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, December 30, 2016

New Star Wars - Ho Hum

So I saw the new Star Wars movie, Rogue One. I mean, I suffered through it. It's the story that takes place between episodes III and IV. Hollywood is hurting for female heroes it seems, so of course the hero is a woman. Hey, I've got nothing against women heroes. Let me make it clear there are many women heroes in the world. But this story is not in this world. Not earth. So what? you might say.

Well, the first Star Wars movie had one woman in it. Princess Leah. She was brave and heroic, but she was the only woman. And then it was noticed that there were no minorities in it either. And the Star Wars people were skewered for it. So they got Billy Dee Williams to play Lando Calrisian, and then they made sure the next movies had plenty of women in them. Okay. By then I couldn't stand Star Wars anymore, so whatever.

But now that Disney has the rights to Star Wars, thanks to a four billion dollar payday to George Lucas, they are going out of their way to make the main hero of the new Star Wars movies a woman. At least so far. (Two for two, anyway.)

Again, I know women can be just as heroic as any man. They can be just as brave. And they can be just as strong-willed. But I ask again the question I've asked many times. Do women want to fight people? Do women want to hurt people? Do women want to kill people?

I have another question. Do women want to see other women fight, hurt, and kill people? Do they? I mean, that's what Hollywood is having them do. Time and again, in the movies and in TV shows, we're seeing women "heroes" take the roles of fighters and killers. Is that what women want? I can't believe women want to fight, to hurt, and to kill people. I can't believe women want to see other women fight and kill people. I don't believe it.

But Hollywood seems to think that to be a hero, you have to physically fight, hurt and kill people. It's laughable if you think about it...just how shallow-minded Hollywood is. And I remind you that to be a hero, you don't have to be a super fighter and killer of other human beings, even human beings who deserve it. Again I would like to use Downton Abbey as an example. In Downton Abbey you have many women heroes. They are brave, they are strong-willed, and they are heroic. But they don't go around fighting, hurting, and killing anyone.

Mary, Violet, Sybil, Edith, Cora, Isabel, Anna, Mrs. Hughes, and the list goes on. They are wonderful, strong, brave characters. They are real heroes.

It is refreshing to know that at least ONE show has it right. I'm sure there are others. I just haven't seen them yet. So the next time Star Wars has to resort to a fighting, killing woman to be the hero, let me point to Downton Abbey. Those are real women heroes. And by far the superior heroes.

Star Wars has fallen into the shallow minded notion that a hero has to be a super fighter and kill. And since they want their heroes to be women, then the women have to be super fighters and kill. To that I say meh. That's all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Martial Arts Stories Rule

I've always loved stories about martial arts experts. More to the point, I've always liked characters who have displayed unusual talent in many different areas. But they have to be tough. Like the typical Hollywood tough guy from years ago. When I was a kid there were a lot of them.

Clint Eastwood was terrific as "the Man with No Name." Yeah, I'm talking about the spaghetti westerns. He was cool as Dirty Harry, too.

But the list goes on when referring to tough guy actors from the sixties. Sean Connery was tops as James Bond, of course. William Shatner is the one and only James Kirk, and hands down the best ever starship captain. Robert Conrad is the only James West.

Robert Mitchum was a tough guy's tough guy, as was Anthony Quinn, James Coburn, Charlton Heston, and Charles Bronson. These guys make today's wannabe tough guys look like cupcakes.

Of course, you have the classic tough guys like John Wayne, Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan, and Kirk Douglas.

Then you have the suave tough guys. Sean Connery would be in this category too. (He's the only one who makes both lists.) But included in this list you have guys like Robert Vaughn, Robert Redford, and Yul Brynner.

 These guys are tough guys that actually LOOK like tough guys. There are other guys who've PLAYED tough guys, but in my book they don't cut it. This might offend some people, but to ME they don't look so tough. They include Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Richard Widmark, and Edward G.
Robinson. Those guys don't look like they can beat up my mother-in-law. But the other dudes? Those guys are badass dudes. I didn't list them in any particular order. It's just that the good old days of real tough guys is over. Today you have softies pretending to be tough guys.

Sometimes they can pull it off. Brad Pitt made a decent Achilles in the otherwise horrible movie Troy. Vin Diesel makes a good tough guy in his movies, and Jason Statham is an authentic tough guy in his movies, but that's about it. I'm hoping Dustin Clare can be a tough guy, too. He was the best actor in the recent Spartacus show, and I've blogged often that he might be a great Trent Smith in my novels, Killer of Killers and Killer Eyes. What does the future hold?
We'll see.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

John Dunn Book Still In The Works

Just want to let everyone know that the John Dunn book is still in the works. I mentioned in an earlier post that my publisher has fallen behind in their publishing schedule, and I also noted that that was a good thing as far as my John Dunn book is concerned. You never want to rush a publication. Never. I felt Second Chance was rushed a bit, even though it got delayed a couple weeks itself.

But there were a couple minor errors in it and one somewhat major continuity error. It's weird how that happens. I must have read it twenty plus times, and it was edited, as well, but still that one continuity error went unnoticed until after publication and my brother bought and read the book and pointed it out to me. How he could catch it in a single reading and I couldn't after twenty is baffling to me to say the least. Ultimately, it's still a great read, and the one continuity error doesn't ruin the story.

For my John Dunn book, this current delay has proven to be a boon, because I've caught some errors and fixed them, right up to yesterday. I found two misspellings of the mission station Eshowe. Anyone who knows anything about Zululand and the Zulu War knows about Eshowe. But yesterday, I found a place where it was spelled Eschowe. Ouch. Of course I fixed it back to Eshowe, but then I used the "search" app to see if there was anywhere else where I might have spelled it Eschowe, and there was one more place it was misspelled. It's fixed now.

And the usual improvement in prose continues every time you read through it. Needless to say, the writing is tons better at this point. It ranks up there with the finest writing I've ever done, and I think it will hold it's own for all stories concerning the Zulu War and any Historical Fiction book for that matter. It's a true story, after all, and hopefully the editing will begin soon. I'm thinking it will be released early in 2017. Which is right around the corner. Can't wait.