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, August 29, 2014
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
When I say hero, I mean that the protagonist is supposed to be a good guy. A person with whom the audience can empathize. You know, someone who is basically a good person, someone who may not be perfect, but someone you're rooting for because you believe that he or she is doing something you can believe in, and has a goal that is something you hope that he or she can achieve.
But what is happening now? Well, in Breaking Bad, the protagonist is a manufacturer of illicit drugs. And it's one of the worst drugs out there--crystal meth. I've never tried that drug myself, but I've known people who did, and their lives were ruined as a result. It's a horrible drug. And not only that, this "hero" becomes a murderer, and is responsible for the deaths of several more people, and indirectly is responsible for the deaths of hundreds.
And still, he's the protagonist, the hero, the main character who the audience is supposed to be rooting for, empathize with, and hope he achieves his goal, which is nothing much more that to make a lot of money. And he admits in the end that he made crystal meth because he enjoyed it, made him feel alive, and he was good at it. Yeah, he was a drug dealer, basically. And a murderer. One of the worst elements of human society, and we're supposed to be rooting for this guy?
Now that I'm watching House of Cards, I'm finding out that it gets even worse! The protagonist is a conniving politician who lies, cheats, undermines his allies, and yes, even murders people. Innocent people. On top of that, he is a closet homosexual, which isn't an evil thing unto itself, but he's a married man, (to a woman, who also has extramarital affairs,) he's the vice president of the United States, and he engages in threesomes with his wife and another man? Come on. I'm supposed to be rooting for this guy? I don't want to pull for people like that. He's crooked, he's vile, he's a murderer, like I said, and he's the protagonist!
Sheesh. What happened to the real heroes? Heroes who were flawed, but basically, they were still good people who you wanted to succeed. Russell Crowe's character Maximus in Gladiator was a hero like that. Even Michael Corleone in Godfather was someone like that. Spartacus in Spartacus was a hero like that. And maybe Spartacus is a perfect example of a great hero. He was a good person, a leader with a great cause, and someone who you could look up to.
Yeah, those are the heroes that I'm used to seeing. Those were heroes I was used to rooting for. Not vile murderers, cheaters, liars, perverts, and destroyers of other peoples' lives. What is Hollywood throwing at us? I'm not sure. It's weird to say the least. The new heroes seem to be the villains. Villains as the heroes. To me, it's backward. Villains are the antagonists, not the protagonists.
I know there's the antihero. The Hulk, Wolverine, even Michael Corleone could qualify as as antihero. Antiheroes are flawed heroes who are good on the inside, but are outcasts, or act outside of the law, but not because they're evil. In fact, they are not evil. They are just different. Flawed, certainly, but they have good hearts. Good souls. Not like these new "heroes" in Breaking Bad and the protagonist in House of Cards!
Well, Breaking Bad's protagonist, it could be argued, didn't have a bad heart, but it could also be argued that his heart wasn't so good. For example, he stands by and watches an innocent girl drown to death in her own vomit when all he had to do was turn her onto her side. He also orders the murder of an innocent man to save his own skin. How good is your heart when you do things like that?
So I'm just wondering why villains are becoming the protagonists. They should be the antagonists. Give me a hero I can root for. Leave the vile characters as the antagonists where they belong.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
I don't pretend to know everything about Robin Williams. I read about some things that could have contributed to his depression and suicide, including drug addiction, alcoholism, and two divorces. So, yeah, Robin Williams was successful, but that doesn't mean he was successful at everything he did. I don't know a lot about drug addiction and alcoholism, but I could imagine it took a toll on him somehow. And two divorces. I don't know much about divorces, either, but I have to guess that it's a horrible thing to go through.
But despite all of that, he was still a success. And making it as big as he did in Hollywood, I think is like a dream come true for anyone. I read that Robin Williams was depressed that he was compelled to make movies for financial reasons, roles that he didn't want to play. But then I think about all the struggling actors and actresses who would kill for those roles, or for ANY role. Here is a man who is in high demand, being paid top dollar, or more like top MILLIONS of dollars for a single movie. How a man who can take in big paychecks like that can be hard pressed for money is beyond me. I'm struggling on a teacher's salary just to pay my bills, which include a house mortgage, car payments, and food to feed my kids.
Still, who knows what a man goes through in his own personal life and in his own mind. No one, that's who. I readily admit that I don't. But when I think of Robin Williams, I think of a man who made it. A man who was a huge success in life. More successful than 99% of the world's population, or more than that. He was everything most people can only dream of being. But that was on the outside. On the inside? Apparently not. RIP Robin Williams.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Next Monday the kids report, and it's back to the grindstone. My oldest son begins college this year, and he'll be playing football at the college level, so that's a lot to look forward to. And my youngest son, still in Middle School, will be playing Pop Warner football, so that should be some fun, too.
But I have to pay the bills, so being a teacher gets that done. As for my two up and coming books, Killer Eyes, and John Dunn, well, that's a lot to look forward to, too. Killer Eyes is just about done. I'm just waiting on the Beta Reader comments, and that should be any time soon. And then I'll submit it. It should be published by Melange Books by the end of this year.
As for John Dunn, well, I'll wait until I'm done with that one, then we'll see who publishes it. That will be an exciting time for me, as well.
Monday, August 11, 2014
My debut novel, Killer of Killers, doesn't have that luxury, so I feel I have to make a more deliberate focus on it. But there is a character in The Vase I've hardly talked about. I did once or twice, but that's next to nothing. And that character is Harvey Holmes, the ghost hunter who is known world wide as The Sherlock of Haunted Houses.
I describe him as tall, lanky, or slender, and with a pompadour that is brown, but starting to thin and gray, due to he's getting older at this point in the book. In fact I even make a reference to him being in his middle years. And one actor who is perfect right now for the role would be Jim Carrey. He's just turned fifty recently, and that means if Ron Howard were to make The Vase into a movie in the next couple of years, Jim Carrey would be just right for the part of Harvey Holmes. Just right.
|Jim Carrey as Harvey Holmes|
And in the book there's a part where Harvey Holmes is sheltered from adoring fans behind red ropes, so here's a photo that could be Harvey Holmes in that scene. The only difference is that here, his hair is combed back, instead of the pompadour, but that's okay, you still get the idea. I introduce visitors to the blog with the characters from The Vase, so you can get a good idea of Harvey Holmes right here in this picture.
As for the other characters? Well, I said that Naveen Andrews from Lost fame would be a good Muhsin Muhabi. But those are the only two characters I can find the "just right" actors for. The others, like Captain Mathias, Hiram Weiss, and Mary Levin, would be more of a search, like trying to find the right actress to play Susie Quinn in Killer of Killers. Well, maybe not that hard. Susie Quinn would be the most difficult, I'm sure. I've been thinking about her for five years, now, and still I haven't found the right actress for her. Time will tell.
Thursday, August 7, 2014
But if you prefer print, which a lot of people still do, then don't wait. Order it today. Because I can promise a slam bam, action packed, adventure in Killer Eyes. Please don't make the conclusion that the title, Killer Eyes, means its a blood fest like a horror show. Sure, there's blood and killing, but it's not a horror show. It's nothing like Friday the 13th, or Nightmare on Elm Street, or those god awful Final Destination movies or the even worse Saw movies.
No, nothing like that. Killer Eyes is another great action packed martial arts adventure, featuring the world's greatest martial artist, Trent Smith. It's the continuation of Killer of Killers, so that's why I suggest you get your copy of Killer of Killers right away. It's a story of justice, really, but not justice as anyone else knows it. The courts offer no true justice. Even Trent Smith's version of justice is questioned by Dominic Buller, a man Trent meets in Killer Eyes. Dominic Buller believes justice is giving a killer the exact same punishment that the killer himself dished out.
If a man killed people by beating them to death, for example, then that man should himself be beaten to death. Not given a quiet painless injection. No. Or the quick death that Trent Smith typically dishes out to killers. No. The killer deserves the same violent and brutal death that he himself dished out. To Dominic Buller, that is true justice.
But I can't give away much more than that. I've already talked plenty about Ming Sang, the Chinese female antagonist in Killer Eyes. And she has a completely unique opinion of justice, as well. So get Killer of Killers today, and then its sequel Killer Eyes should be out later this year. Can't wait.
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
I say this because too many times in movies, and in books, too, I suppose, the hero is a heroine who goes around beating everyone up. Think "Kill Bill" or other 'like' movies or stories. I'm sorry, but movies or stories like that just need too much imagination. It's so over the top that it's not even enjoyable. If you had a great swordsman like you had in Cyrano de Bergerac taking on a hundred other swordsmen like he did, then even that's stretching your imagination, but you know what? Great swordsmen like him really did exist.
I'm not saying a woman can't be a great swordsman, er, I mean swordswoman, but taking on a hundred men, or even 88, as in the Crazy 88 like in Kill Bill, I don't think so. It ruined the movie for me. Like I said, a woman might be able to beat up one man, (one weak man, that is,) but 88 men, nope. Not even two, and not even in your wildest imagination. So movies like that, well, they're just not for me.
I get it that female writers want to write about female heroes. And that's fine, there's plenty of female heroes who are tough chicks who don't go around beating people up. Take Scarlet O'Hara, for example, in Gone With the Wind. No one could say that she wasn't a tough chick. But she didn't go around beating up anyone. That's the kind of tough chick I would say is very believable. She got what she wanted without throwing a single punch. Well, at one point she did throw a punch. But when she did look what happened. The man she was trying to punch, (her husband, Rhett Butler, who was no weakling,) dodged the punch, and Scarlet's momentum sent her tumbling down the stairway. That was believable. Of course, had Rhett Butler been a weak man, he would have been slapped silly. But he wasn't weak. He was a real man.
And being a real man, he never hit a woman. That's what I believe in. A real man would never hit a woman. Therefore, why wouldn't the opposite be true? I'm tired of this double standard, and double standards are everywhere. Why do books and movies glorify the tough chick who goes around beating people up? Self defense is one thing. And I've no problem with that. But let's be real. Do women actually have secret fantasies that they WANT to beat people up? Do women secretly wish they can fight people and hit people, hurt people, men or women? I don't think they do. So why do they write stories that call for them to get in fights and hit people? To me, that's just weird.
I know a woman, like a man, can have a temper. But I choose to believe that being a woman means you are less likely to want to resort to violence. And I think I'm right.
Monday, August 4, 2014
I don't know, really, what it is that attracts the Russians and Germans, or the Turks, since none of my books deal with Russia or Germany. Or Turkey. One of my books, The Vase, takes place in Israel, yet I've never seen any indication that readers from Israel have visited the blog. That's weird. People from Russia, Germany, and Turkey read the blog, and people from a lot of other countries, too, but never Israel. I'm thinking it might have something to do with Amber Heard, because the stats page indicates that my posts about Amber Heard seem to be the most visited posts. Could be...
And if that is why, then hey all you people who visit the blog because you like Amber Heard, buy a copy of Killer of Killers! And while reading it, you can envision Amber Heard playing the role of the beautiful blond police detective, Samantha Jones! That's the reason I ever mentioned her in the first place. So yeah, buy a copy, even a digital copy, which you can download instantly onto your electronic reading devices. Samantha Jones just could be Amber Heard's breakout role. If only Corey Yuen would make my Killer books into movies.
I say books plural because the sequel Killer Eyes is very close to being published. I'll be submitting it before the summer is over. And, wow, it's almost over already. Time flies. But I knew that.