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.



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.