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 25, 2017

John Dunn Galley Received

Great day yesterday. I received the galley of my John Dunn book from my publisher. Which meant I had submitted the final corrections just in time. That's a relief, knowing all the correction needed had been made. Yeah, it was the first thing I checked. Those last minute corrections were made and all errors or revisions have been made and the manuscript is as good as it can get.

So I have the PDF version of the book now, and it looks great. It reads great. I have until tonight to look it over, and while doing so I have to admit a great deal of satisfaction comes over me. It's because I know how much work I put into that book, and knowing others will be able to read it, and appreciate it is something any artist in any field can understand.

So I'm on my lunch break, and I'm going back to that galley and take as much time as I can looking it over. I can't read the whole thing word for word from front to back in one day, but I can skim through it, reading parts here and there, and making sure the formatting is good. And that's what I'll do. I'll get back to the blog tomorrow.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Final Corrections to John Dunn made...

...and the manuscript has been submitted a final time. I think I'm not too late, since Dana had told me the last time I sent in corrections that the manuscript had not been formatted yet. So this time what was the final corrections? I had made it the norm in the writing of my story to use Zulu words mixed in with English, especially when the dialogue was supposed to be spoken in the Zulu language, which in Zulu is called isiZulu, and I do use that word in the story.

However, when referring to the Zulu people or any other native people in the region, I simply use "the Zulu," or the "Swazi", etc. In the Zulu language, the word amaZulu would be used in referring to the Zulu people. But I'm not going that route. As I said, I do use Zulu words often, and I italicize those words, with the exceptions of individual names and the names of places.

But consistency is the issue. If I don't use the 's' on the end of the word Zulu(s) in one dialogue where the language spoken is isiZulu, then I must stay consistent throughout. I discovered the consistency wasn't there, but after using the word search app, I was able to fix that, and now the consistency is there. So I dare say the manuscript is error-free at this point. And it's a good feeling knowing that.

Of course, I can't be surprised if a typo pops up somewhere, as they seem to be invisible sometimes, until that time that it's too late to fix, and then they appear, like Indians popping out of holes in the ground to ambush unsuspecting cowboys. I guess that analogy is outdated, or perhaps even not so politically correct, but whatever, my point is made. Onward to publication! Can't wait!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Hollywood's Effort to Make Females Dominant

Let me start by stressing I am not a chauvinist or a misogynist. I love women. I love my wife. I have no daughters, only sons, but that doesn't mean I couldn't or wouldn't love a daughter as much as a son.

Now on to my point. I've been posting my frustrations lately about how Hollywood, in the movies and TV shows, continues to portray women as better and tougher fighters than men. We've been seeing it time and again; a tough chick beating up men by the dozens and all at the same time.

To that I say Bullshit. I readily admit women can be tough, but never can they beat up a man who is himself on the level of say, a Navy seal, or even a regular Marine.

The first time this happened that I remember was in the 1980's animated movie Heavy Metal. It featured some woman hero who single-handedly rose up to defeat the "Nazi" conquerors who had dominated the land. It began with the typical "bar scene fight" where she takes on three tough guys with swords and decapitates all three of them with a single swipe of her sword. This from a woman who in real life could hardly even wield a sword of the size she possessed.

Even in the famous Disney movie Lion King. Twice, the main character lion Simba is bested by the female lion Nala. Once as cubs, and then as full grown lions, Nala bests Simba in a fight. Really? In no scenario ever could a female lion best a male lion. Ever.

Okay, so those are old cartoons. But the trend has picked up of late. Now we're forced to watch Scarlet Johanssen, all 110 pounds of her, beating up men left and right, again and again, by the dozens all at once. In movie after movie. Okay, so in the Avengers, she's a superhero. Okay, in Lucy, she's mentally enhanced. Okay, in Ghost in the Shell, she's got a robot body. Okay. But it's tiring. I am no longer going to watch any movie in which Scarlett Johanssen dominates the entire male cast.

It doesn't stop there. I've blogged plenty about how phony Sarah Shahi looked in Person of Interest beating up every male fighter she came up against, and again by the dozens all at once. And in the show Into the Badlands, I've made the same complaint about the character called "The Widow."

Even in one of my favorite shows, Banshee, I had to watch some 110 pound chick beat up four Marines all at once. Yeah, the four Marines were in the process of raping some other girl, but come on. This was a woman in her mid twenties from some Indian Reservation who comes out of nowhere and takes on four Marines and beats them up all at once as if they were six-year-olds.

This is a continuing trend. Not only are women being represented as physically tougher and superior fighters, they are also being portrayed as more competent and sophisticated in dealing with stressful situations and problem solving.

Particularly disturbing to me is the trend of the last twenty years in kids' cartoons. The Simpsons, Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, and many more, portray the male characters as weak, stupid, moronic, degenerate, perverted, and incompetent in every aspect of everyday life. Meanwhile, the female characters are wholesome, intelligent, and competent in every approach to solving the problems about which their male counterparts are clueless.

Ditto for almost every Young Adult movie of late, like Twilight, Hunger Games, Divergent, etc., the female characters are the smart ones, with all the answers, whereas the male characters are the ones lamenting their inabilities to cope with the adverse environment in which they live.

Again, I know women can be just as smart, just as tough, and just as competent as men. And yes, sometimes more so. But not always, and certainly they are NOT better, stronger, or superior fighters. I've made the point that they are tough in a different way. They cannot beat up four Marines all at once. I don't care if a woman is as tough as Ronda Rousey. No woman in the world can beat up four Marines all at the same time. Not even one Marine. Ronda Rousey can't even beat up other WOMEN fighters these days. So Hollywood, get off your female superiority hill.

My last point is this: I don't believe women WANT to see women fight, beat up, and kill people. I don't believe it. It's not a woman thing. Is it?  I'm not a woman, but that doesn't mean I don't know women. Sure there are exceptions to every rule, even this one, but as a rule, women are NOT into fighting, killing, war, and mayhem. That's a dude thing. I don't need your opinion on this, because I know I'm right. So where is Hollywood getting off on presenting this over and over to the American audience?

Look at other cultures. In Asia, women are mostly treated as second class citizens. In the Middle East, women don't even have rights. They can't vote, they can't drive, hell, they aren't even allowed to show their faces for god's sake. In Africa, women are completely dominated by men.

In America women have equal rights, and that's as it should be. But that doesn't mean they have equal ability to fight. They just don't. Of course, there's exceptions. A woman here or there may be able to beat up some man here or there. But never a man who himself is a professional fighter. Or a Navy Seal. Or a Marine. Never. Not once. Not ever.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Main Characters

Talked about Dustin Clare and Georges St. Pierre as the Killer of Killers main character Trent Smith, along with Hannah New and Lili Simmons as the female lead Samantha Jones. As far as Amber Heard is concerned, I'm moving away from her. Just read in today's news she seems more interested in nailing down multi-billionaire Elon Musk as hubby no. 2. Perhaps she's realizing a career as an actress just isn't in the cards for her. So be it.

Henry Cavill





As for the John Dunn book, I've made my case for Superman as the main character John Dunn. I've posted a picture with Henry Cavill with a  beard, and he's almost the splitting image of John Dunn. As for which actress would be right for the role of Catherine Pierce, John Dunn's half white half black wife, my first choice might have been Halle Berry, but she's too old now. So Candice Patton is next up to bat. I'm sure there are other actresses who could do it, but I'm sold on Candice Patton for now.





Candice Patton





I listed a bevy of actors for the African roles. And I think I nailed each and every one of them. Right now, that's about all I can do: just sit here after work and think of actors and actresses who could be right for the roles of the characters I've created. It's fun. As for Second Chance and The Vase? Well, I've got to think about those. We'll see.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Main Characters in my Novels

Dustin Clare
First and foremost I would love to see my debut novel Killer of Killers and its sequel Killer Eyes come to the big screen. Or even the small screen, as I believe it would make a great TV series as well as a franchise of feature films. But for a move franchise or TV series to be successful, you would need star power. Jason Statham provided that for a bevy of films. The Transporter, The Mechanic, and now he's adding his star power to the Fast and Furious franchise.

In addition to Statham, there are countless other examples. Daniel Craig, Vin Diesel, Keanu Reeves, Bruce Willis, Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sean Connery are the most familiar in the movie franchises. The TV show series include relative newbies like Anthoney Starr, Toby Stephens, Ray Stevenson, Kevin McKidd, and then older actors who made the transition from the big screen to the small, like Jim Caviesel and James Spader.



Amber Heard


So star power is important for the success of a franchise or series. Sometimes producers have rolled the dice and won. Statham was not an A-lister when he was cast for The Transporter, but they rolled the dice on him and he turned out to be a winner. Other times producers don't roll the dice. Instead, they go with a proven star, like Keanu Reeves, who was already an A-lister when he was cast as the lead in John Wick.

Hannah New

So for Killer of Killers it would be a roll of the dice to cast either Dustin Clare or  Georges St. Pierre. I'm on record as being okay with either one of them as Trent Smith, the world's greatest martial artist. Both are capable fighters on screen, as St. Pierre is a world champion in real life, which would sure add a ton of authenticity to his casting for the part. But can he act? That's the question. Clare can. There's no question.

What about the female role? I used to think Amber Heard would be right for the part. She certainly looks the part. A beautiful blonde woman in her prime. But there is one question hanging over my shoulder. Can she act? I have not seen any indication that she can. The bit parts she's had in the few movies she's been in are inconclusive. And I hear nothing in the news or internet that makes me think she can. And the fact that her roles are so few and in such minor movies, reinforces that.




Lili Simmons




Which makes me want to think other actresses would be better for the part. Actresses whom I know can act. Two come to mind. Hannah New from Black Sails and Lili Simmons from Banshee. They can act very well, at least they did in those TV shows. I haven't seen them in much else, so I'm waiting to see about that. Still, I've been convinced. They are pretty enough, and they can act. Here's waiting to see how it comes to be.



Tuesday, April 11, 2017

John Dunn Book Edited and Submitted

Well, it's finally completed. Everything. Revisions, edits, submission, everything. Last night I completed the last of the edits that I received from my publisher yesterday and submitted it back to her at 12:15 a.m. Then I went to bed so as not to be a zombie at work today. Which means there's no more work to be done on John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu. And after about four years in the making, it's been a long time coming. Maybe five years. That's a long time. Not that it was all spent on John Dunn. No. I worked on pretty much every book during that time. But for the last year, at least, it was the John Dunn book and Second Chance that had my focus.

Back to writing another book? Not really. I'm getting back into my music right now. I have some music that I composed about fifteen years ago, other than the music to the lyrics posted on this blog, that I want to rearrange and see if I can't get it rerecorded and converted into a digital format. Then one day, maybe get a band to play them. I wonder if there's a "music" agent who finds a band to play your songs, like a literary agent finds a publisher to publish your books.

I don't suppose there is. Sure I Googled "music agents" but from what I learned, music agents are mostly people who find gigs for bands, like clubs or such where they might perform for cash. Or they are managers who do the same thing, but also try to find bands a recording contract. I don't want either of those. What I want is an "agent" to find a recording artist who might be interested in recording the songs I've already written. I'm not much of a performer myself. I would just like to be the composer for some other musicians to perform my songs.

But from what I can gather, there is no such type of "music" agent. Too bad. Still, the band plays on, and so will I...

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Speaking of Real Martial Arts Champions...

Real Life martial arts champion
Georges St. Pierre
...playing the part of Trent Smith, the world's greatest martial artist, here's a real martial arts champion. He's Georges St. Pierre. He's been mentioned as a good actor to play the part of Trent Smith. (See review to the right of this post.) St. Pierre has been in movies before. I didn't even realize he was the guy who fought Captain America in the Winter Soldier movie. He's a champion marital artist in real life, so why would I be opposed to him being cast as Trent Smith? I wouldn't. I know I've been saying Dustin Clare could be Trent Smith, based on his performance as Gannicus, a champion gladiator...







St. Pierre in the movie Winter Soldier
fighting Captain America
...but it's certainly not unprecedented for a real martial arts champion to play a lead role in a movie.  Bruce Lee is the first to come to mind. Then there's Chuck Norris and Jet Li. Even Jason Statham, although not a champion, has been trained in the martial arts. So, yeah. These photos do prove that Georges St. Pierre could look the part and play the role of the world's greatest martial artist.



Georges St. Pierre looks
the part of Trent Smith


But can he act? Meaning can he act in a movie as an actor playing a lead role? I know for a fact that Dustin Clare can act. He proved it in Spartacus. He can fight, too. At least in choreographed scenes in a movie he can fight. And after all, that's what we'll get in any movie, right? At that point, it's all about the fight scene coordinator or choreographer. Like Corey Yuen. He's probably one of the best if not the best. I'd like to see it happen. Dustin Clare or Georges St. Pierre.

Here's wishing....

Friday, April 7, 2017

Waiting for the next Dustin Clare Movie

Dustin Clare. Where the heck is he?
This is not the best photo of Dustin Clare, but with the proper director, I believe he could make a great Trent Smith, the world's greatest martial artist, as portrayed in the novels Killer of Killers and Killer Eyes. After all, he stole the show in Spartacus, in which he played Gannicus, a champion gladiator in Ancient Rome. And because he portrayed a very convincing champion gladiator, I believe he could play a very convincing martial arts champion, too.

But where is Dustin Clare? He had a very small part in the TV show Strike Back. A very small part. Pretty much insignificant. But at least it was an appearance. Where the heck is he? I mean in the popular STARZ TV show Spartacus, this guy STOLE the show. He was great in that show, and he did steal the show. No other actor held a candle to him. I would have thought his performance would have drawn the notice of some movie producers. But apparently no movie producers were watching.

Meanwhile, actors like Jason Statham, Matt Damon, Keanu Reeves, and Vin Diesel, keep rolling along with tough guy parts in movie after movie. Even old guys like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis keep playing tough guys despite the fact they're past their prime.

I know Dustin Clare has fans out there. He's got plenty of fans who clearly wish he'd be in some other role than the insignificant parts he's been scraping off the bottom of the movie role barrels since the final cut of Spartacus. Maybe he just needs the right vehicle. And my two Killer stories could be it for him. In Killer of Killers, the world is introduced to Trent Smith, the greatest martial artist since Bruce Lee. I even paid Lee a mention in the book as a sort of honor to his memory.

The story doesn't end there. It picks up in the sequel Killer Eyes, in which Trent meets a pretty tough chick, of whom I gave mention in yesterday's post. It could go on. I may or may not write a third Killer book. I've been so focused on my John Dunn book of late, I haven't paid it much thought. I did start a third one, but that doesn't mean I'll finish it. Maybe I will.

In the meantime, I'd like to see Dustin Clare kick some ass in another movie besides Spartacus reruns. Killer of Killers would be perfect for him. or maybe, as one reviewer put it, the role should go to a REAL martial arts champion. Well, I can't argue with that. It's all about the acting. Or maybe it isn't. After all Bruce Lee wasn't coming down with any Oscars for his movies. But he didn't have to act when it came to fight scenes. That was his expertise. But it doesn't matter. Whoever Dustin Clare's agent is, he's got to get his ass in gear, and get Dustin into another TV show or movie.

What's he waiting for?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Into the Badlands - Shows don't get worse

I'm in a lull right now, with Blacklist in hiatus. So my wife and I started to watch Into the Badlands, and I was once again insulted by the "tough chick" syndrome that seems to be inundating Hollywood. Well, at least at the TV level. There's only six shows per season, and through those six shows I had to suffer through bad acting, bad directing, bad dialogue, and horrible writing.

I mean I already had to suffer through Sameen Shaw's ridiculous portrayal as a tough chick in Person of Interest, and I really couldn't handle anymore of that. But after watching episode one of season two of Into the Badlands and watching this red-haired chick called "the widow" kill fifty dudes all at once, I just had to quit. My wife still watched, but I decided to get back to writing.

Unless it's Supergirl or Wonder Woman, I just refuse to even TRY to believe one chick can beat up dozens of male fighters all at the same time. I can handle a tough chick, don't get me wrong. And I swear I'm no chauvinist. But one chick against ten, twenty, and now fifty dudes all at once? Nope. I'm done. The show lost me, and I'm not coming back.

The ONLY thing that MIGHT have kept me watching that show is the character Sunny, who was the only person, male or female, who was able to beat The Widow, but Sunny betrays his "master" even kills him, and then gets bested by some orange cloaked monks. Now, he's some kind of slave somewhere. So no. Again. I'm done.

I readily admit, as I've done often before, that women ARE strong. They ARE tough. But women are different than men. Is anyone going to disagree with that? No. I didn't think so. Women are strong and tough in a different way than men. Women just don't go around beating up people. They don't go around killing people. It's just not something women do.

Bottom line, women don't make a life out of killing and beating up people. Sure there are exceptions. Ronda Rousey, for instance. She's pretty tough. She's a professional fighter after all. She made a living out of fighting. But she only fights other women fighters. I don't believe she can beat up even a single male fighter, let alone fifty all at once. As a matter of fact, she can't even hold her own against other FEMALE fighters lately.

Bottom line is this. Tough chicks that are fighters can beat up OTHER tough chicks who are fighters. But they can NEVER beat up a dude who himself is a professional fighter. Not one. Not ever. So what Hollywood is trying to show us is miserably ridiculous and for me, at least, unwatchable. And I've had enough. No more wasting my time watching that nonsense.

Oh, btw, just for the record, in my book Killer Eyes, I created a pretty tough chick. The leader of the Killers Guild is a chick. A pretty tough chick. She even did beat up and kill a male fighter in a duel for the top spot in the Killers Guild. But she did it in a womanly way. She didn't overcome him in brute strength or even with fancy martial arts moves. She did it in a BELIEVABLE way.

So there you have it. It's all in the writing. And in Person of Interest, and Into the Badlands, the writing for these tough chicks didn't make it.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dunn Book Being Edited

Well, it is happening. Dana emailed me yesterday and told me she is editing the book right now. She said some heartening words about it and I replied to tell her that. But since it is being edited right now, I can expect it back very soon. As early as today or tomorrow.

I probably did work harder on this book than any other. Too many things had to be accurate and authentic. Meaning I can't have a character in one part of the land and in another part during the same day, especially if it takes four days to get there by horseback or wagon ride. I had to be sure I had the correct time lapses down.

So much research was involved, but that is par for the course in the writing of any book. For my killer books I had to research all kinds of martial arts moves, philosophies, beliefs, and weapons. I had to research biochemistry for Killer of Killers and nuclear medicine for Killer Eyes. I had to research Judaism and Islam for The Vase. I even had to research defensive football schemes for my Second Chance book.

But I think anyone could see why a true story needs the most research. Especially a true story that involves real people and a real historical war. But it's done and it's being edited. I look forward to completion. That will be a day to celebrate. Can't wait.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Actor for Lord Chelmsford

I wasn't looking for an actor to play Lord Chelmsford, the commander-in-chief of all British forces in South Africa during the Anglo-Zulu War. But I was at the store just now and happened to see the latest TV Guide magazine. And on it's cover is a current photo of Pierce Brosnan.

In this photo, Brosnan looks like he'd be
just right for the part of Lord Chelmsford

Of course, the first thing I thought was: That could be Lord Chelmsford right there. I was thinking any old dude from Britain could play the part. But the way Brosnan looks in this photo, I would say is just about perfect for the way Lord Chelmsford should look in a movie of my John Dunn book if one were to be made. Actually there are so many parts to fill in that book, many of them British, and many Zulu or black African it would take a long time to find the right actors for every role. I could do it, though, and boy would I love having that job. Here's to hoping.

Monday, April 3, 2017

David vs Adewale - Adewale Wins!

I was saying recently that David Oyelowo did not look like a king. And I still don't think he does. I have just learned that he says he's descended from kings! Furthermore, I just found out that he indeed did play the role of a king, not once, but twice.

Whatever the case, I still wouldn't cast him as king of the Zulus. That part goes to Adewale. No backing down on that. In the John Dunn story, David Oyelowo could be cast as Prince Dabulamanzi. It's a royal role. So everyone can be happy.

Here's hoping Killer of Killers, Killer Eyes, The Vase, Second Chance, AND John Dunn, Heart of a Zulu can be made into movies. Yeah. Here's hoping.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Found the Perfect Actor for Cetshwayo!

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is the one. I know I was thinking about David Oyelowo playing the part of Zulu king Cetshwayo, but I had some problems with that. Oyelowo is too short and he doesn't look like a king.

Well, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is not too short. Like the real King Cetshwayo, Adewale is 6' 2" tall, and look at these pictures! He looks like a king. I mean talk about perfect casting. This guy is as right for the part of Cetshwayo as Sean Connery was for James Bond. Like William Shatner was for Capt. Kirk, and like Leonard Nimoy was for Spock. Like Robert Conrad was for James West and like Clint Eastwood was for the Man With No Name! And like Henry Cavill would be as John Dunn.

But Adewale is 49 right now, which means his window for being Cetshwayo is closing fast. Cetshwayo was in his forties during his kingship of Zululand. Adewale still looks youthful enough. I suppose he will look the part for another ten years.


Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje with a beard
Like Dunn, Cetshwayo had a beard, so I found a photo of Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje with a beard. And I can imagine him wearing the leopard skins of Shakan royalty in a show in which he stars as the Zulu king.

You know, I would make a great casting director, seeing as how I can find the right actors for the right parts. Maybe my talent is restricted for the characters that I either created, (Trent Smith, Samanth Jones, Susie Quinn, Muhsin Muhabi, Naji Muhabi, etc.) or those characters about whom I've written, (John Dunn, Cetshwayo, etc.) But whatever.

Btw, David Oyelowo could be cast as Cetshwayo's younger brother Dabulamanzi and that nails it. If my John Dunn book is ever made into a movie, or TV show, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is the one and only actor to play King Cetshwayo. Henry Cavill is John Dunn, Candice Patton is Catherine Pierce, and David Oyelowo is Dabulamanzi. Bingo. The main parts are nailed!

Friday, March 31, 2017

What about the Zulu Roles?

In yesterday's post I playfully considered actors who could play the roles in the John Dunn story. I focused on the main characters John Dunn and Catherine Pierce. But what about the Zulus? After all, they're main characters too. Especially King Cetshwayo, his brother Prince Dabulamanzi, and the Zulu general Utshingwayo. And when it comes to black characters in the story, there aren't just Zulu characters, there are also non-Zulu black Africans who have major roles, like Dunn's black friends Xegwana and Lokotwayo. And many more.

Djimon Housou could be a good fit
as the Zulu general Utshingwayo

I figured if there were to be a movie about this story, it would be filmed in Zululand, like the movies Zulu and Zulu Dawn, and the TV miniseries Shaka Zulu. All were filmed on location, and all featured African actors. So I figure this movie or show would also employ African actors rather than black American actors to play the parts. And I also figure that would be fitting.

But I do have some suggestions. Firstly, I've always liked Djimon Hounsou, who I first saw in Ridley Scott's Gladiator movie. Everything he's been in, he's been great. He's Beninese, which is not South African, but still, it's African. And since he's an older dude now, (age 52) I suppose he could play the part of one of the older Zulus in the story, like Utshingwayo, who was the older general who led the Zulus to victory in the battle at iSandlwana.

And what about King Cetshwayo?  I might suggest David Oyelowo.  He's actually English, but he's the son of Nigerian parents. So that's close enough to being African, I would say.


David Oyelowo could be right
as King Cetshwayo

And if you've seen any photos of the real Cetshwayo, there's a resemblance here. The only problem is that David Oyelowo is listed as being 5' 9" tall. The real King Cetshwayo is said to be a pretty big dude, like around 6' 2". That might not bode well, especially if David Oyelowo is cast beside Henry Cavill as John Dunn. And since Henry Cavill is 6' 2", then that means he'd be noticeably taller than David. That wouldn't be right. I think Hollywood could fix that, but  I'd rather have an actor who was closer in height to the real Cetshwayo. Other than being the right height, the actor must exude a kingliness about him. He must emanate royalty. I'm not sure David here does that.

 

Hisham Tawfiq could play any of the
other roles in the John Dunn story. But I think
Lokotwayo might be the best role for him.

There is another black actor I happen to like. Hisham Tawfiq. Unfortunately, Hisham is not African, he's American. I've only seen him in the TV show  Blacklist. Yeah, I'm talking about good ol' Dembe -- Red Redington's bodyguard. He's great in that show, in which he plays an African. So I would have no problem for one of the many black roles to go to Hisham Tawfiq. He might be right for the role of Prince Dabulamanzi, or maybe Lokotwayo or even Xegwana. All three roles would be major roles in the story I wrote, and all were major players in the John Dunn story in real life.

Sure there's many more black roles in the story. There's the aged Masipula who any aged black actor could handle. There's Masipula's son, Sigodi. Sigodi's friend Mkasona, and the list goes on. Here's hoping I can rethink all of these roles. That is if a BBC movie producer decides to revisit the Zulu story. It's not unprecedented. I've already pointed that out. Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Now That John Dunn's Story is Rolling...

An 1860s lithograph
of the real John Dunn
...who would be the actors should it ever become a movie. Well that would be determined by WHEN it comes to the big screen. As of now, I've pegged Henry Cavill as the best actor to play John Dunn. The photo below of a bearded Henry Cavill proves he has the look which nails the part. I might have pegged Halle Berry as Dunn's wife, Catherine Pierce, because Catherine Pierce in real life was half white and half black, as is Halle Berry. And I think Halle could have been as perfect for the role as Cavill would be as Dunn. But alas, time stops for no one and Halle is too old for the part at this time.

Henry Cavill with a beard
Perfect for the role of John Dunn
Candice Patton in her prime right now
Perfect for the role of Catherine Pierce
So what other actresses are half white and half black, but still in their prime? Well, I can think of one right off the bat. Candice Patton. She's half and half, and you know what? I think she would be perfect for the part as well. And I really think Henry Cavill is a better match for her than Grant Gustin who plays her boyfriend on the Flash TV show. Gustin looks too nerdy for a lovely woman like Patton. But whatever.

Just think. Henry Cavill with Candice Patton. What a great couple they would make in any TV show or movie. And the John Dunn story would be the perfect vehicle for them.

 Will it happen? Who knows. Probably not in my lifetime. I have found that most white people in England and South Africa don't like John Dunn. They consider him a "gunrunner", meaning he supplied the blacks in Africa with guns. Much like white Americans revile the white "gunrunners" from the American west -- the dudes who sold guns to the Indians.

So John Dunn remains a misunderstood historical character. Never mind that he actually helped the British win the Anglo-Zulu War. He was a hero to both the British and the Zulus. Talk about a man who played both sides. He did, but he didn't really mean to. He tried his best to help everyone, black and white. Can't explain it here. You'll have to read the book. It comes out in July. Stay tuned






Tuesday, March 28, 2017

And Let There Be Editing

It was perfect timing. My publisher, Dana, emailed me this morning, advising me that my John Dunn book was next in line for editing and that she needed the latest version of the manuscript by the end of the day. Well, the good news was that I was right at the wrap up stage of my final read-through and revision. So I was happy to let her know that I would indeed send it by the end of the day, which I just did.

It's been a long time coming. But I was glad for that. There was so much to check on, regarding the time period and all the elements involved with a real life historical story, like Victorian England, and Colonial rule, and the British Empire, et al. And then the African colonies, and the Zulus and John Dunn's relationship with Cetshwayo, and it's all so fascinating!

But it's done. At least my part at this time. Like I said, the timing was perfect. And Dana has it now. I suppose that since she wanted it by the end of today, the editing will begin tomorrow. And going by how things went for my first KRP book, Second Chance, the editing should take less than a week. That means by next Monday or Tuesday, I'll have it back to incorporate whatever editing she might require.

And again, going by the last book, it won't be too much. But this book is a lot bigger than that one. It's almost twice as many words. But it's also mostly a true story. So who knows what changes she'll require. I don't expect too many, since I put in tireless work up to this point. But the ball is rolling, and I think an advanced eBook copy will be available by the end of April.

I worked so hard on this book. Harder than any other book. Historical Fiction is a genre I love. And now I've finally written a book in that genre. Can't wait to see it in my hands. Here's the cover. My only regret is that I didn't use my own artistic talent to illustrate a cover. Maybe I will one day. In the meantime, this one will have to do. It could be that the mask is symbolic. You know, a white man, being a Zulu. Yeah, it sounds a little too esoteric, but whatever, dude. Just go with it.

John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu
Coming this summer

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

New Publication Date Revealed

John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu will be published in July. That was the news I received yesterday from my publisher. I will keep everyone who reads this blog advised as the events unfold. As of now, I'll be expected to have the manuscript ready by this week, so that editing may occur. Revisions are supposed to be completed by the end of May. That is revisions suggested at the time of editing. And then in May, I believe advanced Kindle copies will be available for anyone who wants to be a reviewer.

I look forward to all of it. And now more than ever am I glad that I've been spending these last few months going over and over the manuscript, improving the prose, improving the authenticity, and improving every aspect of the story line. That means timelines, travel times, and anything else that has to do with consistency, and all of it equally important.

I hope to send the completed manuscript by this weekend. And then sometime in April, I'll be getting the edited version to revise as per editing suggestions. And you, the readers of this blog will be privy to the entire process. Stay tuned.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Walking Dead walked on by

After cheering The Walking Dead in a recent post, I must say, those cheers have come to a screeching halt. Meaning what I wanted to see more of was abruptly stopped. Last Sunday's episode had nothing of Rick and Michonne, not even a follow up to what they went through in that last episode.

Instead we see Carol, who's a good character, but not in any role we saw last Sunday. And we see Morgan acting totally unlike the Morgan the show had taken years to develop. He was a man who was against killing. To a fault. Meaning he would rather risk his life and the lives of his friends than make the difficult decision to kill. And we've seen the results often as a result of his attitude, yet his attitude never changed. But now, not only does he kill someone, he kills a friendly. Not an enemy, like one of the "Saviors" but a fellow inhabitant of the community in which he lives.

Forget the reasons. Sure there were reasons, but never mind them. The fact is he did a 180 and now he kills. For the upcoming war? Okay, I get it. There's an upcoming war, and it's overdue. The show will probably give us fodder, or fillers until they finally get around to making it happen. The show  has gone to great lengths making the audience hate the Negan character, so I have to believe we'll get to see Negan get what's coming to him and then some.

So until it does, we'll have to bear with filler episodes like last Sunday. Maybe I should have called it quits. Too bad I'm not so easy to quit. Maybe I should be. We'll see.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Last Word on Person of Interest

So I've caught up with Person of Interest. All five seasons. Well, maybe I should say all four and a half seasons because season five only had 13 episodes. The last time I wrote about it I was still new to the series. Now that I've seen the entire series my opinion will be more comprehensive.

I had been comparing it to Blacklist, and I liked Blacklist better. I still do. I've seen all the Blacklist there is to see. It's in the middle of season four right now. But PoI is done, and I was left disappointed. That's not unusual. I seem to be disappointed frequently with TV shows and movies.

Those few movies that did not disappoint, like The Transporter, John Wick, Jason Bourne, and the Riddick movies, were perfect. They didn't disappoint. All went as it should have. That doesn't mean I wouldn't have written some of them differently. I probably would have. But those aren't my babies. My baby is the Trent Smith Killer of Killer stories, which are now available in two novels.

Ultimately, PoI was a disappointment and a huge one. I remember saying that PoI was a two man show, and I seemed somewhat critical of the show for that reason.

Well, they answered that criticism and made it a two woman show. Um, that wasn't what I was talking about when I criticized it. Being a two woman show made it worse. Far worse. And for the reasons I've been making clear often on the blog. If the women were like the women on Downton Abby, then fine. But no. They replaced the tough guy Reese with two "tough guy" chicks. And it was very unbelievable. They were asking their audience to believe a 5 foot, 3 inch, 110 pound Sarah Shahi playing a 5' 3" 110 lbs Sameen Shaw could beat up ten dudes all at once. And by ten dudes, I'm not talking about ten street thugs. She's beating up dudes who themselves were supposed to be top fighter dudes, like Navy Seal dudes, and such.

It was the epitome of phony. And I will deny any accusations of sexism or chauvinism. Strong female characters exist. I admit it. Downton Abby is not the only example. The show Outlander featured a strong female character, remember? Who's to say Claire was not strong? She sure was. But she didn't have to prove how strong she was by beating up ten dudes all at once. Or even one dude. She didn't go around beating anyone up. She didn't go around killing anyone. But she was strong, and she was the main character of the show, too, I might add.

PoI shoved both Harold Finch and John Reese aside, and featured Root, played by Amy Acker, and Shaw as the new stars of the show. It was during season two. And since then, through seasons three, four and five, the show sucked. I mean...it sucked bad. I had to force myself to sit and watch Shaw outdo John Reese in fighting and beating people up, and killing the bad guys, or shoot them in the knees. John Reese is 6' 2" and 220 lbs, yet he's upstaged by the 5' 3" 110 pound Shaw in toughness. That just didn't work.

I noticed that the show took a nose dive in popularity when all this started to happen. So it's not just me. And it explains why the show was cancelled midway through season five. It couldn't even last the full final season. They just cut it off, and I don't blame them. It was a show that was dying.

But it didn't have to die. Why did they go with the feminist thing? I don't have anything against feminism, really. But I've blogged many times that women don't have to go around beating people up and killing people to prove how strong they are. And I've also raised the point that women don't want to see that either. It's not what makes women tick. And I'll bet anyone that I'm right. The fact that PoI lost popularity, fell in the ratings, and got cancelled proves I'm right.

But it's like I've always known. The people who have the power to do the things the rest of us wish we could do, are the worst ones to do it. They always make mistakes, and they never learn from their mistakes. Like with PoI. When the two "tough chicks" were the stars, PoI fell in the ratings. But did they learn? No. They kept it up, and then the popularity was gone. Then it's cancelled. Anyone with a brain could have figured out the problem. But their brains were in short supply. Too bad.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Kong-Skull Island OK

I did not really want to go see Kong-Skull Island, but it was my younger son's birthday weekend, and he wanted me to take him to see that movie. I relented. As for action adventure movies, it was okay. But it had so many holes in it, and the writing could have been so much better. I left the movie thinking if the producers, director, and writers wanted to, they could have made that movie into a movie to be remembered. As it was, it won't be.

As far as King Kong movies go, I'd rank it with that forgettable Kong movie from the seventies. Peter Jackson's King Kong still rates as the best, imo, followed by the original from the thirties. And to me, those are the only ones worth seeing. Like I said, the other two are forgettable.

Now for an evening with your son, this latest one was okay. I don't believe I wasted my money. It would have been a waste had I seen it alone, but time spent with your son is never wasted, and so...

As for holes, they were too obvious. The first one that struck me, is the ship had four helicopters on the deck, and it was all that would fit. The next thing you see, is over a dozen of them flying toward Skull Island. It's like, wait a minute... Where did all those extra copters come from?

Then when Kong suddenly appears, he throws a strike from a distance. Meaning a tree comes from out of nowhere and lands a bull's-eye into the lead copter. Then Kong himself jumps out of nowhere and starts swatting the copters out of the sky like mosquitos.

Okay, it can be argued the copters are caught by surprise, and Kong gets two or three of them. But do the others recover from their shock and fly beyond his reach? Why, no, they don't. They start circling around him firing their machine guns at him. You might say that's what they should do. If that's what you say, then you're not so smart. What I would say is get those choppers beyond arm's reach of the big ape. Surely, soldiers know that machine guns have a long range. But instead of flying beyond Kong's reach to shoot him, they remain within his reach so that he can continue to swat them down.

And that's exactly what he does until every chopper is swatted out of the sky. Every single one of them. I just can't believe not one pilot had the brains to say, "You know, maybe I should fly a little farther away from that monster so he can't grab my copter like he's doing to all the other copters, and smash it to the ground." Nope. Not one. At one point the civilian guy said, "Get this chopper out of here!" but the brainless pilot replies, "You're not the one who gives me orders."

So of course that copter, too, gets swatted down like all the others. I am not one to verbalize my displeasure during the course of a movie out of respect to my fellow movie goers, but I instinctively said "Bullshit!" out loud at that point. My son didn't mind. He agreed. No one turned to frown at me, so I'm thinking everyone else agreed too.

There were many other holes, but there were good things, too, btw. The special effects were good, and the acting was good. Samuel Jackson, although overexposed by being in just about every movie these days, is a good actor and played his part well. The guy from WWII had a good role and played it well. The British secret service guy was well cast, and well written.

I don't know why they made the bad monsters legless. I'm talking about the "Skull-crushers" as the old dude called them. They crawled around using their front two legs, or arms. It reminded me of the crippled son from the TV show Viking. I think they should have had rear legs, and ran around like lizards, but whatever.

There was another thing that bugged me. There were too many useless deaths. Too many dudes getting offed just for effect, it seemed. The lowest point being when John Goodman's character was offed. It just didn't work. Nor did the killing off of most of the soldiers. The surviving soldiers were one white, one Asian, and one black. I guess they wanted equity. Of course, no female characters were killed. The girls seemed immune to any danger. In this movie you had to be a dude to die.

There were so many other holes, like since when do apes stand straight like a man? King Kong was standing straight the whole time. Even my wife made that point. I had noticed it too, but there were so many other holes, that one, although major, was minor in comparison.

So go with your son, and have a good time. My son did like the movie and was glad we went. I was glad to spend time with him at the movies. A show like this is good for that. But that was all it was good for. Too bad we missed The Great Wall. Was that one any good? I'll find out soon enough when it comes on TV. Until then...

Monday, March 6, 2017

Walking Dead - Back on Track

I had all but given up on The Walking Dead TV show. It had introduced a character who had no business doing the things he was doing. You know, the usual things like being mean to strangers, killing strangers, as in people he had never met before, and just being an all around despicable guy. And all the while he's smiling while he's doing all these bad things. It's like being a mean person, hurting and killing, maiming, etc. it's like he's having the time of his life.

Well, the brutal murders of helpless victims, Glen and Abraham, as in having their heads bashed in as they are bound and on their knees, was just too much for me to bear. It wasn't fun, and it wasn't nice to watch. It was downright ugly. I don't watch movies or TV shows to see ugly stuff. I don't take time to watch shows to see things that make me sick. It's not entertainment. Sure, some people love to see scary shows, and the Walking Dead has those moments, but this Neegan character was just not makin' it. Not even close.

So yesterday we got a break from that. I had mentioned in a blog post some months ago, that I was glad to see Rick and Michonne hooking up. But then the storyline took a detour from that hookup and that detour was right though Neeganland. I was very disappointed.

But The Walking Dead is back on track. Yesterday I finally got the episode I wanted to see, which is Rick and Michonne out on the town together doing their thing as only they can do. The writing was good, the acting was good, and the events that took place were near perfect. It was fun to watch, and yes, it was entertaining.

Rick and Michonne - best TV couple ever


I want to see more of Rick and Michonne. I really do. I think Rick and Michonne make the best couple in TV history. Better than Ricky and Lucy. Better than John and Maureen Robinson. And better than Ward and June Cleaver!





Everything about that last Walking Dead show as far as Rick and Michonne are concerned was perfect. It's what I had been waiting for and I want to see more of that. Hopefully I will. We'll see.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Preface to John Dunn Heart of a Zulu

As I said I would do in yesterday's blog post, I have cut and pasted the Preface to my soon to be released book John Dunn Heart of a Zulu. A Preface is supposed to pique curiosity in a potential reader. I hope it succeeds. I think it will be a couple months before the book comes out. I'll have a better idea on that when my publisher sends the new publishing schedule on Monday. So without further ado, here it is, the Preface to my upcoming book, John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu:


Preface
      It was a 1990’s documentary about the Anglo-Zulu War in which I first heard of John Dunn. I was intrigued to learn about a white man who was born in Africa, lived with the natives, and advised a Zulu king. And the more I learned, the more his fantastic story struck me like an African version of an epic tale from the American West.
      Fictitious stories of a white man living with Native Americans have been featured in Hollywood movies for years. Little Big Man, A Man Called Horse, and Dances with Wolves come to mind. Although John Dunn: Heart of a Zulu is a work of historical fiction, most of the events in the story are true, and I believe the overall storyline captures the essence of who John Dunn was and what he experienced in the years between 1856 and 1879.
      During that time period there were two Ondini kraals in Zululand. The original Ondini kraal was located near the coast at Hlalangubo. The royal kraal at Ulundi, which Cetshwayo built after his coronation, was also called Ondini. It was located within sight of Nodwengo on the Mhlabatini Plain. Because portions of the story take place in each—and to distinguish one from the other—I opted to retain the Ondini name for the original Ondini kraal near the coast and use the name Ulundi for the royal kraal on the Mhlabatini Plain.
      I used Zulu words frequently in the story, which brings me to the issue of spelling. During my research, I discovered that different literary sources contained different spelling of Zulu words and Zulu names. In fact, almost every Zulu word and Zulu name I encountered had been spelled differently in different texts, books, and online material. For this reason I included a glossary in which I listed the isiZulu nouns used in the story. I did not include proper nouns on this list. I did, however, include a separate list of the historical characters—British, Zulus, and colonists—who play important roles in the story.
      As the primary source in the writing of this story, I used John Dunn’s autobiography John Dunn, Cetywayo, and the Three Generals as edited by D. C. F. Moodie. As a secondary source, I used Cetshwayo’s notes from A Zulu King Speaks as edited by C. de B. Webb and J. B. Wright. I also referenced Zulu Rising; The Epic Story of iSandlwana and Rorke’s Drift by Ian Knight, Who’s Who in the Anglo-Zulu War 1879 Volume 1: The British and Volume 2: Colonials and Zulus by Adrian Greaves and Ian Knight, The Washing of the Spears by Donald R. Morris, Like Lions They Fought by Robert B. Edgerton, The Zulu War by Angus McBride, and Charles Ballard’s thesis on John Dunn, (courtesy of the local History Museum, Durban.)
      My objective in the writing of this book is singular: to entertain the reader. Thus, this work should not be used for research purposes or as source material for any historical information on the period or the people included therein.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

No "Foreward" for Fiction - but yes to a "Preface"

You don't put a Foreward in a fiction book. I read that you can, but it's not typical. Mostly the Foreward is written for nonfiction books and by another author, meaning not the same author who wrote the book. This other author is supposed to be well known and highly regarded in whatever genre the book falls into. The well known author is supposed to have a high opinion of the book. This author, perhaps, is not even an author, but an authority in the field in which the book is written. And as such, this person believes the book is good enough to meet his or her standards and is worth the price of purchase and therefore is worth reading.

For my book John Dunn Heart of a Zulu, I don't want a Foreward. First of all, it's not a nonfiction book, so it should not have one. The alternative is a "Preface." A fiction book, particularly an Historical Fiction book should have a Preface not a Foreward. A "Preface" is something that the author of the book has written him/herself. And in this "Preface" the author writes things like why he or she wrote the book, what inspired him or her, and who might have helped him or her, so that means the acknowledgments can go in there, too.

A Preface isn't necessary, really, as it's not a required part of any book. But for Historical Fiction, I have come to believe that having a Preface is preferable to not having one. Other fiction books, like Thrillers, Suspense, Horror, Romance, etc, don't need a Preface. But Historical Fiction, in my opinion, is better if you have one. Especially if that particular Historical Fiction is based on a true story, in a true time period, involving events that are true and global, like wars and such.

Even though the Anglo-Zulu War didn't involve anyone in America, it was still "global" in the sense that it affected people on two different continents. So yes, my book John Dunn, Heart of a Zulu does have a "Preface." Since it's based on the true story of John Dunn, and involves the true events leading up to and including the Zulu War, I'd say it's global. Totally.

I will be perfecting my Preface today. Fortunately my publisher has just advised its authors that the new publishing schedule is going to be sent out this coming Monday. I replied that I had taken advantage of this extra time perfecting the manuscript. Which I am still doing. So I will let everyone reading this know when the updated schedule is in and when to expect the updated publication date of John Dunn Heart of a Zulu.

In the meantime I will be perfecting the Preface. Perhaps I will post the Preface here on the blog to give my readers a "sneak peek." It's just the Preface after all. but another purpose of the Preface is to intrigue potential readers, and make them interested in reading and buying the book. So I think I'll do it. So check it out. It should be posted on here tomorrow. Until then.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

John Wick 2 - Great Movie


As the author and creator of a great "tough guy" character, (Trent Smith, the world's greatest martial artist, who appears in two books so far, Killer of Killers and Killer Eyes,) I happen to appreciate great tough guy characters in the movies, and there have been several.

Recently, I talked about how John Wick was a great character and a very good movie. John Wick 2 was even better. I said before that Keanu Reeves does not necessarily look like a tough guy. Not like Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, and Matt Damon do for their respective roles as Richard Riddick, Frank Martin, and Jason Bourne. But I also noted that being a good actor can make up for that. And Keanu Reeves is a good actor, and being such, he can play the part, and pull it off.


In the two (so far) John Wick movies, Keanu Reeves does pull it off. No, not as well as Diesel, Statham, and Damon can, but well enough. Being over six feet tall, Reeves' moves, sometimes come off as somewhat stiff. That never happens, say, for Statham, who's a natural when it comes to fighting moves. He's trained in the martial arts, and it shows on the screen. Like Jet Li, who's a martial arts champion, he's fluid in all of his fight scenes. But when it comes to being a pure tough guy, no one has a step on Vin Diesel. Matt Damon as Jason Bourne is not necessarily a natural, but he does look like the role he plays in that franchise. It works. Very well.

Perhaps what I like most about the John Wick movies is the writing. The writer has created a great character, and, for me, the John Wick character has proven worthy enough to rank up there with the great tough guy characters. They include James Bond, Conan, Captain Kirk, Frank Martin, and perhaps yes, Jason Bourne. I could be forgetting some. For instance, I've already ranked many of the old time actors as the classic tough guys. Actors which of course include Sean Connery, Burt Lancaster, John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, James Coburn, and Charles Bronson.

But beside Connery in his seven movies as Bond, and Bronson in the five Death Wish movies, those actors never really had a franchise series of movies portraying the same tough guy. The Bond movies and the Death Wish movies were the exception back in the old days instead of the rule. Nowadays, a series of movies, AKA a franchise is the rule. Diesel has three Riddick movies to date, Statham has three Transporter movies, and Damon, now has four movies as Jason Bourne!

The John Wick character with its second movie has become a franchise for Reeves. He had one franchise already with the Matrix movies. And they were good movies, but the character of Neo really wasn't a "tough" guy. He was a hero, to be sure, more like Captain Kirk was more of a hero than a tough guy in the original Star Trek TV show.

But clearly more than Neo, John Wick is a badass. And in these movies, he's a top ranking badass worthy to be placed with Riddick, Frank Martin, and Jason Bourne of the modern badassess, and James Bond, Conan, and Captain Kirk of the badasses of old. And as far as franchises go, it does appear as though there will be a third one. Because at the end of John Wick 2, it appeared that it wasn't ending. It sure seemed like a third one was set to go. And that's fine with me. Can't wait!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

John Dunn manuscript better than ever

I was talking about how The Vase manuscript was better than ever. Well, my John Dunn manuscript also is better than ever. When my publisher advised its authors that its publishing schedule was behind, that might have been bad news to some of the authors. But to me, for John Dunn, it was good news. I've been using this extra time making the manuscript better than ever. And every day it's getting better. And the days keep going by, and the manuscript is better every day.

So much detail is in this book. Detail regarding places in Natal, places in Zululand, and the distances involved in traveling to those places by horseback, by carriage, barouche, and even on foot. The Zulu ran everywhere they went. With rare exceptions, they did not ride horses or ride in carriages. John Dunn of course rode a horse. He taught Dabulamanzi to ride a horse, and he took Cetshwayo with him in a barouche. And I had to get it right how much time it would take to get to different places in Natal and Zululand by horse, barouche, and on foot. I've nailed it by now.

And the prose is better. The battles are also necessary to have the detail correct. I have four battles in the book. iSandlwana, Rorke's Drift, Gingindlovu, and Ulundi. All major battles in the war. And I've made sure the details are right on.

Lastly the cover. Here's the cover.


I wish the publisher would have gone with a cover that depicted a battle scene like this:

But oh well. It's all good. Can't wait. Look for John Dunn, Heart of a Zulu coming soon.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Vase Better Than Ever

Just finished rewriting The Vase, and I must say it's very well written indeed. It's a no brainer every time a writer goes over his writing, the writing will improve. And this last time, after all these years of improving and even perfecting my writing, I have made the writing in The Vase pretty darn good. Even great. I have no problem with sending partials or a full to agents or publishers.

Here's hoping an agent will take an interest, because my last hurdle I would like to clear is the Big Five. I really think The Vase is good enough for the Big Five. It's a completely original story. It's a unique and completely original premise. The characters are characters with whom readers can sympathize, and the events are all realistic, suspenseful, and thrilling. I would think that if any agent or editor were to read The Vase in its entirety, he or she will be excited about it.

Just about every publisher I've sent it to was excited about it. Nearly every publisher I sent it to offered me a contract. I lost count how many publishers that was. I think it was five or six. But I'm glad that last publisher folded to tell you the truth for two main reasons. I got a chance to make the story the way I wanted it to be by rewriting it, instead of how the editor wanted it to be, and because I rewrote it, the writing is better than ever.

So, yeah, I'm sending to some agents now. I chose the agent for Dan Brown first, because of all books or stories out there, The Vase is most like Dan Brown's books like the Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. They are not religious books, nor are they books about spirituality, but still a hint of that is in them, and a lot of people who believe in that are intrigued by those stories. The Vase is right up that alley.

So once again, fingers are crossed that an agent can represent it and I can finally break the Big Five. We'll see how that goes. I won't hold my breath, but I am optimistic. That's how confident I am about the story and the writing in The Vase.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Fiction vs. Reality

I was so bothered by that movie Patriot's Day which showed the Islamist terrorists doing their dirty deeds. But my own book, The Vase has Islamic terrorists, too. But The Vase is fiction. The terrorists in The Vase are fictitious. All deaths that occur in The Vase are fictitious deaths. And because it's all fictitious, it's entertainment. That was one of my points in yesterday's post. Fiction vs. reality.

Sometimes fiction represents reality. Like the movie Patriot's Day. It represented real events. Those deaths and maiming really did happen. Sure war movies that depict real battles could be considered representations of reality. Like the movies that are about real battles. The movie Zulu, starring Michael Caine is one of those. I mention that one because that movie is about the battle at Rorke's Drift, which took place during the Anglo Zulu War. It really happened.

So those actors in the movie Zulu did represent real people, and many of those people did get killed. But that was like a hundred and fifty years ago. And my soon to be released book John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu will have not just the battle at Rorke's Drift in it, but three other battles from that war, too. And all were real battles and the people who fought those battles were real people. I included real English soldiers and real Zulu warriors in the book. And of course, John Dunn was real.

So what is entertainment? When it comes to books, a good plot with action, conflict, humor, and good writing is necessary to be good. What I don't like is something too outlandish, or too far-fetched. I've complained often that a female fighter beating up every male fighter she comes across is a little too far-fetched. I still don't accept the premise of these super female fighters wholeheartedly. It's too far-fetched. I still believe a woman can be a strong character without resorting to fighting and killing. To me, fighting and killing is a male thing. Using your head intelligently, however, to solve problems in ways that don't involve violence is not just a male thing. It is also a female thing. And I might wager it's the superior way.

So why wouldn't a story feature a strong woman who solves problems with her intelligence rather than with guns? In my book, John Dunn, Catherine Pierce is such a woman. Why does Hollywood seem to think women have to be violent? I say women don't have to be violent. And I say I'm right. Is there anyone who disagrees with me? I didn't think so.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Patriot's Day - Sad Movie

I took my son to see Patriot's Day, the new movie with Mark Wahlberg starring as the real life Sgt. Saunders in the Boston Police Department. It was about the horrible experience the people of Boston had to live through due to the despicable Islamist terrorists who detonated bombs at the Boston Marathon. Three people lost their lives, including a small boy, and many people lost one or even both of their legs.

Just what kind of evil person could do that to someone? I mean even their worst enemy? How could a small boy and two obscure women, and the many people crippled by the blast even be considered enemies? I guess if you have evil in your heart, like those two brothers did, and the one brother's wife, then you can consider anyone an enemy.

As far as movies go, the movie was well done. It's not a movie I would have chosen to see if there were any of the movies that I would have preferred. But John Wick 2, XXX 3, and Jack Reacher 2 aren't out yet. And it was a night that I was supposed to take my son to a movie. I had promised my son I'd take him so we decided on being patriotic, and we chose Patriot's Day. The movie turned out to be a sad reminder of the scumbags out there who want to kill us. They twist their reasoning, I suppose to warrant such vile acts, and then go through with it.

What's worse, these twisted-minded murderers come from other countries to enjoy American freedoms and then they go about trying to destroy the lives of the Americans who are here. We have all of our agencies who are supposed to prevent that, but they don't. San Bernardino happened after the Boston horror. And the Orlando massacre happened even more recently. There wasn't much protection if you would ask any of them. At least the San Bernardino murderers were killed by police. And the Orlando murderer was killed by police. And the people in Boston came together to catch one and kill the other who did it in Boston. And thankfully the one they caught is on death row.

So I would like to know what is going to happen next? Who will be killed next? In what state, what city, and how many people will be murdered next? What will our government do to protect the American people next? What they've been doing so far sure hasn't worked. Not if you ask the people in Boston, or San Bernardino, or Orlando. Or Fort Hood.

We've got enough nut-jobs of our own to worry about. Oklahoma, Sandy Hook, and the high school and theater in Colorado are plenty proof of that. And the murder rates in every major city are more proof of that. Especially Chicago. We have enough of our own murderers to worry about. We don't need murderers from other countries coming here and adding to that.

How can it stop? Don't ask me. I'm not a politician. If I were, I'd be the most hated politician who ever existed in America. Why? Because I'd get rid of every gun in the country. Except for those belonging to the police and the military. It's weird if you think about it. I'd be hated for trying to save lives by getting rid of every gun that doesn't belong to someone who's job description requires it.

So I guess it's a good thing I'm not a politician. Because as far as I know, that's the only thing that would work. And if that could somehow be accomplished, no more people would be murdered by guns. But my tenure in politics would be short. I wouldn't get re-elected. They'll tell me the scum can still make their pressure bombs. Like the brothers did in Boston. But the cop they ambushed would not have been shot. I'm sure his family would be happy for that.

The movie Patriot's Day was realistic. It was a good movie. But I wouldn't have gone to see it if there were some action movies out to see. Let me make something clear. Movies are the only place I want to see guns and shooting. Because in the movies, it's all fake. It's all just acting. Those people are just pretending to shoot people and they're pretending to get shot. They get up after taking their falls, and they collect a paycheck. And those paychecks are for a lot more than what I make as a school teacher. So good for them. But it wasn't good for the real people they depicted in Patriot's Day. Those people stayed dead.

In my books, Killer of Killer and Killer Eyes, it's all fiction. Sure, there's killing. But no one really dies. It's entertainment. Like when I was a kid. The neighborhood kids would come over, and we'd play with toy guns. We'd pretend to shoot each other, and we'd pretend to get shot, and we'd pretend to get killed. Sometimes we played games like who could enact the best at getting shot and killed. It was all fake. That's the difference.

My son said after the movie, "What a sad movie." And I thought to myself he was right. I want to be entertained when I see a movie. Not saddened. And entertainment means knowing that the people in the movie didn't really get hurt and they didn't really die. But in Boston, they really did.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Rewriting The Vase

With another chance to find a publisher for The Vase, I am taking this opportunity to improve it even more than I already had over the years. Well, I'm not really rewriting The Vase. I'm just making sure all of the prose is as it should be. I've spent the past couple days reworking the first page. And a lot of that was just the first paragraph.

There was nothing wrong with the writing. It's just that it could have been better. And I'm making it better. It was the second book I had written. And it was the book where I really learned how to write a novel. I remember when I wrote my first book, Killer of Killers. I had to have my publisher republish it with a second edition, because after I learned so much with The Vase, I wanted to go back and redo Killer of Killers. I was fortunate my publisher for Killer of Killers was willing to put out a second edition. It's so much better than the first edition in terms of correct POV and such.

The Vase was good for POV and all, but the editor for that publisher had his own ideas of how to present the story, and I wasn't in full agreement. I didn't argue with him, but now that that publisher has folded, and I'm seeking a new publisher, I want to rewrite the parts that he had changed, and make them the way I had originally wanted them. Maybe not all the parts, but some anyway.

Mostly with this rewriting, I'm just maximizing the writing style. If there is something that I'm not satisfied with I will rework it and rework it until I am satisfied. After all, The Vase is the most original story of all stories. Not just stories that I had written. I mean of ALL stories ever written. No other story in film, books, or TV feature the concept of ancient historical scenes being recorded in the grooves of ancient vases. And the fact that one of those scenes is straight out of the New Testament makes the story in The Vase more intriguing that any other story you can imagine. Why? Because it presents proof that Jesus Christ really existed, and more to the point, it's proof that Jesus Christ really existed in the way that the New Testament presented him as existing.

So for those reasons, The Vase should have maximum appeal, not just to Christians, but to all peoples of the world. In fact, the main characters in The Vase are not even Christian. They are Jews and Muslims. There's just one Christian in the book, and that's the Pope, who really only makes a cameo appearance in the story's climax. So yeah, the book should appeal to all people and to all faiths of the world. Well, there are no Buddhists or Hindus, but that doesn't mean they can't enjoy the story too.

The strange thing to me is that I'm taking so long just to rewrite a single page. That's how intense I am about making this book as good as humanly possible. I did that for my Killer books and I did that for John Dunn. Actually, I may go back to the John Dunn book, because it seems that Dana of KRP is yet to have time to edit it. I submitted it last Monday, but she's not had time to get to it yet.

That means I will have more time to see if there is anything more I can do for it. I did everything I could think of already, but you never know. There's always something. I'll get back to it after I'm done revising The Vase. That is if Dana still hasn't edited it yet. And if she has, that just means I'll have one more shot at it myself.

So that's the latest update on my books. This year will be another big year for me. Can't wait.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Movie Sequels to look forward to

As a man who appreciates the cool, tough alpha male hero, as opposed to the cool, tough alpha female character of whom I blogged recently, there are some good movie sequels coming soon.

Triple X, or XXX is one of the top sequels I'm looking forward to. I was first introduced to Vin Diesel as an actor playing a tough guy in the movie Pitch Black. When I saw that movie I thought that Vin Diesel made a great tough guy, the likes of which I hadn't seen since the golden age of tough guys. I posted about them just recently. And in XXX Diesel played a great tough guy. The first sequel to XXX was without Diesel unfortunately, because Diesel made the mistake to take a role in a Disney movie instead. And with no apologies, Ice Cube didn't cut it as Diesel's replacement in the role. But Diesel is back in the third installment of the XXX franchise, and I'm glad for that. It's a role made for Diesel, just as Riddick is a role made for Diesel.

Then you've got the sequel to John Wick coming soon. I was never convinced that Keanu Reeves made a good tough guy, but he is a good actor, and he was convincing in the role of tough guy John Wick in the first movie. Let's hope he can carry that through the sequel as well.

Then you've got the sequel to Jack Reacher coming soon. Like Keanu Reeves, I've never been convinced that Tom Cruise was a tough guy. He did make a convincing tough guy in the Mission Impossible movies, however, and as Jack Reacher, he was passable. I guess his acting skills were up to the task, so I do look forward to the second Reacher movie soon.

Then, for me, at least, there's the top tough guy in the movies today. It's Jason Statham. He's the real deal when it comes to tough guys, and he brings that authenticity to the screen every time. The first time I saw him was in Transporter. I was convinced from the get go. All three Transporter movies with Statham as the main character Frank Martin, were terrific. Then they replaced Statham with some no name actor, and the franchise bottomed out. But Statham went on to play other tough guys, and he's been great in all of them. Unfortunately, it's not another Transporter movie coming soon, it's another movie featuring a tough guy role he played. It was a remake of a Charles Bronson movie called The Mechanic. Usually remakes are not as good as the originals, but the Statham remake of the Mechanic was by far the superior movie, and that's saying a lot, because Charles Bronson is most definitely on that list of tough guys from the Hollywood golden age of tough guys! So the sequel with Statham reprising his role as the mechanic is called Mechanic Resurrection, and I look forward to seeing that one as much as any of them.

So that's four sequels of tough guy movies. And my character Trent Smith from the Killer of Killers books is right up there with the best of them. Trent Smith, being the world's greatest martial artist could probably beat any of them in a match. Whether on the street or in the ring, Trent Smith is dominant. It's why he's the world's greatest martial artist. Which may bring me to the third and perhaps final story for Trent Smith. The third book will have Trent Smith prove that not only is he the world's greatest fighter, he's the world's greatest killer. But how can that be? First you'll have to read Killer of Killers and then Killer Eyes. And when you're finished with those two books, look for Book Three in the killer series. I've toyed with titles, but I'll not put out tentative titles anymore. I'll wait until it's finished. Then I'll announce it here on the blog. Until then...


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Vase in Limbo

Since I've been working so hard on Second Chance and John Dunn, I've been forced to ignore The Vase. My prior publisher for The Vase has long since gone out of business, and I've had hardly any time to find a new publisher. I could choose one of my two current publishers, Melange (Killer of Killers and Killer Eyes) and Knox Robinson (Second Chance and John Dunn) but I like to have different publishers for different books. It's kind of like the old adage which says Don't put all your eggs in one basket, or something like that.

I really want to find a publisher that is at level two of my prior ranking of publishers. You might remember level one is any of the Big Five, level two are those who do print runs and get their books into book stores. Level three are the POD publishers, level four are eBook publishers and level five is the self publishing category.

So level one will forever be denied me because I'll never have an agent. But level two can be just as good. It's just that the list of level two publishers is a very short list. Kensington might be tops on that list, and I would like to get The Vase published by them. We'll see.

Strangely Cogito is also on that level two list, but I found out they were a dishonest publisher. I'll find out how honest Knox Robinson is in the near future. So far, so good on that front.

But I'm improving The Vase before submitting again. I've said many times that manuscripts can be improved almost indefinitely. You just have to do it when you have the time. And now I do have the time. Back to work.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Finally Resubmitted John Dunn

Over the last three months I have dedicated most of my time to perfecting the John Dunn manuscript. I think I did a good job of it. I found some typos, but mostly I made corrections in continuity, regarding distances, and time it would take to travel those distances in the 19th century, and using proper wording relevant to the time.

For instance, I had been using the word Bantu for when the indigenous people of the South African region referred to each other, when from different tribes. I used that word because it was the word Donald Morris used in his book The Washing of the Spears. The natives of the area certainly didn't call themselves natives, or blacks, or Africans. Those were the words used by the Europeans or the colonists. Another word the colonists used was Kaffir. But that word was more of a demeaning word. Not as bad as the N word here in America, but still not a complimentary word. And the indigenous people didn't use that word to refer to other indigenous people.

With some research, I learned Bantu came from the word Ntu which meant man in the native African languages, and the prefix Ba was the way the word became plural. (Men.) But with further research I also learned that the South African blacks actually take offense to being called a Bantu. So I decided to go instead with the other word used to refer to the indigenous peoples of South Africa. Nguni. With research I learned that Nguni refers to all the peoples of all the different tribes in South Africa, and it had no negative connotation as did the word Bantu.

So there you go. I replaced all words Bantu with the word Nguni for that reason. Of course I changed a lot of other things, too. Mostly the prose. I made the prose better everywhere, which is a natural result when you reread a manuscript. And the map I illustrated is better than ever. It now has Stanger in there when it didn't before. I only mention Stanger twice in the manuscript, but since the map did have the area represented where Stanger is located, there was no reason not to include it.

So Dana of Knox Robinson, my publisher, will be back on the job tomorrow, as will I at my school, and I look forward to her editing and publishing the book. A lot of people are waiting on it, including some very important people who are authorities on the topic. And I have been fortunate enough to have acquired their endorsements. Can't wait for John Dunn to be published. Should be soon.