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.
Monday, February 29, 2016
To me, it was better than listening to Chris Rock, who I've never liked anyway. Nor was I interested in any of the movies that were nominated. I never bothered to see The Revenant, and I never even heard of Spotlight. From what I understand, those were the two big winners, which included best movie and best actor. Whatever. Wasn't interested.
I did enjoy watching the Walking Dead, and I particularly liked the way Rick and Michonne are an item now. I was very happy that their time together last episode wasn't a "one night stand" sort of thing. WIth all the talk of racial problems these days which seem to be worse than ever since the sixties, I am very glad the AMC network had no qualms about allowing an interracial romance with the main character of the show.
Yes, in past episodes we saw Tyreese, (a black man) have a brief romance with a white woman. But they were minor characters, and both of them were killed off. It was almost as if interracial romances were lethal. But now, with Rick and Michonne hooking up, we can (hopefully) expect them both to survive. At least they'd better survive, and their romance better survive, too. I've never read the comic book, so I don't know how it pans out in that medium, nor do I know if it even happens in that medium. I am aware that the TV show does not stick to the comic story line. For example, I understand the Darryl character doesn't even exist in the comics, so there you go.
So, I had no interest in watching the Oscars. And I'm especially glad for that since it seemed to focus on racial issues. I hate racial issues. To me, skin colors, national origins, and ethnicities have never been an issue. But it's been increasingly clear that those things seem to be huge issues to a lot of other people. In that regard, it seems as though our society has reverted back to the sixties.
Thursday, February 25, 2016
The movie Gladiator for instance. Russell Crowe's character wins over the crowd, kills the evil emperor, and retains the love of the female lead, but then he dies. That sucked. Even though he accomplished every goal the movie had for him to accomplish, the dude dies in the end. You feel good about the objectives being met, but you feel like crap that the guy dies anyway. It's almost like it didn't matter that he killed the emperor or won the adoration of the crowd, and the woman loves him. He's dead!
Another story that pissed me off was Stephen King's The Mist. After a harrowing experience dodging monsters from another dimension in some kind of heavy fog, five survivors decide to commit suicide, thinking there was no way out of the mist. They had a gun, but there were only enough bullets to kill four of them. So the shooter kills everyone but himself. Then, a few minutes later, the mist clears, and here comes the U.S. military to the rescue. The day is saved, but wait. If the people had waited just a few more minutes, their lives would have been saved, too. It left the audience feeling like crap. I don't watch shows to feel like crap. It sucked. And I ended up hating that story.
You can bet every one of my stories has a good ending. And none of them make you feel like crap. Both Killer books end perfectly and so does The Vase. As for Second Chance, I play no games with the reader. It begins letting the reader know how it ends. The story is how he got there. It's the only story that really doesn't have a happy ending, but like I said, it's set up that way from the start.
As for John Dunn. That one is a true story. It had to end the way it did, which wasn't too happy for the Zulus, but that was real life. It's real history. John Dunn's end to the story was as good as it could have been considering the circumstances. It was forced upon him by the British and he made the most of it. He was a rational man, and he did what he had to do for his family to survive. And what a family he had. Fifty wives and over a hundred kids, as well as a few thousand dependents were counting on him. He came through for them all. It doesn't end leaving the reader feeling like crap.
It's what I believe a story should be. All my stories end the way stories should end. The reader feels good, or at least, not feeling like crap. As for the other stories I mentioned, I wish I never heard of them. Especially The Mist. It sucked.
Monday, February 22, 2016
My favorite pirate captains, Captain Flint and Captain Vane are allies, as they resumed their alliance by the end of season three. They have upped the stakes in their war against civilization and their reasons are valid. But a new captain has entered the story line now. He's the famous Blackbeard the pirate, played by one of my favorite actors, Ray Stevenson, who I liked in the HBO show Rome. I'm wary, however, because in the trailer for next week's episode, Blackbeard and Flint are shown getting ready to duel it out with pistols. I'm getting tired of characters who are supposed to be allies fighting amongst themselves. That's why I was glad to see the ex-slaves on the island decide to become allies with the pirates rather than killing them. But it was Flint's great speech that convinced the leader of the ex-slaves to join them rather than kill them, and it was a well written episode.
And The Walking Dead has finally made Rick and Michonne a couple. It's something I had believed should happen and by the end of last night's episode it happened. Well, at least they hooked up for a romantic evening. I don't know for sure if they will continue that, but I hope they do. I had always believed that they should. Apparently I"m not the only one who believed that. I understand fans of the show also believed it. I'm glad the writers shared that belief. Both are strong characters, and Michonne had Rick's back from the beginning. She's saved his life at least twice, and of course, Rick saved Michonne's life, too. So they are an ideal couple if you ask me.
I'm not sure who this "Jesus" character is or what he's about, but I'm guessing he will be a new regular character from here on out. I'm also guessing he will become one of the "beloved" characters, joining Rick, Michonne, Darryl, Glenn, Carol, Carl, Abraham, and "all the rest." It's okay with me if he does. He seems like an interesting character so far. And that's one of the reasons The Walking Dead is TV's most popular show for six years running now. They have great characters, which is a paramount factor in maintaining fan interest. I don't doubt they will continue that.
Thursday, February 18, 2016
But the new movie, Deadpool, being a comic book movie, was anything but low key when it came to sex and humor. Particularly sexual humor, which was actually quite vulgar, imo. I mean, it's a comic book movie. I can understand nude scenes, particularly when the scene is inside a strip club. But the vulgar sex jokes, well... I'm not in the mood for those. If you want vulgar sex jokes just watch South Park or Family Guy. There's your bathroom humor. I've no time for it in a show that's supposed to be an action adventure. It demeaned the show. It made the show into a big joke.
In my view, there's a difference between a serious drama and a not so serious comedy. One of the things that qualifies a show for a serious drama is when you have a lot of people getting killed. To me, that's a serious thing. In other words, when people are getting killed, it's not a laughing matter. Even if those people are bad guys. It's not a joke. Death, killing, murders, which involves people getting blown up, shot up, and chopped up, it's not a funny thing. And this is what was happening in the movie Deadpool. But even so, they tried to make it all a funny joke. A funny sex joke.
I've heard it's Deadpool's personality to make everything a joke. I don't know. I never bought or read a Deadpool comic book. The Deadpool character was invented after I stopped buying and reading comic books. So I admit to being unfamiliar with the character. But I love action adventure movies. I've appreciated the recent action adventure comic book movies too. They are done seriously. Dramatically. Not like the first attempts at bringing comic book heroes to the big screen. The first Batman and Superman movies were very tame in their depiction of violence. Hollywood preferred to make them comedic. Silly and goofy even.
Bottom line, those movies sucked. It was like Hollywood didn't take the comic book heroes seriously. They kept them silly and goofy. Then, more recently, when Hollywood decided to make the comic book movies more serious, and the characters more dramatic, with gritty story lines containing death and destruction, the movies started to get pretty darn good.
But now they're trying to combine the serious violence and death with vulgar bathroom humor. It just doesn't work. Not even when explained by a guy's personality. Death is not funny. Killing is not funny. Murder is not a joke. Even in my books where there's plenty of death and killing, I never mix it with jokes. Why? Because it's not a humorous thing to see people getting their heads chopped off and smashed to death like in Deadpool.
So while people are getting butchered in Deadpool, they continued with the jokes, which, btw, weren't even funny, unless you like trashy bathroom humor. I don't. And I wasn't laughing. In fact, no one in the theater was laughing. A couple times I heard a woman go "Eeww." That was the only response I heard from the audience in the entire theater, which was almost filled to capacity. (And just to clarify, the lady's "eeww" was a reaction to the sex jokes, not the violent death scenes.)
I will continue to write with this in mind: killing is not funny. It's not a joke. Killing and death is a serious thing. That doesn't mean there's no room for humor in an action adventure story line. Of course there is. But when you make killing the joke, then it's not funny. Not to me.
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Of course, you have unlimited PDF copies with all publishers. But when you have a real book in your hands, there's just something better about that. The expectation is that you give those books to reviewers, and the reviews help promote the books. I've had two great endorsements, which is better than a review for each book. Ian Knight and A M Banks FRGS, both from England will be getting free hardbound copies of John Dunn - Heart of a Zulu. That's for sure. And I'm honored.
First, I'm honored that both of these English gentlemen were interested in reading anything that I've written. Especially Mr. Knight, who happens to be the world's foremost authority on all things Zulu and Zulu War. He is the ultimate author on the Zulu War and anything else that has to do with British colonial rule in South Africa. Mr. Knight is number one in the world. And Mr. Banks is a reviewer for not one but two British Army Magazines -- Soldier Magazine and the British Army Review.
As for my other soon to be published KRP book, Second Chance - A Football Story, John Coy and Walter Knight, (no relation to Ian Knight,) will be getting free copies. John Coy is a successful author of several sports books, and Walter Knight is a successful author with my publisher Penumbra. I owe all four gentlemen respect and gratitude. It's not often people take time out of their busy schedules to help a complete stranger. Even people who have known me my entire life won't do that. So I am a lucky man. Or shall I say, again, a very grateful author.
As for edits on Second Chance, Dana, the publisher said she will edit the book herself. What another honor. She is the top person at KRP, so I'm just overflowing with honors right about now. I made sure the manuscript was pristine and sent her an improved file last night. Yes, even better than the one I sent yesterday morning. I wrapped up a couple loose ends that I realized needed to be done. So now that she has the improved file, I'm confident the ms is clean as a whistle. Can't wait.
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
It is inevitable for a novel length manuscript to have errors, even if you've reread it three times, which I had done. And the pesky typos have a way of hiding no matter how many times you read through it.
I found errors concerning a couple names, and those errors would have been glaring had I not caught them. And of course, I did locate and correct a few typos, in addition to improving some prose. So, yeah, it was a good opportunity to make the book better, and I did it in two days. Fortunately, I'm on Winter Break this week. So I started last night, after receiving the email, and finished this morning.
I emailed Dana again just a few minutes ago, inquiring about an editor. I'm pretty confident in the quality of writing, and the lack of errors/typos,. but, again, you never know. An editor really is necessary, because an author, being so close to his/her manuscript, just can't be sure he/she fixed everything that needs to be fixed. An extra pair of eyes is required, and sometimes it's better to have a second editor to catch the things the first editor missed.
In the meantime, Second Chance is scheduled to be released this summer, which is just in time for the football season. I'm hoping with football back, readers will be interested in reading a football story. And this football story hasn't been told. It came in a dream to me. That's why I was able to write it within a few months.
This photo is what I'll ask for as a cover. But the team in my story has dark green jerseys, not blue, and the number of the player is twenty-four, not thirty-one.
Can't wait until August. I'll keep you posted.
Sunday, February 14, 2016
Like the British, these two American authors don't know me from Adam. But they have demonstrated great kindness and willingness to take the time from their busy schedules to help me out with great endorsements for Second Chance.
As I mentioned in earlier posts, only a British author, (and a great one, btw,) and a British reviewer for British army magazines had taken the time from their busy schedules to provide endorsements for John Dunn - Heart of a Zulu.
But now, a couple of American authors have done the same for my football book, Second Chance. One of them, a successful sports book author who is currently touring Africa, took the time from his hectic schedule to read Second Chance and send me a great endorsement. His name is John Coy, and he has written several sports books for big time publishers. His latest is Crackback, a story about high school football, just like Second Chance.
The other is a fellow author from my publisher Penumbra, Walter Knight, the author of the successful sci fi series America's Galactic Foreign Legion. He also wrote Vampire in the Outfield and Zombie Missouri. Although his books are horror comedies, he just happens to be a former high school football player who played in the high school state championship game, just like the main character in Second Chance. So it was great that he took the time to provide an endorsement.
I thank all of them from the bottom of my heart. It's great to know that people you never met can be so kind and willing to help.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
They are pushing seventy now, but they were playing the heavy metal tunes as if they were still in their twenties. Guitarist Tony Iommi invented the heavy metal rock sub-genre. It's why he and Black Sabbath are legends.
Monday, February 8, 2016
But it wasn't a game in which Manning excelled. He didn't have an MVP game. The award went to Von Miller, and rightly so. Miller and the Denver defense proved that it's defense that wins championships. This has been proven over and over again. In fact, it's a repeated cliche by now. Defense wins championships. The Panthers had the league's top scoring offense this past season, and many people were on their boat. Even I was thinking that after a 15-1 regular season, the best record in the league, it was Carolina's year. But in the back of my mind, I was reminding myself that Denver did in fact have the league's no. 1 defense, and the old cliche was ever present.
Two years ago, Denver and Peyton had a record setting offensive year. But Seattle had the league's best defense, and subsequently Seattle blew Denver out of the water. It wasn't even close. This year the best defense belonged to Denver, and so a Denver win was the result.
So the cliche is alive and well. Defense wins championships. And every team should know that by now. If anyone doubted it, they shouldn't anymore. Defense wins championships. Period.
And speaking of defense. The main character in my soon to be released football novel, Second Chance, just happens to play defense. And they win the championship. Watch for Second Chance coming this summer.
Friday, February 5, 2016
Oh, well. At least Felicity finally got Arrow, AKA Oliver Queen. Emily Bett Rickards has played the part of Felicity to perfection. I mean this young actress is a better actress than most of the A list actresses in Hollywood right now. I expect some great things from her in the near future. She's only twenty-five right now, so she's got at least a solid decade ahead of her.
As for Stephen Amell who plays the Arrow... Yeah, he's been great. He makes a terrific leading man. He's 34, so he too has at least a decade ahead of him in like parts. For now, the Arrow character, or the Green Arrow, as he's better known, is a great role. He's perfect for it.
Don't know if I'd cast him as Trent Smith, though. Maybe. My first choice remains Dustin Clare. Then Stephen Amell. Both make great fighters, and both would fit the part of a lady's man. Those would be the requirements. Don't have to worry about it now. I'm interested in how the Arrow returns in season four. I think it's safe to say he returns as the Green Arrow. It's been a long time in the development. But it worked. We'll see.
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
I especially like how the romance between the Arrow and Felicity Smoak developed. And it was three years in the development. Felicity Smoak is really a great character on the show, and she has become one of my favorite characters. So now I'm nearing the latter stages of season three, and the romance between the Arrow and Felicity has finally reached fruition.
Isn't it interesting that Hollywood seems to have no trouble finding gorgeous blonde actresses? It's like they're coming out of the woodwork. In just about every TV show or movie, there's a stunningly beautiful blonde woman. I mean absolutely beautiful, drop-dead gorgeous. They're so beautiful they're like golden goddesses. And almost any one of them would be right for the part of Samantha Jones.
But I've yet to find the right black actress to fit the part of Susie Quinn. I've been searching for years, and it's been very frustrating. Not one black actress in Hollywood that I've seen would fit the part of the extremely beautiful Susie Quinn.
Sure, there's plenty of beautiful black actresses. But none of them are how I described Susie Quinn in Killer of Killers. I know first hand that there are plenty of beautiful black women out there. I based the Susie Quinn character on women I've known in real life. (One was a Raiderette cheerleader.) But Hollywood hasn't found them. Maybe the complaints about lack of diversity in Hollywood are valid. Otherwise I'd have as easy a time finding an actress for Susie Quinn as I've had finding actresses for Samantha Jones. I talked about Jill Marie Jones, recently. She might have been right for the part, but she's too old now. So the search for Susie Quinn goes on.
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
But wait a minute. Second Chance - A Football Story is just the type of book you'd want to promote in Atlanta. After all, southern cities like Atlanta love football. They have college teams galore, and Atlanta of course, is home to the NFLs Atlanta Falcons.
Well, after you read Second Chance - A Football Story, you might understand what I mean. It's a dude in a football uniform, yes, but you can't see his face. So you don't know who he is. And, yeah, he's just standing there, but it's like an "in-your-face" kind of way. In addition to that, the darkness in the background provides a kind of mysterious atmosphere. Don't worry, after you read the book, you'll get it.
Monday, February 1, 2016
We saw it with Arrow in season one, when the police detective hated the Arrow for personal reasons, despite the Arrow saving his life, his daughter's life, and countless others. But then in season two, we saw the detective overcome that hate. Which was a good thing. He even sided with the Arrow and they were unofficial partners in the war against crime.
So what's the problem? In season three, the detective has regressed. In season three he's back to hating the Arrow and this time, he finally arrests him. And despite his own daughter being the Arrow's ally, and defending him, this detective dude can't let go of his hate, which, btw, is based on a ridiculous assumption that he, (the detective) was right about him all along. But wait. He wasn't right all along. He was wrong all along. He had come to realize that in season two. But in season three he comes to realize that he was right in season one, even though he was wrong. Sheesh...
So the detective, (now a captain) has regressed. And it's back to square one. All the growth of the detective character is flushed down the toilet. Come on. I was appreciating character growth. It's something that makes a story worth watching. But to erase all of that? It makes the story boring. It's bad writing. Can't the writers think of something new? A new conflict? It's like the repeated, never ending, and ever old J. Jonah Jameson's obsession with hating Spider-man. The guy never grows, his character never develops and the repeated story line of his crusade against Spider-man is more than tired. It's rusty. It's boring.
I would think that after someone saves your life, not once, not twice, but multiple times, and saves the lives of your loved ones, and saves the lives of countless innocents, over and over again, you might find a reason to stop hating. But no. Not in these ridiculous story lines.