I’ve teamed up with GOODREADS to give away 100 Kindle versions of my soon to be released 10th novel: A Diamond for Her: Myths & Tales of the Winasook Iron Horses
You’ll be one of the chosen FEW to receive it before its release date. Giveaway ends March 16 – one week before it releases on March 23 – just in time for the new baseball season!
If you like history or baseball, I think you’ll enjoy it. You’ll notice I said OR. You don’t need to like both in order to like this novel. My editor confirmed this! So click on the link below and get into the running. Good luck! It’s 100 copies so the odds are in your favor!
I abhor outlining when writing. I’ve seen the tutorials and how certain other professionals plan their stories, but that, to me, would feel like being forced to write state-sponsored propaganda under Stalin’s regime. Why would anyone want to lock themselves into a pre-conceived structure? I guess my brain just doesn’t work that way.
I’ve said it before that the joy in writing, for me, is discovery. It’s an adventure across an unknown landscape unsure what will be discovered around the next bend. It’s the thrill of the chase. Neil Gaiman described it as driving through fog with your headlights out (or something to that effect). I can get behind a metaphor like that.
But then there’s this: a storyline so obvious that it nearly writes itself. I had that revelation just two days ago while working on my sequel to my yet-to-be-released baseball novel.
Sequels are different in that the world-building has already happened. Now the writer has to live in that universe and is bound by the structure and actions of the first book. That can be constraining, but if the material is compelling enough, it’s still not a bore to write. I think that’s why it took me so long to actually write a series. I thought it would be a bore. My mind always wanted to move on to other endeavors, but I have now come to grips with the fact that writing sequels has its own challenges and benefits.
The challenge it to meet and exceed expectations from book 1. Not always easy to do.
The benefits, the story almost writes itself.
In my unnamed sequel to A DIAMOND FOR HER, it’s almost laughable how obvious the plot is, at least to me. I actually questioned myself about that fact: will the readers already know where this is going? Of course not. Nobody has such silly meandering thoughts as I do.
There is still much to be fleshed-out and a long summer of writing ahead to possibly have a finished draft, but it comes down to these simple tasks:
Complete the unfinished business of book 1. Check. I’m on it.
Introduce new and interesting characters who will help you do it. Check.
Find wonder, intrigue, and laughter in the minute details, even if they are constrained by what I’ve previously written.
Bring about a climax which will satisfy all participants in this crazy journey. Working on it.
Writing can be both discovery – when starting a new manuscript – and writing can be the rearranging of the final pieces of the puzzle left open in the previous installment. I’m now okay with both styles of writing even though one is, without a doubt, more enjoyable than others.
To find out more about my upcoming release, check out the links below:
A new play of mine, “Covid Chips”, streamed over the weekend as part of the Gallery Players (Brooklyn) Black Box New Play Festival. If you missed it, you’re in luck. It’s now available on YouTube, and it’s only 12 minutes long, so please go check it out. Enjoy.
I wrote this over the summer. It’s a fun little piece talking about one of my favorite topics: government overreach perhaps? We shall see.
I watched a sneak preview of the final cut of the play and it turned out great. Enjoyable and funny. Director Mike Mroch did a fabulous job as did both actors. I was reluctant to write a play for Zoom because, well, it’s Zoom. No play belongs there! But I did it anyways because that’s what I do, and it was fun to see how it turned out.
Please tune in and enjoy, and let me know what you think.
Read and revise one more time then send to editor.
Editor returns a manuscript rife with red. Gulp hard and go after it. Major revisions, additions, subtractions.
Read through once more. Solid manuscript. Advanced reader copy (ARC) ready.
Send out ARC (both proof paperback copes and ebooks) to reviewers.
Acknowledge that release date is coming closer. Now 60 days away. Read proof once more.
Find annoying little mistakes like the time the team Lawmen was spelled Lawmem. Index finger slid a little bit too far to the right on the keypad. Brain, when reading that sentence for the 12th time, finally realizes that the ‘m’ is not an ‘n.’ How did it get by me twelve times, an editor once, and a bunch of my beta readers? That’s what mistakes do. They are stealth.
I think the mistakes have been found, but still the wording worries me. There are still unnecessary words. Keep cutting. Keep shortening.
There are still words that sound awkward. Smooth out. I can do better than that.
That sentence sounds lazy. Ahhhh, word repetition. I just used that word. Please, no. I have to change it.
Wait, tomorrow the publication date? Ahhhhh! It’s not ready.
Back to the original question. When’s a manuscript really ready? Never. In reality, it’s never ready. But like a boisterous little boy playing hide-and-seek at night, “Ready or not, here I come.”
The only question you have to answer is this: Did you do the very best you could with the resources available and the time given to you to accomplish it? If the answer is ‘yes,’ then release it into the wild and rest in the knowledge that you gave it your best. Is your best perfection? No. Will you be completely satisfied with it? No.
This is the baseball novel I’ve always wanted to write, and when hunkered down in March and April of 2020 with no baseball to enjoy, I wrote it.
Don’t like baseball? No worries. My editor assures me you won’t need to be a baseball fan to enjoy this unique story. If you like historical fiction, sports fiction, historical romance, magical realism, or the film “Field of Dreams,” this novel is for you!
I had so much fun writing it. Order it now for a special pre-order price of only $2.99. It will go up in price upon release. Available in Kindle & Paperback on March 23, 2021.
Thanks for your support. Here’s the short blurb:
In 1920, railroad man Raymond Blythe had a series of disturbing dreams—giant creatures with Greek names playing baseball. Determined to discover their meaning, he sets off on a bizarre quest to find a connection between Iowa, Theodore Roosevelt, baseball, and his deceased father. While searching for answers at the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, he meets a young librarian named Rochelle Christy. This meeting sets him on another quest—to win her hand in marriage even if it means he has to establish his own baseball league in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains.
I’m thrilled to have my new play “Covid Chips” being featured in week 2 of The Gallery Players 24th Annual Black Box New Play Festival.
I was approached by one of the co-producers of the event about writing a play specifically for the Zoom format. I am not exactly thrilled about live theatre going online, so I wasn’t sure if I would feel the inspiration to write something or not. But shortly after that, it hit me. Just from reading the news, and I wrote the play “Covid Chips” to honor the many small businesses hit especially hard during this pandemic. I had a lot of fun writing it, and just last week I was able to sit in on a rehearsal and am really excited to see the final product.
Tickets are free! But you need to register in order to watch. Here’s the ticket link:
There are three plays being featured that week. Here are their descriptions. I hope you can take part in the event and support the hurting theater industry.
Second Week: January 28 – 31
Covid Chips by Mark W. Sasse Directed by Mike MrochAs restaurants in New York State begin to re-open during the COVID-19 crisis, Mr. Jawarski, from Peppy’s Pub in Jamestown, receives a Zoom call from an Albany health official making sure that Peppy’s is compliant. As Mr. Jawarski continues complying with new regulations, the health official keeps making additional Zoom calls to bring attention to another matter of omission.
Women Underground by Kay Ellen Bullard Directed by Justin BraunThree women living lives of quiet desperation find themselves buried in the rubble of a bank explosion. Each has her own past experiences that could impact their survival strategy. Is any rescue even possible if you’ve already been living the equivalent of a buried life?
Every Single Sunday by Chris Karmiol Directed by Whitney StoneDifferent generations attempt to make a virtual connection and it doesn’t go too smoothly. But that’s okay… it wasn’t meant to.
We are creative beings. I’m convinced of it. I’ve been watching my grandson play over the past couple of weeks and he just naturally creatives narratives about firemen, emergencies, ice cream stands, railroads, excavators, dump trucks and just about everything. He oozes creativity and it’s marvelous. By the way, he’s two years old.
What will we do (I do) in 2021 to allow the muses to penetrate and invite the dark hushes of night to open avenues previously unseen? Here’s a couple ideas:
Play. I recommend blocks. Yes, I’m back to my grandson for a moment. There’s something magnificently simple about playing with blocks, but it’s also freeing and … yes … creative. I’ve been taken away in my mind more than once when constructing a block zoo or a block gas station or whatever. Seeing the patterns, the possibilities, the endless little tweaks which can shape and reshape what is being formed. Playing with blocks allows one to be creative, but there are many varieties to play. Find one that suits you.
Passion. I have two passions which fuel my creativity: writing and cooking. They are a great counterbalance to each other because they are not related in any way, but they each, in their own way, allow me to experiment and control the ideas of my mind. They also both need source material whether a recipe for cooking or a news article for creative writing, they allow me to use what I have and what I am currently processing in order to form something new. Guitar is another creative avenue for me. It’s not one of my passions, per se, and I’m not a great guitarist, but it’s another method of getting me to think creative about my writing since I like to compose lyrics and songs and musical theatre related stuff. We all have a creative passion. I’m sure of it.
Get Away from Clutter. I think this is also an important way to allow yourself to be creative. We are bombarded with media and technology every moment of every day, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m terrible at putting my phone down. What do you do to cleanse yourself from the daily clutter of your life and allow yourself to think, listen, see, feel, and just breathe? When I’m in my typical routine, that time for me is when I’m walking. I might be listening to music at the same time, but it allows me to think and ponder. Is it any wonder that a lot of my writing ideas come to me when I’m walking?
So if you want to be a more creative person this year; play, follow your passions, and secure time away from your cluttered life. We are meant to be creative. What’s holding you back?
I’m sure I don’t need to rehash the monstrous year 2020 has proved to be. And I won’t. Who would want to re-live that?
And yet, I’m fairly sure there were positives along the way. A focus on family. Time to delve into areas which had been neglected. And writing. Yes. For me, this year has helped me focus in on several areas which I haven’t been able to focus on in years. So, thank you, 2020! Here’s how it helped this writer.
Compilations. I’ve been meaning to compile a bunch of my short plays forever, but time, you know. Well, 2020 provided time. In abundance. So I went at it and in the course of the year, I was able to release volumes 2, 3, 4, 5 of my short play collection. Here they are:
I’m so happy to get these out to the public, or at least the (shuttered) theatre industry. These are plays I’ve written over the past ten years. All have been stage produced and just need a gentle nudge to get onto the stage again. So once Covid is done … well, I’m proud of these works. I hope people enjoy them.
On the story front, I published my first Malaysian novel in July: Moses the Singer!
I had wanted to write a novel about my beloved Penang for many years, and I was thrilled to get this YA release out and about in the middle of the year.
Lastly, during the darkest lockdown days of spring 2020, I found myself with a lot of extra time to write, and I finally wrote the baseball novel that I always wanted to write: A DIAMOND FOR HER: MYTHS AND TALES OF THE WINASOOK IRON HORSES. I can’t tell you how much fun I had writing this. It was, for me, my most enjoyable novel to date. I had always wanted to write a baseball novel, but I just wasn’t inspired until the quietness of COVID lockdown allowed me to explore areas I never would have anticipated. The novel is now three months out from release and available for pre-order. What a great year … for writing. Here’s to hoping 2021 is a great year for everything else.