Categories
Books Holidays Israel

Hangovers

This post is about a hangover. No, it’s not what you think. I haven’t taken to the bottle. Well, not in excess, anyway.

Living it up on safari in South Africa.

No, it’s about a hangover from childhood. And the town of Akko, called Acre in English.

I first discovered this ancient and modern town from a book I read as a teenager. I think the book was The Source by James A. Michener, a fascinating story of a fictional archeological dig and the ancient stories it uncovers. For some reason, at that young and impressionable age, I couldn’t accept that a town would have a name that I knew to be a unit of measurement. (It’s about 4047 square metres, which I didn’t know then and won’t remember now). Every time I came across that name in that book, I thought how weird it was.

After moving to Israel, I learned the Hebrew name for the town, and I’ve always used it, even when speaking in English. I wouldn’t say Yerushalayim in English, or Natzrat. I’d use the English names: Jerusalem and Nazareth. Yet Akko remains Akko because, in my mind, Acre is a strange name for a town.

Jerusalem – centre of the world.
(Last time I was Nazareth, there were no digital cameras.)

Recently, because this town appears in the novel I’m currently writing, the sequel to Style and the Solitary, I asked a group of authors which name they thought I should use. None of them had a problem with that name: Acre. It’s just me, then.

That led me to wonder about hangovers from childhood. I’m sure I must have a lot more. Do you? I’d love to hear about them.

Categories
Editing Israel

Reverse Engineering

Friend and fellow author and editor, Sue Barnard, posted this image from the Metro newspaper on Facebook last week.

I imagined the scene in the newspaper offices.

“Is it a boy or a girl?”
“I haven’t heard yet.”
“Let me know ASAP. I’ll write boy for now and change it if it’s a girl.”

Then I remembered the term for this from my hi tech days: reverse engineering. The Oxford Shorter English Dictionary says this is:

the reproduction of another manufacturer’s product following detailed examination of its construction or composition.

Well, maybe that’s not quite what I meant, but you get the idea. I’m thinking about working out how mistakes arise. That reminded me of those weird automatic translations. We’ve seen plenty of those around the world.

But the translations that make me laugh the most are the ones I see here in Israel, because I can work out how they came about. Take this one that I saw recently in Akko (Acre):

The word ‘character’ doesn’t describe the privileged residents; it means a letter or digit. But it’s incorrect here because it’s translated from the wrong meaning of the Hebrew word ‘tav’. ‘Tav’ can mean many things, including a ‘character’, but in this case it refers to a car sticker. So, there’s a double confusion here.

Conclusion

Automatic translations do not replace editors.

And changing something in a text often has implications for the rest of the text.

Look out for my next post, which will be about identity. That’s who you are, rather than the card you do or don’t carry.

Categories
Books Israel The writing process

November Report

Remember that novel I was going to write in November? Well, I wrote it. I didn’t reach the magic total of 50,000 words, by I did pass 40,000, and now I have the first draft of a sequel to Style and the Solitary that will need a lot more work before I can submit it for publication.

As well as spending time writing every day in November, I wandered around Jerusalem and further afield, gathering information for the novel. Here are a few of the pictures I took:

As every year, there was plenty of support from our local group of writers, and in particular Melina Kantor and Shoshana Raun. I wouldn’t have managed without them.

Now, I’m trying to catch up on all the tasks I postponed in November.

I’m also looking forward to the publication of Dark Paris, an anthology of dark stories set in Paris, all proceeds of which go to two charities: Restaurants du Cœur and Fondation Brigitte Bardot. My contribution to the anthology is called Train Trouble.

More about Dark Paris soon…

Categories
Books Israel Social anxiety

Transport

Transport is the word I’ve chosen to describe all three parts of this post.

1. A Tour

My latest novel, Style and the Solitary, is going on tour from tomorrow with Reading Between the Lines – Online Book PR. Watch out for social media posts using the hashtag #styleandthesolitary.

2. An International Event

Smashwords even travels to the other hemisphere (which is more than I’ve done). That’s why their current sale is called The Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale. Even my book, Social Anxiety Revealed, has travelled further than me. Try it. It might transport you to a world you don’t know, or one you know all too well. In either case it will further better understanding.

Fear of other people? Most of us feel this occasionally, when giving a presentation or being grilled in a job interview. This is not social anxiety disorder.

Fear of what other people think of you? We have all felt this, too. It is why we dress as we do and generally try to behave in a way that is expected of us. This is not social anxiety disorder either.

But when those fears become so prevalent that they take over your life? When they cause you to hide away, either literally or by not revealing your real self? When you keep quiet in an attempt to avoid those raised eyebrows and the possible thoughts behind them? That is social anxiety disorder.

And it is much more common than you might think. In the mental health table, it comes third – after alcoholism and depression – and yet most people don’t even know it exists.

If you have social anxiety disorder, this book is for you.

Even if you don’t have social anxiety disorder, you might have a friend, a relative or a work colleague who does. You might see it developing in your son, your daughter, or a child you teach. This book is for you, too.

Social Anxiety Revealed is created by people who yearn to ditch all these problems and live their lives to the full.

Can you help? When you have read and understood, you’ll be in a much better position to do that.

3. A First

My granddaughter is now old enough for her first form of self-driven transport.

And somehow, despite raising three children and definitely having one of these in the house, I’ve only just discovered the name for it in Israel: Bimba. What do you call it?

Categories
Books Israel

The Journey of a Stone

This post is about a new novel. It’s one that covers four thousand years and follows a stone on its travels close to home and then further afield. I was lucky enough to read a draft, about which I made suggestions that have been incorporated by its author, Olga Swan (pen-name). I look forward to reading the final version, which has just been published as The Meleke Stone.

Here’s the author herself to tell you about it.

Thank you so much, Miriam, for allowing me on your blog. I’ve been working towards The Meleke Stone all my life. Included are all the times, and perpetrators, from 1900 BCE to the present when the Jewish people were ousted from their land. It’s a novel with a strong underlying message. Here’s the blurb:

“A meleke stone from the ancient plains of the Dead Sea is passed down by generations of females through four thousand years.  

In 2019 Sami, the son of Egyptian immigrants in Toulouse, is traumatised by the family’s hardships in France and plots revenge.  

Menes, Sami’s father from Cairo, had emigrated to France in search of peace. An unlikely friendship forms with Holocaust-survivor Moshe, each recognising their past struggles.

Suddenly, a terrorist bomb explodes in a Toulouse synagogue. Moshe asks his son, Simon, to produce a film showing the true history of his people from the time of Sodom and Gomorrah.  

What will happen to Moshe’s and Menes’ special relationship when an intrepid French detective’s efforts to find the terrorist reveal the horrifying truth? 

In a soul-searching conclusion in Jerusalem, having no female descendant to whom to give the meleke stone, there’s only one thing that Simon can do to maintain the survival of his people for all eternity. 

…..are you ready for the four thousand year journey of the meleke stone?”

Follow the story as it moves between Toulouse, Warsaw, Cairo and through to Jerusalem. Read the historical truths about Sodom and Gomorrah, the Maccabees and what happened during the Six-Day War in the Sinai.  But above all, recognise the lifelong friendship between a Jewish man and an Egyptian Muslim. Enjoy!

About the Author

Olga Swan has a B.A. Hons. (Open) in English language and literature.  For many years she worked at The University of Birmingham, following which she spent twelve years living in S.W. France before returning to Birmingham in 2017.  She has had 7 books (3 non-fiction) published by indie publisher Crooked Cat Books, which has now closed. Three of Olga’s works are narrative non-fiction, one of which (Pensioners in Paradis) is approaching one million pages read and is already a four-times international best-seller.  A second edition of this and of An Englishwoman in America have now been reprinted. Three novels form a series set in wartime Germany, France and Poland. Dunoon Assassin  moves between NY, Dunoon and Amritsar.

Olga has been writing her blog every Sunday for 13 years with hundreds of regular readers each week from around the world.

She can also be found on her Amazon author page, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linktree.

Categories
Books Everyday life Israel Social anxiety

Going Out – Coming Out

Today, 23rd March, is a day for going out and for celebrating coming out.

I, together with the rest of the citizens of this country (hopefully) will be going out to vote. It’s only a year since we last voted and we all hope the next government will last for longer. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that the election results will give a better advantage to any party.

Voting
Voting in 2013

Today is also an anniversary. Twelve years ago, I began this blog, tentatively, anonymously, scared to own up to having social anxiety, even though I knew it was obvious. Optimistcally, I called the blog and myself “An’ de walls came tumblin’ down.” They haven’t tumbled, but they have some large chinks.

Nevertheless, a lot has happened in that time. It could all be summed up in the words “I came out.” It’s made a big difference to me that I can write about having social anxiety and give presentations about it, even though it’s still hard to talk about.

Where were you, twelve years ago? Have you changed over the years?

Categories
Holidays Israel

Vaxing Lyrical

Getting the Covid19 vaccination, part 1

Yesterday, I got the first of two doses of the Covid-19 vaccination. The process was easy and well organised, and I’m feeling fine, thank you.

No country is perfect, Israel included, but it’s in times like these that I feel most proud of my little country. I think this article does a good job of explaining why Israel has succeeded in vaccinating a much higher proportion of its population than any other country. Basically, it’s due to our health service and the way it’s run, with clinics all over the country, and our ability to mobilise in times of emergency.

When makes me annoyed? When I read in the foreign press that Israel is going ahead with vaccinating while Palestinians have to wait. The fact is that Israeli Arabs have the same rights to health care (including vaccinations) as everyone else in Israel. Those who live in the Palestinian Authority have their own systems in place, independent of Israel. Israel is not responsible for their vaccination programme, although it will probably help them.

My appointment for the second injection is in three weeks. I would love for it to be followed by a trip to the UK, my home away from home. Sadly, I don’t see that happening.

Stay safe and healthy, everyone, wherever you are.

Categories
Books Holidays Israel short stories

2020 in Review

2020 – the year when nothing happened. Hang on… is that true? Something must have happened. Let’s see.

Best Holiday (Vacation)

We only had one proper holiday, but it was a wonderful, action-packed tour of neighbouring Egypt in January. I’m so glad we made the last-minute decision to join the tour.

Best Book Read

I read several wonderful books, this year. This was the best. A combination of secrets, lies, and great plotting and writing was what made this novel stand out.

Best Book Written

No contest there. I wrote only one book and wouldn’t have completed that without NaNoWriMo and our wonderful municipal liaisons. (I’m still editing it and hope to have it finished soon.)

Best Book Published

I’m proud to have my short story, Gruesome in Golders Green, in this fabulous collection of short stories, all inspired by the city I grew up in.

Best Photo of Me

Taken by my son for Independence Day.

Best Addition to the Family

Our granddaughter! She’s almost six months old, now.

Yes, some bad things happened, too. The main one was losing a very good friend.

Here’s to a better 2021 for all.

Categories
Books Holidays Israel

Number Seven

I’m author number seven out of the eighteen who have written stories for Dark London, the new anthology to be published by Darkstroke.

Dark London Authors

I’ve long thought of my lucky number as twenty-five. Why?

  • I was born on 25th August.
  • The house I grew up in was at number 75 (25 x 3).
  • I came to live in Israel on 25th October.
  • When I was 25, I lived at number 25.

However, seven is a rather special number in Judaism because:

  • The menorah (the 7-branched candelabrum) has been a symbol for Judaism for about 3000 years.
  • The festival of Sukkoth, which involves eating (and sometimes sleeping) in booths, as a reminder of the years when the Israelites wandered through the desert, lasts for 7 days.
  • Simchat Torah, the Rejoicing of the Torah, includes parading around the synagogue 7 times.
  • The wedding ceremony includes 7 blessings.
  • The festival of Shavuot, commemorating the receiving of the Torah, is celebrated 7 weeks after Passover, which commemorates the exodus from Egypt.
  • The shivah, the period of mourning, lasts for 7 days.

 

Ruth&David'sSukka
Inside a Sukkah (booth)

I couldn’t be author #25 because there aren’t 25 authors in the anthology, but I’m happy to be #7, and I imagine one of the characters in my short story is, too.

Publication will be this summer. I’m excited!

Categories
Everyday life Holidays Israel

Happy What?

I read an article recently. I don’t have the link any more, but it was headed something like: I’m Jewish. Please wish me Merry Christmas. The article went on to explain that although in the author’s family Christmas wasn’t celebrated, the day was meaningful to him as a day off – a day when they, as a family, did joyful things together that were out or the ordinary.

I get it. I remember, all through my childhood, spending Christmas Day in the home of my aunt, uncle and cousins, eating different foods, doing different things. So when I changed schools at the age of eleven and was introduced to Christmas carols, drawing Christmas trees and exchanging Christmas cards, I joined in. In any case, my aim at school was always to fit in, even though I never succeeded.

The trend continued to university and work. Christmas was always a special time, so it seemed natural to exchange Christmas greetings with everyone.

Then I moved to Israel and, for the first time, Christmas didn’t exist, apart from a few cards I still sent to and received from friends abroad. Christmas Day was spent at work. That’s been the case for most of my time here. Recently, with social media and the ability to listen to BBC Radio 4, the prominence of Christmas has again increased, but it’s still not part of my life. That’s the difference between me and the author of that linkless article. He lives in the US while I live in Israel.  Like him, I’m not offended when someone wishes me Merry Christmas, but for me it’s meaningless.

“Yes, but even if you don’t celebrate it, you do something special on that day,” people say.

“Actually, no.”

However, this year, I will be celebrating Chanuka at the same time as Christmas, lighting candles and eating doughnuts at home and at folk dancing.

Chanuka2012Miriam
Celebrating the sixth night of Chanuka in 2012

But Chanuka isn’t time off, except for schoolchildren and teachers. And us, last year:

Chanuka and Christmas in Vietnam
David Drori celebrating the 7th night of Chanuka in Vietnam, 2018

Whatever you do, enjoy the next few days, the whole of 2020 and every other year. May whatever you wish for come to fruition.