“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.”

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.

mark athensmark egypt

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