Randall's Ramblings

An Interview With Author Marie Lavender

Marie Lavender banner - Facebook

This week, I’d like to introduce you to author Marie Lavender. She lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for a little over twenty-five years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published twenty-four books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, dramatic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. She has also contributed to several anthologies. Her current published series are: The Heiresses in Love, The Eternal Hearts, The Magick, The Code of Endhivar and The Blood at First Sight.

Marie Lavender LogoSo, what have you written? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest, professional or hobby.)

I wrote the Heiresses in Love Series (a Victorian romance trilogy), as well as some of the books in The Magick Series (lighthearted fantasy), Blood at First Sight Series (paranormal romance) and The Code of Endhivar Series (science fiction romance). All of them were released through Solstice Publishing. Besides that, I have standalone works. I have been writing since the age of nine, but I’ve only been published since 2010.

I host three blogs: Writing in the Modern Age, the I Love Romance Blog, and the MLB blog. With two of those, I often blog about the titles of other authors and accept guest posts.

One of my recent writing accolades is the fact that I reached the TOP 20 Authors of 2018 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog.

What are you currently working on and what is it about?

I am working on a romantic comedy that lightly covers the topic of body-shaming. I think it’s important that we realize how much damage it can cause to our self-esteem. Approaching it in a more comical fashion might take some of the dramatic edge off the problem while still getting the point across. Anyway, it’s something I’m trying out.

What drew you to write in this genre? Blood Instincts - eBook Cover - Marie Lavender

I’ve always been drawn to romance novels, both as a reader and a writer. But now and then, the muse really surprises me. That’s why I label myself multi-genre, since I published a children’s fantasy a few years ago, and some of my works in progress include mysteries, psychological thrillers, dystopian and time travel tales, even horror.

How much research do you do?

I do what is necessary, but I also go a bit beyond that. I don’t want to bog the story down in details, yet I try to aim for authenticity.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

A little of both, actually. I let the muse take me to a point, and then when I get stuck I write a full outline and try to fill in some of the blanks to bring focus back to the story.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

Blood Instincts is a paranormal romance/urban fantasy with a futuristic angle. I guess I struggled with the time difference between book one and two. But once I figured out the reason for it, the story just fit.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Tough question. It usually depends on the book I’m working on. Some take longer than others, especially if they’re more detailed and part of a series. A regular novel often takes a year to write. But historicals take a lot of time, since I do extra research.

BLOOD INSTINCTS promo9For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

I am still a bit of a Luddite in that sense. I like the accessibility of an ebook, but I prefer a physical format over anything else. I love paperback because it’s more compact on the shelf, but hardback is one version I’ll always have a lot of respect for. I think that’s because it makes me think of the times when I used to hang out at the library and comb through the stacks, worshipping the spine of each title. What can I say? I’m a total book nerd!

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

I will never send my work out into the world unedited, at least on some level. I keep it really close to the vest until there have been numerous passes at it. I edit my own book as much as I can, then I hand the manuscript over to a trusted proofreader and some beta readers. After it’s as clean as possible, my publisher has the book and they assign their own editors.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

A month is preferable, but on a time crunch? I’ll let it sit for at least two weeks before looking at it from a different angle. You don’t want to be too in love with your own story.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

Oh, yes! It is essential to help potential readers make a decision. Not that the blurb isn’t also important; it certainly is, but I think a lot of factors go into the buying method, a great cover being imperative to the whole. Yet with certain publishers, authors have very little control over the cover.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do when writing?

Listen to your characters. Don’t plan it all out so much that you can’t keep an open mind for a few surprises.

What do you think of “trailers” for books, and do you have a trailer/will you create one for your own work?

I think they’re helpful as a sales tool for readers. They offer a glimpse into the book without giving too much away. I make a book trailer for every release. You can discover them all on my YouTube channel.

BLOOD INSTINCTS promo1BWhat is your favorite quote?

This one both thrills and inspires me as a writer. Natalie Goldberg said, “Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.”

I think it is apropos for the situation. With the act of writing, we delve so deeply into our inner selves, and it can be a little terrifying at first. But it always results in something magical.

Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

Some of both. It can feel like a gift most of the time, this rampant need inside to express yourself, to go out and tell your characters’ stories. But now and then, when the muse isn’t working with you, or whenever the outside world doesn’t understand you as a writer, a dark cloud comes over your rainbow.

Marie’s accolades include: Reached the Top 10 Authors list on AuthorsDB.com for the last 3 years. TOP 20 Authors of 2018 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART was nominated and made it past the first round in the 2018 Author Academy Awards. UPON YOUR LOVE and THE MISSING PIECE placed in the TOP 10 on the 2017 P&E Readers’ Poll. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART was nominated for the 2017 Reader’s Choice Awards. The I Love Romance Blog became a finalist in StartDating DK’s Romance Blog Awards of 2017. ILRB landed on Feedspot’s 2017 TOP 100 Novel Blogs and TOP 100 Romance Blogs. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART placed in the TOP 10 Books of 2017 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. TOP 20 Authors of 2017 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. Mystery Blogger Award for 2017. A to Z Blog Challenge Survivor in 2016. March 2016 Empress of the Universe title – winner of the “Broken Heart” themed contest and the “I Love You” themed contest on Poetry Universe. SECOND CHANCE HEART and A LITTLE MAGICK placed in the TOP 10 on the 2015 P&E Readers’ Poll. Nominated in the TRR Readers’ Choice Awards for Winter 2015. Poetry winner of the 2015 PnPAuthors Contest. The Versatile Blogger Award for 2015. Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013, 2014 and 2016. 2013 and 2014 Amazon Bestseller Ranking for UPON YOUR RETURN. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

You can find out more about Marie’s work and follow her progress via the following:

Official Website: http://marielavender.com/Blogs: http://iloveromanceblog.wordpress.com/
http://marielavenderbooks.blogspot.com/
http://marielavender.blogspot.com/
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/marie.lavender.58
https://www.facebook.com/MarieAnnLavender
https://twitter.com/marielavender1
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarieLavender/posts
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/marie-lavender/27/187/10a

Stay tuned for another author interview shortly!

© 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

Randall’s Ramblings, August 26, 2018

Today started out again with a bit of gloom, caused by low-hanging clouds and some fog. The temperature’s a bit cooler, but we certainly can’t complain as it’s still warm—just the sizzle has been reduced.

Earlier this morning, I posted my first author interview with AJ Wallace. I decided to keep the interviews separate from my regular blog postings as they’re about the authors, not me. Hope you’ll check it out.

Anyone out there celebrating a birthday today? I had one earlier in the week—even received a buy one ticket, get another one free offer from the Detroit Tigers!

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

William Joseph Behr, German writer; Aleksander Kuprin, Russian author (Pojedinok); Zona Gale, American novelist; John Buchan, Gov-Gen of Canada/writer (Battle of Somme); Guillaume Apollinaire, French poet/movie critic (Alcoola); Johannes Lindeboom, vicar/church historian (Neth Archives); Earl Biggers, author (“Charlie Chan” detective series); Jules Romains, French novelist/playwright/poet (Men of Good Will); Emmy van Lokhorst, Dutch author; Christopher Isherwood, English novelist (Goodbye to Berlin); Julio Cortázar, Argentine writer (Blow-Up, Underground Game); Humphrey Searle, England, writer (20th Century counterpoint); Ben Bradlee, American editor, journalist, executive (Washington Post); Alain Peyrefitte, French politician and writer; Naïm Kattan, Canadian novelist and essayist; Gordon Greig, journalist; Cornelis B Vaandrager, [Cor Vaan], Dutch poet (Long Live Joop Massaker); Will Shortz, American crossword editor; Daphne Caruana Galizia, Maltese journalist (Panama Papers); and Eric D. Snider, American humor columnist / movie reviewer.

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

My debut novel, The Kurdish Connection, moved up to 50th on Goodreads’ Political Thrillers list! However, if you ignore books from such best-selling authors as Vince Flynn, Tom Clancy, Dan Brown, Robert Ludlum, Frederick Forsyth, David Baldacci, John Grisham, John le Carré, Ken Follet, Jack Higgins, Nelson DeMille, and Stephen King (combined, they account for forty of the top fifty novels), then The Kurdish Connection would be tenth!

Dangerous Alliance-001My second novel, Dangerous Alliance, will be released soon by Solstice Publishing. It’s currently with an editor. Stay tuned for more information.

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

Efforts continued with Carnage in Singapore during the past week. Four chapters were completed and posted to the two online subscription writing sites I use. Carnage in Singapore received another fifty-three chapter reviews over the past week, bringing the total to 366. Watch for another snippet in next week’s post.

Books I’m Reading

I recently read a book of short stories by Brad Carl. the author of the four-volume series, Grey Areas has Brad turned his writing talents to a series of captivating stories in 6 in the Styx. Each well-crafted story provides a glimpse into Brad’s the zany sense of madness which make’s his genius shine through. Fast-paced, I read the entire collection in less than two hours.

Experience his humor and sense of adventure as we explore these plots through a mixed cast of characters which would fit into any genre. Brad makes it seem so easy, yet it’s quite a switch from writing novels to exhibiting the vision needed to create such complete and spell-binding scenarios. Well done!

I also completed Megalodon by Scott Skipper. This is a delightful tale about a prehistoric shark who’s attacking whales in modern times. A Salvage expert learns of the monster and takes off in pursuit, along with a cast of quirky characters.

The storyline is good and there is plenty of action. As with most stories, there’s also a villain, who wants the shark for himself. Simple to read, if you’re looking for a story with characters who fit the story and not worry about intricate twists and turns, this is the one for you.

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 first author interview, 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, 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

 

 

 

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, August 12, 2018

As the sun began setting last night, a pinkish glow reflected off the cumulus clouds etched across the sky. A perfect ending to a fabulous day. In the field, a doe and her two fawns nibbled at the grass, with mom alert for any suspecting danger. The daily visits by the deer are always a gentle reminder of what’s around us.

Anyone 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):

Johann Heinrich Acker, German writer; Robert Southey, English writer (The Story of the Three Bears), Poet Laureate (1813-43) and biographer (Nelson); Macellus Emants, Dutch writer/poet (Along the Nile); Katharine Lee Bates, American author (America the Beautiful);  Edith Hamilton, American writer (Mythology); Mary Roberts Rinehart, American mystery writer ( The Circular Staircase); Marguerite “John” Radclyffe-Hall, author; Frank Arthur Swinnerton, English novelist (Summer Storm, Sanctuary); Sir Keith Murdoch, Australian journalist and newspaper owner; Zerna Sharp, American writer and educator (Dick and Jane); Alfred Kantorowicz, German historian (Spanish Diary); Samuel Fuller, American actor and writer (The Steel Helmet, Return to Salem’s Lot); [Hendrik] Jan Bakker, Dutch resistance fighter/journalist (Parool); Norris McWhirter, author (Guinness Book of World Records); Ross McWhirter, author (Guinness Book of World Records); Wallace Markfield, American writer; William Goldman, author; Karl Mickel, German writer; Geoff Hamilton, gardener/journalist; Walter Dean Myers, African-American author; Réjean Ducharme, Quebec novelist and playwright; Jim Beaver, American actor and writer; Ann M. Martin, American author; and Anthony Swofford, American novelist.

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

News About My Published Work

My debut novel, The Kurdish Connection, moved up another notch to 54th on Goodreads’ Political Thrillers list! There are some well-known names on the list ahead of me, so I feel I’m in good company.

BREAKING NEWS: My second novel, Dangerous Alliance, will be released soon by Solstice Publishing. Stay tuned for more information.

Dangerous Alliance-001United 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.  North Korean Supreme Leader Wook Sung holds the family of Soo Khan Chin, Ambassador to China, hostage until he can formulate a workable plan.

Cargo and tourist ships are disappearing along the Somali and Kenyan coastline at an alarming rate. Speeches abound, but inaction emboldens al-Shabaab to seek their next prize: Kenya. The terror organization controls land but requires weapons. Soo Khan Chin approaches the pirate leader, Dacar Khadaafi, and works out a trade: oil tankers for weapons.

A recently-formed organization, referred to as Bedlam, obtains intelligence regarding the North Korean-Somali pirate plans. 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.

Meanwhile, al-Shabaab leader Tahliil Wardi tasks his lieutenants to attack targets in Kenya and Somalia. One of them seizes two foreigners from a refugee camp in Kenya, George and Silvia. Although unknown at the time, George is an heir to the British throne. Tahliil Wardi is also more than he seems. Appearing to be a semi-illiterate who struggles to make even simple sentences, his family was originally part of the Somali ruling government before being deposed. While manipulating his forces for what seems to be appropriate actions against the current Somali and Kenyan governments, he’s also an informant for MI-6.

Bedlam informs Colonel Franklin about George’s kidnapping and instructs him to split his small team to rescue the prince while continuing to stop the axis. Additional forces are tossed into the mix so Colonel Franklin can achieve both missions.

Will Bedlam Bravo break up the weapons-for-oil deal and at the same time, recover Prince George?

My Work in Progress

Efforts continue with Carnage in Singapore, albeit at a much slower pace. External events and the need to spend additional research time meant I was limited in putting words to paper. One chapter was completed and posted to the two online subscription writing sites I use. Carnage in Singapore received another thirty-one chapter reviews over the past week, bringing the total to 294. Watch for another snippet in next week’s post.

Books I’m Reading

Over the past week my evening reading time was devoted to an upcoming novel by Preston Holtry. You’ll have to wait for its release before I can share my thoughts, but I will say it’s another great story!

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, 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

Randall’s Ramblings, August 4, 2018

As we move into August, the higher temperatures and humidity have returned. At least we received some rain, which will definitely help the local farmers and avid gardeners. I suppose one good thing about the dry spells—grass didn’t grow as much so people didn’t have to mow as often.

Are you 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):

François Hédelin, abbé d’Aubignac, French writer; Percy Bysshe Shelley, English romantic poet (Adonais); Walter Pater, writer (Plato & Platoism); Knut Hamsun, Norwegian writer (Nobel Prize 1920); Erich Weinert, German communist writer; Witold Gombrowicz, Polish author (Ferdydurke, Pornography); Leslie Wilkinson, journalist; Osbert Lancaster, English cartoonist and author (Daily Express); Robert Hayden, African-American poet (Those Winter Sundays); Iceberg Slim (a.k.a. Robert Beck), African-American author; Helen Thomas, American reporter and UPI journalist (starts press conferences); Mushtaq Ahmad Yusufi, Pakistani satirical and humor writer; Rutger Kopland, [Rutger van den Hoofdakker], Dutch poet; Allison Hedge Coke, American poet and writer; Laurence Anholt, British children’s author; Tim Winton, Australian author; Dennis Lehane, American crime writer; John August, American screenwriter.

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

News About My Published Work

This is a new category for my blog and will only be included when there’s an update. My debut novel, The Kurdish Connection, is currently ranked 55th (out of 364) on Goodreads’ Political Thrillers list! There’s some well-known names on the list ahead of me, so I feel I’m in good company.

The Kurdish Connection received another five-start review this week (posted on Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, etc.):

“Five Stars “The Kurdish Connection” by Randall Krzak is an excellent and exciting read by a brilliant author who kept me entertained throughout the complete story.

I liked the short chapters which kept this thrilling and well-crafted story moving with a lot of suspense and unexpected twists and turns which I didn’t anticipate.  All of which made this an invigorating, fast-paced and great story and one of the best books I’ve ever read and one I seriously (and don’t mean to sound cliché) just couldn’t put down!

The intelligent author writes very well in a highly professional manner.  The author is accomplished since he has the ability to write clearly from several points of view, and I had no trouble following this story and the action and excitement generated by this author.

If you like to read entertaining books that keep your interest, I highly recommend you read this book!”

I could certainly use a few more reviews like this, but I’ll happily take whatever comes along.

My Work in Progress

Progress continues on Carnage in Singapore while I’m waiting for my publisher to finish going through Dangerous Alliance. As with the previous few weeks, I’ve managed to complete another three chapters (eighteen through twenty) despite a fair bit of required research to make the content as realistic as possible.

A further twenty-six chapter reviews were sent to me this week, bringing the total for Carnage in Singapore to 263. I greatly appreciate everyone’s input to improve my writing.

Here’s a bit more from the story:

Her head whipped to the left and the right, her mouth open but no sound came forth. She lurched forward to a sitting position.

“An island.” She whispered. “I holidayed on an island. Where?”

She lay back on the bed. Murky images continued to appear. Men and women—she covered her ears to block out their cries. Tears streamed from her eyes, soaking her pillow. Her head lolled to the side.

***

The police officers returned to their station and filed an initial report. While Sergeant Ang met with the Station Inspector, Special Constable Goh continued searching through Interpol’s international missing person database.

“Inspector, we met with a young woman at the hospital. She couldn’t remember her name.” Sergeant Ang sat in a metal folding chair in front of the inspector’s desk. “What she did tell us confirms what other victims reported—something nefarious is occurring on one of the neighboring islands.”

The inspector nodded. “I suppose your mother tossed you out of the hospital again?” A smile transformed his craggy face, reaching to his eyes.

Sergeant Ang glanced at the floor, his face reddening. “You know what she’s like.”

“Yes. When is your next interview with the woman?”

“My mother said to return late afternoon. If we show up earlier, she’ll turn us away.”

“Very well. Do what you can—we have a mystery on our hands—one with terminal outcomes.”

Perhaps more next time.

Books I’m Reading

As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve been reading faster than I can write my reviews. Finally, here’s a couple more to share with you.

The Cleric’s Vault: A Sean Wyatt Archaeological Thriller (The Lost Chambers Trilogy Book 2) by Ernest Dempsey takes us further into the escapades of Sean Wyatt and his long-time friend, Tommy Schultz. Still running around the United States in search of clues, they end up in Ecuador. A beautiful woman named Adriana Villa appears on the scene and offers them assistance.

Will they find what they need to uncover a mysterious lost treasure? Ernest has surpassed his first novel in the trilogy with a smooth blend of fiction and historical fact, set around a rollercoaster journey. A captivating story which will delight both mystery and thriller readers! Can’t wait for the final novel in the series.

The Nostradamus Equation (Sam Reilly Book 6) by Christopher Cartwright is another excellent example of fiction merging with history. Is Dr. Zara Delacroix’s quest to uncover an ancient manuscript called The Book of Nostradamus a foolhardy journey or does it really exist?

Christopher’s larger-than-life characters think so. A warlord believes the manuscript holds the key to his successful takeover of an African country. With twists galore, follow Zara through the sands of the Sahara Desert and into Europe in the hunt for Nostradamus’ last written words. Who will reach the coveted prize first? A riveting ride which makes me want to read more of Christopher’s work.

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.

Teamgolfwell – a Zealand retiree group who combined two great loves—golfing and reading. Check out their website to find out what they’re up to!

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