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.



Friday, August 31, 2012

Melange a Great Publisher

So I do have a typo and Melange will allow me to correct it and make some other minor improvements in the manuscript. That makes me feel real good. I guess that's an advantage of digital formats, like eBooks and POD publishing.  So by next week, it will be finalized once and for all. Does that mean the books sold in the first week will be collector's items? Who knows?

As for my contest, well, if you want to win a free book, you'll have to get one before I send the fixed file to Melange. Because after that, it will be impossible to find a typo. There won't be any.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Who are the Readers?

So I told some of my fellow teachers yesterday about the release of Killer of Killers. They reacted positively. Some seemed more excited than I was. Some said they would buy a copy. Some Facebook people said they would, too.

But who are the other readers? I don't want people to buy the book just because they know me. Ideally, people who like to read will buy the book because it sounds like an interesting book. I would think anyone who ever enjoyed the many martial arts movies would be interested in Killer of Killers, because it really is a martial arts type of book.

But not just martial arts. It's an action-packed story. And it has a great hero in the greatest martial artist on the planet. Male readers like a strong male character. I know I always have. And Trent Smith is just that. I would put him up there with some of the greatest characters around. James Bond, Captain Kirk, and yes, even Conan.

And there's more. The women who have told me they liked it, (my first literary agent, and the editors at Melange,) liked the romance in it. There is a strong and competent female character in there. She's a police detective named Samantha Jones. And Trent Smith, my main character falls in love with her.

I can't go into it any more than that, really, because I don't want to put out any spoilers. My point is, it's not all action, fighting, killing, and blood. There are tender moments in there. Moments that can touch a reader's heart. And lessons. If you've seen some of the better martial arts stories, you've heard the philosophical elements that envelop the martial arts minds of the great masters.

Killer of Killers has all of that. If you read it, you'll see what I mean.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Killer of Killers - a Published Novel

Killer of Killers is a published novel. And it's been a published novel, now, for all of three days. So how can I get the word out? Well, I'm hesitant to tell my fellow teachers over here, because it's not a kid's book. That's the assumption people make, because I'm a teacher.

I am not sure to what extent Melange promotes their books. It's one of the questions I need to ask them. Maybe I should have before I signed on with them. But I do know that Barnes and Nobles told me that they would be willing to stock my book. They said they like to support their local authors. I've yet to go over there, though, since it's been released.

They even said they'd throw me a book release/book signing party. But I am too self conscious to do that. I know it's what other authors do. I would feel  too uncomfortable. All I've' got going for me is this  blog. But I'm not even sure how many people read it. Maybe some, maybe no one, maybe a lot. I can't really make anything out of the stats page. If those stats are correct a bunch of people all over the world are reading this. But that's hard to believe.

If it is true, then I hope they like martial arts stories and buy a copy of Killer of Killers. If you are someone who does buy a copy, drop me a line and let me know if you liked it. Maybe even write a review. I would welcome a truly honest review.

But no haters, please. And don't forget...a free book to the first person who can find a typo in there.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

So What Does It Feel Like?

So what does it feel like to be a published author? All this time I had strived for this moment. Actually, the moment I achieved two days ago, when Killer of Killers was published by the Minnesota-based publisher, Melange Books.

It felt good to be sure, but I didn't grow another inch or even gain any pounds. I suppose the real feelings will come when people actually start reading the book and make comments. And depending on  those comments, I'm sure, will be how I feel.

Right now, two days in, I don't think many people besides my publisher, editors, and my brother, (who happens to be my Beta reader) has read it. All I know so far is that they liked it. Oh, and one other person read it. My very first Literary Agent, Anita Kushen. And she told me she loved it.

I'll try to look her up on Facebook today, and let her know that it's now a published book. Maybe she will get a kick out of hearing that. I hope she buys a copy, too, because she read a very early version of it. I mean it's been revised a million times since she read it like four or five years ago.

At any rate, I'll have to see how other people respond to it. And I better be prepared. First of all, I know in my heart that it's a great story. Another literary agent had said it was a terrific storyline. And that was an even earlier draft than the one Anita read.

And second of all, I'm confident that it's a very well written book. Five years of polishing a manuscript can have that kind of an effect.

But there will be haters. One thing I've learned since being an on-line presence is that people use their anonymous status on the internet to be mean. It's surprising, too, just how mean. I'm not saying people have been mean to me, but now that I have something that is up for review, I can't expect every review to be a wonderful one. There will be people who hate, just for the love of hating. They do it everywhere there's an opportunity. Like forums...and reviews.

These people love to hate others, and knowing they will remain nameless emboldens them. Oh well. Ya gotta take it with a grain of salt. That's all.

Monday, August 27, 2012

KILLER OF KILLERS is Published!

So my journey to publication has reached its destination! Publication. Killer of Killers is now a published novel. And as of yesterday, it is available for purchase.

I'm not into throwing parties as many authors do for the release of their books, but I do hope anyone and everyone who has read this blog will go to the link to the right of this post and click on the image of the KOK cover design where it says: Click on image to buy. And then buy a copy!

Again, if you like action adventures, this is the book for you. If you've ever enjoyed martial arts stories, this is the book for you. If you just like well-written books about interesting characters, intriguing plots, and exciting events, this is the book for you. If you like a good romance, even, this is the book for you. And for those of you who like a theme in stories, yes, this is the book for you. I never talked about that, but this book does have a heavy theme.

Killer of Killers has it all. Get your copy today.

Friday, August 24, 2012

DONE

I talked a lot about Melange yesterday, and publisher Nancy, and how they put up with me. Well today was crunch time, and I scrambled with last second revisions, some of which were a part of Melange guidelines on how to use and how not to use italics.

But I got them done. I sent the final doc just a few minutes ago, and with it a PDF file to ensure the changes are not changed.

Here's hoping the release date of THIS SUNDAY remains UNchanged and on Monday anyone and everyone can order their own copy, or as many copies as they please! Yeah.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Kudos for Melange Books

So my publisher, Melange Books, may not be one of the Big Six, but you know what? They work every bit as hard, or dare I say even harder. I mean would any of the Big Six publishers have taken the time to listen to me about what I wanted changed in the ARCs they sent me? And within days of the scheduled publication?

Well, since I never worked for any Big Six publisher, I can't say for certain, and maybe they would have, but what I can say for certain is that Melange Books did listen. Not only did they listen, they acted on my concerns and didn't drag their feet when they acted on every single thing I said.

First, Caroline, the Art Director in charge of covers, responded every time I had an issue with the cover design. And now, Nancy, the publisher, acted on every concern I had inside the ARC. I mean both Caroline and Nancy responded quickly, efficiently, and with the utmost professionalism.

Take yesterday, for example. I had decided to let Nancy know about that italics problem. She fixed it. Then I decided I didn't want it and changed the two sentences completely. Again, she accommodated me and made the changes. Then after I approved the ARC, I found a typo. Again, she fixed it.

And now, the ARC of Killer of Killers is as perfect as a manuscript can get. Maybe I can challenge any potential readers to finding any typos that remain. Of course, typos have a way of hiding and then springing out when you least expect it. So if there are any remaining typos, then I welcome anyone to bring them to my attention, and the first person to do that gets the free copy.

But that remains to be seen. Like typos.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"Contest" is off - Sorry

On Monday's post, I was talking about a sentence in the final version of Killer of Killers that was supposed to be italicized. I had thought it couldn't be fixed because I believed Nancy at Melange had already sent the manuscript to print. So I said that anyone who could find it would get a free copy.

Well last night I fixed it in the doc version, (I also have the PDF) and sent it to Nancy, just in case there was still time. Fortunately, she answered this morning that there was still time. So, that means the contest is off. And there can't be any other contest, because there is nothing else wrong with the manuscript.

At least, like I always say, until the next time I find something. But as of now, it's good to go. Sorry about canceling the contest. Maybe I can think of another way to give away a free copy. I'll let you know.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Countdown

Five days and counting until the release of Killer of Killers. I used to capitalize it, but I read somewhere that you're supposed to italicize the title of books so that's what I do now. In the old days you used to underline the title of books. I don't really know when that changed. Sometime in the computer age, I'm sure, since only in the digital formats can you italicize your text. Typewriters didn't have an italics key.

So I've been going back to everywhere that I've put book titles and changed the text to italics now. Well, you learn as you go along. Unless you take a class in all this new stuff. I probably should have done that. But I've had enough of that. I'm the teacher now.

Monday, August 20, 2012

First Day of School - And Final ARC is Perfect

Well, today was the first day of school, and it felt great to be back in the grind. I'm one of those teachers who happens to love his job, and being around my students again was a great thing. But I didn't have time to blog this morning, so it's why I'm doing it now.

Besides all of that, my final ARC came Sunday morning, and it was flawless. Absolutely flawless. That means no typos. Even though everyone seems to admit that typos are inevitable, I can say, at least for now, that KILLER OF KILLERS has no typos.

There is one spot that somehow got changed, but it's not a typo. One of the lines in there was supposed to be italicized, and I discovered that it wasn't, but I figure no one will even be able to tell which line it is. So I'm not gonna tell. BUT, I will award anyone who can find that line a free book. Either eBook or print. Their choice.

So as things go, I can't be more happy about how well the book turned out. I'll be getting my first print book, (the advance Print Proof copy) in about a week. It will be the first time I will be able to hold in my hands a book that I wrote.

And what a book. I have no qualms in admitting what I think of that book. It's my favorite book of all time. My favorite character of all time. And it's my favorite story of all time. Yeah, so I'm biased, so what? That doesn't matter. What matters is that KILLER OF KILLERS is the greatest martial arts book ever written. Hands down. And kudos to Melange Books for recognizing that and publishing it. That's one great publisher there. And I have no problem saying that either.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Well, Wait a minute

I should have known better. Found a typo in that ARC. The asterisks that separate a scene break weren't centered correctly. I don't know how I missed it the first three times I proofed it. But Nancy said fixing them now is not a problem. It's when the book's in print, that's when it's a problem. So with one last chance, I deleted a dialogue tag, too, because it improved the prose. But I am 99% sure now, there's no more typos. Until I find another one, that is.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

ARC Done, Delivered, and Approved!

The ARC is done. It's delivered. It's approved. By me. Approved by me, that is. And the bumps in the road have been smoothed. It's as perfect as any document or manuscript can be. I dare say there are no typos in there. And all the last second revisions or edits, they got done. And they are included. All of the paranoia is relieved. It's a finished work.

And Nancy over at Melange sent me the PDF version of the book just this morning, and I couldn't be happier the way it all turned out. Those glitches were actually a blessing in disguise. Because during the course of getting them fixed, I had those last chances to change the things in there that I wanted to get changed. Had it been perfect from the first PDF, I would have lamented this or that.

But now, I have no regrets, no lamentations, and no reservations. It's as perfect as could be. And I am nothing short of thrilled. Can't wait to see it in print. Once again, if you are someone who likes martial arts stories or movies, then this book is the book for you. It will be published August 26th, which is the Sunday after this coming Sunday. Yeah!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pesky Errors

Can't seem to get past those pesky word processing errors on the ARC. It's like, finally I'm getting Killer of Killers published. Finally it got edited, and finally the ARC arrives. Only it's not good to go. But it's a good thing that ARCs exist. It's the last chance an author has to make sure the book is free of errors. Well, I'm the author, and inspect it I did.

And as is, it's not good to go. Melange fixed the Author page as I requested, but those word processing errors seem to hang on like, well, I suppose there's a ton of similes that would work here.  And I'd like to use one. But I've gotten out of the habit ever since most writing sites advise against using them in your prose.

But I sent word back to Nancy with a revised itemized list of things to correct. So it's back to waiting. Waiting? Where have I heard that before? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

ARC not done yet

Well, I guess there was a lot to change in that ARC, or the changes weren't so easy. I still haven't received that corrected version of it.

I'm not worried. Some of those word processing glitches might be head scrathers. I know that over the course of useing Microsoft Word, no matter what year or format I've used, every so often something happens that makes you say, "WTF?"

And then it takes a frustrating moment to figure out how to rectify the problem. So I think it might have happened with the ARC, too. Or maybe Nancy is just busy with a lot of stuff and simply isn't finished yet.

At any rate, I'm betting I get it today. KILLR OF KILLERS will be published by Melange Books in less than two weeks. Stay tuned.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Got the ARC, but...

As I hoped, the ARC to KILLER OF KILLERS came yesterday, and it's called the ARC for good reason. The Advanced Review Copy is for the author to proof, and make sure everything is as it should be BEFORE it goes into print.

And proof it I did. And there were things that needed to be changed. Aside from the expected word processing glitches, I chose to have the name of my place of employment deleted from the "About the Author" page. With all the whackos out there, I figured since I work at a school, then it's not so wise for anyone who picks up the book to have that information readily available to them. The teaser blurb needed tweaking, too.So I itemized all the things that needed to be changed in an email to Nancy last night.

And it's all being taken care of today. Nancy already emailed me this morning and said she would resend it by tonight. So all is well, and I am very excited. Can't wait to get it again, and find everything perfect. Fingers crossed.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Another week down

Which leaves two more weeks to go before KILLER OF KILLERS is published. Barring something unforeseen, that is. I was hyped twice for signing contracts for THE VASE to get published. And as I've reported, both times the publishers flaked.

One folded, and the other, well, just flaked. There were a lot of red flags, too. The first red flag was that I had never received any correspondence from the top person of the company. (Who called himself the President.) Just had communications from the Acquisitions Manager, (as she called herself) and my editor, (who was called a senior editor.)

I mean, this "president" never even sent me a countersigned copy of the contract. Then months went by after the first round of edits with no more contact from anyone. Then the Acquisitions Manager finally emailed me to tell me she quit the company. Then after emailing my editor months after that, she, too, said she quit the company.

And never any contact from Mr. President. I had to invoke the part of the contract that enabled me to cancel the contract for noncontact. Fortunately for me that was one of the terms, and I used it.

So will anything like this happen with Melange? God, I hope not. Not when I'm so close. So very close. But I still don't have that ARC. Here's hoping it will come by this weekend. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Work and the Post Office

Don't know how much time I'll have to revise today. I'm done with the last roundof edits, anyway. But after work, I'll take a trip to the post office to submit THE VASE to two more publishers.

It's weird how there are still publishers who don't accept email queries or submissions. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to do these hard copy subs. Thank goodness most publishers do accept digital subs. I couldn't imagine printing out an entire manuscript every time I submitted.

Not only the time to do it would be a problem, but the cost in paper and ink would be inhibitive. But some people, (and publishers) are slow to join the 21st Century. I ought to know, I was slow to join the 21st Century, too. I think I was the last of all the people I knew to buy a computer and a cell phone. But at least I finally did.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Got to get back in the groove

That means I have to go back to work. I didn't make it yesterday, so to work I go today. If nothing else, I'll see what kind of disarray the summer custodians made of my rooms. Are the tables and chairs back where they're supposed to be? They haven't been for the last few years, so I don't expect them to be this year.

Once I have my rooms back in order, the rest of the job is routine. You know, welcome the kids back, go to teacher meetings, attend Back to School Night, yeah, the old routine. And then back to teaching kids how to draw and how to sculpt in clay. That's the fun part.

Speaking of clay, this latest revision to THE VASE is about done. And that means I'll be submitting it again. It's a heck of a story. Original, unique, and any other synonym you can think of. Funny thing is, I don't make vases, myself. Just sculptures. But so what. I'm still an expert in clay. And so is the main character in THE VASE, Muhsin Muhabi.

But he has an easier job. All he has to do is sell vases in the Old City Market in downtown Nazareth. I have to manage 30 plus kids in a classroom. Oh well. Such is life.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Working on THE VASE

It's becoming strange to me that KILLER OF KILLERS will be released in less than three weeks, but this past week I've been hard at work on THE VASE. And THE VASE doesn't even have a publisher yet. It did twice before, and two others are waiting for me to sign a contract, but I'm waiting on a few other publishers to decide if they want it first.

And while I'm waiting, I'm back to revising it. Ah yes, the eternal job of revising, of which, even THE VASE is not exempt. And all the better, because, like revisions can do, it's getting better, and ever better.

So why am I surprised? I'm not. It's what happened to KILLER OF KILLERS, and even that one still has room to improve. But I'm relegated to waiting on the ARC for that. Again, I was too quick on the send button. I've given the advice in the past to not be so quick on the send button. And I thought I wasn't. I rechecked it, and re-revised it even past the point where my editor said it was ready.

And after sending it, still I found something I want to change. But at least it's a minor thing. With THE VASE, I'm making some major revisions. Not in the story line, but in the prose. And not just a word here and there. I'm changing sentences and entire paragraphs to make it read better. Some parts are improved to the point that they make better sense, too.

It's like maybe it's better that those two publishers didn't get it published after all. Because now when it happens, it will be ready more than ever. So until that happens, I'll just keep making it better. That's all.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Final Week of Sumer Vacation

This is it. The last week of Summer vacation. After this week, teachers must report. But I usually go back to work the week before that, which means that I'll be returning to work this week. I have two classrooms to prepare. One for sculpture and one for drawing.

I have two rooms because any ceramics teacher can tell you that you don't want to "live" in a ceramics classroom. It gets mighty dirty in there. And dusty. And I'm a clean-type person. I clean, clean, clean, get the kids to clean, too, and then clean some more. The custodians at my school love me. I do most of their job for them. My rooms are typically cleaner, (and by that I mean much cleaner) than the average classroom.

But setting up at the beginning of the year is another thing altogether. I spend a good bit of time putting everything away at the end of the year, and now I have to get it all back out. So maybe I'll go back tomorrow. No. Maybe Tuesday. Yeah. Tuesday.

Friday, August 3, 2012

One Week Down

One Week Down, which leaves three weeks to go until KILLER OF KILLERS is finally in print. But darn it, I'm still waiting on that ARC. I know the text is all good, except just one little part. And it's on page one of all things.

It just goes to show how those revisions are just never done. I want to change just one part of just one sentence. Really, I want  to delete it. It's a dialogue tag. I want to delete it. It will be better without it. So I guess considering the entirety of the manuscript, it's a miniscule thing. But it's on page one. That's what's killing me.

So when the ARC comes, that is what I'm waiting to change. And then it will be good to go. Still it will be interesting to see how the dedications page and the acknowledgement page look. I'm curious if Melange will insert a Table of Contents, too. I hope they do. But these days, many books don't bother with that.

Whatever. I'm sure they'll do what they think is best.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

THE VASE - WOW

I've been so excited about the imminent publication of KILLER OF KILLERS, I'd almost forgotten just how great THE VASE is. And now that I've been focusing on it while awaiting the ARC of KOK, it just keeps getting better and better.

I suppose I shouldn't act like it's all that, but you know what? It is. I'm not a better writer than anyone else out there, but like anyone else who puts in a tremendous amount of time and effort to make something better and better, it happened. KOK got better and better over five years, and the same thing is true for THE VASE.

There is no secret formula, no secret password, no magic words, and no incantation. It's all about hard work. And the more you work on something, the better it gets. That's what has happened with KILLER OF KILLERS and THE VASE. That's all.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

ARC due any day

There is just no way to get around this waiting thing when it comes to publishing. First you have to wait for an agent to get back to you. Then you have to wait for your agent to do his or her job, which means more waiting. If you forego the agent and submit to publishers on your own, then you still have to wait for your submissions to get answered. Sometimes that takes a very long time.

And then when you finally land a publisher, there is still more waiting. You have to wait on the editor, and then wait on the editor again. Then you have to wait on the final wait of all the waits. The ARC. And that final wait is the wait on which I'm waiting.

It kind of sounds funny by this time. But once that last wait is done, I should see my book in print. But first I have to proof that ARC, and that's the wait that's killing me now. It should be here any day now. Maybe today. Nancy, the owner of Melange puts out a lot of books. About six to twelve a month it seems. Some publishers put out that many in an entire year. So going by that, she publishes a lot of books. Which means she's a very busy lady. She must be preparing a lot of ARCs.

So I can understand. I'm only one author. There's at least a half dozen other authors waiting for their ARCs right now, too. But keeping that in mind only makes it understandable, not easier. So who said the business of publishing was easy or fast? Well, self publishers can say it, I suppose. But I say that self publishing, with a few exceptions, is for those writers who can't find a publisher. Anyone can self-publish. Anyone. Even the worst writers in the world.

I don't and never wanted that stigma over my head. So it's back to waiting then. And that's what I'm doing. Tick, tick, tick...