Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?

THE VASE

A novel by Mark M. DeRobertis

Muhsin Muhabi is a Palestinian potter, descended from a long line of potters. His business is run from the same shop owned by his ancestors since the day his forebears moved to Nazareth. The region's conflict saw the death of his oldest son, and rogue terrorists are in the process of recruiting his youngest in their plot to assassinate the Pope and Israeli prime minister.

Professor Hiram Weiss is an art historian at Nazareth’s Bethel University. He is also a Shin Bet operative on special assignment. With the help of fellow agent, Captain Benny Mathias, he plans to destroy the gang responsible for the death of his wife and only child. He puts a bomb in the ancient vase he takes on loan from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.

Mary Levin, the charming assistant to the director of Shin Bet, has lost a husband and most of her extended family to recurring wars and never-ending terrorism. She dedicates her life to the preservation of Israel, but to whom will she dedicate her heart - the brilliant professor from Bethel University - or the gallant captain who now leads Kidon?

Harvey Holmes, the Sherlock of Haunted Houses, is a Hollywood TV host whose reality show just flopped. When a Lebanese restaurant owner requests his ghost-hunting services, he believes the opportunity will resurrect his career. All he has to do is exorcise the ghosts that are haunting the restaurant. It happens to be located right across the street from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.



Friday, June 28, 2013

The Vase is top notch-Killer of Killers will be, too.

I talked about how many times The Vase has been edited, with three total publishers, but most extensively with Penumbra. And I've talked  particularly about how much the writing has improved, that I must say Killer of Killers, also, is reaching that level of quality as far as writing is concerned.

Both are great stories, to be sure, but when I read them now, it's like, wow, this writing is just so good. I haven't resubmitted KOK to Melange yet, because I'm not quite done with it yet, but if you are someone who is considering buying a copy, I would suggest to wait just a little bit more. I'll be sure to tell you when it's been reloaded. But it will be worth waiting for if you care about literary writing and such. The story's the same. The characters are the same. The plot and events that take place are the same. It's just the writing is tons better now. And it will continue to get better until I finally call it done.

It's just another example of the same thing I've been saying for a long time now. Revisions are never done. Not until the book is published. And in my case, at least for KOK, not even then. It's been improved and improved, and improved, and at this point, well what more can I say? It's just so good, like I already said. Look, I know tooting your own horn is not kosher, but unless or until you read it for yourself, how else will you know?

You can't even go by reviews anymore, because many authors actually pay reviewers for good reviews. Even for books they never read. And on the flip side, there are those jerks who just seem to get off on giving bad reviews, and again, even for books they never read. Not because anyone's paying them, but just because they are jerks. Of course there's a better word out there, but I'm a Middle School teacher, after all, and the word 'jerk' will have to do. And that's why many people give no credence at all to reviews. It doesn't mean I wouldn't welcome another good review, though. What author wouldn't? I mean the kind you don't pay for, of course.

So, stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Keep On Writing

Even if you're revising, that's still writing. It doesn't have to be new material. If you make the material you've already written better, than that's still making great progress. Even better. If you write something that needs to be improved, and you don't improve it, than that's not so good. You absolutely have to make your writing the best it can possibly be. And until it is, you just have to keep at it. And I don't think anyone in the world can have a first draft be at that level. No one.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Finally Saw an Amber Heard Movie

Amber Heard
I know that my posts about Amber Heard have attracted many readers, since my 'stats' page indicates that. She must be a pretty popular girl worldwide, and that's understandable. She is, after all, my choice for the part of Samantha Jones, the police detective in my debut novel, Killer of Killers. And speaking of Amber Heard, I finally saw an Amber Heard movie. It was last night on the Showtime channel. The movie was called Drive Angry, and I watched it because Amber Heard was in it. I thought it was my first chance to see if she could act. And she CAN. She co-starred with Nicholas Cage, and even though I had some problems with the screenplay, it did showcase the acting talents of Amber Heard, and they were more than credible--as good as any of the other actresses out there. So she still gets top preference for the Samantha Jones part, if KOK ever gets made into a movie. We'll see. I want it reloaded first, and then we'll talk more about that.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Back to Work

Back to Killer of Killers, that is. I'm not finished with that one yet. The Vase, yeah. I think that one is a wrap. But taking all those guidelines to Killer of Killers is my goal, now. And hopefully it will be reloaded or reprinted, or whatever publishers do. I think that it would behoove Melange Books to do it. It will only make one of their books a better book. Who wouldn't want that? Back to work.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Final Edits Sent to Publisher

Penumbra answered that they have received my edits and they are in queue to be reviewed. I expect them all to be implemented, as I've adhered to their guidelines after all, and it is better than ever. I think the writing, thanks to what I learned from them, is better than ever and really has reached another level of quality. I hope it gets read, and if it does I think word might spread and it will catch on. Only time will tell. So we'll see.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Third and Final Round of Edits Completed

The Vase is good to go. Dare I say great to go. I'm referring to the level of writing that so many rounds of edits have achieved. Two other publishers put it through a round each, and then Penumbra's three preliminary rounds and now three additional rounds that came by me have made this the best manuscript it could possibly be. I'm ready to send it back to them, but I just want to give it a quick once over before I do. I always find something else to change, and just now I did. I changed a couple places already since I declared it done. Sure they were minor changes but they were changes nonetheless. So one more pass. Not a word by word read through. Just a quick going over, checking all the changes I made, and seeing if they might be made better. That's how the last couple minor changes happened. So that's what I'm going to do. I fully expect to send it today though. And it will rock and it will roll!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Writing Has Reached Another Level

The Vase is being edited. Wow, is it ever. It received three rounds of edits with Penumbra before it was even sent to me for review. It underwent two rounds of edits after that. And I'm in the midst of a third round, right now. And none of that even includes the two rounds of edits it underwent with the two prior publishers who were going to publish it before Penumbra.

But it was Penumbra who really taught me so much about editing. And I'm a much better writer now. In fact, I dare say my writing has reached another level. Especially right now during this latest round of edits, which I'm about three quarters through. I should be done by tomorrow. And then I'll send it back. Can't wait. You'll see.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Final Edits Return

Finally got the Final Edits back on The Vase yesterday, and after spending some time in my classroom, preparing it for summer clean up, I rushed home and reviewed them. They used practically all of my revisions, thank goodness, and made some of their own, but very few. Nevertheless, I'm still making some improvements, but vastly fewer than the last time. And when I'm done reviewing/editing those final edits, I will read through it word by word, one last time. So it should take me about a week. Like I have said before, this is the most fun part of writing and I'm having a blast.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Last Day of School Today

And the melancholy settles in. But I will have more time to write. Maybe even some time to read. I've lamented about not having time to read. That it's probably one of the reasons I haven't read any other author's book in some time. That could change. But it probably won't. Not only do I want to start a new book this summer, I want to go over the ones I've already written and bring them up to par with everything I've learned from Penumbra in regards to 3rd person POV, and the many other things that make writing good. And that means Killer of Killers, too. But it also means Killer Eyes and John Dunn. And with those books, it will probably take the whole summer to get them to the point where I will be satisfied. As for new books? I've talked a little about The Killers Guild. And there is that YA book I started a couple years ago. I revisited it  a week ago or so, and guess what? I liked it! Maybe I'll pursue that one some day. We'll  see. Bye for now.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What About Scenes With No POV Character?

What I mean by that is what if a writer wants to write a scene where there might not even be a character in there, or a short scene where the author does not want the character's identity known.

In Killer of Killers, Chapter One, the main Character kills a man in an airport restaurant restroom, and then leaves. And after he leaves, I wrote a scene where all I wanted the reader to know was that someone, (identity not revealed) reaches in and takes the dead man's leather bag. Without actually entering the restroom, that is. So all I wanted to convey was a hand reaching through the ajar door, grabbing the bag, and taking it.

And in the conclusion of Chapter 18, after Trent leaves the scene in a taxi, I keep the reader in that scene where rats are watching the bodies of the men Trent just killed. They are waiting until they think it's safe to have a meal.

The publisher had no problem with either scene. But I wonder what my other publisher would say about them? I suppose the way I wrote it is acceptable, but again, that was with Melange. I'm not sure how Penumbra would take it. Maybe I'll ask. In any case, I rewrote the first scene, and even though I did, the hand is still reaching in without the character's face being revealed. (It's hidden behind the door which is not opened all the way.) It would work in a movie. But I've been told you don't write books the way you would watch a movie.

Still, there are exceptions to every rule. I'm supposing that the described scenes above would be acceptable examples.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Authors Can Be Weird

Authors can be weird in the sense that they love to write, (that's why they're authors,) but they don't love to read. Or don't want to read. That is, they don't want to read any other author's book. I'm no exception to that. I plead guilty. And I admit it's weird. Before I was an author I loved reading all the Robert E. Howard books. I read some Edgar Rice Burroughs books. And most of H. G. Wells. But since those days, and particularly since I became an author myself, I haven't been able to get myself interested in anyone else's book. It might be just a matter of time. There is only so much time in the day. I have a wife, two sons, a full time teaching job, and all of those things leave little time to write. So is it a wonder I can't muster the interest to read. I've got barely enough time to read my own writing, and write my own books. And it could be that. It probably is that. Okay, so that explains me. So why don't most other authors care to read other authors' books. I think it has to do with self centered attitudes. Other authors just plain don't care about other people's books. They only care about their own book. I've found that most authors on Goodreads, for example, don't give a hoot about anyone else's books. They are on Goodreads to promote their own books. And that's it. But again, I'm guilty of the same thing. And yeah, it's weird.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Third Person Limited POV, Sometimes tricky

Fiction writing today, more than ever before is supposed to be written in third person limited POV. I've always liked third person. But I had been accustomed to third person omniscient, which is what authors used historically. But in today's fiction, it's third person limited. And it took some getting used to. The thing that makes third person limited different is that each scene is to be written in the perspective of only one character. And only what that character knows is what the reader knows in that scene. So you wouldn't describe that character's face, meaning you wouldn't write, "...his face twisted..." or "...his eyes turned wild..." because, unless that character is looking in a mirror at that moment, he wouldn't be seeing his own face twisting, or his own eyes turning wild.

You can say, however, what he was feeling or what facial movements he might be making, like, "...he was shocked..." or "...he narrowed his eyes..." which doesn't stray from the third person limited standard. But just as importantly, you wouldn't write what another character in that scene is feeling, because your character would have to be a mind reader for that. But you can write how another character's face is moving, because your POV character can see that other person's face moving, e.g.: "...his face twisted..." or "...his eyes turned wild..."

Nor can you use any kind of info dump for a character who is not the POV character. If you want to do that, then you must change the scene and establish the other character as your POV character, and then you're ready to roll in that regard. It took me a while to really get a handle on all of that, and there's a lot more to it, too. But I've got a full understanding of it now. And my writing is tons better as a result.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Monday Blues

It's Monday, but that's not why I'm feeling blue today. It's because this is the last week of school, and I always feel blue the last week of the school year. Most teachers seem to welcome the summer vacation as much as the students do. But not me. And I don't really know why. I sometimes think it's because I enjoy my job, and I love being here. Particularly at my current school. I've worked at schools before that I hated. Maybe most of them. But for the last thirteen years, I've loved the school where I work. And I thought that that was why I wasn't so ecstatic when the school year ended.

And all of that is probably true, but there could be another reason. Time just goes by so fast, and when the school year closes out, that is just another way of life letting me know that another year has passed by. Like your birthday. On your birthday, it's the most obvious event that drills it into your head that another year has passed. You're a year older. No getting around it. But just as eventful, I think, is the passing of the school year. At least for a teacher. At least for me. The crop of students you had will turn into another crop of students when you come back in the fall.

And then it starts all over again. And sure enough, the time will fly by and it will be summer vacation again. And in the meantime, you had another birthday, and you're a year older. And the years seem to be moving faster all the time. Especially when I see my kids growing up. My oldest son is 17. Ouch. Next school year is his last year of high school. I've seen my friends kids grow up, and both of my sisters' kids grow up. Now it's happening to me. But not  yet. I've still got some time. And I'm living it to the fullest, you can believe that.