Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?


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.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 -- Meh...

I had collected Marvel comic books when I was a kid. But by the time Guardians of the Galaxy became a comic mag, I had stopped buying and/or reading comics long before. I've blogged about how I've been generally disappointed with the Marvel movies for the past several years.

The funny thing is that when I was buying the comics, I would have loved to have seen these movies. But I'm with the impression that even as a kid I would have had the same disappointment upon seeing them. So I've never bought nor have I read a Guardians of the Galaxy comic book. I did see the first movie, and I was not impressed, yet I managed to find some enjoyment in seeing the movie. Of course, having never read or collected the book, I had no reference to compare it with. My belief is if I had I would have been just as disappointed with it as I had been with the X-Men movies, the Avengers movies, the Fantastic Four movies, and so on.

But while I was sitting there last night watching Guardians 2 with my son and wife, it became obvious to me that the targeted audience was an audience that was twelve years old. I mentioned this to my son who's fifteen. He said, not twelve, more like ten, and since he's closer to those age groups, I'll go with his assessment.

So, yeah, it was like they made the movie for ten year olds. Goofy characters and goofy jokes, many of which were on the level of slapstick, and as an adult, it was very tedious to put up with. Were there things that were good? When I saw the trailer, Kurt Russell's part seemed like it was going to be good. It was. And I had no clue that Sylvester Stallone had a cameo, and it was good. But as someone who never read the comic, I'll never know if it was in tune with the comic.

It turned out that Kurt Russell's role was Ego, the living planet. I remembered the character Ego the living planet from when I was a kid. I thought the concept of Ego becoming a human, and the way they made it happen was pretty good. I'm not sure if it's all from the comics, but if it was, I can buy that. And Ego being the father of the main character, Peter Quill was intriguing.

Again, the character of Ego the living planet was a character I had known from my days collecting comics. Ego was a Jack Kirby creation, and like most Jack Kirby creations, Ego was a great comic book character. Like Galactus, the Silver Surfer, the Inhumans, and pretty much every other character from the Fantastic Four comic book, all created by Jack Kirby, (not Stan Lee.)

I won't get into the plot or story line of Guardians 2, but I'll stress the main reason why it wasn't a movie for me. Let me put it this way: the IQ level of the writing. It was too low. Despite the good concepts with Ego, Kurt Russell, and such, the overall screenplay was dumbed down for an audience of little kids. It was even dumber than a Power Rangers movie. Seriously. It's like the producers of Guardians targeted an audience younger than the Power Rangers audience.

So there you go. If you liked Power Rangers, Guardians might be for you. If you have an IQ over 90, however, maybe not. Unless you're a Three Stooges fan. Then maybe you'll like it. It's more like The Three Stooges as the Guardians of the Galaxy. Yep, that about sums it up.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Back to The Vase

Now that my John Dunn book is completed and awaiting its release in July, I have decided to make the most of my time with one of my other books The Vase. It was an earlier novel I wrote, and the one for which this blog is named. And now I have this opportunity to go back and improve it much like I did with Killer of Killers, and like I did all these past months with the John Dunn manuscript. That is, I was going over it and over it and finding any and all typos, and making improvements in the prose wherever I thought it was needed.

And because of that the manuscript is better than ever. I wasn't quite happy with The Vase when Penumbra Publishing released it some years ago. And now that Penumbra has gone out of business, and all rights to The Vase have been returned to me, I will make it the ultimate piece of literature and then get it published again.

To be frank, Penumbra released The Vase before I believed it was ready. I wasn't quite finished revising it when my editor decided it was good enough and pulled the trigger for publication. Well, it's flattering to think an editor believed it was good enough, but I didn't think it was. And I'm the author. I believed it needed more work. But I wasn't the boss. The editor was the boss, and he published it. It was good, sure, but I'm a perfectionist, as all artists should be.

And what makes a perfectionist? Being PICKY! Yes, PICKY, PICKY, PICKY. Truth be told, if you are not picky about your own work, you are not a perfectionist, and your work will always be less than what it might have been had you been PICKY.

I'll never forget someone called me picky because I wanted an art piece to be rendered better. I wanted this part better, and I wanted that part better. They were little things, but nevertheless, they were things evident in the composition, and I wanted them fixed. Oh, but that took more work, and since the piece was a joint effort, the other person was unwilling to put in that extra work. I insisted, and therefore came the name-calling. Well, PICKY, was the word this person used.

And I will freely admit to being picky when it comes to anything that I want to be PERFECT. And as I tell my students, art is really the only thing in this world that CAN be perfect. So make it happen! Make it perfect!. And right about now, The Vase is nearly there. Sure, it's not quite there yet. But soon enough it will be. And when it's released again, be it by one of my current publishers, Knox Robinson or Melange, or yet another, the manuscript will be perfect.

And what a story it is. A unique and original concept. Ancient scenes recorded in the grooves of a ceramic vase. And being released by accident in the form of solar-powered holograms. And of course all the subplots that go with it. The people who see the images, not knowing they are holograms projected from a spinning ancient vase, think the images are ghosts. And all the other happenings, and all right there in Nazareth, Israel.

Of course, we all know who spent time in Nazareth, Israel, don't we? Yep, the one and only. So The Vase is being revised right now, meaning all the things I wasn't happy with in the first release are being taken care of right now. Can't wait to see this one in print again. It could be the best story of all. At least of all the stories I've written. But, you know what? Maybe the best story of all stories ever written. That's how I feel about it. We'll see how that goes over. At the earliest it would be a 2018 release. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

New King Arthur Movie -- Uugghh!

I've been talking about how terrible some TV shows have been. Into the Badlands and American Gods were so horrible I couldn't keep watching them.

Well, my brother was in town from Hawaii this past weekend, and my sons were home, so we decided to go to a movie. We were going to see the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, but we ended up deciding on seeing the new King Arthur movie. Well, it was horrible. So horrible that if I wasn't there with my brother and sons, I would have walked out. And it's been a long time since I've walked out on a movie that I paid to go see.

This movie was bad in almost every way. One might have thought the casting would have worked. It didn't. But one might have thought the likes of Charlie Hunnam from Sons of Anarchy fame, would be a good lead actor for the part of King Arthur. He wasn't.

Then you have the likes of Jude Law as the villain. You'd think he would make a good villain. But he didn't. You had Eric Bana from Troy and Hulk fame. You'd think he'd make a good King Uther, right? Nope. And even an actor I've talked about recently, (in a good way, btw) Dimon Hounsou, did not work in the role he was cast in this horrible movie.

First and foremost was the script. It sucked. The screenplay, if you will, was just terrible. How that could have made it to the final cut is beyond me. The dialogue, the events, the everything was simply bad. And real bad. I mean really, really bad.

The movie's story began in Camelot. But there was no King Arthur yet. Wait a minute. That's not how if happened. There was no Gwenevere, there was no Lancelot, and Merlin had no role in the story whatsoever. They changed the myth, which didn't automatically mean the story would suck, but make no mistake. It sucked. Better to stay true to the myth, or at least stay true to the myth enough so that it was actually recognizable, which this wasn't. Other than the sword Excalibur being stuck in a rock.

But that sucked, too, because the rock used to be King Uther. Don't ask. Just know that if you haven't seen it yet, don't. Even if it comes to free TV. Watching that movie was a waste of two hours. Anything you might do instead will be time better spent. Believe me. Because if you don't do something else, you'll wish you did.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Amber Heard - No Longer an Option

Amber Heard
I guess the final verdict on Amber Heard has been reached. She is no longer an option. I used to think she was the perfect actress to play the part of Samantha Jones from my book Killer of Killers. Samantha Jones is a police detective, and a very pretty one at that. In fact, so pretty, that I was searching for the most beautiful blonde actress to play the part of Samantha Jones if Killer of Killers were ever to become a movie. Not that it ever is, it's all in fun, you know?

I had found some photos of Amber Heard, and I thought she nailed the part. Of course, the caveat is that she was a solid actress. But Hollywood seems to think she's not. She's never had any major roles in any major Hollywood films. She's only had bit parts, and only in grade B movies. Like Machete Kills, and the like. Sheesh, Machete Kills is more like a grade C movie.

Amber and Johnny
Then there was the disastrous marriage to A-lister movie star Johnny Depp. At first I thought with the Depp connection Heard's career might take off. The opposite happened. The two fell into a bitter divorce, with ugly accusations from both sides and court appearances and just a total mess. After all of that, Heard's career seemed to have bottomed out.

Then there's Heard's next romance with billionaire Musk, and there you have it. Heard seems to be more like a woman on the take than an actress. Meaning it seems she would rather attach herself to men who are already successful, rather than becoming successful herself. Being Depp's wife, I thought, would help her in that. It didn't. Being Musk's girl friend or wife certainly won't. But maybe she doesn't care. And if she doesn't care about being a successful actress, hey, that's her business.

Hannah New
But movie producers and casting directors are taking notice. And as a result, Heard is not being cast in any more movies. Her career as an actress is toast. But so what? There's an awful lot of pretty blonde actresses out there. And most of them are very good actresses. So I can resume my search. The list is a long one. Hannah New and Lily Simmons are candidates.

Lily Simmons
It seems there are more pretty blonde actresses than anyone knows what to do with. The new TV shows about the Wars of the Roses feature more blonde actresses. The first one, The White Queen features Rebecca Ferguson, who's not even a real blonde. But in the White Queen, she makes for quite a stunning blonde. And in The White Princess, Jodie Comer, (another actress who's not a real blonde,) makes for a stunning blonde as well.

Rebecca Ferguson
So we'll see. First let's hope a movie producer wants to make KOK into a movie. Then we'll talk.

Jodie Comer

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Episodes that Pack a Punch

I'm still watching The Walking Dead show when it's new episodes, that is, but I'm not often satisfied with it. My wife and I may watch an entire episode, and then turn to each other with disgust, as absolutely nothing happened in that episode. It didn't further the storyline forward at all, it didn't provide any revelations toward the plot or characters, and it was just a waste of an hour watching the darn show. With The Walking Dead, it happens often, and perhaps it's the result of a show that's in its sixth season. Despite being based on a currently released graphic novel, it must be running out of source material. I guess that sort of thing is inevitable.

I remember a time when the James Bond franchise was doing basically the same plot every ensuing movie. Only recently, with the Daniel Craig version of Bond, the producers have moved away from the formula plot for Bond movies. You know, there's a mad scientist, or a demented billionaire, or an evil organization seeking world domination or even world destruction, and as Bond investigates, he is captured and held prisoner for a time, but then he foils the plot and is reinforced by a cavalry of government agents, and the show concludes with a shoot out in the scale of a major battle.

With The Walking Dead, there are so many characters that episodes often stray to show what's up with so and so, and even though the audience sees what's up with so and so, nothing happens to further the plot or reveal any answers to any questions.

But with these White Queen and White Princess shows, each show is jam packed with events and twists, and turns, that it's like in one episode  you've got the equivalent of an entire Walking Dead season. That's what I call packing a punch. Wow.

Again, I'll watch an episode of Walking Dead or any other show, and walk away from it as having not even watched it. Nothing happened. No sense of entertainment had been achieved. But these shows about England's War of the Roses, on the other hand, are like an entire season per episode. That's great writing. It's faster paced than Downton Abbey. Which is also quite good. But it's based on real events. And I like that. Like my John Dunn book. It too is based on real events.

And talking about John Dunn, the final galley changes have been submitted, and no more revisions will be forthcoming. I'm hoping that it's because no more are needed. And if that's the case, I'll be a happy camper. Can't wait for July. Because it's in July when the John Dunn book is being released. And July is right around the corner.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Stories of Kings and Battles

I've begun watching a couple TV shows I had skipped. The White Queen, and its follow up The White Princess. Not done with them yet, but I've seen enough to conclude the stories are about the WOMEN not the men. Of course, the titles gave that away from the get go, but it's the MEN who were the kings, and fought the battles, and died ( or didn't die) fighting for their beliefs and causes. Yet the main characters are the women.

And certainly, the women are portrayed as very strong characters. But thankfully, these women are not out on the battlefield with swords striking down dozens of male warriors attacking them. No. These stories are based on reality, not some fantasy of a woman besting dozens of battle-hardened men, like in that TV show I talked about recently Into the Badlands, or that other show, Vikings.

Okay, I don't doubt some women Vikings may have donned a sword and joined their male counterparts on a battlefield, but that doesn't mean they struck down dozens of other Vikings twice their size as if they were nothing more than a box of Cheerios. That is so fake I can't even watch Vikings anymore.

No these strong women are strong because they have to deal with a lot of adversity from behind the scenes. And it's behind the scenes where the camera is rolling. We see the women at home as they prepare for the results of the battles that are being waged in their family names.

As anyone who knows history will tell you, these shows are based on the real life historical events surrounding the War of the Roses, or England's civil wars that occurred five hundred plus years ago. And it was these wars that finally resulted in a joining of the houses of Tudor and York, as the current show, The White Princess details.

Fortunately, England is not ruled by kings or queens nowadays. Nor should it be. Their "kings and queens" are only figureheads now, and have no power whatsoever. Nor should they. Any country who is still ruled by a "king" or "queen" is a backward country still embedded in the dark ages. Several Middle Eastern and African countries are still governed like that. When will these stupid countries which are still ruled by monarchies ever going to grow up and join the modern world?

But I digress. My point is that women can be portrayed as strong characters without running around beating and killing people. Like in Downton Abbey. And in these White Queen/Princess shows. It's refreshing to see it done realistically. And it's a relief that I don't have to watch a woman beating up and killing people by the dozens every time I watch a show. Although that still happens in lousy TV shows much more than I can bear to watch. Sheesh.

Friday, May 5, 2017

American Gods - TV Trash

I recently stated in a post here on the blog that the TV show Into the Badlands was a show that couldn't be worse. Well, that's not true. American Gods is worse. I managed to at least watch the first season of Into the Badlands. It was shortly into the second season that I couldn't stand watching it anymore. The reasons were many. Bad writing, bad directing, bad story lines, bad characters, bad acting, and you get the idea. But again, I at least managed to watch the first six or seven episodes. (I think the first season had six episodes.)

I had seen some trailers about the new show American Gods, and although it didn't really prompt me to want to watch it, I went ahead and started watching the first episode when I happened to be channel surfing and came across it. Talk about a show failing to hook an audience, this show's first scene, the Viking scene, was so bad I turned off the TV before the scene had concluded. It was that bad.

At the very start, the show American Gods seemed promising. It opened with a journalist who was writing about the first Vikings who made it to America. Then the scene switched to a Viking ship apparently approaching the Americas for the first time. Certainly, we all know by now that the first non-native Americans to come to America were the Vikings. Evidence has been found that indicates they started a colony on the east coast of Canada. But it wasn't this group of Vikings. And that's because, according to this show, these Vikings were too stupid to do anything right.

Shortly after stepping off the boat, they were met with an avalanche of arrows, all of which embedded a single Viking. He was the one who had taken the first step off the beach. The other Vikings watched with dumbfounded imbecility as all five hundred (or so) arrows impaled the body of this Viking from head to toe. After about ten seconds of this, the dude looked like a porcupine and he fell dead. All the while, whoever it was shooting these arrows was nowhere to be seen. Another Viking took a step forward and another five hundred (or so) arrows embedded the land in front of his foot. At this point I'm thinking, okay, whatever. So, the Vikings got the message and they stayed on the beach with no more desire to explore who or what lay ahead.

By now I'm thinking, really? These are the "brave" Vikings we've all heard so much about? It turned out these Vikings were the dumbest Vikings you ever saw. At this point, they wanted to leave but they couldn't. They were stranded because there was no wind. It was like, what? Really? Was it suddenly the case that Vikings can't row? Don't we all have firmly entrenched in our minds the eternal image of Vikings with oars rowing their ships across unknown waters whether there's wind or not?

Are the writers of this show really expecting their television audience to believe that an entire crew of Vikings forgot they have oars to row their boat? That's an expectation that carries with it the belief that an entire television audience is as stupid as they (the writers) are. And then, after forgetting they have oars to row their boat, what do these brainless Vikings do? To make the wind come back, they each burn out one of their eyes. That's right. Each Viking takes a burning stick and burns out one of his eyes. Yeah, that'll bring the wind back. But it didn't come back. So then the Vikings decide to butcher each other. Of course, the graphic scenes showed heads, bodies and arms chopped off and blood flowing like a water fountain. Yeah, that'll bring the wind. Um...it didn't. So they start burning each other to death. Hooray. That brought the wind and they sailed away.

But they weren't sailing. They were rowing, which is what you might have thought they would have done from the start. I mean before burning out their eyes, butchering each other and burning each other in a bonfire. I turned off the TV at this point. Because my take on this is that anyone who watches this garbage will prove to be more stupid than the show itself, and more stupid than the writers. I won't be among them.  Sheesh. And I thought Into the Badlands was bad.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Galley Revisited - No More 'Something'

By saying no more something in the title to this post, I mean that I made sure yesterday that there was no more 'something' in the Galley that needed changing. Yesterday, Dana advised me that she was going to proceed with the John Dunn publication, and to make sure that all changes to the Galley were final. That gave me one last chance to revisit the Galley, and boy was I glad I did.

Talk about always something. There were a few somethings. Realizing I was on my last chance to make sure the manuscript was as I wanted it to be, I checked out the places I had seen that I thought I might have wanted to write differently, and I made them all just right. That means adding a couple new sentences or partial sentences, and changing some words here and there.

Total changes amounted to 16 I think. Which is about 8 more than before. Literally doubled. So, yeah, now the manuscript is flawless. Until that pesky typo pops up. That's almost a given. But maybe not. After all, Killer of Killers has no typos. But that was after a second edition had to be released. Before that, there were typos and errors everywhere. And that won't do for a perfectionist. As I am. And as a perfectionist, I've made sure that the John Dunn manuscript is perfect. If Dana makes all the changes, that is. I expect that she will. And I look forward to seeing the book in print.

I know that there are a lot of Zulu War enthusiasts out there. They are the British equivalent to the American Civil War enthusiasts. But that doesn't mean there aren't American Zulu War enthusiasts, and enthusiasts from other countries, too. It seems the one country that remains non enthusiast is the country in which the war was fought. South Africa. I suppose there are a lot of reasons for that. None of which I want to discuss here and now.

Because for here and now, what I'm looking forward to is the soon to be released book, John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu. It's a fascinating story, and a terrific read. Can't wait. Look for it in July. That's just a couple more months. But those couple months will pass, and the day will come.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Celebrating "Kick Ass Heroines" ... Really?

I have two publishers. Knox Robinson and Melange. Knox Robinson, of course, is the publisher of my two latest novels, Second Chance and Heart of a Zulu, whereas Melange is the publisher of my debut novel Killer of Killers and its sequel Killer Eyes. I appreciate both publishers, because if not for them my stories would never have reached the printed word.

But I happened to notice that Melange is currently featuring something on their website called "Celebrating Kick Ass Heroines". I have blogged so much about that subject, I'm really tired of it by now. Besides, these "kick ass heroines" may not be what the name suggests. Maybe they are not really kicking anyone's ass literally in the stories in which they are featured.

But the term got me to thinking. First let me point out that I have made it abundantly clear that strong female characters exist, and that they are a part of everyday life. I've seen plenty of them in my own real life experiences, many of whom I'm related to, and it's surely true that real life "strong" women have existed throughout history. No question.

But this "celebration" has expressed the "need" for strong female characters in Young Adult Fiction. Really? The "need"? I have been very aware that strong female characters are featured often in Young Adult fiction. Very often. So much so, that perhaps it can be said that strong female characters are featured far more often than strong male characters. At least in Young Adult fiction they are.

I may not be so well read in Young Adult Fiction, but going by the movies that books of the Young Adult genre have become, it sure seems strong female characters are the norm of late. And because of that I think expressing the "need for strong female characters" in Young Adult fiction is a little behind the times, as evidenced by (off the top of my head) Hunger Games, Divergent, Twilight, etc.

Of course there's many more, most of which I'm not familiar with, as I admittedly do not go to the theaters to see these movies, nor do I read those books. But let me make it abundantly clear, as I've already made clear many times, strong female characters do exist and have been fundamental to real life and real history, not just in Young Adult fiction.

The main point of this posting is that I think the celebrators of "strong female characters" should reconsider using the term "Kick Ass". I mean, really? Kick Ass? Have any of these Young Adult authors who want to celebrate strong female characters ever kicked anyone's ass? Ever? Do they want to? I mean do any of these Young Adult fiction authors really want to go kick someone's ass? Do they? Do they really want to see a girl, or a woman of any age get into a physical confrontation that results in coming to blows with another human being? Do they? Have they ever even seen it?

I have. Many times. You see, I'm a teacher in a Middle School, which is right at the Middle Grade/Young Adult level. The kids that I'm around every day from August through June are the target audience of these books that these authors write. And yes, I've seen plenty kids come to blows with each other. And you know what? More often it's the girls coming to blows than the boys.

Now for the lesson you "Young Adult" authors need to learn. It's not a pleasant thing. When these girls fight, they are not "kicking ass." What they are doing is kicking, scratching, pulling each other's hair, and it's a very ugly thing. Let me repeat that. IT'S AN UGLY THING to see young girls fight. So I really hope that these Young Adult stories are not glorifying the concept of "kicking someone's ass!"

As a teacher, of course, it's my responsibility to get them to STOP fighting. Have any of you Young Adult authors ever seen girls fight? Have you ever tried to get girls to stop fighting? It's not easy. You put your own safety at risk. I've seen with my own eyes a girl yank a fistful of hair out of another girl's head. I've seen with my own eyes another girl scratch the skin off another girl's face. I've seen with my own eyes girls tear, scratch, kick, pull, as if they were actually fighting in a combat zone. It's incredible. The viscousness, the brutality, the sheer animalistic, base, instinctive aggression. Did I mention it was downright UGLY? I think I did. I beseech my fellow authors. Do not glorify this.

Do these "Young Adult" authors think that women have to prove that they are strong female characters by running around and beating up other people? Or as their selected term implies, by kicking other people's asses? Is that how people prove how strong they are? By kicking other peoples' asses?

Okay, I already admitted that I didn't read their stories. It could very well be true, that in their stories, their strength comes from strength of will, from strength of character, from strong determination, from unwavering loyalty to an honorable cause, to a strong commitment to a relationship, a friendship or a family. I've used the female characters in the TV show Downton Abbey as a prime example of strong female characters. Every one of the female characters in Downton Abbey, from the Duchess to to the maid, has been a tremendous example of a strong female character.

If you're seen the show, you know them well. Violet, all eighty-plus years old of her, is stronger than anyone else on that show. Then you've got the middle-aged Cora, along with her daughters Mary and Edith, (Sybil, too) the elderly cousin Isabel, and every one of the maids and house servants, from Mrs. Hughes, Anna, Mrs. Patmore, and Daisy. All are portrayed as strong female characters, and not once have any of them lowered themselves to the point to where they had to "kick someone's ass."

Now if the term "kick ass" is just a term used symbolically, that's a different story. I mean you can say "kick ass" but not really mean someone is physically kicking someone's ass. But again, I did not read these stories, so I am not presuming that the characters in these stories actually do go around kicking people's asses. I'm hoping they don't.

I will finish this post by pleading innocence if someone is  going to accuse me of being a hypocrite. My own books feature fighting. But the people who fight in my books are not girls or women. Nor are they "young adults." My Melange-published books, Killer of Killers and Killer Eyes feature the world's greatest martial artist.  He's a full grown man who was a professional fighter, not some young adult who want to "kick someone's ass." He's on a mission of vengeance, and as the title of the book suggests, he kills killers. Only.

So to be clear. This post is about "young adults." Or Middle Grade-aged people. I'm around them all the time. I don't want to see them kicking anyone's ass. Never again. And I'm quite sure you don't either. I'm quite sure no one does.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Galley was good, but there's always something

Like I said, there's always something, and the more you look the more you find. First I found the space in the word presented. Then I found a missing end quote. Today I found an indentation that was further than the normal. Anyone might consider these to be typical typos. But the funny thing is, all three of these "typos" were not in the file I sent from which the PDF file was converted.

I guess things like that happen, which is why the author is supposed to check for it. In the process of checking, I found the name Utshingwayo used twice before he was supposed to be introduced to the story, and before that I found an s was used for the plural of the word  Zulu in a dialogue where the language was isiZulu. I advised Dana of all these in the hopes that she will correct them before the printing begins.

Actually, I haven't advised her yet of the indentation error. I will wait on that until tomorrow, because today I already sent an email about the name Utshingwayo. If that can be changed to the name Qetuka, it will be fine. But I don't want to inundate her with more than one email in a day, so I'll wait until tomorrow for the indentation thing.

And since tomorrow is the last day of April, and the day all files are supposed to be completed, I'm hoping all corrections will be made and I can be confident the John Dunn book is error-free once and for all, and ready for printing.  Fingers crossed for that.

I really will be satisfied if the John Dunn book is as error-free as my Killer of Killers book. And all before it's publication, too. It took a second edition for the Killer of Killers book to be error-free. But I'm okay with that. I'm a perfectionist. As all artists are, or should be. And being so, I take pride in my art being perfect. Whether it's a book, a painting, drawing, or sculpture, or a musical composition, it's perfection for which I strive. Nothing less.

Because in art, perfection can be achieved. And if the artist isn't driven to achieve it, then why the heck would anyone want to check it out? They wouldn't. Without total commitment to his or her art, said art is not worth checking out. Whether it's a drawing, painting, sculpture, book, or song. That's the way it is, and that's the way it should be.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Galley Looked Good

The only thing I found in the galley was a space in the word 'presented' in the Glossary and part of the coastline on the map seemed to be erased. The missing coastline was on the upper right corner, and mostly inconsequential. But the space in the word 'presented' was obvious, and even though it's not part of the story itself, still, it should be fixed. It's easy enough to fix.

There's always going to be something I will find that I will consider that I could have written better, but that is something that will never go away. Any book at any stage will have that. It's a pain, I'll admit, especially when it's a book I wrote, but it's just the way it is. I'll be satisfied if those places aren't straight up errors. If it's prose that could be better, that's one thing, but if it's an error, that's the killer.

I finally got Killer of Killers to the point where there are no errors. In Killer Eyes, there aren't any obvious errors, and The Vase will be error free whenever it reaches publication again. There's a couple in Second Chance unfortunately. And at this point, there are no errors in John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu. That is if the space in the word 'presented' is fixed there won't be. We'll see.

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...