GOODREADS GIVEAWAY! Get yourself a copy of “Moses the Singer!”

I’ve teamed up with Goodreads to give away 100 copies of the Kindle version of MOSES THE SINGER – my latest novel.

It’s super easy to enter. The giveaway ends on November 30. Click the button below to enter on the Goodreads site.

I hope you take advantage of this great offer. It’s a story I really like in a setting (Penang, Malaysia) that I really love. Music. Justice. Anxious Teenagers! What could go wrong?

And remember, leaving a review on a book that you love means a lot to an independent author. Thanks for your support!

Field of Dreams, anyone?

Anyone who knows me would be able to guess my favorite movie. Yes, Field of Dreams. I was a starry-eyed twenty-one year old on my honeymoon when I saw it, so you can forgive me for my sentimentality, can’t you?

But beyond that, of the numerous times I’ve watched it over the years, it’s still impossible for me to hold back the tears at the ending. Just perfect. And despite what people might think, it’s not a baseball movie – far from it. It’s a treatise on fatherhood and America. (and baseball!)

When I started writing novels nearly ten years ago, it had always been my dream to write a baseball novel in the vein of WP Kinsella. I won’t pretend that I write with his lyrical flow and smooth insightfulness, but nevertheless, I did it. I wrote my baseball novel.

A DIAMOND FOR HER: Myths and Tales of the Winasook Iron Horses.

Tentative release date: April 1, 2021

I’ve said this a lot about my past novels as well, but this time I really mean it: I can’t wait for this to release. I never had so much fun. I felt like a kid walking out of the cornfield to see the magic and wonder before my eyes. And while my novel doesn’t include corn fields, I couldn’t help having a little fun with WP Kinsella. The protagonist, in a way, is on a quest to find him. WP Kinsella, in his novel Shoeless Joe which inspired the movie Field of Dreams used author JD Salinger as a main character of the plot. I thought it would be fun to return the favor, and while the late WP Kinsella does not make an appearance in my novel, his footprint does, and it was a blast doing it.

Here’s the blurb (still a work in progress) and a few images which will loom large over the novel. Cover reveal coming soon!

He loved her enough to build her a baseball stadium.

In 1920, railroad man Raymond Blythe had a series of disturbing dreams—giant creatures with Greek names playing baseball. He was determined to find out what they meant. The dreams set him 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 met 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.

A Diamond for Her chronicles the fictitious history of the Winasook Iron Horses, who were the founding members of the Allegheny Independent League from 1921-1955. Baseball magic was born in these mountains proving time and again that anything can happen inside the diamond.

With a tip of the cap to the works of W.P. Kinsella, A Diamond for Her is a historical and magical story of love between two people—Raymond & Rochelle—and two grand institutions—America & baseball.

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

Moses The Singer EXCERPT 1: First Beginning

Moses The Singer EXCERPT 1: First Beginning

Moses the Singer, my brand new YA novel set to release on July 1, has two beginnings. The first part of the novel is told from two different point of views. First, there’s the story of four talented teen musicians as they plan to win their school’s talent show. The second part is about Musa “Moses” Marbun, a destitute and country-less old man living a meager and marginalized existence on the island of Penang. Then the stories merge.

I’d like to share both beginnings with you. The novel will be available in Kindle and paperback starting July 1. Kindle pre-orders are being taken now!

EXCERPT 1 – CHAPTER 1 YOU SUCK – In this chapter, you get to meet the bantering Will & Sanchez who have been playing music together for years.

The patio door whipped open and startled the two teens sitting on upside-down white paint buckets—papers with lyrics and chords strewn on top of a plastic table in front of them.
“Enough. Please. Will, you’re killing me.”
The teen lowered the six-string into his lap. Behind him, two yellow palms towered in ceramic pots.
“I’m just trying to get this song down.”
Will’s father tapped his clenched fist on the glass door. “Isn’t it obvious? That song is not going down, and if it does, it’s going to be regurgitated back up.”
“All right, Dad. Jeez.”
“I’m sorry. I’m just trying to get some sleep.”
Sanchez, at Will’s left holding his fretless bass, glanced over at Will’s father. “Will the killer. That’s what I call him.”
“Shut up,” snapped Will.
“You’re killing this song. And I don’t mean that as a compliment.”
“Boy, you two are really supportive.” Will stood up and hit his knee on the side of the table, knocking several pages onto the patio stone.
“Why don’t you guys wrap it up, okay?” shouted the perturbed father.
“All right. But did you hear my singing?”
“Who couldn’t hear your singing?”
“Sanchez thinks we need another singer.”
Sanchez waved his hands in the air and blurted the honest truth as clearly as humanly possible. “Dude, you suck.”
“Why is everyone attacking me?” Will threw his left arm into the air, his right still grasping the neck of the guitar.
“Because it’s 2 A.M. and your screeching is keeping all the night critters from their work. And my nighttime work is sawing logs so I can do actual work in the morning. That’s what I do. I work to support your garage band habits.”
“But Dad … just listen to one thing.”
Sanchez along with Will’s dad lowered their heads in synchronous agony.
“Come on, just give me a second.”
Will returned to the upside-down paint bucket, lowered his hands on the fretboard, and plucked out a series of notes clear and melodic—a beautiful sonic moment, until his mouth opened and inserted a strand of battle-weary notes which had been ripped to shreds by the Muse—the sage protector of all melodic harmony.
Sanchez put his hands over his ears and mumbled, “It’s been like this all evening.” He put down his bass and snapped open his case.
Will’s dad stepped a foot out onto the patio. “Will, listen to me.” Will stopped playing, which allowed the creatures in the neighborhood to catch their breath. “You’re a terrific guitar player. Really, I’m amazed at what you can do. But you’ve got a disease, and you need to admit it.”
“A disease?”
“Yes, it’s called the Kerry Livgren syndrome.”
“There’s a name for this?” inquired Sanchez, clasping the buckles on his case close.
“Kerry Livgren. Master composer, guitar player, musician extraordinaire of the classic rock band Kansas?”
Both boys stared into the blank night with confused looks.
“You know, ‘Dust in the Wind,’ ‘Carry on Wayward Son’?”
“Dad, do you have a point?”
“Yes, Kerry Livgren was a musical wizard, but he couldn’t sing a lick. Or as Sanchez stated so eloquently, his voice sucked!”
“What are you trying to say?”
Will’s dad used his left index finger to point at the place between his eyebrows several times. He seemed to be rubbing out the rough edges of his stress-induced midnight headache.
“You need to find a new singer.”
“That’s what I’ve been telling him for a year,” chimed Sanchez.
“But—”
“And go to bed. Do the latter, first.”
“I’ll catch you later, Will. Good night, Mr. Jennings.”
“Good night, Sanchez,” offered Will’s dad. Will, guitar in hand, walked past his dad standing in the sliding glass doorway. “Good night, Will.”
“I’m still a little angry at you,” moaned the guitar player.
“The sheep over my bed feel the same way. I guess we’re even.”

FREE on KINDLE – THE AFRICAN CONNECTION – Limited Time!

There’s never been a better time to delve into my trilogy THE FORGOTTEN CHILD.

Book 2 The African Connection is FREE on Kindle through the weekend! HERE!

And as a bonus, Book 3 The Parting in the Sky is on sale for only $0.99! HERE!

These deals won’t last, so grab them now and tell your friends!

If you read and enjoy, please don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads! Thanks for your support.

When the Clouds Part: The Best Part of Writing

Someone said (probably a famous writer whom I can’t remember) that writing a novel is like driving in the fog with one headlight out.

I like that analogy because that’s the way I write. I have no idea where I’m going. I don’t know the climax, the end game, the resolution, or who takes whom to the dance. I’m as lost as the reader until ….

THE CLOUDS PART. THE SUN SHINES THOUGH. THE ILLUMINATED IS BATHED IN A HEAVENLY SPOTLIGHT AND I HEAR THE ANGELS SINGING.

It is revealed. I love it when that happens.

I never know when, or if, it will happen. Sometimes it doesn’t and I just muddle through and try to think what is the best ending. But other times, it is revealed. Not created. Not imagined. Revealed. It just comes, to me, but I did nothing to allow it to come to me. It just does.

And when it does, I’m just so happy to be the conduit of the revelation. It’s one of the BEST parts of writing. It’s kind of like a vindication of the hours spent in front of the screen and the gods of writing finally nod and say, “Ok, let’s give him some satisfaction.”

Thank you.

If you haven’t guessed by now, it happened today. I’m writing my tenth novel and I’m having an absolute blast. Probably the best time I’ve ever had in writing. It’s about baseball, of course. What else could cause me this much joy?

I’ve always admired the works of W.P. Kinsella and I’m not ashamed to say that my work is heavily influenced by his ideas. Not that I’ll ever attain his impeccable prose, but I hope to take the spirit of what he wrote about baseball and humanity and just have fun with it in wrapping it up in an engaging historical fiction that runs through the American century  from 1920-1955. The Mythology of Baseball is its pretentious title. I love it. Truly do. Early this week I was lamenting to my students that I wish the main characters were real people. I want them to have walked the earth and to have done the things that they have done. I wish it were so. But I guess that’s what makes good fiction. I hope, at least.

Today, as I was finishing one part of the story – this is not a conventional novel that starts from the beginning and ends at the end. Certainly not. Baseball is not that neat and tidy. It is many stories. Yet one story.

Have I told you that I love it?

Anyways, I was finishing one part of the story that had been causing me some consternation. I really didn’t know what was going to happen until the character made this gesture that even surprised me. It surprised me, the writer. I couldn’t tell you how much I loved it, cause the recipient of the gesture sure loved it a lot. The clouds cleared and the beauty of the moment emerged.

I couldn’t have been happier.

I can not wait to share The Mythology of Baseball with the world. It’s already at 77,000 words and counting. It will likely be my first work ever to top 100,000. I hope so, cause these characters deserve it. Every word.

The Apple Tree & Writing

The idea behind the following metaphor is not new. Other writers have expressed similar ideas. This is, however, how I envision a successful writing process.

Here goes.

Writing is an apple tree full of red, ripe apples. Every apple is an idea. From a distant observation, each fruit looks equally delicious. What a bumper crop! You shall never run out of things to write about.

However, the writer would be wise to show restraint and not impulsively climb the tree to pick every reachable apple, for every reachable apple is not a quality apple. A conniving worm might be eating out the core. It’s impossible to tell at this point.

Good ideas are more apt to come to fruition when accompanied by patience

So what’s a writer to do? Find a comfortable beach chair. Put on a Hawaiian shirt, keep the front unbuttoned, and have a beverage of choice within arm’s reach. Sit in the chair, stretch out your legs and ponder the apples. Patience leads to a little miracle called inspiration.

One by one the rotten apples will begin falling from the branches. Caution: a writer may not want to sit directly under the tree.

Once the rotten fruit has revealed themselves and lay a stinky mess on the ground, what remains is the one true apple, the sweet one, the crisp one, the one you desired all along, only you didn’t know where it was on the tree.

Suddenly, there it is. Redder than the others. Sweeter than the rest, with a hint of sour crispness which will make the plot even that much more unpredictable. Choose that one. The one remaining.

Be patient. Be observant. Allow nature to do the rest.

Then place that apple into your hand and devour it with every bit of strength that you have.