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.

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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!

A New Review – Some Author Comparisons – Some Reasons to Read “Banyan Tree”

Author, blogger, book reviewer – Eileen Granfors – gives a wonderful new book review of my latest, The Reach of the Banyan Tree. She also dropped some author names whom she used as a comparison. I am, of course, humbled by her kind words. She also coaxed out of me a list of 10 books which have inspired me. It’s all on her blog. The opening section of her review is here, but do head on over and read it in its entirety. And if you haven’t checked out “Banyan Tree” yet, I’d be honored. Enjoy.

“Historical fiction is my favorite genre, and Mark Sasse has joined my list of must-read authors in the genre. I would compare his work to that of both James Clavell and John Shors.

Sasse’s plots are intricate, as they should be in historical fiction. The story takes us through several generations, with the concomitant sociological-political-historical details of the time. This alone might suffice to satisfy my curiosity about eras of world history. But Sasse, as an observant writer, also develops setting and character and plot twists.”

Read the entire review HERE!

New Excerpt from “The Reach of the Banyan Tree”

In this excerpt, the small teen, Long, who is large in spirit and hatred for the French colonialists, insists on trying to shoot a rifle and almost ends up shooting an Allied plane. Setting: Tan Trao – Tonkin, French Indochina – July 16, 1945. Enjoy.

“Can I try?”

“We don’t allow skinny school boys to shoot,” said one of the gruff soldiers.

“I’m not a school boy.”

“Well, you should be.”

“I wouldn’t go to a French school if you paid me,” snapped the precocious teen.

“Well that’s good because there aren’t any French schools around here, and I wouldn’t pay you to wipe my boots. What are you? Eight?”

“I’m fourteen, and my uncle says I can join the revolution in eight months.”

“I didn’t know they were allowing babies into the army now,” another soldier jested with him.

“I’m not a baby.”

“You could have fooled me. You have to be taller than a rifle to actually shoot a rifle.”

The gaunt, malnourished, height-challenged youngster scoffed at those petty remarks. He may have been small, but he had the spirit of a warrior who wanted nothing more than to help the revolution. His uncle had taught him a hatred for the French that bred easily amongst the weary-laden souls living in a war-torn colony that had suffocated under eighty years of the foreigners trying to squeeze blood from their Asian turnip. The French, somehow, found a steady stream of income where there was no money or resources, with only the raw-boned determination of the Vietnamese peasants willing to work all day for a bowl of rice gruel. The abuse was all well documented—the rubber plantations that used corvee labor in near slave-like conditions to produce the sap to profit the large French corporations. The French imposed a quota on alcohol that each village was required to purchase whether they wanted it or not and whether it took away from their necessary grain purchases. They opened opium dens, addicting large portions of the male population while forbidding the sale of opiates of any kind in France itself. They purposefully kept the education system unattainable for the vast majority of the population, giving a French education to just enough Annamese to fill the necessary low-level administration posts in order to serve the colony and the French Empire.

“Come on. Let me try one.”

“Go ahead. Teach him a lesson,” said one of the soldiers.

“All right. Here you go.”

He put the outdated French relic on his shoulder and pointed it down-field towards a broken wooden crate with an “x” painted across it.

“Watch this,” said the cocky young man.

His eye lined up along the barrel and pulled the trigger hard but nothing happened.

“You have to pull it back further.”

“I know,” said Long.

“You know about as much as my ox.”

He flinched once and pulled back with his finger as hard as he could. The barrel went flying upward and the shot rang out into the heavens as Long blew back onto the ground.

“What are you shooting at?”

“Must be that plane there,” chimed in another soldier.

On the horizon, the rolling hum of a C-47 pierced the sky.

“Idiot! That’s a friendly plane. It’s the Americans.”

Long hoped that the trajectory of the bullet didn’t find its way into the path of the Allied plane. As he watched it get closer, shouting could be heard in the camp.

“They’re coming! They’re coming!”

“Slim. You better hurry or you’re going to miss it!” yelled Long.

You can pick up a copy of The Reach of the Banyan Tree HERE!

Kindle $2.99  Paperback: $10.79

 

Excerpt: “If Love is a Crime: A Christmas Story”

Excerpt: “If Love is a Crime: A Christmas Story”

Here’s an excerpt from the opening scene of my new Christmas Story, where Beatrice finds an unexpected visitor shivering in the cold in front of her cabin. The full story can be purchased exclusively on Kindle for only $0.99 cents HERE!

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT:

She pulled at the nearly finished shawl hanging off the side of the table and skillfully bobbed and weaved the last few inches of the left tail, humming lightly a few bars of a Christmas hymn, randomly making comments to herself, most of which would have made no sense to another human being if one had been within a stone’s throw. She was ravenously intent on her shawl and stitched away for some time until Snowy, the plough horse tied up on the side of the cabin, grunted wildly.

“Now what is it, Snowy?”

Thud.

Something hit the side of the house. Beatrice stood immediately but didn’t move a muscle. She put her finger in her mouth and bit down in fierce concentration, intently listening for any other sound. She heard it. A scraping. Light and slow. It slid along the front of the cabin and stopped under the wooden, hinged panel, which swung open in the summer to let the breeze permeate the room. Beatrice stepped daintily, as if on thin ice, putting her head against the wooden shutters, packed tightly with wool strands meant to keep the drafts out during the winter months. She heard a faint whimper, like that of a frightened puppy. A hollow wailing, soft yet agonizing.

She walked over and lit the candle in the lantern, threw her new shawl over her shoulders, and slowly opened the front door. An early winter breeze startled her, but she lifted the light and shone it around the corner to the small divot in the ground where she had started digging a hole to replant her rhododendron but never got around to it. A figure, dark, blended into the night, huddled in a ball, shaking, panting softly with her head down in her knees.

“Hey, sweetheart. You’re shivering. Don’t be afraid. It’s all right. It’s cold out here, that’s for sure.”

Beatrice stepped two feet towards the shaking mass, who quickly backed away, slyly looking to her left at the lantern, which lit up Beatrice’s jolly-round face.

“Do you want to come in?”

The girl shook her head, tightening her arms’ grip around her knees. She wore rags completely torn at the bottom with shards of ripped cloth hanging down her legs. She had nothing on her feet.

“Well, I had a mind of getting a little fresh air myself. I think I’ll sit out here for a minute, if that’s all right with you.” Beatrice glanced over at the girl, who kept staring at her with no movement whatsoever. “Actually, I’m rather warm myself. I’ve been poking those hot coals in the stove all evening,” continued Beatrice. “I had the hardest time getting them to burn evenly tonight. I made a whole heap of biscuits.” Beatrice leaned in to whisper like she was about to divulge to the world a shameful secret. “Don’t tell anyone, but I almost burnt half of them. Don’t suppose you’re hungry, are you?”

Beatrice sat down on a log bench outside the front door and placed the lantern at the edge, illuminating the girl’s profile, who sat in the impending rhododendron pit.

“Well, are you hungry or not?”

The girl shook her head in a predetermined, mechanical manner.

“Well, I didn’t think so,” said Beatrice. “Young girls running through the meadows in rags on Christmas Eve are rarely hungry. Or at least that’s been my experience.”

Read the entire story HERE!

My Christmas Story: A First Review and some Chart Movement

After its first day of release, “If Love is a Crime: A Christmas Story” has already netted its first review, and it has cracked the top ten in two Amazon categories.

I was particularly pleased with how the first review starts: “lovely. warm. something you want to read with a cup of tea in hand sitting by a roaring fire.”

If that review doesn’t scream Christmas, I don’t know what does. It was my intent to write a feel good story that has some profound substance underneath.

It’s also cool that it has checked in at #27 under historical fiction short stories and #86 under Kindle Short Reads.

I hope to keep it rolling, so please check it out. Much appreciated.

Amazon USA link: HERE!

Amazon UK link: HERE!

Amazon Canada link: HERE!

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One Last Day – It’s Still a Sweet Deal – “Banyan Tree” @ $1.99

One Last Day – It’s Still a Sweet Deal – “Banyan Tree” @ $1.99

The new release, The Reach of the Banyan Tree, is finishing out its 6-day run on its first ever Kindle Countdown Deal. There’s now only 24 hours remaining to catch it at its reduced price before it settles back in at its normal price.

As some reviewers have pointed out, it really does have a little of everything. It’s set in two time periods – 2000 and 1945. It has a stirring romance, but it’s much more than that. It explores the cultural and family ties of a modern day Vietnamese family. It has a touch of intense war. It has a diverse and interesting cast of characters including a billionaire big-mouth, oil tycoon from Texas. It’s an adventure as the protagonist has to decide what to do about love. It has political back-room deals and plenty of shady characters. It has laughter, tragedy, and twists and turns galore.

I hope you will check it out. Much appreciated!

The Reach of the Banyan Tree HERE!

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!