Thursday, April 28, 2016

Cover Reveal, and yes, it's in Bulgarian

I am proud to show you the cover of my novel The Burgas Affair, which will be published by Ciela, the leading Bulgarian publishing house, in May.

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.

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

In Bulgarian, the name of the book is БYPГАСКАТА АФЕРА.

To my friends in Bulgaria - I look forward to sharing this novel with you!

I wish to thank all those who helped me during the research and writing of the novel, as well as the team at Ciela and my agent, Jessica Schmeidler of Golden Wheat Literary.

Previous story:

Announcement: I Sign a Book Deal

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Chat in the Writers’ Chateau

This interview was originally published on Lisette’s Writers’ Chateau in February 2014 and while some of my answers concerning the publication of Valley of Thracians now seem a bit outdated, other points have stood the test of time. The interview covers my writing process, my marketing efforts, and as a special bonus – my connection to the game of poker.

I would like to thank Lisette Brodey, indie author of six novels, for her kind generosity in conducting this interview for posting on her website.

What is your latest book?

I self-published my suspense novel, Valley of Thracians, and it has done remarkably well. I’ve been very pleased with readers’ responses, as the book is not your typical suspense novel. Some readers have described it as ‘travel fiction’ as well as an introduction to Bulgaria, a country that few have visited, or know much about. In my novel I strongly emphasized the setting of the story. The book deals with a Peace Corps volunteer who goes missing during his service in Bulgaria. His grandfather comes to the country to track down the missing young man and ends up learning about Bulgaria’s history and culture as he travels.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Only in Israel: Kosher for Passover Beer

I have written about the gluten free beers made by Meadan Craft Brewing in the past, especially about their beer made from hummus. Now the brewery has taken the next step - brewing the first-ever kosher for Passover beer.

Meadan's Date Ale, a beer made from date syrup, is the world's first beer made from dates. And, it's not only gluten free, but also hametz free. Hametz is any food type, especially bread, that is leavened, and therefore forbidden during the week-long holiday of Passover.

During the Passover Seder, it is custom to drink four cups of wine. Changing that tradition to drinking four bottles of beer is doubtful, but at least everyone will have Date Ale to help wash down the matza served at the table.

Read also: Beer Made from Hummus

Friday, April 15, 2016

Of Storks and Fire Dancers

On the feast day of Saint Constantine and Elena, tourists gather in the villages of southeastern Bulgaria to watch the centuries-old tradition of fire dancing. These nestinari dancers, moving in a trancelike state barefoot on smoldering embers while holding the icons believed to protect them from the fire, carry out a ritual mixing Eastern Orthodox beliefs and pagan traditions from the Strandja, a mountainous region stretching into northern Turkey.

As described in Stork Mountain (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, March 2016, £8.99) by Miroslav Penkov:

“Every year, for thirteen hundred years, the nestinari dance. Come spring, come June, come the feast of Saint Constantine, the feast of Saint Elena, they build tall fires, three cartloads of wood torched and burned to embers. And then, barefooted, they take the saint’s invisible and holy hand and plunge into the living coals. The drum beats wildly, the bagpipes screech. Sickness and worry, happy and bliss – the fire consumes them all. Here in the Strandja Mountains, where the nestinari dance, the fire leaves nothing.”

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Luxury Travel in Bulgaria Is Totally Affordable

Bulgaria has something for everyone. There are sandy beaches on the shores of the Black Sea; a metropolitan lifestyle in Sofia; art shops and galleries in Plovdiv's Old Town. Historical villages dot the countryside showcasing renaissance architecture from the mid-19th century. In the winter months, the mountains are perfect for skiing; in the summer the hiking is breathtaking.

I have long been a proponent of how inexpensive it is to travel to Bulgaria but discerning western visitors don't have to compromise on their accommodations. Luxury travel in Bulgaria is totally affordable.

Although there are fancy resorts along the Black Sea, I will skip those due to their glitzy mass appeal. Instead I will focus on four high class establishments where my wife and I have stayed, all at reasonable prices.

Villa Gela - luxury accommodations in the colorful Rhodope Mountains.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

When I Was in Belgium

The recent terror attacks in Brussels and the subsequent manhunt for terrorists made me think back to the weekend my wife and I spent in the Belgian capital last September. Security considerations were the last thing on our minds, even when we spent an entire, unplanned day at Brussels Airport.

“How would you like to attend a Crosby, Stills & Nash concert?” my wife surprised me one day. “Where are they playing?” “They are staging a concert tour in Europe. Let’s go!”

We are not groupies of the band yet we had grown up on CSN music. “Our house is a very fine house,” we would sing, especially due to the fact that for many years we had “two cats in the yard.”

“Where and when are they playing?” we wondered. We checked the schedule and considered going to hear them in Rome. The dates weren’t good for us. How about Dublin? Or Copenhagen? Or anywhere? Brussels fit in perfectly. On the spur of the moment we booked tickets for the end of September between the Jewish holidays, a time when our jobs would not tie us down.

The Grand Place in Brussels

Monday, March 28, 2016

I Couldn't Believe What I Saw Out My Sarajevo Hotel Window

My wife and I arrived in Sarajevo in June, as part of our tour of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We were eager to visit a city rich in history, culture, and religious diversity.

Our trip to Sarajevo coincided with the one hundred year anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria - the shot that sparked World War I. Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympics in 1984; the city suffered heavily while under siege during Bosnia's war for independence, 1992-1995. The Sarajevo Haggadah, an illuminated Hebrew manuscript dating to the 14th century and considered the most valuable book in the world, is housed in Bosnia's National Museum, which has been closed since late 2012 due to lack of funding. So much history!

Before we had a chance to see the city, we enjoyed a cultural experience that took us quite by surprise. Who would have imagined that the most colorful part of our visit to the Bosnian capital would be seen by looking out our hotel window?

As we were resting, we heard noises from below. Looking out the window we saw a bride and groom arrive in a horse-drawn carriage.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Recent Reads

Lately I have been reading a lot more than I have been writing. Some of the books I’ve read have been good while others did nothing more than help pass the time between writing projects. When I finish reading a book I usually write a review. As an author I know that every review is important, even if the review is not entirely favorable. A review gives an author feedback; shows that an author’s work has left an impression; and proves that the reader cares enough to react to what he/she has just read.

I would like to share with you some impressions of my recent reads. These short reviews will tell you what you can expect in each book but the best way for you to form a judgment is to read them yourself. I hope I have guided you in some way. Enjoy!

The Universe versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
Alex Woods is a young boy who gets struck in the head by a meteorite; as a result, he becomes a scientific celebrity with occasional bouts of epilepsy. Alex meets an aging American war veteran and the two form an unusual friendship. When Alex ends up at Dover customs with 113 grams of marijuana and an urn of ashes, his actions leave an entire nation in uproar. Actually, that is how the book begins. This novel is an amusing and enjoyable read and there is a special surprise for fans of Kurt Vonnegut.