Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Return of the Rabbi Detective

Hat tip and thanks to SoccerDad for both his link and the reference to Daled Amos' post, asking Why Are There So Few Rabbi Detectives?

Fans of Harry Kemelman's (z"l) Rabbi Small mysteries, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin's Rabbi Winter mysteries, and Faye Kellerman's Orthodox Jewish woman/cop-husband mysteries may be looking for good Jewish fiction/mysteries.

I'm happy to add my full-time rabbi/part-time detective to the waning mix. Here's what I said over at Daled Amos:

Although I'm a newcomer on the scene, I write a published Jewish fiction series that's a twist on the rabbi-detective mysteries. Not technically mysteries because there's no murder (yet), these are part mystery, part slice-of-life novels representing contemporary American Judaism.

The protagonist is Conservative Rabbi David Cohen, joined in the series by a Reform colleague and her Israeli-born secular husband, a Minneapolis cop. The second book welcomes the addition of a couple of Orthodox rabbis who are crucial to the plot.

Interwoven with the plot are textual references and deeper explorations of Torah and Jewish thought, bringing depth and perspective to his job, family, congregation and the larger story.

The first in the series, "Destined to Choose" was released in 2003. The second will come out this fall. You can read more, including the first chapter, at

I've long believed that we need updated versions of the rabbi detective, ones in which today's issues are as much at play as the plot problem to be solved. I've worked very hard to present a compelling ensemble of characters that span movements and philosophies, and to write books in which readers can see themselves and relate. I address this in somewhat more detail in an interview transcribed here:

The next book comes out this fall, and I look forward to being able to say that the rabbi detective stories are far from dead.

Do You Blog Like You Talk?

I'll admit it: I'm a total geek. I was IM'ing with Husby (which we've occasionally done while in the same room with each other) and I realized that we both write differently than we speak, even to each other. I'm more relaxed, playful.

When I write for publication, I'm told I write like I talk. Readers have said they can "hear my voice" in articles and essays, as if I was delivering a speech or lecture instead of writing. When I blog, it's somewhere in between.

So how do you blog? If your readers were to meet you in person, would they recognize your blogging voice or style from talking with you? Would they never know because you show a side of yourself on your blog that you never do in "real life"? How is your blogging self different from your "real life" self?

I look forward to your answers! Feel free to pass along the question.

Monday, January 29, 2007


During a conversation on the way home, after picking Oldest Son up from school:

Me (wistfully): Wow, you're learning a lot of things I never got to learn.

Oldest Son: Yeah. Some of the things I'm learning I don't even know.

Yeah, I'm Talking to You

Seen in a car's window, while the car sat parked with the engine running, no driver in sight:

"Note to thieves: there is nothing worth stealing in this car."

Right. That ought to work.

You Go, Girl!

I can't help myself. This is from the current scene I'm writing and just brings a smile to my face:

Stuffing the cell phone into the tiny flat pocket in the front of her slacks, Batya hefted the weapon and tossed the chair aside, certain the psycho stalker wasn’t expecting a pissed off rabbi armed with a loaded shotgun.

Writing to Music

Writing to music helps the words flow, I've found, and eliminates the echoes of badly written sentences bouncing around in my head. The trick, however, is finding the right music.

Or perhaps the write music.

Today is a major writing day. I'm in the final major conflict scene and I'm resisting it because someone gets hurt in this one. Rather badly. I don't want to do that, but it's necessary. I've assured him he'll heal.

So the music I've chosen to write to is:

Backdraft: Soundrack
by Hans Zimmer

Shepherd Moons
by Enya

Broken Arrow: Soundtrack
by Hans Zimmer

Symphony No. 6
by Beethoven

Lifescapes: Relaxation for Women
by Amy Hayashi-Jones

Sunday, January 28, 2007

J-Blogs - Dr. Seuss Style

Like to blog from Z to A?
Or A to Z or another way?
Blogs are not all what they seem
Come check them out at Haveil Havalim!

Book Burning: History Repeats Itself

An article in a discarded copy of yesterday's newspaper caught my attention:
"Religious and government leaders gathered Friday to denounce plans by a neo-Nazi group to stage a burning of Jewish books and other texts today [Saturday, January 27, 2007] in the Minneapolis area."

Apparently, the National Socialist Movement in the Twin Cities had decided there isn't enough hate in the world and so to coincide with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, they planned a book burning, specifically of the Talmud and other of what they call "anti-white" books.

The state attorney general, leaders from Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities, and representatives from the Jewish Community Relations Council met last Friday to denounce it, and to uphold the values of diversity and tolerance.

This hate group has held events over the past year in Madison WI, Orlando FL, and Austin TX.

Click here to read the full article.



I have dueled with Old Blogger and emerged victorious! I am invincible!

Okay, I found a back door.

Let the redesign begin.


badword badword badword badword grumblegrumblegrumblegrumble

I was planning to switch to the new Blogger today. Had some time (yes, that translates to "not working on the book") and I was ready. Took a deep breath. Clicked the link.

"We're sorry. We cannot switch you over to the new Blogger at this time."


Blogger Help was not Helpful: "While the new version of Blogger is no longer in beta, some users with certain types of blogs will not immediately be able to switch to it."

Certain types? What the grrrr is that supposed to mean?

I do not have a large blog. I have even fewer comments. Not even sure I have all that many readers. Maybe that's the problem?

I dunno. I'm frustrated. I think I'll go kill off a character. Painfully.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Books and Blogs

Couple of brief notes:

Current word count on Days stands at 78,426 words. The only scenes left to write are the final conflict and whatever resolution the various characters/situations will find in this book.

It'll be interesting to see what the reaction to Days is. It's been in the works for a couple of years now, so the issues I'd decided to tackle are a couple of years old. And yet, oh so current. In a word, Days takes on fundamentalism. Leading to the other "f" word: fanaticism.

I've decided to take the plunge (sorry, no mikvah references) and update this blog to the new Blogger. Too many problems with this one that I can't seem to fix. I was going to host it over at my writing website here, but it turns out our server just isn't robust enough (yet) to handle both this one and the Yaldah one.

More to come.

On Israel: Hope, Safety, Identity, Existence

Jack has an important post here on a longer article by Daniel Gordis here regarding the future of Israel.

I read it all. Sobering. Troubling.

"This is not about Israel," Gordis writes. "It’s not even about Zionism. It’s about the future of what we call the Jewish people. Hezbollah gets that. Hamas gets it. Ahmadinejad gets it. Gaarder gets it. Why don’t we?"

From my tiny, somewhat ignorant perspective, I wonder if the answer can be found in an assertion he made in one of his earlier books: identity.

As much as American Jews support Israel with words, money, people, are we willing to take a stand and identify ourselves as Jews before we identify ourselves as Americans? What about non-Israeli Jews in the rest of the world?

Do we really believe that safety can be found in a renewal of hope, justice, all the good that the State of Israel stands for, or do most of us in the Diaspora make a louder statement in how we identify ourselves, that real safety is found by hiding our Jewishness in a larger non-Jewish culture?

We grumble and complain about anti-Jewish, anti-Israel media bias. We condemn antisemitic speech and actions. We urge our government(s) to support Israel, to stand against the fanaticism and hate that seeks to rid the world not only of the State of Israel, but of all Jews.

At the same time, so many hide their identity as Jews while going about day to day business. I see it. I've been called a "religious nut" because I'm visible as a Jew. I've been called that by other Jews. (And not as a joke.)

Are those of us in the Diaspora saying that it's okay if the world's hatred is focused on Israel because then at least it's not focused on us? Do we really think that if, G-d forbid, Israel disappeared, we'd be safe again? Do we really not get it that all of us are at risk, that Judaism itself is at risk, and that Israel is carrying the biggest burden?

Do we care enough about being Jewish that we're willing to acknowledge the problem so we can find a solution?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Who's Paranoid Now?

In the middle of writing a scene from Days, lots of cops and poor David stuck in the middle of it, and while at my computer I hear a distinct THUMP! just outside the front door.

Heart pounding, I go to the window and see a dark figure running across the street, away from my house. He runs to a large four-door SUV across the street, something like a Suburban with laterally opening doors in the back. Both doors are open. The black or very dark blue SUV is covered from tires to door handles with dirt and salt and road grime, courtesy of our Minnesota winters and the Department of Transportation's salt trucks. I can't make out a license plate or a vehicle make.

The engine is running, a driver sits facing away from me. Two men are doing something at the tailgate, rummaging around in the back of the SUV. One of them is the guy who was running away from my house. Both are in jeans. One has a dark jacket and ski hat, the other a black hoodie with the hood up. I memorize details: clothing, build, hubcaps.

I hesitate to go to the door and see what caused the thump. Not while they're still here. I watch, unsure what they're up to. They're still rummaging around in the back of the SUV, moving something white. Several somethings white. Bags. Bags of what? Then I see.

Phone books.

I think maybe I'm a little too focused on the book.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Jewish Blogging

Quick writing note: I'm not done yet (I know, I know, what is taking me so long?), but progress is being made. How's that for the use of passive verbs?

But first an intermission (what I like to also refer to as PROCRASTINATION).

I got my figurative nose out of my figurative book long enough to see what else was going on in the J-Blogosphere and came across JBlog Awareness Month from JBlogosphere:

"What I'm hoping for, is that people will recognize this new project by upping the amount of Jblog roundups they do, especially to blogs that they are just finding for the first time. Try to include one new blog, or one blog you never read before in your links."

I love it! Count me in.

Blogs I come across that I enjoy reading, either regularly or occassionally are in my blogroll (see right). But for new ones, I'll start with one I just found today that I'm really, really excited about:

One of my favorite musicians is Noah Budin. I heard him perform at a CAJE conference some years ago when I was still teaching and I was just mesmerized. He's the only singer/songwriter I've found so far who can do an authentic Jewish "gospel" with his song Joshua's Band from the album Hallelujah Land. (I hope that Real Audio link works for you; I couldn't get it to work for me. But it comes from this page at He's an incredibly down-to-earth kind of guy, and an awesome musician. And, he answers fan mail! (I know from experience.)

His blog for his NEW CD (WOOHOO!!!) called Metaphor is here:


Another J-blogger and fellow novelist is marallyn ben moshe, whose blog I wouldn't have found had she not left a comment for me on the previous post. Her blog is at:

Thanks Marallyn! And good luck with Emma Shelby is No More!

BTW, I love hearing from other Jewish writers, especially fiction writers. Keep 'em coming!


Along those lines, I just recently came across Seraphic Secret (Seraphic Press) and I can't help but encourage you to help support another independent Jewish publisher. We need all the support we can get, and while Seraphic Secret is probably a much more well known blog than mine, if you haven't checked it out, please do so.


Some of you may know about this one; I've put links up before, but on the heels of talking about Jewish fiction, I have to again promote Storytellers at this blog:

This is an awesome idea - a forum for beginning, amateur, and professional storytellers (such as us writers) to share short stories for the fun of it. There's some serious talent here (and no, that's not a self promotion).


There are some other new blogs I've run across, from the informative to the poignant, and I mean nothing negative by not listing them here. Mostly I'm not because they've been listed elsewhere, on blogs much more popular than mine, and also because it's already nine o'clock at night and I have an hour before I need to start thinking about bedtime. Which means only an hour of writing. (Priorities, I know...)

One note I will make. I read a brief bit of one blog about a woman dealing with depression, and the part that struck me was that she said she was falling through the cracks with regard to her rabbi's attention (or lack thereof) and she was letting it happen because to make herself seen was too painful.

That just made me angry. Not at her, but at the situation. HELLO-O! What does it say about us as a community that we've got people clearly needing help who are willing to disappear because disappearing hurts less than getting the Jewish help they need?

If David (my protagonist rabbi) ever did something like that (not noticing someone needing help), I think I'd smack him upside the head. Fictionally, of course. No violence being promoted on this blog. But it makes me feel helpless that I keep hearing about people feeling hurt or ignored by their rabbis (this is NOT the first sort of story like this that I've heard, and I've blogged a bit about this before) and there is not a single thing I can do about it.

Except maybe work it into a subplot and hope that I can get the message out to/through my readers.

Having a disability myself (no, you don't need any more details than that), and with the incredibly difficult uphill struggle to get my community to even notice Jewish books being written and published here, to say nothing of supporting it, I can only imagine how hard it must be to have your whole self go unnoticed, and not just your work.

So... any rabbis reading this (it can't hurt to hope, right?), or anyone who can influence their rabbis, if you're paying attention to who might need help and isn't asking for it, good. Thank you.

And if, as in my experience, you're noticing the squeaky wheels and not the silences, please pay more attention to who's at risk and not reaching out. I know you're busy. Believe me, I know better than many. (I've lost count of how many rabbis I've interviewed now... a few dozen?)

But ask yourself this: who's withdrawing? Who's not looking you in the eye? Who says they're fine but you think maybe they aren't? Those are the people you need to pay attention to. Please.

Okay, rant over. Just had to get that off my chest.

And now I have to get David and friends out of a sticky situation involving, of all things, crime scene tape and a synagogue window riddled with bullet holes.

Just a shameless plug there...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Broke 75,000 Words!

As in Days of Old is six scenes away from being done!

Or the first draft, anyway. Maybe Sunday will be the day to finish?

Shabbat shalom!

Writing and Shabbat

I was on a panel of Jewish authors last winter and one question from the audience produced some honest but nervous answers.

"Do you write on Shabbat?"

Some authors said yes, they wrote after shul. It didn't bother them, or they needed the outlet, or it was one of the few times they had when they weren't working other jobs or taking care of family. One went into quite a detailed rationalization about writing on the computer not really being writing (in their opinion), and that as far as creating went, that was going to happen in this author's head anyway, so might as well get it down in pixels.

Then it came my turn to answer.

I couldn't help but laugh. I told them this: It's been tempting, certainly, especially on those long summer evenings when havdalah isn't until near bedtime. But you have to understand that I write Jewish fiction. It's a little different.

My protagonist is a rabbi. He lives in my head. And so I can feel the desire, acknowledge it. But the moment I think about actually doing it, turning on the computer or picking up a pen, he's right there looking over my shoulder, eyebrows raised, with the single question,

"You're going to do what?"

To Write, You Must Also Read!

I'm a voracious reader. Have been since I was four and read - aloud - all of the graffiti I found on bathroom stalls when my mom took me into a public restroom, much to her dismay and the entertainment of other restroom patrons.

I love reading Jewish fiction, but I shy away from it when I'm actively writing. I don't want it to influence my current writing too much. But I'm grateful when I find writers whose writing I can learn from, and whose genres don't overlap quite so much.

My most recent love is with Earlene Fowler's mysteries, which my friend TL turned me onto. She does just amazing description. Not in the literary fiction sense where a description of a sunrise can go on and on and on and on for paragraphs about the blending of the colors and the glory of the light and you can hear the symphony in the backround and blah blah blah. I tend to skip over that sort of description.

No, Ms. Fowler does an amazing job because she shows her readers what her characters look like, what the weather in Arkansas or Central California or Kentucky looks like, without ever telling you. I've read all but one of her books, checked them out from the library. Now I have to start buying them because, unlike most plot-driven mysteries, I want to read these again and again, feel the words on my lips and taste the character's emotions on my tongue. They are clearly character-driven mysteries, and I look forward to each visit with Benni and Gabe and Dove and Elvia and Emory and Hud with delicious anticipation, even if I already know "whodunit."

As much as I love mysteries, I'm not such a big fan of sci-fi or fantasy. Maybe a few of the really well-written ones, but mostly, I leave that to Husby. He's a big sci-fi/fantasy buff.

Except just the other day, he left a genre-crossing sci-fi/thriller on his pillow and I took a look at it. I was intrigued initially because one of the characters shares the same name as someone I know, and it's an unusual name so it caught my attention. I read the first page, curious. Then I went on to read the first chapter. Now I'm hooked.

The book is the first in "The Dresden Files" series, by Jim Butcher. A few times, I've found myself wanting to edit out a few too many instances of "so" or change the order of a couple of words, but largely I enjoy his easy-going narrative, the sarcastic wit, the protagonist's honest humanity. And I can learn from that, too. (I'm now aware that "The Dresden Files" has been made into a TV series on the Sci-Fi channel. Husby plans to watch; I might sneak a peek.)

There's nothing better after a long day of struggling with my own manuscript to step into another world created by a good writer, to visit with their characters and enjoy their use of language and allow myself to laugh and cry and love along with them.

To Write, You Must... Write

I got kicked out of the last writing class I took.

It's true. I'd enrolled in a fiction-writing, write-your-novel sort of class with the first rough half of Destined to Choose, back when simply finishing it was the goal and getting it published was a pipe dream.

Our first class, we were to do a free write for ten minutes. This is where you set the timer for ten minutes and write whatever comes to mind. Good, bad, disorganized, stream-of-consciousness, whatever. Then we did a ten-minute assigned writing, which we shared with the class. We talked about why we were in the class and what we wanted to get out of it. We talked about dialog, characterization, setting, point of view, description, all the things that go into a novel. The plan, over the next twelve weeks, was to break each concept down and work exclusively and intensely on it. Our homework: bring one chapter from a work in progress.

No problem.

I brought the first chapter of DTC with the other written chapters as backup, in case the instructor wanted more. We each shared our first chapter. When we were done, the instructor asked if I could stay after for a few minutes.

"Busted!" a few classmates joked, like we were back in grade school and I was going to get detention.

"Sheyna," the instructor asked after class, "why are you here?"

I thought probably too much about that question. Was this a trick? "To take your class," I answered.

"I know that. But why?"

"Because I want to be a better writer."

She nodded silently and looked over the chapter I'd submitted, her shoulder-length blond waves obscuring her face. Finally she spoke. "I don't think this class is going to give you what you want. Your chapter needs some polishing and some more description, but you clearly understand the elements I'll be teaching. I'm going to be honest with you, okay?"

I nodded, psyching myself up for harsh criticism.

"I don't think you're taking this class to become a better writer. I think you're taking this class to procrastinate finishing your book." She handed me a business card. "Here's my e-mail and telephone number. Feel free to contact me with any questions, but I don't want to see you in my class again. You are depriving the world of your story, your perspective, your words, and you are the only one who can share them. Don't be selfish and keep them to yourself. Go home and finish that book and get it out there so it can get published."

I was disappointed and more than a little chagrined. I thought that if my writing was better, it would be easier to finish the book, or to get it published. In the end she was right. You can't finish a book if you don't write it.

I ran into her just last year and asked if she remembered me.

"I kicked you out of class, didn't I?" she asked with a smile, a few more laugh lines around her cornflower blue eyes, her hair in the same blond waves.

"It wasn't one of my favorite student-teacher moments," I admitted. "But you were probably right. I stopped trying to learn writing and started practicing writing." I told her about DTC's publication and my work on its sequel.

"Good!" she said, curtly nodding once. "After reading your writing, I knew you didn't need a beginning course on fiction writing. You needed a fire lit under your butt. I'm glad I was there with a match."

With fondness now, I remember her when I need to stop procrastinating - or worrying so much about my writing that it ultimately halts my writing.

Thanks to all who keep me going.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Word Count #4

Slow day. {frown}

Word count as of yesterday at 10:44pm: 71,195

Word count as of today at 10:27pm: 72,290

On the other hand, I got through a very rough and pivotal scene. Made me cry more than once. Even Husby said he got a bit teary. I'll take that as a good thing.

Tomorrow's a dedicated writing day. I'm aiming to get halfway to DONE.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Word Count #3

Word count as of 1/11/07: 63,881

Word count as of 1/15/07 at 12:49pm: 67,266

Word count as of 1/15/07 at 10:44pm (eg: now): 71,195

Number of scenes left to write to finish this book: 9

Tomorrow I have a half-day to write. More then!

"Mad Libs" - As in Days of Old

As promised in this post, here are two fun variations of the opening scene from As in Days of Old.

A refresher of the words/phrases I requested:
  1. A name, first and last
  2. noun, plural
  3. noun, singular
  4. city name (any city, any size)
  5. architectural style of house
  6. body part, plural (keep it clean, folks!)
  7. month name
  8. weather condition (temperature, precipitation or lack thereof, etc.)
  9. room in a house
  10. piece of furniture
  11. noun, plural
  12. noun, plural
  13. noun, plural
  14. noun, singular
  15. verb, past tense
  16. verb, past tense
  17. noun, plural
  18. adverb
  19. noun, singular
  20. room in a house

And here are the results from our two contestants. Suggested words/phrases are underlined.

From Jack:

Rabbi Martin Samuels gathered the chairs from the wall-mounted table outside her Columbus Tudor and quickly retreated inside, her fingers already stiff from the May heat. She brought them inside to the den couch and leafed through them. There was the usual assortment of bottles, cans and shoes, but one handwritten foot caught her eye. No stamp, no return address. She turned it over, ran open the seal, and jumped the single page. As she stared at the cups, uncomprehending, she felt her chest tighten, her heart pounding swimmingly. Letting out a soft cry, she dropped the letter onto the dresser and gagging, ran to the bedroom.

From Mother in Israel:

Rabbi Alfonso Grynbyrg gathered the kumquats from the wall-mounted abacus outside her Walla Walla Colonial and quickly retreated inside, her elbows already stiff from the June sweltering. She brought them inside to the kitchen chair and leafed through them. There was the usual assortment of drums, windows and hole punchers, but one handwritten crayon caught her eye. No stamp, no return address. She turned it over, dragged open the seal, and bolted the single page. As she stared at the rings, uncomprehending, she felt her chest tighten, her heart pounding creatively. Letting out a soft cry, she dropped the letter onto the test tube and gagging, ran to the bathroom.

Any other takers?


Black and White and Shades of Brown

Today is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Our shul sponsors a blood drive every year on the Sunday before MLK Day and both Husby and I went to donate. I usually go every two months, but couldn't donate last time due to low hemoglobin (iron). Yesterday, my iron level was up from two months ago, but still not high enough to qualify. I was bummed. It's become quite meaningful to me to donate blood; this past year I made a point of scheduling a donation on 9/11 as well.

If you qualify, please give blood. It saves lives (a mitzvah), it's definitely a form of tzedakah (charity), and it fills a need that nothing else can fill.

Oldest Son is in school today. The school has an MLK focus all day today in all grades. He's been learning about civil rights for the past week or so, and the other day, when comparing his skin color to Youngest Son's to Husby/Abba's to mine, he said that it didn't make sense why people were so focused on skin color when none of us had exactly the same skin color anyway. Even within our family, our colors range from light brown sugar to pancake dough.

"Why do people think what you look like matters when it's who you are that counts?" Oldest Son asked.

Good question.

Word Count #2

In my last post about word counts and finishing As in Days of Old, I posted that I'd written 63,881 words.

Life has a way of interrupting the best-made plans, so I haven't had as much writing time as I'd like, but I've so far made it to...


67,266 words.

Today's a writing day, so we'll see how far I get.

Oh, and I needed to introduce a new character, an Orthodox rabbi, and I've just fallen in love with his character (in a platonic way, of course). Here's a bit about him:

Somewhere in his sixties, Rabbi Shimon Gerson was a small man, standing about five and a half feet in shoes. His large black kippah covered the majority of his bald head, and his full gray beard had grown down to his chest. He had a habit of twirling his delicate fingers in his beard while in thought, occasionally getting them tangled and pulling out a stray hair while freeing his digits. Brown eyes that glittered with streaks of ochre and speckles of gold, combined with that spellbinding storyteller’s voice, made it hard to avoid eye contact.

All excerpts copyright © 2007 by Sheyna D. Galyan

Back in a bit!

Because Jack Asked For It

Jack had a great suggestion in his comment to the previous post. And since I'm so tired tonight that I'm punchy and my writing is verging on the melodramatic, I thought it'd be fun.

So... remember Mad Libs? (I'm dating myself probably.) The idea is this: I've taken the opening scene from As in Days of Old, and have removed key words and phrases. I'm now asking you - the blogging public - to fill in the blanks, so to speak, and we'll see what happens. I'll post the "modified" opening scenes with each blogger's suggestions in a future post. I can post the "original" too, if you want.

Clarification: I'm asking each reader to supply all 20 of the below-listed words/phrases. If three people participate, I'll post three separate and distinct modified opening scenes.

Here we go. I need, in the following order:

  1. A name, first and last
  2. noun, plural
  3. noun, singular
  4. city name (any city, any size)
  5. architectural style of house
  6. body part, plural (keep it clean, folks!)
  7. month name
  8. weather condition (temperature, precipitation or lack thereof, etc.)
  9. room in a house
  10. piece of furniture
  11. noun, plural
  12. noun, plural
  13. noun, plural
  14. noun, singular
  15. verb, past tense
  16. verb, past tense
  17. noun, plural
  18. adverb
  19. noun, singular
  20. room in a house

Please leave your suggestions in the comments. This should be fun and I look forward to your entries!

And stay tuned, because I'm hoping y'alls will help me out later this year with choosing a cover design and some other neat stuff. I may be asking for help naming a character, or I may have a contest to have a character named after you (the name of your choosing), with a free book as thanks once it's published.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

In the Home Stretch

I really think the end of this book (As in Days of Old - the sequel to Destined to Choose) is in sight. Really, I do! Honest! I mean it!

So I'm going to press on and see if I might just be able to get this done Done DONE! next week. Not by the end of next week, and not necessarily by Monday, but sometime during the week next week.

Wish me luck, please! Maybe I should blog my word count, sort of like a countdown to launch but going up instead. Both of my readers should find that really interesting (yawn).

Okay, so as of this moment, not including the outlining I finally had to do for the final climactic scenes, I have...

dum dum dum!

Drumroll please....................

63,881 words written.

I'll update y'alls tomorrow before Shabbat (my time). I plan to spend ALL DAY writing!

You can start the chanting anytime now: you can do it you can do it you can do it you can do it!


A good friend of mine offered to watch Youngest Son for a few hours while I ran some errands, and hopefully I would have some extra time to write, since I'm now behind schedule and I have to get this book written so I can get it to my editor and it's already almost halfway through January and it's still not done and now I've got dog obedience classes for Chaya and Talmud classes for me and Oldest Son's music teacher gave me a "special invitation" to join Israeli Folk Dancing again so I could remember the steps to Zodiak (which I did all by myself, thank you very much), but it was a gentle reminder that I really ought to go back, and Oldest Son is having a birthday party on Motzei Shabbat that I have to prepare for and now Jack wants everyone to link to him for Link to Jack Day and EVERYONE WANTS A PIECE OF ME!


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Question Regarding Rebbetzins - Need Anonymous Help Please!

Slightly reworded so more people can answer. :-)

I need some help here, please!

No personal information requested...

I'm not sure if this is true in your shuls, but in ours, when there's a bar or bat mitzvah, or any other simcha for that matter, during whatever social time follows the davening, there is a group or line of well-wishers around the person/people celebrating the simcha.

If something similar to the above is true in your shul, does your rebbetzin (or do you - as the rebbetzin) wait in "line" to speak to said celebrant? Or do others graciously allow her/you to step in and bypass the line/group? Or does she/do you wait until there is no line/group? Or...?

Is there ever a time when her/your husband (the rabbi) wants to speak to someone surrounded by a similar line/group, and if so, what does he do?

And for rebbetzins themselves, do you take your cues about waiting/not waiting from him? If not, from where?


Dancing Distraction

So I was just checking comments over on Shira's post about Israeli folk dancing and was doing some research on probably my most favorite of Israeli folk dances - Jama'a BaMidbar. It all got me very nostalgic because I haven't been able to attend our weekly local (and baruch HaShem we HAVE it!) Israeli folk dance class since I was pregnant with Oldest Son, who just turned six.

That means it's been close to seven years (!) since I was a regular participant.


I dug out my tape of my favorite dance songs and listened to it, trying with only limited success to remember all the dance steps. As much as I absolutely LOVE Jama'a, I can only remember a few of the steps, which is not good because the dance has some twelve different parts plus a recurring "chorus."

And I am so sadly out of shape that by the end of the tape, I was wheezing. Of course, I do have a head/chest cold, so maybe this wasn't the most intelligent choice I could have made.

I do think I'm overdue for a return to dance class. We'll see if I can work it out.

But I thought I'd share with you the favorite songs I have on this custom tape:

  1. Zodiak (Zodiac)
  2. Jama'a BaMidbar
  3. Od Yavo (Shalom Aleinu) / Od Yavo'u
  4. Kol Ma Shekadam
  5. Halevay
  6. Neshikat Turkit
  7. Shir
  8. Tzadik Katamar
  9. Zemer Atik
If I can just remember the steps to them all...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Obligatory Post

Just thought I'd update all five of my readers that all's well but busy here.

  1. Oldest Son just turned six.
  2. Oldest Son goes back to school in 107 hours, 55 minutes.
  3. Husby (computer network engineer) is trying to anecdotally and statistically prove that 9 times out of 10, when he gets a trouble call, it's actually not the network. Though tonight was apparently that 1 out of 10.
  4. Youngest Son (3-1/2) today built a "trumpet" out of various household objects, the sum total of which is longer than our sofa.
  5. Chaya the dog starts obedience school a week from tomorrow. It is not too soon. She's a sweet 2-year-old Lab/Chow mix, but she barks at air particles and eats used tissues.
  6. I have a bad cold so there are a lot of used tissues around.
  7. My next novel currently stands at just over 60,000 words, though it will be closer to 80,000 when it's completed.
  8. If I can write 238 words an hour (that's about four words per minute), for twelve hours a day (not including Shabbat), I can be done in a week.
  9. My last official typing test clocked me at 94 accurate words per minute. But I didn't have to make them up as I was typing them.
  10. I am currently reading Earlene Fowler's "Benni Harper Mystery" series and really enjoying them. Enough so that I often would rather be reading than writing.
  11. I have actually learned quite a bit about writing description from studying Earlene Fowler's writing as I read.
  12. My current "sticking" scenes (the ones giving me the most problems) involve Sara's sometimes painful attempts to change her role from "the rabbi's wife" to "the rebbetzin."
Guess I'd better get back to it.


Monday, January 01, 2007

Vanity, thy Name is Blog

Many of you already know about Haveil Havalim - the carnival of Jewish/Israeli blogs. But for everyone else, this is a weekly roundup of Jewish and Israeli blogs started by SoccerDad just over two years ago. Each week is hosted by a different blogger. This week's marks the 100th roundup, and is hosted by BagelBlogger at Haveil Havalim 100.

What, exactly, is "Haveil Havalim" some might be asking?

The term comes from Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) 1:2 - "Haveil havalim amar Kohelet, haveil havalim; hakol haveil." Vanity of vanities says Kohelet, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. (Translation courtesy of The Jerusalem Bible [Koren Publishers, 1992.])

Kohelet is one of the names for King Solomon, son of King David, builder of the Temple in Jerusalem.

The weekly Haveil Havalim is a wonderful way to see what other Jewish and Israeli bloggers are writing about, and from this week's edition, it spans the spectrum from the very personal and intimate to the very public and political.

Thanks to SoccerDad for starting the whole thing, to all the bloggers who have hosted, and to BagelBlogger for this week's edition!