“What’s next?” asks a writer.

“What’s next?” is always a conundrum for a writer settling on a new project. There isn’t ever a correct answer.

I’m the type of writer who always has several irons in the fire with a few others simmering in the periphery. The year of the pandemic has placed its mark on my writing tasks in various ways. As I ponder what’s next, let’s review what has happened so far.

When we locked down starting on March 9 and my theatre teaching went virtual, I found myself with crevices of time I didn’t previously have. That was just about the time that they wiped out the baseball season, which I was so looking forward to . I even remarked to a friend that at the very least I’ll be able to watch MLB in a couple weeks. Ahhh, no.

But baseball was on my mind, so I used those unexpected down times to write the baseball novel I had always wanted a write. A Diamond for Her is its newly chosen title. I used my spring break and May break to power through and finish this novel in record time. It’s my longest novel to date, also. And I absolutely love it, if I’m allowed to be a little biased. It’s on track for an April 2021 release. I had accomplished my summer writing goal before I even reached summer. Now what?

Summer happened. I was able to get a flight back to the states in late June, and I settled into my summer home packed full of my kids also feeling the effects of canceled travel because of Covid. With my writing goal accomplished, I just rested. Worked around the house. Played with that adorable grandson of my. Cooked new dishes on the grill. It was refreshing, truly. For the first time in nearly ten years, I didn’t write in the summer.

in July, I received an email from one of the managers of the Gallery Players’ theatre in Brooklyn. I had previously had two of my plays as part of their Black Box Festivals in the past. She was looking for new scripts that could be performed over Zoom. Theatre and Zoom do not mix. It’s a terrible combination. A tiny screen with poor sound and bad internet connection cannot even approximate a tenth of the impact of having a live audience. It’s terrible. I know. I teach theatre on Zoom. (I do my best and we have fun. But it’s not the same. You know what I mean.) I told her that writing a Zoom play probably wouldn’t motivate me. But I was wrong. Shortly after I wrote her, I got inspired to write “Covid Chips,” a short play about a bar owner, who’s trying to navigate the crazy Covid rules coming out of Albany. It didn’t take long at all to write it. I wrote it specifically for Zoom and sent it off to her. Well, they picked it up and made it part of their new festival coming up in January 2021. That’s really cool. I hope it turns out well. I’ll post the link here for sure.

I finally made it back to my school-year home in Jeddah in early October. It’s been a busy transition as I continue teaching full time.

But today I finally took a breath and posed that question to myself: what’s next?

I guess I’m ready to write again.

Here are my options:

  • An alternate history Vietnam War novel I’ve been toying with. I’ve even written the first chapter.
  • A sequel to the baseball novel I just wrote. I am intrigued by this possibility if I can find the right plot trajectory.
  • A police romance novel I have been stewing about for several years.
  • There might even be a fourth book tagged on to The Forgotten Child Trilogy. My brain has given me some ideas.
  • Anything else?

On top of that, I started compiling a book of 1-minute monologues. I have a long way to go with this one, and no matter what novel approach I choose, this will be my side project. I have various other play projects to get back to at some time as well.

What to chose? Which path to follow?

I guess I’ll let you know soon.

MOSES the SINGER: Lower Price – Limited Time

My newest novel, my first YA novel, is available for the discounted price of $2.99 for a limited time.

What have readers said about it?

“A feel good read that help you believe in humanity again.”

“Story of compassion that will warm your heart.”

“This is a great novel for all readers, but especially for teens, musicians, and the socially alert.”

Brutal Political Sport – Supreme Court Vacancy

Brutal Political Sport – Supreme Court Vacancy

This was a nightmare scenario for the Democratic Party – stalwart liberal and iconic justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passing away before the November 3 presidential election.  Let the political sport season begin (like it hasn’t already).

One the one side, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirming that he will indeed bring Trump’s nominee to a vote, regardless of election politics.

On the other side, Biden and the Democratic leaders insisting that the winner of the presidential election should chose the next justice. There are even some not-so-veiled threats to “pack the court” with additional justices if the Dems win and the GOP moves forward to confirm Trump’s nomination.

Who’s right? I think it’s easy to tell. The rightness of the situation, in my view, is using the shoe-on-the-other-foot-doctrine. Let’s break it down.

Many claim McConnell is a hypocrite for not allowing a vote on Obama’s nomination to replace Scalia in 2016 when Obama was a lame-duck president. But he clearly isn’t being a hypocrite. He is acting in 2020 the same as 2016 – in the best interest of GOP and conservative politics. In 2016, he was hoping for a Republican win so the new president could appoint the justice. In 2020, a Republican is president, so he naturally wants to move forward quickly in case Biden wins in November.

It is not the slightest bit hypocritical because if the shoe was on the other foot, the Democrats would be doing the same thing. How do I know? Look at Obama and Clinton’s tweets from 2016. Both of them told McConnell that the Senate MUST do its job and vote on Obama’s nominee. They are now saying the opposite in 2020.  There’s a clip of Biden going around showing him saying that there has never been an election-year nominee that didn’t receive a vote. Now he’s saying the next president should decide.

So we can all see what is going on here right? The Supreme Court picks have such importance in our polarized society that either party will use whatever advantage it has to further their views. There is nothing that states that a Senate majority can’t delay a nomination if they so chose. (like 2016)  There is nothing that says that a Senate majority can’t vote on a nominee in a presidential election year. (like 2020)

In this uber-politicized environment, there is no benefit for either party NOT taking advantage of the easy gains in front of them. The Republicans see a way to shift the balance of the court to a 6-3 majority, but in essence, since Chief Justice Roberts has been a huge disappointment to the conservative cause (Obamacare, etc…), they might feel that it at least gives conservatives a 5-4 edge. They have nothing to lose and much to gain by moving forward. But not moving forward, they will not have earned one smidgen of goodwill from the other side. They only will have lost their advantage.

It is crystal clear that either party, who would have control at this time, would press their advantage for maximum gain, regardless of the Nov 3 election.

This is not hypocrisy. It’s politics. Enjoy watching the craziness unfold over the next two months.

Giveaway! Win a Amazon Fire Tablet or Gift Card. Help Support My Book!

I’ve teamed up with the Kindle Book Review for their September Author Meet & Great. Check out some great books, including my new release MOSES THE SINGER, enter to win some cool prizes. It’s a win-win for everyone! You have something to read, I reach new readers, and you have a chance to win, too!

Enter Here!

Thanks for the support!

The Perfect Song Does Exist

There’s not many things in life as subjective as one’s taste in music. But if I could declare the perfect song to exist, it would sound exactly like this:

From the Paul Simon-esque intro, to the sweet melody, to the flawless playing of Steven Delopoulos, there’s something beautifully nostalgic and welcoming about this song. I have listened to it over and over and marveled at the sublime messages, and the paired down clean and full sound of the band. It’s marvelous.

And the words, sorry, but there’s not a top 40 charted song today that can match Delopoulos’ poetic tones. Is it lost love? Lost friendship? Is it an attempt to reconnect with that special someone who hasn’t been heard from in years.

It’s a call to civility, a call to remembrance, a yearning for reconciliation.

And if it isn’t that deep, it’s simply a reminder: hey friend, I miss you. Don’t forget to write.

And if this seems pathetically maudlin, well, I’m not sorry.

What’s your perfect song?

 

 

 

Know Your History: World’s First Commercial Oil Well

In 1859 in Titusville, Pennsylvania, Edwin Drake struck oil, captured it, and established the first commercial oil well in the world. Drake’s well. Here it is in August of 2020:

Western Pennsylvania became the oil capital of the world for the next decade. The oil rush was on. Scores of wells dotted the aptly named Oil Creek area between Titusville, Oil City (see a theme here), and the expanded region. Some folks struck it rich fast. Others were not so lucky. Kerosene had been discovered only a few years earlier in 1853. This made oil a suddenly valued commodity. Through the processing of oil, kerosene could be used to light the big cities of the nation, and that it did for the next forty plus years until electricity took over.

It wasn’t long, however, until substantial oil reserves were discovered in Texas and elsewhere which dwarfed the nascent Pennsylvania industry. Pennsylvania didn’t last as the world’s greatest producer, but it did have a lasting effect on the oil industry and the region. Many towns were forever affected by the industry. (Oil City, Petrolia, Petroleum Center) Didn’t you ever wonder why there were so many Pennsylvania-centric brands of oil: Pennzoil, Quaker State, Kendall, etc…

In an interesting twist of fate, Pennsylvania has once again become a major player in the fossil fuel industry through the prolific fracking done over the past ten years to extract natural gas from the massive Marcellus Shale. Yep, Titusville is right in the middle of it.

Here’s a modern-day railroad bridge over Oil Creek a few miles south of Titusville. (I snapped this one on my bike ride at the fantastic Oil Creek Bike Trail.)

Drake’s Well and Museum can be visited (in non-Covid years) through the spring-fall months as part of Pennsylvania’s Oil Creek State Park.

FUN FACT: Did you know that the by-product of making kerosene is this obscure little product called gasoline? Oh, you heard of it. In the past, gasoline was thrown away. It was deemed too combustible and dangerous to be used. However, once the internal combustion engine was invented, it was gasoline which became king and kerosene became more a second thought.

 

 

My Radio Interview! Have a listen!

I had a great time with author and book reviewer Fran Lewis on her blogtalkradio show this morning. We chatted for an hour about my latest novel Moses the Singer. We delved into themes, characters, story, and how the novel came about.

Learn about the genesis of the main character Musa Marbun and how it all started when living in Asia and seeing the difficult lives of many of the poorer people. I also talked about my years teaching teenagers and how that helped me craft the young musicians in the story.

It was a lot of fun. I hope you enjoy!

You can check it out here: https://www.blogtalkradio.com/fran-lewis/2020/08/03/spotlight-mark-sasse

SALE on KINDLE! 99 cents – MOSES THE SINGER – Limited Time!

SALE on KINDLE! 99 cents – MOSES THE SINGER – Limited Time!

My new novel MOSES THE SINGER is on sale for only 99 cents July 30 through August 5! This is the first time this novel’s price has ever been reduced, so please take advantage of it. What’s it about?

  • A talented group of teen musicians. A stateless old man living on the margins of society. What do they have in common? Humanity and sweet music.Will, Sanchez, Song-Yi, and Stephanie attend an American international school on the island of Penang, Malaysia. But at night, they are a talented band of musicians striving to win their school’s talent show, so they can further their dreams of becoming professional musicians.

    Musa “Moses” Marbun has been without a country for forty-six years. The crippled and destitute rickshaw driver pedals tourists through the quaint streets of Penang’s capital city to meet his daily needs.

    One day when downtown, Song-Yi witnesses Musa being beaten on a sidewalk for a theft he didn’t commit. As she intervenes on his behalf, an unlikely friendship ensues, which puts the band on a collision course with musical destiny while Musa hopes to end his decades long journey through the wilderness by confronting his past.

    Introducing the Band:
    Song-Yi, lead singer
    Will, guitarist & composer
    Sanchez, bass guitarist
    Stephanie, percussionist
    Moses the Singer

MOSES THE SINGER – only 99 cents!

You can also read it for free on Kindle Unlimited.

If you enjoy. Don’t forget to leave a review.

 

 

Review of MOSES THE SINGER

Review of MOSES THE SINGER

Author Colleen Chesebro posted a great review of my latest novel. Here’s her first paragraph:

“I’ve been a fan of Mark Sasse’s books for around six years, now. What makes his writing most memorable is how his characters often require lessons to learn and various problems to overcome before they reach redemption. Many of his stories take place in or around Penang, Malaysia where Sasse taught school, which gives his stories a unique Asian flair.”

Please head on over to her great site to read the rest HERE!

Check out the book in KINDLE or PAPERBACK here!

 

Launching Tomorrow: MOSES THE SINGER

Launching Tomorrow: MOSES THE SINGER

I’m excited to get this story out into the world. July 1. Here it comes.  Order MOSES THE SINGER here!

I wrote this novel in the summer of 2019, and one of my projects this past year was to revise, edit, and eventually publish it. It’s finally here.

This story spawns out of two ideas. First, the downtrodden of society. I’ve lived overseas many years and I’ve witnessed scores of hardworking people who had basically nothing. It made me realize how lucky and privileged I am in the simple things of life like having a nice bed, plenty of food, heat and running water–let alone the chance to travel and use technology. I’m blessed, and I know it. One thought I’ve always had was who are the ultra-talented people in society who have never had a chance to shine and grow in their talent. How many incredible voices will never be heard because of where they were born. As the back of my book states: TALENT IS DISTRIBUTED EQUALLY BY GOD!

With that in mind, I wanted to tell a story of a downtrodden and forgotten man of society who had a hidden talent. Thus the beginning of Moses the Singer.

The second idea comes out of my eleven years teaching at an international school in the wonderful tropical island of Penang, Malaysia. I worked with many talented teens over the years, so I decided to use that backdrop of island life and teen musicians from a local school to combine with my first idea.

These two ideas are the backbone of the story: Justice for the downtrodden, music for the masses.

This is my first Young Adult book, and I had a blast writing it — especially trying to figure out the banter between the teens. I hope I nailed it.

It’s a fun, tragic, yet uplifting story. I hope you’ll give it a try. Available from July 1st in Kindle and paperback.

EARLY PRAISE FOR Moses the Singer:

“If you’re looking for a feel-good read that will help you believe in humanity once again, make “Moses, the Singer,” that book.” – Author Colleen Chesebro

“Sasse manages to pen a masterful tale filled with many unexpected twists and turns which is sure to please a wide reading audience. He skillfully demonstrates the art of kindness and compassion combined with determination to positively affect the lives of the less fortunate people in our world. Very touching novel!” – inspirational author Dolores Ayotte

“The story takes the reader on a journey through numerous emotions. Grab a tissue to blot your tears of joy and tears of sorrow. Highly recommend.” – Reviewer L. Denn