Friday, February 27, 2015

Ayelet Tsabari Wins Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature

Ayelet Tsabari, author of the short story collection The Best Place On Earth (HarperCollins Canada, March 2013), is the winner of the 2015 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, it was announced this week.

The Sami Rohr Prize - an award of $100,000 - "honors emerging writers who explore the Jewish experience in a specific work of fiction."

In her stories, the Jewish Book Council announcement said, Ayelet Tsabari "explores Israeli history through characters of Mizrahi background (Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descent) that are at the crossroads of nationalities, religions, and communities."

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Space I Write In

I am frequently asked what is the most difficult part of being a writer. Is it conceiving the initial outline for the plot of a novel? Or the development of the characters? Perhaps editing is the most challenging part of the process? Many fellow authors argue that marketing their books takes up the majority of their time and, admittedly, marketing a book is much more difficult than writing and editing.

For me, though, the most difficult part of being a writer is finding the time to write. I commute to my office job every day, getting stuck in traffic in at least one direction. While at work I try to concentrate on my job. By the time I return home in the evening hours I am physically exhausted and my mind is drained of all creativity. Weekends, unfortunately, offer less of an opportunity to write than I would like. I prefer to spend my free time with my wife and family. Also, I like to read, travel, watch entertaining television shows, and take long walks.

So, when is there time to write? I finally found a solution.

Read the rest of this article on The Hubitus Blog.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Thriller with Classic Elements of the Genre

More than 65 reviews of Valley of Thracians have been posted on Amazon and the overwhelming majority of them have been quite favorable. By chance I recently discovered two additional reviews of the novel, and I decided to share them with you. Here they are:

Classic Reacher with a twist

Mysterious disappearances, betrayals, loyalty. Crooks, cops, an enigmatic archaeologist, helpful strangers. All these come together against a backdrop of beautiful Bulgarian vistas, crowded cities and down-to-earth rural villages.

The story is a thriller with all the classic elements of the genre. A Peace Corps volunteer has disappeared and clues don't fit the official reports. A doting grandpa tries to find the truth, persevering against all odds. There are villains and good guys swirling around a priceless lost treasure, hide-and-seek chases all over the country, crowded festivals and lonely mountaintops, drugs and guns.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Fifty Shades of Poker

I scowl with frustration at myself as I sit at the table. Damn my cards – they just won’t behave, and damn my opponents for hitting the river and subjecting me to this ordeal. I should be knocking them out, making the final table, yet here I am trying to catch up with the average chip count. I must not fall any farther behind. I must not lose another pot.

Reciting this mantra several times, I attempt, once more, to bring my game under control.

I roll my eyes in exasperation and gaze at the pale, brown-haired girl with blue eyes too big for her face staring back at me from across the table and give up. She has the nuts every hand. My only option is to bluff my pocket threes and hope that the move seems semi-presentable.

Her name is Anastasia Spades, and I first met her when we both registered for the Grey Poker Tournament Main Event. I pushed open the door to Tournament Registration and stumbled through, tripping over my own feet, and fell head first into the office.

Read the rest of this story on Titanbet Poker.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Secrets of a Long Distance Writer

I had just finished writing the first section of the first draft of my first novel and I was eager to have my wife read it. I needed feedback to see if I had developed interesting characters and a suspenseful plot, and if I had accurately described the setting of my story. And who was better than my wife to serve as my alpha reader? After all, my book was set in Bulgaria, a country where we had lived and worked for two years. Only my wife would know if I had succeeded in capturing Bulgaria in my novel.

My previous attempts at writing a book had been overly autobiographical, my wife had stated in the past. Those unfinished stories revolved around a husband and wife experiencing things all too similar to what was happening in our own lives. In this new novel, I believed, I had managed to create a totally fictional world, with unique characters dealing with strange and unusual circumstances. My wife would be the best judge of this, I thought, as I waited for her reaction.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Why Israelis Are Not Excited About Their Upcoming Elections

Israeli citizens will go to the polls on Tuesday, March 17th, and vote for a party slate to represent them in the Knesset, the country's 120-seat parliament. The elections are taking place two years ahead of schedule, after Israel's governing coalition fell apart in December and the Knesset voted on a dissolution bill. Election Day will be a day off of work for Israelis, yet despite the prospect of that vacation, no one is particularly excited about what lies ahead.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still considered, according to the latest public opinion surveys, to be the person most suitable to serve as prime minister in the next government. Yet, Netanyahu's Likud Party is currently trailing in the polls behind the Zionist Camp, a union of the Labor Party and Hatnuah. The Zionist Camp, led by veteran politicians Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, could win more seats in the elections but may have a difficult time forming a coalition government.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Day I Bumped into the Prime Minister of Bulgaria

During the two years we lived in Bulgaria, my wife and I regularly left our home in Sofia to drive into the countryside, exploring picturesque villages and visiting ethnographical museums. We were eager to learn everything we could about Bulgarian history and culture. I was constantly researching new places to visit.

On one extended December weekend, my wife and I traveled to Burgas, on the Black Sea coast. Despite the cold breezes and cloudy skies, we drove all the way south to the Turkish border and then back to Sozopol, an ancient seaside town that serves as a crowded resort in the summer months.

We fell entranced by Sozopol's wooden houses. By chance, we arrived there on St. Nicholas Day, which we learned was a festival honoring the protector of sailors and fishermen. As we sat down for a fish meal, we heard the loud beat of musical instruments. The town residents were noisy and happy in their holiday celebrations.

Read the rest of this article on The Huffington Post.