Today I am so pleased to welcome Elliot Cooper to Joyfully Jay. Elliot has come to talk to us about his latest release, Hearts Alight. He has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Elliot a big welcome!

Holiday Traditions

In Hearts Alight, Dave struggles with his family’s Hanukkah traditions and how they’ve changed over the years. It’s not an uncommon phenomenon in modern American life, where families in one household often share a mixture of traditions or religious backgrounds. And then there’s the issue of how to handle holiday time with extended family that likely have their own long-standing traditions, or who might be more religious or more secular or not celebrate the same holidays at all.

When two families come together, they bring with them their individual culture. For Hanukkah: are gifts given from elder generation to younger, or to everyone, or not at all? Does everyone have their own menorah? For Christmas: does Santa play a part? Are any gifts opened on Christmas Eve? It can be overwhelming for young couples to find how their own mesh of traditions works in their wider family. Or, in some cases, how to deal if what works for them diverges too far from the traditions and expectations of extended family.

In my own life I’ve struggled to come to terms with wanting to shed the trappings of a holiday (Christmas) that I have fond childhood memories of, but that I haven’t felt a connection to since my early teens. Converting to Judaism has helped me find a little candle-lit oasis of internal peace during the Christmas maelstrom my family enjoys around me. But with Hanukkah and many other new-to-us holidays to explore and experience, I’ve discovered I’m now building new traditions for myself and my blended family. This year we’re adding a little gift giving to Hanukkah and leaving it to the extended family to give Christmas gifts to our daughter. We’ll see how it works for us–and next year we might change things up again, or keep them the same. But I’ve learned to be more open to change, to growth in myself, in individuals and in families as a whole. Coming together at times of celebration and building memories together is the most important part of our family traditions, our particular holiday culture.

Dave, however, has to face his own struggles with his family’s Hanukkah traditions as they’ve evolved over time–not only what they mean to him, but what they mean to the people in his life that he cares about. All while wrestling with a crush on an older man, Amit, who just so happens to be his best friend’s uncle and a golem with his own set of problems.


Hearts AlightDave Cunningham hates the rampant consumerism that’s come to dominate his family’s Hanukkah celebrations. But a chance to bring a bit of a holiday happiness to his long-time crush, Amit Cohen, helps put him in a more festive mood.

In the quest to craft the perfect gift, Dave tries to urge a few personal details out of stoic Amit. Unintentionally, he learns the Cohen family’s secret: Amit is a golem. But Amit has a problem that runs deeper than his magical origin, and a Hanukkah miracle might be the only thing that will keep the budding flame between him and Dave from going out.


Elliot CooperElliot Cooper writes speculative fiction featuring queer characters. His novels and novellas come with hopeful and happy endings, though his short fiction runs the gamut of styles and genres. He strives above all to make his readers feel, while also increasing positive representation of LGBTQ characters and their stories.


Elliot has brought a great giveaway of an ebook from NineStar Press to give away to one lucky reader on his tour. Just follow the Rafflecopter below to enter. 

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