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.



Thursday, May 31, 2012

KILLERS OF KILLERS Will Be Out Soon

And I'm still awaiting my edits. Nancy, the publisher over at Melange, said it was a "clean" manuscript. She also said it wouldn't need much editing. Well, after five years of cleaning up that manuscript, I tend to believe she is right.

But like I've said over and over again, a manuscript isn't done until it's in print. And until then it can be improved. Interestingly, Nathan Bransford touched on that point just this morning, and that was my comment. It's also something about which I've blogged many times. I had considered KOK done at several points in the past. But I always ended up improving it more and more, anyway.

And I'm glad I did. Same thing with THE VASE. And as I'm revising KILLER EYES right now, I'm pleased with how much I'm improving that manuscript. And JOHN DUNN? I think that manuscript has the best first draft of all the books I've written. But of course, that one's the latest one I've written, so it makes sense. But, again, it's only in it's first draft. It will only get better, as did the others.

Because, like anything, the more you do something, the better you get. Even if it's the same manuscript. The more you work on it, the better it gets. I'm glad I've worked on KILLER OF KILLERS for five years. For sure it's a greater work now than it would be if I had only worked on it for two. Or three. Or four. At this point, August can't come soon enough for me.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Back to Revisions

So the weekend passed, and I did get some revisions done on KILLER EYES, but not nearly as much as I wanted to get done.

One of the things I've noticed in that story is that it really has a different tone than its predecessor, KILLER OF KILLERS. In KOK, Trent Smith never uses any weapons. Other than his bare hands, that is. It could be said that his bare hands are deadly weapons unto themselves. It is made clear in the story that he is an expert killer with his bare hands, but it also makes it clear that he is rated as an expert with many weapons.

But in the story, Trent Smith makes it clear what he thinks of weapons. Specifically guns and knives. He called them, "...weapons of cowards..." and expresses an obvious disdain for them.

And in KILLER EYES, although he continues to use his bare hands lethally, he is finding himself having to use swords a lot. That's because the Killers Guild employs countless ninja-like killers, and they use swords, like, well, ninjas. And when you're confronted with dozens of sword-wielding "ninjas" then you might take up a sword to defend yourself. It might be an improvement over bare hands, at least in that circumstance.

But if I ever do get any fans of the book, or of Trent Smith, I'm hoping they don't take exception to the fact that he does use weapons in the sequel. I think, given the circumstances, they will understand that Trent is not committed to "bare hands" to the point of stupidity. He's a survivor and will proceed as the situation warrants. Like anyone.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

If You Want It Done Right...

The old saying: If you want it done right, do it yourself. That really is true for a lot of things. But is it true for publishing? I would say no.

When I began writing novels, I promised myself that I would NOT self-publish my books. And when KILLER OF KILLERS was finished, I was lucky enough to find an agent. But I've chronicled what happened after that. And it was a case of the old saying. I got it done myself. That is, I found a publisher to publish KILLER OF KILLERS. It wasn't my agent, who has gone away by this point.

But twice, for me, finding a publisher wasn't something that went well. For my other novel, THE VASE, the publishers didn't work out. Again, it's something I've chronicled here on the blog, so I won't go into details. But could it be a case where I should have published it myself? I still say no.

But had I done so, it would be in print by now. Instead, it's still sitting atop a slush pile somewhere. Or two, or three. Or even trashed for all I know. It's faith in that manuscript that keeps me going. And the knowledge that, like the three publishers who offered contracts before, there will be another who wants to publish it. (I didn't sign one of those contracts.)

And, of course, there is the imminent publication of KILLER OF KILLERS that I have going for me. But awaiting that first round of edits is tough. It took the editor one day to read the manuscript and offer a contract for it. And now, it's four months later, and although I have a cover set and ready to go, and an author's page on the Melange website, I have yet to receive my edits.

Of course people have issues. They have their lives to live, families to tend, and problems to overcome. But it's their profession, after all, and when you have a job to do, you get it done. Especially when other people are depending on you.

I'm still smarting from my last experience with an editor at my last "publisher." She had sent me the first round of edits on THE VASE and I was quick to go over them and send them back. And then nothing. I waited for SIX MONTHS and nothing. It turned out this editor had "issues" with the publisher and had quit working for him. BUT SHE NEVER TOLD ME. And that was unforgivable. Heck, I'd still be waiting now, a  year later, if I hadn't got on the ball and found out what was going on.

But I have faith still. In other people and in my own work. Let's see how it unfolds this time.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Four Day Weekend

So it's Friday and the first day of a four day weekend. Well, for teachers it's really a three day weekend. I'm in the staff room right now waiting for the teacher's Inservice Meeting to begin. The other teachers are eating bagels provided by the PTA and chatting with each other. But I don't eat  bagels, and usually I don't chat. What I'm looking forward to is after this meeting to get back to KILLER EYES. I've made a lot of progress revising the prose of that story and making it better that I hope to make even more progress this weekend.

And as I've already mentioned, I expect the edits to arrive any day now for KILLER OF KILLERS. When they do arrive I will pounce on them and get them back to my editor pronto. And in the midst of that I am planning to get started with the third book in the series, tentatively entitled THE KILLERS GUILD. And that will be an entirely new story, breaking away from the story arch of the wonder drug called ETERNITY. But at the same time continuing with the latest storyline of the KILLERS GUILD.

And that's what's on my mind right now. I look forward to it. Trent Smith is, after all, my favorite character of all time. Pardon the bias, but he is the world's greatest martial artist. He is a master of the world's deadliest art. A rogue vigilante who is beholden to no one. And with his agenda paramount in his mind, it's a never-ending story. At least for him.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

KOK Part 3 in the Works

So while still revising KOK 2, which is KILLER EYES, and awaiting the first edits of KOK 1, which is, of course, KILLER OF KILLERS, I am planning part three in the series. And who knows? It could be the last of the series. It seems an awful lot of series are trilogies, the most famous, I think, being Lord of the Rings. But you have the two Star Wars trilogies, the Jason Bourne trilogy, (oh wait, they're coming out with a fourth one now aren't they? But the fourth one doesn't have the real Jason Bourne, so it won't count.) The three Transporter movies are among my all-time favorites, and the list goes on.

The preliminary title of KOK 3 will be THE KILLERS GUILD. The Killers Guild is actually introduced in KILLER EYES, and I don't want to give away any spoilers, but by the end of that story a reader might think it's a done deal. That's because I wrote it before KOK was offered a contract. And I wasn't even sure it would ever get published. And as I've explained before, I didn't want to keep writing books in a series that wasn't going to see print. So I made the ending one that could be a wrap. But I've got a few surprises in store. And now that KOK is getting published, I figure to at least go with a third installment.

Yes, it's time for THE KILLERS GUILD to get its own book. And title.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New Book or Keep Revising?

Since I'm a teacher, I have the summer vacation every year which is a great time to begin a new book. This will be my fifth summer vacation since I started doing that. So I should be starting my fifth book.

But I expect the edits for KILLER OF KILLERS to arrive any day. Of course that will get my priority. And then there are the further revisions which are in order for my third and fourth books, KILLER EYES and JOHN DUNN.

I expect to sell my second book, THE VASE any day now. And when I do, I will certainly give that one priority, too, when it gets edited. (Although it's already been edited twice, but that's another story.)

So I have blogged before that I was of the mind to just concentrate on revisions and editing of the books I've already written, and I may well do that.

But time flies. And boy does it ever. My family and I watched some home videos of my sons when they were babies. And wow it reminded us how fast the last ten and fifteen years have passed. My oldest son will be sixteen this Sunday. He's as big as I am now. A far cry from the little baby I was holding in those videos.

And that's why I'm thinking I should stick to my plan of writing a new book every summer. Because as those videos pointed out, those months will not be able to be called back. Once they're gone, they're gone, and over the last four summers, at least, I have four books to show for them.

Maybe it's time to get started on that fifth one. But I haven't decided on just what book to write. I think it should be the third installment of Trent Smith's story. After all, I started with his debut. Then I strayed from the Trent Smith story and wrote THE VASE. Then I went back to it and wrote KILLER EYES. Then I strayed again and wrote JOHN DUNN.

So if I keep that pattern, it's time for Trent Smith again. Yes. It is. OK.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Publishers and Promotion

When it comes to publishers, one of the best things a publisher can offer is its promotional efforts. And I think it's well known that the publishers who promote their books the most are the ones commonly referred to as "the Big Six."

That's not to say the other publishers, commonly known as "Independent Publishers" don't promote their books. But some of them actually don't. Independent publishers probably promote their books to varying degrees, and perhaps some of them promote some books even more than the Big Six will promote some of theirs. I say that because I've heard of some books not promoted well by Big Six publishers.

But a lack of promotion has been the knock on Independent Publishers. I don't know to what extent Melange promotes their books. I do know that most Independent Publishers rely on their website and beyond that, authors are left to promote their own books.

I read that Amanda Hocking was big on promoting her self-published books. And she sure did a good job. So good, in fact, that she sold an awful lot of them and caught the attention of a Big Six publisher. And then signed on with them. I wonder if she did that just for the prestige of being a Big Six author. Her reasons, she said, was so that she won't have to spend as much time promoting that she had been doing. And maybe that is true, but it seems to me that she had already got the hard part done. She was already a name and that was the hurdle. Imo, she didn't need a Big Sixer anymore, or any publisher, really.

But whatever. I suppose having a publisher, even if you're established, is better than not having one. It's probably a personal call. Maybe she got a great contract. And if she did, all the better for her.

When it comes to promoting my debut novel, KILLER OF KILLERS, I'm not sure just how I'll proceed. Yeah, there's this blog. I've got Facebook. But beyond that, I don't think I'll be doing any more online promotions. It will be about bookstores and radio stations, I suppose. I'll try to get my book into bookstores and see what happens. One thing I think I have going for me is a great cover. Thanks to Caroline at Melange, I think I have a cover that will sell. And from personal experience, I know it works because I bought books because of the cover. And my students tell me when I show them the cover to KILLER OF KILLERS that they would buy it for that cover.

But that's when I tell them they have to wait until they're eighteen. Again, it's not an MG or YA book. But they have parents and older relatives, right? You bet.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tweaked the Cover Design


It's been a couple months or more since Caroline at Melange designed the cover to KILLER OF KILLERS, and I loved it so much there hasn't been a day go by without me looking at it. And over the course of that time there were two things that didn't seem right about it.

First the e's in the title text. When she came up with the design, I asked Caroline to boldface the text of the title. When she did that, the hole in the e's disappeared. I didn't think much of it at the time, but over the past couple months, it bothered me.

And second, the title was too low. That put it off center. It did have one good effect: the "of" was placed at the same level as the nose hole in that skull. But it still didn't overcome the bottom-heavy look to me. So I asked Caroline to raise the text a bit.

And she did. She fixed the e's, too. And with the text raised to the vertical center of the cover page, it looks balanced now. And as an unexpected, but added benefit, the central part of the web now has a centered position in the space it's in, which is also a better effect.

This really is an example of how a publisher can be accommodating and cooperative. It's also another example of a publisher being communicative.

No need to rehash the problems I had with another publisher who was not so communicative. It's refreshing to know that my current publisher is willing to abide by the wishes of its authors. And on that note, here's to my anticipation of the first edits. They should be coming in any day now. But like I said, the top person, Nancy, had already told me she believed it wouldn't need much editing at all. And that's a testament to the five years I spent polishing up that manuscript. I'm curious as to what kind of edits it might need. But I can tell you this: there are no more typos at this point. Of that, I'm sure. Stay tuned.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Two Ways to Edit/Revise

I'm still revising KILLER EYES, of course, and I expect to be focusing on that over the summer vacation. But when I get KILLER OF KILLERS sent to me from my editor at Melange, it will be all about that.

One way I revise is to read it from beginning to end and make the changes I see fit from that perspective. And it will be like that with KOK when I review the edits. But another way is to read it from chapter to chapter, and not necessarily in chronological order.

There are advantages and disadvantages in both ways. If you bounce around, you might lose the context in which a passage was written in the first place. But it also gives you a new perspective on the scene and in the writing.

My advice is to do it both ways. That way, you don't miss the advantages. You get the best results. It's how I did KOK, and it turned out great.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Let the Edits Begin

I was notified yesterday that the edits have begun on KILLER OF KILLERS. The publisher, Nancy, at Melange emailed me and said that the editor, Tom, will contact me shortly. I just replied to make sure he had the latest draft that I had sent.

She also thanked me for such a clean manuscript, and that she thought it wouldn't need much editing at all. That was cool. I had worked on that manuscript for five years, like I was blogging about yesterday, so there you go. London was right.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It Takes Hard Work

I just read a letter from Jack London to an aspiring writer, thanks to Mr. Bransford's posting yesterday that had a link to it.

Basically, it was London expressing his opinion to a young man of twenty, who had written a short story and, I suppose, expected it to be published. The letter didn't reveal this writer's connection to London or how he got London to read his manuscript, but it did reveal London's feelings about the art of writing.

He likened it unto the career of a Blacksmith. He said that it takes a Blacksmith five years to practice the craft before he gets good enough to actually do it for a living. Basically, he made the point that writing, also, took five years of committed practice, and that this young man hadn't done that. And as a result, he shouldn't expect to be a good enough writer to become professional, and his first manuscript certainly wasn't.

It made me feel good. Because I spent five years writing and revising KILLER OF KILLERS. And that corresponds perfectly with what London was saying. But that doesn't mean I've only been practicing writing for just this last five years. I did a lot of writing for my college degrees. Almost all of my Teaching Credential classes required essays and reports of various kinds. My Master's Degree required tons of writing, too, during classes and essays and reports outside of class.

But when I sat down and wrote the first draft of KILLER OF KILLERS, it sure was a rough draft. I did send it to some agents, and there was one guy who was thoughtful enough to comment on it. His comments were straightforward, honest, and at the same time critical and encouraging. He said the storyline was "terrific." That was the word he used. But he also said the writing wasn't "strong enough." And that was how he worded it.

And when I thought about it, I knew he was right. But I didn't just quit. I knew I had a story that was indeed terrific. So I got busy improving the writing and improving it even more. And then still more. I researched every writing site that I could find. Yes, Bransford's site was a great source for writing advice, but there were so many others, and I absorbed them. I read books on how to write a great novel. Donald Maass's book was one of them, but there were others. I incorporated all or most of their advice and points into my book.

And the result? Five years later, a great book is going to be published! Look for KILLER OF KILLERS this coming August from Melange Books. They loved it. And if you are someone who likes adventure, action, intense situations, romance, and themes that run deep... you will, too.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

OK, I Liked The Avengers Movie

I forgot to mention that I did see the Avengers movie last Saturday, and I will admit that I did like it. That is to say that I did enjoy it. It was a fun movie. I know I was thinking it would suck, as the movie people usually drop the ball when it comes to making movies about comic book superheroes.

But not this time. The Avengers can rank up there with Christopher Nolan's Batman Franchise as a very well-made superhero movie. It does capture the essence of the Avengers, and unlike the X-men movies, it remained true to the characters and basic storyline.

Would I have changed anything? Well, yeah. Nick Fury, for instance, was not a black man. If they wanted a black hero in there, which obviously they did, and I have no objection to that, btw, they should have just created another character who was black, that's all. Not take an already established white character and change his race. That reeked of "tokenism."

But it didn't ruin the movie. Not for me. It was still real good. And Samuel Jackson did portray the part well. I've always liked him as an actor, so, whatever.

And there was one more thing I would have changed. Ever since the Hulk TV show, the hulk has never been allowed to speak any lines. In the comics, he actually talked, and had a personality. The TV show only had him growl and roar. Same thing with the two Hulk movies. He only growls and roars, like nothing more than a wild animal. But he wasn't an animal. He really had a charming personality, and the movies (and TV show)  have robbed him of that. It's such a shame they have reduced the great Hulk character to little more than a mindless rampaging monster. (Qualifier: In The Avengers, the Hulk did speak one line. It consisted of two words. So my point is valid, thank you.)

But anyway, it was a good movie.  Worth seeing. Maybe worth seeing twice.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Family Weekend

So yesterday was mother's day, and this past weekend I must admit I got nothing done on revisions or any writing at all.

Got a new TV, though. My old plasma TV was dying on us, so on Saturday we got one of the best ones out at this time. No 3D for me, though. I talked about that last week. I was never much for wearing those 3D glasses in theaters, so forget it at home.

But since it was mother's day, the whole time we spent making my wife happy. Our two sons are still young enough so that we had to drag them off the computer and PS3 games and spent the day at the Rose Garden Park.

And I spent the whole day just taking care of the family. And did no writing. But that's what I believe writers should do. Take care of the family. I have learned from other people's mistakes not to focus on writing and getting published so much that home life suffers. So today I'll get back to my writing and revisions. No problem there. That's all.

Friday, May 11, 2012

eBooks, Not For Me - Yet

I'm seeing more and more people reading eBooks when I'm out and about. Still print books dominate, but time is changing, and I have been notoriously slow to change with it.

It took me several years, for example, to buy myself a cell phone. I finally did, and then wondered how I got along without one. But eBooks? As was the case with cell phones, I'm not quick to get one. At least, not yet.

I admit eBooks are the future. I was even introduced to digital reading back in 1999. That's when parents of a student gave me a gift at the end of the school year. It was a gift that I didn't understand at first, because it was digital copies of three books. H. G. Wells was one of my favorite authors and I had required my class to read the book, The War of the Worlds.

So I received as an end-of-the-year gift digital copies of The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man and The Time Machine. It was certainly new to me. I remember downloading them onto my work computer, too. But I don't work there anymore, and I think I left the CD-Rom in that computer.

I did read part of one of the books there, but never got around to finishing it. Of course, there weren't any Nooks, or eReaders out yet. I wonder if they were compatible with the eReaders of today.

Not that it matters, I don't have an eReader, but sooner or later I will have to come aboard. Since my own books are soon-to-be released, and will be available as eBooks, it would behoove me to get one. Just don't know exactly when. One of the problems is that these things keep evolving. If you buy one now, then the next thing you know a cheaper and better one comes out.

It's what happens with just about everything electronic. And right now I'm in the market for a new TV. And TVs are another example of ever-improving technology. Sheesh, they're selling 3-D TVs now. Do you think I'll be buying one of those? Um, no. Like I said. I'm notoriously slow to jump on bandwagons. As for eBooks? Well, let's see what happens. TV first, eBook later.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Publishers-Does it really Matter?

So in the search for a publisher, does it really matter who publishes your book? In a word, YES. And make that a resounding YES.

First of all, different publishers offer different contracts. And some of those contracts are just plain bad. And that goes for other things besides royalties. Some publishers want first right of refusal for your next book, too. Some want a chunk of movie royalties if you're lucky enough to get a movie offer for the book.

And besides contracts, some publishers, I have found, are just plain rude. And very unprofessional. I've read about it, and I've even blogged about my own experience in that regard.

Some publishers may be great and sincere people, but then they fold, for whatever reason, and if you are one of their authors with several books published by them, you are like a suddenly orphaned child.

So, yeah, it really does matter. Don't be quick to sign a contract. Check out that publisher. And one of the best ways you can do that is by checking in with Absolute Write, or Writer Beware. Another good site is Preditors and Editors. (And no, that's not a typo.) Any one of those websites can help an author avoid a bad publisher. Don't wait until after you sign. Do it before. You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dreams and Ideas

I have some interesting dreams and sometimes those dreams are ideas for scenes or even a premise. The other night I dreamed I was someone fighting aliens, but I don't consider myself a sci fi writer. One day I might try it. I've always liked sci fi as a kid. And I did begin a graphic novel that was sci fi. I even completed two episodes of a four part series.

Still, when it comes to dreams I just wonder where those things come from. There was one where I was fighting some giant monstrosity who couldn't be harmed. That might have been triggered by some movie I saw recently, but it didn't look anything like any movie I'd seen.

When I was writing KILLER OF KILLERS, at least twice I dreamed of characters from that story and things happening that I might put in there. And one thing happened that was interesting. Shoji Wada, the old master of the Martial Arts Academy had transformed at the moment of death, somehow, and I considered using that. But then I said no. It was too much like the time Obiwan Kenobi from Star Wars seemed to do just that at the moment Darth Vader killed him.

No matter what, I don't want to bite off any other story. If it's not my idea entirely, I don't want to use it. And it could very well be true that dreams don't originate from you. They might just come from someone else. And that's kind of scary unto itself.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fun Part of Writing

I am in the thick of revising KILLER EYES, and I can truly say that this stage of writing a novel, for me, at least, is the most fun stage. What I'm doing is rereading chapters and rewriting them where the prose needs to be improved.

And it is in this stage where I find parts that need to be added or deleted. When I delete something, it's usually words or sentences that were not needed. But I also add stuff that makes the story much better. And it was after I went to bed last night I realized what I needed to add and where.

There's a very important part in KILLER EYES where the bad guy, Karl Manoukian, makes a statement to the hero, Trent Smith. But near the end, the main villain, Ming Sang, makes the same statement. When I wrote it I figured it was just a coincidence that they said the same thing. But as I reread it, I realized that it's too much of a coincidence.

And so now at the beginning of the story I'm going to have Ming tell Manoukian to tell Trent Smith that statement. It will be a way she is preparing him for their eventual meeting. I know that this little bit of info is not very clear. I'm just saying that during this stage of the writing process you can really make strides in the improvement of both your writing AND the story, itself.

I know it happened big time with KILLER OF KILLERS, the first of the KILLER stories, and it happened with THE VASE, too. In fact, with THE VASE, I developed a major subplot during the revision stage. And it really makes the story three dimensional. It gives a real personality to one of the characters, when that character was only a minor player before. But now it's so much better.

I think that when you're writing your first draft, you are really just getting the canvas prepped. But when you're revising, you're filling in the color and adding the detail. Yeah, that's the artist in me speaking, but the comparison is valid, I think.

And as an artist I can tell you that when you're adding the detail, that's the most fun part of painting. So it's the same with writing. It makes sense when you think about it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Maybe Avengers Doesn't Suck

I posted last week that I believed the new Avengers movie would suck because I read that Loki, the half-brother of Thor, was using Aliens from outer space as allies to invade earth. I thought here we go again. Hollywood putting their own spin on a classic Marvel comics story.

I said that Loki should have myriads of "demons" and such from the Asgaardian dimension of the Norse gods from where he hails. And that recruiting aliens was a Hollywood take on how things should be in the movies.

Well, my brother saw the movie this past weekend, and in a telephone call explained to me that the "aliens" were indeed from the Asgaardian dimension of the Norse gods. Well, then. OK. Since it's what I said should be the case, perhaps the movie is what it's supposed to be.

And going by their box office take, it certainly seems as though the movie doesn't suck at all. At least not according to the paying public. It's Hollywood's bottom line, and it's a raging success as far as that is concerned.

But that's not how I judge movies. I liked John Carter of Mars, and that movie lost so much money the Disney executive in charge of it had to resign. At least that's what I read somewhere. There are many examples of movies or TV shows that lost money or had bad ratings but I thought they were well done, and some are even sentimental favorites.

Let's hope that the new Spider-Man movie will be closer to the original comics stories. One thing I hope they make true to the original is the spider web shooting ability of Spider-Man. In the comics, Peter Parker invented mechanical web-shooters. In the movies, they made it a natural thing that developed in his wrists. That just sounds gross to me and a lot of other people, too.

One thing I think is better right off. And that would be the actor who plays Peter Parker. I never thought Toby McGuire was the right actor for the part. The new guy, whose name I don't remember right now seems much better from what I've seen in promo photos. I like the costume better, too. So, we'll see this summer. Looking forward to it. Avengers, too.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Russia Now Listed No. 1

It has been confirmed that Russia is now listed no. 1 on my stats page in regards to readership of this blog. Is it a coincidence that just yesterday I was talking about Russia as being the no. 2 audience in terms of readership here?

Well, after writing yesterday's post about how readers are all over the globe, the stats page listed Russia as first and it wasn't even close. Russia is way ahead of the no. 2 country, which is now the United States. Thank you, Russia. If this keeps up I will make more characters Russian, like Doctor Vladimir Blitzkin in KILLER EYES.

Can't do anything about KILLER OF KILLERS or THE VASE, however. Those two stories are wrapped up. KILLER EYES may still be adjusted, and I've been doing that, but Blitzkin's role was already a good one. As for John Dunn's story, that's a story involving the British, their colony in Natal, and native Africans, mostly the Zulus. No Russians in that one. Some Dutch are in there. That's because of the Boers, who were the descendants of the Dutch in South Africa.

Oh well. Right now, I'm not sure what story I will write next. I am seriously considering another Trent Smith story, in which I will be sure to include Dr. Blitzkin if I do. And maybe have a scene take place in Moscow. Can't say for sure. I haven't even started planning it yet. But I think I will soon. Very soon.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Readers From All Over

In the "stats" section on the blog menu, bloggers can see what countries are included in the audience of their blogs. When I check that out, I see people are reading this blog from all over the globe. Mostly the United States, but the second most readers are in Russia. Wow. Russia. So hello to all the Russian readers.

Now I'm glad that I made one of my main characters in KILLER EYES a Russian. As you may know, KILLER EYES is the sequel to KILLER OF KILLERS. And the Russian character is a nuclear physicist who is recruited to work on the miracle drug invented by the antagonists in my debut novel. His name is Doctor Vladimir Blitzkin. OK, so Blitzkin may not be a traditional Russian name, but I make a habit to not give traditional names to my characters.

But Dr. Blitzkin is a noble character and his role is significant in the story. And now that I have found so many readers of this blog are in Russia, I'm glad I did that.

But there are readers from a lot of other countries. According to my stats page, there are readers from a spattering of other European countries, many in Asia, and even Africa and the Middle East.

And then there's Canada and different South American countries, too.

I wonder how they even found out about this blog. If I were to go by the comments alone, I might think no one ever reads this thing. But that's not the case according to that stats page. Here's hoping everyone will buy a copy of KILLER OF KILLERS. It's a great story. If you like martial arts movies, you will like KOK. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Avengers Movie Will Suck

I'm one of those guys who read comics when I was a kid, and I remember the Avengers very well. I still have a stack of them in my closet. I have the entire X-Men collection even. Numbers one through three hundred something. No, I haven't bought a comic in the last fifteen years, but I still have a pretty good comics collection and I plan on giving them to my sons as a kind of heirloom.

So I have a very good idea of what these comic super-heroes were about. And mostly the movies do not do them justice. Not even close.

It's funny, really, because for so many years I was waiting for them to be made into movies. My friends and I understood that the special effects technology was insufficient to do super-hero movies well, so we were patient. And now that the technology has caught up, the movies are coming out.

And they are mostly done either plain wrong or with too many flaws.

Take Daredevil. It was one of the few that was done mostly right, but what was with that stupid mask? In the comics, it's attached to his costume, but in the movie it's more like a hat that covers his eyes. It was stupid for at least three reasons. First, as a hat, it can come off easily. Two, it doesn't conceal his face very well. And three, it just looked dumb.

Oh, but I've talked about this before. The movie people have an instinctive belief that they are superior to the comics people. And that includes the writers, producers and the costume designers, too. They just can't leave it the way it was in the comics. They believe anything they do will be better. But they are wrong.

Even the Batman movie makers changed Batman's costume. It's wasn't an all black costume. It wasn't bullet proof either. It seems only Superman's costume was left alone.

Take the X-Men. They were given all black leather costumes. Wrong. If I were to itemize everything they did wrong with the X-Men movies, this post will be too long. Suffice it to say that even though the first two X-Men movies were close, the third one completely sucked. And that last one? The X-Men origins movie? That was a disaster!

Which brings me to the soon to be released Avengers movie. Never mind that the roles are miscast. (With the exception of Robert Downey as Tony Stark.) But the trailers have made it clear that the main villain, Loki, the Norse god who's a bad guy, enlists the aid of aliens to attack earth. It's like, huh? Loki has a bevy of Norse mythological bad guys with whom he had sided over the years. Since when does he have to go SciFi for his villainous deeds? Since never.

Well, this post can go on and on. I will take my sons to see the movie. But I already know it will suck. Just like the movies HULK, CAPTAIN AMERICA, THOR, FF, X-Men, and yes, even SPIDER-MAN sucked.

Only IRON MAN and Nolan's BATMAN movies are on the mark. (The all black costume can be overlooked in Nolan's Batman.) And it's really too bad. If only...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Testing Week

Teachers know all about giving their students the STAR test, which is the standardized test that gives students the opportunity to demonstrate what they've learned or how well they've learned it. Or how well teachers have taught it.

As an art teacher, I haven't had to worry much about that. The tests focus mostly on Math, English, and some history. But wouldn't it be interesting if writers were expected to take tests? You know, to show how much they've learned about writing. Just think, in order to be a published author, writers had to take a test and achieve a certain score to be allowed to remain published.

I know it sounds stupid. Or does it? Maybe if writers did that, then the amount of prospective authors out there would be reduced. Probably would. But I'm just thinking out loud, really. It's a ridiculous notion. Still, if you consider the amount of submissions that agents and publishers get every year, it's a staggering number. I've heard people joke that there are more writers out there than readers. It sure seems that way.

And I wish everyone could achieve their goals and find success. But it's like actors, musicians, and professional athletes. There is no shortage of any of them. Only a small percentage of them will make it big, or even make it at all. I often hear from students that what they want to be when they grow up is a professional basketball player. I look at who is telling me this. Often it's a little Filipino boy, who will never even reach six feet in height. And he's telling me he's planning on playing in the NBA.

Don't worry. I don't squash his dreams. I just say, well, you've got to work hard. But I also stress that getting good grades and going to college is a part of achieving his goals. If nothing else, that's the one thing I did right as a kid. I stayed in school and graduated from college. I wanted to be a professional artist, and I was, but not in the big time. Not enough to support myself or a family. Being a teacher is what allowed for that. But without that degree, a career in teaching wouldn't have been possible.

So stay in school. Get that degree. If you get drafted into the NBA or NFL, or become a movie star, or a rock star, (or even a famous author,) then that's wonderful. But if you don't, you will at least have something to back you up. And a college degree will go a long way in that regard.