Done. Polished. Finished. Novel #5

I remember the days when I was a failed novelist, unable to get beyond page 2.

I don’t take those memories lightly. They mean a lot. And to get to where I currently am has been a lot of work and determination. It’s humbling, really. To get to the point where you can do something you love, feel passionate about it, and yet want to keep improving.

And so, with many memories of failure in the past, I’m happy to announce that novel #5 – Which Half David – is finished. Completely.

It’s done. Edited. Polished and re-polished. I’ve put everything into this one, and whether people like it or not, I’m proud of what it is.

And what is it? It’s the story I wanted to tell.

It’s also my longest story ever at about 97,000 words. I remember the days when I didn’t think I’d be able to go from novella length to minimum novel length of 50,000 words.

It has a subtitle, my first novel to have one: “A Modern-day King David Story.”

I think that will help define it to its audience.

It’s diverse and unique. It sits comfortably in general fiction while dabbling in genres of literary, crime, religious, love story, Christian, and just plan fun!

It’s release date is September 15. I’m still knee-deep in pre-release promotion, and it will soon be available for pre-order on Amazon.

It will also be available in paperback, hopefully by it’s release date.

Review copies are available if anyone is interested.

Here’s the blurb:

American mission worker Tobin Matthews faces off against two imposing giants: a vicious gang of human traffickers and a corrupt justice system ready to imprison a group of hill tribesmen. But his greatest foe remains within as he finds himself wrestling with a broken marriage and a crippling set of doubts. When his brazen ex-lover shows up with her own agenda, she becomes the greatest temptation of his life, and he must decide how far he is willing to go to have her.

Which Half David is a modern twist on the centuries old tale of King David. Set against the lush backdrop of the fictitious Southeast Asian island nation of Sulu, it is the story of one man’s dramatic fall from grace and his struggle to come to grips with both halves of who he really is.

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A Steal of a Deal! 99 cents! “A Love Story for a Nation” – LIMITED TIME OFFER

My newest novel will be on 99 cent promotion on Kindle from December 19 – December 26.

Where else can you get hours of riveting entertainment for 99 cents?

I may be biased, but check out the independent reviews and decide for yourself. I think you’ll agree, this is a great deal!

Get your 99 cent copy HERE! Read reviews! 4.8 stars on Amazon!

I received an email this week that said the following (no I didn’t make this up):

“I just finished A Love Story and thought you should know that I think it is wonderful! Any story that makes you think about your own life; what you could do better; what you should do more or less of to affect positive change…that’s a winner to me.”

There you have it. Anonymous email person said it better than I could.

Please pick up a copy, share with others, write a review, and enjoy!

ALoveStoryforaNation Cover LARGE

Are second halves of novels better?

As I finish up my due diligence with my fourth and soon (with 3 months) to be released novel, I came across a strange realization: the writing in the second half of my novel is better.

I’m doing a final, thorough read-through and I noticed a strange difference in attitude between my perception of each half of the novel. While I was reading the first half, I found myself cringing at times, thinking how the language was plodding, confining, and at times rather dull. I did my best to pick up the pace and improve it as I went along.

But over the last couple of days, as I have been reading the second half, I find myself enjoying my writing much better. I find myself thinking what a clever little sentence that is or how smooth-flowing it feels. The language seems perkier, the descriptions more vivid, and the characters more exciting. I found myself reading more and more at each sitting, wanting to know what was going to happen even though it wasn’t going to be a surprise.

So the question remains: is the first half of my novel not written as well as the second half? Or might there be a different explanation.

I have to go with the latter. There must be a different reason why my perception is so off and it might be as simple as this: second halves of novels are always better than first halves. (and if they aren’t, you have a serious problem on your hands)

I’ve read reviews of books which stated that the first few chapters of a novel were gripping only to fizzle out in the end. This is often attributed to an author putting in an inordinate amount of time on the beginning as he or she tries to hook in the reader into purchasing it. This obviously is a tragic mistake that authors need to avoid. While gripping opening passages are important, what’s more important is seeing the novel through to the end, and making the ending unforgettable. Who cares if they forget the beginning, just make sure they want to read to the end.

Great books have great endings for a variety of simple reasons.

The characters are more developed by the end. The reader has grown with the character and has become more attached, thus heightening the impact of the story.

The storyline is working towards its climax. It’s always more exciting when the twists and turns of a plot are revealed and the readers are left breathless to find out what is about to happen.

Authors have much more to play with and much more meat to hang their words upon towards the end of the novel.

I hope my analysis is correct and the first half of my novel is just as well written as the second half. But if I’m wrong, hang in there. At least the ending is good.

New “Banyan Tree” Review: “Excellent Story, Beautifully Written”

Cathy from Cath’n’ Kindle Book Review recently posted her review of my latest novel, “The Reach of the Banyan Tree.”

She starts off by saying this:

“Mark Sasse never disappoints. He writes with heart and soul and sucks you right into his characters’ world…wherever and whenever it is.”

And ends by saying this:

“It’s an excellent story, beautifully written, quite possibly his best book yet. Highly recommended.”

She says a lot of wonderful things in the middle of those two quotes. Please head on over to her website and check out the entire review. And if it moves you to check out a good read, well I’d be honored to have you read it. Much appreciated!

Read the entire review: HERE!

I’m not a genre writer

Genres are popular. I get it. Genres categorize novels so readers can browse through the books they are more likely to be interested in.  (Yes, that’s a preposition at the end of a sentence. It’s late, and I don’t feel like re-writing it. Plus, that’s what blogs are for.) 

Back to genres.

Many authors are extremely successful by finding their genre, claiming their niche, and sticking with it. Readers come to know what to expect and eagerly wait to read the next installment or series.

But not me. I’m definitely not a genre writer.

I don’t write YA.

I don’t write Horror.

I don’t write romance.

I don’t write historical fiction.

I don’t write dystopian, steam punk, fantasy, or any other genre.

I’m what they call a fiction writer. I write fiction. Sounds kind of bland, doesn’t it?

Sometimes my works have been called contemporary fiction or literary fiction. But does anyone even know what literary fiction actually means? And what criteria would one use to include or not include a novel into the literary fiction genre?

I have no idea.

I guess what I’m saying is, I really don’t like genres and how everything in the industry is categorized as this or that. But that’s the reality. I guess that is our human nature. We like to define and box-in whatever we can in order to …? what? I’m not sure. We humans like control. Perhaps that’s the issue. Control. We like the neat and tidy, so our brains can grasp the black and whiteness of everything. Classic western culture and its dichotomistic thinking.

So I’m always uncomfortable when someone asks me what genre my novel, Beauty Rising, is. I wish I could just say it’s a good story that you’ll like. Just try it.

But I usually sigh, and categorize it as fiction or general fiction or literary fiction (again, based on what criteria?) or contemporary fiction (since it does take place in modern day).

I loathe to call it a romance because that has certain clear connotations – although my novel certainly has a romance in it, which is crucial to the story line.

It’s not a war story, though everything in the story has its relation to or roots in the Vietnam War era.

It’s not a historical novel, though it has a lot of history in it – especially in the chapter named “Hanoi.”

It’s not a crime novel, though there are scenes of theft, murder, political corruption, and probably a few other crimes.

The one thing I do know is this: it’s a work of fiction. Isn’t that enough?

Perhaps not.

I don’t see me ever being a genre writer. I will write where my inspiration takes me, and that is usually in many different directions. I can’t wait for my second novel to be released because it is very different from my first. I can’t wait to hear the reaction (or backlash).

Either way. It will be similar to Beauty Rising in at least one way.

It will be a work of fiction/general fiction/literary fiction.

I guess I do have a genre.