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.




Sunday, February 18, 2018

John Dunn and Second Chance soon to be not available

Just to let you know, both John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu and Second Chance; a Football Story will no longer be available as soon as what's left on the the Amazon stores are sold out. I see that Heart of a Zulu is down to one on Amazon and perhaps a few more that are available through outlets that sell through Amazon, and the same is true for Second Chance. How long that will last is anyone's guess.

I know from a collector's perspective that that could be a good thing. Collectors have a penchant for collecting things that are not available anymore. And those two books, at least in their current states will no longer be available pretty darn soon. Like I've been saying, I'm trying to get them published with other publishers, but the books of Knox Robinson will soon go the way of the dinosaur, and that means those two books as well.

That's what collectors live for. Collecting rare items. And very soon, KRP books will be just that. The same is true for first editions. And those editions from KRP will soon be the only editions. So just saying. Get them now before they are no more. Because no more editions will be printed. And what's there now is all there will be.

Until further notice I mean. And when they are published again, you can bet they will be better versions. Because I'm improving everything about them at this point. That means The Vase too. Whenever The Vase is published again, it will be a superior book. The writing for all three will be superior. And for me, as an author, that is the most important thing. It's the writing that shows the author's effort. And boy have I put in the effort SINCE the original publication of all three books.

I've been rereading my Killer books lately, too. I'm amazed at how well written those two books are. I wouldn't need to do too much rewriting for those. A few dialogue tags could be eliminated and perhaps a word here and there but that's about it. I'm glad for that. We'll see how things go.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Heart of a Zulu to be submitted again

I was celebrating my opportunity to submit both John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu and The Vase to Big Five publishers recently. The Vase has been submitted to Macmillan and Penguin Random House. And Heart of a Zulu is submitted to Penguin Random House as of last week. But tomorrow I will also submit it to Macmillan. That will be two of my books submitted to two of the five of the Big Five.

Yeah I know my chances are slim. But I am confident in the overall quality of both books. Meaning the writing in both is top notch and the stories are top notch. After ten years of taking novel writing seriously, my writing has evolved to the point that exceeds most novel writers out there at this time. I'm not saying I'm the best writer in the world. But I'm a lot better than many.

So that means the writing is good enough. More than good enough. As for the stories? Let's take a look. Let's start with The Vase. Here is a story with a premise that has never before been used in any kind of story anywhere. In no book, movie or TV show has the premise of a story included ancient recordings. That's because in ancient times, recording was not possible. Well, of course recording was possible in the form of ancient writings. Like the Bible, and the writings of ancient historians. We've all heard of Herodotus, Thucydides, Tacitus, and the like. They "recorded" the ancient events of their times. But they recorded those events in the only way possible back then. In writings.

But I'm talking about recordings as we know recordings today. AUDIO and VIDEO recordings! And I'll say it again. No book, movie, or TV show has featured ancient AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of ancient events ever. Because it wasn't possible to do that back then.

But wait. If the atmospheric conditions were such that electromagnetic phenomena were happening at the time, then audio-video recordings just might have been possible in the grooves of a spinning vase. And once that vase had been fired in a kiln, and became eternal bisque-ware, then those recordings could possibly survive the millennia to this day.

And that's the premise in the story of The Vase! (And it's why the book is called The Vase!) I can't fathom how any editor or publisher couldn't find that concept fascinating. It's why so many publishers offered me contracts when I first proposed the book. At least five publishers were interested in publishing that book. Unfortunately, none of the publishers were Big Five publishers, so no Big Five publisher was aware of it. Back then you needed an agent to submit to a Big Five publisher. Alas...

But I'm not a newbie to publishing anymore. I'm savvy to the ins and outs of publishing and now I have this opportunity to submit to some Big Five publishers. And it's all for the better. I mean after so many years, I've become a better writer, as I was saying. And with another chance to improve the prose that's just what I've done. And of course it makes the chances of being accepted by a Big Five publisher so much greater.

The same thing is true with John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu. Here is another fascinating story, maybe more so because the story is actually TRUE. It's based on the true story of John Dunn and features the real historic events of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. And I know a lot of people are interested in that war. Also, the genre speaks for itself. Readers love historical fiction, and even more people love historical fiction which is based on a true story. And the John Dunn story is underrepresented in books. There have been a couple, but they are out of print and the current supply of books offers next to nothing in the way of the John Dunn story. Thus, the timing of the John Dunn book is just right.

Here's hoping that Macmillan or Penguin Random House will see it that way too. I know the writing and the stories are excellent. I'm hoping the editors of Macmillan or Penguin Random House will agree and I'll have some good news in about three months. That means I should know something by this coming May. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Heart of a Zulu Submitted!

As of today, my John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu manuscript is submitted to Penguin Random House. I'll also submit it to Macmillan. Two giants in the publishing world. Members of the Big Five. I would submit to the other three publishers too if I can figure out how to do it without an agent. I'll keep trying. Like I said before, being published by the Big Five is "making it" as a writer.

That doesn't mean writers who aren't published by the Big Five aren't successful and haven't "made it." After all, the best example of that is J.K. Rowling whose Harry Potter series of books were all turned down by the Big Five publishers. She was published by an independent publisher, and look at her now. I'm sure they're kicking themselves at this point.

So I'll get Heart of a Zulu submitted to Macmillan by next Monday. Can't wait. The Vase is submitted to Macmillan and Penguin Random House at this point. I am very confident in both of those books. But still, it's an uphill battle for me. After all. I'm an unknown. With no connections. With no relatives or friends in the publishing business, and no celebrity status whatsoever. That's not a good combination when looking for success in the publishing world. Still you try. Or you quit. Take your choice.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Didn't Send John Dunn yet

I have said often not to rush your submissions. And that is why I did not send my John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu submission yet. It wasn't quite ready. I wanted to send it last Friday, but what the heck. Monday is still soon enough. Or Tuesday for that matter. Or Wednesday.

The point is make sure it's ready. Make sure it is as good as it can be. Because after you send it, that's it. And trying for a Big Five publisher like Penguin Random House is an opportunity you can't mess up. That's why I spent nearly six months improving The Vase before I sent it last week. The Vase is as good as it can be right now. I am very confident in the chances it has with PRH. Or any publisher for that matter. Fingers crossed on that. Because I'll need all the luck I can get. I am still an unknown author to them. I have no credentials as far as they are concerned. They don't know me from Adam.

And that's the problem with my efforts. I'm a nobody. And nobody's like me have next to no chance with a publisher, with an agent, or whatever. Unless you're famous for one reason or another, like a former pro athlete, a movie star, a rock star, a politician, or a relative of one of those, you have to know someone, for a publisher to take notice. You have to have connections.

So having no connections and knowing no one in the publishing world makes it a long shot for me to make it with the Big Five. But nobody's have made it before. They got lucky. I hope I will too.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Penguin Random House up next

I am now submitting The Vase and John Dunn to Penguin Random House. Never mind how I'm doing that without an agent. It's possible. I have blogged before about loopholes to reach Big Five publishers without an agent. I've tried before and will keep trying as long as it's possible.

Sure, you can't get your hopes up. Sure, the odds are still against me. But I believe in my stories. I believe in my writing. Meaning I'm not too humble to admit the writing is excellent. Especially now since I've been making the writing better and better every day. That means for The Vase and for John Dunn. And for Second Chance, too. I'll be getting to that one soon.

I've concentrated on improving the prose in The Vase over the last six months. And I've been working on improving the writing for John Dunn, too. I just submitted The Vase. So for the next three months, that one will be on hold. I'll try to submit John Dunn tomorrow.

So yeah. Losing a publisher is not a good thing in one way. But it's a good thing in another way. The good thing is that you get another chance to make your books better. And you get another chance to find an even better publisher.

That's what is happening now with The Vase, John Dunn, and Second Chance. I'll keep on working and working until it happens. That's all anyone can do. And I will.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Heart of a Zulu and Second Chance already better

Since I've been revising and/or re-editing, and/or rewriting The Vase, Heart of a Zulu, and Second Chance, they are already tons better. One of the reasons is that I redid all the things my previous editors didn't want in there. For Second Chance that includes a few scenes or a few parts of a few scenes. For John Dunn, it only includes rearranging some parts, and for Second Chance it includes returning an entire scene in the beginning.

They were still great, but in my opinion, they're better and it's because they are back to the way I wanted them to be. Of course when you go over something again after a while, you always think of new ways to make it better and that's especially true for a novel. I'm making the story and the writing a lot better for the John Dunn book because I'm thinking of new ways to make it better.

For one thing, I made a bigger deal with Dunn's acquisition of the Snider breech-loading rifle than I did at first. And I made note of another Zulu chieftain who appears in the beginning and ending. I put him in the middle too, so as not to have forgotten about him, only to see him return in the end.

In Second Chance, the initial scene that shows Tony in the alley is returned. The story ends with him in the alley, and in the way it was published the reader is surprised to find him there. But now it's back and the reader will know why he's there in the end because it's where he was at the start. At the story's conclusion we return to the scene, so to speak.

With The Vase, there were all sorts of changes that I changed back to the way I wanted them. For example, when Captain Mathias and Mary Levin fight the terrorists, I had it so that the terrorists had found Mary's gun and threw it off into the night before they engaged her in a fight. That had been deleted. But now it's back and better than ever.

So yeah. For the next few months, I will keep on making these three books better. But heck, they're already much better. Well, they'll be getting better still. All the better!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

New Year - New Hope

Well the new year is here, and with it comes new hope. I have two books with a publisher who doesn't seem to have any inclination of going out of business. That would be Melange Books, the publisher of Killer of Killers and Killer Eyes. Melange has treated me well, and the books sell, seemingly well enough, albeit with inconsistency. But what do I expect? Melange is a POD publisher, and that means no bookstore placement. All sales are online, either through the Melange website or Amazon. I think there are other online sites, too. Like Smashwords, and such...

But the new year brings the fact that one of my other publishers will go out of business. Knox Robinson, as I had said in an earlier post, is throwing in the towel. I had placed them as a higher ranked publisher, because I was under the impression they were not a POD publisher and would get their books into bookstores. Alas, that was not to be, because they are folding this month, and that's that. The rights to John Dunn and Second Chance will be reverted to me and with that reversion comes new hope.

And what is that new hope? Another shot at the Big Five. I think an author can truly call his career a success if he makes it to the Big Five. But that takes a connection, I suppose. You look at several of the Big Five books, and many of them suck. Worse than Disney's Star Wars, too. I mean really suck. You ask yourself how is it that the Big Five published these books, when they suck so much. It's an unanswered question.

But whatever. I have three books now that are available to be placed with a new publisher. I can go with my remaining publisher, Melange, but again, I want higher stakes with those books. Melange is good for my Killer books, since they were the first publisher to believe in me. But with The Vase, John Dunn, and Second Chance, I will shoot for the moon. Why not? They are great books, with great stories, and great writing. You never know unless you try.

So while I'm still kickin' I'll keep on trying. Never give up, never surrender. that was a line from Galaxy Quest. That was a great movie, btw. Loved it.