Randall’s Ramblings, September 15, 2023

I spent last week in Washington, D.C. and South Carolina. Had an opportunity to catch up with a longtime work colleague and friend in S.C., and checked out our son’s apartment in D.C. It was great to see both of them and also take advantage of the warm weather. Since returning back to Scotland, it’s been windy and cold, but at least there’s been some sunshine.

The price of gasoline (petrol) dropped two pence since my last post, settling at £1.56 a liter. Based on the current exchange rate, this equates to $7.14 for an equivalent U.S. gallon. Meanwhile, diesel has climbed to £1.64 a liter, or $7.52 a gallon.

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” — George Orwell. 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 15 October, the third Sunday of the month. (Compliments of https://www.onthisday.com/birthdays/):

Virgil, Roman poet of the Augustan period (Aeneid); Allan Ramsay, Scottish poet (Gentle Shepherd); Alfred Meissner, Austrian poet (Ziska); Helen Hunt Jackson, American author (Ramona); Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher and philologist (Beyond Good and Evil); George Foot Moore, American theologist (Hebrews, Old Testament); Jaime de Magalhães Lima, Portuguese author and poet (Salmos do Prisoneiro);  P. G. Wodehouse, British-American writer (Bertie Wooster novels); S.S. Van Dine [pseudonym for William Huntingdon Wright], American art critic and crime writer (Philo Vance); Alfred Neumann, German playwright (Devil); Bernard von Brentano, German writer (Big Cats); Charles P. Snow, English novelist (Death Under Sail, Strangers and Brothers) and physical chemist; Varian Fry, American journalist and recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations”; John Kenneth Galbraith, Canadian-American economist and writer (Affluent Society – Sidney Hillman Award, 1958); James H. Schmitz, American sci-fi author (Lion Game); Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr, American historian (1946 Pulitzer-Age of Jackson); Edwin Charles Tubb, British sci-fi writer (Earth is Heaven, Earthfall); Mario Puzo, American novelist (The Godfather, Cotton Club, Earthquake); Agustina Bessa-Luís, Portuguese writer (A Sibila); Italo Calvino, Italian author (If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler); Ed McBain [Evan Hunter], American writer (Blackboard Jungle); Hubert Dreyfus, American philosopher (What Computers Can’t Do); FM-2030 [Fereidoun M. Esfandiary], Iranian-American author and transhumanist (Are You a Transhuman?); Riekus Waskowsky, Dutch poet; and Peter Richardson, British actor, writer and director (The Comic Strip Presents, The Pope Must Die).

Any names familiar to you? There were three for me: Friedrich Nietzche, P. G. Wodehouse, and Mario Puzo. 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- YemenWith the trip to the States, I wasn’t able to finish chapter fifteen  of Mission: Yemen, Xavier Sear Thriller Book 2 until I returned. While I was gone, one of the online subscription writing sites I used suffered a catastrophic hardware failure, although they returned a few days ago, albeit with an older backup version. As a result, I lost at least thirty reviews. Even so,  reviewers provided another thirteen critiques this week, bringing the total to 288. 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.

A man who Sear recognized from the photos had Vincent provided stood and stepped forward. He was dressed in a long-sleeved brown shirt and a futa, the skirt in a subdued green, while a white turban adorned his head.

Abdullah Bashari stretched out his hand. “Welcome to my humble home, Sayyid Sear. It is an honor and privilege for you to be here.”

“Shukran, Sayyid Bashari. Please call me Sear, as that’s what my friends call me.” Sear shook hands.

“Thank you, Sear. Let me introduce you to my wife, Yasmin Rashid. You might find us a rather confusing couple, as we picked up numerous Western customs while living in Europe.”

A diminutive woman dressed in a yellow zina and Western jeans stood and bowed. “Welcome. I shall leave you now to your discussion.” She adjusted her orange headscarf and left the room.

Bashari gestured to the matching brown sofas. “Please have a seat.” He picked up an envelope from a hand-carved rectangular table and offered it to Sear. “These are photos of my missing daughter, Shatara.” He sat, wiping a tear away as he seemed to struggle to remain composed. “We don’t know where she is. Yasmin was with her when two men broke into the house and took her.”

Sear opened the envelope and studied the photos. “She’s a lovely young woman. Has there been any ransom demands?”

“No.” Bashari shook his head. “It’s been almost a month since they took her. There’s been no contact except one day a courier brought an envelope. It contained a photo of Shatara holding a copy of Al-Jumhuryah with a current date.”

Sear nodded. “Proof of life. When did you receive this?”

“About two weeks ago. I’ll give it to you later.”

“Can you think of anyone who has a grudge against you?” Sear rubbed his stubble. “It’s possible someone will try to use Shatara as a bargaining chip.”

“I—” Bashari stopped as the servant entered, pushing a trolley containing a tea service, a pot of coffee, a plate of dates, and several dishes holding various Yemeni delicacies.

“Shukran, Qadir. Please serve our guests.”

The old man nodded as he offered tea, coffee, fruit, and pastries to Sear, Qasim, and Malik.

The three men accepted the offerings.

Sear sipped on his strong coffee. “Excellent.” He set the cup and saucer on a table Qadir had moved forward. “You were going to say something?”

Bashari nodded. “Yes, I can’t think of anyone who would be holding something against me. However, I am outspoken about what the Houthis are doing to my country.” He snapped his fingers. “Could this be what it’s about?”

“It’s possible, but until someone contacts you with their demands, it’s difficult to know for sure.” Sear turned to Malik. “Do you think your friend, Tarik, might be able to help?”

Malik nodded. “If anyone can find out anything for us, it’ll be Tarik.” He stood, pulled his phone from a pocket, and went to the other end of the room.

“I’ve kept information about Shatara’s kidnapping from everyone I know.” Bashari glanced at the floor. “Do you think it’s time to spread the word?”

Sear nodded. “Yes. It’s been a long time since I served in Yemen, but I’ll see if anyone remembers me.” He turned to Wasim. “Can you do the same?”

“Of course. There might be a few people who remember when I was an investigator and be willing to help.”

“Where are you staying?” Bashari glanced at Sear.

“We’re at the Al Bilad Hotel, but I want to move elsewhere. I have a strange feeling about the clerk—almost as if he knows something but is keeping quiet.” Vincent warned me about Dabir—better to trust my instincts.

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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