W.P. Kinsella & My 11th Novel

I emailed my manuscript of my 11th novel off to my editor yesterday. That’s always a momentous day! It’s entitled THE LOST LINEUP and it’s Book 2 of Myths & Tales of the Winasook Iron Horses. Have no idea if there will ever be a book three. No plans at the moment, but then again, I had no plans on writing a sequel to A DIAMOND FOR HER (book 1) until I was finished writing it. The genesis of book 2 is in the person of deceased Canadian author W.P. Kinsella – best known for his novel SHOELESS JOE which was filmed as the classic 1989 film FIELD OF DREAMS.

I had been an admirer of Kinsella’s writing, having read another of his baseball novels THE IOWA BASEBALL CONFEDERACY. It was the mystical and magical realism that I loved. Baseball to me had always risen above the mundane. There was something magical about it. When I used to pitch, and I stood on the mound and stared down the opponent, I felt something deep within me that seemed right. A settledness – even if the big bruiser lined a rocket off my shines. It was still meant to be.

When I started writing novels, I always knew that I wanted to write a baseball novel one day, and I knew that Kinsella would be an influence. What I didn’t know is that W.P. Kinsella himself would end up as one of the characters in my novel.

In the novel, Kinsella is the brash, no-nonsense caretaker of the game who is protecting it from historical evil forces. Can’t give too much away. The protagonist, Charles Henry, who is the literary author of the books – it’s written in the style that the protagonist is writing a memoir of his favorite team the Winasook Iron Horses – and as he is searching for clues to a certain field in Iowa which may possibly be a portal to the gods of baseball – yeah, it’s a crazy ride – his path crosses with Kinsella and they have a series of run-ins as they discover a lineup of forgotten historical players who want one more chance to play again.

I must say, however, that I have fallen in love with this Kinsella character, and it is my hope that he would have enjoyed his character’s role in this novel. If it was a movie, his character would be a hoot to play. What gave me the idea to use Kinsella was Kinsella himself. In SHOELESS JOE, he used J.D. Salinger as a character, so I thought it would be fun to pay a little homage to the idea and bring Kinsella himself into the story. I hope readers will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

It’s a mixture of adventure, thriller, magical realism, fantasy, and sports fiction.

Releasing summer 2022: THE LOST LINEUP.

Here is the exclusive, unedited foreword to the novel written by the protagonist Charles Henry. Enjoy:

I regret it has taken me so long to write a follow-up to the Raymond and Rochelle Blythe’s story. What I expected to have taken mere months, especially after finding a copy of W.P. Kinsella’s The Iowa Baseball Confederacy at the Rochelle Blythe Memorial Library in Winasook, has taken me years. There are reasons, the biggest being the death of my wife merely two weeks after the publication of A Diamond for Her. I had wallowed in her death for far too long (or perhaps not long enough) when I decided I needed a change. That’s when I left for Iowa.
What ensued became this book. It is difficult to articulate everything that has happened to me or even to conjecture the meaning of it all, but I will attempt, chapter by chapter, to explain the bizarre tale.
I don’t ask for your belief. That would be silly of me. But I do ask for your understanding, for in empathy we may all glide a step further towards the truth (hopefully, without over-sliding it).
Again, the shifts in point of view are meant for your reading enjoyment. Plus, I do want to distance myself from the story as much as possible, because it is not about me. Except in the sense that it is about all of us.
With earnest in the mythical properties of ball,

Charles “Shoeshine” Henry
Winasook, Pennsylvania
May 1989

A New Favorite Review of A DIAMOND FOR HER

Bonnie @ Bonniereadsandwrites wrote a terrific review of my newly released novel. She states:

“Mark W. Sasse has created a book that is captivating, remarkable, and full of the American spirit.”

and …

“In the tradition of W.P. Kinsella, Mark W. Sasse brings the magic of baseball to life.”

Head on over to her terrific review site to read the entire review:

Remember, if you want a paperback copy, please ask for it at your local independent bookstore. They need your support!

New Novel Now Available: A DIAMOND FOR HER: MYTHS & TALES OF THE WINASOOK IRON HORSES

It’s available! Grab your copy now:

KINDLE eBook Version:

Paperback?

Best option: Head to local independent bookstore and ask for it. If they don’t have it, they can order it for you. Please ask them to stock a couple copies for you at release.

Library? If you don’t want to buy it, go to your local public library and ask them to purchase a copy. Easy available through library distributor Ingram.

Paperback Online?

The story:

He loved her enough to build her a baseball stadium.

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.

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.

Non-Baseball Fan Review of A DIAMOND FOR HER

My goal in writing A DIAMOND FOR HER was to make the story interesting even for non-baseball fans. Well, according to Rose Auburn, who reviewed it for her website, I succeeded. Rose writes:

“I will confess that I know nothing about baseball (I’m English) and A Diamond For Her is steeped in baseball lore, knowledge and mechanics; it is a veritable homage to the sport. My lack of interest did not massively detract from my enjoyment of the novel.”

She ends her review by calling it “An endearing, light-hearted and original novel that is wholly accessible even if you do not have a keen interest in baseball. Highly recommended.”

Rose wrote a terrific and detailed review of the novel, and I highly encourage you to read its entire contents at her website https://www.roseauburn.com/post/a-diamond-for-her-myths-tales-of-the-winasook-iron-horses.

Only 9 more days until its release. It’s like one day is one inning. I can do this!

What a year … for writing!

I’m sure I don’t need to rehash the monstrous year 2020 has proved to be. And I won’t. Who would want to re-live that?

And yet, I’m fairly sure there were positives along the way. A focus on family. Time to delve into areas which had been neglected. And writing. Yes. For me, this year has helped me focus in on several areas which I haven’t been able to focus on in years. So, thank you, 2020! Here’s how it helped this writer.

Compilations. I’ve been meaning to compile a bunch of my short plays forever, but time, you know. Well, 2020 provided time. In abundance. So I went at it and in the course of the year, I was able to release volumes 2, 3, 4, 5 of my short play collection. Here they are:

I’m so happy to get these out to the public, or at least the (shuttered) theatre industry. These are plays I’ve written over the past ten years. All have been stage produced and just need a gentle nudge to get onto the stage again. So once Covid is done … well, I’m proud of these works. I hope people enjoy them.

On the story front, I published my first Malaysian novel in July: Moses the Singer!

I had wanted to write a novel about my beloved Penang for many years, and I was thrilled to get this YA release out and about in the middle of the year.

Lastly, during the darkest lockdown days of spring 2020, I found myself with a lot of extra time to write, and I finally wrote the baseball novel that I always wanted to write: A DIAMOND FOR HER: MYTHS AND TALES OF THE WINASOOK IRON HORSES. I can’t tell you how much fun I had writing this. It was, for me, my most enjoyable novel to date. I had always wanted to write a baseball novel, but I just wasn’t inspired until the quietness of COVID lockdown allowed me to explore areas I never would have anticipated. The novel is now three months out from release and available for pre-order. What a great year … for writing. Here’s to hoping 2021 is a great year for everything else.

When Lightning Strikes: The First 300 Words

I love talking about writing. I don’t know why. I guess it’s a tangent of the creative process, a way of analysis. However, more times than not, talking about writing is more akin to trying to demystify the brain. In other words, it’s smoke and mirrors because writing is not an analytical sport, it’s a metaphysical mish-mesh of hail marys and lightning strikes.

If that first paragraph makes no sense, simply ignore. Here’s the relevant part: I just wrote the first chapter and the first 300 words of my next novel.

I wrote a post not too long ago where I outlined the options of my next project. Since then, I still hadn’t written anything or even concluded on which avenue I would chose until, that is, the lightning struck.

It struck earlier this week and it was fast and furious after that. In a moment, I could visualize it in front of me, and I started pecking at the keys with all the various strands that came to me like a sudden, overwhelming summer storm. I jotted down people and places and situations and plot twists. Those moments of sheer creative joy are the most fun part of writing for me. It’s exploratory, it’s surprising, it’s rewarding. Think about that. I’m doing the thinking, yet I’m the one who is surprised. How does that even work? This fully shows just how bizarre the creative process is for me.

This morning, a few days after the lightning had passed, I finally typed out the first 300 words. Funny thing, however, these first 300 weren’t even in the original revelation of the other night. Another surprise. And on a further note, this first chapter has a wonderful cliff-hanger. Someone shows up. Someone whom others had been waiting on. You know what? I don’t even know who it is yet! That’s the exciting part! The quest is on. I am on a jaunt of discovery to find out who that person is. It’s a long meandering puzzle that only I can put together.

Does anyone else get this excited about writing?

A few details of what I’m working on. It’s a sequel of sorts to the novel I’ll be releasing on April 1, 2020. That one is called A DIAMOND FOR HER: Myths and Tales of the Winasook Iron Horses. The new one? Let’s give it a working title. How about Iowa She Said? That will work for now.

And the cover reveal for A Diamond for Her will be soon!

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.