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.



Monday, September 29, 2014

Books/Story Inspirations

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Don't like it? Change it!

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Writers Want their writing to be Read

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

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

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Killers Guild

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 22, 2014

Middle Grade/Young Adult Movies Keep Popping Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 19, 2014

Final "Read-Through" Worthwhile for Killer Eyes

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Killer Eyes Read Through Finished, But...

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

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

Monday, September 15, 2014

Second Chance at 14,000 Words

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

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

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Second Chance @ 13,000 Words

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Goodreads = Good People

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 8, 2014

Killer Eyes On the Horizon-and then?

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 5, 2014

Second Chance, my Fifth Novel, coming along

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

POV 3rd Person Limited

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

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

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