Friday, September 8, 2017

Review of ‘Totaled’ by Brian Blum

Just a few weeks ago, electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors handed over the first of its $35,000, 350-km range vehicles to eager customers. According to media reports, the company has a backlog of half a million orders.

This exciting news is coming out of California. It could have been coming out of Israel if a company called Better Place had fulfilled its dreams of changing the world. In hindsight, every decision Better Place, its management, and its narcissistic founder made was wrong.

In short, Better Place crashed.

Totaled: The Billion-Dollar Crash of the Startup that Took on Big Auto, Big Oil and the World by Brian Blum (Blue Pepper Press, August 2017), details the rollercoaster ride of what was possibly the most innovative concept to ever emerge from the Israeli ‘startup nation’.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Review of ‘Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe’ by Kapka Kassabova

The Strandja is a mountainous border zone between Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece. Also spelled Strandzha, the area is a nature reserve blessed with biodiversity, a region rich with history, and a land filled with mystery. The Strandja is also the backdoor of Europe, a centuries-old passageway that today constitutes an escape route for refugees fleeing the Middle East.

It is into this border zone that author Kapka Kassabova sets off on a quest, a quest to “look into the faces of those who are there, hear their stories, eat with them, learn new words.” For Kassabova, who grew up in Bulgaria during the 1970s and 1980s, the Strandja had been off limits; the border running through it was the division between the Communist east and the free world. As such, it was an area filled with gun-happy troops and fugitives. In her new home in Scotland, Kassabova developed a hunger to see the Strandja, and to understand this border that runs between three countries.

“The tug of the border was powerful among the river dragonflies, like a gravitational force. Whichever way you turned, something was behind you and nothing ahead of you. Perhaps that’s what history is.”

Friday, August 18, 2017

Self-Editing: These Words Have Got to Go!

What do you do when you finish writing a book? You edit it! And what do you do when you finish editing? You edit some more.

In my case, I wrote a novel, edited it, signed with a literary agent, got a publishing deal with a large foreign language publisher, saw my book traditionally published, and now I am editing the manuscript once again. (Read this if you don’t understand why).

Self-editing. What is there left to edit?

What could I possibly be editing at this late stage of the process? I am polishing the manuscript, tightening the flow of the narrative, speeding up the pacing, and making other tweaks to the content here and there.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Editing My Novel, a Year after It Was Published

Just over a year ago, my second novel was traditionally published. There was a book signing and official presentations by my editor and publisher. I was interviewed on television, twice, and there were write-ups in online media. My novel was featured prominently in bookshop windows. Readers were anxious to get their hands on a copy.

For someone who has aspired to be an author all his life, this sounds like a dream come true. Yet, something is a bit unusual in my story. A year after my book’s publication, I am now hard at work editing it.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Five Years after Burgas

On July 18, 2012, a terrorist bomb exploded on a bus transporting Israelis from Burgas Airport to their hotels in the seaside Bulgarian town. The bomb killed five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver; thirty-two Israeli passengers were injured. A seventh person killed in the blast, the suicide bomber, was only identified two years later as a dual Lebanese-French citizen. His accomplices were named as Hezbollah terrorists who had managed to escape to Lebanon.

Interviewed on Bulgarian television, June 2016
This was not the first terrorist attack targeting Israeli citizens overseas, nor was it, unfortunately, the last. I do not know any of the victims, yet this particular attack, the first ever to occur on Bulgarian soil, affected me personally and I think of it to this day.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Scammers Break The Kindle Store

Excerpt from an article by David Gaughran.

If you are an author and have books in Kindle Unlimited, you’ll want to read this.

On Friday, a book jumped to the #1 spot on Amazon, out of nowhere; it quickly became obvious that the author had used a clickfarm to gatecrash the charts.

The Kindle Store is officially broken.

This is not the first time this has happened and Amazon’s continued inaction is increasingly baffling. Last Sunday, a clickfarmed title also hit #1 in the Kindle Store. And Amazon took no action.

Over the last six weeks, one particularly brazen author has put four separate titles in the Top 10, and Amazon did nothing whatsoever. There are many such examples.

I wrote at the start of June about how scammers were taking over Amazon’s free charts. That post led to a phone conversation with KDP’s Executive Customer Relations.

Repeated assurances were given that the entire leadership team at Amazon was taking the scammer problem very seriously indeed. But it was also stressed that the…

Read the rest of the story on David Gaughran's Let's Get Digital website.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

How Did an American-born Israeli Happen to Write a Novel in Bulgarian?

One year ago, my novel The Burgas Affair was published with all the requisite fanfare of an official book launch. At a gathering in a large book store, I was presented to the public by the publisher. My editor introduced me with a short question and answer session. I met with eager readers and autographed copies of my book. My dream of becoming a published author had come true!

There’s something strange about this picture. Everything I just mentioned took place in Sofia, Bulgaria. My novel was published in the Bulgarian language, presented to the public by Ciela, the leading Bulgarian publishing house. My editor spoke to the public in Bulgarian, but my answers were in English. That is because I wrote the book in English but don’t speak Bulgarian. And the most surprising thing is that my book has yet to be published in English!

How did an American-born Israeli happen to write a novel published in Bulgarian?

First, a few words about the book.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Visit Israel Virtually - Right Now!

Virtual reality. It's coming. It's here.

If you can't visit Israel, visit Israel virtually. Virtually Israel invites you to experience Israel through virtual reality. So what are you waiting for?

Virtually Israel aspires to bring Israel to life to anyone who wants to explore Israel without flying across the globe. They are a one-of-a-kind Virtual Reality experience showcasing Israel’s most prominent cities, including Tel Aviv, Jaffa and Jerusalem. The project is partially sponsored by the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation.