A New Horizon

There’s a Jewish saying that I used as part of my theatre shows a few years back: “Man plans, God laughs.” Who can argue with that? We control so little in our paltry hands. Of course, we’re not privy to the future, but we are privy to our passions and our gifts. We were made to be forward thinking people, regardless of where the future actually takes us. We only have the next day, the next footstep, the next moment, the next laugh. If its our last, may God know we went down treasuring life and all of its possibilities.

So with those profound thoughts behind me, I’m excited to share a few things which are on the horizon for me. I’ve been teaching theatre here in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for these past six years, but I have decided recently that this school year would be my last. Of course, my writing pursuits have been sprinkled in to my time over these past 6 years as my schedule would permit it. I’ve been able to publish seven novels during my time here, but the rigidity of the school year always seems to keep me from pursuing other ideas and ventures. Well, no more. I’ve be moving back home to the states in June 2023 and will be looking at a lot of different non-teaching options. Of course, I want to be involved in theatre somehow, but my focus will be on writing, writing, and writing. Here’s a few items I anticipate will be happening in the early parts of 2023.

First off, I’ll be revamping this website. Stay tuned! Secondly, I’m in the early planning stages of a brand new yet-to-be-named newsletter that will be 100% free and will have a lot of exclusive content. The newsletter will be offering free short stories and other writings which will not be available anywhere else. I’m excited about a lot of the ideas I have! Also, it will include a running memoir, of sorts, of my twenty-five years of living overseas, as well as my thoughts on a lot of different topics. It will be unique, fun, and hopefully packed full goodies exclusively for my email subscribers. Again, this will be free. Look out for the new email list signup, which will be available in the next month or so.

Of course, my novel writing will continue. I’m super excited about my new one I just started. Sorry, can’t give any details at this time. I’m also planning on trying out Kindle Vella with my first serial story. I have an interesting idea I’m hoping to explore next week when I’m on break. Lastly, I’ll also be looking into offering my services for freelance work as 2023 unfolds.

If you get the idea that I want to write, well, you would be correct. Thanks to all the support you’ve given me, and let’s see what the next chapter will bring.

Batter up! THE LOST LINEUP on pre-order.

The editing process is over. (But it is really ever over?) The formatting complete. Thirteen months since the release of A Diamond for Her, the sequel and book 2 of the Myths & Tales of the Winasook Iron Horses is in pre-order. It’s set to release on Kindle and Paperback on July 1, 2022.

As I had mentioned before, I always wanted to write a baseball book in the vein of WP Kinsella, so now that I’ve written two of them, and WP Kinsella is an actual character in the sequel, I’m beyond happy! It’s turned out better than I hoped. I had so much fun writing this quirky story with intrigue, adventure, and absolute hilarity — all around the greatest sport ever.

You don’t have to be a baseball fan to enjoy this book. It’s true! I’ve heard from many who thoroughly enjoyed it without following baseball. But if you do like baseball, I hope you feel like you’ve dripped yourself in the pool of nostalgia.

The Lost Lineup Kindle ebook pre-order:

Novels 11 & 12 Releasing in 2022

It’s official. This will be the first year I’ve ever released two novels in one year. I’ve been remarkedly steady since I began publishing in 2012 – one novel a year. I believed the trend would continue. I finished my 11th novel on writing trip to Tbilisi back in late October. It’s the sequel of my baseball series: Myths & Tales of the Winasook Iron Horses. This one is entitled The Lost Lineup.

I had no inkling what the next story would be. I was busy doing the final edits of the book over the Christmas holiday when it hit me: I should write a Christmas novel. People love to read Christmas books. I had previously published three Christmas short stories and thought it might be fun to try a novel-length Christmas story. But what about?

I often head back to history for ideas and I thought of a simple premise: a nine-year-old girl finds out that her father was killed in WWII on Christmas Eve 1944. The book would be about how the girl processed the death until the next Christmas – thus the title would be Christmas in ’45. Okay, I had the idea. Now would I have the time to write?

Well, on March 27, I finished the first complete draft of this novel. Novel #12. It’s a short novel, my shortest, but I kept it short on purpose because of how I only told the story from the girl’s perspective. I’ll write more about that process on a later post, but I’m really happy how this challenging story turned out, and I decided that it will release on October 1, 2022.

Lots of fun to look forward to in the coming months as I prepare these novels for release. The Lost Lineup is currently with my editor, and I should have the edited version ready soon. Then ARCs will be sent out as I continue to hone my Christmas story.

Stay tuned! 2022 is going to be a great year.

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.

Three New Play Volumes in the Works

Well, it’s about time. In 2016, I published a volume of plays entitled “Theatrical Duets.” I’ve updated it twice already with new scripts, but I have such a backlog of content to publish that I ended up not doing a follow-up volume to my 2016 release.

Well, no more. I have three new play volumes that I am currently working on for release, and, yes, I’m excited to get them out there. Again, all of them are short plays from very different genres and focused on completely different niches. Here’s what’s coming, though the titles may change.

  • Tales of Wonder: Secular & Sacred Christmas Plays for Stage, Schools, & Churches. (The Short Play Collection Vol. 2)
  • Dear High School (The Short Play Collection Vol. 3)
  • Christian Drama for Stage, Schools, & Churches (The Short Play Collection Vol. 4)

“Tales of Wonder” is the complete collection of the Christmas shows performed by the RLT Players at Penang Performing Arts Center in December 2015, 2016, & 2017. The first two of these shows were directed by myself. This is a delightful collection of funny, nostalgic, and dramatic pieces which, I hope, captures the true magic of Christmas. They are super fun to produce, and I hope a lot of people will enjoy them. I can’t wait until I can produce them again at some point.

“Dear High School” is a collection of high-school themed drama which focuses on the crazy and up and down years of being a high school student. This is a fun volume and I have a couple ideas of sketches to add to it before release time.

“Christian Drama” is an extensive collection of short plays focusing on a variety of topics related to the Christian experience.

The goal, if all goes right, is to release them all at once this summer, right around the time of the release of my ninth novel.

Lots coming together that I’m excited about.

Play Submissions Much Easier after a Few Years of Writing

I am consistently sending my plays out to festivals and theaters with the hope of getting produced. Sometimes I’m successful. Many times not. The competition is fierce, to say the least.

But now that I’ve been writing consistently for the past 7 or 8 years, I have a volume of plays (especially short plays) at my disposal to send to festivals. One minute play festival? No problem. Got it. A play based on the lives of senior citizens? You bet. Just sent one of my favorites, REVENGE OF THE GRANDPARENTS, to just such a festival. Short play with a strong female lead? You betcha. A unique take on Shakespeare? Got it covered.  Typically, in no time, I can have my submission off into the pool of potential. Then I cross my fingers.

Full-length plays are much more difficult. I’ve been pitching my play The Last Bastion the last two years. I’ve received some good feedback, even a recommendation from another festival, but still no bites. Must keep at it. Recently, I’ve started pitching my new full-length play For the Glory of Nat Turner as well. Only time will tell.

I’m fortunate enough that I’m a theatre professional in a school setting so I get to produce a lot of my own plays which is really cool. I love seeing my work come to life. But it’s even cooler when a festival or theatre decides to produce my shows out of their own free will. I hope that will continue in the future. I currently have two of my plays set to be produced around the world.

GRADE SEMANTICS will be part of the Short & Sweet Theatre Festival in Penang, Malaysia in November.

SAFE SPACES will be part of the Conservative Theater Festival in Columbus, Oh in January.

Besides that, I’m producing two of my own shows in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in the next few months.  STORIES VOL. 2 will be on October 30 and the world premier of CRAZY LOVE will be in April.

So now you’re up to date. Hope there will be much more on the horizon.

A Year of Writing in Review

What writer doesn’t look back at the end of a year and to give oneself a writing grade?

Well, actually, I don’t hold a lot of stock in goals hit or missed because time lines are flexible and life happens. But it’s still fun to take stock in what transpired in the year of writing. Here are some of my highlights.

Play writing:

Watched my play “The Birth of Technicolor” in Brooklyn! It was awesome.

My play “The Last Bastion” won me the 2018 Greywood Arts Writing Residency in Ireland and I spent a blissful week in a charming old English house finishing off two full-length plays and other miscellaneous writings.

Short plays – I hit my stride again in short play writing, finishing off a complete new show entitled “Crazy Love” in the spring and then in the fall I cranked out four new additional short plays which will be part of a show of mine called “Stories, Vol. 1.”

On top of this, I produced three shows – “For All Generations” in Jan 2018, the musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” in April 2018 and the experimental piece “How to Build a Dictator” in December 2018.

Novel writing:

Summer saw the release of book 2 of the Forgotten Child Trilogy called “The African Connection.”

Summer also saw me writing frantically to finish book 3 – which I did – entitled “A Parting in the Sky.”  This explosive piece will end the trilogy and will be released within the first few months of 2019. Very excited about it!

Planning stages and early writing for my mysterious novel #9. I will say it is an alternate history related to the 1960s. It’s going to get wild!

Short Story:

I published a new Christmas story “Jolly Old St. Hick.”

I’m also formulating my book on baseball. I promised myself I would. It may be a collection of short stories or a more unified piece. More to come.

Yes, it’s been a busy and fruitful year. Here’s hoping more productivity in 2019! I’ll give you my writing prognosis for the year soon!

I appreciate your support.

Happy New Year!

 

 

New Christmas Story Coming Soon!

I’m happy to announce I’ll be publishing a new Christmas short story this year. Unsure of release date, but it will be well early for the season. It even has a cover!

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Can you pick up the tone of it? Yes, light-hearted, silly, funny (hopefully) with a warm fire-place-like touch of sentiment – all those things you need to settle into the holiday season. You know, like a cinnamon stick in your hot chocolate or spiced cider simmering on the stove.

“Jolly Old St. Hick” was actually a short play that my drama group The RLT Players performed in their Christmas show “Tales of Wonder II” in 2015. It was a funny and well-received vignette, and last year I got the idea of re-writing it as a short story. I didn’t get very far.

Until now! I turned the 2000 word play into a 6000+ word short story coming your way to a Kindle near you!

I’ve actually not written many short stories in my life. I’ve written more novels than short stories, actually. I’m not sure if that is bizarre or not, but I’m becoming more familiar with the genre. Most of my short stories are Christmas-themed. Why is that? I’m not sure, exactly, but perhaps there’s something comforting about a warm cup of tea, a fireplace, and a 30 or 40-minute sentimental read.

In 2014, I published “If Love is a Crime: A Christmas Story” about a runaway slave in 1852.  Available Here.

In 2016, I published “Christmas in the Trenches 1914” a fictitious account of the real-life truce between the Brits and the Germans in WWI on Christmas Eve 1914. Available Here!

In 2018, I will publish “Jolly Old St. Nick.”

I hope you enjoy, and look out for the release of my new one soon!

THE BIRTH OF TECHNICOLOR in Brooklyn

I had the privilege of watching the world premiere of my play THE BIRTH OF TECHNICOLOR at the Gallery Players’ Theatre Black Box New Play Festival 2018.

Here I am, excited standing outside the theater.

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The play was adeptly directed by David Thomas Cronin and beautifully acted by two talented actors: Elizabeth Pickering Hopland (who played the character Black & White) and Danielle Ferretti (who played Technicolor). Here we are basking in the aftermath of opening night.

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You’ll notice Elizabeth was too quick with taking off her make-up since she didn’t know the nosy writer would be there requesting a photo after curtain call.  So I grabbed a promotional photo from dress rehearsal so you can see what she looked like.

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Yes, fabulous. Both of them. And they shined on-stage with terrific chemistry and point-on timing. It is always such a treat for a playwright to see a new work come to life. This is a quirky and funny play which honors the throwback golden era of cinema with loads of references to many of the great black and white films of all time.

This was the very first time I have ever gotten to see one of my plays in America. I’ve spent so much time overseas and produced many different shows in some unique venues, but it was special to finally be able to be there in the Big Apple at Brooklyn’s “premiere off-Broadway theater” to see a great show.

I tip my hat to all involved including Sue and Dominic who produced the show.

Hopefully, there will be many shows to come.

In Brooklyn This Week: “The Birth of Technicolor” @ Gallery Players’ Theater

If you are in the NYC area this weekend, don’t miss the world premiere of my play “The Birth of Technicolor” at the Gallery Players’ Black Box New Play Festival. It is one of four plays which will be performed Thursday June 14 through Sunday June 17. (Thurs-Sat @ 7:30 & Sunday @ 3:00)  I will be on hand Thursday and Friday evenings. Hope to see you there!

The play itself is a cute little thing. Black & White Film and Technicolor Film show up to give an audition to famed movie director DW Griffith. Each of them want the starring role in his next film. It doesn’t take long for Black & White to feel threatened by Technicolor’s brash and colorful personality. Eventually they each perform a death scene for the director, but the outcome is not what either of them expects.

Play: The Birth of Technicolor   Written by Mark W Sasse

Directed by David  Thomas Cronin

The Gallery Players
199 14th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215

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