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.



Friday, May 27, 2016

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are History

I had written some posts about Amber Heard, saying that she would be a perfect Samantha Jones in my martial arts novel Killer of Killers, but later reconsidered that opinion because it seemed her career wasn't going anywhere. She's getting no big time roles. I'm seeing beautiful blondes springing out of the woodwork, and getting great roles, like Lili Simmons of Banshee and Hannah New of Black Sails. That list goes on and on, and all the while I'm waiting for Amber Heard to land a role other than bit parts in the B movies she's been in like Machete Kills, Zombieland, and Drive Angry.

I wrote recently that it could be true that Amber just isn't that talented. She showed little acting ability in the few roles I've seen. So I'm thinking, um, maybe Amber Heard is not the right fit for the role of Samantha Jones in Killer of Killers.

And it could be true that Johnny Depp has concluded that she's not a very good wife. They are getting divorced, but it seems that Amber is the one who filed for divorce, not Johnny Depp.

Look, I've never been a fan of Johnny Depp, and I really haven't even liked any of his movies. Not even the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Nope. I don't have a problem with Depp, his acting, or his movies, I've just never been a fan of his. Not like I've been a fan of Vin Diesel and Jason Statham. I readily admit their movies are among my all time favorite movies.

Depp isn't that for me. But, hey, he's still considered a Hollywood A-lister, and I thought that Amber Heard was on her way to that point, too. But no. Her career is stuck in limbo, and I'm thinking it will never emerge from limbo, ever. I'm betting her role in the upcomoing Justice League movie will be a minor one, and her acting ability will not be showcased. We'll have to wait and see on that.

As for being Depp's wife? I thought that might have given her a short cut to stardom. I mean A-lister stardom, as Depp enjoys. But that's not going to happen. I heard that Depp hit her, and physically abused her. Don't know if that's true, but if it is, then KUDOS to Amber Heard for leaving the bum. IF it's true. IF he's a bum. I say that because I believe a man should never hit a woman. If Depp did hit Amber Heard, he's a bum of the worst kind. But again, I don't know that.




As for Amber Heard? It's time for her to shine. She's 30 years old now. That means her biological clock is winding down. Maybe she has ten years left of being youthful and beautiful, and then what? Roles for middle aged women are rarely top roles, unless you're Merryl Streep, Helen Mirren, or Judi Dench. But I'm thinking Amber Heard is not in that class. So, it's time to find a new actress for the part of Samantha Jones. Hhmmnn. I wonder if Lili Simmons or Hannah New would be interested.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Banshee Rides Off into the Sunset

I meant to post my final thoughts on the show Banshee, starring Lili Simmons and Antony Starr. The last episode of the series aired last week, and my thoughts were mixed. I really liked the show, so much in fact that I was thinking during the third season it would rank as my all time favorite TV show.

But the fourth and final season shot that notion out of the water. Nevertheless, I still think it's one of my all time favorite shows. The fourth season had a lot of flaws, but that's typical when a show is on its last legs. It happens to almost every TV show.

But the show ended well enough. Once again we got to see the main character ride off into the sunset. It's just what he did, quite literally, on a motorcycle. It was similar to the way Strike Back ended its series. The two guys in Strike Back rode off into the sunset on motorcycles. I wonder if it's just a coincidence that both shows were on TMC.

But whatever, I like happy endings. I don't like seeing a main character that I've grown to like and even admire being killed in the end. I'm still not over seeing Maximus die at the end of the movie Gladiator. He didn't have to die. It did nothing for the story line. It was a waste of time, growing to like the character only to see him die in the end. I hate that crap.

Banshee ended happily enough, although I hated seeing them kill off Lili Simmons' character, Rebecca Bowman. That was dumb. Whatever. It's over now.

So where do we go from here? I'll tell you where. Cast Lili Simmons and Antony Starr in Killer of Killers, that's where. Yeah, I know that Dustin Clare would be perfect as Trent Smith, the world's greatest martial artist. But Starr would be good, too, as would Stephen Amell of Arrow fame.

Any of those actors would be fine by me as Trent Smith. But that's if it hits the small screen. The big screen is preferable, but, hey, I wouldn't argue with STARZ, HBO, or TMC getting the deal done. I'm little more than a beggar at this point, and you know what they say about beggars.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

New Star Trek Coming to TV in 2017


Just learned about the new Star Trek show coming to CBS next year. Right now I have mixed feelings. I say that because usually the powers that control the Star Trek universe fail to recreate the Star Trek universe in movies or TV shows to the same degree of quality as the original. And by that I mean the writing, the stories, and even the characters. I'm sure a lot of people disagree with me. But as an example, I mentioned recently how the Next Generation was a very uninteresting version of the Star Trek universe. I based that opinion on the uninteresting characters and the boring storylines.



Chief among the characters of the Star Trek universe would be the starship captain. The very words are intensely impressive. Starship captain. Wow. And the prototypical starship captain is, of course, Captain James T. Kirk, played to perfection by a thirty-four year old William Shatner. I mention Shatner's age, because when he got older, (once they finally decided to make Star Trek again,) William Shatner didn't seem to "have it" anymore. But that was probably because of the horrible scripts they wrote for those horrible Star Trek movies. So I'll give Shatner a pass on that. (Although one of those horrible scripts was written by him.)

But Shatner's younger version of Captain Kirk was tops of all starship captains that have followed. None have been able to match William Shatner's portrayal of Captain Kirk in the original series. In the Next Generation, Patrick Stewart's Captain Picard was laughable. He was always insecure, always second guessing himself, never conveyed confidence or an authoritative personality. It was like they were deliberately DEBALLING the role of a starship captain. That was Capt. Picard in a nutshell.

In Deep Space Nine, Avery Brooks' Captain Sisko was competent, at least. If it were a quiz, he'd have passed. Brooks made a good authoritative figure, and as a black actor, playing a black captain, I'd say he was cast well. I have no problem with creating a black character. Where I do have a problem is changing the race of an established white character with the belief they are appeasing the black audience. They've done that with several characters from the comics world. It would have been too creepy bringing Captain Kirk back to the big or small screen played by a black actor. Just create a black character. And they did. So that's one thing the Star Trek universe got right.

So with the race card checked off, it was time for the woman card to be checked off, too. Enter Kate Mulgrew and her role of Captain Janeway in Voyager. I've never been a fan of women in combat, nor of women in combat roles. I consider a starship captain a combat role, since starships are futuristic versions of battleships. Yeah, I know the Star Trek universe tried to get away from that with the Next Generation show at first. They tried to make the starships "exploratory" ships, rather than military ships. Thus, the reason for the mealy-mouthed Captain Picard. But it didn't work. The story lines in Next Generation were so horribly boring, they found themselves forced back into the military mindset to keep their ratings up. And it worked with the introduction of the Borg as an enemy of the Federation. If not for the Borg and the militaristic story lines that pertained to them, the Next Generation would have been a complete failure.

As an authoritative figure, Kate Mulgrew's Captain Janeway was convincing enough, but again, not as a starship captain fighting enemy starships in a space war. She'd have been fine as a school principal, or even a captain commanding a non-military vessel. Because in my opinion, a woman is not a commander of men. At least not in a battle or any war time scenario.

Jonathan Archer played by Scott Bakula in Enterprise ranks under Avery. It's another passing grade, but he's light years behind Shatner's Capt Kirk. I didn't see all of the Enterprise TV shows, but even though Bakala's Archer seemed pretty authoritative, he also seemed like the kind of captain who would get his ship blown up. And, hey, that happens, right? Not all captains come back with their ships intact. Archer gives the impression he'd be one of them.

As for bringing Captain Kirk back like they did in the new movies, with a retelling of Captain Kirk in the Star Trek reboot? Ugh. Christopher Pine was a terrible failure. But as was the case with Statner's Star Trek movies, it may not be his fault. The stories sucked. The writing was just horrible and I don't understand it. Why can't anyone out there write a decent Star Trek story anymore? Where's D.C. Fontana? She's a woman, yet she could write a better Star Trek story than anyone since. Go figure.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Vase Novel on Hiatus

Since Penumbra Publishing is no longer going to be a publisher, at my request, they have relinquished all rights to it, and will no longer be selling it. It is still available on Amazon if anyone out there wants to buy it at this time, but my plan is to make it available to either Knox Robinson Publishing, since they are publishing two of my other books, John Dunn and Second Chance, or to Melange Books, which has published my two Killer books.

So that's the story right now. As for the progress on Second Chance, due out this August, my revisions have been undergoing, and are just about completed. That means when Dana, the KRP publisher edits it, it will be a very clean manuscript. She'll be back from vacation at the end of May which will be perfect timing, as my edits will be done by then.

At that's when I'll concentrate on John Dunn. But I'll mention to her that I am making The Vase available to KRP, and depending on interest, I'll be going over that one, once John Dunn is done. Of course, if she is interested, the publication of The Vase won't take place until 2017. So that's where I'm at right now. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Lili Simmons - New Queen of the Blonde Beauties

Lili Simmons
I'm convinced, albeit perhaps only temporarily, that Lili Simmons from Banshee is the new queen of the beautiful blondes flooding Hollywood over the recent  years. Maybe I'm partial because I've enjoyed the show Banshee in which she appeared, but she has a screen presence that I'm thinking is far superior than that of Amber Heard's.

Amber Heard
For readers unfamiliar with my blog, Amber Heard was the actress I believed was the most beautiful blonde. I also liked Hannah New from Black Sails, but to me Amber reigned supreme.

Hannah New
Maybe it can be argued that Amber is still tops in sheer physical beauty, but it takes more than just looks alone. You've got to be able to act. And the few roles that Amber Heard has had makes me think that Hollywood knows something I do not. Which is Amber Heard has the looks, but she can't act. I've seen so few roles she's had, I have to believe she's just not able to convince casting directors that she's got what it takes. And if that's true, then she would not make a good Samantha Jones in the Killer of Killers story, if it were to ever be made into a movie. Lili Simmons is somewhat younger too, which is to her advantage. Because Killer of Killers won't be made into a movie anytime soon, and Amber may be too old for the part by the time it makes the big screen.

Jill Marie Jones
That's what befell Jill Marie Jones. Jones would have been a great Susie Quinn, also from the Killer of Killers story. But she's even older than Amber Heard. She's about forty in the above photo. The way she looked about ten to fifteen years ago made her perfect for the role of Susie Quinn. And based on her performance in Ash vs. Evil Dead, I think she's a pretty good actress.

Unknown Beauty
I wonder who this is. I found this photo on the internet. There was no name, but I thought I'd add it to the blog here, because this is the perfect Samantha Jones. I mean look at that face. Is there a more perfect face anywhere? I don't think so. I don't even know if she's an actress. And like I was saying about Amber Heard, whoever is cast, it's going to be because she can act. That's the bottom line.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Banshee Wrapping Up Too Soon

I watched the next to last episode of Banshee last night, and I'm not changing my mind about how it's not as good as it used to be. Now, Lucas Hood has spilled his guts to the new sheriff, Lotus, and he was saying that he wasn't going to do that. Then he does it. I mean he spills everything. I don't agree with that. It ruined the mystique of the show. Now Lotus is disgusted with Hood, with himself, and with just about everything about the situations that made the show great.

And for me, that means the show is no longer great. It has bottomed out, like so many shows do. Even Star Trek, tos, bottomed out in its third season, but that was really the network's fault for tying to cancel it at every turn. They reduced the budget forcing story lines to be mundane. But even in its third season, ST, tos, had some classic episodes. The Enterprise Incident and Elaan of Troyius were as good as any episodes from seasons one and two.

But whatever. I can't think of any show that didn't have its low moments. Particularly shows from the 60s. They all seemed to bottom out. Shows from the 70s, 80s, and 90s didn't even interest me at all. The 80s version of Star Trek, which they called the Next Generation was so low energy  and uninteresting, I couldn't even watch it at first.

A friend told me once that the characters in the Next Generation were so weak, they had to use TWO characters to equal ONE character from the original series, and I realized he was right. It took a combination of Picard and Riker to equal Captain Kirk. It took Data and Worf to equal Mr. Spock. It took Crusher and Deanna Troi to equal Dr. McCoy. I'll admit TNG picked up a little with the Borg story arc, but even then it didn't reach the level to which I had grown accustomed from the classic original and other great sci fi shows from the fifties and 60s.

Other Star Trek shows had decent moments, like Deep Space Nine and Voyager, but for the most part, imo, they just cashed in on the Star Trek name and the Star Trek universe. Like Star Wars is doing now with the rehashing of the original Star Wars movie. And boy, are they ever cashing in. You would think that with all the great minds that exist today, they'd be able to come up with something original. They probably could, but I think they are too afraid to gamble. Money, of course is the driving factor. Investors do not want to chance losing their precious money. So they make something that is proven. Something that already made money. Thus...

But back to Banshee. Why did they stray so far from what made it a good show? They changed the entire dynamic of the show. Lucas Hood is no longer the sheriff. Sheriff Lotus is now disgusted with himself and everyone else. Proctor and Carrie are in an all out war against each other. And I suppose the final episode of the series will see that war concluded. The anticlimactic conclusion to the serial killer was a disappointment. And Killing Rebecca Bowman off in that manner was the lowest of all the lows. A serial killer... Come on. Stupid, horrible writing. It really sucked. Too bad...

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Penumbra Publishing Going Under

Received notice recently that Penumbra Publishing will be undergoing a "business model change" whatever that means. But the bottom line as far as I'm concerned will be that it's no longer going to be a publisher. Which means the rights to all of their books will be released to their respective authors.

So as soon as this summer, Penumbra will no longer be the publisher for The Vase. Which is somewhat coincidental. This summer will be the debut of my new publisher, Knox Robinson Publishing, which is publishing Second Chance in August, and then Heart of a Zulu in November. I suppose I can offer The Vase to them, and all will go on as before.

But with KRP publishing two books of mine already this year, I'll no doubt have to wait until 2017 for The Vase to be published. Sheesh, The Vase has gone through the ringers. Here's the history of The Vase. First, it was accepted for publication by Aberdeen Bay which is another POD publisher. I didn't accept that contract. Instead I went with Virtual Tales, and signed a contract with them.

But then Virtual Tales underwent their own problems and released the rights back to me. Then Cogito Media offered a contract for The Vase and I signed it. But then during the editing stage, several of the Cogito staff, including my editor and the acquisitions director resigned and the editor even told me she was suing Cogito. So much for them.

Since Cogito broke the terms of their own contract, I went ahead and signed with Penumbra. All went well for a while, even better than well, since I learned a heck of a lot from a man named Grayson Little who taught me all the finer points of writing novels in the 21st Century. And in case you didn't know, writing novels today is a lot different than writing novels in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. I applied that knowledge to all of my novels. Thus my style is up to par with what is expected in novels today. And that was all thanks to Grayson Little.

Okay. So that was then and this is now. I will request a letter from Penumbra which will signify that all rights to The Vase are reverted to me. Then I'll ask KRP if they want to publish The Vase. But first, I'll use this opportunity to improve the writing even more. That is always something I like to do. Use every chance I get to make the writing even better.

So I'll make it as good as I can, and then move on. First, however, I'm making Second Chance as good as it can be, and then I'll do the same for John Dunn, Heart of a Zulu. They will be awesome books, and I can't wait for those to be published. Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Eternal Life and/or Immortality in Literature

In movies and literature, the concept of immortality is used often. You see it everywhere. Of course, ancient civilizations celebrated the concept with their mythic gods. The Greek gods, the Norse gods, and other mythic gods of which I'm less familiar, but the concept of immortality is ever present in them all. Then of course, you have the Christian belief in the resurrection of Christ and being "saved" by Christ will grant everlasting life. That one's in the Bible.

And over the years, the concept has been revisited time and again in the movies, in books, and the way to which this is brought about is through various means. Technology, magic, science, and the good old vampire methods, which began with Dracula. Actually, the vampire storyline has entertained the eternal life concept over and over. You had Barnabus Collins, in Dark Shadows, and countless other variations of the vampire story, up to and including the horrible Twilight series which warped and twisted the mythos in a horrible way. But whatever. The vampire thing has been made into more movies and more books than any other twist on the immortality concept.

Then you have zombies, but that's not really immortality. They're dead! Just reanimated. They're walking dead bodies, like the TV show calls them. The Walking Dead.

The first time I saw the concept of eternal life and/or eternal youth in the movies, other than the Greek gods, and Christianity, was the movie "She" which starred Ursula Andress as an Egyptian queen who had bathed in a magical fire, which gave her eternal youth. I was intrigued by that movie, and I had never forgotten it. The premise was great. The fire was caused by a meteor that struck earth in a remote area, which resulted in a temporary blue fire. And if you walk into that fire, your body is changed to where it never ages from that point on. The meteor strikes once every five thousand years or so. But the blue fire only lasts about ten minutes. Of course, the Egyptian queen met a ghastly end at the climax of the movie, when the meteor struck again. It turned out that going into the blue fire a second time takes away your immortality. Sorry for the spoiler. But the handsome protagonist, who was also the love interest of the queen had the opportunity to bathe in the flames himself for the first time. And so he gets immortality. But without the love interest, what was the point of living forever? That was the paradox.

Anyway, it's a concept that fascinates all of us. We love life. We don't want to give it up. We would love the opportunity to live forever, as young men or women, in our prime. And that concept is in my Killer Series. Killer of Killers and Killer Eyes. So if you haven't read my Killer Series, I should tell you it's more than just a martial arts action adventure. It's more than just a love story between Trent Smith and Samantha Jones. It has to do with the drug named Eternity. Yeah, the Eternity Drug. It stops aging. How? It's explained in a very scientific way. I researched the concept and came up with the most logical way for science to conquer the aging problem. I ought to get a patent on it, really, because the way I explain it in the book makes sense. Why haven't the scientific experts figured it out? I gave them a head start in the book, so maybe they will.

So you might ask what happens to Trent Smith in the book? You'll have to read both of them to find out. The story is wrapped up in Killer Eyes. But that doesn't mean the story can't continue in a third episode. Read Killer of Killers and Killer Eyes. It's a new and fresh take on the age old concept of Immortality. And in my opinion, it's the best take on the concept of eternal life, eternal youth, and immortality that has ever been written. Imo.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Second Chance nearing publication date

It's May already, and August is approaching fast. August is the month my fourth novel will be published, Second Chance, a Football Story. But Second Chance is not the fourth novel I've written. That would be John Dunn, Heart of a Zulu. That one is being published in November.

The reason is simple. August is the month football season begins, and football fans are thinking about football. I am in that club. I've been a lover of football for almost as far back as I can remember. Since I was a little tyke. I remember being about seven or eight years old when I would watch football games on my parents' black and white TV. I would watch whatever game was on. College or pro, I couldn't tell the difference back then. It was football. And I loved watching it on TV.

Then I started playing. I was only eight or so when I was playing in a game with high school boys. They were all giants to me, but I was out there running around being in the game. Those boys were nice enough to let me believe I was on their team. They never threw me a pass, but that doesn't mean I didn't make plays.

I did make a couple plays that I remember to this day. I remembered from watching those football games on TV, defensive players would bring down an opposing runner by throwing themselves horizontally at the runner's feet, and then the runner would trip over them and fall down. Now that's not the proper technique of tackling, and it's not taught by any coach, but it worked, and I took that knowledge with me into that football game.

So I was only about half the size of these older boys, and it was a defensive play, where the opposing team ran a sweep around the left end. (My left, that is.) Remembering that type of tackling technique, I ran out there to meet the runner, and I threw my body horizontally at the runner's feet. Sure enough that guy tripped over my body, and I made the tackle! I felt great for having tackled a much older boy who was easily twice my size in both height and weight.

I was proud of myself for doing that. The boys on my team were impressed by my fearless act. But it didn't stop there. Now, again, those boys were never going to throw me a pass on offense, but I'm out there running patterns anyway. And on one particular play, a pass got deflected high into the air. I was in the perfect position to catch the deflected ball on the run. And I did.

So I'm running for the end zone, but being a little kid, the high school boys were a lot faster than I was. But one of the boys on my team made a block that enabled me to go all the way. Of course, it was a great feeling. In that game with the big boys, I made a solo tackle, and I scored a touchdown. The players were not patronizing in the least. It was all legit.

Well, I grew up, and my football career had successes and disappointments, and ultimately I wrote my football story. It's called Second Chance - A Football Story. It's not my football story, mind you. But it is a football story that came to me in a dream. I woke up and wrote it down, and now it's a novel that will be published this August. Right on time for football season.

Stay tuned people. It's another book coming to you from your friendly neighborhood author: Mark M. DeRobertis. The author of two martial arts action adventures, one suspense story in the Middle East, one Historical Fiction based on the true story of John Dunn in South Africa during the Nineteenth Century, and a contemporary football story.

So what's next? Maybe my MG/YA thriller/fantasy or my third Killer installment. We'll see.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Jon Snow Back to Life in Game of Thrones

Talking about characters and heroes dying, well last night Game of Thrones brought back a character. Yeah, brought him back to life. I am glad Jon Snow is back, but the way it happened was kind of simple. A well known witch, who had said she did not have the power to raise the dead, was talked into trying to raise Jon Snow from the dead.

Okay, so she goes and wipes the Jon Snow corpse clean of the blood, which I was thinking at the time that the dudes in there should have already done that. Whatever. Then she puts her hands on the corpse's torso and prays in some unknown language. After finishing, she leaves, thinking she failed, and so does everyone else. Then, of course a zoom in of Jon Snow's body shows his eyes suddenly open. Come on. As simple as that? The witch simply prays and then the body comes back to life? To me, it's not very good writing.

No. For something as extravagant as coming back from the dead, there should have been something extravagant in the way it was made to happen. I would have had the witch slice her wrists open and drip her own blood into the wounds, but only after taking some magical potion, which, of course turns her blood into a life renewing substance. And then using some kind of mystical light, since, you know, her god is called the "god of light."  That would have been a little more dramatic. And maybe a bit more mumbo jumbo thrown in for good measure.

But the way they did it was just too trite. For me. It was a lack of imagination. But I'm glad the guy's back. Let's see if he's the same guy or changed for the better or changed for the worse. I hope he's not changed, unless it is for the better. We'll have to see how that plays out.

As for Cersei, it seems she might be changing into a good person. Like her brother did. You would have thought that she would be filled with hate and thirsting for revenge against all the people who wronged her, but no. She seems humbled and at peace with herself. That was refreshing. I liked it. Maybe she's changing into a good person. I also like that Jamie, her brother is a good guy now. They were both pretty evil people back when the show started, but I like it when villains turn into good guys. I remember in the 60s when professional wrestling had good guys and bad guys, and every now and then the bad guys would become good guys.

No, I'm not a pro wrestling fan, never have been. I just remember names like Pepper Gomez and Ray Stevens. They were on TV a lot, and as a very young boy, (very young) I did watch them sometimes. I can't remember which ones were the villains and which ones were the good guys, but it was nice when the villains became good guys. It's cool in the movies, and TV shows. too. Let's see what happens next.