free Press (as the Winnipeg Free Press was known in its early years) played a very large role in the development of the stories for Ravenscraig. Every archived page is available on line through subscription. It’s an amazing resource that has afforded me both inspiration and education in my research for the novel. Imagine my joy in seeing the Saturday edition with a big positive review of Ravenscraig, written by Ron Robinson, a Winnipeg broadcaster and book lover. He writes:
Welcome to Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs with a Winnipeg twist.
Former Winnipeg journalist Sandi Krawchenko Altner has researched and written a wonderful Winnipeg-warts-and-all historical romance set mostly in the early 1900s. It’s a brash, two-faced Winnipeg, but still a recognizable one.
By the way, I have started doing “Skype visits” to book clubs, which are great fun. If your group would like to arrange a Q&A session to talk about Ravenscraig and the stories behind the fiction, I would be delighted to join. Please write to me at Sandi.Altner@gmail.com.
With four weeks on the bestseller list in Winnipeg, Ravenscraig, is finding an audience among both family history enthusiasts as well as people who have a fascination with the Titanic and Winnipeg’s connection to the great disaster. I am grateful and so pleased that there is such a strong interest in stories about how the early immigrants managed in a city that was the fastest growing in the Dominion of Canada.
This week, Bernie Bellan posted his review of Ravenscraig in the Winnipeg Jewish Post and News saying it provides “a fascinating insight into early Jewish migration into Winnipeg.”
Where “Ravenscraig” excels, however, and no doubt why it has become an immediate best-seller locally, is in its description of Winnipeg at the turn of the 20th century and certain key events that are probably unknown to most readers.
For instance, a major typhoid outbreak in 1905 becomes a centerpiece of the novel. In her description of the horrible living conditions of the bulk of the immigrant population in Winnipeg, Krawchenko Altner does a fine job of evoking the misery that accompanied life for so many of our grandparents and great-grandparents.
At the same time the level of corruption in which Winnipeg’s Anglo Saxon leaders engaged is also quite astounding and is brought to life on the pages of this book. “Ravenscraig’ devotes a fair bit of space to the issue of red-light houses in the city and how it was that police and elected officials not only turned a blind eye to the prostitution that was conducted so openly, those same officials profited hugely from its practice.
Bernie Bellan is the editor of the Winnipeg Jewish Post and News, and has a particular affection for Jewish history in Winnipeg. When we talked last week I was delighted to discuss not only Ravenscraig, but also the work of his grandfather, Ruben Bellan, an economics professor who wrote a very informative history book that is in my collection of Manitoba rare books. Winnipeg’s First Century: An Economic History provides a solid road map of sources for those who are interested in further study of Winnipeg’s development.
In his review, Bernie also mentions Allan Levine’s, Coming of Age: A History of the Jewish People of Manitoba. This is a fantastic work that is rich with detail and inspiring stories. Allan has also written a most enjoyable series of historical novels set in Winnipeg that I heartily recommend. These are the Sam Klein mysteries. Allan and I went to high school together at Garden City Collegiate and it was wonderful to see him at the Ravenscraig launch in Winnipeg. Allan’s latest book King, has also just been released.
“As a newcomer to Winnipeg, I had everything to learn from the gripping true stories – the phenomenally fast growth of Winnipeg at the turn of the 20th century, political and business intrigue and the ways of life for the rich and poor
of the city. It was always a treat to see how Altner brought real people into the lives of the Willows and Zigman families.
The imagined characters, living in these exciting times, are connected to two families, one wealthy and part of Winnipeg’s high society, the other new Jewish immigrants. The homes and luxuries, and also the stresses and concerns, of the wealthy characters from British backgrounds were new to me, and fun to discover.
The stories of Jewish immigrant families, starting with their dangerous lives in Ukraine, to their poverty in Canada, through to their gradual success, are very familiar. It’s a story I never tire of hearing, because it’s the story of my own family – my grandmother crossed a river carrying her son to sneak across a border, thought she had started a secure new life in a different part of Europe, then had to start all over again in Canada.”
Click hereto see the entire article in the Winnipeg Jewish Review.
A dream week, with lots to celebrate, and a great deal to be thankful for. Thank you, Manitoba for your enthusiasm for stories about the rich history of Winnipeg!
Heartland and Associates, a Manitoba publishing house, has purchased the Canadian rights to Ravenscraig by Sandi Krawchenko Altner.
The book will be launched in Winnipeg on November 29, 2011, at the McNally Robinson store at Grant Park.
A sweeping epic set at the turn of the 20th century, Ravenscraig reveals the secrets and lies that tie two families together. Rupert Willows has hidden away his past to manipulate his way to wealth and power. Zev Zigman, a devout Jew, mounts a desperate struggle to bring his family out of Russia and put down roots in Winnipeg’s North End.
Tragedies, triumphs, and the Titanic shape the lives of these two families as their futures entwine to illuminate a dark corner of Winnipeg’s past when it was the fastest growing city in the Dominion.
About the Author:
Sandi Krawchenko Altner enjoyed an award-winning career in television and radio news in Calgary, Winnipeg and Montreal, before she left to follow her passion for writing fiction. She is a fifth generation descendent of the first colony of Ukrainian immigrants to settle in Stuartburn, Manitoba in 1896. Sandi grew up with a keen interest in her roots and a deep love of history. A Jew by choice, Sandi celebrated conversion in 2005. She lives, writes and blogs in Florida where she is active in her synagogue. Sandi and her husband have two daughters and two happy dogs. Ravenscraig is her first novel.
Click on the image below to see the book trailer for Ravenscraig.
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