Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, November 18, 2018

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been receiving evening visits from a hedgehog looking for its supper. Since the numbers of hedgehogs are rapidly dwindling, we purchased a house for our visitor. We’ve named him Henry but if it turns out to be a female, we’ll change it to Henrietta.

The house was placed in a sheltered location on Thursday. I also purchased a trail camera, which arrived yesterday. This morning, we had a number of photos and videos of Henry, along with a cat who has been missing in the area since August. We’ll show the video to the cat’s owner to verify, although we didn’t get a face shot. However, it’s distinctive markings on its legs do show up.

A few adjustments to the camera and we should be able to see if anyone else visits.

As always, we’ll check out those associated with the writing world who celebrate birthdays today (compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Cornelius Broere, Dutch priest/poet; William Schwench Gilbert, English dramatist, librettist, poet and illustrator (Gilbert & Sullivan); Dorothy Dix, pseudonym of US journalist Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer; Richard Dehmel, writer; Clarence Shepard Day, American author (Life with Father); Wyndham Lewis, English author/painter (Tarr, Apes of God); Howard Thurman, theologian/author (Deep River, Deep in the Hunger); Jorgen Nielsen, Danish author (regional novels); Klaus Mann, German/American author (Mephisto); Halldis Vesaas-Moren, Norwegian author/poetess; Attilio Bertolucci, Italian poet and writer; Viktor Afanasiev, editor (Pravda); Vassilis Vassilikos, Greek writer and ambassador; Frank Joseph Kofsky, teacher/writer; Rodney Hall, Australian author; Margaret Atwood, Canadian author/poet; Alan Dean Foster, American sci-fi author (Midworld, Flinx in Flux); Justin Raimondo, American author; Alan Moore, British comic book writer and novelist; Seán Mac Falls, Irish-born poet; Steven Moffat, Scottish TV writer and producer (Doctor Who, Sherlock); and Jorge Camacho, Spanish poet.

Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

 News About My Published Work

DA-3D-coverDangerous Alliance received another five-star review this week: “I liked Dangerous Alliance by Randall Krzak, from the first sentence of this book which reads: “In the moonless night, the target floated in the harbor’s dark water, anchored fore and aft. A faint hiss broke the silence as climbing ropes and grappling hooks sailed into the air from Plummet NS50 Silent Launchers. Within moments, a sharp tug secured each hook to a quarterdeck railing on the cruise ship, two each on the port side, the starboard, and from the stern.”

Needless to say, I was hooked. This brilliant author not only captures you with strong dramatic action brimming with suspense but also excellently and creatively weaves this intriguing story to keep you guessing and wondering what is going to happen next. His previous book, The Kurdish Connection was amazing, and I was even more impressed with the mind of this writer after reading Dangerous Alliance. Highly Recommended!”

Dangerous Alliance will be featured in the International Thriller Writers’ February 1st edition of The Big Thrill. More to follow on this as the information becomes available.

 My Work in Progress

Much of my writing time this week was devoted to social media marketing of Dangerous Alliance. However, I did manage to complete another chapter of Carnage in Singapore. The manuscript has now received 454 chapter reviews, all assisting me in improving my writing and tweaking the story.

I didn’t have time to work on Ultimate Escalation, but I did create a plot and write the first 500 words for a 10,000-word short story. The tentative title is The European Caper. I haven’t completed the synopsis yet, but perhaps I’ll have it ready for next week.

1541181484Another story working its way forward is A Cartel’s Revenge. A Colombian drug lord watched her profits diminish over the years. Unable to increase market share because of a shrinking consumer base and a new international competitor, she form an unholy alliance.

Olivia Moreno, head of the Barranquilla Cartel, struck a deal with a regional leader within the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Little did she know but she initiated her own death warrant. FARC had an unknown support group who wanted a foothold in South America – Islamic State.

Forced to flee, Moreno is captured by a small CIA team. Fearing for her life, she spins a tale about using her money and manpower to destroy ISIS. Laws and rules of engagement mean nothing to her, only her life and family matter.

Will team leader AJ Bruce strike a deal to turn the tables on ISIS and stop them from launching a concentrated attack on the United States? Or will they be too late? If successful, will Moreno’s reward be total control of Afghanistan’s poppy fields or will she be doubled-crossed?

1540055887I’m also expanding a short story I wrote into a novel. Now called Trek For Survival, Twins Maddison and Michael Jones both enjoyed a variety of outdoor activities—biking, climbing, kayaking, running, skydiving, and spelunking. Although they maintained their competitiveness throughout all pursuits, they shared another common theme—each was the other’s best friend.

After they working a multitude of odd jobs to pay for college, they graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in molecular biology, and both acquired positions with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). At first, the job dealing with humanitarian crises taxed their abilities, but as their skills improved, they sought new and more rewarding challenges for their leisure time.

Since their personal pursuits took place in North America, they decided to take a two-week vacation in Kenya after their latest assignment, hoping a change of scenery would reenergize them. Little did anyone know, but the excursion of a lifetime might end up as a one-way trip.

Books I’m Reading

I didn’t expect The Patmos Enigma: An Archaeological Thriller by Ken Fry, to let me down. It didn’t. I kept reading late into the night, turning page after page to follow the efforts of an archaeological team trying to uncover hidden secrets. This is an excellent blend of biblical archaeology and fiction, with a cast of characters who thrive on searching for clues in various nooks and crannies. Six of the seals mentioned in the Book of Revelation have been uncovered. Will the team find the seventh or will unknown elements work against them? A great thriller and I look forward to reading another of Ken’s novels as soon as possible.

Blair Howard’s new Kate Gazzara novel, Sapphire, is another thriller crafted by a master storyteller. Just when I thought I knew where events were leading, a new twist came along. Filled with larger-than-life characters and a plot destined to keep readers on their toes, stand by for plenty of action and intrigue. I don’t want to provide any spoilers, but suffice it to say Kate and her partner Lonnie, are tasked with working a number of cold homicide cases. You’ll have to grab a copy to see how things turn out. I look forward to their next adventure.

I received an advanced copy of this book from the author and was not compensate for this review. I will happily continue to read Blair’s novel as they become available.

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

I’ve expanded this section from being only about blogs that I follow but will also introduce you to some new authors and a few writing sites.

Books by Ken Fry. Check out more information about Ken’s other books here.

Blair Howard. Check out more information regarding Blair’s books and his blog.

This brings us to a close for another week. I hope you found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing.  If you have any suggestions for a topic you’d like to read about, please let me know. Until the next time, thank you for reading.

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, November 11, 2018

Today’s the one hundredth anniversary of the armistice signifying the end of World War One. Called the ‘war to end all wars’ we are reminded of the brave sacrifices of men and women to protect our freedom, regardless of our backgrounds. Give a moment of silence for those who served when called upon.

After a series of author interviews, I’m back with my regular ramblings. As always, we’ll check out those associated with the writing world who celebrate birthdays today (compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Bernardo Tasso, Italian poet; George Savile, 1st marquis of Halifax/author (Character of a Trimmer); Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Russian novelist (Crime and Punishment, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man; Thomas Bailey Aldrich, American author/editor (Story of a Bad Boy); Alceu Amoroso Lima, Brazilian author; F. Van Wyck Mason, American author; Daisy Bates, publisher/head (Arkansas NAACP); Eladio Rusconi, writer/publisher/businessman; [Dallas] Mack/McCord Reynolds, American sci-fi author (Earth War); Kalle Päätalo, Finnish novelist; Kurt Vonnegut Jr, American author (Slaughterhouse Five, Sirens of Titan); Piet van der Sanden, Dutch journalist and politician (CDA); Carlos Fuentes, author (The Death of Artemio Cruz); H M Enzensberger, writer; Callum Alexander MacDonald, historian; Mircea Dinescu, Romanian poet; Mary Gaitskill, American novelist; and Lee Battersby, Australian author.

Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

News About My Published Work

Dangerous Alliance was released this week by Solstice Publishing. There have already been two five-star reviews! Here’s the first one: “A Nail-Biting Thriller! This is the first book I’ve read by this author and it won’t be the last.

Krzak masterfully weaves together four subplots all aiming toward a powerful ending. In the background, throughout the book, is a poignant and moving story of a man separated from his family. The man constantly faces a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t dilemma. Plenty of crisp action scenes pull you from one chapter to the next. Krzak knows how to turn a literary phrase. One of my favorites was: “Evelyn pulled the wig from her head, years draining away.”

You follow the groups of determined characters, some of whom are quite creepy, as they take care of business with some horrifying results. I will never be a spoiler, but the author pulls it all together toward the end, as if all the characters have gotten together for a meeting.

If you like an engaging read with a lot of imaginative stories tied together, this is definitely a book for you. Highly recommended.”

The second one is from a repeat reader! “Great Read! After reading the first book of the series, The Kurdish Connection, I couldn’t miss the second instalment of the series. The Bedlam boys are back with a new adventure. There’s more action, more tension in this novel, but the same smooth writing with lots of details about life in North Korea. Strongly recommend it.

Hopefully,  others will soon join these two.

My Work in Progress

During the time I focused on author interviews, I continued working on Carnage in Singapore. The drafts of thirty-one chapters are finished thus far and are posted to the two online subscription writing sites I use. So far, there’s been 433 chapter reviews, all of which help to improve my writing and tweak the story. Here’s the synopsis:

1539534550Terrorist groups such as Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah have flourished in recent years with new recruits joining them and ISIS-affiliates at an alarming rate. Blended operations by various Asian countries have forced the groups to work together to identify a new operational base.

They seek an island nation to call home, one where they can plot against countries who oppose their ideals. They found a target, a small nation-state, perfect for their needs: The Republic of Singapore.

Before anyone can respond, the ambassadors of the United States, Great Britain, and Australia are kidnapped from their residences in Singapore. Right index fingers of each victim are sent as a warning. Any attempt to recover the ambassadors will result in the removal of additional body parts.

Bedlam Charlie team leader, Evelyn Evinrude, leads the group to rescue the ambassadors and capture the local leaders of Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah. Can Bedlam succeed or will events escalate, resulting in more deaths?

In addition to working on Carnage in Singapore, I’ve also started on the finale of the four-book series, Ultimate Escalation. Just the first chapter is completed, and ten reviewers have provided their comments. Here’s the synopsis:

1539535798Punjabi militants seek to distance themselves from Indian and Pakistani dominance and interference. With the dissolution of British India in 1947, families were ripped apart as the Punjabi region was split between the two countries. Limited attacks within each country caused further persecution and heartache.

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

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

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

Perhaps next week I’ll include a snippet from one of these and also tell you about a couple of other stories I’m working on.

Books I’m Reading

I just finished an exciting story last night, The Patmos Enigma: An Archaeological Thriller by Ken Fry. I’ll provide my comments next time, But I will mention I can’t wait to grab another of his books!

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

I’ve expanded this section from being only about blogs that I follow but will also introduce you to some new authors and a few writing sites. While I spent hours reading through various links doing research and preparing for various posts, I didn’t have time to find anything to include here.

This brings us to a close for another week. I hope you found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing.  If you have any suggestions for a topic you’d like to read about, please let me know. Until the next time, thank you for reading.

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

An Interview With Author Forrest Steele

This week I’d like to introduce you to self-published author Forrest Steele. Retired from investment banking, Forrest is now doing what he loves–writing.

Let’s learn more about him.

What are your ambitions for your writing career? I started creative writing late in life. I’d love to know I learned enough to create stories that people enjoy, and–dare I say it–stories that sell.

Which writers inspire you? Elmore Leonard, Lawrence Block, Robert B. Parker, Barry Hannah, Walter Mosley, many others.

IMG_0648-1So, what have you written? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, either via internet or consulting with people, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest, professional or hobby.) A few dozen short stories, and a regular column newspaper column on advice for small businesses. The novel I just finished, Never Again, Seriously, started as a short story and grew.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? He’s slick in dealing with people and so observant and intuitive you could say he’s psychic.

What are you currently working on and what is it about? A murder mystery set in orange grove and cattle country in south central Florida.

 What drew you to write in this genre? It’s the type of thing I read.

How much research do you do? I try not to roam too from what I know. There are several spots where I need research, either thru the internet or consulting with people who know more.

Have you written works in collaboration with other writers, and if so: why did you decide to collaborate and did it affect your sales? No collaboration.

When did you decide to become a writer? Began testing my abilities eight years ago.

Do you write full-time or part-time? 20-30 hrs/week. You tell me!

How often do you write, and do you have a special time during the day to write? Every day, in the hours before and after dinner.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? No.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand? I dictate when Dragon is working and revise by typing on the computer.

Where do the your ideas come from? Daily observation of people and situations.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I start the ball rolling with no outline, and then make an outline, which is constantly revised and updated.

What is the hardest thing about writing? Getting stymied or blocked when I can’t see how to move the story forward. Going back to outlib=ne process always helps.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? It was so awful I had to rewrite the whole thing.

What is the easiest thing about writing? Descriptions.

How long on average does it take you to write a book? I’ve only finished one. My guess is about a year.

Do you ever get Writer’s Block, and do you have any tips for getting through it? See hardest thing above.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors. See above. Right now it’s James Lee Burke, Randy Wayne White, and Tim Dorsey.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books? Traditional printed.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? I paid for a line edit even though I had combed it carefully. Wow! I’ll always do that now.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit? I’m constantly editing as I go.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? It’s the most important thing after networking.

How are you publishing this book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both) Indie for the first, will seek traditional for the next.

519gRqvmUL_002What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? That’s too big a question for me to deal with here. 

Would you or do you use a PR agency? Haven’t yet. Not sure what they do I can’t other than their contacts, which they oversell. My mind is open a crack, though.

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? Read up on the wealth of info out there, and be prepared to publicize as hard as you wrote!

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? Just starting. If it’s not half, I’ll be surprised.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? It’s all data, so in that sense none is bad. Anything that gets out there and affects sales, not good!

What’s your views on social media for marketing, and which of them have worked best for you? My testing tells me that Facebook targeted ads are cheap and powerful.
Not interested in other social media. Personal selling and publicity, including email seems best to me.

Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work? No press release yet. I can’t imagine it would drive sales.

Is being a writer a gift or a curse? Definitely a gift for me.  Anyone who finds it a curse probably should quit.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing as far as content? Don’t know how to answer.

Did you come across any specific challenges in writing?  What would you do differently the next time? The plot was a mess, but I had to live through the process of fixing it to learn.

What do your fans mean to you? When I get one, I’ll let you know. I think they must be lifeblood.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day? Can’t sleep any more and my back hurts.

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you? Wizard of Oz. That started a lifelong reading journey.

What motivated you to become an indie author? Challenge of creating.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? Yes.

When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go? Both. 

Tell us about your writing process and the way you brainstorm story ideas. I get a basic idea, but can’t develop it without starting to write it.

Where is your favorite place to write? My computer, at home.

What marketing strategies do you find most helpful? Any resources you would recommend to other authors or aspiring authors? Just to repeat myself, your best marketing resource is yourself. Don’t spend money on crutches; just get up and walk! See it as networking.

Forrest currently resides in Lake Placid, Florida. Hope Hurricane Michael stayed away! Stay tuned for another author interview next time.

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

An Interview with Author B. Douglas Slack

This week I’d like to introduce you to author B. Douglas Slack. He’s a self-published author began writing in grade school, encouraged my his mother who was a journalist. A U.S. Navy veteran, he retired as a First Class Petty Officer and served in Vietnam. Stationed mostly in the Far East, he spent three years in Japan which provided the spark for his first novel, You Only Love Twice.

He has been married for over fifty-four years. He’s led an exciting life, and has many skills out of the ordinary, such as: Alaskan dog team driving, Steam and diesel train driving and flying. He has called Ohio home for the last twenty-five years.

Let’s find out more about his writing journey.

51sZrPn-u0L

What are your ambitions for your writing career? I started my first novel about two years ago as a romantic short story. I kept adding and adding until it became a four-chapter story. Then I joined a writing site and published the chapters. I was encouraged to continue and make it a novel. In October of 2017, I published it under the title of You Only Love Twice. I had reached my first goal. My next goal is to write a trilogy. The first book is published as The Long Trek Home.

Which writers inspire you? In my very early years, before I became a teen, I picked up a Science Fiction book by Ray Bradbury and loved it. From then until my early twenties, I read mostly SF by the giants such as Arthur Clark, Robert Heinlein, Ursala K Le Guin, Larry Niven, and many more. On May 25, 1985 I met and talked with Isaac Asimov for over half an hour following a talk he gave about robotics. I’ve also met Hal Clement at a SF Convention.

So, what have you written? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest, professional or hobby.) My first published book is titled You Only Love Twice. I then published The Long Trek Home. Over the years, I’ve written over fifty short stories, poems, and articles and published them on various writing sites for peer reviews.

51af8UBp5rLGive us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? The MC of You Only Love Twice is an interesting character as he is an American working in Tokyo, Japan of the 1980s. He speaks Japanese well and, on the train home from work meets a Japanese girl named Hiroko. He breaks traditions by speaking to her and ultimately inviting her to tea that afternoon. He is a master salesman for his firm as well as quite likeable, with many friends.

The MC in The Long Trek Home, which is set in a post-apocalyptic United States, has an innate ability to do the right thing whatever the circumstances might be. Not given a choice, he takes part in a killing in self-defense and flees west. He is an inventive person with many handy skills which help him and the woman he assists in escaping a slavery ring. Together, they beat the odds and ‘go home.’

What are you currently working on and what is it about? I am now working on the sequel to The Long Trek Home, which is the further saga of the two main characters in the first book. It is in the rough draft version and I hope to get it into shape by the end of the year.

What drew you to write in this genre? I really haven’t chosen a genre. The first book was a romantic adventure, yet the second was a much more gritty and down-to-earth fight for survival on a post-apocalyptic world.

How much research do you do? I research quite a bit for details necessary to bring a story alive. In some cases, I draw from personal experiences and memories. As they say, “Write what you know about.”

When did you decide to become a writer? When I was eleven, my mother gave me a blank journal. At the time, she was finishing a college degree in Journalism and the subject fascinated me. I began writing that very evening and haven’t really stopped yet—and I’m seventy-six now.

Do you write full-time or part-time? Being retired, I am able to write pretty much whenever I want to. I guess you would call this full-time.

How often do you write, and do you have a special time during the day to write? I try to write or at least do some editing every day. I spend on the average of twenty hours a week writing.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? No. I write until I reach a spot where I can take it up again the next session.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand? I started longhand, moved to a typewriter, self-teaching myself to touch-type, then switched to a computer in the early seventies.

Where do the your ideas come from? Some from real life, some from my head, and some from my heart. I carry a little notepad in my hip pocket (a habit learned while in the Navy) and jot down every idea as it happens.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? My first book detailed the life of the main character and his wife as they lived it. I had a basic start and let it flow naturally to a conclusion. The second book was sketched out—on graph paper, actually—into a timeline for various events. Then I stitched the scenes together.

What is the hardest thing about writing? Editing. It is a horrible thing to spend an hour producing, say, 2,500 words and watch over half of it disappear when editing. Editing and grammar-checking take most of my time.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? It went very well, actually. The timeline I created worked by forcing me to pace the adventure and add flesh to the story structure. The hardest thing I faced was making the tension palpable throughout most of it.

What is the easiest thing about writing? The typing itself. I type at over 120 words-per-minute so I can rap out a thousand words in no time at all. I’ve worn out three keyboards over the last two years.

How long on average does it take you to write a book? The first one took about two and a half years. The second just seven months.

Do you ever get Writer’s Block, and do you have any tips for getting through it? Definitely. Whenever it strikes, I move on to my second passion: my virtual train program. I spend time building routes and running trains on them. It keep my interest long enough to flush ideas from the cobwebs.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors. I read voraciously. I always have a book with me in waiting rooms, at lunch, before I go to sleep, and most other times. Lately, I’ve been re-reading my military thrillers by W.E.B. Griffin, H. Jay Riker, and Tom Clancy. Woven between them is more lighthearted works by Stuart Woods and John Sandford.

Long Trek HomeFor your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books? I wear trifocals, so reading an eBook on a tiny screen just isn’t for me. I much prefer paperbacks or hardbound books. My library as around four hundred books at present.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? I proofread and edit them myself with the aid of software purchased for that task. Currently, I’m using ProWritingAid which I consider the best so far.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit? Yes. You Only Love Twice went through three major editing sessions and a cooling-off period of two months before I did a final format and published it.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? Absolutely. Most people will look at a book cover first, so that’s the initial contact you have with a potential reader. If the cover is uninteresting, they won’t go any further.

How are you publishing this book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both) I tried traditional by submitting to established publishers. I quit at fifty rejections and self-published through Kindle Publishing.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? I like the freedom of self-publishing. By that, I mean I can fix typos or errors or touch up dialogue, upload a new file, and the next person who orders the book will get the changes. Amazon’s ‘publish-on-demand’ allows this.

Would you or do you use a PR agency? I would if I could afford one.

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? Get out there and talk about it. Self-publishing means you have to do all the work.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? Not enough. I know I should do more, but can’t find the time.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? I take every review to heart. A bad review can point out something you never considered such as a plot hole, or a bad reference, or even worse, a wrong attribution.

Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you? It isn’t strictly about marketing, but I gave several copies of my first book to the local library. They put it on a ‘local author’ shelf and began lending it. I was standing in front of the checkout desk one afternoon and a woman came up to me and asked if I was B. Douglas Slack. When I replied I was, she thrust a piece of paper at me and asked for my autograph. My very first. She’d recognized me from my photo on the back of the book.

What’s your views on social media for marketing, and which of them have worked best for you? I deal poorly with social media. Facebook is about the only one I am on with any regularity. I don’t tweet, or any of the other texting services.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do when writing? I advised a budding writer on a writing site not to overstep the boundary between what he knew about and what he didn’t. If you don’t know what you’re writing about, it will come off a fake and uninteresting. Write what you know.

Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work? I created an account there, but somehow it ended up getting closed. I never could find out why.

Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures? I tell all my neighbors when my books are published. They almost always order one and have me sign it.

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future? Can’t think of any. I’m sure I did, though.

What do you think of “trailers” for books, and do you have a trailer/will you create one for your own work? Mixed feelings about trailers. They’re more for films than books. Any trailer I can come up with usually ends up on the back of the book as a teaser.

Do you think that giving books away free works and why? I give away books occasionally, mostly to libraries in the area. They love to put them on shelves set aside for local authors.

How do you relax? I’ve been working with computers for over fifty years. To relax, I spend time creating web sites, programming, or building a computer. It takes most of your mind to do this and that eases writer’s block handily.

What is your favorite motivational phrase? Write it down.

What is your favorite quote? “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” TANSTAAFL, popularized by Robert Heinlein in “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”, a book I’ve read and reread many times.

What is your favorite movie and why? Tough choice. Most any movie with Cary Grant. I grew up watching his cool take on life. He was a master at comedy (“Father Goose” comes to mind) as well as drama (“Mr. Lucky”).

What advice would you give to your younger self? Very little, as I would be unlikely to take it anyhow. I left college and enlisted in the Navy before Vietnam heated up, yet spent five tours in the war zone. I might tell myself to ease up on the volunteering. I wouldn’t trade the twenty years I spent in the service for anything. I speak a smattering of ten or twelve languages, I’ve been on all continents, I’ve lived in many foreign countries, and loved every minute of it. One daughter was born in the Philippines, the other in Japan, so they have a itchy foot as well.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? I met one famous person already, President John Kennedy. He stopped at the Naval facility at Lajes AB, Azores on his way to visit the Pope. He spent an hour in the Operations building with a dozen of my watchstanders while waiting for a classified message to arrive over our circuits. A very personable man, and the first president I was able to vote for.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Keep trying. No matter what, keep trying.

Where do you see publishing going in the future? I fear it is going become electronic and print publications will fall by the wayside.

Is being a writer a gift or a curse? Yes.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing as far as content? Sticking to some form of plot. I tend to go wandering off the path and delving into side-issues. When I catch myself doing it, I have to delete chunks of typing and start over.

Did you come across any specific challenges in writing The Long Trek Home? What would you do differently the next time? Of particular challenge was projecting the current socio-political climate into a post-apocalyptic world. How would a person cope when oil suddenly stopped flowing following a nuclear event in the Middle East? How would anyone deal with oceans rising from the striking of the sun by an anti-matter moon and causing a huge solar flare lasting for years? Coastlines changed, economy’s crashed, civil disturbances become a daily occurrence, and mob rule become the norm.

What do your fans mean to you? Everything. At my age, I love them to pieces.

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you? On my tenth birthday, my mother handed me The Rolling Stones, a science fiction book by Robert Heinlein which was first serialized in Boy’s Life (A Boy Scout magazine). I loved it and checked out several more by him. When I ran out of Heinlein, I moved on to the other greats like Asimov, Phillip K. Dick, Keith Laumer, Hal Clements, and the rest of classical SF authors.

What motivated you to become an indie author? Fifty rejection notices will do a wonderful job on your ego and motivate the heck out of you to publish on your own.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? I wrote one called “I was a Dispatcher for Ten Minutes” when I was twelve. It told a story of a young railroad telegrapher who had to make a decision to let a train pass his station in the absence of the regular dispatcher. I received a “B” on it.

When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go? I try to create worksheets on my major characters. Birthdates, general descriptions, likes, dislikes, habits (good or otherwise), and other useful information. I refer to these sheets all the time.

Tell us about your writing process and the way you brainstorm story ideas. I flip through the journals I’ve kept through my life starting at age eleven when I received my first blank journal from my mother. I get ideas all the time from having my memory jogged by an event in them. At other times, things seem to pop into my head and are captured on the pad I keep in my back pocket.

Where is your favorite place to write? In my computer room.

What marketing strategies do you find most helpful? Any resources you would recommend to other authors or aspiring authors? I’m not an aggressive marketer of my own works. I talk it up every chance I get, give away books to neighbors, and generally make it known I’ve written a book, but I don’t hit social media hard. I’m a hobby writer who has found publishing to be fun. I’m seventy-six now and hope to keep publishing until I’m not around any more.

That’s all for this week. Check out Mr. Slack’s work when you have a chance. Join me again next week for another author interview!

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, September 2, 2018

For those living in the United States and Canada, Happy Labor/Labour Day! Do you know the origins of what is considered the unofficial end of summer? A day set aside to honor the labor movement, in 1887, Oregon was the first state to recognize a day for the workforce. There was a push by labor unions for eight-hour work days. By the time Labor Day was recognized as a federal holiday in 1894, thirty states had already made it an official holiday.

The origins of Labour Day in Canada go back to 1872, when a parade was held in Toronto to support a union strike for a 58-hour work week. It became an official holiday in 1894. Many of the traditions associated with the day are similar in both countries.

Anyone celebrating a birthday today? If so, you’re in good company with the following people associated with the writing world, compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

William Somervile, English poet; Caroline von Schelling, [Michaelis], German author; Esteban Echeverría, Argentine writer; Henry George, land reformer/writer (Progress & Poverty); Giovanni Verga, Italian writer (Eros); Eugene Field, author/journalist (Little Boy Blue); Paul Bourget, French novelist and critic; Hans Jæger, Norwegian writer and political activist; Joseph Roth, Austrian journalist/writer (Hotel Savoy); Andreas Embirikos, Greek surrealist poet; Johan Daisne, [Herman Thiery], Belgian writer (magic realism); Allen Drury, author (Advise & Consent-1960 Pulitzer Prize); Peter Mansfield, British political journalist and author; John S. Hall, American poet and spoken-word artist; Jon Berkeley, author and illustrator; and Chris Kuzneski, American bestselling author.

Recognize anyone? I did, but not as many as in some weeks. Even if you didn’t spot any familiar names, I hope you have a great birthday and many more to follow.

News About My Published Work

Dangerous Alliance-001

My second novel, Dangerous Alliance, will be released soon by Solstice Publishing. This week, I received the manuscript back from the editor and we are collaborating on a variety of small changes.  Stay tuned for more information about its release!

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

Bedlam Bravo team leader Colonel Trevor Franklin (Ret.) 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 at what cost?

My Work in Progress

With the editing work on Dangerous Alliance and a myriad of external requirements, work on Carnage in Singapore took a backseat this week. I did spend a bit of time on the next chapter, but decided another chapter was needed first to bring readers up-to-date with the activities of two characters.

Books I’m Reading

I recently read Ernest Dempsey’s The Norse Directive: A Sean Wyatt Archaeological Thriller (Sean Wyatt Adventure Book 5). As with the first four novels in the series, we once again meet up with Sean Wyatt and his longtime friend, Tommy Schultz. In search of a relic deemed to be an ancient weapon, the duo battle wits with a Frenchman who is also seeking this item.

As with all of Mr. Dempsey’s novels, this is another action-packed thriller, filled with realistic characters and plenty of twists and turns. Once again Sean and Tommy have taken be on a whirlwind ride, visiting numerous countries and encountering one obstacle after another. Who will recover the prize? That would be telling—but you won’t be disappointed in this story. I look forward to Book 6!

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

I’ve expanded this section from being only about blogs that I follow but will also introduce you to some new authors and a few writing sites. While I spent hours reading through various links doing research and preparing to post my interview with author Preston Holtry (posted earlier this morning), I didn’t have time to find anything to include here.

This brings us to a close for another week. I hope you found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing.  If you have any suggestions for a topic you’d like to read about, please let me know. Until the next time, thank you for reading.

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

An Interview With Author Preston Holtry

This week I’d like to introduce you to author Preston Holtry.  He’s an avid traveler, former alpine ski instructor and VA hospital volunteer.

Preston

Preston received a BA degree from the Virginia Military Institute and a graduate degree from Boston University. He was a career Army officer, and served twice in Vietnam in addition to a variety of assignments in Germany, England and the United States.

Let’s learn more about him.

Which writers inspire you? For non-fiction – William Manchester, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Robert Massie, Stephen Ambrose and David McCullough; for fiction Colleen McCullough, Sharon Kaye Penman, Ivan Doig.

Death in EmilySo, what have you written? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest, professional or hobby.) Four period mysteries set in the southwest during the period 1915-1917 featuring the detective Morgan Westphal; one contemporary mystery/thriller with an international setting; the ARRIUS Trilogy set during 120-137 C.E. in Judea and Britannia.

What are you currently working on and what is it about? I’ve been working on a two-book historical novel set 1855-1865 along the Missouri/Kansas border. The first vol is about the build-up to the Civil War and Vol 2 covers the war in both states during the War. I’ve always been fascinated by the Civil War, but most of my reading and research has tended to focus on the eastern and southeastern states until I stumbled on the tales of Bloody Kansas and the Missouri Border “Ruffians” and realized the beginnings of the fighting predated Fort Sumter by five years.

What drew you to write in this genre? I write different genres but all my novels have one thing in common – they draw upon history either directly or indirectly or in some context.

Arrius Vol IHow much research do you do? A lot!! I spent an entire year researching the Roman Empire before writing a single word of ARRIUS, and part way through the trilogy went back to England to walk the ground in Northumberland where Hadrian’s Wall is located.  I want the tactile feel of scope, terrain etc. to make the setting as real to the reader as it was to me. Since all my novels have historical roots, research is absolutely critical. Readers of historical novels demand that you get it right!

When did you decide to become a writer? I cannot remember a time when I didn’t want to write, but by early high school I vowed one day I would get a book published. Reality of course requires you do not quit your day job until you’re a frequent visitor to the New York Times Best Sellers list. I had to retire before I began writing seriously and the first book wasn’t published until years after that.

A Troublesome AffairDo you write full-time or part-time? Mainly part-time, a few hours a day and usually early morning. I do not set a minimum number of pages/words. More typical I schedule a specific time to detach from the world to write – sometimes the result is multiple pages or just a single paragraph when I have to research some factoid “to get it right!”

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I never outline. I first develop a concept of a plot/setting and some kind of situation, event(s), usually based on some historical occurrence. From there, I’ll write a half page general synopsis with the main character identified and other suggestive characters just to get started. This paragraph will probably under 5-7 times before I’m finished with the book. When I write a mystery, the plot can go in multiple directions. As I say on my website, I’m only a few pages ahead of the reader in figuring out who the culprit is, since there’s enough stuff to point the finger at multiple people. The latter is also a result of developing characters that become so believable (at least to me) I occasional become conflicted who I finally decide is the real villain. If the characters aren’t telling the story, then chances are the story isn’t going to resonate. I believe a mistake many fiction authors in particular make is they don’t listen to their characters; consequently credibility, believability are the casualties.

WhArrius Vol IIat is the hardest thing about writing? Overcoming the tyranny of the first blank page then knowing when you’ve done your best before you nickel and dime it to death. The obverse of the question is defining the “easiest thing” about writing. For me, there’s nothing easy about writing. I approach the first 50 pages as if it’s a slab of granite, which requires me to hammer and chisel away until something like a vision finally appears.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? I’m a voracious reader. I read mainly non-fiction history/bios. See the first question above.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? I do, but I also depend on others after I’ve given it my best shot. Almost without fail, the writer is the worst editor of them all! Before I let beta readers have a go at it, I do let the book percolate for a few weeks, then go back and take a third or fourth look. It’s amazing the sterling tale you spent 8-9 months writing is so full of spelling, syntax, punctuation errors not to mention missing words and format issues!!

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? YSeal of Confessiones, I do. The old adage is “Don’t judge a book by its cover” may be true, but we all do. I’m drawn to both a title and a cover suggestive of what the book is about. If I’m not drawn to it, then I probably won’t even read the synopsis, let alone by the book. Having said that my favorite authors could have a plain cover, and I’d go for it simply because of name recognition. The latter cuts both ways and the most interesting cover and title on the shelf if written by authors I’ve read and have no intention of reading again will remain on the Amazon shelf.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? Yes, I’ve gotten some mediocre reviews, which are disappointing, but it goes with the reality of putting your stuff out for the public to love it or hate it. If you dread bad reviews, you may be too thin-skinned to take the inevitable heat. There have been occasions I could understand and accept the criticisms. What I can easily disregard are criticisms that tell me the writer either didn’t understand or finish reading the novel. Hey. No one likes criticism; however, if it’s constructive, then it’s more bearable.

The Good ThiefNow retired, Preston lives with his wife, Judith, in Oro Valley, Arizona. Read more about his interests and writing approach at www.presholtry.webs.com.

Stayed tuned for another author interview next week! Until then, why not check out some of Preston’s novels:

Arrius Volume I – Sacramentum (Oath), Arrius Volume II – Legacy, Death in Emily 3, A Troublesome Affair, Seal of Confession, or The Good Thief.

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings, Uncategorized

Randall’s Ramblings, August 19, 2018

As summer winds down, families are doing their final thrills with their kids before they head back to school. Stores are pushing ‘back to school’ sales. At least Mother Nature keeps reminding us it’s summer, with plenty of heat, humidity, and showers (and sometimes, thunderstorms). We also began today with fog!

Anyone out there celebrating a birthday today? Here’s a few people from the writing world who share today with you. (compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Marqués de Santillana, Castilian politician and poet (serranillas); Lodovico Guicciardini, Italian historian (Descrittione di Tutti); Paulus Merula, Dutch lawyer and historian (Historia Belgica); John Dryden, English poet (1st Poet Laureate 1668-1700); Eustace Budgell, English writer; Samuel Richardson, English novelist (Pamela); Pierre-Jean de Béranger, French poet and songwriter; Arnoldt Bronnen, writer; Ogden Nash, humorous poet (I’m a Stranger Here Myself); James Gould Cozzens, American novelist (1949 Pulitzer-Guard of Honor); Jerzy Andrzejewski, Polish writer (Ashes & Diamonds); Quentin Bell, artist, author/teacher; Ring Lardner Jr, American journalist and screenwriter (Woman of the Year, M A S H);  Malcom Forbes, American publisher of Forbes Magazine; D[avid] G[uy] Compton, UK, sci-fi author (Synthajoy, Radio Plays); Bodil Malmsten, Swedish writer; Jennie Bond, British journalist; and Li-Young Lee, Indonesia-born American poet.

Recognize anyone? I certainly did. Even if you didn’t spot any familiar names, I hope you have a great birthday and many more.

My Work in Progress

Once again external pressures meant I had to forego my normal writing periods this week. However, I still managed to complete and post another chapter of Carnage in Singapore. I also refined my outline to reflect recent changes in how some chapters are plotted.

Despite my unplanned slowdown, reviewers added another nineteen chapter reviews, bringing the total to 313. Here a bit more from Carnage in Singapore:

“Please take a seat.” A secretary gestured toward several chairs. “Mr. Robertson will be with you in a few minutes.”

Before Evelyn skipped through the ads in a magazine to the first article, the inner office door opened. Framed in the doorway stood a tall, gray-haired man. His chiseled jawline and deep brown eyes commanded attention.

Harrison Robertson, the Director-General of Security for ASIO, stepped forward, his arm outstretched, a grin plastered on his face. “Lady Evelyn, thank you for stopping by.”

“Please, Harrison, drop the title. Given my background and the Australian culture, it doesn’t fit.”

Harrison chuckled. “Come in.” He leaned toward his secretary. “Margaret, would you rustle up a pot of tea and biscuits? Thank you.”

Evelyn and Harrison entered his austere office. An immense oak desk, devoid of papers but holding three telephones and an Apple computer, stood in front of the windows. A safe in the corner, three easy chairs, a coffee table, and photographs of beach scenes completed the furnishings.

***

“How is your hip? I spotted a slight limp.” Harrison handed a cup to Evelyn and offered her the biscuits.

She nibbled on a Tim Tam. “The doctors say the limp might remain forever but is less noticeable every week. The joint is healthy—they believe some nerves might be damaged beyond repair.”

Harrison nodded. “Good to hear the joint is sound. How is your new team shaping up? I suspect it won’t be long before there’s a suitable mission for you.”

“Alfie—how he hates his nickname—is running them through their paces at our training facility. We’re ready for whatever you throw at us.”

“Excellent.” He nodded. “Islamic State affiliates are popping up around the world. I think Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah still pose significant threats in our region. With the apparent death of Abu Sayyaf’s leader, I fear AS will be more dangerous than ever.”

***

Evelyn entered her office. About the size of a standard living room, a red cedar desk and chair, two five-drawer safes, and four easy chairs crammed the space. On the wall opposite her desk, two photographs.

One was of the Queen. She walked over to the other one and read the inscription.

Lady Evelyn,

Thank you for your endeavors in retrieving me from a rather sticky situation. I shall assist you whenever it’s possible. George.

At her desk, she booted her computer and thought about her previous mission to recover Prince George. Never would have thought my crowning achievement with MI6 was to serve in a liaison role with a Somali terrorist. Now, I’m running my own covert team.

Perhaps more next time.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished reading several novels in the Sean Wyatt series by Ernest Dempsey and one by Nick Thacker.

Mark for Blood (Mason Dixon Thrillers Book 1) by Nick Thacker was a riveting story. Bartender Mason Dixon has a secret—an on-demand secondary job, which leaves victims out in the cold. Assisted by his short-order cook and occasional fill-in bartender, they take care of the latest mark. Except there was a problem. The person didn’t provide the standard token confirming their identity. Troubles abound as Mason becomes a target himself—who is after him?

This is the first novel by Nick that I’ve read and I guarantee it won’t be the last. With excellent characters, a laid-back manner of presenting the plot, and twists and turns galore, this is an excellent thriller!

The Last Chamber by Ernest Dempsey was set up by the first two novels in the Sean Wyatt series. Sean, along with his long-time friend Tommy Schultz, set out on their continuing quest to find the Lost Chambers. Danger lurks around every corner as they are joined by Adriana Villa, something of an enigma in her own way.  Join the as the trail lead to the Caucasus Mountains not far from Armenia as they seek a treasure thought to be hidden forever.

Just when I think I’ve been there before, Ernest adds a new twist or additional characters pop up to take the story on a separate tangent. His life-like characters, attention to detail, and superb blend of historical facts and his splendid plots means I’m always in for a treat. Highly recommended for action-adventure thriller seekers!

The Grecian Manifesto, also by Ernest Dempsey, takes us on a new adventure with Sean Wyatt and his sidekick, Tommy Shultz. Adriana Villa goes missing during her search for the Eye of Zeus and the President of the United States requests Sean’s help to find her.

However, an unknown player also seeks the Eye of Zeus and doesn’t seem to care whether Europe and the rest of the world falls into economic ruin. Will Sean and Tommy locate Adriana and recover the ancient device in time?  With new thrills on almost every page, this story will delight those who love non-stop action. I can’t say enough about Ernest’s ability to create fast-paced scenes carried out by believable characters stuck in impossible situations. Grab a copy and find out what it’s all about!

An Interview With ???

This is a new section for my blog where I’ll be interviewing various authors I’ve recently read. I hope to have the first interview posted next Sunday or the following week.

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

I’ve expanded this section from being only about blogs that I follow but will also introduce you to some new authors and a few writing sites. Unfortunately, I ran out of time this week and didn’t come across anything new to share.

This brings us to a close for another week. I hope you found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing.  If you have any suggestions for a topic you’d like to read about, please let me know. Until the next time, thank you for reading.

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved