Sunday, October 31, 2010

Best Birthday I Can Remember

With Jay flying my boy, MIKEY, in. (Jesse had gigs booked and a lot of homework, but was w us in spirit). So it started off really nicely, w dinner Friday night at Market. Yesterday morning, I went w my friend, Barbara, to an excellent program on Books Into Screenplays, and came home to an amazing brunch made by J and Mike: very ambitious & quite delicious--a creamy (in texture but without cream), yellow gazpacho, followed by 3 great salads--'white' salad with fennel, mushrooms and cheese (I think I'm leaving a few things out), brussel sprouts with walmuts and pomegranate seeds, and red and yellow beets with pistachios and blue cheese; a very light mac 'n cheese; and ann amazing dessert--melon with basil granita. You heard right: Basil was the flavor, and I loved it. Will have to experiment with making the ice cream equivalent of granita.

In addition to the wonderful food, Mike hung out w us (not that I would have begrudged him a chance to see his friends; he gets back here so rarely); we watched football together (Vanderbilt -sad; Oregon-yet another amazing game) and he provided commentary, then we took him out to Smashburger, a place he'd never been and one we knew he'd like, given the sweet potato fries -- a taste he picked up in the south. Only after that did he go to visit a friend, but it was after 8:30 so of course the old folks were ready to wind down.

And this morning, after taking him to the airport to return home after a whirlwind 36 hour trip, we went to Whisk'n'Ladle to read the Friday, Saturday and Sunday papers that we hadn't had time for. We're sort of 'regulars' there, you might say; it's always reliably good and interesting food. We had passion fruit mimosas to start, and after a wonderful brunch -- flatbread with light gruyere, artichoke hearts, chilies and figs, and some of their always interesting breakfast pastries and jams -- the kitchen surprised us by sending out a pumpkin bread pudding with butter rum ice cream (J had told the server it was my birthday). I was so full, yet I seemed to manage quite well with the dessert, which was fantastic (I'd never had butter rum before and wouldn't have been interested in trying it, but it was great with the pumpkin -- they always do such a nice, and interesting job.) Good thing we ate early, b/c even with the great leftovers at home, it may be a while before I can eat again (famous last words). Although you can be sure it won't be at the next venue.

Off to the Chargers-Titans game, trying to be mentally prepared for yet another heartbreaking loss. I even noted on Facebook that if they won I would consider it a birthday gift to me. And guess what -- they won in a battle that shouldn't have been as tough as it was -- but don't let me start talking about football or I'll never get back to the main subject.

While I don't normally use my blog or Facebook to share 'personal' stuff, this weekend was too good to keep to myself. I hope whoever reads this can enjoy it vicariously (and I apologize to those who read it in snippets before -- it was the only way I could get info on Facebook -- that I know of -- from my phone).

The hard part will be tomorrow, in the gym, when I need fess up to my new age...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Putting My Money Where My...Rear Window Is

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Suppose I Should Be Flattered

Just noticed that 'used' copies of The Accidental Anarchist are being offered in the Amazon Marketplace for more than triple the listed price. It's an honor to see the price go up so high  when only a few people have gotten their copies yet, and I know who all those people are. My bet is that what these guys are selling is not the finished/final book but an Advanced Review Copy which is sent out only to revewiers and are marked that they are not to be sold. (But it's well known that reviewers sell them, anyway. What I should have done was written the name of the reviewer to whom I had sent review copies so that if they tried to sell the book, people would know who was committing a no-no.)

Alternatively, a few people saw the rapid sellout the first day as an opportunity for arbitrage, believing that someone is so eager to get their hands on the book that they will pay triple the price. These people will take your order, and wait to fulfill it until they get their regular-priced copy. Nice work if you can get it.

Let the buyer beware: If you're tempted to buy a used copy of my book, check with the seller to make sure it is the final edition, not a preliminary one.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Join us tomorrow to hear Bryna talk about The Accidental Anarchist with the media

Call in to  605-562-3000 at 11am ET; enter code 888758# and hear the conversation

Free Preview! Chapter 1 of The Accidental Anarchist

Here's the first chapter of The Accidental Anarchist for your reading pleasure:

Chapter 1: In The Beginning

The book goes on sale on Friday, and you can order it on Don't forget to Become a Fan on Facebook for all the latest information, and Follow Me On Twitter as well!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

First Publication Review

From ForeWord Reviews (this will appear in their November/December issue, but I have permission to use it already)

The Accidental Anarchist
Bryna Kranzler
Crosswalk Press
Softcover $18.00 (332pp)

At thirteen, Jacob Marateck left his home in a small Polish village to seek adventure in Warsaw. At 21, he was conscripted into the Russian army just in time for the Russo-Japanese War of 1904, and over the next few years joined the revolutionaries who worked to overthrow the Czar, was sentenced to death three times, and escaped with Warsaw’s King of Thieves from a Siberian forced labor camp.
            Kranzler, Marateck’s granddaughter, is a playwright who received the Helen Prince Award for Excellence in Dramatic Writing and was a finalist in the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center competition for her play Do Hermaphrodites Reproduce Only in the Spring? Her parents, Shimon and Anita Marateck Wincelberg, had previously translated the 28 notebooks that made up Marateck’s diaries and published the first twelve as The Samurai of Vishigrod. After her father passed away, Kranzler inherited the job of editing and publishing the rest of her grandfather’s diaries.
The Accidental Anarchist is told from Jacob’s point of view, and his dry wit is evident throughout, leaving the reader with a sense of optimism even amid war, starvation, and imprisonment. “The seemingly minor decision I made to end my education before the age of thirteen set me on a path from which each subsequent choice flowed logically from the previous foolish one,” Marateck wrote. As a Jewish man in a notoriously anti-Semitic army, he went from fighting with his fellow soldiers to fighting an impossible war against the Japanese in China. Twice he was sentenced to death: once for punching a superior, and once for falling asleep on guard duty. Twice he was surprised to find the sentences overturned. After surviving freezing nights, endless marches without food, and gun battles, he returned to Warsaw to join the revolutionaries, only to be arrested and sentenced to death again. At the last minute he received a reprieve and was shipped instead to a Siberian labor camp. Through all of these adventures, despite being surrounded by death, Marateck’s wit, intelligence, and optimism carried him through.
Readers interested in European or Jewish history, war stories, and just plain action adventure will enjoy this book. Kranzler’s editing creates a smooth style with a quick pace while retaining her grandfather’s unique voice and perspective. The Accidental Anarchist is the true story of a likable hero on an epic journey. (October) Christine Canfield

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Lot is Happening

It's not that there has been nothing to write about since my last entry, but rather that too much has been going on for me to have the opportunity to provide an update on the status of this project. As I write, the book is not only being printed but converted into multiple e-formats. The release day has been delayed till October 22 to accomodate some interviews that will take place that week.

Meanwhile, I'm sending out personal, direct mail letters to Jewish Book Fair venues (which I tried to contact by email, but about half of the emails listed on the sites bounced back) as well as to Hadassah organizations around the country that have book clubs. At the same time, I'm about to begin seeking blurbs from academics in the fields of Jewish History, Asian History, Russian History, Military History so that I can market it to Universities for use on their reading lists. (I'd particularly like to see places like West Point, The Citadel and Virginia Military Institute incorporate the book into their studies; I think the young and impressionable students who plan a military career ought to know that war isn't pretty and it isn't glamorous, despite the way it's been marketed to the public. (Remember when there was an embargo on photographs of coffins returning from Iraq? As if they thought no one would notice that people were dying as a result of that conflict)?

I'm also trying to gather my thoughts on how to explain what living in my grandfather's words has been like for these past few years. Before I began this project, he was something like a Superhero to me -- not because of amazing feats or strength or anything like that but because he didn't seem real to me. He was just a story while I was growing up, an interesting one but not one with which I felt a particular kinship. It's different now, but I still don't have the words to explain it.

I'm still behind in several other matters that I need to a attend to, notably creating a book trailer, which is like a video TV commercial for the book. I'm not going to try to complete with some of the glitzy book trailers that I've seen -- they've hired actors to play the roles in the book! I don't have a budget like that, so I'm going to have to be creative on a budget. I've had a concept in mind for several months, but just haven't had the time to sit down and write it. (Then I'll have to figure out how to film and edit it, but if I always thought about the next step after one I have yet to take, I'd be afraid to do anything at all). So here's to ignorance! Sometimes its the only reason that things get done.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Tiger

I've been reading the book, The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance by John Valliant, a non-fiction book set in far Eastern Siberia, land of the convict gold mines to which my grandfather had been heading. It's a good thing he escaped when he did. His destination was an additional 4-5 months of walking away, whereas the transit camp he escaped from was only 100 miles from the nearest tracks of the Trans-Siberian Railway. The entire away of the gold mines, and more, is forested land known as the taiga -- the world's largest forest, which covers 11% of the earth.

I had thought he was in the taiga when he first escaped because he referred to being in a forest, with no landmarks, etc. "surrounded as we were by trees that were identical in height and girth." In fact the taiga is home to the world's tallest, and hence, I presume, oldest, trees. So when my grandfather described them as being "deep in the bowels of a forest that may not have been touched by human feet since
the Six Days of Creation" he might not have been exaggerating.

Not only does far eastern Siberia have an unforgiving climate (the better to discourage inmates from any thoughts of escaping -- and surviving), but it is also home to the Amur Tiger (aka, the Siberian Tiger), the largest specie of tiger in the world, but also, as the book demonstrates, capable of higher order thinking, particularly when it comes to taking revenge.

Predatory animals don't usually attack humans unless they, themselves, have been or are being attacked,  but in one of the incidents described in the book, a hunter stole some meat from an animal that the tiger had killed, which the tiger considered an attack (or at the very least, rude behavior). Not only was this particular tiger pissed off, byut he memorized the particular hunter's scent, and stalked him, camping outside the hunter's cabin for several days, and then returning to the forest to await the hunter whom she knew would return, as if she had some hypnotic power over him. She waited for the hunter (tigers, while having the capability to get very angry, also seem to have a great deal of patience, making them deadlier than even the cattiest <--hmm, wonder why we use that descriptive term? -- high school girl),  and when he returned, she attacked and ate him, leaving only the clothing as evidence of his kill and, perhaps, a warning.

So while my grandfather's crazy ideas and occasional charm got him out of a lot of close calls, I'm glad he didn't have to test his charm on a tiger, one with a long memory.