The Olympian, A Tale of Ancient Hellas

a hero is bornAlthough it wasn’t published until 2008, I completed The Olympian, A Tale of Ancient Hellas in 2004.  I can’t believe it was over ten years ago.  Of all my books, The Olympian remains the best-seller.  It is available as a physical book, an eBook for Kindle and even an audio book thanks to the masterful telling of the tale by Alistair McKenzie.

During the early months of 2015, we posted a summary of Tobit and the Hoodoo Man in ‘eight movements.’  Years ago, Steven Pressfield told me that the great film director David Lean believed that all films could be reduced to “seven or eight movements.”  I like the idea.  Ever since Mr. Pressfield told me that, I watch films with a different perspective.

In 2009, we optioned the film rights to The Olympian, A Tale of Ancient Hellas.  The producer extended the option several times, but in 2013, he opted not to extend the option.  The business of film is as tough as it gets.

Early in the process, as he prepared his package for perspective investors, writers, actors, etc., he asked me to summarize the story for him in eight movements.  While I was never privy to his final package, I was pleased that he asked me for my ‘vision’ of the story on film.

As I did with Tobit earlier in the year, for the next several weeks, I will post the eight movements of The Olympian, A Tale of Ancient Hellas.  I hope it will bring back fond memories to those who have read it, and maybe encourage those who haven’t to read this book about human values.  Nineteenth century clergyman Henry Ward Beecher best sums up the heart of The Olympian when he wrote,

“Greatness lies not in being strong, but in the right using of strength; and strength is not used rightly when it serves only to carry a man above his fellows for his own solitary glory.  He is the greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own.”

Join me in the coming weeks as I present The Olympian, A Tale of Ancient Hellas in eight movements.

Olympian

Alistair McKenzie’s Epiphany

Late in November 2014, I decided to offer The Christmas Story sequence from Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ as a download on my websites.  After tipping my hand to my friend Father Paul, he encouraged me to read the sequence at the Masses at the Redemptorist Renewal Center during this Epiphany weekend.

Continue reading Alistair McKenzie’s Epiphany

Celebrate the Three Wise Men

MagiWhen Father Paul Coury, Director of the Redemptorist Renewal Center in Picture Rocks, Arizona encouraged me to witness and read the nativity sequence from Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ in lieu of a homily on Epiphany weekend, I contacted my friend and business associate Alistair McKenzie – screenwriter, actor, director, musician – who produced audio books of two of my novels, The Sixth Day and The Olympian.

I am pleased to announce that Alistair will be making the trip from LA to Tucson this weekend to

The Sixth Day
Alistair McKenzie – actor, composer, playwright, screenwriter, producer, director

read the story as Christians around the world commemorate the visit of the Magi to the Christ child.  Epiphany concludes the celebration of the Christmas season.

Epiphany weekend Masses at the RRC are scheduled for

  • Saturday, January 3, 2015 at 4:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, January 4, 2015 at 7:30 a.m. and
  • Sunday, January 4, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.

If you happen to be in the area this weekend, I invite you to attend one of the three Masses and join the celebration.  Christian Music Minister Tom Booth is scheduled to provide worship music at all three Masses, and Father Greg Wiest will be celebrating the Eucharist.

Early Christmas Gifts

Gaspar

 

 

Just two weeks before Christmas!  

Throughout the year, I receive inspiration from everyone who supports my writing efforts by reading my books and reading my posts on this website and also on the Vitruvian Man and Tucson Poverello House websites.  Your comments, reviews and feedback are invaluable to me.  Your words keep me energized, particularly when my batteries run low.  As a gesture of my appreciation, I am pleased to offer these two gifts 

  • The Christmas Story from Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ as a PDF download and
  • The Christmas Story from Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ as an audio presentation produced by my friend and business associate Alistair McKenzie.

A Special thanks to Alistair for producing this audio AND for writing an original Christmas song “We All Know” featured at the conclusion of the narrative.  His song captures the essence of the entire story of Gaspar in a very special way.

You have made my life better.  I hope these small tokens of gratitude make your Christmas a bit more meaningful.

Your Grateful Friend,

Gene “E.S.” Kraay

The Christmas Story PDF

The Christmas Story PDF

A Special Gift

E.S. KraayYesterday, I received an email from an old friend and teammate, gentleman Sean Riley.  He just completed reading Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ.  When I get back home, I will add his comments to the “What They’re Saying” page.  Sean recalled a few years back when I started writing Gaspar that I put the nativity sequence up on the website as a download.  He asked for a copy so he could read it to his grandkids on Christmas Eve.

With thanks to all the people who have taken time to comment and review my work since The Olympian was published in 2008, I have to admit that Sean’s request means more to me than any I’ve received.

GasparEvery Christmas, I try to put up a free download on my websites as a gesture of my appreciation for the support and inspiration I get from readers and subscribers of my websites and of my novels.  Two years ago, I put up the draft of the nativity sequence from Gaspar.  I titled the nativity sequence The Star, which is the title of the chapter from which I take it.  In December 2012, I wrote that I expected the book to be out by December 2013.  I was only a year off!

This year, I have decided to offer the final version of the nativity sequence as it appears in the final version of the book published in August 2014.  Sean’s email came when we had already made the decision to offer The Christmas Story from Gaspar as this year’s appreciation gift.E.S. Kraay

As I was preparing the short manuscript for download, I had another wild idea.  I called my friend and business associate Alistair McKenzie in Los Angeles.  Alistair produced the audio books for The Sixth Day, A 17,175-Word Novella About Creation and Prizefighting and The Olympian, A Tale of Ancient Hellas.  He also wrote and performed the song We Pray for Light, which will undoubtedly be featured in The Sixth Day film – working title Third Man – if we get lucky and see it to fruition.  I asked Alistair if he would consider reading the sequence and producing a short audio.  He agreed.  I pushed the envelope and asked him if he would consider writing a Christmas song to accompany the reading.  Within a few days, he sent me his draft, an amazing original song tentatively titled We All Know.

The Sixth Day
Alistair McKenzie – actor, composer, playwright, screenwriter, producer, director

When I told my friend Father Paul Coury at the Redemptorist Center what I was up to, he encouraged me to ‘witness’ why I wrote Gaspar and to read the sequence and play Alistair’s song at all three Masses over Epiphany weekend, January 3 and 4, 2015.  I thought about it and called Alistair to discuss it.  With little hesitation, Alistair McKenzie agreed to come to Tucson and read The Christmas Story from Gaspar at Our Lady of the Desert Church at the Redemptorist Center over Epiphany weekend.  More on that later.

This is my initial announcement that this special gift – a PDF download of Gaspar’s Christmas Story, Alistair’s audio producThe Olympiantion and accompanying Christmas song – will be available for download at no charge later this month.  Please look for it and spread the ‘good news.’  As much as I want to say this is my gift to you, I know it is as much a product of Alistair McKenzie’s generous and creative heart.  More to follow soon …..

Driving with Simonides and Flapjack

As we approach vacation time in the northern hemisphere, think about those long, dreary and weary drives you are apt to face as you travel cross-country.  WAIT!  Here’s an idea.  Check out The Olympian: A Tale of Ancient Hellas and The Sixth Day: A 17,175-Word Novella About Creation and Prizefighting at Audible or Amazon.  At eight hours, The Olympian is good for an entire day for most folks.  At 1.5 hours, The Sixth Day is so good, you’ll want to listen to it four times a day.  Each is a special story in its own genre, and Alistair McKenzie brings both to fascinating life.  Enter the world of the ancient Greeks, or come of age with Flapjack and his brothers.  You’ll be glad you did.  They are great company for that long drive [or those days when rush hour traffic becomes intolerable].

 

The Sixth DayThe Olympian 

99¢ DWI Promo

DWIDWI: Dying While Intoxicated is available all week to Kindle readers for $.99 as in 99¢ as in 99-cents as in less than a buck.  Promo starts Monday morning, March 31, 2014 and runs through Saturday morning, April 5, 2014.

The idea behind DWI: Dying While Intoxicated came to me nearly 40 years ago when I was an F-106 alert pilot based out of Griffiss AFB in Upstate, New York.  A fellow pilot told me his solution to clear the streets of drunk drivers.  The idea stuck with me.

In 2002 when I decided I wanted to write books, I started with this one, DWI.  I wanted to prove to myself that I could sit at my desk and write a novel from start to finish.  Mission accomplished.  I placed the manuscript in a drawer and headed off to Gray, Georgia where I wrote The Olympian: A Tale of Ancient Hellas.

Years later after three historical novels – The Olympian, The Hamsa and Tobit and the Hoodoo ManDWI called to me.  I resurrected it to clear it from my list.  Throughout the re-write process, I conferred with my longtime friend and attorney, the eminent David T. Hamilton from St. Charles, Missouri.  At Counselor Hamilton’s urging, I changed the ending, majorly and significantly.  Without revealing the original ending or the one I went with, Mr. Hamilton was adamant when he said, “Don’t do it!  I can get the guy off!”

And so we went to print with the revised ending, which now calls to me to write a sequel.

Sequel or not, we’ve decided to offer the eBook to Kindle users this week, beginning Monday morning, March 31st through Saturday morning, April 5th at 99¢.  If you haven’t read the book, I encourage you to do it.

As an added incentive, if you purchase the book – or if you already own it and have read it – and write a review on Amazon.com of 50 words minimum, I will send you Alistair McKenzie’s audio production of The Olympian: A Tale of Ancient Hellas FREE.  I will honor the first five reviewers with the free audio book.  Just email me at “eskraay AT eskraay DOT com” and tell me you have posted your Amazon review.  Once I verify it, I will send you the audio book.

Thanks for your continued support.

DWI

Early Winter Olympics

The HamsaWith the Winter Olympic Games now in full swing in Sochi, Russia, you might be interested in the early games.

The ancient Greeks established the Olympic Games in 776 BC.  Those first games consisted of a single race, the Stade, about 200 meters.  My first novel, The Olympian: A Tale of Ancient Hellas includes a detailed description of the 75th Olympic Games held in 480 BC, the same year the 300 Spartans made their memorable stand at Thermopylae.  Alistair McKenzie produced an audio edition of the book — approximately 8 hours — which became available last month.  The ancient games were last held around 400 AD.  The modern games were re-established in Athens, Greece in 1896.

The first Winter Olympics were held in 1924 in Chamonix, France.  The games in St. Moritz in 1928, Lake Placid in 1932 and Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 1936 are integral to my second novel, The Hamsa.  Through the exploits of the protagonist Bronislaw Czech, a Polish Olympic skier and ski jumper, the reader learns great detail about these early Winter Olympics.  When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Czech’s mountain skills became invaluable to the Polish Underground, but in 1940, he was captured and became the 349th person incarcerated in the Auschwitz death camp where he died in 1944.

Throughout the course of these 2014 Winter Olympic Games, we are running a contest.  The winner will receive a copy of The Hamsa as a physical book orHamsa Ebook, winner’s choice.  If the winner accumulates more than 50 points (by entering multiple times), he or she will also win a U.S. Military Issue Hamsa.  We invite everyone to compete at

The Hamsa Giveaway

By the way, The Hamsa and all of my books are commercial-free.

 

Olympian Winners Announced

Alistair McKenzie and I are pleased to announce the winners of our first “E.S. Kraay Online” giveaway.

  • Domestic US winner – Alexei Michalenko, retired Catholic priest from Alexandria, Virginia.
  • International winner – Pedro Colacci, General Manager of PCB Representatives in Lima, Peru.

Congratulations to both Father Michalenko and Mr. Colacci.  Each will receive his free Audible audio book of The Olympian: A Tale of Ancient Hellas this week.

Thanks to everyone who participated.  Throughout the week, we received 175 entries.  We plan to run monthly giveaways of books, CDs and other prizes related to this website and to the creative arts.

The Olympian

“The Sixth Day” and John Paul II

Third ManTwo years ago, we published The Sixth Day: A 17,175-Word Novella About Creation and Prizefighting.  One year later, Alistair McKenzie and Jasmine Fontes produced an incredible audio book now available at Audible, Amazon and iTunes.  This year, the circle may become complete as Jon Smith and his crew at HopLite Entertainment plan to film it as “Third Man.”  Pretty amazing ride for this small book that came to me in the middle of the night with the single sentence, “John Paul was a boy with two first names.”  Alistair did sum it up when he told me early in our association, “There is strength in faith.”  He’s right, and that is exactly what our little story is about.

Finishing a manuscript, whether it is a 17,000-word novella or a 135,000 word tome like The Hamsa is a very satisfying moment.  Oddly, however, I take great satisfaction in pondering and then selecting the dedication.  As I wrote The Sixth Day, I was always thinking about my grandchildren — two little girls, a little boy and a young man on the verge of adulthood.  For those of you who have not read the book, this is the dedication …

“To my Grandchildren … That you might know, there is far more value in being a better person than in being better off.”

Whether I stole that sentiment from Peter Maurin or G.K. Chesterton, I don’t remember.  It is definitely worth teaching my grandchildren and anyone else who might stumble across these pages.

This morning, I was reading a book by one of my personal heroes, John Paul II.  Here is what the former Pope said …

“It is not a matter of ‘having more’ but of ‘BEING’ more.”

Whether you take it from E.S. Kraay or John Paul II — which I strongly advise — let’s get that message out.  We’ll all be contributing to a better place to be if we do!