Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?

THE VASE

A novel by Mark M. DeRobertis

Muhsin Muhabi is a Palestinian potter, descended from a long line of potters. His business is run from the same shop owned by his ancestors since the day his forebears moved to Nazareth. The region's conflict saw the death of his oldest son, and rogue terrorists are in the process of recruiting his youngest in their plot to assassinate the Pope and Israeli prime minister.

Professor Hiram Weiss is an art historian at Nazareth’s Bethel University. He is also a Shin Bet operative on special assignment. With the help of fellow agent, Captain Benny Mathias, he plans to destroy the gang responsible for the death of his wife and only child. He puts a bomb in the ancient vase he takes on loan from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.

Mary Levin, the charming assistant to the director of Shin Bet, has lost a husband and most of her extended family to recurring wars and never-ending terrorism. She dedicates her life to the preservation of Israel, but to whom will she dedicate her heart? The brilliant professor from Bethel University? Or the gallant captain who now leads Kidon?

Harvey Holmes, the Sherlock of Haunted Houses, is a Hollywood TV host whose reality show just flopped. When a Lebanese restaurant owner requests his ghost-hunting services, he believes the opportunity will resurrect his career. All he has to do is exorcise the ghosts that are haunting the restaurant. It happens to be located right across the street from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.




Friday, November 17, 2017

Be Careful with Rewrites

I had finished the rewrite of The Vase, and I have started another rewrite. But I'm catching myself being too picky. I had said before that being picky was a good thing. Being picky is what makes a perfectionist. And it's true, but there comes a point when a piece of work is finished, and going back over it again and again, LOOKING for something to rewrite might not be in its best interest.

For example, I am rewriting scenes that were good to begin with. They didn't need a rewrite. But there I go, thinking it needs a rewrite. Sometimes I spend time rewriting this or that, and then I decide that it was better before the rewrite. That's called wasting time. A writer has got to be able to determine when the writing is done. For good. And when not to rewrite.

Usually I have no problem with that. It's probably that I have these months in front of me waiting for Macmillan Australia to examine my submission which was the first 100 pages. And yes, since I submitted those pages I have indeed rewritten some of those scenes. Which may or may not be a good thing. I had always believed in making your writing better. My point is that sometimes that might not be necessary.

So the answer? Once you've reached a point that you are satisfied, get busy on another work. There is always another story to tell. And even though I had thought I didn't want to write anymore books, and I probably won't, I do have other books in the works.

And there's always my music. I have so many songs that also need to be rewritten. And re-recorded. And I've been doing that too lately. There is a satisfaction in composing your own music. Even if no one else in the world will ever hear them. Or appreciate them. Is that why musicians compose music? So other people can appreciate them? Why would a writer write a book if no one else would ever read those books? I guess a writer would stop if that were the case. And I might. As for the music? I'll at least keep up with that until the songs that need rewriting are done. Then...we'll see.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Finished The Vase Rewrite

Well, it took a little longer than I thought it would. But I just completed a first rewrite of The Vase. It's not like I actually rewrote the book. I just revised it, as in polished up the prose, and made it a better written book. That will surely go a long way for a Big Five publisher to accept it for publication. Any publisher, really, but I'm shooting for the stars this time.

Macmillan Australia is my best shot. They would be perfect, and they've had the first 100 pages now for about five weeks. But they say on their website it may take up to six months before any decision is made. Still, I'm glad I polished up the prose. I will probably go through it at least one more time. Why not? If I have five months more to wait or even three to four, I might as well maximize my chances if they do request the full. Here's to hoping.

In the meantime I might go back to Inside the Outhouse. Not sure. I kind of ran out of steam for that one. It's aimed at middle school level and being an adult, maybe I'm not so invested in it. Still it doesn't mean I will never go back to it. And then there's Book 3 in my Killer series. At one point it was titled Killer on the Payroll. Then I changed the title to Killer Not for Hire. It's kind of the opposite, but I figure it's a more accurate one. Seeing as how Trent Smith, the world's greatest martial artist, doesn't work for anyone. Ever.

So back to The Vase for more improvements, and then I'll just keep on writing, then I'll keep on composing, and I'll keep on creating art. That's what I do. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Nice Review for Second Chance

Okay, I'll bite. Got a nice review for Second Chance. On Amazon. Don't know why getting reviews seems to be as hard as pulling teeth. The big time authors seem to get reviews as easy as standing in the wind. It seems like before even their books are released they've already got a hundred or more five star reviews listed on Amazon for their books. Which begs the question. If their books aren't even released yet, just how did so many people get ahold of those books, read them, and be in the mood to write such wonderful reviews about them?

It makes me suspicious of course. It could be the system is rigged. How could it not be. But shouldn't I be glad for an author's great reviews? I am. But how is it they get so many reviews so quickly, and again, before their books even hit the stands?

I know there are people who make a living by being paid to write reviews. I would never pay for one, but I've given a couple free copies for reviews. Only three or four on Goodreads. And then I stopped. I don't want to do that anymore. It's not like the reviews are skewed. Sometimes the reviews are good, sometimes they're not, sometimes, they're mixed, but overall it's a waste of time.

I figure the best review is the unsolicited one. Which again brings me back to those reviews which number in the hundreds, even thousands for some of these authors whose books aren't even out yet. Unbelievable. As for Second Chance? It just made two.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Updates

I'm really improving the prose to The Vase big time. It was fine, but fine is not good enough. It has to be great. And that's what it is now. Everyday it's even greater. That's how great I've made it these past few months.

When it comes to all of my books, I think The Vase would have the best shot at publication with the Big Five. It's a great book as a stand alone book, but it has many possibilities to expand as a series, much like Dan Brown's DaVinci Code book did. How many sequels does that one have? I'm not sure if Mr. Brown intended for that to be a series or not, but it turned out to be, and it worked well. At least I think it worked well. The main character in The DaVinci Code is not an action hero. But he does have a recurring role in all the stories, and he remains the main character.

In The Vase there could be several characters from which a main character could be chosen. The first main character is the boy, Naji Muhabi. Then there is his father Muhsin. But their involvement really is restrained to this particular story. If there were to be sequels, I would think the other characters would be involved. Like Professor Hiram Weiss, the College Art Professor, and most certainly Captain Benny Mathias, the IDF captain, who is also an agent in the Kidon. That in itself has several angles which can be examined for future story lines.

But that doesn't mean Muhsin and Naji can't be included. They were good characters too. And the mother, Sanya. Can't forget about her. Even Mary and her role cannot be forgotten. So, yeah, if the opportunity arose, a sequel to The Vase could be written. But only if the opportunity arose. I'm still not fully invested in the third installment of the Killer series. Yes, I've started it. But that doesn't mean I'll finish it. We'll see.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Rockin' the Cosmos on SoundCloud

Just to see how it might work on a computer that's not signed in to my account, I looked up the blog The Vase and clicked on the Rockin' the Cosmos icon and listened to the first song Sensurround while reading the lyrics. It was all good, better than I thought it would be. And it sounded great. But then, like I knew would happen, some Hip Hop song followed, and I don't have a clue why that happens. But I clicked on the Rockin' the Cosmos playlist that was in the right margin on that page, and sure enough the songs in my playlist appeared, so I just clicked on Song #2 which is Green Lady and it came on with Lyrics and all.

It sounded great as well. At least, to me it did. I suppose I'm biased. All my songs sound great to me. And why wouldn't they. I wrote them and arranged them. I played and performed every instrument, and I even provided the vocals. It's not like I played the guitar and bass and drums and all that. I do play the piano and organ, though. So all the instruments are played on a keyboard/synthesizer. Yeah, it's a modern miracle how one instrument can synthesize all other instruments. Not to perfection, however, but still, it makes for a close replicate. And I hope to put up my Volume 13 one day soon, which is Rockin' the Afterlife. The lyrics are already up. Now that I know how to post them on SoundCloud, the songs will soon follow.

You know I composed, arranged, performed, and recorded all these songs more than ten years ago. Some of them twenty years ago, and only now am I posting them online. Well, it's only now I'm catching up to the 21st Century. In many ways, I'm still a 20th Century man. That's weird. That's a line from one of my books. The Vase has a line similar to that. Professor Weiss tells Captain Mathias something like that during one of their meetings.

Speaking of The Vase, I sure hope that Macmillan Australia accepts it for publication. That's my last and only hope to make it in the big time of publishing. That's not really true, but in some ways it is. Anything's possible, and who knows what the future holds. It's just that, for me, the future is getting slimmer and slimmer as the days go by. I guess that's true for everyone.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Playlist Completed - First Songs Ready to Hear

Okay, I managed to complete a playlist of my Volume 12 Rockin' the Cosmos on SoundCloud, but you have to kind of play around on it to hear the songs in the proper order if you happen to go there. If you do go there by clicking on the Rockin the Cosmos icon on the right margin of this blog, I hope you can listen to the songs in the correct order. I finally managed to put them in a playlist. So I hope you can manage to find the playlist if you wish to hear it. And if you do, I'll try to the best of my ability to explain how you can go about it.

First you first click on the icon in the right  margin of this blog. It's the icon of the outer space scene where is says "Volume 12" above and "Rockin' the Cosmos" below. After you click on that, the first song "Sensurround" starts automatically. You'll also see the lyrics. At first it's all good. You can listen to the first song and even read the lyrics, but only for the first song. After that first song, some weird Hip Hop song follows, and that is NOT my song. I have no clue why it follows my song.

Ideally, the second song in my playlist would follow, then the third song, then the fourth, and so on until the tenth and final song.

So what I suggest is after clicking on the icon which takes you to SoundCloud, hit pause in the header right away to pause the song, and then click on "View All" just below the header to the far right. That will take you to a lot of other strange songs, but then click on "In playlists" which is near the top, just under the "Sensurround" title and space image. That will bring my Playlist which is Rockin' the Cosmos. Then click on "View 10 tracks" and all ten tracks will appear.

To listen, just click on the first song Sensurroud and it will play. After Sensurround, each subsequent song will automatically follow in the proper order. Meaning, Song 2 Green Lady will play next, followed by Song 3 In This Place, followed by Song 4 Death of the Super Men, etc. After each song, click on "Mr D" to return to the Playlist so as to access the next song's lyrics.

To see the lyrics while the song is playing, you'll have to double click on the song title. If it doesn't happen right away, it will happen with a little bit of persistence. I think the lyrics are just as important as the music, so if you're like me and you want to see the lyrics at the same time, it is possible, but you have to keep on clicking on it until it works.

As for the performance of the music, just remember. I don't pretend to be a singer. But I already explained how that came about. I have another album, Volume 13, Rockin' the Afterlife, which I'll post one day. And I have Volume 2 ready to go also. As for all the others? We'll see.

Enjoy.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Music Getting Posted

Computer experts are nice to have as friends. I'm finally getting some of my music posted to the blog, but right now it's kind of mixed up. I'm starting with my Volume 12, which is Rockin' the Cosmos. It's an entire album's worth of space oddity songs. Like Bowie's Space Oddity. Or Elton John's Rocket Man. Of course, they don't compare to those classic. I'm a nobody in the music world. Those guys are giants. But to me, anyway, the music is great. I don't need to hear anyone else's opinion.

I just want my music out there. What I do know is I can't sing. I can compose music. I can't sing. I wish i could find a singer. I tried. I even advertised on Craig's list at one point. It was a hassle having strangers answer my ads and come over to my house. After a bit I found it unsettling, and I stopped. Yeah, I heard of some disturbing stories of Craig's list ads going wrong. And having a wife and two kids and a grandma in the house, and well, I thought I better stop with the Craig's list ads.

So I just did the singing myself. I admit straight up the singing sucks. But the music, and the songs, at least, to me, for me, are quite good. But that's only if you can get past the singing.

But wait. Don't go over there yet. My arrangement is still mixed up. I have all my songs mis-arranged. The computer guy taught me how to upload the songs onto sound cloud but not how to arrange the tracks and make them play in order like in an album the way they should play. I'm still trying to figure that out. So until then, they will play in any odd way. They are supposed to play in this order:

1 - Sensurround
2 - Green Lady
3 - In This Place
4 - Death of the Super Men
5 - Merging
6 - Spaceman
7 - Like a Curse
8 - Never Ending
9 - I'm Not the Bad Guy
10 - So Many Years

So until I can make a sountrack in order stay tuned. will let you know.