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.



Thursday, January 31, 2013

Killer of Killers Selling Pretty Well

If you go by the rankings on Amazon and Lulu, Killer of Killers is outselling a lot of other books. But it seems to go in spurts. Sometimes it shoots up to the 4,000s in Lulu and to the 400,000s in Amazon, which is nothing to brag about, but certainly better than the 50,000s in Lulu and the two MILLIONS on Amazon. And it's all with virtually no promotion!

So as long as it remains in the four digit numbers on Lulu and the six digit numbers on Amazon, I can be content that it's doing pretty well. But when it hits the three digit level on Lulu and the five or even four digit numbers on Amazon, then I'll pop a bottle of champagne. You never know. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Her Name is Ellen Hollman

Well, after some more research into who that actress on Spartacus is, I found out that her name is Ellen Hollman, and as you can see in this photo, she would indeed qualify for the part of Samantha Jones in my novel, Killer of Killers. This is not how she appears in Spartacus, though. But it is how she would look as Samantha Jones.
Even still, this doesn't mean she supplants Amber Heard as my first choice. Amber Heard is still no. 1 in my book, or the lead runner for the part. But you never know. When movies get made, sometimes the actor/actress that is offered the part isn't available and the producers have no choice but to find someone else. So if Amber Heard couldn't do it for whatever reason, Ellen Hollman would  be a good choice. And given that she's already worked with Dustin Clare, all the better.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Amber Heard has Competition

I've been saying how much I thought Amber Heard was the perfect  choice to play the part of the beautiful blond police detective in my debut novel, Killer of Killers. Samantha Jones falls in love with Trent Smith, and together they form the basis for the love story that is the subplot in that story.

But as a fan of Spartacus, that Starz miniseries that is in its third season right now, not only have I found a great actor, Dustin Clare, who could play the main character, Trent Smith, but there's another pretty good looking blond actress in there. No, not the Roman wife of Glabor, the main antagonist of Spartacus, nor that other Roman lady, introduced just this week, the wife of the Roman General Crassus. It's the rebel slave girl who is fighting with Spartacus and Gannicus, (Dustin Clare) and I must say, she could very well be a viable candidate for the part of Samantha Jones, too.

The only problem is I can't figure out who she is. I can't determine which name is hers in the credits, and when I go to the Spartacus websites, her part is so small in that show, I can't find out who the actress is who plays her.

But she is a very beautiful blond woman, and she has the hots for Gannicus, too, which would be a great side story if the two were ever cast together for the roles in Killer of Killers. Even so, Amber Heard would have the greater drawing power, as she is already a well known actress, and the other blond lady can't even get her name noticed on the credits to Spartacus.

So Amber Heard is my first choice still, but there's another one out there. Nothing wrong with that!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Two Novels to Promote

Now that The Vase is  in queue to be published again, that means I have to make it a priority to promote it again. And I really haven't done as much promoting for Killer of Killers yet. And with little promotion, Killer of Killers has seemed to sell pretty well.

I mean the rankings on Lulu and Amazon have been decent. They have been four figures on lulu and six figures on Amazon. Considering that other books are in seven figures on both, that's not bad. It makes me wonder how it would do if there had been some good promotional efforts happening. But I'm not done yet with that. I've been busy working and being a husband and father, too.

It's always been interesting to me how some authors, usually women, proclaim how supportive their spouses are in their writing efforts. Usually, they have no kids and no job, just get to take all day and write while their husbands are at work. So that's great for them, but how do they promote their books?

I'll just keep telling people about it. Like the people at Barnes and Nobles. My local Barnes and Nobles was going to put Killer of Killers on their shelves, but then the next thing I knew, they closed down their entire store. I'll just have to go to another one. Just haven't gotten around to it, yet. Better do it soon, though. Because I'll have two books to promote pretty soon. And then three.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Killer Eyes, Sequel to Killer of Killers

Revisions, revision, revisions. And then more revisions. It's never ending, really. I read through, and revised the entire manuscript of Killer Eyes, thinking I corrected all POV issues, and now that I'm reading through it again, it's like, wait a minute, I thought I fixed that. It is amazing how much you can miss on a revision read-through. At least you catch them the next time you read it through. And then, the next time, the same thing happens.

It happened with Killer of Killers, too. And The Vase, too. I read through the entire thing, and then the next time, it was like, wait a minute, I thought I fixed that. Even now, for my published work Killer of Killers, I'm finding minor POV issues that I'd improve if I could. But at least there are no more typos. And no clunky prose. It's all good, in that regard. Thankfully.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Two Samantha Jones?

Well, I just found out that there's another Samantha Jones. I'm almost embarrassed to admit, I had never heard of the other Samantha Jones. It turns out that the TV show, Sex in the City has a character with that name. I don't watch that show, and I actually never watched it, nor have I seen the movie.

I think my wife might have watched it at times, but whenever it came on, I always excused myself and left to go write or something. So, I found out just  yesterday, that this Samantha Jones has been there the entire time. But it's okay. People do have the same name sometimes. I've even learned that there's another man with my name, the same first and last name. He lives in L.A. somewhere, but I've never met him, nor do I even know what he looks like.

And that came as a surprise, because my last name is not common at all. So it shouldn't be any surprise that with a common last name like Jones, there's another character with the same name. Still, I should have googled the name beforehand to make sure. But no big deal. Samantha Jones, to me, is the beautiful blond policewoman in Killer of Killers. That's all.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dustin Clare and Amber Heard - First Choices

Killer of Killers starring Dustin Clare as Trent Smith and Amber Heard as Samantha Jones.

As I've mentioned before, Dustin Clare is now my first choice to play the part of Trent Smith, the martial arts champion who is out for justice in the streets of a corrupt American society. And Amber Heard is the perfect choice for Samantha Jones, the beautiful blond police detective who falls in love with him.




This picture I found somewhere is the best one yet of Dustin Clare, because it depicts an intense moment, which I don't know came from his role as Gannicus or somewhere else. But Trent Smith is an intense person, and is not prone to be smiling or happy. He's a moody type of guy, and this picture catches that personality very well.









And this photo of Amber Heard is the perfect depiction of what Samantha Jones looks like in the story. I mean, is there a more beautiful blond woman in the world? And that's what Samantha Jones is. The most beautiful blond woman in the world. And she's a policewoman!










I think they make a great couple, don't you? But, alas, such is not how things work out. There's a lot of tragedy along with the romance, and I don't want to put in any spoilers here, but just as in real life, things don't always end up roses.

Speaking of roses, both Samantha Jones and Susie Quinn love roses. So who's Susie Quinn? She's the black exotic dancer who also falls in love with Trent Smith. But I haven't found the right actress to play her part yet. I know there's a lot of beautiful black actresses out there. But the one who nails the part, I haven't seen her yet. Not like Amber Heard nails Samantha Jones, I mean. I'll keep looking. I've got to be ready when Hollywood calls. Yeah, right.





Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Contract Offered for The Vase!

It became a reality over the weekend. Yet another contract was offered for The Vase, and I accepted it. This makes the fifth contract that was actually offered for The Vase. (A sixth was verbally offered, but I held off,) and on the two others I passed.)

The entire time I knew The Vase was a special story. Much of it is expressed on the header to this blog, and so are some of the leading characters. It's a very controversial situation over there in Israel, and a lot of publishers were too scared. But regardless, the concept is so original and unique, that a lot of publishers were more than willing to publish it.

So who is the publisher who gets it now? Penumbra Publishing, that's who. Like Virtual Tales, they give 50% royalties, and that's the way I like it. I expect The Vase to be a big seller. Especially if the Christian market gets wind of it. No, it's not a religious book, and it's not a spiritual book, but I just think the Christian market will go for it. Interestingly, there aren't any Christians in the story.

Virtually all the characters are Israeli Jews and Muslims. So why do I say Christians in particular will like it? There's a very good reason, and I think you already know why.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Killer of Killers, Killer Eyes, The Killers Guild

Since Killer of Killers it the first book and Killer Eyes is the second of the Trent Smith story, I've considered combining the two into one book. And when I write the third book, The Killers Guild, maybe even put that into the same book. It could be three separate books, and that's how they will be initially, but I think that they would make for one good book. Actually, The Killers Guild won't really be a continuation of the exact same story. It will be a little different, or a little bit removed from the main story line. But of course it will be connected in several ways.

It will deal with Trent Smith's search for justice in another way. He'll go back to Japan, but for a tournament. But this tournament is not the same kind of tournament he is used to. Instead of a fighting tournament, it's a killing tournament, as in each bout will be to the death. And since he's the killer of killers, then he will be a suitable contestant. At least that's what the recruiters will tell him. And he'll believe it, too. Just thinking out loud. I plan on beginning soon.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Editors

There is no question that editors are absolutely necessary for a novel. No author is an island, so to speak, and I don't just mean Beta Readers. Editors are a must. Sure Beta Readers can give feedback, and even catch typos. But an editor is more than just that. They make suggestions and make sure that you are writing your novel correctly.

And for my first novel, Killer of Killers, my editors did that. I wish they did it more than once. They only did it once because, I think, they believed the writing was already there. They liked how I addressed the issues that they brought up, (mainly POV issues,) and let it pass from there.

But there were other things, and even some POV details needed improving, but overall, as a final product Killer of Killers is a well written novel, in large part because of the editors.

And The Vase, too. Just waiting to see the publishers final comments on that one. I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tick, Tick, Tick

Even though I'm keeping myself occupied with the rewrite of Killer Eyes, this waiting game is starting to get old. I sent my revised novel, The Vase, three weeks ago, with the understanding that a contract would be offered, and yet, at this point, nothing.

Yeah, I know I'm not the only writer with a book in submission, and like every other publisher in the world, they have a gazillion manuscripts to review. Still, I had an understanding with them. Regardless, the waiting is happening and it's tough because I already have a contract offer, and I'm just sitting on it. It came through during the rewrite.

So, I'll wait a little longer, because I like those 50% royalties. But how much longer? Maybe a nudge is in order. We'll see.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Revision at the Same Time

So while rewriting POVs, it turns out that some major revisions are happening in Killer Eyes. I've had to rearrange scenes, too, and I deleted some. Not too many, but it's interesting how you get a different view of a story a couple years after you wrote the initial draft.

Actually, this is only like the third time I've read it though. Compare that to Killer of Killers, or even The Vase, both of which I've probably read, well, I can't even count the number of times I've read those two manuscripts. And now that KOK is published, I'm actually reading it through for the second time, just for fun.

It's a fun story, after all, and I never seem to get tired of it. Like watching a favorite movie, it seems every time is just as much fun as the first. But that's a good thing, obviously. And I'm glad for that.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Any Progress

Any progress is better than no progress. I say this because last night's progress was only about ten pages. But instead of feeling bad about it, I can be glad I got something done rather than nothing. And that's how it is with writing. Get something done every day. Some writers set goals, like page counts or word counts to achieve every day, and if you don't have distractions, that might be doable.

But not when you have a full time job, and a wife, and kids, and a house, and cars, and doctor appointments, and football games, and Boy Scouts, and all the other things that come in the package called life. Yeah, I'd say any progress on a daily basis, is good. That's all.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Rewrite Two Thirds Done

Left off on page 209 last night. The Killer Eyes rewrite is progressing very well. And all in third person limited. Yes, I've conformed. Not that I don't like third person omniscient. I do. But today's thing in fiction seems to be third person limited, or first person. But since I hate with a passion first person, it's got to be third person limited.

There are ways to make it work, even if you originally wrote in omniscient, and it's working very well, thank you. Can't wait to send it to Melange. It will be a nice continuation to the Trent Smith story. And this summer, the plan is to write the third and final chapter. See what happens when you get busy. Things get done. So stay busy. I plan to.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Killer Eyes, a Killer Story

As I chug along with the rewrite/revisions of Killer Eyes, I find myself thinking about how much it's being improved, not only in the writing, but the story itself. I wrote the first draft at least three years  ago, and I think I only passed through it once after that, because I got busy with the John Dunn story, and I was always going through Killer of Killers and/or The Vase.

But now that I have a complete and thorough understanding of POV, the Killer Eyes story is really pouncing out at me as a very well executed story and the events are coming together nicely. I might have to delete a couple scenes, I already deleted one, but that's how it goes with revisions.

Right now I'm on about page 180 or so, out of 320 pages, so I'm more than halfway done. That's what happens when you keep at it. You make progress, and you get done. If you just sit around making excuses, that means two things. One, you're not really into it, and two, you won't get done. But I'm really into it, and I'm getting done.

That's all.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Monday, Monday

It's Monday, finally, and back to the grindstone, as school resumes and I'm back in the classroom. But as far as my writing is concerned, the sequel to Killer of Killers, which I call Killer Eyes, is more than halfway through the rewriting stage. Now that I finally have a full understanding of POV, that is what I'm focusing on at this time. Killer of Killers is pretty good about POV, and The Vase, I must say, is near perfect, and Killer Eyes will be near perfect, too, as soon as I finish this latest rewrite.

But overall, I got a lot done over the break. The complete rewrite of The Vase, and the first half of Killer Eyes. And this POV thing was the focus. I'm rereading Killer of Killers in its print form, a little bit every night when I hit the sack. Mostly it's just fine in POV concerns, but there are some details that I wish I had realized when I had reloaded it those couple times.

But no big deal, just some minor details. When I reloaded, I focused on typos and some clunker sentences. And I did fix some POV issues, too, so it's mostly good right now, and it's a good thing, because you don't want to keep reloading too much.

Some publishers will even charge an author for doing that. Good thing Melange didn't. That's another good thing about Melange. Can't wait to send them Killer Eyes.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Last Day of Break

So today's the last day of Christmas break and I've got a lot going on. During the break, I completed the rewrite of The Vase, resubmitted it to a publisher who has already expressed interest, and began the rewrite of Killer Eyes. And with Killer Eyes, it sure is making it a better story, and a whole lot better written. I'm almost halfway though it right now. Have to take a little trip today, but when I get back tonight, I'll be full speed ahead.

And after the rewrite, I'll reread it at least once more before submitting it to Melange. Nancy, the publisher, says to submit it directly to her, so that's cool. And I've already been in contact with Caroline, the Art Director, about a possible cover design. This is so much cooler than writing a book with nothing on the horizon. Meaning no publisher, that is. But with a publisher it's so much more encouraging.

So with Killer Eyes, I have a publisher ready and waiting, and with The Vase, at least I've got a publisher interested and waiting, so this should be a great year. I could be getting two books published this year. I'd say that would make it a very good year.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Vase Submitted, and more Waiting

I've posted that I finished the rewrite of The Vase, and submitted it to the publisher who was interested in it. And, of course, now it's back to waiting. Which I really don't have to do. And that's because I have another offer from another publisher. And Melange isn't even in the picture for this one. Melange, of course, is my publisher for Killer of Killers, which is a great book and it seems to have sold pretty well. And I will submit the sequel, Killer Eyes to Melange. And probably the third book in the Killer series, too.

But The Vase will go to another publisher. I expect The Vase to have a wider appeal because I believe it will attract the Dan Brown crowd. And that crowd is a very big one. And getting 50% royalties is something that I would like to have from the publisher who publishes it. The publisher who has already made an offer gives 40% royalties. That's for print and eBook. But this other one gives 50% for both, which trumps everyone.

So, we'll see. Now if they take too long, maybe I'll just go with the one who gives 40%. I'm used to waiting, but I won't wait too long.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Writers Places on the Internet

Writers Places on the Internet, like Goodreads, are nice places, but not nice places to promote your book. I am the same as the rest of them, so I'm not complaining. I'm on there, and like everyone else, I hope people buy and/or read my book. But the thing about places like Goodreads or AuthorsDen, or writers blogs, and the like, is that everyone is a writer, and no one is a reader. That is to say, everyone has a book or books that they wrote, and their priority is to promote their books, not read other people's books.

So who is reading the books? Not writers. At least not those writers. I've a lot to learn still when it comes to promoting a book. You don't promote your book on a writer's site. That's one thing I learned.Unfortuately, I don't know many readers. Just writers, it seems. Hopefully, the publishers know more readers than I do. They should, anyway. Heck, they better. If they know as many as two readers, than that's more readers than I know!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

First Post of 2013

So here's to hoping that the year of 2013 will be as good as or even better than 2012.
Just as 2012 saw the publication of my first novel, Killer of Killers, I'm confident that 2013 will see the publication of my second novel, The Vase. And maybe even my third novel, Killer Eyes.

That would be great. And I would also like to write my fifth novel, The Killers Guild this year. If that gets accomplished, it should be another good year. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, Happy New Year to anyone who is reading this, and I hope you have success in whatever your endeavors are, too.