Randall’s Ramblings, September 24, 2023

We had one day this week where the daytime temperature made it to 65F (C). Otherwise, we ranged from 56-62F (13-19C). Meanwhile, the nighttime temperatures continued to drop, ranging from 43-49C (6-10C). For the most part, it’s been a mixed week, with plenty of rain and some cool breezes. As least one day was dry enough to get the fallen leaves raked up, but still more to come.

Over the past week, the price of gasoline (petrol) remained stable at £1.56 a liter. However, the pound continued to weaken against the dollar, and the price of an equivalent U.S. gallon stayed steady at $7.21. Meanwhile, the price of a liter of diesel increased to £1.59 a liter.

“The writing of a novel is taking life as it already exists, not to report it but to make an object, toward the end that the finished work might contain this life inside it and offer it to the reader. The essence will not be, of course, the same thing as the raw material; it is not even of the same family of things. The novel is something that never was before and will not be again.” — Eudora Welty. Compliments of https://selfpublishing.com/writing-quotes/.

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on 24 September, the fourth and final Sunday of the month. (Compliments of https://www.onthisday.com/birthdays/):

Horace Walpole, British horror writer (Castle of Otranto); William Lisle Bowles, English poet (14 Sonnets); Ramón de Campoamor y Campoosorio, Spanish poet (Doloras); Cyprian Norwid, Polish painter, poet and playwright (Wanda); Frances Harper, African-American abolitionist, suffragist and writer (Iola Leroy); James St Clair Morton, American engineer, author, and Brigadier General (Union Army); Pieter Lodewijk Tak, Dutch journalist and politician (The Chronicle); S. R. Crockett, Scottish novelist (The Stickit Minister); Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz, Swiss writer (Le Petit Village); Herman Bouber, Dutch actor and playwright (Sailor’s Wives); F. Scott Fitzsgerald, American author (Great Gatsby, Zelda); Ham Fisher, American comic strip writer and cartoonist (Joe Palooka); Cao Yu, Huaju writer (Peking Man); Ian Serraillier, English children’s books author (The Silver Sword); Margarita Aliger, Russian poet (Zoja); Richard Hoggart, British author (The Uses of Literacy: Aspects of Working Class Life) and warden (Goldsmith’s College London; Ladislav Fuks, Czech writer; Józef Krupiński, Polish poet (Marsz żałobny); Brian Glanville, English journalist and football writer; John Brunner, Britsih sci-fi author (100th Millennium); Jim Henson, American puppeteer, artist, screenwriter and filmmaker, best known as the creator of ‘the Muppets” (Sesame Street, The Muppet Show); Yves Navarre, French writer (Le Jardin d’acclimatation); David Drake, American sci-fi author, veteran and lawyer (Cross the Stars, Rolling Hot); John Logan, American screenwriter and playwright (Gladiator); and Szilvia Molnar, Swedish writer.

Any names familiar to you? There were two for me: F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jim Henson. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one!

My Work In Progress

Mission- YemenThis week, I completed chapter fourteen  of Mission: Yemen, Xavier Sear Thriller Book 2. As always, it’s been posted to the two online writing sites I use. Reviewers provided another twenty-four critiques this week, bringing the total to 265. As always, they’ve provided plenty of recommendations for me to consider, and I’m always appreciative of the time and effort people put into reviewing my work.

Here’s another snippet. Please keep in mind that since these are first-draft chapters, things will likely be changed once I get to the editing phase. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions to improve the story, please let me know.

“Understood.” Shatara studied the garment Uzza laid out on the bed. “What lovely clothes.” She reached down and ran a hand over a multi-colored zina. “I love the red and yellow colors in the dress. I just wish there was a version with short sleeves.”

Uzza giggled. “Would you dare to show your arms to someone not your husband?”

“Why not? In many parts of the world, women wear short-sleeved garments. In fact, they choose what they will wear.” Shatara sighed. “At least the green baggy trousers go well with the red, white, and yellow of the zina.”

“I choose the clothing myself.” Uzza grinned. “Later, I will bring you other zinas and Sana’anis. The prince says you may have three of each.”

I don’t want to insult her, as she is trying to help me, but her choice of colors is horrible. “Thank you so much.” Shatara pointed to the hijab. “Must I wear that?”

“Only if you are permitted to leave the building. I use one when I go outside, too.”

Shatara pursed her lips and sighed. “Okay.” She began to dress as her stomach rumbled. “I hope someone will bring food soon—I’m hungry.”

“While you were cleansing yourself, I opened the door and picked up the second container I brought with me. We shall eat together.” Uzza reached on the other side of the bed where she had hidden a wicker basket. “Look—I have a surprise for you. We shall dine on mutabaq, which are filled with scrambled eggs and cheese and some masoub. I made the bread myself and added bananas and honey as I made it.”

Shatara’s stomach rumbled again, this time louder. She laughed as she patted it. “My body is enjoying just hearing about the food.”

“Cook also gave me one zalabia each. I love these pastries and eat them whenever possible because they give me  energy.”

Shatara smile. “There are also fattening. Did you bring anything to drink?”

“Yes, mango juice.” She arranged the food on a small table at the foot of the bed. “Come, let us enjoy our first breakfast together.”

As they ate their breakfast, Uzza reached into the basket and pulled out a small parcel wrapped in brown paper. “This is for you from the prince.”

“What is it?” Shatara took the package.

Uzza smiled. “Open it and find out.”

“Okay.” Shatara wiped her hands on a piece of cloth Uzza handed her.

Uzza clapped her hands. “Hurry. I want to find out as no one told me what it was.”

“Just a minute.” Shatara untied the string holding the package together. Pulling back the now-loosened paper, she gasped. Inside, she found a book: The Poetry of Arab Women from the Pre-Islamic Age to Andalusia. “A book. I told al Mishara I loved to read.”

“What’s it about? Perhaps later, you will tell me what it says?” Uzza glanced downward. “I cannot read.”

“It’s a book of poetry by Arab women. I shall pick some and read them to you.”

“Thank you. I will enjoy that. I shall return before Asr, as we will pray together.”

“Where are you going?”

“The prince instructed me to seek him out after you were settled.” Uzza blushed. “I am not sure what he wants except a report on how you are doing. He’s very interested in you.”

“Yes, I know. He wants me to marry him, but I want to wait until I’m older and choose my husband.”

Uzza laughed. “What is wrong with being a wife to Prince al Mishari? I understand his family is rich, and he’s kind to his wives.” She stood and collected the dishes, putting them back in the basket. “I must go now.” She headed toward the door.


Uzza turned. “Yes?”

“I just wanted to … say thank you. You have been very kind.”

“You’re welcome.” Uzza left the room, locking the door behind her.

Shatara settled on the bed, opened the book, and began reading.

Before long, she placed the tome next to her pillow, closed her eyes, and fell into a deep sleep.

She felt someone climb onto the bed but couldn’t see who it was because it was dark. Where is Uzza? She said she was returning before Asr prayers.

A man grunted before grabbing Shatara’s zina and ripping it from her body.

She screamed as she struggled against her attacker.

“Hold still. This won’t hurt a bit.” He pushed a cloth over her face. “Take a deep breath.”

Shatara continued to fight against the man’s attempts to hold the cloth tighter. She inhaled and coughed.

Moments later, she lay quiet, unmoving.

More next time.

This brings us to an end for another week. I hope you found something of interest. If you have any suggestions for a topic you’d like to read about, please let me know. Until the next time, thank you for reading and hope you drop in again.

© Copyright 2023 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

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