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.




Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Heroes and Cops

To my chagrin, I've noticed that there seems to be a common, and/or overdone theme where the hero is at odds with the local police force. Or there seems to always be at least one particular cop who has some kind of vendetta against the hero of a show.

I've been catching up on Arrow, lately. The entire first season, there was a cop who for his own reasons had to "bring down" the hero, known as the "Vigilante" or "The Hood." I don't know if he'll ever be called his comic book name, "Green Arrow" or not, but the "Vigilante" or "The Hood" saved the cop's daughter's life, he saved several other lives, even saved the cop's life, but the cop is just hell bent on bringing him down anyway.

It's been resolved by season two, but now the cop's daughter is hell bent on bringing down the hero. That gets resolved too, but the whole thing is just overdone. It's old. It's tiring. And I can't stand seeing a cop wanting to bring down the hero, when there's so many other real bad guys running around that really do need to be brought down. I mean these priorities suck. It goes toward a lessening of my appreciation for a show.

In my own story, the Killer of Killers story, that is, sure there's the beautiful blonde police detective, Samantha Jones, who is tracking the hero, Trent Smith, but not to arrest him. I know one of my reviewers said she wanted to arrest him, but that was an error on his part. Samantha Jones never wanted to arrest Trent Smith. What she wanted was to convince him to join her side, meaning, she had a partnership with a certain billionaire who was an enemy of another billionaire, and both billionaires wanted to hire Trent Smith.

To be clear, Samantha Jones was not a crooked cop. She was a humanitarian, and the one billionaire, Abraham Soriah, had already demonstrated a lack of concern for the public at large because he was withholding a wonder drug that cured all disease. It even stopped aging. The other billionaire, Karl Manoukian, who was very much attracted to Samantha, promised to use the drug to help humanity. The question was did he really want to help humanity, or did he just say that to Samantha because he had a big time crush on her?

But the point I'm making is that the cops were not hot on Trent Smith's trail, and there was no cop who was hell bent on bringing Trent down. That's the concept that's overdone, and I'm tired of it. Now that Arrow is over that, here's hoping it doesn't recur in another variation. We'll see. In the meantime, check out Killer of Killers and its sequel Killer Eyes, available now by clicking on the images to the right of this post.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Nice Plot Twist in Ash vs. Evil Dead

I've made a few comments about the STARZ show Ash vs. Evil Dead, mostly about how I thought Jill Marie Jones would be a good Susie Quinn, but for her age. It's a tongue-in-cheek horror show, a type of genre which I usually do not watch. But because of Bruce Campbell's very entertaining performance in the Army of Darkness movie some years ago, I was interested in catching this long overdue continuation of the story.

Army of Darkness, itself a continuation of the two Evil Dead movies, didn't need to be continued, because it was a self contained story. But it had a cult following, so why not take advantage of that? With Bruce Campbell on board, it turned out to be what you'd expect. The same kind of show, the same kind of humor, and the same kind of over-the-top gore. Which all worked quite well.

The show had another pleasant casting to add to the production. That would be Xena, the Warrior Princess, yes, the one and only Lucy Lawless, who STARZ had just used in its SPARTACUS show recently. Since the Evil Dead producer, Sam Raimi, was also the producer of Xena, Warrior Princess, it made sense to use her in the new Evil Dead series.

Spoiler alert: Don't read further if you haven't seen the last episode of Ash vs. Evil Dead. Okay, I will continue. Seeing as how Lucy Lawless is an accomplished actress, and played an iconic role as a "good guy" in her role as Xena, I was fully expecting her to be another good guy in Ash vs. Evil Dead. She was tracking Ash, and the viewer was led to believe she was going to help him fight the evil dead and save the world. After all, as she demonstrated in Xena, Lucy does have a strong heroic appearance, and even though she played no hero in Spartacus, (which was not produced by Raimi,) I fully expected her to return as a hero in  Raimi's show.

But no. In this past episode she turned out to be the source of all of the evil in the show. You see, the original movie centered around the Necronomicon, or the book of the dead, written centuries ago, and has the power to summon demons. So imagine how thrilled I was when the story took a twist and it turned out that Lucy Lawless was the one who WROTE the book. Apparently, she's an ancient priestess or something from the dark depths of antiquity. So she's not a good guy, she's a bad guy.

Which was a twist I didn't see coming, even though the story did foreshadow it when Lucy's character had fallen into a fire and emerged unharmed. That should have told me something. But no. I was just too used to Hollywood doing their Hollywood thing with their regulars, and expected her to be the serious, (or straight) hero opposite Bruce Campbell's comedic relief.

So kudos to Sam Raimi and his latest incarnation of the Evil Dead franchise. Good job to all involved. Again, I rarely go for tongue-in-cheek type of shows. But tongue-in-cheek stories with Bruce Campbell work every time. He was born for the genre. Thumbs up for Ash vs. Evil Dead.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Holidays In My Books

Now that it's the Christmas season again, I paused to consider if I ever had Christmas take place in any of my books. No. Both killer books took place during the summertime, as in July/August. That is, the events in Book Two, Killer Eyes, took place about a year after the events in Killer of Killers. The Vase took place from about the month of April to May/June. John Dunn, however, spanned the length of about 20 years, from December 1856 to about August 1879, and I remember John Dunn did mention Christmas to Captain Walmsley when he set out to fight in the first Zulu Civil War in December of 1856. Dunn said to Captain Walmsley, "I'll be back before Christmas."

But I think that's the only time I ever mentioned Christmas in any of my books. In my latest completed book, Second Chance - a Football Story, I mention Thanksgiving once, because Thanksgiving takes place during the football season. But the football season ends before Christmas, at least high school football does. As for my WIPs, Inside the Outhouse and Killer on the Payroll, there is no mention of any holidays in either of them, at least, not so far. Inside the Outhouse takes place in August, just before the main character, Cam Sinclair, begins his first year of high school. And Killer on the Payroll, well, I'm only about 10,000 words into that one, and I don't think I've mentioned what part of the year it's taking place yet.

I've only mentioned times of the year when it's been relevant to the story or to a conversation. I think that's appropriate, and I only mentioned any concurrent holiday when it's relevant, as well. So we'll see how that goes. Otherwise, the holidays really have had no impact on any of my stories. At least, not yet.

In the meantime, here's to hoping everyone out there has a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holiday, whatever your religious inclination allows you to have. I think it's weird that a person's religious inclination is what allows that person to receive a wish of a Happy Holiday. As a teacher, I have students from India who do not celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, or anything that has to do with the Judeo/Christian/Muslim religions. But if you wish them a Merry Christmas, say, by force of habit, those wonderful kids don't trip about it. They just say thank you and move on. They are truly wonderful kids. I'm lucky in a way. I hear about how some teachers are having hard times with the kids these days, yet I'm always blessed with great kids. And I have a Merry Christmas and/or a Happy Holiday every year. That's why I'm finally writing a book for them. (Inside the Outhouse) We'll see how that goes. Bye for now.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Books to Movies

I've talked about making books into movies, and how both of my Killer books would make great action movies. But first, maybe, they should be best sellers, no? Isn't that how movie makers decide which books to make into movies? Doesn't it make sense that if a lot of people bought a certain book, then they would go and see the movie version of that book?

Isn't that how it worked with Harry Potter? I understand that Harry Potter as a book became a huge seller. So huge that the movie makers made it into a series of movies, and now the author is a billionaire.

For the record, I never read the Harry Potter books, and I couldn't stand the movies. It was nothing in which I was interested, but clearly many people were. So there you go. How was it that a mundane story with mundane characters became a huge seller? One thing I'm forgetting is that it wasn't a story aimed at me. Or men like me. Or people like me. It was aimed at the MG/YA audience. Which isn't me or people like me. The MG/YA crowd is a different animal, and tapping into that audience is what made Harry Potter so successful. Forget that it was a rip off of the X-Men premise - a story that featured a school for the gifted. In the X-Men, it was a school for gifted "mutants" whereas, in Harry Potter, it's a school for sorcerers and/or witches. Hello, Bewitched.

But kids loved it, I suppose, and it's an icon now, like Star Wars. Speaking of Star Wars, that's a movie I did like, but only the first two. I mean the first two that came out in the 70s. The third one sucked, and so did the next trilogy from the 90s. Do I plan on seeing the new one out now? Yeah, but not until a couple weeks from now. Don't want to deal with crowds. Btw, Star Wars wasn't even a book. It was a screenplay written by George Lucas. And I've been told his idea for Star Wars was a rip off of a Japanese story. So there you go.

I believe none of my stories are rip offs. Sure there's a bunch of martial arts stories, but my Killer stories are original enough that I won't be accused of ripping off anything. Nor did I rip off anything for my story in The Vase. As for John Dunn, it's a true story. Based on a true story, anyway, and Second Chance came to me in a dream. As for Inside the Outhouse? It's my WIP, but I haven't even concluded the story line in that one. It's a WIP, and that's where it stands right now. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Amber Heard Popular with Readers

It seems that actress Amber Heard attracts a lot of blog readers. Whenever I mention her in this blog, my readership spikes. So here's another posting mentioning Amber Heard. Her popularity is important to me, but at the same time somewhat curious. After all, she's no A-lister amongst the Hollywood elite. That list would include favored actresses like Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Alba, Cameron Diaz, Angelina Jolie, and, of course, the Oscar magnet, Meryl Streep. Amber Heard's most noteworthy event wasn't even a movie. It was her marriage to A-lister actor, Johnnie Depp.

But I've said often that if Killer of Killers were to ever be made into a movie, Amber Heard would be perfect for the role of the female lead, Samantha Jones, the beautiful blonde police detective. And based on the amount of readers her name attracts to the blog, I must conclude that I am not the only one who thinks Amber Heard is beautiful.

So, paired with Dustin Clare as the main character, Trent Smith, I think Amber Heard would do well, and, perhaps, along with Dustin, find her breakout role in the movies. She's only been in a few movies at this point, none of which has propelled her to frontline stardom.

But the competition is fierce, especially for a beautiful blonde actress, and that's because there really is no shortage of beautiful blonde actresses in Hollywood. For instance, I still haven't found the drop-dead gorgeous black actress who would be good for the role of Susie Quinn, and not for lack of trying. I am not suggesting there are too few beautiful black actresses. But I have a particular vision for that role, and so far, none of the actresses of whom I'm aware fit that vision.

As I've mentioned recently, Jill Marie Jones, the actress from Ash vs. Evil Dead comes close to fitting that vision. As you can see in the photo to the left, she's extremely beautiful. In Killer of Killers, Susie Quinn is described as one of the most impressive women Trent Smith had ever seen. But Jill Marie Jones is 40 now, and that won't work. You can't have a 40+ actress playing the part of an exotic dancer, and I think most people would agree with that.






Although clearly dated 2002 in the lower left corner, the photo below proves that Jill Marie Jones would have fit the part of Susie Quinn quite nicely. But time stands still for no one, so the search for Susie Quinn goes on. For now, it's Dustin Clare and Amber Heard. Their breakout roles are waiting for them. And those roles can be found in the Killer Series. Click on the images to the right of this post, and buy your copies today.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Dustin Clare vs. Stephen Amell

After watching and enjoying The Flash TV show, I began watching Arrow, and my impression of actor Stephen Amell was such that I thought he might be good for the part of Trent Smith. But then I thought no. He's too tall. According to his bio, he's 6'1", and that automatically disqualifies him for the role of Trent Smith.

You see, the whole point behind Trent Smith, the main character of Killer of Killers and Killer Eyes, is that he's the greatest martial artist in the world. He can win any fight, not because he's the biggest or the tallest, or the heaviest fighter out there. He's the most skilled. And as Bruce Lee proved years ago, you don't have to be the biggest, or the tallest, or the heaviest fighter to be the greatest fighter in the world. You do have to be the greatest martial artist, however, and that's exactly what Trent Smith is.

So, if there are any action movie makers out there interested in making KOK or KE into movies, then the actor should not be taller than, say, 5'10" which is what Dustin Clare's bio says he is. But I'm not convinced Dustin Clare is that tall. I'm thinking he's 5'8", which is still right to play the part of Trent Smith. Trent Smith is described in the first book as being 5-9, so an actor who's 5-8, 5-9, or 5-10 will be fine for the role.

I first saw Dustin Clare in the Spartacus show a few years ago. My how time flies. It really has been a few years ago. And Dustin Clare was excellent as the champion gladiator, Gannicus. He stole the show, actually, and that is because of his great screen presence. It's got a lot to do with the directing, too, I'm sure, since Dustin's role in Strike Back was so minor and irrelevant, he had no chance whatsoever to steal that show. It was a disappointment to me.

Will Dustin Clare ever get another opportunity as an action hero? I hope so. If the part is right, if the writing is good, and if the director knows what he's doing, then Dustin Clare would be a great actor for the right kind of action hero. And Trent Smith is just the right kind of action hero and it's waiting for him. Stephen Amell would have been good, too. But he's not just right. (Too tall.)

Banshee's Anthony Starr impressed me, but he's 5-11, and that's too tall, also. Unless, like the bio for Dustin Clare, the 5-11 height listing is an exaggeration. But he's getting too old. He's 40 now, and that's not good for the future of the franchise. Dustin Clare is only 33, so time is on his side, especially if they want to make all three movies, two of which have already been written. But time flies, so movie-makers, heads up. Killer of Killers starring Dustin Clare is an action movie waiting to be made.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Russians Reading Blog

Who are the Russians reading my blog? Don't get me wrong. I love Russians. All Russians are welcome to read my blog. But look at this disparity among countries reading my blog, taken from my blog's stats page. It's a big difference between Russia and the next country, which is the U.S.A. Go figure:

Pageviews by Countries

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers
EntryPageviews
Russia
132
United States
32
Germany
13
Portugal
5
South Africa
2
China
1
France
1
Romania
1
Taiwan
1


Friday, December 11, 2015

Inside the Outhouse over 20,000 words

With my recent focus on my Killer books, John Dunn, and The Vase, I've not said much about my WIP, Inside the Outhouse, which, as of yesterday has surpassed the 20,000 word count. Since I don't expect it to total much more than 40,000 words, being an MG/YA book, it's about half finished.

But that's just an approximation. I'm not sure, really, how many words it will total. It could be more, could be less. It's a first person narrative, which, to me, seems very restrictive. Nothing other than the main character's POV is portrayed, and that's far from what my other books are like.

But 1st person narrative seems to be the preferred narrative of MG/YA books, so that's why I chose it. For all other books, I will return to the third person limited POV. That's my preferred method. Never could stand first person. Still can't.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

James Bond vs. Trent Smith - Who Would Win?

In a scenario that would never happen, the what if kind of story is nothing more than some fun. You know, the what if the Hulk fought Superman, who would win? It's different than Bat Man vs. Superman, because Bat Man and Superman are from the same "universe," so it's a scenario that could happen, (as it's going to happen in a movie coming out soon,) whereas Superman and Hulk are not from the same universe, so it can only be a what if question.

So for fun, I pose the what if question: James Bond, the world's greatest super-spy, vs. Trent Smith, the world's greatest martial artist, who would win? Well, Trent Smith would win, of course. He's the world's greatest martial artist!

But that's only considering if they were placed in a fighting ring with ropes containing them, and no secret weapons available. As you might remember, in one of the greatest fights in the history of film, James Bond was able to defeat Red Grant, (played by Robert Shaw in From Russia with Love,) only because he managed to use a hidden knife from his "super-spy" attache case.

Other Bond movies portray Bond defeating his opponents while using a variety of other super-spy weapons, but in a ring, with no weapons, Trent Smith will win every time.

And that goes with anyone else put in a ring with Trent Smith. Including the greatest boxing champions, the greatest wrestlers, and the greatest action heroes from any genre. But this does not mean superheroes. Forget Superman, Bat Man, Spider-man and the like. Even though it's all fiction, it's not science fiction, where people have super powers, super strength, or adamantium claws that come out of their wrists.

No. If anyone fights Trent Smith, Trent Smith will be the winner. He's an expert martial artist, a master of the world's deadliest art, and he knows how to disable, paralyze, or kill anyone with the touch of a finger. Good thing he's a good guy. But some people might not agree with that. Some reviewers have questioned whether or not he's a good guy at all. Well, I think he's a good guy, but I wrote the books, so maybe I'm biased. Read Killer of Killers and Killer Eyes and decide for yourself.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

No Politics or Terrorism in John Dunn Book, but...

In this time of politics and terrorism, I was talking about my Killer books and The Vase yesterday, but I failed to mention my John Dunn book. There are things going on in that book, too. Big things, like Imperialism, Racism, and interracial relationships, both good ones and bad ones.

First and foremost, you have the book's main character, and the character for whom the book is named. John Dunn. Then you have the indigenous African tribe, the Zulus, of which John Dunn became a part. He was married to forty-eight Zulu women in the story, and had over a hundred half Zulu children. He was best friends with the Zulu king, who made him a chief, and gave him Zulu land of his own over which he ruled.

And then you had the British. At the time, the British were heavy Imperialists, and they defeated the Zulus and took over a lot of territory in Africa. It became part of their "empire on which the sun never set." Looking back, it's a fascinating story. And it's all portrayed in the book, John Dunn - Heart of a Zulu, due to be released by mid 2016. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Not One for Politics

I've said it before. This is not a political blog. Nor do I make references to politics in any of my books. I have found that discussing politics brings out the worst in people. Just why that is, I'm not so sure. I've seen an incredible lack of courtesy in people who are political. On every aspect, and on both sides of the political aisle. The way people behave while discussing politics is repugnant to me.

I am not political. Really. I've stated that I am against guns. Or more accurately, that no one should have a gun. But since so many people do have guns, then I'm willing to go the other way and say everyone should have a gun, like in the days of the Old West. Of course, I believe in the equality thing. Meaning, equal pay for equal work, equal rights for all, etc. And equal access or equal non-access to guns!

As for my characters. Like me, Trent Smith, in my Killer Series, is not political. Like me, however, he hates guns, which might be considered a Liberal thing. But he most definitely believes in capital punishment, which might be considered a Conservative thing. Other than that, there is no reference to Trent's political ideology. He's just a guy who believes in justice. Straight up and simple.

As for the characters in The Vase, you have the Palestinian family of the main character, Muhsin Muhabi, and they are not much into politics, either. They are agnostics, meaning they are not devout Muslims, or radicals, or extremists. All Muhsin wants to do is protect his wife and son, since he's already lost one son to the violence extremism can wreak.

Professor Weiss, Captain Mathias, and Mary Levin could be called Israeli patriots. They work for Shin Bet, and you can bet they do a good job. It's my perception of all Israeli government officials that they do a good job or their nation will cease to exist. The way I see it, the Israelis have no room for error. Not with their very existence hanging in the balance.

Which is one of the reasons I wrote The Vase and made it take place in Nazareth, Israel. It's the perfect setting for a potter, a religious war, and conflicting viewpoints. Talk about the need for conflict to make a great story, the setting of contemporary Nazareth can't be topped.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Terrorism in Books

In this day and age of constant and widespread terrorism, it made me pause to consider that one of my books, The Vase, is a story that centers around constant terrorism. It is focused in the country of Israel, and I don't know if there's another country that has had more acts of terrorism conducted within its borders than Israel. Maybe Iraq and Afghanistan, more recently at least, but Israel still must be up there.

More specifically, the story takes place in Nazareth, and interestingly, Muslims represent the majority of the population in Nazareth. And as everyone knows there has been a lot of conflict between the Arab/Muslim population and the Israelis who control the country. And just so you know, my main character in The Vase is a Muslim potter. His name is Muhsin Muhabi, and he is a Palestinian Muslim potter, as is his fourteen year old son, Naji.

They are good guys. Just innocent bystanders, really, to the mayhem that has surrounded them. But there are other main characters, too. Hiram Weiss, the Israeli Art Professor, who happens to be a devout Jew. And Captain Benny Mathias of the IDF. He's Israeli, of course, but he's an atheist. He's seen too much carnage, witnessed too many innocents butchered, and it has impacted his spiritual beliefs.

It's an uplifting story, however. The story line revolves around an ancient vase, which belongs to Muhsin Muhabi, but the vase is really a very special vase because it contains ancient recordings from two thousand years ago. They are released accidentally as projected holograms, which are mistaken for ghosts haunting the restaurant across the street from Muhsin's pottery shop.

And then you have the imminent visit of the Pope to Nazareth, since Nazareth is, after all, the place where Jesus Christ grew up. It's a very interesting focal point for several story lines which converge in the story's climax. Buy The Vase. You'll see how it really is a statement about the status of the world as it is today. And as it has been throughout history.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

More Shootings, More Guns

Another mass shooting yesterday. This is not a political blog, but I have come to a recent conclusion about my own beliefs regarding political topics. I hate guns. And even though I wrote the book Killer of Killers four years ago, it's interesting to me that the main character, Trent Smith, also hates guns.

Of course, being the world's greatest martial artist, a master of the world's deadliest art, Trent Smith doesn't need guns. He can kill anyone with a strike of his hand or fingers. He's an expert in the human nervous system and coronary system. He can kill, paralyze or disable anyone, or induce a slow death, whatever he chooses to do, which is usually what the person he's up against deserves.

You see, Trent Smith will only kill those who have been found guilty of murder, and then escaped justice. But those people will not escape Trent Smith.

I wonder if my own hatred of guns was a factor in making Trent Smith also hate guns. He will never use a gun. He will use a katana, however. In Book Two, Killer Eyes, Trent is up against countless Ci Ke killers who are armed with katanas, and Trent, being an expert in the use of a katana, has no qualms about picking up a katana and using it to defend himself against his katana-wielding adversaries. In fact, Trent is an expert with a variety of martial arts weapons used throughout the long and bloody history of Japan and China.

But never a gun. In the first book, Killer of Killers, Trent makes the statement, "Guns and knives, weapons of cowards." as he throws one of each out of a window. In Book Three, which I'm writing currently, Trent disarms another gun carrying villain, and while tossing the gun to the ground, he admits that he wishes guns had never been invented.

Well, I'm not saying that I wish that much, but I personally believe that either no one should be in possession of a gun, or everyone should be. Like in the days of the American West when every adult man walked around with a six-shooter on his hip. Did that prevent mass shootings? Not sure about that, because clearly there were a lot of shootings back then, what with Jesse James and the like running around. But at least people were able to shoot back. Unlike yesterday.

Look, I've got no solutions to the mass shooting epidemic here in America. I'll leave that to the politicians. That's their job. As for me? I'll keep on teaching art and writing books.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Second Chance Revisions Completed

My fifth novel, Second Chance, a Football Story has been revised. That is, the round two revisions are completed. It won't take as many rounds of revisions as my first four novels did because of all that I learned from the process. It reads very well, now, and there are no inconsistencies or errors in the story line.

All typos are eliminated, too, but that's something that can't be guaranteed, since typos seem to have an uncanny ability to hide from a proofreader as if they had a sentience of their own. Typos, if they were life forms, would be devious things. At any rate, it's a manuscript that would be ready for an editor. Whether or not that editor is going to be a Knox Robinson editor remains to be seen, as I have not yet signed a contract for that book with them.

Which means Second Chance, unlike my John Dunn book, can be signed by any other publisher. It's a different kind of story than any of my other books. I don't know if it would be considered an MG/YA book, but I suppose it could be. There are no kids in it, but there are a lot of high school football players in there. The main characters are young adults, (in their mid-twenties,) so I guess it would qualify.

It's my other book, Inside the Outhouse, that really is an MG/YA book, since its main character is a fourteen year old boy, and he is running around with his same aged friend who has a younger sister who provides the romantic interest. I'll be putting more energy into that one, since Second Chance seems to be good to go at this time. Back to work.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Walking Dead is in a Slump

Walking Dead ended the first half of season seven with another poorly written episode. You have stupid characters acting stupidly, and that's not how you keep an audience interested. But because it's the seventh season, perhaps the writers are running out of interesting story lines, and interesting characters. That's too bad. I've never read the comic book, so maybe they're just transferring the comic stories, loosely or strictly, I know not, but if they are, then I'm glad I don't read them.

The main example is this: You have a teenager who wants to murder another teenager because that teenager's father killed his father, but the killed father had murdered a beloved citizen of "Alexandria" and he was not only a murderer, but a wife beater and a child beater.

Now I've heard of wives who continue to "love" their abusing husbands, but it's not the same when it's a kid and he/she is being beaten by a parent. That kid will hate that parent. Not just for being beaten, but for being witness to his/her mother being beaten.

More true to life was the Daredevil TV show, when they showed the backstory to the Kingpin, who witnessed as a child his father beating his mother. The Kingpin hated his father for doing that, and even killed his father for doing that.

Now I'm not saying it's okay to kill your father for any reason, but I am saying that the Daredevil story had it right, whereas the Walking Dead story is, well, stupid.

I know, I know, you need conflict to keep a story interesting, but when you have stupid characters doing stupid things, it's boring. There are so many intelligent characters on the show, I wish they would feature them since they are far more interesting. Or make the stupid characters smart. Or just have the stupid characters killed off, as this world really has no room for stupid characters.

Which is probably what the show is intending to convey. Let's see it happen, then, and I'll give it props. But when the stupid characters are only there to keep bringing the others down, like, say, Dr. Smith kept on doing in the old TV show Lost in Space, it will be just another stupid show like Lost in Space became. Please, do not extend the roles of the stupid characters, otherwise, the demise of the show will result. As it did for Lost in Space. That's all.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Trilogy or Series?

Regarding my Killer Series. Here's the question. If I write only three books in the Killer Series, would that be considered a series or would it be considered a trilogy? A famous trilogy that comes to mind is the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Even with the release of the Hobbit, (which the movies made into another trilogy,) LOTR is still considered a trilogy.

The Bourne trilogy was a trilogy until the fourth Bourne movie came out. So now it's a franchise, which is another way to say a series. So I guess my killer series will be considered a trilogy until I write a fourth book. Then it will truly be a series. I suppose that means I'll be compelled to write that fourth book. Not so easily done considering I'm still in the beginning stages of Book Three.

And after Book Three? I have no clue where Trent Smith, the world's greatest martial artist will be. Where he'll go, or what he'll do. But that's the quandary of a series. You have to keep it fresh. Meaning you have to have new ideas, new characters, and new stories.

It reminds me of the show called Vikings. How many times will Ragnar's brother, Rolo, be languishing over his secondary role to his brother? How often will he be considering betraying him, as he's doing once again in season three. It's like every season we have to see Rolo kicking himself for not being as great as his brother, and considering betraying his brother to make himself great.

Sheesh, it's the same story over and over again. Don't get me wrong, I like that show. I like the characters, the plots, and the turn of events. I just wish Rolo would finally accept his place as "brother to the king" rather than harboring the sentiment, "Why can't I be as great as my brother the king?"

I mean, already Ragnar has granted Rolo mercy and spared his life for betraying him in season one. But ever since then, instead of being grateful for his life, he continues to question his own lack of greatness, and finding a reason to blame it on Ragnar.

Well, I can guarantee my Killer Series won't be anything like that. Still, it's a long way off. Got a lot of writing to do.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Listed Among KRP Authors

I was cruising through my bookmarked websites, and when I got to my John Dunn publisher, Knox Robinson Publishing, AKA KRP, I was pleasantly surprised to see my photo on their list of authors, and my bio posted as well. And my John Dunn book hasn't even been published yet. You have to place the cursor on the photo, and then click on my name to read the bio. Here's the link.

My bio is just a single paragraph, which is way shorter than the bios of some of the other authors on there. Hey, they gave me a word count which I didn't think I was supposed to surpass. I didn't realize that many of the other authors weren't so mindful of that word count. Some have bios that would take up an entire page.

It's cool, though, because I just used the same old bio that I have on Amazon.com, the Melange Books website author page, the Penumbra Publishing website author page, and even the Goodreads author page. So it doesn't matter. Wherever you go, you'll see the same bio on me, except for my blog, that is. And that's because my blog is first and foremost a means of promotion for my books. Three are published now, and the fourth is due out sometime in 2016.

That will be four books published which is quite a relief, because I had written those four books before I even sought representation or publication. It was only after I finished John Dunn did I start to look to get the books published. And now that they are, I'm glad I didn't waste my time.

I've got the fifth book written--Second Chance--and I'm writing two more at this time--Killer on the Payroll and Inside the Outhouse. We'll see how those go. After that? Who knows?

In the meantime, back to promotion. Buy Killer of Killers and its sequel, Killer Eyes, today. Buy The Vase, too. And look for John Dunn in the summer of 2016.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Second Chance and Da Vinci's Demons.

Thanksgiving holidays are cool because as a teacher I have the whole week off. Used today to revise half of Second Chance. It had been sitting for a while, since it's a finished manuscript, well, not finished regarding revisions, but it's finished as far as being written start to end.

So I used most of the day to read through the first half, and of course in doing that, you revise at the same time. It didn't need a whole lot of revising, really. But you always improve the prose as you read through it, and that's almost a never ending thing. I'll be happy to finish it by tomorrow, and that means the current read through.

It's a story for anyone who knows anything about football. I'm afraid that narrows the audience somewhat, but if you consider the number of football fans in the country, you would think it's not a problem. It might be considered a story more for boys, but there are strong female characters in there, particularly the girlfriend of the main character.

Second Chance is a what might have been type of football story. And I'm thinking it might be something a lot of former football players might be able to relate to. That is if they missed their senior season of high school football due to an injury.

On another note, the new season of Da Vinci's Demons is pretty cool. I've watched all the episodes except the final episode, which I'm learning is the final episode of the entire series, not just season three. The Turks are the heavies, and that's fitting. I mean the Turks have been just as evil as any evil empire out there, and that includes the Nazis, Imperial Japan, and even the Mongols.

Don't agree? Just ask any Armenian. That will end the argument. History is full of brutality, and the Turks surely have their place in that history. So in the show, the Turks have invaded Italy. I'm not even sure that ever happened, but in the series finale, we should see how Leonardo Da Vinci is able to repulse them. Should be fun. I'll probably watch it tomorrow night. I'll post my thoughts then. Bye for now.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Ash vs. Evil Dead

Speaking of TV shows, Ash vs. Evil Dead has been a blast. I've always liked Bruce Campbell as an actor, especially when he starred as Brisco County, Jr. on the TV show The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. twenty-two years ago. (Wow, how time flies.) It was a great tongue-in-cheek show set in 1899, and Brisco County, Jr. was the son of a great lawman who was killed in the line of duty by some super criminals. Brisco was hired to round them up and return them to jail. Brisco himself had graduated from Harvard, was going to be a lawyer, but chose  instead to be a bounty hunter, at least in-so-far as capturing the criminals who murdered his father. It was well written, and Bruce Campbell was perfect for the part. But it didn't have good ratings, and was canceled after just one year.






But Bruce Campbell was also the star of the Evil Dead movie, that had continued in the Army of Darkness movie which was also tongue-in-cheek, but still well written and a great movie. It was popular enough to be brought back by STARZ for the new show, Ash vs. Evil Dead. It's well written, and Bruce Campbell, now middle-aged, is in top form to reprise his role.

I hope the role given to Xena, the princess warrior, I mean Lucy Lawless, will be good. Right now, she seems to be chasing Ash, believing he was responsible for the death of her parents. But as I remember it, it was her father's own fault that he was killed along with her mother, not the fault of Ash. But whatever. Like I was saying yesterday about the Walking Dead, you need something to be going on to provide conflict, not just the evil dead monsters, or zombies.

Let's hope it stays entertaining, at least. You have another character, a funny guy named Pablo, and he provides a different kind of comic relief that complements the comic relief of the main character, Ash. It's over-the-top bloody, but that seems to be a STARZ trait, seeing as how Spartacus was also that way. But both shows are good, and it's something to watch. I remember thinking TV was great during the sixties, but during the seventies, eighties, and even nineties TV had slumped. But for the last decade or so, TV is back!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Glenn is Alive!

Yeah, Glenn's alive, but we knew that. It was only too obvious that Glenn was alive, as just about everyone and their grandma figured it was the other dude's dead body being torn apart. It was a cheap trick, and it was even cheaper to keep Glenn's story on hiatus the way they did.

But, whatever. Walking Dead is still going nowhere, what with the stupid teenagers acting stupid. You have the nutty teen girl who doesn't want to live in the safety of people who don't want to kill her. And you got the stupid teen boy, who, even though his father was a child beater and a wife beater, and a murderer to boot, harbors a revenge factor, meaning he wants to kill the man who saved his life at least once, and twice if you count the time Carl saved him.

It's stupid writing, but there's some good stuff, too. I like that head lady, Deanna? and her appreciation of Rick, as she should be appreciating him. And I like Carol, and I like Michonne, but I don't like the ridiculous Morgan and his continued insistence of preserving a bad guy's life. But hopefully, Carol will put a stop to that. If she does, that will be cool.

Whatever. It's a show that's been going on for five years, now, so you have to expect some shaky plot twists, and stupid characters, otherwise, how do you have the internal conflict? You can't just have zombies over and over again. So there you go.

On another note, I've got to keep making progress on my MG/YA novel, as it's been in limbo for a week or two now. I have to figure out a plot twist, a subplot, and a climax which won't be easy. It's not going to be as long as the others, but that's okay. MG/YAs don't have to be.

And I've got to complete Book Three in my Killer Series. Books One and Two turned out so well, I must say, I'm very proud of them.  Killer of Killers and Killer Eyes are some of the best stories I've ever read or watched. Ever. No bias intended, but they are so good, it's unbelievable. I set a high bar with those two books, so I have to make sure book three is up to that standard. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Fiction is Great, but Real Life has Plenty of Drama

I've been a fan of fiction novels, TV shows, and movies for a long time. Make no mistake, I enjoy fiction of all kinds. But I think I enjoy stories based in real life a little more. Like the movie, The Devil and the Darkness, about the two lions in Africa killing hundreds of people. And stories set in real historical times like the classic Last of the Mohicans, etc.

But you know what? We're living in some real history right now. ISIS or ISIL, or whatever you want to call it, is on the warpath, and it's been going on for a long time now. America and Russia, longtime rivals, have become allies to fight them. It's some heavy duty stuff going on.

It makes all the fictitious stuff insignificant. Yeah, I love my books, movies, and the stories on TV, but it's all fictitious and altogether insignificant. Well, wait a minute. One of my books is largely not fictitious. That would be my soon-to-be-published John Dunn book.

John Dunn was a real historical figure. He lived an adventurous life in South Africa during a really adventurous time. Back when the Zulus were still an independent nation, and when the colonies in Africa were still in their infancy.

John Dunn lived with the Zulus, and he married Zulu women, and had half Zulu children. He was a white Zulu. A Zulu chief, even, and the top advisor to the Zulu king, King Cetshwayo. They had attained a close friendship, so much so that Cetshwayo refused to go to his own coronation if John Dunn wasn't with him.

It so happened that Dunn's son was ill at the time, and Dunn chose instead to be with his son rather than go with Cetshwayo to his coronation. Cetshwayo understood the priority of being with a dying son, but without Dunn he would not go to his coronation. Think of the scale of this. Cetshwayo was going to be crowned KING! And he would not go without Dunn. Instead, he sent his best witchdoctor to Dunn's residence, and believe it or not, the Zulu witchdoctor managed to cure Dunn's son.

And this is all true. Cetshwayo was finally able to get crowned king with Dunn at his side. Again, it's all true and it's all in my book, John Dunn - Heart of a Zulu. Of course, there's a whole lot more. Like a Zulu civil war, which is where the book begins, and then the Anglo-Zulu War.

The book ends shortly after the conclusion of the Anglo-Zulu War, but that doesn't mean the adventures of John Dunn concluded. There was a lot of action after that, particularly another Zulu civil war. And then the rest, as they say, is history.

Yeah, that's one exciting story. A couple books have been written about it. Oliver Walker, 75 years ago, wrote two historical novels featuring the John Dunn story. I bought and read one of them. But it read like it was written 75 years ago. The prose is not as fluid as mine is, and I'm not trying to brag or put Walker down. It's just an older book, that's all, and out of print, too, btw.

I instilled a little more fiction in my John Dunn story than Walker did. For instance, I gave Catherine Pierce a larger role in my book. She was Dunn's first wife, his "great wife" but Dunn wrote next to nothing about her in his autobiography, which I own, and read cover to cover several times. But I made her a strong willed woman in my book, which I hope female readers can appreciate. Even though the side story with Catherine Pierce is fictitious, I made sure it didn't conflict with any of the real history that took place in that time.

For that, (the real history,) I used Dunn's autobiography as my main source, but I used the writings of Ian Knight and Donald Morris, too. Enthusiasts of the period know those names. And I'm pretty confident AZW enthusiasts can appreciate the book I've written. It will come out in 2016, and time is moving fast. Can't wait for the editing process to begin.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Walking Dead Heading Nowhere

Last Sunday, The Walking Dead featured Darryl. He's one of the fan favorites, so nothing wrong with having an episode featuring him. But the writing was suspect in my opinion. Why? Because the moral of the story was that if you are a nice guy and help others, you get screwed. Yep. Darryl is clubbed on the head, held captive to be traded for someone else, who is being held captive by some new group of baddies, and then after he escapes, he discovers he took with him the insulin one of his former captors apparently needed. So he returns it, and then when his former captors are being hunted down by those unseen baddies, he helps them to escape.

And then after offering his former captors sanctuary, they turn on him and steal his motorcycle. Not that I'm going to miss the motorcycle, but the episode just didn't sit well with me. Oh, and still no word on whether Glenn is alive or dead. It's as if the show suddenly had a feud with the actor who played Glenn, and decided to just leave him out of all future episodes. Well, they have so far and it's been three episodes. They don't seem to care about Glenn.

But Darryl is one of the most popular characters in the show, more so than even Glenn, so I suppose the show can't go wrong having an episode about him, but when they turn him into a patsy, that won't bode well in keeping him a fan favorite. Now he's just another chump. And who cares about chumps? Here's hoping they don't maintain the chump status with Darryl. We liked him as he was before. An efficient zombie killer who doesn't let others get the jump on him. Oh, wait. So much for the second part of that. Oh well.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Actress for Susie Quinn Finally Found--Not

I used to enjoy looking for actors and actresses who could play the parts of the characters in my novel, Killer of Killers, and its sequel, Killer Eyes. I had come up with a couple actors for the main character, Trent Smith. Those actors included Casper Van Dien and then more recently, Dustin Clare. I blogged a few times that Amber Heard would make a perfect Samantha Jones. And the other characters were not hard to match with current actors and actresses. Except for one. The part of Susie Quinn. Susie Quinn is described as "one of the most impressive women Trent had ever seen." Impressive looking that is. And seeing as how Susie Quinn is an exotic dancer, Trent had a very good look at her. Now I know there are plenty of beautiful black actresses, but none that I had seen really looked like how I envisioned Susie Quinn to look.

Well, I was watching the new STARZ show, Ash vs. Evil Dead, and it suddenly occurred to me. The actress Jill Marie Jones might be right for the part of Susie Quinn. At least that's what I thought when I was watching her on the Ash vs. Evil Dead show. But when I looked up her bio, I found out that she's 40 years old! She'll be 41 this January! So, um, no. If Killer of Killers ever gets made into a movie, it won't be anytime soon. That means by the time Killer of Killers were to be made into a movie, it would be very likely Jill Marie Jones would be closing in on 50. And I can't imagine a 50 year old actress playing the part of an exotic dancer.

So the search for the actress for Susie Quinn continues. I mean, if they made the move this year...by that I mean starting tomorrow...then she could play the part. But that won't happen. Heck, I'd call myself lucky if the movie could be made in time for Dustin Clare and Amber Heard to play their respective parts, and still be young enough. Yeah, I know. It won't. Can't blame a guy for dreaming. You know...sometimes dreams come true. Sometimes.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Walking Dead Sinking

Another episode of Walking Dead, and another disappointment. Which makes two disappointing episodes in a row. It's strange, too, because this sixth season of The Walking Dead started off on a real good roll. The first two episodes were outstanding, and the pace was consistent until the last two weeks. Neither of the past two episodes contained any noteworthy revelations.

And still no Glenn. Not a hint of him. Sure there were people, particularly Maggie, who were wondering about his fate. Maggie was all about going out into the wild to find him, but the community is surrounded by zombies, so her plan was scrapped. She's stuck behind the walls with the rest of them. Oh, except for Abraham, Darryl, and Sasha, that is.

Rick or someone mentioned them, and that they might draw the zombies away, which is all fine and good, but when you have episodes where nothing really happens, like yesterday and last week, there's nothing interesting to talk about, and you are well on the way to losing your audience.

Walking Dead was a great show because of the action, the characters, and the events. The last two episodes, it seems, they depended only on characters to carry the show. And it's not working. Especially since they focused on the wrong characters. No Darryl, no Carol, very little of Michonne, and, likewise, not enough of Rick. Combine that with no action and no events you have a recipe for lower ratings and a consequent cancellation.

But Walking Dead has been a chart topper for a long time, so I suppose it will survive. Perhaps next week it will get back on that roll, and these past two duds will be nothing more than a footnote.