“Beauty Rising” – Exclusive excerpt. Get the novel for 99 cents thru April 7.

“Beauty Rising” – Exclusive excerpt. Get the novel for 99 cents thru April 7.

There’s still time to pick up a copy of my debut novel published in Dec 2012 for only 99 cents. After April 7, it will settle back in at its regular price after that. 

This little story still has a special place in my heart. I grew fond of both main characters, but I didn’t let that fondness change the story as it needed to be written. Some readers didn’t like what had to be done, but, hey, the story writes itself. I’m just there to fill in the words. So if you like fast-moving prose with some unexpected twists, please check it out!

Buy “Beauty Rising” HERE!

Here’s an exclusive, short excerpt from My Phuong’s perspective:

We drove downtown past the city center and the market, which was boarded up and quiet. We passed the cinema which had a scarce crowd based on the number of vehicles out front. Then we pulled into the courtyard of a large old colonial house. The sign out front read “People’s Council Guest House.” I had spent many nights with many strangers, but for some reason I was nervous. I was used to men coming to me – coming to sing Karaoke and then asking for something more – coming to spend the night in a hotel only to spend the night with me. But this was different. I was no longer on my own turf, and I had no idea what to expect.

We both wore our traditional ao dai, and I must admit we were beautiful. We parked our motorbikes off to the left of the house and entered through the front door. A man dressed in a tux greeted us – it was the first time I ever saw a tux in Vietnam – and pointed us through the main doors into a large hall which was decorated with teak furniture with mother of pearl inlays. Only two men mingled about in the hall. They looked at us when we entered but kept their distance.

“Just be patient,” said Hoa. “They’ll come for us.”

I felt nervous – almost sick in the stomach. I had turned away from this kind of lifestyle only to find myself once again in a high risk situation. We stood there silently, glancing every few seconds to the individuals who whispered in the corner. Finally, one of those men, a tall slender one who walked with his shoulders back and head held high, approached us.

“Miss My Phuong?”

“Yes.”

“Right this way.”

I glanced at Hoa, and she nudged me on with a soft push.

“It’s okay,” she said. “Go ahead.”

He led me to the opposite end of the room, and up the staircase to the first room on the left at the top of the landing. I looked down to where Hoa stood, but she had already gone. I felt very much alone.

“Go on in,” the man said and then turned and made his way back downstairs.

I slowly opened the door and walked into the large suite which was tastefully decorated with vibrant red and green colored paintings depicting various scenes of rural Vietnam. The room included a work space with a large wooden desk, a sitting area with a sofa, loveseat, coffee table, and a large bed with high wooden posts. On the opposite side of the suite stood a man in a business suit. He stared out the window and could only be seen from behind. He had black hair with strands of grey on the side. Closing the door behind me, I walked over to the sofa.

“Hello, sir.”

The man turned around. It was Mr. Duc.

“Hello, My Phuong,” he said.

My heart raced but my mind was blank.

“Please, sit down,” he said as I sat on one end of the sofa and he came over and sat opposite me on the love seat. “It is very nice that I get to see you again. Maybe you are surprised?”

I nodded.
“The American teacher said you were her best English pupil ever, so your English must be very good.”

I nodded.

“There is no need to be so formal, My Phuong. I thought maybe we could be friends, and perhaps you could teach me some English. Mine is only so-so, but I would like to improve. Would you be able to help me?”

“Yes, of course. It would be my honor to help you learn English.”

“Excellent. Could we start tomorrow evening around the same time?”

“Yes.”

“Very good. I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

“Okay.”

“And I suppose you remember the way out?”

“Yes, of course. Goodbye sir.”

That was it. I strained to imagine what was really going on. Hoa had informed me about many things that went on at these get-togethers, but English was never one of them. He wanted help with English. Then I started wondering why he only wanted help with English. Did he not find me attractive? Did I do something wrong? Would Co Thu be furious with me tomorrow? Would I be in danger because I did not meet expectations? My mind twirled and turned as I left the room, descended the staircase and went out the front door. The tall, thin man had already pulled my motorbike around front and was waiting for me as I exited the building.

“Good evening, My Phuong. We will see you tomorrow.”

How did he already know that? I pondered.

Exclusive Excerpt: The Recluse Storyteller (on sale for a limited time)

The kindle version of my second novel, The Recluse Storyteller, is on sale now through April 6 for only 99 cents.

You can pick up a copy: HERE!

I’m happy to give you an exclusive excerpt. If you enjoy, please check out the full story.

Escape from the Margaret Meeting

The Friday evening meeting commenced, and Janice started.

“First, I’d like to thank Mrs. Johnson for hosting us here this evening. I’ve called all of you together, so we could talk freely about my niece, Margaret. Each of us knows her in one way or another, and I wanted to get an opinion from all of you about Margaret and how you think she is doing.”

“Might I ask what prompted you to call us all together to talk about another person? I’m not really comfortable with that,” asked Reverend Davies, who sat next to Michael Cheevers, who crunched his way through a bag of potato chips.

The rest of the room consisted of Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Trumble, and Chester Tomsey.

“Mrs. Trumble, would you like to address this issue?”

“Yes, I most certainly would. Now I’ve never been one to speak ill of someone without cause, and I’ve been greatly tolerant of being the recipient of coarse manners from Margaret, but I have seen her behavior become much stranger and, should I even say, violent recently.”

“Oh, come now,” interjected Chester Tomsey. “We all know that Margaret does not have the most heart-warming of personalities, but she is anything but violent.”

Reverend Davies did not like the start of this. He kept thinking about what Margaret had said when leaning up against the supermarket shelves.

“Mr. Tomsey, is it?” Mrs. Trumble inquired.

“Yes, that’s right.”

“And just what is your relationship with Margaret?”

“My firm employs her on a job-by-job basis. She writes and revises technical manuals for us. Actually, she’s a verbal genius.”

“Verbal genius! I think you are talking about the wrong Margaret,” belted out Cheevers with his mouth half-full of chips. “She’s no Margaret Queen of Scots.”

“That was Mary,” said Reverend Davies.

“That’s right, Reverend. She’s no Mary Mother of God either.”

The reverend exhaled heavily and rolled his eyes in Cheevers’ direction as did everyone else.

“Perhaps I shouldn’t have said verbal genius. What I meant was that she has a way with words—written words. I can’t tell you how much grief and stress that she has eliminated from my life. I think you are sorely mistaken if you think she is violent,” said Tomsey, trying to clarify his point.

“And how many times have you actually met her?” pressed Mrs. Trumble.

“None. I’ve never talked with the woman. We do everything over the Internet.”

“Well, I hardly think that makes you an expert on her character and behavior.”

“I’m basing my judgment on the quality and judicious nature of her work. She has an impeccable work record. Punctual. Detailed. Insightful. Any company would be lucky to have her. I know her character because it comes through in her work. If we are to suggest that she is anything but a wonderfully productive member of society, then we are mistaken.”

“And what exactly are we suggesting here?” Cheevers added. “Mrs. Johnson, do you have any beer?”

“No.”

“Mr. Cheevers, please be patient. We are trying to get to the heart of the matter. Mr. Tomsey, your opinions about her work habits are duly noted, but I would like Mrs. Trumble to continue,” voiced Janice with a slight hint of annoyance.

Mrs. Trumble stood up and started addressing every incident and run-in that she ever had with Margaret. Everyone sighed with resignation that they would just need to wait it out. As the address continued, Sam and Pam crawled along the living room wall on all fours. The only person who could have seen them was Mrs. Trumble but not in her state. Sam reached safety first behind the kitchen island and waved Pam over. By the time they reached the door, Cheevers had a small window of opportunity to see them between the corner of the island and the wall of the hallway which led to a spare bedroom, but he was busy licking his fingers and sticking them back into the bag, trying to pick up the last few crumbs on his saliva-wet finger tips. Sam reached up and unlatched the door, quietly opening and closing it. They had spent the whole dinner hour planning their escape once they heard that the meeting was on. Pam even volunteered to cook her world-famous three-egg omelets so that their mother wouldn’t be in the kitchen. As Pam cooked, Sam got the WD-40 out of the hallway drawer and sprayed the front door hinges, so they wouldn’t squeak during their escape. They made it safely into the outdoor hallway.

Exclusive Excerpt: “The Reach of the Banyan Tree” – only 99 cents for a limited time!

I’m happy to offer another exclusive excerpt from my latest novel. This is an excerpt from a chapter called “Discovery.” OSS operative, Charles, has been tracking down the driver of a lost lorry deep in the countryside of Tonkin, French Indochina in the waning moments of WWII. He and his three Viet Minh companions arrive at a village and unearth a terrifying discovery.

If you enjoy the excerpt, please hit the link and download the rest. Only 99 cents on Kindle through March 2.

*************************************************************************************************

Discovery

As the sun began to shake itself awake from the east, Vinh shook Charles out of a deep sleep.

“Ahhh,” he jerked himself vertically, opening his eyes to his trio of companions standing over him.

“Vinh says we must go. We have a long walk to his grandmother’s house. Perhaps we will find Dinh-Hoa there.”

“Alo Cha Le,” said Long with that familiar gusto, seemingly unaffected by last evening’s events.

Charles shook his head back and forth, trying to grasp the short night on his consciousness. He had no more than two hours of sleep.

“Alright. Let’s go.”

Vinh knew his grandparent’s house was the next logical location to go to. At least they could trek back with some oxen and possibly get the truck moving by the morrow. Vinh decided to take the valley route which was twice as long but would give them a chance of finding a vehicle to help them out of their muddy predicament. They traveled up the road for about twenty minutes until they veered off into some rice paddies and cut up over a small hill into one far-flung valley of north eastern Bac Thai. The adults remained silent. Mai had much to contemplate. Charles kept watching her petite-frame in front of him. How agile she was on her feet. How pretty she was. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her. Long, however, had rediscovered his verboseness and spoke to Charles in a constant drone. Mai didn’t even bother to translate, and Charles responded with a consistent ‘uh-huh’, which seemed to be enough for Long.

After three and half hours of walking, Vinh stopped the quartet on a low-lying clearing overlooking a cluster of trees surrounded by rice paddies of varying elevation.

“Vinh says this is the village.”

The mid-morning sun had begun to command their attention. They descended the hill and started onto a dirt walking path leading into the center of twelve small cement and mortar homes, a typical Vietnamese cluster with an all dirt village square, lined with tall palm trees on both sides that provided shade to the modest dwellings. Chickens scattered themselves throughout the area and several houses had water buffaloes still tied to the side of the dwellings. The village lay still, like an epidemic had erased every living soul, leaving the houses untouched to wrestle through the day by themselves. It was too early for the mid-day rest, and this lack of activity unnerved Vinh to the point of putting his hand over his pistol.

“Where is everyone?” Long asked in an unsettlingly loud tone.

“Shhhh,” Vinh quieted him.

Charles sensed the tension and slid in front of Mai and Long just in case. When they passed the eighth empty house, the walking path turned off to the left, leading to the final four houses of the village, including Vinh’s grandparents’ home. The sight startled them all. Forty or fifty people facing away from them, stood in a silent clump, a trance-like pose, looking towards the last house, which stood at the very edge of a rice paddy—a large expanse leading out to the untouched emerald hills in the distance.

Vinh picked up the pace and hurried down the path, yelling something that Charles couldn’t understand. Two men, then ten, turned around to see the Viet Minh soldier, intensity in his eyes, only able to see the top of the doorway of his family’s home.

The men greeted Vinh in piercing tones, yelling at him excitedly in a bitter way that bordered on rage—the type of rage which fuels mob violence, which takes the law into its own hands. And certainly, there was no law here—dozens of miles from the nearest magistrate who already had been stripped of his authority. This was wild country, with political enemies and ideologies at every turn, strange as it was in a community of farmers. They were no longer immune to the events of the world and stood in the midst of a tragic power-play nearly a hundred years in the making.

“What’s going on?” Charles asked Mai.

“I’m not sure.”

Long hung on Charles’ arm, and Mai tucked herself behind the American as Vinh parted the crowd to see a lone Vietnamese woman sitting on the ground, head down, weeping furiously, mumbling incomprehensible words. It was Vinh’s sister, Tuyet.

“Tuyet! What has happened here?”

She lifted her head, surprised to see her brother.

“Vinh, go away.”

“What is going on?” yelled Vinh.

“Mai?” Charles whispered in her ear.

“I don’t know. She’s telling him to leave. That it’s none of his business.”

Long came up beside his Uncle Vinh and recognized his auntie, whom he hadn’t seen in several years.

“Auntie, what’s wrong?” he wedged himself through the crowd of neighbors, and she welcomed him into her arms, rocking him back and forth, comforting him for a reason not apparent to the youngster.

Tuyet refused to speak with Vinh, holding Long tightly and crying continuously. At long last, one neighbor stepped up and pointed to the side of the house, telling Vinh to go around the corner and look.

“What is it?” Vinh asked.

The man shrugged his shoulders, shook his head, and blended back into the crowd, not wanting to be the one to reveal anything. Vinh, Charles, and Mai walked slowly around the edge of the house with all eyes following them. Urgent whispers spread throughout the horde in grand anticipation. As they rounded the corner, there sat an ox cart with small wheels and an open back. Bamboo slats formed the make-shift railings on the sides and front. On the cart lay cargo of some sort, covered with several red-dyed reed mats. Vinh approached with an empty mind but with a heart that knew better. He stood at the side of the cart, gripping the edge of the mat in trepidation, until he finally lifted it. Upon the cart lay …

To find out what was on the cart and read the rest of this explosive story, click HERE!

99 Cent Promotion & Excerpt 1: “The Reach of the Banyan Tree”

My latest novel will be on 99 cents on Kindle from Feb 25 through March 2. Please pick up a copy at the link below.

The following is an excerpt from the very beginning, setting up the premise and theme. I hope you enjoy. I’d love to hear your feedback.

*************************************************************************************************

Part I: Lost Souls Fifty-Five Years Apart

The Banyan Tree

“A banyan tree sees all, knows all, and keeps many secrets. It knows a time of bondage and a time of freedom. Its reach never stops; it keeps growing and expanding regardless of circumstances, regardless of difficulties. Time and destiny are on its side. In the end, the grand banyan tree, with its thirty-foot expanse, will once again sense order restored to the universe.”

Nguyen Van Vinh, 1945, French Indochina

The Cliff

August 1945 – Tonkin, French Indochina

Dinh-Hoa didn’t think twice about the tropical monsoon which made visibility a dead-stop nil. He kept up the pace and sloshed down the mud-laced mountainous route, complete with hairpin turns every tenth of a mile. The wipers of his Soviet-Zel lorry flapped furiously but did little to remove the thick, curled, dimpled drops that repainted themselves on the windshield as soon as the rubber wiped them away.

Dinh-Hoa’s truck raced on, encased in the black stormy night, carrying a payload that needed to arrive on time. Only foolishness could have clung to the side of that mountain on a night like this, but Dinh-Hoa had done it a hundred times before. He felt each turn with the newly treaded tires and trustingly leaned into each curve with increasing confidence. There were no road signs, no guardrails, and, luckily, no oncoming traffic.

He estimated that he had an hour and a half more till he cruised into the relative ease of the rice plains and then on to headquarters. Without warning, a large rock jumped out and hit the right-front tire. Dinh-Hoa slammed on the brakes and swerved slightly, feeling a sudden nervousness in his stomach, which quickly dissipated as he felt the front tires grip, bringing the lorry back under control.

“Stupid rain.”

He curled around the next turn and hit a mud patch which locked his wheels like a vehicle on open ice. Dinh-Hoa and the truck careened off the cliff into the canyon below, falling one thousand five-hundred feet, piercing the darkness with five hundred brand new rifles.

Prison

July 2000 – Thai Nguyen, northern Vietnam

Love is not wished for. Nor is it wished away. Love, lost or found, must be wrestled with on a daily basis.

He put down his pen after scratching out a few muddled words that escaped his mind in that blindingly dark place. Light existed—faint strands that peered through the small portal eight feet above him. The window measured no more than a foot in diameter, with thick iron bars. He felt the heat, the deafening silence, and the unrelenting smell of urine, which turned his mind into a confusion of dark thoughts, constantly attacking him, teasing his sanity, spending his emotion. He only had her memory—little good that would do him. The small black journal shook in his hand as he blotted out everything in his mind except her. Her untouchable, petite frame, her hair jettisoning down to her waist, her soft touch, her gentle voice taming the harshest of edges. His phantom thoughts mocked him, sending him into convulsions, which usually ended with him lying flat on the damp floor, sweat dripping profusely from his wilting body. I love her, he would think or say out loud. To him it made no difference. Drenched, parched, and completely expelled, he cried for his loss—for his love that would never be again.

She could never forgive me. Never.

A thought like this might have given courage to a brave man to end it all. But he was not brave. He cowered in the darkness and cried, hoping the night would lift its wretched curse. But the iron doors clanged instead, and the silent jailer slid the tray of cabbage soup and steamed rice along the brick floor. He would eat like the coward he was. He would stay alive. He would hold the little black journal in his hand. He would think of her, and then he would fall asleep, face down on the jute cot, and wake up the next day to do it all over again.

80,000 more words and an amazing story is waiting for you HERE!  Only 99 cents for a limited time!

Limited Time 99 cent Reads for your New Kindle

We know that Santa has delivered a lot of new Kindles recently, well now it’s time to stock on some excellent reads to get you started. My first two novels, Beauty Rising and The Recluse Storyteller are on sale for only 99 cents through December 31. Read the descriptions below and click the links to read reviews.

 


On Sale: December 25 – December 31, my second novel, The Recluse Storyteller, only $0.99 on Kindle. 4.6 stars with 33 reviews on Amazon.

18454126

The stories haunt Margaret every waking moment, but they are anything but random. A fractured view Michael Cheevers’ red hat through a discreetly cracked door sends her off on adventure. A glimpse of the Johnson twins from apartment 2D transports her mind to the lonely hill on a Midwestern prairie in 1887. The regular letters from Reverend Davies bring her to the brink of exhaustion as she stares intensely into the heart of war, deep in the jungle of Vietnam.

Margaret is not insane, at least not in a clinical sense. She’s like a midnight raccoon, painfully aware of her surroundings, gleaning crumbs of information at every turn. Her eyes peer incessantly in the night, stealing glances of the neighbors through partially opened doors. But the tales she weaves were not meant to merely hold empty court to the receptive dead air of her apartment. Her stories were meant to embolden the lives of the inhabitants of that drab apartment block because her story is also their story–and everything would be different if they could only hear the prophetic words of the rambling recluse.

Pick up your $0.99 copy HERE!  (Dec 25-31)


On Sale: December 25 – December 31, my debut novel, Beauty Rising, only $0.99 on Kindle. 4.4 stars with 84 reviews on Amazon.

 

Beauty Rising Mark W Sasse“My heart sank. I dumped my father’s ashes in the heart of communist Vietnam – over a thousand miles from the death of his comrades – over a thousand miles from the smile of that girl. How could I have been so stupid?”

Only the bumbling, overweight, thirtyish, stay-at-home Martin Kinney could have mistakenly flubbed his dying father’s request with such gusto. This thousand mile mistake awakens the ghosts of long-held family secrets and puts Martin on a fateful course with an unlikely romantic interest – a young, beautiful, yet troubled Vietnamese woman named My Phuong.

With its cross-cultural setting and unlikely romance, the 61,000 word novel Beauty Rising creates a powerful, unique voice in today’s literature. In a swift-moving, dialogue-driven prose which is funny, honest, tragic and unpredictable, Beauty Rising explores the depths of culture, family, and love as the Vietnam War, a generation removed, continues to hang on the periphery of society, cursing families and causing destruction.

Pick up your $0.99 copy HERE! (Dec 25-31)

 

Full Circle in One Week. The Story of my New Christmas Story.

Just a week ago I was sitting in a pool thinking, as I often do before I start writing. As I previously mentioned, I was planning out 2015 and had decided to turn my one short play, “If Love is a Crime, String Me Up” into a Christmas story to publish in November of 2015. Then I had a crazy idea. It was still November 30 at the time and I asked myself if it would be feasible to write a quality story in a week so I could release it this year on the second week of December.

I scoffed at the idea but decided to give it a try. Within 24 hours, I had a first draft nearly completed. This was fast! I never like to write and publish too quickly. A lot can go wrong, but there is something I had going for me on this project: I already had a quality story.

The play that my new Christmas story (“If Love is a Crime: A Christmas Story) is based upon already had a complete story with three well-developed characters. The dialogue of the story was basically already there, minus the Christmas aspect, so I just need to flesh out the details and put the setting on Christmas Eve. I already absolutely loved the characters, and I had already seen them performing on stage two weeks prior to this. These were solid characters with a simple, but yet profound story to tell. So I moved forward. Here’s what I did throughout the week to get the story ready for publication.

Monday – I contacted my book cover designer and asked if he had any free time to see if he could whip me up a simple e-book cover within a week. He did much better than that. By noon Monday, he had already sent me FOUR sample covers. Wow! Now I knew I had to write a quality story. By Monday night I had finished a first draft, which was, actually, too closely connected to the play and not closely connected enough to Christmas.

Tuesday – I laid down some additional story twists and background information which was not present in the play. I figured out that Beatrice, our protagonist, was a widower. This is her first Christmas alone without her husband, Homer. I also brought in an angel gift that Homer had previously given her. It would now play a prominent role in the story.

Wed – Re-read and re-write. I also coaxed my wife to read it, the first and only person who has read it at this point. She caught some things which needed changing to improve the flow of the story. She also caught my mistakes. Asked my book designer to add a little color to the cover. Done.

Thurs – Re-read and re-write.

Friday – Re-read and edit.

Saturday – Double re-read. Also laid out the e-book and got it looking nice and pretty.

Sunday – Re-read by both myself and my wife. And this is where I find myself. A week older, and now with a new story under my belt, ready to be released tomorrow.

I hope it is an inspirational and meaningful read for people. I hope they love Beatrice as much as I do. What an incredible woman! You’ll see what I mean if you read it.

This is not something that I would do all the time, rush a story to publication in a week. For my novels, it takes between 6 months and a year from the time they are finished to the time I push them out. I feel it’s necessary to take it slowly, ensuring the quality is where I want it to be.

But with this one, I am confident that it is the story I want to tell. I hope everyone will like it.

And so I’m pleased to announce the release of my first, published short story: “If Love is a Crime: A Christmas Story.”

Enjoy.

PURCHASE THE STORY ON AMAZON HERE!

 

KindleCover-IfLoveIsACrime

It truly is a good deal! 99 cent 5-STAR read! Time is running out!

It truly is a good deal! 99 cent 5-STAR read! Time is running out!

What can you get for 99 cents?

A candy bar. A can of soda-pop. A newspaper (just not on Sunday).

One song on iTunes. (or maybe not anymore)

Yet, here you have it: hours of hours of engaging entertainment for only 99 cents!

Right now – for the next 48 hours – the new release The Reach of the Banyan Tree is less than a dollar!

For value, it’s truly hard to beat. That’s if it’s a good read. I’ve been told that it is.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what others have said. (and, no, I didn’t pay them)

Book reviewer Fran Lewis says:

“Once again Mark Sasse pens a novel so poignant, with two loves so powerful and filled with hope that only he can bring it to light.”

Book reviewer Michelle James says:

“The characters are well defined, and so believable it is difficult to separate historical fact from fiction. Add the elements of romance and mystery, and you have a book that is hard to put down.”

And there’s a lot more where that came from.

ONLY TWO DAYS LEFT – First time ever at 99 cents. Get it before the Kindle Countdown Deal runs out.

Thanks for your support!