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, September 27, 2016

John Dunn Submitted for Editing

Here's the latest news on the publishing front. Last Monday, my publisher, Dana, (and also my editor, at least for Second Chance she was my editor,) emailed me, requesting I send the revised manuscript of John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu for editing. Well, I wasn't quite finished with the revisions. I had been busy revising Second Chance over the summer, putting only intermittent time into the revisions for John Dunn. And it's as I should have, because the release date for Second Chance preceded that of John Dunn. But the John manuscript is a lot longer than the manuscript of Second Chance, and therefore takes a lot longer to revise. In addition to that, the fact that John Dunn is historical fiction based on a true story, it needed a lot more checking for accuracy regarding dates, distances, and characters, both real and fictitious. There was more effort involved in that one.

Which is one reason why I think it's my best book ever. Well, I still hold Killer of Killers as my sentimental favorite. But the John Dunn book should make a splash in sales if for no other reason than there are a lot of Zulu War enthusiasts out there, and the book deals with the Zulu War in no small way. In fact the latter half of the book is almost all about the Zulu War. Four of the six major battles of the war are depicted in the story. Fortunately, my story follows more than just the John Dunn character, as other characters who were in the battles are featured. John Dunn did fight in one of the major battles of the Zulu War. The Battle at Gingindlovu, in which he contributed in a big way.

So I look forward to the edits Dana, or whoever it is this time, will suggest. I was pleased overall with the edits for Second Chance, so no reason to think I won't be for John Dunn. Can't wait.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Black Sabbath Live

Ozzy Ozbourne and Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath performing in Oakland last night
For more than forty years, the heavy metal rock band Black Sabbath has been my favorite band. So much so, that Black Sabbath is the only rock concert I care to attend. And last night, in Oakland, they performed what might be their final appearance in the Bay Area. I was there with a friend. Black Sabbath is his favorite band, as well. And it was a great night. This poor quality photo I took with my cell phone shows how close I was to the stage.

I remember my first Black Sabbath concert I attended back in 1975 with another friend. I also remember it cost five dollars. I won't say how much I spent this time, but it was far more than five dollars. Suffice it to say being in the third row was worth it. I would have preferred the first row, but that would have cost 2.5 times more. And the cost was already prohibitive.

But I never miss a Sabbath concert. Black Sabbath invented the sub-genre of rock since dubbed Heavy Metal. Tony Iommi invented the new sound that instantly reeled me in as a fan. And a fan I have remained ever since. I'm not really big on going to any concerts, but sentimentality is strong in my appreciation of this band from England and their personal stories. No need to relate them here, as most people already know about Ozzy. But Tony and Geezer Butler, (the bassist) have equally compelling stories, and Bill Ward, (the drummer) has one of his own, as well.

Unfortunately, Ward was not present last night. I had relayed that point in my posting last February. A founding member of Sabbath, Ward belongs on the stage with the other three. And as I expressed last February, I still hope Sabbath will go on tour with Ward even it's one final time.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Second Chance Released Today-Now Available for Purchase


It's true. Second Chance is now listed on Amazon.com and is available for purchase. Don't wait. Click here and buy your copy today. Hopefully, it will have a good first day, a good first week, and a good first month.

You don't have to be a football fan, After all, my publsiher, Dana, is a woman, and isn't a football fan. She told me as much. But she also told me she enjoyed the story, that she was caught up in the action of the games. And it must be true. Otherwise why did she offer me a contract to publish it?

Buy a copy, not just for yourself. The holidays are coming. It'll make a good gift for a husband or wife, a brother or sister, a cousin or friend, male or female. Women like to read, so here's a story they will enjoy. Men like football, so, of course it's a story they will enjoy.

Buy Second Chance; a Football Story. And I will thank you. Thank you.

Monday, September 12, 2016

More on Person of Interest

I'm seven episodes into PoI now, and I think more qualified to comment on how it compares to The Blacklist. It really doesn't. The premise is good. I like Michael Emerson and Jim Caviezel as actors, but for some reason their good acting ability doesn't translate onto the episodes, meaning the acting has not impressed me. It must be the directing. It's not good. And the stories? They have potential, but they don't seem to be maximizing that potential. It could be that the stories are contained in single episodes. There's nothing wrong with that, if it's written well enough. Maybe that's the problem. The stories aren't written well enough. But like I said, I'm only seven episodes in. There are at least five seasons, so I do have a lot more episodes to watch. It could be they'll keep getting better. If they do, I could be sold on the series.

As for The Blacklist, I was sold by episode one. I mean by comparison, so far, the acting is head and shoulders above what I've seen on PoI. It could be the directing as I noted above. I understand directors do have a lot to do with how well the actors perform. And the episodes are so intriguing, so involved, so complicated, but not too complicated, and they stretch story lines over several episodes while at the same time wrap up an episode into a single show. It all works so well. Maybe the actors do have a lot to do with it. James Spader makes the show, to be sure, but I love Megan Boone. Strangely, I have read some unflattering comments regarding her acting. My take on that is the directors have been terrific at masking whatever shortcoming her acting has. Or the show just works so well, even her lack of talent is such that it can't affect the overall greatness of the show.

Buy hey, I'm not so critical of her acting. I was just relaying what I've read out there on some forums and comment sections. Some people don't like her. I like her. So whatever. I only wish the writers would once and for all reveal that Red Redington is her biological father. When that happens, I'll be happy as a lark. Strangely, I never use that phrase. I picked it up from writing my John Dunn book. There's a Captain Watson in there, a real life friend of Dunn's who used that phrase in the book. Speaking of my books, Second Chance should be released as early as tomorrow. John Dunn will be released in November, so there's still time to polish that one a little more. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Person of Interest vs Blacklist

James Spader and Megan Boone as Red Redington and Elizabeth Keen
Now that I've finished watching season three of Blacklist and waiting for a way to watch season four, I started watching Person of Interest. I saw on the Internet there's a debate about which show is better. Fans seem to like both shows, and they also seem to like to argue about which show is better. Reminds me of the Star Trek vs Star Wars debate.




Well, I really liked Blacklist, and I don't know if it's fair comparing it with Person of Interest yet because I've only seen two episodes of PoI. But from what I've seen, at least right now, I do like Blacklist better. Probably because of James Spader. He carries the show, and if it comes down to James Spader vs Michael Emerson of PoI, it's hands down James Spader every time.

Not that Michael Emerson is miscast. He isn't. He's well cast for the part of Harold Finch in PoI. But when comparing the roles of Red Redington vs Harold Finch, the nod goes to Red Redington. Spader is great in that role. As for PoI's Jim Caviezel, he's good as the tough guy John Reese, but that's about where it ends. Meaning Person of Interest is pretty much a two man show. Yeah, there's Detective Carter played by Taraji Henson, and a couple other secondary characters, but they are minor roles that don't impact the show at all. Or at least they haven't yet.

Blacklist contains a slew of secondary characters, all of whom impact the show a great deal. The character opposite MC Red Redington is Elizabeth Keen, a rookie FBI agent, who is brought along pretty quickly in the field by Red Redington. And the other FBI characters, of which there are many, get major airtime throughout the three seasons that I've seen. It really fleshes out the show.

So again, maybe I can't assess PoI yet, after only two episodes, but based on those two episodes, it's looking like a two man show. Which is all right, really, if those two characters can carry the show. It's been done before. Wild Wild West was a two man show. It worked very well. So we'll just have to see how PoI pans out. I can't watch Blacklist anymore, so PoI is  on tab right now. I do like it, but just not as much as I liked Blacklist. Let's see if that remains true once I've sseen all of PoI.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Gotta Wait, but use the time well

I'm in the midst of waiting for the release of Second Chance; a Football Story. Next week, I believe, it will be available. Which is just as well. Football season is underway, and football is everywhere. Colleges are playing, high schools are playing and even the Youth leagues are underway. Now with week one of the NFL imminent, my football story should be entering the market right as football fans are cheering their teams to victory.

In the meantime, I am still improving John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu. Just as I did for Second Chance, keep making it better while you have the time to do it. Just last night I found a small error. Not really an error, but it was a time goof. Well, which is an error. It was at the "Ultimatum Tree" on the Lower Drift of the Tugela River, John Dunn had just told his Zulu friends that it was too late to return to their capital at Ulundi, and to just stay at his place at eMangeti for the night because it was close by. But he wouldn't be with them. Instead he was going to ride to Durban.

Okay. So far so good. But then I had Dunn arriving in Durban by dusk. Which is a time goof. Durban was about 40 miles away from the Lower Drift, and on horseback that's a good twelve hour ride, probably more. So if it was already too late to travel to Ulundi, (which the Zulus did on foot by the way,) no way would Dunn make it to Durban by dusk on horseback. But it was an easy fix. I just had to change one word. I changed 'dusk' to 'morning'. Which means Dunn rode through the night, and made it to Durban by morning. Not writing the exact time he arrived in Durban leaves room for the sticklers to be content that he could have reached Durban by midmorning, late morning, whatever. It's no longer a time goof.

It's just an example how continued proofreading is always a good idea. Not only do you find and correct typos, but you catch time goofs like that and other similar errors that are easy enough to fix.  But if you don't find them, you can't fix them. So you take care of business. And you have a great book. Can't wait for both books to come out. Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Sports - Africa - Books

I have two books coming out soon. One is a a sports book and one is a book that takes place in Africa. The sports book, Second Chance, a Football Story, is a novel about football. So if you like football, you'll like the story. If you don't like football, you'll still like the story.

A lot of guys and girls too, btw, like playing football at the park on the weekend. Or they sign up to play flag football with teams from their jobs or just with their friends. I have pick up games in the book, and park games, and high school games, too.

The story is about a former high school football player, but he plays in pickup games, and refs the park and rec games. There are a lot of fun characters in the story. There's Tony Belmont, the MC, and his girlfriend, Cindy, his best friend, Jimmy Nolan, and the gang of friends that play together in the pickup games: Sean, Rocky, and Joe. These are names from my past. Guys I played football with and against.

The African book is based on a true story. If you have an interest in the Anglo-Zulu War, you'll find this book very interesting. The main character is a true historical character. He's John Dunn and the story is about him. Basically, it's the true story of John Dunn. Still, there's some fiction in it, but John Dunn and the Zulu War are not fiction.

There's a large number of Zulu War enthusiasts out there, just as there are American Civil War enthusiasts. But the number of novels about the Zulu War are far fewer than novels about the Civil War. I hope my book will fill that void.

I'm working harder on this book than I have on any other book. It's longer than any other book I've written, and it may end up being my last book. It depends on a few things, but the time and effort I've put into this book is mindboggling. All the research, the real settings, the real people, getting everything right is far more difficult than any book that's about characters that an author just made up.

It's not like I didn't have to research anything about high school football, I did. But it's not as deep as a book about real people and real events. That's got to be done right. So we'll see.

Second Chance is due out in a couple weeks. John Dunn is due out in a couple months. I hope you will purchase both of them. Stay tuned.