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.



Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Killer of Killers -- The Cast of Characters

With the imminent release of the Second Edition of Killer of Killers, I am going to go into promotional mode for that book. Yeah, I know that The Vase just got released, and I'm promoting that one, too, it's just that Killer of Killers was my first book, and I've given that one so much more thought as to which actors out there today would be right for the roles.

We'll start with the main character, Trent Smith. He's in his late thirties, averaged sized, but muscular, not like a body builder, steroid enhanced guy, but a solid build, and considered handsome by the women who come to know him. And the actor out there now, who I would cast is Dustin Clare, the actor known from the Spartacus mini series on the Starz channel. This guy played a champion gladiator on that show, so a martial arts champion isn't a far cry from that.

Dustin Clare - perfect for the role of Trent Smith














There are two antagonists, each of whom vies to employ Trent Smith. The aged billionaire, Abraham Soriah is the top guy, who runs a secret society of immortal supermen. He would give anything to have Trent work as his top assassin, but Trent will have nothing of that. But there is one guy who is perfect for the role of Abraham Soriah. Max Von Sydow.  He's the right age, the right height, (Soriah is a tall guy,) and has the air of an authoritative figure.

Max Von Sydow - perfect as Soriah



















And then the other antagonist, Karl Manoukian, a foreign businessman, who once was allied with Soriah but now opposes him. Eugene Levy, best known from the American Pie comedy movies is just about the right age, and has the right look to be right for that role.



Eugene Levy - perfect as Manoukian


















And Abraham Soriah's right hand man, Charles Morgan. He is no servant, nor is he a bodyguard to the aged billionaire. He is Soriah's most trusted administrator, and is always by Abraham's side. Dennis Haysbert was the man I had in mind when I created the character, and he would be the perfect actor for the part.

Dennis Haysbert - perfect as Charles Morgan




















And of course, there had better be beautiful women. I created the role of Samantha Jones, the beautiful blond police detective, before I was aware that there was already a Samantha Jones in a women's romantic comedy TV show. But since I didn't find out about the TV show Samantha Jones until AFTER Killer of Killers was published, I guess that name will have to stick. That's okay. But the actress to play MY Samantha Jones is probably the most beautiful blond woman in the movies today. And no, I'm not talking about Scarlett Johannsen, nor am I talking about Jessica Alba. I am talking about Amber Heard. She is perfect for the role.



Amber Heard - Perfect for Samantha Jones






















And probably the most difficult role to fill is the beautiful black exotic dancer, Susie Quinn, who Trent meets during one of his killing missions. She actually saves Trent's life, and the two have a very serious relationship going on until fate intervenes. But no black actresses out there are right for the part. I was very worried until I happened to see Estelle Daniels in a bit part on another Starz mini series, DaVinci's Demons. I'm not really sold that she is 'perfect' for the part, but she's way better for that part than all these other black actresses who seem to be dominating Hollywood right now, like Kerry Washington, Jada Smith, Vivica Fox, et al.



Estelle Daniels - good enough for Susie Quinn
 















And then there's Samantha Jones' brother, Josh Jones, the ex football star, who is very protective of his sister, and is not really a bad guy, but he doesn't really get along with Trent Smith. A good actor for that role would be Dolph Lundgren, who may not be perfect for the role, because I think he might be getting too old for the part. Still, he'd be good enough the next couple years.


Dolph Lundgren good enough for Josh Jones


















So, yeah, there's other parts, like Dr. Jason Benson, Dr. Samuel Bernstein, his wife, Martha, and several other characters who have significant parts in the story. Let me know which actors you think would be right for the roles. I'll listen, and maybe I'll agree!



Friday, September 20, 2013

Promoting The Vase

Now that The Vase is finished and published, it's time to get the word out. I think it will appeal to all readers, but particularly, I think, it will appeal to the same crowd that was attracted to the Dan Brown novels. His novels had that pseudo spiritual appeal, and I think The Vase does, too. Some people have suggested it is kind of like a religious book, or about religion, but I don't think it is. It has religious people in it, though. There are fanatic Muslims, Jewish zealots, and even the Pope is in there. But it's not about religion. It's more than that. It's about people. And even though it has the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as the backdrop, I wouldn't even say it's about that.

No. It's about a family. A Palestinian family, which is caught up in the conflict. They are centered in it, and that's why they are swept up in it. It's also about a Jewish Art History professor. He is caught up in the conflict, too. Even swept up in it, like the Palestinian family. Both, the Palestinian family and the Jewish art professor had actually tried to stay out of the conflict. But things don't always go the way you want them to go, and everyone out there knows the truth of that. Either you go with the flow, or you get bowled over by it. And these things happen to all of the characters in The Vase. But, oh yeah, there is the situation that occurs as a result of a particular vase. Thus the name of the book. But I talked about that yesterday. Buy your copy today. You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Book Titles

As of today, I have two books published. Killer of Killers and The Vase. Interestingly, both of those titles were not the original titles of those books. Each one had a "working" title when I began writing them.  When I started writing Killer of Killers, I was calling it The V-Shaped Man. I later changed the title to Killer of Killers, and right now, The V-Shaped Man sounds like a dumb title. And I sure am glad I changed it to Killer of Killers.

And when I started writing The Vase, I was calling it Lord, I am Not Worthy. But by the time I finished writing it, I had changed the title to The Vase. And I am very glad that I did, because as a book title, Lord, I am Not Worthy sounds just as dumb as The V-Shaped man.

So how do you choose a title for your book, anyway? Well, when I was writing KOK, I had initially described the main character, Trent Smith, as a man with the typical male V-shaped physique. You know, with the narrow hips and broad shoulders--The V shape. But after I wrote the book, it became clear that there was an obvious title for that book--Killer of Killers. And those three words had been mentioned repeatedly in the book. It is exactly what Trent Smith became, and by the end of the book, he was nothing more than just that. Thus the name of the book was clear.

And when it comes to The Vase, I don't even think I was done writing it yet when I realized that Lord, I Am Not Worthy was not the right title for that book. It became very clear about midway through the book, that the name of the book should be The Vase. Because the entire story line revolved around a vase. A very special vase. Everything was based on that vase. So much so that without that particular vase, there would have been no story at all. Zip. Zero. Nothing. It was all about the vase. Thus, the title of the book.

Admittedly, a casual observer, someone browsing in a bookstore, whether a brick and mortar one or an online one, may not realize all that is involved with a book called The Vase. They might even think it's a book about how to make a vase. But that's where the promo comes in. After checking the blurb, it becomes clear that The Vase is not a how to book. It's a novel, after all, and it's a story that takes place in Israel, (with a couple scenes in Hollywood, too, by the way,) and it does have a great deal to do with the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. In fact the main characters are a Palestinian potter and his 14 year old son, a Jewish Art History Professor, and an IDF captain who also happens to be the head of Kidon, (the assassination branch of Mossad.)

And when you put all of that in the Old City Market of downtown Nazareth, with a very special vase at the center of it, you have a great story. There was no other name for that book. The story, the events in the story, the climax, and conclusion demanded it to be named The Vase.

And if my explanation is not clear, then I am confident that if anyone reads the book, they will understand and agree that the name of the book could only be that--The Vase.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Teacher Inservice Today

No school for kids today in my district, but teachers are gathering for an inservice. And guess what they are going to be teaching us today? How to Write! Or rather, how to teach how to write.

I feel a little smug about that. After all, I've already written four books, and two of them are published, and the other two will be published as soon as I get to revising them a little more. So I kind of feel that I know how to write. Especially after that gruelling experience with Penumbra Publishing. Boy, did they ever teach me how to write! After learning from them, I really believe I'm an expert at it now. And I can teach it with the best of them!

But no matter, I'm here, the other teachers are here, too, waiting for this thing to begin, and while I'm waiting, I'm writing. Maybe I can get back to finishing those revisions on the second edition of Killer of Killers. It's so close to being finished. It should be done by this weekend, and I'll be sending by next week. I know I've said that before, but this time, it really should be true. And how.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Time to Wrap up Killer of Killers

Over the summer, I had been working on the second edition of Killer of Killers, between editing rounds of The Vase. And since late August, pretty much all of my time has been put into the second edition of KOK. And I can say, it's almost ready. I might have sent it in a couple weeks ago, but I really don't ever want to have to revise this book again. Melange, especially Nancy at Melange has been very nice about it. It's a pain for her, I'm sure, to have to reload this thing, especially after doing it repeatedly when it first got published. But it's more work for me, really, than anyone else, rewriting this thing. But when it comes to making it a better written book, I'm OK with that.

Well, it's not really rewriting anymore. At least not at this point. It was when I rewrote several scenes to adhere to the 3rd person limited POV, but since the first couple times going over it, it's been more of a polishing up. I've learned a lot more about comma usage, and I have fixed a lot of comma placements, and even some instances of verb usage. All in all, it's made for a vast improvement in writing quality in all aspects of writing. POV, literary composition, and prose being the top factors. It's a much improved book. I know I keep saying it's almost ready, but this time, it really is. I should be sending it in by the end of this week.

But after saying that, I'll probably be sending it in next week. Early next week. Monday or Tuesday.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Vase Doing Well, and Killer of Killers Second Edition Imminent

The Vase, now, has been out for about two weeks. I think it's doing well, but I have no data to confirm that. That will have to come later. I just think that it is such a good story, such a unique and original story, that once people get word of it, it will sell well. Particularly to Christian readers. Not that Jewish and Muslim readers can't enjoy it, because I think they will. The main characters are Muslim and Jewish, after all. So of course they can relate to it, in that sense.

It's interesting to me, this third person limited POV. Both Killer of Killers and The Vase are strictly adhering to that guideline, and it makes the story and the writing of it so much better, now that I have come to fully understand it. I never write in first person POV, and any time I find a book in first person POV, I drop it like a hot potato. Third person limited is the way to go. And now that the release of Killer of Killers, the second edition is imminent, both books will be perfect in that regard. That's all for now.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Killer of Killers, Second Edition almost there

With The Vase wrapped up, and published now, I've been giving 200% attention to the second edition of Killer of Killers. I just have to. With the standard of writing quality set, for me, at least, in The Vase, I have to make sure that Killer of Killers measures up. And I think it does now.

Again, I attribute that to the strict and unbending standards of 3rd person limited at Penumbra, as well as the strict and unbending guidelines of verb usage, commas, tag lines, and just about everything else in the literary process. Melange was more loose with all of that, but since my second novel, The Vase, was held to that standard, I am compelled to make sure Killer of Killers meets those standards, too.

I'm just glad the publisher at Melange is willing to go along with that. But why shouldn't she? It will only make this particular Melange book a better book. And wow, is it better. Why else would I suggest that buyers hold off until the second edition is published? Because my name is on it, that's why. It's a book I wrote, and any author would want their best effort put forth. Any author who's a true artist, anyway. And an artist, I am.

And of all the arts that I have spent time with, it's writing and writing novels in particular which I find the most rewarding. Particularly when they're published and real people out there in the real world are reading them. That really makes it worthwhile. And exciting. Yep, this is a good year for me.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Vase - different vases

There are different pictures of vases, one on my blog and one on the cover of the book. I chose that particular image for the book, because I think it's a closer representation of the vase that is in the story. Both are basically the same shape, and both, being black and white photos, are equally representative of the color, which I described as being gray. Both are unglazed, which is also a required quality, but the vase on the book cover has grooves in it. And that trait is a fundamental requirement.

I found the image that is on the header of my blog on the internet somewhere, and I like it, but it really is a smooth vase, isn't it? So when Penumbra showed me that other image, I chose that one to be the one for the cover on the book. And there's a similar looking one on the inside, too. Penumbra is more into using graphics on the inside of the book, like the big publishers do, and I like that. Every chapter has the image on the first page of the chapter, and it's a great addition.

Can't wait for people to start reading it. All people should like it. Christians, Muslims, Jews, and anyone else for that matter. But even though I include Christians as readers who will enjoy it, the funny thing is, there are no Christian characters in the story. Well, the Pope does make an appearance, but it's a very brief appearance. Still, it is in the climax of the story, so it's a very important appearance. And interestingly enough, even Jesus Christ makes an appearance. But is it the real Jesus Christ? Well, you'll have to read it to find out. And even then, the reader will have to make that determination for him/herself.

That's the great thing about The Vase. It ends up being the reader who makes the determination. And that's the way it should be. I can't wait to hear what readers decide.