Tuesday, November 24, 2015

How to Make Latkes

The holiday of Hanukkah is just around the corner (it starts on the evening of December 6th) and Jews all over the world are eager to dig into healthy portions of latkes - traditional potato pancakes.

Just in time the Maccabeats, Yeshiva University's student vocal group, have arrived with the ultimate Latke Recipe.

The song is a parody of last summer's "Shut Up and Dance" by rock band Walk the Moon.

Enjoy and Happy Hanukkah!

Monday, November 16, 2015

The First Time I Drank Rakia

My wife and I arrived in Sofia in early 2009 at the start of a two-year job relocation. We had never before lived in Europe, had never previously lived in a big city. We looked forward to the possibilities of travel and new experiences and were quite excited as we began our Bulgarian adventure. A heavy snowfall greeted my wife when she flew into Sofia, and we realized our adventures would have to wait. We settled into a daily routine of working, shopping, laundry, cooking, and living ordinary lives in a strange and unfamiliar country. Still, we were eager to venture out from our apartment and begin our explorations.

Just around the corner from where we lived I discovered a very small chef’s restaurant, called The Golden Apple. On my way home at the end of one of our first work weeks, I stopped in and made dinner reservations. It was Friday night and it would be good to go out.

The waiter brought menus to our table, and we asked for the English version. Realizing that we were newcomers to the country, the waiter asked, “Have you ever tried rakia?”

Friday, November 6, 2015

Announcement: I Sign a Book Deal

I am excited to announce that my novel The Burgas Affair will be published in Bulgarian by Ciela, the leading Bulgarian publishing house.

The publication of the book in Bulgarian will be its world premiere. Hopefully publication of the book's original English version will soon follow.

I look forward to working with the team at Ciela and to my role in making this book a success.

I wish to thank all those who helped me during the research and writing of the novel – your assistance is truly appreciated.

I express my sincere gratitude to Jessica Schmeidler of Golden Wheat Literary, who shares my literary vision for the future. This deal is the first of many.

THE BURGAS AFFAIR. A Bulgarian policeman is teamed up with an Israeli woman from the Mossad as they work a case involving international terrorists and local criminals in both Bulgaria and Israel, while confronting the traumas of their pasts.

See also:

Announcement: I Sign with Golden Wheat Literary

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Why I Could Never Write Fantasy

The green-winged ogre landed on my window sill, on the top floor of Druddigon Castle in the underground land known among the peasants simply as Moligan. I fought off the dragon's harsh bad breath to rise from my bed, drew my trusty dagger from its pouch, and went to face the ogre before it could capture the golden chalice that I had kept under my pillow through six hours of restless sleep.

Not exactly the most appealing prose, right? Well, that's because I just can't write fantasy. Or speculative fiction or science fiction for that matter. In my writing I am incapable of placing characters in strange, far-off worlds, where the culture and religion and history is so much different than our own.

Or can I?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

10 Amazing Things You Didn't Know About Bulgaria

Bulgaria? Why visit Bulgaria? Bulgaria is a beautiful country, with majestic mountains, sandy beaches, picturesque villages, good food, and hospitable people. And, it's incredibly affordable.

If you don't know anything about Bulgaria, here are ten reasons you should visit.

1. Roses - Bulgarian roses are not only stunningly beautiful, but a major export item as well. The petals reportedly produce as much as 85% of the world's rose oil, an essential ingredient in the production of perfumes. Gathering the roses is very labor intensive. Visit the country in May and June to see the colorful harvest.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Let there be no water shortage in Israel

Israeli children are taught at a very young age that every drop of water counts. Kindergarten teachers instruct their toddlers to carefully brush their teeth and take showers using as little water as possible.

By the time these children become adults, water conservation has become an ingrained principle. Television commercials emphasize the ongoing need to be water conscious. Every time there is a drop in the water level of the Kinneret, the biblical Sea of Galilee which has been the source of most of the country's fresh water, the national mood responds accordingly.

Although prudent use of water is still of vital importance, Israel no longer has a water shortage. In fact, according to Let There Be Water (Thomas Dunne Books, September 2015) by Seth M. Siegel, Israel not only has enough water for its growing population but the solutions the country developed can serve as an example for drought inflicted countries.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Literary Agents, Beware!

In the months after completing my second novel—a process that included writing, editing, rewriting, and even more editing—I queried more than 150 literary agents. I received outright rejections from 80 of them; most of the rest completely ignored me. A handful of agents asked to see an example of my work, but that's all. My quest to get representation actually had a happy ending as you can see here, but for most aspiring writers, queries and the manuscripts they represent end up in an agency slush pile.

What would happen if a writer, one who believes he has completed the best novel ever written, started stalking the literary agent who rejected him? And what would happen to that agent if her agency becomes target of a nasty email campaign, and then things take a turn for the worse when her best friend and leading client end up murdered? When the agent fears that she could be the next victim, she unwittingly discovers that the publishing business can be murder.

This is what happens to Jo Donovan, the protagonist of A Dangerous Fiction (Viking, July 2013) by Barbara Rogan. Donovan, the owner and principal agent of a boutique New York literary agency, learns that someone has hijacked the company's email account. All of Donovan's clients are told the very exciting news that their books have been accepted by publishers for publication, when this is far from the truth. Another even more damaging prank is yet to follow.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

When in Belgium, Drink the Beer

There is much that makes a visit to Belgium an incredible experience. In addition to the role Brussels plays hosting the headquarters of the European Union, the city attracts tourists from all over the world. The picturesque medieval old towns in the countryside and the Flemish Renaissance architecture also deserve attention. But more than anything else, visitors to the country enjoy Belgian cuisine, including world-famous chocolate, waffles, and Belgian fries. And, of course, the beer.

It's nearly impossible to give an exact figure as to how many varieties of beer are produced in Belgium but it would be safe to say that there are nearly 1,000 brewed by some 180 breweries. Beer in the region dates back to the 12th century and was developed over the centuries at Trappist monasteries and in private breweries. Today Trappist beers are very popular in Belgium. Also popular are Abbey beers, originally defined as monastic-style beers but which are today produced by non-Trappist monasteries or branded with a vague connection to monasteries.