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.
Friday, June 27, 2014
That is different than a plain sequel. For example, the James Bond movies are sequels. Each Bond movie is a separate story unto itself. Sure there is some continuity in them, but they don't carry the same story from one movie (or book) to the next. Meaning they don't pick up where the last one left off. It's a brand new story line.
Lord of the Rings, however, and even the Jason Bourne movies did continue from where the prior story left off. Especially LOR. It's the same story arc.
And so are the three Killer stories. Where book one leaves off, that's where book two picks up, albeit about a year later. And The Killers Guild. That will pick up several years later. But it does tie in with the prior storyline, and can be considered part of the same story arc.
If I write any Killer books after that, I really don't think it will continue that particular story arc. It will have continuity for sure. But it will be a different story arc, and thus be a sequel, not a continuation. It will still qualify as a series, though. After all, even in a series, story arcs end, and new ones begin. We'll see how it happens with the Trent Smith sage. Only time will tell.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Whatever I call it, it would be a great series on the STARZ channel, which had already made some great series. And seeing as how it had Spartacus with Dustin Clare, I think that would be a perfect venue for the Killer of Killers series, with Dustin Clare playing the lead role, Trent Smith, the world's greatest martial artist. And if Amber Heard is unavailable for the female lead Samantha Jones, then STARZ already had an actress, Ellen Hollman, who played Dustin Clare's love interest in Spartacus. Pairing the two together again in Killer of Killers would be sweet.
And a lot of those actors and actresses from Spartacus could find roles in the Killer of Killers series. Oh, what a dream come true if it were to happen. All authors have dreams like that. Game of Thrones, after all, was a series of books. And they got made into a TV series, albeit by HBO, another STARZ-like channel. And it turned out great.
So when I submit Killer Eyes, my question is what should the subtitle be? Book Two of the Trent Smith Saga? Volume Two of the Killer of Killers Series? That is the question I'll need to answer and very soon. Because the completion of Killer Eyes is going to be very soon. Any suggestions? Let me know. Thanks.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Well, it did, but that word "work" is relative. It was a lot of fun, and it still is. I've always thought that the revisions stage was the most enjoyable stage anyway. At least it was for KOK and The Vase. But it's turning out to be true for Killer Eyes, also. I guess another thing that made me wary was fixing all the POV stuff. Making sure that all of the third person limited POV was consistent.
Nowadays it seems people are obsessed with not having any head-hopping in a story line, and I'm making darn sure none of my books do. If there is, it's a typo. I found one in the one book I would figure wouldn't have any. The Vase. And that's the book with the editor who made it a big deal to NOT have any. But there it was. Only one. It got by us both, I guess. Because it was sneaky. And I only caught it the THIRD time I read the book after publication.
As for Killer of Killers. I dare say there are no POV errors. None. Zip. No head-hopping whatsoever. That is, KOK the second edition, I mean. I put out the second edition to correct all of that, and I did. Very nicely, too. And it's all fixed in Killer Eyes, as well.
Next, the John Dunn story. That will be a bigger chore. It's a longer book. 120,000 words. My other three novels clock in at about 90,000 words. That's an average. But an accurate one. I have three books on the back burner. The third installment of KOK I may call The Killers Guild, the new book I've already started, called Second Chance, and the YA book I've talked about called Inside the Outhouse.
But first and foremost, I can't wait to finish Killer Eyes, because I'm loving it more and more every time. The future looks bright.
Monday, June 23, 2014
But things change. The Vase was not published first, Killer of Killers was. And that was fitting, since Killer of Killers was the first book I wrote. I won't rehash the details, but what if my blog did get named Killer of Killers after my first published book?
I would have this as the photo header:
And I'd have to change all the text that accompanies the title. Instead of introducing the characters in The Vase, like I do above, I'd be listing the characters in KOK.
Starting with the world's greatest martial artist, Trent Smith. And his love interest Samantha Jones. Then there's Shoji and Yoshiko Wada, Susie Quinn, Abraham Soriah, Charles Morgan, and Samantha's brother, Josh Jones. I'd have to put in a couple sentences about each one, like I did for The Vase above.
But for some reason I won't do that. I think leaving this as The Vase is good and the characters above work well. Doesn't mean I won't change my mind in the future. Especially since I have actors pegged already for most of the parts. Just Susie Quinn's actress eludes me. One day I'll figure that out. One day soon.
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Which brings me to his latest movies. Oblivion and Edge of Tomorrow. Both were good movies, and Cruise, in both movies did a good job. Both movies were good vehicles for him, and he was well cast as the leading character in both. As for Oblivion, even though I said it was a good movie, it wouldn't be one that stands out as one of Cruise's better movies. It had good drama, good acting, and a good romance going for it. But to me it just fell short of something that would be remembered as a stand out movie.
But Edge of Tomorrow, to me, at least, was one that distinguished itself as a stand out movie. It had all of the above traits that I mentioned in Oblivion, but it had one other thing. Intensity. It was an intense movie. Plenty of action, more than Oblivion, and loads of violence, which was necessary since it had to do with a war that was going on. It could even be classified as a war movie, and I always loved sci-fi war movies, ever since I was a kid.
Still, it was the intensity of the story line and in many of the scenes, that stood it out from most other Cruise movies. The concept was pretty original, even though like my brother said to me, it seemed to borrow from three separate shows in the past: Ground Hog Day, Starship Troopers, and an obscure cartoon series that hardly anyone knows about called Exo-Squad.
But I liked it. And I think it's one of Cruise's best movies. His best even. Maybe. He was perfect for the part, and the way it played out, to me, was right on. Any time you have time travel, it could be tricky, but they wrote it well, directed it well, and acted it well.
And it even had a great female war hero. Really? A great female war hero? Anyone who's read my blog for a while will know that I am pretty much turned off by great female war heroes. Why? Because, to me, females and war, or females and fighting, just don't go together. To me, women are not fighters. They are not warriors, OKAY, there are exceptions. In real life there have been exceptions, and in real life the circumstances allow for exceptions.
But in movies, when you have a female beating up everyone, even every man she goes up against, that turns me off. NO, not because I feel threatened. NO, not because it threatens my masculinity. It's just not realistic to me, and it just goes against the womanly characteristic of femininity. Maybe I'm just a guy who likes a woman to be FEMININE. And fighting, cursing, beating up people, KILLING people...well, that's just NOT feminine.
I don't think anyone can argue with that. But like I said, there are and have been exceptions. Like in a war that encompasses an entire society. I know that Russian women were soldiers during WWII, and I know that Israeli women are soldiers today, and have been for the last several decades. The circumstances called for it. I know that in those circumstances they are forced to put aside their femininity to advance their countries interests, particularly national survival.
And so it is with Edge of Tomorrow. You might ask, so why isn't the war hero in Edge of Tomorrow a MAN. There's an explanation for that. And it's one that I can buy into. It worked. The whole movie worked. And that is refreshing to me, because too many times these movies with a woman hero who's a fighter and a killer, and a physically tough chick in general, just doesn't work. This one did, and the way Tom Cruise's character played into it worked, too. That's all.
Saturday, June 21, 2014
So far I have a good start on Second Chance, mostly due to the inspiration I received from that dream I mentioned on the blog back when I had it. It was in May I think. I dreamed of a new story, and then the following day I wrote the synopsis/outline, which I based on that dream, and for the rest of the week I tweaked that synopsis. But since I was so motivated or inspired by that story, I went ahead and started writing it. I wrote most of what will probably be chapter one, about 3500 words or so, and I really like the way it turned out.
But I'm now back to finishing the revisions to Killer Eyes, and I've put Second Chance aside to do it. And I think I should. Killer Eyes, in its current state, was filled with too many holes, too many inconsistencies, too many loose strings. I had written it over the course of about two and a half months during one of my summer vacations a couple years ago, before Killer of Killers was even published. And I wrapped up the first draft not even knowing if Killer of Killers would ever get published. But now that it is, and Killer Eyes will follow, I'm making sure that it is just as good, just as well written, and just as consistent.
In fact, in many ways, Killer Eyes is proving to be better, which it should be. I'm not saying it IS better, just in many ways it could be considered better. Why? Well, there's more action, more killing, and more blood. In fact it's a much more violent and intense story than the first one, and it's not that way because I wanted it to be. It just turned out that way.
You see, for my Killer books, I just let the stories go where they went, like I was just the observer, like if I was watching a movie in a theater. I didn't even write an outline for the first one. And even though I did for the second one, it still went where it wanted to go. Like I've said before, it's not as violent or as gory as a Quentin Tarrantino movie, or like the STARZ show Spartacus, but it is violent, and it is bloody. At least some parts of it are. And again, I didn't exactly want that. It just happened.
When it's released, and you read it, you'll see what I mean. It should be out by the end of the year. Cant wait. As for what I'm going to write this summer after the revisions to Killer Eyes are done? What I'm hoping is that I'll stay in the Trent Smith mindset and proceed with The Killers Guild. That's the plan, although every writer knows that the best laid plans do go awry. We'll see.
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Yeah, it's a great premise, but without the great story, it wouldn't be a great book. It has great characters, a great sub plot, a great main plot, and a great climax. And it has a great resolution. It's just a great book. I'm very aware that having Israelis and Palestinians as the main characters is also a very unique thing to do in a story.
You see, the main character, Muhsin Muhabi and his son, Naji, are Palestinians. And Professor Weiss, Captain Mathias, and Mary Levin are Israelis. They are all main characters. Then you have the Americans, Harvey Holmes, Melvyn Bloomberg, and Lady Lamont who are also instrumental in the story. They may even be regarded as being part of the comedic sub plot. But this story is not a comedy. It has suspense, drama, tragedy, and several scenes of violence.
The only thing The Vase doesn't have is sex. There is some inferred sex, but it is not portrayed. That's why I say that even though it's a story written for adults, minors can read it. They may not understand half of what's going on, but not because of sex.
No, for that you'll have to read Killer of Killers. (And the upcoming sequel, Killer Eyes.) But with titles like that, you'd think there was killing. Um.... there is. A lot of killing and a lot of violence. I don't go over the top, though. It's not like the show Spartacus that was on STARZ recently. That was over-the-top violence. Or a Quentin Tarrantino movie.
But Killer of Killers, and Killer eyes, nonetheless, have violence. And it's because of the nature of the story. If you like exciting stories, read Killer of Killers and The Vase. And the soon to be released Killer Eyes. I can say without a doubt that they're all great stories, and they all have excitement. And much, much more. What are you waiting for? Buy them today!
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
I mean my data tells me people from the UK, Canada, Hungary, South Africa, South Korea, Germany, France, Russia, Ukraine, Sweden, Australia, China, Indonesia, Mexico, and several other countries are visiting the blog. And I welcome you all.
But buy my books! It's not going to make me rich, but if you do, it might make some kind of an impact on the seller's market and draw the interest of Hollywood. That's where the real money is for an author. Just ask J.K. Rowling. And I couldn't even stand her Harry Potter books, or the movies! But someone sure as heck did.
I would like to make a deal. If you don't like the books...tell me. But if you do...tell me that. I'm betting you'll like the books. I can't say I'll pay you back if you don't, but come on...the eBooks are only like three dollars each for The Vase, or five for Killer of Killers. That won't break anyone's bank account. And it will be worth it once you discover how much fun they are to read.
If you like martial arts stories, Killer of Killers is for you. If you like suspense and intrigue, you'll like The Vase. If you like exciting action-packed stories, you won't be disappointed in any of my books. Find out for yourself. That's all.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
I've found doing it that way made it very clear just what it was that needed improving. And last night I did just that. Until about 2 in the morning. It's like, I said to myself, hey wait a minute. Why is he doing this in the first place? So I put in the reason for the subplot in the very first appearance of the character. Then it was like okay, that's why he's doing that, but then, why does he end up doing this other thing? So I made someone else do that other thing, and it's no longer an issue.
Then it was like, okay, but how does he get this? So I put in how he gets it. But then I found myself asking okay, but how does he know how to get that? So I made clear a little later just how he knew how to get that. (Of course, I'm being unclear on purpose. The book is not out yet, and I don't want to give away spoilers.)
But doing it that way almost makes it like reading a short story without all of the main story line distracting you. It's so much clearer, that any discrepancies became plain as day. And fixing them took a lot less time than if I was reading the entire MS from beginning to end. Doing that might have prevented me from finding those discrepancies.
It's like I've been saying all along. The more you do something, the better you get at doing it. It's happened with everything I've done. And now it's happening with writing. Well, for the past five years, it has. And I'm loving every minute of it.
Friday, June 13, 2014
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
I even almost changed the title of Killer Eyes to The Killers Guild, but ultimately I decided to retain the title Killer Eyes. And for the third book I have a good idea just what the story will be about. Yes, it will be the continuing adventures of Trent Smith, but it will also have to deal directly with those issues brought up in Killer Eyes that were left unresolved. Understand I did it on purpose. I fixed those problems I talked about, but in doing so it left a subplot that starts in Killer Eyes, but is not wrapped up. That's where the third story will go. Wrapping that up. And the third book should wrap up the Trent Smith saga.
But that's not final. Who knows? I may keep going. That's what series do, of course. Bottom line, there will be at least three. And then we'll see.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
But writing a novel length story isn't something that can be done at the drop of a hat. You have to plan it out, write the synopsis, maybe even an outline, and then write the whole thing out. But you are not close to being done. You have to revise it over and over and over again. Not to mention the editing process, and then you may have to rewrite several parts, or the whole thing.
I can't count how many times I rewrote Killer of Killers. But that was my first novel, so that's explainable. Even The Vase I rewrote a couple times, and I'm in the process of rewriting Killer Eyes right now, although it may be simply referred to as a strong revision.
I'm sure I'll need to rewrite John Dunn before it gets close to submission-ready, and when I finally write Second Chance I think I will finally be past the need for rewrites. After all I've learned a lot writing my first four books, so I think I'm good enough now that it won't be necessary. I've written over 2,000 words so far, and it reads very well. Of course, Killer Eyes reads very well, too, but that was after a couple rewrites. Killer of Killers and The Vase were the ones where all the learning took place. Particularly The Vase, because the editor over there pulled no punches when it came to what he expected in the writing for a novel, and I was eager to learn. But I applied all of that learning to the second edition of Killer of Killers, and I am still very pleased with how it turned out.
And of course I'm applying all of that to Killer Eyes, too. And I will apply it to the rewrite for John Dunn. And as I write Second Chance, that learning is being applied in the first rendition. That will make any revisions much easier, and I dare say, it will make revising a lot less necessary. I won't go so far as to say it will be right on the first draft, but it will most likely be the best first draft of any book I had written to date. So that bodes well for Second Chance. And every other book I write from now on. The future looks bright.
Monday, June 9, 2014
Martial arts classes, however, also teach you how to use the traditional weapons used in Asian fighting. And there's a lot of them. But one of the more popular weapons of that sort, at least in Japan, is the katana, also known as the Samurai sword. And the katana is still popular today. Mostly in movies, I suppose, since people don't go around carrying katanas much.
In Killer of Killers, not once does Trent Smith use a katana or any other weapon, In fact, he refers to guns and knives as "weapons of cowards." But when confronted by dozens of ninja like warriors, and all of them carrying katanas, your empty hands put you at a disadvantage. So Trent is forced to use a katana to defend himself against the sword carrying villains.
And as I continue to revise Killer Eyes, which I was doing a lot over the weekend, I see Trent using a katana quite a bit in that story. Which is a stark contrast to the first story, where he never used a sword or any other kind of weapon at all. I deliberately refrain from calling the swords katanas, however. And that's because the horde of swordsmen using them are not Japanese. They are the Chinese equivalent. My research has divulged the Chinese equivalent to Ninjas are the Ci Ke. In Chinese, that simply means assassins. (That's essentially what ninjas are, so it makes sense.)
But there's a lot more to the story than a bunch of ninja-like warriors out to get Trent Smith. There's that pesky wonder drug that centered the first story, there's the titanic bodyguards who protect the reclusive billionaire who funded its invention, and there's that slippery antagonist Karl Manoukian again. Yep, it's a fast paced thrill ride that picks up right where Killer of Killers left off. Killer Eyes will be published soon. I'll keep you advised.
Friday, June 6, 2014
I know it can be true for other authors and different genres, also. Like detective stories. An author of crime/detective stories may also stick to that genre. Horror authors, too. They only write horror stories. Sci-Fi, too. A sci-fi author will be known as a sci-fi author, and a lot of them come to mind. Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, and Ray Bradbury, as well as H. G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and countless others. That list, like the one for Romance authors is a long one, actually.
But I find myself not being glued to a single genre. Killer of Killers and its sequel Killer Eyes are martial arts thrillers. The Vase is more political suspense with a touch of the paranormal. John Dunn is Historical Fiction. My current WIP is a sports story, possibly YA. I have another MG story on the backburner, that might also qualify as Fantasy, and I began my writing career with Sci-Fi. I might even get back to that Sci-Fi story that I had worked on in my younger years.
So right there, I've dabbled in how many different genres? Six! And you know what? I'm glad for that. There's probably pros and cons for staying in one genre and pros and cons for being more diverse. If you stay in one genre with all of your books, I think you make yourself into what people call a brand. When the name Asimov or Bradbury are mentioned, you immediately think Sci-Fi. That is a brand. And that will establish the author as an expert in that genre.
But if an author, like me, for instance writes in six different genres, I don't think that will make me into a brand. That's not a bad thing, imo. Because I like to be diverse. And it keeps me interested. If I wrote only one genre, then I believe I'm restricting myself, and I'm more diverse than that. Will it limit my ability to be considered an expert in any single genre? Probably. But that's not my goal. My goal is to write interesting and exciting stories, stories that are entertaining, and maybe even have a message. I want to write stories that can make a difference. How can a story do that? If a reader can learn something from your story, that's how. At least, I think so. And that's why I write. And it's fun, too. At least it is for me.
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
As for Killer Eyes, the book I'm really excited about, it's improving by leaps and bounds. I never thought I'd like a book as much as the first one, Killer of Killers, but Killer Eyes is turning out better than I hoped. For a while, as I've posted here, I was worried about a couple snags in the story line. But those snags have been ironed out, and now that it's fixed, Killer Eyes is turning out great.
There's a lot of action, probably about as much action as in Killer of Killers, and there's a theme, even, which also was present in KOK. But it's not the same thing all over again. It's vastly different in many ways. For one thing, in KOK, the main character, martial arts master Trent Smith never once used any kind of a weapon other than his own bare hands. They call it empty hands. And his opinion of guns and knives? Well, I'll quote him: "Guns and knives...weapons of cowards."
But that's not to say that Trent Smith isn't a master with many types of weapons besides his empty hands. Being a Judan, he's an expert in many of the traditional weapons of the Japanese martial arts, and there's a lot of them. And due to the circumstances in Killer Eyes, Trent is forced to use at least one of them. The katana. That's the famous Samurai sword. You see, Trent is attacked by a lot of 'ninja-like' villains, all wielding katanas and when you're facing twenty plus 'ninjas' with katanas, it's best to have a katana, too. And Trent is an expert with a katana. (He trained for over twenty years at the world's greatest martial arts academy in Tokyo.)
Anyway, with the wrinkles ironed out, all that's necessary now is to keep polishing the prose, and make sure that the typos are fixed. Every once in a while I find a typo, and it only goes to show that no matter how many times you read through a manuscript, you'll keep finding those pesky things. So you fix it and you do it again. And all the while you make the writing better. Which is how you make your writing great. Constant improvement results in a well written story. And what author wouldn't want that?
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Sure, I liked Spider-man, the FF, and many more. You can say I was a Marvel Comics fan, not DC. I never really got into Superman, Bat Man or the DC universe. It was Marvel all the way. And the X-Men was my favorite.
So you can imagine I was glad to see it made into a movie. And the first movie was okay. But that's all it was. Just okay. Mostly they got the casting wrong. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine was a great choice, but that's just about the only one who was a great choice. Patrick Stewart as Professor X was just okay, and the rest, totally wrong. I don't need to get into the why and what-could-have-been, because even though the second X-Men movie was a better movie than the first one, the third X-Men movie totally sucked. In every aspect, too, not just casting.
Again, I won't get into the why and what-could-have- been. I will say the fourth X-Men movie--X-Men First Class--was the worst of all. I mean it was as if the people who made that movie never read any of the comics, and knew absolutely nothing about the X-Men. It was a franchise that at this point was getting worse with every successive movie.
Yeah, the two Wolverine solo movies were good. Or at least good enough, imo. But the third and fourth X-Men movies were so bad, it would have been better if they never got made. That's how bad they were.
Which brings me to the fifth one. The one that just came out. X-Men-Days of Future Past. It was good. Surprisingly good. They used a story from the comics, (albeit liberally changed) but the story still worked. And the casting for a lot of the new characters they introduced was passable. Bishop's role in that story was minimal. He had a greater role in the comics. But understandably, they focused on Wolverine, since Hugh Jackman's enormous success in the role has made the character so popular.
But a pet peeve of mine is the usual bad writing. Mostly that happened in those two latter films, but in the latest one, the writing was a strong point. FINALLY. A very strong screenplay and it was pure joy watching it for the first time. I'm sure I'll see it again, and why not? The X-Men had always been my favorite superhero type comic book, and to see it well made was reassuring.
Can't wait to see how they top that. But now, I'm not so pessimistic. I think they will.
Monday, June 2, 2014
But I just happened to find another police partner movie on one of those Cable channels while channel surfing, and I recorded it on the DVR to watch one day, which I did. And I thought it was a very well written story. What attracted me to it at first was Chow Yun-Fat, the Chinese actor who's been in quiet a lot of films. I've liked all the movies he's been in, and so I thought I'd check it out. Mark Wahlberg was the other actor in the film, and I've liked most of his movies, too.
It's called The Corruptor, made in 1999, and it turned out to be well written, well produced, and of course, well acted. Like Robert Blake and Elliot Gould in Busting, and like Jason Statham and Jet Li in War, the two actors, Chow Yun-Fat and Mark Wahlberg worked well together as police partners, and the story was well conceived. It played out with a couple of twists that took even me by surprise. There might have been a part that I disagreed with, but it didn't ruin the story, and it might have even made it more intense. What it did was justified the ending, which I can't divulge, because that would be a spoiler.
If you haven't seen The Corruptor with Chow Yun-Fat and Mark Wahlberg, check it out. Especially if you like police partner stories. It's a good one.