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.
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
I've post before how martial arts novels are not numerous. And I think that KILLER OF KILLERS is far and away the best of the few that are out there. And I think that some of those that I have perused are not really martial arts books. The Jonathan Hemlock books for instance, have been labeled martial arts action books on some site that I researched. Now I never read them, but I saw the Clint Eastwood movie, The Eiger Sanction, and it was a great movie, too, but a martial arts action story? Not unless Mr. Eastwood took major liberties with the storyline.
And yeah, Hollywood does that, but since that is what I've got to go on, I would not place it in a martial arts category.
But Killer of Killers is totally martial arts. And if I get lucky enough for a movie producer to make a movie out of it, then there is no way they could change it from that. I don't think they would want to. Clint is too tall for the part anyway. I've made it a focal point in the story that the main character is an avereaged sized fighter. Clint is 6'4" last I heard. And way too old now.
But you know what? If this were still in the seventies, and Mr. Eastwood wanted to play the part? Naahh... Chuck Norris maybe... But he'd have to dye his hair brown. Trent Smith is no blondie.
Monday, July 30, 2012
Friday, July 27, 2012
I really have high hopes for THE VASE. Because it's such an original story, such an original idea. I really don't believe that idea has ever before been used in any kind of story. No movie, no book, no TV show, no play, nowhere.
They say no news is good news when it comes to a submission to a publisher, but I would think that the longer it takes, the lower your chances become. Maybe not necessarily, but I just can't sit on my thumbs anymore. Yes, I've been enjoying the fact that KILLER OF KILLERS is getting published.
But I have a sentimental attachment to THE VASE. You see, it's about a ceramicist, and I'm a ceramicist in real life. No, it's not an autobiography. It's just a great story that needs to be read. So it needs to be published. And I have a couple publishers even now waiting for my green light.
And they may get it. But first I want to see what options are out there. I'm not in a hurry to get it published, since KILLER OF KILLERS will see print next month. But it's ready. Boy, is it ready.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
I didn't bother posting the blurb yesterday so here it is. The short teaser blurb in the beginning of the book will read like this:
He was the world’s greatest martial artist – a master of the world's deadliest art. Once revered, he became feared, and for that he blamed his homeland. America was no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave. It had become the land of murder and the home of corruption. But for a man like Trent Smith – it was the perfect hunting ground.
And on the back cover, the blurb will read like this:
Biochemists have invented a drug that cures all disease and stops aging, but a New York industrialist has kept it secret for a specific purpose. He wants to form an exclusive fraternity of immortal supermen, all of whom are beholden to him. Only one thing puts a kink in his plan – the drug’s side effects, which include wild surges of increased sexuality and unpredictable flares of homicidal rage.
Trent Smith has trained in Japan for over twenty years and he has his own agenda. He vows to avenge the innocents slain by the ever-growing number of American celebrities who murder with impunity. But when a dying scientist gives him the only copy of the secret formula, he must decide if the miraculous benefit is worth the toll it takes on the prodigious people who use it and their credulous victims who don’t.
KILLER OF KILLERS is an action-packed martial arts thriller that pits one man's quest for justice against the wonders of medical science. But wonders for some are horrors for others in a secret society ruled by greed, malice, and a singular objective to attain eternal youth.
Okay, it looks like the release of KILLER OF KILLERS is on schedule. Stay tuned.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
I said no to the option of having my photo on the back cover. They have the photo from my teachers website, and it's not a big photo. I don't think the pixels are sufficient. But that's all right. I know some authors have their photos on the book, and some don't.
It's just as well. If readers want to see what I look like, there are plenty of photos. My website, the blog, and the Goodreads and Authors Den, too, which is the same photo, btw. So what's more important is the blurb.
I've split my blurb in two. The first paragraph will be in the beginning of the book, and the last three paragraphs on the back cover.
Check out the link for KILLER OF KILLERS in the side bar to the right. It's in there. I don't want to write it out again, and if I cut and paste, it pastes all that black background with it. Stay tuned.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
But that was five months ago. Okay, so you never know how long it will take. The one day submission to Melange that landed the contract for KILLER OF KILLERS must have been the exception to the rule of how slow the process really is.
I don't know how much longer I will wait until I submit THE VASE to Melange, also. We'll see. I'm still perfecting it. Even today I made the prose better in a lot of places. I guess that's what I'll keep doing. I hate it when I submit something and then decide that it could have been written better, even in one little place.
That happened when I sent my final draft of KILLER OF KILLERS to the publisher. I found one little spot that could have been better. I'm hoping to correct if when I get the ARC. So don't ever get complacent. Not when it comes to writing a novel.
Like I've said with art and music: a drawing, a painting, a song or a lyric can be a finished work at some point. But a novel? Only when it's in print. And that means when it's published. And that is the biggest difference between a novelist and a composer, artist, lyricist, etc.
Monday, July 23, 2012
The trick is you've got to stay in one person's POV per scene. If you stray from one person's POV to another's, what you've got to do is change it back to the original person's POV. Sometimes it's just a single word added or removed. Othertimes it's a sentence or two deleted entirely. And other times, it's a rewrite of a sentence or paragraph.
It just takes doing, and I'll probably have to go back and do the same thing with KILLER EYES and JOHN DUNN. But those two are on the back burner, now. And so is the fifth novel I was supposed to be plotting out this summer. But that fifth novel is not without some plans. I've finally received that inspiration for another Trent Smith novel, the third in the series.
But more about that later. For now, it's all about KILLER OF KILLERS getting published next month, and finding a home for THE VASE. Stay tuned.
Friday, July 20, 2012
And like I knew I would, I improved the writing while I was at it. Just like I did for KILLER OF KILLERS. It came down to a final read through for KOK, because it was crunch time. My editor was all set to send it in for publication. But as I posted at the time, I was waiting for one more round of edits. I was mildly surprised when my editor told me it didn't need another round. But I insisted. I knew I could make the writing even better, and I wanted to do it. You know, the last chance type of thing.
And I did. But THE VASE hasn't had that crunch time moment. I'm going to submit it to at least three more publishers, and I just finished reading through it, fixing those ellipses, em dashes and exclamation points.
But since it's not crunch time yet, I think I'll read through it still one more time. And this time will be for the specific purpose of addressing POV.
For KILLER OF KILLERS, my editors, (I had two of them) insisted to not have any POV switching occur during the same scene. And that was a major fix that I put it through, but it got done. In THE VASE during that last read through, I noted some places where that happened. I will have that in mind, now, since everything else in that manuscript is so polished, it's gleaming off the monitor.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Speaking of publishers and submissions, THE VASE is taking too long. It's been five months now. I got an offer for KILLER OF KILLERS one day after I submitted the full. These five months are discouraging for THE VASE. So I guess I'll start submitting it again.
And then, of course, there is Melange. They know me now. They liked my first novel. But there are three other publishers I have found that I would like to see what they say first. Got to finish this latest round of revisions, though. Then I'll submit it to them. That's all.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Going by some of the reviews I've read out there, it's as though some people get off on being hateful and nasty to other people. Actually, the world is full of examples in every category. Even things that have nothing to do with the arts. Just people with a need to hate. And thankfully, there are the people on the opposite side of the coin, too. People who give raving reviews. And sometimes I wonder who these reviewers are. It's like, sheesh, that reviewer must be either the author's mother, or that author is the next Herman Melville.
But I know one thing. I won't be having any of my relatives or friends posting any reviews for me just to build up a collection of positive or raving reviews. That, to me, anyway, is just plain phony. No friends. No relatives. To me, a review is only legitimate if someone who doesn't know you reads your book and writes a genuinely honest review about how they really liked or didn't like your book.
So, for me, no friends or relatives to pad positive reviews, thank you very much. And I can only hope the haters and twisted perverts don't get a hold of my book, either. Just honest people who love to read and who love an actionn/adventure story about the world's greatest martial artist. And I am confident people like that will love the book. That's how I honestly feel. We'll see.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
I've already eliminated the all caps thing. Replaced them with italics, too. So this time around, I'm reducing exclamation points, reducing the em dashes, and reducing the ellipses. Except where I think they are absolutely necessary.
In KILLER OF KILLERS, the amount of ellipses and em dashes are very few now. Exclamation points, too. But there are some that remain. We'll see how many remain in THE VASE. And the POV thing? I've found a couple places where they change in a scene. So if I do submit it to my current publisher, Melange Books, I'll have to fix those.
But first things first. Lets get those em dashes, ellipses and exclamation points under control. And there is one more thing about which I always wondered, and I finally found the answer.
I'm talking about whether ellipses and em dashes should have a space on either side of them, or even on one side. I have researched it, and different sources have different answers.
Take ellipses for instance. Some people say to have a space on both sides, like this: word ... next word. But some sources say to have a space only after the ellipsis, like this: word... next word. And some sources say to have no space on either side, like this: word...next word.
So my editor at Melange says to go the third way...no spaces on either side of the ellipsis. So that's what I'm doing. There is one exception. During dialogue, which is really the only times I use ellipses anyway, I use an ellipsis to denote a pause in a statement, but if that statement is not finished, and another independent statement begins after that, THEN I will put the space after the ellipsis, and follow it with a capital letter denoting the next statement.
Like this: "How... Never mind."
In that example, the question, "How did you get that?" was stopped after the "How" thus, "How..."
But the next statement, "Never mind" is an independent statement, therefore, the space and the capital letter for the next word, which is the first word in the new statement: "Never mind." But if you want to denote the speaker pausing in the midst of the same sentence, then no spaces before or after the ellipsis.
Like this: "How...did you get that?"
And for em dashes, which I don't usually use during dialogue but I do during prose, there are also different answers from different sources about spaces on either side of them. Like ellipses, some sources say a space on both sides, some sources say a space after the dash, and some sources say no spaces on either side.
I'm going with no spaces on either side. That's the Chicago Manual of Style, and it's consistent with the ellipses rule, too. Some sources say to use an em dash to denote a statement that is cut off or interrupted. I've seen that in books before, but ellipses can be used for that, too, without it being incorrect, and that's the way Melange wants it. So that's how I'm doing it.
All right. Back to work. Oh, that's another one. It's not alright. It's all right. Alright is not all right.
These different sources with different styles can be confusing. The bottom line is go with your publishing house rules. Find out what your editor wants, and that's the way you do it.
If you don't have a publisher yet, then my suggestion is go with the Chicago Manual of Style. There's some 15 editions, maybe 16 by now. so go with the latest one. That's all.
Monday, July 16, 2012
But now, the final draft of KILLER OF KILLERS has been sent to the publisher, (Saturday) who said that I will be receiving the ARC sometime this coming up week. I believe that it will be formatted in the way it will be published. I'm expecting to see a cover and all the mumbojumbo at the beginning, and then the Prologue and then Chapter One, etc.
So I will just have to relax and see how it turns out. In the meantime, check out all the great releases over at Melange Books if you have time. I have to say that if they liked my story, KILLER OF KILLERS, (and they did,) then they must have impeccable taste in stories. Absolutely impeccable.
August 26th can't come soon enough for me. But it will. Just watch.
Friday, July 13, 2012
I expected to be done by Thursday, but that thing called "family" seemed to interrupt. The two sons, the wife, the family dinner, the family thing altogether. My two sons still are young, 16 and 10, so I do take the time to be with them while they are. I know I won't regret that later.
So back to work. I will probably finish tonight, and check it over again early Friday morning, and then send it on to Sherry. It's happening, and KILLER OF KILLERS will be on its way. Be back on Monday to post again. See you then.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
I expect that my editor will go over the changes I made, but since she was saying that it was ready after the first edits, I can only imagine it's even more ready right now, or when I get all the way through it.
And I am very glad I am doing this because the way I see it, it's my last chance to make the prose as best as it can be. Like a crunch time thing, when you know it's now or never. And I am making it better. Even in places I thought couldn't be better. They are now.
Hopefully, I can get done before it's too late and send by today (Thursday) but if not, it will be done by Friday. And I'll have no regrets.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
So that's it. I'll get through the first half tonight, and hope to have the second half done by tomorrow. Which is actually today, since it's after midnight and this is technically a Wednesday post. The bottom line is I told her I'll send her the final version (KOK 3.0) by Thursday.
She said I did a fantastic job. And those were her words. You know what? I believe she's right. But truth be told, it was because of what I learned from her. And from Nancy. And don't forget the hard work. Yep, that plays a big part, too. If you don't work hard at something, how do you figure to get good at it. You don't.
So speaking of hard work, it's back to work for me. You can't work hard unless you just plain do it. But you knew that. At least most of you do. It's why you're writers. Isn't it? Yeah.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
If she wants a third round, that's okay, too. I'm game. Keep improving it until the last minute. But I'm glad I went through it again, even after applying the edits from the first round. I found stuff to improve and I did.
So the second round will actually be a third round for me. But still it will technically be the second round, and it's further than I got with the other two publishers in regards to THE VASE.
And speaking of THE VASE, I'm even going over that one again. Like for the umpteenth time, even though it's been twice professionally edited. But like I said, it didn't reach the second round by either of its two prior editors.
But hey, I know plenty enough about edits by now. And I am applying them to THE VASE. Specifically, the use of italics, em dashes, and exclamation points. You gotta use them sparingly. I mean very sparingly. Editors don't like those things. They say that they slow down the reader. I, myself, don't see it. They don't slow me down. But I guess other readers are slowed by them. Well, they're the editors, so you just go with it. You go with the flow.
And get rid of the all caps thing. I used to use all caps to denote yelling or screaming. But for that, italics will do. I did use italics for emphasis, and they work for screaming, too. My editor said that using all caps is a thing of the past. You know, the days of typewriters. But in today's computer age, italics is preferred, and I agree.
So keep revising everyone. That is if you've got a book you wrote. Don't let it sit. If I could ever give any advice, it's keep revising. Your writing will get better, and that's what you want. It's why KILLER OF KILLERS is so good now. And THE VASE, too.
Monday, July 9, 2012
And when the second round of edits come back to me this week, it will get better still. It makes me feel real good, too. Any writer will get a rush when they read something they've written and then find themselves thinking, "Whoa, I wrote that. Awesome."
It's like when I did artwork. As an artist, it's a great feeling to finish a drawing, a painting, or a sculpture, and then stand back and look at it. And you have that great feeling of accomplishment. You don't need anyone to come up to you and say, "Hey, that's a great drawing, or painting, or sculpture." You can see for yourself that it is. And that sense of accomplishment is like a natural high.
Same thing for playing a great piece of music on the piano. When I used to play Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, I would get that same feeling. Even when I was alone. And even when no one else was around to hear the masterpiece that the Moonlight Sonata is. But when I played it, and without a mistake, the feeling was tremendous.
And that feeling was even better, really, when I would play one of the many songs that I composed, myself. Okay, I'm not comparing myself to Beethoven, but composing a great song, and listening to it, even the recorded version, is still much like rereading something I wrote or gazing at a work of art that I created. And the feeling of accomplishment is still just as great.
So yes, it's all a similar feeling. And for me, at least at this point in my life, the writing of a complete novel is what makes me feel that feeling now. But unlike a work of art or a musical composition, the novel can always be improved. It can always get better. And that's what I'm doing for my novels. Until they are in print, they will continue to get better and better.
And that's what I would suggest for anyone else who is a writer. When you've finished your novel, don't just quit. Sure you can take a break from it. But get back to it sooner or later, and keep making it better. You'll be glad you did. I sure am.
Friday, July 6, 2012
And I also heard from my editor, Sherry, that I'll be getting round two of edits sometime next week. So I'm eager to keep polishing that prose which will make the writing ever so better. And then when I apply her additional edits, it may be ready. So we'll see. It's been a great road to publication, and I'm almost there. Stay tuned.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
And through it all, what I have to look forward to is the second round of edits for KILLER OF KILLERS. As exciting as Disneyland has been, it's the imminent publication of my debut novel, KILLER OF KILLERS that's got me charged.
And I suppose I'll be able to get back to the edits when I get home. It's not that I look forward to the vacation ending, it's just that I have so much to look forward to when it does. That's all.
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
You see, I'm a desktop computer type person. But I brought this laptop down to LA just in case I had a moment to turn it on, and here I am. And even though it was all about the family and Disneyland today, I could't help but wonder how I might write a Trent Smith story that takes place in Disneyland. I think that would not be wise. And that's because Disneyland is a kid's place. And KILLER OF KILLERS is NOT a kid's book. It's not a kid's story. Not by a long shot.
So I concluded that the two cannot be mixed. But the fact remains that I am still in the process of thinking about the third installment of the Trent Smith adventure. I think trilogies are the in thing, what with LOR and HG and the two Star Wars trilogies and the list goes on.
So as readers of this blog may know, KILLER OF KILLERS is the first episode and KILLER EYES is the second. The thing is, I wrote the conclusion to KILLER EYES so that it could be the final ending to Trent Smith's story. But that's not written in stone, as they say. In fact, it's not even written on paper yet. It's still just a file in a computer. I guess that would be a virtual file. But it means I can change that ending or use that ending for an ending to the third story if I write one. We'll see. And if I do write a third Trent Smith story, it will have to be a real killer of a story. Like the first two. But can that be possible? That's how good they are. But if other authors can do it, so can I.
Well, that's it for now. Maybe I post tomorrow, but if not, I'll for sure be back on Monday.
Monday, July 2, 2012
KILLER OF KILLERS is coming out real soon, so I figured it's about time. May as well not wait until the gun to start promoting there. Thought that getting the buzz going early could be a good idea. And the more places I promote this book, the better. I even have this blog plugged in over there. Maybe I'll get more followers. That would be cool, as long as they buy the book. And why woudn't they? If anyone likes a great adventure story, an action-packed thriller, about the world's greatest martial artist, then they won't regret buying this book.
And that's that. For now. Because today I'm going to take my family to Disneyland. We'll be in L.A. by this evening and in Disneyland by tomorrow. So this will be the only post for this entire week. I've been very consistent, posting every day, Mon - Fri, anyway. But every summer there will be a week or so I'll be on vacation, and this is the week.
So until next Monday, everyone have a great time reading!