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.



Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween-Killer of Killers!

So Happy Halloween, and Happy Halloween especially to anyone who happens to be a fan of Killer of Killers, my debut novel, which has been reloaded and is better than ever.

Just take a look at that cover. Does it inspire the spirit of Halloween? I think it does. Even though it's not really a Halloween book, (there are no monsters, like vampires, zombies, or werewolves,) but it sure would be a great book for Halloween.

Because, for one thing, there is a lot of action, and yes, a lot of violence. And killing. But not gratuitous. Nothing gratuitous at all. It's a martial arts thriller is what it is. It's about the world's greatest martial artist. But he doesn't run around in a martial arts costume. He doesn't ever wear his black belt. Well, in flashbacks he does. But during the course of the story, he can't even find it. Someone sneaks into his residence and steals it. Why? Well, you've got to read the story.

Killer of Killers is a great Halloween book, because it's a great book, period. Buy a copy today, and find out for yourself. Feel free to drop me a line and let me know what you thought about it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Final Reload and Promotion

I expect the final reload of Killer of Killers to be happening any time, and when it does, I will go full speed ahead with trying to promote it. Sales have been decent without much promotional effort, but I want to get going on that. I will start contacting my local newspaper for one thing. I remember a few years ago a neighbor of mine who self-published a short novel romance had her picture in the local newspaper. I hadn't even known she was a writer, but there she was on the front page with a feature article on her self-published book.

So, why not? If she can do it, I suppose I can, too. I'll be a little shy about having my picture in the paper, though. Maybe I can just have them put the cover of the book on there. I suppose that might work. Maybe even better. SInce it's kind of a Halloween type cover, it would be appropriately timed. I'll let you know how that goes. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 29, 2012

POV

So this POV thing is best handled when you first write the story and I sure will keep that in mind the next time I write a story. As it is, after fixing all POVs in Killer of Killers, I still have to fix them in The Vase, and then Killer Eyes, and of course John Dunn.

But there is something I must say. Editors have told me that the reader will get "confused" if the POV shifts from one character to another. And you know what? I disagree. I'm not saying that these editors are wrong in their belief of the basic POV rule, which is to keep the POV with a single character in each scene of a book, but I just don't think that readers will get confused about it if it is written in a way that makes it obvious.

When I read my own writing, for instance, and the POV shifts from one character to another, it's clear to me whose POV it is. I don't think a reader will get "confused." Unless said reader is some very low IQ type of person, and I don't think that would be the case. Because anyone who is smart enough to read a book at that level is more than likely smart enough to understand that this is character B's POV now, and not character A's.

But that doesn't mean it's the correct way to write. One of the ways I used to write was as if I was watching a movie. I would write the book in the way a movie unfolded. I learned that that is not the right way to write. An editor told me that it's okay for movies to have POV switches in scenes, but it's not okay to have that happen in books. Why? Well, back to the reader getting "confused" I suppose. And, again, I just don't think readers are that dumb. I mean, they don't get confused when they're watching the movie.

Nevertheless, I will most definitely follow this rule from now on, because it really will be simpler to just do it "right" the first time, instead of putting in the extra effort to make it right in revisions. That's all.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Useful Tool for Revisions


I have learned that the "Find" feature on the word.doc program is a very useful tool when revising. You can find where words are that you want to change in a flash. Or you can find where those pesky double spaces are, or where words are used too much or too close together. Phrases, too. I figured it out recently, and wished I had known about it long before.

And when it comes to revisions, the countless times I revised Killer of Killers and The Vase might have been much fewer, had I known about it long before.

Another thing I wish I knew about long before was this POV thing. Fortunately, KOK was not too hard to fix, but there are major issues with doing it in The Vase. For instance, the mc Muhsin is not supposed to have seen the visions, but then if it's from his POV, then how can I describe the visions for the reader? Well, change the POV at that point, or make him see them, if only for a glimpse, maybe. We'll see about that. I'm still figuring it out.

But regardless, KOK is a finished work. The latest reload should be today, and it's as perfect as any book can get. Yes, and that means POVs included.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Revising Always Happening

I've talked about revising so much that I'm tired of it. But you better not get tired of revising. Not if you want to be a writer. Or remain a writer. Because revising is something that is always happening. Even after a book is published. It's just that there comes a time when you have to stop. You just can't keep reloading a published book over and over again. Killer of Killers was reloaded. This latest time will be the third time. And the last time. But it's a pretty clean book as a result. Very clean, I should say.

Now it's back to The Vase, and I wish I knew these POV rules when I wrote it. Cleaning up the POV or head-hopping issues in KOK was not so hard. But in The Vase, it's going to be a lot harder. The main character, Muhsin Muhabi didn't see the projections the first three times they happened, but the POV was with him. And correcting it in the way it needs to be corrected will not be easy. I mean look at it this way: how can you describe a scene that your POV character doesn't see? And if I make it so that he does see it, it changes a very important element in the story.

The whole point of that element is that Muhsin did not SEE the projections at first. Now I have to make it so that he DOES see them, so that I can describe them. But then that changes too much. So much that it ruins the point of the story. It will be a very difficult thing to fix. But we'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Rainy Days

Well, it's raining over here in California, and rainy days are good days to write. That is, after I get home from work. In a Middle School, rainy days aren't so desirable. The kids get all wet, and muddy and bring that into your classroom. It's as if they prefer to be a mess than to be clean and dry.

But, anyway, I have a lot to write. Not only finishing revisions and edits, but I've got to start outlining the third installment to the Killer of Killers line. It will probably be the last one. Still, you never know. One good thing about that story is that it could probably have an endless series attached to it. I'm not sure exactly where it will end up. We'll just have to see.

Monday, October 22, 2012

KOK Not a Halloween Book

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and it's a week away. The cover of my book, Killer of Killers, makes it look like a Halloween type of book, but it's really not. A martial arts thriller may or may not qualify as a Halloween book, but it's not a scary book, meaning its genre is not horror.

It's an action/thriller, and there are no costumed characters in there. Unless you consider the black suits costumes. We've seen black suits before, in movies, anyway. Men in Black and The Matrix come to mind off the top of my head, but there are likely more. No, Trent Smith, the main character does not wear a black suit. He's a blue jeans type of guy. The black suits are worn by the "Eternals" as they're called in the book. Also known as "Soriah Specials," these guys are like immortal supermen, and they would be the "villains" of the story.

But some of them, the elite ones, wear gray sports coats. Those are the guys within Soriah's inner circle. And Trent is at odds with the lot of them. You'll have to read the story to see for yourself. You'll be glad you did. There are no boring moments, I can promise you that.

Friday, October 19, 2012

How Long to Blog?

More and more bloggers are stopping. And many are blogging less frequently. I try to blog Monday through Friday, and I have been pretty consistent. I've noticed that other consistent bloggers have become less consistent.

I've blogged about this before, and I can understand why some bloggers quit blogging. it's an effort after all, and no doubt other things take priority. I have this time before school starts to say something about writing. It's fun, and I do want to have some kind of platform, as they say, to promote my books.

So I guess if people like to read, and really do read this blog, then it is logical that they also like to read books, and will buy a copy of one of my books. I only wish that more than one was published right now, but I'm glad that at least one of them is.

Will get back to work on The Vase pretty soon, and send it to that publisher. I'll keep you posted how that one goes. Even though the sales ranking for KOK is decent, I expect The Vase to do even better. We'll see.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Great Villains-KOK has its share

Great heroes make for great stories, but so do great villains. And Killer of Killers has a great hero in Trent Smith, but it also has its share of great villains. And actually, it has a lot of them. Yeah, there's the main antagonist, Abraham Soriah, but there are really many more. Almost everyone Trent runs into can be labeled an antagonist of some sort. Many of them are quite villainous, and most of them are killers. And, as the title of the book suggests, he is their reckoning. It makes for a great story. Talk about never a dull moment. That's the kind of book KOK is. Check it out. It's a killer of a  story, all right.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Get The Word Out

So I have no clue who is reading Killer of Killers. I really can't promote it where I work, because I'm a Middle School teacher, and this book is not for kids. I am on Goodreads, Facebook, and Author's Den, but I don't think those sites are widely publicizing it. I think you have to pay them some money to do that, and I don't pay them anything.

I do have this blog, but I have no idea who is reading this. The stats page says someone is, but that data is pretty much a generalized indication. People in the United States, Russia, and a spattering of other countries seem to be tuning in, but who they are and if they have bought Killer of Killers is beyond me.

Just the same, I will keep up this daily blog. I like to write, after all, and when I'm at work, I can't do any writing except for the five minutes I take writing this before school begins.

So since I have another twenty minutes, let me take this time to say this:

Killer of Killers - a martial arts thriller is now available from Melange Books. It's a story of action and adventure, love and romance, too, by the way. Click on the image to the right and buy your own copy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Never a Dull Day

With a writer, things never have to be dull. Your day is as exciting as you write it. Now that doesn't mean every single scene or every line is exciting. But a story should have its share of excitement, whether in the writing or the events that take place.

You know, as a Middle School teacher, it's kind of that way. There seems to be some type of excitement taking place every day. Whether a drama unfolding with the students, or even a moment of learning, when a student gets what you're trying to teach him/her.

Fortunately, for me, it's the latter that I get to experience with some kind of regularity. Thank goodness.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Breaks Are Good

Time away from a manuscript can be a good thing. For example, I might spend a tremendous amount of time on a manuscript, reading, rereading, revising, etc, and think I corrected every error, every typo, every clunker, and such, but then I'll take that very important break, say for a week or so, and come back to it, and there's an error, or a typo, or a clunker staring me in the face.

It's like, how the heck did that get there? You're telling me that I read that manuscript over and over again, and never saw that? How the blazes did I miss that? But there it is. And there's another. How the heck did I not see that? I mean, I only read this thing a kazillion times.

Well, it happens. And it's because a writer can get too close to his/her story. Somehow that makes parts of it invisible. But when you take that break, it turns them visible again once you return to it. So yeah,  taking a break can actually improve your writing. It doesn't sound logical, but that's the reality!

Friday, October 12, 2012

No New Books - Still Perfecting

I've written four novels, and it was during the summer vacations that I accomplished that. Bust last summer was the first summer in five years that I didn't do that. Not only was I perfecting Killer of Killers, but I began the revision process of Killer Eyes, and I also worked on some revisions in The Vase. Most of my time last summer was spent on Killer of Killers, but it's The Vase I'll be spending time on the next couple weeks.

Why? Because there is a publisher interested in it. Not Melange, which is the publisher of Killer of Killers. Make no mistake. Melange has been great. They worked well with me, and have done everything I've asked of them. And I have every intention for them to publish the sequel to KOK, which is Killer Eyes.

But The Vase is such a different kind of story. It's almost as if it was written by a different author. That's how different it is. But no, I wrote it. I sure did. Whereas KOK is a martial arts thriller, The Vase is more of a suspense story. With a completely original premise. You know the vase video thing. And that is why I think it is so intriguing.

So for the next couple weeks, I'll be correcting all POV issues, as I've done with KOK, and resubmit to this new publisher. Heck, it's something I'd have to do anyway. May as well get it done now.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tips About Writing

I have learned a lot of tips that make your writing better, and here's one which will help prevent the overuse of a word, or prevent a word from being used too close to each other. You know that "find" feature on the word.docs? Well, just type whatever word you think might be overused in there, and it will show you every place you used that word.

And if it's used more than once on the same page, or on consecutive pages, you can fix it right then and there. Probably a lot of writers already know this, but no one ever told me that before. And I'm not talking about words that are common, like "and" or "said" and such. Take the word, "admitted" for example. That word, unlike "said," should not be used twice on a page or even on consecutive pages. I would like at least a ten page distance from using it again. And with that word.doc feature, you can determine that at a glance.

Otherwise you'd have to read your manuscript word by word to determine that. And again for another word, and so on. And the time needed to do that is tremendous. Yep, that's some good advice right there.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Killer of Killers is no cartoon

I used to like comics, and even cartoons. But that was some time ago. Comics and cartoons used to be just for kids, but for a while now both comics and cartoons have been targeting an adult audience. I think it might have something to do with those kids who used to like them have grown up, and being savvy in marketing, the people who make comics and cartoons decided to keep targeting those customers.

And as a result, a lot of new comics companies have cropped up. And certainly many of them target an adult audience. I suppose they call them Graphic Novels now. Frank Miller's Sin City is a prime example. But even though it is for adults, it retains that "cartoon-like" quality. As do most of the others, even in their motion picture formats. Despite being live action, they still have the flavor of a cartoon. The Spirit is another one. Make no mistake, I love both of those movies, although I admit I never read the graphic novels.

But Killer of Killers is no cartoon. Nor is it a comic book. It just doesn't have that kind of flavor to it. It's for adults, just like Sin City and The Spirit, but it has none of that style. I couldn't see it as a graphic novel. It doesn't have any of that "camp" that exudes from both of those stories. Again, I loved both of them, but KOK is nothing like them.

And that's because KOK is 100% serious. Sure there's a comedic scene or two in there. Maybe a few funny lines, but it doesn't take away from the heavy story line. It's dark, to be sure. And it's a brooding Trent Smith who dominates the overall story line. There are many characters in it, and readers may identify with any one of them. But there's no "camp" and no "tongue-in-cheek" and no lightheartedness whatsoever. No cartoon. No comic. No graphic novel

The only exception might be Japanese anime. If you've ever seen those, then you know what I mean. And that's the only exception.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Trent Smith - Superhero?

The main character in Killer of Killers, Trent Smith, is a hero. He's the guy who sees to it that murderers get what's coming to them. Because he is the world's top fighter, he could be called a superhero. But he doesn't wear a costume and he doesn't have superpowers.

Not all superheroes wear costumes and not all of them have superpowers. Batman for instance has no superpowers, but he does wear a costume. I can't think off the top of my head which ones don't wear costumes, but there probably is one or two.

Trent Smith doesn't patrol the city at night looking for criminal activity like your typical superhero will often do, but he does track down murderers and kills them. Not just any old murderer. The killers he kills are multiple murderers, and they murdered innocent women and children in brutal ways.

So no, he doesn't just kill your average run of the mill murderer. Plus, these are the killers who were acquitted of their crimes. These guys were thinking that they got over. And they did, too. That is, until they ran into Trent Smith. Then they got to see what it's like with the shoe on the other foot, so to speak. Yeah, if you're a killer, and you happen to run into Trent Smith, then it's your turn to sweat.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Theme

Killer of Killers is already published. The Vase will be soon. But The Vase is so different. It is more of a suspense novel. But it has a theme. So does Killer of Killers, but The Vase has a different kind of theme. You have to read it to see, but I think it's a theme that promotes brotherhood and good will.

I think the world could use a little more of that. Not just in the Middle East, but everywhere. In every country and in every community. Some places are filled with it already. I know, I've seen it for myself. Some places are void of it, and I've seen that, too. Hopefully, The Vase can help make the world a better place. Well, it's got to get published first. I'm working on it. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Pay Attention to Detail

One thing I've learned about writing over the years is to pay attention to detail. Sure you know that already. But I can't tell you how many times I thought I was doing that, but somehow a detail or two or three got by me.

I can kick myself, but that doesn't help. And now that I've learned about the POV details, I am confident that from now on, that particular detail won't jump out and bite me anymore.

When it comes to fixing details after the manuscript is written, you have to watch out for screwing up other details. For instance, you may come up with a better dialogue tag than the one you used originally, but when you do patch up work like that, you might screw up another dialogue tag that was exactly the same as the one you inserted after the fact.

And that's a detail. No matter how many times you comb through a manuscript, you've go to pay attention to every single detail, and how it fits with other details regardless if you thought it was something you already fixed.

Yes, this is an important lesson I've learned, and I hope to remember it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What About That POV Thing?

Yesterday I was talking about that POV issue, that both Melange and another publisher had mentioned. In KOK I took care of it during edits, and in The Vase, I'm taking care of it right now. Fortunately, after I handled it in KOK, I went back and addressed many of the POV inconsistencies in The Vase. And it's a good thing I did, because if I didn't, that other publisher would have seen a lot more of them, and possibly just dropped the manuscript.

So I would guess I fixed about half of them. It was only one read-through, after all, and now that I'm reading through it again, it's like I've had a head start on this. The best thing about it is that I know how to fix them. It was the editors at Melange who brought this to my attention first, and offered suggestions on how to make them right. And I did.

So I'm doing it again in The Vase. It's not hard really. It just takes doing. The thing you have to remember is that for each scene, you should keep the POV with only one character. It's the head-hopping that editors frown upon, and if you have it happening even once in a scene, it's one time too many. Fixing it is just changing the wording so that whatever is happening or being felt by another character is perceived through the character whose POV is being represented at the time.

Just remember to maintain one POV per scene, that's all. When you have a scene break, which is indicated by the asterisks, (* * * *) then you can have another character's POV portrayed. It's better to make it that way when you first write the story. But since I wrote my four novels before I was accepted by publishers, I have to fix them now. And that's what I'm doing.




Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Publishers and POV

When I submitted Killer of Killers to Melange, the acquisitions editor liked it so much he offered me a contract the next day. That was like a dream come true. But for some reason he was not the editor for the book. I was split between two other editors, one being the owner of Melange. I took that as an honor. And it went well. But what I wanted to focus on today is the issue of POV.

I may have talked about this before, but the reason I'm bringing it up again, is because the publisher who is interested in The Vase has brought up this same POV thing. Unlike Melange, he wants me to fix the POV issues before he offers the contract. He explained that they have had trouble in the past with authors who were unwilling to work them out. And now their policy is to have the authors correct those issues before the contract is even offered.

Well, Melange and I had no problems. They edited my story, brought up the POV concerns, and I fixed them in the edited version. But maybe they haven't had the hassles with their authors regarding that. I'm sure the experiences of different publishers are just that. Different. And this new publisher is doing what it needs to do, I suppose.

So why am I not submitting The Vase to Melange? Don't worry. I love Melange. They are wonderful and they have done everything that I hoped they would do. And I will certainly submit Killer Eyes to them, and my other Killer sequel, The Killers Guild, which is in the planning stage right now.

But The Vase is such a different story. Well, by definition, Melange would still be appropriate. Yet, I want to expand my experiences. I had two failed offers for The Vase as I've chronicled. Melange was a successful one, but for KOK. And since this other publisher is interested in The Vase, I want to take that journey, too. Just to see. They will be my fourth publisher. And I believe I'm a better writer, with better books for having experienced all four.

When the contract is offered, that's when I reveal who they are. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Killer of Killer - the printed book

Killer of Killers is published, and I'm reading it for the first time as a printed book. You know, holding the book in my hands under a light source and actually reading it, which is quite a different experience than reading it on a computer screen, like I've done countless times over the past few years.

It's something I've waited a long time to do. And it is kind of exciting to do that. I probably should have done it by now, but after the last reload, I was sure to finally begin. And last night I finished chapter three and began chapter four. And I'm telling you, it's just as much fun reading it for the umpteenth time. But reading it like I've read books my whole life is the culminating element to this whole "getting published" thing.

I am finding things that I might have written differently, but not in the story line itself. A couple sentences here and there I might have worded differently. That's all supposed to have been taken care of in the countless revisions. But it only goes to show you, revisions are a never ending process, that only publication can bring to a stop. No doubt about that now.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Publisher Interested in The Vase

Well, that publisher has expressed interest in The Vase over the weekend, and has been very forthcoming in communication with me. I haven't signed a contract yet, but it could be happening very soon. I have some decisions to make.

Meanwhile, Killer of Killers seems to be doing pretty well, as the Lulu sales rank for it has crept ever upward. I'm not in the top hundred yet, not even the top thousand, but I did go from 13,000 something to 6,000 something in one week.

I really don't know exactly what that means. Did it sell a lot to make a climb like that, or just a few? I couldn't say. But here's to hoping it was a lot. Meanwhile, I'll keep spreading the word to whomever likes to read books.

I did make it to Barnes and Nobles, and they, again, were very receptive and told me that they will indeed stock in on their shelves. But they didn't take the books that I brought. They said they had to order the book through their warehouse, and stock their shelves from there. They said if I check back in a couple weeks, I should see it in their store. I'm glad I bought books from them now.

I suppose I'll have to visit some more bookstores. If it means getting my book stocked on their shelves, then it will be worth it.

So that's what I'll be doing when I have the time to do it. That and making the decision to sign on with the other publisher for The Vase, who I will mention and talk about once the contract is signed, just like I did with Melange, and Virtual Tales, and Cogito. Let's see how this one goes. Stay tuned.