Monday, December 22, 2014

The Holiday Re-Runs #4 - Fave Holiday Movies

What are your favorite holiday movies? -- Anonymous

This is going to have to be a list. Sorry.

In no particular order...

Die Hard
The Bishop's Wife
Batman Returns
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Trading Places
Christmas in Connecticut
White Christmas
Holiday Inn
Nightmare Before Christmas
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Muppet Christmas Carol
Santa's Slay
Silent Night, Bloody Night
The Hebrew Hammer
A Christmas Carol (George C. Scott)
Die Hard II
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
Edward Scissorhands
Home Alone (only the first one)

And the ones topping the list:
It's A Wonderful Life
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (sue me, it's TV)
The Little Drummer Boy (ditto)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (yep)
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Merry Christmas, and God bless us, everyone!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Holiday Re-Runs #3 -- Favorite Holiday Stories

What's your favorite holiday fiction? -- Anonymous

Would it be a cop out to say "Gift of the Magi" and "A Christmas Carol"?

Okay, I'll go deeper then.

I honestly don't read a lot of seasonal literature. Don't know why. I've always gotten books for the holidays, but usually just general books that I had requested across the course of the year.

I've always loved the winter fables of Hans Christian Andersen, and if "The Fir Tree" and "The Little Match Girl" count as holiday tales, those two top my list. Oh, and the Sherlock Holmes tale, "The Case of the Blue Carbuncle."

At the risk of seeming self-serving, what I've always preferred is WRITING holiday-themed stories, and of those, my favorites are "Sin and Error Pining" and "It's Christmas, Baby, Please Come Home," both of which appear in my collection Show Me A Hero from New Babel Books.

And I'll be posting a special free holiday tale here as a gift to you on Christmas Day. It's called "Nor Doth He Sleep," and it was the 24-hour tale from iHero Entertainment/Cyber Age Adventures last year.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Holiday Re-Runs #2 -- Holiday Charity

In light of holiday giving, what are your preferred charities you stand behind? 

St. Jude's Childrens Hospital

Fans for Christ - it's okay to be a geek and a person of faith too

Reading Is Fundamental - encourages literacy among people all over the U.S.

Keep the Arts in Schools

Compassion International - provides food, clothing, and education for third world countries

First Book - Helps all children have books of their own.

Habitat for Humanity - provides housing for low-income families

ASPCA - prevent cruelty to animals

More Free Holiday Music -- Unfit for a King (by yours truly)

Unfit for a King
words and music by Sean Taylor

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because here was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7 (KJV)

Manger straw must have been rough on your newborn skin
Mother’s pain to welcome you
Father’s tears as he holds her hand and hears you cry
The smell of waste was everywhere

Dirty men from nearby fields to greet you
Dirty sheep stumble behind
Mother’s care as she holds you close to feed you
Shepherds leave, the filth remains

You deserved the finest palace in the land
And swaddling clothes of finest string
But when you came you cut through all our twisted values
And revealed this crazy, mixed-up world…
A world unfit for a king

Vagrant child in a city filled with travelers
So unnoticed by them all
Foreign kings bring you your only presents
Your mother treasures all these things

You deserved the finest palace in the land
And swaddling clothes of finest string
But when you came you cut through all our twisted values
And revealed this crazy, mixed-up world…
A world unfit for a king

Play or download:

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Holiday Re-Runs #1 -- Holiday Traditions

What are the holiday traditions that have shaped your life?

Christmas the previous Casa de Taylor, circa 2010.
Well, like most folks I know, my family travels all over the place during the holidays visiting family. We drive to the the four winds to spend time with my family, my wife's family, and to various other parties, activities, and functions that come with the territory when one has three kids in middle and high school.

But for us, the real fun begins on Christmas Eve. Our tradition is to open one present that night while we listen to Christmas music and drink hot wassail (Lisa makes the best wassail!). After the presents, we'll often watch a classic Christmas special (favorites are Rudolph and How the Grinch Stole Christmas). After that, it's time for bed.

On Christmas morning, nobody is allowed to dig into their stockings or gifts until everyone is awake. Usually my teenage daughter Charis is the last human awake. Then we empty the stockings first before breakfast. One thing we've always done is to take turns rather than everyone emptying them all at once. That way the person opening the gift gets all the attention for that time, and then so one (yes, like a board game).

After stockings, we typically have a nice breakfast and clear away the dishes before we actually start opening presents. Once we've back in the living room, we read the Christmas story from Luke 2, and go around the group mentioning all the things we're particularly thankful for during the year. Only after reflecting on what we already appreciate do we dig into the wrapped gifts.

At that point, we takes turns again, opening presents one at a time, in a circle, giving each gift and recipient our full attention. (After all, why spend all the time looking for it if you're not going to enjoy watching it being opened?)

Once all the gifts are done, like everyone else, it's time to solve the puzzles that are the packaging and then a mad scramble for batteries.

Perhaps for me, the most important part of our tradition at the Casa de Taylor is that we take turns with the presents, and do that only after reflecting on the good things we're already thankful for first.

But enough about me, what are your holiday traditions?

Free Christmas Tunes!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from the Taylorverse!

Here's the gift of free music from my days with the band Nothing Regal. Sure,
 they're available for free streaming anytime, but for the next few days, I'm making them available as free downloads -- just for you.


Christmas Must Be Tonight

So Long Awaited

O Come All You Faithful

We Three Kings

Silent Night

What Child Is This?

Go Tell It On the Mountain

Thursday, December 18, 2014

No S*#t, Sherlock: Publishers Clue Us In About the New Public Domain Detective

Last week writers talked about Holmes, but this week I wanted to continue the discussion from the other side of the editorial desk -- the publishers -- and see what they think the recent decision means for the future stories. So, with that in mind...

Is the move to the public domain for Sherlock Holmes and related characters a good thing ultimately? Or will it forever change (or perhaps mar) all that we know about Holmes that made us love him in the first place? Will the new stuff dilute the core of who Holmes and his cast are?
Ron Fortier (Airship 27 Productions): The thing to understand is that we considered Holmes public domain long before this court ruling and were publishing new stories for almost seven years now.  Note, we were threatened several times by unscrupulous agents claiming rights they clearly did not own but we called their bluff and kept publishing.   Now as to the second part of your question, all the court ruling does is opens the floodgates for all those other publishers we were too afraid to do Holmes stories.  We imagine the number of new Holmes and Watson tales is going to grow being imagining in the coming months.   But we don't see that as having any diluting affect on the property.  Why?  Because, after a hundred years of sustained popularity, it is clearly obvious the appeal of these characters is both universal and eternal.  You simply can never have too many Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson adventures.

Allan Gilbreath (Dark Oak Press): In an earlier time I believe that I would have said it was a good thing. In today's market place with no restraints on the usage of a character, I am not so sure. While, I am sure that there will be some very good work produced that will add the canon of the original, sadly, there will be a lot more work produced that will fall short of the original standards.

Some characters were developed to grow into a universe all their own (i.e. Lovecraft) while others are the way they are because they are the creation of a single mind. As we have seen from movies, the same script read by different actors makes for very different movies. Additional stories from additional minds will diverge from the original standards.

My fear is that a powerful media company such as Disney could actually bury the original by producing a series of products over years in the image that they want.

Lida E. Quillen (Twilight Times Books): I do have concerns that new stories will mar the Sherlock Holmes lore. But then, perhaps readers in general, and Holmes fans in particular, will not purchase, review or otherwise support works that do not carry on the best of the Holmes tradition.

Tommy Hancock (Pro Se Press): I'm not sure that the recent activity concerning Holmes changes anything.  For the most part, everyone was already functioning as if he were in the Public Domain and if any of the recent decisions had altered that, it would be years, if ever, that the uses of Holmes would have been addressed.  And you can't mar Holmes any more (if you assume he has been marred) than he has been in not only some of the 'unofficial' Holmes works, but also a lot of the allowed projects.  Remember that futuristic Holmes cartoon... uh..yeah.   And no, I don't think there's a chance of anything anyone does with Holmes diluting or overshadowing Doyle's work.  Hasn't happened yet.

Do you have plans to embark on new Holmes tales? What criteria do you have to ensure those new tales are true to the Sherlock mythos or is that even an issue for you?

Ron Fortier: Again, nothing has changed with Airship 27 Productions.  We plan on continuing our highly popular series - SHERLOCK HOLMES - CONSULTING DETECTIVE and volume # 7 should be out at the start of 2015.  At the same time, quite a few of our regular writers have come to us with ideas for full length novels and as of today we have three of these in the works.  So there is no end in sight for our doing Holmes & Watson.

It is important to note, the success of the Consulting Detective series is due in large part due to our demanding all stories be done in the traditional Conan Doyle format.  We did not want outlandish fantasy tales with Holmes battling Martians or Vampires etc.  So for the most part, people who pick up any Airship 27 Productions Sherlock Holmes title know they are going to get classic mysteries.  Its a formula that has worked and we've no intention of changing it any time soon.

Lida E. Quillen: New stories should adhere to the Sherlock Holmes canon. That is very important to me.

The manuscripts Stephanie Osborn submitted for the books in the Displaced Detective series are exceptionally well-written, rigorously researched and scientifically plausible. The manner in which Stephanie brought Sherlock Holmes up to speed in a future setting is entirely believable. I would be open to additional works of a similar nature.

Allan Gilbreath: Not at this time. It would take something completely amazing to move me into the storytelling secondary market place. I far prefer original characters or characterizations told by a clear voice. I prefer depth and development to trying to hit a past standard.

Tommy Hancock: We just threw our fedora into the ring with THE ASTONISHING TALES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES imprint from Pro Se Productions.  The first volume is THE SHRIEKING PITS by Author Nikki Nelson-Hicks.  And as far as our criteria, we want authors to write new stories that can easily fit in the Doyle canon.  Doesn't have to be in the style of Doyle necessarily, but as far as events, happenings, crimes, etc., they need to be an easy fit into canon, as if Doyle himself could have written them. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

[Link] The New World of Writing: Pulp Speed

by Dean Wesley Smith

I’ve mentioned this concept a number of times on my nightly blog and in the Topic of the Night little sections. But since Pulp Speed was almost impossible in the new traditional world, it belongs as a post in this series.

Not at all sure why this idea sort of hits me right. I think because it flies in the face of all the myths. A writer has to have all myths under control to even attempt this. So this post might just make you angry because it hits at belief systems I’m afraid.

The second reason I can’t shake this idea is because for all of my life I have idolized pulp writers. I used to study them and their lives. (And yet, even with all that knowledge, I still spent seven years in the rewriting to death trap. Go figure.)

Many, many of the great writers of the past that we still read and enjoy were pulp writers. And there are many pulp writers working today. More than you might imagine, even through the rough times of the last twenty years in traditional publishing.

Now, right here, before I get started, I’m going to repeat what I always say. No writer is the same as any other writer.

And most writers could never do what I am about to talk about.

Pulp Speed writing is a mind-set for writers who have cleared out damn never every myth and belief taught to them about writing by English teachers. A Pulp Speed writer loves to just tell stories, one right after another. So remember, no writer is the same as another writer. And if this hits you wrong, it might not be for you to even think about in any fashion.

But for others, this might just be the ticket to a bright new future, just to learn this is possible and happening.

Continue reading:

Nugget #32 -- Professional Writing

One can write part time or full time professionally. 
One can write as a sole income or as a supplementary 
income. To call either merely "writing for fun" or "writing 
as a hobby" demeans the effort put into writing sellable 
product and the effort put into trying to sell it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Nuggets #31 -- The Jazz of a Femme Fatale

For my money, I prefer, the monkey wrench that a femme fatale brings into the world of the crime story. She’s the literary change in time signature to shift the jazz of the tale from Benny Goodman to Miles Davis. Either one is good, and really good, but one has that something special that makes it a lot spicier to the ears.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now #307 -- Give 'Em Your Worst

What do you do when plotting to ensure that a story remains 
balanced so that a hero actually faces a challenge?

I love this question. Why? Because I've always had a theory about plotting, and it always begins with character. When I know the character, then I can ask myself this one, all-encompassing question, upon who's answer I will build my story.

And that question is this: "What's the worst thing that can happen to ____________ ?"

That's where it all begins. Plotting to me is putting your characters in situations that make them not just uncomfortable but direly uncomfortable. This enables me to create situations and antagonists that will genuinely put my protagonists through their paces.

For a standard pulp adventure plot, the easiest way to answer the question is by jumping straight to a powerful villian. But... I like to go at least a little bit deeper than that. For example, in my most recent Rick Ruby mystery, The villain isn't the real "big bad" because the solution to the mystery might put a nail in the coffin of Rick's relationship with Evelyn. So the worst thing that could happen isn't the villain but the chain of events the villain sets off in Rick's personal life. How 'bout another example, this one from my Lance Star story in Volume 3. Lance is a pilot, so the worst thing that can happen is to separate him from his plane, so I trapped him on a private yacht in the middle of the ocean without an airstrip in sight.

For not pulp plots, the same principle applies. The big bad could be a character's hubris. It could be a familial relationship. It could be a storm. The standard archetypes of man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. society, and man vs. self don't change.

What's the worst thing that can happen to my characters? As a writer it's my job, my responsibility, my obligation to take them there and back again.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Pro Se Productions, an innovative publisher of Genre Fiction, proudly announces the latest issue of one of its most popular series in its Pro Se Single Shots Signature line. Jake Istenhegyi, the scarred immigrant shopkeeper turned detective created by Nikki Nelson-Hicks, returns in his second adventure -- Golems, Goons, and Cold Stone Bitches now available for only 99 cents!

“Jake,” says Tommy Hancock, Editor in Chief of and Partner in Pro Se Productions, “was definitely a popular character in his debut adventure. It’s amazing what Nikki does with these stories. It’s like a mixed stew of genres and styles that somehow coalesce into something well-written, strongly plotted with characters that step off the page. Something both terrifying in a way, while also suspenseful and mystery minded. And definitely cover to cover fun!”

After being forced to put a bullet through the head of his best friend to end his suffering, Jake Istenhegyi is done and he wants to pack his bags and get on the next plane to anywhere but here. Goodbye to New Orleans, goodbye and good riddance to the Odyssey Shop, a business he never wanted anyway, and a big fat goodbye to the detective game that he barely knew how to play anyway! But it just isn't working out that way. A few hard, dirty truths are blocking his way. Like how he has inherited more than just a run down used junk store from his Uncle's sudden death-by-bus, the real business being conducted at the Odyssey Shop...and then there is the naked girl bleeding to death on his staircase.... and all before his first cup of coffee.

Jake Istenhegyi, the Accidental Detective’s second adventure, Golems, Goons, and Cold Stone Bitches, features stunning cover art and logo design by Jeffrey Hayes and digital formatting by Russ Anderson. This Pro Se Single Shot Signature short story is now available for the Kindle on Amazon and via Smashwords in most other formats for only 99 cents. This Pro Se Single Shot will be available via other Ebook websites in coming days.

For more information on this title, contact Morgan Minor, Pro Se’s Director of Corporate Operations, at

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to Like Pro Se on Facebook at

Saturday, December 13, 2014



An innovative Publisher of cutting edge Genre Fiction and New Pulp, Pro Se Productions announces the release of a short story collection featuring one of the best modern hard boiled private investigators to ever grace a page. Birthed full-blown several years ago in the comics mini-series Angeltown, L.A. private eye Nate Hollis, created by noted Genre Fiction author Gary Phillips, makes the jump to prose in six new short stories in Gary Phillips’ Hollis, P.I.

“I couldn’t be more pleased that Hollis returns in prose from Pro Se Productions,” Phillips said. “Readers are in for some hardboiled thrills as we put the redoubtable private eye through his paces -- from a ritual killing, the hunt for long-hidden swag, attack dogs in the dark, to the machinations of crooked politicians…tough guys and tougher women.”

Gary Phillips has penned short stories for Moonstone’s Kolchak: The Night Stalker Casebook, the Avenger Chronicles, the Green Hornet Casefiles and The Spider: Extreme Prejudice anthologies. His most current novel is Warlord of Willow Ridge. He also has out the eBook novella, The Essex Man: 10 Seconds to Death, a homage to ‘70s era paperback vigilantes. Additionally he is one of the editors for Pro Se's BLACK PULP volume, and any and all follow ups to that collection. In addition to editing and contributing to Hollis, P.I. for Pro Se, he also has for the press stories upcoming in Asian Pulp and Black Pulp II. He recently wrote the graphic novel Big Water, about the fight by a municipality to save its water from privatization; has a steamy story not for kids in 50 Shades of a Fedora; and is editor and contributor to the upcoming Day of the Destroyers, a collection of linked stories wherein Jimmie Flint, Secret Agent X-11 battles to stop internal forces out to overthrow the presidency of FDR during the Great Depression.

New York Times bestseller Juliet Blackwell (the Witchcraft Mystery series), acclaimed up-and-coming crime writer Aaron Philip Clark (A Healthy Fear of Man) new pulp luminaries Derrick Ferguson (Four Bullets for Dillon) and Pulp Ark award winner Bobby Nash join Phillips in penning these new gritty tales. Five stories feature Nate Hollis with a sixth featuring his sometimes ally, bounty hunter Irma Deuce. The streets are mean, but they don’t hold a stick of dynamite to Gary Phillips’ Hollis, P.I.

“PI Nate Hollis,” says T. Jefferson Parker, author of The Famous and the Dead, “originally sprang from the rich imagination of LA-based writer Gary Phillips, but he’s so real and tactile he could climb off the page and buy you a bourbon. Now, four other authors are getting a piece of Nate, too, and this latest collection of Nate stories is wonderful. This is contemporary noir at its best, offering all the familiar pleasures of the genre, but giving them a modern makeover. Yes, this is a violent world that Nate inhabits, but he steers a true and moral course through the layers of deception, skullduggery and sometimes worse that make these stories such high-density entertainment. Nate’s a great character and these stories do him justice and more. “

Gary Phillips’ Hollis P.I., features evocative and action packed cover art and logo design by Jeffrey Hayes. With print formatting by Percival Constantine, the collection is available from Amazon and Pro Se’s own store for $12.00. This modern mystery collection is also available as an eBook for the Kindle and in most formats from Smashwords for only $2.99.
For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital copies for review, contact Morgan McKay, Pro Se’s Director of Corporate Operations, at

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to Like Pro Se on Face book at

Friday, December 12, 2014

Storyteller Alley -- We're Looking for a Few Good Authors

Are you an independent or small press published author? Do you consider your book among the best?

We're looking to feature the best independent and small press published authors and titles out there.


Here's what you need to know:

Authors featured on our site must meet the following requirements:

All books featured on our site must already be published or be no more than four weeks out from release. We want readers to be able to buy the books they find on our site! Our current plan is to launch our site on January 15th, so current submissions must meet the four week requirement as of that date.

Have no less than three 5-star reviews or no less than five 4-star reviews from reputable book bloggers and/or reviewers. Reviews must still be visible to the public in order to qualify. These reviews must be posted on sites other than GoodReads or Amazon. Authors will be required to submit links to the reviews.

In the event that the number of public reviews are not available, an author may opt to submit the book for internal evaluation by our site for a fee of $100, however payment for a critique does not guarantee promotion on our site. An internal evauation will be completed by 3 independent readers and written feedback will be provided. Content from our internal evaluations will not be published on our site.

Once an author/title has met our requirements, the author/title will be listed in our showcase and the author will be invited to submit content for one of the following feature categories:

​​Every Great Story Starts With the First Page : This bi-weekly feature will share the first 250-350 words of a featured book. The feature also includes a short author bio, website link, buy link, cover image, and book blurb.​

Where Do Stories Grow: This is a bi-weekly feature that asks writers to create a post describing where they grew up and share how it has had an impact on their life and storytelling. This feature will include a short author bio and website/social media links.

Judge a Book By Its Cover: This weekly feature will showcase 2-3 titles that meet our requirements and have an exceptional cover design. This feature will include a cover image and short synopsis of the book.

Just For Kids: This weekly feature will showcase books written for children. It will feature a book blurb, short author bio, website link, buy link, and cover image.

Distinguished Non-Fiction: This weekly feature is for non-fiction books only. It will feature a book blurb, short excerpt (250 words or less), cover image, author bio, website link, and buy link.

Hot Off the Press: This bi-weekly feature is for books in print for less than 3 months. It must still meet our requirements for review, or be submitted for internal review. This feature will include cover image, book blurb, long excerpt (500-750 words), author bio, website link and buy link.

The Heart Knows: This weekly feature is for romance novels. It will feature a book blurb, short author bio, cover image, short excerpt, website link and buy link.

From the Realm: This weekly feature is for fantasy novels. It will feature a book blurb, short author bio, cover image, short excerpt, website link and buy link.

Improbable Made Possible: This weekly feature is for science fiction novels. It will feature a book blurb, short author bio, cover image, short excerpt, website link and buy link.

​If you think your book is up to snuff AND you meet our requirements AND you are willing to commit to submitting content, please fill out our nifty submission form and we'll be in touch!

Submit at:

Thursday, December 11, 2014

So... Sherlock Holmes?

With the news that the big Detective with a capital "D", the granddaddy of all detectives in fiction has finally and it's-about-time become public domain, I figured it was time to honor the fabled clue-finder with his very own roundtable. 

So, it with great gusto that I present the Sherlock Holmes roundtable. 

What makes Sherlock stick around in the imagination of readers while so many of his contemporaries have been all but forgotten?

Stephanie Osborn: I think that Holmes was the first time a writer had ever put together ALL of the different components that comprise a classic detective character. He has intelligence, skill, knowledge, courage, a cool head...yet he also has a great heart, which he tries hard to hide. He also has the flaws without which this übermensch would be insufferable, the very flaws which make him human.

Another character, created much later, and eventually added to Holmes’ family tree, has similar properties, and I like to say, “Sherlock Holmes had the Spock Syndrome before Mr. Spock did.” Simply put, he is the first and ultimate detective character.

John Morgan Neal: He's that damn good. He was a template the likes of which characters such as Batman and Mr. Spock were begat among many others. There is something about it that appeals.

Nikki Nelson-Hicks: In no particular order:

  • He is a total badass. He is willing to put himself in harm’s, go undercover and deal with the slime of the underbelly of society and face all sorts of obstacles using his wits and, if needs require it, his fists to solve a mystery and help a client. He is the Big Brother we always wanted to run home to when the neighborhood bully pushed us down and stole our bikes. He is the rogue that works outside the Law and sees that justice is done. He’s not beyond a little B&E to solve a case. He also acts as a shortcut judge and jury, pardoning the criminal if he believes that the perp did the crime for all the right reasons (Devil’s Claw and the murder of Charles Augustus Magnusson come to mind.)  
  • He is simply very good at what he does. He has a superpower, of sorts, but it’s not supernatural or unattainable. When he explains how he figured it all out, it seems so very simple and….well, elementary. He gives the reader hope that they could also sharpen their senses to achieve such powers. This makes him an attractive, attainable superhero.
  • But he is also The Great Other. There is something very otherworldly, something special about him that makes him cut off from humanity. This is where Watson comes in as his link between Him and us. 
  • There is also a strange purity about the character. He is a walking encyclopedia of crime but doesn’t know that the earth goes around the sun. He sees commonplace knowledge as clutter and can’t understand why we would bother learning them. We wonder how someone so smart can be so ignorant! Coupled with his complete disinterest in sex, this just adds to his appeal as someone who is just a touch above and beyond the ordinary mortal.
  • All heroes need flaws and, no, I’m not talking about cocaine; Doyle went on record to say that Holmes was not an addict and only took cocaine to help him deal with the doldrums of depression. Sherlock Holmes’ flaw is one that allows him to be identifiable to people of the 20th and 21st century: existential angst. A very modern problem that people of the 19th century were only beginning to grasp with the arrival of the Industrial age. His mind raged against inactivity and the boring stillness that the bureaucracy and social mores of his time demanded. He is always looking for something to engage his mind, to challenge him….even threaten his life. A bit of an adrenaline junkie. This is a thread that connects him to the readers of the numbing technocratic 21st century.
  • Which leads to another facet that connects Holmes to our own age: his secularism. He shunned superstition and favored science as a Higher Power. To Holmes, anything worth knowing could be verified and quantified and everything else was clutter. By devoting himself to logic and the scientific method, he was able to rise above the hoi polloi and see things as they were not as they merely seemed. His ability to cut through bullshit with a smirk and quick wit is just icing on the cake. 
  • Did I mention he’s a badass?

I.A. Watson: The format of Holmes stories is perfect for detective fiction. We have a brilliant and insightful lead but we only see his thought processes through his companion. This allows us to discover the mystery slowly as the detective reveals it and additionally allows for a narrator commentary and interpretation on the detective himself.

Holmes himself is an eccentric character, not always likeable but always compelling to follow. He has become an archetype by being so distinctive. Watson, acting as everyman and as a reader surrogate, both humanises what would be an otherwise intolerable principal character and drives the plot points along with his questions.

Finally, for modern readers, the Holmes stories are set in the dead centre of an era and place that has become one of the most established venues for fiction, at the heart of Victorian England. Even better than modern tales set in that time, they are steeped with authentic trappings and sensibilities from the period. They have the same allure as would a great Western story written by a genuine pioneer.

Joe Gatch: I believe that it is his reclusive nature and his superior intelligence that makes readers wish to be so memorable.

R.J. Sullivan: I think his success is attributed at least in part to the fact that when the first stories were written, deductive reasoning was not a normal part of police procedure and the stories actually helped make that happen,

Erwin K. Roberts: I first took an interest in Sherlock Holmes before I could read. I listened to some radio adaptations when I was five. "The Speckled Band" really grabbed me, for openers. Unfortunately, the second I heard was "The Final Problem." I remember my mother, or maybe my older sister, assuring me that Holmes somehow climbed out of the Falls.

Over sixty years later I can still recall a few passages from those episodes. Part of why Holmes sticks around is that he is a complete package of well constructed mysteries, with interesting characters. And, as Ian Watson said, Holmes' era has been engraved into the minds of a very large chunk of the planet's population.

His contemporaries, even those with merit, never rose to the level of attention he did. In the same way my contemporaries, who were not comic book fans, may remember Superman and Batman, and to a lesser extent Spider-Man or the Fantastic Four. But, few, if any, knew of the existence of of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., (Green) Arrow, or Constantine, and especially Blade, before recent films and TV shows. Holmes survived because he was original, well written, and able to be adapted into other media.

On the other hand, how many people remember Race Williams, the first hard-boiled detective? Not many. That's because guys like Chandler and Hammett came along and did it so much better. Holmes started at the top and has generally remained there.

As a writer, what lessons can you credit to Holmes that you've learned about writing technique and character creation?

Joe Gatch: Doyle shows that backstory isn't always important to enjoying the character...everyone is so hung up on origin stories these days that they forget that lack of origin is part of the mystery surrounding the character.

I.A. Watson: Doyle was a master at using reported narrative. At times we have Doyle telling us what Watson wrote about what Holmes said about an account given by a client at Baker Street, tier upon tier of reportage allowing for all kind of subtle writing tricks and a good deal of reader-fooling obfuscation. There is a lot to pick up on there.

Doyle also demonstrates that sometimes less is more. He does not define every detail of Holmes’ career and background. Indeed, he delights in teasing the gaps, the cases not reported, the detail of character quirks never explained. He imbues his cast with only those characteristics necessary to tell the tale but manages to engage readers with those few sketched lines. It is impressive in a genre where hiding clues in plain sight is a necessary authorial skill that Doyle can manage this with so little extraneous verbage.

Erwin K. Roberts: Watson's narration is one of the reasons I do a lot of my writing in the first person. My occasional forays into private detective stories, plus my New Pulp hero the Voice are first person. Though the narrator may, or may not, be the main character.

John Morgan Neal: Engaging your readers. Bringing them into the method of your heroes and allowing them to sort of be part of the team. Keeping them interested in the mystery.

Nikki Nelson-Hicks: The first thing that comes to mind is, of course, the relationship between Watson and Holmes. They complete each other. The Apollonian and the Dionysian. Mind and Heart. Holmes gives Watson the adventure that the old soldier craves and Watson gives Holmes a solid anchor to the baser points of humanity.

But what I always found really interesting is how the stories (except His Last Bow and Lion’s Mane) are told in the POV of Watson. Frankly, Holmes is really in the background, literally in the case of The Hound of the Baskervilles. That is fascinating to me. To have such a prominent protagonist, basically the star of the show, NOT tell the story. It just makes Holmes more intriguing and gives Watson, the foil, more depth.

R.J. Sullivan: Arthur Conan Doyle compared to his contemporaries, is more approachable than many "classic" authors because of his use of plain, to the point, but descriptive language. His prose has survived better than, for instance, Poe or HP Lovecraft, whose use of language tended to get a bit thick at times.

Stephanie Osborn: How utilising the appropriate vernacular can transport the reader into a different place and time; how important proper research and planning is to the construction of a good mystery; how description can set a mood. Digging into the background of a character, and determining how his personal foibles operate, can also make for a more realistic character. For example, many of Holmes’ quirks are likely caused by the side effects of his cocaine usage; Doyle, as an ophthalmologist, was undoubtedly familiar with the drug and its side effects, as one of its first specific uses in medicine was as an anaesthesia for eye surgeries.

Does Holmes still work for contemporary audiences as is, or does he have to be brought lower some way to be less of a "super hero" so modern readers and views can relate to him or perhaps tolerate him?

I.A. Watson: Holmes’ sharpness and lack of tolerance for fools have always endeared him to his audience. He is a grump – but our grump, using his antisocial tendencies for the public good against far nastier adversaries. The harder his clash and the more difficult his work against such foes the better we love the story.

Holmes’ omnipotence is skilfully offset by Watson. As narrator he helps obscure Holmes’ thought processes so we are not bored by the great detective’s instant analyses. As Holmes’ friend, Watson is able to criticise and comment, bringing the genius down to size when required, but also washing our view of Holmes with a warm affection.

One modern feature of Holmes fiction that perhaps even developed before Doyle finished writing his Canon tales is an expectation that Holmes will have an almost-supernatural ability to discern the truth. A modern Holmes author’s challenge is often to keep Holmes’ deductions grounded in the possible rather than indulging in the audience’s expectation of his immediate infallibility.

Erwin K. Roberts: Holmes can work for modern auriences. But not always. I have been more or less indifferent to the current big budget films. Recently I saw a complete DVD set of the Granada / Jeremy Brett TV productions for sale. Now that is the Holmes I want.

I do find it interesting that both contemporary versions of Holmes and Watson, Elementary and Sherlock, have found favor with the general public. I enjoy them both, but for somewhat different reasons. Both respect the original while bringing the concept into the modern world. Both, unlike some past versions, have a strong and intelligent Watson. (Having written Watson without Holmes, that is very important to me.)

John Morgan Neal: Oh heck yeah. Two successful TV shows and two successful movies and all with a bit of a diff take on the character. Sherlock was a 'super hero' in that he had a super human ability to think. But he was always a character with foibles. He was always relatable to a degree. And besides we have Watson for that. I think people are hungry for heroic and amazing characters.

R.J. Sullivan: Contemporary interpretations have given Holmes a sort of high functioning autistic/ sociopathic personality I honestly don't believe the text supports. He had mild quirks, but he was always aware of social noims and aware when he was breaking them. I find the modern interpretation a bit insulting, as if a normal person couldn't possibly simply train themselves to be the most observant man in the room, they have to come up with some sort of way to "relate to" him, (I hate that term, too, as if 21st century readers lack the imagination to put themselves in the place of anyone not in the 21st century).

Stephanie Osborn: Does Holmes still work for contemporary audiences as is, or does he have to be brought lower some way to be less of a "super hero" so modern readers and views can relate to him or perhaps tolerate him?

Judging by the fact that there are currently 3 media franchises (BBC Sherlock, CBS Elementary, Guy Ritchie/RDJ Sherlock Holmes movies), and untold pastiche novels set anywhere from the original Victorian era to the future, as well as uncounted numbers of versions of the collected Doyle stories, I’d say Holmes needs no help.

Nikki Nelson-Hicks: Sherlock Holmes is a rogue super brain that uses science and technology to bring down the bad guys? How does that NOT work for today’s audience?

Granted, they dirtied him up for the Robert Downey Jr. movies (the character of Holmes is described as fastidious when it comes to his grooming, like a cat. He might let his flat go to shit but he is always perfectly groomed.), sexed him up for Jonny Lee Miller’s, Elementary (seriously, two whores at once? And all those tattoos?), and gave him a place of the autism spectrum with Cumberbatch’s portrayal in BBC’s Sherlock, still it is not a lowering as more as a molding to fit a modern perspective.

As for tolerating a character who, frankly, has to bring himself down to our level to give us the time of day, yes. He’s a bit acerbic in the stories and they do tweak this up a bit for today’s storytelling but that’s to be expected. Modern audiences LOVE an asshole. We expect it, hell, we even TRUST the asshole more than we do the Sir Galahad, paragon of virtue. We’re always waiting for the cracks in the veneer.

Joe Gatch: Readers should be challenged, not talked down to. Downey's portrayal of Holmes was, however, refreshing and more realistic when you think about it.

What's your favorite Holmes story and why?

Joe Gatch: Always The Hound of the was the first story I read, the first SH movie I watched and it will always be the case I most relate Holmes with

Nikki Nelson-Hicks: In no particular order (and definitely not the ultimate list):

A Study in Scarlet:  Because it’s the beginning and you need to see where Holmes and Watson started to appreciate where they end up.

The Adventure of the Red Headed League, The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, The Adventure of the Dying Detective: Because of the humor and well-paced story telling.

A Scandal in Bohemia and The Adventure of the Yellow Face: Because in the first one he is bested for all the right reasons and in the second he is simply WRONG, WRONG, WRONG and in the end learns a bit of humility

But a few of the best written stories, IMHO, are: The Man with the Twisted Lips, The Adventure of the Speckled Band, The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual, The Adventure of the Crooked Man, The Adventure of the Naval Treaty, The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter, The Adventure of Black Peter, The Adventure  of the Six Napoleons, The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton, and the Adventure of the Devil’s Foot.

John Morgan Neal: The Hound of Baskervilles. Holmes only 'horror' story. I like the plot. The setting. Watson getting some stuff to do alone. It works for me in a big way. And I like several of the movies based on it. Including the Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore one.

I.A. Watson: Among the canon stories I am fond of:

 “A Scandal in Bohemia” from the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for its early definition of Holmes’ character and for the inestimable “Woman” Irene Adler; the story is not flawless but is all the more satisfying for that.

The Hound of the Baskervilles, for its brooding atmosphere and the extended role of a heroic and competent Dr Watson.

 “The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter” from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, for being one of the most Sherlock Holmes-y of all Holmes stories, not least because it also features his brother Mycroft and includes much of the standard “furniture” of Holmes stories.

Of my own Holmes stories in Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective volumes 1-6, I am most fond of volume 5’s “The Abominable Merridew”, perhaps because I had license to use so many elements of the Canon material. It is the Holmes story I have most enjoyed writing. By the way, I just finished my story for volume 8 today.

Of non-Canon-compliant Holmes, I recommend Neil Gaiman’s “A Study in Emerald.”

R.J. Sullivan: Hound of the Baskervilles, because it's a longer work and Watson is very involved in it.

Stephanie Osborn: I would be hard-pressed to pick which one of Doyle’s stories is my favorite. I think it would depend on what mood I’m in at the time. But in general, if one put together the two short stories, ‘The Final Problem’ and ‘The Empty House,’ the combined story of Holmes’ presumed death and return probably form my favorite of Doyle’s stories.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Nuggets #30 -- Cereal Highlights

Writers are the kind of readers who can't eat cereal 
without reading the back of the box, even when it's full 
of boring health facts and that pyramid food chart. They're 
the kind of readers who skim even medical journals or GOOD HOUSEKEEPING (though they prefer HIGHLIGHTS if it's available!) while they're waiting in the doctor's office. 
In short, writers read because they love words.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Jeremy Hicks -- I Guess We Found Out

I've known Jeremy Hicks for quite a few years, but honestly it feels like forever. Of course I mean that in the good way. 

"What's the good way?" you ask. It's the way that means we connect and it feels like we really should have known each other for much longer because it just feels like it. 

That clear now? 

Or, as Lisa asked Wendy, "Shall we begin?"

Yes, Lisa. 

So, let's get started. 

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

My current project is a short horror submission for the Summer of Lovecraft anthology. This collection will feature Cthulhu Mythos-themed stories set in the 1960’s. Without giving away any spoilers, my particular tale will be a tale told about the Vietnam War but from a unique perspective.

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

In this particular story, I’ll deal with karma, people reaping what they have sewn, so to speak. As with most of my work, this tale will deal with darker themes, the more twisted side of humankind. It will also hint at the ancient majesty of the universe, the collective amnesia of the human race, and the fact that we known less than we think and assume so much from so little. Misunderstandings and mishaps that result from the passionate, often misguided beliefs people hold and the actions that they will take because of those beliefs are something else I delve into in a lot of stories.

What would be your dream project?

I started out writing screenplays and actually prefer that format to novels and short stories. So, I’d like to take on my dream assignment. I’d like to do the Star Trek universe justice by reworking the new Pop Trek alternate timeline. Or even write for the next Star Trek television series. I have a storyline that would work perfectly for either format; I’m just waiting for J.J. Abrams or Paramount to call me. Call me. This story will blow your minds.

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

Honestly, I’m in the process of doing that now. We’re considering an edited and expanded version of our first novel. One that might feature a new cover by the same artist working on the cover for the sequel, Sands of Sorrow.

What inspires you to write?

Less and less these days. I’ve been in a funk since finishing our second novel. I’m not one of these people who can grind it out every day. At least, I’m not there yet. If I’m not feeling it, my writing turns out to be shit. Or at least I think it is shit. And according to A Brief History of Time, imaginary shit might as well be real shit in the brain of the observer. So, it all turns to shit. Am I allowed to say shit? Guess we’ll find out.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

That’s a good question. For better or worse, H.P. Lovecraft. Great storyteller but not the best writer. Other writers of horror and the macabre have too, such as Poe, Stephen King, and the Roberts Howard & Bloch. But I feel like my actual writing may be influenced too much by nineteenth century authors such as Dickens and Ambrose Bierce. I tend to write in long but lean sentences. And I don’t much give a damn if I have to use a three or even five syllable word. I try to be precise with my word choice and use of language, even if my reader might have to learn something in the process.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

Writing and science both feature formulas and involve processes, but I don’t see writing as a science. Process and formula does not a science make, I guess you could say. Writing is an art form, one that can be structured and dissected but one that is also subjective. It cannot be quantified as it is judged largely on an emotional reaction to the content, often times without regard to the structure and form utilized by the writer.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

My first short story with Pro Se Press was released a couple of weeks ago as a part of their Digital Single Shot series. It’s called “The Savior of Istara”and ties into The Cycle of Ages Saga properties. This story tells the secret origins of Tameri, the daughter of one of the main characters introduced in our novel Finders Keepers. She’ll play a major role in the upcoming sequel, Sands of Sorrow. That novel is currently being edited by the folks over at Dark Oak Press and Media. You can find out more about our saga as well as its authors at

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now #306 -- Why Massive Multi-Volume Epics Fail Readers and Writers

Why do you feel so strongly against multi-volume epic series?

In order to be fair, let me explain first the difference I see between a mere series and an epic series. It'll be semantics to some, but to me, it's an important distinction.

A mere series simply follows a character or world such as Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan books or the Conan stories of Robert E. Howard, or the Mack Bolan series. Each story tends to be a stand-alone volume but can also do the long-term reader the service of advancing the key leads' characterizations, but each book clearly begins, travels through the middle, and then ends within a single volume.

An epic series seemingly has no end in sight, even when it teases that it does. Each book seems to be designed for the purpose (at least to publisher's marketing department) of selling the books that came before and the ones that will come after (and there will be more to come after). The enjoyment that can be gained from any single volume is overshadowed by the "need" to own or read every book in the series in order to be a true fan (so to speak). Series like The Wheel of Time and Game of Thrones and Highlander fall in to this group for me.

Clear on the definitions? Okay, let's begin.

First, I love series. I love to follow a character I've grown attached to. But I also love a story to have a clear beginning, middle, and ending across a finite time line. As such, a series such as Ian Fleming's James Bond, Kim Harrison's The Hollows, or Mike Hammer's Mickey Spillane books work for me.  

Second, because I want some sense of closure when a novel is over, I think the works that pull a Empire Strikes Back "ending" fail. Sure, they are fantastic if you're writing a cliff-hanger serial from the movies. (But, even those tended to end the current story before hitting you with a cliff-hanger teaser for the next adventure.) I'm thinking of series that get into series beyond 5 or 6 books at this point, and some of them that don't go farther than that. If you expect me to invest the time to read between 300 and 1,000 pages, then give me a satisfying ending, not a rambling "to be continued."

Third, I don't like them because of the disservice they do to series writers. A writer gets pigeonholed into writing a single storyline or group of characters because "that's what sells" -- and an epic series is most always an easy sell. It doesn't matter if that writer wants to take a break and try his or her hand at some urban horror or romantic drama. Nope. The contract calls for more epic monarchist fantasy and, by God, that's what he or she must do. Sure, a multi-million selling series writer can get a break by throwing his or her financial weight around, but not so the mid-listers who don't get an opportunity to let the other voices in their heads out to play for a while too.

Fourth, they also do a disservice to other writers. For every new volume in an epic series, that much less shelf space is available for writers willing to take risks, to try new things, to create new characters, etc. The full body of work that will never see the light of day is affected and hampered. Readers who are looking for something new won't find it. The grand total of stories available to be discovered is lessened because of that one guy who sets up a tent on the beach rather than a towel.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Quick Hit Press Releases

Astounding New Adventures of the World’s Most Famous Detective - The Astonishing Tales of Sherlock Holmes!

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation that literally changed the face of fiction and popular culture lives on in a daring new imprint from Pro Se Productions. Author Nikki Nelson-Hicks takes Holmes and Dr. Watson on a mystifying, shocking journey into mystery and intrigue in the line’s debut volume- The Astonishing Tales of Sherlock Holmes: The Shrieking Pits!

Dr. John Watson discovers that his friend, Sherlock Holmes, has gone missing while hunting fairies in Norfolk with Ulysses K. Todd and his secretary, Mrs. Bernardine Dowell. Concerned that his friend is on a drug induced bender, Watson goes with the pair to Almertune to help his friend, only to discover something more sinister is afoot.

What appears a frivolous excursion into myth hunting takes on a different tone when Watson discovers encrypted notes from the Diogenes Club to Holmes. The World’s Greatest Detective is not hunting fairies, but on the trail of Viking silver and a daring heist. Holmes must use every skill at his disposal to discover the secret of the Shrieking Pits while deftly maneuvering around ghost hunters and fairy enthusiasts….and not add to the body count.

Nikki Nelson-Hicks brings her adoration for Doyle’s character as well as her own fervent imagination to brilliant life in The Astonishing Tales of Sherlock Holmes: The Shrieking Pits! From Pro Se Productions.


Brighten up the winter night with a Candle in the Dark from Inkstained Succubus Productions. Five romantic tales of winter holiday fantasy and science fiction. Ebook and paperback half price through Cyber Monday.


Golden Age western bad girl turned good girl The Black Phantom is "WANTED" in FemForce 169 in a story written by Mark Holmes and illustrated by Scott Shriver.


Scottish soldier, Ian MacAndrew's mission to kill the Butcher of Prague in the heart of Nazi-ruled Prague teams him up with a pale-skinned titan, Donner Grimm, against the legendary forces seeking to unleash Ragnarok and the end of the world.

Man With The Iron Heart
Written By: Mat Nastos
Cover: Mat Nastos
Release Date: AVAILABLE NOW!

For the past 20 years, Disney TV veteran Mat Nastos has been writing, directing, and illustrating for television, motion pictures, comic books, and video games. Known best for bad horror movies about giant scorpions, killer pigs & dinosaurs in the sewers, Mat's work has been published by Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Warp Graphics, Playboy and Highlights for Kids, and has been seen everywhere from the Disney TV to SyFy Channel to Cinemax. He is the author of the Amazon #1 Best Selling Science Fiction Action novel, The Cestus Concern. His third novel, MAN WITH THE IRON HEART, is has just been released.

In May of 1942, Scottish soldier, Ian MacAndrew, parachutes into the heart of Nazi-occupied Prague on a mission whose success could alter the course of World War 2 itself. MacAndrew and his men are set to kill Reinhart Heydrich, the man best known as "The Butcher of Prague." When things go from bad to worse, the veteran soldier finds himself thrust into a battle of myth and legend itself. With the marble-skinned warrior, Donner Grimm at his side, MacAndrew must face off against necromancers, Nazi berserkers, and the power of the demons known as the Jotnar, all vying to bring about Ragnarok and the end of humanity.

Nazis, Norse Gods, and Lovecraftian monsters: what more could you ask for in an action-adventure novel set in the midst of World War 2? "Man With the Iron Heart" is perfect for fans of Hellboy, Indiana Jones, Supernatural, or Inglourious Basterds.

Check out what critics are calling "a thrilling alternative history adventure," "urban fantasy done right," and "the sort of adventure that keeps readers on their toes from page 1."

Read what the critics are saying:
"Nastos continues to show why he is the next great voice in sci-fi. --Rob Liefeld, Creator of Deadpool, Cable, Youngblood and X-force, and founder of Image Comics

"Mat Nastos is one of the most exciting writers working in the field of adventure fiction today. Every page is an adrenaline rush and by the end of the story, you're left breathlessly anticipating the next. If you're not reading Nastos, you're truly missing out." -Barry Reese, Award-winning author of The Rook, Lazarus Gray and Gravedigger

"It was the best 80's action movie I've read in a long time." -Derrick Ferguson, New-Pulp author of Four Bullets for Dillon and The Adventures of Fortune McCall

"It's rare when a book takes both the front line experience as well as the supernatural elements so readily associated with World War II and the Nazi party and turns them into something seamless and intriguing. "Man with the Iron Heart" does that exceedingly well and the characters live, scream, fight, and die right off the page, not content with just leaping."  - Tommy Hancock, Award-winning author and publisher of Pro Se Press

"The Man With the Iron Heart's tight and snappy prose takes grounded supernatural mysticism, a charming cast of very human characters and then hurls it all into an adventure that revels in the unapologetic grandiosity of classic action movies!" - David A. Rodriguez, Writer of Finding Gossamyr and Lead Writer for Skylanders: SWAP Force

Find out more about "Man With The Iron Heart," including an exclusive excerpt from the novel, at:

Order Now on Amazon:

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Happy Hannukah!

Happy Hanukkah from Lord of the Rings

Near the end of the film version of Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," Frodo's loyal companion, Sam, encourages Frodo in their quest:

Frodo: I can't do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo; the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end... because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was, when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?
Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for.

The story of Hanukkah is the story of a shadow that passed over the nation of Israel in the mid-second century before Messiah's coming. The Jewish priest, Mattityahu, father of Judah Maccabee, reflects on this shadow with these words:

Alas! Why was I born to see this, the ruin of my people, the ruin of the holy city, and to dwell there when it was given over to the enemy, the sanctuary given over to aliens? (1 Maccabees 2:7).

Yet in spite of the ruin -- the shadow -- he and his family stood for what was right, true, and good. After much struggle, the purity of the nation was restored and peace once again reigned in the land. The shadow had passed, but not on its own accord. The light of godliness had pushed back the armies of darkness and prevailed.

There is a shadow that grows over the world today. Too few perceive its presence or its power. Like in the days of the Maccabees, great numbers are being overtaken by it. Yet, in the end, it won't prevail; but who will stand against it?

The lighting of the Hanukkah lights not only reminds us of the exploits of brave people of God in times past, but calls us to be lights in our own day - lights that will prevail over this passing shadow.

(Taken from