EXCERPT – A Thrilling Adventure -Trilogy book 1 FREE limited time only!

FREE on KINDLE – November 15-19 – FREE on AMAZON

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

BOOK 1 – A Man Too Old for a Place Too Far

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT – in this excerpt the Manhattan businessman Francis Frick finds himself in a jeep with some Khmer Rouge revolutionaries in 1976 Cambodia. The only problem is, it’s 2018! But when they stop to deal with some deserters, Frick can’t stand idly by anymore.

Three soldiers and the driver jumped in the jeep, and it pulled out of the small encampment without anyone saying a word to anyone or without anyone wearing a black hood. The flat Cambodian countryside lay still in the early morning hours. The jeep buzzed through the rural setting without passing any other vehicles. Even the endless, newly-harvested rice fields looked eerily dormant and different from the day before. The first hour of the drive proved uneventful. The soldiers ignored Frick, the hero negotiator, as their heads pounded from vicious hangovers. As the jeep bounced around a sharp bend, Frick could see five or six people walking on the road about one hundred yards ahead of them. They looked back and hunched their bodies forward, sliding quickly out of sight over the embankment.
“Hey, did you see that?” asked the driver.
“The people?” asked Frick.
“Yes.” The driver tilted his head towards the back seat and yelled instructions for the three soldiers in the back seat to catch them.
The jeep skidded to an abrupt stop, and everyone piled out, Frick included. As he reached the edge of the embankment, he could see six people huddled against the mud rim, looking up at them. One of them stood and started running across the barren rice field. A soldier raised his rifle and shot the deserter in the back, dropping him to the ground with a hollow thud. Frick shook and looked around, frantic to understand.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
Two of the other soldiers slid down the bank and started yelling at the people, but for the first time, Frick couldn’t understand—not a word. He watched as the two soldiers pinned the remaining five individuals against the bank with the point of their rifles. The huddled group cried in anguish as the soldiers scolded them. As Frick moved closer, he could see who they were: an old man, two women, and a small girl. One of the women held a baby in her arms. They cried and pleaded. The elderly man dropped to his knees and put out his hands in a gesture of submission and mercy. A Khmer soldier whacked him in the head with the butt of his rifle, and the old man fell limp to the ground. The women screamed, and the small girl hid behind the leg of her mother.
“Stop it!” said Frick. “What are you doing?”
The driver stood beside Frick and looked at him strangely. The driver said something, but Frick couldn’t understand. The second soldier walked up to the woman and slapped her across the face, yelling at her in harsh tones.
“Stop it!” yelled Frick.
The soldier grabbed the arm of the little girl and dragged her up the embankment. The girl collapsed in fear, as she screamed and reached out for her mother, but the soldier paid no attention and continued pulling her over the crest of the bank.

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EXCERPT – A Time-Travel Adventure -Trilogy book 1 FREE limited time only!

FREE on KINDLE – November 15-19 – FREE on AMAZON

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

BOOK 1 – A Man Too Old for a Place Too Far

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT – in this excerpt the Manhattan businessman finds himself on a train in Romania in 1989 – nearly thirty years in the past – and he’s being delightfully tormented by Bee, the strange flying figure in a white dress.

Frick lunged forward and tried to swat Bee with his hand, but with a simple tilt of the head, she whisked inches away from her attacker. It delighted her so. Frick sat down in his surliness and puffed a few vacant words Bee’s way like a petulant child might mock his mother. The other two men sitting in the front of the car turned in a queer manner and glanced with disapproval at Frick’s unruly behavior. Frick didn’t like being stared at, much less being scorned, so he cast his eyes upon them with his typical tempestuousness.
“What are you looking at?”
The two turned immediately. Frick smirked, but the goofy grin soon faded as a strange realization came upon him. “Bee, did I say that in English?”
“Did it sound like English to you?”
“No.”
“Well, words that don’t sound like English rarely are English.”
“You mean they could understand me?”
“Everyone understands that uniform. What’s not to understand?”
“What do you mean, this uniform?”
“Well, it’s time for me to go. Goodbye, Francis.”
“No, wait,” said Frick, leaning forward and motioning for her to stay.
“Do you think I’m your friend?” she asked. “I just hit you in the face with a pomegranate. Two in fact. I hope you learned your lesson.”
“It wasn’t the first time you hit me in the face with a pomegranate.”
Bee laughed. “Oh, you are right, aren’t you? When you were lying in bed.”
“Don’t forget about the coconut.”
Bee let out an especially high-squealed snicker. “Tropical delight.”
“Bee, sit still for a second. I have a question for you. I’m in Romania.”
“So am I,” said Bee. “And that’s not a question.”
“Why?”
“I came to see you.”
“No, why am I here? And is this real?” Frick pulled out the train ticket and held it up to her. “Look. It says December 1989. Is it 1989? But it’s certainly not December. It’s summer. I was in the hay field. I saw Ash, and he tells me to put this on.” He pointed down at his uniform. “And then I meet Ulrich. And …”
The train pulled into a small station. Out the window, a pole with a lone bulb dangled from a metal arch, illuminating a small round area at its base. Snow flurries whisked in all directions above the white, barren ground. He stood and bent over to get a closer look, pressing his forehead against the glass. Several people, bundled in winter coats, scurried along towards the small platform near the front of the train.
“I have never known it to snow in the summer,” said Bee.
“Maybe I’m insane.”
“Indubitably.”

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Magnificent – Lyrics without a Melody

I enjoy writing lyrics. I started this when I was in Ireland, and I finished it up (at least for now) just this evening.  Who’s going to put it to music? What’s it about? Picture a boy who walks through the jungle two hours one way to attend a small village schoolhouse. Certainly, it’s a true story.

Magnificent
lyrics by Mark W Sasse
1
Calloused hands of only twelve,
Dining on scraps and banana rows
Too many mouths, and not enough time,
but he smiles and laughs through his daily throes
Magnificent.
2
Tire tread sandals, half torn to shreds
from the rugged path he’s learned by heart,
three days a week if time to spare
he walks the mountain path to learn his part
Magnificent.
chorus
And the modern world nods its head
at the glitz and glamour and vapid threads,
That saturate our well-lived lives while he walks the jungle trail
magnificent
3
He’s late of course, ‘n has no books,
But eyes peer round at the blackboard lesson
language and numbers elude his grasp
he’ll fail his exams with or without this session
cause he’s one day closer and two hours farther from …
magnificent
chorus
And the modern world nods its head
at the glitz and glamour and vapid threads,
That saturate our well-lived lives while he walks the jungle trail
magnificent
bridge
The distance is not the problem cause he has the strength,
and time is not the issue cause he has all day
it’s not the humble school house without materials
it’s not government promises which always feel betrayed
it’s not the the blanket statement from ignorant city folks
Or his uncle who thinks it’s silly he gets nothing for his walks
It’s not the village children who have a head start
or nature which pounds his every inch when monsoon season stalks
The problem issue lies much deeper
Hidden in the human condition,
a failure to recognize that which truly is …
magnificent
4
The jungle trail welcomes the math
two trees multiplied by twelve ants,
a glorious quorum of learning begins
a history re-imagined by a small boy’s pant,
reborn each day by two hours of walking towards …
magnificent
chorus
And the modern world nods its head

at the glitz and glamour and vapid threads,
That saturate our well-lived lives while he walks the jungle trail
magnificent

What will become of you … book?

(Just a few simple thoughts of what will happen to the books I mailed out to winners of my Goodreads’ giveaway.)

I packed and sealed you in a cardboard box,

Love and time and tears and patience constructed the story between your covers,

I post you to a new destination,

but what will become of you, my book?

A cardboard box inside a mail box waiting for a hand to pull it out.

A look of curiosity will strike the face first, “What is this?”

She’ll read the label and remember the giveaway.  A slight smile settles on her face, but is it a foretaste of what is to come?

What will happen when she opens the package?

Will she laugh with delight and marvel at the colorful tones of the cover?

Will he fan the pages over his face to take the new book for its first ride?

Will it sit on the kitchen counter throughout the day for all family members to flip through to see the new edition?

Will it end up on a nightstand for some pre-snooze reading and will the pages awaken the weary-eyed heart, keeping her up until the wee hours of dawn trying to decipher  the motives of mean Mr. Frick from Manhattan?

I sent you off in good faith. Hoping to share a little joy, a jaunt of adventure to help one escape the mundane qualities of another Monday.

I hope laughter comes and excitement builds. I hope frustration mounts when book one climaxes. Perhaps it even falls off the bed as she mutters “Ahhh, what’s going to happen? When does book two come out?”

Will a helping hand hold out the book and offer it to a friend, “You should read this. I never heard of this author, but I really enjoyed it. The second book is coming out soon.”

Can one book’s lifespan become two or multiply to more?

You have much potential, sitting inside a cardboard box, riding in the back of a postal truck. Limitless in hope.

Or

will

it …

be thrown on a book shelf, sandwiched between 75 Recipes from Tuscany and an unread Louis L’amour?

What will become of you, my book?

 

Merry Christmas: A Vigil for a Starry Night

On a night when the clouds cover the stars like an impenetrable mountain cliff, I wait for a sign. A small tinge up my spine. A desperate plea for the ancient ways to speak once again. I wait for the light, hoping it will come, hoping it will be enough. .

The stars, spread brightly out like colored snowflakes flickering across the onyx sky, reflect a distant constellation, and begin to re-enter the atmosphere, piercing through the fractured clouds, giving faint and distant light to the voidless black, the empty sea, the sandless desert, the vacant abyss that is deep within me. The light, hushed and dimmed by a millennium of travel, is all I have. Is all I ever had.

I wait for the reflection to reach me, hoping one refracted beam from a star long ago still exists, the same ancient light that awakened the shepherd’s eyes one cool and lonely night. Can the light that ushered in a new millennium, awaken a new epoch within me. If so, it might be enough for my heart to go on.

In the midst of tears, in the solitude of our inner being, we yearn to be on that impoverished hill, to understand the magnitude of that sight, a heavenly light illuminating a darkened heart, a heavenly chorus rising to a crescendo of glory.

Will I choose to believe its truth, not blindly though because I know what the light can do for one’s soul.  And though the unbearable pain releases not its grip, I have a question to answer. Does the light still exist for me?

Does the same sky, which God ripped open that night with his right hand, planting angelic heralds of peace on the clouds to rustle awake the shepherds, still exist for me? Can he reach into my clouded heart and announce the truth like a heavenly chorus? If it is so, all suffering and cause of angst still present throughout the world will be no match for the blessed announcement: “A Child is born.”

PERSON: This child is born.

The 12 Days of Christmas: Revisited

In the spirit of the season, I’m happy to publish below a little piece I wrote earlier this year entitled “The 12 Days of Christmas Revisited.”  It was performed brilliantly by Seth Kelly and the RLT Players in their recent Christmas show.  It can be used and performed with attribution however you like.  Try it out on Christmas Eve with your family. Enjoy!

 

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me …

… a partridge in a pear tree.

It’s creative, I’ll give my true love that. Nothing says Christmas like a bird in a tree. I guess it’s that existential relationship between fruit trees, birds, and Christmas that I never learned about. I’m assuming this is a tree in a planter, and come spring I can transplant it in the yard. A symbol of our love growing, perhaps, that it’s stable, dependable year after year. But the partridge. I don’t know. Does the tree come with a bird house? At least it wasn’t a vulture in a dead tree. Chocolates would have been nice.

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me …

… Two turtle doves. I’m not sure I like where this is going. On day one, at least I received a fruit tree. And let’s not get haughty and sophisticated about this. A turtle dove is a pigeon. A pigeon. You got me two pigeons for Christmas. What is wrong with you?

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me …

… three French hens. Okay, hens are a step above pigeons. They have some practicality. But is this a hint, my true love? Have your eggs not been fresh enough lately? How would you like your omelet?

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me …

… four calling birds.

What is this fascination with birds, my love? We are only on the fourth day of Christmas and my house is starting to look and smell like an aviary. That’s 10 birds. You gave me ten birds in the last four days.  How much do my relatives hate me? I’m an ophthalmologist, not an ornithologist.

(yelling to the birds)

Get down from there.

(bird poops on his shoulder)

Really. You had to do it right there, didn’t you?

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me …

… five golden rings. Okay, this is actually sweet.  You’re trying to make up for the birds aren’t you. I think 5 golden rings will do that admirably. But I really don’t need 5 rings, so if you don’t mind, I’m going to put them to good use. I’m going to sell this one to build a bird aviary in the back yard. I’m going to sell rings 2 and 3 to buy the adjacent property. It has a nice open field and a large pond. I’m going to sell the fourth ring so I can graft that pear tree you gave me into the perfect strand, and then I’ll plant an orchard in my newly acquired land. And the fifth ring? I’ll keep it … as a symbol of our true love.

On the six day of Christmas my true love gave to me …

… six geese a laying. We are back to the birds? What happened to the gold? I’m going to give my true love a goose egg or two. The omelets are getting bigger. Geese, go, go roam in the pear orchard.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me …

… seven swans a swimming.  I knew that pond would come in handy. Swans, get thee to your lake. And in case you lost count, my true love, you have now given me 23 birds. 23!

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me …

… eight maids a milking. Really. I was not aware that I had cows, even one cow. But enough cows to employ eight maids? In case you forgot,  I have birds. Birds! And anyhow, how can you gift me eight maids? Is that even legal?

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me …

… nine ladies dancing. My true love, I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but what is wrong with you? Are we having a party you didn’t tell me about? Is that what all the birds were for and you just forgot to send the skewers? Do I have a say as to what type of dance these nine ladies will be performing?

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me …

… ten Lords a leaping.

(awkward look at the audience)

I am very curious about this one. Ten lords. And they are leaping. Why are they leaping?  And are these real lords? Like the British parliament kind of lords? I did not know that leaping lords could be hired out for Christmas parties. Will they be donning their gay apparel? Perhaps a rendition of swan lake? We have the ballerinas, the swans, and a lake already. We could make Tchaikovsky proud. This is going to be some party.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me …

… eleven pipers piping. Now it’s making complete sense. We needed music to keep those ladies dancing and those lords leaping. My love, perhaps you should sit down, you look flush. You have been busy.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me …

… twelve drummers drumming. I gave it some thought. And the only thing I can figure is this:  The 12 drummers drumming and the eleven pipers piping form the fife and drum corps, so therefore you were not giving me a subtle hint about ballet. No, fife and drum corps can only mean one thing: war. You are at war. With what? I have no idea. Perhaps sanity. Perhaps an aviary has harmed you in the past and you are seeking retribution. Or perhaps you are at war with me. Is that it? You are marching in with fife and drums to announce it’s over. If that is true, then I will tell you what I will do.

Take back your …

Twelve drummers drumming

And your eleven pipers piping

Remove your

Ten lords a leaping

And your

Nine ladies dancing

Fire your

8  maids a milking

And those

7 swans a swimming

Cook the eggs of the

6 geese a laying

But I will keep the

5 golden rings

Call away your

4 calling birds

Fillet those

3 French hens

Release those

2 turtle doves

And cut down the partridge out of the pear tree.

 

What?

This was meant as a joke?

You mean you do love me?

Oh, well thank you my dear. I loved it.

(geese honking)

Endings Affirm Meaning

An ending knows what it does. It also knows what it means.

An ending forces one to divorce the beautiful. It brutally parts the ways with an uncomfortable finality. An ending sees the past clearly. Perhaps too clearly for comfort. And that is why an ending brings tears, regrets, wishes, and what-might-have-beens.

But an ending knows what it does. And it knows what it means.

If it means a lot. If it hurts beyond what you want to admit, you can be assured of one thing: it was good.

As tears fall, they fall for one reason: there was once something worth crying for. The absence of tears doesn’t necessitate happiness. It could just as well mean that bland life has nothing to awaken the emotions within you. Likewise, the presence of tears does not necessitate pain or loss. It could just as well mean a realization of blessing which is no more. A thankful cry which pronounces growth and understanding. A thankful  heart which acknowledges the shifting of time painting the past in static form slightly out of reach.

But they are nothing to be feared. Endings, that is. Should be embraced. Every tear, every wish, every desire, every difficult step it takes to walk away should be embraced. It is better to walk away from happiness than to run away from adversity. The happiness will sit forever on your heart with memories and experiences that push you one step further in your walk.

I’m thankful for the endings in my life. This is how I know I’m alive. This is how I know that meaning exists. When living in the absence of that which you love, you understand how real the love really was.