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, August 30, 2013

The Vase and Killer of Killers

The Vase is now a published book and ready to be purchased. Killer of Killers was published a year ago, but I would suggest to wait until the Second Edition is released before purchasing it. That is, unless you're a collector. Collectors want the First Editions. That way, if Killer of Killers ever did get famous, or becomes a top seller, than those few First Edition copies might be worth more than their original purchase price.

But that's another thing, entirely. For me, as the author, I would prefer the Second Edition to be the version readers read. Why?  Because I'm applying all that I learned from Penumbra Publishing into that version. Third person limited POV will be perfect in Killer of Killers. Melange was good about it, make no mistake, but they just weren't severely strict about it. They follow Nora Roberts, I've been told, and I understand Nora Roberts herself is very loose about third person limited. So Melange, also, is somewhat loose about it.

Not so at Penumbra. They are as strict as can be. So much so, that not even the slightest stray from third person limited will be tolerated. At first, it seemed to me to be a little too strict. And I was glad that Melange wasn't that way. But after finishing The Vase, I realized that it really did make a difference. The literary prose was improved too. And by a lot. So much so that I just felt compelled to do the same for Killer of Killers. And wow. Killer of Killers has been improved so much now, that I can't wait to submit it for the release of the Second Edition.

I'm in the final stages of it now. It should be ready by next week. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Black Sabbath Live - A Review

Last night my favorite band, Black Sabbath performed at the Shoreline in Mt. View, and I was there. I go to every concert Black Sabbath is at. And I have since the mid seventies. I don't go to any other concerts. I don't have the desire to. But Black Sabbath is different. They're my favorite band. I waited for a new studio album from them since 1978, and finally, this year my wait ended when they released 13. The album did not disappoint, even though the original drummer, Bill Ward did not participate in its production. And that was a problem for me.

But that didn't stop me from buying and enjoying the album. I've bought all the other Black Sabbath albums that didn't feature the original lineup. But my favorite musician, guitarist Tony Iommi was on all of them, and that's what mattered to me. Those albums really should have been called Tony Iommi solo albums, but whatever. There were a lot of them, and they had a bunch of different singers. Sure all of them were good singers, but one thing remains true in my opinion. Ozzy Osbourne is the voice of Black Sabbath.

And likewise, Bill Ward is the percussion of Black Sabbath. And when I learned that he wasn't going to be there, I was not happy about it. I met Bill Ward, you see. I was part of a back stage tour in L.A. during one of the Ozzfests when Black Sabbath performed, and managed to linger on the stage when the tour moved on. And shortly thereafter, Bill Ward came out to tune up his drums. My friend and I were astounded. We're thinking, "That's Bill Ward!"

When he finished tuning his drums, Bill was departing, so I blurted, "Hi Bill!" just for the hell of it. He turned around and returned the greeting, but that wasn't all. He came over and talked to us. Yeah, that was a thrill. Perhaps the biggest thrill of my life after the birth of my sons. And it just goes to show, that some celebrities can be really cool, and humble, too. When I told him I had been a fan of his for over thirty years, his response was that he was honored. HE was honored. How about that?

So, it did bother me that not only was he not recording the new album, he was also not a part of the tour. But, just as I still bought the album, I still went to the concert, and I am very glad I did. They sounded great. They played a great variety of their music, even some songs that I had never heard them play live before, including Wall of Sleep, which is a song from their first album, (and one of my personal favorites,) along with Paranoid's Rat Salad, and Volume 4's Under the Sun.

Bottom line, the band was in top form. But they always are. They always have been, and I believe they always will be. Doesn't matter how old they get or how ill they get. (That's a reference to Tony's cancer, which I've heard is in remission and didn't seem to slow him one bit.)

You know, I almost decided not to go to this concert. But if I made that decision, it would have been a mistake. I was glad I was there. Even without Bill Ward, it was still Black Sabbath.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Vase - Click on Image to Buy!

Well, that didn't take long. I have now added the image and link to which the page on my publisher's site can be accessed to buy a copy of The Vase. But reviewers can get a free copy. By emailing me, reviewers can receive a special promotional code for which a copy of The Vase can be acquired for free. This will be available for the next couple of months, so if you wish to review The Vase don't take too long, because my publisher says that promotional code will be discontinued in December.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Vase is Published and Ready for Purchase!

The Vase, as I was just informed by Penumbra, is now available for purchase, and I thought the sooner I made that announcement, the better. I will link the Penumbra purchase site to my blog shortly. Until then, clicking on the following smashwords link will enable you to purchase a digital copy. Enjoy the story! Link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/350833

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Vase - Cover is ready


Cover to The Vase
The cover to The Vase is in. It's in the same style of the header to my blog, but since that image is not exactly what I envisioned the vase in my story to look like, I was impressed that Penumbra found an image of a vase that does, actually, look like the vase in my story. And here it is. I couldn't be more pleased. Not just in the cover, but with how all the edits turned out. Grayson Little of Penumbra was a very strict editor, and I was glad for that. After about five, maybe six rounds of hardcore editing, The Vase is finally ready. And it will be released very soon. I will keep you posted.

Watch for The Vase from Penumbra, coming soon.

Friday, August 23, 2013

School Back in Session, So is The Vase

I've had no time the past two weeks, because I'm back to work as a teacher and school is back in session, and THE VASE is back in session, too. I'm not talking about the blog. I'm talking about my second novel, The Vase, which has been returned with the fifth round of edits. I went over them and sent it back with just a few corrections, and it's good to go. Penumbra said that they're working on a cover next, and as soon as one is completed, you  can bet I'll be posting it on the blog.

I am so thrilled with the completion, finally, of the manuscript of The Vase. It was a long time coming, and it is flawless, thanks to the hard work of the editor, Grayson at Penumbra, and of course, my own hard work, too.

Now back to work on still some more hard work, and I'm referring to the second edition of Killer of Killers. I told Melange I'd have it back to them by last week, but there really is no rush. I'm not being held to any deadlines, so I will send it to them when I am damn sure it is just as perfect as The Vase.

And here's why. I really expect The Vase to attract a large audience. And that audience may well want to read something else I wrote, which will be, of course, Killer of Killers. But The Vase really is a different type of book than the martial arts action thriller that is Killer of Killers. It could be considered a religious type of story and yet, it's not really a religious book at all. It might be viewed as a political one, but then again, not really. It could be considered fantasy, paranormal, or even historical, but then again, not really.

I don't really know how to categorize it, but I had always promoted it as a suspense novel, yet Penumbra didn't categorize it that way on their website. They are putting it up as paranormal, historical and fantasy.

But whatever, I suppose it does stretch over many different genres, and all of the above could qualify. Meanwhile, my son's senior high school football season is approaching, the kids in my classes at my school are awesome this year, and I am optimistic about The Vase and Killer of Killers being fantastic novels. That's an awful lot to look forward to for me this year.

So you'll be  hearing more from me, that's for sure.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Hidden Errors and Flaws to Overcome

Finding errors in a manuscript can be compared to finding a needle in a haystack. You might have combed through that manuscript more times than you can count, but still that elusive error, like a needle, remains hidden. Until one day it pops out at you.

One thing that popped out at me was an error regarding the verb has/have that I just caught. In both of my manuscripts. In The Vase I found a piece of dialogue where someone was saying, "War and fighting has occurred here for so long..." but the verb 'has occurred' should be 'have occurred' because whenever you have multiple subjects connected with 'and' then you use the plural form of the verb, even though the individual subjects were singular.

In KOK another instance like that occurred, but I can't remember exactly what the passage was. Nevertheless, it's fixed, too. A couple other things Grayson at Penumbra told me was not to use 'swirled" around when someone spins around to see what's behind them, use the word 'whirled' around instead. Of course, 'spun' around works, too. Or 'wheeled' even. Sometimes, I'll just put 'pivoted' and never put 'swiveled' for when someone turns their head. Or 'rotated'. Just say they turned their head.

One of my flaws in writing that I have overcome is that I used to try to be fancy. I was influenced by other people's writing blogs and saw how they tried to be good writers by using fancy words and phrases to describe actions and dialogue, but I've grown beyond that now. I've learned that that doesn't make someone a good writer, it only exposes their amateurism and their inexperience. Say what you've got to say, but don't mix it up with irregular words and words that can mean something else, because the reader might just take it to mean something else and not what you meant.

So like anything, it's about experience and learning and growing. And with that you become a better writer. And don't be stubborn. When someone's telling you what you're doing is wrong, don't argue with them and think that you're the one right. Take your time and think it through. I did. And I'm a better writer for it. Good luck to everyone.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Now Killer of Killers the Second Edition

Full speed ahead with the final revisions to Killer of Killers, and the second edition will be sent by next week. That means if you're a collector and insist on having a first edition, then don't wait too much longer. I would recommend the first edition for collectors for that reason, but if you're a stickler for literary prose, and strict third person limited standards, then wait for the second edition. That one is super high level literary standards, and sticks to the third person limited POV completely. I used to think the third person omniscient was the way to go because of the old school writers style. But today, you better go with the flow. Omniscient = old school = out. Limited = new school = in. And I want in, so that's what I'm doing. Can't wait to get done. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Vase Edits Done

As hoped, the edits for The Vase are done, and I sent the file back to Penumbra. They confirmed receiving it, and it will undergo the final edits now. I hope that the next file I get will be the real deal, meaning that it will be the version that will be published. The eBook will come out first and then the print book.

Still, I haven't seen a cover yet. I think that is the next step in the process. At Melange, for Killer of Killers, they had the cover ready before the edits even. But it doesn't matter. Both are extremely important. The cover will help sell the book, but the edits are what makes the book good when it's being read. Of course, the story had better already be good. But with The Vase, I already know that's the case. I wrote it after all. And this blog is pretty much dedicated to The Vase. Just look at the header. It's all about The Vase. So stay tuned.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Back to Editing, Revising

With the return of the edits to The Vase, I'm right back in the thick of editing, revising, editing, revising, and all the while, what was already a darn good manuscript is getting better and better. Which is why I went back to Killer of Killers. It had a lot of prose to improve, specifically the 3rd person limited POV as I've said before. I wasn't quite finished with KOK when The Vase came back, but these past few days, I've been so focused on improving The Vase, I'm just about done with it. I think I'll be done by tomorrow, and then by the end of the week, I'll be done with Killer of Killers.

And just in time, too. School is getting ready to resume, and it's back to the grindstone. That's OK, because by then I'll be back to work on Killer Eyes. It's going to be published by Melange. It will be my third book published, and then I'll get back to work on John Dunn. Can't complain. When you have a publisher, it makes it so much more rewarding, then writing with the hopes of getting published. And I'm lucky enough to have two. But that's what you work so hard for. And that's why you have to be relentless. Otherwise, don't write. That's all.