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.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

When Do You Give a Writer Advice?

I followed a writer's link to a guest blogging where she had posted an excerpt from one of her books. In the very first sentence of the excerpt I found poor wording and/or incorrect use of words. I don't want to quote her, because as far as I know, she may be reading my blog. But my question is when should one writer tell another writer that something is wrong with his/her writing?

The answer is never. One writer should never tell another writer anything negative about his/her writing. Unless that other writer specifically asks him/her to. If one writer asks another writer to be a beta reader, for example, the fundamental reason for that is to point out how the writing can be improved, to point out what isn't working, and that includes individual words, sentences, paragraphs, plots, subplots, and the whole thing.

So unless you are the editor of a manuscript, you criticize another writer's writing only if that other writer actually wants you to, and then you do it with tact. You don't just say, hey, this sucks, or this is some bad writing. You point out that this word is unnecessary, or this sentence should be reworded, or this meaning is not clear. You don't even have to provide the correct word or words, but you can if you're sure it would work, and always with the purpose to make that writing as best as it can be.

Even reviewers should be discreet about that. I know many are not. Some reviewers seem to take a great pleasure in slamming someone's writing, and they can even get downright nasty about it. I think reviewers should be honest, but if they think the writing is bad, they can say it without humiliating the author. I've read some reviews that pointed out some bad samples of writing, and I thought that it was going overboard. Reviewers probably think they aren't, but they are. If it's bad writing, say so, and the editor of that manuscript should be held accountable, also.

Speaking of editors, sometimes I've found that an editor will completely miss the meaning of a sentence or even a paragraph in the manuscript they are editing. That happened to me in The Vase. The bottom line is if my editor didn't get what I was saying in that paragraph, then I didn't do a good enough job of writing it. Which is a very good reason to rewrite it. If your editor got the wrong meaning, then you can bet your readers will, too. Your writing must be good enough so that no one will misinterpret the meaning of what you're tying to convey.

A writer needs 100% clarity. And if anyone's writing is short on clarity, or even straight up lousy, you don't tell them unless you've been solicited by that writer for that very reason. It's like an unwritten rule. Don't criticize another writer. Unless they want you to. Period. So when I see a writer's writing falling short on what it could be, I will say nothing. Nor should anyone else.

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