Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?
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, September 30, 2015
And I did fix a couple more things in there. I will probably finish the last read through by tonight or tomorrow, after which I will send the document back to Nancy, which is when she will release the book. And then I'll be the author of three published books.
And sometime coming up, probably within the next three or four months, which will go by quickly, like they always do, I'll be working with an editor for my John Dunn book. That should be exciting. It's a much longer manuscript, and it's a new publisher, with new editors, and maybe they have a new format, or different procedures, seeing as how they are a print run publisher.
I'm looking forward to having my book in a bookstore for once. One development is that the KRP publisher, Dana, sent out a message to all the KRP authors asking their opinion about the discontinuation of publishing hardcover copies. I voted to keep them, because when a publisher has hardcover copies, that conveys the image of an upper echelon publisher. I happen to know book collectors, and collectors prefer hardcover copies.
Plus, I was looking forward to have a hardcover copy of my John Dunn book. So here's to hoping KRP keeps the hardcover copies, at least as an option. Stay tuned.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
When I wrote The Vase, I had a good idea what I wanted in that story. I used a sparse outline for that one, but like Killer Eyes, the final version bore little resemblance to the outline. And for John Dunn, well, since that was a true story, his real life, and the real historical events provided a ready made outline. I followed that, but added a couple fictitious events, which mostly centered on the doings of Dunn's first wife, Catherine Pierce.
For Second Chance, I followed the events as I dreamed them, but fleshed it out with additional characters and a rich story line. Which brings me to the third Killer story, Killer on the Payroll, and the YA story, Inside the Outhouse. I wrote an outline for Killer on the Payroll, but did not for Inside the Outhouse. And strangely, it's the latter book that's making more progress.
You'd think the book with the outline would be the one making more progress, but I'm finding that the book with no outline has more freedom to go wherever the story takes me. That's not to say that I can't throw out the outline, which I had done already. It's a fun process, but there's no strict rule to follow. I mean other than the 3rd person limited POV rule. That's one rule I'll never break again. Ever.
Monday, September 28, 2015
I've always been suspicious of reviews that are from the family or friends of the author. And I've always been suspicious that most five star reviews were paid for by the author. In both scenarios, the reviews are skewed. Or straight up phony. Well, I will be the first to admit that the reviews of The Vase, anyway, could be just a little bit biased.
Hey, at least I'm up front about it. I have to be. The reviews themselves are up front about it. So there you are. I'll take them, and hope maybe someone I don't know has the same opinion. Which was that the book was amazing. Well, fingers crossed anyway. It seems for me that getting reviews is harder than pulling teeth. And I have pulled a tooth or two. I'm a dad after all. I have two sons who are growing up too fast. But that's life. It goes by fast, and then it's over. For me, it's about what you can get done in the meantime.
Friday, September 25, 2015
If only it could be so easy. Or maybe it wasn't. I understand it wasn't his first book. I read that he hates his first book, which wasn't published, and all copies but one have been destroyed. Well, so what. If agents, publishers, and movie producers are contacting you, you did something right, no matter how many books you've written.
But the guy was a computer engineer. He had a large following, I understand, since he was a program writer for some video game company. It wasn't just any company, I believe it was a big one, or at least the video game was big. I don't know much about video games, because I never play them. I'm from the generation right before the generation of video game junkies.
All I am is a teacher. I can reach some kids and maybe their parents, but I have no avenue to a large computer-based following, like this guy apparently did. Of course, the story must be compelling. As I understand it, it's about a manned mission to Mars, and a Martian storm separates one of the astronauts from the others, so they believe he's dead and take off without him. So the astronaut is stranded on Mars alone and figures out how to survive until a rescue mission saves him.
As I write this, I'm reminded of the 1964 movie, Robinson Crusoe on Mars. (I loved that movie, btw.) I wonder if this guy was influenced by that movie. Like The Martian, it was about an astronaut who was stranded on Mars. It seems like a similar plot, but what makes The Martian different is the fact that this writer used his computer knowledge to make the computer related elements accurate.
The only thing I read that wasn't accurate, was the fact that Mars doesn't have storms. So who knows. Maybe one day someone will like Killer of Killers or The Vase enough to contact me with the desire to make a movie. Maybe the day pigs fly. So let's get started on inventing pig wings. LOL.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Speaking of replacing actors for established roles, Roger Moore, and all the other actors who have played James Bond were not close to being Sean Connery. I will concede that Daniel Craig made a good James Bond, however, but it took some forty years to finally find an actor right for the role since Connery.
Chris Pine is horrible as James Kirk, btw. I don't know why he got the role, but probably no one but William Shatner could play that part, so it didn't matter who they cast. Interestingly, Zach Quinto made a good Spock, but no one else in the Star Trek reboot worked as well as Quinto. Worse than Pine as Kirk was Zoe Saldana as Uhura. But then again, just as only William Shatner could play Kirk, only Nichelle Nichols could play Uhura, so it was another impossible task.
Probably the worst recasting of all time was Will Smith as James West. I mean, what were they thinking? Well, I know what they were thinking, but it was nothing but wrong. As for the Spider-man movies? It really didn't matter. Tobey Maguire was never right for the part, so replacing him was the right thing to do. Chris Reeves and Brandon Routh were good as Superman, but Henry Cavill I think plays the part better than all others before him. Cavill to me is Superman, just as Connery was Bond and Statham was Frank Martin.
One thing that disappoints me is they never found the right actor to be Conan. Arnold and Jason Mamoa were not good enough for the part, and I don't think the right actor even exists. Perhaps more importantly, you need the right director for a Conan movie. In a perfect world, it would have been Peter Jackson making Conan movies. The directors for the prior ones did nothing but butcher the Conan legend. I'd rather have no movie than the ones they made about Conan. But the world isn't perfect. That much is certain.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
But it seems that Killer of Killers, (the new cover design KOK btw,) is one of the top featured books that are being advertised. Maybe that's the reason I saw a spike in sales recently. I had posted that KOK rose in the Amazon rankings by more than a million spots recently. So that could be the reason why. And I was thinking that perhaps some of my students convinced their parents to buy it. But now I think it's more likely the USA Today ad is responsible.
I figure it this way. I teach five classes with about 30 students in each class, which means I have a total of 150 students. Multiply that by three, for the three Trimesters, and I have 450 students per year. That number must pale in comparison to the amount of people who go online to read USA Today. (That number is probably in the millions.) So logic dictates that the USA Today website ad will result in more sales than the 450 parents whose kids tell them about my book.
Still, you never really know for sure. It could be true that more parents buy my books than readers of USA Today. Doesn't matter, though. Who cares where the buyers come from. As long as they buy it. And (hopefully) enjoy it. And (hopefully) write a nice review about it. Someone named Joumani gave KOK and The Vase five-star ratings recently. Well, Joumani, if you are reading this blog, let me thank you for that. I do appreciate that.
Monday, September 21, 2015
It was completely gratuitous. It did not advance the plot in any way. Of course it showed the complete act, nudity and all, as if it were a soft core porn show. Talk about gratuitous, it was the definition of it. It made me think about how my own Killer series doesn't do that. There is sex and violence in the Killer stories, but every sex scene has a plot advancing purpose, and none of them are graphic. There's a lot more violence, but those scenes are every bit necessary.
The word gratuitous connotes the scenes are unnecessary or overdone. In Strike Back, the latest sex scene was unnecessary. In my Killer Series, the sex scenes are not unnecessary, nor gratuitous, nor overdone. I still don't recommend them to anyone under eighteen, however. And being a Middle School teacher, I'm forever reminding my students that the stories are for their parents, not them. They can read The Vase. There's no sex scenes in that story. And my WIP, Inside the Outhouse is a story I'm writing specifically for them. Can't wait for that one to get finished. Time to go to work.
Friday, September 18, 2015
Does that mean I'm only planning it to be a 40,000 word story? I'm not even sure. I don't think it's going to be that short. It may or may not be my shortest novel. Right now my shortest novel is Second Chance - a Football Story, and it's 86,000 words, more than twice as long as a typical MG/YA novel.
I suppose MG/YA novels vary in length as do all novels. Just how long will Inside the Outhouse be? I won't know until it's done. As for where in the story does 10,000 words put the story of Inside the Outhouse? All I can say is it's still in the beginning stages. Which means there's a lot of writing left to do. We'll see how that goes.
Thursday, September 17, 2015
But since it's not a Big Six publication, I don't think it will. Plus, the promotional efforts on the publisher's part are minimal, as far as I know. I think the publisher, Melange, focuses mostly on promoting their Romance line. That means for thrillers, like KOK, it's only getting exposure on their website. And that means only people who frequent their website will see it. Or people who I tell about it. Which isn't that many people. I should be more active in that regard.
What I'm looking forward to is that first review to be posted on Amazon.com. I see other books have reviews, and some books have tons of reviews. Who are the readers reviewing those books? Maybe those reviews are bought and paid for. Or those authors either have a lot of friends or awfully big families. I'm told reviews, particularly positive ones, help sales. Some people say they don't go by reviews when they want to buy a book. It's more about are they interested in the subject matter.
Well, the subject matter of Killer of Killers is martial arts. I believe a lot of people are interested in martial arts. The main character, Trent Smith, happens to be the world's greatest martial artist. But he's not a secret agent, and he's not a policeman. He's not a movie star and he's not an MMA fighter. But he does have an agenda. It's justice, and it's what drives the story. Trent Smith is a great hero, and he's featured in a great story. Check it out. You'll see.
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Okay, Depp is a big movie star. But I was hoping that Amber Heard would become a big movie star, too. She really hasn't. She never gets any big roles in any movies or TV shows. For example, the role of Gannicus in the STARZ show Spartacus that Dustin Clare landed was a bigger role than any role Amber Heard ever had in anything. She's been relegated to small roles and bit parts in low grade movies her entire career. She hasn't made the splash I had thought she would make.
And if marrying a man twice her age is her biggest accomplishment, then I'm a little concerned she has reached her peak. I thought that maybe being Depp's wife might give her an inside route to some significant roles and accelerate her Hollywood career. The opposite seems to be the case. Since marrying Depp, the biggest thing that's happened to Amber Heard is her arrest in Australia as a result of Depp's dogs. It seemed ridiculous, but that's the fact.
I still believe Amber Heard is one of the most beautiful blonde actresses in Hollywood. Apparently Johnny Depp agrees with me. So why don't movie directors or casting directors also agree? What is wrong with this picture? Amber Heard belongs up there with Jessica Alba, Angelina Jolie, and Sharon Stone. Doesn't she? Apparently, she doesn't. At least, that's what Hollywood seems to think.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
I was glad to learn that he was going to return to TV in CineMax's Strike Back series, and I was eager to see him again as a character in an Action show/series. But he only made an appearance in one or two of the episodes, and they were very small parts at that. Maybe he'll come back in some future episodes, but even so, the character he plays seems to be an underrepresentation of his potential.
Spartacus made the most of his potential, and he sprang into the world of TV shows with the character Gannicus, a gladiator champion. The role, albeit not the starring role, which was Spartacus himself, was still a major character in the Spartacus series, and in the prequel, which introduced the character Gannicus, he was the main character. And what a great job he did. He had a natural presence on the screen, and he pulled off the role beautifully.
I was convinced he'd make a great Trent Smith. Ideally, a real life martial arts champion would be cast in the role of Trent Smith, seeing as how I proclaim the character to be the world's greatest martial artist. But the great martial arts actors are getting too old at this time. Jean Claude Van Damm, Steven Seagal, and even Jet Li are in their fifties by now. But even in their prime none of them were right for the part. Of the three, only Jean Claude Van Damm might have worked. But he's a Belgian, and Trent Smith is American, and unless Van Damm was able to lose his French Accent, he wouldn't have been right for the part. Jet Li is Chinese, so that would eliminate him, because Trent Smith is not Chinese. And Steven Seagal, being a tall man, would not have been right for the role either.
It's about acting, however. The Kung Fu star David Carradine played a great martial artist, and he knew nothing of the martial arts. But it didn't matter. He was an actor, and he acted. That's why they call it acting. If anything it proved experience as a real life martial artist is not necessary. Dustin Clare has proven to me he's a solid actor, and even though he's from Australia, he could act like an American, which is what he plays in his role in Strike Back. If nothing else, his role in Strike Back proves he could play the part of an American.
I hope the Strike Back role expands for Clare, and if it does, he can show his acting ability is more than up to the task. Then he'd be ready to tackle his breakout role: Trent Smith, the world's greatest martial artist in Killer of Killers.
Friday, September 11, 2015
Yes, I did my research. I read all about mitochondria and the role it plays in the human system. I invented the drug, Eternity, and made it so that daily injections enable a daily rejuvenation of the healing capability. But of course, as with all 'wonder drugs' there are side effects. And it's the side effects that draw the world's greatest martial artist into the story line. Like roid rage, the drug causes unpredictable events of murderous frenzy. And because Eternity's users are the rich and famous, they are found innocent and/or the charges are dropped.
It was the OJ Simpson trial that inspired the story line. OJ, the famous, rich celebrity, was acquitted of murder even though everyone and their dog knew he did it. Same with Robert Blake. I'm sure there are others, but off the top of my head, OJ and Blake are my examples. They were innocent by way of fame. And that's what's happening in my story, but on a much larger scale. Until Trent Smith has had enough. For every murderer who dodges justice, there is another tier of justice waiting in the street. And its name is Trent Smith. Buy Killer of Killers today, and part two, Killer Eyes, will be available perhaps as soon as next week!
Thursday, September 10, 2015
I chronicled yesterday the slow pace in the writing of Inside the Outhouse, and ditto for Book Three in the Killer Series, Killer on the Payroll. It's like that sometimes. There are times when I can write a lot real quickly, and then other times, like now, I write slowly.
I plan on a total of seven or eight books total. Along with Killer of Killers, Killer Eyes, and Killer on the Payroll, I'll have The Vase, John Dunn, Second Chance, and Inside the Outhouse. Exactly what my eighth book will be, I haven't figured it out yet. Maybe I'll stop at seven.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
So I'll ride this one out, if for no other reason, to see how it goes. But even if it goes well, I'm still not going to write in first person again. I remember HG Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote some first person books. I read Well's War of the Worlds and one of Burroughs' Venus books as a teenager, and the first person narrative in those books didn't bother me.
But lately, any book that's first person is a book I will put down and never pick up again. As for Inside the Outhouse, it's a good thing most people are not like me. After all, I wouldn't want anyone to pick up my book and then, after learning it's first person, put it back down. Nevertheless, I'll proceed and keep everyone posted here on the blog how it's coming along. RIght now, I'm only on chapter two, so like I said, it's creeping along. Slowly.
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
I would like, one day, to illustrate my own book covers. It is, after all, something that artists do. And since I am an artist, it would behoove me to illustrate my own covers. No one knows better than I do what my characters look like, and what my book covers should look like. Being an art teacher, I've kept my artistic skills in shape, and I've always had it in the back of my mind to illustrate my own book covers.
On that note, I think I'll start with the John Dunn cover. The Killer covers are done, so, for now anyway, they're already taken care of. As is The Vase. So John Dunn, being published next year, will benefit from my first endeavor at a book cover. Time to go to work.
Monday, September 7, 2015
I guess they Google stuff in Sweden and Germany, so that's how they come across the blog. Btw, Russia, too, is often a source of visitors to the blog, which I'll never understand why. Well if they speak English, here's to hoping all these people read English so they buy my books.
Killer Eyes will be released probably by mid September, so sorry for the delay. I expected it to be released by August, but it's no big deal, since September is still in plenty time for the holidays. So three books will be ready by Christmas. Killer of Killers and its sequel, Killer Eyes, and The Vase. Order one or all three of them today!
Sunday, September 6, 2015
And here's Killer Eyes:
Friday, September 4, 2015
As for Amber Heard, the biggest news about her has been her marriage to Johnny Depp. Other than that, the news about Amber Heard seems to be legal trouble involving Depp's dogs in Australia. I know she had a role in a B movie Machete Kills, and she's had parts in other movies that never made it to the big screen.
So it looks like my judge of talent is far from exemplary. Maybe it takes a movie like, say, The Transporter, which made Jason Statham into a big time star. Wouldn't it be terrific if Killer of Killers was that movie for Dustin Clare?
Well, Killer of Killers is unlikely to be a movie in my lifetime, anyway, so it's not something to worry about. But if anyone were to read the Killer stories, and like the characters, those would be the faces you could put on the names. That's all.
Thursday, September 3, 2015
For example, The Six Million Dollar Man put out the Bionic Woman. The Man from Uncle put out The Girl from Uncle. Superman put out Supergirl, Bat Man put out Bat Girl, and Spider-man put out Spider-woman. I'm sure that list goes on and on.
Then there's the spin offs, which are innumerable. All in the Family spun off The Jeffersons, Happy Days spun off Laverne and Shirley, Mary Tyler Moore spun off Rhoda, etc.
But there is another version of this. It's when the producers of whatever popular series just go overboard with it. It happened in comics when you had the original Amazing Spider-man, then they put out the Spectacular Spider-man, Marvel Team-ups featuring Spider-man, and several more.
When the X-Men took over as the most popular comic book, the original series Uncanny X-Men put out just plain X-Men, then X-Factor, X-Force, Excalibur, The New Mutants, X-Man, and so many more I can't keep up with them.
I used to love Spider-man and the X-Men, now I can't stand any comics at all. I just got sick of them and I stopped collecting. The only reason for these producers going overboard is money. There's a point where the amount of a particular product is just right, and then there's the overboard point. Some call it the bottom line. Make as much money as possible. In my opinion, when it reaches that point, it's no longer art. It's nothing more than greed. And when it reaches that point, I lose interest. I wonder if anyone else is like me in that regard.
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
As for the sequel, Killer Eyes, I'm still waiting for my print copy, so I can't say yet when it will be released. I'm expecting it any day now. As for Killer on the Payroll, I'm still perfecting the plot in that one. Basically, it's about a martial arts tournament held on an unnamed island in the South China Sea. But unlike the underground fighting circuits held in Japan, which named the world's greatest martial artist, the winner of this tournament will be named the world's greatest killer.
Of course there will be a lot of other things going on in the story. Like the ultimate fate of the Eternity drug, and the characters from the first two books in the series. I haven't decided if I will leave the story open for a fourth book, but I don't think I will. That doesn't mean there won't be a fourth book. That's always possible. That's what series are...the continuation of a story.
I mean look at Batman, Superman, and Spider-man. Their stories didn't end after three episodes. Those characters have had literally hundreds of continuing stories or episodes, although they were comic books, not novels. James Bond is going on three dozen, I believe, at this time. But that includes a few rehashed stories with different actors in the role.
Whether or not the Killer Series exceeds three books is up in the air. I will write a third book. That much is certain. A fourth will depend on reader interest. If the readership increases to the level of a print run book, I will. If it remains small, like the POD versions, then I won't. It remains to be seen.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
The thing is, however, if said trilogy became a money maker, the producers will want to extend the trilogy to more sequels or movies. That's why a fourth Bourne movie was made, albeit with another actor in the role, and even the Transporter is coming out with a fourth movie, and again with another actor in the role. The bottom line is money, so if the movies make money, they'll keep making movies. It's why there's twenty-plus James Bond movies, with a bevy of different actors in the role.
As for my book, Killer of Killers? It does need one more book. Which will make it a trilogy. Should I extend it to more books? Probably won't happen. I left the story open for a second book, which is why I wrote Killer Eyes, and even a third, but beyond that? Well, nothing is certain. I suppose it could go beyond a trilogy, and maybe I would like to see it happen, but realistically, I would not count on it.
I will write a third Trent Smith martial arts thriller, a book three in the Killer Series, and only the right circumstances will pave the way for a fourth book and/or more. Only time will tell.