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, November 29, 2013

Writing Novels is an Art

I'm a perfectionist. That may be annoying to people around me, but if you don't know me, then you won't be annoyed. Instead, you would appreciate the perfectionist that wants his books written perfectly, or as near perfectly as humanly possible. Or anything that has to do with an artistic creation, be it a novel, a painting, a song, or a sculpture. The people who enjoy these things will be very glad that I'm a perfectionist.

And that's because artists should be perfectionists. I talked about it recently on one of my blog posts. Being a perfectionist is what makes art great. If you're not a perfectionist, then why bother making art at all. And don't forget, writing novels is an art.

When I started being an artist, that is drawing with a pencil, I wanted my art to be as good as I could make it. Then when I started painting, I had the same goal, the same objective. And the same thing when I started sculpting. And then the same thing when I started writing songs.

And then I started writing novels. Like the other subjects, it was a learning experience. But the learning happened. Like with everything, the more I did it, the better I got, and now, as The Vase and the second edition of Killer of Killers will attest, the writing is something of which I can be very proud. I read these books over and over, and I can't help but to be pleased every time.

As soon as I get the advance print copy of KOK, 2nd Edition, and okay it, I'll use my next shipment of books for promotions and reviews. That means I'll be hitting all the bookstores in town. And that will be exciting for me. In the meantime, stay tuned, because I will let you know on this blog when the 2nd edition is ready to purchase on line. Until then.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving is a day I'm thankful for being Published!

It was a long and hard road for me. Writing books, finding agents, and getting published, that is. Only thing is, it wasn't an agent who got it done for me. It was me. All me.

I was glad I found an agent who loved Killer of Killers. But as I've chronicled on this blog, that agent retired soon afterward, and the subsequent agents who inherited KOK in that agency, imo, did not share the same enthusiasm, and nothing really happened after that. So I became unagented and published shortly thereafter.

That's seems weird, doesn't it? But that's how it happened. So what would any writer prefer? Being agented and unpublished or being unagented and published.

Well, I choose the latter, and that's what I am. And for that I am thankful. And, by the way, I'm twice published. With two different publishers. And that was a long road, well chronicled on this blog, too. Especially for The Vase. A long and winding road for that one.

Strangely, Killer of Killers was accepted by the second publisher to whom I submitted--Melange, and I have been pleased with them, especially their willingness to cooperate with my perfectionist ways. But they have done everything I've asked them to do. And more.

Oh, make no mistake, I am very happy with Penumbra, too. If not for them, I wouldn't have the knowledge with which I could be that perfectionist. It's all a great collection of events, and results, and all of it thanks only to my own hard work, my perseverance, and willingness to stick it out. I never quit. I came close to considering it a couple times. But in the end, here I am, and with two more books still in queue.

Killer Eyes, the sequel to KOK, and John Dunn, Heart of a Zulu are up next. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Snags Straightened Out, KOK Set To Go!

Well, I got the eBook version, of Kller of Killers, the second edition, and I received the print version, too, and the missing date is back in there for both of them, and the blank page is in there for the print version, too.

It's weird though. Before, (a year ago,) there was no problem with the blank page, meaning in the first edition of Killer of Killers word doc files and in The Vase word doc files, the blank page is right there visible. But now, with Killer of Killers, the second edition file, the blank page only appears when it is actually printed. You don't see it when you open the file.

I wonder why it's like that now. No matter. Just to be sure, I went ahead and printed the first few pages, and sure enough, the page that was supposed to be blank was indeed blank. Which means it's all fixed and ready to go.

Nancy said she is sending me an advanced copy of the print book, and I should receive it within a few days, and if it's all good, then I give the green light to proceed with the reloading for all the eBooks, and the Lulu print books, too.

That will be exciting for me, because that's when I will get aggressive in my promotional efforts, more so than ever before. Now that I have nothing to fear from any reviewers, insofar as prose, POV, verb usage, and just plain old good writing is concerned. It's going to pass even the staunchest critics, like Grayson over there at Penumbra. It's Grayson who taught me all the details of POV 3rd person limited.

That's not to say that Nancy and Melange were remiss. They told me about it, too, it's just that they didn't get over the top strict about it like Grayson at Penumbra did when he was editing The Vase.

But I'm the kind of person, the kind of writer, that is, who wants my writing to be over the top perfect, so that it will pass the staunchest scrutiny. And after working so hard on making The Vase as good as it is, I concentrated on making Killer of Killers just as good. I succeeded, and now both books are fantastic.

You can see for yourself. Buy a copy of either one. But wait on Killer of Killers. It hasn't been reloaded just yet. Maybe by next week. I'll let you know.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Reload in Progress for Killer of Killers

Well, as I've posted, I did finally send the rewritten version of Killer of Killers, now referred to as the Second Edition, and Melange is in the process of reloading it, but there seems to be inevitable snags along the way. First, as you may already know, some books need a blank page in the beginning so the first page of story begins on the right side of the print book. Well, the file that I sent, already had a blank page in there, and it was never a problem before when it was reloaded, but this time it resulted in TWO blank pages, and I caught that right off the top, when they sent me the PDF to check over.

Okay, so I let them know, and then they sent me a "fixed" version, but then the "fixed" version had no blank page at all. It's like ????

Okay, so I let them know and then they sent me two versions. One with no blank page to be used, they explained for digital copies...okay...and another with no cover that would be used for print versions, with the cover to be loaded at time of printing. Okay.

Except for now, on the Quotes page, which precedes the blank page, the bottom date that goes to one of the quotes was missing. You see, in Killer of Killers, like a lot of books I've read or seen, there is a page dedicated to some quotes. I used three. One by a 17th Century English Puritan named Richard Norwood, one by my favorite author of all time, Robert E. Howard, and one by Martin Luther King. It's King who is quoted last, (because his quote is the most chronologically recent,) and since his was on the bottom, the date, 1963, was mysteriously missing from both the eBook copy and the no cover print copy!

So Okay, I let them know, and Nancy fixed it, and sent me back another copy, but now it has no blank page again! Not sure if this is just an eBook copy or what. It did have the cover with it, so I let her know this morning, and that's where it stands right now.

I'm just going to be glad when it's finished. But I have to make sure it's all correctly done. After all, this is the final reload, no matter what. And I didn't spend the last six months making the writing and POV and everything else perfect, just for some mix up in the reloading to happen.

We'll see. Poor Nancy. She's working so hard on this, and every time I have to tell her that something isn't right. It must be very frustrating. But for everyone involved. Fingers crossed it will be finalized today.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Killer of Killers Reload imminent

Nancy, the publisher at Melange, contacted me and is working on the reload. That means, she's reformatting the headers like I talked about earlier, and will be making the second edition available through their website in the digital formats, and then in the print format. And then on to Amazon, etc.

I will most certainly post on this blog when that is done, and then I will order some new copies for myself to make available to reviewers, whom I will solicit more aggressively. I am so proud of how this second edition turned out, it's about experience, and practice, and with both of those under my belt now, I used all of that additional knowledge, (POV, verb usage, dialogue tags, etc,) that I learned from Penumbra for Killer of Killers, and it's a beautifully written book now. It was great before, but it's over the top great now.

Killer of Killers, the second edition will pass any reviewer's scrutiny now. The 3rd person limited POV is flawless, and there is no head hopping at all.

I went and looked at some big name books from big name publishers, and I found POV errors in them. So that means that MY book, Killer of Killers, and The Vase, too, btw, are both better written. I have no compunction in saying that. I'm not going to name names, but after all the work I put in on both of those books, I feel validated in saying it.

Check them out, and see for yourself. That's all. Until the reload is complete, though, stay tuned.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thanksgiving, time for family?

Nope, for me, Thanksgiving is time to write. I've only scratched the surface in the revision stage for Killer Eyes, and I hope to be deep into it over the week off for Thanksgiving. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, being a teacher, I have the whole week off. So since I don't have to be doing the 'family' thing until Thursday, that means Monday through Wednesday, I get to write. Or in this case, revise, edit and make Killer Eyes as good as Killer of Killers. That's the plan. Can't wait.

In the meantime, I'll be waiting for the release of the second edition of Killer of Killers. It's so good right now, I'm just so excited about it. The first edition is good for collectors, but the second edition is great for those hardcore literary perfectionists who know what good writing is supposed to look like. I hope someone like that will read it. Because it's ready.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Do Authors Read Their Own Books?

I remember one author saying in his blog that he doesn't read his own books after they've been published. He explained that one of the reasons was because if he did, he would find things in there that he would have done differently, and he didn't want to go through that. And I know exactly what he was talking about, because I have found that every time I read one of my own books after I had supposedly finished it, I find things that I would have done differently. Meaning I might have used a different verb, or a different arrangement of words, etc.

But still, even though that can be very frustrating, not reading your own book after publication is like not wanting to listen to your own song after it's been recorded. Or not wanting to look at your own painting after you painted it, or not wanting to look at your own sculpture after you sculpted it.

When I write a song, I most definitely want to hear it after it's been recorded, and when I paint a painting or sculpt a sculpture, I most definitely want to look at it after it's finished. So when I write a book, I most definitely want to read it after it's been published. And when I find something in there that I think could have been written better, then so be it. (Notice I used the word "when" and not "if.")

You see, a novel, like a song, or a painting, drawing, or sculpture, is a work of art. It's a creation of majestic words strung together, like a poem, but it's an even greater work of art. It's a poem times a thousand. It's to be enjoyed. And a truly great work of art can be enjoyed over and over.

For me, that's exactly what my novels do. Provide enjoyment over and over. I can read Killer of Killers or The Vase over and over again, time and again, (and I have) and every time, I enjoy them as much or even more than the previous times I read them. That's what art is supposed to do. My books have achieved that. And it's only because of the work I put in. All artists are like that. If they truly are artists that is. And I believe they are.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Now On to Killer Eyes

Yes, it's time to finally concentrate on Killer Eyes the sequel to Killer of Killers, and it's fitting, after spending so much time perfecting Killer of Killers. I know exactly how to proceed with 3rd person limited POV now, and that's exactly what I'll have in mind as I revise Killer Eyes. Of course, I'll perfect the prose, as I always do when I reread any of my writing. Not just novels. I find myself revising and perfecting even the most trivial things, like emails and what not. It's the perfectionist in me. Strive to be the best you can be. It's what I believed way before that Army commercial. And I still do.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Misunderstood yesterday's email

After clarification yesterday, I learned that it was not the Title Page, (which I was erroneously calling the "header page") my publisher was talking about, it's the header on the top of the page she wanted to remove from the beginning pages. When she first mentioned it, I mistakenly thought she was talking about the "Title Page," which in Melange Books is the very first page of the book. But no. It's the headers at the very top, where on one page it says the name of the book, and on the opposite page its the author's name. On the first few pages, that's not supposed to be there, and that's all she was saying.

When I checked my other book, The Vase, published by Penumbra, it's the way they had it, so yeah, Nancy's right about that, and I'm glad I asked for clarification. So I'm glad that the title page is still going to be there.

All is all, it's an opportunity to point out a couple good things about Melange. They strive to get things right, and they have respect for their authors, in this case, running it by me first when they wanted to change a format, even when it was a relatively minor thing, like in this instance. So kudos to Melange for that.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Wake Up Time, Dormancy Over

Sorry about the blog being dormant the last few weeks. It's because I was feeling guilty about always saying that I was going to submit the second edition of Killer of Killers, but then I didn't do it, always finding more and more to revise. On one side of the coin, that's a good thing, that I wasn't rushing it, that I was taking my time to make sure it was just right. But on the other side of the coin, how much can one take when the delays keep happening, the days turn into weeks, and the weeks turn into months?

Okay, having said all that, and all of it valid, it's done, now. I sent it last night, and Nancy, the publisher at Melange has already answered that she has it, and it will be released soon after December 1st, which is only a couple weeks away.

But she also inferred that she wants to eliminate the "header page" if I understood her correctly. She said that those pages should not be there. I asked for clarification to be sure it's what she meant. And if it is what she meant, then I don't know why she said that. Penumbra Publishing has that header page in there, too. I know that because The Vase just got published by them, and their format is almost the same as Melange's, with a header page containing the title and author name.

Meaning it has a "header page" dedicated to saying only: The Vase by Mark M. DeRobertis -- although it's not the very first page like with Melange books. It's the fifth page, after the blurb page, copyright page, acknowledgments page, and a blank page. Melange has the header page first and then the copyright page, blurb page and acknowledgments page.

So when Nancy answers with clarification, maybe I'll just request it to be in the order of like how Penumbra does it. We'll see how that goes. I'll be posting again tomorrow. Things are back to normal now, so I should be back to daily posts again from now on.