Monday, August 29, 2011

The Journey Begins

One of the main reasons I started this blog was for it to serve as a platform for my writing, specifically for the writing on which I am currently working. Loyal readers of this blog will be able to follow the progress of that writing project as it continues towards publication, because that is the ultimate goal.
At this stage I can share that I have completed the manuscript of my novel, and I am now hard at work editing and revising it, preparing it for the submission process ahead. The novel is a work of fiction, sort of a cultural thriller set in modern day Bulgaria. More details about this story will be revealed over the course of time.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Let’s Get Digital, a Review

The publishing industry is undergoing a rapid transformation. Hardback sales have collapsed. Sales of trade paperbacks and mass market paperbacks are down. In July last year, sales of ebooks on Amazon outnumbered sales of hardback books for the first time. In February this year, ebook sales comprised 29.5% of the market, more than paperbacks.

The Borders bookstore has closed its doors. Amazon has begun publishing its own titles. The Kindle is the top-selling item in Amazon’s history. Authors are expected to market their own books. And self-publishing no longer carries the stigma it once had when it was considered solely a vanity press.

In this changing landscape, prospective authors have a new option available to them. Instead of turning with a manuscript to a literary agent to search for a publisher, authors can publish their own books. According to self-publishing advocate David Gaughran, if a new author has “the technical capability to operate an email account and download [his new] book, [he/she has] the capacity to learn what it takes to become a publisher.”

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Opening Night of the Fair

My connection to the Khutsot Hayotser Arts and Crafts Fair goes back many years. The annual summer fair, held in the valley below Jerusalem’s Old City walls, is being staged this month for the 36th time. It was approximately that many years ago that my sister displayed her macramé creations at a small booth during her high school summer vacation, first bringing my attention to the arts and crafts on display.
The fair has come far since then, with professional artisans and international crafts exhibitions now attracting thousands each night during a two week period each August. The fair has become a tradition in Jerusalem and it is advertised as the main tourist attraction of the summer season.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Love in Mid Air, a Review

Chick lit is defined by Wikipedia as “genre fiction which addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humorously and lightheartedly.” As a genre, it sells well, with titles frequently topping the bestseller lists and becoming part of modern culture in the “Sex and the City” tradition. The target market for chick lit is obviously women. A question that sounds as if it could be phrased by Candace Bushnell/Carrie Bradshaw herself would be: Should men read chick lit?

Debut novelist Kim Wright admits that the intended demographic for Love in Mid Air is American women in book clubs, so she was interested in knowing what I thought of the book. In fact, much of the narrative revolves around the day-to-day routines of this demographic. Its characters are members of a book club, active in church renovations, mothers who escort their children to softball games. These are housewives dealing with the simple, yet complex trivialities of life in the American suburbs.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

To Die with Dignity

It’s one o’clock on a Saturday afternoon and the hourly newscast is being broadcast on Galei Zahal, Israel’s Army Radio station. Except this time the broadcast is different. Veteran newscaster Adi Talmor is not the Shabbes goy reading the headlines. Instead, Talmor’s death is one of the headlines, especially due to the way he died.

After being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, Talmor, age 58, decided to end his life with the help of Swiss assisted-dying organization Dignitas. The decision came as a shock to Talmor’s colleagues. Since his death, Galei Zahal and sister radio station Galgalatz have reported the news in the words Talmor wrote especially for the occasion, and this afternoon there will be a program of his favorite music. Because his body was cremated in Switzerland, there will be no funeral and the only memorial ceremony that he asked for was a gathering on his beloved Tel Aviv boardwalk.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Summer of Tents

On a Friday night two weeks ago my family and I strolled along Rothschild Boulevard in central Tel Aviv. This is usually one of the most beautiful streets in the city, with its Bauhaus buildings, tree-lined sidewalks, and ample space for bike riders and child play. But this summer Rothschild is different; it is the center of a nation-wide social protest which has resulted in the boulevard’s being renamed by some as “If I Were Rothschild”, referring to the European Jewish banking family that helped finance many institutions in pre-state Israel.

The first tent was set up on Rothschild exactly one month ago and its placement there, in protest of the high cost of living, led to additional encampments up and down the street, and in other cities all over Israel. Last Saturday night the growing social protest movement held a march in central Tel Aviv attracting some 280,000 people and staging a rally that included a performance by Shlomo Artzi.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Book Review: A Guide to Jewish Bulgaria

My wife and I lived for two years in Sofia, Bulgaria. On a number of occasions we visited the Sofia Central Synagogue and each time we were amazed at the beauty of the building. The synagogue, opened to the public in 1909 in a ceremony attended by the Bulgarian Tsar, has been fully renovated and restored. In September, 2009, we were present at its 100th Year Anniversary with Bulgaria’s president seated a few rows ahead of me.

I never noticed a photographer capturing shots of the historic occasion from the balcony above, but he was from Vagabond, Bulgaria’s only English language magazine. The picture he snapped is now on the cover of A Guide to Jewish Bulgaria, just published by Vagabond Media. If you look closely you can see my balding head and white kippa, just visible above the word “everyone” on the book’s cover.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The First Post, an Introduction

Hello, and welcome to my new blog! I am not new to the world of blogging, having recently returned from Bulgaria where I posted regularly at Ellis and Jodie’s Bulgarian Adventures. As part of my full time job, I post about the world of poker on the Titan Poker Blog. But this is the first time I’ve decided to create an online home for my writing.

You can expect to find opinion pieces, book reviews, short stories, general musings, and information about my upcoming novel - a work in progress. Articles that appear on this blog will range across a wide variety of subjects. I hope you will enjoy!

For those who don’t know me, I was born in Sioux City, Iowa, and moved to Israel (made aliya) in 1972 at the age of fifteen. I finished high school in Jerusalem, served in the Israeli army, was a founding member of Kibbutz Yahel in Israel’s southern Arava desert, and now live on Moshav Neve Ilan outside Jerusalem with my wife, Jodie. We have three children and one granddaughter.