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.



Friday, January 30, 2015

Finally-Another Review

It's been over a year since someone wrote a review for Killer of Killers, and since I've reached out to some reviewers, another review has posted.

Here's one quote: "I love the thrill of action-packed scenes but this one is like a breath of fresh air for me. This was my first time for an action-packed martial arts read." 

And here's another: "This read has those intense action scenes that didn't fail to give me that adrenaline rush of a book that I was hoping for and there were those unexpected heartbreaking scenes also."

But there was some critique, like this one: "When Samantha told Trent she loves him, I just find that a bit fast? And there were some japanese words that i didn't understand because it wasn't explained in english and I had to translate it on google."

But that just shows that it's not my sister or mother, or even some friend doing me a favor with an only positive review. So I'm okay with that. Actually, the drug could be responsible for Samantha's feelings, and maybe the reviewer didn't make that connection. On the other hand, maybe the drug wasn't responsible, which would warrant her comment. And the Japanese words were not needed to be translated, because I, as the writer, felt the context was not lost during that particular conversation, which was conducted mostly in English. (It was just that Trent wanted to prove his fluency in Japanese, so he threw in a couple Japanese sentences.)

Nevertheless, it's a great review. If every review is like this one, that's okay with me. You can read the entire review here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Killer of Killers-the Second Edition

When it comes to Killer of Killers, just to clear up any confusion, Killer of Killers, the Second Edition is the version to read. I do believe that all outlets from where you can purchase a copy are updated with the Second Edition. That would mean Lulu, Smashwords, Amazon, Barns and Nobles, and any other place where books are bought. And that would also mean both print and digital.

If you are interested in buying a copy, make sure it says Second Edition somewhere, especially on the copyright page, and that will confirm it. Another way you can tell, the Second Edition was published in 2013. The first edition was published in 2012. So if you don't see "Second Edition" anywhere, AND it says that it was published in 2012, then that might be the outdated copy.

By the way, thank you to anyone who is interested in reading it, and I really believe your interest will not be unfounded, nor will any reader be disappointed. Feel free to let me know. And now would be the time for any thoughts to be relayed, because I am on my final round of revisions/edits on the sequel, Killer Eyes. In fact, I really do plan on submitting Killer Eyes to my publisher by next week sometime.

That doesn't guarantee I will. I've said over and over again that the more you perfect something the more perfect it becomes, and that only makes sense. I might indeed choose to read through it one more time, but I really don't think I will. I do believe this is the last time. But when it goes through the editing stage a Melange, of course, I'll be reading through it a couple more times. That goes without saying.

At any rate, Killer of Killers, the Second Edition is the latest and best version of the first story in the Trent Smith saga. Read all about Trent's quest for justice, and his confrontation with the aged billionaire, Abraham Soriah, and his immortal supermen. It's quite a ride!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Reviewers-Mostly Women?

I'm getting responses from reviewers I solicited, and so far, four out of five are women. And as I review the list of reviewers, most of them are women. For Killer of Killers, that will be interesting, because I consider Killer of Killers to be Men's Fiction. Not to suggest that women can't enjoy it. Many women have told me they did enjoy it, even loved it.

So I'm not concerned about that. I would think that if a story is a good one, with good characters and good events, and a good plot, and a good ending, then it shouldn' t matter if you're a man or a woman, you will enjoy it, and if you're a reviewer, you'll give it a good review.

I already know that not everyone will like the same thing, so I'll expect a bad review sooner or later. (Hopefully later.) I would like to see more male reviewers out there. But it doesn't really matter. A review is a review, and if I get a woman's perspective, that's just fine. It will be interesting to see how men and women differ in their reactions to the book. I guess we'll see.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Killer Eyes--One More Time

I apologize in advance. Even though no one misses Killer Eyes, since it's not published yet. I've only talked about it. But for those of you who have read Killer of Killers and are waiting for the release of Killer Eyes, I have to tell you the good news/bad news. The bad news is that I have decided to read through it one more time. But that's the good news, too.

Yeah, I know you've heard it before. But this time will be the last time. Really. Because it's right there-ready for submission. Whether or not the editors at Melange will suggest changes is yet to be determined. They suggested few changes for Killer of Killers, so I don't think they will.

And that's great. I am an accomplished editor now. Not just a writer. An editor. I say that because after two published books, and especially after working with  top editor Grayson Little over at Penumbra, who was a stickler for all things proper in the literary world of writing, I have learned and retained what I've learned about the proper way to write. I have accomplished this through experience, and through perseverance. And that's how you get better at something. Like writing.

And all that I've learned in my first two books, I have applied to Killer Eyes, my third. And it's right there. I've reread it so many times, that I can practically recite it by heart. It was that way for my first two books, too. Can't wait. It will be released by summertime. Stay tuned.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Taken 3 - All Wrong

I really enjoyed Taken and Taken 2, so I saw Taken 3 this past weekend. I thought it would be just as good. Just as great, I mean. I was pumped for it. Because at the conclusion of Taken 2 they had the premise for Taken 3 all set to go. The main character, Brian Mills, played by Liam Neeson, had finally gotten the better of the bad guy, some Albanian Muslim dude whose son Brian Mills had killed in the first Taken movie. But before Mills kills the guy, he asks if he has other sons. The guys says yes, he has two more. And Mills asks if they'll be coming for revenge, too. The dude says yes, for sure. Then after he gives the guy a chance to live, he kills him.

Okay. All set for Taken 3. The guy's other two sons will come for revenge, and Mills will do his thing that involves his particular set of skills. It's what makes the movies great.

BUT NO!  By the way, SPOILER ALERT!! Read no further if you haven't seen Taken 3 yet because I'm going to explain why I was so disappointed with it. And here's why: Mills' wife, er, I mean ex-wife, is murdered. Of course I was under the impression it was that dude's two other sons plotting to get revenge, and they were starting by murdering his ex-wife. BUT NO!! They make up some complete BS about her current husband being involved with Russian mafia guys, who are the bad guys. And to top it all off, as a kind of twist that didn't surprise anyone, it was his ex-wife's husband who was behind the whole thing. And they went out and found an actor, Dougray Scott, to play the part. Because he wasn't the same actor who played the part in the first two movies.

This was a huge let down for me. First, Russian mafia being the bad guys is now just as stereotypical and old as using Italian mafia as bad guys used to be. They have become the default heavies for the movies nowadays. I didn't need to see that in Taken 3, which had already established Albanians as the heavies, and there was NO NEED TO CHANGE THAT. The storyline had already been set! It worked, and it was going to work for Taken 3.

But all good things, as they say, come to an end. Taken 3 was a huge disappointment, and I was sorry I went to see it. If they choose to do Taken 4, and get back to those two remaining sons out for revenge, then maybe they'll get back on track and I'll like it again. We'll see.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Second Chance, Killer Eyes, and Reviews

Just thought I'd give an update on the progress of Second Chance. It's at 43,766 words right now, which is decent progress. I'm only working on it during breaks in my other projects, which includes the wrap up of Killer Eyes, and the continued revisions to John Dunn.

As for Killer Eyes, it's very close to being finished. Last last night I even considered submitting it to Melange, but I ended up deciding not to. I've made significant improvements as recently as last night. I thought that it would be the last of the improvements, but that's usually wrong. I've said it time and again, you always find things that can be improved. But I've also said there comes a time when it just has to be called done.

And I'm right about there. It's pretty much done. MAYBE I'll read through it one more time, but I swear, that would have to be the last time. Why? Because it's done!

Meanwhile, I've heard back from some reviewers who have agreed to read Killer of Killers and The Vase. I sure hope they enjoy the stories. I look forward to hearing what they think, and I hope their reviews are good ones. Still, every author must brace for that bad review. I just hope it doesn't happen to me yet. What a joke on me it would be if the review I solicited turned out to be bad.

Still, I certainly do want honest reviews. It's one thing to get a nice review, but if it's not an honest one, well, that was why I had always been against the soliciting of reviews. I believed they weren't altogether honest, because I believed the reviews were solicited from an author's family members or close friends. So here's to hoping my reviews will be good, because I know they will be honest. How do I know? Because none of these reviewers are my family members or friends. Never met them, and other than looking up their blogs, I don't know anything about them. Fingers crossed.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Reviews or No Reviews?

Well, I had said that I didn't think soliciting reviews was something I wanted to do. But I changed my mind. What made me change my mind was an article on someone's blog recently. It was on a blog by a writer who was saying the importance of reviews should not be underestimated, and she was specifically referring to negative reviews.

Her point was that even negative reviews get the word out about your books. And that is the most important thing when it comes to promotion. Spreading the word. And reviews do that. Yes, even negative reviews. One of her reasons was that there's no book out there that is loved by everyone. So negative reviews are normal. Inevitable. Of course, no writer looks forward to a negative review, but the plus side to a negative review is the fact that your book is being discussed. By someone. And that is to the author's benefit. Even negative reviews spread the word. And they prove that an author is not getting their reviews from just family and friends. They are getting their reviews from real reviewers who probably have no ties to that author.

Now, I wasn't against soliciting reviews because I was afraid of negative reviews. I just thought it was a little on the phony side. Like asking people to do something that they normally wouldn't do. I was thinking that people should just buy your book on their own, and only write a review if they were so inclined.

But if people want to write reviews, because they like doing that, then that means they are so inclined. And if they don't know about your book, then how can they write a review about your book? So you have to tell them about your book. As for exchanging a free copy for the review, well, for any product out there, it's not unusual for free samples to be distributed as a means of promotion. And that is the bottom line about my change of heart regarding the soliciting of reviews. Promotion. Marketing. Getting the word out. You have to start somewhere.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Killer Eyes-Better Than Ever

So close to wrapping up Killer Eyes, and it's better than ever. That means I'm so glad I'm giving it this final read through. I thought it was a wrap two read throughs before this one. But from my experience with my other two published books, I thought I'd give it another go. And then another.

And both times resulted in significant improvements, including the catching of a couple of errors, and a couple typos. By errors I mean continuity, like when I discovered a character was wearing the same dress three days in a row, even after she was able to go home and change clothes. So I can relax, knowing that all continuity is resolved. No more errors of that type.

I did find one typo as recently as last night. I had a period after a quoted dialogue that was followed by a dialogue tag. It should have been a comma, and it is now.

So again, you really can't review, or proof read your manuscript too many times. There will always be something that can be improved. It's as simple as this. The more you work on it, the better it gets. But there does come a point where you do have to call it done. And I'm just about there with Killer Eyes. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Once Again-the Cast of Killer of Killers

Seeing as how I have a permanent posting of the cast to The Vase as a subheader to my blog, I find it necessary to post every once in a while the cast of characters for Killer of Killers. But for Killer of Killers, I actually have actors chosen for the parts. But that list of actors never included an actress for the part of Susie Quinn. With the discovery of the Strike Back actress, Milauna Jackson, however, that has changed. Finally I have a complete list of characters, which will also include the new character of Ming Sang who appears in the sequel Killer Eyes. Here they are:


Dustin Clare as the main character Trent Smith


Trent Smith is the main character, so that means Dustin Clare would be the star of the show. He's really only had one good part that I know of. That would be Gannicus, the champion gladiator from the STARZ series Spartacus. But even though Dustin Clare did not have the lead role in Spartacus, he really did "steal" the show. He was dynamic and had a great screen presence. He really has the right face, the right physique, and the right personality for the role of Trent Smith. Yes, in my opinion, Dustin Clare would be perfect for the role, and he's ready for his breakout role in general. If only Corey Yuen was reading this, I'm sure he'd agree with me.

As for the supporting characters, well, Samantha Jones, the blond police detective, Susie Quinn, the black exotic dancer, and Connie Perez, Susie's gay lover would be well played by the actresses below. Max von Sydow is a legend, and would master the role of the main antagonist Abraham Soriah, the aged billionaire. Eugene Levy, a wel known Hollywood veteran would fit the role as Soriahs's disgruntled partner, Karl Manoukian. And veteran actors Dennis Haysbert and Dolph Lundgren would be great for the roles of Charles Morgan and Josh Jones respectively.

Each of the following photos is a pretty close depiction of what the actors would look like in Killer of Killers and Killer Eyes. See for yourself:


Amber Heard as Samantha Jones

Milauna Jackson as Susie Quinn

Max von Sydow as Abraham Soriah


Dennis Haysbert as Charles Morgan
Eugene Levy as Karl Manoukian
Dolph Lundgren as Josh Jones

Michelle Rodriguez as Connie Perez
and Zhang Yuqi as Ming Sang
Of course, last but not least, is this actress for Ming Sang. Zhang Yuqi would be the best actress I know of, anyway to play Ming Sang, the evil Chinese murderess. But did I mention that she has killer eyes? I should, because it's the title of the sequel, due out this year. Stay tuned.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year Brings New Books

Happy New Year to anyone reading this, and the new year for me will bring new books. I've chronicled the publishing journey of Killer of Killers and The Vase, and I have talked about the imminent release of Killer Eyes. That one will be the first book of mine published in 2015. And then John Dunn will be revised. I can only suppose the revising of John Dunn will take the entire year.

And that's because John Dunn is a long book. Over 120,000 words. It's my longest book, and it's only half way rewritten, in terms of instilling everything I've learned over the years. That means POV, dialogue tags, and the correct use of verbs. And on the surface it doesn't seem as though there would be so much to learn. But there is. You've got to be sure you didn't use an intransitive verb as a transitive verb and vice versa. And you've got to be careful about consistency, and time lines, and who's doing what and when and where, and so much more.

No need to say that the longer a book is, the more effort it will take to make sure it's done correctly. Look how long it's taken me to make sure my first three books were done right. Killer of Killers even needed a second edition to reach that point. Killer Eyes won't, but I've been working on the revisions since last February or so. And in the next couple weeks, I can finally be sure it will be ready.

Which brings me back to the new year. 2015 will be a good year. Killer Eyes will be released. The revisions to John Dunn will be finished, and probably the first draft of Second Chance will be completed, too. And once the revisions to John Dunn are, um, done, then I'll get to revising Second Chance. But that one, I suspect will take the least amount of effort. It's being written with all of my knowledge already intact. Doesn't mean it won't need revising. Just not as much.

So again. Happy New Year, and I look forward to it. Stay tuned.