Saturday, February 15, 2014

Spotlight & Excerpt - The Recluse Storyteller by Mark W. Sasse @sassevn

Note: Free on Amazon Feb 20th & 21st!!  Mark your calendars!!

The Recluse Storyteller
by Mark W. Sasse

Amazon blurb:  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 brash terrorist, Red Hat, desperately tries to walk away from life unscathed and unattached.

The stories haunt Margaret every waking moment, but they are anything but random. A fractured view Michael Cheevers' red hat through a discreetly cracked door sends her off on adventure. A glimpse of the Johnson twins from apartment 2D transports her mind to the lonely hill on a Midwestern prairie in 1887. The regular letters from Reverend Davies bring her to the brink of exhaustion as she stares 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, gleaning crumbs of information at every turn. Her eyes peer incessantly in the night, stealing glances of the neighbors through partially opened doors.

But the tales 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 the prophetic words of the rambling recluse.

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.

About the Author:  Mark W. Sasse currently lives in Malaysia teaching drama and history. He lived in Vietnam for ten years which provided the rich background of modern day Vietnam in his first novel "Beauty Rising" released in December 2012. His second novel, "The Recluse Storyteller" will be released in October 2013. He just finished writing his third novel with a release date of 2014.

When he is not writing novels, his other passion comes out: live theater. He has published a series of plays of different genres including "Grandparents' War", "Spy Blue", "Take Two: Who Directs Your Life", and "Life with Stewart". He also produced and directed all of these as original stage productions.

Sasse grew up in western Pennsylvania as a huge baseball fan. He loves to cook and spend time with his family.

Connect with Mark:

And here’s a short excerpt:
In this excerpt, the twins down the hall sneak out of their apartment to be fed ice cream by the storyteller, who regales to them a tale of another set of twins more than one-hundred years in the past:

“Well?” the twins peered at Margaret with expectant eyes.
“I have more ice cream,” Margaret said.
“I’m so full,” said Pam, echoed by Sam holding her stomach. “But we’d like you to continue the story.”
Margaret smiled. She loved looking at the twins on her couch. She obliged.

* * *

“Georgia ran full-tilt, headlong, torso forward, mouth open, cartoon-legs spinning, trying to keep up with her upper body momentum.
“‘Gwen!’ she yelled forcefully. Gwen had been resting with the baby in the tall grass halfway down the hill’s peak. She stood up abruptly and peered like a wild cat through the tall strands of alfalfa.
“‘Georgia! I’ve had to do all the work,’ admonished Gwen bitterly.
“‘Come quickly. Come! Father is here—at the top of the hill, waiting for us.’
“Georgia panted loudly, trying to talk without any air. Her breath kept sucking the words back into her mouth.
“‘Papa? Georgia, what are you talking about?’
“‘Papa is here. He’s waiting for us. Oh Gwen, it’s what we’ve been waiting for. He’s come back. He’s come back. I told you. I saw the sign in the sky. The bright light. Come on!’
“Gwen’s heart melted. Her eyes sunk and her cheeks followed, as if the strong, brave-faced girl no longer needed to be so strong. Her defenses fell, and she started crying as she saw the genuine hope and love in Georgia’s face. She picked up the baby in one arm and reached out to Georgia with the other. The two cats who fought incessantly were at peace. All territories and boundaries finally torn down — united in their determination that their family would move forward—that mother would once again be happy. Gwen smiled widely at Georgia, a rare occurrence indeed.
“‘Take me to him.’
“Georgia tugged on her arm, and they sprinted up the hill. Each step burned Gwen’s elbow as the baby wriggled up and down, but she didn’t care. Georgia was nearly laughing. She refused to let go of Gwen’s hand and pulled her along like Starling pulling the carriage.
“‘We’re almost there. We’re almost there.’
“They reached the summit of Harper’s Hill, panting wildly. The tall wide-spread crab apple stood motionless, witnessing the unfolding drama. Georgia let go of Gwen’s hand and surged forward toward the tree. She brushed against it with her hand.
“‘Papa! Papa! Gwen’s here. Gwen’s here.’
“The patch of grass behind the tree winced at Georgia, ashamed to be so empty. The table was gone. The chairs were gone. Papa was gone. Georgia stood expressionless, her heart barely beating, her lungs barely breathing, her eyes barely seeing. She felt confused and destitute. She fell to her knees and wailed in silence, unable to make a sound as tears streamed down her face. Gwen jutted around the trunk of the tree, baby in hand, hope in her heart, and nearly ran over Georgia, who knelt like a pilgrim at an altar or a widow at a funeral.
“‘Papa? Where’s Papa?’ Gwen asked.
“Georgia remained silent — tears in her eyes.
“‘Georgia,’ Gwen voiced in a tone quickly becoming cynical. ‘Georgia, you evil girl. Papa isn’t here. How could you? How could you do this to me?’
“Georgia stood up immediately and whirled around into Gwen’s face.
“‘He was here,’ she yelled hoarsely. ‘He was here. There was a table, and two chairs, and he was here. Papa. Papa,’ she lapsed into a melancholy whisper.
“‘You liar! How dare you! I hate you! I hate you!’ Gwen saw only red.
“‘I’m not a liar. He was here,’ Georgia screamed right back.
“The baby started crying.
“‘I will never speak with you again,’ Gwen said with desperate tears on her cheeks, stabbing Georgia with heartbroken glances of betrayal. She knew of no one else on the entire earth who could be as cruel as Georgia.
“Georgia’s temper rose quickly, having little patience with Gwen’s accusations.
“‘I am not a liar. Papa was here. Right here.’
“‘Stop it, Georgia. Stop it!’
“‘I will not stop it.’
“Georgia grasped Gwen’s arm and shook it up and down.
“‘Stop it. You are just evil. You’re hurting Benjamin.’
“Georgia, in a mindless rage that consumed every inch of her body, could only think about Papa and the table. She couldn’t accept being a liar. Not this time. Not with the stakes this high.
“‘I’m not a liar. Papa was here!’
“Georgia pushed back against Gwen. Gwen caught her clog on a crab apple root. Her knee buckled, and she slipped backwards, caught in gravity’s rapturous pull. With her hands spread wide, she tumbled over, counting every second, reaching and reaching and reaching for the baby, who flew headlong out of her grasp. Her arms, flung over her head, could not catch him as he plummeted toward the tree. Gwen landed hard, squarely on her back. Benjamin shrieked loudly and then fell silent. Georgia looked on, helpless, as the baby came to rest at the base of the tree. He lay lifeless, blood flowing slowly down his soft, white cheek. Georgia stood in a dream, unable to move, unable to react, unable to speak. Gwen bent her neck backwards as far as possible to view baby Benjamin. Pain ripped through her back as her motherly instincts longed to hold her precious bundle.”

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