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, September 28, 2012

Killer of Killers - a Martial Arts Thriller

I've already talked about the general lack of martial arts novels that have been published. If you were to google it, you'd find a list of some. And some on that list, I'm not even sure would be considered martial arts novels. But I wouldn't know. I haven't read them. I have picked up some of them. The "Rain" books were some that I tried to read a couple years ago. But I couldn't weather them.

I'm not dissing them. I'm sure they're good books. But at the time, I was writing Killer of Killers, and my mind was probably geared more to writing than to reading. I picked up the Rain books from the library, because I read somewhere that you should read in the genre that you are writing. But as I said, I couldn't last through even the first one.

But I'm not so sure that you have to read books in the genre you want to write. Maybe for some genres, but for martial arts novels? I don't think so. You do have to do research. And I did. I researched like crazy. I researched martial arts dojos, and actually spent a lot of time at one. It's the one my son attended for ten years. I got to know the Shihan pretty well. I interviewed him for the purpose of writing the book, even. I talked to a lot of the senseis over there, too.

I researched the moves, the throws, the blows, the philosophies, the history, and incorporated all of that into Killer of Killers. You might say that the Shoji Tokyo Dojo is based on the dojo my son attended.  And that's a good thing. It gives a realistic portrayal of a dojo, and the people who train there. But I also researched a ton of medical data, too. Because Trent Smith is an expert at attacking nerves and the circulatory system. He can kill with a single strike. But he doesn't have to kill. He can also paralyze, blind, cripple, and alter the way he strikes to exact any range of the above.

So, no. Trent Smith isn't just a killer of killers. He can do and does everything in between. And as far as I know, Killer of Killers is the only book with a character who does all of those things in a single story. Yes, Trent Smith is a great hero. He's up there with James Bond and Conan. Two of my all-time favorite heroes. There's always room for another great hero. Trent Smith has arrived.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Other Journey Continues

I was talking about my journey to publication being completed yesterday, but really it's only one of many journeys. Now the other journey must continue. And that is the journey to publication for The Vase. I just submitted it again yesterday, and we'll see how that goes. It's a good publisher, I think, and would be a nice fit for a book like The Vase.

My goal is to have Melange publish the Killer of Killers books, meaning Killer of Killers and the two sequels I have planned. And another publisher publish The Vase and even John Dunn. But goals sometime must be adjusted to accommodate reality and/or alternate plans. So it's a 'we'll see' type of thing.

In the meantime, I will get back to perfecting Killer Eyes, and maybe outline The Killers Guild. I have learned so much about formatting and POV and making a manuscript the way it should be when Killer of Killers got published. And I don't want to be making last second changes for that one. When it's at he level of Killer of Killers, then I will submit it to Melange.

Same thing for The Vase. But that one's already there.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Journey Completed

So now that my journey to publication is completed, I'm wondering about this blog. Do I keep blogging? This was supposed to be like a journal on or about that journey. And I have reached the end of that road. But only for one of my books. Do I keep writing about the others?

It was a strange journey in many ways. I had written Killer of Killers first, but it seemed for a while that The Vase was going to get published first, thus the name of the blog. But two publishers failed to publish it, and I am hesitant to go with the other two who said they would.

I haven't proposed it to Melange yet. I thought maybe it's better to have more than one publisher, but I'm not sure about that any more. The other publishers who were supposed to be reviewing The Vase seem to be taking their time. And that is to be expected. I was spoiled there for a minute when Melange offered a contract the day after I submitted the full ms.

So yeah, that was definitely the exception to the rule. You better be prepared to wait for months to hear back from a publisher, and that's what I've been doing for The Vase.

But if this year ends with no word, I think I will submit The Vase to Melange. I know they will publish Killer Eyes. I told them about it, and they were interested. They should be. It wraps up the story from Killer of Killers. If I ever do write The Killers Guild, it will be more like an addendum to the story or a sequel. Still it will be connected to the story, more so than being just another episode in the life of Trent Smith. But one thing I better make sure of is that it is as exciting and adventurous as the first two. Well, it will be. Don't worry about that.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Melange Works Hard

Although I've never met anyone at Melange Books personally, I happen to know that they all work very hard at what they do. How do I know? Well for one thing, Nancy, the publisher, never backed off from my continued requests to improve the manuscript. So you may say it's to her advantage, also, to have a better book out there that's one of her publications. And that may be so, but she also has a lot of other authors, and I can't believe that I'm the only one who is picky about his/her manuscript.

And everything she did for me, I would think she does for them, as well. Now other authors may or may not be as picky. It could well be true that once their books are published, they leave it as is. But I didn't do that. I had already revised Killer of Killers countless times. And it underwent an editing round at Melange, too. But I went over it again, and again. And then after it was published, still again, and again. Being a POD publisher has its advantages. Seeing that a ton of books weren't printed and distributed, I was able to improve the prose and correct the typos and have it "reloaded."

And that's what happened. But still I wasn't satisfied. I did it yet again. The reason was because I learned a lot more about paragraph formatting. And even though much of that could be subjective, I decided on a specific way to do it, and wanted the book to be consistent. And now it is. But it took a lot of emails between me and Nancy, and every time she responded and acted on my requests. What more could I ask?

And don't forget how hard Caroline worked on that cover. I mean she had to put up with almost the same kind of thing that Nancy did. I would scrutinize that cover every day after she designed it. And at least three times, maybe even four times, I had something to say about it to make it better. And she did. Every time.

So now, Killer of Killers is as good a read as possible. I mean there is nothing more I can do. It's finished, like I was talking about in yesterday's post. Kudos to Melange.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Now What?

So no more work on Killer of Killers. It's a done deal. No more revisions. No more edits. No more worrying about what could be better, or what might have been written better, or what should be changed to make it better. No more of that. It's a done deal.

And that's that. Or is it? So who's reading it? I know a couple people who said they would buy it. Still, I'm not even sure if they did. As far as I know, it sold two copies. Although, I'll admit that I don't really know anything about sales or figures.

As far as what's next, I'll take the copies I ordered from Melange to Barnes and Nobles. They were kind enough to me to at least tell me that they would stock it on their shelves. At least the one in the area where I live. It would be nice if the Barnes and Nobles chain would stock it. But I guess this is just a start. I suppose they'll stock the few that I provide, and if they sell out, then maybe they will order more straight from the publisher.

As for a book release party or a reading, well, I'm too shy for that. Maybe I might agree to a signing event, but I would rather not even do that. I figure what for? Say I sit at some table for two hours, or so, and only one person buys a book for me to sign, I'll feel pretty bad. I'm not someone anyone knows. So it would probably be a bad idea.

Word of mouth will take time. Let's see how things are in about a year from now. Then maybe we'll talk about signing events and such. That's okay. I waited four years for it to get published. I suppose I can wait a little longer for it to sell. Fingers crossed.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Let it go Global

Final reload is today and that means Killer of Killers is absolutely done. No more revisions. No more edits. No more changes or paragraphing formats. It is set in stone, so to speak. And I'm good with that. Because I truly believe that every error and every typo has been corrected.

And when the distribution is global, the sky's' the limit. I hope people buy it. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Books Arrived

So my books arrived yesterday, but I didn't see them until I got home which wasn't until about nine o'clock at night. Still it was great to hold Killer of Killers in my hands and open it for the first time.

My oldest son seemed the most excited. It really wasn't real for him until he, too, saw and held the book. He began reading it right away. It was funny when he told me he found a typo. But I had to tell him that the word "absentee" is not a typo, that it is in fact a real word.

He also didn't know the word paramour. Well, he's only sixteen, and I have said time and again that this book is not for kids. But I wasn't going to squelch his enthusiasm for the book his father wrote and got published. He is a great son. And so is my younger one. I'm a lucky dad.

But I can't wait for the final reload. That's when I'll order more of the books and take them to the bookstores. Should happen by tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Back to School Night Tonight

Yes, tonight is Back to School Night, which means I'll be busy here at work until about nine o'clock tonight. Maybe I'll have a chance to go home for an hour or two, but I won't have much time to work on my books.

But taking a one day break is okay. Sometimes you get too close to a book and you don't see the errors or the clunkers in it. (Clunkers are spots of shoddy prose.) And when you come back to it and you see them, you wonder how you missed them in the first place.

It's happened a lot to me. So you just keep on going, that's all. Eventually, all the errors get fixed, and the clunkers, too. It's called time. It takes time to perfect a novel. A lot of time.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Global Distribution

My publisher told me that soon, Killer of Killers will undergo a global distribution. That sounds good, since the stats on my blog indicate that people all over the world are reading this.

Don't know how anyone even knows about it. But that's fine by me. Let's see how it all pans out.

Meanwhile, back to the grindstone. I have one last chance to make it better, and that's just what I'm doing. Let you know when it's done. Stay tuned.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fatigue?

There's been talk of fatigue in authors when it comes to writing their books. They say that they grow sick of their book at some point. After five years of working on Killer of Killers, I can honestly say that I never grew sick of it. In fact, I've come to love it more and more as the time went by.

Even now, after it's been published for a couple weeks, I still want to improve it. I've endlessly revised it, and still I'm finding ways to improve it. It's already been reloaded once, and I want to ask Nancy to do that one more time. Nothing really is changed, though. Just some paragraphing/formatting things, and some very minor prose polishing. It's the same story. But it reads better.

I'm a perfectionist, you see. It's the artist in me. And that's not something I would apologize for, in fact, it will only make for a better book, a better publication. And who would argue with that?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Blogging Phase Dying Out?

A lot of bloggers are no longer blogging. Even the most famous one, whose name I shall not mention now, even though I've mentioned it before, has become an infrequent poster on the blogosphere. Several bloggers whose blogs I used to read no longer blog at all.

So is the phase dying out? Is Twitter the next phase? I never twittered and don't expect to any time soon. I don't even know how to do it. The reason I blogged at all was to make an effort to establish a "platform" which, I had learned from reading blogs, was something an author needed if they wanted to be successful.

And now that I have a book published, I'm not even sure that this blog has led to a single sale of a single book. Or even a digital file. Two of the bloggers who had followed my blog are no longer blogging. Which, to me anyway is unfortunate, because I read their blogs and looked forward to buying their books when they became available.

So what happened to them? I don't know if their books were ever published, don't know if they just gave up, or what. It's kind of sad to me. I had hoped that one of them would be a beta reader for my fourth novel, John Dunn, Heart of a Zulu. But I guess that won't happen.

Speaking of which, it's time to get back to these other books I wrote. John Dunn is one of them, of course, but the book I should really start concentrating on is Killer Eyes, the sequel to Killer of Killers. And then the third and final entry into the Trent Smith story, The Killers Guild. But I haven't even outlined that one yet. But I'm getting some good ideas for it. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Rock and the Hard Place?

I'm not sure that saying is applicable to my situation. I'm a Middle School teacher. And the kind of books for Middle School kids are MG books. I mean not even YA books are really appropriate. And I don't teach Literature over here, so I'm not all that familiar with too many MG books. I know of some. The Rats of Nimh is one, and I actually liked it. I taught sixth grade core for a while before I got my full  assignment of Exploratory classes, and that was the book we read for Literature class.

The YA books I know are the ones that were made into movies. And the thing is, I am stumped as to how they became popular. Take the super hit Harry Potter, for example. A boy wizard in wizard school? Where is the appeal? And Twilight? A vampire forever attending high school classes? I don't get it. And then there's Hunger Games. A teenage killing game? That one's over my head, too.

Regardless, they all became hits, and kudos to the authors. They achieved the ultimate in having their books made into movies. What could be better than that?

But I can't even really promote my book, Killer of Killers. Not where I work. Because it's not for kids. The few people I've told about it, I had to be sure to tell them it's not for kids. They can't believe it. They act surprised. It's like they're thinking that I'm out of line being a teacher writing books that are not for kids. So should I promote it or not? Well, I guess I should, just not here. That's all.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Paper vs. Digital

There has been a lot of discussion about printed books going the way of the dinosaur. The digital age has arrived, and eBooks are the new thing. Well, it's true that the digital age has arrived and eBooks are the new thing, but I don't believe that printed books will go the way of the dinosaur. At least not for another few years, anyway. Like fifty, I'd say.

One of the reasons I say that, other than the fact that a lot of people just plain prefer paper, is that having a real physical book in your hands is really a different experience than sitting in front of a computer screen or an eReader screen.  Turning pages, smelling the print, feeling the paper, is all part of the experience of reading a book. And digital books remove all of that.

Of course, you still have the words. And therefore you can still read. But it's not the same. Like now, for me. I have yet to receive my debut book, Killer of Killers, in print. I do have the digital copy. And I've been happy perusing it on a computer screen. But I long for the moment when I can hold my book in my hands and turn the pages and read the ink. So, even now, the fact that I'm a published author has not  been, shall I say, consummated yet. Because even though it has happened, I don't have a real book in my possession to show for it.

Well, I expect to have one this week. In fact, I expect to have ten or eleven this week. And when they arrive, only then will I be able to hold my book and say, "I wrote this book." And I will sit down and I will read it, and turn the pages just like in the olden days. Somehow that just sounds better. Is that an old school thing? Maybe it is. Maybe I'm just an old school type of guy.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Time to Visit Book Stores

I'm going to be visiting the local Barnes and Nobles this week. I have about ten of my books on the way, I hope, and when they arrive, I'm going to take  some of them with me. I've already talked to people over there about stocking Killer of Killers, and they were agreeable to that. They even suggested hosting a "Signing" or "Book Release" party for me, but parties aren't for me.

Still, it was a nice gesture to offer that. I'm no party animal, so I won't take them up on it. But I would very much like for them to stock my book. I'm not sure to what extent Melange Books gets their books into bookstores, but I don't think it's a hassle to visit Barnes and Nobles again and this time with books in hand. And there's a few other book stores around here, too. If they're anywhere near as obliging as my local Barnes and Nobles was, I should have my book stocked in them, too. And, btw, there's more than just one Barnes and Nobles close by. There's three or four of them in the area.

So I'll let you know how that goes.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Update - Killer of Killers Reloaded!

And that is the final draft, once and for all. I won't be so arrogant like before and say there are no more typos, but, heck, if there are, I sure don't know where they are.

So, if you want a  copy of Killer of Killers, please order away! And enjoy!

Or Time to Take a Break

Maybe it's time to just take a break from writing. I began five years ago. I wrote Killer of Killers over summer vacation, used the next nine months to revise it, then wrote The Vase over the next summer vacation. I used the next nine months to revise it, and then I wrote Killer Eyes over the next summer vactation. But I didn't use the next nine months revising that one. I spent the next nine months polishing both Killer of Killers and The Vase, and found an agent for Killer of Killers.

Well, the agent thing sure didn't work out for reasons documented on this blog, but three publishers offered contracts for The Vase. (which, also, didn't work out.)

Meanwhile, the next summer vacation I wrote John Dunn, Heart of a Zulu, and the ensuing months resulted in a contract for Killer of Killers. And now Killer of Killers is published, although I am waiting for the latest file to be reloaded for when I order my own copies of it. Hopefully that will be any day now.

And after a pretty good submission process for The Vase, on which I am still awaiting news, I think a break of maybe a week or two is in order. At least until I settle down with my new book in hand and collect my senses about what direction I want to go.

We'll see.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Time to Turn Back to The Vase?

Now that Killer of Killers is published, I guess I'll turn my attention back to The Vase. It's weird how it seemed as though that was the one that was going to get published first, and then the next thing you know, Killer of Killers is published and The Vase is still without a contract.

I was sure The Vase was going to be published first, and when I signed the contract for it I changed my blog name to THE VASE. But nothing is guaranteed, and so it is what it is.

But I believe in The Vase, every bit as much as I believed in Killer of Killers. I figured that one would have a greater appeal. Could be true, still. But what's taking so long? Well, that's publishing for you. It takes a long time. Just about every aspect of that business takes a long time.

So if you're not willing to be patient, don't be a writer. That's all.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

File Sent - And That's It!

Okay, I sent the file for reload last night, and I am very glad I wasn't quick on the trigger. I had it finished the night before, but as I have explained, I learned not to be quick on that trigger. I decided to wait a day, and those last second catches would be fixed in time.

And that's exactly what happened. After work, (and before sending,) I corrected two Spanish words that were misspelled, and corrected a very important paragraphing error. And even a couple more very, very minor things, so minor that they aren't even worth mentioning other than the fact that I fixed them and that they will make the overall quality improved.

And then I sent it. And another good thing about Nancy at Melange is that she let's you know she got the file, and you don't have to sit there and hope she did.

Which means that Killer of Killers is a done deal. No more work on that one. It's published, it's reloaded, and that means that it's FINISHED. No more revisions, no more editing, no more polishing, it's a finished manuscript because it's a PUBLISHED book now.

I know I talked about arrogance yesterday. So I won't be so arrogant like I was before, and say that there are no more errors or typos. But if there are, they are minor. I hope that doesn't bring me into the arrogant field again. But whatever. If there are errors or typos in there, so be it. It's still a great book, and an exciting read for anyone who likes adventure, action, love, romance, and the rollercoaster ride of the world's greatest martial artist.

Buy a copy of Killer of Killers, but don't buy it today. Wait until Nancy has time to reload that latest file. Hopefully by tomorrow. I'll let  you know.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Will Send New File Today

I'll be sending the new file of Killer of Killers today. I finished it last night, actually, but I've learned not to be too quick on the trigger. If I had a nickel for every time I did that, well, you know how the saying goes.

But I've also learned something else. Don't be so arrogant. I was so sure there were no typos or any other errors in that manuscript. That was arrogance, and I regret being that way. Because there were errors and typos in it. Most were paragraphing inconsistencies which are fixed now. And as for typos? Well, there were more than just one.

Yep, as of last night, after I had finished going over that ms with a fine tooth comb, so to speak, I found seven typos. Ouch. And a "head-hopping" error, too, which is one of Melange Books' pet peeves. They don't like POV switching in the same scene.  It was easily fixed, just by deleting the sentence in front of that particular character's dialogue.

One thing I can say for certain is that there weren't any misspelled words. I mean except for one of the seven typos. The main character's name, which is Trent, had an "r" missing at one point. Sure, it only happened once, but how I missed it all those times I read it is  beyond me. I mean, his name is Trent, not Tent!

So, yeah, all the changes were minor, but there were enough of them to make this "Reload" worthwhile. So I am very glad that Nancy, the publisher is doing it. And that is to her credit. If all publishers were like Nancy, then their books would be top quality. And that speaks volumes for the books at Melange. Check them out. If you want quality reads, then you need look no further.