Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?
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, May 31, 2013
Thursday, May 30, 2013
I have more than one antagonist in each book. And the most interesting might be Abraham Soriah in Killer of Killers. He's the billionaire recluse who funds the research for the drug, Eternity. He's an old guy, about 88 years old. But is he really a bad guy? You have to read the book to find out. Killer of Killers has other antagonists, too. There's Karl Manoukian and Josh Jones, who may or may not be considered antagonists to the hero, Trent Smith. The reader will have to decide for him/herself.
Tomorrow, I'll talk about Killer Eyes. It's not published yet, but it really is the conclusion to the Killer of Killers story. Until then.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
But I didn't hate the second one. No, I didn't like it, but I didn't hate it. It still sucked, to be sure, but not as much. Oh, heck, it did suck as much. Spoiler alert coming up. So stop reading if you plan on seeing it. Okay. Again, the rehashing of old stories is one thing, but the redoing of old stories is another. Can it be done? Sure. But it takes some great writing, and for some reason, no Star Trek movie can seem to find great writing. With all of the great stories from the original series to choose from, they keep going back to the Khan character. He was a great character, yes, but the other Star Trek movies already redid that guy. Doesn't mean these movies can't redo him, too, but making a Star Fleet Admiral the bad guy, as they did in this movie, is just bogus to me.
And changing a character's race, to me, seems like a cop out. The movies of the Marvel universe did that with Nick Fury. They changed him from a white man to a black man. It wasn't the first time. The movies changed the iconic character of James West from a white man to a black man. Both instances were bogus. Sure black men can be just as heroic, but that's not my point. (But thought I better throw that in.) Introduce a new character who's black if you want to feature a heroic black man. Don't just be lazy and change a white man into a black man. That sounds too much like that guy from the past who used to sing, "Mammy."
But I digress. In this new Star Trek movie, they changed the great villain Khan from being an East Indian to being another white man. It's as if Hollywood is too afraid to portray a minority as a villain. The villains, to them, seemingly, must be white for fear of criticism from which a minority group is represented, and in this case, the Indian people. Khan Noonian Singh. I've had plenty of students named Singh. All were brown-skinned people from India. The original Khan was played by a great Mexican actor, Ricardo Maltalban. Which worked. Ricardo Maltalban was not a blue-eyed white skinned person. He was a brown skinned, brown-eyed actor who fit the part.
But now, it's got to be a white skinned, blue-eyed actor for the villain. Which would be cool if it was someone else. Besides Khan. But Hollywood is almost always afraid. I remember many shows where they changed terrorists from the brown skinned Arabs, (which they are,) to white skinned neo-Nazis. Who have just as much potential for terror, no doubt, but they aren't the ones threatening the Western world today. Just some thoughts. And my final thought on the Star Trek movie is this: It kept me watching, but when it was over I thought it sucked. Period.
Friday, May 24, 2013
Dolph Lundgren as Josh Jones, Samantha's older brother and former football star who quits Soriah's inner circle to band with his sister and Karl Manoukian in an effort to foil Soriah's plan.
Okay, so it's all just wishful thinking at this point. But so was getting the book published once upon a time. And now that it is, the movie version is next. All I need is a movie director like Cory Yuen to decide to do it. Or any well regarded movie director who's looking for a new and original plot around which a martial arts movie can be based. And if that happens, then these are the actors I would recommend for the parts. And if it doesn't happen, then readers can envision these actors in the roles as they read the story for themselves. Or not. One of the great things about books is the reader can envision any face they want that fits the descriptions of the characters. And as the author, (and as a reader,) these are the actors and actresses I would choose. It doesn't mean no one else could fit the parts. But for now, anyway, these actors and actresses get the nod.
Of course, there are many other characters in the story -- supporting characters with smaller roles, and bit parts. There's Shoji Wada, the aged martial arts master who heads the Tokyo Dojo where Trent trained for twenty years. There's Yoshiko Wada, Shoji's granddaughter, and Trent's first love. And there's Jiro Honda, Trent's best friend from the dojo, who leaves the dojo for a career in espionage. And several more minor characters whose roles are integral to the story line. I would love for any readers to offer their own suggestions for the roles. In the meantime, stay tuned.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Sure, I've talked about Trent Smith and Samantha Jones, and recently I've found an actress who might be right for Susie Quinn, but the cast in that story includes many other very interesting characters. And even though I haven't talked much about them, it doesn't mean I haven't given them much thought. So today, I will research the actors and actresses out there and try to download some photos, so I can present the cast of characters and the actors and actresses who could play them, along with the photos of what they would look like in the story Killer of Killers.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
No. With books, it's different. It's the book, not the publisher that spurs interest and sales. But even though I think it's not the same, I also think it's true that publishers are responsible for the quality of their product. Just as car makers are responsible for the quality of their cars, and if they turn out flawed, they often recall them by the thousands and fix them.
Which is what publishers should do. Firstly, a publisher won't accept a book unless they see the potential in it that will make achieving that quality possible. And if it isn't at that point yet, it certainly is the publisher's responsibility in conjunction with the author to get it there. And then the publisher should be sure, very sure, that the book is at the level of quality it needs to be when they publish it. And if mistakes are made, which may happen since no one is perfect, then you do like the car companies do. Recall those books and fix them. Or in the case of POD publishing, just reload the book.
That's one advantage POD publishers have. They don't print out books by the thousands, and then hope someone buys them. They print them as they are ordered, that is, after they are paid for. That's a good system. It's good for the publisher and the buyer, too. Even the author can have some solace that when errors are still prevalent, then they can get fixed before more books are printed. It's good for everyone.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Monday, May 20, 2013
Friday, May 17, 2013
In the past, that wasn't the case. But times change. And I'm up to date with it now. Changing what you've already written to conform to third person limited isn't really all that hard to do, as long as you have a full understanding of it. And now I do. So the corrections are coming easy to me. Thank goodness for revisions. And a good editor.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Let's be clear. I know there are some tough women out there. No question. But the toughest woman is not as tough as the toughest man. Oh no, does saying that make me a sexist? How could it? Generally speaking, women are not as tough, or not as strong, or not as fast, as men. Generally speaking. Oh no, does saying that make me a sexist?
How does that make me a sexist when it's true. Sure some women may be capable of beating up some men. But the best women fighters out there would have no chance in a fight with the best men fighters. No chance. Zero. But I digress. My point is, would they even want to? My perception of women, is that they are NOT fighters. They DON'T WANT to fight. Fighting is abhorrent to them. Why would a woman even WANT to fight? Even in adolescence, women are not prone to be fighters. Sure there's exceptions. I'm a Middle School teacher, after all, and I've seen plenty of girl fights.
But those fights are with other girls. Even at that age, a girl would be wise not to get into a physical fight with a boy. It just isn't right. Of course, fighting at all is not right. But then you have the sporting aspect of it. You know, boxing, wrestling, the MMA fights and so on. Fighting is an ugly sport, insofar as it involves the deliberate hurting of your opponent. And again, my perception of women is that they don't want to hurt other people. Is that perception incorrect?
Again, let's be clear. I am NOT talking about self defense. That is another issue, and in self defense, anything goes. But, again, that's NOT what I'm talking about. You have these movies where you have a woman hero, and they're these super fighters. I don't have to name the movies, they're out there. Even in cartoons and animated shows. But is that the only way they can be heroes?
Of course not. History is full of examples of women heroes, who were heroes in other ways than physically fighting other people. In other ways than in hurting and punching other people. I don't have to name the ways. To me, fighting, physically hurting people, even killing people, is not a "girl" thing. It's a "guy" thing. Oh no, does saying that make me a sexist? Or does that make you the sexist?
I'm all for women's lib, and such, but fighting is not a pleasant thing. It never was, and never will be. Again, I'm not talking about self defense. But when Hollywood depicts women as super fighters in their efforts to portray female heroes, it's a very shallow and short-sighted attitude. Women are just as brave and just as heroic as men. But generally speaking they don't want to hurt people. Am I wrong to believe that? I don't think so.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
But the people in charge of those movies just plain dropped the ball. Like Lucas after the Empire Strikes Back, they just seemed to lose sight of what the movies should be, or what the original series was all about -- a great show with great writing. Instead, Star Trek and Star Wars seemed to choose the bubble gum crowd as their audience. And in doing so, chose comedy and goofiness as a means of story telling. And when they did that, for me, at least, the magic was gone.
Star Trek the original series and the first two Star Wars were serious stories, gritty stories, even realistic, although that may be argued, but to me they were. You had a great character and a great hero in Capt. Kirk, and one in Spock, too. In Star Wars, Luke and Han Solo were great characters.
But they became adolescents, and thrown to the kiddy crowd. The stories and new supporting characters were cartoon-like, and comedic. I never cared much for comedies. Those are hard to do. Sure it's pulled off sometimes, and I agree that even serious movies should have some comedic elements in them, but turning a hard core dramatic genre into a tongue in cheek fiasco is just plain wrong. They did that with the James Bond franchise. Sure they made their money, but the films were far inferior. At least, with the Daniel Craig versions, the serious and gritty Bond flicks are back. Maybe it can happen with Star Trek and Star Wars, too. But I won't hold my breath.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
And I appreciate the editorial wringer. It was Penumbra who put me through that. Maybe Melange was more loose about that, but I'm not a lazy writer. I'm not a lazy anything. Whatever I do, I want to do the best that I can do. And when it comes to art or writing, something that will last for posterity, you better get it right, because once you've moved on, it will remain the way you left it. So get it right.
Monday, May 13, 2013
So I am presuming that Penumbra is also taking their time implementing all of those final changes. But I have learned that you shouldn't presume anything. I made it clear that they were absolutely necessary, so I'm hoping they are implementing them. Which is why I'm so looking forward to receiving the PDF print proof copy. The last one they sent me was premature, and I made that clear, too. This is a big thing for me. It's why I'm going over KOK yet again. I don't know how Melange will react when I tell them I want KOK reloaded yet again.
But it will be necessary. After learning so much from Penumbra, and making The Vase perfect as far as edits is concerned, I want the same thing for KOK. It makes the writing so much better. Who wouldn't want that?
Friday, May 10, 2013
But I never could find an actress for Susie Quinn, the beautiful black exotic dancer who falls in love with Trent Smith. Well, I was watching the Starz show, DaVinci's Demons recently, and there she was...Susie Quinn, or Estella Daniels, I should say. Because it was a bit part, I didn't really get a good look at her, her part was probably less than a minute, and she never reappeared, at least not yet, but from what I did see, she might be the actress that would be great for the part. She's 5' 7" just like Susie Quinn, and as you can see for yourself, a very beautiful woman, just like Susie Quinn.
But I wouldn't call her perfect for the role, not like, say, Amber Heard is for Samantha Jones. But of all the actresses I've seen so far, she comes the closest, and if i was casting for the part today, she would get the nod.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
The producers sucked, the story sucked, the writing sucked. It was great they got all the original actors, but every movie, right up to the reboot, sucked. If they could have hired Harlan Ellison, or someone who can actually write, it probably would have been great. But rehashing two of the original series episodes was a lousy idea. I'm talking about The Changeling, which was what the first movie was based on, and then Space Seed, which is what the second movie was based on. Both were horrid, and so was every Star Trek movie since.
Meanwhile, Star Wars finally came out with its second trilogy and it sucked, too. I'm not going o go into those, but after The Empire Strikes Back, which was the best, they have all sucked. And no, I'm not hard to please. But I'll call it like I see it. Star Wars one and two were great. Number 3 sucked, and so did all the rest. I'm not optimistic about what Disney's going to do. But I'll probably see them. And then I'll have more to complain about. But maybe not. Disney has a knack of making good movies. Usually.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
It was all a bad joke to me, and to anyone else who was a hardcore fan of the original series. Nor could I stand the stand-in aliens, one in a bar, a la Star Wars, and a spattering of cartoon-like aliens here and there. Again, it was a complete rip-off of Star Wars. And again, it was a bad joke.
All of the characters were miscast, except, perhaps, Spock. Zachary Quinto actually looked the part. But Kirk? Wrong actor. Chris Pine looked just like what they portrayed him as--a delinquent. And that's my problem. Captain Kirk, even in a different time line, was no delinquent. I'm sure the writers will argue that growing up without his father made him into a delinquent, but that's assuming that anyone who grows up without a father is guaranteed to be a delinquent. And I'll never believe that. It's bull crap.
Scotty being played by Simon Pegg, was all right, but being assigned to a solitary assignment removed and apart from everyone else? Nope. His talent was such that he would be heading the most important engineering jobs around at the time. Which was why he was assigned head engineer to the USS Enterprise, and not falling into that job by mere chance as this movie had it.
And Uhura? Uhura was African, not African American, as established at least twice in the original series. Her first language was Swahili, not English and the writers of this movie disregarded that. Which I believe is an insult to all of Africa and all Africans. (It would have been the same thing if they made Scotty no longer Scottish, or Chekov no longer Russian, but they didn't do that, did they?) But Zoe Saldana was no African and she just didn't look the part. She didn't convey the elegance, the dignity that was played to perfection by Nichelle Nichols. And that pathetic attraction to Spock? It's true she flirted with Spock in a very early episode on STTOS, but to anyone who has any perception abilities, she was just messing with Spock,while singing a song. She wasn't attracted to him. Her taste in men was exemplified twice during the original series. First, she was attracted to a strong looking and well spoken African man, as depicted in The Man Trap. Second, she admitted being attracted to Captain Kirk himself in the episode Plato's Children. But she was never attracted to Spock. That was nothing more than a joke.
And Sulu? Harold? Come on.
And Dr. McCoy? Played by the warrior Vaako? Well, actually, he kind of did look the part. But Karl Urban (Vaako) playing Dr. McCoy is akin to Eric Bana, (Hector) playing Dr. Bruce Banner. It's just not him. BTW, Eric Bana, the perennial good guy in all of his other movies, just happened to be the bad guy, Nero, in this movie. Another example of miscasting.
And the guy playing Chekov didn't even remotely look like him. And another thing. Chekov wasn't even around for the first year of the series, which means he wouldn't have been there for the Enterprise's maiden voyage, as he was depicted in this movie. All wrong.
Oh, well. Now the second one is about to come out. I'll see it. And then probably have some more to complain about. It'll give me something to write about.
Monday, May 6, 2013
Meanwhile, I'm awaiting the PDF print proof of The Vase, and I am expecting all of my final edits to be incorporated into that one. If they are, then The Vase is ready for publication. I believe they will be. After all, the final edits were mostly about what Penumbra was trying to drill into my head. And they finally succeeded. But I'll have to see it for myself. I expect it any day now. Will let you know.
Friday, May 3, 2013
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
And when Melange told me that, they seemed to be focused on the main character. And being new to the concept, I didn't connect the dots, and use the same guidelines for the secondary and/or supporting characters. It wasn't until the editors at Penumbra got a hold of The Vase did I finally get my brain wrapped around that concept. All characters need the same standards of POV so as to be consistent with the third person limited POV. They drilled it into me, and now I've finally got it.
So now that I'm thoroughly satisfied with The Vase, (providing Penumbra implements all of my final edits,) I can go back to KOK and make the same kind of edits. And there are plenty of places to do it. Another example is establishing the POV character in each scene. You don't want to wait beyond the first paragraph to do that. It's very important, and now that I finally get it, I'm making everything work in that book. Just as they do in The Vase. And you know what? It's fun. I think the editing stage is the most enjoyable phase of writing. The most relaxing, too.