Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?

THE VASE

A novel by Mark M. DeRobertis

Muhsin Muhabi is a Palestinian potter, descended from a long line of potters. His business is run from the same shop owned by his ancestors since the day his forebears moved to Nazareth. The region's conflict saw the death of his oldest son, and rogue terrorists are in the process of recruiting his youngest in their plot to assassinate the Pope and Israeli prime minister.

Professor Hiram Weiss is an art historian at Nazareth’s Bethel University. He is also a Shin Bet operative on special assignment. With the help of fellow agent, Captain Benny Mathias, he plans to destroy the gang responsible for the death of his wife and only child. He puts a bomb in the ancient vase he takes on loan from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.

Mary Levin, the charming assistant to the director of Shin Bet, has lost a husband and most of her extended family to recurring wars and never-ending terrorism. She dedicates her life to the preservation of Israel, but to whom will she dedicate her heart - the brilliant professor from Bethel University - or the gallant captain who now leads Kidon?

Harvey Holmes, the Sherlock of Haunted Houses, is a Hollywood TV host whose reality show just flopped. When a Lebanese restaurant owner requests his ghost-hunting services, he believes the opportunity will resurrect his career. All he has to do is exorcise the ghosts that are haunting the restaurant. It happens to be located right across the street from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.



Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Game of Thrones - The Characters Die

I like to watch exciting shows on TV or the movies, and the main reason for that is to see great characters in action. It's why Batman, Superman, Spider-man, The X-Men, James Bond, etc. are popular stories. But when you kill off the great characters, what then? No more stories.

So this is why I'm mostly not a fan of Game of Thrones. Yeah, I'm watching it anyway. But my favorite characters in that show are all dead. So now what?

My favorite character in GOT was Ned Stark. He was killed off in the first season. My next favorite character was Robb Stark. They killed him, too. I liked Lady Stark. They killed her. I liked Jon Snow. They killed him, too. I liked Tywin Lannister. He got killed. I liked Oberon Martell. He got killed. I liked Robert Barratheon. He got killed. I liked Stannis Barratheon. He got killed. I liked Myrcella and she got killed. And I liked that White Walker dude, and even he got killed!

Okay, I hated Joffrey. At least they killed him. But I also hate Denaeris. And there's no way they'll kill her. I hate those sister assassins in Dorne. They may or may not get killed. Have to wait on that one. And who doesn't hate Cersie? I think everyone does. But will she get killed? Probably not.

So who's left to like? I like Jamie Lannister. Which is weird. Because he was a hated character at first. Now, he's a good guy. Maybe because of Brienne the warrior woman. I like her, too, btw, and that could be a good pair in the future. Who knows? I never read the books. So I don't know. At least those two are still alive, but for how long?

I can't stand Arya Stark, and I'm sure she won't die. And her sister, whose name I forget, she won't die. And that fat dude who's got the chick from the Wildlings along with her baby. They are both very annoying characters, so I doubt they'll die. But they're not heroes. They're just filler characters imo. The only heroes left are Jamie Lannister, minus his right hand, and Brienne, the big warrior chick. I really do like them both. So if one or both of them get killed off, for me, there's no one left. It will be a hero-less show. And that won't be cool. Just have to keep watching and see what happens.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Game of Thrones is Back

So Game of Thrones season 6 premiered last night. I like the series overall, but individual episodes really are not self contained shows. Meaning if you were to watch a single episode, it wouldn't be very enjoyable. It's the conglomerate of shows, adding up to one episodic experience that makes Game of Thrones something to be watched. So if I had only seen last night's episode, it wouldn't have been something that made me think, "Wow, what a show. I've got to see all of those shows."

But as a continuing story, it is just another show. A lot of shows seem to be following that pattern. Not all shows. Walking Dead, for example, continues to make each individual show interesting unto itself. Banshee, too. But not Game of Thrones.

Many of the shows today continue to take their stories to places I don't agree with, and it is bothersome. But what are you going to do? Write your own story? That's a good idea. Write your own story. That way, the story will go the way you want it to go.

And talking about writing your own stories, I'm still improving Second Chance, and will continue to do so until it's published in August. Same thing with my John Dunn story. I'll keep improving that one until it's published in November. As for my other WIPs, they are pretty much on hold until the other two are done. Because now is the time to do it. Not later.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Banshee Falls from Grace

Watching this fourth and final season of Banshee has been a total disappointment. Total. I had said before that Banshee, after its first three seasons, had replaced Star Trek, tos, as my all time favorite TV show. The fourth season began on the wrong note, as I had said, but I was willing to see how it panned out. I've just watched the third episode, and it's not looking good.

First of all, the premiere episode of season four began with one of my favorite characters, Rebecca Bowman, already dead, slain by an apparent serial killer who had already killed two other girls, using the same disgusting MO. And we had to deal with the main character, Sheriff Lucas Hood no longer being the sheriff. He had slinked away, living like a mountain man, resembling Grisly Adams, with a full scruffy beard, long unkempt hair, and the works.

The story has it that he's feeling sorry for himself, blaming himself for his friend's kidnapping. Oh, he's so sorry that he gave up trying to find him. But it gets worse. Now, in episode three, Lucas is arrested for the murder of Rebecca Bowman. It's all bull crap writing. Shockingly bull crap writing. I mean, they changed everything I liked about the show.

To put this in perspective, it's as if Star Trek, tos, had a fourth season, (which it didn't,) but if it did, Captain James T. Kirk was no longer the captain of the Enterprise, wasn't even in Star Fleet anymore, was not a hero anymore, because he was living on some obscure planet all by himself, looking like Grisly Adams, and Lt. Uhura was murdered by a serial killer, and her dead body was dumped on some obscure planet naked and gutted like a fish. Meanwhile, Mr. Spock has been kidnapped by the Klingons, is being tortured, and no one but Nurse Chapel is trying to find out how to get him back. Scotty is the new captain of the Enterprise, and to top it all off, James Kirk is arrested for the murder of Lt. Uhura, as if no one could realize that, hey, um, serial murders are not something James Kirk would do. Yeah, see what I mean? It's total and complete Bull Crap.

No. No. No. Banshee has fallen from grace, and worse than that, it's fallen into the shit can. I've been dealing with my favorite shows doing things wrong with the writing, but usually, like Arrow, they somehow recover. I don't know how Banshee can recover from all this crap. I think it's impossible. Even if it does pull out of the shit can, it will still have that lingering shit smell on it. Which is too bad. I had liked it so much. But alas, Star Trek, tos, has now resumed its place, for me anyway, as my all time favorite TV show. Kudos to Star Trek, tos. Number one, now and forever.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Dustin Clare Still Leads the Pack

What author doesn't dream about his or her book becoming a movie? It's the ultimate goal for any author, I would think. Several people have told me that my Killer books would make great movies, and I agree. Even the reviewer from the Writer's Union of Canada, who I don't know and have never met, said Killer of Killers would make a "spectacular" film. And she's right.

I've reflected often about the actor who would be good for the part of the main character Trent Smith, and there's more action stars around than ever before. On the small screen, there's Charlie Cox who plays Daredevil, there's Anthoney Starr from Banshee, Stephen Amell from Arrow, Tobey Stephens from Black Sails, not to mention Vin Diesel, Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Chris Helmsworth, and my all time favorite Jason Statham from the big screen.

But Dustin Clare is still my number one choice to play the  lead role. If anyone out there ever watched the Spartacus show that was on STARZ a few years ago, then the reason is clear. He stole that show. His screen presence was dynamic. Playing the part of a character with whom an audience can sympathize seemed second nature to him. He's a handsome guy, but at the same time can look just as tough as the toughest guys out there. Which is how Trent Smith is described.

Sure, Henry Cavill is just right as John Dunn. And I could probably be satisfied with an abundance of choices to play the parts of the secondary characters in all of my books. But the one character that I would be most picky about would indeed be Trent Smith. He can't be over six feet tall for one thing. And he's got to have a muscular build. Women are attracted to him, and he's nice to them all. Trent Smith may be a killer. But he's never rude. That's one trait that will never change.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Heart of a Zulu and Second Chance better than ever

During this off time, while waiting for the publication of John Dunn - Heart of a Zulu and Second Chance - A Football Story, I've been going over the manuscripts very carefully, finding and correcting errors and typos, improving prose, and perfecting continuity. And why shouldn't I? Now is the time to do it. Especially since I'm an experienced author at this point. I went through the publication process three times already. You don't want to find things in your book that need correcting after it's been published. And I'm making darn sure that doesn't happen my fourth and fifth time around.

Luckily, Melange Books cooperated with me to fix errors in my two Killer books, and the editor at Penumbra was very strict, which reduced the kind of errors you might find in books before it was published. But errors happen anyway, and those pesky typos have a way of popping up even when you were sure they were all gone.

With John Dunn - Heart of a Zulu, since it's such a long book, over 123,000 words, I found some inconsistencies pertaining to time. Meaning in one scene it's nightfall, but in the next scene, it's late afternoon. But it's supposed to be the same day. Clearly, late afternoon does not follow nightfall. And there were other similar problems, but they are fixed now, in addition to the typos that were revealed with a more careful screening.

Another problem I found and solved was the trip from Durban to Ungoye. In that scene, Dunn's servant was going to ride from Durban to Ungoye and back, and he says he'll be back by late afternoon. But he's making that trip on a horse. I asked myself if he could ride a horse from Durban to Ungoye and back in that kind of time? With a little research, I learned that 90 miles separates Durban and Ungoye. And with a little more research, I learned that a horse can travel about 40 miles in one day. Maybe with a fast horse an experienced rider can squeeze and extra five miles in a day's riding. So that means it would take at least two days just to get from Durban to Ungoye, and another two days to get back. So it's a four day round trip - at least. I am very glad I fixed that.

In Second Chance - A Football Story, there's a part where a reporter shows up at the main character's apartment. (Tony Belmont is the MC, btw.) Well, since they had only just met, how the heck did she know where he lived? Well, I fixed that, too. I just put in a prior scene that Tony gives the reporter his business card, which in this case had his home address on it.

So fixing things like that make a book a whole lot better. Some things might be small, like the reporter showing up at Tony Belmont's home, but other things are bigger, like having the proper time frame to allow a round trip between Durban and Ungoye. Your books are going to be all the better for it. And I'm not finished yet. Here's to making my books as best as they can possibly be!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Banshee is Back -- but...

So my favorite TV show is back. Banshee, season four is in progress, and unfortunately, it's the last season of the show. I suppose shows can't last forever, but I would have liked Banshee to last for more than just four seasons. Especially since it's only about ten shows per season. That's only forty shows, which amounts to less than two seasons of a regular TV show.

As for the story line so far? Not sure. Lucas Hood is no longer a sheriff. He's more like a homeless guy, feeling sorry for himself. But after Rebecca Bowman is killed, he seems to get his act together. I don't buy into Hood turning into a homeless dude. I mean, that's no hero. It's a sorry dude who is lost in his own depression, which wasn't what the character was all about during the first three seasons. So once again, the writers of a show I like drop the ball.

I suppose it will be all about how Lucas responds from here on out. We'll see. And what's this about Rebecca Bowman dying? Again, the writers drop the ball. I liked the Rebecca Bowman character. She was a beautiful girl, and yes, another blonde, and yes, another candidate for the role of Samantha Jones in Killer of Killers. Actress Lili Simmons plays the part and she's just as beautiful as Amber Heard and the rest of the gorgeous blonde actresses who seem to have flooded Hollywood in recent years.
Lili Simmons as Rebecca Bowman
So killing off this character was a lousy turn of events. In fact, season four begins with her already dead. Someone killed her but no one knows who. And that seems to be the driving focus of Season four. I had thought that finding Job would have been the driving factor. It still seems to be, but there are two things going on this season: finding Job and finding out who killed Rebecca Bowman.

I've never been a fan of killing off great characters. One of the things that make a character great is his or her survivability. He or she is a survivor. Getting killed off makes someone not a survivor. How can you appreciate a character who's dead? Okay, maybe if a character gave his/her life to save others, but then the story's over. At least insofar as that character is concerned. And if you were watching a show because you liked a certain character who then gets killed off, your reason for watching that show is gone. So there's no more Rebecca Bowman. For me, that sucks.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Leave Politics Out of Stories

During this political year, I have been amazed by all the hatred spewing from all the mouths of people and media outlets towards various candidates. Totally amazed. So much hatred. And in my opinion, this hatred is mostly unfounded. I can't stand hatred. Can't understand it. A lot of it is phony. Phony hatred, meaning the haters really don't hate, but they want to use hatred to influence others to vote the way they want them to vote. I think that's deceitful. I guess you can call it deceitful hatred.

This is not a political blog, and I have mostly kept politics out of my books. But what do my books contain that might be considered political? Well, my two favorite books are about killing. Vengeful killing. It's not political, I don't think, but it does connect with capital punishment. Meaning killers who kill people are killed as a result of their killing. The main character Trent Smith has no qualms about killing killers who kill with impunity. That means he doesn't worry about those killers who have already been convicted and sentenced. He kills only those killers who escaped justice. They don't escape him. But he doesn't use guns. He doesn't even believe in guns. He hates all guns. He even wishes they had never been invented.

So those two things, believing in capital punishment, but not believing in guns, is smack dab in the middle of what might be considered Liberalism and Conservatism. Meaning Liberals don't believe in capital punishment, and they don't believe in guns. Whereas Conservatives do believe in capital punishment and they do believe in guns. So there you have it. Trent Smith is half one and half the other. Smack dab in the middle.

As for The Vase. It's a comprehensive story, meaning it presents the good and the bad of both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The main character is a Muslim. Agnostic is what he really is. But he's already lost a son who was radicalized by the fundamentalists of the region. And there are the IDF captains, both former and current. But they are agnostics, too. But you do have the Zionist, who also has lost a son to the violence of the region. You have it all. Everything represented, and the book itself does not take sides. The story is straightforward, and the reader can conclude for him/herself what to believe once it's over and done with. I thought I'd have more input from that story from readers, but it seems the readership of that book is very slow. Maybe it just takes more time to catch on. I am curious for comments to come forward, seeing as to the controversial subject matter.

John Dunn is not political. However, the story is connected to Apartheid. It takes place in the 1800s when Apartheid was taking shape. It wasn't called that yet, but the story contains the events that make Apartheid happen in the years following the story. The John Dunn story is a true story. And even though John Dunn was a part of the Zulu nation, he too is another example of just how my stories split Liberalism and Conservatism right down the middle. I say that because even though Dunn was a member of the Zulu nation, he was forced to fight on the side of the British during the Anglo-Zulu War. And he did contribute to the English victory over the Zulus.

Yet Dunn retained his place amongst the Zulu people even after that war. Once the dust settled, he went back to his Zulu wives and his life in Zululand. He continued to raise his one hundred plus half Zulu children to the best of his ability, and oversaw the territory that he held in Zululand after the war. He was a perfect example of a man who was able to manage the events that were out if his control to the best of his interests and the interests of those who depended on him. It's really an extraordinary story. More so because it's a true story. Which makes it all the more interesting. And perhaps the most political of them all. Without meaning to be.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Batman v Superman - Pretty Good

I took my son to see Batman v Superman yesterday, and it was good. Too long, but good. Don't know what the criticisms are about. That monster in the end was not necessary. Maybe that's it. But then who would kill Superman? Of course, Superman's not dead. They gave us that hint at the end, but we didn't need it. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, they won't die. Ever.

It looked like they've got an Asian Flash. Talk about changing ethnicities again. I thought the guy on the TV show made a good Flash. I guess the TV show actors won't translate to the big screen. Too bad. As for Wonder Woman, that actress looked right for the part. Just as Henry Cavill is the best ever Superman. I didn't mind Ben Affleck as Batman, but I thought Ben was good as Daredevil, too. Maybe perfect as DD. Just as Cavill is perfect as Supes.

Speaking of Daredevil, I really don't like Charlie Cox as Daredevil on the TV show. He's too shrimpy. Really, too small of a guy. Affleck is 6' 3" and just right as Daredevil, but whatever. Affleck is too big of a movie star to ever be in a TV show. Doesn't mean they couldn't find a bigger guy to play the role than Cox. Looking at Cox, well, he just doesn't look tough. I know Dustin Clare is about the same height as Cox, and I gush about how Clare would be just right for Trent Smith. But Clare at least looks tough. Cox doesn't.

But the storyline in Batman v Superman was a good story line. And even though it didn't need the last half hour fighting the monster, it didn't ruin the movie. I look forward to more Superman movies. I really think they should milk the Cavill Superman to the limit. He's the best. No one's better. I want to see more Cavill Superman movies. ASAP. I don't care about the Justice League. Never cared about those characters, except I like the Flash. But an Asian Flash? Whatever.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Walking Dead Fails to Please

Saw the season six finale last night of the Walking Dead, and I was not happy. I understand a lot of WD fans were not happy with it. I was lamenting recently that the Walking Dead plots seem to be in a non stop circle of the main characters getting captured by bad guys, and then the other characters have to save them. And it was happening again.

Well, there was a slight change. This time, instead of the other characters saving the captured characters, the saving characters also get captured. Now we have just about all of the characters are captured, and one of them is shown getting killed. But the camera does not show the audience just which character is getting killed.

So we have Daryl, Rick, Michonne, Carl, Sasha, Abraham, Rosita, Glenn, Maggie, and Eugene all on their knees with one other no name character from Alexandria, also captured and on his knees. That's the entire cast of main characters. Except for Carol. And Morgan. Carol is off on some suicide kick, trying to get herself killed, begging Morgan to let her die, which to me is bull crap. Of course Morgan won't let her die. And they run into a group of guys who seem to be good guys, which is a relief of sorts from every other group being a "let's kill everyone for no other reason than they aren't one of us" group of bad guys.

So which one is the one who gets killed? My money says it's the no name guy. Why do I say that? Well, he's not one of the main characters, that's why. Of course there's no guarantee that it won't be one of the main characters. After all, Game of Thrones has led the way in that regard. No telling who will get killed in GOT. But my money says Daenerys won't ever get killed. Why do I think that? Because she's the one I want to get killed more than any other character. Cant' stand her. She gives me the creeps ever since the first season. Such an annoying character. Please kill the (b-word here.)

But I digress. The no name guy on WD will be the one who got killed. It's not one of the women, I'm pretty sure about that. As he's bashing in the skull of the person, the Negan guy says, "...he's taking it like a man..." so that rules out the women, Maggie, Sasha, Michonne, and Rosita.

Also, it's not Rick or Carl, because while he's doing the bashing, Negan also says if anyone tries anything, to cut out the other eye of Carl and feed it to Rick. That rules them out.

So we have left Glenn, Abraham, Eugene, Daryl, and the no name guy. I figure the reason they let the no name guy go along on this venture was so that it can be him who gets killed. I did consider maybe Daryl being the guy, because during the show a commercial was aired about Norman Reedus's new TV series. Something called, Ride With Norman Reedus. So if he's got a new show, maybe he can bow out of The Walking Dead. Maybe not. The new show might tank if he's no longer in TWD.

So I still think it's the no name guy. After all, isn't that what no name guys are for? They're the ones who take the falls. But again. Who knows. We have to wait six months to find out for sure. So until then, back to my own stories.  Those stories take the turns I think they should take and end the way I think they should end. I wrote them after all. Those are the best kind.

Friday, April 1, 2016

TV Seasons Returning This Month

April seems to be the time for a lot of my favorite TV series to return with new seasons. Banshee is tops among them, but others are Game of Thrones, Outlander, and Silicon Valley. I have blogged before how Banshee had become my all time favorite TV show. It surpassed Star Trek, tos, in its third season. So I'm looking forward to season 4 this month.

I've been up and down on Game of Thrones. Sure, it's interesting, set in an alternate universe of sorts, certainly not the universe in which we exist. But that's all good. I haven't agreed with the story lines. In fact, I have hated some of the turns the story took, and I'm not just talking about Ned Stark's execution, and the Red Wedding. I didn't like those either by the way.

Outlander has been good, but there's a huge caveat in that statement. First of all, I do like the lead character. A woman, too. I like that she's strong, without being the type of "strong" that means she can beat everyone up. You don't see her beating seasoned soldiers to a pulp, like we had to see in other shows that featured strong women. No. She's a different kind of strong, but no less strong than your beating people up kind of strong. And it's good.

What I couldn't buy into with this show was the homosexual tormentor. In the eighteenth century no less. A British army officer no less. This guy hates a Scottish dude, so what does he do? He forces the dude to have sex with him. It's like, wtf? Talk about weird. If a guy is homosexual, well, okay, but then he tortures the dude he's got the hots for until he finally gets the guy to have sex with him? That was complete and total crap. But, whatever. The wife likes the show.

Silicon Valley is a funny show that takes place right here where I grew up and still live. Yeah, I grew up in the Silicon Valley, but that was before it became the Silicon Valley. But I'm still here, and it's now the Silicon Valley. Many of the scenes in this show are places with which I am very familiar. It's cool, too, to see your old stomping grounds as the setting for a TV show. And it's a funny show. As a rule, I don't go for comedies, but there are exceptions to that rule, and Silicon Valley is one of them.

Sure, there's a lot of other shows coming this spring, either new shows starting up or shows returning with a new season. But I don't watch them. Maybe I will one day. Maybe I won't. We'll see.