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.
Friday, October 30, 2015
I've mentioned before that I don't do that. I don't pay for reviews. I've solicited some. And those precious few reviews I have received for Killer of Killers and The Vase have been good reviews. Mostly. I cut and pasted an excerpt from one of those reviews to the right of this post. It's from Melissa Ratel of the Writer's Union of Canada. She read and reviewed both books. I would describe her reviews as critiques, like we used to do in art classes at San Jose State University. She cited the positives and followed with the negatives. Just like those art critiques.
Mostly her negatives for both books centered around a lack of emotional expression in my main characters. That's okay, because what she said regarding positives, especially for Killer of Killers, more than made up for it. You can see in the excerpt underneath the Killer of Killers image that she thinks Killer of Killers would make a "spectacular" film. Well, I certainly agree with that.
When I look up other books, say on Amazon, I see hundreds of reviews. I'm thinking how do those authors get so many reviews, and then I remember. They solicit them, and they pay for them.
I'm told that reviews are one of the best methods of promotion for books. So those authors probably believe that paying for reviews is like an investment, like when companies pay for commercials on TV. Of course the commercials will only present the attractiveness of their products. Thus, the paid for review is nothing more than a commercial for a book.
As for me, I've got this blog, which I know people from all around the world visit every day. How many of those people actually buy one of my books, I couldn't say. Still, I'll never pay for a review. There's something dishonest about that. And I won't go there. Hopefully, word of mouth can be a beneficial thing for my books. If you've read one, and liked it, but aren't inclined to write a review, tell your friends about it. Here's to hoping that a movie director reads Melissa Ratel's review and takes her up on her recommendation. Because I didn't pay for that review. Or any others.
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Interestingly, those novels were MG/YA. But one story was not MG/YA and became movies that even I liked a lot. I'm talking about the Jason Bourne franchise. They started as novels, became movies, and they were terrific. Heck, even the iconic James Bond movies had their start as novels back in the day.
But what does it take to become so popular? You would think the vampire genre was tired by now. What with all the Dracula movies and countless vampire spinoffs, like Dark Shadows, etc. but no. Twilight found an audience somehow, and so did the movies. Who would have guessed a boy wizard at a wizard school playing a type of wizard football game would be so popular? But it was. And what a cash cow it became for the author. I understand she's a billionaire now.
A movie about kids killing other kids, you would think would be a despicable concept. But no. Hunger Games became popular and now it's a movie chain, too. Really? A game where kids go kill other kids, with a video audience following the events. A rather degenerate idea, if you think about it.
But the Jason Bourne franchise--I'm on board with that one. A secret government organization training assassins to do the government's dirty work. No kids killing anyone. No kids getting killed. That's better. Kids should not be killing anyone, let alone other kids.
To me, it's always been about a great character. First and foremost. Then, of course a great story in which that great character can display his/her greatness. That's what made stories great. To me. James Bond was a great character. So was Conan. Captain Kirk. Then of course you have the superheroes, Bat Man, Superman, Spider-man, etc. Great characters in great stories.
Enter Trent Smith. Influenced, perhaps by the likes of Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, etc. A great martial artist in a great story. Read Killer of Killers. You'll see.
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
But like I said, it was the other guy's body being devoured. Glenn is not dead. That's because Glenn, along with Rick, Carl, the baby Judith, (whose aging process seems to have stopped at six months), Michonne, Maggie, Darryl, and Carol will never get killed. At least not until the final season or even the final episode. They are the core characters, and they will last for the duration of the show.
At least that's how I would write it. As for the last episode of the show, anything can happen. And that's because there will be no more shows. Like Russell Crowe in Gladiator. He died at the end, and it was okay, because the movie was over at that point.
You follow a story for one main reason. You are following the character(s), and the above characters are who the audience is following. So you don' kill them off or you lose the following. If that happens the ratings drop and the show gets canceled. It's as simple as two plus two. So, if any of them die, it will be when there's no more shows to watch. That's all.
Monday, October 26, 2015
There's a couple shows, Bunraku, for instance, where the action takes place with no guns. That's because, in Bunraku, guns are outlawed. And now there's a new TV show coming soon, called Into the Badlands, where, like in Bunraku, guns are outlawed.
But in the real world, guns are prevalent. More than prevalent, actually, and society is surely paying the price for that prevalence. Movies, novels, and TV shows are reflecting that prevalence, often focusing on the price for that prevalence.
I hate the price that's being paid for that prevalence, although, fortunately, that price has not affected me personally, and I hope that remains true. Nevertheless, I have projected my own personal hatred for guns onto the main character in my Killer Series.
In Book One, Killer of Killers, Trent Smith never uses a gun. He is a deadly martial artist who can kill with his bare hands. He makes one comment in the story when he disarms a bad guy, and tosses the gun and knife away. "Guns and knives...weapons of cowards." That was the only allusion to his feelings about guns in the entire book, other than the fact that he never uses one.
In Book Two, I don't think Trent makes any comments about guns, but he still never uses a gun. He is forced to use a katana, however, and he just happens to be an expert. Being trained in Japan, that is a very realistic development. He's a master at Kendo, which is the art of using a katana. The fact that Trent Smith holds the rank of Judan automatically suggests he's a master with a katana, and he most certainly is.
But when it comes to guns, in Book Three, which is a WIP right now, I do put in there that Trent wishes guns had never been invented. Now I'm not so extreme in that belief, personally, but I do wish guns were limited to the military and police. I don't think 'Johnny Average' needs a gun. I don't believe in hunting, either, btw. I don't recognize the "sport" in shooting an animal that's grazing, and/or minding its own business in an area where it's at home. But the world is the way it is, and all I can do about it is write great stories. And that's all I'll ever be able to do.
Friday, October 23, 2015
A publisher concerned for quality, like Nancy, is an author's dream. All Melange Books can be counted on to be error free. And if they're not, you can't blame the publisher. Nancy has proven to me time and again that she will go out of her way to keep her author's happy, and if the author is happy, you can bet the readers will be happy, too.
No readers want to read books that have typos or other errors, and that's where Melange scores big. And that's why Melange is a great publisher. Check them out. If you've already bought my Killer of Killers book, you can get Book Two soon. And check out some of the other titles, too. Knowing what I know about Melange, you won't be disappointed!
Update: It seems a digital release is going to happen on MOBI and Kindle on Halloween, but Nancy is going to confirm all typos are gone before the print version is released. Stay tuned.
Thursday, October 22, 2015
And if it does, I'll have an avenue to the big time. Meaning the top level publishers. I'm currently at level three with my Killer Series and The Vase. John Dunn had been accepted by a level 2 publisher, meaning print runs, hard bound copies, and placement in bookstores. The prospect is exciting, and I can't wait. So if Second Chance is published by KRP, that will be fine, but why not take another shot at a level 1 publisher? I've learned MG/YA novels have a better chance, so yeah.
As for Inside the Outhouse? I'll give that a shot at an agent, too. Gotta finish it first. Then we'll see.
Monday, October 19, 2015
Yet the character Morgan is still bent on not taking anyone's life. But in the very end, that belief might have been overcome. I'm talking about the scene near the end where he may actually have killed the dude trying to kill him. The show didn't make it certain, but it did make it possible that Morgan finally crossed that line. He used his stick to lay one final smack on the dude trying to kill him. But the show didn't confirm that Morgan actually killed him. The show did convey that it was possible Morgan killed him, but didn't confirm it.
And if Morgan actually did kill the dude, then I can dismiss that particular issue with the show. Which leaves me with one more issue. The older son of Pete. Pete was the child and wife beater, who turned into a murderer when he murdered Deanna's kind-hearted husband. I don't remember the son's name, but he's the older one, and he's in that teenaged rebellious phase, even during the vicious attack by the Wolves which nearly cost him his life. He was saved by Carl, but of course, he doesn't appreciate that fact, nor does he offer a hint of gratitude for having his life saved.
To me, that's not realistic. Unless they're trying to make this guy the world's biggest douche, which is possible, making him a candidate for Zombie fodder. That just might be the objective, and if it is, then there goes my last issue with the show.
Let me say I liked what I saw with Carol, and even the priest guy was making some strides toward being a likable character. Here's hoping that continues, and the show will continue to shine.
Friday, October 16, 2015
I was impressed with how the writer of this review worded the review, because it is exactly how I would like readers to perceive the main character, Trent Smith. The reviewer compares Trent Smith to Charles Bronson and Chuck Norris, who are well known to Hollywood audiences as tough good guys. Or good tough guys. Which is what I used to consider "cool" characters.
The only thing is the martial art in question is Budo Ju Jitsu, not Bodu Ju Jitsu, but what the heck. It's a great review. Here it is cut and pasted from the Lulu website:
Thursday, October 15, 2015
When I sent back the final draft, as in the absolute final draft to be ready for the print release, I indicated I changed everything that needed changing, but I couldn't change the back cover blurb, which still had the word revenge instead of vengeance. Apparently, it's not a one day fix, or a one week fix. It must be a two or three week period to change it. So here we are, about two weeks later, going on three, and still waiting for word on when Killer Eyes will be released.
I do salute Nancy, the publisher over there at Melange, for many reasons. She is most definitely an author friendly publisher, much like when you have a principal at a school who is a teacher friendly principal. Being a teacher, I've been fortunate to have mostly teacher friendly principals, but every once in a while you get a principal who doesn't realize that teachers are on the front lines, so to speak, and forget that a teacher's job is way more difficult than any job in administration or at the district office.
Which is curious that the administrative and district office jobs get a much greater paycheck. It's backwards. But that's the way the world is today. It's backward. Or upside down. There's no other way to put it. When will things get put straight? Who knows? I'm just waiting for Killer Eyes to be released. Will keep you posted.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
But I never saw him in anything since, and Spartacus ended a few years ago. Finally, with him being cast in Strike Back, another show I had been watching, I was relieved that he hadn't faded away in the sunset. But with the final season of Strike Back finished now, I was disappointed with the role he played. And that's because the role was a very small one, and really an insignificant one.
Dustin Clare played what at first seemed like a mercenary, working for the CIA, but ended up being just another hitman, leading a team of hitmen, who were hired by, I'm not even sure who hired them, actually, but the bottom line was, he was a bad guy. That's not a problem, really, but the role was weak, and I was let down, because I had thought it was going to be a bigger part for him, and for the show. It wasn't. He had little "air" time, and the part he played was nothing more than a scumbag with the IQ of a street rat. His potential as a character actor is so much more than that.
In fact, I've made no secret that I would choose him to play the part of Trent Smith, the main character in my Killer Series, Killer of Killers and Killer Eyes. I still think he could pull it off, but I don't base that opinion on anything I saw in Strike Back. I base that opinion on his performance playing Gannicus, from Spartacus and Gods of the Arena, the Spartacus prequel.
In those shows, Dustin Clare had charisma. He was overflowing with it, actually. So much so, that he stole the show, as I said. The part in Strike Back offered no charisma at all. But in Spartacus, as Gannicus, he was so filled with charisma that he could have challenged Sean Connery, William Shatner, and even Clint Eastwood, from the iconic roles that made them famous. That's what I thought of Dustin Clare, and that's why I still believe he'd make a great Trent Smith.
But of course, it would take the right producers and director to make that work. I don't doubt that the producers and director of a show like those are vital to making a character work, and without the right people in place on both sides of the camera, it would be a long shot. But, it's worked so well, so many times, that all an actor needs is the right role, and the right people behind him, and his career would take off. Here's to hoping that some producer and director will take Melissa Ratel's advice, (you can read it in the margin to the right,) and make Killer of Killers into a movie. And cast Dustin Clare as Trent Smith. It would be his James Bond, Captain Kirk, or Man with no Name. Here's to hoping.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
It's hard to believe the same people produce both shows, and I don't understand why the spinoff is so much the opposite of the original. By opposite, I mean just that. It's boring, slow, and uninteresting. That doesn't mean it can't become like the original. Sometimes shows start slowly, but speed up in action, drama, etc. Here's to hoping Fear does speed up. If it doesn't, well, it's a good thing the original is back. There's a reason it's the number one show on TV today. It's so well written, and rarely disappoints. The main character, Rick Grimes, does the things you would expect a character like him would do. They're the things I would do if I were him.
There are moments, to be sure, that it does take a turn to the point where you question the writing, but when that happens, it gets back on track quickly enough so you can deal with it. As long as that is the case, I expect Walking Dead to remain the number one show.
Friday, October 9, 2015
Fear's main character, Travis, for example, beats someone to death, after it had been established that he was a kind and gentle soul, a high school English teacher, even, and a proponent of non-violence. Now, he's a berserker who beats a soldier to death with his bare hands. It took Rick, the main character in the original series, four years to reach that point, and Rick was a Deputy Sheriff who was involved in a shootout with criminals in the very first episode. And despite his constant and continuous confrontations with zombies and evil humans, it still took him near five years to reach the point that Travis reached by episode six of season one.
And the reason Travis beat the soldier to death with his bare hands was just as stupid. The soldier takes a shot at the daughter of a man who had tortured him, even though he had been romantically involved with the girl, and he had the man at gunpoint. In addition to that, the man had admitted to the soldier that he was a torturer in San Salvador, during the civil wars that occurred over there. So the soldier had every reason to shoot him. But instead he shoots the innocent daughter, who he had been kissing and hugging the episode before. But so as not to worry the audience it turns out he only winged the girl. She's only shot in the arm, so no real harm done, except for the fact that mild mannered Travis beats him to death with his bare hands. It made no sense.
Furthermore, the soldiers themselves are portrayed as cowardly, dastardly, and scummy, quick to abandon their duties and their posts, and quick to abandon each other. Still, I'll stick it out to the end, since the original resumes this coming Sunday. Here's to hoping the original will stay true to its original quality of character development and plots. We'll see.
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
I remember years ago there was a popular TV show called Kung Fu, and you can't get any more martial artsy than that. It was out during the Bruce Lee era. Bruce Lee movies were poplar, and they still are. More recently, a Martial Arts movie won the best foreign film Oscar. Of course I'm referring to Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, which I just watched the other night with my oldest son. It really was an excellent movie. Even with subtitles.
And some of the more recent thriller movies might also be considered martial arts movies, like all the Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and Jason Statham movies, etc. I love those movies. Particularly when you get Jason Statham and Jet Li in the same movie, like we did with the movie called War. Movies like that give you a great story line to go with the martial arts action, which is what I strive to do with my own Martial Arts stories, Killer of Killers and its sequel, Killer Eyes.
Speaking of Killer Eyes, I'm happy to report that during my first read through of the PDF file I received yesterday, I found no typos. Typos have a way of hiding, however, and then they leap out at you when you least expect it, like a jungle booby trap.
Well, here's to hoping all my proof reading over the last few months cleared out all those 'booby traps' and the text is clean all the way through. Look for the release of Killer Eyes within the next few days!
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
In fact, two of them said in their reviews that they were hoping or wishing for a book two of the Killer of Killers story because there were some questions left unanswered in Book One. Those questions are answered in Killer Eyes, but I might have a couple more questions at the end of Killer Eyes that are again left unanswered. Can't say for sure. You'll have to read it to find out.
Look for the release of Killer Eyes soon. Maybe as soon as this week!
Friday, October 2, 2015
I'm referring to POV. It's something I was sure had been fixed completely. A person's POV in the beginning should be the same at the end, and it is now, thanks to that last read-through. And there was one more thing. Main character Trent Smith is more about vengeance than revenge. On the back cover blurb I had failed to notice the word revenge was used. (I had written it that way when I first composed the blurb.) But when I edited the interior blurb, I realized the word vengeance was the right word to use. But I didn't change the back cover version of that blurb. I didn't have access to that file, so I couldn't change it.
I did advise Nancy, and she said it will be taken care of, and then sent off to the printer. So it's a day for celebration for me. Another book is finished and in the process of publication. Even though I don't drink, I'll break out the champagne. I'll have a glass for each book published. Which is three for now. But more to come. And very soon.
Thursday, October 1, 2015
If you prefer the new cover, then you can get it from Melange directly, or perhaps from Lulu, which is the printing company, because they sell their books directly, too. In fact, it's Lulu, not the publisher, Melange, that's advertising their books on the USA Today site I mentioned recently. I discovered that Lulu is also advertising their books on other online sites, as well. I saw their books on YouTube, and a few other places. So that's good. The more promotion, the better.
And it's true that Killer of Killers is holding steady in its sales ranking in the six figure areas. That's far from being a best seller, but it's better than the seven figure ranking it had before the advertising. Can't complain about that. Here's hoping it does climb the rankings. Next step would be to break the five figure rankings, like it has done on the Lulu rankings. Fingers crossed.