Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, June 26, 2016

The summer solstice passed by this week. Seems like it wasn’t that long ago we were in the middle of winter. The longest day of the year, marking the beginning of summer, was on Monday, June 20.

This year the solstice coincided with Strawberry Moon, something that hasn’t happened since 1948 and apparently it will be 2062 before the next double occurrence. What exactly is the Strawberry Moon? I had no idea.

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the name originates from the collection of strawberries by Native American Algonquin tribes, who took the changing color of the moon to be the ideal time to pick the fruit. There are plenty of articles regarding the Strawberry Moon, so if you’re interested in reading more, have a Google.

Why I want to Write–What’s Led Me to This Stage in My Life

Last week I introduced readers to my first venture into a futuristic/alternate world as I prepare a short story as a contest submission. I dubbed this, ‘Countdown to Extinction’. Here’s a bit more:

Ten hours later, Sam awoke with a jolt. A portion of his monitor flashed red. He silenced the alarm and scanned the data to determine the cause. By his calculations, the drill should be at a depth of six hundred meters.

Incorrect—six hundred fifty meters.

“What’s causing the inaccuracy? The machine stopped as programmed. Why has it cleared another twenty-five meters? Very strange.”

Malfunction identified. Damaged drill head.

Adding a replacement part to his backpack, Sam left the shelter and strode to the tunnel’s entrance. Glancing around, he headed inside, trudging through the residue thrown back by the MUA.

When he reached the drill, he came to a halt and glanced down … at what appeared to be a footprint. Sam whipped around, a feeling of dread rising in his conscious. Nothing. He used the built-in photo-mod to capture the image.

“Maybe I need to change the oxygen mixture. Must be causing me to hallucinate.”

He tapped his helmet, closed his eyes, and shook his head. Opening his eyes, he glanced back down. The footprint remained.

Final installment next week.

My Work in Progress

It’s been a busy week with my works in progress. ‘A Cartel’s Revenge’ is on hold for the next week or so, pending critiques from a group called Round Table Pals, where we take turns reviewing three chapters written by the six participants. Once the group finishes, I’ll be making edits and continuing to write.

About two-thirds of my short story ‘Countdown to Extinction’ is complete, at least in the first draft stage. Hope to finish the draft in the next few days.

I’ve written most of the first chapter for the second book in the Bedlam Series, ‘A Malicious Affiliation.’ Perhaps in a couple of weeks I’ll begin including some snippets in my ramblings.

Books I’m Reading

Over the past two weeks, I read ‘The Piedersen Conspiracy: An Ed Vandera and Marti Ellis Series Thriller Book One‘ by Christian Dane. I’ll begin my comments by stating I can’t wait to read book two.  Uncovering a possible cyber crime leads Ed and Marti on an exciting and dangerous adventure. The crime is much more than it seems, with a group plotting the demise of three generations of the Vandera family.

As the story moves through it paces, we uncover more clues to the group after the Vandera family. They set a seventy-two hour window in which Ed and Marti must appear or deadly events will unfold. They pick up help along the way, but a forcibly removed finger and a kidnapping makes the situation seem dire for Ed’s family. It’s not until the end of the story that we learn to what extent the criminals went to in order to extract their revenge.  A great read from a new author. Well worth the read.

Blogs/Author Pages/Writing Sites I’d Like to Share

I’ve expanded this section from being only about blogs that I follow but also introduce you to some new authors and a few writing sites. Hope you’ll check out the links!

Sideways Eight Series – Meet series author, AJ Wallace, and learn more about her first novel, Mindfield and her works in progress.

I came across two blogs in the past few days dedicated to our feline friends and can’t resist sharing them:

Cat Lady Lives On – Pictures tell us a thousand words and the cats show us how.

My Cat Can Blog – More cat antics.

Writing Resources

I don’t have any new writing resources to share this week.  I hope to have something new for next week as my research increases. Have an enjoyable weekend.

Once again, we’ve come to the end of another ramble.  Hope you’ve found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing.  Until the next time, thank you for reading!

© Copyright 2016 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved.

 

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, June 19, 2016

Happy Father’s Day to all fathers and fathers-to-be! Hope everyone has a great day.  I received a fantastic card from my son regarding Dad-speak, what they say and what they mean.  He knows I spend a lot of time reading, so I also received an Amazon gift card, which will be used to add more to my e-book collection.

This week’s ramble is a bit short as real-life activities are taking me away from the computer. I’ll try to make up for the shortfall next time.

Why I want to Write–What’s Led Me to This Stage in My Life

As I announced last week, my first novel, ‘The Kurdish Connection’ is now under contract. Last week I submitted a short story, ‘Lakeside Retreat’ for possible inclusion in an anthology through http://writers-network.club. It’s in the hands of the editor now.

In an effort to expand my writing capabilities, I’m entering a short story contest through one of the subscription writing sites I used. The theme is futuristic/alternate world.  I don’t recall ever attempting some in the genre, so it will be a stretch to come up with something I think is worthwhile to submit. 

I’m tentatively calling this story, “Countdown to Extinction. Here’s a blurb:

Sam recognized the voice, but was surprised by the call. “Who’s calling?”

A chuckle passed through the air to Sam’s audio implant. “I’m sure you recognize my voice. For the record, I am Jesus Ali, Supreme Leader of the Earth Confederation.”

“Yeah, I remember you. You’re the one who scoffed at my idea about the center of Mars being a block of ice. I lost my job because of you and haven’t worked since.”

“Uh … yes. Can we put that aside?”

“Why should I? You ruined our lives. Tasha and I were happy, until you ….”

“Dr. Rogers. I’m sorry for what happened. Your theories were too outlandish to be considered viable. But now … you might be our only hope. Earth’s water is contaminated. Our scientists estimate we’ll run out of usable water in six months.”

“Beg.”

Perhaps more next week.

My Work in Progress

I finished the prologue for ‘A Cartel’s Revenge’ this week. However, rather than posting, I’m putting it aside. After reading the reviews for the first three chapters, I’m going to remove a couple of scenes from the first chapter and move them into the second and third. I’ll also expand upon other scenes. Once that’s finished, I’ll be ready to re-post.

I did manage some additional research and added a bit more to my outline for the second book in the Bedlam Series, ‘A Malicious Affiliation.’ All being well, by the end of June I hope to begin a draft of chapter one.

Books I’m Reading

I’m back to my norm book review after participating in the ‘Sunset Thriller’s beta review. Only finished fifty percent of the book I’m currently reading, so it’ll be next week before I provide my comments.

Blogs/Author Pages/Writing Sites I’d Like to Share

I’ve expanded this section from being only about blogs that I follow but also introduce you to some new authors and a few writing sites. Hope you’ll check out the links!

Suigeneris_Shahili – a unique perspective presented by blogger, Shaili Mitra.

Writing Resources

I don’t have any new writing resources to share this week.  I hope to have something new for next week as my research increases. Have an enjoyable weekend.

Once again, we’ve come to the end of another ramble.  Hope you’ve found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing.  Until the next time, thank you for reading!

© Copyright 2016 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved.

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, June 12, 2016

According to the calendar, yesterday was still considered a spring day. The temperature didn’t seem to care what date was on the calendar. We reached eighty-eight degrees Fahrenheit (31.1C), worthy of any summer’s day. Our cats and Tyson, the boxer dog, were flaked out, even inside with the air conditioning chilling the rooms.

Falling in line with this year’s topsy-turvy weather, today’s forecast is sixty-five degrees. I woke up about five a.m., to a reddish glow across the horizon, waves lapping at the shore. At least at the moment, there’s brilliant sunshine with nary a cloud in the sky. Long may it last!

A follow-up to last week’s comments regarding the local ‘no-kill’ shelter’s annual event: I mentioned three of the four dogs looking for homes were adopted by attendees. I’m pleased to report the fourth one found a home this week.

Why I want to Write–What’s Led Me to This Stage in My Life

I’m very pleased to report ‘The Kurdish Connection’ my first novel in the Bedlam series, is now under a publishing contract with Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC.  Needless to say, I’m delighted and look forward to working with publisher Gene Robinson and his team!

No further snippets from ‘The Kurdish Connection’ at this time, but I’d like to share a few lines from a short story, ‘Lakeside Retreat’, which I finished yesterday:

Angry clouds hovered over the lake, changing the deep azure surface to a cold gray. A cool breeze picked up speed, skimming across thirty miles of water, chasing whitecaps to the shore. Lightning bolts crackled, expanding the air. Thunder rumbled, growing in volume, as the lightning intensified.

“Ma, you alright?” Cecil Cardinal wrapped a wing around his wife as they huddled on branches of a Scotch pine.

“Yes, Pa. Stop frettin’.” Caitlyn spread a wing across her stomach. “Junior’s kickin’. Must be the storm.”

“I told you, we should go further inland during these storms.” Cecil shook his head to clear the raindrops now falling through the branches.

“Yes, Pa. But I wanted more seeds from the green feeder.”

“Cheapskate human. It’s spring, so we don’t get the good seed. He bought the economy stuff.”

“Now, Pa. At least he makes sure there is plenty to eat.”

***

The deer pushed through a final line of trees. They reached the bottom of the embankment and paused, listening. Ahead of them, a long black ribbon often filled with life-taking danger.

“Now, children, pay attention.” Willow Whitetail pointed with a paw. “We must cross the cordon. What should we do first?”

“Stop,” Winter said, beating her brother to the first instruction.

“What else?”

“Look and listen.” Woodstock glared at Winter.

“Show me.” Willow waited as her children stepped forward to do her bidding.

“Okay, Momma,” they chimed together.

“Let’s do it.”

Willow and the children reached the middle of the black expanse when twin beams of light dazzled them, bringing them to a halt in mid-stride. They stood, mesmerized, as a strange rumbling increased in volume.

“Run, children, run!” Willow screamed at Winter and Woodstock. They bounded to safety as she stood her ground.

My Work in Progress

This week, I concentrated my writing on ‘Lakeside Retreat’ for possible inclusion in an anthology organized by the Writer’s Network Club. The theme is nature, and as indicated above, I chose the birds and animals that surround us to be my cast. Or did they choose me? Will keep you advised of this story’s progress.

I didn’t have a change to continue my in-depth research for the second book in the Bedlam Series, ‘A Malicious Affiliation.’ Hope to continue this week. Likewise, I had little time for adding to ‘A Cartel’s Revenge’ but plan to post a prologue and perhaps chapter four to the two subscription writing sites I use for initial critiques.

Books I’m Reading

I completed my review of another book written by one of the ‘Sunset Thrillers’ beta group. Since this is unpublished material, I won’t be providing any public feedback, but once the story’s available to everyone, I’ll be happy to do so. Now, I’m putting my notes together to provide to the writer. This will conclude the initial teaming of the ‘Sunset Thrillers’.

I’m back to my regular reading and reviewing of published books and will share a new review next week.

Blogs/Author Pages/Writing Sites I’d Like to Share

I’ve now expanded this section from being only about blogs that I follow but also introduce you to some new authors and a few writing sites. Hope you’ll check out the links!

Kenton Woods – Check out Kenton Woods’s blog and follow his journey as a writer and his outlook on life.

Tracey Clark – Tracey provides a peek into her second book in the Finders Keepers series. The first book, ‘Shocking Finds‘, is already available through Amazon.

Writing Resources

I don’t have any new writing resources to share this week.  I hope to have something new for next week as my research increases. Have an enjoyable weekend.

Once again, we’ve come to the end of another ramble.  Hope you’ve found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing.  Until the next time, thank you for reading!

© Copyright 2016 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved.

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, June 5, 2016

Here we are in June, trees are in bloom, and  gardeners and farmers are busy with necessary planting and the weather’s better.  Yesterday, our local ‘no-kill’ animal shelter had a daylong charity event. In addition to sponsoring an ‘ask the vet’ booth and providing two hundred forty bottles of water and four cases of soft drinks, we put up a canopy and took along crafts and other things to raise additional funds. The outpouring of volunteer support was fantastic to see, at times there seemed to be more volunteers than visitors.  That said, I’m sure they did well with their primary annual fundraiser, and three dogs were adopted on the spot.

Why I want to Write–What’s Led Me to This Stage in My Life

Quiet on the news front regarding contacts with publishers. Perhaps this coming week will provide something exciting. At least, I can hope.

A bit more from ‘The Kurdish Connection’:

By early afternoon, they found a pleasant spot at the base of several large boulders to rest and eat the goat cheese and cucumber sandwiches provided by the hotel. Fatigue caught up with them from all the climbing, but they wanted to finish their Zelve excursion in one day.

Willie stopped in his tracks and turned around.

“Ya smell that?”

Aiden grinned, recognizing the familiar aroma. “Come on, Willie, lead us on, eh?”

“Let’s head down the path between the trees.”

They rambled along, heads twisting from side to side. Willie kept muttering, “Stronger, stronger—the nose knows!”

In front of them, a dozen foreigners leaned against various rock formations and a few trees, looking like Woodstock rejects. Music played in the background while they passed around joints and wine bottles.

An elderly woman approached Dersim as he returned to his vehicle. She held out her wrinkled, arthritic hands. “This is all I own of value. My husband’s—the Turks killed him.” On one palm lay a gold watch; on the other, six small gold coins, still attached to red ribbons, customary gifts given to couples on their wedding day.

My Work in Progress

This week, I concentrated my writing on a short story for possible inclusion in an anthology organized by the Writer’s Network Club. The theme is nature. I won’t provide any details yet, but will have the story completed within a couple of weeks.

I’ve also commenced in-depth research for the second book in the Bedlam Series, which I’m calling ‘A Malicious Affiliation.’  Here’s my initial synopsis:

United Nations’ sanctions are crippling North Korea. China has turned her back on her malevolent partner. The North Korean military machine is crumbling, unable to function. Oil reserves are minimal and the government seeks new alliances.

Cargo and tourist ships are disappearing along the Somali and Kenyan coastline at an alarming rate. Speeches abound in the United Nations, but inaction emboldens Al-Shabab to seek their next prize: Kenya. The terror organization controls land but requires weapons.

Soon after Bedlam Bravo is called upon to disrupt their plans, a VIP’s son is kidnapped while on a Peace Corps mission. Can they manage to disrupt the North Korean-al-Shabab axis and save the kidnapped son?

Team leader Colonel (retired) Trevor Franklin leads the small international team into East Africa. Tempers flare as the team is embroiled in a political quagmire. The axis must be stopped to avert an international crisis but will it be at the expense of the VIP’s son?

Books I’m Reading

I completed my review of another book written by one of the “Sunset Thrillers’ beta group. Since this is unpublished material, I won’t be providing any public feedback, but once the story’s available to everyone, I’ll be happy to do so. Now, I’m putting my notes together to provide to the writer and moving to the last book of the group.

Blogs/Author Pages/Writing Sites I’d Like to Share

I’ve now expanded this section from being only about blogs that I follow but also introduce you to some new authors and a few writing sites. Hope you’ll check out the links!

Lonely Blue Boy – written by Juan Sendison, who shares his poetry and thoughts with us.

Sacha Black – an interesting collection of writing tips and news by Sacha.

Writing Resources

I don’t have any new writing resources to share this week, although you might find something of interest in Sacha’s blog.  I hope to have something new for next week. Have an enjoyable weekend.

Once again, we’ve come to the end of another ramble.  Hope you’ve found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing.  Until the next time, thank you for reading!

© Copyright 2016 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved.

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings – May 29, 2016

People around the United States are gathering with friends and family to enjoy the three-day weekend. Parades, parties, picnics, etc., are the agenda. Many know that Memorial Day is a time to honor our war dead. Cemeteries will be ablaze with small flags placed near the graves of those who served our country.

Borne out of the Civil War, Memorial Day is a good time to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. We should honor not only those who wore a uniform, but the countless men and women who served this country with honor and distinction in civilian roles and lost their lives doing so. 

Why I want to Write–What’s Led Me to This Stage in My Life

I had exciting news this week. Of the many submissions I sent out in April, a publishing house contacted me requesting I send them the full manuscript. According to their website, ninety percent of submissions don’t make it past the initial query stage.

My manuscript will be sent to them tomorrow, after I finish a bit of fine-tuning and making sure the format is adjusted to their requirements.  Fingers crossed!

A bit more from ‘The Kurdish Connection’:

Ismet glared at Ben as Abdel translated. He unbuttoned his shirt to expose the purple-red scarring extending from his neck to his waist. Separate scars covered part of his face and around his right eye. As he stood, Ismet trembled, gasping for breath.

The rest of the day passed without incident; Ben learned MSF procedures and assisted with patients. He dealt with an elderly man in severe pain who needed a dentist, not a doctor, a young boy who fell and scraped an elbow and both knees, and a teenager looking for a magical cure for zits.

The man glanced around and lowered his voice. “My cousin can take you to Zakho. It’d be much faster, four hours. Special price for you, only two hundred thousand Iraqi dinars. If you pay with dollars, one hundred fifty.”

Be quicker, but can the ‘cousin’ be trusted or is this a set-up to rob a naïve foreigner? Jake shook his head. “No thanks, mate. I’m in no hurry. Curious about the length of the trip, but I’ll take the bus.”

More next week. If you’d like to read compete chapters, check out channillo.com.

My Work in Progress

Critique reviews of  ‘The Kurdish Connection’ continued this week. As always, I found excellent recommendations to improve the story.  My review is now complete through chapter eighteen. This past week I finished editing chapters fifteen and sixteen, and they’re re-posted to the two subscription writing sites I use. I also hacked away at chapter seventeen, a mission status report, and reduced it the wording to orders sent to the Bedlam team.

I began writing a short story for possible inclusion in an anthology organized by the Writer’s Network Club. The theme is nature. I won’t tell you want my story is about, yet, but the tentative title is ‘Lakeside Survival’.

Books I’m Reading

I completed my review of a book written by one of the “Sunset Thrillers’ beta group. Since this is unpublished material, I won’t be providing any public feedback, but once the story’s available to everyone, I’ll be happy to do so. Now, I’m reviewing another group member’s work.

Blogs/Author Pages/Writing Sites I’d Like to Share

I’ve now expanded this section from being only about blogs that I follow but also introduce you to some new authors and a few writing sites. Hope you’ll check out the links!

Oliver Chase’s Take on Life – a selection of short stories presented by Oliver, author of Levant Mirage, which I reviewed last week.

Miss Sissinghurst – a blog featuring advice and inspiration from writer and master gardener Vita Sackville-West.

Writing Resources

I don’t have any new writing resources to share this week as time ran out.  I hope to have something new for next week. Have an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend.

Once again, we’ve come to the end of another ramble.  Hope you’ve found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing.  Until the next time, thank you for reading!

© Copyright 2016 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved.

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings – May 15, 2016

The weather has been up and down along Lake Huron this spring. On Thursday, the temperature reached 76 degrees. Last night, we had frost warnings, and even though the sun is brightly shining at the moment, the forecast is calling for rain and/or snow showers. The rain, sure we can always use some. Snow, no thanks. Ugh!!

Why I want to Write–What’s Led Me to This Stage in My Life

On Friday, I received a nice “no thank you” email from a publishing house, indicating my work was read with great interest but they felt they couldn’t represent me. They further stated they have to think very carefully before taking on new writers and there are always multiple factors involved in the decision.

At least someone took the time to respond, which is appreciated, even if the answer was no. While I would have liked to know what factors were involved in their decision, that’s an impossible request as publishing houses deal with thousands of submissions.

Will this deter me from writing? Of course not. Why should it? This is part of the journey and I’ll keep sending submissions as I strive to improve my craft.

A bit more from the Kurdish Connection:

“Oh, but he’s got nice black hair and those eyes—brown and dark like the best coffee beans.”

“But his nose. You see its shape? Broken more than once if you ask me.”

Jake rubbed his nose after the last comment and the two women turned to face the front of the bus. Nothing wrong with my nose. Got in the way of too many kicks before I mastered Tae Kwon Do.

Whipping out a long knife, the man reached over and grabbed the clerk’s arm.

“Give me the information—or lose the arm.”

The clerk gasped and grabbed a piece of paper.

“Not so hard, was it? Forget you saw me.” With a last wave of the knife, the man disappeared into the night

Aiden and Willie met in the Kelebek Cave Hotel’s lobby before morning prayers finished. They sat on padded benches and leaned against thick cushions with small hand-carved tables nearby. A waiter brought them Turkish coffee with extra milk and sugar.

In front of them, a dozen foreigners leaned against various rock formations and a few trees, looking like Woodstock rejects. Music played in the background while they passed around joints and wine bottles.

More next week. If you’d like to read compete chapter, check out channillo.com (more about this later in this post).

My Work in Progress

With ‘The Kurdish Connection’ being my first novel, my energies are concentrated on making this story the best I can produce.  This week I received excellent feedback from the other three members of the “Sunset Thrillers” beta group. Honest opinions, telling me what worked for them and what didn’t, and the reasons behind their comments.

I continued reviewing critiques of ‘The Kurdish Connection’. As always, I found excellent recommendations to improve the story.  My review is now complete through chapter fifteen. This past week I finished editing chapters eleven and twelve, and they’re re-posted to the two subscription writing sites I use. Work on chapter thirteen is underway and I hope to have it completed and posted by mid-week.

Editing of the first three chapters of ‘A Cartel’s Revenge’, which will be my submission for a Strongest Start Competition being held by one of my writing sites, continued at a slow pace this week due to external factors.

Books I’m Reading

I finished reading ‘The Jungle (The Oregon Files Book 8)’ by Clive Cussler and Jack Du Brul, two of my favorite authors. As with all of the plots in the Oregon Files, Mr. Cussler and Mr. Du Brul have created a roller coaster ride for the reader. While Captain Juan Cabrillo’s Corporation completes the mission as normal, a crew member’s capture and close escape from death was intense. Even Captain Cabrillo faced certain death or injury from a suicide bomber.  I thoroughly enjoyed the ride through the myriad of twists and turns, so the reader is left trying to decipher who is behind the problems facing the Corporation. Through in a spy or two and it’s a masterful work. 

As with their other books, these are just for my reading pleasure but to also study craft techniques, which I can apply to my own work. So in this case it was work and personal time, rolled into one.

I’m currently reading ‘Levant Mirage’ by Oliver F. Chase, and will provide a review next week.

Blogs/Author Pages/Writing Sites I’d Like to Share

I’ve now expanded this section from being only about blogs that I follow but also introduce you to some new authors and a few writing sites. Hope you’ll check out the links!

Write Your Book With Me – Dr. Douglas W. Cooper, Ph.D., a former Harvard professor, is a professional writing coach and author who’s put together an excellent guide to helping writers of all skill levels. We first met through the Writers Network Club, and I thought I’d share his information with you today.

Channillo.com – A digital publishing platform for serialized literature. Since its launch on March 30, 2015, hundreds of writers have joined Channillo to publish their work in categories such as fiction novels, short stories, essays, columns, journal entries, and poetry. The prologue and first chapter of ‘The Kurdish Connection’ are published here, with a new chapter being posted each Friday.

Writing Resources

I don’t have any new writing resources other than Dr. Cooper’s link above to share this week as time ran out.  I hope to have something new for next week.

Once again, we’ve come to the end of another ramble.  Hope you’ve found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing.  Until the next time, thank you for reading!

© Copyright 2016 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved.