Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?
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.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
And to make things more exciting for me, the novel that had been contracted twice before, THE VASE, is being considered by some pretty big publishers.
I'm sitting on two contracts for THE VASE right now. But I'm not signing anything yet. I want to see what happens first. And the longer you wait, the better your manuscript becomes. That is, if you keep on polishing it. And that I have. Right now, both KOK and THE VASE are very polished manuscripts, and they're better books now than they would have been had they been published a year ago.
So, keep on making your ms better. Time goes by no matter how you look at it, and the more you work on your writing, the better your writing becomes. That's all.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
And indeed, those are the specs most publishers expect to have manuscripts formatted.
But not all. There are some publishers who want manuscripts single-spaced. Some want Courier font. Some don't want headers at all. Some don't even want pages numbered, and some take subs by email, while others wouldn't think of it. Only postal submissions allowed for them.
Usually, when publishers take digital submissions, they are cool with any type of word doc format. But the newest Microsoft Word programs are docx. And some publishers don't want that. I have docx. And it's not a hassle to convert from docx to word.doc. It's easy enough. But some publishers want subs in RTF, and even sometimes in PDF. Man, oh man.
Again, it's easy enough to convert, but I found that you better check your manuscript after converting because sometimes funny things happen to your manuscript after you convert it from, say, docx to doc or RTF, or whatever.
For instance a publisher wanted me to send a full recently, but clarified to not send it in docx. Rather send it in word.doc. OK, easy enough. But after I did that, (and after I sent it,) I discovered that the formatting got screwy. The chapters were starting on lower lines on the new pages, and some even on the same page as the chapter that just ended.
I corrected it, and sent in the fixed version while explaining what happened so they would not wonder why I was sending it again. They were cool about it.
So a word to the wise would be to always double check your manuscript after converting from one type of format to another. BEFORE you send it in, that is.
Monday, February 27, 2012
Once I get through KILLER EYES, though, and if I'm not busy on KOK, I will go over JOHN DUNN once more. I've yet to have it read by a beta reader. I'm still hoping to find Barb.
BARB! Are you out there? I would like you to read my John Dunn story. If you are reading this, please contact me, and I will send it to you. My brother, a lawyer/writer won't be ready until another couple weeks. So he will read it by then. And I might go to that forum for enthusiasts of the Zulu War. That might be a good place to find a beta reader, too.
Maybe I should have attended that writer's group after all.
Friday, February 24, 2012
I really can't count how many times I've revised KILLER OF KILLERS. For that matter, I couldn't tell you how many times I've revised THE VASE. I can say that THE VASE has been edited twice by two different professional editors. But that's not the one being published now.
KILLER OF KILLERS is the one getting published, and that is fitting since it's my first novel. And being such I've revised it more than any of my other manuscripts, including THE VASE.
But one thing I've learned is that no matter how polished a manuscript is, it is not done until it is PUBLISHED. Period. So until August, it will only keep getting better.
Boy, I love that cover. Just had to post it again. I can look at it all day.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
The reason I'm bringing it up right now is because I just received another email advising me of another meeting that's taking place. But I don't suppose I'll go to that one either.
Maybe if I was younger, single and had no kids I would go to them. But when I was younger, single, and had no kids, I wasn't writing books. I was writing music. I was drawing, painting, and sculpting. I had a great time at San Jose State's Art Department.
It seems to me that even though they are probably good things to do for aspiring writers, I just don't have the time. No, I'd rather just write, and when that's done, revise.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Now, I'm not denying a little bias here. But I must have read this, well, more times than I can even count at this point. And every time I get a kick out of it. I just love this story. I love the main character. I love the romantic interests, and even the villains. They are all so real to me.
I'm past the halfway point, which is perfect since I told Nancy, the Melange publisher, that I'll send it to her by the end of the week. Looks like I'll reach that goal.
It will be ideal because then I'll go right back to KILLER EYES, which is the sequel. It picks up right where KOK leaves off. And now that KOK is getting published, I might even start planning the third book in the series. We'll see.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
I'm not even sure how I want to proceed. Should I find an agent? Should I just submit to publishers on my own, like I did for KILLER OF KILLERS and THE VASE? Actually, I've stopped submitting THE VASE because I already have it out there with about a half dozen publishers who are considering it. Another two or three have already agreed to publish it. I will see what the best deal is, I suppose. Or maybe I'll bring it to the publisher who is publishing KILLER OF KILLERS.
It's a crossroads for me. Do I want different publishers publishing different books of mine? Or do I want the same publisher publishing all of my books? I'm glad I have this kind of quandary.
But THE VASE is really a special kind of book. Why? Because it's a special kind of story. You already have a feel for it just from my blog's title and the text underneath it. But there really is something special about it. I don't want to put out any spoilers. But the text does hint at it.
It's not a religious book, so let's get that settled once and for all. And it's not about spirituality. But there are elements of that. And as for religion, even though it's not about religion, there are reasons that religious people will like that book. But not just one religion. I think all religions can appreciate the story.
Sure, I know there will be haters. There are always haters. I better be ready for the reviews. All writers have to have a thick skin. How many times have we all heard that? But I don't know just how anyone can hate a book like that one. Still, I know it will happen.
Better get it published first. Then I'll worry about all of that.
Monday, February 20, 2012
But anyway, I just sent my bio, a photo, and a blurb for the book itself, and for an author's page on the Melange Books website. I went ahead and used the photo that's on my teacher's website. It's a good photo. I look like... well, an author in that photo, so I thought I should use it.
I also sent a dedication and an acknowledgment and a few quotes that I thought were pertinent to the main character, Trent Smith, in KILLER OF KILLERS.
Since I have this whole week off work, I'm going to read through it one more time, which will inevitably result in a few prose improvements here and there. Nancy said to go ahead. So that's what I'll be doing for the rest of this week. I'll get back to KILLER EYES after that.
Friday, February 17, 2012
So now I think it's ready for the Beta readers. My brother, a lawyer in Hawaii, won't be ready to read it until March, he says. But I would like for Barb to check it out, too. Who's Barb? Well, Barb was the first person to follow this blog. She writes historical fiction, too, and she had made a few comments during the course of my blogging on the progress of this book.
But something happened, and I see that she is no longer on my list of followers. It could be that she took down her own blog, which I read from time to time. But now I can't find it.
So Barb, if you are still there, and if you are reading this, please contact me and I would like to send you the attachment of this manuscript for some feedback. OK? Ok.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
But I don't want to go that route. Because I think the single most important role of a publisher is selling books. If you self-publish, you have to sell your books. I read Amanda Hawking's article about how she was successful with her self-published books. She stressed the fact that she put a major effort into promoting her books. She said it took a lot of her time and a lot of effort. And now? Well, after making a name for herself, she went ahead and signed on with a publisher. She said she wanted more time to write and didn't want to have to go through that promoting effort again.
Joe Konrath is the opposite story. He was already a name through a publisher. But then he chose to go the self-publishing route. Sure it was because his publisher declined to publish his later books, so he did it himself. And he's said that he is very glad he did. But he wouldn't have if he didn't have to. That's the point.
For me, I know I can't sell anything. Well, I sold my books to publishers, if you want to look at it that way, but when it comes to selling stuff in the conventional way, I'm horrible. So that's what my publisher is for. They will take care of marketing, and they have their website, and of course, Amazon is always there. But being published by a publisher instead of being self-published, I think, is going to be an advantage out of the gate. We'll see.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
And in THE VASE, there is a Muslim couple, Muhsin and Sanya Muhabi. They have been married for fifteen years, have had their ups and downs, but they do make quite a lovely couple.
And in KILLER EYES, does Trent fall in love again? Can't really say without a spoiler. Let's just say he revisits a past love. But no more about that.
And the most interesting Valentines situation of all is John Dunn and his wives. Notice I didn't call it a couple. Sure John Dunn has his wife, Catherine Pierce with whom he has a stellar marriage, but he also has fifty other wives. And he loves them all. He supports them all. And he takes care of all of his one hundred and fifty kids. Which is interesting to me, because I have my hands full taking care of just two. Those were the days, I guess.
Monday, February 13, 2012
So what's different? Well, all the text has been matched in style and color. The title text had a 3-D effect, and I decided I wanted all the text to have it. Because it was really a lot better. I looked at the two different styles next to each other and the 3-D effect really stood out. No comparison. And the webbing shows over that eye socket now. (Improved even more with this updated image on Feb.15.) So it's a home run. I thought that my design was good. But Caroline over at Melange did me better. This is a great cover. And I'm glad to be part of Melange Books, LLC. Can't wait until August. That's when it's supposed to come out. Stay Tuned. KILLER OF KILLERS is coming to a book store near you. Or at least on a website on your computer.
Friday, February 10, 2012
Thursday, February 9, 2012
But if some of those other publishers happen to get back to me, I will listen. There are at least two or three publishers who have the full right now. But, as usual, they are taking three or four months to get to it. Which is about a normal time period. Melange was the exception. I still can't believe that they offered me a contract for KILLER OF KILLERS just one day after requesting the full. That is just so amazing to me. And I am totally impressed with their art department person, as I've been talking about lately. I love that cover they designed.
It's not the first time I had a book cover presented to me. After I had signed that contract with Cogito for THE VASE, (and before they flaked,) they sent me samples of book covers for that book. Four, actually, but I didn't really like any of them. I told them that of the four, there was only one that might be appropriate, but even that one wasn't really all that good. It was just a photo of a bunch of vases lying on the ground. It would have been OK, but it wasn't the kind of cover, say, like the one Melange came up with for KILLER OF KILLERS yesterday. That one, I must say again, is just an amazing cover.
But for THE VASE, it's nice to know I have options. I have two publishers who are willing to publish it right now. And it's nice to know that. But I have chosen to wait it out, and see what all my options are. The good thing about publishers is that they don't seem to be in a hurry. They can wait. Sometimes that could be a frustrating thing. But other times, like now, it's a good thing.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Caroline at Melange is one outstanding person to work with. I asked for a couple tweaks to the cover design and Bingo, she comes through like a star. You can see that the design includes a bolder text and it's centered. Now it's better than ever! This is great.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
No, I don't go for these notions that you are born great. No. You work at it. You work hard. You don't quit. You make sacrifices. You put in the time. And for over twenty years, Trent Smith worked hard and made himself the best martial artist in the world. He lived it. He became a part of the Tokyo Dojo. Or he made the Tokyo Dojo a part of him. Twenty-four seven as they say.
It helped that the Dojo's Shihan had a beautiful granddaughter. And it was also a good thing that she was attracted to Trent. Oh, by the way, the Japanese didn't call him Trent. As I said before, (I think I said this before,) Trent Smith is not his real name. Anyway, Trent has green eyes. And besides that, they compared his fighting style to that of a tiger. So with that, and his green eyes, the Shihan nicknamed him Tora. Which is Japanese for tiger.
So yeah, he lived in the dojo. He loved in the dojo, He life was the dojo. Until the murders started happening in America. Then his life changed. And back to America he went. Stay tuned.
Monday, February 6, 2012
And what a great cover it is! I mean I like this every bit as much as the one I designed, and you know what? I'm thinking I like it even better! What a great job by Caroline from the Melange Books art department. I am totally impressed. This is good. Real good. I'm talking great. My day is made. I couldn't have hoped for a better cover to my debut novel. I sure hope things keep going like this. Wow.
Friday, February 3, 2012
Well, I chose the Japanese art of Ju Jitsu for my character of Trent Smith, because that is the art that I took when I was younger. And imo, it's the single best martial art you can learn, because it encompasses just about every type of fighting. From punches to kicks, to holds and throws. You name it, Ju Jitsu has it. And the higher you rank, the more lethal it becomes.
But I didn't restrict his training to just Ju Jitsu, even though it would have been sufficient. No, I combined it with Budo. Budo is also Japanese and it's the art of killing. And it was mostly taught in the Japanese military, but Japanese police also train with Budo. And that sounds pretty cool. The art of killing. So I combined the two to get Budo Ju Jitsu. Sometimes shortened to Bu Jitsu. (Yeah, I actually came up with that. Bu Jitsu. Pretty cool, no?)
And in my story, KILLER OF KILLERS, Bu Jitsu is the deadliest art in the world. Which is why I add the text: "He was the world's greatest martial artist, a master of the world's deadliest art" on the cover. Anyone who likes martial arts stories would pick up a book off a book shelf if they read that on its cover. At least I think they would.
Next week we'll talk more about the training, and how Trent got so good at it.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
So the main character is Trent Smith. So who is Trent Smith? Well for starters, Trent Smith is not his real name. Why did he change it? Because he knew he was going to be making some enemies. And he didn't want anyone looking into his background. But that happens anyway, as both his friends and his enemies find out plenty enough about his background.
But what makes Trent Smith special? Well, for one thing, he happens to be the greatest martial artist in the world. I mean the no. 1 greatest. At bare hands fighting, no one can match him. Many have tried, but he's simply the best. And he knows it. But he is no braggart. He lets his actions do the talking.
So what are his actions? To put it simply: Killing. But he is no murderer. As the title of the book indicates, he kills only killers. It's more like he's an executioner. And he targets only those murderers who deserve to be executed. At least, in his eyes.
To be continued...
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
And a publisher who I had told THE VASE was no longer available when it was going to be published by Virtual Tales wants to see the full. I asked them if they want the new manuscript since it's been edited twice by two different houses since my original submission over a year ago, and they said yes. But their submission guidelines say to single space the manuscript. So I will have to go home to do that. I don't want to try it here at work while on lunch break because I don't want to rush something like that.
So when I get home I'll do that. Pretty exciting, really to have two publishers publishing two different books of mine. We'll see if that happens.