There are a lot of misconceptions about Hanukkah out there, most likely because it generally falls at the same time as Christmas. Many non-Jews believe that because Christmas is one of the most important religious holidays in their faith, Hanukkah must be equally important. My family has had co-workers astonished that we were at work on the first night of the holiday, had conversations with people shocked that we didn't attend Synagogue for a special service, or even thought that we must perform some intricate ritual at home (like with the Passover Seder in April) to fulfill the holiday's requirements.
Quite simply, Hanukkah is one of the least important holidays on the Jewish calendar. I honestly can't tell you how many people I have utterly shocked by saying that, but it is very true.
Hanukkah commemorates two simultaneous events. In 175 B.C.E. the Syrians invaded Judea, the land that encompasses Jerusalem and Jericho. They demanded that the Jews worship idols and eat pork and killed those that refused. The Syrians looted the Temple and pigs were sacrificed on the altar. A family known as the Maccabees gathered an army to fight the Syrians. The Maccabees eventually won, but when they went to clean and rededicate the Temple they only found one jar of oil, only enough to last one day. The menorah needed to be lit at all times, but it was an eight day journey to bring more oil to the Temple. The menorah was lit anyway and a miracle occurred: the little jar of oil lasted for all eight days.
What I find particularly interesting about this holiday is the fact that the war is secondary to the miracle portion of the story. The Rabbis and Sages of ancient times decided that glorifying and commemorating war only fostered a zeal for more fighting, whereas instead focusing on the miracle of the oil brought people together with a peaceful message from God.
In modern times, Jews gather with their immediate family to light a hannukiah, a menorah with nine arms instead of the usual seven. We play traditional games with dreidels and gelt and exchange small gifts. We remember and thank the bravery of the Maccabees by spending quality family time together. It's a nice, mellow, moment of peaceful togetherness that I really enjoy.
I hope everyone has a nice, peaceful Hanukkah. Chag Sameah v'Hannukah tova!
My Supernatural Consultant series continues to grow. I never expected to write this many books in one series, nor did I want to create something so involved. Yet, that's what my characters asked for and I'm running with it very eagerly. It's far more fun to work that way than to try to force my dragons into the box I had originally planned for them. I still can't believe that what was once going to be a quick, three or four book series is now headed towards ten books with no signs of stopping. What's even more amazing is the fact that I'm already seeing amazing success with readers.
How the series stands right now:
What I have planned next for the series:
How the series is going to keep growing:
I can't believe how much I've been able to accomplish in this series so far and I'm even more boggled by how much more is still in the planning stage. There is no denying that this has been and will continue to be quite an undertaking. The important thing for me to remember is that I have to keep having fun with it. If I don't have fun, my characters will turn dour, and my readers won't have fun either, which is unacceptable. I hope everyone will stay with me over the next few years as each of these stories is written, submitted, edited, and finally released for you to read!
To stay informed as my Supernatural Consultant series continues to grow, please visit my current projects page on my website.
I'm not entirely certain what to do about The Case of the Wandering Wolves. As I was originally writing it I thought it was short, sweet, and deeply flawed. I sent it off to two beta readers, who agreed with me that there was something wrong and pointed out ways to fix the issues. After putting their wonderful and very helpful advice to good use, I thought I had all the problems in the story fixed. I added an entire prologue, rewrote a number of scenes, and changed much of the original tone of the story into something totally new. I set the story aside to sit for a few short weeks when I thought I was done.
This week I pulled The Case of the Wandering Wolves back out to start a final edit and to format it for submission. As I was reading through it I realized that I'm not entirely certain I was actually successful at fixing it. I've found myself reworking scenes I already changed before, and I'm generally dissatisfied with the overall feel. Which leads me to my quandary: is the story really that bad, or am I over-analyzing it?
The most basic fact is, if the story is bad I shouldn't submit it. Why waste LT3's time with a submission they're going to reject. Plus, anything I submit should convey a good work ethic and respect for the craft. Doing otherwise would only hurt me as an author.
On the other hand, if I'm overthinking the story because I'm so worried it's bad, I might lose out on the amazing opportunity to be part of the anthology call. What if all it really needs is the deft hand of a practiced editor, which LT3 will provide should they accept the story. I shouldn't discount this story out of hand just because I have some reservations about it.
I therefore don't know what to do with The Case of the Wandering Wolves. There isn't enough time for me to send it to another beta reader for clarification as it's due in just under ten days. I will need all of that time to give it a final edit.
Please let me know what you think! The worst LT3 can say is no, and it wouldn't be my first rejected story, but should I bother submitting it at all?
I am honestly having some trouble believing this, but Dragon Consultant is a bestseller at All Romance e-books! It is sitting strong at number 35 on the list, which is amazing! The last time this happened was with Stealing the Dragon, but that was only after Stealing had been out for a few weeks and word of mouth had gone around that people were really enjoying it. Dragon Consultant is only out on pre-order with just under two months until the December 9th release date.
All I can say at this point is thank you! Thank you to all the readers who stick with me for every book and are helping to spread the word about this new story of mine that I love so much.
Dragon Consultant is my first protracted foray into Paranormal (Urban) fantasy. I stuck with what I know from writing fantasy--lovable dragons, elemental powers, and fighting the enemy in order to find happiness--and expanded greatly from there. I've never written a series nearly as long or as involved as this one and I think readers will really enjoy the parts of this book and series that are unique from everything else I've ever written. This story is about finding family and a home, about culture and society, and about defeating an enemy that is truly evil. I am having such an amazing time writing these books and I really do hope everyone that has chosen to pre-order Dragon Consultant loves the story and the dragons as much as I do.
I have four books in the series slated for publication from December 2015 all the way through 2016 and have three more that I'm currently writing.
Dragon Consultant will be released on December 9, 2015. It is available for pre-order at any retailer that allows pre-order sales. This includes, but isn't limited to:
Dragon Deception will be released on February 10, 2016. It should be available for pre-order soon.
Dragon Dilemma and Dragon Detective should be released sometime in 2016. An official date has not yet been decided.
Dragon Soldier, Dragon Adventure, and Dragon Spy are my current works in progress in this series. I plan to have them completed and submitted to LT3 soon. I am also hoping to have many more books beyond these seven.
Thank you again to everyone. Your support means a lot and makes me want to write even more than before. I hope you stay with me as this series and my dragons continue to grow.
This is the third, and final, update on my car. I honestly can not believe it took this long, but my shiny, new car has been sitting in my driveway for about a week now. If you remember back to my last update, I had learned of the existence of a brand new Honda model, the HR-V, that had everything I wanted in a car: all wheel drive, back up camera, heated seats, and more bells and whistles than I could count. The question I was left with was whether those extra bells and whistles were worth the additional cost. I test drove the HR-V and found that it was as zippy and responsive as the Honda Fit, which had been my first (cheaper) choice prior to learning about the HR-V's existence, and since I live in a snowy area the all wheel drive option made far too much practical sense.
I bit the bullet and went ahead with the additional cost. On June 15th I put my deposit down for a dark green 2016 Honda HR-V.
Go have a look at today's date to confirm why this has been such a trying process. It is now October and I only got the car a week ago. The sales person I handed my deposit to insisted it would only take three to six weeks before I was a new car owner. Something went very wonky in the three and a half months I waited for my car to arrive.
When six weeks went by without hearing anything about my new car's arrival, I contacted the sales person I was working with. He told me that the dealer had been hoping to trade cars with another dealer. My dealer would give them an HR-V in any color in return for my green one. The only problem with that was the other dealers were selling their HR-V's so quickly that they didn't want to trade. My sales person hoped I would only need to wait a few more weeks.
At this point I had also gone around to all the other local Honda dealerships. One was unbelievably rude to the point that I had to walk out. Another said he couldn't get me a HR-V, but offered me a deal on a Fit or a CR-V (the larger model). I didn't want a CR-V, at all, and I had already made my decision not to get a Fit, so that dealership was a bust as well. My only option ended up being to wait for the car I put a deposit on to magically arrive.
July rolled into August with no word on my car. At this point I was working at my terrible summer job while driving my dad's behemoth minivan. I wanted my new car desperately so I sent my sales person another email. He told me that they had given up trying to trade with another dealer and my car was going to need to be built from scratch. I had a build date of August 18th and he hoped I would have my car within four to eight weeks after that. I figured if I had already waited two months for this car, I could wait another four to eight weeks.
Four weeks went by with no word. I sent my sales guy another email asking for more information. He couldn't tell me anything. All he could say was that he really hoped my car would arrive within the month.
Two weeks later, now the end of September, I was out shopping in the mall when my phone rang. It was my sales guy and he was so excited. He could see my car on the truck that had just pulled into their lot. It was the only green HR-V there and I was first in line for that car, so he knew it was mine. My car hadn't even officially been delivered to the dealer yet and he was calling me to tell me it was in. He actually called my car a unicorn or a leprechaun because he was starting to think it didn't actually exist.
Of course, the dealer was closed the next day. I had to wait two days before I could go get my car. I test drove it to make sure everything worked, my sales guy showed me all the bells and whistles (and they are totally worth the extra cost), and I did the money thing. I said goodbye to my old (not quite dead yet) car and drove my brand new car home.
So that is the final update on my car. I went from a mostly dead car that would cost more than it was worth to fix to a brand new, super shiny car that I love. It is so much fun to drive and totally worth the wait.
I've partially brought this on myself, unfortunately, but all of a sudden I'm totally swamped with edits and have zero time to get any writing done. That bites. Coming up with new scenes and fun dialogue is so much more interesting than learning what I did wrong and having to fix all those mistakes. Still, the edits need to be completed and the sooner I'm done the sooner I can return to writing.
First I've been working on the edits for The Case of the Wandering Wolves. This story is for LT3's Private Dicks call. It's about a private detective known as Coyote who is investigating the kidnapping of a young girl all while trying to snare his mate. It's an older story set in the same world as my story Heartbeat. I shined it up, but it didn't quite feel right so I sent it off to two beta readers. They've both since returned their recommendations to me and there's a lot to fix. I actually put off working on what the beta readers sent me for a few weeks. I told myself that after I finished with my six week summer job I would still have plenty of time to get this story ready to submit. The truth is, I do have that time. The story isn't due until October 31st, but there's still so much I need to accomplish before it's ready that I do feel the date is going to creep up on me.
I was just starting to make progress in TCotWW when LT3 sent me round two of the edits for Dragon Deception, book two in my Supernatural Consultant series. These edits have a due date and take precedent over a story that hasn't even been submitted yet, so I set TCotWW aside and got to work. Usually the second round is very straightforward. The major issues were supposed to be taken care of in round one, so round two is to make sure that I didn't bungle fixing those issues. I bungled. It's taken a while to fix everything I messed up.
I was almost done with Deception when LT3 sent me another email. They had the copy edits for Dragon Consultant, the first book in my Supernatural Consultant series, and I needed to fix a few things the copy editor didn't like asap. Obviously the book that's coming out in a few months beats the edits for the next book in the series. Luckily, I love playing with these dragons. It's never a hardship to go through any of my Supernatural Consultant stories. It still took me a couple of days to make sure I answered all the copy editor's issues. I sent the story back to LT3 this morning, which means Dragon Consultant will be one hundred percent ready to go on December 9th.
With Consultant back to LT3, I could return to Dragon Deception. I am almost done fixing the last of the problems. There are exactly two more and I of course left the hardest for last. I'm hoping I can figure them out tomorrow, after which I will read through the story one last time before sending it to LT3. I have never before had two stories in the same series ready to go before the first book even came out--and there's still time to make progress on editing the third book, Dragon Dilemma, if I really want to go for a record.
It's taken me a little longer than I originally planned to get Deception back to LT3, but I'm still within the deadline. I'm not worried about getting it back to them in time, but I am worried that I spent too much time away from TCotWW. Six weeks out from the due date feels like plenty of time, but I still have a lot of editing to do, then I have to set the story aside to rest for a bit, and then I have to return to it and do another round of editing before I can even think about getting it formatted for submission.
So now you see why I haven't been able to get any writing done this month. I want to get my story for LT3's Roughhouse Raiders call close to completed this month and see about finishing The Red Apple Witch so I can get that ready for LT3's Fairytales call. Nothing else on my to-do list has a due date, but that list is so long that I was hoping to start whittling it down this month. I guess I'll see what else I'm able to accomplish once all the edits I have to do are completed.
Where do my ideas come from? That's a question friends, family, and fans have been asking me for years now. How do I come up with so many different plots and characters? How do I create the varied worlds and magical powers that make my stories unique? I've always shrugged and said they just come to me, but it's a little more complicated than that.
Each one of my stories started as a little seed in my head. I might think of one character or a bit of scenery. Sometimes it's a new type of magic. The seed is never anything concrete, just a tiny idea of something that could potentially be interesting. A good example of that is a sword I've been trying to write about. It started out as only a mental image: a plain, leather wrapped hilt with a hole where the missing blade should have been.
Most of those seeds never grow. A benchmark I use to tell whether one of my ideas has real potential is honestly whether I still remember it the next day. I have dozens of little ideas a week, but the majority of them are only little daydreams that fade away as swiftly as they appear. For me to remember an idea, it has to be engaging enough to keep my attention.
That strange hilt has stayed with me for weeks now. I wanted to know why the blade was missing and what was so important about such a simple hilt. Those thoughts pushed me to figuring out the answers. It turned out the blade wasn't missing at all. It was an energy sword, which meant that in the right hands a blade made from pure magical energy would erupt though the hole. The hilt was no longer a seed. I gave it an interesting function, which led me to thinking about who would be able to use such a sword.
I have had potential ideas fizzle out at this point as well. Sometimes there aren't answers to those questions, other times the answers are boring or too mundane to make a good story. A lot of the time a better idea overtakes the one I was previously working on and the old idea is forgotten. Ideas percolate for months and sometimes years as I try to figure out where the next step is. That's a lot of time for something great to form and is equally more than enough time for me to forget about an idea entirely.
Actually writing down an idea doesn't start for a while. I need a solid foundation to start from before I can even think about putting words on paper. Usually I come up with a scene from the story, something that would pull me in if I were a reader. A man is holding the sword, the blade translucent white with a slight sparkle to it. He is fighting someone else and is winning thanks to the overwhelming magical energy powering his sword. Which, of course, leads to even more questions. Why is he fighting? Who is he fighting for? He is working undercover to protect the queen from assassins as she travels across the country to meet her fiance. How does the magic work that he can be so powerful and his enemy is not? Hours and years of hard work and practice. Each one of the answers to those questions leads to the story growing even more.
Now I have a good starting point: I have a reason for the main character to exist, a plot to make him part of, and an interesting magical setting to have him traverse through. That is enough to start writing. I have created a base to build off of and as I write the rest of the details will continue to solidify. I know I can always go back and edit that first scene later on if I discover something new that changes the way that scene flows. This is the point where I sit down and really start working on a story.
So that's where my ideas come from. It's not particularly glamorous to say that each dragon I came up with only reached paper because I found the character engaging enough that I didn't forget about him or her, but that's the bare bones of it.
There's also one other aspect to look at: when to actually write a story. It turns out I can't just start writing whenever an idea solidifies. One glance at my current to-do list tells me that if I start working on the sword hilt story right this moment I'll regret it tomorrow. I need to whittle down my list a lot before I start adding new things to it. However, should LT3 or another publisher post an anthology or collection call that the sword hilt story would be perfect for--knights in shining armor, for example--I would then have a reason to begin working on it.
I hope this begins to answer the question about how I come up with my ideas. Please keep asking me questions. I look forward to each and every one.
I wrote Magnified almost two years ago and it has been sitting, completed, on my computer since then. It's an awesome story (if I'm allowed to toot my own horn). There are vampires and demons and epic battles. (Click HERE to go to the summary page) It's a story that I enjoy rereading even though I wrote it and therefore know exactly what happens and why. I have also never written a story as long or involved before or since. Yet, I decided not to submit it for publishing.
At first I have to admit I was worried. I had never done something like this before. Would my readers appreciate it? Was it even good? Also, it's only the first part of the story. The next part, Justified, is only 4k words long. That's basically an introductory scene comprised of reminders to the readers of what happened in the previous book. There is so much to write in the story and I realized that I should at least make certain that the transition to Justified was even possible before I declared Magnified ready to submit.
The end decision two years ago was to leave Magnified alone until I really started making progress on Justified, but I finished rereading Magnified this afternoon and came to a different realization. Magnified is complete. There's nothing I can add or change at this point because doing so would disrupt the flow and potentially throw the entire plot into limbo. The events planned in Justified will have to hinge on what has already been written in Magnified, which means I might as well submit Magnified and set the story into stone.
I'm still nervous about it, though. What ifs are still running through my head, particularly what if I reread Magnified again and come to the realization I had two years ago, but since I submitted the story it's now too late.
What do you think? Should I go ahead and submit Magnified, or do you recommend I wait until I eventually finish Justified? Please tell me what you think.
I haven't purchased a new car yet and there are two very important reasons why. First, after doing all my research and test driving I decided on a Honda Fit EX. The car is cute, has all the bells and whistles I want, and ranks very high on safety. It has a few drawbacks, but the overall price was right. The only problem with going ahead and buying it turned out to be the fact that I wanted the car in purple. The red and blue colors were nice, but the purple was gorgeous and if I'm going to put that much money into a car I wanted the pretty color.
Purple, it turns out, is a very rare color. One dealer couldn't find it at all, but since I didn't like them very much I decided not to push. Their explanation was that the 2015 cars were being phased out so the 2016s could be stocked in a few short months. There wouldn't be any purple Fits coming in from the manufacturer until the 2016 models arrived. That dealership was overall rude, so I left.
It was easy enough to locate a few purple Fits nearby online so the next step in my plan was to go to the dealer I actually wanted to buy a car from and ask them to get me my car. I was sitting in the showroom, waiting for the salesperson I've been working with to finish with another customer, when a different salesperson walked by with another client and pointed to a nearby car.
"That is basically a slightly larger version of the Honda Fit. The HR-V is brand new, off the Honda line just two weeks ago. It has all-wheel drive."
I'm paraphrasing a bit, but that was the gist of what I overheard and is the second reason I do not yet own a new car. I did a very comical double take, then jumped out of my seat to have a look at this brand new, 2016 car. The HR-V is basically a cross between Honda's Fit and CR-V; the best of two of Honda's bestselling cars. It has all-wheel drive, with heated seats, heated side view mirrors, and a backup camera standard, plus it has the cute styling of the Fit. It's nine inches longer and it has a higher ground clearance, which is also good for winter in my neck of the woods.
If you remember from my last post about my car, I mentioned that I was torn between the Fit and the Subaru Impreza because the Impreza had all-wheel drive. I chose the Fit because of driver comfort and was happy. Now I've found the HR-V has all the bells and whistles I like in the Fit, plus all the features that were pulling me to the Impreza. I found a free salesperson and went on a test drive.
The HR-V is exactly what I want and I did like driving it, but it means I need to start at square one again. I need to do research on pros and cons, see what all the reviews sites are saying about the car, and look up comparative pricing so I don't get cheated. I need to go on a second test drive and then decide if I like the green or purple color better. Hopefully since it's a 2016 car those colors will be coming from the manufacturer often.
Which leaves me at a new dilemma. Do I go for the HR-V with all the extra shiny bits that I really like, or with much more moderately priced, and better gas mileage, still shiny Fit? The difference between the two cars is six thousand dollars and six miles per gallon, which is a lot. There's also the issue that the HR-V is brand new so it hasn't been put through any safety or reliability tests yet. True, it's a Honda and I have no doubt it will do well, but the data hasn't been compiled just yet. What if I get stuck with a lemon?
I loved driving the Fit and the HR-V is just a slightly larger version. I feel like I would be happy owning either. So, do I save the money or do I go for the extra features? Right now I really don't have an answer to that dilemma.
Wish me luck that I can make a good decision and that I'll finally have my new car soon!
The official stance on my car is that it's time to say goodbye. I'm not forking over the kind of money it would take to fix it when that amount is just about equal to what my car is worth and, given the fact that my car is very old, doesn't guarantee that something else won't catastrophically break only a few days later. It's honestly worth more as a trade-in right now. I'll miss my first car, but it's time for it to go.
Next on the agenda after making that decision was to figure out if I wanted to go new or used. Used is obviously much less expensive, but there have been several safety and technology updates for the 2015 cars I'm interested in. After test driving a ton of cars, the two I narrowed the list down to were the Honda Fit and the Subaru Impreza Hatchback. (Yes, I like small Japanese cars.) The 2014 Fit failed a very serious crash test that they fixed for 2015 and the Impreza added a standard back-up camera in 2015. Safety is very important to me and the Impreza is too big a car for me to drive without the help of the back-up camera. The only option for me was to go with a new car.
So, now I'm stuck between the two cars. The Fit is adorable, has a ton of bells and whistles, and I like the way it drives. It is loud and bumpy, however, and I'm worried about whether a car that small can still be safe. The Impreza has All-Wheel-Drive, which, considering the amount of snow I get in the winter, is important. It also has more pick up and go than the Fit. However, it's considerably more expensive and I didn't like the way the Impreza drove for me. I couldn't get comfortable behind the wheel: my foot kept slipping off the gas pedal, but my arms felt cramped behind the steering wheel. What's worse, a bumpy ride or not being able to hit the pedals properly?
As of right now, I am leaning more towards the Fit. It's such a cute car and it has all the technological features I'm looking for. It also comes in a beautiful shade of purple. They discontinued the orange color I actually wanted, but the purple is a very pretty second. It's a dark shade of eggplant purple with sparkly flecks inside. I'm not choosing the Fit because it comes in a color I want, but it is better than the red I would be stuck with for the Impreza. Mostly I'm choosing my comfort at driving the car over the All-Wheel-Drive. They're both safety issues, but by driving carefully in the snow or by getting snow tires I can deal with not having the four-wheels. I can't handle my foot slipping off the gas while still being so close to the steering wheel that I can't move my arms properly.
Therefore, the decision has been made. I'm going to get a new, purple, Honda Fit. Next I have to decide if I want the LX (cheaper) model or the EX (more expensive, but not too badly) model. With the EX I also get a touch screen system, a blind spot camera, a moon roof, and some other fun things. I need to decide if those extras are worth an additional two thousand dollars.
I don't need to decide until after Memorial Day, so I've got a few more days to go through the various options and weigh my pros and cons. I also want to see what sort of extras I can get from the dealer, like adding heated seats. I'll test drive both models again and make a decision soon after that. In the meantime I'll be working on my stories like crazy because that's how I'm going to pay for this. Please wish me luck and if you have any advice for a first-time car buyer I would love to hear from you.
A Little Fairy Dust
January 4, 2021
March 1, 2021
Mell Eight is an author writing with NSP. For more information about Mell and her writing, please visit her website: http://melleightfiction.