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.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Killer Eyes-Found an Error

So I knew I was right to read through my MS of Killer Eyes one last time before submitting. I found something that could have been considered an error. Trent meets a girl, and without giving any of the plot or story line away, let's just say they go to his hotel room. So she's wearing a yellow dress. But she has no change of clothes with her. The next day, Trent goes his own way, and so does she. But the day after that, Trent comes back to his hotel room, and the girl comes by, too.

So at this point, it's two days later, right? Right. So what would a woman do after spending the night at a hotel room, and then leaving the next day, only to come back the day after that? Well, one thing for sure is that she wouldn't be wearing the same yellow dress. And THAT is the error I caught. She was still wearing that same yellow dress. But I fixed it. Now, (which is two days later,) she's wearing a crop top and tight jeans. So yeah, changing her clothes after wearing the same dress two days in a row, is something that SHOULD have happened with this woman.

It's all good now, and I'm just about done with this read through. Then I'll send it to Melange and it should be released by this summer. At least that's how it happened before. I look forward to it. It will be three books down, and one more to go. Then back to the WIPs.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Is Killer of Killers a Christmas Story?

So it's Christmas time, and people are buying Christmas presents. I think Killer of Killers would be a great Christmas present for anyone who likes to read books and likes martial arts thriller stories. But is it a Christmas story? Well, it takes place in July. That's the opposite of Christmas time. So that might disqualify it as a Christmas story.

It could be considered a romance story, because Trent Smith, the main character has a couple of romantic flings during the story. It's most certainly a story of justice. Justice for those innocent victims who had been murdered and their killers let off by a corrupt justice system. Does that make it a suitable story for Christmas? Maybe not, but it's still a great story, fun and exciting to read.

How about The Vase? There are religious connotations in that one. Three major religions are represented in that book. And that's because the main characters are Jewish and Muslim, and then there's the Pope. But he only makes an appearance in the climax of the story. But someone else makes an appearance, too. Who? Would you believe Jesus Christ?

And if Jesus Christ makes an appearance in The Vase, how can that be? Well, you'll have to read it, and find out. I think you'll be convinced that it was entirely possible. You'll see.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Killer of Killers-Trent Smith, Samantha Jones, and Susie Quinn

I've talked about Killer of Killers hopefully one day becoming a movie. I've mentioned Dustin Clare playing the lead role of martial arts expert Trent Smith. Right now, Dustin Clare is best known for playing the role of Gannicus from the STARZ show Spartacus.

Dustin Clare
He hasn't had any roles since then, so all I've got to go on is Spartacus. But that was good enough for me. Recently, I've been watching a show called Strike Back, so I googled it and learned that Dustin Clare will be in a future episode. Finally, another opportunity for Dustin Clare. I would love for him to find his breakout role in Killer of Killers. Are you listening, Corey Yuen?

I've talked about Amber Heard as the best actress suited to play Samantha Jones, the police detective Trent Smith falls in love with. But I've also talked about how I just couldn't find an actress to play Susie Quinn, the beautiful exotic dancer he also loves. But while watching Strike Back, I saw an actress who MIGHT be right for the role. Her name is Milauna Jackson, and she looks good in Strike Back. Here's her picture.
Milauna Jackson
But like Estella Daniels from DaVinci's Demons, I'm still not convinced. It could be that this is not really a very good photo of her. She actually looks a LOT better in other photos. Whether or not she's the right actress for Susie Quinn remains to be seen. Maybe if I see more of her, I can decide for sure. At this point, I can say she has potential. We'll see.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Killer Eyes To Be Released in 2015

Just an update on Killer Eyes, the sequel to Killer of Killers. Since I'm still polishing it up, I'm resigned to the fact that it won't be released until sometime in 2015. I had been saying that it would be released by the end of 2014, but that is not going to happen.

And why is it taking so long? After all, I actually wrote the first draft something like five years ago. But the following year, I wrote John Dunn, and therefore didn't revise it. Then I was so busy trying to get Killer of Killers and The Vase published, I still didn't revise it. I only started revising it this past year, only after Killer of Killers was published and The Vase was published, and then I re-edited Killer of Killers, and rereleased it as a second edition.

That took a lot of time, and of course during that time I learned a lot about writing novels, editing, and the publishing process. Which was all good. Because I'm putting all that knowledge into the revisions of Killer Eyes. So that means Killer Eyes will be the best manuscript I've ever submitted in terms of a pre-published manuscript.

The Vase was the key. As I said before, Melange Books told me all about POV and other writing issues, but they were loose enough to let authors do it "their own" way. But I was too green to do it my own way. Green and arrogant. The Vase publisher, Penumbra Publishing, was not "loose" and had no inclination to let authors write "their own" way. They were very strict.

At first I resisted these new rules about writing. I was used to Edgar Rice Burroughs and H.G. Wells. I was not well read in the modern sense, having very little experience with the novels of today. But with Penumbra, and their strict editors, I slowly came around. So much so, that I wanted to revisit the editing of Killer of Killers. Fortunately for me, the people at Melange were open to that, and permitted me to do that, and then rereleased Killer of Killers as a second edition.

And thank goodness for that. Now, Killer of Killers and The Vase are thoroughly edited, to the standards that meet today's guidelines of editing regarding POVs, verb use, and dialogue tags. So, if either of them are ever reviewed, I'm confident that those particular things won't be subject to any criticism. It's all about the story, plot, and events. And hopefully, no one will have a problem with any of that. I certainly don't.

So, again, with Killer Eyes, all of those things are good from the get go. Or at least they will be by the time I submit it. Which will be soon. Every passing day is a day sooner, that's all I can say at this point. But I'm happy with it. And I should be sending it in within the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Happy Birthday to Everyone

I don't make a big deal about birthdays, but today I'll wish everyone out there a happy birthday. Even if it's not your birthday. Save this wish for the day that is your birthday, so that way I won't miss the day that is your birthday. I wish I thought of this a long time ago.

Same thing for Christmas, and every other holiday. Happy whatever day it is that should be wished as a happy one. I think that covers everything.

Now back to writing. I am STILL finding things to fix, correct, or improve in Killer Eyes. I even found a typo the day before yesterday. It just goes to show, that I was right about not sending it yet to my publisher. I can find solace in knowing that my first book, Killer of Killers, is without typos. I've gone over it and over it, since it's been rereleased, and it's clear of typos. No clunker sentences either. It's a completely clean text, and it should be. It took a lot of rewrites, and then a second release.

But kudos to Melange Books for allowing it to happen. Yeah, you can argue that the editing process should have taken care of all issues before the first release. But I don't blame Melange. They tell you what is best in terms of POV and other things, and then they give you license to write the book the way you want. That process is best for experienced writers, which, of course, now I am. But for my first book, well, let's just say it was a great learning experience, and with the second edition, I got it right.

But Killer Eyes won't need a second edition. I'm getting it right the first time. And it's cleaner and cleaner with every read through. I think I'm on my final read through. But I've said that the last three times I've read it through. We'll see. Stay tuned.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Birthdays and Holidays

So December 9th is my birthday. Another year flies by, and another year older. I'm still young enough, but my sons are getting big. My oldest is 18, and my youngest is 12. My oldest played football in college, and my youngest had his first year in Pop Warner. That was a lot of time and effort, that Pop Warner. More than the high school years for my other son.

But the day will come when my sons move out to go to college, and then, if they're anything like me and my brother and sisters, they'll never move back. That will kill me. But I'll have more time to write books, no?

Don't think so. My wife is the one who is always demanding my time. She's the one who considers my book writing efforts as direct competition for my attention. I swear I give her more attention than I give my books. Had I given my books more attention, they'd all be finished by now. All five of them. And then some.

But whatever. I'll have to remember one thing. It's your family that matters more than anything, not your art, or your music, or your writing. Your wife, your sons, and maybe even your students, if you're a teacher like I am. Writing is great, though. You get to create your own worlds, your own characters, and your own events. Your own antagonists and villains, and even entire races of alien life.

But the latter would be directly tied in to my sci fi story I began writing years ago, and adapted into a graphic novel, that I never finished. I've been thinking of finishing it lately. Boy, would my wife get mad at me then!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Found Reviewer, but Changed my Mind

I've seen books with reviews that seem endless. My books aren't among them, but I wonder sometimes why some books have reviews that number in the hundreds. Since my books aren't sold in bookstores, because they're POD published, I'm sure my books don't get read as much as they would be if they were sold in bookstores. But I know my books are read, and that's great.

But the people who read my books aren't reviewers. They've told me that they like them. Some even offered some opinions, like they thought so and so should have died, or so and so should have lived. When it comes to killing off a character in one of my books, I don't make decisions lightly. I go with the flow of the story. If a character's demise is the result of realistic developments, then it happens, just like in real life. Or if those events result in a character's survival, then that's how I write it.

But I digress. I'm talking about reviews here. And as I was saying, those people who read my books are not reviewers. So I have no reviews. So I'm wondering how all these other authors get so many reviews. I believe they solicit them. From their friends, from their family members, and yes, they even pay for them. And that explains why the bulk of all book reviews are five star ratings, with wonderful and supportive reviews. I would guess that positive book reviews outnumber negative ones by about ten to one. At least. Maybe that's a very conservative estimate. It could be greater.

So I don't solicit reviews. Not from my friends, not family members, and I certainly don't pay for them. I think that's pretty cheap. Underhanded even. And certainly not honest. Even if that friend, family member or paid reviewer really did like the book. It's solicited. 

And I did find a reviewer who agreed to review my book. Not because he was going to be paid. He just likes to review books. And I thought that it would be great to finally get a review. But I changed my mind. I went back to my belief that reviews should not be solicited. If I had allowed it, then that would be hypocritical. So no. If someone were to review any of my books, I would like it to be UNsolicited, and only done because they felt they really wanted to express their feelings about it. On their own. But that would take a person who tends to express their feelings in writing. So far, no readers of my books have been people like that. 

Well, once someone did. It was a great review, too. But it's gone. Since I didn't review his book, I can only conclude he felt cheated. But I didn't know he was another author at the time. I should have known. Better stay on top of that. I will in the future.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Second Chance at 36,000 Words

I haven't been chronicling my progress with one of my WIPs for a while, my football story called Second Chance. But I've been steadily working on it. Mostly I talk about my other WIP, Killer Eyes. And that's because it is very close to being submitted. And it has a publisher waiting for it, too.

But I've been working on Second Chance at the same time. And it's over 36,000 words right now. I really don't know how many words it will total, but I'm at least half done right now. maybe more than half way done, which means it won't be as long as my other books.

I'm thinking the book might max out at 60,000 words. Maybe not as much as that. But I still think it will qualify as a novel. Even books with  40,000 words qualify as a novel, albeit a short one, but Second Chance will be more than that for sure.

It's fun, because a lot of it is about football, which has been one of my passions throughout my life. It seems like I've had a lot of passions. From art to music, and from writing to football. It's made me a very busy person. I've never been idle. I always want to be doing something. Something creative that is. And writing books has been my latest passion. It's been a great ride. And I'm still on it.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Polishing Up-The Slowest Process

You'd think the first draft would be the slowest part of writing a book. Or the second draft revision stage. Or the third draft revision stage. Nope. It's the final stage of polishing your prose. I've learned this over and again. And the reason is because each time you do that you think it's going to be your last time.

I've said it so many times. It goes like this. "Okay, now that I've got all the POV issues corrected, all the timeline issues corrected, all the event sequences corrected, all of everything corrected, THIS will be my last read-through, to improve the prose here and there, just to make sure it's good to go.

But every time I do that, I improve the prose so much, that I feel I'd better read though it one more time. And the same thing happens. I improve it so much more that I say, well okay, maybe one more time. And then again. And again.

Yeah, you get a better written book doing that, but it's frustrating, because you thought it was going to be the last time. And it wasn't. And then you think the next time is going to be the last time. But it wasn't. And that's where I am with Killer Eyes right now. It's so ready for submission, but I can't bring myself to submit it. I know there's more I'll improve, so I have to wait.

You see, I've learned this lesson twice now. First with Killer of Killers, and then with The Vase. For both of them I thought I had a great, polished manuscript. But after submitting them, the manuscript had to be improved and improved and improved. Now for those, being my first two manuscripts, it was BECAUSE they were submitted is why they were able to be improved. I had EDITORS who pointed out to me the things that I had overlooked while improving them on my own. For those two books, I had experienced editors, and it had to happen that way.

And yeah, I'll still have editors when I submit Killer Eyes, but I do not want to go through multiple edits again, nor will I want to resort to a second edition release again. I want Killer Eyes to be submitted, go through a round or two of edits and then Bingo, it's released. And it's as it should be. Being my third published novel, of course, it makes sense.

So I'm not submitting Killer Eyes until I myself and completely satisfied based on all I've learned from submitting those first two times around. It's called experience. And I have that now.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Now, The Vase Accepted, too

Well, that was fast. The Vase has just been accepted into the list of books available from The Conservative Bookstore. Here's the link: http://www.conservativebookstore.com/fiction/119/the-vase.

It took several weeks for Killer of Killers to be accepted, but The Vase was accepted just one day after I submitted it. Maybe things are flowing faster over there at this point, or something. Whatever. Here's hoping that browsers discover the books and buy them. That's all.

Like I said yesterday, I'm not a political person. I just want people to buy the books. Pretty soon, Killer Eyes will be published, and I'll want people to buy that one too. But I would think readers should read Killer of Killers first. Then Killer Eyes. And that's because Killer Eyes takes up right where Killer of Killers leaves off.

As for The Vase? It's a stand alone story. It doesn't mean there can't be a sequel. Right now I'm not planning a sequel. But if I did, which character would I follow? From the list of main characters in there, it would be a tough choice. There's the Palestinian potter, Muhsin Muhabi. His son, Naji. There's the university art professor, Hiram Weiss. And there's the Shin Bet operative/IDF captain, Benny Mathias. And don't forget the American ghost hunter, Harvey Holmes.

Maybe I could write another story where they all come together again. Hhmmnn. Right now, it's all about finishing Killer Eyes, John Dunn, and Second Chance. And there's also my MG/YA novel, Inside the Outhouse that's still on the backburner. We'll see.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Killer of Killers Accepted By Online Bookstore

There's an online bookstore, which I don't even remember how I became aware of it. It's called The Conservative Bookstore, and I don't even know why it's called that. The word 'conservative' can have several different meanings, and I'm not even sure which of those several meanings would apply to this bookstore. It could range anywhere from a book's content to a person's political agenda.

I'm not a political person myself. In fact, arguments about politics, race, and religion disgust me. All I know is that I want to get my books into as many different bookstores as possible to promote sales, so I asked them if they would make Killer of Killers one of the books in their bookstore.

Well, today they did. Here's the link: http://www.conservativebookstore.com/fiction/114/killer-of-killers

I will put it up for a permanent link somewhere on the blog, as well.

Next, I'll tell them about The Vase, and see what they say. Don't know if the events in The Vase would qualify it for a book on their website, but I didn't know if they'd take Killer of Killers either. Since they did, maybe they'll take The Vase, too. We'll see.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Killer Eyes, John Dunn, and Second Chance

Talk about Works in Progress. I have three WIPs going on right now. All at the same time. Killer Eyes, John Dunn, and Second Chance.

Killer Eyes is on its last read-through. I said that a million times already, I know, but this time has GOT to be the last read-through. But who knows. I might end up saying that a million more times. The thing is that the more you read through it, the more you improve it, the better it turns out to be. It happened with Killer of Killers and The Vase. And it's happening with Killer Eyes, too.

And there's my other book called John Dunn, Heart of a Zulu. That will probably take until summer to complete. And then there will be more read-throughs, of course. There's one scene I didn't write that I should probably put in there. It's when the Zulu warriors are getting so itchy for a fight, that they attack another Zulu regiment. That's how bad they wanted to fight. And there's two reasons why I should put it in there. One, it reinforces one of the reasons why the Anglo Zulu War erupted.

Yes, the English pushed the war onto the Zulus, but the Zulus themselves WANTED to fight. War was the Zulu culture. And they had already had wars with pretty much all their neighboring tribes. The English were pushing for war, and the Zulus were not a people to back down from any war. Not even against the white men, who had already demonstrated superior fighting power by then. But what the Zulus had experienced in fighting white men was no modern army. They had only fought bands of Boers, (Dutch descendants who had colonized South Africa centuries before.)

But even the Dutch ultimately got the better of the Zulus. Still, the Zulu didn't back down. Not to the Dutch, not to anyone. Not even the British. Now, King Cetshwayo was a smart king. He knew that fighting the British army would be a bad idea. But the factor that I eluded to was ever present. That factor was the Zulu ritual called the "Washing of the Spears." Young Zulu men needed to prove their skill in battle. They called it the "Washing of the Spears." As in washing their spears in the blood of their enemies. It's one of the reasons they had that fight break out between the two Zulu regiments. They were itching to fight, because they hadn't had a fight since the Zulu civil war twenty years prior to that. They were pretty much demanding for their king to send them to fight someone.

And the second reason why I should put that scene in my John Dunn book is because John Dunn was present when that fight broke out. He was an eye witness to it. He documented the event in his autobiography, which I have. It's called John Dunn, Cetswayo, and the Three Generals. I used it as one of my sources for my John Dunn book. So when I get back to it, I'll see to all POV issues of course, like I was doing last summer, and then see to putting that scene in there.

And my third WIP is my football story, Second Chance. I'm writing that because I'm inundated with football right now. Both of my sons are on football teams. My younger son's Pop Warner football team just went to Spokane, Washington for a regional championship. With so much football in my life, I had that dream about football, so I'm putting that into a novel called Second Chance, a Football Story. Wow, three books at once. That's a full plate right there. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cartoons Have Evolved

When I was a kid, I liked to watch cartoons. Like any kid. Didn't have any particular favorite. But I remember watching the Disney cartoons and a slew of other cartoons like Popeye, Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, Bugs Bunny, Quick Draw McGraw, and the like. Yeah, when I was a kid, cartoons, with very few exceptions, were for kids. Even Betty Boop was for kids. Sure Betty Boop had an element of adult sophistication, but those elements were very subtle. Betty Boop still targeted kids, and kids made up the vast majority of cartoon audiences back then. But that was then. It's not like that anymore. At least not for a lot of cartoons. A lot of cartoons are now for adults.

The evolution of cartoons for adults, I think, began with Japanimation. Which of course originated with cartoonists in Japan. I remember Marine Boy, Simba the White Lion, and Johnny Quest. There were others, of course, and they came out in what I would call the transition years. They were still for kids, but the transition to an adult audience was certainly beginning. Cartoons had become more mature. They featured a more adult-like story line. A more adult-like appeal. Nothing to do with sex, mind you. (Not like Betty Boop's subtle imagery.) They just had a more gritty nature, so to speak. They weren't goofy and silly. They had a serious effort of storytelling targeting more mature audiences. Still kids liked them. But adults could, too.

Then came the superhero cartoons that were originally comic books. Superman had already had a series come out in the early years, but Spiderman made it to the small screen, and eventually Bat Man, too. A few years later superior comic book cartoons debuted with Bat Man again, and then The X-Men, along with another Superman and additional superhero cartoons. Kids loved them, and adults did too, since the kids that bought the comic books were now adults, and the cartoonists kept that fact in mind.

Of course, at this time Japanimation was also evolving. By this time Japanimation was putting out feature length films. Sure Disney was already doing feature length cartoons, but the Japanese versions had stories that were geared solely for adults. So much so that they would be rated R. These cartoons were not for kids. I know Ralph Bakshi had a few adult cartoons already. Fritz the Cat, and his attempt at Lord of the Rings, among others were notable. But he was nothing more than a drop in the bucket. And by that I mean the bucket that was Japanimation. Japanimation came to dominate feature length and TV series cartoons.

Which brings me to today. American cartoons on TV have never stopped being goofy and silly. But they now include another ascpect. Sex. Raunchy, dirty, and nasty sex. Not porn. But sex jokes, the likes of which used to be in locker rooms or bars. Despite the goofy and silly antics of the goofy and silly characters, they are not for kids. Surprisingly these adult cartoons are on prime time TV. It started with The Simpsons, although The Simpsons is very tame compared to the dirtier ones like Family Guy, American Dad and South Park. For me, personally, I can't stand those cartoons. Simpsons, again, is tame. I can handle that one. In fact the humor is often clever.

But South Park, Family Guy, and American Dad seem to depend on dirty jokes for their success. And they certainly are successful. They've been on prime time for years now. They seem to have a much better longevity than their live action counterparts. It's amazing. I can't stand those shows, but their popularity is unquestioned. They are here, and they are here to stay.

So do I watch any of these adult cartoons? Well, not the American ones. But I do enjoy a good Japanimation film now and then. There's a lot of talent out there. And talent doesn't need sex jokes to be successful. In fact, imo, the raunchy sex jokes reduce a show to gutter level trash. Clearly, a lot of people like gutter level trash. It's why sex jokes prevail in the locker rooms and bars. And it's why those types of cartoons are prevailing on TV. But Japanimation doesn't rely on that. And that's why Japanimation stands out as the best cartoons today. Imo, mind you. That's all.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Okay--Finally Saw Fury

Had the day off yesterday, so I took one of my sons to see Fury at the matinee. Overall, it was a good movie. But I did have problems with it. It started off with a stupid scene. Like right from the get go. Well, the entire opening scene wasn't stupid, just the very start of it. A lone German officer is riding a horse through what looked like a battlefield. Then Brad Pitt jumps out of his tank, knocks him off his horse, and stabs him to death. I mean, it just looked stupid. Right. A lone German officer, all by his lonesome, riding a horse through a battlefield. Then he gets jumped and stabbed to death.

Well, I won't give any more spoilers, it's just that that one was in the first minute of the film. But I did have other problems with this movie. Not that it ruined the movie. I'll just say that a lot of things in there were realistic, and a lot of things were not realistic. Some were even clichéd, but that's all right these days. I believe that some things, in even real life will be or appear clichéd.

The production was top notch, the acting, the special effects, et al, were great. Nothing wrong with any of that. Just the sequence of events, the storyline, and the writing had some unrealistic things going on. But then again, it's a movie. Was it entertaining? Overall, yes. Would I recommend it? Only for those WWII buffs who enjoy war movies. And if you fall into one of those categories, then I don't think you will be disappointed. Was I? Not really. I still liked it. Did it make my list of top war movies? No. But it didn't have to. I came away having enjoyed a good movie. Can't ask for more than that.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Never Saw Fury

As it turned out, I never saw the movie Fury. I wanted to. But I can't seem to get my family all on the same page when it comes to going to a movie. My wife doesn't like war movies. My sons are split on them, and I've always liked them. The most recent war movie that I can think of, Private Ryan, to me, was only okay. Yeah it had some gory moments to it, which is one of the many things war is, but it just wasn't a good story line, imo. I didn't buy into it because I had too many problems with it.

I didn't really like Full Metal Jacket either. I had too many problems with that one too. Ditto with Apocalypse Now. Way too flawed of a movie. Which makes me wonder what the heck these movie makers are thinking. Just put out a war movie without much thought for the story line? I guess.

I think the most recent war movie I thought was a good war movie was Cross of Iron. Of course, having such great actors in it, like James Coburn, James Mason, Maximillian Schell, and David Warner made it even better. All were perfectly cast.

Violence equals tension. It's one of the reasons Killer of Killers is such a good book. And what kind of movie will have more violence than a war movie? But violence alone cannot make a good movie.  You have to have a good story line. That's what makes it a good movie. That and good characters, good events, and a good plot. Apolcalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket didn't have good plots, didn't have good characters, and for me, that's why they had problems.

As for Fury? Well, I'll let you know when I see it. But who knows when that will be. I think it's already gone from the theaters. I'll have to wait until it comes to Netflix.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Heroes of a Different Sort

I was talking about great heroes yesterday, and I included Trent Smith in the Killer Series, from which Killer Eyes, my third book, is due to come out soon.

But what about my second book, The Vase? It has heroes, too, but I would say heroes of a different sort. The heroes in The Vase are not great martial artists, or assassins, or people who go around beating up other people. Instead, the heroes in The Vase are fathers, mothers, and sons. There's a college professor, too. Sure there's the leader of Kidon. And yes, he can be called an assassin. But it's ironic that in this story, the character who is the assassin is not the featured character. In fact, he botches his "assassin" assignment.

So I guess that could mean that the assassin character is not the hero. At least not in The Vase. Yes, he has a major role in The Vase. But I would call him more of a supporting character rather than a main character. I would say the main characters are a meek and humble Palestinian potter, and a meek and humble university art professor. Note that both are meek and humble. And they are on opposite sides of the fence so to speak. I say that because one is a Palestinian and the other is an Israeli.

But they have more in common than you would think. For starters, each has lost a son in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. And both sons were only fourteen at the time of their deaths. Both fathers have suffered this horrible tragedy, but they respond very differently.

You would think the Palestinian would join the Islamic call for Jihad against the Jews as his reaction to the death of his son at the hands of the IDF. But he doesn't. He doesn't want any part of rebellions or dissent. All he wants to do is run his pottery shop and keep his surviving son safe.

But the Jewish art professor reacts the opposite way. He joins Shin Bet, the Israel Security Agency, and helps them in their counter-terrorist work. He wants revenge for the death of his son. It makes an interesting story. Especially, since it all revolves around a vase in the potter's pottery shop. And the Pope's visit is another instrumental factor in the story.

So what does the Pope, or even a vase have to do with the story? Actually a lot. It's what makes the story a great one, imo. It's a very unique story, too. See for yourself. Buy a copy of The Vase today. But don't expect a sequel to it. It's a stand alone story. If you read it, you'll see what I mean.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Top Three Heroes

One of the reasons I wrote Killer of Killers was I always liked stories that featured a top hero. A top hero to me is a cool character. A person who is the best, or one of the best at what he does. Take James Bond, for instance. He's one of the best secret agents of all time. Take Conan, too. He's the best warrior of all time. Take Captain Kirk. He's the best starship captain of all time. And those three characters are my top three heroes of all time.

Sure there are others. In the comic book world, there's Bat Man, Superman, Spider-man, and dozens more. In the movies, you have the Clint Eastwood characters from just about any of his earlier movies. In TV, you've got a bunch more, like James West, Napoleon Solo, Sgt. Saunders, and that list goes on, and on.

In books, well, that's where James Bond and Conan got started. Jonathan Hemlock, too, from Eastwood's The Eiger Sanction. But in books, I would like to add Trent Smith to that list. He's the best at what he does. I'm not talking about a seeker of vengeance. That list would have to include a slew of others. I am talking about a seeker of justice. And in that, he's the best.

It helps to be the world's greatest martial artist, but Trent Smith is not just a martial artist. He's a driven man. When the courts fail to deliver justice, he doesn't fail. He will deliver justice. Yes, add Trent Smith to that list of great heroes. Read Killer of Killers, and let me know if you agree.

Friday, October 31, 2014

New Twist in Vengeance Stories

In action movies where there's a great hero seeking vengeance, and the story line is centered almost entirely on that premise, it's almost always because someone in the hero's close circle of family or friends had been murdered. I made it a point not to have it be like that in Killer of Killers. And the movie John Wick wasn't like that either. John Wick's wife had died a natural death. And even though John Wick was a former assassin, there was no need for vengeance.

But when thugs stole his car and killed his dog, (a final gift from his wife,) THAT'S when he went on his mission of vengeance. Yeah, really. For a car. And a dog. But hey, I don't have a problem with that. I mean in every other movie, or book, or story, it's because the hero's wife, or parents, or kids, or someone close to him, (or her,) had been murdered. And that's what set him/her off.

So I welcome the new twist in the action genre. It's what I did in Killer of Killers. For those of you who have not read Killer of Killers, Trent Smith, the main character, being a super great martial artist, just happens to use his skills to bring killers to justice, but not because they killed a family member, or anyone he knew. He does it because he can. And he believes it's the right thing to do.

Of course there's a bunch of other reasons sewn into the story line, but you'll have to read the book to learn them. There's intrigue and suspense, twists and turns, and romance that ends tragically. Well, I'm saying too much already. Find out for yourself. Buy Killer of Killers today.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Second Chance @ 29,000 words

Closing in on 30,000 words on my WIP Second Chance. It's a football story, and it's fitting I would write one. After all, football has been one of my favorite things my entire life. But I was really a failure at it, unfortunately. That doesn't mean I wasn't good. Actually, I was very good. I mean I was a very good football player. Many of my peers, no, most of my peers, no, all of my peers knew I was a very good football player. Some even thought I was good enough to play, well, I won't say pro, but I'll at least say college. But here's the let down. I didn't. And that's why I say I failed at it. Because I didn't try. I didn't even try. I let myself down. And that dream was unfulfilled.

When I said dream, I was speaking metaphorically. But because that dream was unfulfilled, I kept having dreams about it. About football. About playing football. From high school, to college, and even pro. No, really. I had recurring dreams that I was playing football. Real football. Organized football, in high school, college, and even pro. It was really weird, like I was dreaming the life I might have had, perhaps should have had if I didn't quit. It's like the single greatest regret in my life.

And since something as unimportant as football is the biggest regret in my life, I must have had a pretty good life. That's the way I see it, now. Maybe it's better I didn't play. I might have had a terrible injury. You never know. But the fact that I don't know, is why I kept having those dreams.

Strangely, when Killer of Killers got published, I stopped having that recurring football dream. It's like being a published author filled that "void" in my life, and was the cure to that unfulfilled dream.

Until recently. I had another football dream last May. I chronicled it here in the blog. It's the dream that inspired my WIP Second Chance. I think it's a good story. Not my best, not my second best, but a good story. A football story. I'm writing it between the revisions and edits to Killer Eyes, the sequel to Killer of Killers. I'm going back and forth on those two. It's fun, working on two books at the same time. I kind of did that with Killer of Killers and The Vase, too.

Instead of getting one book written, I get two. And there's still my John Dunn book waiting in the wings. Can't wait to get back to that one. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 27, 2014

John Wick--the Kind of Movie I Like

I finally took my family to the movies this past weekend, but it wasn't Fury we saw, because the wife went with us, and she doesn't like war movies. So we chose to see John Wick instead. And that was the kind of movie I like. It fits into the same genre that my book Killer of Killers is in. An action thriller. The main character, John Wick, even had some martial arts skills. It was my kind of movie.

Yeah, John Wick was an assassin, and yeah there was near-non-stop action, just like Killer of Killers. But in Killer of Killers, Trent Smith isn't an assassin. He is a killer of killers, however, and he is the best at it, at least when it comes to hand to hand combat. Because he's not an assassin, he doesn't use guns, or sniper rifles with scopes, or anything like that. When he kills, he's up close and personal, like I explained in an earlier blog post.

So did Keanu Reeves play a believable assassin? Well, yeah, since he used a gun. Anyone can use a gun, pull a trigger, and shoot someone. Anyone. But there were some believable hand to hand fights in there, and it was all choreographed well. I liked it. It was a good movie. My kind of movie.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Why are Martial Arts Stories the Best?

Why are martial arts stories the best? Because of the conflict! A story needs conflict. That's one of the first lessons an author will learn. You have to have conflict to make a story interesting. Otherwise it will have no impact. Meaning it will be boring. Would Star Wars have been so successful if there was no conflict? Of course not. And one of the reasons it was so interesting was the conflict. You know. The Jedi Knights vs. the agents of the evil Galactic Empire.

And every great story will have its version of conflict. But with martial arts stories, that conflict is up close and personal. It's deadly, it's exciting, it's hands down incredibly in your face. And the book Killer of Killers has more of it than any story I know. Trent Smith, the world's greatest martial artist, honed his skills in the underground fighting circuits of Asia. But that was only after he had perfected his fighting skills in the Academy of Budo Ju Jitsu where he trained for over twenty years.

He's not just any guy who trained at a martial arts studio. He's particularly suited for martial arts. Take Kareem Abdul Jabbar for example. Kareem was a seven foot two inch basketball star. And being seven foot two inches tall, he was particularly suited for basketball. But he loved the Bruce Lee martial arts movies, and even got to know Bruce Lee. He took lessons from Bruce Lee, and even got to be in a Bruce Lee movie. But watching a man that tall performing martial arts was comical.

Trent Smith is five foot nine inches tall and 195 pounds of solid muscle. And that is the perfect size for a martial artist. He's incredibly fast, too. Not meaning he's an Olympic sprinter, but his reflexes, his reaction time is off the charts. And that's one of the reasons he's the best. He can react much faster than his opponents. Like a mongoose fighting a cobra.

Actually, the cobra/mongoose comparison is an apt one. As fast as cobras are, the mongoose is much faster. When the two animals are squared off against each other, the mongoose wins every time. Because the cobra will strike, but the mongoose dodges the strike, and then strikes back with such lighting fast reflexes, it scores a deadly bite, killing the cobra. It's why people in India often have a pet mongoose around. Ever heard of the Rikki-Tikki-Tavi story? Check it out.

So yeah, Trent Smith is a lot like a mongoose when it fights a cobra. As good as his opponents are, he is even better. But of course being a tenth degree black belt helps. But it's his speed, training, and experience that wins the day for him in all of his fights. And those fights are up close and personal. They're deadly, exciting, and they're incredibly in your face.

Yes, the conflict in Killer of Killers and the upcoming sequel Killer Eyes is all of that. Conflict on almost every page. But I leave enough room in there for mystery, suspense, and yes, even romance. There should always be some degree of romance. Why? Because that's the real world. Men and women coexist, and they fall in love. That's not just Hollywood. Hey, it happened to me. And I'd bet it happened to you. So why wouldn't it happen to Trent Smith, too? It does. Trent is a serious guy, and he's very sincere. He's not like James Bond, who fools around with any pretty woman he comes across. No. Trent Smith is not superficial like that. He doesn't use women. Never. Not like Bond.

Hey, nothing against James Bond, btw. Just saying Trent's interactions with women are not like that. But since women do exist, and Trent is a good looking man, then romance happens. It's life in the real world, and in the Killer Series. Check out Killer of Killers today. Then you'll be ready for Killer Eyes when it comes out. And that is going to be soon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Martial Arts Stories--the Best Stories

When I consider which movies, (or stories,) I've liked the most throughout my life, I always conclude it was movies or stories that had great martial arts action. That means great characters or great heroes taking on bad guys with something other than a gun. They use their bare hands. Or as martial artists say, empty hands. That, to me, is real fighting, or real self defense. Someone attacks you and you take them on with just your bare hands. And kick the shit out of them.

Movies that come to mind are my favorites like the Transporter movies, and the Bourne movies. There's some great  martial arts fighting in those movies. I would like to include the Bruce Lee movies, but those movies are dated, and they don't really hold up to today's standards, imo.

Which is why I wrote Killer of Killers. Trent Smith, the main character, is a martial artist. The world's greatest martial artist, in fact. He detests guns and knives. But being the world's greatest martial artist also means he's an expert in a lot of different weapons. Not guns, and not necessarily knives, either, but swords, like the katana, and a slew of other weapons used by martial artists. Even so, Trent's weapon of choice is his bare hands. Empty hands. And he's the best. No one can even compare. Not even other master martial artists. It's like he's the undisputed champion.

But to make a movie about the world's greatest martial artist, or a book, it means you have to have a great story. Which is why I worked so hard on Killer of Killers, and its upcoming sequel, Killer Eyes. Can't wait for that one, but I'm making sure it's as good as it could be. It has to be flawless. Not just the spelling, or the grammar, but the story, the sequences, and the prose. Everything. I'm trying harder than ever. And it's working, because I've learned so much about writing since I began writing books. It's like anything. The more you do it, the better you get. And I'm better than ever as a result. Stay tuned. Killer Eyes is coming soon. But if you haven't yet, start with Killer of Killers. After all, that one is Book One in the Killer Series. Killer Eyes is Book Two.

Monday, October 20, 2014

No, Didn't See Fury

Well, I didn't get to see Fury. I was busy watching my sons' football games. One on Saturday and one on Sunday. One a college game, and one a Pop Warner game. One was a loss and one was a victory. One looks like it will be in the playoffs, and other no. But still, a proud father was two great sons.

As for Fury, well, we'll see when I see it. Will keep you posted.

Friday, October 17, 2014

WWII Movie--Fury

I saw a trailer for this new WWII movie called Fury, and it looked good. I've always liked WWII movies. Battle of the Bulge and The Longest Day are classics, and then there are my personal favorites, starting with To Hell and Back, which is the true story of Audie Murphy, starrring the real Audie Murphy. Next, I have a sentimental favorite called Attack! starring Jack Palance, and then there's my all time favorite WWII movie, which is Cross of Iron, starring James Coburn, Maximilliam Schell, David Warner, and James Mason. (All of whom have a place on my favorite actors list.)

In case you're wondering, Saving Private Ryan didn't make my favorites list. Yeah, it was a good movie, but I had too many problems with that one.

When I first heard of Fury, I thought it was about Nick Fury, and his WWII experiences. Nick Fury was the sergeant leading the "Howling Commandos" and it was a Marvel Comic Book called Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos. And with the slew of Marvel Comics heroes being made into movies over the past ten years or so, I was sure I was right.

But it's not Sgt. Fury from the Marvel universe. Not even close. It stars Brad Pitt as a WWII tank commander, and from what I've heard, they go behind enemy lines on some mission. I plan on seeing the movie, maybe this weekend, but from that basic information about the plot, it reminds me of the plot from Cross of Iron. Cross of Iron was told from the German perspective about a squad of German soldiers led by James Coburn who are also sent behind enemy lines. But that story is on the Eastern Front, and the Germans are fighting the Russians. But it really was a great movie. Director Sam Peckinpah was at his best.

As for Fury, well, we'll see how that one compares. Will let you know.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Jack Reacher withTom Cruise--Good Movie

I was looking for a movie to watch on Netflix the other day, and decided to watch Jack Reacher with Tom Cruise. It was a good movie. Jack Reacher turned out to be a pretty cool character. And that's what I like in movies. A cool main character who's a great hero. That's why I liked most (but not all) of the James Bond movies, the Clint Eastwood Man with no Name movies, and the more recent Jason Bourne movies with Matt Damon, and the Transporter movies with Jason Statham. They all have a cool main character who knows how to fight and how to be cool. They're great heroes.

I did like Tom Cruise's Mission Impossible movies, but Jack Reacher isn't a spy. He is an ex military man, though, and uses those military skills to get to the bottom of murders which he at first thought were committed by someone he knew in his military days. He hooks up with a defense lawyer whose father is the prosecutor, btw, to uncover the facts in the case. And wouldn't you know, this defense lawyer is a real hot chick. No, really, she's beautiful. A very beautiful blond woman. But that's okay. Who said a woman can't be a good defense lawyer, and also be a beautiful blond woman? I say it's possible, so let's run with it.

And run with it Tom Cruise does. Sure there's romance brewing between Jack Reacher and the defense lawyer, but why shouldn't there be? After all, the blond lawyer is young, single, and did I mention very beautiful? And, of course, Jack Reacher is the perennially eligible bachelor! So, there you go. A perfect setting for a romance. BUT--the movie does not focus on romance. It focuses on the case, which is getting to the bottom of the murders. Jack Reacher does, and that's the plot of a very well written story.

Btw, I'll admit to envisioning these two actors playing the roles of Trent Smith and Samantha Jones in my book Killer of Killers. They may not be perfect for those roles, but the way they handled the roles in Jack Reacher proved they would have worked well in Killer of Killers, too.

As for the movie Jack Reacher, it's intriguing, engaging, full of action, and never boring. I liked it, and I might even put it up there on my favorite movie list which includes Transporter, Bourne, and Bond. Yeah, it was that good. At least to me. Jack Reacher with Tom Cruise--good movie.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dracula Untold-a Different Take

Took my sons to see Dracula Untold last weekend, and we liked it well enough. It was a different kind of Dracula movie, the kind that I wanted to see, too. It dealt with Dracula's origin, back in the Vlad the Impaler days. Don't remember the years, exactly, but it was when the Ottoman Empire was at its height, and was threatening Eastern Europe. Of course, as we all know, the Ottoman advance was stopped at Vienna, and the Turks were never able to conquer Europe. Kudos to Europe.

Dracula Untold focused on Vlad's story, but of course, fictionalized to include the vampire element. In Dracula Untold, the Romanians, being a smaller and weaker European country, and being in close proximity to Turkey, were subject to paying tribute to the Turks, and even providing the Turks with boys to be trained as soldiers to fight for the Turks. And this is the crux of the story. When one of those boys was Vlad's own son, that was when he drew the line.

Now from what I know of history, Vlad the Impaler got his nickname from impaling Turks. I read a story of how the Turks were marching on Vlad's domain, but when they came across a "forest" of their impaled countrymen, they were so grossed out, they changed their minds and turned around. In this movie, it was Vlad's vampire powers, that won the day. I don't mind the fictionalized account. It's a movie. A vampire movie. So what do you expect? Vampires, of course.

But it was a unique angle on the vampire myth, and even though this angle, (going back to the Vlad the Impaler days) was touched on before with Gary Oldman in the lead role, this movie focused on that period for the entire story, (until the last couple minutes, anyway.) Which was fine by me. I would like to see a historically accurate movie based on Vlad the Impaler. Without the vampire element I mean. That would be a cool historical drama, no?

Friday, October 10, 2014

What Do People Read?

When it comes to books and reading, just what do people read?  I keep hearing that women read more than men. Thus, the popular women's books, like Romance, Chick Lit, and even women-targeted erotica. Every time I research publisher's websites, it's very common to find large sections that feature books with shirtless men on the covers. I've mentioned this before, because it seems ridiculous to me. I'm an artist, myself, although I never focused on book covers as my subject matter. Still, if I were to be a book cover artist, I would like to believe I could be more imaginative than to have shirtless or naked men on every single cover. Is that what draws a woman's interest to read a book? Shirtless men? I can't believe that. I just can't.

But whatever, the point is that women read books. More than men. That is something I do believe. Because most of the male friends I've had, in the past and even now, don't read books. Not even one. Not even if their life depended on it. Maybe one or two read books. One or two out of twenty. That's not a lot. But women? That figure would rise to ten or more. Significantly more. So... What does an author do? Write books that women would read. What else? I write books that women would read, but I don't target women as readers. So I don't write Romance, Chick Lit, or erotica for women. My books are action and suspense oriented. Yeah, there's some romance in them. In all of my books there's romance. Not erotica, though. Although in a couple the romance scenes do get a little steamy. But not too steamy. Nothing graphic. But I think women will like my books. Those women who have read them have told me that they like them. Some said they even "loved" them.

And why wouldn't they? There are strong female characters in all of my books. Even the Killer series. Samantha Jones, for instance, in Killer of Killers is a strong-willed police detective. Sure, she is beautiful. But who said a woman can't be both beautiful and strong? I can think of a lot of women in real life who were both beautiful and strong. In the sequel, Killer Eyes, the main antagonist, Ming Sang, is a very strong woman. She is evil, but she is very, very strong.

In The Vase, there are a couple of strong women. Mary Levin is an Israeli woman who works for Shin Bet. You don't work for Shin Bet, whether you're a man or a woman, unless you are strong. And in the John Dunn story, John Dunn's wife, Catherine Pierce, is a very strong woman. She had to be. Otherwise, how could she deal with 49 of her husband's other wives?

John Dunn is a Historical Fiction novel. I've heard women do read those kinds of books. And there is romance in there, with Dunn's fifty wives. Clearly I can't document all fifty of his romances, but I do touch on a few of them. The focus, however, is his first wife. Catherine Pierce.

But when it comes to what women read, I remember when a female friend asked me what I was going to write next. It was when I was planning the John Dunn story. I told her I was going to write the story of John Dunn. I explained he was the best friend to the Zulu king Cetshwayo, and how he had fifty African wives and a hundred and fifty children. She seemed taken aback by that. She countered with a suggestion. She suggested that I write instead about an African queen who had fifty husbands. It was like...really? I told her she could write that book.

Look, I said that the John Dunn story is based on REAL HISTORY. REAL LIFE. If you want to write some fantasy about a woman with fifty husbands, be my guest. But that's fantasy. John Dunn, and the African kings really did have fifty wives. EACH. Some had even more. Does that offend women? Maybe it does. And if it does, don't blame me. I've only got one wife. I've only ever had one wife. So let's move on, shall we? The point is that in this real life historical event, there was  real romance. Albeit with a lot of wives. That's not the point of the story. The Zulu wars are. And it's an exciting book. Can't wait to get back to it.

But first, I've got to finish revising and polishing Killer Eyes. Every time I get to that book, I'm reminded just how strong a woman can be. But the woman in Killer Eyes just happens to be evil. Now don't tell me women can't be evil. They sure can. And Ming Sang is one of them. Stay tuned. Killer Eyes should be out soon. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Martial Arts Books--The Killer Series

I think martial arts books, specifically martial arts novels, are becoming more popular. You have some popular ones already out there, like the Jason Bourne series, which became successful movies. And you have a lot of martial arts books in China, which Chinese movie makers have made into some pretty good movies, too.

One of my favorite Chinese movie makers is Corey Yuen, who had a hand in the Transporter movies, with Jason Statham. He's made many other movies as well. I have one wish when it comes to the books that I've written. And that wish is for Corey Yuen to read my Killer martial arts novels, and then make them into movies. I have no doubt that Corey Yuen would make those books into great movies. Starting with Killer of Killers. Then the soon to be released Killer Eyes. And finally, the as yet unwritten series finale, The Killers Guild.

No one does martial arts movies better than Corey Yuen. He's the best. But how do I get Killer of Killers into his hands? How can I get the word out? An agent? How do you get a movie or film agent? When I Google 'Film Agents,' all I get are agents who want to represent actors. Not agents who want to represent authors. This is my quandary.

Maybe if I just say, "Hey Corey Yuen, check out my book Killer of Killers! It will make a great movie. Read it and decide for yourself." Then he will hear me and read it and decide for himself. Does it work like that? Somehow I don't think so.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Vase-Crisis in the Middle East

I'm very sorry to see so many problems in the Middle East. It's as if the problems over there will never be solved. The problems seem to only get worse. In fact, the problems seem to be spreading--to Africa, to Europe, and even to America.

I remember when Islamic terrorists captured Russian children at a Russian school a few years ago. I also remember that the Russians killed all the terrorists and buried their bodies in pig skins. I see Islamic terrorists capturing American journalists and cutting their heads off. I heard that when terrorists captured Russian diplomats, the Russian response was so quick and so effective that their diplomats were released unharmed and returned safely to Russia. It seems that the Russians have more effective means of dealing with those terrorists than Americans do, since their people didn't get their heads cut off.

But this is not a political blog. It's a writing blog. And I only mention those problems because my book, The Vase, deals with some of those types of problems. Islamic terrorist problems, that is. The Vase takes place in Israel, and the Israelis are dealing with it. That means the Israel Security Agency, AKA Shin Bet, is dealing with it. Captain Benny Mathias is the head of Kidon. Kidon works for Shin Bet, Mossad, and even Aman. Those are the Israeli institutions that deal with terrorism.

At the center of the story is a humble Palestinian potter. And his vase is the catalyst. It's a very special vase. How special? Well, it has ancient images recorded into its grooves, which are projected when he spins it. Check out the first couple of chapters in a sample on the publisher's website or on Amazon. I think you'll be intrigued enough to buy an eBook. It's only $2.99. Thanks.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Books/Story Inspirations

I'm still revising Killer Eyes, and it's my second martial arts book. Yes, I trained in martial arts, albeit a while ago, but my two sons also trained in martial arts, and that has inspired me to write my martial arts books, Killer of Killers and its sequel Killer Eyes.

I was inspired to write The Vase because I am a ceramic sculptor and teacher, and I had always wanted to write a story about a vase that contains recorded images in its grooves.

I wanted to write the story of John Dunn, because I was intrigued by the Zulus and their history, which I first became aware of in the old Michael Caine movie, Zulu, and then the miniseries Shaka Zulu and several documentaries about the Zulu Wars since then. While watching one of them, I learned about John Dunn, and after some research, decided to write a historical novel about him. That will proceed after the finishing of Killer Eyes.

And being around football so much, plus having some experience of my own with football, I have decided to write a football novel. It helped that I had that dream about it, too. It's the story from the dream I had that is the plot of Second Chance.

So inspiration is the key to writing a book. And staying inspired is the key to finishing that book. As long as something inspires you, no matter what it is really, you'll want to get it done. Thus, my books. And we'll see how long that lasts.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Don't like it? Change it!

If you have the power to change something you don't like, then change it. And change it right away, before it's too late. That's one great thing about being a writer. You have complete power over your own writing. Until an editor gets a hold of it at least. So change it if you don't like it. If you wait, it will be too late. Once it's published and out there, that's it.

It's one of the reasons revisions are so very necessary. That's your chance to change things. I changed an awful lot in all of my books. And for that, they are so much better. It's art. When you're drawing a picture, painting a painting, sculpting a sculpture, or composing a song, just like writing a book or whatever, you have the power. It's the creator who's creating who is in charge. That's such a wonderful thing, because in life there's not a lot of things you can change that you don't like.

Like politics, wars, poverty, disease, crime, etc. These things are so horrible, and you just can't change them. Not even people who have the power to change them will change them. Those things are here to stay. And those less important things? Things that could be changed, like other people's art? Well, I've seen shows, movies, or listened to songs, and I've wanted to change this or that about them. But of course, since they weren't my creations I had no power to do so. Had I the power, those shows or songs would have been so much better. But I can't worry about other people's creations. Just my own. And that's why my creations, unlike a lot of other people's creations, are near perfect. To me, at least, they are. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Writers Want their writing to be Read

I don't consider writing to be work. It's a fun thing, and I'd do it for free. Well, I pretty much do do it for free. (That's weird, writing the word do twice.) Unless you're Stephen King or JK Rowling, and some others it's not a thing that makes a lot of money. I don't know about King, but I've read that Rowling is a billionaire from her books and of course the movies.

I'm not expecting to be a billionaire or anything, but I do hope and want a lot of people to read my books. Because that's the bottom line. You want your writing to be read. And enjoyed. As for Rowling's Harry Potter, clearly a lot of people enjoyed them. Aside from the money, I'm sure Rowling was glad about that. And aside from money, I'd be glad for that, too.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Killers Guild

I was talking about my upcoming books yesterday, and I forgot to mention The Killers Guild, which I'm planning to be the third book in the Killers series. What is the Killers Guild? Well, it's a guild of assassins, clearly, and they are introduced in the upcoming sequel to Killer of Killers, which I call Killer Eyes. It's very nearly finished, and should be out by the end of the year. The killers in The Killers Guild are not very nice. Now, the thing about Trent Smith, the main character in both Killer of Killers and Killer Eyes, is that he kills killers. So that makes for a very nice story line in Killer Eyes and The Killers Guild, which I've yet to write.

So if the Killers Guild is introduced in Killer Eyes, why are they back in The Killers Guild? Indeed, even the book is named after them. Well, for one thing, I think that The Killers Guild is a cool title. So much so that I almost renamed Killer Eyes The Killers Guild. I didn't, ultimately, which left me with one option: write another book and call that one The Killers Guild.

Killer Eyes is a continuing story, picking up where Killer of Killers left off. And it was pretty much wrapped up at the end of Killer Eyes. Or was it? Well, it was,  until, that is, I revised it. I have put in a very surprising denouement, or resolution, which can be continued, like before, in another book, and taken in any direction I want. I haven't really decided just what direction the third Killer book will take, but one thing I know: it will involve the return of The Killers Guild--a more powerful and much more ambitious Killers Guild.

And that means more killing for Trent Smith. But it also means more killers trying to kill Trent Smith. One thing about Trent Smith is that he works alone. Or at least he intends to work alone. In Killer Eyes, he does get some unexpected help, but I can't say any more about that. No spoilers allowed here. Can't wait for Killer Eyes to get released. Then I can't wait to write The Killers Guild. Just talking about it here on the blog is getting me pumped to get started. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Middle Grade/Young Adult Movies Keep Popping Up

No matter how good, how bad, or how terrible they are, MG/YA movies keep getting made. Twilight, as horrible as it was, became a movie. To me, Harry Potter was equally horrible. Still, it was popular enough to make the author of the books a billionaire. Hunger Games, which had the worst concept I could think of, is another successful movie franchise despite the despicable premise. What do they all have in common? They originated as MG/YA books.

Why were they so horrible? For starters, Twilight changed the entire premise of what a vampire was supposed to be. Why? To get teenaged girls to love them, that's why. Harry Potter was a direct rip off of the X-Men premise, (but with sorcerers instead of mutants.) And Hunger Games was nothing more than kids killing kids. I kid you not.

Furthermore, look at the plots of those movies, (at least the first release of each franchise.) The plot of the first Twilight was a "good" vampire who fell in love with a non-vampire, and then the rest of the movie was him protecting her from a "bad" vampire. Okaaay. The first Harry Potter, aside from the direct rip off of the the X-Men premise, (a school for the gifted,) the plot was the "gifted" students playing an intramural game on broomsticks. Really. And Hunger Games...like I said, it was kids killing kids, but in some kind of televised game show. Pathetic.

Now, The Maze Runners is out, and again, it's from an MG/YA book. I haven't seen it yet, but I have no doubt it will fall into the above categories. Well, they're for kids. And kids go to movies. So there you go.

I don't write MG/YA, and my "Killer" books are no way for kids. Kids could read The Vase, but it's not really for kids even though one of the main characters is a fourteen year old boy. My WIP, called Second Chance might be considered an MG/YA book, but I'm not really writing it to be.

Now, I do have one project on the shelf that I'm actually planning to be an MG/YA book. I've mentioned it before. It's called Inside the Outhouse, and I don't have much more than the first page written at this point. It should be a fun book to read, and a fun book to write. In the meantime, keep an eye out for Killer Eyes, John Dunn, and then Second Chance. Then I'll get to Inside the Outhouse and make a deliberate run on the MG/YA genre. We'll see how it goes.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Final "Read-Through" Worthwhile for Killer Eyes

I'm reading through Killer Eyes one last time, and even though I'm only on page 27 right now, I've made enough minor changes to make this final read through worthwhile. Just little stuff. Nothing major. But the little things, in just the first 27 pages, do mean a lot to someone who's a perfectionist, like me. The first book, Killer of Killers, is as perfect as can be, and being the sequel to Killer of Killers, Killer Eyes needs to be just as perfect.

And I must admit, that as I read through it, I am very impressed with how great it's turning out to be. The writing, the story, the plot, the subplots, the climax, and the conclusion all work, and they work very, very well. It's an exciting story, a very intriguing one, and one of the reasons for that is how I've incorporated some real history into the story.

What history? Nanking. The rape of Nanking, or the Nanking holocaust. It was committed by the Japanese army in the 1930s, and not many people, at least not many American people are even aware of it. But it happened, and it's a part of the story in Killer Eyes. How can the rape of Nanking be part of a martial arts story? Buy a copy of Killer Eyes when it comes out, probably by the end of this year or early next year. Then you'll see.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Killer Eyes Read Through Finished, But...

I finished what I've been calling a "read through" last night, but I think I want to "read through" it one more time before submitting it to Melange. And that's because I made too many revisions during that read through. Not to the story or anything that has to do with the time line, like before. Just a lot of polishing of the prose. I took out some unnecessary sentences, changed some sentences, and in many parts it was pretty significant. As a result, it's significantly better now, but I think it also warrants another read through.

I'll start today when I get home from work, and this time it should be a pretty clean read through. No doubt I'll make some more revisions, but now those revisions should be minor. Maybe a word here and there, maybe a sentence here and there changed somewhat, but again, once this last read through is completed, then I'll submit, and readers will finally have a chance to see what happens with Trent Smith as he continues his mission of justice. It's full of action, more romance, and a lot of surprises, too. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Second Chance at 14,000 Words

My fifth novel, in progress, is now at 14,000 words. I don't usually make a note every time I write another 1,000 words, but since I'm writing this novel part time, it is a milestone of sorts. Editing Killer Eyes is the more full time endeavor, and writing the first draft of Second Chance is what I do in my spare time. And that's why it's such an accomplishment when I get another thousand words written.

Be that as it may, my goal is to have the first draft of Second Chance completed by May. And I fully expect to have Killer Eyes published by then. Which will give me full time to finish the revisions to John Dunn. By the end of next summer I expect to be submitting John Dunn somewhere, and then finishing the revisions to Second Chance. So that's the plan. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Second Chance @ 13,000 Words

My fifth novel, tentatively called Second Chance is at 13,000 words now. I don't really know the total word count yet, meaning I haven't set any goal for a word count for this novel. My Killer novels had a goal of 90,000 words, and the two books average that. The Vase is about 87,000 words and John Dunn is over 120,000 words. But since Second Chance is what might be called a "sports' novel, I don't think it has to be that many words. I'm not saying it won't be, I just don't think it needs to be.

Of course any novel should only be as many words as it takes to tell the story. But I don't consider myself a short story writer. Nor do I write short novels. I think any novel that is over 70,000 words would qualify as a regular novel, whereas novels with a word count of 40,000 and less would be considered a short novel. Words counts in between could probably go either way.

I think MG/YA novels are usually short novels, or books with 40,000 words. No wonder so many people choose to write MG/YA books. They're easier to write! Plus the fact that they're more likely to get published. I'm sure that publishers are more willing to give the green light for an MG/YA novel than novels for adults. That's just the way it is. Money is the bottom line. And I think the bottom line is that MG/YA novels tend to sell better.

As for Second Chance? I don't intend it to be an MG/YA novel, but I think it could fit into that category. It's about football after all, and a lot of youngsters are into sports stories. There's no hard core adult material in it, so that wouldn't make it unsuitable for youngsters. I won't promote it as an MG/YA book, but who knows what a publisher might do? If I get a Big Six publisher to publish it, they can do whatever they want. And I wouldn't mind.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Goodreads = Good People

I'm on Goodreads, as an author, and I just wanted to give the people who run it props. Every time I've asked a question, someone over there responds, not always right away, but eventually, and when they do, they help in every way they can. In fact, everything I've asked for they delivered, and in a timely fashion. I only wish I could ask for more readers! Or more buyers of my books.

It's up to me to advertise, I suppose. I don't. Because that would cost too much money. Other authors do it. I guess they have more money. I make that conclusion because often on my Goodreads page for both of my books, I see other authors' books advertised. It's like I visit my books' webpages and there for me to see is some book by someone whom I don't even know. It's strange to me. I think to myself, now who the heck is this? Why is that book being advertised on my book's webpage?

I can only assume that they paid for it to be there. I sure didn't ask for it to be there. And it's my webpage, after all. But that's okay. Sometimes they are books that look interesting. And if I were a reader, maybe I'd buy them and read them. But that's something I've talked about before. Just how many people on Goodreads are actually readers? I wonder. I see people putting Killer of Killers as a book to read, but they don't seem to ever read it. Sometimes they are there one day and gone the next. Does that mean they read it, and then took their name away? I don't even know. Maybe, maybe not. They don't leave reviews if they do.

I remember the great review someone put on my Goodreads webpage for Killer of Killers, and then a week or two later even that was gone. It's like, okay, thanks, but did you change your mind, or what?

So the people who run Goodreads are definitely good people, but what about the people like me who just use it as a place to promote their books? All they want to do is sell books, the way I see it. Not buy them. Or read them. Nothing wrong with that. But I do wish there was a place for readers and buyers of books only. Oh yeah, there is. They're called bookstores.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Killer Eyes On the Horizon-and then?

The publication of Killer Eyes is on the horizon. The soon to be submitted sequel to Killer of Killers should be a big hit. And to get ready for it, even I am re-reading Killer of Killers. Started it last night. And I must say it is very refreshing to read a book that I wrote, and not find places where I think it should be rewritten. No. I've gone through that too many times, and finally, yes, finally I'm reading it with the satisfaction of being content with every passage in there.

And that's why I'm taking my time with the submission of Killer Eyes. I want to be doubly sure that it's in as perfect shape as possible. Come editing time there may be an issue or two to work out, but nothing like before. And that's because it's not a first time publication for me, or even a second. No, Killer Eyes will be my third published book, and by now I've pretty much got this thing down. Meaning I'm fully aware of all POV issues, timeline issues, verb usage, and dialogue tags.

Like with everything, the more you do something, the better you get at it, and that sure applies to writing as well. And editing, and publishing, and the whole gambit of writing a novel, editing it, revising it, publishing it, and even, yes, promoting and marketing it. Oh, how I've learned over the last five years or so, since I first wrote Killer of Killers, followed by The Vase, and the entire process that went into getting both of those books edited and published.

Well, it got done, and with Killer Eyes two things are going to be smoother. First, there's a publisher waiting to publish it already. Melange Books, the publisher of Killer of Killers will be publishing it, and there will be a nice pair of books there on my Melange author's web page. And yes, I will write a third book in that series. It may or may not be the last, but it will wrap up that particular story arc, which started in the first book, Killer of Killers, and continued in Killer Eyes. It will be a wrap up, yes, but that doesn't mean it will be a series finale.  It still could be. It depends on my other projects, which include the book I'm writing right now, Second Chance. And it includes finishing the revisions to John Dunn, too.

As for those books, I will try once again for representation. Finding an agent again won't be fun, but with some published books under my belt now, it might be a little easier. And with an agent, comes once again the quest to be published by a Big Six publisher. I think both John Dunn and Second Chance will have a legitimate chance to break that final barrier for me. We'll see. Both stories have intriguing concepts. John Dunn, the white chief of Zululand should catch the interest of a publisher, and Second Chance, a football story, will have an already established avenue in the genre of sports related novels. Again, we'll see. Got to finish them first. And I'm on it.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Second Chance, my Fifth Novel, coming along

I talked a little bit about my fifth novel, Second Chance. I'm at 11,191 words right now, which is pretty good progress, seeing as how I'm not dedicating full attention to it. I'm still finishing up Killer Eyes, which I absolutely refuse to submit, even though it's guaranteed to be published by Melange, the publisher of Killer of Killers. Killer Eyes, after all, is the sequel to Killer of Killers.

I just need to be absolutely sure that Killer Eyes is ready to be submitted. Even now, as I read through what I thought would be the last read-through, I'm finding plenty of places that need to be improved. Yeah, I've got all the plot holes fixed, all the inconsistencies fixed, all the POV issues are fixed, and all the timeline issues are fixed. But still, I'm finding little things here and there that just won't do. I mean, if this was published, I would be thinking, "Now why didn't I write this like this, instead of like that?"

That happened time and again with Killer of Killers, on top of the POV issues that were present and needed to be fixed, and were fixed in the second edition of the book, which is available now. I just want to be absolutely sure that this time it doesn't need a second edition. And I'm close, to be sure, but now quite there. Not quite yet.

With Second Chance, my first novel since I've perfected the POV style, and near perfected the art of writing a novel, it won't be such a major thing to revise, as it was with my first four novels. And the progress is really showing that fact. I've mastered the art of writing a novel by now, and I'm not surprised at all. Two big things to look forward to this year for me on the writing front. The completion of the final draft of Killer Eyes, and the completion of the first draft of Second Chance.

And because this blog is a writing blog, I'll keep you, the reader, apprised as I go along, just as I did with Killer Eyes and John Dunn, as I was writing them. Bye for now.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

POV 3rd Person Limited

If you are writing in 3rd person limited POV, which is the expected style of writing a novel these days, (unless you're writing in 1st person, which I hate,) then everything you write must be written in a particular character's perspective. You can jump from one character to another after a scene break, but using a character's POV includes using the names of people the POV character knows.

Meaning if your POV character happens to know the names of the other characters with whom he or she is interacting, (or fighting,) then you can use those names. This came up with my current WIP, because Trent was remembering his training at the Tokyo Dojo when he was sparring against several other senseis at the dojo. At first I didn't call those other senseis by name. I was using "his opponent" or "his foe" or "the man." But last night while rereading and revising, I realized, wait a minute. Trent had trained and worked with these guys for twenty  years. So he would know their names.

I went ahead and gave these guys names, and used them. Now against the  dozens of foes whose names he doesn't know, then they must remain nameless. And that's what 3rd person POV is about. Same thing with first person. If the POV character knows their names you use them. If he/she doesn't, then you don't. Simple as that.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Writing is a Part of You

I believe that writing is part of the author. Meaning an author's words, written down, reflect him or her in writing. It's a part of that person. And the published writings, or books, are a part of that person which lives on long after the author is gone. It's almost like an immortalization of that person.

Take Homer and his Iliad and the Odyssey. Homer wrote it about 2800 years ago. And whenever the story is told, Homer's name automatically comes to mind. This is a sort of immortality. His name, and his writing will be remembered almost literally forever.

Shakespeare is another example. He lived and died over 500 years ago, but his writings are still very much alive today. His name is another name that will live forever.

Unlike Homer and Shakespeare, my name won't live forever, but whenever someone reads any of my books, they'll see my name on it. So what? So nothing, really. When I'm dead I certainly won't know who's reading my books, if anyone actually is. But it's still a sort of satisfaction knowing that they'll still be out there. I would think all authors feel the same.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Working on Three Books

I've heard of authors working on multiple projects simultaneously. I didn't do that. Until now. I've got three books in progress right now, and all three at different stages of completion. Killer Eyes is finished, revised, and right now getting the last touches of being polished up. John Dunn is smack dab in the middle of the revisions stage. And the first draft of Second Chance is being written at this time. It's still early in that stage. I'm on chapter two, and I don't know yet how many chapters it will have.

Mostly I'm excited about Killer Eyes, because it's so close to being done. As I'm rereading it for what I think will be the last time, I have the satisfaction of knowing that a publisher is waiting to publish it. I've already contacted Melange and told them about it. They are aware that it's on the way. But I'm not pulling that trigger prematurely. I've learned that lesson over and over again. So I will finish this round and maybe reread it yet again.

And that's because I always make it better. And I'm making it better right now, too. You always make it better. And better. You always think of a better way to word your sentences, your paragraphs, and it does indeed get better. That's where I'm at with Killer Eyes. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Killer of Killers outselling The Vase

According to the publisher reports, my debut novel Killer of Killers is outselling my second novel, The Vase. I think I might be responsible for that. I talk about it more often here on the blog. My reason for that was the blog itself, being called THE VASE is automatic promotion for The Vase. So I reasoned that I should dedicate more blog time to Killer of Killers.

But I would think that if both were promoted equally, then sales for both would be equal. Killer of Killers should appeal to anyone who loves martial arts, who loves romance, who loves a lot of action, and anyone who has a yearning for seeing justice prevail in a corrupt society.

The Vase should appeal to anyone who loves intrigue, suspense, characters who are rooted in reality, and the events in the Middle East, particularly Israel. Christians, I think, would particularly like the story, because of the appearance of Jesus Christ. Maybe I should publicize that more. I rarely talk about the role Jesus Christ has in the story of The Vase. But if I do that, then it might be a spoiler of sorts. Saying here and now that Christ appears in the story, really isn't a spoiler. And if that were known, then maybe a lot more sales would occur.

But you don't have to be a Christian to enjoy The Vase. Like I said, anyone who loves a great suspenseful story with a unique premise should love that book. No other story in any medium that i know of has used the premise of ancient images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase. My book, The Vase, is the only one. Check it out and see how that premise plays out.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Expendables 3 - Good Movie

I talked last Friday about how I didn't like Guardians of the Galaxy, so I thought I'd mention today that I did like Expendables 3. For the most part. Sure there were flaws, but if you are in the mood for an action-packed adventure, that doesn't get too heavy, and has a lot of big name action stars, then Expendables 3 is the movie to go see.

It had one of my favorite actors, Jason Statham, and that was reason enough for me to go see it. It's a Sylvester Stallone vehicle, but that's not a problem. Sylvester seems to get along with a lot of actors, and that's something I can respect. Even Wesley Snipes, who I haven't really liked in the past, was good in this movie. They even made a joke in the dialogue that poked fun at his past arrest for tax evasion. I thought it worked. In fact, the whole movie worked.

It's great to see an ensemble work so well together. Besides Statham, Snipes, and Stallone, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Harrison Ford, and even Mel Gibson had roles in the movie. Mel Gibson, who's been vilified in the media in recent years, seems to have found a new niche for himself. As the heavy. I saw Machete Kills on TV recently, and he was the heavy in that movie, too.

And sure enough, he's the heavy in Expendables 3. He makes a good heavy. You couldn't really gauge his effectiveness as a heavy in Machete Kills because Machete Kills was a tongue in cheek movie. Not a heavy movie for a heavy. But even though Expendables 3 wasn't so heavy either, it wasn't tongue in cheek. He was convincing as the bad guy. It worked.

My only problem with the show was that it was predictable. All the bad guys get killed, which I don't have a problem with, and none of the good guys get killed, which I also don't have a problem with, except for the fact that it makes it predictable. It makes the movie more light. Not light as in comedy type light, but just not realistic, not gritty, not heavy type light. The drama suffers as a result.

Don't think I want to see good guys get killed. I don't. But that's where the drama lies, the heavy element, the grit. Tragedy is an element that is important in a story. In Expendables 3, there was no tragedy. Everything ends up hunky dory. Everyone survives the thousands of bullets flying everywhere, the bombs blowing up, the C-4 explosions, the carnage, the battles, the everything. No one gets a scratch. But that's not entirely true. One of the good guys does get wounded. And he's in the hospital, fighting for his life. But he pulls through, of course. So he's no worse for the wear as it turns out. All hunky dory.

But again, it's just a fun movie. Bottom line, all the bad guys get killed and all the good guys don't. So what's wrong with that? If you just want to have fun, nothing's wrong with that. And that's why it was a good movie. Not great. Not memorable. Not a classic by any standard. Just a good movie to enjoy on a Sunday afternoon with your wife and two sons. Like I did yesterday. That's all.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy is a Kid's Show

I took my 12 year-old son to see that new Marvel movie Guardians of the Galaxy last weekend. I thought I was going to like it. I really didn't. I saw a "sneak peek" of the movie at Disneyland, and it appeared like it was going to be a good movie. It wasn't.

From what I understand, Guardians of the Galaxy is a Marvel comic book. But it's not one that I ever heard of. I used to collect Marvel comics, but since the birth of my first son 18+ years ago, I haven't bought a single one. So obviously, that means Guardians of the Galaxy, the comic book, must have debuted in that time period. I never knew about it.

Still, I do like some SciFi shows, and the trailers and sneak peek of Guardians of the Galaxy made it look pretty cool. It wasn't. For one thing, they tried too hard. For another thing, goofy movies, which this turned out to be, just aren't my thing. I can appreciate some humor in a serious movie, but when comedy is interwoven throughout the movie, it's too much for me.

This movie was targeting adolescents, I suppose, and since I'm far removed from that, I couldn't even like this movie a little bit. Tongue in Cheek is one thing, like Jane Fonda's Barbarella, or the Flash Gordon movie with Sam Jones and Max Von Sydow. Those were good movies. But this Guardians of the Galaxy was just not. Unless you're 12. Or younger. To my 12 year old, it was okay. But to me, it was a let down.

Whatever. There's enough 12 year olds in the world to entertain with movies like that. I'm just not one of them. I'll take grit and drama over a goofy SciFi any day.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Killer of Killers Becoming Popular

It's always nice to hear people tell you that they enjoyed your book. I've handed out some of my promo cards, which are business card-sized cards with a picture of the cover and the website on it, and after a while, people get back to me with positive comments.

Okay, I realize that since they know me, they are being nice, but I also like to believe that they are not stretching the truth when they say they liked it. Because more and more people are telling me that. Especially people who have had martial arts training themselves.

I think the reason people in martial arts like the book, is because it is genuine. It has a real martial art in there. Ju Jitsu. I used a real martial arts "bible" so to speak as my main reference material. I used real martial arts moves, and real martial arts terminology. And I also used real martial arts philosophies.

Anyone old enough to remember that TV show, Kung Fu, might recall that every episode would have some kind of martial arts philosophy, and I used the philosophy from my reference source quite liberally. Not word for word, of course, but I did use it, and a lot.

So, yeah, philosophy is a part of martial arts, and it's an integral part, I think. It really gives the art a cerebral side to it, and it adds to the story. I look at it this way: Martial arts without the philosophy would be incomplete. So I can say with confidence that both Killer of Killers and Killer Eyes are very complete. Buy your copy of Killer of Killers today. Killer Eyes is almost ready.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Polishing Prose Inevitable During Edits

So I've completed all my edits from the Beta Reader for Killer Eyes, but now that I'm reading it again, I find myself polishing the prose. And there I was thinking I had it polished already. It's one of the things that can bog down an author. The continuous tinkering of a manuscript. It can go on forever. But I say do it. Because the better your manuscript is, the better writer you are.

I mean who wants to settle for mediocrity? Not me. I prefer my writing to be as good as it can be. And the only way to do that is, well, by doing that. Sure you can leave it as is, but for someone like me, a perfectionist, it will be a thorn in your side whenever you read your own writing and discover something that you think should have been written better.

The same is true for art, like painting, or music, like in a song. When you see or hear something that is not as good as it could have been, you'll be wishing you had made it better. And with writing, you'll be wishing you had written it better. So I'm trying to avoid that. For the most part, I succeeded in that regard with Killer of Killers and The Vase. Just trying to get there with Killer Eyes, too. But I do believe I'm almost there. Just have to keep on truckin'.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Still Time to Buy/Read Killer of Killers

Now that I'm reading Killer Eyes for the final time before submission, it occurred to me that readers out there have time to buy and read Killer of Killers before I submit its sequel, Killer Eyes for publication. There's a certain satisfaction working on a book that you already know is going to be published. When I was working on all four of my books, I wasn't so sure at the time they would be published.

But wrapping up Killer Eyes with the knowledge that a publisher is ready and willing to publish it is more than enough motivation to make it perfect. And when I do get busy on the third book in the series, I'll have that same confidence.

No sequel is planned for The Vase, however, and no sequel is planned for John Dunn. John Dunn's story could continue. I end the book pretty much right after the Anglo-Zulu War, but Dunn's story does have a part two. And that's because after the Anglo-Zulu War, the British divided the Zulu nation into thirteen territories, with Dunn getting the largest of them. And then shortly after that, the thirteen territories fell into another Zulu Civil War. Dunn, of course led his territory, and even King Cetshwayo, the former Zulu king was allowed to return from his exile to lead another of the territories in that war.

It's when Cetshwayo was killed. But not in a battle against Dunn. He was killed by his own cousin, Usibebu, who was victorious in a battle against him during that war. So, yeah, there's enough there to make a sequel to the Dunn story, although right now I'm not planning one. Maybe one day, but my queue right now includes Second Chance, then the third Killer book, and then the YA book, Inside the Outhouse. And maybe even my SciFi book, which I began as a kid. We'll see. Stay tuned.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Killer Eyes Beta Reading Completed

Finally got the beta reader comments back yesterday for Killer Eyes, and I started fixing it right away. I'm almost done. As you may or may not know, Killer Eyes is the sequel to Killer of Killers, my debut novel, and I am very pleased with it. The beta comments were easy fixes, and I am very glad I had the beta reading done. I learned too many times not to be quick on the submission trigger, and I will still read Killer Eyes one more time before sending. I told my publisher the same thing. They are ready and willing to publish the book, which makes me even more committed to being sure it's flawless.

But I wouldn't have been able to be so sure if I didn't use a beta reader. My brother was the beta reader. He's a lawyer and is writing his own book. A fantasy, which I have no hesitation to say is a great book itself. But I'll hold off on that until it's done. In the meantime, Killer Eyes is done, and that's the book I'm talking about today. As I was saying, without the beta reading, you can never be sure your book is ready. So when I get home from work today, I'm going to finish the beta fixing, and start reading from page one, with the intent to make sure everything is as perfect as can be. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Villains as Protagonists--Nothing New

After posting yesterday about what I considered a new trend--villains as the protagonists, I remembered A Clockwork Orange. In that story, an English teen gangbanger played by a young Malcolm McDowell was the protagonist. He was a rapist, a murderer, a vile person, and all things despicable. But there he was--the protagonist. Sure, he was given treatment to "cure" him of those behaviors. Meaning whenever he thought about committing a violent act or crime, he would become physically sick. And when he was released back into the world, he was no longer able to cope.

So were we supposed to feel sorry for him then? Not really. I don't think anyone did. Not me. But maybe that's the point of having a villain as the protagonist. Meaning when they get what's coming to them in the end, you don't feel sorry for them.

Another example is the movie Scarface. In Scarface, a much younger Al Pacino was the protagonist. And he was yet another drug dealer. Another murderer. Another despicable person. So in the end, when he was finally killed by rival gangbangers, no one felt sorry for him.

Is that a preferable thing? Yesterday I mentioned the protagonist Maximus from the movie Gladiator. He was a great protagonist, a good person throughout the movie. I mean here we had a great hero who led people, was loved by people, and battled the bad guys. You wanted this guy to be successful. You rooted for him to win. And when he died in the end, you were sad for him. I was, anyway. I didn't want to see him die. I thought that the movie's ending sucked for him to die.

But I didn't feel sad when Al Pacino in Scarface died in the end. He had it coming to him. He deserved to die. And I've concluded that's the point. With a villain as the protagonist, you're okay with seeing him or her die. Like Bonnie and Clyde. Come movie's end--time to die.