Way Cool Pictures of Hanoi & Its Rare Statue of Liberty! (and an Excerpt)

I came across these amazing and rare photos of the famous Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi from the time of French Colonialism. And to my astonishment, they had an actual French-made replica of the Statue of Liberty. Look at these cool photos from the turn of the 19th century. Rare Photos

This lake and I have a lot of history. Hanoi is my old stomping grounds. Used to ride bicycles then motorbikes around that lake many-many-numerous-too-many-to-count times. There was no Statue of Liberty at that time. The French were roundly defeated in 1954 and who knows what actually happened to the statue. That lake is the heart-and-soul of Hanoi. On any given morning or evening, thousands of Hanoians are out and about doing a myriad of activities and …  you know what? I’ve written about this. Here’s my description of the lake from my first novel, “Beauty Rising.” Enjoy!

————————–Excerpt from “Beauty Rising” ————————————

We crossed the street and started walking around the edge of the lake. People were everywhere doing everything. A group of old men sat under a lamp post playing Chinese chess. A steady stream of joggers weaved their way through the commotion. A group of boys carrying wooden boxes approached every foreigner asking if they wanted a shoe shine. Couples snuggled close on benches gazing at the lake, perhaps hoping for a turtle sighting. Sellers balanced a scale-like bamboo contraption over their shoulders hawking exotic fruit and freshly baked baguettes while others sold toothbrushes, toiletries, and toothpicks. One small boy tagged along with our threesome halfway around the lake imploring us to buy a pack of Wrigley’s gum from him. The chaos overwhelmed my senses, and I became entranced by the ceaseless action and the unrelenting flow of people. Every few seconds I saw that girl, the one I had clung on to, the one who stole from me, the one with the innocent face and the smooth skin. The one that nearly smiled at me. There she went again and again. Every thin face, every curved body, every long-haired girl looked identical to her. I wished the girl, whom I had held in my tight grip, had smiled at me. What would I have done? My dad knew what to do when a girl smiled at him. I was not like my dad.
Magical. My heart stood squarely in a magical place. I could feel the swelling of my hands and the lump in my throat. This is Vietnam. This is where my dad left his soul. This is where the girl smiled at him. This is where my dad will remain forever.

First Book on NoiseTrade – Grab it now!

I’m happy to announce a special promotion I’m doing in conjunction with NoiseTrade. They will be featuring my debut novel from 2012, Beauty Rising, in their massive 1.5 million member, curated newsletter.

How does it work?  Easy. You can download the novel for free in either ePub or Mobi (Kindle) format, so you can read it on any device. You will also have the opportunity to leave the author a tip if you like. Not required. Completely up to you! Here’s the NoiseTrade link for my book:

“Beauty Rising” on NOISETRADE

I’ve been familiar with noisetrade for a number of years. It started as a site for musicians to create buzz about their music by offering free downloads. It expanded into books in 2014, and I’m happy to be part of what they are doing. I’m hoping for a bunch more new readers to jump on board. Check out Noisetrade’s music, books, and especially “Beauty Rising.”

BeautyRising-04CenturyGothic

 

Not too late: “Beauty Rising” still at 99 cents!

If you haven’t had a chance yet, “Beauty Rising” – my debut novel from 2012 – is still running a 99 cent sale for 2 more days on Kindle.

It’s a fast, fun, and unexpected read. You can read one of the 85 reviews on Amazon, and even pop through the first couple chapters for free. I hope they hook you in.

Get Beauty Rising HERE!

Beauty Rising Mark W Sasse

Also available in paperback:

From The Book Depository with Free Worldwide Shipping

paperback beauty rising

A Steal of a Deal: “Beauty Rising” (my debut novel) only 99 cents through Oct 18.

My first novel, still near and dear to my heart, is on a Kindle Countdown Deal for only 99 cents through October 18.

Get your copy here!

What’s it about? Many have described it as a late-coming-of-age story and that’s certainly true. Here’s some facts about it:

Date First Published: December 2012

Main Characters: Martin Kinny (30ish, still live at home going nowhere type – also overweight, not remarkably attractive); My Phuong (a beautiful, young, troubled Vietnamese woman)

Setting: Contemporary: Thai Nguyen & Hanoi Vietnam; Lyndora, Pennsylvania;

Narration: 1st person from two points of view

Part I: Section narrated by Martin: As his dying, abusive father (a Vietnam vet) asks Martin to take his ashes back to Nam, Martin tries to accomplish it, but ends up flubbing everything, including getting his wallet stolen, which makes him completely at the mercy of Vietnamese society to get back home

Part II: Section narrated by My Phuong: She chronicles how she stole Martin’s wallet, and how that seemingly benign event which she did many times before, ends up throwing her headlong into a series of events that should could have never predicted – including running for her very life.

Part III: Section narrated by Martin: In strange, unexpected ways, the two stories of Martin and My Phuong come together with a lot of uncertainty brewing under the surface.

Other Important Characters:

Martin’s Mother: weary and worn after a lifetime of living with her abusive husband; she resents all things Vietnam.

The Vietnamese Politician: He lures My Phuong into a web of deceit, where she becomes his trapped mistress.

This is an emotional novel which packs a wallop – especially at the end. Anyone who enjoys stories of love, deceit, culture, adventure, travel, or growing-up will find something enjoyable in “Beauty Rising”

Please check it out!

Beauty Rising Mark W Sasse

 

My Debut Novel – Now only 99 cents through July 20!

Hey all,

If you haven’t had a chance to read my debut novel from December 2012, it’s only 99 cents on Kindle through July 20.

Beauty Rising is it’s name. It brings together two very unlikely people into a relationship that no one could have ever predicted – a 40ish over-weight, yet-to-grow-up American man and a beautiful, young, troubled Vietnamese girl.

As one reviewer called it, it’s a late coming of age story about culture, family, and the past which some people can never get away from.

Martin Kinney travels to Vietnam to bury the ashes of his late father – an abusive Vietnam War Vet.  His wallet is stolen, which sucks him into the Vietnamese culture far more than he ever would have predicted.

My Phuong, the Vietnamese girl, has a secret past she ran away from. She spends her nights on the seedy side of town, just trying to survive. When she becomes the mistress of a local Vietnamese politician, she realizes how trapped she has become.

How will Martin and My Phuong ever meet? And what explosive ending is waiting for them?

Pick up Beauty Rising for 99 cents and find out!  It’s a page-turner told in first person narration from two points of view.

Grab it cheap before it’s gone! Beauty Rising Here!

Beauty Rising Mark W Sasse

“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.

“Beauty Rising” – A Beauty of a Read – Kindle 99 cents – Limited Time!

“Beauty Rising” – A Beauty of a Read – Kindle 99 cents – Limited Time!

I’m sure I’ll always have a soft spot for my debut novel, Beauty Rising, which is still less than two years away from its release date.

I’m happy to offer it on Kindle for only 99 cents for a very limited time! Please pick up a copy if you haven’t read it yet, and pass on word to fellow readers. It has 85 reviews on Amazon to peruse, so you should be able to get a good idea whether its your kind of story or not.

I think it will be. Many have described it as a late coming-of-age-story. That’s a fair description. It’s all about Martin, his dying Vietnam vet father, and, My-Phuong, the lady he inadvertently meets on his unexpected trip to Vietnam.

It’s a quick, gripping read that will keep you guessing and thinking. Especially the explosive ending.

Give it a try, and thanks for your support!

Read reviews and purchase Beauty Rising HERE!

Beauty Rising Mark W Sasse