Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?

THE VASE

A novel by Mark M. DeRobertis

Muhsin Muhabi is a Palestinian potter, descended from a long line of potters. His business is run from the same shop owned by his ancestors since the day his forebears moved to Nazareth. The region's conflict saw the death of his oldest son, and rogue terrorists are in the process of recruiting his youngest in their plot to assassinate the Pope and Israeli prime minister.

Professor Hiram Weiss is an art historian at Nazareth’s Bethel University. He is also a Shin Bet operative on special assignment. With the help of fellow agent, Captain Benny Mathias, he plans to destroy the gang responsible for the death of his wife and only child. He puts a bomb in the ancient vase he takes on loan from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.

Mary Levin, the charming assistant to the director of Shin Bet, has lost a husband and most of her extended family to recurring wars and never-ending terrorism. She dedicates her life to the preservation of Israel, but to whom will she dedicate her heart - the brilliant professor from Bethel University - or the gallant captain who now leads Kidon?

Harvey Holmes, the Sherlock of Haunted Houses, is a Hollywood TV host whose reality show just flopped. When a Lebanese restaurant owner requests his ghost-hunting services, he believes the opportunity will resurrect his career. All he has to do is exorcise the ghosts that are haunting the restaurant. It happens to be located right across the street from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.



Friday, May 30, 2014

New Book-Killer Eyes-a Thrilling Ride

I'm very excited about the recent completion of my third novel, Killer Eyes. Yeah, I'm still polishing it up, but for the most part, all of the issues have been resolved, and the story is finally complete. There are some strings that are left untied, however. That was deliberate. Just like in the first book, Killer of Killers, there were some strings left untied, deliberately, and those were resolved in this book, Killer Eyes. And because it's a continuing series, (at least for three books,) there's another subplot line that is left unresolved. No worries, I plan on resolving everything in the third book.

But when will that be? Not sure. I am only sure that I will write it. And maybe next. I did get the recent epiphany for a new story, as I've posted this week. And I may undertake that one first. But even so, the third Killer book will get written, and I am as excited about that as I've ever been. Maybe even more so, because this character, Trent Smith, is my all time favorite character. He's a great character.

As a youth, I was always a fan of that ultra cool, ultra great character as portrayed in books, movies, or even TV shows. Indeed, my all time favorite characters include:

1-Conan, as written by Robert E. Howard in his Conan books-NOT the Conan we saw in the movies or TV shows.

2-James Bond, as portrayed by Sean Connery in the movies. One of the rare examples where the movies were better than the book.

3-Captain James T. Kirk, as portrayed in the TV show Star Trek, TOS--not the movies with the original cast, (they sucked) nor the reboot movies which, to me, totally sucked.

And sure, there's more, like James West, from the TV show The Wild, Wild West, and The Man With No Name, as portrayed by Clint Eastwood in his three spaghetti western movies. And there are more.

Trent Smith in Killer of Killers is up there with those guys. I had that specifically in mind when I invented the character. He had to be a character who was the best at what he does. And when it comes to martial arts, hand to hand combat, bare knuckle fighting, etc. he is without peer. Clearly the first book, Killer of Killers, demonstrates this. In the second book, Killer Eyes, he uses swords. And in the third book, tentatively titled The Killers Guild, the story comes full circle, with empty hands fighting, and events that will establish him without a doubt as the world's best empty hands fighter.

So let me get Killer Eyes polished up and I'll proceed with my new books. It just takes a couple more read throughs, which of course depends on the home front allowing me the time to do that. It's a matter of sitting down and doing it. Which is what I intend to keep on doing.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Promotion the Weak Link

For authors, there are so many tasks to undertake, and most of them, I think, are relatively easy. You can come up with an idea or premise for a story, you can create characters, devise a plot, fill it with events as the plot unfolds, you take care of the prose, you improve it, you make sure all of the punctuation is correct, the meanings of your words, you make sure you use your verbs properly, you don't confuse transitive verbs with intransitive verbs, and you make sure you don't misuse your dialogue tags. Then you find a publisher, and then you get an editor and you get your cover design.

But the one thing that mostly seems to be beyond the author's control is promotion. And that's because promotion/marketing just isn't in the equation for most authors. At least not authors who have a limited budget. Big publishers can advertise on TV, in magazines, in newspapers, etc. I've heard of books that are already on the NY Times bestseller's list BEFORE they've even been published!

Just how that works is beyond me. Do people buy books or order them before they are published? How do they even know about them? That must be some awfully good marketing then. To have sold enough  copies of your book to make the bestseller's list before it's even been released!

I have heard of hiring a publicist, and I suppose a lot of authors do that. But there's that budget thing again. I've heard of making reader's lists, email lists, and blogs, and all of that sounds nice, but does any of that work? I know of one thing that works. TV commercials. Because I think most people do watch TV at least sometimes. Others a lot of the time. And those pesky commercials are always there. You can't help but to see them, even if, like me, you hate them. But there's that budget problem again.

The best way for someone like me to promote a book is to get that book into a bookstore. But that brings up another problem. Small publishers don't do that. So it would behoove an author to be published by a big publisher. How? Keep writing books. Small publishers are a great way to begin your publishing career. But you don't just stop there. You keep writing new books, and you keep finding new publishers. Then, and only then will you get a big publisher, who will then get your book into a bookstore.

So the journey continues. Forever forward!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bad Writing Easy to Spot

I was so worried about fixing the issue I had in Killer Eyes, and I am glad that I did. Because if I didn't, then it would have been an example of bad writing, and it would have been easy to spot. Now that it's fixed, the story line makes sense, as far as what the characters are doing, and how it all turns out. All of it, in fact is perfectly logical. There are no moments where a reader might say, "Hey, wait a minute. Why is he doing that? And then why does he do that?"

Not anymore at least. Characters in a story need a good reason to do the things they do, at least in a book or movie, and then they better have a good reason to do something else if they in fact do something else.

I saw the move "Prisoners" with Hugh Jackman the other night. It's not a movie I would normally watch, but I was flipping through the TV channels, and it was on, and I like Jackman as an actor, so I watched it with my wife. I wish I didn't. There were so many things wrong with that story line, it's like where do I begin? I don't even want to get into it. The writing was so bad, it was nearly unwatchable. Still, I stuck it out, watched it through the end, and wasted my time.

Sure, Hugh Jackman's acting was good. No problem there. It was simply the writing, or the screenplay. So many things happened that made no sense. I mean no sense at all. And from start to end. I will point out two things, so spoiler alert coming up.

Here's the premise: Two girls are kidnapped, and throughout the story there's a long and seemingly impossible task of searching for them. I won't delve into the plot any further because that's all I need to say for two of the ridiculous writing flaws I'm going to point out. (And there are more, believe me.)

One: For the entire movie, the town and the families of the two girls are unable to find these girls. Hugh Jackman's character is going to extreme lengths on his own, but finally, near the end of the movie, one of the girls is reported to have been found. BUT NO ONE SAYS WHERE SHE WAS FOUND! And so the next scene is the girl sedated in a hospital bed, with the families around, and Jackman rushes in, but does he ask WHERE WAS SHE FOUND? No. He's badgering the sedated girl, asking her if HIS daughter is still alive.

But nothing about WHERE WAS THE GIRL FOUND!

And two: The parents of the sedated girl are just standing there idle, while Jackman's character continues to badger their daughter. Finally the daughter opens her eyes, and with a scowl snarls, "You were there!"

Now the first impression is that it was Jackman's character who was the kidnapper. And to reinforce that thought, he immediately runs away with the cops chasing him. But he loses the cops, again reinforcing the impression that HE was the villain all along.

It turned out that when the girl said that he was there, he realized where his daughter was, because he had visited the house shortly before that. But that's the problem. If he realized where his daughter was, then the first thing you would think he would do is shout for everyone to hear that he KNOWS WHERE IS DAUGHTER IS, and get the entire police department over there ASAP. But no. Instead, he LOSES the policeman chasing him, goes to the house alone with no one else knowing where he is, and ends up being captured by the kidnapper.

That was some horrible writing, and it's just two examples. I would love to be an editor on some of these sloppy plots, and say, "Look, it's just bad writing, but you can fix it like this!"

And that's just what I did with Killer Eyes. It's a great story, but there were problems that needed fixing, and I saw it, I wracked my brain on how to fix it, and then I fixed it. No more problems. And if a writer truly has a love of his own story, then that's just what he will do. No matter if it's a book or a movie. It makes the story better, more enjoyable, and believable! To me, if it's not believable, then the enjoyment factor is compromised. And then it's not worth watching or reading. Period.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Killer Eyes--Revisions Completed!

I've been mentioning the problems in the story line in Killer Eyes--the events that were not consistent, the character actions that were questionable, and I've been saying how I wanted to fix them. Well, I got it done over the three day Memorial Weekend Holiday. That's not to say I'm submitting it any time soon. No. I've learned over and over again not to be quick on the trigger. I'm giving it at least one more read through. Already I've found some typos and errors, including one set of about four or five consecutive words that somehow got changed to 11 point font from the 12 point font in which the manuscript is written.

How that happened? Who knows. It's the first time I've seen it. No, actually, I have seen it before. Nevertheless, it just goes to show that there is no minimum or maximum number of times you can proofread your manuscript. No matter how many times you do it, there's always going to be something you'll find that needs correcting or improving.

But the big news here is that the subplot and supporting character action I was worried about has finally been fixed. When you have a character doing something, there should be a reason why he/she is doing it. And when that character does something else in the climax, it better not conflict with what he/she was doing throughout the story line. That's what was troubling me for the past couple of months, and finally, that's what I fixed.

It took some rewriting, but that's what I'm celebrating now, that rewriting got done, and I'm calling the story complete. So after this read-through/proof reading, and one more after, THAT'S when I'll submit. And my Killer of Killers book on the Melange Books website will finally have its sequel.

Then, on with the John Dunn revisions, and hopefully the writing of my new book, Second Chance. And I haven't forgotten the third book in the Killer Series. And I still have every intention of writing my MG/YA novel, also.

So here's what's in queue: Revising the fourth book I've already written--John Dunn, and then three more books to write from scratch-- the third Killer book, tentatively titled The Killers Guild, and then my new story, tentatively titled Second Chance, and the YA book which I'm pretty sure will be titled Inside the Outhouse.

After all of that, maybe I'll get back to the Sci-Fi book I began years ago as a graphic novel. Now that will be interesting. Maybe I'll keep it as a graphic novel. We'll see.

Friday, May 23, 2014

New Synopsis Finished, but First Things FIrst

I've finished an extended synopsis of my new story, tentatively entitled Second Chance, but I've got to pull the reins. First things first, I have to finish the revisions and even the edits to Killer Eyes. That story has already waited its turn. I wrote it about three years ago, but the publication, (and editing) of Killer of Killers and The Vase took precedence before I could revise it to the specifications I've since learned.

Meaning all POV issues had to be dealt with and they have been. A couple plot holes had to be filled and they pretty much have been. Finally, I have to complete the rewriting of that one inconsistent turn of events that involved one of the characters and I'm in the process of doing that. It's a major thing, which I'm glad I caught before submitting, otherwise readers would have said, "Wait a minute!" But with my changes, the sequence of events will make much better sense.

So on with Killer Eyes until the revisions are done. I may still dabble with Second Chance here and there, but my main focus has to stay with Killer Eyes or it will get lost in the shuffle. Not to worry. It should be done by next month. Then on with Second Chance.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dreamed of a New Story for a New Book

Sometimes I have dreams that will actually result in new artistic endeavors. When I was in my music writing phase, I had a dream with a new song playing. I woke up and went to my "music room" and wrote it down before I forgot the tune. It turned out to be one of my favorite songs.

Well, I'm in my book writing phase now, and a couple days ago, I had a dream of a new story. Not about Trent Smith, and it had nothing to do with The Vase. Nor did it have anything to do with John Dunn, or anything to do with the MG/YA story I've had on the back burner for a while.

It was a completely different story, a completely different genre, and a story that otherwise I might not have ever even considered writing. It was a FOOTBALL story. I've never really been big on football stories, even though I am a big football fan. I've loved playing football throughout my younger years, and I love that my son is a football player. I've even dabbled a bit in coaching some football.

But when it comes to football stories, I've never read one. I did see Brian's Song, and The Longest Yard. I saw that movie with Al Pacino, and the one with Nick Nolte. None of them were very interesting to me, however. And I've never seen the TV show Friday Night Lights. Nope. Didn't appeal to me. I do watch some of those NFL talk shows on the NFL network, and on ESPN. I do follow pro football, and I have an interest in which college players are excelling.

But again, when it comes to football stories in books or movies, I'm not interested. Until now. I dreamed of a story, and the story unfolded in my dream just like it would in a movie. No, it didn't have me in it. I don't even know who the main character was. But it could have been me, I suppose. Twenty years younger, though. I don't want to divulge any of the story details right now, but it does have a plot. And I've already started writing an outline. So far, it looks like it's a good concept, one that's never been done. At least not in the shows I've mentioned. It seems to be an intriguing concept, and I'm kind of motivated to see how it pans out if I pursue it.

And if I do, it just might happen this summer. I wrote my four prior books during summer vacations. I used last summer and the summer before to prepare KOK and The Vase respectively for publication, so I'm actually a couple summers behind on that note. I was planning on using this summer for prepping Killer Eyes, and getting the John Dunn revisions underway.

But maybe I'll use this coming up summer vacation to write my football story. If I stay intrigued by it, that is. If I stay motivated, it will happen. That's what it depends on. We'll see. I'll keep you posted. That's what this blog is for, after all. To chronicle my writing experiences and log my journey to publication. For all of my books.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Estella Daniels--May Not Be Susie Quinn

I have talked about which actors could be which characters in the story Killer of Killers. I'm convinced Dustin Clare is right for the lead role, Trent Smith, the martial arts champion. His resume includes, of course, playing the role of the champion gladiator in the STARZ show Spartacus. Everything about him is right for the part.

And I've talked often about how Amber Heard is just right for the lead female role of Samantha Jones. Actors for all of the other characters could be easily found, no doubt, and I've listed some who would be good choices for the balance of the cast. But the one character I've yet to find an actress for is the black exotic dancer Susie Quinn.

I thought for a while that Estella Daniels might be a good choice. But that was after seeing her for only a minute during her first appearance in DaVinci's Demons. She's had more screen time in this second season of DaVinci's Demons, and I'm thinking she may not be right for the part.

It's not because I don't think she's a good actress. I just haven't seen enough of her to convince me that she looks the part. And looks are a major factor. To me, an actor has got to look the part. Dustin Clare looks the part for Trent Smith. Amber Heard looks the part for the beautiful blond police detective Samantha Jones. But Estella Daniels, really, just doesn't look the part. Okay, she's a black actress, and I thought at first that that was enough to play the part of the black exotic dancer. But no. It's not enough.

You see, Susie Quinn is a physically PERFECT, visually STUNNING woman. And she's described in the book as one of the most impressive looking women Trent Smith had ever seen. And he had already met the extremely beautiful Samantha Jones by that time. And Samantha Jones is as beautiful as any woman could ever be. Yet Susie Quinn was STILL described as one of the most impressive looking women Trent had ever seen. That means she is just as beautiful. Now I'm not saying Estella Daniels isn't beautiful. She just doesn't seem to be the "type."

It's hard to explain. It could be that as the black slave girl in DaVinci's Demons, she is such a good actress that she has become the part. She looks like a black slave girl. And Susie Quinn in Killer of Killers is nobody's slave girl. The only other photos I've seen of her are photos from some other historical drama she's been in. I've never seen her wearing contemporary fashions, like I've been able to see with Amber Heard. Maybe that's all it is. If I could see Estella wearing a modern dress with a modern hairdo, it could be that she is right for the part. Unfortunately, all I have are these two close ups of just her face, and neither really do her any justice. Blame her publicity people on that.














These next pictures are the closest I can find that might show that Estella Daniels could be right for the part. I can't tell if these are casual photos or photos taken from one of her sets.


The photo with the blue eye shadow is the best photo of all that might be indicative that Estella is a good Susie Quinn "type." There's just not quite enough there to tell for sure. And if it isn't, then which black actress IS the "type?" I haven't seen her yet. I suppose that's why they have casting calls. You have to audition a group of actors or actresses to find the right actor or actress that IS the type for the part. And I suppose that's what we'll have to do for the part of Susie Quinn. Until then...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

TV's Golden Age Has Returned!

When I was a kid, it seemed like TV was going through a golden age. It was the sixties, and TV shows seemed to be the best shows TV would ever have. And well after those shows had been canceled, I continued to believe that.

You had shows like Gunsmoke, The Wild, Wild West, Batman, Lost in Space, Bonanza, The High Chaparral, The Man From Uncle, I Spy, Get Smart, Have Gun Will Travel, Secret Agent, and of course, the original Star Trek!

I was never one for sitcoms. But there were good ones, nonetheless. The Odd Couple, Bewitched, That Girl, The Monkees, and a slew of others. I didn't watch them, though. Well, I did watch The Monkees once in a while. But my favorite band as a kid was Paul Revere and the Raiders. And even they had a TV show. It was called Where the Action Is, and I thought it was great. But what kid wouldn't think a show was great if it featured their favorite band?

But time goes by, and times change. TV shows get canceled no matter how good they are. Bonanza lasted a long time, Gunsmoke even longer. For it's short run, Star Trek became one of the greatest shows after it got canceled. It sparked several spin offs, beginning with Star Trek, the Next Generation in the 80s. But Next Generation was only a shadow of the original, despite it's longer run. Even the Star Trek movies with the original cast were shockingly bad.

And it's the period of the seventies and eighties when TV took a nose dive, imo. There were probably some good shows, but I didn't watch them. I took a twenty year break from TV during those years. The only exception to that was when TV introduced the Mini Series concept. But I only watched two of them. Roots and Shaka Zulu. Both of those productions were well worth watching. In fact, Shaka Zulu directly ties in with my fourth book, John Dunn, Heart of a Zulu. Because John Dunn became a Zulu Chief during the reign of Shaka's nephew, Cetshwayo.

But when it came to watching with any regularity, it wasn't until the nineties when I came back to TV. Some of the Star Trek spinoffs after Next Generation actually were pretty good. Deep Space Nine and Voyager had some interesting story arcs, and kept me interested. A couple other Sci Fi shows turned out to be good, too. Babylon 5 being the stand out. Never got in to Battlestar Galactica, though. Not the original in the 80s, nor the reboot. It just didn't appeal to me.

But still, the nineties came around, and I loved the tongue in cheek show called The Adventures of Brisco County. It was canceled after a  year, but what a year. The X-Files was pretty good, and some animated shows turned out pretty good, starting with Batman, and then The X-Men, and even Spider-man. And of course, the Japanese animated shows, called Anime, hit the scene and really took off. They lifted the bar, even, and put out droves of series, and even feature films. All of them top notch.

Which brings us to the new millennium. And the latest thing is the now abundant Cable and Premium channels. AMC's Walking Dead has taken TV audiences by storm. And for good reason. It's a great show. AMC has followed up with another show I have come to like. TURN, as they call it. It takes place during the American Revolutionary War. It's a well written show.

And that's not to mention HBO, STARZ, and Showtime. I've talked repeatedly about the Spartacus series, and the actor Dustin Clare, who I think would be perfectly cast as the main character, Trent Smith in my debut novel, Killer of Killers.

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the mega hit Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones matches the production values of any of the most expensive films ever made. No wonder it's a great show. But there's more. You have DaVinci's Demons, the countless vampire shows, (which I don't watch,) and the new comedy called Silicon Valley, which I started watching because I happen to live in the silicon valley. I thought it might be worthwhile watching a show that takes place in the area where I grew up and still live. It turned out to be hilarious!

And, to me, that's the future of TV. The Cable and Premium channels. With a no holds barred attitude, as clearly demonstrated in shows like Spartacus, and even Game of Thrones, you have productions that can reflect what the artists behind them envision. With no inhibitions regarding violence, sex, or nudity. Anything and everything goes. Sure some shows have taken advantage of that. Namely Spartacus. But that's all right. As long as you're not prudish, it's not a problem. I often criticized Spartacus here on the blog for being over the top in regards to sex, nudity, and violence, but I still loved the show.

It's something to look forward to, really. It seems these channels are in competition with each other, and that's a good thing. It seems they are trying to top each other, and it's working. I can't wait for the future episodes of the shows I'm watching, and I'll be going to On Demand to catch up on the one's I've missed. TV's golden age has returned. And I welcome it.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Main Event in The Vase Happening In Real Life!

I just happened to read that the main event that happens in my novel, The Vase, is happening in real life. The event that I'm referring to is the Pope's visit to the Holy Land, while being accompanied by a Jewish Leader and a Muslim leader. You can read the article here.

As the article says, it's a rabbi and a Muslim leader from Argentina accompanying the Pope, whereas in The Vase, the Pope toured the Holy Land with the Israeli prime minister and the Palestinian president. But the article says that the real life Pope will be visiting with the real life Israeli prime minister and the real life Palestinian president during his tour. So there you go.

The Vase was published last year, but I wrote it four years ago. So it's somewhat satisfying to see what I wrote really come to pass, as far as the three faiths coming together in a visit to the Holy Land. Of course, I hope that's the only thing that really happens. All the terrorist stuff, the violence, the intrigue, the things that go bang in night, so to speak, can be left out. We don't need assassinations and terrorist plots, or even antiterrorist plots to really occur.

No, here's to hoping the real life Papal tour of the Holy Land proceeds without a hitch. The events that surround the Pope's visit to the Holy Land in The Vase are best left to fiction. Thanks anyway.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Action Movies--Where Are They?

I love action stories, and particularly action movies. It seems that in today's movie environment, it's the superhero movies that are dominating the action movie genre. Which is kind of strange because superheroes were not stories from books. They were almost exclusively COMIC books. Hey, I've nothing against comic books, let's be clear about that. I collected a good number of them when I was a kid, and even added to the collection in high school and college.

But movies used to be based on stories from books. There's even a category for an academy award for it. You know, the Best Adapted to Screenplay Award. (Yeah, there's the Best Original Screenplay Award, too.) But there's no award for Best Adapted to Screenplay from Comic Books Award. And that's because they never used to do that.

Of course, the first Superman movies did that. And there were a sprinkling of other attempts at it. Most were not good. The Phantom was a failure, and I absolutely hated Tim Burton's Bat Man movies.

But lately the superhero movie genre has taken off like a rocket! And they have been surprisingly good. That's because the technology for special effects have made the superhero movies possible. And how! From Marvel Comics, Iron Man, Spider-man, Hulk, Thor, The Avengers, The X-Men, and The Fantastic Four have been superb. From DC Comics, the new Superman and Bat Man movies have also been high quality movies. Tremendous special effects, good stories, good acting, and overall magnificent productions, have paid off big time for the people who've made them.

So what about the non-superhero action stories/movies? Well, there certainly are a number of them in the book medium. But there haven't been many movies in the action thriller genre lately that have made an impact. The Bourne movies were terrific. The Transporter movies were terrific, too, but have there been any other action movies that have made a splash? Well, I can't think of any.

Which brings me to the martial arts action movie/story genre. They always are exciting to watch. There seems to be a steady stream of them from China and Japan. And regular releases from America, too. Even Quentin Tarrantino has had a hand in them. The Kill Bill and Man with the Iron Fist movies were martial arts action movies. And even though Kill Bill was over the top, (a Tarrantino trait) I liked them both. And all were, and have been, successful.

And that is good for me, because my novel, Killer of Killers would fit right in with those movies. It is smack dab in the middle of that genre. It reads easy and fast, it's exciting and includes romance, beautiful women, and a brooding lone hero, who only has justice on his mind. Sure some things distract him. But not for long. Bottom line, Killer of Killers is an action packed martial arts thriller that includes more twists and turns than any of the aforementioned stories.

Check out Killer of Killers today. You'll see.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Best Part of a Book

When you pick up a book and read it, what's the best thing about it? The writing? Writers might want to believe it's the writing. The editing? Editors might want to believe it's the editing. The plot? Well, yeah... It's the story! The characters have got to be characters that are interesting, but more importantly, it's the story, meaning it's all about what happens during the course of the plot. Every story needs a plot, or it's flat. A story without a plot is like a balloon without air. And yes, there have been stories, even movies, that have had no plot.

A plot must contain some kind of objective. The character(s) in the story must have an objective, or objectives, and the course of the plot is how that objective is ultimately achieved. There will be events that occur during the course of the plot, and all of that makes up your story.

But it must be a story that is interesting to read. It should be exciting, intriguing, and unique. Most stories nowadays are not unique. It's 2014, after all, and stories have been told for thousands of years. Just about every plot you can think of has already been relayed in one way or another. So it's nearly impossible to be unique when telling a story.

But there are different twists that can be unique. And I believe both Killer of Killers and The Vase contain stories that are unique in that sense. Killer of Killers is about vengeance, and that's a concept that's not unique. But unlike the vast majority of vengeance/revenge stories, the main character, Trent Smith, is not after villains who murdered his wife, father, brother, friend, or relative.

Nope. That would be Batman, The Punisher, Daredevil, Spider-man, the Death Wish movies, and countless other stories in books, movies, etc.

No, there's a unique concept in Killer of Killers, and it's what drives Trent Smith. He's a fanatic. An extremist. But not your run of the mill extremist. We see those kind every day. Don't need more of that. Trent Smith is a fanatic about JUSTICE. And even in today's real world, there is a shocking lack of it. There's nothing we can do about it. Not in the real world, anyway. Murderers today, even when they're caught, get to live in near luxury awaiting their due. And most of them will never get their due.

And in Killer of Killers, that's how it is, too. There is a lack of justice. And it's what drives Trent Smith. He is justice personified. And he is driven. He's a driven man. For JUSTICE. It's the road he travels, and he won't stray from it. Of course, a lot of things happen along the way. It's what makes Killer of Killers an exciting story to read. Throw in a bevy of interesting characters and a wonder drug that cures all disease and even stops aging, and you have a great story with a great plot and exciting events!

And The Vase? It actually has a unique plot. And unique characters, and a unique concept. It's a story about a vase. Really? A vase? How can a story be about a vase? Well, the unique concept in The Vase is the fact that it's an ancient vase that contains, not wine, not flowers, but IMAGES that have been recorded in its exterior grooves. Just like a vinyl record. The kind of records that people listened to before the advent of CDs and DVDs.

Now think of all the possibilities that concept offers. A vase from, say, two thousand years ago, that contains iconic images recorded within its grooves. So where might this particular vase have been originally made? How about Nazareth? Or Capernaum, maybe. Guess who lived in those places. Who might have been traveling in those places throughout history, and of course, more than one vase is created throughout time. A vase maker doesn't make only one vase. No, he makes hundreds of vases. And hundreds of vase makers make thousands of vases. Over time.

So think about that. You have a source of several different images that could have been recorded over time by several different vase makers in the areas of Nazareth and Capernaum. There's a lot of source material there. Because a lot of historical people have been living in or traveling through those places.

And today, the area offers a lot of conflict. I don't need to detail that. But it's all there in The Vase. A unique concept, with unique characters, and a very unique and original story. Check it out, and  you'll see. Buy Killer of Killers and The Vase today. You'll see for yourself.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Hits on Blog Spiked

I noticed that hits on the blog spiked over the weekend, and I'm wondering if the posting of the 15% discount was responsible for that. I posted that on Saturday, and I usually don't post on the weekend. I did this time because my publisher was offering that discount for Mother's Day, so I went ahead and passed that on to any readers of the blog.

But I'm also wondering if it translated into any additional purchases of Killer of Killers. I won't find out until the quarterly data is released. Up until now the sales have been modest, so it will be interesting to see if that discount did result in any sales.

And if it did, then I would hope that discounts would be more frequent. The money isn't really big for authors, btw. The publisher gets the bulk of that. My ten per cent is next to nothing when it comes to cashing in. It's the sales number that might attract Hollywood, and that's where the big money is. But Hollywood won't come calling for a book with modest sales.

Not that a book has to be a bestseller. But it does have to have a following, and books like Twilight, Hunger Games, and Harry Potter had huge followings before they became movies. Even Fifty Shades of Grey does, and now it's going to be a movie, too. Those authors are financially secure now. How nice that would be.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Reviews--Solicited and Not Solicited

Once I received a terrific review for Killer of Killers. I mean it was so good, I couldn't believe someone could be so kind. And it was written by a complete stranger, too.

Sure just about every author out there will have great reviews. But I'm sure the bulk of those reviews are solicited from friends, relatives, and acquaintances, or even fellow authors and coworkers. Other reviews are solicited from people who get a free book for doing it. And they'll all be good reviews, of course. Because the deal for a free book is a good review. Or no review, if the reviewer insists on honesty, meaning if he/she did not like the book, then he/she will leave no review rather than a bad one. And there's nothing wrong with that.

To be perfectly honest, I tried to solicit some reviews. I didn't go gung ho in my efforts, though. I contacted some reviewers, but none of them were available. It seemed the reviewers I contacted already had a long list of books waiting to be read and reviewed. So I stopped trying.

It's not like I'm a quitter. For instance, when it came to my efforts to get published, there were plenty of bumps in that road. So much so, that it was very discouraging. But I kept on, and on, and eventually both Killer of Killers and The Vase were published. Quitting was always in the back of my mind, but I'm glad I didn't.

As for reviews ... that's a different story. I have quit soliciting reviews. Of course that means when a review does come in, it might just be a bad one. Because I'm no longer offering any free books for a review, meaning there's no deal in place. If the reader doesn't like it, the posting of a bad review may just be the result.

And I"m no longer giving free books to friends and relatives, either. I've already documented how that turned out. That was a very disappointing avenue to travel. And it's just as well.

Which brings me back to that great review I had received just a few months after the first edition of Killer of Killers was published. To this day I regret not thanking that reviewer. I didn't know who he was, and I didn't make any attempt to find out. I should have at least commented on that review, thanking the guy. Because I've since seen that authors do that. Just goes to show how detrimental inexperience can be. Because shortly thereafter, the review disappeared. I suppose the reviewer, feeling unappreciated, deleted that fantastic review.

I'll never really know why exactly, but that's my best guess. I don't suppose he would have changed his mind after writing and posting the review. It was on Goodreads. But not anymore. It was so good, that had I known he was a fellow author, I would have bought his book and read it, and posted an honest review of his book, too. But not doing that was my mistake. Like I said, you live and learn, and with experience you stop making the mistakes you made along the way.

So here's to hoping another reader who I don't know will like one of my books and leave a good review. That's how some people gauge the books they want to read--by reviews, even if those reviews are solicited. But you can bet any reviews for my books won't be. That's for sure.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

15% Discount for eBooks on Melange Website

Just found out that Melange Books is giving a 15% discount for eBooks on their website. The offer is good through Mother's Day. The offer does not apply to Amazon Kindle, however, since they are an independent entity. So if you've been on the fence about purchases, check out Melange Books and see if there's any books you might like. I'm betting there are, since Melange has a wide assortment of books and genres that covers every reader's taste in reading. But if you like martial arts action adventures, I would suggest for you to check out Killer of Killers. You won't be disappointed. Just click on the image to the right, and take it from there. Be sure to enter Discount Code: P118Y361, and you'll receive the discount.

Friday, May 9, 2014

TV Technology--A Godsend

I remember back when I was a kid, I had to decide which TV show to watch on a particular night. The decision was forced because two shows I wanted to watch were on different channels, and came on at the same time. I still remember them: Batman and Lost in Space. (I was a kid, okay?)

I don't remember which I chose, but I suspect I chose Lost in Space. It was good until it got goofy. And Batman was always goofy. But as a kid, it was more tolerable. Anyway, you don't have that problem with today's TV technology. With the DVR feature, you can record any show at any time, at any amount, and from anywhere!

So even if there were three shows or four or more coming on at the same time on different channels, you can record them all, and watch all of them at your leisure. Amazing. And I thought that the invention of the video recorder was amazing. It was, but you couldn't record more than one show at a time. And you needed to have a video tape to insert into the machine, which had limited space. Now, all of that is obsolete.

And it makes the forced decisions obsolete, too. And right now, I'm glad for that. Because I have two shows that I enjoy that are on different channels, and at the same time. Game of Thrones comes on HBO Sunday nights at 9, and TURN comes on AMC on Sunday nights at 9. Not a problem.

But really, I wasn't even watching TURN at first. Which brings me to another amazing thing about today's TV technology. You just go to the "On Demand" feature and look up any recently televised show, and you can catch up on what you had missed.

I had missed the first five episodes of TURN. I knew about it because of the trailers they showed while I watched The Walking Dead, and it caught my interest, but since it came on the same day and time as Game of Thrones I forgot about it. But then I happened to see another advertisement for it, and realized that it had been on for over a month. Not a problem. On Demand to the rescue. And in the space of one week, I've now seen all five of those missed episodes. And I'm glad I did.

The production for TURN is good. The time period, (American Revolutionary War) is intriguing, and the concept, (America's first spy ring,) is also intriguing. Bottom line is the writing, which is good, (unlike DaVinci's Demons, which I watch solely because I'm a fan of the real Leonardo.) But TURN, like Game of Thrones is well paced, well written, and fun to watch.

And again, thanks to today's TV technology, I don't have to choose. You get the best of all worlds, (meaning all TV channels in this case.)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Killer of Killers spiked, but slipping

Last week, Killer of Killers, my debut novel jumped up the Amazon ratings by more than a million. Since then it's slipping again,  but it makes me wonder. How many purchases of the Kindle edition make it jump like that? And why do the ratings slip again so fast?

I wonder ... is it a single purchase or two? Or do a lot of people just all of a sudden buy it, and then suddenly no one else does, at least for the time being?

This happened before. I don't know just how many millions of books Amazon Kindle has on its list, but Killer of Killers usually is pretty constant at about 1.5 million. Then one day it will jump up to about 250,000. That's a million and a quarter jump up the ratings!

The last time it happened, the ratings started slipping almost immediately. It was a slow descent, but it fell back to its constant, eventually, of about 1.5 million.

Then a couple days ago, it jumped back up again, just like it did before, to about 250,000. And again, slowly but surely, it's slipping down again. But that's what makes me wonder. Was it a single purchase that made the spike happen?  I would think that if it was a single purchase, it wouldn't make that much impact. Which makes me think that perhaps purchases happen in bundles.

Like maybe for a couple months, no one will buy a copy. But then maybe, and all of a sudden, ten or twenty people might make a purchase of the book all at the same time. Those numbers are just pulled from a hat. It could be more, maybe less, but again, to move the position on the rating scale up by more than a million? That suggests the number of purchases were numerous.

But I really don't have a clue. When I get my data from my publisher, it's usually very modest numbers when it comes to sales. But that was  before the release of the second edition. And I was downplaying the promotion of the book until then, because I was rewriting the book, and I didn't want people buying it until the second edition was released. And both spikes occurred after the second edition was released.

And that could be the answer. It could very well be the case that purchasers heeded me, here on the blog, and held off buying Killer of Killers until the second edition was released. Well, then, I'm glad for that. Because the second edition is the edition I want to be purchased, read, and appreciated.

So if you are one of those potential buyers, then the light is green. The second edition is out and ready to be read. Let me know what you think. Thanks.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

TV Shows-Premium Channels Have Advantage

When it comes to TV shows, which I watch upon occasion, the Premium channels really do have an advantage over network TV. No commercials. That's the advantage I appreciate the most. And they are not burdened with the "family"guidelines in terms of nudity, sex, violence, and foul words. They are able to be on a par with Hollywood, in that they can be rated R, or even X.

Cable channels, like AMC are in between. They can go a little farther than network channels, but not as far as Premium channels. At least not where sex and nudity are concerned. But when it comes to blood and gore, the sky seems to be the limit.

For example, The Walking Dead is on AMC, and it has more violence, blood, and gore than most shows I've ever seen. No sex or  nudity, though. I guess the Premium channels have a monopoly on that. But The Walking Dead doesn't need it. It's the number one show on TV. I watch it, and I like it. I like zombie movies, and The Walking Dead does it very well. A lot of people must agree with me.

But it does have commercials, unfortunately, and that's the only drawback. I don't like commercials. Never did. But you deal with it if you like the show, and I do. AMC has another show out now that has caught my interest. TURN. It takes place during the American Revolutionary War, and focuses on America's first spy ring. I think it's done pretty well, and it's worth watching. Despite the commercials. It's not quite as bloody as The Walking Dead, but it doesn't have to be.

You see, when it comes to blood and gore, and sex and nudity, too, btw, when a channel is allowed to have that, like the Premium channels, sometimes, imo, they take it too far. Like the recent HBO show Spartacus. I liked that show, but the violence, the blood and gore, and even the sex and nudity were deliberately over-the-top. It was as if the makers of that show, knowing they had the green light for all of that, decided to go overboard. And they sure did. Go overboard, that is.

They didn't need to. The slow motion shots of blood spattering were not necessary. And the needless full frontal nudity, (mostly of men, btw,) seemed more in tune with gay porn to me. It just wasn't necessary. The long and graphic scenes of sexual activity were just not necessary. I'm no prude, mind you. But it seemed to be an executive decision to go over the top in all areas not allowed on Network TV. And it was way overdone.

Did it ruin the show? No. It was still a good show. I still liked it. But not for the blood and gore. And certainly not for the sex and male nudity. I could have gone without that. I happen to like historical epics. Like Historical Novels. I'll automatically like anything that has to do with the Roman Empire. And the American Revolution. And the American Civil War. And the era of Leonardo DaVinci, like the current STARZ show.

The bottom line is the writing. Is it good? That's what counts. But even when the writing is lacking, like DaVinci's Demons, I'll still watch if the subject matter is appealing to me. And whenever a subject matter includes Leonardo, then that's enough for me. Until the writing gets so bad it makes it difficult to watch. DaVinci's Demons has almost reached that point. But not quite yet.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Spider-man 2 is a Good Movie, but...

I saw Spider-man 2 last weekend, and I liked it. It was long, and that's OK when I like a movie. But, this time, it really was too long. One thing about comic book/superhero movies I think is worth criticizing is when they combine multiple stories into one movie. I"m not talking about subplots. I'm talking about using one movie to feature multiple villains. The Batman movies, I think, started this trend, and the Spider-man movies are continuing it.

I think one super villain per movie is sufficient. But when you have two, and sometimes even three, the story gets diluted and unfocused. In the third Sam Raimi Spider-man, we had three villains at once: Sandman, Venom, and Harry Osbourne/Green Goblin. Now, in the new Spider-man reboot, we have Electro and Harry Ozbourne/Green Goblin, combined with some kind of new twist for the Rhino villain thrown in for whatever reason.

On top of that, they seemed to go overboard with the Gwen Stacy story line. And it was too much. I believe they should have made the Gwen Stacy/Green Goblin story a complete movie unto itself. Mixing it in with the Electro character made Electro almost a nonfactor. But Electro should not have been so unimportant. He is a good enough character to be a featured super-villain.

But after saying that, I must point out that the special effects were nothing short of fantastic. Truly the technology of today is well-suited for the superhero genre. I just hope the writing can be on a par with it. We'll see how that goes. But keep it to one villain per movie. That's all.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Plot Hole Fixed in Killer Eyes

I had talked about a snag in Killer Eyes, where a supporting character was doing something but then in the climax of the story, he does something else that wasn't consistent with his earlier activities. I did fix that, but in order to do so, I had to add some additional intrigue, which includes one of Trent Smith's friends letting him down. Well, in a way. But so much is at stake in that story, I'm thinking the intrigue will work. And in real life, friends do let you down. So it's not a reach for it to happen in a book.

I can't be specific, nor mention what friend. Can't insert spoilers. I still might have to iron out some existing wrinkles, but that's normal in the revision stage of a manuscript, and in the editing stage. I've learned so many times to take your time on a MS. It's not something you want to rush. If you do, you can be sure you'll miss something, and wish you had not rushed it. That's true with anything, really. Not just writing. But being an artist, I'm a perfectionist, and I want my art, which includes the writing of novels, to be perfect, or at least as perfect as possible.

Readers will appreciate that. It's what makes any art something that can be appreciated. And art for art's sake is the result. It makes life worth living. At least I think so.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Killer Eyes Almost Ready

The long awaited sequel to Killer of Killers is almost ready. I have decided to retain the working title, Killer Eyes. I had been considering to change it to The Killers Guild because the Killers Guild is introduced in that book. But no. The main antagonist, Ming Sang, a very evil and cunning Chinese woman, who is tall and beautiful, has extraordinary eyes. At once they are evil, malevolent, beautiful, and exude the trait of a killer. I don't know exactly what any of that means, but it sounds good, so that's how I describe her. And the book's title will stay Killer Eyes.

It was funny when I was interviewed by the local newspaper I mentioned Killer Eyes, the sequel, and the reporter interpreted it as Killerize! And that's how she printed it in the article. It's all right. At least it received some publicity already. Doesn't matter how it was spelled. Just so people know about it, and that it was soon to be published.

Just another read through is all. I have already learned that the more an author reads through his manuscript, the better that manuscript becomes each and every time. So it would behoove me to reread it as many times as I can. It's just that life gets in the way. And every time I'm trying to read and improve the manuscript, something always seems to come  up. Still, you keep on trudging away at it, knowing that every time you do, the writing gets better. So that's what I'll be doing for another month at least. My plan is to submit it sometime this summer. Until then, look for Killer Eyes to be published by the end of this year.