Happy New Year!
I am thrilled that the Winnipeg Free Press has selected Ravenscraig as one of top fiction titles in their annual “Best of the Year” book list.
The Canadian version of the book will soon be going to reprint through Manitoba publisher, Heartland Associates.
This has been a very exciting year for me in watching the book gain an audience outside of Canada. Few things are more exciting for an author than to have people you’ve never met tell you how they enjoyed reading your story.
The Kindle version of Ravenscraig, published in the US by Franklin and Gallagher, has had more than 12,000 downloads in 2012.
I am most thankful to those who take the time to post their reviews on Amazon. Ravenscraig is rated as 4.7 stars out of 5 with 21 reviews.
I was surprised to learn this morning that there are also reviews being posted in the UK! Very exciting, indeed.
5.0 out of 5 stars Ravenscraig
I read this book whilst in hospital and really enjoyed it. It combined a good yarn with a bit of social history in regard to the persecution of the Jews, their immigration from Europe, and their hardships and successes in Canada and the U.S.A. in an easy to read form. I am looking forward to reading book two!
Published 1 month ago by Nana Dee
Thank you Nana Dee!
I was in New York to talk about Ravenscraig, my novel about an immigrant family fighting to maintain their Jewish identity against pressure to assimilate a hundred years ago. Deborah was there to talk about Unorthodox, her memoire of breaking away from a Hasidic Jewish life rooted in restrictions she could no longer tolerate. The contrast in our subject matter could not have been more pronounced.
Married at 17, a mother at nineteen, Deborah found her courage and purpose in sneaking to the library to read books that she was not allowed to read; books like Matilda by children’s writer, Roald Dahl.
Unorthodox, the Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic Roots, is a book that many communities and Jewish Book Festivals may shy away from, for being “too hot” a topic for their reader groups. I am very pleased that I first learned of the book when the sisterhood at my own synagogue chose it for our summer reading event.
My heart goes out to Deborah Feldman, a talented writer and gifted storyteller who has given us an inside view of a very difficult emotional journey. There is much to learn and much to discuss in this work. It’s one of the most interesting books I’ve read this year. The strength of the book is in the frank telling of details of her life.
Learn more at Deborah’s website and from the interview in the video below.
Perhaps the greatest enjoyment in writing a book is getting notes from readers who are touched by the book. This weekend I received two special notes that I would like to share.
The first is from Heidi, a friend from my early days in radio in Winnipeg.
“I lent my book to my 82-year old father who just returned it today. He’s a German immigrant who was a Wpg transit bus driver his entire working life in Canada and spent many a year driving in the north end. He LOVED your book, and that’s high praise from someone who doesn’t have English as his first language.”
The second note is from someone I only know by reputation for her fantastic Deli on Corydon in Winnipeg, Marla Bernstein of Bernstein’s Deli. (I’ve edited the note to be sure there are no spoilers.)
I finished your wonderful book this evening on the way home from the lake . As a Jewish Winnipegger I knew that I would love RAVENSCRAIG from the first time I heard about it…(I actually do not remember if it was a review in the Jewish Post, or Free Press, or CBC Radio).
Having Grandparents who immigrated here from Eastern Europe about 20 years after your Ravenscraig characters came to the Golden Land I can appreciate the Jews who were the first and how horrible it was for them at the beginning. By the time my Family arrived here I would think that a lot of groundwork must have been done and although poverty stricken they must have had more of a support system in place than your immigrants did.
I love the story of the allotment of acreage for those willing to farm. I love the story of the Zigman Family.
Ravenscraig is a wonderful saga. It even prompted me to take a slow joy ride through Armstrong’s Point, which I have never paid much attention to in the past.
Thank you Sandi for providing me with such a good story.
Thanks for hearing me out ! Enjoy life ! When you are back in Winnipeg and you get hungry during the day I would love to invite you to my Deli for a sandwich and a bowl of soup,(another reason I love the Zigman family)>
“Yes. Two minutes.”
“But it took four years to write my book.”
“Yes. Two minutes. Don’t worry. You’ll be fine.”
The smiling coordinators of the Jewish Book Council Network Author Event spent months communicating the dreadful news to the author participants of the annual June conference. Dreadful news? Yes indeed. The People of the Book are also the People of the Need to Talk. Holding a Jewish comedian to a two minute audition is enough to cause an anxiety attack. What if the punchline doesn’t get delivered in time?
I feel very fortunate to be counted as a Jewish Book Council Network Author. It was very exciting to have been among close to two hundred authors who were in New York this month to present, or truthfully, audition, before the organizers and coordinators of the major Jewish Book Festivals and events throughout North America. It is a brilliant idea, nerve-wracking though it might be. Highly organized, efficient, welcoming and inspiring.
I worried for weeks about what to wear and even longer about what to say, then what to leave out for lack of time. The prize? Authors are supported with an expenses paid book tour to visit with communities that invite them to speak. There could be 30 invitations. There could be none. We were told not to worry and have fun, that the Jewish Book Council exists to help support authors who write books of interest to a Jewish audience.
“What if there is a lot of laughter?” one worried presenter asked in the round of questions prior to the audience being allowed into the room. “Do I get extra time, if I have to wait for the crowd to settle?”
It took a little more than two hours for our group of authors to give their presentations on the first of three nights of author rounds. Almost all were within the time limit. One woman was ten seconds under, which prompted the promise of an auction for extra seconds for willing spenders. Several were brilliant performers, others thoughtful and interesting, revealing painful stories of difficult life moments and situations. Still others were very funny leaving the less comic in the audience thinking how wonderful it would be to be able to make people laugh like that. It was fascinating.
After the presentations we moved to a “mingling” opportunity and I was delighted that there was interest in Ravenscraig and in historical fiction in general. It was, by all accounts, a warm and engaging session.
Over the next few days a heavy workload is facing the leaders and committee members of book festivals across the US and Canada as they finalize their lists of books in order to place their author requests with the Jewish Book Council. Many of the review books are traditional ink on paper, some, like Ravenscraig, which is available in print and digital, were sent electronically for easy access to committees of 20 or more.
So what do you say in two minutes?
It’s easiest for me to show you with the book trailer.
A warm thank you for all of the staff at the Jewish Book Council for supporting authors and creating such an exciting opportunity.
Click on the logo to learn more about the Jewish Book Council.
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?