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The Protagonist:  Slumped-Shouldered Gloom

The leading man or woman is the character whose story lies at the novel's core.  Ideally thatFinal Front Cover HDIGH small size jpg character should be someone whom the reader can relate to or is cheering to success. I mean, really, who wants to read about losers? 

So why did I pick a milksop to write about in How Did I Get Here?  The most interesting event in Andrey's lackluster childhood was a year-long bout with anxiety-induced hiccups.  His spiritless teenage years weren’t any better; his notable exploit was hooking up with a neighbor girl in the church bell tower.

What does an author do when faced with a main character who is a cynical, horny, insipid recluse?  In writing How Did I Get Here?  I was confronted with a protagonist whose childhood resulted in an adult who didn’t engage people (including readers!) 

My response was to write the story from a present-tense, first-person point of view, enabling the reader to understand what was going on inside Andrey’s head, which was a lot more interesting than what his outward persona portrayed.  In entering Andrey's thoughts (and enjoying hefty doses of his wry sense of humor), my goal was to keep you, the reader, entertained in the midst of a gruesome war.
 

Geenleaf Collage

Author Pens a Book
Publisher Brings It to Life


Why does the author get so much credit for a book?  Yes, the author puts the words on paper, but creating a book requires a synergistic team of professional editors, proof readers, designers, and typesetters, plus gurus in distribution, marketing, accounting, and legal issues.  Each and everyone has to cooperate, communicate, and stay on schedule.

 How Did I Get Here? materialized into a first-class book only through the hard work of the employees and contractors of Greenleaf Book Group in Austin, Texas.  My deepest gratitude goes to every one of them.
 
Some members of my incredible Greenleaf Book team
 
Greenleaf Collage Cropped

CHUCKLES & INSIGHTS

If you enjoy the type of articles posted in this blog, you'll get a kick out of my newsletter, delivered to your In-Box 4 times a year.
 
Petrovo Potpourri is a 15-minute visit to the Land of the Tsars. Escape from your busy day & chuckle while you learn.   Subscribe here.
Newsletter Screen Shot      - Slavic Slapstick 
      - Russian proverbs that run amuck in translation
      - Featured books about Russia’s bygone years
      - Historical tidbits about 1800s Russia
     -  An author's Behind-the-Scenes 
     - Glimpses of the next book in the Petrovo series
 
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TIMELESS RUSSIAN WISDOM & WISECRACKS

 
Gorky Tolstoy 1900
 
 
"Happiness always looks small while you hold it in your hands,
but let it go and you learn at once how big and precious it is.

                                        -  Maxim Gorky (1868-1936)

                                        photograph of Gorky (right) with Leo Tolstoy in 1900

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                   

A SYNCHRONIZATION NIGHTMARE!

Old Style vs. New Style
Warning: The Following Is Convoluted!

Russia is unique in many ways, one of which is how it measures time.

old dates calendar during nicholass reign russia used the old style julian calendarFor eons, most of Europe used a calendar that dated back to the time of Julius Caesar.  However, the Julian (aka Old Style
) calendar had a slight problem - it was off by one day every 128 years.  Not one to be content with sloppy timekeeping, Pope Gregory instituted the Gregorian (aka New Style) calendar in 1582, which eventually became the world’s standard. 

Russia, on the other hand, clung to the Old Style calendar until 1918.  So for centuries, the date in Russia lagged behind the Western European calendar.  During the 19th century, the difference was 12 days.  During the 20th century, the difference was 13 days.
 
Here's an example of the confusion.  The Emancipation Manifesto that freed the serfs was signed by Tsar Alexander II on Sunday, February 19, 1861 (Old Style).  The following day, Monday, March 4 (New Style), Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as president of the United States.

In 1918, the Bolsheviks decided to get in line with the rest of Europe and switched to the Gregorian calendar.  Thus, Russia’s October Revolution occurred on the Old Style date of October 25, 1918, but the event is now remembered on November 7 (New Style).
Imagine doing research on the 1850's Crimean War in preparation for writing How Did I Get Here, in which one of the military forces used Old Style while its opponents used New Style.  In addition, there's inconsistent use of the two calendars by books, articles, and online references.  Then try to coordinate the actual events (some New Style, some Old Style, and some not designated as either) into a fictional story in which timing is crucial. 
 My forehead is still black-and-blue from beating it against my desktop!
______

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RECOMMENDED READ

While I was conducting research for Who Is to Blame, my first novel in the Petrovo series, I kept bumping into this thing called the Crimean War (1853-1856) which pitted Russia against England and France.  It became the setting for my second novel, How Did I Get Here.
 
One of the reasons the Crimean War grabbed my attention and wouldn't let go was the staggering carnage on the battlefield, with an even greater number of fatalities due to disease, malnutrition, and winter exposure.  Not until World War I would more people die as victims of war. 
 Edgerton
In his book, The Legacy of the Crimean War, anthropologist Robert Edgerton sums up the Crimean War with this statement:  "Perhaps the most fundamental lesson to be learned from a look back at the Crimean War is how easy it is for nations to blunder into wars that serve no purpose or cannot be won."
 
Two thumbs up for Edgerton's book - not as a book about war, but for its insights into the human reaction to war's atrocities.

PROVERBS LOST (SOMEWHAT) IN TRANSLATION

 Russian: 
           A sparrow in the hand is better than a cock on the roof

 
 English equivalent:  
           A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
 
You'll find more Russian proverbs that run amuck in translation in my free, 4-times a year newsletter.
Petrovo Potpourri isn’t information quicksand.  It isn’t about me & it isn’t about things you can buy.  It’s about insights you can gain.  Submit to some well-earned smiles.
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SLAVIC SLAPSTICK

Where did the Romanovs get their coffee?

                                                                                     ~ Tsarbucks

 Alexander II small

 

 

Tsar Nicholas Alexander Romanov

The last tsar,  1868-1918

 

For more slavic slapstick and wacky historical tidbits, view the current edition of my e-newsletter

Petrovo Potpourri is a 10-minute visit to the Land of the Tsars
Escape from your busy day & 
chuckle while you learn   

4-times-a-year, free e-newsletter Petrovo Potpourri

More Slavic Slapstick plus 
 - Russian proverbs that run amuck in translation
 - Jaw-dropping objets d'arts
 - Featured books about Russia’s bygone years
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BOOK CLUBS

Do you have a photo of your book group discussing Who Is to Blame?  or How Did I Get Here?  

Let's showcase it on my website and in my newsletter, Petrovo Potpourri.

Email a photo to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Include the city/state/country & the group's name or the members' first names.

Hollys book club

 

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY 1868

If you were a female Russian serf 150 years ago, you could expect to:    

     -  have several miscarriages

     -  give birth to 7 to 8 live babies

     - bury 2 of those babies within the first year of life

     -  have 4 or 5 of them celebrate their 5th birthday

Convalescent Lemoch Carl x small

 

 

 

 

 

Kirill Vikentievich Lemokh

The Convalescent

1889