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, August 26, 2016

Bookstore Signing - Library talk

I would like to appear at a bookstore for a book signing day. That way, I might promote sales of my upcoming book Second Chance. I'll include my other two books, Killer of Killers and Killer Eyes. If John Dunn is out by then I'd like to include that one too. The Vase is not available right now, so no use having that one there. But with the three books already under my belt, it should be good. Although the genres are strictly different. Sports and Martial Arts Thrillers.

But that doesn't matter. If I have John Dunn, Heart of a Zulu there in addition to the others, it will feature three distinctly different genres. And if I have The Vase there, it would be four. I suppose the only thing that matters is will anyone be there to buy a book? I would hope that on any given day there would be, and on a day when buyers can get the signature of the author it will make a difference. I've seen people coming to these kind of events just to get an author's signature. So there you go.

Will keep you posted.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Second Chance Release Date now Sept 13th

Second Chance is being printed as of today. I was advised by my publisher that the release date will be September 13th.  I know the original release date was today, but Sept. 13 will be fine. I expect all the edits will be finished, and the book will be flawless. As a book should be.

I can pick up almost any book from anywhere--libraries, bookstores, or wherever, and I will find typos. Even from a long time ago, in the days before computers. And strangely enough, in the computer age it seems typos happen more frequently than ever before. I think it's because publishers rely more on computers than human editors.

And the problem with that is that computers won't catch things that can't be programmed into them. For instance, a word might be misspelled, but a computer might not detect it. The word could be spelled correctly in another context, so it remains misspelled. It's one example of many.

And because the publisher wants to save money by not using editors, or by making shortcuts in other ways, those typos remain. But I made it so that my first book, Killer of Killers, has no typos, so I know it's possible to have a book with no typos. And I'm pretty darn sure that Second Chance has no typos. Dana did find one in her edits. But it's corrected now. It was just an extra apostrophe that was added in there somewhere.

So this coming Sept 13th, please take the time to buy Second Chance, a Football Story. I think you'll enjoy the story. The writing is some of my best, since it's really the latest sample of writing I've put out there. Even though John Dunn is being published after Second Chance, I actually wrote it way before Second Chance. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Second Chance - Editing Completed

As of yesterday, the editing to Second Chance, a Football Story has been completed. Dana, the publisher of Knox Robinson Publishing was the one who edited the story. She caught a couple things that I hadn't, and the writing is perfect now.

The only thing that I wasn't so keen on was the fact that she insisted the beginning be changed. I had it so that the main character was introduced in his current homeless state. And then after he tells his story to a reporter, the storyline returns to his homeless state. But now the story begins with the main story, and once that's over, the reader finds out it was a story that was being told to a reporter by a homeless dude in an alley.

Most authors have trouble deleting scenes that they considered well written, and it was like that for me. But Dana's the editor and the publisher of my book, so there's no room for debate there. I made all the changes that she, as the editor, advised to be made, and, like I said, the writing is perfect now.

I believe the book is due to be released next week. August 23rd. That's this coming Tuesday, which is a lot for me to look forward to. And in the meantime, I'm still polishing John Dunn. Oh, btw, The Vase has been submitted to two new publishers. Ignatius Press and Tumblar House. Both are Catholic publishers, which I think will be interested because of the role the Pope plays in the story.

So I've got things happening. Second Chance is coming out this week. John Dunn in November, and The Vase is being actively submitted. I was going to submit to agents, but I'm not doing that. Ignatius Press and Tumblar House didn't require agents, so I didn't bother. I know I said I was going to solicit maybe as many as six, and I might still, so we'll see what happens. I really don't have a good impression of agents. They've never done anything for me. Doesn't mean they can't.

We'll see what happens and I'll keep you posted. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Music Copyrighted

Submitting material to the Library of Congress for copyrights is nothing new to me. I've copyrighted all my books, right up to Second Chance and John Dunn, Heart of a Zulu. I've wanted to post some of my music to the blog for a while, and now that a couple of my "albums" have finally been digitized, I have the capacity to do it.

But first, the copyrights. I've completed the copyrights submission for the two "albums" today, which means as of today they are copyrighted. Which means I can now post the music. I've already posted the lyrics. I posted Rockin' the Afterlife years ago. And just recently I posted the lyrics to Rockin' the Cosmos.

But to post the music, you have to upgrade the website. That costs some money, but I'll be posting the music soon. Just don't pay too much attention to the vocals. The songs are good, otherwise I wouldn't post them. You'll need a little imagination to accompany the vocals, that's all. Hopefully by the end of the week both "albums" will be up. Stay tuned.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Created a Map of Zululand

Most every book I've read about the Zulus and the Anglo-Zulu War has included a map of the area. Sometimes two maps or more. I wanted to have a map included in my upcoming book, John Dunn, Heart of a Zulu, as well. But I didn't want to trace any other maps, or copy them. I wanted it to be all original art by me.

So I google-mapped South Africa and traced the satellite image of the region, particularly the rivers, towns, and Zulu kraals which factor prominently in the story. And of course the battle sites. I had to do a lot of research to locate the positions of some of the Zulu kraals which had not been included in any map that I had ever seen. Particularly Cetshwayo's two kraals, Ondini and Mangweni. I'm wondering if any of the prior authors even knew where they were. I have to believe they did, but for whatever reason they weren't in any of their maps.

One point about the kraal called Ondini. The name Ondini was given to two of Cetshwayo's kraals. One was before he became king. According to John Dunn, in his autobiography, John Dunn, Cetywayo, and the Three Generals, the original Ondini kraal was in the vicinity of Eshowe and "near the coast."  Eshowe is on every map I've seen, and is still in existence in modern day Zululand.

But again, Mangweni and the original Ondini were never portrayed. I researched and learned where the Mangweni kraal was and I'm confident I have positioned it correctly. As for the original Ondini kraal, I believe I positioned it correctly as well.

The second Ondini kraal was Cetshwayo's royal  kraal he built after he became king, and it's also called Ulundi. No problem for finding that location since the final battle of the war was fought there. Thank goodness for computers and the ability to make my map look professional. The final version is completely rendered on the computer. It will be an excellent map to which readers can refer when reading the story. Look for John Dunn, Heart of a Zulu this coming this November!


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Vase - Rewritten and Ready

Once again, my novel The Vase is undergoing submissions. To agents and publishers. But this time I'm going slow. Now that I read through the entire manuscript, making improvements where I believed they were necessary, the manuscript is better than ever. So much so that I'm giving the agent route another shot. But I'm not going full steam ahead with that. I'm only going to query maybe five or six agents at the max. If there are still no takers I'm not going to worry about it.

Publishers were quick to offer contracts the last time I submitted. And that was before the manuscript was as polished as it is now. I'm hoping to land another print run publisher. I do want the book in bookstores. Yes, my goal is the Big Five. But I'm not so set on that. Getting published by the Big Five seems ever elusive to me. And there are probably several reasons for that. The first of which is the fact that you need an agent for that. But if I don't get there, there are other reputable publishers out there that don't require agents, and some can be a great home for The Vase.

It's funny in a way. Because at one point, The Vase was the first of my five novels to get a contract offer. But before it could get published, the publisher folded. Then another publisher offered a contract. Then that publisher underwent some major internal problems, and I pulled the book from their lineup. Then Killer of Killers was published first. Then The Vase got four more contracts offered. I finally settled on Penumbra, but now Penumbra is undergoing problems of their own, and I pulled The Vase once again making it available to another publisher. Which means now, The Vase will be the last of my five novels to get a contract offer. Weird. It was the first and it will be the last.

But after all is said and done with publishers, I don't want to go the POD route. It's not the best way to get your book published. Yes, it's better than being self-published. And yes it's better than not being published at all. But it won't be in book stores. And that's what I'm looking to as a criteria this time. Does the publisher get their books into bookstores? We'll see how that goes. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Blacklist - Another Great Show

Since I have Netflix, it's another opportunity for me to catch up on shows that I never watched.The Blacklist is one of them. I remember it being advertised a few years ago. What caught my attention about the show was that it starred James Spader. James Spader was an actor I had liked, even though I hadn't seen many of the movies or TV shows he had been in.


But I did see him in that Kurt Russell movie, Stargate, about the Egyptian pyramids that came from outer space. And I saw him in Supernova with Angela Bassett. The two of them were great together I thought. Actually I liked Supernova better than Stargate. It's one of those "sleeper" movies, meaning it's a movie that was quite good, but flew under the radar, so to speak.

So when I heard about him being in a new TV show called The Blacklist, it caught my attention but not enough for me to watch it. But after having watched the first two seasons of Downton Abbey, (and waiting for the third to be aired on the PBS station,) I decided to give The Blacklist a try.

The first episode was enough to convince me it was a TV show worth watching. And I have been enjoying it very much since. I'm halfway through season one right now. It seems that even though Spader plays a wanted criminal named Raymond Redington, he's really not such a bad guy. Which is a strange thing. He's shown that he will kill, steal, cheat, and betray his country, yet there's that side of him which is a really great guy. He inspires loyalty and dedication from others, and he seems to have a side that is honorable and noble. I like all of it.

The female lead, an FBI agent named, Elizabeth Keene is a good character. She's a rookie agent, but working with Redington in the field brings her up to snuff pretty quickly. Yeah, there's the mystery about her husband, who at first seems to be a dorky elementary school teacher, but it's the mystery that Redington hints at that keeps viewers guessing as to his real identity and purpose.

And the mysteries abound in the show. And slowly the mysteries are solved. That's another great aspect of the show. Like I said, I'm only halfway through season one. And I think the show is on season four right now. I've still got a lot to watch before I'm caught up. But I'll get there. And I'll be enjoying it while I do. The Blacklist is another example of a show with great writing, great acting, great directing and a great premise. And when it comes to a TV show or movie, those are very appealing things to me.