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He put the outdated French relic on his shoulder and pointed it down-field towards a broken wooden crate with an “x” painted across it.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

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

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!

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!

Oh yeah, I have a book release soon.

2014-06-17 07.32.29I feel like I’ve fallen off the grid this past week for a very good reason – my daughter’s wedding. It was the most perfect day. Touching ceremony and wonderful celebratory reception.

And now I realize that I have eight days until the release of The Reach of the Banyan Tree. OK, time to get focused.

Ready or not, here it comes.

It’s here! Proof of The Recluse Storyteller

 

 

 

I’m getting super excited! It’s almost here. What is here is the proof copy of the paperback. It’s looking great. A few adjustments and it will be ready for the October 8 release. I can’t wait to finally get it out there. Coming soon to an on-line bookstore near you!
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The Recluse Storyteller: A Long Synopsis

I’m very excited about the release of my second novel in a little more than a month. So much to do! Here’s my first long synopsis of the novel. Hopefully, it will intrigue you enough to check it out when it releases. Your comments are appreciated. Thanks.

Red Hat hijacks a yoghurt truck and barrels into the Chester Walz Bank at full speed, desperate to open a safety deposit box. 

The twins, beckoned by an ominous streak of light across the sky, climb Harper’s Hill to encounter an apparition of their missing father. 

The reverend stands on a muddy ridge, the barrel of a rifle in his neck, looking down on a Vietnamese village, scarred by war and regret. 

The stories come to Margaret at all times, but they are anything but random. A fractured view of Michael Cheevers’ red hat through a discreetly cracked door sends her off on adventure. A glimpse of the Johnson twins from apartment 2D takes her to the lonely hill on a Midwestern prairie in 1887. The regular letters from Reverend Davies, who has tried to look after Margaret since the death of her mother, brings her to the brink of exhaustion, staring 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, gleaming crumbs of information at every turn; eyes peering incessantly in the night, stealing glances of neighbors behind partially opened doors.

But the tales that 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 her stories.

The Recluse Storyteller weaves five stories into one as the loner Margaret not only searches for meaning from her reclusive life, but also gives meaning in the most unexpected ways to the troubled souls of her apartment complex. Part adventure, part tragedy, and part discovery, The Recluse Storyteller bridges genres, bringing hope, life, and redemption to the broken relationships of modern society.

Mixing real historical figures into a work of fiction. Vietnam 1945.

My untitled third novel that I’m currently working on is set during two different time periods in Vietnam. The first is 2000 and the second is 1945.

Nineteen-forty-five is the crucial year in modern day Vietnam. It’s the year that the Japanese completely overthrew the remnants of the French Empire in Indochina. It’s the year that the Vietnamese freedom fighters – Viet Minh – were trained by the Americans in July. It’s the year that they declared their independence on September 2, 1945, in vain looking for a western nation (namely America) to support their desire to move beyond both Japanese imperialism and French colonialism. Alas, the nascent Truman administration felt it prudent to back French claims and support de Gaulle as he reasserted French presence in the world after the war.  It’s the year that set the course for the French-Indochina War which would last from 1946-1954, resulting in a split Vietnam which would lead to the Vietnam War of the 1960s. It’s a fascinating year with larger than life characters who exert themselves on the scene: Roosevelt, Truman, Churchill, Chiang, de Gaulle, Ho Chi Minh.

Okay, enough with the history lesson.

I found myself writing about the fascinating interaction between the O.S.S. and the Viet Minh in July 1945. Of course, my story is fictional and it has a crucial bearing on the story that I am writing along side it set in 2000. But, when it comes to 1945, I couldn’t resist putting Ho Chi Minh into my writing. But I realize I must do so with caution.

Ho Chi Minh is revered in Vietnam as ‘Uncle Ho’ who never married and spent his life in one single pursuit – freedom for his nation and people. I’ll let the historians argue about the veracity of that statement. However, regardless of your view, there is a lot to admire about Ho Chi Minh. He spoke, they say, upwards of 11 languages or dialects. He was good at English and wrote letters and spoke freely to the OSS officers who visited him that summer. He had general goodwill and admiration for Americans and he hoped that Truman would back his legitimate claim on Vietnam. He even wrote several unanswered letters to Truman trying to get across his point.

Was he a communist? Yes.

Was he a pragmatist? Yes.

Did he put dogma ahead of practicality? I think not.

He was a patriot who loved his country much like George Washington loved his country.  In fact, Ho Chi Minh even used this comparison to George in some of his rhetoric questioning America’s relentless support for the French who ruthlessly raped Vietnamese resources for 80 years.

So, I had fun today thinking how I could bring this real-life character into my story. Of course, his role is minor, but I wanted it to be memorable. Hopefully I’ll achieve this. I’m not going to give any specifics at this point, but I will say this:

Uncle Ho is making an appearance in my third novel.

Should be fun!