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New Release – The Called (Book 2 of The Calling Series)

The world is changing quickly for Chris now that he’s part of the Immortal Community. With the events of his past finally behind him, he’s still having visions and true magic is gradually taking hold in our world. There are new challenges that the Immortals must face, but Chris is still new and has no real standing in the immortal community. Learning that nothing in the Immortal community is what Chris thought and now having to face new threats, how will his new world unfold? Old enemies must work together and longtime friends may not be trustworthy. Who is lurking in the shadows? Why are they here? What does this mean for witches, immortals and humans?

Can Chris’ visions even be trusted given recent events, and how easily his mind is manipulated? With Juliet, Amanda, and Kirtus by his side they have to prevent the immortal and witch community from being exposed. Can they trust the local witches that are there to assist them? Can they trust their fellow Immortals? New friendships are made, and longtime alliances are called into question. How will The Called defeat these latest threats, and what does it mean for our world?

Excerpt (from chapter one):

The question of death returned to me as I reflected on recent events. You die and your body no longer functions. I was wrong. You die and your soul leaves, and what’s left turns to dust. That wasn’t the case.

Everything I thought was no longer my reality.

I sat with a glass of brandy between my hands, focusing on the fire in Juliet’s office. The oranges, reds, and yellows of the flames danced around the logs, releasing a warmth that barely penetrated my worried exterior. The crackling of the fire tickled my ears as the scent of burning pine lingered in and out of my consciousness. A knot tugged the back of my neck. What was this new vision? Worse yet, what did it have to do with me? Not to mention Juliet, Kirtus, Gregor, and the other Immortals.

“Chris.” Juliet’s gentle voice pulled me from my fog of apprehension.

How long had I been like this? A minute? A day? A year? I wasn’t sure. I turned from the fire. Kirtus sat next to me on the sofa, his coat removed, replaced by an air of worry. His red hair, green and gray eyes typically so intoxicating, brought me no joy. Gregor’s tall solid frame blocked one of Juliet’s bookcases, his rugged face a shadow of concern. All of Juliet’s tomes and books, several of them personal journals of her long life, sat there taunting me. Would they be able to unravel this new vision? This new mystery? They were next to no help with the witches, or my father. The monster. I sipped my brandy, hoping it would take the chill from my soul.

I caught Juliet out of the corner of my eye waiting for me to speak. She was patient as always. She sat with her ivory pant-clad leg crossed and a glass of red in her hand, but deep in her stunning eyes there was unease. Despite her apprehension in moments like this, she appeared so young. Nevertheless, behind that façade of youth was the power of an Immortal who had been around for 1650 years. No one should ever underestimate her.

My eyes narrowed on the red, and my stomach flipped, not from hunger or desire but from this new burden I was meant to carry.

“Would you like a glass?” she offered. Her dark blonde hair, normally combed out, was in a ponytail, making her appear all the younger. I caught a whiff of vanilla and roses, her signature scent. I inhaled deeper, hoping it would soothe me.

I shook my head.

“I realize it’s difficult, but please can you tell us the vision again.” Juliet’s voice was a whisper, but the request rang in my head. How many times would I have to retell this story?

I put the half-full brandy glass on the coffee table, recalling the images to me. “I’m standing in some kind of chamber, but it’s not anyplace I’ve been.” I scanned their three faces. “It’s not here.” My heart pounded louder in my chest. I focused on my breathing a bit more before I continued. “In the center, there is what appears to be a formal table of polished stone with nine ornately carved chairs around it. On the wall…” I kept my eyes closed and focused on the wall. “There’s a mural. You’re in it, Juliet; so is Sybil, Garrett, Fernando, Rahim, all the members of the Council of Light.”

“The council chamber in Egypt.” Juliet tapped her finger on the edge of her glass, the noise echoing throughout her office.

The sentence was barely spoken before all the images of my vision flashed back. It was too much, and my eyes flew open. Juliet, Gregor, and Kirtus surveyed me. Considering their strained expressions, they are worried about me. I waved off their unease and shook my head.

“What else?” Gregor’s deep voice cool and calm, but the glance he shared with Juliet betrayed his composure. He didn’t understand what to do with this information any more than I did.

I pulled the vision to my thoughts and continued, “The wall with the mural began to crack and crumble and I smell smoke. The chamber is on fire…” I focused on Juliet. “The stone table crumbles. The chairs burn and everything is in shambles.”

Juliet nodded and sipped her red.

“Something or someone destroyed it, but I didn’t see them.”

“Who could do such a thing?” Kirtus rubbed his hands together. “Only the Council of Light knows the actual location.”

“What else do you see?” Juliet’s peaceful aura melted my worry and fear. After a moment my thoughts cleared. Normally I would be upset at her for using her gift on me, but I needed it. Especially after all that had happened these last few weeks. My mother’s sacrifice to save me and kill my father still haunted me. My father’s death came after we discovered he was in charge of a coven of witches who wanted to destroy the world. It was a battle we had to fight to stop the witches from releasing true magic into our world.

We failed at that. True magic had still seeped into our world before we cut it off.

I had hoped it was all behind us. I wanted things to return to normal, but my gift of being a Seer had other plans. I focused once more on the brandy, wanting a sip but not taking it; my gaze returned to the fire. More of the vision came forward. “As the room fell to ruin and the mural burned, a large carved wooden chair with inlays of gold and decorated with jewels pushed the debris away.” I closed my eyes again. “There was a shadow figure sitting in the chair.”

“Who is it?” Kirtus asked.

“I’m not sure, but I hear his voice.” I pushed my eyes together tighter to help me hear.

“I’ve stayed out of the way of history, but it’s time to return and bring what is right and just back to this world.” I took a breath. “That’s what he said, but I don’t sense malice from him, but I don’t know. Sorrow and pain, maybe. Sacrifice?”

“What does he look like?” Juliet called me to focus.

“He’s tall and he’s wearing some kind of toga with deep crimson and white stripes. I can’t really see anything else.” My eyes fluttered open.

Everyone was silent. The crackle of the fire might as well have been the rumble of a train going through the room. It was unbearable, and I was about to speak.

Kirtus beat me to it. “Why don’t we take a break?”

I shook my head. “It’s fine. After the man vanished, I was standing on a grass-covered pasture. In front of me was a hill with a young girl sitting there laughing and clapping her hands. She had long brown hair and her gaze planted on an oversized full moon. It was impossibly big.” I sighed. “I’m sorry but that’s all.” I slouched deeper in the couch, focusing my own gaze on the ceiling and the rich wood inlays and trim. “I have no idea what any of it means.” The square patterns offered my brain a relaxing, ordered shape.

“That’s okay.” Gregor’s voice was stronger now as if he realized what needed to be done.

Maybe he did. I couldn’t be sure.

“You’ve given us a lot of information to go through. Add that to the reports of magic both Victor and I have seen. There is a lot happening we still have to address,” Gregor continued. “Once we begin to break it down, perhaps more will come to you.”

I faced him. “Maybe. I hope so, because right now, it feels like a whole lot of nothing. Especially when you are already dealing with these other problems.”

“We’re all new to this Seer business.” Kirtus’s hand rested on my leg.

His touch caused a shiver to rush through my body, and right now, all I wanted to do was take him to me, hold him, and get lost in his arms and warm body.

“Plus, it’s not like you haven’t been through a whole lot of hell over the last few weeks.” Kirtus offered me a grin, the single dimple on his left cheek popping out. It melted away more of my worry.

“Is it possible it’s another witch?” Kirtus asked. “Especially if magic is involved.”

He must have already known about the reports of magic being seen both in San Jose and up in San Francisco. Either way he didn’t seem surprised by this news. Or, he could have an amazing poker face.

I turned toward Juliet, who had left the chair she was sitting in and walked over to her office windows to look out. Her ivory pants and jade-green shirt somehow still looked as crisp as the moment she had glided into my bedroom only a few hours ago.

“I doubt it’s a witch, especially given the comment about staying out of histories way and setting things right.” Juliet’s voice was tight. “The clothing Chris describes is a Roman Senator, I think.” She turned to me and the others. “Another Immortal, maybe, one from the fall of Rome.”

“That doesn’t narrow the list down.” Gregor pulled at his goatee. “Especially if we include the Dark.” His frown stretched farther across his face. “Perhaps we need to talk to Victor.”

“I can ask him,” Kirtus offered. “He mentioned he wanted to see me this week.” He tried not to grimace.

Was it about the lieutenant position and the posting as his representative to the Council of Light? What he mentioned to me earlier tonight? Was that what he wanted to speak to him about?

“Thank you.” Gregor offered a slight bow of his head. “Juliet, is there anyone you know who can help with this?” He walked over to the golden cart with the bottles of alcohol and red on it. He poured himself a glass of red. “What about the witches you know here? What about the local coven? You have a good relationship with them. What about the one who charmed this estate?”

Juliet’s lips pulled into a small frown. She crossed over to the cart and poured herself another glass of red.

“I could have gotten you that.” Gregor’s tone was gentle.

She waved him off before she sipped her drink. “He’s a Healer, not a witch, and I’m not sure if he will assist us; we have an unfortunate history.” She held her drink in one hand and pulled a book from the shelf. She turned to her desk and walked to her seat, a quiet, far-off look about her.

I peeked over at Kirtus. “We should go.” I stood and glanced over to Juliet. “You have a lot on your plate with the reports of magic. I’m sorry I’ve added to the burden, but with this new vision I figured you needed to know.”

“Chris, if you see anything else…” She trailed off.

“Of course.”

“Thank you, Chris.” Gregor extended his hand. “This new vision and perhaps the magic we’ve seen may be related.”

“I hope not.” The pull of Kirtus’s body helped me realize he was by my side. “I’ll see if I can track down anyone on my end.” He glanced over to Juliet. “My network isn’t nearly as broad as yours, but you never know.”

“I think we’ll need all the help we can get,” Gregor affirmed.

I spared a worried glance at Juliet. Something was bothering her, and it wasn’t just my vision or the reports of magic. I didn’t recognize what it was, but I understood my creator well enough to leave her be. She would tell me once she had processed her thoughts and all my vision information.

She met my gaze. “Yes, we’ll speak more. Thank you for understanding.”

“Of course.” I took Kirtus’s hand, and we walked out of her office for the second time tonight.

Pick up a copy at the following:

NineStar Press: https://bit.ly/3uNlkeM
Website: https://www.mdneu.com/shop
UBL: https://books2read.com/The-Called 

About The Author:

M.D. Neu is an international award-winning inclusive queer Fiction Writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be. Specifically drawn to Science Fiction and Paranormal television and novels, M.D. Neu was inspired by the great Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alice Walker, Alfred Hitchcock, Harvey Fierstein, Anne Rice, and Kim Stanley Robinson. An odd combination, but one that has influenced his writing.

Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.

When M.D. Neu isn’t writing, he works for a non-profit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric his husband of twenty plus years.

© Copyright 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

Continue reading “New Release – The Called (Book 2 of The Calling Series)”

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, April 18, 2021

We’re finally seeing an end to the morning frosts (I hope) and temperatures are climbing back into normal springtime ranges. There’s been plenty of sunshine each day, and with sunrise and sunset earlier and later, respectively, things are brightening up.

All of the plants and flowers we put in the flowerbeds have survived the frost, although the tips of our existing hydrangeas had some damage. The grass has been treated to its semi-annual weed and feed mixture. Plenty of color to make things more appealing.

Here’s this week’s quote (Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/): “Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you. Not because they are nice, but because you are.”

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on April 18th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays)

Thomas Middleton, English playwright (A Game at Chess); George Colman the Elder, English dramatist; Pieter ‘t Hoen, Dutch journalist and patriot (Neder-Rhijn); George Henry Lewes, English philosophical writer (Life of Goethe); Henry Clarence Kendall, Australian poet (Bell Birds); Antero Tarquínio de Quental, Portuguese poet (Beatrice); Richard Harding Davis, American journalist and author (Soldiers of Fortune, The King’s Jackal); Oskar Ernst Bernhardt, German author (In the Light of Truth: The Grail Message); Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić, Croatian writer (The Brave Adventures of Lapitch); Vicente Sotto, Filipino politician and author (Sotto Law, Republic Act No. 53); Clara Eggink, Dutch poet (Life with J C Bloem); Stephen Longstreet, American writer (All or Nothing); Joy Davidman, American poet, writer and wife of C. S. Lewis; Cliff Hillegass, American publisher (Cliffsnotes); Leif Panduro, Danish writer (‘k Have varnish on traditions); Raf de Linde [Raphael van Hecke], author (Vaarwel on Gertrude); Samuel P. Huntington, American political scientist (The Clash of Civilizations); Kathy Acker, American experimental novelist (Blood and Guts in High School); and Keith DeCandido, American sci-fi author (Star Trek).

Were any names familiar to you? While Cliff Hillegass’ name wasn’t familiar, I certainly used his Cliffnotes in a variety of classes when I was a student.  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

I received great news last week. Colombian Betrayal is now a semi-finalist in the 2020 Chanticleer International Book Awards in the Global Thrillers category. Colombian Betrayal will now compete with thirteen other novels for the finalist positions. There’s been a slight change in the progress to the final announcements. The finalists of the sixteen categories will be announced over three days, April 22nd-24th. The Global Thrillers will be announced the evening of April 22nd, so hopefully, I’ll have good news to share next week.

This year, there will be five first place winners and one grand prize winner, which will now be announced on June 5th. Fingers crossed my novel becomes one of the finalists and continues its journey!

My Work in Progress

This week I completed chapters thirty of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. Its now posted on the two online subscription writing sites I use.

Over the past week, there were another twenty-three new chapter reviews, bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 472. Plenty of useful suggestions as always to improve my writing.

Here’s this week’s snippet:

“Many thanks, AJ. Let’s hope they find Heidi soon.” Alive.  “While everyone’s getting settled in, I want to establish some routine. Every Monday and Friday, we’ll meet here for about an hour or so. Monday’s will be to discuss any new business and events from the weekend, while Friday will be used to catch up on what’s happened during the week. Any questions?”

“Yes.” Sam glanced at the others before directing her attention toward Javier. “What if something urgent comes up?”

Javier nodded. “Good point. We can always hold impromptu meetings when they’re needed. As we progress and become a more cohesive team, we can make adjustments.”

He opened the iPad and read for a few moments. “Okay, team. We have our first overseas client, compliments of the DEA.”

“Who gets the assignment?” Wilder “Wild” Harris swiped his hands through his thick, brown hair.

“There’ll be four. The team lead will be one of the Snakes, but I don’t know which one yet—depends on who can break away from their normal duties and use some of their accumulated leave.” Javier gazed at the eager faces. “Sam, Wild, and TJ—you’re up. Cesar, I’ll talk to you later—something separate for you.”

“All right!” Sam and Wild high-fived.

TJ pursed his lips and focused an intense stare on Javier. “So, what’s the job? I assume the mission is drug-related, but where?”

Javier grinned. “Have any of you been to Bermuda? Your contact will be a Doctor Cedric Yates. He’s aware of an American drug smuggler using the island as a transit point to push his produce into Florida and would prefer the U.S. deal with him. Not enough volume to interest DEA since they’re stretched to breaking point, so they contacted us.”

“The team leader will be here tonight.” Javier turned to Sindee. “Set up flights, hotels, and two rentals for three days from now. Plan everything for a ten-day vacation—things will be adjusted based on what the team uncovers.”

Sindee nodded. “What about visas? Can we get them in time?”

Javier shook his head. “I checked last night. Not needed for visits of less than six months.”

“I’ve arranged a specialist training program for you. Not long—two days at the Farm.” AJ glanced at Sam, Wild, and TJ. “You’ll get a day of personal security and a day on the pistol and rifle ranges.” AJ chuckled. “Rest up—you’ll need it as the instructors will try to grind you down.”

“Any questions?” Javier surveyed his team. When no one spoke up, he nodded. “Back to work.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished reading Legend: An Event Group Thriller by David L. Golemon. Imagine searching for a relic surrounded by a legend, only to find out the item is real and protected by a living beast!

David’s story contains vivid descriptions, multiple subplots, and plenty of characters, including the formidable Major Jack Collins and his deputy, Lieutenant Commander Robbie Everett. Will they encounter the beast and rescue a missing archeological team? There’s plenty of action in this one, so get ready for a real page turner!

That’s all 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 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, April 11, 2021

Decent spring weather continues to evade us. During the past week, we’ve had a frost each morning, with daytime temperatures struggling to get above 45F/7C. While there’s been plenty of sunshine each day, we’ve also had multiple snow squalls. Fortunately, there hasn’t been any accumulation, but we can see damage to new buds on several shrubs and trees due to the crazy weather.

With the lifting of some Covid restrictions, we had an opportunity to visit a local garden center/nursery and pick up a few hardy perennials which we know from experience can handle the current weather. They’re in the ground and seem to be loving it!

Here’s this week’s quote (Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/): “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on April 11th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays)

Antoine Coypel, French painter and poet; Christopher Smart, English poet & journalist (Ceremony of Carols); Manuel Jose Quintana, Spanish author and poet (El Duque de Viseo); Claude Tillier, French journalist and writer (My Uncle Benjamin); Bernard O’Dowd, Australian poet; Léo-Paul Desrosiers, Quebec novelist (Les Engagés du Grand Portage); Sándor Márai, Hungarian writer (A gyertyák csonkig égnek); Glenway Wescott, American writer (Apartment in Athens); Quentin Reynolds, American newscaster (Its News to Me) and author (FBI); József Attila, Hungarian poet; Leo Rosten, American writer and humourist (Joys of Yiddish); David Westheimer, American novelist (Von Ryan’s Express); Marlen Haushofer, Austrian writer (The Wall); Antoine Blondin, French writer (L’Europe buissonnière); Theodore Isaac Rubin, American psychiatrist and author credited with popularising psychotherapy; Clive Exton, British scriptwriter and playwright; Tony Brown, American journalist (Tony Brown’s Journal); Mark Strand, American poet, editor and translator (Another Republic); Ellen Goodman, American political columnist (Pulitzer 1980); John Milius, American screenwriter (Red Dawn, 1941, Big Wednesday); James Patrick Kelly, American sci-fi author (Think Like a Dinosaur); and Sergei Lukyanenko, Russian sci-fi author (Labyrinth of Reflections).

Were any names familiar to you? I didn’t find any.  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

I received great news this week. Colombian Betrayal is now a semi-finalist in the 2020 Chanticleer International Book Awards in the Global Thrillers category. Colombian Betrayal will now compete with thirteen other novels for the finalist positions. This year, there will be five first place winners and one grand prize winner, which will be announced on April 25th. Fingers crossed my novel becomes one of the finalists and continues its journey!

All five of my novels are participating in a month-long Bookfunnel promotion called Chilling Reads  (99 cents or KU), comprising seventy-three action & adventure, mystery & suspense, and sci-fi & fantasy/horror novels. My novels are all available through Kindle Unlimited. This promotion runs through April 15th, so don’t miss out!

My Work in Progress

This week I completed chapters twenty-eight and twenty-nine of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. Both are now posted on the two online subscription writing sites I use.

Over the past week, there were another twenty new chapter reviews, bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 449. Plenty of useful suggestions as always to improve my writing.

Here’s this week’s snippet:

After dusk set, Bennie and Justin headed to the basement. Both wore clown masks. One of them flicked on the dim light, and they thundered down the stairs.

Heidi bolted upright, keeping the chair between her and the two men. “Stay away from me!”

“Relax, princess.” Justin stepped closer, a cloth in his hand. “We’re going to take a little ride.”

Heidi rushed to a corner of the room, pressing her back against the wall. “Don’t come any closer or I’ll—”

“You’ll what?” Bennie pointed at the ceiling. “Sound-suppression tiles. While someone upstairs might hear you, no one outside this building will.” He grinned. “You belong to us.”

Heidi jerked away as Bennie tried to grab her hand. She swung a fist, catching him on the side of his mouth. “Bastard!” She stepped forward, thrusting a knee into his groin.

He collapsed to the floor, hands covering his wounded parts.

Before Heidi realized where the other clown was, Justin grabbed her in a bear hug. He worked the cloth into Heidi’s mouth before pinning her against the wall.

“Help me, Bennie!” Justin grabbed one of Heidi’s hands and wrenched it behind her back. “Quit playing with yourself and help tie her up.”

“But she kneed me. It hurts like hell!”

“Just help me.” Justin grabbed Heidi’s hair and slammed her forehead into the wall.

She dropped to the floor.

***

The rocking of a vehicle brought Heidi out of her stupor. She moaned as she struggled against her bonds, eventually freeing herself from the loosely-tied rope. Where are they taking me? Need to wait for a chance to escape.

The car slowed and turned to the right, continuing along a rut-filled road.

Heidi bounced a few times against the trunk’s roof. “Ow!”

A few minutes later, the vehicle stopped. Two doors slammed.

Footsteps drew near.

Heidi tensed.

The trunk opened. Hands reached inside and yanked her out, spilling her onto the ground.

Both men laughed.

One waved a gun. “Get up, princess. Time to go.”  He gestured toward a copse. “We’re gonna have some fun.”

Heidi pretended to stumble as she followed a narrow path along the edge of a lake. When one of them grabbed her, she lashed out, catching the man in the kneecap.

“Get out of the way, Bennie! She’s gonna escape!”

Heidi ran through the thick trees. “Help! Rape!”

A shot echoed across the water. “Come back, bitch!”

Another shot.

Heidi screamed and lurched forward.

Justin stood over her, the pistol aimed at her head. “You’re mine.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

I’m almost finished with Legends: An Event Group Thriller by David L. Golemon and will offer my review next time. I have several other books lined up to read, so I better start turning the pages!

That’s all 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 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, April 4, 2021

For those who recognize today as Easter, Happy Easter! For those who don’t have a super Sunday!

The weather’s been crazy this week. While there’s been plenty of sunshine, the thermometer is going in the wrong direction. The past three mornings we’ve either had frost or heavy dew. Up to two inches of snow is forecast beginning tonight through tomorrow afternoon, with more flurries throughout the week. What happened to ‘April shows bring May flowers?’ I just hope the spring plants survive the week!

On another front, the Covid lockdown is starting to ease, with the stay at home order rescinded. It’s been replaces by a stay local mandate for the next three weeks. A variety of facilities will open tomorrow, including garden centres (nurseries), homeware stores, auto dealerships, hairdressers, and barbers. Hopefully, things will continue to improve.

“Just because the past didn’t turn out like you wanted it to, doesn’t mean your future can’t be better than you have ever imagined.” (Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/)

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on April 4th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays

William Strachey, English writer (early history of the English colonisation of North America); Bettina von Arnim, German writer and composer of the Romantic era (This Book Belongs to the King); Thomas Mayne Reid, Irish-American novelist (The Headless Horseman); Margaret Oliphant, Scottish novelist and biographer (Beleaguered City); Comte de Lautréamont, French writer (Les Chants de Maldoror); Remy de Gourmont, French poet; George P Baker, American educator and playwright (47 Workshop); Charles Earle Funk, American lexicographer (Funk & Wagnalls); Zdzisław Żygulski, Sr., Polish literary historian; Tristan Tzara [Samuel Rosenfeld] Romanian-French poet (Approximate Man); Louise Lévêque de Vilmorin, French poet and author (Lutin Sauvage); Stanley G. Weinbaum, American sci-fi author (Martian Odyssey); Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, American author (Cheaper by the Dozen); Jerome Weidman, American writer (Tenderloin); Marguerite Duras, French novelist and playwright (Sea Wall); Jan Drda, Czech writer (Nema Barikada, Mestecko Na Dlani); Lars Ahlin, Swedish writer (My Death is My Own); Emmett Williams, American poet; Maya Angelou [Marguerite Johnson], American author (“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”), poet and actress (Nyo-Roots); Trevor Griffiths, English playwright (Absolute Beginners); Ian St James, novelist (Balfour Conspiracy, Vengeance, Money Stones); Kitty Kelley, American journalist and author (Unauthorized Biography of Frank Sinatra); Dan Simmons, American sci-fi and horror writer (Song of Kali); David E. Kelley, American writer and TV producer (Picket Fences, Chicago Hope); and Cazuza, Brazilian poet, singer and composer.

Were any names familiar to you? I found two: Charles Earle Funk, Maya Angelou.  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

All five of my novels are participating in a month-long Bookfunnel promotion called Chilling Reads  (99 cents or KU), comprising seventy-three action & adventure, mystery & suspense, and sci-fi & fantasy/horror novels. My novels are all available through Kindle Unlimited. This promotion runs through April 15th, so don’t miss out!

My Work in Progress

While I did spend some time outdoors this week when the weather permitted, I also managed to complete another chapter of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. Last week, I mentioned I had completed chapter twenty-seven. That was a bit premature, as it was chapter twenty-six. However, the next chapter had now been completed and posted to the two online subscription writing sites I use. Over the past week, there were another eleven new chapter reviews,  bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 429. Plenty of useful suggestions as always to improve my writing. I hope to get back to working on this novel this coming week.

Here’s this week’s snippet:

A woman stirred from a fetal position on the concrete floor. She raised her head, and an eye eased open. Dim light emanated from a solitary fixture on the ceiling at the bottom of a set of stairs. Faint footsteps came from above.

She pushed himself to a kneeling position on a rug spread underneath her. A whimper escaped from swollen lips. She touched her face. Dried blood crusted her upper lip.

“Help.” The woman gasped. “Please. Someone. Help. Me.”

She collapsed.

* * *

Heidi awoke to darkness. Something scurried across the floor. A blanket was draped over her. She felt around—still clothed. She passed out again.

* * *

After she regained consciousness, the same dim light cast eerie shadows around the room. Next to her, a bottle of water and a sandwich wrapped in plastic.

She drank half of the lukewarm water. She wet her fingers and dabbed around her nose and mouth to rinse off the dried blood. Voices in the distance—strange, yet familiar.

Heidi pulled the sandwich from the bag and sniffed. “Ugh—I hate peanut butter.”

Her stomach growled in response.

She nibbled along the edge of the bread to minimize eating the filling, turning the sandwich as she progressed. When she finished, Heidi drained the remainder of the water and lay back down on the rug.

Tears trickled down her face.

***

The door at the top of the stairs banged open. A second light popped on, illuminating Heidi’s prison. Footsteps rushed down the steps.

“Get up!” Someone wearing a clown mask kicked Heidi in the ribs.

She groaned, grabbing her side. “Stop! Please stop! Why are you doing this to me?”

“I want information about your boss—you will tell me everything, or you’ll be sorry.”

Heidi struggled to a sitting position and stared at the man. “My boss is married—has three kids. I—”

More next time.

I recently finished Ancients: An Event Group Thriller by David L. Golemon. What’s causing earthquakes around the world at an alarming rate? Will the brainy people at the Event Group, be able to identify the source and put a stop to the chaos before the world is destroyed? How does the fabled city of Atlantis feature in the story? 

David’s plot is thrilling and will keep you turning the pages until you find out the answers. For those who are particular about accuracy, things like private first corporal (PFC) might throw you for a loop, but it’s still an exciting read. I look forward to reading more of David’s work.

That’s all 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 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, March 28, 2021

As we hit the final Sunday of March, the clocks have moved forward an hour. Unlike the previous week, we’ve experienced more unsettled weather, with rain most evenings and through the night. There’s been plenty of cool breezes to help dry things out, but the temperature has struggled to get past 50F / 10C.

At least all of the plants we managed to buy are now safely in the ground. While we could use a few more, we’ll have to wait a bit longer for the local garden centres/nurseries to open up. As least we have a variety of colors to brighten up the flower beds at the front of the house.

“If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought again.” (Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/)

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

Teresa of Avila/Teresa de Jesus, Spanish mystic writer/saint; John Amos Comenius, Czech-speaking Moravian teacher, educator and writer; Arnold Houbraken, Dutch painter and writer; Andrew Kippis, English non-conformist clergyman and biographer; Sophie Mereau, German writer; Arsène Houssaye, French novelist and poet; James Darmesteter, French author and antiquarian (translations of the Avesta, the sacred scripture of Zoroastrianism); Rudolf Kittel, German theologist (Psalms); Maxim Gorky [Alexei Maximovich Peshkov], Russian playwright and author (Mother and The Lower Depths); Karel M J F Cruysberghs, Flemish author; Peter Suhrkamp, German publisher (Suhrkamp Verlag); Nelson Algren, American novelist (Man with the Golden Arm); A. Bertram Chandler, Anglo-Australian mariner and sci-fi author (Empress of Outer Space); Bohumil Hrabal, Czech writer (Closely Observed Trains); Edward Anhalt, American screenwriter (Escape to Athena); Dirk Bogarde [Derek van den Bogaerde] British writer and actor (Death in Venice, Servant); Gerhard Fritsch, Austrian writer; Marianne Fredriksson, Swedish author (Simon and the Oaks); Amelia Rosselli, Italian poet; Sven Oskar Lindqvist, Swedish writer (Myten om Wu Tao-tzu); Mario Vargas Llosa, Peruvian writer, poet, journalist, presidential candidate and Nobel Prize Laureate (Aunt Julia); Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt, French author and dramatist (Concerto to the Memory of an Angel); and Iris Chang, American author and journalist.

Were any names familiar to you? I must admit I didn’t spot any I knew. 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

While I did spend some time outdoors this week when the weather permitted, I also managed to complete chapter twenty-seven of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. Over the past week, there were another seventeen new chapter reviews,  bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 418. Plenty of useful suggestions as always to improve my writing. I hope to get back to working on this novel this coming week.

Here’s this week’s snippet:

Javier stood offered a hand to his long-time friend. After shaking, they took seats in front of Javier’s desk. “So, what can I do for the DEA?”

Mitch laughed. “That’s what I’ve always liked about you—no beating around the bush.”

“When I was in the military, I used to call it efficiency. Now, time is money.” Javier chuckled.

“Couple of things. First, I want to congratulate you on your retirement.”

Javier nodded. “Many thanks. When are you pulling the plug?”

“Me? Not for a few more years. One of the kids is a freshman at Georgetown, and the other will join him next year. After they graduate, Bella wants to head back to Lombardy where she grew up.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

“Figure I’d buy a cab and schlep people around—at least when we’re not checking out the vineyards.”  He shook his head. “Not sure yet. Bella wants to open a deli.”

“Why not both?”

“I thought the same, but Bella wants to do something together.” Mitched sighed. “Plenty of time to make our minds up. The primary reason for dropping in was to dangle some work in front of you.”

Javier leaned forward. “Whad’ya got?”

“A British colleague of mine needs some help. Intel indicates a drug smuggler is using Bermuda as a base to ship his product into Florida.”

Why aren’t you taking care of it?”

Mitch sighed. “We’re overstretched in the area, and this guy’s volume is too small for us to take an interest in—at least at this time. This would be an off-the-books assignment, which would give you an easy win while at the same time, I’ll improve relations with the British.”

Javier pursed his lips as he stared at the ceiling. “Okay, we’re in. How many operatives do you think we’ll need?”

Mitch pulled an envelope out of his coat pocket. “I think three or four max to handle this. All the details are here, including Cedric’s contact info.”

“Cedric?”

The name of my British counterpart.”

Who to use? Perhaps a couple of the Snakes can take some leave. Take two of my new team. Should be enough. “Count us in.”

“Fantastic!” Mitch glanced at his watch. “I better run—have a meeting in an hour at headquarters. If any questions arise, give me a shout.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

I’ve been reading Ancients: An Event Group Thriller by David L. Golemon. Unfortuntely, too many things bit into my reading time so we’ll have to wait until I finish it this week before I put my review together. Suffice to say I’m thoroughly enjoying the story!

That’s all 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 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, April 21, 2021

Spring has officially arrived. We’ve had a great week of weather, with plenty of sunshine and just one short shower. Things are greening up, trying to remove the last vestiges of winter. Most of the dead leaves and branches have been removed, and pruning is well underway.

We even had great luck this week when our local grocery store received an order of garden plants. Nine viola plants (purple and yellow flowers) were successfully planted across the front border of our property. We also purchased eighteen Bellis daisies (pink flowers), and they’ll be planted later today. Eventually, the garden centres/nurseries will open back up, but I imagine they’ll be a madhouse, at least for the first few days. With any luck, we’ll be able to pick up a few more plants.

Keep going. Each step may get harder, but don’t stop. The view at the top is beautiful.” (Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/)

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on March 21st. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays) Jean Paul, German romantic writer (Titan); Geoffrey Dearmer, poet; Phyllis McGinley, American poet (Pulitzer 1961, Love Letters); John Paxton, screenwriter (On The Beach, Kotch, Farewell My Lovely); Peter Bull, British actor and author (The African Queen, Tom Jones, Dr Strangelove); Frank Hardy, Australian author; Peter Hacks, German playwright (Tie Windloch); and Hubert Fichte, German writer.

Not many today. Was 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 Published Work

Mission: Angola is also participating in a promotion for New Releases – Mystery/Thriller. There are forty-two novels in this promotion, all of which have been released since October 2020. Please stop by–you might meet your next favorite author!

In case you missed it last week, I’m also pleased to announce the release of my first non-fiction feature article, “Black Ops in Fiction.” It’s now live on the web daily, Mystery & Suspense Magazine. Please check it out!

My Work in Progress

With all of the outdoors work this week, I didn’t have time to complete the next chapter of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. Over the past week, there were another nine new chapter reviews,  bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 401. Plenty of useful suggestions to improve my writing. I hope to get back to working on this novel this coming week.

Here’s this week’s snippet:

Javier thundered down the two flights of stairs to the ground floor. The echo of his footsteps marked his passing. Even the plush stair carpeting couldn’t deaden the sound.

When he stepped into the reception area, Elton, Sindee, and Bruno stood in a semi-circle, their mouths open.

“What?” Javier glanced from face to face.

“Sounded like the place was caving in, boss.” A cheeky smile appeared on Bruno’s face. “I didn’t know whether to run or hide.”

Elton and Sindee both nodded, hands in front of their faces, attempting to block their grins.

“You guys should take a look in the mirror.” Javier laughed. “If I didn’t know any better, I would think this a model agency.” He put his hands on his hips. “I mean, check yourselves out.” He pointed at Elton. “What do I see? Someone who’s tall, rake thin with pronounced cheekbones and dark hair scraped back off his porcelain skin.”

“I wanted to become a model, but my mother was against it.” Elton pursed his lips. “She said to find a real job.”

“Well, she might be right. I’m not sure how much male models make, but I heard it was less than women earn.” Javier gestured at Sindee. “A gorgeous blonde, poker-straight hair, doe-eyed and bee-stung lips. Do I detect a hint of Eastern European bone structure?”

“Yes, my grandmother was from Poland.” Sindee flashed a glamourous smile. “I did try modeling, but one photographer was a perv—wanted me to strip and lie on a couch so he could shove his camera between my legs. That was enough for me—I went back to college.”

Javier turned to Bruno. “What about you? I’m sure with your height, deep-set eyes, dark Bedouin curly hair, and a long-distance runner’s physique, modeling would be something you might enjoy.”

Bruno shook his head. “No, thanks!”

Everyone laughed.

“Hello!” AJ strolled into the room. “Javier, I thought you were setting up an investigative agency. She smothered a grin with a hand. “Looks more like a talent agency.”

“How’d you get in? The front door is locked.” Javier turned and glared at his new receptionist.

Elton gulped. “Y-Yes.”

“You forgot you gave me access.” AJ dangled a set of keys.” I parked behind the building and came in through the front door.”

Javier pursed his lips. “Sorry, ET. I should have known better.”

“No worries, boss.”

“So, what brings you here? Shouldn’t you be saving the free world or something?”

AJ laughed. “Since you retired, your brain cells are diminishing. Did you forget you invited me over for a confab? MacKenzie will reach me if something urgent breaks.”

Javier raised shut his eyes as he shook his head. “Sorry, I forgot.” He turned to his employees. “Wrap up what you need to and take the rest of the day off. Be here early tomorrow, and we’ll move things forward.” He offered and arm to AJ. “Shall we head upstairs?”

“As long as you behave yourself. Otherwise, ….”

“Promises, promises.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished reading American Assassin by the late Vince Flynn. For those you have read Vince’s work, you’ll recognize this as another of his great action-packed plots. Follow the creation of Mitch Rapp from university student to trained killer, seeking out American enemies. If you haven’t read this one yet, I suggest you do so–you won’t be disappointed!

That’s all 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 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, March 14, 2021

Another week has sailed past. Things are shaping up nicely in the flower beds, but just with plants that survived the winter. We haven’t ordered anything for this season as the weather is still too unsettled. A couple of days ago, we had thunder, lightning, and enough hail to cover the ground as if it had snowed.

Today we’re off to a fresh start, with overcast skies and a bitter breeze, making it feel much colder than it really is. Who knows what’s in store for us, but rain is in the forecast.

“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them. (Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/)

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on March 14th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays)

Théodore de Banville, French writer; Antonio de Castro Alves, Brazilian poet (Espumas Flutuantes); Alexandru Macedonski, Romanian writer; John Lane, British publisher (The Bodley Head); Algernon Blackwood, English novelist (The Willows); Isadore Gilbert Mudge, American librarian and author (Thackeray Dictionary); Carel T Scharten, Dutch poet and writer (Forces of the Future); Sylvia Beach, American publisher and bookseller (Shakespeare and Company); John P Strijbos, Dutch writer (Wandering through South-Africa); Andre Pieyre de Mandiargues, French writer (Margin); Horton Foote, American author, playwright and screenwriter; Macha Louis Rosenthal, critic/poet; Max Shulman, novelist (Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Tender Trap); Colin Fletcher, Welsh author and pioneering backpacker (Walking Through Time); John Barrington Wain, English novelist/poet (Hurry on Down); Bertrand Blier, novelist/director (Going Places); Peter Paul Zahl, writer; Pam Ayres, British poet; Billy Crystal, Long Beach, New York, American actor, writer, producer (Soap, City Slickers); Michael Stedman, British World War I Historian and Author; Andrew Robinson, British author; Tad Williams, American fantasy and science fiction author; and Kevin Williamson, American screenwriter.

Anyone familiar to you? The only one I recognise is Billy Crystal. 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

All five of my novels are participating in a month-long Bookfunnel promotion called Chilling Reads  (99 cents or KU). My novels are all available through Kindle Unlimited. Mission: Angola is also participating in a separate promotion for New Releases – Mystery/Thriller. There are forty-two novels in this promotion, all of which have been released since October 2020. Please stop by–you might meet your next favorite author!

I’m also pleased to announce the release of my first non-fiction feature article, “Black Ops in Fiction.” It’s now live on the web daily, Mystery & Suspense Magazine. Please check it out!

My Work in Progress

This week, I finished chapters twenty-four and twenty-five of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. Both chapters were posted to the two online subscription writing sites I use. Over the past week, there were another twenty new chapter reviews,  bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 392. Plenty of useful suggestions to improve my writing. I hope to get back to working on this novel this coming week.

Here’s this week’s snippet:

Dressed in a blue sport shirt and tan chinos, Javier sat at a corner table, waiting for three new employees. He opened his laptop and grinned as he reread the short email:

Congratulations! The establishment of the Brusch Agency is hereby approved and duly recorded in all relevant databases. Good luck!

Javier sipped on an orange juice, the remains of his breakfast on a nearby plate. After checking for additional emails, he turned his laptop off.

“Good morning, sir!” Elton stood at attention near the table.

“Hey, ET. Stop with the formality. Call me Javier or boss, but stop with the sir. That retired when I did. And don’t call me Mister Smith.” Javier gestured to an empty chair. “Take a seat.”

“Yes, sir—I mean, okay, Javier.” Elton grinned as he sat. “I’m so excited—this is my first real job—with a professional.”

Javier chuckled. “I hope I don’t disappoint you. We both put on our trousers the same way.” He gestured at the menu, still on the table. “Want something to eat while we wait for the others.”

“No, thanks. I had a big bowl of Cornflakes before coming here.”

Of course, you did. I’m surprised it wasn’t Wheaties. “Okay.” He waved to a passing waitress and asked for a coffee.

She glanced at Elton, who nodded.

Javier reached down by a table leg and retrieved his backpack. He pulled out an envelope and pushed it toward Elton. “This contains your keys for our new property, along with the security alarm codes. There are also two copies of your contract. Check it over, and if you’re satisfied, sign and date both of them. You keep one, and I’ll take the other.” Javier yanked two more envelopes from his bag. “These are for Sindee and Bruno. Take care of things for me.”

Elton nodded. “Sure thing, boss.”

Two people followed the waitress, who carried a loaded tray. After she deposited four cups, a pot of coffee, and a plate of donuts on the stable, she departed.

The other two grabbed empty chairs.

“Everyone’s made it.” Javier grinned. “Let’s eat and drink up. It’s about a fifteen-minute walk to the office.”

Conversation at the table trickled to a minimum as everyone became serious about claiming their share of the coffee and pastries.

When Javier noticed everyone was finished, he waved for the bill.

A waiter rushed over, holding a wallet. “Anything else, sir?”

Javier shook his head. “Not today—time for us to head to work.” He peeked inside the folder before pulling out his wallet. Slipping the funds plus including a substantial tip into the folder, he handed it back to the waiter and stood. “See you again—soon.”

Out on the street, Javier pointed and set off on a rapid clip, the others trailing behind.

“Hey, boss.” Elton stopped and sucked in air. “Where’s the fire?”

Javier chuckled. “No fire—just need to work off the calories.”

“Well, can we do it at a slower pace?”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

Late last night (or early thing morning, depending on how you look at things) I finished reading American Assassin by Vince Flynn. I haven’t written my review yet, so I’ll post my comments next time.  What have you been reading? Anything you think I might enjoy?

That’s all 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 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, March 7, 2021

We’ve had cooler temperatures over the past week, barely making into the lower 40s (mid teens, Celsius). For the most part, it’s been dry, which has been good so we could do some pruning of the hydrangeas, which stated to bud a couple of weeks ago. Normally, we get the pruning done before they bud, but with the recent mild weather, they decided to spring out.

A variety of spring flowers are now flowering. I don’t remember all of their names, but at least we’re seeing a variety of reds, yellows, and blues adding color around the house.

“There are two amazing places you can be. The nicest place to be is in someone’s thoughts. The safest place to be is in someone’s prayers. (Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/)

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on March 7th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays)

Guillaume du Vair, French writer and thinker; Georg Neumark, German composer and poet; Ewald Christian von Kleist, German poet; Alessandro Manzoni, Italian poet/novelist (Betrothed); Frantisek L. Celakovsky, Czech poet (national anthem, folk song); Franz Grave von Pocci, German poet/composer (Der Alchemist); Matilde Serao [Tuffolina], Italian writer (Land of Cockayne); Paul Ernst, German writer; Vera Fjodorova Panova, Russian author (Sputniki); Greta Schoon, German poet; Leo Malet, French crime novelist (Nestor Burma novels); Stefan Kisielewski, Polish composer, writer and politician; Mochtar Lubis, Indonesian writer (Twilight in Jakarta); Kobo Abe, playwright (Woman, the Dunes); Jean-Paul Desbiens, Quebec writer and teacher; Georges Perec, French writer (Seire Noire, Retour a la bien-aimee); Harald Gerlach, German writer; Paul Preuss, American sci-fi author (Medusa Encounter, Starfire); Jürgen Theobaldy, German writer; Stanley Schmidt, American science fiction writer and editor; Robert Harris, British TV reporter, journalist and author (Fatherland, Enigma); Bret Easton Ellis, American writer (American Psycho); i Ai Yazawa, Japanese mangaka (manga author – Neighbourhood Story); and Amanda Gorman, American poet and activist who delivered the poem “The Hill We Climb” at President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Anyone familiar to you? The only one I recognise is Amanda Gorman. We watched her delivery of her poem on inauguration day. 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

All five of my novels are participating in a month-long Bookfunnel promotion called Chilling Reads  (99 cents or KU). My novels are all available through Kindle Unlimited. Mission: Angola is also participating in a separate promotion for New Releases – Mystery/Thriller. There are forty-two novels in this promotion, all of which have been released since October 2020. Please stop by–you might meet your next favorite author!

My Work in Progress

I still didn’t finish the next chapter of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal as real-life requirements once again took precedence. Over the past week, there were another twenty-one new chapter reviews,  bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 372. Plenty of useful suggestions to improve my writing. I hope to get back to working on this novel this coming week.

Here’s this week’s snippet:

Alberto whacked Bennie across the face. “Estúpido! I didn’t tell you to follow them. You’re not trained in surveillance.” He glared at Bennie and stomped to his seat. “They could have heard you when you shouted, ‘Alberto, I found them!’”

Bennie’s head dropped to his chest as he gazed at the floor. “I-I did what I thought was right. You wanted me to find them.”

Alberto squeezed his hand into a fist. “Yes. But why didn’t you pay some kid on the street to find out where they went instead of doing it yourself? I gave you enough money.” Perhaps I made a mistake pulling him from the collapsed building and bringing him with me.

“I didn’t think.”

“You got that right. In the future, do just what I tell you and nothing else. Remember, Allah is judging us.” He gestured to the table. A small parcel wrapped in brown paper and tied with string sat in the center. “Keep taking photos of the targets from a distance. There’s more cash in the package—use it to hire two or three locals who know how to follow people. No more amateur stunts.”

“Yes, Alberto.” He reached for the parcel.

“Start moving your equipment to our new property. The address is written on the bottom of the package. Don’t return here—Walter will be the only one still using this location.”

Bennie nodded as he picked up the parcel. “I won’t let you down, Alberto.”

“I know you won’t.” Or you’ll meet Allah sooner than you expect.

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished Act of War (Scot Harvath Book 13)  by Brad Thor. As with all of Brad’s stories, this is another riveting plot with plenty of action. Once again, Scot Harvath is embroiled in a struggle between good and evil as terrorists try to bring down the United States.With excellent descriptions, realistic characters, and Brad’s unique prowess, this is one not to be missed!

That’s all 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 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, February 28, 2021

We’ve made it to the end of another month–hard to believe how fast February has zoomed past.  The weather’s improving a bit, too. Over the past week, there’s been enough sunshine and wind to dry out some of the damp areas so I could finally clean up the remainder of last autumn’s leaves. I even managed to turn over some of the flower beds and snag the weeds I missed before. Why do weeds always grow so well?

There’s still plenty to do outdoor, but I’m not rushing–a couple hours each day is enough. That allows for the sunshine and wind to start drying out everything I’ve dug over or the areas I’ve finally cleared. The hydrangas are already starting to bud and it won’t be long before we begin seeing other signs of springs. Roll on!

“The value of a smile is priceless, yet it is the cheapest, easiest, most rewarding, and most sincere gift to anyone that crosses your path. A smile makes a person’s day, anybody’s day even a stranger’s day. A smile is infectious. Start infecting people with your smile today.”

(Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/)

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

Michel de Montaigne, French philosopher and essayist (Essais); Ernest Renan, French philosopher/historian/scholar of religion; Quincy Adams Gillmore, American civil engineer, author, and Major General (Union Army); Hermann Schell, German theologist/philosopher (Gott und Geist); Arthur Symons, Welsh poet/critic/co-founder (Savoy); Vyacheslav Ivanov, Russian philosopher, playwright and poet; Jose Vasconcelos, politician, essayist, philosopher; Jose Gutierrez Solana, Spanish painter and author (Madrid Escenas); Ben Hecht, American novelist/playwright/screenwriter (Front Page); Laura Z. Hobson, American writer (Gentleman’s Agreement); Rudolf W. Nilsen, Norwegian poet (Hverdagen); Glyn Jones, Welsh, novelist, poet and literary historian; Stephen Spender, English poet and critic (Vienna, Edge of Darkness); Amir Hamzah, Indonesian poet (Njanji Sunji); Bernard Frank, French writer and oriental scholar; John Montague, Irish poet and 1st occupant of the Ireland Chair of Poetry; Bruce Dawe, Australian poet; Jack Thieuloy, French writer; Peter Alliss, English golfer (Ryder Cup 1957 GB winners) and author, course designer and television presenter, commentator (BBC, ESPN, ABC Sports); Alice May Brock, American author; and Tristan Louis, American writer.

Anyone familiar to you? I didn’t see and I new this week. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

My Work in Progress

I finished chapter twenty-three of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. Over the past week, there were another nine new chapter reviews,  bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 360. As always, plenty of useful suggestions to improve my writing. I hope to get back to working on this novel this coming week.

Here’s another snippet for you:

Javier disconnected the call after the sixth ring. Where is she? I thought she would sit in on the interviews. Hope everything’s okay. Perhaps work got in the way.

Before he returned to his seat, something blocked the light. Javier glanced over his shoulder.

A giant of a man approached, a hand outstretched. “You must be Javier. I’m TJ Parker.”

Javier’s hand seemed to disappear in the handshake. He looked up into the man’s face. “What are you, seven feet tall?”

An intense stare emanated from TJ’s dark eyes. He spoke in a soft voice. “Not quite. Six foot nine.”

“Take a seat.” Javier gestured toward a chair, and he returned to his. “What was your military occupational specialty?”

“Ninety-seven echo.”

Javier tapped his chin. Fits—his mere presence would intimidate anyone. “Interrogator, right?”

TJ nodded.

“Ever fire a gun at someone?”

TJ tilted his head and focused his gaze on Javier. “A stupid question. If you read my application, you know I served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Self-protection was paramount.”

“Just wanted to hear your response.” Javier grinned. “I’m planning to use two teams of investigators. One will be handling overseas assignments, and it’s possible there might be some shooting.”

“Sounds like where I belong.” TJ grinned. “What’s the pay?”

“There’ll be a one-year probationary period. During that time, you’ll earn seventy-five thousand, plus overtime, expenses, and bonuses.”

“Don’t seem like much.”

Javier gestured at ET.

“The average salary for a private investigator in Alexandria is sixty-two thousand, plus you would be responsible for your own overhead costs.” ET glanced up from the screen. “The agency will provide medical insurance, which will also cover any requirements overseas, Metro or parking reimbursement, and a 401K package.”

TJ flexed his biceps. “What about paying for a gym membership?”

Javier shook his head. “No. But what you want will be located in the basement of our building.”

“Count me in.” TJ half-rose and offered a hand to Javier.

He stuck his hand into the vice and tried not to wince as TJ crushed it. Javier stood. “Welcome aboard. We’ll be in touch in a few days with the contract.”

TJ waved a hand and departed.

As soon as he was gone, Javier flexed the fingers in his hand. “Hope the last guy doesn’t have a grip like his. We better make sure our gym is fully equipped.”

ET nodded and pointed toward the far end of the table. “Your visitor.”

Javier turned and spotted a tall, well-toned woman with blonde hair and blue eyes. “Can I help you?”

The woman stepped forward. “I made an appointment—Samantha Bennett. Call me Sam.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

I’m not quite finished with Act of War (Scot Harvath Book 13)  by Brad Thor, so I’ll post my comments next time.  What have you been reading? Anything you think I might enjoy?

That’s all 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 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, February 7, 2021

Today’s a special day in our house–it’s Sylvia’s 70th birthday! Although Covid stopped the planned party and our son’s trip over from Washington, D.C., I’ll try to make her day as memorable as possible.

Mother Nature is always adding to the fun–it’s snowing!  The forecasters say 3-6 inches by Wednesday. Will have to wait and see. In the meantime, the wind is whipping the snow around and it looks fantastic!

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” (Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/)

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on February 7th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays)

Sir Thomas More, English statesman, humanist, and author; Thomas Killigrew, English humorist/playwright/leader (King’s Men); Jean-Francois Regnard, French comedy writer (Slave in Algeria); Rhijnvis Feith, Dutch mayor/writer (Zwolle/Thirsa); Frederik Paludan-Muller, Danish Romantic poet (Danserinden); Charles Dickens, English novelist (Oliver Twist, Tale of 2 Cities); Ricardo Palma, Peru, writer/poet (Tradiciones Peruanas); Raf[ael] Verhulst [Koen Ravestein], Flemish writer (Jesus of Nazarus); Laura Ingalls Wilder, American author (Little House on Prairie); Jindrich S Baar, Czech pastor/writer (Jan Cimbura); [Harry] Sinclair Lewis, American writer and social critic (Nobel Prize in Literature 1930); Jacob Paludan, Danish pharmacist/writer (Jorgen Stein); Bob den Doolaard [Cornelis Spoelstra], Dutch writer (Grape Pickers); Paul Nizan, French journalist/writer (L’Humanité, La Conspiration); David Ignatow, American poet (Tread the Dark, Rescue the Dead); Ralph Whitlock, English writer; Gay Talese, author (Honor Thy Father); Brian Morton, Scottish writer; Richard Cook, British jazz writer (The Penguin Guide To Jazz Recordings); Matt Ridley, British science writer; and Emma McLaughlin, American novelist.

Anyone familiar to you? There were three names I know: Sir Thomas More, Charles Dickens, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’d also like to mention my wife, Sylvia. While she’s not published, her poems have sold well at numerous craft events in the U.S. and UK. Watch out–one day she’ll be published! 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

Colombian Betrayal is participating in the 2020 Chanticleer International Book Awards in the global thrillers category.

I found out this week it is now on the short list. Competition will be stiff for making the semi-finals. There are eighteen novels on the list. You can see the list by clicking here.

The semifinalists should be announced over the next month. Fingers crossed that Colombian Betrayal makes it! Once the semifinalists are announced, they’ll compete for the finalist positions. This year, there’ll only by five first place winners and one grand prize winner, which will be announced on April 25th.

My Work in Progress

I didn’t get a change to finish chapter twenty-two of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. However, there three new reviews, bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 343. Plenty of useful suggestions to improve my writing. I hope to get back to working on this novel this coming week.

Here’s this week’s snippet:

“Hello, boys.” AJ tossed her bag on the table. “What’re you two cooking up?” She grabbed a wing from Javier’s plate.

“I’ll let him fill you in. Want a beer?”

AJ nodded. “The usual.”

“Comin’ up.”

She turned to Javier and gestured at his open laptop. “Whatcha workin’ on?”

He filled her in on the news about the property. “So, I’m working on an ad to put in the paper.” He turned his computer around. “What do you think?”

“Let me see.”

Interested in new and exciting job prospects with opportunities to travel and broaden your mind? Look no further—get in on the ground floor of a new business coming to Alexandria—The Brusch Agency. We’re after self-starters who can run with things without needing someone to hold their hand. Positions include:

Receptionist

Logistics expert

Computer whiz

Research analysts (2)

Private investigators or applicable military specialties (6)

Previous experience desired but will provide job-specific training. Excellent pay and benefits.

AJ nodded. “You’re missing someone important.”

“Who?”

“A short-order cook who knows how to make proper coffee.”

Javier chuckled. “The receptionist can keep the coffee coming, and I already spoke with Luke about food—they’ll deliver.”

“Where do I sign up?” AJ reached across the table and took Javier’s hand.

“Job getting to you?”

AJ nodded. “I knew being shoved behind a desk would stress me out, but I never realized how bad it could be. Endless meetings with no objective, stacks of paperwork, and no opportunity to keep my skills sharpened. I dunno how long I’ll keep this up.”

Javier squeezed her hand. “There’s always a spot for you at Brusch Agency.”

“What would my title be?”

“How about chief bottle washer?”

“That’s inspiring.” A hint of a smile creased AJ’s face.

“I’m sure we can come up with a fitting title.” Javier drained the last of his beer and took one of the two remaining wings, pushing the plate toward AJ. “Want anything else?”

AJ snatched the wing and chewed. She shook her head. “You’re cooking tonight, remember? I’m all set for a rib eye steak, baked potato, and salad.”

“Shall we go?”

Both stood. After stopping by the bar to pay their bill, they headed out the door, arm-in-arm.

***

Bennie kept his camera focused on the entrance to the restaurant. Great idea to check with the restaurant and tell them I was looking for Javier because his photos are ready. Hopefully, he’ll show up.

He grinned when his patience was rewarded, and he took a series of snaps. After his targets turned the corner, he picked up his phone and hit the speed dial. “Alberto. I found them!”

More next time.

Last week, I mentioned the opportunity I received to write a feature article about Black Ops in Fiction for the web daily, Mystery and Suspense Magazine. I submitted my article to their editor-in-chief this week and with some revisions (he did them), it’s ready to go. I’ll post the link once the article is live.

Books I’m Reading

I read a couple more books over the past week. However, with my concentration on the article, I didn’t get a chance to prepare my reviews, so they’ll appear next time.

That’s all 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 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved