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?

 

 

 

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

 

Theatrical Duets: Now Available on Kindle!

After way too long, my collection of theatrical duets is now available on Kindle! Included in the volume are twenty-two plays great for forensics competitions, stage shows, or theater classroom. It includes several award-winning plays including “Words to Say at the End of the World.”

Only $5.99 on Kindle

Also in Paperback

Pass this on to the theater-lover in your life! Thank you.

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Bernie Tells a Whopper About China

Oh, I try to stay clear of politics these days. You know, yeah.

But sometimes, someone makes such an outrageous claim that I can’t help myself from chiming in. This post is courtesy of Bernie Sanders, who said the following in an interview recently on CNN:

“China is an authoritarian country … but can anyone deny, I mean the facts are clear, that they have taken more people out of poverty than any country in history. Why you criticize when I say that — that’s the truth. So that is the fact. End of discussion.”

First, the fact. Yes, China has taken more people out of poverty than any country in history.

Second, the non-fact. End of discussion. Nope. Not in a million years. Not until Bernie answers this one question: How did China relieve its destitution and poverty?

Answer: capitalism

So you see, Bernie has just disproved the over-arching thesis of everything he says about economics. He is crediting authoritarianism (and socialism??) for China’s growth. Major whooper alert.

Here are the other facts that Bernie has eschewed.

During the years that socialist command economics were under full-force in China, how many people were brought out of poverty? That’s the wrong question. How many people died because of their oppressive policies. Uncountable.

From Mao’s take-over in 1949 until the wakening years after his death thirty years later, China was severely impoverished. GDP per capita was among the lowest in the world. They were isolated from the world economy. The great famine of 1958-1961 killed millions. Their army was in tatters. When they attacked northern Vietnam in January of 1979 (hey, weren’t the Vietnamese their socialist comrades!), they were embarrassingly rebuffed by their southern neighbors who were actually poorer than they were!

So what happened? What changed? How is it that the impoverished China of the early 1980s has grown into an economic powerhouse?

I have to say it again: capitalism.

Economic reforms loosened the strings on individual achievements which were muzzled under the socialist command economy. And while the authoritative communist regime continued their hold onto power with a death grip (think Tienanmen Square 1989), the new economic freedoms allowed unprecedented growth and unprecedented foreign investment.  In other words, capitalism started doing its thing.

Let me leave you with an example from Vietnam, who following China’s lead, also implemented market reforms in the 1980s that began to raise the Vietnamese out of poverty as well.

In 1984, there was famine in parts of Vietnam. Their lush farm lands couldn’t even feed their own people. They had to import low-quality grains from places like Bulgaria. I’ve had many Vietnamese families tell me about those years living under a socialist command economy. The common Vietnamese word they use is “kho” – meaning miserable. And then the market reforms hit. The government began allowing farmers to exceed their government quotas of rice in order to sell the excess or plant other cash crops. What happened when farmers began to have incentive to grow more knowing that they would actually benefit from it? Production soared. Within a few short years of allowing people to pursue their own personal interests, Vietnam went from not being able to feed their own people to being one of the largest rice exporters in the world.

The transformation was remarkable. And yes, it all happened under an authoritarian communist regime.

But it’s not the regime that gets the credit, it’s the individuals (and also government entities) who took a risk to invest money, to solicit investment, to plant extra, to think big, to dream for a better life for their families. There was profit to be had by the people. And they did it. They used the mighty tool called capitalism, even within a tightly controlled economy, to better their lives.

So let’s make this very clear: socialism didn’t build China’s wealth. Not by a long shot.  Socialism doesn’t pull anyone out of poverty. It just holds back growth potential. Imagine where China would be today if Mao allowed entrepreneurship back as early as 1949?

So, Bernie, your China example is just disproving your point about capitalism.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. China has been experiencing their own brand of this for the past thirty years, no thanks to socialism.

What happened in 2019 …

Another busy year of writing and related endeavors. It’s always nice to look back at what was accomplished before looking at what’s ahead. So here goes:

Writing:

Finished and published book 3 of The Forgotten Child Trilogy: A Parting in the Sky.

Wrote novel #9: Moses the Singer. (now heading into final editing stage before a mid-2020 publication date.

Wrote several short plays, most of which either have or will be produced soon.

Published my first baseball short story: The Hundred Pitch At-Bat  (much more to come in this vein)

Plays:

I directed and produced three plays in 2019:  Stories Vol 1 in April, Stories Vol 2 in October, and Seussical: The Musical in December.

I saw my plays produced in Columbus, Ohio in January; Portland, Oregon in March; Penang, Malaysia in November. I even picked up the Festival Director’s Award for my play in Penang.

I updated my book Theatrical Duets, giving it a 3rd Edition distinction with several new plays.

In 2019 I also realized one thing: I don’t have enough time to write. Even my writing months in the summer were over-taken by a variety of other tasks (including settling into a new house). All of these tasks were great and needed, but I wasn’t able to accomplish several of my other writing goals. You know the old saying: you can only do what you can do. But the main point is: do! Don’t ever lament about what you didn’t do. Just continue to do.

Travel: 

I was fortunate enough to travel to Cairo, Egypt and Athens, Greece … in addition to my summer travels to the USA and my normal life in Jeddah. Traveling is wonderful fodder for writing. It brings ideas to life, and it will be fun to see how these places make there way into some of my future writings.

I’ll leave the year with a couple of my favorite photos. At Olympic Stadium in Athens and at … well, you’ll recognize the geometric shape.

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The Forgotten Child Trilogy Box Set Finally Here!

I’m happy to announce the imminent release of the Kindle version of THE FORGOTTEN CHILD: THE COMPLETE TRILOGY. It will be available from Amazon on December 5 and can be pre-ordered starting now!

PRE-ORDER HERE!

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The definitive box set of The Forgotten Child Trilogy includes all three novels – A MAN TOO OLD FOR A PLACE TOO FAR – THE AFRICAN CONNECTION – THE PARTING IN THE SKY. Follow the exploits of Bee and Ash, two mysterious creatures from the realm beyond, who chose to use the old Manhattan curmudgeon Francis Frick to do their bidding. What ensues is an around-the-world, time-travelling adventure to find the forgotten child and right the many wrongs of Francis Frick. From Manhattan, to Scotland, to Germany, to Cambodia, to Rwanda, and Romania, The Forgotten Child Trilogy is an adventure unlike you’ve ever come across before.

Praise for THE FORGOTTEN CHILD TRILOGY:

“5 Stars. This unusual series blends magical realism into a high octane adventure!” – Author Colleen Chesebro

“5 Stars. Beyond the imaginable … I loved this series and can’t wait to see what he publishes next!” – Inspirational author Dolores Ayotte

“”A unique, entertaining, and deftly crafted novel by an author with a genuine gift for imaginative and engaging storytelling.” – Small Press Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review

 

PRE-ORDER HERE!

Win a Kindle Fire or an Amazon Gift Card

Win a Kindle Fire or an Amazon Gift Card

I’m pleased to have partnered up with the Kindle Book Review on their  September Meet & Greet promotion where you can enjoy some cool prizes if you have a little luck or magic in your veins.

They are helping me promote my Forgotten Child Trilogy in the process.

CHECK IT ALL OUT HERE!

Can you pick me out of a lineup!

Capture september meet greet

Thanks for all your support.

Here’s a link to the trilogy. Stayed tuned. Book 1 will be offered for free in the next few days. Limited time offer.

THE FORGOTTEN CHILD TRILOGY

Come on, NY State. Parks should be free.

In June, as I was heading back to New York for the summer, I was excited about the great outdoors, so I bought myself an Empire Pass, which allows you to access every New York State park as many times as you like for the entire year. It seemed like a good idea. It was $81. All right, let’s go. I bought a new bike, bought a bike rack for my car, and was ready to take off.

I got busy, I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to get out into the wild, and it started to bother me that I had spent so much money on something I hadn’t benefited from yet. But the day finally arrived. We were going to Long Point State Park on beautiful Lake Chautauqua. I would flash my card at the check point and roll in happy to know that it was worth it. Irony would exist that day, for as we pulled up to the place where you had to daily pay $8 to drive into the park, the station was empty. Anyone could drive in. For free. Fine. Okay. Let’s move on to the next part of the summer: Pennsylvania.

There had been a few state parks in PA which I wanted to check out. The first being Kinzua Bridge State Park where the highest railroad bridge in the world became a mangled ball of metal on a summer night almost twenty years ago when a massive tornado ran through it.

The PA Parks Dept have done a wonderful job with this park. It’s beautiful, interesting, and, to my shock, completely FREE! Wait, what?

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And it had a great bike trail!

A little later in the summer, we wanted to bike Presque Isle State Park in Erie, PA, so we hitched up the bikes and pulled into the park to find it to be completely FREE! At the height of the summer.

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This is a beautiful park. Wonderful beaches. Great for biking. Lots of people fishing. Boating. And free.

It wasn’t until I pulled into Rockland Lake State Park in Rockland County, NY that I got to flash my Empire Pass and use it. Yeah, it was great, but I had already become a little jaded by PA’s great free parks. And don’t get me wrong, NY has many incredible state parks. But the problem I now have with them is this: they should be FREE! For everyone. At all times.

Government has its purposes, and whenever a government can provide something for a comparatively minimal cost at a maximum benefit for all its citizens, it should be a no-brainer. The parks belong to everyone. Every New York State citizen who pays taxes already support the parks system, so they should not be making anyone pay to use our own beautiful spots!

Drop the Empire Pass. Drop the $8 entrance fee. Encourage everyone to get into the wild and enjoy the beauty for free. This is one thing I always appreciated about Washington D.C. They keep the country’s treasures open for everyone at the Smithsonian without charging for it. It’s the way it should be.

Good for you, PA. Come on, NY. Step it up. Make all state parks free. Make it a budge priority.

When was the last time you … ?

Think. What do you love to do but haven’t done it for a long time?

I know. There are reasons why you haven’t done it. Everyone has excuses.

I’ve done something this past week that I haven’t done in about a year and it’s been real enjoyable: guitar playing and song composing.

I won’t go into all the ridiculous reasons that my guitar was packed away awaiting a move that never happened for a year, but I can attest that it really has been a year without playing it.  And I missed it.

And it struck me how that cliched comment about “it’s like riding a bike”  came to the forefront of my mind when I put the fretboard in my hand for the first time in 12 months. My brain and fingers remembered everything. It’s pretty remarkable. I forget stuff all the time, but all the chords and finger positionings came naturally like I never stopped playing.

I plucked out some chords to the melody I created that matched some lyrics I made which are related to a new novel I’m writing. Yeah, a bunch of strange connections there.

But the point it this: I enjoy playing guitar. I enjoy writing lyrics. I enjoy composing songs on the guitar, and it felt great to do it again.

What about you? What do you love to do that you haven’t done in a long time? Try it out again. It’s been far too long.

I’ll leave you with some of the lyrics to my untitled new song.

RANDOM UNTITLED SONG LYRICS

Part of me is reaching, to set upon the stars

To grasp a piece of heaven, to lunge to places far,

       Part of me is crying out, to reach inside your heart,

  But I hold no ill will.

           No, I hold no ill will.

Part of me is trying. To understand this world.

Untangle all the colors that blindness tends to swirl

And form the ground beneath our feet that heaven’s gate unfurls

But I hold no ill will.

Yes, I hold no ill will.

The past it paints its canvas black with speckled sparks of light,

Glimpses to remind me of where I’ve been,

 The future holds the promises of many well-fought fights,

But I’ll never turn away from where I’ve been.

                 Cause I’ve seen the poorest soul be trampled to the ground,

 And I cannot turn away from where I’ve been,

        And I’ve seen the lights of fame adorning all around

Yet even more, it grips my breast, and hold it tight onto my chest

               All the places, good or bad, I’ve ever been

(copyright 2019 Mark W Sasse)