Thoughts on Novel 5: First Draft Complete

Just today I put the finishing touches on the first draft of my 5th novel. Of course “finishing” and “first draft” don’t really go together very well. They are opposites in every way, but even though the draft is far from finished, there is something to be celebrated about the completion of any novel. I remember in 2003 when I attempted my first and got 500 words in and completely bailed in utter failure. At that point I didn’t think I would ever attempt a novel again.

Now, fifteen years later, I completed my fifth in five years. That’s significant progress, and it didn’t come lightly.

So a celebration it is! #5 is finished! (There’s that word again.)

What can I say about the novel? I’m a little conflicted about it. It’s a story that’s been on my mind for the last few years. It’s a story clearly influenced by my twenty years living in Southeast Asia. It’s set in the fictitious island nation of Sulu in the Sulu Sea, between Borneo and the Philippines. The basic theme is can a fallen and broken man find his way back.

It’s about the Matthews, Tobin and Jane, a husband and wife who run a small mission in Sulu, helping the remote tribes with agriculture and improved living conditions. Tobin’s life and faith starts unraveling in front of him after a tragic confrontation with local authorities puts him on trial for his actions. His mission headquarters in the US sends a husband and wife team to Sulu to help the Matthews through their trials. But unbeknownst to the head of the organization, the woman being sent to help has past scars and secrets which will lead Tobin down a dark path of temptation.

The story itself is a real mix of adventure, inspiring moments, some courtroom drama, tense romantic entanglement, and even some unexpected humor.

I have no idea how it will be received, but I’m excited to work through it again and tighten everything together to see what I have.

Oh, the title: WHICH HALF DAVID

Release Date: 2016 (month TBD)

Book Cover: Working on it.

Now I’m excited to also start on novel #6. I have a very interesting idea which will stretch me beyond anything I’ve previously written. It will be different. I hope I can pull it off.

Here’s to creativity!

Six Days Left to Nominate My Novel on Kindle Scout

Well, I’ve set out on this new adventure, dangling my new novel in the hybrid publishing arena called Kindle Scout. After six more days – May 15 – the experiment will be over and I’ll get to see how worthwhile it was.

You can nominate my novel HERE!

What could your nomination mean? It could help me land a publishing contract with Kindle Press. That’s pretty cool.

It remains to be seen if the Kindle Scout model will be a long term viable one or not. I’m sure the traditional publishing houses are watching it closely, as I’m sure they watch closely whenever Amazon does anything, seeing how Amazon is the juggernaut that has upset the whole industry.

It’s an interesting mix: the author is in charge of the editing and book design process while Kindle Press would be in charge of the publishing and marketing of the chosen books. The upside for authors is that they have pretty much final say concerning editorial issues. That gives the authors a lot of creative freedom, and I’m pretty sure every author loves that.

The royalties through Kindle Press are at 50%, smaller than if an author self-publishes, but most likely that would be a non-issue with supposed increased sales easily making up the difference and then some.

For an author like myself, there very little downside in going the route of Kindle Scout. I suppose the downside would not being chosen for publishing, but that would simply be a minor setback, and only a pause of 45 days in the grand scheme of things – a small price to pay for a chance to land the deal.

Either way it’s good news, because this book I’m excited about is going to be released this summer one way or another.

Get ready, everyone. “A Love Story for a Nation” is almost here. Please check it out on Kindle Scout.

ALoveStoryforaNation Cover LARGE

A Love Story about a Vietnamese Banyan Tree Twenty Years in the Making

I wrote a guest post for Lovely Reads which just published over the weekend. Here’s the opening and please head on over to Serenity’s site to read the rest about my soon to be released third novel:

A Love Story about a Vietnamese Banyan Tree Twenty Years in the Making


Mark W Sasse

It’s a love story. It’s an adventure. It’s set in Vietnam in two different time periods. And it’s releasing soon.

My third novel, The Reach of the Banyan Tree, is very much a journey of discovery, much like that which my family set out upon in August of 1994. We moved to Vietnam to teach English not knowing that we would stay there for ten years and not knowing how those experiences would be seared forever into our minds and souls.

An extended cross-cultural trip will either eat you alive or change you from the inside out. I’ve seen it happen both ways in peoples’ lives. Luckily, it was the latter for me and that eventually propelled me into an unexpected career as an indie author.

When in Vietnam, my child went to Vietnamese school and learned songs about Ho Chi Minh. Yes, it was rather bizarre for an American family, but we learned to bridge prejudices and come to love the Vietnamese people and their wonderful culture. I learned the language and dove deeply into the fascinating history of Vietnam – especially that of the 20th century.

In my readings I stumbled across the fascinating story of the American O.S.S. team which in 1945 parachuted into what we know as northern Vietnam to help train the Viet Minh rebels in their fight against the Japanese. I thought it would be such an interesting jumping-off point for a novel.

Read the rest here:

An excellent 3000 words …

I’m just saying …

It feels totally great when words flow effortlessly off the keyboard. That has been the reality of this afternoon. Three thousand words and counting (I’m on a short break) on novel three which is now weighing in at about 47,000 words. It’s been SO much fun to see what is happening.

When I lived in Vietnam, I often cringed at the caricature of Americans who would tour through the country. They, of course, didn’t speak the language. They were loud and proud. They were demanding. They could be nice, yes. But they carried an air about them that their country was far superior to the one they were visiting, even though they might really enjoy visiting some of the incredibly cool places in Vietnam.

I saw Americans turn their nose up at food, at situations, at the loss of electricity, at the dirt and pollution, at the cultural misunderstandings, etc…  And I, who lived permanently in the country, had a very different take on the situations, because I spoke the language, studied the culture and history and tried to make friends with as many people as possible.  I understood why tourists might think and feel the way they did, but I still sometimes cringed at their behavior.

Well, in my writing this afternoon, I have had a blast playing into all those stereotypes by bringing a rich, egotistical billionaire to Vietnam to try to get his way in one particular trying situation. I have made him loud and proud and just so obnoxious that it’s both funny and (hopefully) extremely interesting.

I love it when I enjoy what I’m writing, and right now, I’m having a blast. I hope that it will one day translate into a bunch of readers having a great time exploring these characters as well.

“Untitled Novel” coming your way sometime in 2014. My goal is to finish the draft in another 10 days!  If I have more writing sessions like I had today, shouldn’t be a problem!