FREE on KINDLE – limited time – A LOVE STORY FOR A NATION

A special promotion on my novel A LOVE STORY FOR A NATION just started. FREE on Kindle through April 23.

“A Tale of Extraordinary Heroism and Love” – reviewer M. James

“The plot of this extraordinary tale sent shivers down my spine on more than one occasion.” – author Dolores Ayotte

Get yours now:

 

 

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“A Man Too Old” Gets Another Great Review!

Michelle James posted her review of A Man Too Old for a Place Too Far, and it’s a great one! Here’s a short excerpt:

Michelle writes, “This story is well fleshed out with notes of magical realism, suspense, and history.  For me, this is a perfect combination.”

Please head over to her fantastic website and check out the full review – and her thoughts on other books! Michelle James’ Review

Remember, A Man Too Old for a Place Too Far is only part one of the brand new Forgotten Child Trilogy.  Book two is scheduled for a June release, so if you haven’t read book one yet, here’s your chance. It’s available on Kindle and in paperback.

Available on Amazon

Free Shipping Worldwide with The Book Depository

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Sitting in Public without a Device

You’ve probably seen the meme that goes something like this: I saw this person at a coffee shop, sitting alone, not on his phone, doing nothing but sipping his coffee. Like a mad man.
That is of course funny because it’s not often when you see a person in public doing nothing. Just sitting there. Possibly just thinking, to himself. Crazy stuff, right?
Well, as I was sitting in a delightful little restaurant/pub in Ireland, I realized I didn’t have Internet and I was dining alone, so I thought I would try it – just sit there and do nothing until my food came. Easy, right?
At first I didn’t know how to do nothing. I felt self conscious, I didn’t know where to look. How bizarre. I scratched my head. I rubbed my hand across the table. I tapped my finger. I glanced around slowly to see if anyone was looking at me. I’m sure they were. They had to be There was this lunatic just sitting there doing nothing in public. But there I sat, trying to focus on something. Hey look, a salt shaker. Yeah, it was pathetic.
Then the thinking started. It was slow at first, as my mind wavered back and forth between self-consciousness and being distracted by a thought. But then the old writer’s instinct kicked in. I started forgetting where I was, and I thought about the script I was working on. I thought of this character and this person. I thought of how great it’s been hanging out in Ireland, even though I miss my family. By the time my food arrived, I had survived the passing of time without talking to anyone and without using a digital device, and I didn’t have it devolve into some ominous plot against humanity. One can survive without a device in public.
Ok, so now I proved to myself that it can be done, I better open Evernote and jot all this down for my blog before I forget the experience. Don’t worry. I can write this note while I’m off-line.

Crazy Love – The New Show

One of my tasks for my residency at Greywood Arts in Ireland was to complete my new show entitled “Crazy Love.” The world premiere of this show will be performed by my drama group The Sun & Sand Players in December 2018 in Jeddah.

In addition to the two full-length plays I completed this week, I’m thrilled to see “Crazy Love” come together. It’s a collection of 8 dramatic sketches and one mini-musical all themed around crazy love.  The show will consist of 7 brand new pieces plus two of my award-winning sketches from other years which fit perfectly in this collection.

Yesterday, I wrote the entire script called “Bridge Watchers” which completed the show. I also finished the script “Young Love” and did some final editing on some of the other scripts as well.

Here’s the way the show is looking:

  • A Pinch of Fate, A Shot of Destiny – Best Script Award Winner – the death angel comes for Rebecca but wasn’t expecting fate to get in the way
  • The Talk – New – snippets of parents talking to their kids for the first time about the birds and bees
  • Bridge Watchers – New – seven bystanders watch a tragedy unfold from  on top of a bridge. Who will get involved?
  • Fruit Punch – New – Banana tries to setup Olive on a date with an actual Date. (yeah, it’s crazy)
  • Shame on the Moon – New – a reworking of Romeo and Juliet, every time Romero and Julia look at the moon, they fall in love
  • Young Love – New – snippets of love from the perspective of kids
  • No in Spite of Itself – Best Script Award Winner – a young man stands on a cliff having a conversation to himself, lamenting the fact that the girl he loves doesn’t love him
  • Love is Not a Straight Arrow – New – a fictionalized version of a true story about my grandmother in 1924, when she came to Pennsylvania to marry Otto Sasse
  • Crazy Love: The Musical – New – a mini-musical about a family falling apart, and a child who thinks she is to blame

I think it will be a great show! Because love is always funny and dramatic. Who can resist it?

 

Outline the Ending! Really?

I’ve been inundated with those Master Class video ads on social media lately. I’m sure you’ve seen them, and I have to admit, some of them certainly catch my eye. I was real curious to see what Ron Howard and Martin Scorsese said about film-making, and even their introductory videos were quite engaging.

Of course, there’s a bunch of well-known writers on there as well, and I am, as a writer, interested to hear what they have to say. I like to keep my options open. I like to learn and grow in my craft, but whenever someone says how important it is to do this or that when being a creative writer, I usually balk at it and tell them to slow down the bus!

Writing is different from film-making or some of the other arts because it’s so subjective. There’s no one formula. There’s no “best practices” which will insure success. Sure, there are some writing guidelines which may help, especially for young writers, but blanket statements are not that helpful.

One well-known writer on the Master Class videos said how important it is to outline. You must outline, outline, outline like crazy. Outline until the cows come home. Outline through all your holidays. Outline until you’re blue in the face, or until the next season of your favorite show comes out. OUTLINE!!!! Okay, I might be paraphrasing here.

But the point is, this particular writer emphasized how important outlining is. And in reply to that, I say hogwash!

It might be important to you. It’s obviously important to him. It’s not important to me. Now you might think to naturally side with him because he’s famous and rich and I’m not. That’s a valid point. But if I may, I content his outlining obsession has nothing to do with his success.

Here’s the problem I have with outlining. For me, it’s basically useless, because by the time I  hit the third chapter of my outline, the rest of my outline has no validity because I’ve changed the story so much since my original ideas.

Why?

Simple! Writing leads to new ideas. New writing leads to newer ideas. To think you can sit down and know the ending of a creative story before you actually start writing is rather preposterous. That’s like chaining yourself in and not allowing your ideas to grow as your story grows.

So if you do outline, I’d offer this advice. Don’t let the outline be the ultimate driver of where your story is going. Use it as a guide, but as your ideas develop, please feel free to change your outline. Please feel free to change your ending!

Just today, I completely revamped an ending to a play which I thought I had finished yesterday. But it wasn’t sitting right for me, so I had to go back and change it.

Now, with all that said, it doesn’t mean that I never outline. I do loosely outline at times when I think I see where the story is going. For example, on my new fiction trilogy, I do know the ending of book three. But I only know the ending because I already wrote book 1 and 2. When I was writing book 1, I didn’t even know how it would end. But now that I’ve written 2/3’s of the trilogy, it has become obvious to me what the ending must be. Great! No problem!

My ultimate point here is that there is not one correct way to write. It’s so personal and subjective. Do what you are comfortable with. Follow your passion and your story. Allow it mold and form what you want to say. Never allow preset guidelines to determine where your story must go.

You know where it’s supposed to go. It’s in your heart. You were made for this moment. Create and discover what you never thought possible.

Checking in from Ireland

I’ve been in Killeagh, Ireland at Greywood Arts for a little more than two days now so I wanted to check in with everyone concerning how’s everything going. Well, in a word, great!

Greywood is a terrific venue for the arts. A renovated (and still being renovated) 18th century Georgian house specifically for promoting the arts. Here’s my amazing writing room.

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It overlooks the Dissour River, more of a stream in my mind, but has a beautiful view of  a small cascade right from the desk. I even saw a river otter! It is bright, cheery, and quiet. A perfect combination for creativity. How’s it been working? Amazingly well. On day one, I completed a play called “Embrace” which I started nearly five years ago and wondered if I would ever finish it. Well, I did. Seven hours of hard labor on that script completely revitalized it and I’m very happy with it. Unlike anything I have ever written.

Today, day two,  was spent working on a play called “For the Glory of Nat Turner.” I had started it last year with a mere 2000+ words and I hammered out the entire first act, clocking the whole thing in at around 7000 words now. Tomorrow, I’d love to finish this one too! Amazing productivity.

The village of Killeagh is small and quaint. No more than 500 souls live here. Here are a few shots.

The weather today turned toward the nasty. Really cold and rainy. No walks and very little out and about. The forecast isn’t great, but I hope it clears a little tomorrow cause I was going to take the bus over to the seaside town of Youghal only 10 minutes away. We shall see how it looks in the morning.

I’m also hoping to take a trip into Cork for a day and check out the city. That will likely be the extent of my touring since my main focus is on writing, writing, and writing.

This is such a terrific opportunity. So relaxing and rewarding and I can’t think Greywood enough for their hospitality.

Let’s get back at it!

Spring Break in Ireland

I’m officially three-quarters finished with my first year of teaching drama in Saudi Arabia. Spring break has arrived. It couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s been a challenging year in many respects – a good year – complete with unique challenges I had not expected. The show that I’m currently producing and directing – You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown – has proved to have more downs than ups with a revolving cast and a myriad of obstacles. It’s been exhausting. I’ve never had a production like this. The show is April 18-20, so what better time than now to take a break from it and go to Ireland? The time away will do me a world of good.

I’ve never been to Ireland, so the promise of overcast, chilly temperatures coupled with the famous Irish green will be a delightful change from Jeddah’s taupe and arid make-up.

What led me to Ireland? I always wanted to have a writing residency. It sounded so idyllic – a time set aside on my own for one singular purpose – creativity. Last fall, I started searching worldwide opportunities since my job here affords me the flexibility to travel where I want at certain times of the year. Perhaps I could find something in an interesting place?

I did. I found a call for submissions from a small arts center in Killeagh, Ireland called Greywood Arts. They were selecting three individuals for their Winter Writing Residencies for poetry, play-writing, and visual arts. My submission was my full-length, yet-to-be-produced play “The Last Bastion.” One delightful November day, I received an email from Greywood that they had chosen that play to be the recipient of their residency program. That was a glorious day. When I proposed to them that I use my spring break for the purpose, it fit their schedule perfectly, so here I come!

Killeagh is a tiny village east of Cork in southwest Ireland.  It has a population of 500. It has a Catholic church, a famous thatched roof pub, a couple other pubs, a river, a convenience store, a Chinese restaurant (!?), and Greywood Arts.

Greywood hosts artists and writers throughout the year, promoting the arts in various creative ways. I’m thrilled to be a part of what they are doing.

But what will I be doing? Writing, mainly. I have tasked myself to finish two full-length plays which have been languishing for a while – one more than the other.  Several years back, I wrote an unfinished play themed on the tensions arising over the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage. It’s an interesting two character play which explores evangelical Christianity’s struggle to come to terms with the SC’s decision. I’m convinced that there’s something there in this play. It has some interesting angles, and has been difficult to write in many ways because it’s raw. Grittier than I usually like to go. But it felt needed. Until I abandoned it. But now, it’s time to resurrect it. And finish it.

The next play which I started about a year ago and haven’t got back to is a historical piece related to Nat Turner’s slave uprising in 1831.  I have quite a ways to go on this one, but hope to finish it.

I’m also working on my next ensemble show which consists of a series of similarly themed short plays which I will produce for my show in December. I am mostly finished with this show, but I’d like to spend the week editing what I have and writing any pieces which the show lacks.

Also, I want one more. I want one more brand new idea for a full-length play that I can start during my week in Ireland. I’m waiting on the idea to hit me. Perhaps my new setting will be exactly what I need.

Oh, and if you happen to be in Killeagh, Ireland on April 5, I have an event!

READING @ Greywood Arts by playwright Mark W Sasse

Hope to see you there!