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

THE VASE

A novel by Mark M. DeRobertis

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

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

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

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



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Vase Better Than Ever

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 16, 2017

Fiction vs. Reality

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Patriot's Day - Sad Movie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Rewriting The Vase

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Movie Sequels to look forward to

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Vase in Limbo

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 2, 2017

Finally Resubmitted John Dunn

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

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

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

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

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