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, June 27, 2017

Fear the Walking Dead - drops to a new low

Yes, a new low for Fear the Walking Dead last Sunday. It's as if they are running out of storylines. As of last Sunday's episode Fear the Walking Dead has devolved to the old  storyline of "Cowboys and Indians." You read that right. It's the 21st Century. Instead of the "Native Americans" assimilating into modern American society, and getting along with everyone else, we have our resident "Indians" rising up during this horrible "Zombie Apocalypse" to stick it to the White Man.

I  mean, come on... this is so old, and old fashioned, and overdone, and pointless, and just plain ridiculous. Once again, in a show where humanity is on the verge of extinction, struggling to survive against some kind of world destroying plague, with bands of thugs patrolling the landscape, raping, pillaging, and overpowering the weakened masses, now you have a group of people (Indians) not trying to help, not trying to contribute, not trying to make things better or at least survivable. Instead they are "rising up" against the "white man." Just like a 1950s Cowboys and Indians show.

This is so uncool, I don't have the words to describe it. I mean in this show the circumstances are such that anyone is lucky to find a place that is safe for any length of time. I get it about the thugs finding strength in their "gangs" and roving the countryside like wolves trying to dominate the weak. You have that anywhere you go, Just check out any big city in America today.

But when the world is on the brink of complete destruction, I would think that there remained groups of people who are not thugs. In the Waking Dead we see it here and there. Groups of benevolent people, in contrast to the thugs. In Fear we have the new group of people led by a man named Otto, and it's all good. But no, actually it's not. Now you have the "tribe" of Indians opposing them, and capturing them, shooting them, killing them, and threatening them.

What's wrong with working together to make life livable for all? Oh wait... There's no story there. But might there be? Can't some talented writers make a story like that? Or do we just need to see more senseless meanness, senseless cruelty to fellow travelers who are doing nothing more than struggling to survive? I guess the writers are bent on meanness. Like in Lost. Just be mean for no reason other than just to be mean. Why not? It's an easier story to write.

Monday, June 26, 2017

John Dunn read-through completed

I had reported that in the first half of my newest book, John Dunn, Heart of a Zulu, there was only one typo. I had hoped that it would project to two typos for the entire book. Well, there's three. No worries, they're very minor typos. In the first half of the book there was a quotation mark where it didn't belong. It turned out that in the second half of the book there were two places where there was no indentation where there should have been.

Both places were in a section where there was dialogue. And for some reason, two times the next person speaking it didn't get indented. I suppose those things happen when the documents are converted from word docs to PDFs and then to print.

So three total typos. All three are minor, and don't impact the story at all. I had already noted that books published by the world's top publishers have at least that many typos, so I guess I'm right up there with them. Still, I'm a perfectionist, and I strive for perfection. I will see if in the future I can get those typos out of there. If not, no big deal. It's still good. So good in fact, that I'm with the impression my John Dunn book is my best book of all five that I've written.

My Killer of Killers book has no typos. That book is my personal favorite. I made sure it had no typos, but it took a Second Edition for that to happen, and I don't want to go that course again. I just want perfection if perfection can be achieved.

My book The Vase, I dare say, will be perfect. I'm still perfecting it right now. It's an amazing story. So amazing that it might end up being my best book. Hopefully it can break the Big Five. I'll need an agent for that. Finding an agent is not easy. But you never know until you try. So fingers crossed.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Reading the Book John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu

What artist doesn't want to appreciate his/her own art? Illustrators and all artists take the time to step back and view the artwork they created. A song writer will take the time to listen to the song he or she composed. And for authors, I would certainly think the same is true. An author would take the time to read whatever it was that he or she wrote.

I do all of the above. It's what makes creating worthwhile. ENYOYING what you created! And I am thoroughly enjoying the reading of my book John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu. And so far so good. Mostly. I've read through the first ten chapters, 180 pages, and I can gladly report that only one typo has shown itself. A very minor one. There was a quotation mark where it didn't belong. Other than that, there were no errors, either in grammar or in continuity. So that's wonderful news.

Of course, there's ten more chapters to go. If I can get the same result in the final ten chapters, then I'll be a happy camper. I've read some books lately by other authors, and published by publishers who are counted among the "Big Five" and sure enough, I've found multiple typos in there. So by comparison, I'm ahead of them. At least, so far. Fingers crossed.

One thing that makes me discouraged about being an author is the doggone typos or even bigger errors that seem to hide from sight during the multiple read-throughs prior to publication. I mean, this one typo for instance. How many times I've read through the manuscript before publication, I couldn't count. Yet it didn't reveal itself until after publication. It's one of the mysteries of book writing, I suppose. Still, only one typo in the first half of the book? And no grammatical errors or any other errors? I'll take it. You bet I will.

While rewriting The Vase, I'm keeping an eye out for these things. And when it's finally published, again, I will be just as happy if the result is the same. Meaning one typo in the first half of the book. That is, if there's only one more typo in the second half of the book. That will keep me ahead of other books published by the Big Five. At least, insofar as I have seen with my own eyes. But I suppose none of that really matters.

I think the biggest thing is authenticity. And believability. I've written several posts about that. I think authenticity is most important with stories like John Dunn, stories that are based on real life, real people, and real events. Or even if not based on true stories, still, if the story is based on say, real events or real entities, like, say, if someone writes a fictitious story about a GI in WWII. The lingo, the costumes, the overall scenarios must still be authentic. For example, you can't describe a Panzer tank to look like a Tiger tank. Sure, they were both German tanks, but they looked different.

And you can't say the Germans were flying P31 Mustangs, or P38 Lightnings, because they weren't. Stuff, like that. Authenticity is vital. And for other stories, like thrillers and such, believability is just as important. For instance, you can't have a 5' 2", 110 lbs woman beating up three Marines, or a dozen professional male fighters all at the same time. Oh, wait.... Yeah... I've talked about that.

Which is what I mean. When believability is off the table, viewership, or readership is going to slide. Even for fiction, accountability and believability counts for a lot. At least for me. And I'm sure it does for a lot of other people, as well.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sending Free Copies

I received my copies of John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu and Second Chance a few days ago, which included five free copies of each from my publisher. I had ordered ten copies each, but received fifteen each, and then I remembered it was in the contract that at publication, each author gets five free copies. That's pretty cool. Very cool, actually. My other publishers only gave one free copy. I don't mean to diss my other publishers, but five free copies is better than one obviously, and it gives me the opportunity to send those nice British guys free copies for their support in the promotion of my book.

So I'll do that today. Then I'll send a couple free copies of Second Chance to the two Sports book authors who helped endorse my Sports book, Second Chance; a Football Story. They're not British. They're Americans, but proved to be just as nice as the Brits. Niceness isn't a restricted thing, thankfully.




I only hope that the continued reviews are positive and promote sales. John Dunn is my best book, I think. And I can't wait to see how the book signing goes. I will want ten more Second Chance books for that. After all, football season is coming soon and I want to be well prepared. Hopefully, the book signing will take place in July.

Book collectors prefer to have the authors signature in the book, so that might prompt sales, too. So browsers in a bookstore, seeing the author right there willing to sign a book, might take that opportunity to go ahead and buy the book. Why else would authors do that?

There's one thing that bodes well for both books. They are not going to be restricted to adult readers only. Younger readers will be able to read them. My Killer books have a lot of violence. Well, the battle scenes in John Dunn are pretty violent.


But that doesn't mean younger readers can't read them. When my kids at school ask me about my Killer books, I tell them they are too young. But I won't have to tell them that for John Dunn and Second Chance. I guess that's the difference. Maybe I should get back to Inside the Outhouse. I was targeting a younger audience for that book. It's been on hiatus for the past year. As had my third book in the Killer series. Clearly, my time was taken with getting these two books published.

And now that they are, perhaps it's time to pick up the "pen" sort of. Well, after I finish with the rewrite for The Vase. By the time I'm done with that, it may take the place of John Dunn as my best book ever. That's how good it's turning out to be. Which is strange. It had already been published once. And with this "second chance" to rewrite it, it's better than ever. Strange how that works.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Zulu War Enthusiasts - the Nicest People in the World

In a couple Zulu War forums, online, I have posted about the imminent release of John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu, and its availability for preorder on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I have received some emails from some of the people on there, wishing me well, and expressing interest in the book.

I am amazed, really. These are people I've never met. These are people who don't know me from Adam. All they know is that I share a common interest (The Zulu War) with them, and I have written a book about it. It's stunning. So much niceness I can't say I've ever known. At least not from strangers.

I'm still overwhelmed, a year later, how the great Ian Knight was so kind to me. As was another man who is a reviewer for the British Army Magazine. And others who had contacted me back then when I first solicited for reviews. The nicest people anyone could ever know.

It goes to show. My guess is that most, if not all, of these Zulu War enthusiasts are from England, or South Africa, or Australia, etc. Let's just say they're mostly British people or of British descent. Whether they live in the UK, Australia, or South Africa isn't important. That they are such great people is important. I've never known a group of people so nice as they have shown to be.

It makes me glad I wrote this book. Today, for example I was contacted by a man whose family had adopted the great grandson of Prince Dabulamanzi. The man told me some things about what he had learned about Dabulamanzi, and I was glad to respond that those were indeed things that I had incorporated into my book. He said he wanted to write a review of the book which will appear on many websites. Hopefully that will prompt several sales. 

So moving along, I will continue to try and find websites or outlets of some kind that cater to enthusiasts of the Zulu War. I wonder if here in America, Civil War enthusiasts are just as nice. I've met some. One was a college professor I had at San Jose State. He was nice. Well, I got an A in his class. But I deserved that. I earned it. Whatever. He was still nice. Like I said. It goes to show...

Thursday, June 15, 2017

John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu now available for preorder

Order your copy today. As of now, on Amazon and on Barnes & Noble online stores, you can preorder you copy of John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu. It's official release is July 11th. But you can get your copy shipped today if you order right now.

It's the book of the ages. At least for me. It's the book I've been writing about on this blog for at least three or four years now, maybe more. And though I didn't work on it continuously for that long, it really was a book five years in the making.

It's my longest book. My most researched book, and the only book I've written that's based on a true story. And what a story. If you liked the movies Little Big Man, or A Man Called Horse, or Dances With Wolves, then you will most assuredly like this book. Like those movies, it's about a white man who lived with the indigenous tribes. But these tribes weren't native Americans. They were native Africans. And unlike those movies, this story is a TRUE story.

Yes, the American public was fascinated with those stories. Who doesn't remember Dustin Hoffman growing up with the Cheyenne? And who doesn't remember Richard Harris living with the Sioux? And who doesn't remember Kevin Costner becoming one with the Sioux?

Well those were all fictitious stores. The REAL story was a man named John Dunn who lived with, became one with, and intermarried with native Africans, and not just any native Africans, but perhaps the most famous of all Native Africans -- the ZULU.

Only the Zulus managed to wage a war against the British Empire. And they had their share of success in doing it. Sure, the inevitable defeat came about, but still, no other tribe in Africa could have done what the Zulus did.

And John Dunn played a big role in it. For most of his life, he lived among the Zulus. He was a real person, in a real story, and now that story is available in a new Historical novel. Order John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu from Barnes and Noble or Amazon today!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Susie Quinn - Actress Found!

For years, I'd been trying to find the right actresses to play the roles of the female characters in my debut novel, Killer of Killers. I had talked plenty about Amber Heard as Samantha Jones, the blonde detective and lead female role. Lately, however, I've given up on Amber Heard, having concluded her acting ability is not up to par. Her life seems to be detoured from acting at this point, anyway.

But I was convinced at one point that Amber Heard was the perfect choice. Conversely, I had never found an actress for the part of black exotic dancer, Susie Quinn. I had toyed with the idea of Jill Marie Jones, but alas, Jill Marie Jones is too old these days. She's in her forties, and that's that.

Nafessa Williams



I looked at a random episode of the new Twin Peaks that's on Showtime, and right there in front of me was Susie Quinn! All in her exotic glory, to boot!. I mean, there she was. I had gone years and years not even coming close to finding an actress who could be right for the part. Well, Nafessa Williams could very well be right for the part. From what I saw on that Twin Peaks episode, she has the looks, the acting ability, and the screen presence to pull it off. For me, it was like Eureka, there she is!







Of course, there are no movie producers pounding on my door offering any movie rights contracts for my Killer books. And it won't happen in my lifetime, either. So it's nothing more than wishful thinking. But it could happen after my lifetime. After all, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote his Lord of the Rings books years ago, and it wasn't until well after his lifetime they were made into movies.

Georges St. Pierre


Anyway, if the movie were to be made today then Dustin Clare or Georges St. Pierre would be Trent Smith, Hannah New could be Samantha Jones, and Nafessa Williams would be right as Susie Quinn. Then get Max von Sydow to play the role of Abraham Soriah, and the major characters are set.