Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Over 1800 words!

Whoo hoo! Over 1800 words written and the first 3 chapters in draft form. My lead character is just about to find out why she's where she is. I'm soo excited to discover this with her. (Yes, I do know where this is going...or at least I think I do.)

The most challenging aspect of writing fiction, I'm finding, is allowing the characters to live. I feel like a director of improvisation, rather than the director of a scripted play.

I'm setting the scene and some of the main character attributes, posing the situation, and allowing the characters to create, speak, live.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Writing starts today!

OK, I've reached the end of the gravel road and am about to start the rocky climb up the mountain. There are several paths before me, all equally less-traveled.

The training is done, the research is done, the outline is looking pretty good, and the story fragments are changing from sepia-toned into jewel-like clarity. I'm even meeting this week with the model and photographer for the cover-shoot.

All that is left is for me to pick up my figurative pen and begin. Any path will do, and I can always backtrack if I reach a steep rock-face or river rapids.

So, with no further procrastinating, I shall now write.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Story of Hanukkah

There are so many great memories from my childhood at this time of year: arranging the candles just right on the Menorah (or Hanukiah), playing a game with a dreidel, eating potato latkes, watching Mom scurry off to wrap a little gift, blessing the candles, and thinking about the miracle that we celebrated. Yes, a miracle happened, long, long ago.

Almost 200 years before Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, the Jewish state of Syria, which was once part of Alexander the Great's empire, fell under the rule of a wicked king named Antiochus, of questionable sanity. He hated the Jews and when they would not worship the idols of the Greeks, he defiled their Holy Temple, finally leaving it in shambles. The Jewish women and children were captured and sold as slaves. Pigs (non-kosher animals) were sacrificed upon the altars. This desecration continued until a man named Mattathias in the village of Modi'in could stand it no more.

Mattathias slew the officer who had sacrificed a piglet upon the altar in the marketplace of his village. The first cry for freedom was heard! Mattathias quickly summoned his five sons, Judah Maccabee, Jonathan, Johanan, Eleazar, and Simon, and quickly fled the village. These stalwart fighters defeated four of King Antiochus' armies and kept on fighting, and winning. Judah Maccabee led the final battle in the town of Emmaus. Victory! And a return to Jerusalem and the devastation that lay there.

The Maccabee fighters found the Holy Temple in ruins. They scrubbed and restored it, and on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, in 165 B.C.E. the Temple was rededicated with the single flask of holy oil that was found to light the great Menorah. Here's the miracle part. The oil was only enough to burn for one day, but it said to have lasted for eight days! And so, Jews around the world each year celebrate eight days of Hanukkah. Each evening, one more candle is added to the Hanukiah (or Menorah), until all nine candles are lit.

Nine, you ask? Yes, one candle is the servant or guard and lights all the others each night. Children receive a small gift after the candles are lit and blessed. They play a game with a 4-sided top known as a dreidel for chocolate coins, known as "Hanukkah gelt." The Hebrew letters on the dreidel stand for "Nes Gadol Hayah Sham," or "a great miracle happened there." And so it did!

Happy Hanukkah!