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, April 13, 2015

Soliciting Reviews? Never Again!

Killer of Killers got reviewed again, and I'm shaking my head. Look, I know when a reviewer gives an opinion about a book it's just that. An opinion. But when a reviewer writes something about a book that's just plain not true, then what? What is an author supposed to do?

I don't want to sound like that one author a couple years ago whose response to a bad review went viral. And I don't want to go online and call this particular reviewer a liar. But he said a few things about KOK that just weren't true! I mean, where did he get those things? Could he just have gotten mixed up? If so, then that means the writing should have been more clear. But I don't think so. I think the writing was very clear. At least on three things he criticized as follows:

One: He said it wasn't explained in the book how Trent had the money for travel expenses, food, etc. But it WAS explained in the book. I even wrote him a nice and polite email telling him on exactly what page it was explained, by whom, and I quoted the passage. How did he miss that?

Two: He said there was a trick with smoke, but it wasn't explained. In the polite email, I told him there was no trick. It was explained repeatedly in that scene that there was a busted electronics panel that spewed sparks and smoke into the elevator. How did he miss that?

And three: This is the one that really gets me. Rather than missing the very clear explanations, (and then saying there were no explanations,) this guy makes up something that was NEVER in the book. He said that my book said there were "external marks" on Trent Smith's first victim. That the doctor was paid to cover them up. (It's important to note that Trent Smith kills his victims without an outward mark.) But the guy said the first victim had external marks. This is NOT TRUE. Nowhere in the book did it say the first victim, Benjamin Stiles, had any external marks on him. So where did this guy get that from? In my polite email, I asked him where did he get that from?

The other critiques he gave were definitely based on opinion, so I won't even go over those. It's just those three things above I thought warranted venting. It's one thing to have an opinion, whether a reviewer likes something or not, or agrees with something or not. But it's another thing to say things that are just plain not true. That's not opinion. It's error. Or lies. So why would the guy lie? I don't believe he would. So he must have just made a couple errors based on either memory lapse or he just plain missed the explanations. But that doesn't explain why he said there were those external marks on the first victim in point number three.

So whatever the reason for the errors, after my polite email, I gave the guy a couple days to amend his review. (I didn't say in my email that I expected him to, I counted on his integrity.) But this is the third day, now, and even though he did email me back and thanked me for the explanation, his review remains as he first wrote it. So, no, I won't email him again. And I didn't comment on the review, because, like I told him in my email, I didn't want it to sound like a rebuttal. I asked for the review. I got it. He took the time to read and review it. I thanked him for that, and then left it at that.

Here's the funny thing. After I initially solicited this guy for a review, (and he agreed,) I had changed my mind. I just had a bad gut feeling about it. But then I read an author's blog who said that all reviews are good reviews even when they aren't. Because the bottom line is it gets the word out about your book. So I changed my mind again, and sent him the book for the review. Now I wish I stuck to my gut feeling. (Interestingly, Trent Smith has those gut feelings, too.)

So what did I learn? Nothing that I didn't already know. Different people think differently. People have different "memory" capabilities, and people can put something in a book or story that was never in there. It's strange, but that's the world we live in, isn't it?

I don't know if I agree with that author about all reviews being good reviews even when they aren't. I suppose it's another opinion. And that's what makes the world go around. Opinions vary. I suppose that's a good thing. Yeah, it's a good thing. So if you're an artist, a writer, a composer, any kind of creative person, get used to it. Opinions will vary.

And therein lies the problem. At least in this case. If you're a reviewer, keep it at opinions. Don't make stuff up about a book that isn't true. Don't say something is not explained when it is explained, and very clearly. And don't say there's something there that isn't there. That's no longer an opinion.

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