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Finally, it’s here! The Recluse Storyteller available now!

The second novel from Mark W Sasse, author of Beauty Rising, is now available on:

Short Synopsis: 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.

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Vietnamese General Giap: 1911-2013

The revolutionary general of the Viet Minh and the North Vietnamese communists died earlier today.

(You can check out the slide show of his life on yahoo HERE!)

He was the military mind and right hand man of Ho Chi Minh. He dressed in street clothes and a fedora, making an unassuming presence. But his presence was felt on the battlefield – not that he won many huge decisive battles. He just won hug, decisive wars.

He worked with the Americans of the O.S.S. in the summer of 1945 as they received training in order to help defeat the Japanese and bring an end to WWII in Indochina. But when the Americans, under Truman’s leadership, did not back the Vietnamese claim for independence, instead backing the French and General de Gaulle’s desire to reestablish authority in their show-piece colony.

With American support waning, Giap and Ho Chi Minh declared war against the French in December 1946. The brutal French-Indochina War ended in 1954 with the French’s stunning defeat at Dien Bien Phu.  This was Giap’s signature achievement – one of the most strategic and important military victories of the 20th century. It directly led to the split of Vietnam and the Vietnam War a decade later, followed by the fall of Cambodia, Pol Pot & the Killing Fields, a war with China in 1979, the boat people of the 1980s,and complete isolation from the world. All the Vietnamese wanted was their independence, but no one could have seen the far reaching effects of that battle.

Giap continued to be involved with the military throughout the Vietnam War and became a national hero during his long, twilight years.

Two last notes. The general makes an appearance in my upcoming novel entitled,The Reach of the Banyan Tree.” It’s a completely fictional account of an American meeting him and Ho Chi Minh in July of 1945 during the waning moments of WWII. I like the scenario that I’ve created that enabled me to confidently bring these two historical figures into my story. I hope everyone will like it. Estimated arrival: mid-2014.

Lastly, next year is the 60th anniversary of the battle of Dien Bien Phu. Vietnamese officials are expecting one million visitors to the remote mountain city during the course of the year. It is one out of the two northern Vietnamese provinces which I have not yet visited. I really want to go next year. I hope I get the chance.

12 Days Left to Save on Pre-release order of THE RECLUSE STORYTELLER – 2nd novel from Mark W Sasse

The release of my second novel is just around the corner on October 8. The e-book is on pre-release sale for only $2.99 (regular $3.99) from the following retailers:

You can also read the novel’s first review written by a reviewer who received a pre-release copy. The review is on Goodreads: Read review HERE!

Thanks for your support. I hope you enjoy the read.

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The Prologue to “The Recluse Storyteller”

One month from today – October 8, 2013 – I’ll be releasing my second novel, The Recluse Storyteller. I’m very excited to finally publish this novel which I wrote in the summer of 2012. It was very unexpected and different from Beauty Rising. The structure is unique and, perhaps, a bit confusing. In order to help set the stage for the story, the novel begins with a prologue to introduce the characters and especially the protagonist, Margaret. I’m happy to share it with you today.

The Recluse Storyteller

Prologue: The Stories

Perhaps a word before we begin would help set the stage for what is to come, for the recluse storyteller is not so easily comprehended and frequently misunderstood. People think they know the type and consider her standoffish ways to be nothing more than her being inhospitable, awkwardly social, or even a little off the rails. While each of those descriptions may perfectly depict our storyteller to one degree or another, they fall short in truly understanding who she is.

Margaret. That is her name. She has been bottled up from the world for a number of years. Not by anyone’s choice—not even her own. It just is. A casualty of our age, perhaps. She lives secluded in her second floor apartment 2B, flanked by Michael Cheevers on her right in 2A, Mrs. Trumble directly opposite in 2C, and the Johnson family down the hall in 2D. Mrs. Trumble remains her biggest pest, if a recluse can indeed have a pest. The Johnson family has adorable twin girls named Sam and Pam whom Margaret often peeks at through the keyhole or a discretely cracked door. These are the characters that complete the second floor occupancy in the drab, dimly lit, well-worn apartment building where Margaret weaves her stories. They are the characters—at least to her—that inhabit the four tales she continues to tell as a master craftswoman, constantly chipping and buffing, ever refining and redefining the heart of the stories which have become her only obsession or worthwhile possession.

So who is this storyteller precisely? She is not a writer because she never writes anything down. She is not a raconteur because she speaks to no one but herself. But the stories are real, and they surround her at all moments, so, when the time is right and the familiar feeling comes heavily upon her shoulders, she releases them into the air, and they hang over the apartment like a heavy perfume that cannot be easily whisked away—seeping deep into the furniture, into the walls, entrenching itself inside the very being of the apartment. She can’t escape them, nor, so it seems, would she want to.

“Red Hat.” Cheevers wears this red baseball cap that seems to mesmerize Margaret every time she hears the thud of his door and his heavy plodding steps, which tepidly fade out of earshot only to see him emerge on the street corner below donning the familiar colored hat. Her eyes have followed him for years, scouring the darkened crevices of the hallway, understanding his past all too well. He, too, is somewhat of a recluse—a jovial, cynical one for that matter. But he keeps to himself and tries to forget the past. Margaret cannot forget, and so she tells his story with ever increasing frequency. It is a story that Cheevers needs to hear.

“On the Ridge.” In the bottom right drawer of her computer desk sits a large stack of letters bound with a silver ribbon. They are from Reverend Davies with whom she hasn’t spoken for many years—not since her mother was alive. But he persistently sends her a letter or card from time to time. Margaret cares little for their content, but they serve as a reminder of the horrific tale of war which still hasn’t quite come to its end. What does Margaret know of war? Perhaps more than most recluses. The ridge, overlooking the quiet village of To Hap, has been seared in her mind over the years; the clues, the reminders, the memories, pieced together like a fractured piece of stained glass—each colored shard telling its own story, fracturing the light in its own unique way, making truth elusive. But not to her. She knows the truth and often wonders what would happen if she ever decided to talk with Reverend Davies about the ridge, but that thought never lasts long. A recluse is content with idleness—or so she keeps telling herself.

“The Mark Across the Sky.” Then, of course, there are the sweet twins. If ever there were any two people who might entice Margaret out of her well-barricaded cocoon, it would be the twins. She sees their goodness, and the rare smiles which pass across Margaret’s face are typically brought on by catching a glimpse of the two in the hallway—badgering each other with sisterhood. It reminds her of a lonely tree on a hill that hangs against the canvas of a darkening sky, a warning to all who might pay attention. If only they could hear the story of the single tree and the strange mark that flashed across the sky, perhaps they would understand a little better why certain inexplicable events have to happen. She loves their innocence. She remembers it. She longs for it.

“Blinding.” Finally, the light of morning perhaps speaks the loudest into her solace. It greets her each dawn with such brilliance that Margaret often feels faint and blind in its presence—trapped by some higher purpose or some alternative calling not yet understood. She stands on the brink, dizzy in despair, ready to sacrifice everything, knowing that nothing can save her from the light, and so she thinks of Janice who will give her all for the light. It pains her greatly.

These are her stories. She would sacrifice everything for them. Perhaps she already has. Day in and day out, she watches her muse, the movings of her apartment block, and she tells their story which her eyes can’t help but see—perhaps even better than they see it themselves. For this is, indeed, their story, and they are about to embark on a journey of self-discovery courtesy of the gifted storyteller and her magical stories.

But unbeknownst to Margaret, this is also more than just their stories. It is also her story.

This is the story of the recluse storyteller.

Come to think of it, I was always a writer – Part III

In a couple previous posts (PART I HERE!PART II HERE!), I did a little reminiscing over my life, acknowledging the fact that I’ve always enjoyed writing, even if I often doubted my skills. But in each segment of my life, writing played a meaningful role in one way or another. As I now look over my current writing era, (I’ll call it my modern or contemporary era just for fun! 2006 – 2013), I am extremely aware of how the past has shaped and molded me into the writer I am today.

All I needed was a spark.

I received my first spark during the second year of my current teaching job when I took over the role as drama director and I set out on a journey with a group of students to write our own play. Now I’m in my seventh year of play-writing, which in turn gave me the confidence to try a novel. Then two. Then three. And now four. I’ve highlighted my different works before, and so I don’t intend to do that again right here.

These play-writing experiences eventually led me to one conclusion: I’m a writer.

Perhaps that seems so simplistic. It is. It completely reminds me of when I was studying Vietnamese in Hanoi back in 1998. One day, I came home from a lesson and said to myself, ‘I’m fluent in Vietnamese.’ I wasn’t perfect. I still had new words to learn. It was not a declaration of ending by any means, but it was a realization that I no longer was that person who merely knew some Vietnamese words. I no longer was that person who had to strain to understand a conversation. I could talk to whomever I wanted and I could talk about whatever I wanted. I, the shy boy from Western PA, was a Vietnamese speaker. It was a freeing declaration, knowing that I no longer had to rely on English to build a friendship or to get something done. It was a way of turning the page and getting on with my life in a new direction.

This is exactly what has happened to me again over these last couple of years in regards to my writing. I had to realize that I was no longer the person who would just get an idea and wish I could accomplish it, only to realize that I couldn’t. I was no longer the person who compared his writing to others, always thinking that I didn’t measure up. I was no longer the person with the low SAT scores and a limited vocabulary who couldn’t string together more than three or four sentences without wanting to scrap them. Finally admitting to myself that I was indeed a writer freed me up to do the one thing I’ve been wanting to do for years: write.

Now I don’t try to be Hemingway or Fitzgerald or anyone else. The only writer I want to be is myself. But just like my Vietnamese revelation, I’m still very much a work in progress. I continually strive to learn and improve and have a lot of fun enjoying the process. My goal is simple: write stories that I enjoy writing and (hopefully) that readers enjoy reading.

If you’ve tried my writing, I’m flattered and humbled. I hope you’ve enjoyed.

If you haven’t, I hope you’ll give me a chance.

Either way, I’m going to keep the creative juices flowing and ride this modern phase of my writing career into the future unsure of where it will take me.

Is starting the hardest part?

I’ve heard other authors say that starting is often the hardest part in the writing process.

I hope that’s true because if it is then I’m well on my way to novel #4.

I took advantage of a free afternoon to just lay down the framework of what’s to come for me. Recently, I realized that I don’t like not having a project to work on. I finished “The Reach of the Banyan Tree” in July, and then in August I’ve been working on the finishing touches of “The Recluse Storyteller” plus finishing up the dramatic sketches I was writing for the RLT Players. But within the last two weeks, I realized that I didn’t have an open writing project.

Well, that just won’t do. So I started novel #4 today and I got more than 2000 words into it. A good start. This one is a LONG way from publication, perhaps a year or more out, and that would be on the conservative range. But it’s fun to have an open project to jump into whenever I have the time.

This one is interesting. It’s set on the fictional island nation of Sulu, which is between the Philippines and East Malaysia.

There is no such place as Sulu, however, there used to be a kingdom called the Sulu Sultanate. That is actually my inspiration for the modern day fictional place.

So it should be fun discovering in the months ahead what this story is actually about.

And yes, I’ll keep you informed.

So, if you are a writer who hasn’t started your next project, do it! At least you better if you want to keep up with me!


More Publishing News!

My second novel, The Recluse Storyteller, has been submitted successfully to the publisher.

The proof is being printed. Should have a good idea of how it looks within a couple of weeks.

Very excited and on-schedule for my October 8 release.

More details to come!

The Recluse Storyteller Cover Art!

I’m happy to reveal the cover art to my second novel, The Recluse Storyteller, set to release on October 8. I’m indebted to artist Joyce Lee for her creation. The front cover image becomes a pertinent one as part of one of the stories that the storyteller continually weaves. I’m so excited to finally get this released. I’ll be posting the synopsis and prologue in the coming weeks. Thanks for your support!recluse storyteller cover med