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

THE VASE

A novel by Mark M. DeRobertis

Muhsin Muhabi is a Palestinian potter, descended from a long line of potters. His business is run from the same shop owned by his ancestors since the day his forebears moved to Nazareth. The region's conflict saw the death of his oldest son, and rogue terrorists are in the process of recruiting his youngest in their plot to assassinate the Pope and Israeli prime minister.

Professor Hiram Weiss is an art historian at Nazareth’s Bethel University. He is also a Shin Bet operative on special assignment. With the help of fellow agent, Captain Benny Mathias, he plans to destroy the gang responsible for the death of his wife and only child. He puts a bomb in the ancient vase he takes on loan from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.

Mary Levin, the charming assistant to the director of Shin Bet, has lost a husband and most of her extended family to recurring wars and never-ending terrorism. She dedicates her life to the preservation of Israel, but to whom will she dedicate her heart? The brilliant professor from Bethel University? Or the gallant captain who now leads Kidon?

Harvey Holmes, the Sherlock of Haunted Houses, is a Hollywood TV host whose reality show just flopped. When a Lebanese restaurant owner requests his ghost-hunting services, he believes the opportunity will resurrect his career. All he has to do is exorcise the ghosts that are haunting the restaurant. It happens to be located right across the street from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.




Friday, November 17, 2017

Be Careful with Rewrites

I had finished the rewrite of The Vase, and I have started another rewrite. But I'm catching myself being too picky. I had said before that being picky was a good thing. Being picky is what makes a perfectionist. And it's true, but there comes a point when a piece of work is finished, and going back over it again and again, LOOKING for something to rewrite might not be in its best interest.

For example, I am rewriting scenes that were good to begin with. They didn't need a rewrite. But there I go, thinking it needs a rewrite. Sometimes I spend time rewriting this or that, and then I decide that it was better before the rewrite. That's called wasting time. A writer has got to be able to determine when the writing is done. For good. And when not to rewrite.

Usually I have no problem with that. It's probably that I have these months in front of me waiting for Macmillan Australia to examine my submission which was the first 100 pages. And yes, since I submitted those pages I have indeed rewritten some of those scenes. Which may or may not be a good thing. I had always believed in making your writing better. My point is that sometimes that might not be necessary.

So the answer? Once you've reached a point that you are satisfied, get busy on another work. There is always another story to tell. And even though I had thought I didn't want to write anymore books, and I probably won't, I do have other books in the works.

And there's always my music. I have so many songs that also need to be rewritten. And re-recorded. And I've been doing that too lately. There is a satisfaction in composing your own music. Even if no one else in the world will ever hear them. Or appreciate them. Is that why musicians compose music? So other people can appreciate them? Why would a writer write a book if no one else would ever read those books? I guess a writer would stop if that were the case. And I might. As for the music? I'll at least keep up with that until the songs that need rewriting are done. Then...we'll see.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Finished The Vase Rewrite

Well, it took a little longer than I thought it would. But I just completed a first rewrite of The Vase. It's not like I actually rewrote the book. I just revised it, as in polished up the prose, and made it a better written book. That will surely go a long way for a Big Five publisher to accept it for publication. Any publisher, really, but I'm shooting for the stars this time.

Macmillan Australia is my best shot. They would be perfect, and they've had the first 100 pages now for about five weeks. But they say on their website it may take up to six months before any decision is made. Still, I'm glad I polished up the prose. I will probably go through it at least one more time. Why not? If I have five months more to wait or even three to four, I might as well maximize my chances if they do request the full. Here's to hoping.

In the meantime I might go back to Inside the Outhouse. Not sure. I kind of ran out of steam for that one. It's aimed at middle school level and being an adult, maybe I'm not so invested in it. Still it doesn't mean I will never go back to it. And then there's Book 3 in my Killer series. At one point it was titled Killer on the Payroll. Then I changed the title to Killer Not for Hire. It's kind of the opposite, but I figure it's a more accurate one. Seeing as how Trent Smith, the world's greatest martial artist, doesn't work for anyone. Ever.

So back to The Vase for more improvements, and then I'll just keep on writing, then I'll keep on composing, and I'll keep on creating art. That's what I do. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Nice Review for Second Chance

Okay, I'll bite. Got a nice review for Second Chance. On Amazon. Don't know why getting reviews seems to be as hard as pulling teeth. The big time authors seem to get reviews as easy as standing in the wind. It seems like before even their books are released they've already got a hundred or more five star reviews listed on Amazon for their books. Which begs the question. If their books aren't even released yet, just how did so many people get ahold of those books, read them, and be in the mood to write such wonderful reviews about them?

It makes me suspicious of course. It could be the system is rigged. How could it not be. But shouldn't I be glad for an author's great reviews? I am. But how is it they get so many reviews so quickly, and again, before their books even hit the stands?

I know there are people who make a living by being paid to write reviews. I would never pay for one, but I've given a couple free copies for reviews. Only three or four on Goodreads. And then I stopped. I don't want to do that anymore. It's not like the reviews are skewed. Sometimes the reviews are good, sometimes they're not, sometimes, they're mixed, but overall it's a waste of time.

I figure the best review is the unsolicited one. Which again brings me back to those reviews which number in the hundreds, even thousands for some of these authors whose books aren't even out yet. Unbelievable. As for Second Chance? It just made two.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Updates

I'm really improving the prose to The Vase big time. It was fine, but fine is not good enough. It has to be great. And that's what it is now. Everyday it's even greater. That's how great I've made it these past few months.

When it comes to all of my books, I think The Vase would have the best shot at publication with the Big Five. It's a great book as a stand alone book, but it has many possibilities to expand as a series, much like Dan Brown's DaVinci Code book did. How many sequels does that one have? I'm not sure if Mr. Brown intended for that to be a series or not, but it turned out to be, and it worked well. At least I think it worked well. The main character in The DaVinci Code is not an action hero. But he does have a recurring role in all the stories, and he remains the main character.

In The Vase there could be several characters from which a main character could be chosen. The first main character is the boy, Naji Muhabi. Then there is his father Muhsin. But their involvement really is restrained to this particular story. If there were to be sequels, I would think the other characters would be involved. Like Professor Hiram Weiss, the College Art Professor, and most certainly Captain Benny Mathias, the IDF captain, who is also an agent in the Kidon. That in itself has several angles which can be examined for future story lines.

But that doesn't mean Muhsin and Naji can't be included. They were good characters too. And the mother, Sanya. Can't forget about her. Even Mary and her role cannot be forgotten. So, yeah, if the opportunity arose, a sequel to The Vase could be written. But only if the opportunity arose. I'm still not fully invested in the third installment of the Killer series. Yes, I've started it. But that doesn't mean I'll finish it. We'll see.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Rockin' the Cosmos on SoundCloud

Just to see how it might work on a computer that's not signed in to my account, I looked up the blog The Vase and clicked on the Rockin' the Cosmos icon and listened to the first song Sensurround while reading the lyrics. It was all good, better than I thought it would be. And it sounded great. But then, like I knew would happen, some Hip Hop song followed, and I don't have a clue why that happens. But I clicked on the Rockin' the Cosmos playlist that was in the right margin on that page, and sure enough the songs in my playlist appeared, so I just clicked on Song #2 which is Green Lady and it came on with Lyrics and all.

It sounded great as well. At least, to me it did. I suppose I'm biased. All my songs sound great to me. And why wouldn't they. I wrote them and arranged them. I played and performed every instrument, and I even provided the vocals. It's not like I played the guitar and bass and drums and all that. I do play the piano and organ, though. So all the instruments are played on a keyboard/synthesizer. Yeah, it's a modern miracle how one instrument can synthesize all other instruments. Not to perfection, however, but still, it makes for a close replicate. And I hope to put up my Volume 13 one day soon, which is Rockin' the Afterlife. The lyrics are already up. Now that I know how to post them on SoundCloud, the songs will soon follow.

You know I composed, arranged, performed, and recorded all these songs more than ten years ago. Some of them twenty years ago, and only now am I posting them online. Well, it's only now I'm catching up to the 21st Century. In many ways, I'm still a 20th Century man. That's weird. That's a line from one of my books. The Vase has a line similar to that. Professor Weiss tells Captain Mathias something like that during one of their meetings.

Speaking of The Vase, I sure hope that Macmillan Australia accepts it for publication. That's my last and only hope to make it in the big time of publishing. That's not really true, but in some ways it is. Anything's possible, and who knows what the future holds. It's just that, for me, the future is getting slimmer and slimmer as the days go by. I guess that's true for everyone.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Playlist Completed - First Songs Ready to Hear

Okay, I managed to complete a playlist of my Volume 12 Rockin' the Cosmos on SoundCloud, but you have to kind of play around on it to hear the songs in the proper order if you happen to go there. If you do go there by clicking on the Rockin the Cosmos icon on the right margin of this blog, I hope you can listen to the songs in the correct order. I finally managed to put them in a playlist. So I hope you can manage to find the playlist if you wish to hear it. And if you do, I'll try to the best of my ability to explain how you can go about it.

First you first click on the icon in the right  margin of this blog. It's the icon of the outer space scene where is says "Volume 12" above and "Rockin' the Cosmos" below. After you click on that, the first song "Sensurround" starts automatically. You'll also see the lyrics. At first it's all good. You can listen to the first song and even read the lyrics, but only for the first song. After that first song, some weird Hip Hop song follows, and that is NOT my song. I have no clue why it follows my song.

Ideally, the second song in my playlist would follow, then the third song, then the fourth, and so on until the tenth and final song.

So what I suggest is after clicking on the icon which takes you to SoundCloud, hit pause in the header right away to pause the song, and then click on "View All" just below the header to the far right. That will take you to a lot of other strange songs, but then click on "In playlists" which is near the top, just under the "Sensurround" title and space image. That will bring my Playlist which is Rockin' the Cosmos. Then click on "View 10 tracks" and all ten tracks will appear.

To listen, just click on the first song Sensurroud and it will play. After Sensurround, each subsequent song will automatically follow in the proper order. Meaning, Song 2 Green Lady will play next, followed by Song 3 In This Place, followed by Song 4 Death of the Super Men, etc. After each song, click on "Mr D" to return to the Playlist so as to access the next song's lyrics.

To see the lyrics while the song is playing, you'll have to double click on the song title. If it doesn't happen right away, it will happen with a little bit of persistence. I think the lyrics are just as important as the music, so if you're like me and you want to see the lyrics at the same time, it is possible, but you have to keep on clicking on it until it works.

As for the performance of the music, just remember. I don't pretend to be a singer. But I already explained how that came about. I have another album, Volume 13, Rockin' the Afterlife, which I'll post one day. And I have Volume 2 ready to go also. As for all the others? We'll see.

Enjoy.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Music Getting Posted

Computer experts are nice to have as friends. I'm finally getting some of my music posted to the blog, but right now it's kind of mixed up. I'm starting with my Volume 12, which is Rockin' the Cosmos. It's an entire album's worth of space oddity songs. Like Bowie's Space Oddity. Or Elton John's Rocket Man. Of course, they don't compare to those classic. I'm a nobody in the music world. Those guys are giants. But to me, anyway, the music is great. I don't need to hear anyone else's opinion.

I just want my music out there. What I do know is I can't sing. I can compose music. I can't sing. I wish i could find a singer. I tried. I even advertised on Craig's list at one point. It was a hassle having strangers answer my ads and come over to my house. After a bit I found it unsettling, and I stopped. Yeah, I heard of some disturbing stories of Craig's list ads going wrong. And having a wife and two kids and a grandma in the house, and well, I thought I better stop with the Craig's list ads.

So I just did the singing myself. I admit straight up the singing sucks. But the music, and the songs, at least, to me, for me, are quite good. But that's only if you can get past the singing.

But wait. Don't go over there yet. My arrangement is still mixed up. I have all my songs mis-arranged. The computer guy taught me how to upload the songs onto sound cloud but not how to arrange the tracks and make them play in order like in an album the way they should play. I'm still trying to figure that out. So until then, they will play in any odd way. They are supposed to play in this order:

1 - Sensurround
2 - Green Lady
3 - In This Place
4 - Death of the Super Men
5 - Merging
6 - Spaceman
7 - Like a Curse
8 - Never Ending
9 - I'm Not the Bad Guy
10 - So Many Years

So until I can make a sountrack in order stay tuned. will let you know.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Stand for the National Anthem

Protest this or protest that. Or move to anther county. How about that? That's the great thing about this country. It's a free country. You can do what you want. You can protest. You can move. You can even sit during the nation anthem. But if you do, you will draw the ire of your fellow Americans. And that ire will be justified.

Because no other country is as great as this one. Don't agree? Then find another country and MOVE there. Go ahead. Move to another country if you can find a better one. Of course no country is perfect. No one said America is perfect. There is no place where every person in every profession is perfect. That's what these idiot professional football players don't seem to understand. And all the people who follow their lead don't seem understand. Like the players in other sports, and now college players and high school players, and students who aren't even athletes.

That's right. Kids are sitting during the pledge of allegiance in the classrooms now. It's out of control. And all started by some idiot football player, influenced, I understand, by his America-hating girlfriend. He used a lie, which was Ferguson, and then protested. Sure there were other incidents that weren't lies, incidents that were cases of bad cops, but this idiot cited Ferguson. The "hands up, don't shoot" lie. And used that as his protest. It was a lie.

But here's my point. All professions have bad cases involved. There's going to be bad cops. There's bad doctors, too. Is there going to be a protest about bad doctors? There's bad professors, too. There's bad researchers, bad politicians, bad mayors, bad governors, bad manufacturers, and bad janitors. But MOST of the above are good. I'd say the overwhelming majority of the above are excellent. And that includes cops.

So these idiot protesters don't take that into consideration. To hell with the football players. To hell with the basketball players. They never did anything for me. We need cops a lot more than we need football players and basketball players. Cops save lives. I don't know of any lives saved by a basketball player. Or a football player. They can all go to hell as far as I'm concerned.

God bless America. And God Bless the American Flag. Stand for the National Anthem. Or move to another country. Stand and be proud during the nation anthem. Or sit and be an idiot.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Vase Submitted to Big Five

I have finally submitted a manuscript to a "Big Five" publisher. Two "Big Five" publishers in fact. Penguin/Random House and MacMillan. Albeit those two Big Five publishers are not the American versions. They are Penguin/Random House - South Africa and MacMillan - Australia. I had submitted to South Africa's Penguin/Random House for my John Dunn book, but they didn't accept it. Maybe it wasn't ready yet. I might have waited until now when it's more ready at this point, but alas, John Dunn is published already. And The Vase is way more ready too, btw.

So if it's so ready, maybe now is the best time to submit. Thus my thinking. And so maybe all is for the best that The Vase is available again. Perhaps it's true what they say. Perhaps things do happen for a reason. And so the reason Penumbra went out of business and reverted all rights to The Vase back to me is so that I can find another publisher for it. And this time, maybe, just maybe I can finally crack the Big Five and really "make it" as an author. Until then, I really will have fallen short.

Other people might not agree. Other people might say, Hey, you got published. Be glad for that. And I am. To a point. But the dream is the "Big Five." Fall short of that, and the dream is unfulfilled. Unless you make the best sellers list and movies are made and you become a millionaire and even a billionaire like J.K. Rolling and her Harry Potter books. They didn't get published by the Big Five, but they became best sellers and became movies and she's rich and she can care less at this point who published the books.

So, yeah, I guess it's all relative. Still, I'm hoping Penguin/Random House - South Africa or MacMillan - Australia will pick up The Vase. Fingers crossed. Won't know for another three to six months. So until then, will keep improving it. It's all I can do.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Guns - Bad News

Guns are bad news. I don't say this because of the recent horror in Las Vegas. Or the other horrors that have occurred in so many other places in so many other instances. I say this because guns exist for only one reason. To kill. Whether it's people or animals, the reason is the same. Kill.

Hunters use guns to kill deer, ducks wild boars, or whatever else they're hunting. Soldiers use guns to kill enemy soldiers. Murderers use guns to kill innocent people. Whatever the target, the result is the same. Killing. With guns.

I am not a hunter. And I am not a soldier. I know police have guns. I will defend a policeman's right to have a gun for self-defense. Because criminals will use guns against policemen. It's a necessary evil. Necessary because evil exists. And policemen are in the front lines fighting that evil.

But during these modern times, does hunting really need to exist? I don't have the right to say it doesn't. I don't have the right to say people should not be hunters. But I do have the right to have an opinion. My opinion is that hunting is an obsolete sport. Killing a deer, or a duck, or a wild boar, or whatever... I don't see the sport in that. So I don't think hunting is a very cool sport. That's my opinion. Hunting...killing...guns...I wish those things would go away.

Of course the next argument is self-defense, like I was using for the police. There is evil out there. Thus we have police. And they have guns. Which I just admitted they need. So why don't everyday citizens also need guns for their protection? That's where I'm going with this post. Those citizens would not need guns if criminals did not have guns to use against them.

But how can that be? Criminals always have a way to get guns. Well, if Martin Luther King could have a dream, why can't I? My dream is this: What if all guns could go away? All guns except those in the military and law enforcement. No guns anywhere else. Wouldn't that be nice? Then the nuts like in Las Vegas and Sandy Hook, and Columbine, and San Bernardino, and everywhere else would not have had the ability to do what they did.

Sure, they might still have driven cars or trucks into crowds of people. Or concocted some kind of pressure cooker bombs, like the Boston Bombers did. Or figured out some other means of mass murder. But with no guns the other types of killing wouldn't happen. Impulsive killing. And killings of passion. Like when someone loses it, and then there's a gun and he or she  uses it, like that guy who went into that beauty parlor in LA and shot eight people because he was mad at his wife. If that gun wasn't at his disposal, I'm betting at least seven of those people would still be alive today. Maybe I'd lose that bet, but I'd still make that bet.

I have a dream that there is a way to get rid of every gun from every house in every city and town in every state in the entire country. That's my dream. I know at least half of the people in this country don't share that dream. Maybe half of the people reading this are vehemently disagreeing with me right now. And if they are, they need not worry. Unlike Martin Luther King's dream, it's a dream that will never come true. And the killings and murders and mass killings and mass murders will continue. Year in. And year out.

Monday, October 2, 2017

New Star Trek Show - The Feminists Are Taking Over - Yikes!

I've talked a bit about tough chicks. They exist. But do they beat people up? Do women want to see women beat people up? Do women want to go around beating people up? Do they believe in that? Do women want to see other women going around killing people?

I argued they don't. I still believe I'm right. But the trend in Hollywood is not strong women, but tough chicks. You know. See above. Whatever. That's not what I want to repeat here. The topic today is the new Star Trek show, Star Trek Discovery, which I watched and will  probably not watch again.

I'm not a Feminist, and that's why I won't watch it. Star Trek Discovery is a show that caters to the Feminist audience. I know that in this time of equal rights, there should be equal rights. But I will never agree that women should be fighting wars. Why would women want to fight in wars anyway? Do women want to fight in wars? Heck, men don't even want to fight in wars. That's why men like Muhammad Ali dodged the draft. He'd rather be in jail and fed than to be in Vietnam and dead, isn't that what he said? And I'm not saying I blame him, by the way.

So do women want to fight in wars? Do they really? Do they want to get their heads blown off? Do they want to come home from a battlefield with their legs blown off? With their faces blown off? Crippled for life? Why don't women get it? War and fighting is not some glorious thing like Wonder Woman would have you believe. It's not like Star Trek. Which brings me to my point.

Starships are warships. I don't believe a woman should command a warship of men. It just isn't right. I know women are good leaders in a school. I am a teacher and most of my principals have been women. And (for the most part) they have been great. But a school is not a battlefield. And women, imo, do not belong on a battlefield. Do they want to be on a battlefield?

I can't imagine why a woman would want to be on a battlefield. Anyone who would want to be on a battlefield would be by definition unqualified to be on that battlefield. Because that person would be mentally unstable. That ends the argument right there. Who would want to be led by an unstable person. No one. And too many times leaders have been unstable, because men who had wanted to be on a battlefield to lead have indeed been unstable. So there you go.

Okay, so again, back to Star Trek Discovery. We already had the woman starship captain in Star Trek Voyager with Captain Janeway. Quota fulfilled. Nope. Now we not only have another woman captain, but on top of that, we have the first officer also a woman. So the top two stars of the show, the captain and the first officer are women. Okay. No men. None. No testosterone, so to speak. But the first officer is providing the testosterone. She has a man's name, Michael, and she's all gung-ho in firing the first shot at the Klingons, as advised by Spock's dad. (Presumably, before Spock is born.)

So yeah. There are no men in the show, except in very minor and subservient roles. The men are the lowly officers and crewmen, relegated to taking orders from the women, and that's the premise of the show. It's a Feminist's dream, so to speak.

So if you're a Feminist and you like the Star Trek universe, this is the show for you. I like women, of course, been married to the same woman for almost thirty years, and I am all for equal rights and equal opportunity. But I will stand by my belief that women do not belong on a battlefield and women should be glad that society doesn't require them to be on a battlefield. And I will repeat this point because I think it is important. If a woman wants to be on a battlefield, then she is probably mentally unstable. And the same thing is probably true for a man.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Vase - Waiting for the Big Five

Since my book The Vase is in Limbo right now I have options. Go with my current publisher, Knox Robinson, (nope). Go with my other current publisher, Melange Books, (nope). Find another POD publisher, like its former publisher Penumbra, (nope). Self publish, (nope). Don't publish it, (nope), or once again try for the Big Five, (yes). But that takes an agent and agents are not interested in a nobody like me. Yes, but there are ways around that.

So I will examine publication via non-agent access to the Big Five publishers. It will be a last ditch effort on my part. At the same time, I will be undergoing a last ditch effort in my music. I'm at that age, I guess, where everything is a last ditch effort. My kids are in high school and college now, so even that part of my life is in its later stages.

Here's to hoping things work out.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Music Getting Closer to Being Posted

The last couple of weeks has seen a lull in my story writing. Back to school is in progress, of course, and I'm loving being back in the classroom. That never meant I didn't have time write, but with the recent completion of my latest book, John Dunn: Heart of a Zulu, I'm slow to proceed with my next.

I'm more inspired to get back to my music. It's like a cyclic thing for me. I go through phases I guess. It was all about drawing and painting for a long while. Then sculpture. Then music. Then writing books. Now back to music. It was during my music phase I had written quite a lot of songs about ten to twenty years ago. Some of those songs can be dismissed, sure, but some, I don't mind saying, were quite good. Especially my last two "albums."

I had not named my first eleven "albums", which were a collection of about ten songs each album. I considered ten songs to be about what would constitute an album from those years ago when albums used to be vinyl. Now albums are CDs, I think, or are those now obsolete too?

Whatever, I wrote songs in about groups of ten or so, and called it an "album." I only named them Volumes 1 though 11, until I wrote volume 12, and it contained an outer space type theme. Much like the individual songs Rocket Man  and Space Oddity, by Elton John and David Bowie respectively, which are just that, individual songs, albeit great ones, and worldwide hits. My Volume 12 is a collection of ten songs that has a space theme, too, so I call it Rockin' the Cosmos.

And the lyrics to Rockin' the Cosmos can be found right here on the blog. My next goal, at this point, is to see if I can post the entire collection of music onto the blog. Never mind that the vocals are horrible, which I readily admit. Singing is the one thing I readily admit I cannot do. But even so, I do it. Why? Because I have that much confidence, not in my singing, but in my music. I really believe the songs are good. So I will post them.

But therein lies the problem. I don't know how. But I know people. People who know how. And once those people have time, they will come and help me. I've already converted all my songs into mp3 formats, which was the first step. Well, the first step was actually recording the music. Which I did more than ten years ago. But that was on cassette tape. It was recently I did the second step. Converting the cassettes to CDs. Then the third step was transferring the music from the CDs onto my computer, and then the fourth step was converting the songs into mp3 formats.

Now, the fifth step will be posting the music right here onto the blog. Can't wait.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Aberrant Wave of Horrible Heat

I used that phrase, "aberrant wave of horrible heat" in my book, The Vase. It was published some years ago, but it's now unpublished due to the publisher going out of business. I'm hoping to find another publisher, this time one of the Big Five, even.

But speaking of aberrant waves of horrible heat, that's what I'm experiencing right now in the Bay Area. Heat in the triple digits in early September, I'm hearing is record setting heat, and I used that phrase often in The Vase too.

In the story in The Vase, the people in Nazareth, Israel were experiencing their own aberrant waves of horrible heat, and as I explain in the book it was due to unusual geomagnetic storms in the earth's atmosphere, which were caused by solar winds generated by solar flares erupting on the surface of the sun.

Yeah, that's a lot of solar activity for one day, but it's not just one day in which it occurs. It occurs over several months, even years, and it's an eleven year cycle called solar maximum. You learn that through research, and it's all in the book. You see, ultra concentrations of electromagnetic radiation also are spewed forth from the sun which makes its way into the earth's atmosphere, and seeing as how its this type of radiation that powers the audio/video recordings and playbacks of recent technologies, it's all fitting for the holograms that are projected from the ancient vases in a Palestinian potter's ceramic shop.

Throughout the story line the heat is atrocious, and I'm finding out for myself just what it feels like to live through that kind of heat. Friday, it was 107 degrees and Saturday it was 108. Let's see how hot it gets today. I think maybe I'll join the thousands at Santa Cruz. Just for some relief.

But it got me to thinking about The Vase. I'm still hoping an agent will pick it up, and shop it to the Big Five. Fingers crossed on that. We'll see.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Summer Over - Back to Work

Well, summer vacation is over, and it's time to get ready for work. But for me, work is great. I love my job. The classroom is my second home. I've considered writing a book on how to be a successful teacher. One of my secrets, of course, is just that. Making your classroom like your second home. A teacher has to love being in his/her classroom to be a successful teacher.

It's the same as being an author. A successful author has to love writing to be a successful writer. That doesn't mean all writers who love writing will be successful. I might venture to say all teachers who love teaching will be successful. Not necessarily, I know, but it's a good bet.

So back to the classroom, get it ready, prepare for those teacher meetings, which sometimes are fun, too, and then, get ready for the kids. Lucky for me I'm an art teacher. That means not only do I get to teach art, I get to make art at the same time. Which is great. You get to create. Which is what I'm all about. Creating. I create things. Books. Music. Art. Statues. Whatever.

I still find time to write. I do want to create that third book in the Killer series. Most likely it will be the last Killer book. Most likely. As for the MG/YA book -- Inside the Outhouse? Yeah...will probably finish that one day. And most likely that will be the last book I write. Not because I don't like writing anymore. I don't have time anymore. I'm finding that I have to dedicate the time to the wife and two sons.

Strangely, the older they get, the more they need me. You'd think the opposite would be true. I'm finding that it's not. High school and college is when they need me more than ever. As youngers I've been there for them. As young adults I'm needed even more. That means I'd better stay healthy and be available to them for advice and for support. I'd better be up to the task. Now more than ever.

Books are great. Being a father is greater. That's the real world. Sheesh, I've talked about John Dunn a lot. How in the heck did he manage being a father with over a hundred children of his own? I've only got two!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Killer Not For Hire

Book Three in the Killer Series is now in the works. It's a Trent Smith Martial Arts Thriller to be sure. And Melange Books has already agreed to publish it and will be sending a contract as soon as tomorrow. It is slated for publication in September/October of 2018, so that's about a year from now. So that means I have a year to write the book. Good thing I've already started it.

But I'm a far cry from completing it. I've got a good start though, and I have a good idea what is going to happen in the story. It's the book I started a year ago. It's the book I was calling Killer on the Payroll. But just recently when I resumed writing it I realized that one of Trent Smith's traits was that he worked for no one. So how could it be that a man who worked for no one could be a killer on someone's payroll? I was thinking at the time that he was being forced to by one way or another. But then, just this past week, I thought no. Trent Smith is not for hire. Not now, not ever. Thus the new title. Killer Not For Hire.

And I thought of it just in time. My publisher, Nancy had just emailed me asking me for the title of the book, so I replied the tentative title was Killer Not For Hire. Of course she advised with a year to go until publication there was still time to change the title if I so choose so that's cool. If I so choose. We'll see. For now, I think it's a good title.

The story will end with Trent becoming the world's greatest killer, but that's kind of anticlimactic. The plot is not to become the world's greatest killer. It's not his goal. But he gets involved with organized crime, not willingly, it was more like as part of his vengeance thing, and it just leads to that, and it happens. But the syndicates want him on their sides. But of course, he's not for hire, thus the title. Once you read the story it's more understandable. Well, I've got to write it first. Time to get busy on that. it should be fun.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

New Spider-man Movie -- um...

Okay, I saw the new Spider-man movie last night with my two sons, and... Well, during the movie I was thinking how I was going to write in today's blog just how stupid the movie was. How very stupid it really was. I'm a traditionalist you see. I've got the silver age comics from those years ago, and I know how Spider-man is supposed to be.

The 90's cartoon was pretty good, but the two versions of movies with Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield were disappointments to be sure. Of course, as I always say, Hollywood believes they know better than the original writers and creators of the genre and they change them mostly for the worse.

But last night, when the movie was over, both my sons said they liked the movie, which made me rethink my opinion of it. I thought back to Maguire's version and how they changed his web shooter to a non web shooter. The movie people made it so that the webbing was part of his biological make up, and the webs came from his wrists naturally, instead of from a web shooter that he invented like in the comics. That was a horrible change.

And in Maguire's and Garfield's Spider-man, they made the spider that bit Peter Parker some kind of genetically modified spider instead of a radioactive spider like in the comics. Another bad change because that meant Spider-man's blood isn't radioactive anymore. Ever heard the song? "He's got radio-active blood. Hey, there... There goes a..." Well, never mind. At least in Garfield's Spider-man and in last night's Spider-man, Peter Parker invented his own web shooter. And they actually never mentioned the spider's condition in last night's movie because they didn't reenact the origin scene.

So, anyway, as I was watching this movie I was not liking it. But then while listening to my sons after it was over, and hearing their opinions of it, and why they liked it, my opinion changed. And I decided I liked it. And here's why: Because this time the movie people made changes to accommodate the ongoing Avengers and Ironman/Tony Stark storyline. Which makes sense. And the changes mostly involved the Spider-man costume, meaning Tony Stark designed the Spider-man costume not Peter Parker. Which makes sense. And it even contains a lot of Ironman components, like a talking computer which makes sense. (Since it was designed by Tony Stark.) And even though Peter invented his own web shooter, Stark improved it in many ways. Which made sense.

So okay. I can change my mind. I don't have to be so stuck in my old-fashioned ways. I can change with the times. I can let my sons sway my opinion. The new Spider-man movie was good. Would I have written it differently? Yes. Would I have made it better? I would like to think so. But was it good anyway? Yes. It's a good movie. The best one yet.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

John Dunn - The True Story

I've talked about heroes recently, mostly of whom are fictitious characters. I've talked about strong men and yes, strong women characters in the movies and TV shows, but the one thing that is noteworthy about these strong characters is that they are fictitious characters.

The Jason Bournes, the Frank Martins, and even the James Bonds -- all fictitious characters. Even my own Trent Smith, the world's greatest martial artist from my Killer novels, is Fictitious.

But I heard once that truth is stranger than fiction. And the character John Dunn, from my latest novel John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu is NOT fictitious. John Dunn is a real character from real history, and his story is a true one. And I wrote it that way. Sure I put in some fictitious elements to spice it up. Mostly those elements were about his first wife, Catherine Pierce. I made her into a strong female character. It seems strong female characters are all the rave these days. At least Hollywood would have you believe that if you consider the movies and TV shows being aired at this time.

So I was sure to include a strong female character in my John Dunn book, and I made it the foremost female character in the story, Dunn's first wife, Catherine Pierce. But the truth is that the real John Dunn hardly mentioned her in his autobiography. Even in Charles Ballard's thesis on John Dunn I could hardly find a mention of her. Ditto with Donald Morris's Washing of the Spears and Ian Knight's Zulu Rising. In fact in every history book on John Dunn or the Zulus or the Zulu War I read there is hardly a mention (if any mention at all) of Catherine Pierce.

Now if John Dunn himself didn't bother mentioning much about his first wife, (or any of his 49 wives) what does that tell you? Nothing, really, but it didn't leave a lot to go on. All of the above writers wrote a great deal about John Dunn, however, almost all of them agreeing that his story was an incredible one. An incredible one that is TRUE.

Hollywood put out at least three movies about a white man living with the Native Americans. We've all seen them. Little Big Man, with Dustin Hoffman, A Man Called Horse with Richard Harris, and Dances with Wolves with Kevin Costner. And yeah, they were all intriguing, compelling stories of how a solitary white man became one with the Indian tribes. They were great stories. But they were not TRUE stories. They were imagined, made up, and fictitious.

Now that's the thing about John Dunn. He was NOT imagined. He was NOT made up. He is NOT fictitious. This man's story is even greater than those fictitious stories told in the above Hollywood movies. He was a man who from a very young age lived in Zululand, with the Zulus, as a Zulu. And would have lived his entire life that way if Captain Joshua Walmsley didn't find him and bring him back to civilization. He then retaught him English and tutored him in the civilized ways.

But fate would not let John Dunn go. Fate brought Dunn back to the Zulus. I made mention in the book that Dunn's destiny was in Zululand and Dunn realized that to be true. He returned to Zululand to fight in the Zulu Civil War. He fought on the losing side, and the victorious Prince Cetshwayo might have killed Dunn right then, but for Dunn's resilience in escaping the massacre, which included over twenty thousand Zulus (men, women, and children) on the banks of the Tugela River.

But even then Dunn hadn't given up on finding his destiny in Zululand. He returned to Zululand at the risk of being skinned alive. Which is what Prince Cetshwayo might have done had he captured him during the battle. Instead, when their paths crossed, Cetshwayo took a liking to Dunn, offered his friendship, which included land, Zulu wives, and even a chieftainship.

Now let's pause right there. It must be noted that a chieftainship is NOT something handed out arbitrarily or given to just anyone. A chieftainship is like being a governor of a state, like California New York, or Michigan. Not even Cetshwayo's brothers and fellow princes were guaranteed chieftainships. Many of them never achieved that status. But John Dunn did.

And the events that unfolded over the next twenty years were nothing short of amazing. I must advise any readers who find this interesting to read the book. John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu. Those amazing events conclude with the infamous Anglo-Zulu War. I made sure to keep it all accurate. Especially the battles, one in which John Dunn fought.

John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu. Based on the TRUE story of the REAL John Dunn. Order your copy today, and you will learn not just about John Dunn, but about the real history of South Africa and the Zulu tribes in the years following Shaka. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Blacklist - Disappoints


Okay, I checked out the two-part season four finale of The Blacklist, which wrapped up the "Mr. Kaplan" adversarial story arc, and it did indeed disappoint. Instead of Red killing her, she jumps off a bridge and commits suicide. Okay. But that wasn't how I would have written this ending. I would have made it all come together in a positive way, and everyone would have been friends again.

Which is how it should have been. Why? Because after Kaplan had recovered from Red's earlier attempt to kill her, she was remorseful. Not for what Red did, but rather for what SHE did. She admitted she was wrong, that she had betrayed Red, and that it was her fault that Lizzy had been kidnapped and put into danger. She admitted she deserved the bullet to her head.

But later, all of that was forgotten as if it had never been written or portrayed in the show. Instead, Kaplan turns into this vindictive, revenge-seeking antagonist, bent on Red's destruction. Um, what happened to all the remorse and Kaplan's concession that it was HER fault to begin with? It's called inconsistency, and that's BAD WRITING.

So, as I posted yesterday, the show dragged out this conflict between Red and Mr. Kaplan, to the point of Red's near destruction. But Red is resilient, he's the main character, after all, and he gets the jump on Kaplan. But this time Red is determined not to kill her. (Which he never should have attempted that first time!) Instead he offers her an out, which she doesn't take. Why? Because she's hell bent on destroying Red. Sheesh. What happened to her admitting she deserved that bullet to the head? It's called bad writing.

So, anyway, that's when she jumps off the bridge. And she does that because she has to die in order for her final contingency plan to be put into effect. Which is carried out by Tom, Lizzy's husband, and Red's former spy, but is now a spy for Kaplan. Upon Kaplan's death, Tom removes a suitcase from a locker and, apparently, is supposed to take it to Lizzy.

This suitcase, apparently, contains the bones of Lizzy's mother, Red's former lover, which, apparently will prove that Red had killed Lizzy's mother. Apparently. This was hinted at in a dialogue between Red and his bodyguard, Dembe, at the end of the show.

But wait a minute. Too many problems with all of this. Besides the fact that all of this is contrary to Kaplan's original remorse at having betrayed Red and her admitting she deserved the bullet to her head. Now it gets worse. I mean, since when does Tom work for Kaplan? Since, like, never. And since Red had already told Lizzy that her mother died in shame and disgrace, it makes the point that Red, if he did kill Lizzy's mother, his former lover, he had a damn good reason for doing so, which he always does when he kills someone. And Lizzy should know this by now.

Look--Red is the star of the show. He is someone the audience has empathy for and sympathy for, more than anyone else on the show. He's the hero. Yeah, he's billed as a criminal, but he's never done anything to anyone that makes the audience hate him. Never. Everyone he's killed, or dogged, deserved it, and deserved it big time. Kaplan's antics, on the other hand resulted in the deaths of several innocent people, and she even cut out an eye of an innocent man with her own hands. So, yeah, Kaplan, as it turned out was the one who resorted to evil deeds. Not Red.

But I have another complaint and it's unrelated to all of the above. For the entire season, the viewers of this show have been teased with the idea that Red is Lizzy's father. And it's something that I personally wanted to be the case. It would be the ONLY thing that would make sense out of all of this. Meaning, it's the only thing that would validate the entire series. Red NEEDS to be Lizzy's father for any of the show's storylines to make sense. So for four seasons, they hinted at it, and at one point while being tortured, Red admits Lizzy is his daughter, but he had never admitted it to Lizzy.

Now in the fourth season finale, a DNA test proves Red is Lizzy's father, and I approved of the reaction Lizzy displayed. She accepts him as her father, and is happy to have him as her family. I was cool with all of that. It's the way I would have written it too.

But then in that final dialogue between Red and Dembe, Dembe asked Red if he denied it. Why would Dembe ask Red that if Red was Lizzy's real father? Well, Red says he didn't deny it. Still, that question suggests that Red is NOT Lizzy's father. I know it's not definitive, and it may not suggest that, but perpetuating doubt is not cool. I want to know once and for all that Red is indeed Lizzy's father, and no more doubts about it.

I hate being played by a show, by a writer, or by anyone. Red better be Lizzy's father or the entire show is bullshit. Which would mean I wasted a good portion of my time watching a show that was bullshit. It wouldn't be the first time. The STARZ show Black Sails did that to me, and to countless fans who had followed that show. If The Blacklist does that too... Well, it would be unfortunate, that's all. We'll see.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Blacklist Falling from Grace


I had claimed that The Blacklist TV show had become my favorite TV show. At least insofar as current TV shows are concerned. That is quickly coming to an end. It seems that in its fourth season, the writers are running out of gas. It's not entirely unexpected.  Mostly, the writers were doing a great job. Not anymore, I'm sorry to say.

Why? Well, because one of my favorite characters in the show, Mr. Kaplan, has become the bad guy. Mr. Kaplan is a woman, btw, and she was a great ally of the main character Red Reddington. Which was why she was one of my favorite characters. But for lack of new storylines, the writers have made her into Red's adversary. And there was only so much they could do with that. And they've run out of ideas. They are dragging this out over the duration of the fourth season, and I'm tired of it. You see, Mr. Kaplan does not make for a great bad guy. No, she doesn't.

In fact, Mr. Kaplan was a great good guy. As long as she was on the side of Red Reddington. But now, it's like the two characters are playing tug-of-war with the other main character Lizzy Keane. To the point of ridiculousness. And I'm not one to favor ridiculousness in a storyline. I don't appreciate it. Because it was one of my favorite shows. Not anymore.

Perhaps I'll wait until the season conclusion. Which I will watch probably tonight. Then I'll make that decision. If they end this unfavorable story arc, then I might be back on board. So we'll see.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Hawaii Vacation Over

Today is my first day back from Hawaii. My brother lives there, and I took my wife and youngest son there this past week. Hawaii is famous, of course, for its beaches. And they are very nice. Spent a lot of time there. My brother is a lawyer, but he also wrote a book. A high fantasy novel. Kind of like the LORs story, but still quite different. In other words, fans who loved LOR will love his book.



So I was an A-reader or a Beta reader as some would say. And the writing was quite good. He's a talented writer and story-teller, and his story is one that I would say deserves to be published by the infamous Big Five. But that means an agent is required. Yes, the ever elusive literary agent. I'm considering going that route again for my novel The Vase. It deserves the Big Five as well.


But we all know how that goes. Fingers crossed. My brother lives close to a lot of beaches, and I guess when you live in Hawaii, who doesn't? I particularly liked Waikiki. It's one of the most famous beaches in the world. For a lot of reasons. There's a lot of people there. A lot of action, too. My son took surfing lessons, and he was a natural.



I was never a skate boarder when I was a kid, so I never had an interest in surfing. I mean, I liked the Beach Boys music, but surfing was never my thing. But my youngest son is good at skate boarding, and he was good at surfing too, on his first attempts. He looked like those dudes in the movies. I was proud of him. He wants to go back to Hawaii and get his own surfboard, too.


As for me? I'm good right here in California. Still, since my brother lives there, and in a really big house in an upscale part of Oahu, I have no reason not to go back. Hawaii is famous for other things too, not just the beaches. So yeah, it was all good. Right now, I'm back to work in perfecting The Vase. That's a real good story too.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Fear the Walking Dead - drops to a new low

Yes, a new low for Fear the Walking Dead last Sunday. It's as if they are running out of storylines. As of last Sunday's episode Fear the Walking Dead has devolved to the old  storyline of "Cowboys and Indians." You read that right. It's the 21st Century. Instead of the "Native Americans" assimilating into modern American society, and getting along with everyone else, we have our resident "Indians" rising up during this horrible "Zombie Apocalypse" to stick it to the White Man.

I  mean, come on... this is so old, and old fashioned, and overdone, and pointless, and just plain ridiculous. Once again, in a show where humanity is on the verge of extinction, struggling to survive against some kind of world destroying plague, with bands of thugs patrolling the landscape, raping, pillaging, and overpowering the weakened masses, now you have a group of people (Indians) not trying to help, not trying to contribute, not trying to make things better or at least survivable. Instead they are "rising up" against the "white man." Just like a 1950s Cowboys and Indians show.

This is so uncool, I don't have the words to describe it. I mean in this show the circumstances are such that anyone is lucky to find a place that is safe for any length of time. I get it about the thugs finding strength in their "gangs" and roving the countryside like wolves trying to dominate the weak. You have that anywhere you go, Just check out any big city in America today.

But when the world is on the brink of complete destruction, I would think that there remained groups of people who are not thugs. In the Waking Dead we see it here and there. Groups of benevolent people, in contrast to the thugs. In Fear we have the new group of people led by a man named Otto, and it's all good. But no, actually it's not. Now you have the "tribe" of Indians opposing them, and capturing them, shooting them, killing them, and threatening them.

What's wrong with working together to make life livable for all? Oh wait... There's no story there. But might there be? Can't some talented writers make a story like that? Or do we just need to see more senseless meanness, senseless cruelty to fellow travelers who are doing nothing more than struggling to survive? I guess the writers are bent on meanness. Like in Lost. Just be mean for no reason other than just to be mean. Why not? It's an easier story to write.

Monday, June 26, 2017

John Dunn read-through completed

I had reported that in the first half of my newest book, John Dunn, Heart of a Zulu, there was only one typo. I had hoped that it would project to two typos for the entire book. Well, there's three. No worries, they're very minor typos. In the first half of the book there was a quotation mark where it didn't belong. It turned out that in the second half of the book there were two places where there was no indentation where there should have been.

Both places were in a section where there was dialogue. And for some reason, two times the next person speaking it didn't get indented. I suppose those things happen when the documents are converted from word docs to PDFs and then to print.

So three total typos. All three are minor, and don't impact the story at all. I had already noted that books published by the world's top publishers have at least that many typos, so I guess I'm right up there with them. Still, I'm a perfectionist, and I strive for perfection. I will see if in the future I can get those typos out of there. If not, no big deal. It's still good. So good in fact, that I'm with the impression my John Dunn book is my best book of all five that I've written.

My Killer of Killers book has no typos. That book is my personal favorite. I made sure it had no typos, but it took a Second Edition for that to happen, and I don't want to go that course again. I just want perfection if perfection can be achieved.

My book The Vase, I dare say, will be perfect. I'm still perfecting it right now. It's an amazing story. So amazing that it might end up being my best book. Hopefully it can break the Big Five. I'll need an agent for that. Finding an agent is not easy. But you never know until you try. So fingers crossed.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Reading the Book John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu

What artist doesn't want to appreciate his/her own art? Illustrators and all artists take the time to step back and view the artwork they created. A song writer will take the time to listen to the song he or she composed. And for authors, I would certainly think the same is true. An author would take the time to read whatever it was that he or she wrote.

I do all of the above. It's what makes creating worthwhile. ENYOYING what you created! And I am thoroughly enjoying the reading of my book John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu. And so far so good. Mostly. I've read through the first ten chapters, 180 pages, and I can gladly report that only one typo has shown itself. A very minor one. There was a quotation mark where it didn't belong. Other than that, there were no errors, either in grammar or in continuity. So that's wonderful news.

Of course, there's ten more chapters to go. If I can get the same result in the final ten chapters, then I'll be a happy camper. I've read some books lately by other authors, and published by publishers who are counted among the "Big Five" and sure enough, I've found multiple typos in there. So by comparison, I'm ahead of them. At least, so far. Fingers crossed.

One thing that makes me discouraged about being an author is the doggone typos or even bigger errors that seem to hide from sight during the multiple read-throughs prior to publication. I mean, this one typo for instance. How many times I've read through the manuscript before publication, I couldn't count. Yet it didn't reveal itself until after publication. It's one of the mysteries of book writing, I suppose. Still, only one typo in the first half of the book? And no grammatical errors or any other errors? I'll take it. You bet I will.

While rewriting The Vase, I'm keeping an eye out for these things. And when it's finally published, again, I will be just as happy if the result is the same. Meaning one typo in the first half of the book. That is, if there's only one more typo in the second half of the book. That will keep me ahead of other books published by the Big Five. At least, insofar as I have seen with my own eyes. But I suppose none of that really matters.

I think the biggest thing is authenticity. And believability. I've written several posts about that. I think authenticity is most important with stories like John Dunn, stories that are based on real life, real people, and real events. Or even if not based on true stories, still, if the story is based on say, real events or real entities, like, say, if someone writes a fictitious story about a GI in WWII. The lingo, the costumes, the overall scenarios must still be authentic. For example, you can't describe a Panzer tank to look like a Tiger tank. Sure, they were both German tanks, but they looked different.

And you can't say the Germans were flying P31 Mustangs, or P38 Lightnings, because they weren't. Stuff, like that. Authenticity is vital. And for other stories, like thrillers and such, believability is just as important. For instance, you can't have a 5' 2", 110 lbs woman beating up three Marines, or a dozen professional male fighters all at the same time. Oh, wait.... Yeah... I've talked about that.

Which is what I mean. When believability is off the table, viewership, or readership is going to slide. Even for fiction, accountability and believability counts for a lot. At least for me. And I'm sure it does for a lot of other people, as well.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sending Free Copies

I received my copies of John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu and Second Chance a few days ago, which included five free copies of each from my publisher. I had ordered ten copies each, but received fifteen each, and then I remembered it was in the contract that at publication, each author gets five free copies. That's pretty cool. Very cool, actually. My other publishers only gave one free copy. I don't mean to diss my other publishers, but five free copies is better than one obviously, and it gives me the opportunity to send those nice British guys free copies for their support in the promotion of my book.

So I'll do that today. Then I'll send a couple free copies of Second Chance to the two Sports book authors who helped endorse my Sports book, Second Chance; a Football Story. They're not British. They're Americans, but proved to be just as nice as the Brits. Niceness isn't a restricted thing, thankfully.




I only hope that the continued reviews are positive and promote sales. John Dunn is my best book, I think. And I can't wait to see how the book signing goes. I will want ten more Second Chance books for that. After all, football season is coming soon and I want to be well prepared. Hopefully, the book signing will take place in July.

Book collectors prefer to have the authors signature in the book, so that might prompt sales, too. So browsers in a bookstore, seeing the author right there willing to sign a book, might take that opportunity to go ahead and buy the book. Why else would authors do that?

There's one thing that bodes well for both books. They are not going to be restricted to adult readers only. Younger readers will be able to read them. My Killer books have a lot of violence. Well, the battle scenes in John Dunn are pretty violent.


But that doesn't mean younger readers can't read them. When my kids at school ask me about my Killer books, I tell them they are too young. But I won't have to tell them that for John Dunn and Second Chance. I guess that's the difference. Maybe I should get back to Inside the Outhouse. I was targeting a younger audience for that book. It's been on hiatus for the past year. As had my third book in the Killer series. Clearly, my time was taken with getting these two books published.

And now that they are, perhaps it's time to pick up the "pen" sort of. Well, after I finish with the rewrite for The Vase. By the time I'm done with that, it may take the place of John Dunn as my best book ever. That's how good it's turning out to be. Which is strange. It had already been published once. And with this "second chance" to rewrite it, it's better than ever. Strange how that works.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Zulu War Enthusiasts - the Nicest People in the World

In a couple Zulu War forums, online, I have posted about the imminent release of John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu, and its availability for preorder on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I have received some emails from some of the people on there, wishing me well, and expressing interest in the book.

I am amazed, really. These are people I've never met. These are people who don't know me from Adam. All they know is that I share a common interest (The Zulu War) with them, and I have written a book about it. It's stunning. So much niceness I can't say I've ever known. At least not from strangers.

I'm still overwhelmed, a year later, how the great Ian Knight was so kind to me. As was another man who is a reviewer for the British Army Magazine. And others who had contacted me back then when I first solicited for reviews. The nicest people anyone could ever know.

It goes to show. My guess is that most, if not all, of these Zulu War enthusiasts are from England, or South Africa, or Australia, etc. Let's just say they're mostly British people or of British descent. Whether they live in the UK, Australia, or South Africa isn't important. That they are such great people is important. I've never known a group of people so nice as they have shown to be.

It makes me glad I wrote this book. Today, for example I was contacted by a man whose family had adopted the great grandson of Prince Dabulamanzi. The man told me some things about what he had learned about Dabulamanzi, and I was glad to respond that those were indeed things that I had incorporated into my book. He said he wanted to write a review of the book which will appear on many websites. Hopefully that will prompt several sales. 

So moving along, I will continue to try and find websites or outlets of some kind that cater to enthusiasts of the Zulu War. I wonder if here in America, Civil War enthusiasts are just as nice. I've met some. One was a college professor I had at San Jose State. He was nice. Well, I got an A in his class. But I deserved that. I earned it. Whatever. He was still nice. Like I said. It goes to show...

Thursday, June 15, 2017

John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu now available for preorder

Order your copy today. As of now, on Amazon and on Barnes & Noble online stores, you can preorder you copy of John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu. It's official release is July 11th. But you can get your copy shipped today if you order right now.

It's the book of the ages. At least for me. It's the book I've been writing about on this blog for at least three or four years now, maybe more. And though I didn't work on it continuously for that long, it really was a book five years in the making.

It's my longest book. My most researched book, and the only book I've written that's based on a true story. And what a story. If you liked the movies Little Big Man, or A Man Called Horse, or Dances With Wolves, then you will most assuredly like this book. Like those movies, it's about a white man who lived with the indigenous tribes. But these tribes weren't native Americans. They were native Africans. And unlike those movies, this story is a TRUE story.

Yes, the American public was fascinated with those stories. Who doesn't remember Dustin Hoffman growing up with the Cheyenne? And who doesn't remember Richard Harris living with the Sioux? And who doesn't remember Kevin Costner becoming one with the Sioux?

Well those were all fictitious stores. The REAL story was a man named John Dunn who lived with, became one with, and intermarried with native Africans, and not just any native Africans, but perhaps the most famous of all Native Africans -- the ZULU.

Only the Zulus managed to wage a war against the British Empire. And they had their share of success in doing it. Sure, the inevitable defeat came about, but still, no other tribe in Africa could have done what the Zulus did.

And John Dunn played a big role in it. For most of his life, he lived among the Zulus. He was a real person, in a real story, and now that story is available in a new Historical novel. Order John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu from Barnes and Noble or Amazon today!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Susie Quinn - Actress Found!

For years, I'd been trying to find the right actresses to play the roles of the female characters in my debut novel, Killer of Killers. I had talked plenty about Amber Heard as Samantha Jones, the blonde detective and lead female role. Lately, however, I've given up on Amber Heard, having concluded her acting ability is not up to par. Her life seems to be detoured from acting at this point, anyway.

But I was convinced at one point that Amber Heard was the perfect choice. Conversely, I had never found an actress for the part of black exotic dancer, Susie Quinn. I had toyed with the idea of Jill Marie Jones, but alas, Jill Marie Jones is too old these days. She's in her forties, and that's that.

Nafessa Williams



I looked at a random episode of the new Twin Peaks that's on Showtime, and right there in front of me was Susie Quinn! All in her exotic glory, to boot!. I mean, there she was. I had gone years and years not even coming close to finding an actress who could be right for the part. Well, Nafessa Williams could very well be right for the part. From what I saw on that Twin Peaks episode, she has the looks, the acting ability, and the screen presence to pull it off. For me, it was like Eureka, there she is!







Of course, there are no movie producers pounding on my door offering any movie rights contracts for my Killer books. And it won't happen in my lifetime, either. So it's nothing more than wishful thinking. But it could happen after my lifetime. After all, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote his Lord of the Rings books years ago, and it wasn't until well after his lifetime they were made into movies.

Georges St. Pierre


Anyway, if the movie were to be made today then Dustin Clare or Georges St. Pierre would be Trent Smith, Hannah New could be Samantha Jones, and Nafessa Williams would be right as Susie Quinn. Then get Max von Sydow to play the role of Abraham Soriah, and the major characters are set.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Fear the Walking Dead - Not Interesting

I'm caught up now with the White Princess series, and while waiting for the final episodes, (episodes 9 and 10) I decided to watch the two part season premiere of Fear the Walking Dead. I've had my problems with its parent series, The Walking Dead, but I remain interested enough to watch it and its spinoff Fear the Walking Dead. I had already made the comment that one episode of either The White Queen or The White Princess was worth an entire season of the Walking Dead shows. Nevertheless, I watch those shows anyway.

And it remains true. The season premiere of Fear the Walking Dead was actually two shows, episodes 1 and 2 strewn together for a two hour (with commercials) presentation. And sheesh, talk about boring. Nothing happened. Well, until Travis, who I thought was the main character, was killed. Or was he? We saw him get shot in the neck by some unknown shooter, and then fall out of the helicopter, presumably to his death. And then the rest of the main characters make it to a new camp of survivors in this apocalyptic world in which both Walking Dead shows are set.

And that's about it. Two episodes and that's all we got. Compared to the White Queen/Princess shows, it was about five minutes worth of events. The Walking Dead seems to count on its scenery of zombies and gore to retain an audience. Why I remain a watcher is really a mystery to me at this point. I have more in stake with the original series than this spinoff, but whatever. I'll keep watching it anyway. At least the characters are mostly fighting slow-moving zombies, and it's believable when they "kill" them.

My biggest complaint is that I'm tired of the main characters being captured by other "normal" humans and treated with such malice and meanness it just doesn't make sense. It occurs with regularity in both Walking Dead shows. I had to endure that nonsense in the show Lost a few years ago. Meaning you have one group of people treating another group of people which such cruelty and meanness, and for no reason, it wasn't believable. I mean instead of helping their fellow humans who are in need, a group of people capture the group of main characters, torture them, and murder them, and again, for no reason at all. It was ridiculous.

But I suppose that's where the stories are. Maybe today's writers, for the most part, can't write an interesting story where people are nice and humane to each other. Instead people have to be mean and cruel to make a story interesting. I don't agree with that, but it's what's out there. In real life you had family members killing each other. That's what happens in the White Queen/Princess shows. But at least they had a reason. To stay in power. To retain their places on the throne of England. But was that any better? Can't say it was.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Summer Nears - And that means Football

Summer is upon us. And for me, at least, that means football season is coming. Not yet. I'm still enjoying the NBA finals. My local team, the Golden State Warriors appear to be the best team in history. That's something. I had never been a basketball fan, really. But when the local pro team happens to be the best pro basketball team in the history of the sport, well, if that doesn't get someone interested, then nothing will. It did. And I am.



Nevertheless, my sport has always been football. I played it, I followed it, and I even dreamed it. Which led to the writing of my fifth book, Second Chance. It's a football story. And I found that other writers of sports books, particularly football books, were great people. I corresponded with Carl Deuker, author of Gym Candy, and John Coy, author of Crackback. Both authors were nice enough to send me endorsements for Second Chance, after I had sent them digital versions of the book.

And how can a person be nicer? Neither man owed me anything. Yet they took the time out of their busy schedules to help out a fellow author. And I will be sending each of them a copy of my book Second Chance, just as soon as the books I ordered for my author signing arrive.



So, yes, I will be going to a bookstore for an author signing this summer to promote all of my books. And since Second Chance is a football story, and the summertime is the season which ushers in football season, it would be the best time to promote Second Chance. Of course, my John Dunn book is being released this summer, and I will be promoting that one too.

And why not promote both of my Killer books? Killer of Killers and Killer Eyes are available and quite entertaining as well. I'll be promoting all four books. And what about The Vase? Well, that one won't be available for another year I think. And when it is, it will be better than ever. Much better than the version that had been released a couple years ago. Stay tuned.

Monday, June 5, 2017

John Dunn; Heart of a Zulu almost ready

My publisher contacted me today, telling me the pre-orders for my John Dunn book are almost ready. Readers can go to Amazon.com or Barnes and Nobles online, but not quite yet. For now, I'm ordering some copies directly from my publisher, along with (I hope) some copies of my football book, Second Chance.

And the reason for that is I would like to do the overdue bookstore signing. It's where an author promotes his book(s) of course. There's not a lot of bookstores anymore. Three Barnes and Nobles were near me some years ago, and now only one remains. That's the result of online shopping I guess. Which is a shame. The old "brick and mortar" bookstores as they are called now. They are few and far between now.

I prefer the "brick and mortar" stores, really. I know that online you can browse from the comfort of your own home, in your underwear, or whatever, and buy whatever catches your fancy with an order online, with shipping costs, and the ever present tax. But what about browsing through real books, looking at covers and reading the back cover, and maybe an excerpt from within?

Oh, yeah. You can do all of that online, too. I guess the only thing you can't do online is take a physical book to the check out stand and pay the cashier and have it immediately. Online you pay with your credit card and then wait for the book to come in the mail. Thus the shipping charge.

Either way, the money doesn't come to me. Or very little of it does. The publisher, being the one who put up the money to publish the book, gets the lion's share. Then of course the online sites take their cut. Which leaves precious little money for the author. But that's the way of things.

The big money for the author is when Hollywood comes calling. Which is why I've wondered aloud often here on the blog about that happening. And in my mind's eye, and the blog's eye, I've considered actors and actresses to play the roles of the characters in my books.

As for the John Dunn book? I've already picked an actor for Dunn. Henry Cavill, or course. And his first wife, Catherine Pierce? Candace Patton from the Flash TV show. They are a match made in Hollywood, if you ask me. Well, for the lead male and female roles in my John Dunn book anyway.

I'll keep you posted when the online ordering is ready. Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Amanda Hale - Great Actress - Wow


I had watched The White Queen, which depicted the civil war era in England known as the Wars of the Roses. You'll note that war is plural, because it seemed to be a war after another war and then another until finally the two houses of Tudor and York united in a marriage. And then the wars continued. And so it goes. Or so it went.
 
But whatever...it makes for some fascinating storytelling, and the two STARZ TV series, The White Queen and The White Princess are very well done in the telling of that (or those) stories. Which brings me to the point of this blog post. Amanda Hale. I had never heard of her. But in the first series, The White Queen, Amanda Hale portrays the mother of Henry VII, also known as Henry Tudor, the son of the brother of King Henry VI, and therefore one of the heirs to the throne of England.
 
Well, Henry VII did become king of England. He was betrothed to Elizabeth, the oldest daughter of King Edward IV, and thus the Tudor and York houses united, which was supposed to unite all of England and stop the civil wars. Which it didn't.


Amanda Hale as Margaret Beaufort
in The White Queen


But Amanda Hale's performance as Margaret Beaufort, Henry VII's mother was superb. I had never seen an actress perform with such intensity. Every scene in which Amanda Hale performed was an incredible example of acting at its best. As a viewer you could feel the emotion, the sheer intensity that Hale exuded in every moment she was on screen. Even in this photo from the series you can feel the intensity Hale is exuding. And as a viewer of TV shows and movies, I've never felt that kind of emotion from an actor before.






Jack Palance in Attack!
Well, one time I did. There was an old black and white movie called Attack! and it starred Jack Palance. In that movie, Jack Palance also portrayed intensity so well, the viewer could feel it in every scene the man was in. It was incredible. I mean sheer intensity. It may be difficult for anyone reading this to understand what the heck I'm talking about. But if you've seen The White Queen, perhaps you do. Just think about those scenes in which Amanda Hale performed. And if you can find it, watch the 1956 movie Attack! with Jack Palance as Lieutenant Joe Costa. That is intensity.



Michelle Fairley as Margaret Beaufort
in The White Princess

I am disappointed that the continuation of this story in the next series The White Princess, they changed all the actors and actresses. Now the actress playing Margaret Beaufort is Michelle Fairley. She's a name actress, meaning she's got a resume behind her. Fans will remember her as Caitlyn Stark from the Game of Thrones show on HBO. She was right for THAT part. But following Amanda Hale's performance, she doesn't cut it as Margaret Beaufort. Amanda Hale's performance FAR outshines Michelle Fairley's performance.

To put it simply, Michelle Fairley exudes ZERO intensity. Not an ounce of it. Why did they not cast Amanda Hale again? Well, they changed everyone. Which is too bad. Particularly because of the magnificent performance of Hale if for no other reason.




To anyone reading this. If you want to see intensity exuding from every pore of an actor/actress, watch The White Queen, and pay particular attention to every scene Amanda Hale is in. Or watch Attack! and pay attention to Jack Palance's performance. That's intensity.

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