New 5-Star Review of “Which Half David”

My new novel garnered another 5-star review, this time from Colleen Chesebro who reviews books for litworldinterviews.com.

She writes this about the protagonist:

“This battle, between the good and bad halves of Tobin Matthews, is what made this story shine. The conflict is real, and anyone who reads this story will recognize facing some of the exact trials in their own lifetimes. It all comes down to choices.”

And she rated it 5-stars in all of her categories. Please head on over to their website and read the entire review

#BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “Which Half David,” BY AUTHOR Mark W. Sasse

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Meeting up with the Footstool Players

My drama group, The RLT Players, had an awesome afternoon yesterday meeting up with the group which provided the inspiration to start our own group.

It was wonderful beyond belief to have these veteran actors and all around great people willing to spend a couple hours to talk about about acting and other aspects of the performing arts.

Here we all are after our long Q & A session:

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The night before, we all took in their latest show at penangpac, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” I have to put a plug in for the show, a mix and match of 13 different length sketches about love and relationships. The Footstool Players’ soared through the material, eliciting all the variety of emotions one would expect when considering the subject matter: elation, wonder, frustration, heartbreak. You only have one more day to catch the show – December 7 ends their three week run. Don’t miss it!

Our afternoon session focused on issues like:

  • The moment to moment in acting. How to listen well and be engaged in the surroundings, not just worrying about one’s next lines.
  • Pre-show prep – how each individual has different needs right before the show. Some need to be calm. Others need to fidget. Some need to yell and scream. Respect them all and stay out of each other’s way.
  • Embarrassing moments and missed lines. What to do? Help each other. Bail each other out and move on. Don’t dwell on mistakes.
  • The importance of a good stage manager.

And much more!

We all learned a lot, made some new good friends, and, hopefully, we can all collaborate with each other in the future.

Footstool Players – you won’t meet a nicer bunch of people and a finer group of actors.

Whenever you get a chance to catch one of their shows, don’t miss it.

Have you been misled by positive reviews?

From a new review of my novel, The Recluse Storyteller: “This is one time the 4 and 5 star reviews were right on. I loved this book.”

That made me laugh. And smile. And laugh some more. And then it made me ponder the Amazon rating system.

First off, I’m thrilled that the reviewer loved my book. He obviously has been burnt before by misleading reviews, and when I looked over some of his other reviews that was the case. I saw several poor reviews that he given books in the past, indicating that he had downloaded them for free, based upon the positive reviews. When he got into the book, however, the reviews didn’t seem to line up with his expectations.

This is an issue with Amazon reviews. It’s not always easy to know the source of those reviews. Perhaps the author is just using a pseudonym or maybe someone’s mother is showing her hometown pride.

As an author, I am dedicated to real reviews by real people. Sure, some people I know have reviewed my books. It’s certainly their right. I appreciate any review that is honest, and that’s the truth. The last thing I ever want to do is bring in a reader through an insincere review. I’m in this authorship thing for the long haul, and I want to find readers who like my stories and who will stick with me as well. Gimmicks and insincerity just isn’t going to do it.

That’s why I loved this short review. He acknowledged that the positive reviews given were indeed backed up by the writing. What else could a writer want?

Not everyone will like my stories or enjoy my writing style, and that’s fine. But when I find people who do, it’s pretty special and makes all the hours of writing well worth it.

I promise real stories. I promise real reviews. Nothing more. Nothing less.

New Review: The Recluse Storyteller

LitWorldInterviews posted a wonderful review of “The Recluse Storyteller” by their reviewer Colleen Chesebro.

It’s a wonderfully written and thorough review. Here’s the overall marks:

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 5/5
Made Me Think: 4/5
Overall enjoyment: 5/5
Readability: 4/5
Recommended: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5

I’m honored that she read and enjoyed it. Please head over and read the entire review. Well worth it. HERE IT IS!

Decision Making in Writing: When Writers and Readers Disagree

I always say this: “Writing is all about making decisions. Good writing is about making the right decisions.”

Now if someone would please point out to me the meaning of ‘right decision’ then I’ll be sitting at a Parisian Cafe with the next generation of Roaring 20s writers.

How do you know when you made the right decision? You don’t.

It might feel right to the writer, but it still might feel completely wrong to the reader.

But honestly, writing, to me, is not about making readers happy. For me I need to be faithful to the story as I see it. I have to write from my heart or I shall not write at all. Does this mean that others will sometimes disagree with my decisions? Absolutely. I’ll never be able to successfully please everyone.

My first novel is a great example of this. (spoiler alert if you haven’t read it!) Beauty Rising is a story that is near and dear to me. It came out of my personal experiences in Vietnam – not that the story is about me – far from it. But it was personal in the sense that it came out of my love for Vietnam and its culture and people.

The one comment that has stuck out the most to me concerning this novel is how I ignore Martin’s mother at the end of the novel. Once she kill’s Martin’s fiance at the church during the wedding, I don’t mention her again.

In several reviews I read how they couldn’t believe that I omitted mention of Martin’s mother after the fateful incident. They felt cheated as if I forgot to mention it or I wasn’t paying attention to detail.

Well, nothing could be further from the truth.

The omission was completely on purpose. Now one could argue that I made a mistake, but that’s not how I see it. Once My Phuong, Martin’s fiance, was killed, his relationship with his mother was severed forever. She, of course, would have been arrested and put in prison. That’s what happens when someone commits a violent crime. It’s the end of story for her. I assumed that would have been understood. What I didn’t want to do is put focus back on her. This story was always about Martin trying to find his way in the world. A few short days after the funeral, he took off again for Vietnam to bury the ashes and complete his quest – unexpectedly finding his home along the way. That was the story line. That is what was important to me as the author.

If I wrote a sequel, which I will not, I would most definitely bring the mother back into the story. But to wrap up Martin’s story, his mother was not necessary. She was there to provide the impetus which would push Martin to the end.

Not everyone agreed with my decisions, but I had to be true to the story as I saw it. Anything less would have been lessening the tension and resolution that Martin would find in Vietnam.

I’m fascinated at how different people experience stories in different ways. But I am mindful, that as an author, I have to be true to the story. True to my heart. I have to write with the passion and emotion which I feel within me. Anything less would be unacceptable.

I hope readers will understand. I completely understand that readers and writers will sometimes disagree. And I’m OK with that.

Exquisite Multi-Layered Story vs. Poorly Executed Story – Hmmmm.

I am completely fascinated by book reviews, actually much more so than books themselves. I find it enlightening and interesting to see what someone has said about a particular book. I must admit that there are times I hop over to Amazon just for that reason. I’ll pick an author, possibly known but usually unknown to me, and I’ll read what people say about him or her. The vast array of opinions can be dizzying. But here lies the truth that all authors must embrace: someone won’t like your writing no matter what you write.

Here are two reviews of my second novel, The Recluse Storyteller:

Review A: “Exquisite Multi-Layered Story”

Review B: “Conceptually brilliant. Poorly executed.”

It does make me chuckle how opinions can vary so much. If I had to choose one, I’ll choose the first one. But I don’t get to choose. I have to accept both of them because both are valid opinions.

I’ll admit, The Recluse Storyteller is structured in quite an unorthodox way. At one point, it’s the author, me, telling the story of Margaret, the recluse, telling the story of Quan, a survivor of a massacre in Vietnam, telling the story of Vinh, the person who gave him (Quan) hope and a new life.

Whew! Yes, it can be a little confusing. I’ve heard from many reviewers, actually, that at first, they weren’t sure if they were going to like The Recluse Storyteller because of it’s unique structure.

I knew that some people wouldn’t get it, and I’ll have to live with the fact that someone out there thinks it was a poorly executed story. I’ll respect that opinion.

But I’ll also admit, I feel blessed to see that most of my readers do get what I was trying to accomplish with this novel, and that is satisfying indeed.

I don’t really know any authors who like bad reviews and neither do I, but I also don’t mind them either. I have my opinions about books and movies, and I’m not afraid to share them so neither should others – even when it’s my work they are negatively reviewing. It is a natural part of being any type of creative artist. People are so diverse in their likes and desires that no one can please everyone, nor should they.

Wouldn’t the world be rather boring if that was the case?

Some Reviews Are Worth Posting

As an author, I really appreciate reviews. Any reviews. Yes, even those which are necessarily stellar. But sometimes reviews really give the book that they have read some serious thought. I especially appreciate that.

Here’s the latest review of my novel, The Recluse Storyteller. The review was done by Justine from The YA Lit Chick. Please check it out. Here’s a brief excerpt and you can read the rest at the link below:

“I loved the writing of The Recluse Storyteller. There’s great pacing and an attention to detail that will directly spin the gears of the reader’s imagination. Between the strong emotion and the general excellent storytelling, The Recluse Storyteller is not one to miss.”

Read the entire review HERE!