Thursday, April 16, 2015

Apocalyptic Suspense in the Heart of Jerusalem

In Torn Blood by David J. Bain, a newly arrived U.S. Embassy official makes his way into Palestinian territory and finds himself trapped in a terrorist plot to destroy Israel.

The Tower of David, also known as the Jerusalem Citadel and in Hebrew as Migdal David, has served as an outer fortification protecting the Holy City since Hasmonean and Herodian times. The tower itself is a Turkish minaret added to a Mamluk mosque, and in fact the connection between the citadel to Biblical King David is in name only.

Migdal David is prominent in any image of the Old City walls. The fortress that served for centuries as a garrison for Ottoman troops is today considered a symbol of Jewish Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.

For Palestinians to launch a terror attack from Migdal David "in the heart of the Old City, is symbolic, personal," says one of Israel's senior security officials, when confronted with the greatest threat Israel has ever faced in its history.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Sons of Romantic Light

There are two stories told in the novel A Love And Beyond by Dan Sofer. One concerns the quest of Jerusalem's most eligible bachelor to find his beshert. The other is a bit more complicated.

Dave Schwarz, a thirty-year-old British oleh who lives in Jerusalem's German Colony, is dismayed that "all his childhood friends were married plus two or three kids. Somewhere along the tracks of life, [he] had derailed."

Finding a suitable life partner obsesses Dave. "The symbols of marriage hounded him at every turn. Judaism was no religion for single men." He knows he needs "a wife and fast, and not just to get his mother off his back or even to fulfill the Divine command to 'be fruitful and multiply.' Family life was the only path to normalcy."

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Day I Traveled to China and Got Doyle Brunson’s Autograph

Known in the industry as the Godfather of Poker, Doyle Brunson is an American player, a two-time winner of the World Series of Poker Main Event, a Poker Hall of Fame member, and the author of several books on poker. I never imagined in a million years that I would travel all the way to China to meet this poker legend, and to get his autograph.

I was in Macau along with 17 avid poker players from around the world, players who had qualified through a series of satellite tournaments to represent Titan Poker at the Asian Poker Tour (APT). It was August 2008, and the event being staged offered $1,500,000 in guaranteed prizes, making it at the time the most lucrative tournament to ever take place in Asia. The Titan Poker players came from Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Australia, Malaysia, the Czech Republic, and Japan. I was there to make sure they had a good time and to cheer them on as they took to the tables.

Read the rest of this article on The Huffington Post.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Popular Bulgarian Singer Hopes to Restart Career in Israel

Reni had Top Ten hits in Serbia, sold out concert halls in Sofia; today she raises her sons in Rishon Lezion and studies Hebrew at an ulpan.

At the beginning of March, Bulgaria celebrated Liberation Day, marking 137 years since the country's liberation from Ottoman rule. A concert staged in honor of this national holiday filled Bat Yam's Hechal HaTarbut with an eager audience, most of whom had Bulgarian roots. After opening words by Ambassador to Israel Dimitar Mihaylov, in both his native language and perfect Hebrew, the concert began with its bi-national theme - "The Bulgarian Spirit in the Holy Land".

One of the singers who took to the stage was Reni, who sang an opening medley together with well-known Jewish Bulgarian television personality Etien Levy and the young singer Etienita Raichinova. Many in the audience were familiar with Reni’s singing, as she had once been very popular in both Bulgaria and Serbia, but she had since disappeared from the Bulgarian music scene.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

20 Questions with Canadian Poker Player Gillian Epp

This time I get to ask the questions!

Gillian Epp is a high stakes poker player, as well as a tournament host and author. She took to the tables initially as a dealer in a local casino, but soon realized that there was more money to be made actually playing the game. She quit her job and began playing poker, first online and then at live poker games. Since then she has traveled the world, playing cash games against the top poker pros. She is one of Canada’s most recognizable female poker players.

I had the opportunity to talk to Gillian and ask her 20 questions about her poker career and what it’s like to play high stakes poker, both as a Canadian and as a female poker player. She had some very interesting answers!

Monday, March 23, 2015

There are enough reasons to be positive!

An interview with Veni Markovski:

Israeli writer publishes a story about Bulgaria in the UK edition of a US online media – is this what you’d call “globalization”?

Ellis: The way we view the world these days has changed and there is no doubt in my mind that the Internet has played a major role in opening borders between the citizens of different countries, except where online use is limited by totalitarian states. As a writer, I can easily write and submit stories and articles from the comfort of my home, no matter where in the world my home may be. There is no doubt in my mind that we are today witnessing an expedited process of globalization, enabling the exchange of views, culture, products and innovations on a scale never previously seen.

I define myself as an American-born, Israeli writer who writes about Bulgaria, and I believe I may be unique in this characterization. My wife and I lived in Sofia for two years as part of a job relocation, and we regarded this experience as an adventure. Upon my return to Israel I became determined to share Bulgaria through my writing, both to encourage western tourists to visit the country and also in my fiction, as I set the location of my suspense novel in Bulgaria. The ability for citizens from one country to experience life in another is also a sign of globalization in the world today.

Read the rest of this interview on Veni's Blog.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Why I Offered My Book for Free. Again.

47,531. That's the total number of copies of my novel Valley of Thracians that were downloaded during its five-day promotion at the beginning of March. 47,531. That number is so huge, so unbelievable, that I'll probably repeat it a number of times in this article. If I had a dollar for every copy that was downloaded, I would be a rich man. Well, a bit richer. But the thing is this – the huge number of downloads was a result of my offering the book for free. Again.

In March 2013, just two months after I self-published the novel, I ran a free promotion. At the time, I was amazed that 8,440 copies were downloaded. The book peaked in 27th place on Amazon's Free for Kindle bestseller list. In October that year, I ran a discounted book promotion, offering it for sale at $0.99, and 910 copies were sold in one week.

After all this time, why did I decide to again offer the book for free? How did I manage to get 47,531 downloads? And what did I achieve with this free promotion?