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.



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

John Dunn Galley Received

Great day yesterday. I received the galley of my John Dunn book from my publisher. Which meant I had submitted the final corrections just in time. That's a relief, knowing all the correction needed had been made. Yeah, it was the first thing I checked. Those last minute corrections were made and all errors or revisions have been made and the manuscript is as good as it can get.

So I have the PDF version of the book now, and it looks great. It reads great. I have until tonight to look it over, and while doing so I have to admit a great deal of satisfaction comes over me. It's because I know how much work I put into that book, and knowing others will be able to read it, and appreciate it is something any artist in any field can understand.

So I'm on my lunch break, and I'm going back to that galley and take as much time as I can looking it over. I can't read the whole thing word for word from front to back in one day, but I can skim through it, reading parts here and there, and making sure the formatting is good. And that's what I'll do. I'll get back to the blog tomorrow.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Final Corrections to John Dunn made...

...and the manuscript has been submitted a final time. I think I'm not too late, since Dana had told me the last time I sent in corrections that the manuscript had not been formatted yet. So this time what was the final corrections? I had made it the norm in the writing of my story to use Zulu words mixed in with English, especially when the dialogue was supposed to be spoken in the Zulu language, which in Zulu is called isiZulu, and I do use that word in the story.

However, when referring to the Zulu people or any other native people in the region, I simply use "the Zulu," or the "Swazi", etc. In the Zulu language, the word amaZulu would be used in referring to the Zulu people. But I'm not going that route. As I said, I do use Zulu words often, and I italicize those words, with the exceptions of individual names and the names of places.

But consistency is the issue. If I don't use the 's' on the end of the word Zulu(s) in one dialogue where the language spoken is isiZulu, then I must stay consistent throughout. I discovered the consistency wasn't there, but after using the word search app, I was able to fix that, and now the consistency is there. So I dare say the manuscript is error-free at this point. And it's a good feeling knowing that.

Of course, I can't be surprised if a typo pops up somewhere, as they seem to be invisible sometimes, until that time that it's too late to fix, and then they appear, like Indians popping out of holes in the ground to ambush unsuspecting cowboys. I guess that analogy is outdated, or perhaps even not so politically correct, but whatever, my point is made. Onward to publication! Can't wait!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Hollywood's Effort to Make Females Dominant

Let me start by stressing I am not a chauvinist or a misogynist. I love women. I love my wife. I have no daughters, only sons, but that doesn't mean I couldn't or wouldn't love a daughter as much as a son.

Now on to my point. I've been posting my frustrations lately about how Hollywood, in the movies and TV shows, continues to portray women as better and tougher fighters than men. We've been seeing it time and again; a tough chick beating up men by the dozens and all at the same time.

To that I say Bullshit. I readily admit women can be tough, but never can they beat up a man who is himself on the level of say, a Navy seal, or even a regular Marine.

The first time this happened that I remember was in the 1980's animated movie Heavy Metal. It featured some woman hero who single-handedly rose up to defeat the "Nazi" conquerors who had dominated the land. It began with the typical "bar scene fight" where she takes on three tough guys with swords and decapitates all three of them with a single swipe of her sword. This from a woman who in real life could hardly even wield a sword of the size she possessed.

Even in the famous Disney movie Lion King. Twice, the main character lion Simba is bested by the female lion Nala. Once as cubs, and then as full grown lions, Nala bests Simba in a fight. Really? In no scenario ever could a female lion best a male lion. Ever.

Okay, so those are old cartoons. But the trend has picked up of late. Now we're forced to watch Scarlet Johanssen, all 110 pounds of her, beating up men left and right, again and again, by the dozens all at once. In movie after movie. Okay, so in the Avengers, she's a superhero. Okay, in Lucy, she's mentally enhanced. Okay, in Ghost in the Shell, she's got a robot body. Okay. But it's tiring. I am no longer going to watch any movie in which Scarlett Johanssen dominates the entire male cast.

It doesn't stop there. I've blogged plenty about how phony Sarah Shahi looked in Person of Interest beating up every male fighter she came up against, and again by the dozens all at once. And in the show Into the Badlands, I've made the same complaint about the character called "The Widow."

Even in one of my favorite shows, Banshee, I had to watch some 110 pound chick beat up four Marines all at once. Yeah, the four Marines were in the process of raping some other girl, but come on. This was a woman in her mid twenties from some Indian Reservation who comes out of nowhere and takes on four Marines and beats them up all at once as if they were six-year-olds.

This is a continuing trend. Not only are women being represented as physically tougher and superior fighters, they are also being portrayed as more competent and sophisticated in dealing with stressful situations and problem solving.

Particularly disturbing to me is the trend of the last twenty years in kids' cartoons. The Simpsons, Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, and many more, portray the male characters as weak, stupid, moronic, degenerate, perverted, and incompetent in every aspect of everyday life. Meanwhile, the female characters are wholesome, intelligent, and competent in every approach to solving the problems about which their male counterparts are clueless.

Ditto for almost every Young Adult movie of late, like Twilight, Hunger Games, Divergent, etc., the female characters are the smart ones, with all the answers, whereas the male characters are the ones lamenting their inabilities to cope with the adverse environment in which they live.

Again, I know women can be just as smart, just as tough, and just as competent as men. And yes, sometimes more so. But not always, and certainly they are NOT better, stronger, or superior fighters. I've made the point that they are tough in a different way. They cannot beat up four Marines all at once. I don't care if a woman is as tough as Ronda Rousey. No woman in the world can beat up four Marines all at the same time. Not even one Marine. Ronda Rousey can't even beat up other WOMEN fighters these days. So Hollywood, get off your female superiority hill.

My last point is this: I don't believe women WANT to see women fight, beat up, and kill people. I don't believe it. It's not a woman thing. Is it?  I'm not a woman, but that doesn't mean I don't know women. Sure there are exceptions to every rule, even this one, but as a rule, women are NOT into fighting, killing, war, and mayhem. That's a dude thing. I don't need your opinion on this, because I know I'm right. So where is Hollywood getting off on presenting this over and over to the American audience?

Look at other cultures. In Asia, women are mostly treated as second class citizens. In the Middle East, women don't even have rights. They can't vote, they can't drive, hell, they aren't even allowed to show their faces for god's sake. In Africa, women are completely dominated by men.

In America women have equal rights, and that's as it should be. But that doesn't mean they have equal ability to fight. They just don't. Of course, there's exceptions. A woman here or there may be able to beat up some man here or there. But never a man who himself is a professional fighter. Or a Navy Seal. Or a Marine. Never. Not once. Not ever.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Main Characters

Talked about Dustin Clare and Georges St. Pierre as the Killer of Killers main character Trent Smith, along with Hannah New and Lili Simmons as the female lead Samantha Jones. As far as Amber Heard is concerned, I'm moving away from her. Just read in today's news she seems more interested in nailing down multi-billionaire Elon Musk as hubby no. 2. Perhaps she's realizing a career as an actress just isn't in the cards for her. So be it.

Henry Cavill





As for the John Dunn book, I've made my case for Superman as the main character John Dunn. I've posted a picture with Henry Cavill with a  beard, and he's almost the splitting image of John Dunn. As for which actress would be right for the role of Catherine Pierce, John Dunn's half white half black wife, my first choice might have been Halle Berry, but she's too old now. So Candice Patton is next up to bat. I'm sure there are other actresses who could do it, but I'm sold on Candice Patton for now.





Candice Patton





I listed a bevy of actors for the African roles. And I think I nailed each and every one of them. Right now, that's about all I can do: just sit here after work and think of actors and actresses who could be right for the roles of the characters I've created. It's fun. As for Second Chance and The Vase? Well, I've got to think about those. We'll see.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Main Characters in my Novels

Dustin Clare
First and foremost I would love to see my debut novel Killer of Killers and its sequel Killer Eyes come to the big screen. Or even the small screen, as I believe it would make a great TV series as well as a franchise of feature films. But for a move franchise or TV series to be successful, you would need star power. Jason Statham provided that for a bevy of films. The Transporter, The Mechanic, and now he's adding his star power to the Fast and Furious franchise.

In addition to Statham, there are countless other examples. Daniel Craig, Vin Diesel, Keanu Reeves, Bruce Willis, Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sean Connery are the most familiar in the movie franchises. The TV show series include relative newbies like Anthoney Starr, Toby Stephens, Ray Stevenson, Kevin McKidd, and then older actors who made the transition from the big screen to the small, like Jim Caviesel and James Spader.



Amber Heard


So star power is important for the success of a franchise or series. Sometimes producers have rolled the dice and won. Statham was not an A-lister when he was cast for The Transporter, but they rolled the dice on him and he turned out to be a winner. Other times producers don't roll the dice. Instead, they go with a proven star, like Keanu Reeves, who was already an A-lister when he was cast as the lead in John Wick.

Hannah New

So for Killer of Killers it would be a roll of the dice to cast either Dustin Clare or  Georges St. Pierre. I'm on record as being okay with either one of them as Trent Smith, the world's greatest martial artist. Both are capable fighters on screen, as St. Pierre is a world champion in real life, which would sure add a ton of authenticity to his casting for the part. But can he act? That's the question. Clare can. There's no question.

What about the female role? I used to think Amber Heard would be right for the part. She certainly looks the part. A beautiful blonde woman in her prime. But there is one question hanging over my shoulder. Can she act? I have not seen any indication that she can. The bit parts she's had in the few movies she's been in are inconclusive. And I hear nothing in the news or internet that makes me think she can. And the fact that her roles are so few and in such minor movies, reinforces that.




Lili Simmons




Which makes me want to think other actresses would be better for the part. Actresses whom I know can act. Two come to mind. Hannah New from Black Sails and Lili Simmons from Banshee. They can act very well, at least they did in those TV shows. I haven't seen them in much else, so I'm waiting to see about that. Still, I've been convinced. They are pretty enough, and they can act. Here's waiting to see how it comes to be.



Tuesday, April 11, 2017

John Dunn Book Edited and Submitted

Well, it's finally completed. Everything. Revisions, edits, submission, everything. Last night I completed the last of the edits that I received from my publisher yesterday and submitted it back to her at 12:15 a.m. Then I went to bed so as not to be a zombie at work today. Which means there's no more work to be done on John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu. And after about four years in the making, it's been a long time coming. Maybe five years. That's a long time. Not that it was all spent on John Dunn. No. I worked on pretty much every book during that time. But for the last year, at least, it was the John Dunn book and Second Chance that had my focus.

Back to writing another book? Not really. I'm getting back into my music right now. I have some music that I composed about fifteen years ago, other than the music to the lyrics posted on this blog, that I want to rearrange and see if I can't get it rerecorded and converted into a digital format. Then one day, maybe get a band to play them. I wonder if there's a "music" agent who finds a band to play your songs, like a literary agent finds a publisher to publish your books.

I don't suppose there is. Sure I Googled "music agents" but from what I learned, music agents are mostly people who find gigs for bands, like clubs or such where they might perform for cash. Or they are managers who do the same thing, but also try to find bands a recording contract. I don't want either of those. What I want is an "agent" to find a recording artist who might be interested in recording the songs I've already written. I'm not much of a performer myself. I would just like to be the composer for some other musicians to perform my songs.

But from what I can gather, there is no such type of "music" agent. Too bad. Still, the band plays on, and so will I...

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Speaking of Real Martial Arts Champions...

Real Life martial arts champion
Georges St. Pierre
...playing the part of Trent Smith, the world's greatest martial artist, here's a real martial arts champion. He's Georges St. Pierre. He's been mentioned as a good actor to play the part of Trent Smith. (See review to the right of this post.) St. Pierre has been in movies before. I didn't even realize he was the guy who fought Captain America in the Winter Soldier movie. He's a champion marital artist in real life, so why would I be opposed to him being cast as Trent Smith? I wouldn't. I know I've been saying Dustin Clare could be Trent Smith, based on his performance as Gannicus, a champion gladiator...







St. Pierre in the movie Winter Soldier
fighting Captain America
...but it's certainly not unprecedented for a real martial arts champion to play a lead role in a movie.  Bruce Lee is the first to come to mind. Then there's Chuck Norris and Jet Li. Even Jason Statham, although not a champion, has been trained in the martial arts. So, yeah. These photos do prove that Georges St. Pierre could look the part and play the role of the world's greatest martial artist.



Georges St. Pierre looks
the part of Trent Smith


But can he act? Meaning can he act in a movie as an actor playing a lead role? I know for a fact that Dustin Clare can act. He proved it in Spartacus. He can fight, too. At least in choreographed scenes in a movie he can fight. And after all, that's what we'll get in any movie, right? At that point, it's all about the fight scene coordinator or choreographer. Like Corey Yuen. He's probably one of the best if not the best. I'd like to see it happen. Dustin Clare or Georges St. Pierre.

Here's wishing....