Randall’s Ramblings

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, November 17, 2019

We noticed the two hedgehog houses we provided for our wildlife friends last year are now occupied. Some straw has been dragged out and replaced with leaves we piled near the structures for their use. We put two containers with hedgehog food and another with water in close proximity. Our cats don’t like this food, so we’re fairly confident the hedgehogs are still grazing during the evening.

Since we’ve seen three hedgehogs at the same occasion during the summer, we decided to purchase another home, as the ‘hogs’ appear to like solitary residences. The new house is ready, in what we’re now referring to as ‘The Village.’

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on November 17th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Johan van Beverwijck, Dutch physician/writer (Treasure of Health); George Grote, British historian (History of Greece); Petko Slavejkov, Bulgarian writer; Crane Wilbur, American director and writer (Bat, Canon City, Yellow Cargo); Gregorio López y Fuentes, Mexican author; Roger Vitrac, French poet/dramatist (Coup of Trafalgar); Salomėja Nėris [Salomėja Bačinskaitė – Bučienė], Lithuanian poet; Wazyk, [Adam Wagman], Polish poet/author (Eyes & Mouth); Dahlia Ravikovitch, Israeli poet;  Auberon Waugh, British author; Lorne Michaels [Lipowitz], Canadian producer, actor and comedy writer (Saturday Night Live); Steven E. de Souza, American scriptwriter; Mark “Chopper” Read, Australian criminal and crime author (Chopper: From the Inside); and Christopher Paolini, American novelist.

Were any names familiar to you? None stood out for me. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

My Work in Progress

1541181671I began editing A Cartel’s Revenge this week, taking advantage of the many chapter reviews posted on the two subscription writing sites I use. The number of reviews increased during the past week by thirty-three, reading 555. I’ll keep the later chapters posted for now, but the earlier ones will be deleted from the sites as I select suggestions I want to use.

Over the next few days, I’ll begin looking for another photo to use as the cover. Once I have picked a number of pictures, I’ll solicit input from my reviews on what they think is top five to use–my publisher will make the final selection.

Here’s another snippet from A Cartel’s Revenge:

Días helped himself to a cerveza and directed the men to the seating area. Once everyone settled into the plush leather sofas, chitchat ceased.

“Alberto, when we met last month, you mentioned working as a recruiter for an organization wanting an out-of-the-way place to train new personnel.”

“Si. My—our organization has a special mission. We must convert everyone to the one true religion.”

“Weren’t you raised Catholic?”

“Yes.” Alberto raised a finger in the air. “But no longer. My new brothers call me Abdul.”

“And what about you, Michael?”

“I grew up in the Church of England. Disillusioned, I studied several religions until I settled on Islam. Now I go by Mahmood.”

“If you don’t mind, while you’re in Colombia I’ll keep referring to you as Alberto and Michael.”

“No problem.” Alberto pointed at Michael. “We use our original names for traveling—makes it easier to cross borders.”

“During our training in al-Raqqah, our instructors singled us out,” Michael paused before whispering. “As non-Arab members of the Islamic State, we’re able to move about easier than our Middle Eastern brethren.”

“What do you hope to achieve in Colombia?” Días switched his gaze between the two men.

“We want to establish a foothold so we can train recruits.” Michael stroked his reddish-brown beard. “These men will be from various countries. Once they arrive in Colombia, I’ll be their commander. After their training, their Western features will allow them to infiltrate America with ease.”

***

“When will you require the camp?”

“In about two weeks.” Alberto deferred to Michael, who gave a slight shrug and took over.

“What about payment? We can handle this via bearer bonds, diamonds, gold, or electronic transfer through a dummy corporation.”

Días gave them an evil smile. “Money isn’t necessary. But, I’ll ask a favor for my help. Once your men are trained, I want their assistance in taking over a drug cartel.”

He paused before voicing his desire. “I also want them to capture or kill the cartel’s leader: Olivia Perfecta Moreno.”

More next time.

While I was working on this manuscript, I was also tinkering with the opening chapters 1539535798of the fourth novel in my Bedlam series, Ultimate Escalation. Three chapters were posted to the two subscription writing sites, and I received forty-four very helpful reviews.

I’ve started editing these chapters and once I finish, I’ll begin posting the revisions and continuing to work on this story.

In case you missed it in a previous post or would like a refresher, here’s the synopsis:

Punjabi militants seek to distance themselves from Indian and Pakistani dominance and interference. With the dissolution of British India in 1947, families were ripped apart as the Punjabi region was split between the two countries. Limited attacks within each country caused further persecution and heartache.

The militants have no idea how to achieve their desires–until the appearance of Vladimir Aleksandr Nikolai, a disgraced Spetsnaz colonel. He offers the militants a means to spark a conflict between the two nuclear powers.

Russian subs sold on the black market and manned by Iranian and Russian sailors will surface off the coasts of the two countries and destroy Karachi and Mumbai. Propaganda machines will levy accusations against each country, leading to escalation of hostilities, pushing the countries to the brink of nuclear war.

The Bedlam organization fields their three teams to counter the violence and seek to restore calm before it’s too late. Will they be successful or will South Asia become a smoking ruin?

Books I’m Reading

I recently read The Fulcrum, the first novel in JC Ryan’s Rex Dalton Thriller series. Rex’s life is turned upside down when quite by chance he escaped a horrible terrorist attack in Madrid. Despite a loving girlfriend, the loss of his family is too much for him. He pushes his girlfriend aside as he searches for a way to avenge their deaths.

With a riveting plot and larger-than-life characters, JC takes readers on a whirlwind tour of exotic locations. But first, we find out how Rex will carry out his plan. The story is well-written and you’ll find it hard to put down. I don’t like to spoil stories for others, so you’ll have to get a copy, but this is a fantastic story. I’ve already become a fan of JC’s work and will definitely be continuing to read more!

This brings us to a close for another week. I hope you found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing. 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.

© Copyright 2019 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, November 10, 2019

As the first week of November draws to a close, the temperatures have dropped and there’s been plenty of rain. Nothing like what has hit part of the UK as there hasn’t been any local flooding.

Outdoor chores are more or less completed for this year, so we’ve turned to some interior decorating before our son flies over from D.C. next month. Always something to do to keep things neat and tidy. Of course, there are plenty of NCAA football games to watch in the evening (recorded) and basketball will be starting soon.

A couple of hedgehogs are still making an occasional nocturnal visit but it won’t be long before they go into hibernation. Their homes have been cleaned out and filled with fresh straw with a pile of leaves nearby if they want additional padding. Will be interesting to see if they use them again this year. Will have to get the camera set up to find out.

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on November 10th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Jacob Cats [Father Cats], Dutch grand pensionary and poet (Houwelyck); Anne “Ninon” de l’Enclos, French patron of the arts, courtesan and writer; Oliver Goldsmith, Irish novelist and dramatist (She Stoops to Conquer); Frederich von Schiller, German poet and lyricist (Ode to Joy); Dobri Voynikov, Bulgarian teacher, playwright and journalist (The Phoney Civilization); Jose Hernandez, Argentine poet (MartinFierro); Winston Churchill, American author (Crisis, Crossing) (not to be confused with Sir Winston Churchill, a former British Prime Minister); Nicholas Vachel Lindsay, American poet (Gen William Booth enters Heaven); Patrick Pearse, Irish poet, nationalist and political activist; Max Mell, Austria artillery officer and literary (Donauweibchen); an van Nijlen, Flemish poet and author (Bird Phoenix); Arnold Zweig, German antifascist and author (Erziehung vor Verdun); John P. Marquand, American writer (The Late George Apley); John Moore, English author (Portrait of Elmbury, Brensham Village and The Blue Field); Alvaro Cunhal, Portuguese politician and writer; W. E. B. Griffin [William Edmund Butterworth], American best-selling author (Clandestine Operations, The Lieutenants); Russell Means, Native American activist, actor, writer, and musician; Jack Ketchum [Dallas William Mayr], American horror fiction author (Off Season, Red, The Woman); James Chapman, American novelist (Stet); Magnús Scheving, Icelandic athlete, writer and producer (LazyTown); and Sean Hughes, Irish stand-up comedian, writer and actor.

Were any names familiar to you? Two stood out for me: W.E.B. Griffin and Jack Ketchum. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

My Work in Progress

With the change in the weather, I had more time to devote to writing. Over the past week, I completed the final five chapters of A Cartel’s Revenge and posted them to the two subscription writing sites I use. 1541181671

The chapter review count continues to steadily climb, now standing at 522, an increase of twenty-eight in the past week. As always, plenty of good advice to help me improve my writing as I shift into my editing phase.

Here’s another snippet from A Cartel’s Revenge:

They touched down at Bogota’s El Dorado International Airport on time, accompanied by puffs of white smoke as the tires accelerated to match the speed of the huge aircraft.

Michael and Alberto cleared customs without any difficulty and shifted their carry-on luggage to an empty baggage cart. They stepped through the barricades to the interior of the terminal where Alberto spotted their contact—a short, thin man in Western clothing and a Detroit Tigers baseball cap.

He nodded as the men walked past. In the parking lot they slowed down, waiting for the man to catch up.

Hola, que pasa, amigos?” Pepe waved them to a dark blue Toyota Land Cruiser parked at the curb.

“Hola. This is Michael.” After tossing their luggage in the back, the two men shook hands, then everyone climbed into the vehicle.

Pepe ground gears as he shifted, the SUV shuddering before the engine belched a plume of black smoke. He grinned at the others and punched the pedal to the floor, flinging Alberto and Michael back in their seats.

“Sorry. We’re running late.”

“I’d rather be late than end up in an accident.” Michael shook his head. “Give us a little warning next time, okay?”

***

Alberto and Michael grabbed their packs from the rear of the vehicle and headed toward the bar’s entrance. A warped wooden door, once painted red, rested against a brick exterior, allowing patrons access.

Alberto slipped his hand into the space between the frame and the door and yanked. The door opened with a loud squeal as the rusted hinges gave way.

The men stepped inside and waited for their vision to adjust to the dark interior. A myriad of faded advertising posters adorned Nicotine-stained cinder block walls. A dozen rickety tables with mismatched chairs were strewn around the room.

A long bar, made from old planks laid across a wooden framework, ran the width of the cantina in the back of the single room. A large mirror covered in spider web cracks seemed appropriate for the once-proud watering hole.

At the bar they ordered beer. Without a word, the bartender grabbed two bottles of Cerveza Aguila from a cooler, popped the caps against the edge of the bar, and slid them across.

Michael glanced up and spotted two beady eyes staring back at him. A small rodent peered through a hole in a ceiling beam. “There’s a rat up there.” He pointed as the scavenger scooted away.

The bartender smiled. “Sí—that’s Miguel. He cleans up after messy customers.”

More next time.

thriller-roundtable-logo6This coming week I’ll also be participating in a roundtable discussion sponsored by the International Thriller Writers.  The topic: What are the advantages of the new media to bridge readers with authors? The link will go active tomorrow, November 11th, for this discussion, but you can catch earlier discussions at: http://www.thebigthrill.org/thriller-roundtable/

Books I’m Reading

I didn’t get a chance to complete any reviews this week, so I’ll have a couple next time.

This brings us to a close for another week. I hope you found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing. 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.

© Copyright 2019 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, November 3, 2019

The months continue to march forward. Seems like it wasn’t long ago we were looking forward to summer, yet now we’re in November. Gone are the long hours of daylight as the sun rises earlier and sets sooner each day.

A couple of days ago, we watched a gray squirrel taking care of its winter food requirements, running back and forth with hazel nuts, which had fallen to the ground. Meanwhile, the local hedgehogs continue to fatten themselves up for their winter nap.

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on November 3rd. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Lucan, Latin poet (Bellum Civile); Renatus Rapinus [René Rapin], French Jesuit theologian and poet (Hortorum libri IV); August Gottlieb Meißner, German Enlightenment author who helped develop the detective story genre in German literature; William Cullen Bryant, American poet (Thanatopsis); John Esten Cooke, American novelist (The Virginia Comedians) and Confederate States Army; Apie [Adrian P] Prince, Dutch author (Me Own Way); Samuil Marshak, Russian-Soviet writer, translator and children’s poem poet; Nat Fleischer, American boxing writer (established Ring Magazine); André Malraux [Berger], French novelist and art historian (La Condition Humaine); James Reston, American journalist (New York Times); Hallgrímur Helgason, Icelandic novelist (Höfundur Íslands); Jesús Blasco, Spanish comic book author (Cuto); Dieter Wellershoff, German author (Minotaur); Anna Wintour, English-American editor (Editor of US Vogue); Joe Queenan, American writer; Massimo Mongai, Italian writer; Felix R de Rooy, Curacaos poet/sculptor; and Hal Hartley, American film director and writer.

Were any names familiar to you? I admit I didn’t know anyone in today’s group. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

My Work in Progress

With the change in the weather, outdoor activities are coming to a halt, so I had more time to devote to writing. Over the past week, I completed chapters thirty-six through thirty-eight. The action continues to accelerate as we head toward the story’s climax. Another tweak to my outline was also needed as the story heads towards its conclusion. 1541181671

The chapter review count continues to steadily climb, now standing at 494, an increase of thirteen in the past week. As always, plenty of good advice to help me improve my writing.

Here’s another snippet:

The twenty-two-year-old twins performed a celebratory dance while seated, arms above their heads.

“Now I realize why I don’t invite you to meetings with Lintstone,” AJ smiled at the twins’ antics. “Anything else?”

“No, boss lady,” the twins sang as they left AJ’s office, followed by Phil and Walter.

“What a team.” Javier shook his head as he laughed.

“Their shenanigans can be a bit much at times, but they always come through with relevant information.” AJ glanced at the clock and stood. “We better head for our meeting.”

A few moments later, AJ knocked on Lintstone’s door before entering.

Feet propped on the edge of his desk, a phone pressed to an ear, he motioned them toward chairs while he completed the call.

“Fill me in.”

AJ nodded. “We’ve confirmed the sea route of an Liberian-flagged container ship called Barwal, the same freighter shown in the imagery you provided earlier. After leaving Haiti, it’s scheduled to drop four containers in Colon and six in Turbo. According to the manifests, the cargo is machine parts.”

Lintstone laughed. “The terrorists haven’t realized we’ve caught on to their euphemism for weapons. So what’s your plan?”

“The colonel and I are flying to Haiti tomorrow. We’ve made arrangements to meet with the station chief, so we don’t disrupt any of his operations. We hope to board the ship, plant trackers on the containers in question, and follow them to their destination.”

AJ paused. “We might require additional assistance to track them.”

“Four additional people. Either from the colonel’s group or some of your friends.”

“Perfect, boss. We’ll set up the usual contact arrangements. Anything else?”

“AJ, this is an off-the-books recon mission, nothing more—no kidnapping, no killing.” Lintstone ground his teeth. “Am I clear? These countries are our friends.”

“Yes, boss.” Like I go around killing everyone. Although I can think of a couple of people the world could do without.

“Your mission is sanctioned.” He waved a hand in dismissal.

After they left the office, Javier turned to AJ. “What did he mean about no killing or kidnapping?”

“Well, sometimes shit happens. I grabbed a person or two in the past and tapped some others.” She shrugged. “No problemo—they got what they deserved.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

Genevieve, Blair Howard’s latest story in the Lt. Kate Gazarra series, will have you on the edge of your seat as the plot unfolds. Far from being a simple murder case, the situation is exacerbated by Genevieve having married into one of the area’s most influential business families, who want to keep their secrets from prying eyes.

As always, we catch a glimpse of the Kate behind the badge. One who enjoys a glass of wine, tries to keep physically fit, and seems to survive on good coffee. The comparison between the private and professional Kate makes her more realistic as she leads her small team through the morass surrounding Genevieve’s murder.

I don’t like to spoil the ending of any story, so you’ll have to grab a copy to finds out what happens. Suffice to say, you won’t be disappointed with the results. I can’t wait for the next installment!

I also finished Deadly Secrets, the first in the Lambeth Group Series by Gordon Bickerstaff, is a well-written story which will keep action-adventure aficionados. He’s created an intricate plot, which if successful, could potentially doom countless numbers of people to death as they unknowingly ingest harmful protease enzymes.

Follow Gavin Shawlins, a dedicated scientist and a member of the secret Lambeth Group, as he unravels the sinister plot. There is something for everyone in this exciting thriller, even a bit of rekindled romance. With plenty of twists and turns, Gordon has forged the opening novel of what should be an exciting series. I look forward to reading more!

This brings us to a close for another week. I hope you found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing. 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.

© Copyright 2019 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, October 27, 2019

Last night, the clocks went back and hour–another sure sign time is marching on. Leaves continue to fall and the temperatures are dropping. We’re marching through the seasons in what is a natural phenomenon.  There are at least two hedgehogs hanging out with us, fattening themselves up for their upcoming hibernation. Their houses are ready, with fresh straw inside, and a pile of leaves and twigs nearby for them to take what they want.

Yesterday we attended the monthly ‘makers’ market’ in Kirkcaldy. A couple of sheets of Sylvia’s poetry sold, along with five of my novels. Needless to say, we’re delighted!

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on October 27th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Christopher Columbus Andres, American diplomat, newspaperman, author, and Brevet Major General (Union Army); Emily Post, American authority on social behaviour and writer (Etiquette); Henry Tate, Australian composer and poet; Enid Bagnold, British novelist (Chalk Garden, 1956 Award of Merit); Graciliano Ramos, Brazilian author (Vidas Secas); Victor E. van Vriesland, Dutch poet (Mirror of Dutch Poetry); Johan G Dancer, Dutch poet (Meetings); Dylan Thomas, Welsh poet (Child’s Christmas in Wales); Kazimierz Brandys, Polish essayist and writer; Warren Allen Smith, American gay rights activist and writer; Nawal el-Saadawi, Egyptian feminist writer and activist; Sylvia Plath, American poet and novelist (Colossus, 3 Women, Bell Jar); Maxine Hong Kingston, American author (The Woman Warrior); John Kane, British actor and writer; Fran Lebowitz, American author and actress (Resident Alien); Jaq D. Hawkins, British author, occultist and lecturer; and ade Arcade, American comics artist and writer.

Were any names familiar to you? I admit I didn’t know most of this group, although there are some recognizable names, including Emily Post and Sylvia Plath. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

My Work in Progress

I continued working on A Cartel’s Revenge when time permitted. Chapter thirty-five 1541181671is now posted to the two subscription writing sites I use, and chapter thirty-six is almost ready. The action is speeding up as we head toward the story’s climax. I also made another tweak to my outline as the story heads towards its climax.

The chapter review count continues to steadily climb, now standing at 481, an increase of twenty-two in the past week. As always, plenty of good advice to help me improve my writing.

Here’s another snippet:

A stranger sat opposite her. Silver eagles of a full colonel adorned the epaulets his uniform. He had black hair, piercing green eyes, and olive complexion. His nametag read Smith.

“There are indications the Islamic State is attempting to gain a foothold in our territory. They’ve already infiltrated a number of countries around the world. We’re trying to ascertain the validity of the intel before we make a move.”

“What’s the source?” AJ scribbled on a notepad while her boss spoke.

“Two sensitive contacts, both unconfirmed. One reported Islamic State purchased an old freighter from an Iranian corporation through a cutout. They’re using the Liberian-flagged ship as a floating command post. The other stated IS training camps are being set up in Colombia and Panama.” He shook his head. “It might be a smart move on their part since would anyone believe they had willing conscripts in these countries.”

Lintstone slammed a fist on his desk. The civilians flinched. “Dammit, people! We need collaborative intel. Fast! Someone check with NSA and Homeland Security. Find out if they can help. Call State as well, but I doubt they’ll be of any use.”

A tall, thin man with receding gray hair vaulted from his chair. “On it, sir.” He ran from the room before Lintstone added any further instructions.

“Contact the British and the Canadians. Perhaps they’ll share with us, although there’ll be a quid pro quo.”

A bald man, on the heavy side, lumbered to his feet with the use of a cane. “Will do, chief.”

“Don’t offer any more than necessary.”

“Yes, sir.” The man limped through the doorway, banging the door shut behind him.

Lintstone glared at two women sitting at the end of the table. “Well, what are you waiting for? An invitation? Back to your computers and analyze. Contact NGA—see if the geospatial folks know more than they’ve shared. Find me something—anything to point us in the right direction.”

The women nodded and left.

“What about us, boss?” AJ gestured toward the colonel to include him in her question.

“This is Colonel Javier Smith, First Special Forces Operational Detachment, better known as Delta Force. Colonel, meet AJ Bruce, my troubleshooter.”

Both stood to shake hands. The colonel dwarfed AJ’s five-foot-ten-inch frame by six inches. AJ noted a thin scar running from his left ear to his chin. After a firm squeeze, both returned to their seats.

“You’ll be working togeth—”

AJ pursed her lips. “Sir, I work alone.” Oh great. Just what I need—a special forces guerrilla tagging along.

“Not this time. Orders from above.”

“Don’t worry, AJ, you won’t slow me down.” His bass voice resonating, Colonel Smith smiled.

“Excuse me, Colonel, I don’t want you to be in my way.” AJ crossed her arms. A frown etched across her face.

“You two finished?” Lintstone glanced at both of them. “Good. You’re working together—no debate.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

D.L. Flynn’s Red Eyes in the Darkness is a gripping suspense guaranteed to leave you thinking–where is evil lurking, and why? This is a well-written story which will give you pause to look at people differently, just as Cass and Will found out when they were under suspicion of killing Cass’ sister.

Friends and family members want nothing to do with them, yet they haven’t done anything wrong. Even when the cause of their problems meets a predicted but untimely demise, red eyes appear elsewhere. Hold onto your seat as you read this one. An excellent story and you won’t be able to put it down!

This brings us to a close for another week. I hope you found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing. 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.

© Copyright 2019 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, October 20, 2019

The last of the topsoil was delivered on Friday–three metric tons. The hole where I had removed clay and stone has been filled with the new earth and the turf (sod) has been laid. That’s two areas sorted out. What a transformation from the previous stone and gravel-covered areas.

Reddish-colored bricks in sort of a kidney-shaped design were filled in first, with the perimeter filled in with chipped stones in different colors, giving a great contrast. Sandstone slabs now surround the section section, with the border between the slabs and the wooden fence also covered with the chipped stones.

KODAK Digital Still CameraThere’s a few bushes/shrubs to move and some cleanup to do. Otherwise, it’s almost ready for the addition of color through a variety of plants, but that’ll have to wait for the spring.

Here’s a photo of a couple of my helpers. Tommy is on the left and Charlie is on the right.

 

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on October 20th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Giovanni Rucellai, Italian poet (Le Api); Belle van Zuylen, Dutch-Swiss writer (Three Women); George Ormerod, English historian and antiquarian; Karl [Theodor] Andree, German geographer/journalist (Globus); Thomas Hughes, English politician and author (Tom Brown’s School Days); Alphonse Allais, French author/humorist (Pass the Bile); Arthur Rimbaud, French poet and adventurer (Illuminations); John Dewey, American philosopher, educational theorist and writer (learn by doing); Marnix Gijsen, [baron Jan-Albert Goris], Flemish writer (Grote God Pan); Will Rogers Jr, American politician (D-Representative 1943-44) writer, political commentator, and actor (Down to Earth); Hans Warren, Dutch writer/poet/critic (Secret Diary); Pierre Laporte, Canadian journalist/statesman (Revolution Script); Robert Craft, American conductor, writer and friend of Stravinsky; Art Buchwald, columnist and author (Have I Ever Lied to You); Oskar Pastior, Romanian-born German writer (Oulipo); Emma Tennant, English writer (Pemberley: Or, Pride and Prejudice Continued); Robert Pinsky, American poet and Poet Laureate of the United States; Elfriede Jelinek, writer; David Profumo, English novelist; Lynn Flewelling, American fantasy author; and Michelle Malkin, American political commentator and author.

Was anyone familiar to you? I admit I didn’t know most of this group, although there are some familiar names. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

My Work in Progress

I continued working on A Cartel’s Revenge when time permitted. Chapter thirty-four 1541181671is now posted to the two subscription writing sites I use. The action is speeding up as we head toward the story’s climax. I also made a few tweaks to the order of the remaining chapters.

The chapter review count continues to increase, now standing at 459, an increase of eleven in the past week. As always, plenty of good advice to help me improve my writing.

Here’s another snippet:

Alonzo arrived at the plant accompanied by a single guard, who also doubled as his driver. Workers stepped aside and bowed as he strode across the compound.

Two naked men hung from x-shaped poles stretching their arms and legs spread as far apart as possible. Forbidden any food or drink and left to the elements for almost thirty-six hours, they were close to death.

Alonzo covered his nose to ward off the foul air and turned to his driver. “Summon everyone. They must bear witness.” He strolled to a nearby campstool and sat. Once the entire workforce gathered around Alonzo and the two men, he rose to his feet, a slight tremble in his hands. I don’t want to do this, but I must.

“These men.” He turned and glared at them as onlookers hissed. “These cabrones defiled one of our women, dishonored her husband. Not satisfied, they butchered them like sheep.”

Madre de Dios. Clemencia, por favor.” Both men struggled against their bonds and begged for their lives.

Their pleas for mercy were ignored as people who knew the murdered couple hurled insults at them, calling for their execution. The crowd grew quiet, waiting for Alonzo’s response.

“I will give you mercy. Unlike the dull blades used to kill our friends, I sharpened this one.” Alonzo ran his forefinger down the blade, before rubbing the tip of his finger over his bottom lip. Ready, he raised the machete and sidled toward the man on his right.

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

Russell Moran has done it again with Puzzles: A Detective Love Story. With New York City reeling from a severe scandal within the police department, the mayor reaches out to Bobbie Nelson, a top-notch detective working in Chicago. After wooing her away from Chicago, she’s teamed up with NYPD detective Bob Lawton. Before long, the become an inseparable team, both professionally and personally.

The NYPD Commission begins sending the most difficult crimes to the couple, eventually referred to as the BBs, to solve. Treating each daunting case like a puzzle, they connect the pieces until they complete their mission and capture the culprits. Russell has done an excellent job in creating larger-than-life characters for this new series, and by bringing in some of his characters from different series, blends them together in a smooth manner.

Each case builds upon earlier ones, with the BBs fine-tuning their puzzle-solving techniques to such a degree it’s not long before the FBI and CIA reach out them to piece together more complicated scenarios impacting on society. Russell has created an easy-to-read and fast-paced story, which will keep you turning the pages late into the evening to find out what happens next. I can’t wait for the next book in the series!

This brings us to a close for another week. I hope you found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing. 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.

© Copyright 2019 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, October 13, 2019

Gone are the early sunrises and dusk not happening until late at night. Dark is rolling in by seven p.m. and it’s not getting light until after seven a.m. The leaves are changing and falling. Autumn is definitely upon us!

The daytime temperature is still in the 50s so we’re scurrying to get as much outdoor work completed before the colder weather sets in. The backyard/garden is finally taking shape. One last project for this year is underway and should be completed within the next week, barring any unforeseen disruptions.

The cats are still heading outside each day, but they’re wanting back in after shorter periods. With the shifting sun, their favorite suntraps near the birch trees have diminished. The seasons keep marching on!

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on October 13th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

John Hervey, 2nd Baron Hervey, English statesman and writer; William Motherwell, Scottish civil servant and poet; Sasha Chorny [Alexander Mikhailovich Glikberg], Russian poet; George Bacovia [Vasiliu], Romanian poet and composer (Plumb); Conrad Richter, American writer (Light in the Forest); Arna Bontemps, American poet (100 years of negro freedom); Jutta Hecker, German writer; Werner Reinowski, German writer; Robert Walker, American actor and writer (Strangers on a Train, Bataan, Madame Curie); Frank D. Gilroy, American writer (Subject Was Roses); Janice Elliott, English novelist; John Menzies, Scottish publisher; Hugo Young, British journalist (The Guardian); Mike Barnicle, American broadcast journalist and newspaper columnist; Claude Ribbe, French historian and writer; Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabian progressive journalist, author, and editor in chief (Al-Arab News Channel); and Colin Channer, Jamaican writer (often referred as “Bob Marley” with a pen).

Was anyone familiar to you? I admit I didn’t know most of this group, although there are some familiar names. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

My Work in Progress

Writing continued on A Cartel’s Revenge this week with the completion of chapter thirty-three. 1541181671As always, it’s now posted to the two subscription writing sites I use. The action is speeding up as we head toward the story’s climax.

The chapter review count continues to increase, now standing at 448, an increase of twelve in the past week. As always, plenty of good advice to help me improve my writing.

Here’s another snippet:

A four-vehicle convoy approached the compound’s outer gates a few minutes past four p.m. Ramon stood on the veranda, following the procession’s approach. When the trucks stopped, he stepped down as armed men jumped from two troop carriers and created a cordon from the lead jeep to the veranda’s steps.

A tall, emaciated man, wearing crossed bandoliers and brass-handled pistols, stepped from the vehicle. Hands on his hips, he stood waiting.

Ramírez García Días removed his sunglasses and pushed them into a pocket. Ramon approached and extended his hand. Días glanced at it for a moment before shaking.

“Señor Días, welcome. I am Ramon Cristobal Alvarez, Señora Moreno’s chief of security. She is waiting for you.” He led Días to Olivia’s den. When they arrived, he knocked before opening the door.

Olivia stood as Días walked forward.

Ramon made the introductions. “Señora Moreno, may I introduce Ramírez García Días, our regional commander in Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia.”

“Welcome to my home, Señor Días. This is my son, Alonzo.”

A waiter served refreshments as the four sat at a circular table placed in the room for the meeting.

“Señor Días, we require your assistance.”

“Señora, how may I help?”

“Call me Olivia, por favor. We require additional manpower to improve efficiency at our coca plants.”

“How many men?”

Olivia glanced at Alonzo, motioning him to speak.

“Señor Días, we require two hundred men, split among our five plants.”

Días laughed. “Be realistic. I don’t have access to that much manpower to assist your drug trade.”

“We are producing more product than your small plants.” Alonzo stared at Días. “I researched your production processes, and you are in a position to assist us. We offer a five percent return for your help.”

“Are you sampling your product or drinking too much?” Días tapped his fingers in a drum roll on the table and shook his head. “One hundred men for twenty-five percent.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

In Into Summer: Dawn of a New Age, Larry Landgraf pulls out all the stops as he completes his Four Seasons series. With a riveting plot and characters we’ve come to know and love (or hate, depending on their position in the story), get ready for a whirlwind of emotions as the story comes to its conclusion.

Bringing people together at the best of times can be a daunting experience. Imagine having the world you know thrown into chaos where principles no longer exist and it becomes a free-for-all as those who are stronger prey on the weaker ones. But what if someone figures out how to make positive changes? I don’t want to be a spoiler, but the Lindgren twins set out to do just that.

This is a real pager turner, full of larger-than-life characters. Once you start reading, you’ll find yourself immersed in the story and rooting for the good guys (and gals). It’s too bad there aren’t more than four seasons, as I’d certainly like to read more!

This brings us to a close for another week. I hope you found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing. 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.

© Copyright 2019 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, October 6, 2019

It’s been a busy week. When the rain permitted, we continued getting the backyard/garden into shape. The kidney-shaped bricked feature, which was filled with gravel and weeds has had the clay removed, drainage installed, and is now covered with sod/turf. On the outside of the bricks and between the inner stone wall, additional drainage has been added and the area has been covered with white, red, brown, and blue stone chips.

We removed most of one ‘gravel’ bed’s clay and gravel, but the rain yesterday stopped completion of this area. If it’s dry enough today, although right now it’s pretty damp, the last of the clay will be removed. Afterward, a layer of sand will be added, with the remainder of the hole filled with topsoil for planting of shrubs and flowers.

Still plenty more to do, but will take it a day at a time.

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on October 6th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Giuseppe Cesare Abba, Italian patriot and writer; Albert Jeremiah Beveridge, American politician/author (Progressive); Mikhail Kuzmin, Russian writer; MartinLuis Guzman, Mexican novelist (Eagle & the Serpent); Maria Dabrowska, Polish writer (Noce I Dnie); Caroline Gordon, Kentucky, writer (Green Centuries); Horst Lange, German writer (The Long Lament); Meret Oppenheim, writer; Yaşar Kemal, Turkish writer (Memed, My Hawk); Gloria Lane, educator/author/founder (Women’s International Center); David Brin, American sci-fi author (Hugo, Nebula, Sundiver, Postman); Ayten Mutlu, Turkish poet and writer; and Joseph Finder, American novelist.

Was anyone familiar to you? I admit I didn’t know most of this group, although David Brin’s work stands out. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

News About My Published Work

Dangerous Alliance with CIBA award(1)I mentioned last time about The new Big Thrill book giveaway, sponsored by the International Thriller Writers, which will take place on October 25th. I’m pleased to announce that my award-winning novel, Dangerous Alliance, is part of October’s giveaway. Two lucky winners will each receive ten novels, all written by ITW members and released by publishers recognized by the organization.

If you’re interested in entering the draw, there’s still time. Click here: contest.  Good luck!

 

My Work in Progress

Writing continued on A Cartel’s Revenge this week with the completion of chapter thirty-two. 1541181671As always, it’s now posted to the two subscription writing sites I use. The chapter review count continues to increase, now standing at 436, an increase of ten in the past week. As always, plenty of good advice to help me improve my writing.

Here’s another snippet:

Giggles greeted him as he approached the dining room.

“Oh, Ramon, will you teach me to shoot?” Silvina maintained a straight face until Maria nudged her. Both girls burst into laughter.

“I’m glad you both recovered from yesterday’s scare. Did you ask your mother about learning to shoot?”

“Sí. She said I must be older.” Silvina pouted.

“Jefe is the boss. When she gives her permission, I’ll teach you. Maria, what about you?”

She shook her head. “The noise scares me.”

He chuckled and continued along the corridor. When Olivia called his name, he sipped his coffee and waited as she approached.

“Dona, everything is arranged. Días will arrive late this afternoon.”

“Excellent. Alonzo will join us.”

“As you wish.”

Ramon caught a whiff of cigar smoke as he stepped onto the veranda where Pedro was reading El Heraldo as he puffed on his daily cigar.

“Jefe, how is your head this morning?”

Pedro set the newspaper aside. “Buenos Días, Ramon. My head is fine—a couple of cuts, a few stitches, but no permanent damage. Nothing on the x-rays and the doctor’s pills handled the pain. I’m in excellent shape and will go for my ride today since I missed my exercise yesterday.”

“Do you want a guard to accompany you?”

Pedro shrugged. “No, unnecessary.” He patted his shoulder. “I’m prepared.”

***

A free morning, Olivia met with the girls in the living room. Maria and Silvina curled on each side of her as she read from the fairy tale, “The Poor Old Lady.” One of Olivia’s favorite childhood treasures, the story was written by Colombian poet Rafael Pombo in 1854. Her mother had read Pombo’s tale to her for years, and she never grew tired of the message.

“Mamá, why does the rich lady become poor?” Maria, hands clasped to either side of her face, waited for an answer.

“There must be a reason. Mamá will share when the time is right.”

“Girls, let me continue and what happens will be clear.” Olivia finished the story and closed the book. “What did you learn?”

“I don’t want to be poor.” Maria wailed, her arms crossed.

“The lady became greedy. She never had enough.” Silvina wore a smirk as she rendered her opinion.

Olivia smiled at her daughter’s comments and squeezed them closer to her.

“Maria, we won’t be poor. But if we become greedy, bad things might happen. The moral of this story is material possessions don’t make us rich.”

“What does, Mamá?”

“What we do with our lives and the people we love.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

M.D. Neu has done it again with his latest novel, TAD. Doug, a fun-loving drama queen finds TAD down on his luck and needing a friend. While Doug doesn’t believe his new friend’s story of being a former angel of death, he gives him his new name, an acronym for The Angel of Death.

This is a riveting story of lasting friendship between two people who couldn’t be more different, but it teaches us to be tolerant of others and their lifestyles. Doug and TAD are well-developed characters and are the main focus of the story. This novel will make you smile, laugh, and perhaps even cry by the time you turn the last page. I won’t spoil the story for anyone who wants to read without know what happens, but M.D. has done a brilliant job of putting together an excellent plot and well-written story about life, friends, and death. Grab yourself a copy now!

This brings us to a close for another week. I hope you found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing. 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.

© Copyright 2019 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved