You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2012.

Just a reminder that the Half King Bar will be hosting me for a reading from my book, Fast Times in Palestine, on Monday, Jan 30 at 7pm. The lovely, cozy bar is at 23rd St. and 10th Ave, just before the Hi Line Park. Here’s the Half King’s announcement, and here’s my Facebook invite.

It’s a venue that usually hosts mainstream authors (most recently Michael Hastings, author of The Operators), so they’re taking a chance on this outsider’s memoir that’s unabashedly about Palestine. It’ll be great if you could come support their decision. Should be a good time!

A book signing, and then my birthday party, will follow in the same bar — I’ll bring the homemade chocolate cake. 🙂

Hope you can make it, and please pass this along to anyone who may be interested — the more the merrier!

See you there,


Today, Sunday, January 22, the Kindle version of my book Fast Times in Palestine is being given away free on Amazon. Over 2,000 copies downloaded so far. Get your copy today, and please spread the word as widely as you can! Twitter, Facebook, your own blog… it would be an amazing slightly-late birthday present. 🙂 Thank you!

UPDATE: With less than an hour to go in the promotion, my book has been dowloaded more than 8,300 times!

FINAL UPDATE: In one day, over 9,000 people downloaded Fast Times in Palestine! Way more than I expected. Just wish I had the sequel (“Epilogue“) already done so people could go find it afterwards… Gotta get to work!


Saturday, January 21, is my birthday. As a birthday gift to the world, I’ll be offering several of my ebooks for free starting January 21. You can check out my titles here. Enjoy!

Here are the titles, for reference:

Fast Times in Palestine
Siberian Travels
Tribute for Ronan (includes a juicy romance that made the tabloids in Ireland)
Camp Golden Shaft (shoestring travels in Russia and the Middle East)
The Fable of Megastan
The Brimming Void

And by the way, if you’ll be in the New York area on Monday, January 30 at or after 7pm, please join me for a reading / birthday party at the Half King! Here’s the invitation:

The Half King is a bar in Chelsea that hosts authors on Monday evenings. A friend was able to get me onto the calendar, and on Monday, January 30, I’ll do a reading from my book, Fast Times in Palestine, followed by a book signing. Here’s the official event announcement.

After that — party! My birthday falls in January, so the event’s after party will double as my birthday celebration. There will be cake. Feel free to bring as many guests as you like, because it will make the Half King glad they signed me up for a reading. 🙂 Their food and drinks are delicious, so come hungry and thirsty…

Here’s their website if you wanna check the place out.

Here’s my book’s website if you wanna check that out.

It’s a mainstream-type venue being brave enough to host a book explicitly about Palestine, so if nothing else, come to support the “mainstreaming” of Palestine and make them glad to be ahead of the curve.

Call if you have any questions — 202 413 9570

Feel free to RSVP to the Facebook event, or directly to me. Or just show up.

See you there!!



P.S. If you’re wondering about the photo, it’s from New Year’s in Jericho, 2005. Good times. Apologies to the friend whose face was replaced by a book cover…

I’m happy to start 2012 off with some great news: The response to my post about Rania’s family was overwhelming! Because of your kindness, and the generosity of many people who read about Rania’s story on my blog or on Mondoweiss, we were able to meet all of our goals.

The new kitchen

Most excitingly, their house is being finished as we speak. It will be livable in a matter of weeks. There’ll be a few minor things to add or improve once the main construction is finished, but the important thing is that the family no longer has to fear homelessness.

It has done wonders for their state of mind. Rania’s husband is more relaxed, much kinder and less coiled with stress. The kids can feel the change in atmosphere, and when I talk with the family on Skype, they’re like a different family. Full of hope, optimism, happiness. Working on their house has made them almost giddy.

We also have living expenses covered until summer, and the money will help pay down a huge chunk of their debt. And it’s all thanks to you.

Thank you. So much.

(UPDATE: There is one small wrinkle, unfortunately. In the course of building, they realized they would not be able to paint the inside of the house until a leak in the roof is fixed. This will cost about $850 extra. So if you’d like to contribute to that fund, please do! It will be much appreciated. One easy way of donating is to buy my book in February, when I’ll be donating 20% of the proceeds to the Roof Fund. The eBook is only $2.99. Feel free to tell your friends as well!)

There are many more reasons to be excited for 2012. As you know, I spent the better part of last year promoting my book in every way I could think of. Marketing is not something I enjoy, and often you have to work for a long time before the cumulative efforts reach critical mass and a thing takes off. Some things never quite take off.

But several possibilities are up in the air now. An Emmy award-winning producer/filmmaker is reading my book and considering adapting it to film. A stage producer in New York is considering it for a stage adaptation. Two amazing women are considering me for ghostwriting their memoirs. A Slovenian publisher wants to publish my book in Slovenian. Another filmmaker is considering me for a consultant role in some films about Palestine.

Some of those might actually happen, others are far less certain. But the possibilities are exciting.

Of course my main goal — making my book a bestseller and changing American public opinion — has not yet been realized. Last year went quite well, given than I’m published independently. But like many beginners, I set my goals high and fast, and there’s been some adjustment to reality going on. I still have high hopes, but I’m no longer letting them quietly drive me crazy.

It’s a good thing, because my new agent sent my book off to 12 publishers last month, and eight have come back so far without making any offers. Here’s a typical rejection:

“I had a chance to read Pamela Olson’s memoir over the break; what an interesting story! She’s experienced so much and been so brave and open to new adventures. That said, I’m afraid I have a tough time seeing the break out potential of a book like this at a commercial house… I worry that the content just won’t appeal on the mass scale we need in order for me to acquire it.”

Sigh. Given the general tastes of the ‘mass scale’ these days, I should probably take it as a badge of honor. (Checking out the Amazon Top 100 list is always an exercise in facepalming.)

Then again, you tend to get the audience you expect. If you market to your audience in a respectful way, as if they might enjoy something different and enlightening rather than the same old 17 Day Vampire Football Jesus Diet Games, well, publishing these days might not resemble genetically-modified mono-crops.

I was heartened to see an interview with George Lucas on the Daily Show this week. He said no one would make or distribute his film Red Tails because no one knew how to market a smart adventure film with an all-black cast. He had to finance and distribute it himself.

George freaking Lucas couldn’t get a backer for his slightly-unorthodox film? It made me feel just a wee bit better about my heretofore lack of support from the Guardians of Pop Culture.

In any case, I’ll be giving a reading on Monday, January 30 at the Half King, a Chelsea bar that hosts authors on Monday evenings. Most of the authors are big names with best-sellers, and I’m still not quite sure how a friend of mine managed to get me on the calendar. But it falls near my birthday, so it will do double duty as my birthday celebration as well. You are all invited, of course!

In early February, I’ll speak on a panel at the Penn BDS conference, about the ongoing campaign to boycott Israel in various ways until it obeys international law, similar to the anti-Apartheid campaigns of the previous generation. If you plan on being there, I look forward to seeing you!

My little sister is getting married in the Bay Area on September 1 (Congrats, sis!), and in late September I’ll be speaking at the Friends of Sabeel Conference in Albuquerque. (Sabeel is a pro-justice group founded in Jerusalem by a Palestinian Anglican priest, Reverend Naim Ateek.) My ten-year college reunion (yikes!) will follow shortly after that, if I can afford to travel again by then.

Meanwhile I’ve signed up for six weeks of ballet lessons, in line with my resolution to dance more this year. Belly dancing may follow after that. I have ideas for three more books to write, aside from the book-length Epilogue to Fast Times. Enough to keep me busy for a few years no matter what else happens.

I’ve also been offered a job working on a nationwide campaign to stop military aid to Israel. I’ll let you know more about it as it becomes public. Part of my mission is figuring out how to appeal to Red-Staters and others who would never call themselves ‘liberal’ but certainly wouldn’t support oppression of innocent people (including many Christians in Jesus’ birthplace) if they had all the facts. If you have any ideas, I’d be delighted to hear them.

A lot to look forward to, a lot to do — can’t ask for much more than that.

Hope to see you all along the road somewhere.

Much love,


Happy 2012! I have a special love for years divisible by four, and now that I look back, they have tended to bring significant breakthroughs in my life. 2000 was my first trip abroad. 2004 was when I moved to Ramallah. 2008 was when I started writing my book, Fast Times in Palestine. Who knows what 2012 will bring?

A book was recently recommended to me called Writing the Life Poetic, and just reading some of the Amazon reviews of it was inspiring. I had a sudden impulse to share some of the poetry I’ve written over the years.

It’s not meant to be “published” in the “editor frowning at it” sort of way. Poems simply arrive sometimes, and I can only write them down. I’m happy to share them, but I feel if I gave any thought to impressing critics, the whole thing would evaporate.

Last year, a few months after I finished Fast Times, I published five more books as eBooks. You can find them here (Kindle) and here (Smashwords). One of them is called The Brimming Void, a collection of a couple dozen poems I’ve written over the years. It’s cheap on Amazon.

Here’s one of the poems, as a sample.

Rum Night

A barren moon
a barren earth.

The silvery sky
mocks my best attempts
at reverence.

Elsewhere life rages.

Here it is subtle,
as if in the presence
of divinity.

The mountains
may once have been
high as the Himalayas;
after a billion years
of seas and wind,
they are sculpted
down to unfathomable
stone hearts –
cathedral islands
in a sea of silken sand.

Reflections echo
each other
in the brimming void
of nature’s holy sanctuary.
Silent gratitude
is drawn from my soul;
the night needs me
like I need it.

The breeze
– neither warm nor cool –
makes me feel
like I’m not here
on this impossible planet
whose atmosphere
I suddenly
fail to see
and fail to feel.

There is nothing
between me
and the stars.

Wadi Rum, Summer ’03

And here’s a poem I’ve previously shared with only one friend:

Diamond Poem

The whole reason
we love emeralds
is because they reminds us
of sunlight
through trees.

The whole reason
we love sapphires
is because they remind us
of the bottomless
living sea.

The whole reason
we love diamonds
is because they reminds us
of a rainbow
in a waterfall.

The whole reason
we love garnets
is because they remind us
of the sunset
through a glass of wine.

Enjoy this boundless new year…


The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 48,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 18 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Books I Love

A Doctor in Galilee,
by Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh

The Hour of Sunlight, by Sami al Jundi and Jen Marlowe

The Goldstone Report, edited by Adam Horowitz, Lizzy Ratner, and Philip Weiss

Mornings in Jenin, by Susan Abulhawa

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, by Ilan Pappe

Zabelle, by Nancy Kricorian

Cosmos, by Carl Sagan

Impro, by Keith Johnstone

Improv Wisdom,
by Patricia Ryan Madson

Walden and Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau

To Kill a Mockingbird,
50th Anniversary Edition,
by Harper Lee