A Year in Review and a Plans for a New Year

March of last year, I set myself some goals. Or, rather, I whittled down the impossible number of goals that I had and tried to concentrate on fewer. Although it’s not been a year yet, it’s easiest to do goal reviews on New Year’s, so let’s have a look at what I have (and haven’t) done.

The Review

1. Conversion. I am actually close to finishing this goal. I have finished my classes and have to meet privately a few more times with my rabbi. I don’t have a time set yet, but I anticipate having this finished sometime this spring.

I’ve been a bit more spotty with my Hebrew study, but when I looked at a portion of Torah recently–as it actually appears in the scroll–I thought, “I can do that.” Once I know which portion I’ll read, some concentrated studying will get me through my first Torah reading.

2. Home Improvements. Yeah, these haven’t happened. Even if we had the money for them, I haven’t had the time. And now that I’m unemployed and have the time, I especially don’t have the money. So scrap that goal going forward.

3. Writing. I had three sub-goals for this.

1) I wanted to finish the edits on Acceptance and submit it to a publisher. I did finish those edits, but I ended up self-publishing it. That took a lot more effort than just querying agents and publishers, but I did finish it. And I’m very proud.

2) I also wanted to finish the edits for The Flames of Prague. Instead, I’ve decided to totally overhaul it and turn it into two separate books. I have not made much progress on fleshing out the first novel, but Acceptance turned into a bigger project than I originally intended.

3) I wanted to publish two more short stories (I had already published The Last Golden Dragon). I did publish a second short story, The Widow, but I fell short of my goal of three for the year.

4. Exercise. Yeah, that was hit-or-miss (mostly miss).

5. Gardening. Nope, still didn’t have the time to do it. I think I better give this up until I either become a full-time writer or I retire.

The New Plan

1. I’m going to make myself eat right and exercise for the month of January. Hopefully 31 days of it will make it a habit, but I may have to make a conscious decision to pursue it longer than that. I still want to hit my two markers of physical fitness: do a pushup and touch my toes. (I doubt I’ll manage either by the end of January, so we’ll call that a year-end goal.)

2. Since I lost my job in November, I have to make an unexpected goal: get a new job. This may or may not require a move. (And, needless to say, if a move is involved, all other goals will be temporarily suspended.)

3. Publish another book and hopefully one or two more short stories. I also want to do enough Bloodsuckers to release a fourth volume (which means dropping my weekly output to a monthly output–something I need to do now that self-publishing takes up so much more of my time).

My current goal is to publish The Flames of Prague by the end of next year, but I’ve been doing a lot of work on my Acceptance Trilogy lately and have been rethinking its publishing schedule. Right now I’m still up in the air, but I may push Flames back a year and do the second Acceptance book instead. (I made the cover for it last night!)

4. Finish my conversion.

So, those are my big goals for the upcoming year. What are yours?


9 comments on “A Year in Review and a Plans for a New Year

  1. Conversion sounds like a huge endeavour. What exactly do you have to do? Do you have to completely learn how to read/speak Hebrew?

    As for my goals … definitely get Imminent Danger published (although that should be happening within the next few weeks!) so I can focus on other writing projects. Exercise every day. I’m not focusing on losing weight, I’m focusing the exercise, mostly because I have a lot of digestive problems that my doctor swears will be cured with exercise and water. So … exercise and water it is!

    I also love the idea of publishing short stories. I have a whack of stories squirreled away on my hard drive. Maybe I should break them out and see which ones are actually fit for human eyes.

    Happy New Year! You rock 🙂

    • Keri Peardon says:

      No, I don’t have to learn Hebrew, although it’s certainly encouraged.

      Hebrew actually comes in multiple flavors. There’s Biblical Hebrew and modern/spoken Hebrew. If you are fluent in Biblical Hebrew, you can communicate with Israelis, although you’re going to sound to them like someone would sound to us who learned English by reading the King James Bible. Written Hebrew has two levels: with and without vowels. Modern prayer books have the vowels in place. (Although some of the prayers are actually in Aramaic, and I don’t know yet how to tell the difference between it and Hebrew.) The Torah scroll has no vowels. Written Hebrew in Israel also tends to not have vowels. Imagine learning to read English when everything is written in text shorthand!

      I’ve been teaching myself to read (and by that I mean pronounce the letters… I don’t necessarily know what the words mean). When we become prosperous again, I want Rosetta Stone in Hebrew so I can learn to speak modern Hebrew (it will also have reading exercises) so I can actually understand and communicate with others.

      Conversion takes anywhere from a year to many years. I studied on my own for a year and have been working with a rabbi for a year, both privately and in classes. What you’re expected to know and do varies from denomination to denomination and from rabbi to rabbi (there is no standardized test!), but you generally need to know the most important sections of the law, be practicing at least some of it, attend synagogue regularly and participate in all the major holidays at least once (Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the biggies), have a basic knowledge of the most important parts of Jewish literature (you need to know your midrash from your mishnah), and understand basic Jewish theology. For someone like me, switching from Christianity to Judaism, there is usually an expectation that you understand exactly where the differences lay between Judaism and Christianity.

      Oh, and some rabbis expect you to know at least the highlights of Jewish history. The Holocaust is almost always touched on, of course, but there’s usually a brief lesson on the Biblical Israelites (including the loss of Israel–the “Ten Lost Tribes–to the Assyrians, the destruction of the First Temple, and the Babylonian Exile), the Greek subjugation and revolt of the Maccabees (which is what gives us Hanukkah), the Roman subjugation and the multiple revolts (there were so many, I do get them confused, but the two major ones ended in the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD–and I believe Masada followed that two or three years later–and the Bar Kohkba revolt and expulsion from Judea in 150 AD), the period of the Sages and the Sanhedrin, Jews in the middle ages (which gave us the concept of the ghetto) and Maimonides, the Inquisition and Expulsion from Spain, the birth of the liberal denominations along with legal equality during the Enlightenment period, the Holocaust, and then the formation of the State of Israel.

      Being a history major, needless to say I nailed the history requirement first thing. LOL. And, actually, that’s how I came to be on this road. I started doing research for my book–I needed to know what Micah and Isaac would do ritually and I needed to know the history Joshua lived through–and got pulled into all of it.

      • That’s crazy complicated! But I guess it’s all worth it if you believe in it, right? And is there like a massive final test you have to take, or is it done in stages? Do you have a rough idea of when you’ll be fully converted?

      • Keri Peardon says:

        Becoming a Jew is definitely a calling. Because even if it was easy to convert, no rational person would do it. It’s not like you wake up one morning and say, “You know, I’m a bit bored being in the white, Christian majority so… I think I’ll join the most persecuted group of people in the history of the world. And I’m going to give up bacon and shrimp and cheeseburgers. And I’m going to go to religious services while everyone else is out enjoying their Saturday. And I’m going to give away my Christmas tree. And I’m going to watch the news and fret over every bomb that’s detonated in Israel.”

        So, compared to the weight of all that, studying is no big thing. And, in fact, I think that’s really the point of all the studying: it boils down to showing you all the reasons not to be a Jew, then seeing if you still want to be one.

        There will be a final “test,” but it’s actually easier than any of the rest of the parts. When your rabbi thinks you’re ready, he or she will convene a bet din–a Jewish court of three adults (at least one of which must be a rabbi–usually the one that’s been working with you). You will go before the bet din and be asked some questions regarding what you believe and do you know what you’re getting yourself into, etc. There aren’t any trick questions; they’re just gauging whether or not you’re confident that you want to be a Jew and know what you’re doing. But your rabbi won’t suggest you go before them unless he knows you’re ready, so the likelihood you’re rejected by the bet din is next to nil.

        If you’re a man, you will then need to get circumcised. If you’re already circumcised (as most men in America are), then you will have to give a drop of blood from the penis in a symbolic act of sacrifice. Then both men and women will have to go into the mikvah–the ritual bath–and purify themselves and recite the required blessings. (The act of baptism comes from the Jewish mikvah ritual, so they’re very similar.) Then most people have some sort of ceremony–either privately or publicly–where they stand before the ark and the Torah and publicly renounce all other religions and agree to join the Jewish people and the Jewish faith for all time and for all future generations.

        I have no idea how many more times my rabbi will want to meet with me, since we’ve already met a few times. And he knows I put in a lot of studying before I started with him. But I’m hoping right now to finish everything by March or April.

      • Wow that’s soon! I thought you’d be in the conversion process for at least another year or two, based on how complicated the whole things sounds. It might be a bit premature, but congratulations 🙂

        Also, I cringed when I read the part about the symbolic drop of penis blood. Yikes. Guys need to really have faith to convert, lol.

      • Keri Peardon says:

        Well, studying for conversion is usually pretty intense. I’ve read a dozen or more books and I’ve listened to hundreds of hours of lectures. Plus the hours of in-synagogue time.

        And they do apply a numbing agent before they… wait for it… prick the prick. I read a conversion account by a man who said he did not feel it at all (although he admitted he was close to hyperventilating beforehand).

        Imagine the guys who agreed to convert before modern anesthetics. They had to undergo the entire circumcision process with only alcohol or some primitive narcotics to dull their pain. And there were actually a lot of people who converted during the Roman period. Somewhere between 9-10% of all Romans were Jews prior to the Empire’s conversion to Christianity. In fact, one of the things that made Christianity popular is that it had all of the positive aspects of Jewish theology without pesky (and painful) laws like circumcision and kosher. (To be specific, that’s Christianity AFTER St. Paul. Jesus’ original disciples continued to maintain Jewish law and insist that their converts become circumcised. Their disciples also taught that. Some of Paul’s letters to the various early churches condemn that way of thinking, and eventually Paul’s version won out.)

      • Yay modern medicine 😀 I don’t even want to think about what it was like for people before painkillers were invented. Ow.

  2. Really great goals, Keri. My focus will be on healthier eating and losing some weight. I was so glad to see you mention The Bloodsuckers on Smashwords. I thought I was going to have to go back through your archives to read the full work. I downloaded the epubs and can sideload them into my Nook and read in bed at night. Thank you for publishing them there and offering the stories for free.

    • Keri Peardon says:

      I’m glad you like it. It was–and still is–a big experiment. I admit I’ve gotten a bit burned out on it lately, but I do have some future plans for the series, so there will be more to come. I’ve just had to take some time off and move to another project. (I’ve found I don’t do too well switching from project to project too often; I have to write on a single thing for a while.)

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