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.



Monday, December 31, 2012

Last Post of 2012

So it's been a good year. My first book got published in 2012. Killer of Killers was my first book, so it's fitting that it got published first. My second book, The Vase, will be published second. Still not 100% sure which publisher will publish it. I have a contract in hand. An offer has been made, but another publisher who offers higher royalties is considering the revised manuscript right now.

So, even though I haven't seen the entire contract, I only know the royalties, I suspect I will go with them, if they do offer the contract. Yeah, there might be some sticking points, but then again, there might not be. I'm pretty experienced with contracts now. I've been offered, let's see, one, two three, four, five of them to this point, NOT including two others from agents.

Of the three publisher contracts I signed, Virtual Tales was a good one, Cogito was a bad one, and Melange was acceptable. But this latest one, is also acceptable. It just depends on which of the latest ones is best. We'll see.

But as far as the year o 2012 is concerned, Killer of Killers is published, and I'm working on polishing up the sequel, Killer Eyes right now. I will submit it to Melange. They will be the publisher for that series. It seems right. They were the ones who took a chance on it, and I hope it continues to do well. Killer Eyes is the continuation of that story. And I plan on wrapping it up with one more. I'll call it The Killers Guild. Hopefully I can write that one this summer. We'll see.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas is here, What?

Unfortunately, the school district for which I work has the Christmas break this year starting NEXT week, instead of this past week. And because of that, it hasn't felt much like the Christmas season. Usually, we've had a week off before Christmas, and a week off after Christmas. Now, it's pretty much going to be two weeks off AFTER Christmas.

That gave no time for preparation. No time to buy presents, and no time to visit with relatives. I'm the kind of person who is not into doing things on a work night. Things like traveling, partying, even going to the movies. I don't even like to go out to dinner on a work night.

I get up at 6 a.m. to be at school by seven, and that means I usually want to hit the sack by 11. Sometimes when I'm writing or revising my books, I'll be up after that, but not too long. I need to get a decent night's sleep, so once midnight hits, it doesn't matter where I am in my writing, I force it off.

Not like over the summer time. I've been up as late as five in the morning writing away at the computer, and those nights see a lot of progress. It's usually when I'm writing the first draft. And when it's the first draft, you are very glad to see a lot of progress. You're shooting for the finish line, and you won't get there if you don't put the time in to get it done.

But now, it's Christmas, and I have to focus on other things besides writing. Like my kids, my wife, and my relatives. And I still have a third of The Vase to finish in the POV revisions. It's the second pass through, but I'm glad I'm doing it. It's going more slowly than I thought. I was supposed to be done last week. It's okay. What's a week when it comes to preparing a manuscript for publication?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

With Connections, Short Road

As someone who had no connections in the publishing industry, and still got a book published, and will probably get all my books published, I can honestly say that it made my writing and my books better that way. Because it forced me to get better. And who can argue with that? You want your writing to be as good as it can be.

If I had a connection and got my books published before I improved them, then that would have been nice to have that time cut shorter, but then my writing wouldn't have been at the level it is now. I would have been content to just be published. And although the writing was good enough, it just wasn't as good as it is now.

My second book, The Vase is another example of being better after some time. If Virtual Tales or even Cogito did publish The Vase, it would have been a good story, with good writing. Now, it's a great story with great writing. And it only took maybe a year more for it to happen. I think any writer who is interested in their writing to be as good as possible would make that trade. Well, maybe some wouldn't, but this writer here says, yeah, I'll make that trade.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Without connections, it's a long road

If you are a writer with no connections to the publishing industry, you've got a long road ahead of you. That was me five years ago. When I began writing Killer of Killers, I was starting from ground zero. I was a good writer, but I hadn't taken any writing classes or joined any writing groups. I wrote a good book, but there were a million things I needed to change to make it worth publishing.

And from reading the many writer's blogs, agent blogs and even a book on how to write a breakout novel, I did learn those things, and subsequently made those changes. But, for me, there was more. I continued to learn from publishers who were interested in publishing my books, even those who didn't end up doing it, and, of course, from those who did and/or will.

That's where editors came in for me. And not all editors were the same. I had one with Virtual Tales, one with Cogito, two with Melange, and now, one with yet another publisher, even though I haven't signed a contract with that publisher yet.

The plan is that after I complete the first round of edits, as suggested by this new publisher, I will resubmit, with the probable result being a contract. And through it all, I have learned how to write in the way that editors who work for publishers want their authors to write.

And I did it all with no connections. It was hard work, mostly, and perseverance, with a good deal of ability and patience to make it come to being published, not with just one publisher, but two, fingers crossed, which proves that, even if you have no connections, it can be done.

Better if you have connections though. That would be a nice shortcut.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What's in Store?

Killer of Killers got published in 2012, and The Vase, I'm pretty sure, will be published in 2013. Hopefully, Killer Eyes will be, too. Or should I proceed with John Dunn? 

It will be interesting to see how this new publisher differs from Melange. I think they are very similar, but I'm sure there will be differences. They are more restrictive in handing out contracts, I know that already. Melange went ahead and offered the contract for KOK, and then addressed POV issues.

This other publisher wants the POV issues tackled before offering their contract. Mind you, they said it doesn't have to be perfect, but enough so that they can tell I'm making a good effort to deal with it. They said it will show them that I am someone with whom they can work, and a working relationship is important to them and who wouldn't agree with that?

It's one of the good things I like about Melange. They were always open and always communicative, and very responsive to me. That was great. And I think this other publisher is, too. At least they have been so far. And I haven't even signed a contract yet, so that's something. But I'm taking too long now. I've gone through the manuscript once already, but knew better to send it then. Because going through it a second time, as expected, I'm finding things I missed the first time.

So, it could be that I might go through it a third time. No harm in that. I have to get over that eagerness, and be patient. As every author knows, or will find out soon enough. patience is a prerequisite to the publishing industry. Yep.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Vase-Full Understanding

So The Vase is my second novel, and like almost everything when it's the second thing you've done, it's a better written novel. That's not to say my first novel, Killer of Killers isn't well written. It is. But that POV thing again. The editors at Melange pointed that out, made suggestions how to correct them, and then let me go and do it. I did. But not perfectly. Oh, it's still a great read, to be sure. But after this other publisher, (the one interested in The Vase,) went to great pains explaining every detail about POV in The Vase, I came to a complete understanding of it.

So, yes, KOK is third person limited, but there's a few places where it's more omniscient. It still works, and I have no regrets at all. It's my favorite story, my favorite book and all that. It's just that if I was to write it now, I would do it just a tad bit differently. Like I am with The Vase. And when I get back to revising Killer Eyes and John Dunn, I'll concentrate on those points, too. As for The Vase, I had hoped to finish it by yesterday, but I'm almost there. Should be done this week.

I know I said that last week, but I've already learned not to rush things like that. I'm giving it another read through to catch all the things I missed in my first read through. Just one more week.

Friday, December 14, 2012

This Weekend Will Tell

I'm wrapping up those POV places, and I'm so close to being finished, that I expect to be done this weekend. And that's when I hope to submit it again to the publisher who wanted it. And if they don't, there's the other publisher who already has offered a contract. So I'll be very busy. But there's Christmas shopping to do, too. And relatives will be visiting. My brother is writing a fantasy story at this time. He began it over 40 years ago. It's a great story, too.

I'll be his beta reader, as he's been mine. He found a couple errors in my KOK manuscript,, and I got them fixed, so it's important to have that beta reader. I'll be watching for POV issues in his manuscript, too. Paying close attention to that while your writing saves a lot of trouble later.

Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

More Darlings Gone

When changing the POV for consistency, I've had to delete several "darlings" those passages that an author was particularly proud of, but found were now unnecessary. It's OK. The book is better. Fortunately, I was able to repositions some of them, and make them pertinent. It's all about skill. If you can make it work, great. But if it's better without them, don't force it to work. Do what's best for the story, first, and the writing will take care of itself. That's all.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Improved Writing

I wish I knew about this POV thing before I wrote my books. It does make your writing better. I improved Killer of Killers by addressing the POV issues, although being my first novel, I can't say I did  a perfect job. Because there is more to it than simply telling the story from a single perspective. There's a lot more to it.

But in The Vase, I am now more experienced with handling this type of thing. As with anything, the more you do something the better you get, and almost always, your second time at something has better results. So it is with The Vase. Even though Killer of Killers is by far my personal favorite story, and Trent Smith is by far my number one favorite character, The Vase is a better written novel, and I'm referring specifically to POV.

But people say that Hunger Games and the Twilight books were not well written. And the same thing is being said about the Shades of Grey books. But they must have something going for them to be so successful. Which is proof that perfect writing is not really a necessity in the ultimate success of a book.

But I'm thinking The Vase will have all of it. Good writing and that something else. We'll see.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

This Week Will Tell

I'm on page 275 out of 305 pages in the revisions of The Vase. Those revisions, as I've talked about, are focusing on POV in every scene. I also, at the publisher's request, revised the scenes that take place in the past. They are flashbacks or memories, now, and one of them I changed to a dream. It was their acquisitions editor's suggestion, the same guy who wants the POV changes.

As for the other publisher who's interested in The Vase, they sent me a contract yesterday. It's okay, as contracts go. It offered 40% across the board. Melange gives 40%, too, for digital. but 10 % for print. Virtual Tales offered 50% for both and so does this other publisher with whom I've been in contact. The worst contract was from Cogito. They offered 10% for print and only 15% for digital. Well, there's another one even worse, if you can believe it. The first publisher to offer a contract for The Vase, I won't name, but their royalties were 10% across the board.

Yeah, I'll take the 50% across the board, thank you very much. So now, it's a matter of finishing those revisions, and I should be done by the end of this week. Can't wait to get home and get it done!

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Vase Will Be Published

Yes, The Vase will be published. But even now, I'm not sure by whom. The publisher with whom I've been in contact is waiting on my revised manuscript. They all but promised a contract when they receive it. And this other publisher? Well, I advised them that I was still interested in them, because The Vase is still available, but I also said I wanted to be up front, that I was rewriting the manuscript for another publisher, and was nearly done.

And I am nearly done. I put a lot of work into it this past week, and I'd say by this week I will be done. Then what? Well, I'll send it to the publisher for whom I reworked it. And what of the other publisher? Well, it depends. The questions I  posed last week will be pertinent. Which one is the more established publisher, and the contract terms, certainly, will be a factor.

The bottom line is that The Vase will be published, and a contract should be signed this month. Which means that it could be out as soon as this coming summer. But that all remains to be seen. The good thing is that it is all coming together. Even the rewrites. They are working. And The Vase is better than ever. But for which publisher? That is the question.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Contract Offered for The Vase

But it's not the publisher with whom I've been working on the POVs. It's another publisher.

So now what do I do? I suppose a contract in hand is better than one in the bush. But still. Which one has higher royalties? Which one is more likely to sell the book? Which one has books already selling well? Which one is more established and less likely to tank, like what happened to the first publisher who had offered a contract for The Vase.

Or which publisher is less likely to be a flaky publisher, like the second publisher who had offered a contract for The Vase. Those are serious questions to me. I guess it's better to have two publishers interested than one. And better one than none. But not always. It would have been better to have NO publisher than a publisher like Cogito. No need to rehash that experience, it's all documented on this blog. If you want to know about it, just click on the archives under Cogito.

Well, this is a good thing. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

An Improved Manuscript

Well, I just have to say that this latest revision of The Vase is making it a much better manuscript. And yeah, the POV 'corrections" are a part of that improvement. I wouldn't have thought that at first, but I have made very notable changes throughout the manuscript, and even things that I wouldn't have changed before, have been changed and for the better.

So the moral of this situation is to listen to your editors. Is the Third Person Limited narrative better than third person omniscient? I wouldn't go so far as to say it is, but I can tell you editors believe it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Different ways to fix POVs

I'm still fixing those POV issues in The Vase, and there are many ways to do it. I don't have the time to list them, but the old saying "There's more than one way to skin a cat" does apply. One way I'll mention is to delete the part that encompasses a head hop. But if it's too important to the story, you've got to put the perspective back into the person whose POV is featured at the time.

Anyway, those distractions I talked about the other day kept me from making too much progress yesterday, but at least I got something done. And that's my plan. Something done everyday if I'm going to be finished by this month. Keep on truckin'.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Advocates? Nope

So many writers out there have advocates. You know, husbands who support them, or wives who encourage them. Even friends who are editors and beta readers. I know this because of the many writers blogs out there, and I do read a lot of them. How many times I've read some woman's blog, and she's raving about how wonderful and understanding her husband is. She's got no kids, no job, (husband supports her,) and she's got all day to write with no distractions or responsibilities. Often these bloggers lament that their houses is a mess, too.

But whatever. I'm not complaining that I have a full time job, two sons, and a wife. But when it comes to distractions, those things more than qualify. I'm lucky if I get even an hour in the day to write. And right now, I wish I could go all day. It's because I'm eager to finish the rewrite, or revisions to The Vase. A publisher is waiting on it, and that is something worth working toward.

If only it was summertime, then I'd have a couple more hours a day to get this done. Heck, I'd be done by now. Still, I should be done by this month.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Past Half Way Point

I'm rewriting The Vase, and I've just passed the half way point. I'm combing though the manuscript ensuring the POV remains with a single character in every scene. At first I thought it would be a major effort, but it's not really. And it's a good thing. I fretted having to rewrite the book, but it's not really rewriting. It's more like revising. And that's something with which I'm very familiar.

I mean, I only revised Killer of Killers a kazillion times. And I'll probably end up revising The Vase that many times, too. Right now I'm just short of it. But I'll get there.

But this time, The Vase has a publisher waiting. I mean I think it does. They said as much. But I won't divulge the publisher until after the contract has been offered and I've signed it. Then it will be official. In a couple more weeks, I should be finished. In the meantime, just keep on truckin'.