Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, September 20, 2020

When I woke up this morning, it was dark and I was pinned to the bed. Was a having a dream? No. Very simple explanations.

Why was it dark? The blinds were pulled to block the morning sunshine–except there wasn’t any. Glancing through the cracks in the blinds, I  could see there wasn’t a glimpse of sunshine, but plenty of dark clouds.

Why couldn’t I move? Another easy answer. A fourteen-pound cat named Tommy was sprawled across one of my shoulders, his head on my pillow. A smaller cat name Flora (or more formally, Lady Flora Fluffbottom), decided my calf was a good prop.

The are just two of the four cats we have with us at the moment. Joining them is Charlie and Hope. Tommy and Charlie were feral, and both are still very skittish. Flora was destined for euthanasia, while Hope came from a no-kill shelter. They’re all part of the family!

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

Sergey Aksakov, Russian writer (Semejnaja chronika); Ernesto Teodoro Moneta, Italian journalist, soldier and pacifist (Nobel Peace Prize 1907); Upton Beall Sinclair, American writer (Jungle); Maxwell Perkins, American editor and publisher; Charles Williams, British poet and writer; Rachel Bluwstein, Hebrew poet; Fjodor Panfjorov, Russian author (Volga); Cesare Zavattini, Italian screenwriter (Ladri di Biciclette); Stevie [Florence Margaret] Smith, English poet and novelist (Not Waving but Drowning); Geraldine Clinton Little, Irish poet (A Little Bouquet); Donald Hall, American writer, literary critic and Poet Laureate of the United States; Keith Roberts, English writer (Irish Encounter, Ladies from Hell); George R. R. Martin, American fantasy and sci-fi author (A Song of Ice and Fire); James P[aul] Blaylock, American sci-fi author (Elfin Ship, Homunculus); Javier Marías, Spanish translator and novelist (Corazón tan blanco); and David Allen, American composer and writer.

Anyone familiar to you? I didn’t spot any names I know. 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

This week, I continued to edit Xavier Sear: Angola. As of today, there’s been 511 chapter reviews from the two online subscription writing sites I use, an increase of four in the past week. However, all of my regular reviewers have finished the story, so now I’m just seeing new readers pop in.

I’ve now updated half of the chapters as I move through the editing process. Here’s the final snippet before publication:

After their brotherly embrace, Abilio turned to the others. “Senhor João, and Baba Theo, this is my cousin, Soba Ngenda. He’s very brave and will help us find Peter.”

João and Theo shook hands with the grinning Soba before returning to the aircraft, where Nito was unloading their weapons and supplies.

“I will wait here for your return, Theo. The plane will be ready for immediate departure.” He crossed his heart.

“Thank you, Nito.” Theo clasped Nito’s shoulder before helping move their equipment.

Once they stowed everything in the back of the van, they climbed inside. João and Theo squeezed into the back while Abilio sat up front with his cousin.

Theo tapped the back of Soba’s seat. “We’re ready. Let’s go.”

“Yes, Minister Theo.” Soba turned the key.

Click. Click.

Soba pursed his lips and tried again.

Vroom!

A cloud of black smoke blew over the vehicle in the stiff breeze. After it cleared, Soba drove past the single-story terminal building and out the airport’s exit. He gunned the engine as he pulled onto the two-lane road heading toward the city. “While you wait for your friends to arrive, I arranged rooms at the Hotel Kawissa—the finest hotel in the city.”

“Thank you, Soba.” Theo tapped his fingers on his knee. Hang on, Peter. We’re coming!

Soba weaved through the traffic, leaning on the horn whenever he approached a slow-moving vehicle.

Theo closed his eyes as Soba squeezed shot past a truck and squeezed in front of an oncoming bus. May God protect us!

João and Theo rocked forward when Soba slammed on the brakes.

He pointed to an immense open-sided building with a red corrugated roof. “This is one of Saurimo’s markets.” He grinned. “My brothers are there now—we have four stalls.”

“What do they sell?” João tilted his head to gaze inside the building.

“Many things—cassava, beans, potatoes, corn, and yams.” Soba glanced in the rearview mirror at Theo and lowered his voice. “Other things, too, if the price is right.” He put a finger over his lips. “Five minutes, and we will be at the hotel.”

True to Soba’s prediction, they pulled up in front of a yellow two-story building with gray trim, with a brick and wrought-iron fence surrounding the property. Emblazoned across the front of the building in large blue script was Hotel Kawissa.

Soba stopped the van on the street next to block paving outside the fence.

As the others began to open the doors, Soba shouted, “Wait!” He jerked the wheel, cut across the road and down a side street.

***

They jumped out of the vehicle as the outer door slammed shut. Soba introduced his brothers before gesturing to a tan Casspir mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle.

“Couldn’t you find anything less conspicuous?” João laughed.

Soba shrugged. “We will need the space—my brothers are going to help free Minister Theo’s son.”

“Okay, Soba. But, no more surprises.” Theo suppressed a grin. “Let’s transfer everything and head back to the hotel. We depart for the rendezvous point early.”

“Yes, Minister. I will spend the night with my brothers. Abilio will drive you to the hotel.”

Theo nodded. We’ll be safer with Abilio driving.

After the men transferred everything into the MRAP, Abilio climbed into the van’s driver seat while João and Theo sat in the back. They headed back the way they came.

Before Abilio turned the corner, the darkened sky lit up as if it was midday.

Boom!

A concussion wave rolled over the vehicle. Abilio lost control, and smashed into a parked car.

Theo’s head cracked against the side of the van. Holding his head, he glanced back at the warehouse. Yellow-orange flames and thick, black smoke billowed upward near the building. Who? How? He slumped toward João as he lost consciousness.

This week I also finished and posted chapter ten of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. As with all of my works-in-progress, the chapters are posted to the two subscription writing sites. As of this morning, there’s been fifty-seven chapter reviews. I’ve picked up some new reviewers, which is always a good sign my work is picking up some interest. Great support to help me improve my writing!

In case you missed the synopsis, in an earlier post here it is:

Relegated to a desk job at the Pentagon despite his last field mission being a success, Colonel Javier Smith submits his retirement papers. He moves forward with his plans to create a security and investigative agency called the Brusch Agency. The focus will be aiding international clientele.

AJ Bruce, who co-led the mission with Smith, finds herself rooted at CIA Headquarters. Although now in charge of the division responsible for tracking terrorist groups in Latin America, she misses the action from being in the field.

Meanwhile, Alberto Cabrera was one of four terrorists who survived Bruce and Smith’s mission. Also known as Abdul Rahman, he enlists the assistance of the others who escaped and vows to track down those who killed his friends and comrades.

As Javier and AJ grow closer together, will the future hold wedding bells or funerals? Hang onto your hats as the story unfolds.

I’ll probably start posting snippets of this one next time.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished reading Clean Cut Kid by Michael Maxwell. Follow the adventures of Logan Connor as he seeks to re-create himself, changing his boring life into one with a sharp focus, even if it means running toward danger. A loner, he’ll have to learn to trust, even if it’s against his nature.

Michael has created a super story, filled with realistic characters and enough twists and turns to keep even the most avid action-adventure aficionado turning the pages. Unlike so many stories nowadays, he’s also done this without relying on sex and profanity–a great departure from the norm! I look forward to reading more of Logan’s adventures.

I also finished Blair Howard’s latest novel, The Last Straw, which bridges the gap between Harry Starke’s job as a homicide detective and his creation of a private eye business. But what cause Harry to give up a career as a police officer? Was it his latest case, involving the death of a female teenager or something else? You’ll have to grab a copy as I don’t like to spoil anyone’s reading pleasure.

As with all of Blair’s books, this is another well-written novel, with a spell-binding plot, realistic characters and enough twists and turns to keep everyone guessing. So go on, pick up a copy–you know you want to–and you won’t be disappointed!

Finally, I completed my reading of Yufu’s Run by Rayner Ye. Yufu has a lucrative job fishing for diamonds on behalf of a government organization. Before long, he’s embroiled in a conspiracy which results in him being accused of a terrorist attack. All he wants to do is retirement with his wife and children? Will he be able to do so or will he be on the run for the rest of his life?

Rayner has created a futuristic plot pitting good versus evil. Packed with plenty of action and intrigue, this one will have you turning the pages.

This brings us to a close for this 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 and hope you drop in again.

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, September 13, 2020

The nights are closing in, dawn sleeps in each morning, clouds and rain are a constant companion, and leaves are beginning to turn color. No doubt about it–fall is approaching. And fast!

Despite the changing weather, roses are still budding, new flowers have popped out on our clematis vines, and several new hydranga blooms are threatening to burst from the shelter of their leaves. It’s always interesting to watch how Mother Nature changes the landscape in a never-ending cycle.

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

Alexander Neckam, English theologist and encyclopedist; John Leland, English poet and antiquarian; Daniel Defoe, English novelist (Robinson Crusoe); Arnold Ruge, German political philosopher and writer; Nicolas Beets [Hildebrand], Dutch writer (Camera Obscura) and theologian; Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, Austrian writer (The Child of the Parish); Johannes de Koo, Dutch journalist and playwright; Sherwood Anderson, American author and publisher (Winesburg Ohio); Alain LeRoy Locke, African-American writer and philosopher “Father of the Harlem Renaissance”; Pierre Reverdy, French poet (Nord-Sud); J. B. Priestly, English novelist and scriptwriter (The Good Companions, An Inspector Calls); Julian Tuwim, Polish poet and lyricist; Anton Constandse, Dutch anarchist and writer; Hermine Heijermans, Dutch actress, politician and author (Grote Klaas en kleine Klaas); Ray Green, American composer and publisher; Roy Engle, American writer and actor (The Man from Planet X, The Wild Wild West, My Favorite Martian); Roald Dahl, British author (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG); George Weidenfeld, British publisher (Weidenfeld & Nicolson); Reninca [Renée Lauwers], Flemish author (Seed in the Wind); Judith Martin, American author, journalist and columnist (Miss Manners); Noël Godin, Belgian writer and humorist; and Tõnu Õnnepalu, Estonian poet and author.

I’d also like to extend belated happy birthday wishes to America’s oldest World War II veteran, Lawrence Brooks. He turned 111 yesterday! Click here for his story!

Anyone familiar to you? Two stood out for me: Daniel Defoe and Roald Dahl. 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

This week, I continued to edit Xavier Sear: Angola. As of today, there’s been 507 chapter reviews from the two online subscription writing sites I use, an increase of twenty-three in the past week.

As with my previous novels, I’m sifting through the different reviews to identify areas where readers suggests I make changes–whether additions or subtractions. I enjoy this part of the process as I get an excellent picture of what is working and what isn’t. Not only does this impact on my current work-in-progress, it also helps to improve my future stories.

Here’s another snippet:

Hours passed. Namali’s contractions continued about every twenty minutes. Each one was accompanied by a piercing scream as she wrenched the replaced sheet.

Fimi wiped Namali’s forehead after every event, singing a local song in a soft voice. During a break in the contractions, Fimi helped Namali change into somewhat cleaner clothes.

Peter tried to rest on a chair, his head leaning against the tent’s central pole. However, he jumped every time Namali screamed.

“Doc … tor. Help me!” Namali raised her head. “Make the pain go away.”

Peter stepped to the side of the cot and laid a hand on her shoulder. “Soon. Once the contractions become more frequent, it will be time.” He gestured at Fimi. “Together, we will bring your baby into this world.”

“Thank … you, Doc … tor.” Namali gasped and collapsed back on the pillow.

Moments later, she screamed again—louder than before. “It hurts! Make it go away!”

Peter rushed to Namali’s side. With Fimi’s help, they moved Namali into a birthing position. He examined her again.

Blood.

“Doctor?” Fimi held a small bag in her hand. “Should we give some medicine to help?”

“What is it?”

She shrugged. “I do not remember. My mother was a doula, and she made this mixture. It is a herbal remedy she learned from her mother.”

Peter waved a hand. “Not now.” He pointed at the blood. “It will be time soon.”

“Ieeeeeah!”

“The contractions are stronger and quicker. Won’t be long. Help her push.”

A liquid saturated the cot as Namali screamed again.

Fimi grabbed a clean towel and wiped up the fluid.

“The membrane ruptured!” Peter peered at Namali. “I can see the head! Push, Namali, push!”

Namali dug her fingernails into Fimi’s arm.

The doula grimaced and encouraged Namali to push with each contraction.

“It’s coming!”

“Waaaah!

Peter held the tiny baby in his hands. He nodded at Fimi, who wrapped the child in a piece of blanket.

After Peter snipped the umbilical cord, he stepped to Namali’s side. He glanced at her now-peaceful looking face. “Congratulations. You have a healthy child.”

More next time.

I also managed several more hours of research and finally completed chapter seven of New World Revolution this week. To date, there have been 137 chapter reviews, an increase of seventeen since I last mentioned this WIP.

There’s been plenty of positive feedback on this one, which is fantastic given the countless hours I spend each week doing research to make this as historically accurate as possible. While I have a specific time frame for this novel, the first of six planned for the series, several reviewers are reminding me about events they are familiar with. They’ll all receive an appropriate mention when it’s time. Of course, it’s always difficult to blend real events and people with the lives of fictional characters, but that’s part of the thrill of creating this series.

This brings us to a close for this 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 and hope you drop in again.

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, August 30, 2020

The past week or so has had an autumnal feeling to it, with rain most days and the daytime temperature not going above 61F (16C). The light nights have rapidly dwindled and nighttime temperatures are dropping to 45F (7C).

Hope this isn’t a sign summer is already over! I realize it’s the end of August, but would definitely like more summer weather–at least into the middle of September!

So, who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on August 30th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Bonifacio Asioli, Italian composer and music writer; Mary Shelley, English author (Frankenstein); Aleksandr Polezhayev, Russian poet (Sasjka); Friedrich Ratzel, German social-geographer (Lebensraum); J. M. Dent, British publisher; Paul Hazard [Paul-Gustave-Marie-Camille Hazard], French critic and literature historian; Meijer de Hond, Dutch rabbi and writer; Adam Kuckhoff, German writer and resistance fighter; John Gunther, American author and host (John Gunther’s High Road); Donald Bisset, British children book writer, illustrator (Upside Down Stories); Thomas F. Torrance, Scottish Protestant theologist; Ben Cami, Flemish writer and poet (Rose from Mud); Charmian Clift, Australian writer and essayist; Laurent de Brunhoff, French writer and illustrator (Babar the Elephant); Warren Burger, American author (The Midas Touch); Fabrizia Ramondino, Italian author; Robert Crumb, American cartoonist (Father Time, Fritz Cat); and Molly Ivins, American political columnist and author. 

This week I certainly recognized one name: Mary Shelley. I’d also like to mention today is my step-son’s birthday. He might not be famous, but he does write a fashion-related blog, which is available at https://theculturalomnivore.co.uk/.

Anyone familiar to you? 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

This week, I continued on a roll with my writing, having completed the final chapters of Xavier Sear: Angola. As of today, there’s been 465 chapter reviews from the two online subscription writing sites I use, an increase of thirty-nine in the past week.

Here’s another snippet:

A hint of dawn appeared on the horizon. Two black SUVs with false license plates pulled out of Theo and Shantae’s residence. The dogs followed until Shantae whistled.

After a final glance at the departing vehicles, the dogs gave a short bark and turned back toward Shantae, tails wagging. “Now don’t you worry about Baba. He’ll return soon with Peter.” I pray to God. She waved a final time. The smile plastered on her face as Theo and João soon disappeared, replaced by a frown. May God look after all of them.

***

Abilio drove the lead Jeep Cherokee, with João and Theo sitting in the back seat. Three hand-picked guards rode in the second vehicle.

The two-vehicle convoy weaved through the streets of Luanda until they turned onto the highway leading east. Abilio hummed a series of out-of-tune songs as the miles passed by. They encountered little traffic.

“How far we go today, Baba Theo? Should I drive fast?”

Theo shook his head. “Obey all posted signs and don’t drive too fast. We want to find out if anyone is following us.”

“If someone’s after you, why didn’t we fly?” João glanced over his shoulder.

A thin smile creased Theo’s face. “There are spies everywhere, my friend. They want information about where I go and who I meet.”

“Why would anyone want to do this? Haven’t you been a champion of the people?”

“My views aren’t held by everyone in the government.”

***

Theo and João sat in the rear seats of the Cessna. Once everything was loaded onto the aircraft, the three guards waved and headed toward the vehicles.

“Are we ready, Abilio?”

“Yes, Baba. They will take both vehicles and continue on the road to Saurimo in case anyone follows.”

“Excellent.” Theo shouted over the noise of the engine as Nito ran through his checklist before departure. “We’ll be in Saurimo in about four hours.”

João leaned toward Theo. “What happens when we arrive?”

“Abilio’s cousin lived there. He will meet our plane and take us to the rendezvous point with Senhor Sear.” Theo leaned back in his seat. “As you told me long ago, soldiers should sleep whenever the chance arose. I suggest we do so now.” Who knows what will happen when we arrive? I hope Abilio’s cousin is as trustworthy as he believes.

“We are ready.” Nito glanced at his passengers. “We go now.” He turned the aircraft around and increased speed as they bounced through the grass. Before they reached a distant line of trees, he pulled back on the yoke, and the plane clawed its way skyward.

***

João gazed out the window, watching mile after mile of dense jungle pass beneath them. In the distance, occasional breaks indicated small villages. I hope Sear makes it. We’ll need his expertise to extract Peter. His eyes began to close as the drone of the engine lulled him asleep.

A sound, not unlike a cough, broke the smooth noise of the engine.

João jerked, wide awake. He glanced at Nito, who struggled with the controls. “What’s wrong?”

“Hang on! We’re going down!”

A whistling sound replaced the engine noise as the nose of the aircraft tipped toward the ground.

João tightened his seat belt and closed his eyes. Catarina! I love you!

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished another novel from the DI Bliss Detective series by Tony J. Forder. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to gather my thoughts, so I’ll provide my reviews next time.

This brings us to a close for this 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 and hope you drop in again.

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, August 23, 2020

We’ve had a week of unsettled weather, with plenty of clouds, multiple showers–even a thunderstorm. There were occasional outbreaks of sunshine, but the temperatures were more like what we expect in late September or early October, not in August. At least today began with plenty of brilliant sunshine. Nor sure how long it will last, but we’ll take what Mother Nature dishes out.

I had to laugh at an article I scanned in this morning’s paper. Apparently, there’s a group of people (referred to as snowflakes in the article), who are offended by the use of a period to end a text message. They say this indicates the sender is insincere.

Huh? Since when did proper punctuation become offensive? How long will it take before there’s a push to ban teaching of punctuation and capitalization in the schools?  I’ve seen a few books available for sale where the authors clearly don’t care. In fact, I read a post somewhere where one of these authors mentioned it doesn’t matter if a book is full of improper grammar, poor punctuation, incorrect capitalization, etc., as long as it’s a good story. 

I tried reading one of these books during the past week. Fortunately, I didn’t pay a penny for it. Good thing, as I couldn’t get past the first chapter. I’m not expert on these things, but I do try hard to use what I do know.

So, who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on August 23rd. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Fulvio Testi, Italian poet (Pianto d’Italia); Moritz B. Cantor, German historian of mathematics; William Southam, Canadian newspaper publisher; William Ernest Henley, British poet, critic, and editor; Marcel Schwob, French writer and journalist (Le Croisade des Enfants); Edgar Lee Masters, American poet and novelist (Spoon River Anthology); Alexander Grin, Russian novelist (Jessie and Morgiana); Will Cuppy, American humorist (The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody); Jo Sternheim, Dutch actor and playwright (Fatherland); Alfred Lichtenstein, German writer; Cecil Rolph Hewitt, English journalist and policeman; Mauritius van Haegendoren, Flemish historian and senator; Arthur Adamov, Russian-French playwright (Paolo Paoli); Albert Alberts, Dutch writer and journalist (French battle); Jara Ribnikar, Serbian writer; Ephraim Kishon, Israeli author, dramatist, screenwriter, and Oscar-nominated film director; Clifford Geertz, American anthropologist (symbolic anthropology); Roy Strong, English writer, art historian and director (Victoria & Albert Museum); Nelson DeMille, American action adventure and suspense novels author (Plum Island); Andrei Pleşu, Romanian writer and essayist; John Bauldie, British music journalist; Charles Busch, American actor, screenwriter, playwright and drag queen (The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife); Roger Avary, Canadian-American screenwriter, director, and producer (Pulp Fiction); and Christian Beranek, American graphic novelist and actor.

This week I certainly recognized one name: Nelson DeMille. Anyone familiar to you? 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

This week, I was on a roll with my writing, having completed chapters 34-36 of Xavier Sear: Angola. As of today, there’s been 426 chapter reviews from the two online subscription writing sites I use, an increase of seventeen in the past week.

Here’s another snippet:

The maître d‘ greeted him and escorted him to a table sheltered by an awning. “Are you expecting anyone to join you, Doctor Okonjo?”

“Yes, Clifford. One man. He’ll ask for my table.”

“Very good, Doctor.” Clifford snapped his fingers and a waiter hurried to the table, a tray perched on one hand. “ I took the liberty of ordering your favorite drink—a Mongozo beer.”

“Excellent. Leave me until my guest arrives.”

Clifford nodded as he backed away from the table.

Okonjo sipped his beer, savoring the flavor of the palm nuts used to make the brew. He glanced at the beach and smiled as two couples strolled through the sand, arm-in-arm. I’m tired of the games. I hope this contact brings usable information.

Twenty minutes later, Clifford reappeared, leading a short slender man, wearing a Western-style suit. Scars crisscrossed his face.

After seating Okonjo’s guest, he placed a beer in front of him and departed.

“So. You requested this meeting. I hope you bring me what I want.”

The man sipped his drink, his gaze focused on Okonjo. “My leader sends his greetings. Are his words what you want to hear?” He shrugged. “That is up to you to decide. He instructed to tell me he had to relocate his camp, so he requires additional funds to pay off the other groups who allowed him to move without interference.”

Okonjo pursed his lips. “How much this time?”

“The usual—all in diamonds.”

“He’ll have to wait. I won’t receive more until the weekend.” Assuming Buhari is successful. “What about Mwanga’s son? Does he still live?”

The man grinned. “For now. He is useful as my leader’s woman is with child.”

“When will he be dealt with?” Okonjo drained his glass. “His departure will provide me with the leverage I require.”

The man’s eyes narrowed. “You are not as important as you think. My leader is an equal partner with you in creating the new Africa.” He waved a finger in front of Okonjo. “Do not be impatient.”

“Is that so?” Okonjo arched his brows and aimed the pistol in his lap at his guest. “You are nothing but a messenger. Be careful, or you will meet whatever idol you worship sooner than you expect.”

“Are you threatening me?” He pushed back his chair and stood. “Our business is finished.”

Okonjo raised his arm, showing his pistol. “Sit down, or I’ll blow a hole through you. This is my restaurant, so I could kill you without any interference.”

The man gulped and leaned over the table, his hands supporting him. “I’ll return in two days. You better have the payment.”

“Here’s a reminder for you.” Okonjo raised his left hand. The dagger flashed in the light as he jabbed the blade downward.

“Yeeeah!”

The man grabbed his hand, blood spurting from the hole.

Okonjo stood and glared across the table. He turned when Clifford rushed forward. “Show my guest out the back door. My driver will take care of him.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

This week, I received an advanced copy of Blair Howard’s latest novel, Nicolette, which will formally hit the streets on August 30th. If you’re a fan of Blair’s writing like I am, you’ll appreciate how Lt. Kate Gazzara digs into another case to find a killer.

Who killed Nicolette, and why? After all, she was just a young woman searching for true love. Follow Lt. Gazzara and her team as they unravel the threads they come across to finally solve the case. But at what expense? Clearly Lt. Gazzara is overworked and under enormous pressure. However, with her guiding hand, the team follows their leads, piecing together the clues. No spoiler alert here–you’ll need to grab a copy to find out what happens.

I will say this is another excellent plot from a master storyteller. With plenty of twists and turns, and loads of realistic characters, you’ll enjoy the ride. I know I did!

This brings us to a close for this 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 and hope you drop in again.

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, August 9, 2020

When we bought our current house, there was a conservatory attached to it. It has an opaque roof, which allows for heat to build up inside in the summer and can be quite cool in the winter. There’s also an intense glare when the sun hits it.

Fortunately, having experienced this before, we knew what to do. There are inserts which slide into the the layer of channels in the roof panels. So, this past few week (around intermittent showers) I installed the inserts. Not a difficult task, but definitely time consuming.

As a result, our opaque roof now has a blueish tint to it, which is interesting since the inserts are silver on both sides. Anyway, the glare has disappeared and the conservatory is cooler, without having to open the doors and all of the windows. Hopefully, we’ll see less heat loss in the winter, too.

So, who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on August 9th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Izaak Walton, English biographer and author (The Compleat Angler); John Oldham, English satirical poet; Jacob Campo Weyerman, Dutch painter and writer during Dutch Enlightenment; Bruno Dalberg [Petrus the Wacker van Zon], Dutch writer and lawyer; David de Jong, Dutch writer (Mutiny on the Canal); Armand Salacrou, French playwright; P.L. [Pamela Lyndon] Travers, Australian British writer (Mary Poppins); Berta Waterstradt, German writer and actress; John Baur, American museum director and author (American Paintings in 19th Century); Robert van Gulik, Dutch diplomat and writer (Judge Dee); Tove Jansson, Finnish author and illustrator (Moomins); Enzo Biagi, Italian journalist and writer; Philip Larkin, English poet and writer (North Ship, Jill); Gerrit Kouwenaar, Dutch journalist and poet; Robert Shaw, British actor, novelist, and playwright (Deep, Jaws, Sting, Black Sunday); Daniel Keyes, American author (Flowers for Algernon); and Jonathan Kellerman, American writer.

Recognize anyone? I did–Robert Shaw and Jonathan Kellerman. 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

This week, I completed chapter thirty-two of Xavier Sear: Angola, and began work on chapter thirty-three. As of today, there’s been 388 chapter reviews from the two online subscription writing sites I use.

Here’s another snippet:

An hour later, the road widened as they near the village. Children ran alongside the vehicles, laughing and shouting. Older people peeked out of the various huts, staring at the trucks as they passed through the village center.

Ahead, three trucks waited, their cargo areas stacked high with various goods, including bags of grain, bolts of cloth, and crates of live chickens.

Sear and Guzman hopped out of their vehicle and walked toward the water.

Kruger joined them. He exchanged a few words with one of the locals and turned to Sear. “He wants to know what white men are doing in this part of Africa?”

The man said something else to Kruger, who laughed. “He wants to know if we’re lost?”

“What’s the problem?”

“He didn’t say there was a problem. We’re an oddity in this area, that’s all.”

The local tapped Kruger on the shoulder and conversed for a couple of minutes. Afterward, the man smiled and walked away.

“Now what?”

“The locals are letting us go on the ferry first.”

The vehicles ahead of them backed up, clearing the way for Sear and his companions.

“Guess we better get in position.” Kruger turned toward his truck. “Oh, yeah. He said one other thing—we’ll be on the boat by ourselves. They believe we are bad luck.”

***

Once Kruger and Guzman drove their cargo vehicles onto the flat-bottom ferry, the trucks were locked in place. The ferry moved into the brown water, heading toward Angola.

Sear leaned against the back of a truck and gazed at the locals standing along the Zambian shoreline waving at him.

He lifted his hand to return the gesture.

Fweet! Fweet!

Sear waved at Kruger and Guzman. “Incoming!” He dove into the murky water.

More next time.

I managed several more hours of research for chapter seven of New World Revolution this week and should begin writing soon. To date, there have been 120 chapter reviews.

There’s been plenty of positive feedback on this one, which is fantastic given the countless hours I spend each week doing research to make this as historically accurate as possible.

Here’s the initial snippet from the opening chapter:

Last night, after two days of blue skies and brilliant sunshine, which hadn’t dried out his sodden crop, he sensed moisture in the air again. In the distance, banks of dark clouds gathered, threatening another deluge. They had no choice, but to bring in the harvest and salvage what they could. He called to Thomas and George. “‘Tis time for a break, lads. Fetch the water bucket and we shall rest for awhile.”

They leaned against a pile of rocks removed over the winter from a new plot Sir Percy’s factor arranged for them. After taking his turn with the ladle for a drink of cool water, Thomas knowing eyes met his father’s. “Most of it is spoiled.”

“Yes. I pray we can salvage enough to pay our rent. The crop is worse than five years ago when we almost lost everything.”

“What will happen to us, Father, if we can’t?” George, thirteen on his last birthday, tossed a small stone across the field.

“I don’t know, lad. I don’t know.” I should tell Mary the bad news tonight. But I can’t—what are we to do? A false smile on his face, William struggled to his feet. “Time’s passing. Won’t be long afore the sun is overhead.”

They picked up their scythes and returned to work. After his sons had gone to the other end of the field, William’s smile withered, his eyebrows knitted in a frown.

He swung his scythe, working his way along the field. Left. Pull back. Left. Pull back. Tears brimmed as he worried about what the future held for him and his family.

The sun had arced westward before William squinted at the sky. Glad the storm was still a good way off, he called for another break. “Lads, dinner.”

Thomas and George hurried to his side. Next to the water bucket, a second contained their dinner: an apple, a chunk of two-day-old bread, and a small piece of hard cheese each. They devoured their meal, leaned back against the rocks, and dozed.

Twenty minutes later, William tapped his sons’ knees. “Back to work. Several more hours to go afore the day is finished.”

Perhaps more next time.

Books I’m Reading

I’ve been reading more from the DI Bliss Detective series by Tony J. Forder and should have reviews of book two and three next time.

This brings us to a close for this 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 and hope you drop in again.

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, August 2, 2020

It’s hard to believe how fast July sailed by. It seemed just a blink since we were in June. We’ve been busy with a variety of outdoor tasks which needed done, but not so much we couldn’t stop and enjoy the colorful array of flowers which our efforts (and Mother Nature) produced this year. Absolutely fabulous!

This week, we continued doing some more Scottish genealogy. It took four eyes, a magnifying glass, and a bit of patience to decipher some of the documents we uncovered. However, we were successful in sorting through the loops, scrolls, and faded areas to identify the births of several ancestors dating back as far as 1692! It’s always a thrill when we uncovered a new piece of information.

So, who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on August 2nd. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Kaspar von Stieler, German poet (Teutsche Wolredner); Joan Lucaz, Dutch journalist and patriot; Adolf Friedrich von Schack, German poet; F. Marion Crawford, American author (Mr. Isaacs); William Watson, British poet (Prince’s Quest, Father of Forest); Irving Babbitt, American writer (Rousseau & Romanticism); Ernest Dowson, British poet (Decorations in Verse and Prose); Aino Kallas, Finnish writer (White Ship, Estonian Tales); Ethel M. Dell, English author (Storm Drift); Johannes Tralow, German writer (Ottoman tetralogy); Viktor Maksimovich Zhirmunsky, Russian literary historian and linguist; John Kieran, American columnist and author (Natural History of NYC); Charles Bennett, English screenwriter; Mary Hamman, American writer and editor (Pictorial Review, Good Housekeeping); Lou Zara, American writer (Stump the Authors); Roger MacDougall, Scottish playwright and screenwriter (The Man in the White Suit); Louis Pauwels, French writer and editor; James Baldwin, American novelist (Go Tell it on Mountain, Another Country) and playwright (The Amen Corner); Isabel Allende, Chilean-American author (The House of the Spirits, City of the Beasts); Rose Tremain, British novelist and playwright (Restoration); Robert Holdstock, English sci-fi author (Ghost Dance, Labyrinth); James Fallows, American writer and journalist; and Caleb Carr, American novelist and military historian.

One name stood out for me this week: James Baldwin. Did you recognize anyone? 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 Published Work

When I first released Colombian Betrayal in late March 2020, it was at the introductory price of $2.99 for the Kindle version. I had planned to keep it at this price for thirty days before raising it. However, due to the global pandemic, I’ve kept it at this price.

However, all good things must come to an end. Tomorrow, August 3rd, the price will increase to $4.99. So, if you want a copy but haven’t taken the steps to grab one, now is your chance. Here the universal link for Amazon: books2read.com/u/4Az0j0

Many thanks for your support!

My Work in Progress

This week, I completed chapter thirty-one of Xavier Sear: Angola, and began work on chapter thirty-two. As of today, there’s been 376 chapter reviews from the two online subscription writing sites I use.

Here’s another snippet:

Sear gripped the arms of his seat as the Emirates flight began its descent into Lusaka’s Kenneth Kaunda International Airport. His eyes closed as the knuckles on his hands turned white from his exertion.

“Ease up, man. You’ll rip your seat apart.” Guzman gave a soft chuckle.

Sear glared at him. “Easy for you to say. I hate flying.”

“Flying isn’t an issue.” Guzman gave Sear a sideways glance. “It’s the abrupt landings which cause a problem.”

“Whatever. We’ll be on the ground soon, so take a few breaths and relax.”

* * *

Kruger continued toward Mongu, the sounds of snoring filling the vehicle. After coming around a bend in the road, he slowed. “Wake up, guys. Checkpoint ahead. Hand over your passports.”

Sear and Guzman passed their documents to Kruger before pulling out their weapons ad tucking them out of sight under their legs.

“Here we go.” Kruger pulled to a stop as three armed police officers pointed their AK-47s at the vehicle.

A fourth officer, with a Heckler and Koch G3 rifle slung over his shoulder, lowered a barricade he stepped forward. “Papers.”

Kruger handed over their passports. Inside his, four one-hundred-dollar bills were folded in half.

The officer glanced through the documents before handing them back. He smiled and waved for the others to raise the barrier.

Kruger pulled ahead, gaining speed as they left the checkpoint behind. “Check my passport. I put four hundred dollars in mine, and I didn’t see him take the money.”

Sear rifled through Kruger’s passport. “No dough—pretty adept at making things disappear.”

More next time.

I managed several hours of research for chapter seven of New World Revolution this week and should begin writing soon. To date, there have been 116 chapter reviews.

Anyway, there’s been plenty of positive feedback on this one, which is fantastic as I spend countless hours each week doing research to make this as historically accurate as possible.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished reading three novels from the Will Finch Mystery Thriller series by D.F. Baily. In the opening novel, Bone Maker, we meet Will Finch, a crime reporter trying to put his life together after a family tragedy. Before long, Will is hot on the trail of a new story, with some gruesome results. Did a bear eat the sole witness to a multi-million dollar fraud or was it murder?

With a story filled with plenty of twists and turns, along with characters who could come from any part of the country, you’ll be turning the pages to find out what happens next!

It didn’t take me long to move into the next novel, Stone Eater. Once again Will Finch is on the trail of another story. However, this time, he teams up with a former police officer, Eve Noon, as they attempt to unravel the mystery surrounding the death of a daughter of a U.S. senator.

If anything, D.F. Bailey, has amped-up the tension and excitement in this one, with even more twists and turns. Will Finch and Noon be able to solve the mystery before someone knocks them off? If you enjoy a fast-paced and well-written story, this one’s for you.

The third novel in the trilogy, Lone Hunter, was just as exciting to read as the first two. This time, Will teams up with Noon and a new player, Sochi. This one is another roller coaster ride as we meet new high-powered individuals who think nothing of taking a life to get what they want. I’m pleased to say each story in the series outdoes the previous ones. I just found out the thrills don’t end as there are now at least two more novels in the series!

This brings us to a close for this 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 and hope you drop in again.

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, July 26th, 2020

It’s hard to believe we’re approaching the end of July. Seems like only yesterday we were in the middle of May. Time is definitely marching on!

It’s been a pretty damp week, with rain most days. A couple of times it didn’t stop raining all day. At least everything is looking nice and green, with a huge array of colors as all of the plants which were late getting in the ground or decorate pots are blooming or getting ready to show us their stuff.

So, who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on July 26th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

George Catlin, American author and painter (American Indian scenes); Winthrop Mackworth Praed, English politician and poet; George Bernard Shaw, Irish dramatist (Pygmalion, Nobel Prize for Literature 1925); George Louis Beer, American historian (authority on British colonies); Antonio Machado, Spanish poet (Campos de Castilla); Alexander J. Kropholler, Dutch architect and writer; Andre Maurois [Emile Herzog], French writer (Balzac); Marcel Jouhandeau, French writer; Aldous Huxley, English author (Brave New World, Island); Lodewijk Rogier, Dutch historian (Henric van Veldeken); Paul Gallico, American novelist (The Snow Goose); Jean Shepherd, American writer and actor (A Christmas Story); Blake Edwards, American writer and director (10, SOB, Breakfast at Tiffany’s); Jan Berenstain [Janice Marian Grant], American author (The Berenstain Bears); Ana María Matute, Spanish author (Fiesta al noroeste); Ibn-e-Safi, Pakistani fiction writer and Urdu poet; Wopko Jensma, South African poet and graphic designer; Lawrence Watt-Evans, American sci-fi author (Hugo, Sword of Bheleu); Rick Bragg, American journalist and writer; and Anne Provoost, Belgian author (In the Shadow of the Ark).

Two names stood out for me this week: George Bernard Shaw and Aldous Huxley. Did you recognize anyone? 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 Published Work

When I first released Colombian Betrayal in late March 2020, it was at the introductory price of $2.99 for the Kindle version. I had planned to keep it at this price for thirty days before raising it. However, due to the global pandemic, I’ve kept it at this price.

However, all good things must come to an end. On August 3rd, the price will increase to $4.99. So, if you want a copy but haven’t taken the steps to grab one, now is your chance. Here the universal link for Amazon: books2read.com/u/4Az0j0

Many thanks for your support!

 

 

My Work in Progress

This week, I completed chapter thirty of Xavier Sear: Angola, and began work on chapter thirty-one. As of today, there’s been 367 chapter reviews from the two online subscription writing sites I use.

Here’s another snippet:

João pushed his plate away and finished a tall glass of water. He smiled at his hosts. “That was the best fish calulu I’ve eaten in years.”

Theo and Shantae laughed. She waved a finger at João. “The secret is the fresh vegetables to offset the dried fish. Would you like some cocada amarela? The cook made is especially for you.”

João patted his stomach. “Perhaps, later. If you don’t mind, I must discuss things with Theo.”

Shantae nodded. “I will leave you men to men’s business. When you are ready for the custard, we shall serve it with coffee.”

“I thought Angolans didn’t like coffee.” João pursed his lips. “Things have changed over the years.”

“As a member of the government, I must encourage our citizens to drink coffee because it is healthy for us.” Theo frowned as he stood. “I still do not like the taste, but the Americans say it contains antioxidants, which help control cancer cells.”

They went into the room Theo used as his office. “Would you like a drink, my friend? We made some of the whiskey kota you enjoyed many years ago.”

João laughed. “Perhaps later, we might share a glass of your homemade whiskey. But, first, can I connect to the internet? Cat should be sending me an email reading our rendezvous point with Sear.”

“As a member of the government, I receive one of the best internet connections in Angola.” Theo grinned. “Broadband is available in Luanda, but outside the major cities, we must rely on satellites, which can be erratic. Of course, our internet will not compare with the services in Portugal.”

After Theo helped João connect, he scrolled through his unread email. The usual batch of internet spam. Some business stuff to take care of later. Ah, yes! He glanced at Theo. “Just a moment—there’s a message from Cat.”

More next time.

I finally finished and posted chapter six of New World Revolution. To date, there have been 113 chapter reviews. I had provided a higher number last time, but I was looking at the wrong title.

Anyway, there’s been plenty of positive feedback on this one, which is fantastic as I spend countless hours each week doing research to make this as historically accurate as possible.

I hope to begin including small snippets some time during August.

 

Books I’m Reading

This past week, I’ve been reading The Finch Trilogy (Will Finch Mystery Thriller Books) by D.F. Baily. I’m almost finished with the final novel in the trilogy, so I’ll provide my assessment of the three books next time.

This brings us to a close for this 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 and hope you drop in again.

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

 

 

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, July 19, 2020

It’s been a busy week. I finally managed to clear out an area in the back yard (garden) which had been neglected by the previous owner for eight years. Several shrubs had grown out of control, with some of them reaching tree proportions, requiring the use of a ladder so I could remove the higher branches.

Now the brick steps leading between two areas are dry–they used to remain wet several days after a rain and were a tripping/sliding hazard. A stunted maple tree is finally getting the sunshine it deserves!

Most of the verbenas which were planted in the front borders or in pots are now flowering, adding a mass of color which was sorely lacking. Once they’re all blooming, I’ll get the camera out and grab a few photos.

So, who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on July 19th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Heinrich Christian Boie, German author and editor; Gottfried Keller, German-Swiss poet and novelist; Ferdinand Brunetière, French writer and critic; Hermann Bahr, Austrian writer (Concert); Dwijendralal Ray, Bengali poet, playwright and lyricist (Dwijendrageeti); Vladimir Mayakovsky, Russian poet (Ode to Revolution); A. J. Cronin, Scottish writer (Citadel, Shining Victory); Marc Turfkruijer, Flemish movie journalist and writer; Edgar Snow, American author and journalist (Red star over China); Robert Pinget, French novelist (The Interrogation) and playwright; Max Sordam, Suriname warden and writer (Dictionary Sranantongo); Jan Myrdal, Swedish writer and journalist (Albania Defiant); and John Bratby, English painter and writer (Breakdown).

Recognize anyone? This was an unknown group 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

This week, I completed chapter twenty-nine of Xavier Sear: Angola, and began work on chapter thirty. As of today, there’s been 366 chapter reviews, an increase of twenty-one.

Here’s another snippet:

As the sun began to set, the vehicles pulled into a small clearing. A dilapidated building, constructed of wood and sheet metal, stood inside a cluster of trees.

Hearing others climbing down from the vehicles, Peter and Namali approached the tailgate. He jumped down, offering her his hand to help her to the ground.

A faint sheen of perspiration covered her face, and she wobbled on her feet.

“What is wrong with her, Doctor?” Alimasi grabbed Peter’s arm. “What is it?”

“I—I am not sure. Perhaps the journey was too much for her.”

Alimasi pointed to the hut. “Take her inside. There should be something to sit on. My men will bring whatever you require.”

Peter nodded. “I need fresh water, clean cloths—and my medical bag—the one your men took when you captured me.”

“Anything else?” Alimasi rubbed his hands toward, his forehead wrinkled with concern.

“Yes. Start a fire. Very hot.”

“What for?”

“In case …. Peter stared into Alimasi’s face. “To sterilize my tools, in case I need to operate.”

“What?” He grabbed Peter by the shoulder. “What did you do?”

Peter shook his head. “I didn’t do anything. When we were traveling here, Namali groaned a couple of times and clutched her stomach. There are several possible causes.”

“Such as?”

“In this part of the world, food poisoning, parasite infection, indigestion, dengue fever, cholera, or hemorrhagic fever are common. I should have something in my bag to help with these.” Peter swallowed. “However, I might need to operate if Namali has appendicitis, or if the baby is ready to join us.”

Alimasi yelled in the dialect Peter couldn’t understand.

Three men rushed forward.

Alimasi pointed at two of them and switched to Lingala. “Take my woman and the doctor inside the building. Get him whatever he requests.” He turned to the third man. “Go find everything taken from the hospital when we captured the doctor. Bring everything here. Hurry!”

The men each took one of Namali’s arms and led her toward the hut. Peter began to follow.

“Wait, Doctor.”

Peter stopped and turned.

“If anything happens to Namali or my unborn child, I will hold you responsible.” Alimasi stared into Peter’s eyes. “If either of them dies, so will you.”

More next time.

I didn’t get too far working on the next chapter of New World Revolution. The groundwork is laid for chapter six, with almost half of the chapter written. So far, there’s been over 140 chapter review, with plenty of sound advice.

I’ve struggled with a decision whether to have the characters speaking with contractions as I’m trying to keep the voice in the past. Fortunately, the Massachusetts Historical Society has provided some excellent information to help me. I’ll be going back to the original chapters and will begin changing things like do not to don’t, as contractions with n’t were some of the first to be used. Definitely plenty of research going into this one!

Speaking of research, I took somewhat of a break in research for my novels this week to concentrate on some geneaology research, working on my wife’s Scottish family history. I’ve been working on this occasionally for several years, but something sparked a return to the Scottish government website I use to trace records related to birth, marriage, death, census, and valuation rolls. The oldest ancestor confirmed with an online copy of a document, was a birth from 1692!

Books I’m Reading

I recently completed The Atlantis Riddle: A Dan Kotler Archaeological Thriller by Kevin Tumlinson. This is the second book in the series as was equally as good as the first one, with an excellent plot surrounding archaeologist Dan Kotler and his FBI friend, Special Agent Roland Denzel. Dan’s interest in a new project is stirred when a wealthy woman brings him an ancient stone. Before long, Dan’s on the hunt, with able assistance from Roland.

Will they be successful in rewriting history? Or will there be unsuspecting dangers lurking in the background? I don’t like to spoil things, so you’ll have to grab a copy and find out. With plenty of twists and turns, along with a bevy of interesting characters, it’s easy to immerse yourself in this story. If you enjoy action-adventure stories with some historical facts thrown into the mix, this one’s for you!

I also completed Bad to the Bone, the first book in Tony J. Forder’s DI Bliss series. Follow the exploits of Detective Inspector James Bliss as he attempts to unravel the mystery of a dead body. Examination indicates the woman had been killed several years ago but had been dumped in a new location.

With a riveting plot and well-defined characters, this story is guaranteed to keep you turning the pages. Not only do we follow DI Bliss through the tangled details the victim, we also learn about his personal life and what makes him the person he is today. This was the first book I’ve read by Tony and it’s definitely not the last as I’ve just downloaded books two through five!

This brings us to a close for this 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 and hope you drop in again.

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, July 5, 2020

Happy 4th of July weekend to all who celebrate! Hope you enjoy the rest of the weekend.

We’ve had a wet week, with showers every day. It’s been great for all of the plants, many of which were late getting into the ground because of non-availability during the spring. Many of them are now beginning to flower, adding an array of colors. Unfortunately, the rain is also helping the weeds to grow, too. However, we’re tag-teaming against them and seem to be on the winning side.

So, who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on July 5th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Mandell Creighton, British historian and a bishop of the Church of England; William T. Stead, British newspaper editor (The Pall Mall Gazette – exposed child prostitution); Jean Cocteau, French poet and writer (Les Enfants Terribles); Frederick Lewis Allen, American social historian and editor of Harper’s Magazine; Tin Ujević, Croatian poet (Žedan kamen na studencu); Frank Waters, American writer; W. M. Diggelmann, Swiss writer (appeared in The self-destruction of W. M. Diggelmann); John Gilmore, American true crime author (Severed: The True Story of the Black Dahlia Murder); Brooke Hayward, American author (Haywire); Barbara Frischmuth, Austrian writer; Julie Nixon Eisenhower, American author and the youngest daughter of Richard Nixon; Meredith Ann Pierce, American sci-fi author (Darkangel); and Veronica Guerin, Irish crime journalist.

Recognize anyone? I didn’t. 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!

Are you a thriller aficionado? If so, Thrillerfest XV begins tomorrow!  If your interested, here’s the link to register: https://thrillerwriters.org/virtual-thrillerfest-2020/. Perhaps I’ll see you there!

My Work in Progress

I changed tack with my writing over the past few days, reaching back to a novel I began in 2017 but haven’t finished. This historical series will be called New World Revolution, with the title of book one tentatively being: A New Home. Here’s the synopsis:

The members of the Alexander family are hard-working tenant farmers in northern England. In 1770, massive crop failures threatened the very existence of the farmers. William Alexander and his two sons, sell what they can of their crops, but are unable to pay their debt, forcing them into a difficult situation.

The landowner’s factor takes pity on the Alexander family since they always paid their debts and never caused any problems. Since they could pay their way to the New World, the factor arranges their passage. They work off the costs as indentured servants to his brother, a wealthy tea merchant in Boston.

Little does anyone know, the Boston Tea Party and other events leads the colonies into a fight for their survival. What will become of the Alexander family?

This story requires an extensive amount of research so I can balance real events and people with my fictional characters. Just this past week I spend conducted over fifteen hours of research. I completed chapter five yesterday. So far, the story has received seventy-three chapter reviews from the two subscription writing sites I use. To aid my online research, I’ve also purchased ten non-fiction books related to the time period. More to come as the story unfolds.

Books I’m Reading

I recently read The Phoenix Project (DI Jack MacIntosh Book 1) by Michelle Kidd. I was drawn to the story after reading the synopsis. There’s no doubt the plot is fantastic, with plenty of twists and turns. Many of the characters come across as realistic. Follow DI MaCintosh as he attempts to unravel the mystery surrounding The Phoenix Project and an organization referred to as PRISM. Will he solve the puzzle before everyone who is involved ends up dead?

This would have been a fantastic read if the manuscript had been subjected to an intensive editing regime. As a result, my rating is lower than it would otherwise have been.

This brings us to a close for this 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 and hope you drop in again.

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, June 28, 2020

It’s hard to believe how fast the month is passing. Seems like only yesterday we were in the middle of May! Are you experiencing the same? There certainly is something to the saying, “Time Stands Still for No One.”

We’ve been having some mixed weather, which is helping out as there’s less watering of the plants to do. Most of the spring flowers have faded away, but there’s a new crop of buds on the way. Our rose bush is blooming and the flowers on the hydrangaes are getting ready to burst into color!

So, who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on June 28th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Giovanni Della Casa, Italian poet (Galateo); Otto Julius Bierbaum, German writer (Irrgarten Der Liebe); Luigi Pirandello, Italian writer (Six Characters in Search of An Author-Nobel 1934); Esther Forbes, American novelist (Johnny Tremain); E. H. Carr, English historian (History of Soviet Russia); Leon Kruczkowski, Polish author (Kordian into Cham); Arnold Shaw, American writer on popular music and composer; Eric Ambler, suspense writer (Epitaph for a Spy); A. E. Hotchner, American editor, novelist and playwright; Terje Stigen, Norwegian author (Det siste paradiset); Henk van Stipriaan, Dutch journalist and VARA radio host; Harold Evans, English-American journalist and writer (editor of The Sunday Times); Nick Virgilio, American Haiku poet; Gisela Kraft, German writer; Robert L Asprin, American sci-fi writer (Thieves World, Cold Cash War); Mark Helprin, American writer (A Soldier of the Great War); and Florian Zeller, French novelist (La Fascination du Pire) and playwright.

Recognize anyone? They all stumped me this time. 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!

Are you a thriller aficionado? If so, there’s still time to sign up!  If your interested, here’s the link to register: https://thrillerwriters.org/virtual-thrillerfest-2020/. Perhaps I’ll see you there!

 

 

My Work in Progress

Another positive regarding the weather is more time to write. This week I finished chapter Xavier Sear: Angola chapter twenty-six and posted it to the two online subscription writing sites I use. Angola has now received 322 chapter reviews, an increase of twelve in the past week. As always, plenty of good advice from my faithful reviewers to provide as good a story for you as possible.

I don’t remember if I mentioned before, but the snippets I post are all first drafts, so things likely change a bit by the time the final edit is completed.

Here’s another snippet:

Once the guards appeared, they each grabbed one of Peter’s arms and led him to the tent’s exit. They shoved him outside, where he stumbled.

Sprawling on the ground, Peter struggled to his feet. I must endure their childish games—until help comes or I can escape.

Laughter followed him as the guards returned him to his tent. Inside, Peter collapsed to the floor. At least I’m no longer trussed up like a chicken. He crabbed to the tent flaps and pulled one aside.

Not five yards from the tent, a young guard stared at him. He picked up his rifle and waved Peter back inside.

He dropped the flap and sprawled on the floor. My guard can’t be more than fourteen, fifteen at the most. His weapon is longer than he is tall. Peter shook his head. Might as well get some rest. No telling what the rest of the day will bring.

***

“Up! Up!” The teenage guard poked his AK-47 inside the tent and motioned Peter outside. A second guard waited. They grabbed Peter’s arms and hustled him toward the command tent.

After being told to enter, Peter stepped inside. Alimasi sat on a three-legged camp stool, watching several youths packing the contents of the tent.

Peter stopped in front of his captor. “What is it? Did something happen?”

“No.” Alimasi yelled something in an unfamiliar dialect at one of the youths before turning his attention back to Peter. “Something in here ….” He thumped his chest and pointed to his head. “Something tells me we should relocate our camp. We’ve been in one place too long.”

“Where will we go?” Will I be able to escape? What about the women and children captured with me?

“Not far. About twenty kilometers is one of our old camps near another river. We haven’t used this location for over a year, so it should be safe.”

“From who? Government troops?”

Alimasi shook his head. “My informers let me know if the government is planning any action against us. But many rival groups want to things their own way, and they dislike my plans for Africa.”

Perhaps these rivals have more common sense. “When will we leave?”

“As soon as they pack my belongings.” Alimasi waved his hand at the workers. “Perhaps one hour, or it might be two. You will ride in the back of my truck—take care of Namali during the transfer.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

If you haven’t read any of Blair Howard’s novels, here’s an excellent beginning for you–The Genesis Files (Books 1-3).

I first read these individually as I didn’t want to wait for a bundle. Glad I did as each story enthralled me. Sure, I had to wait for the next one, but so what? I didn’t want to miss a word! I’ve reread my initial reviews and stand by every word. In case you missed my comments, here they are:

Genesis is superb thriller revealing the creation of Harry Starke’s private eye business after he stopped being a cop. As with all of Blair Howard’s books, this is another well-crafted story, starting with Harry meeting a young girl–who disappears. Who’s behind the girl’s disappearance, and why? A real pager turner for those who enjoy an excellent plot with realistic characters. Blair, bring on another story soon!

Blair has done it again with The Raven (Harry Starke Genesis Book 2). Someone knocked off a wealthy woman, leaving behind a distraught husband. A friend of Harry’s father, the husband, who is a judge, turned to Harry and his new private investigation service to find the killer. Things become complicated with the addition of Russian mobsters into the story.

As with all of Blair’s novels, this one is fast-paced with plenty of twists to keep readers guessing who might have killed the judge’s wife. Realistic characters help Harry in his quest for the truth. Just when I thought I knew where the story was heading, different suspects crept forward, muddying the water. I don’t want to be a spoiler, so you’ll have to grab yourself a copy. You won’t be disappointed!

Blair Howard’s, The Assassin, the third book in the Harry Starke Genesis series, ranks right up there with his best work. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, as I kept turning the pages to follow Harry and Kate Gazzara as they deal with someone trying to kill Senator Hawke. With a thrilling plot, plenty of realistic characters and loads of twists and turns Blair doesn’t disappoint with this story. As with all of Harry’s exploits, I kept turning the pages late into the evening. My only regret is I have to wait for the next installment in the series! Well done!

This brings us to a close for this 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 and hope you drop in again.

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved