Free eBook of my novelette, The Sexton and The Reaper
I meant to send this out to a wider audience, so I am extending the coupon through Friday. You can download it here https://www.coreyjfpublishing.com/product/the-sexton-and-the-reaper-an-alex-kagan-novelette-edition-2/ To get it for free, please apply/copy/paste the following coupon code: s&rfreehappynewyear
The Sexton and the Reaper is a novelette in my upcoming Alex Kagan series. It is Urban Fantasy with a Jewish Mystical spin. It’s really a story about the Human Condition, Friendships, and a good old fashion love story; and of course, Ghosts, Soul Collectors, Angels, Jewish Mysticism (Kabbalah), and of course fantasy.
If you are interested in the background of the series, a couple of year ago I started writing a novel about a strong female character that grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home in Georgetown. Her name is Alex (Alexandra) Kagan. She was a double Hoya, Georgetown undergrad and law, but instead of joining her father’s law practice she joins the police department. Additional she end up significantly less observant than her family. Needless to say, she has a challenging relationship with most of her family, with the exception of her grandfather. I originally had her Grandfather dying in the first chapter with everyone (including her coworkers) believing it was nothing more than an age/accident related death. As she begins her own private, off the books investigation, she discovers his death was due to the fact he was a practical/theurgical (magical) Kabbalist. The more she investigates the deeper she enters this new world view and discovers that she is naturally adept at Practical Kabbalah. I could never get very far into the novel. Every time I tried moving forward with the story, I kept being brought backwards to the grandfather. As a relatively rookie writer, at least in that genre, I forgot the basic principle of letting the story (my unconscious, or whatever) guide me. Once I stopped trying to force a story that wasn’t ready to be told, or might not even end up being told in the same way, I knew before I could really begin my Alex Kagan series, a series I feel passionate about due to the general lack of Jewish Fantasy, her Grandfather’s story had to be told first.
I kicked it around for awhile, but I had my children’s series and hadn’t given up the day job yet, so there wasn’t any time. One Sunday I had this very random thought pop into my head. I don’t recall the trigger but lots of cultures have, or really had, traditions/superstitions/beliefs that cemeteries are designed to trap evil spirits inside. I always thought it an odd sort of belief, since I could never figure out why an evil spirit would enter a cemetery. I know that the idea was that the spirt was an evil creature/sorcerer/person who would get buried and the soul would be trapped. I also know that many times these beliefs were connected to some sort of vampire lore (many cultures have variations on the Vampire mythos, including Judaism and Lilith, but it was never really limited to that and often expand it to ghosts and other things that go bump in the night. I always found this troublesome in suspending my disbelief when I’d find it in a fantasy novel. I mean why would some evil spirt stay in the body all the way to burial. But like any storyteller, I decided to let my imagination run. I took some of the myths and started a thought experiment. What if, somehow, some-when (middle ages or earlier) someone actually figured out a mystical formula that on sanctified/holly grounds, a cemetery could trap a ghost/spirit/soul/Neshama inside. So I thought if it acted as a barrier to keep those things in, it could just as likely keep things out, especially given the limitations of a finite human mind tapping into the power of the infinite. So for my thought experiment – My first rule/supposition was cemeteries (or at least certain cemeteries) could act as a barrier for both entrance and exit to a Neshama. My second rule/supposition was that some sort of minor angel (typically depicted as lacking free will) would essentially be birthed out of the Ein Sof or preferably a collective of Hashem’s divinity for the sole purpose of guiding a Neshama through the Sephirot to the heavily court, then playing on an eastern idea and one I have come across is some Kabbalistic teachings, was upon completion of it’s purpose the minor angel would rejoin the collective as a drop of water returning to the sea. My third rule/supposition was that Angels and Neshamot were essentially made of the same essence and bound by the same restrictions. So with those rules/suppositions in place I started my experiment. What would happen if a person were to die inside a cemetery before one of these minor angels, could collect his Neshama. Admittedly I chose the term Reaper for the title to appeal to a larger audience. So the novelette takes place, mostly between this Angel and Neshama trapped on opposite sides of a cemetery gate. Backing up, with this thought experiment in my head I decided to turn it into a short story. I was feeling the need to write and I hadn’t written a short in a very long time. It was a rare Sunday that I had time on my hands so I started writing out my experiment. Of course and old fashion love story popped in between the man and his still living wife who would come to visit. And obviously a lot of what might happen with a Neshama and an Angel supposedly lacking free will, yet essentially made of the same stuff as any soul, over time…
As general standard a short story comes in under 7500 words. For Science Fiction/Fantasy, less than 7500 words is the standard set by the SFWA – Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. And anything near the ball park of 7500 words would be considered a Long Short Story. Some genres do not really distinguish between a novelette and a novella. But again as general rule, a Novelette is from 7500 words to under 17, 500 words with Novellas starting at 17500 up until about 40K. 40K words and beyond and you are at the generally excepted novel length. Anyway, I flew right on past at 7500 mark before I knew it. I wrote most of the story in a day and another day or so for editing. I could have easily kept going, but the more I wrote, the more connections started developing to Alex Kagan project that I kept coming back to and had bouncing around in my head. I didn’t want to turn this into a full length novel and I knew if I kept going I would bring in more of the AK projected than I was ready for. So around 8300 words or so I knew I told the story, at least this part of the story, that I wanted to tell. Even though the novelette was written so quickly and seemingly randomly, I loved it. I thought I would through it out there and see if it stuck. To my surprise, it did. It has consistantly been my best seller. Now most people buy the ebook, either through my site or Amazon. The paperback and audiobook sales have been nothing to write home about, but when it comes to total sales, it has been my best seller. Now at .99 cents, amazon’s cut, or the credit card processor cut, it is coffee money. I have been told multiple times I should be charging more, but on some level, I knew I wanted this to be a companion piece, affordable and assessable.
About a year later and even less time on my hands, I knew it was time to write this prequel to the Alex Kagan series before I started connecting it to my Egret the Elephant children’s series or something silly like that. It was time, but I wasn’t sure how to tackle it. A full length novel was overwhelming. It was not so much the time commitment. I have carved out essentially the better part of one day each week for my writing, but it still felt overwhelming in regards to putting whole novel together with everything else on my plate. I decided considering the success of S&R, both in sales and reviews, why not serialize the story of how Solomon Kagan, becomes Nicolai —— Practical Kabbalist, Zayde and uniquely bonded to one Alex Kagan. So I started with Kristallnacht and a 5 year old Solomon Kagan, on that second terrible night in Nazi Germany and how he survived. This is not a spoiler since we know he lives to have a Granddaughter. While we may very well may find The Alex Kagan series run a different course than I originally started, regardless of the direction this all goes, we know he survives at least until at least 1989ish. Now I wouldn’t call this a spoiler into his story as much as a teaser for the first serial, Kristallnacht which takes place on November 10th, 1938, but it start with a prologue in Georgetown circa 1989 and begins to explain the connection between the now “Nicolai” Solomon Kagan and his not yet 5 year old granddaughter Alex. I think the plan is working. I was very please with Kristallnacht. And wrote most of it in a day. When I sent it to one of my copy editors, it was at about 6300 words. After edits it is right up at, or over that 7500 mark. I would have had it out a while ago but an illness essentially sidelined me for the month of December. So since Kristallnacht will be released (only in ebook form until the serial is completed) very soon, as pleased as I am with S&R’s success I want to put as many eyeballs on it as I can before Kristallnacht’s release. So again. Link https://www.coreyjfpublishing.com/product/the-sexton-and-the-reaper-an-alex-kagan-novelette-edition-2/ and the coupon code making it free until Friday s&rfreehappynewyear
Enjoy the read. I would love it if you leave a review on my publishing site or on Amazon if your like it, if not, well you know the old saying, if you can’t say anything nice, say it in Yiddish, no wait that’s a fun book by Lita Epstein that I found some colorful language in for Kristallnacht.
Cross posted in a hopefully, not too annoying way….
Corey Feldman, President
CoreyJF Publishing, LLC
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Posted from Potomac, Maryland, United States.