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, December 29, 2014

Killer Eyes-Found an Error

So I knew I was right to read through my MS of Killer Eyes one last time before submitting. I found something that could have been considered an error. Trent meets a girl, and without giving any of the plot or story line away, let's just say they go to his hotel room. So she's wearing a yellow dress. But she has no change of clothes with her. The next day, Trent goes his own way, and so does she. But the day after that, Trent comes back to his hotel room, and the girl comes by, too.

So at this point, it's two days later, right? Right. So what would a woman do after spending the night at a hotel room, and then leaving the next day, only to come back the day after that? Well, one thing for sure is that she wouldn't be wearing the same yellow dress. And THAT is the error I caught. She was still wearing that same yellow dress. But I fixed it. Now, (which is two days later,) she's wearing a crop top and tight jeans. So yeah, changing her clothes after wearing the same dress two days in a row, is something that SHOULD have happened with this woman.

It's all good now, and I'm just about done with this read through. Then I'll send it to Melange and it should be released by this summer. At least that's how it happened before. I look forward to it. It will be three books down, and one more to go. Then back to the WIPs.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Is Killer of Killers a Christmas Story?

So it's Christmas time, and people are buying Christmas presents. I think Killer of Killers would be a great Christmas present for anyone who likes to read books and likes martial arts thriller stories. But is it a Christmas story? Well, it takes place in July. That's the opposite of Christmas time. So that might disqualify it as a Christmas story.

It could be considered a romance story, because Trent Smith, the main character has a couple of romantic flings during the story. It's most certainly a story of justice. Justice for those innocent victims who had been murdered and their killers let off by a corrupt justice system. Does that make it a suitable story for Christmas? Maybe not, but it's still a great story, fun and exciting to read.

How about The Vase? There are religious connotations in that one. Three major religions are represented in that book. And that's because the main characters are Jewish and Muslim, and then there's the Pope. But he only makes an appearance in the climax of the story. But someone else makes an appearance, too. Who? Would you believe Jesus Christ?

And if Jesus Christ makes an appearance in The Vase, how can that be? Well, you'll have to read it, and find out. I think you'll be convinced that it was entirely possible. You'll see.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Killer of Killers-Trent Smith, Samantha Jones, and Susie Quinn

I've talked about Killer of Killers hopefully one day becoming a movie. I've mentioned Dustin Clare playing the lead role of martial arts expert Trent Smith. Right now, Dustin Clare is best known for playing the role of Gannicus from the STARZ show Spartacus.

Dustin Clare
He hasn't had any roles since then, so all I've got to go on is Spartacus. But that was good enough for me. Recently, I've been watching a show called Strike Back, so I googled it and learned that Dustin Clare will be in a future episode. Finally, another opportunity for Dustin Clare. I would love for him to find his breakout role in Killer of Killers. Are you listening, Corey Yuen?

I've talked about Amber Heard as the best actress suited to play Samantha Jones, the police detective Trent Smith falls in love with. But I've also talked about how I just couldn't find an actress to play Susie Quinn, the beautiful exotic dancer he also loves. But while watching Strike Back, I saw an actress who MIGHT be right for the role. Her name is Milauna Jackson, and she looks good in Strike Back. Here's her picture.
Milauna Jackson
But like Estella Daniels from DaVinci's Demons, I'm still not convinced. It could be that this is not really a very good photo of her. She actually looks a LOT better in other photos. Whether or not she's the right actress for Susie Quinn remains to be seen. Maybe if I see more of her, I can decide for sure. At this point, I can say she has potential. We'll see.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Killer Eyes To Be Released in 2015

Just an update on Killer Eyes, the sequel to Killer of Killers. Since I'm still polishing it up, I'm resigned to the fact that it won't be released until sometime in 2015. I had been saying that it would be released by the end of 2014, but that is not going to happen.

And why is it taking so long? After all, I actually wrote the first draft something like five years ago. But the following year, I wrote John Dunn, and therefore didn't revise it. Then I was so busy trying to get Killer of Killers and The Vase published, I still didn't revise it. I only started revising it this past year, only after Killer of Killers was published and The Vase was published, and then I re-edited Killer of Killers, and rereleased it as a second edition.

That took a lot of time, and of course during that time I learned a lot about writing novels, editing, and the publishing process. Which was all good. Because I'm putting all that knowledge into the revisions of Killer Eyes. So that means Killer Eyes will be the best manuscript I've ever submitted in terms of a pre-published manuscript.

The Vase was the key. As I said before, Melange Books told me all about POV and other writing issues, but they were loose enough to let authors do it "their own" way. But I was too green to do it my own way. Green and arrogant. The Vase publisher, Penumbra Publishing, was not "loose" and had no inclination to let authors write "their own" way. They were very strict.

At first I resisted these new rules about writing. I was used to Edgar Rice Burroughs and H.G. Wells. I was not well read in the modern sense, having very little experience with the novels of today. But with Penumbra, and their strict editors, I slowly came around. So much so, that I wanted to revisit the editing of Killer of Killers. Fortunately for me, the people at Melange were open to that, and permitted me to do that, and then rereleased Killer of Killers as a second edition.

And thank goodness for that. Now, Killer of Killers and The Vase are thoroughly edited, to the standards that meet today's guidelines of editing regarding POVs, verb use, and dialogue tags. So, if either of them are ever reviewed, I'm confident that those particular things won't be subject to any criticism. It's all about the story, plot, and events. And hopefully, no one will have a problem with any of that. I certainly don't.

So, again, with Killer Eyes, all of those things are good from the get go. Or at least they will be by the time I submit it. Which will be soon. Every passing day is a day sooner, that's all I can say at this point. But I'm happy with it. And I should be sending it in within the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Happy Birthday to Everyone

I don't make a big deal about birthdays, but today I'll wish everyone out there a happy birthday. Even if it's not your birthday. Save this wish for the day that is your birthday, so that way I won't miss the day that is your birthday. I wish I thought of this a long time ago.

Same thing for Christmas, and every other holiday. Happy whatever day it is that should be wished as a happy one. I think that covers everything.

Now back to writing. I am STILL finding things to fix, correct, or improve in Killer Eyes. I even found a typo the day before yesterday. It just goes to show, that I was right about not sending it yet to my publisher. I can find solace in knowing that my first book, Killer of Killers, is without typos. I've gone over it and over it, since it's been rereleased, and it's clear of typos. No clunker sentences either. It's a completely clean text, and it should be. It took a lot of rewrites, and then a second release.

But kudos to Melange Books for allowing it to happen. Yeah, you can argue that the editing process should have taken care of all issues before the first release. But I don't blame Melange. They tell you what is best in terms of POV and other things, and then they give you license to write the book the way you want. That process is best for experienced writers, which, of course, now I am. But for my first book, well, let's just say it was a great learning experience, and with the second edition, I got it right.

But Killer Eyes won't need a second edition. I'm getting it right the first time. And it's cleaner and cleaner with every read through. I think I'm on my final read through. But I've said that the last three times I've read it through. We'll see. Stay tuned.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Birthdays and Holidays

So December 9th is my birthday. Another year flies by, and another year older. I'm still young enough, but my sons are getting big. My oldest is 18, and my youngest is 12. My oldest played football in college, and my youngest had his first year in Pop Warner. That was a lot of time and effort, that Pop Warner. More than the high school years for my other son.

But the day will come when my sons move out to go to college, and then, if they're anything like me and my brother and sisters, they'll never move back. That will kill me. But I'll have more time to write books, no?

Don't think so. My wife is the one who is always demanding my time. She's the one who considers my book writing efforts as direct competition for my attention. I swear I give her more attention than I give my books. Had I given my books more attention, they'd all be finished by now. All five of them. And then some.

But whatever. I'll have to remember one thing. It's your family that matters more than anything, not your art, or your music, or your writing. Your wife, your sons, and maybe even your students, if you're a teacher like I am. Writing is great, though. You get to create your own worlds, your own characters, and your own events. Your own antagonists and villains, and even entire races of alien life.

But the latter would be directly tied in to my sci fi story I began writing years ago, and adapted into a graphic novel, that I never finished. I've been thinking of finishing it lately. Boy, would my wife get mad at me then!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Found Reviewer, but Changed my Mind

I've seen books with reviews that seem endless. My books aren't among them, but I wonder sometimes why some books have reviews that number in the hundreds. Since my books aren't sold in bookstores, because they're POD published, I'm sure my books don't get read as much as they would be if they were sold in bookstores. But I know my books are read, and that's great.

But the people who read my books aren't reviewers. They've told me that they like them. Some even offered some opinions, like they thought so and so should have died, or so and so should have lived. When it comes to killing off a character in one of my books, I don't make decisions lightly. I go with the flow of the story. If a character's demise is the result of realistic developments, then it happens, just like in real life. Or if those events result in a character's survival, then that's how I write it.

But I digress. I'm talking about reviews here. And as I was saying, those people who read my books are not reviewers. So I have no reviews. So I'm wondering how all these other authors get so many reviews. I believe they solicit them. From their friends, from their family members, and yes, they even pay for them. And that explains why the bulk of all book reviews are five star ratings, with wonderful and supportive reviews. I would guess that positive book reviews outnumber negative ones by about ten to one. At least. Maybe that's a very conservative estimate. It could be greater.

So I don't solicit reviews. Not from my friends, not family members, and I certainly don't pay for them. I think that's pretty cheap. Underhanded even. And certainly not honest. Even if that friend, family member or paid reviewer really did like the book. It's solicited. 

And I did find a reviewer who agreed to review my book. Not because he was going to be paid. He just likes to review books. And I thought that it would be great to finally get a review. But I changed my mind. I went back to my belief that reviews should not be solicited. If I had allowed it, then that would be hypocritical. So no. If someone were to review any of my books, I would like it to be UNsolicited, and only done because they felt they really wanted to express their feelings about it. On their own. But that would take a person who tends to express their feelings in writing. So far, no readers of my books have been people like that. 

Well, once someone did. It was a great review, too. But it's gone. Since I didn't review his book, I can only conclude he felt cheated. But I didn't know he was another author at the time. I should have known. Better stay on top of that. I will in the future.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Second Chance at 36,000 Words

I haven't been chronicling my progress with one of my WIPs for a while, my football story called Second Chance. But I've been steadily working on it. Mostly I talk about my other WIP, Killer Eyes. And that's because it is very close to being submitted. And it has a publisher waiting for it, too.

But I've been working on Second Chance at the same time. And it's over 36,000 words right now. I really don't know how many words it will total, but I'm at least half done right now. maybe more than half way done, which means it won't be as long as my other books.

I'm thinking the book might max out at 60,000 words. Maybe not as much as that. But I still think it will qualify as a novel. Even books with  40,000 words qualify as a novel, albeit a short one, but Second Chance will be more than that for sure.

It's fun, because a lot of it is about football, which has been one of my passions throughout my life. It seems like I've had a lot of passions. From art to music, and from writing to football. It's made me a very busy person. I've never been idle. I always want to be doing something. Something creative that is. And writing books has been my latest passion. It's been a great ride. And I'm still on it.