Last Thursday, my friend and fabulous author, Sue Barnard, launched her new book, Never on Saturday, published by Crooked Cat. She held a launch party and I was delighted to be given a slot in it.

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During the slot, I announced a competition to win a signed copy of Neither Here Nor There. Contestants had to write a short piece that had some connection with Jerusalem.

Now I can announce the winner, who is…

Ailsa Abraham

Here is her entry:

JERUSALEM

Oh please don’t sing Jerusalem
While puffing out your chest
You don’t care about that place
Cos England is the best.

You make me sick when singing of
Our “green and pleasant land”
Not caring for a second
Of a city in the sand.

While you are belting out the song
The folks out there are dying
But if you shed a little tear,
It’s for patriotism you’re crying

No it was not “builded” here
Your grammar causes guilt
It was in the Middle East
Jerusalem was built.

So think when singing, or abstain
Please, my friend, you choose
But think, if you are singing
Of Arabs and of Jews.

 Isn’t that lovely? Thank you, Ailsa!

Well, this is a bit embarrassing.

You see, today is a very special anniversary. Forty years ago, I arrived in Israel and, although I wasn’t quite sure at the time, I ended up staying. I also got married and raised three children.

40YearsInIsrael

Blush

That part isn’t embarrassing at all. I’m very proud of it. The embarrassing part is this: I’m not there. Just for a few days, I’m away on another trip – one that’s also special. I’ll blog about it on my return.

Moving to Israel was definitely the right choice for me. I left a country where I never really fitted in – a fact that had been reinforced many times during my childhood. I came to a country where I felt accepted. And in the process, I learned to be proficient in another language.

It wasn’t all easy, but I crossed the bridge and remained on the other bank (except for short breaks).

I think such a momentous date deserves a competition. So I’m going to give away a signed copy of my romance, Neither Here Nor There. In the novel, set mostly in Jerusalem, the main character, who has just left the closed community in which she was brought up, meets a recent immigrant from England. Let me know, in the comments below, why you think you deserve to win it. You can be truthful or humorous. I’ll choose the commenter I think is the most deserving. The competition will end when I decide it’s time, so don’t dilly-dally! I’ll contact the winner privately and also announce the result on this blog.

Forty years! The Children of Israel wandered for forty years before arriving here (there). I came in five hours and was happy to stay put.

The competition I ran for Indie Authors Appreciation Week was won by Cathy Bryant, who will shortly receive a signed copy of Neither Here Nor There. Congratulations, Cathy.

Front50%In chapter 1 of Neither Here Nor There, Esty, as a first step in the process of leaving the haredi (ultra-orthodox) community in which she was raised, has to phone Avi, who volunteers for an organisation that helps people like Esty.

There were two competition questions:

1. How does the person Esty calls on the phone react when Esty tells him that she wants to leave the haredi community?

Cathy answered: “The man on the phone reacts by carefully explaining the risks, and making sure that Esty understands that she can go back – that she still has a choice. He outlines what might go wrong.”

2. Why do you think he reacts in this way?

Cathy answered: “I got the impression that he was trying to make sure that she knew what she was doing and wasn’t acting on impulse – as a representative of his organisation he has to be responsible. After all, she’s taking a very serious step.

Both answers are correct. But I wanted to point out something else. The members of the organisation must be aware that they could be accused of tempting young people away from their families and their way of life. They need to make absolutely clear to everyone that they become involved only after the person has made that crucial decision.

***

Neither Here Nor There is available from Amazon, Smashwords and The Book Depository.

Before I deal with the topic of this post, here’s a reminder of a competition to win a signed copy of Neither Here Nor There. More information on my Facebook page. You have a bit more than a day to enter the competition.

Edit: Actually it was 2 days. Now it’s one. Until midnight GMT on Thursday night.

***

A friend shared this picture from Wake Up World the other day.

Top5RegretsOfTheDyingI’m not thinking of dying anytime soon and neither is my friend, but this got me thinking. I could say four of those about myself. And two of them would go deeper than that.

So I thought I’d explore each one in more detail, starting with:

Top5RegretsOfTheDying1And when I thought about this some more, I decided I do live a life true to myself – now and in the big things. In my childhood, there were many things I’d have liked to have done – things I didn’t even ask my parents about because I knew they wouldn’t agree.

But as an adult, I generally do the things I want – the big things, anyway. With the little things, I try to do what’s expected of me, even without knowing what that is. It’s all part of wanting to be normal, whatever that is.

There’s an easy answer to that: Stop doing what’s expected of you and do what you want.

Absolutely. Good advice. Except that I do it automatically. Without thinking. Because that’s how I’m programmed. And it’s not something that’s easy to change.

Where do you stand on that?

Thank you to all three people who went in for my competition. You all had some great ideas, which I really enjoyed reading.

The Answers:

  1. Tsartsar — Cricket (the insect)
  2. Bakbook — Bottle (from the sound of pouring)
  3. Zimzoom — Buzzing
  4. Rishroosh — Rustling
  5. Tiftoof —Dripping
  6. Girgoor —  Gurgling
  7. Gimgoom — Stuttering/stammering
  8. Pkak — Cork
  9. Pitzpootz — Crackling

The Winner

Technically, the winner is Sue who translated three of the words correctly. In second place is Jo, who was almost correct in two of her answers. But all the answers made me smile and I think all three deserve a prize. Congratulations! Let’s get in touch….

There’s a competition at the end of this post.

I listened to this week’s Last Word from BBC Radio 4. Sir Richard MacCormac, an architect who recently died (obviously, otherwise he wouldn’t be on Last Word) said, after explaining that his interest in architecture came from making things as a child:

I now feel an essential aspect of creativity is a kind of playfulness.

This is certainly true of writing. Writers enjoy playing with words. When penning my last post, I particularly liked the beginning paragraph:

These are the comments that halted me in my perusal of the Internet this morning and made me decide to pour out part of my inner world. Sorry if it makes a stain on your day.

Although I went on to some serious stuff, I had fun playing with the opening words.

My Scrabble partners, A, G and D, and my Boggle partners, D and D, will testify to my love of word games. Most writers play word games when they write, employing several techniques in the process. One of those is onomatopoeia.

Dictionary.com says this is:

1. the formation of a word, as cuckoo, meow, honk,  or boom,  by imitation of a sound made by or associated with its referent.
2. a word so formed.
3. the use of imitative and naturally suggestive words for rhetorical, dramatic, or poetic effect.
In other words, I’m talking about words that sound like the things they represent.
Then I came across a list of Hebrew onomatopoeic words, which I have tried to transliterate as closely as possible:
  1. Tsartsar
  2. Bakbook
  3. Zimzoom
  4. Rishroosh
  5. Tiftoof
  6. Girgoor
  7. Gimgoom
  8. Pkak
  9. Pitzpootz

So here’s the competition. Without looking anything up (I’ll have to trust you on that), can you guess what those words mean? Write your answers in the comments and I’ll decide who wins the prize of… well, it depends who wins and whether that person has read Neither Here Nor There, but it might well be the novel itself.

Hint: They are all nouns and most of them translate to “ing” words.

Rules:

  1. The competition is open to anyone who doesn’t know Hebrew.
  2. The competition will end when I decide to end it, so don’t tarry.

My world and your world. Their world and our world. Where am I? Where are you? Where are they?

Somewhere, further down in this post, I will talk about tomorrow’s book launch. If you don’t want to read my prattle, you can go there now.

Things used to be easier in the old days. Worlds kept themselves separate. Facebook brings them all together. It’s hard.

One minute I’m reading about the topic that’s uppermost in the mind of all Israelis. Three teenagers were kidnapped by terrorists. Parents look at their children, knowing it could have been them. How can a sixteen-year-old cope with being held by people who want us all dead?

The next minute, without even scrolling or clicking, I see a joke and I try to laugh. Then there’s a beep and I have to read and comment on a totally unrelated topic. Yes, have to, because it’s part of my job of being a writer. I have to look away from my world and become part of yours for a while.

Yes, I know it’s happened to you, to. There was 9/11, 7/7 and all the rest. But when those things happened, all the worlds were feeling similarly shocked. Now, it’s just us. For everyone else it’s business as usual. Who cares about three boys?

Then there’s their world: the world of those who are euphoric over the news. I see that, too, when people post their pictures and comments, before I look away in disgust.

But I really wanted to talk about another world, one that is right here in Jerusalem. The other day, I walked into the haredi world to take pictures. But when I was there, I didn’t feel good about photographing them, even though no one took any notice of me at all.

Signs that make me feel unwelcome, Mea Shearim

Signs that make me feel unwelcome, Mea Shearim

I hurriedly snapped a few photos and escaped from another world where I don’t belong.

A street in Mea Shearim, Jerusalem

A street in Mea Shearim, Jerusalem

Esty, the heroine of Neither Here Nor There, did belong there. She grew up there. Her family and friends and everyone who knew her expected her to remain in that world for the rest of her life.

And they expected her to meet her future husband two or three times, sitting far apart from him so as not to touch him by mistake, before making a decision about whether to spend the rest of her life with him.

If you look carefully below the Old City walls that are lit for the Jerusalem Festival of Lights, you can make out the man on the left and the girl on the right

If you look carefully below the Old City walls that are lit for the Jerusalem Festival of Lights, you can make out the man on the left and the girl on the right of the bench

In my novel, I don’t make any judgements. My characters make judgements occasionally, but mostly this is a novel of discovery. The characters find out about the other world on their doorstep.

I’ve said enough for now. If you want to join in tomorrow’s festivities, which will include a competition, go to this Facebook page. You can join it now.