Monday, January 28, 2013

Valley of Thracians Is Published

More than two years in the making, my novel Valley of Thracians is now a reality. It has been published and is available for Kindle, with other formats to follow. (If you prefer the touch of paper, don't worry, a paperback version is coming soon).

Valley of Thracians is a novel of Bulgaria. You could call it a "fiction travel book", as Bulgaria plays a central role in the story. According to Condé Nast Traveler, a fiction travel book is "a book in which a place is as important a character as the protagonist; … it's a book that has shaped the way we see a certain place; it's a book whose events and characters could be set nowhere else."

Valley of Thracians is such a book.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Book Review: Finding Claire Fletcher

In the opening scene of Finding Claire Fletcher, the debut suspense novel by Lisa Regan, we meet Detective Connor Parks, who is turning to Scotch in a bar after having a particularly rough day on the job. As he tries to drown his sorrows, a woman strikes up a conversation, and Connor can't but help think that she is trying to pick him up. Small talk leads to the couple leaving the bar together, but the night they spend in Connor's home is tender, not sexual.

The next morning, the woman is gone, and all Connor has left is a trace of her perfume, her name, and an address. Claire Fletcher from Sacramento. Connor, newly divorced, has been out of the dating game for some time, but he has to see this woman again. A few days after meeting Claire, he knocks on the door of her home.

The woman who greets him is not Claire. When Connor states the purpose of his visit, the woman's face pales. It's not possible that he saw Claire in a bar a few days before, Connor is informed. Claire Fletcher disappeared ten years earlier. She has never been found.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

On the Road to Ein Gedi

Jodie and I drove south this week, on our way to a three-day vacation at the Dead Sea. We headed east, bypassing Jerusalem to the north, and entered the desert. The barren hills were tinted green, a souvenir of the recent rains. Herds of goats and sheep were making their way from one Bedouin encampment to the next.

We drove along the Dead Sea shore. According to the media, the level of the sea rose by 10 centimeters this winter, but still the shoreline continues to recede into the distance. The evaporating sea and the eroding land around it is a man-made tragedy that can still be prevented.

Just as we approached Kibbutz Ein Gedi, where we decided to have lunch, we came across an unusual sight. The car ahead of us on the highway stopped, and we stopped as well. Jodie hurried out of the car, carefully crossed the highway, and took out her i-Phone. A beautiful female ibex was standing among the rocks overlooking the sea, but by the time Jodie was ready to take a photograph, it had disappeared down the cliff.

Friday, January 18, 2013

I Host a Pre-Election Special Debate

In less than a week's time, Israeli citizens will go to the polls to elect the 19th Knesset. Over 30 parties are listed on the ballot and the latest opinion polls indicate that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will again form the next government, even though his Likud-Yisrael Beytenu party will have fewer seats than it has in the outgoing parliament.

Ahead of the elections, I served as co-host of a Special Pre-Election Debate in English, broadcast live over the Internet. The event was organized and produced by Israel Vibes Interactive Broadcasting, in partnership with Aliyah Magazine. The debate was screened live at Ynet News and Israel National News as well.

Included here is the debate that was shown as a live videocast on the Internet:

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Snow in Israel, Snow in Bulgaria

I awoke early Thursday morning, ate breakfast, and prepared to leave the house for the drive to my office in Ramat Gan. A look out the window, however, slowed me down. As predicted by the weathermen, the ground was white and snow was falling steadily. A quick check on the Internet informed me that the Jerusalem - Tel Aviv highway was closed in both directions. It looked like it was going to be a snow day.

Snow does not often fall in the Jerusalem area, and snowfall at our home in Moshav Neve Ilan, which is at a lower elevation, is an even rarer event. But when the snow falls, Jerusalem shuts down. Politics, war, the economy, religious strife - everything is forgotten for the day as idyllic scenes of the Old City walls, churches, and mosques covered in white make everyone sigh.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tel Aviv Is Flooded, Build an Ark!

The Loch Ness Monster was spotted in flood waters passing through Tel Aviv yesterday, forcing closure of the Ayalon Freeway, the city’s main north-south thoroughfare. Near the washed-out train tracks, the sail and periscopes of an unidentified submarine could be seen as the underwater craft made its way towards the submerged Halacha exit. Adventurous youths took to rafting down the flooded waterway on their inner tubes.

Of the above, only the Ayalon rafting with inner tubes was actually true, but pictures of the flooding, and its Photoshopped imagery filled the Facebook news feed.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Virtual Kibbutz Now Available for Kindle

I am pleased to announce that The Virtual Kibbutz, my debut collection of short stories, has been re-published and is now available for Kindle. In the weeks to come, the book will also be available at Barnes & Noble and for other e-reading devices.

I originally published The Virtual Kibbutz in April 2003 with iUniverse, which at the time was the best option for self-publishing. In August last year I canceled my iUniverse contract and removed the book from their catalog. Please read the article I posted at the time explaining my decision to leave iUniverse.