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, December 30, 2015
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Friday, December 11, 2015
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.