Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, October 18, 2020

Another weekend is upon us. The days keep rolling by. Unfortunately, some things are missing–American college football, being one of them. Yes, I know some universities have been playing (as well as the pros) but it just doesn’t feel the same. My favorite conference is the Big Ten, but so far there hasn’t been a single snap. Games are finally scheduled for next Saturday, but will they play? Only time will tell. Better the teams remain healthy than take risks.

In the meantime, I did manage to clean up some of the leaves. Everything looked great–for a few hours. Now, the ground’s covered again, but since it’s damp outside and it’s Sunday, I’ll leave any outdoor work until the next decent day. At least there’s plenty of writing to keep me going!

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

Giambattista Marini, Italian poet; Lars Johnstown [Lasse Lucidor], Swedish poet; Adolf Muller, German dramatist and critic; Heinrich von Kleist, German dramatist/poet (Penthesilea); Thomas Love Peacock, English author (Headlong Hall); Logan Pearsall Smith, American essayist and critic; Ernst Didring, Swedish author; Fannie Hurst, novelist (Anatomy of Me); H. L. Davis, American author; Raymond Brulez, Flemish author (Appearance at Kallista); Frank Liedel [Leo van Assche], Flemish writer (Kaperbrief); Katherine Kurtz, UK, sci-fi author (Deryni Rising, Saint Camber); James Robert Baker, American novelist, screenwriter; Ntozake Shange, American author; Wendy Wasserstein, American playwright (The Heidi Chronicles); Terry McMillan, American author; and Bảo Ninh, Vietnamese novelist.

Anyone familiar to you? This was an unknown group for me. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

My Work in Progress

This week I used my writing time to concentrate on editing Xavier Sear: Angola. As all writers will know, once a manuscript is finished, that’s just the beginning of a novel’s journey.

The first edit pass is now complete. I’ve taken care of several spelling and punctuation errors, as well as choosing four of my foreign characters and gave their voice a bit of a change as they will never use contractions when they speak.

Yesterday I also sent the manuscript to my small cadre of beta readers to find out from those who weren’t involved in chapter reviews (of which I received 526) to see how the story goes. I’m looking forward to their response!

Now, I’ll take a week off from editing and return to other works in progress: Revenge and New World Revolution. Hopefully, I’ll get another chapter completed for each story before I begin the second edit pass.

The sequel to Xavier Sear: Angola will be Xavier Sear: Yemen. Here’s the synopsis:

Xavier Sear is thrust into a new adventure when he accepts an under-the-table assignment from a longtime friend, Ron Vincent. A former CIA operative, Sear takes on any and all missions, which appeal to his sense of justice.

Abudullah Bashari, a retired Yemeni geologist who dabbles in archeology is embroiled in the bitter struggle between the Houthis and the government. He reaches out for help to save his family. A wealthy man, he offers to reveal a damaging secret Saudi Arabia is trying to keep hidden.

Life-threatening danger abounds as Sear visits Yemen and creates a plan to help Bashari’s family escape. However, Hussien Khan al Mishari, a young Saudi prince, threatens to undo Sear’s intervention in pursuit of his own deadly game. Who will be victorious?

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished reading Atlantis Stolen (Sam Reilly Book 3) by Christopher Cartwright. I knew I was in for another action-filled story, and I wasn’t disappointed. Will Sam and his friends be able to find out what really happened to Atlantis and stop another catastrophe? Or will they be too late? This is a well-constructed story and will take readers on a whirlwind ride and they try to unravel the mystery. I don’t like to give spoilers, so you’ll need to get a copy to find out what happens. I can’t wait for the next on in the series!

I also recently read Havoc (The Blackwell Files Book 4) by Steven F. Freeman. Is technology a boon for mankind or something to avoid? Follow cryptologist Alton Blackwell and his girlfriend, FBI Agent Mallory Wilson as they set out on an adventure of a lifetime to Italy. Before long, people they encounter are dying. Who is behind the deaths and why? Will Alton and Mallory be next?

Steven has created an excellent plot with plenty of twists and turns to delight readers who want more than a straightforward story. He definitely shows how to create realistic characters and you’ll be urging Alton and Mallory along as they story unfolds. This is a great page turner and I’ll continue to read more from this series.

That’s all for this week. I hope you found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing. If you have any suggestions for a topic you’d like to read about, please let me know. Until the next time, thank you for reading and hope you drop in again.

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, October 4, 2020

Back in late spring, I was moving a heavy flower pot from the driveway where it had just been watered back to its normal location on the edge of the front patio/porch. Unfortunately, it slipped from my hands!

No problem–my right foot was there to cushion the pot’s landing. If the plant could talk, I’m sure it would have said something about the poor treatment. Anyway, the pot was safe! Couldn’t say as much for my foot–my middle toe was no longer straight!

About three weeks ago, that offending appendage tried to move an immovable (at least very heavy) object. Once again, the middle toe bore the brunt of the onslaught. It anything there more of a crook to it than ever before!

I hoped that was the last of the punishment my poor toe was to receive, at least until it made a full recovery. No such luck–three nights ago, I dropped a handheld vacuum cleaner. Yep–it headed straight for the toe as if there was a bullseye painted on it! Now, its about twice the size it should be, but at least I’m still able to hobble about. If I ever needed an excuse to back off on some chore and just write, this was it!

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

Francisco de Rojas Zorrilla, Spanish playwright (Del Rey Abajo Ninguno); François Guizot, French historian and politician (17th Prime Minister of France); John Richardson, Canadian writer (Wacousta, or the prophecy); Juliette Adam, French author (Salon/Nouvelle Revue) and feminist; Edward Stratemeyer, American author (The Rover Boys); Hugh McCrae, Australian writer and poet (Satyrs and Sunlight: Sylvarum Libri); Damon Runyon, American journalist and writer (Guys & Dolls-based on his work); Francis Bull, Norwegian writer (Norsk literature historian); Sergei Yesenin, Russian lyric poet; Koos Schuur, Dutch journalist/poet (7 Curses); Alvin Toffler, author (Future Shock, Power Shift, The Third Wave); Sally Mary Caroline Belfrage, American-born, British-based writer; Jackie Collins, British-American author (The Stud, Lucky); Anne Rice, author (Interview with a Vampire); Roy Blount, Jr., American writer; Luis Sepúlveda, Chilean writer and political activist (The Old Man Who Read Love Stories); Bakhytzhan Kanapyanov, Kazakh poet; and Kazuki Takahashi, Japanese author.

Anyone familiar to you? Two stood out for me: Jackie Collins and Anne Rice. I don’t remember reading any of their work, but I’m certainly familiar with them. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

My Published Work

During October, Colombian Betrayal is participating in a Bookfunnel promotion for Mystery & Suspense / Crime, Mystery & Suspense / Mystery, and Mystery & Suspense / Thriller novels. If you have time, why not stop by and check out the varied selection of single novels (many part of a series) or even some of the boxed sets.

The authors will be very grateful, and who knows, you might just find a story you’ve been searching for!

Just click on Bookfunnel to get to the list. Many thanks!

My Work in Progress

This week, I continued using most of my writing time with editing Xavier Sear: Angola. However, the next manuscript I’m concentrating on writing is Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal.

Here’s a snippet:

“Duty, Honor, Country. Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be.” General Douglas MacArthur, during his farewell speech at West Point Military Academy, 12 May 1962

***

Colonel Javier Smith woke to the strains of Born in the U.S.A. echoing in the room. He rolled over and grabbed his phone. “Yeah?”

“Are you up yet?” AJ Bruce chuckled. “It’s five a.m. You wanted me to make sure you were up for your big day.”

“You’re pretty cheerful this morning.” He glanced at the clock. Yep—five a.m. “How much coffee did you drink?”

“Just started my second cup.” She slurped her coffee. “See you tonight?”

“You betcha.” Javier broke the connection and shook the cobwebs from his head. He propelled his six-foot-four-inch muscular body from the bed and dashed into the bathroom for a quick shower. After drying himself and combing his black hair, he returned to the bedroom. Before he finished dressing, he glanced at the ribbon rack on his uniform. First and last time to wear all of them at once.

Javier ran a finger along the top decorations: Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and Purple Heart (with oak leaf cluster). A dozen other ribbons followed.

Ten minutes later, he found a rare empty parking spot in front of the Pentagon. After climbing out of his Hummer, he adjusted his uniform and dashed inside the building. Once he cleared security, he walked through the corridors, nodding to a few military officers he recognized before arriving at his office.

An envelope lay on the center of Javier’s desk. He placed his cover on the credenza and sat in his executive-style chair. Curious, he picked up the plain white envelope with Colonel Javier Smith typed on the front in bold letters.

Inside, a single sheet of paper.

Colonel Smith,

Your presence is required in my office at 12:45. You are hereby ordered to attend a meeting afterward in the JCS Conference Room. Please be in full uniform.

General Gordon B. Brown

Chief of Staff of the Army

Javier dropped the note on the desk. “I told them no send-off. Why doesn’t anyone listen?” He shook his head and chuckled. “I wonder who’s behind this?”

More next time.

That’s all for this week as I still didn’t get a chance to write down my thoughts about recent books I read. I hope you found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing. If you have any suggestions for a topic you’d like to read about, please let me know. Until the next time, thank you for reading and hope you drop in again.

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, September 6, 2020

It’s been a busy week getting things finished outside. I finally tackled the block-paved driveway. What was once gray is more or less restored to its regular color of red and brown bricks. It’ll need a second wash so I can clean the spots I missed, but it looks so much better, if I do say so myself.

For those celebrating the traditional but unofficial ‘end of summer’ Labor Day weekend, I hope you have a safe and enjoyable time!

So, who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on September 6th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Emanuel van Meteren, Flemish merchant and historian; Moses Mendelssohn, German Jewish enlightenment philosopher (Haksalah); Anton Diabelli, Austria publisher and composer; Frances Wright, Scottish writer and lecturer; Horatio Greenough, American neo-classical sculptor and writer (Form & Function); Johanna D Courtmans-Berchmans, Flemish author (Rozeken Pot); Nicolae Filimon, Romanian writer and critic (Ciocoii Vechi Si Noi); Zelia Nuttall, American archeologist and historian; Rodolfo Lenz, German-Chilian linguist (El Papiamento); Felix Salten [Siegmund Salzmann], Austrian author (Bambi, a Life in the Woods); Willem Adriaan Bonger, Dutch criminologist (Race & Crime); Franz Theodor Csokor, Austrian author (Writings on the Wall); Mario Praz, Italian literary critic and scholar (La carne, la morte, e il diavolo); Julien Green, American-French writer (Frere Francois); Arvi Kivimaa, Finnish writer (Groenende Cross); John Meulenhoff, Dutch publisher; Elizabeth Ferrars, British crime writer; Carmen Laforet, Spanish author; Andrea Camilleri, Italian author (Inspector Montalbano novels; Robert M. Pirsig, American author (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance); Dan Cragg, American soldier and author; Gordon DeMarco, American writer and activist; Alice Sebold, American novelist (The Almost Moon); Christopher Brookmyre, Scottish writer (Quite Ugly One Morning); and China Miéville, English fantasy fiction writer (Perdido Street Station).

Anyone familiar to you? I didn’t find any names I’m familiar with. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

My Work in Progress

This week, I began the editing process for Xavier Sear: Angola. As of today, there’s been 484 chapter reviews from the two online subscription writing sites I use, an increase of nineteen in the past week.

As with my previous novels, I’m sifting through the different reviews to identify areas where readers suggests I make changes–whether additions or subtractions. I enjoy this part of the process as I get an excellent picture of what is working and what isn’t.

Here’s another snippet:

Sear raced toward the shore. Chest heaving, he waded in the shallows before dragging himself up the embankment. Collapsing in the grass, he propped himself up on an arm and gazed at the ferry as it approached its docking station.

Guzman and Kruger stood next to the vehicles, grins plastered on their faces.

Kruger cupped his hands around his mouth. “Hey, Sear! Watch out for the Nile crocs!”

Eyes wide, Sear jumped to his feet. “Where?” Not finding anything coming after him, he walked over to the dirt road, water dripping from his clothes. He waited as the gate dropped on the ferry.

Kruger and Guzman drove the cargo vehicles onto land, stopping by Sear and jumping out.

“You going to train for the next Olympics?” Guzman punched Sear in the shoulder. “Your dive from the boat would be a medal winner off the high platform.”

“Ha, ha.” He glared at his friends. “So, why didn’t you jump when the mortar came at us?”

“What mortar?” Kruger pointed to the far shore where the locals stood laughing and waving. “Just a prank by the villagers to catch unsuspecting travelers. The ferry owner has a speaker rigged up and cranks it up when the boat’s about halfway across.” He shaded his eyes from the bright sunlight as he glanced at the river. “At least there weren’t any crocs—today.”

“Okay, you’ve had your fun. Let’s move.” Sear shook his head, showering Guzman and Kruger with water.

“Hey! Cut it out. I had nothing to do with it.” Guzman raised his hands in the air and laughed.

“Just remember—paybacks are hell.”

***

They continued on in silence, the drone of the engine making it difficult to stay awake.

Sear’s head nodded, his chin dropping to his chest. Before long, snores filled the cabin.

Two hours later, Kruger jabbed Sear’s shoulder. “Wake up, Sleeping Beauty!”

With a start, Sear jumped, pulling his SIG Sauer P320 from its holster.

“Whoa, kemosabe!” Kruger raised a hand.

“Why’d you wake me? I was just enjoying myself.”

Kruger rolled his eyes. Spare me the details, boss. According to my friends in Lusaka, we’ll pass by a couple of villages on the way to our rendezvous point. Do you want to stop for lunch?” He laughed.

Sear raised his brows. “Uh. No. There are plenty of MREs in the shipment.”

“Oh, yes. American Meals Rarely Edible. I remember them.” He pantomimed shoving two fingers down his throat. “If I can’t catch something to eat and cook, I supposed I’ll have to struggle with them.”

***

In no time at all, the cargo was stowed away, except for a large item. Together, they grabbed the Zodiac and manhandled it on top of the other cargo. As they turned around, ten men stepped forward.

“Now what?” Sear stared at a tall, thick-chested man who stood forward of the others. A shakedown or worse?

“Hands up. We take cargo.” The apparent leader grinned. “We take you too—maybe someone pay ransom.” He raised an arm.

Several men ran forward, grabbing Sear, Kruger, and Guzman. They clubbed the men to the ground before binding their hands and feet with rope.

“Wait!” Sear struggled against two men trying to tie his feet. “What do you want? We’ll pay—”

Darkness descended as Sear blacked out from the blow to the back of his head.

Perhaps more next time.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished The Reach of Shadows by Tony J. Forder. This is the fourth novel in Tony’s DI Bliss series and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Despite recovering from a road collision, Bliss is whisked from the hospital to the scene of a vicious assault. Was the victim being stalked or was this a random murder?

Tony keeps his readers guessing with a superb plot, filled with enough twists and twists to keep you turning the pages to find out what happened. We also learn more about Bliss and how his past comes back to haunt him. For those of you who enjoy intense crime and mystery thrillers, this one’s for you!

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

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, August 23, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

This week I certainly recognized one name: Nelson DeMille. Anyone familiar to you? Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

My Work in Progress

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

Here’s another snippet:

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

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

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

“Excellent. Leave me until my guest arrives.”

Clifford nodded as he backed away from the table.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The usual—all in diamonds.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yeeeah!”

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

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

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

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

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

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

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

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, August 16, 2020

Here we are at the middle of August–another month sailing by!  We just had the roof tiles cleaned and repainted. Gone is the twenty plus years build-up of lichen. It took several days to clean the roof and have its new black-blue coating added.

Of course, it didn’t help any when it began raining just as the second coat was finished.  What a mess! The blue dye splattered everywhere. The company must have been familiar with this type of occurrence as they were on the phone to us before we could call them. After a good clean-up the next day when it wasn’t raining, they waited for another dry day and redid the second coat. Looks fantastic!

This week also brought more intrigue into the genealogy research, when we found one ancestor had been a servant to a particular “titled” person. Nothing to get excited about for most people, but it was really interesting to find someone other than farmers, blacksmiths, and a few teachers.  The oldest record we’ve been able to find (and could actually read) was from 1678. Still a bit more research to do, but it’s getting harder now to fill in the blanks.

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

Emilie Juliane of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, German countess and poet; Jean de La Bruyère, French writer (The Characters, or the Manners of the Age, with The Characters of Theophrastus); Emile A. H. Seipgens, Dutch priest, writer and beer brewer; Justus van Maurik, Dutch author and cigar manufacturer; Arthur Achleitner, German writer; Jules Laforgue, French poet (Les Complaintas); Ferdinand C. S. Schiller, German-British philosopher (Riddles of the Sphinx); Antonio Nobre, Portuguese poet (Só); Pierre H. Ritter Jr, Dutch literary, writer and journalist; Albert Cohen, Greek-born Swiss novelist (Belle du Seigneur); Georgette Heyer, English novelist (Friday’s Child); William Maxwell, American novelist and editor (The New Yorker); Charles Bukowski, German-born American columnist (Notes of a Dirty Old Man) and writer (Hollywood: A Novel) who was described as a “laureate of American lowlife”; Louis Lomax, African-American author and journalist; Millôr Fernandes, Brazilian writer and playwright; Jan van Ginkel, graphic artist/publisher (Perscombinatie); Reiner Kunze, German writer (The Lovely Years); Diana Wynne Jones, UK, sci-fi author (Drowned Ammet, Witch Week); Andrew J[efferson V] Offutt, American sci-fi author (Undying Wizard); and James Cameron, Canadian film director and writer (Titanic, Avatar).

I didn’t find any names I’m familiar, did you? Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

My Published Work

Three of my novels are participating in various promotions during August: Dangerous Alliance, Carnage in Singapore, and Colombian Betrayal.  Here’s the links to this month’s promotions:

Kindle Unlimited Mystery and Thrillers:

https://books.bookfunnel.com/mysterythrilleronku/c1lk5urbla

Serial Killer Thrillers:

https://books.bookfunnel.com/serialkillerthrillers/kavh64sncq

Happy End of Summer:

https://books.bookfunnel.com/endofsummer/s78ak0xgkn

Revenge:

https://books.bookfunnel.com/endofsummer/s78ak0xgkn

Please help an author or two by dropping in and taking a look at what’s on offer. All of us thank you!

My Work in Progress

This week, I completed chapter thirty-three of Xavier Sear: Angola, and began work on chapter thirty-four. As of today, there’s been 409 chapter reviews from the two online subscription writing sites I use, an increase of twenty-one in the past week.

Here’s another snippet:

The door of a ramshackle building slammed shut as a man with the physique of long-distance runner stepped inside. A bodyguard recognized him and nodded. He pushed through the others standing near the entrance and strode along a dingy corridor.

Knocking once on a door on the right, he entered. Two men occupied mismatched chairs, a third one faced them.

“Come in, Zilla.” Holden Buhari waved toward the empty chair. “Please join us.” About time—always late. Should be here when ordered as he works for us.

“I hope you bring us good news.” Nando Okonjo rubbed his chin.

Although unrelated, with scarred faces, shaved heads, and muscle-bound, Buhari and Okonjo could pass for brothers or cousins.

Zilla swallowed. “I don’t have anything new to report.”

“Well?” Buhari stared at him. “We pay you and your friends good money to provide evidence against Mwanga. I thought you had one of his guards on your payroll.” Is Zilla on someone else’s payroll? He might bear watching.

“I do—he’s the one who tipped me about Mwanga’s white visitor. But, he didn’t know anything else about him. However, he let it slip he knew him from long ago. He said the visitor is called João.”

Okonjo slammed a fist into an open palm, the slap causing Zilla to jump. “You take our money, but provide few results. What happened in Lisbon?”

“I-I don’t know.” Zilla shrugged. “My contacts at our embassy were supposed to take photos but not make any contact. I don’t know all of the details yet, but as soon as I do, I’ll inform you.”

***

The door of a ramshackle building slammed shut as a man with the physique of long-distance runner stepped inside. A bodyguard recognized him and nodded. He pushed through the others standing near the entrance and strode along a dingy corridor.

Knocking once on a door on the right, he entered. Two men occupied mismatched chairs, a third one faced them.

“Come in, Zilla.” Holden Buhari waved toward the empty chair. “Please join us.” About time—always late. Should be here when ordered as he works for us.

“I hope you bring us good news.” Nando Okonjo rubbed his chin.

Although unrelated, with scarred faces, shaved heads, and muscle-bound, Buhari and Okonjo could pass for brothers or cousins.

Zilla swallowed. “I don’t have anything new to report.”

“Well?” Buhari stared at him. “We pay you and your friends good money to provide evidence against Mwanga. I thought you had one of his guards on your payroll.” Is Zilla on someone else’s payroll? He might bear watching.

“I do—he’s the one who tipped me about Mwanga’s white visitor. But, he didn’t know anything else about him. However, he let it slip he knew him from long ago. He said the visitor is called João.”

Okonjo slammed a fist into an open palm, the slap causing Zilla to jump. “You take our money, but provide few results. What happened in Lisbon?”

“I-I don’t know.” Zilla shrugged. “My contacts at our embassy were supposed to take photos but not make any contact. I don’t know all of the details yet, but as soon as I do, I’ll inform you.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished two more novels from the DI Bliss Detective series by Tony J. Forder. The first was The Scent of Guilt.

Twelve years after he left Peterborough under a cloud, DI Bliss returns to the city and the major crimes team. Having spent years policing organised crime, Bliss is plunged straight into the heart of a serial murder investigation. Teamed up once again with his partner, DS Penny Chandler, they pull out all the stops to solve the mystery which appears to have similarities to crimes committed in California.

Tony has written another superb thriller, with plenty of twists and turns for Bliss and Chandler to negotiate as they work on this investigation. Tony’s characters are very realistic and you love them or hate them, depending upon which side of the law they appear. This one will have you burning the proverbial midnight oil to find out what happens next!

If Fear Wins is another fantastic ‘who done it’ story when DI Bliss and DS Chandler are handed a case involving a torched body and a separate missing person. Who burned the body, and why? Is the missing person linked to the grisly remains?

If you enjoy crime and mystery stories, this is another page-turner for you. No spoiler alert–you’ll have to grab a copy and immerse yourself in this superb story!

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

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Meet The Author Gang

With the current situation keeping people from external pursuits, why not reach out and make some new friends through reading?

Author friends who write alone but come together from time to time to help each other and have fun.

Our stories will make you wonder, laugh, shake with fear or shed a few tears, but most of all, give you escape from the burdens of everyday life. Check out our books and find yourself whisked away to lands and places you’ve never been.

The Author Gang:

Erika M Szabo

https://www.authorerikamszabo.com

“The writing bug bit me on a rainy afternoon when I couldn’t find any new book to read. My daughter had enough of my moping around and snapped at me, “Mom, stop whining! If you haven’t a book to read, then write one.” Her challenge shocked me, but I started playing with the idea and I’ve been writing stories, that I like to read, ever since.”

Erika loves to dance to her own tunes and follow her dreams, introduces her story writing skills and her books that are based on creative imagination with themes such as alternate history, urban fantasy, cozy mystery, sweet romance and supernatural stories. Her children’s stories are informative, educational, and deliver moral values in a non-preachy way.

“I followed my dream to become a writer. As an artist, I paint pretty pictures with my brushes, and as a writer, I paint vivid pictures with my words.”

Cindy J. Smith

https://cindysvoices.blogspot.com/

I was taught if I couldn’t say anything nice don’t say anything. Since biting my tongue was painful and soap tasted bad, I developed voices arguing inside my head. When I found writing my thoughts brought me some silence, I took up the pen. It was not long before I realized poetry was much easier than full sentences and I could say exactly what was in my heart.

Strangely, I soon noticed I could put myself in other’s shoes and empathize with their viewpoint.

It was my daughter who encouraged me to share my poems. She believed they would help others cope…letting them know they were not alone in their thoughts.

I write now about every aspect of life in hopes someone may be touched and be encouraged to keep trying.

Christina Weigand

http://www.weigandchris.com/

A writer, wife, and mother of four grown children. She is also Nana to five granddaughters. She lives with her husband and youngest daughter in Pennsylvania after a short sabbatical in the lovely state of Washington. She has three published YA Christian Fantasy novels; Palace of the Twelve Pillars: Book One, Palace of the Three Crosses: Book Two and Sanctuary of Nine Dragons: Book Three. She also has a woman’s Bible study Women of the Bible: A Study published. Recently the first two books in a MG Fantasy series were published, Sir E. Robert Smythe and the School Bully and Sir E. Robert Smythe and the Lost Detective with the remaining four to be published the near future. Through her writing she strives to share the Word of God and help people young and old to realize the love and mercy He has for everyone.

Darlene Deluca

https://www.darlenedeluca.com/

“Books . . . chocolate . . . tea. These are a few of my favorite things. Combine them with a sunny summer day, and perhaps a beach or pool, and call me happy!”

Deluca writes women’s fiction, contemporary romance, and mainstream fiction with romantic elements. She likes to explore relationships – what brings people together or keeps them apart. Her intent is to bring to life interesting characters that readers can relate to in real-life situations that combine a little fun, plenty of drama (with perhaps a tear or two), and big helpings of friendship, love and self-discovery, and will leave you either cheering or sighing with a satisfied smile as you turn the final page.

And just so you know . . . she likes a happy, or at least a positive, ending.

Alan Zacher

https://www.amazon.com/Alan-Zacher/e/B00APQXPEW

Author of private investigator mysteries, humorous occult fiction, fantasy adventure fiction, and short stories. After many years of being a “struggling” actor in LA, Alan turned to writing.

“My writing has always been for entertainment–to put a smile on someone’s face who might be having a bad day. I write, mostly, light-horror and murder/mystery. I like these two genres because of the freedom they give me to explore man’s inner emotions, feelings and emotions–but it must always have humor! We must always laugh; mostly at ourselves. I have had MS for serval years now; I know physical and mental pain; so I need much laughter to endure it. Hopefully, my novels do just that–give you much laughter.”

Carol Ann Kauffman

https://visionandverse.blogspot.com/

Carol Ann’s books range from short stories to full-length novels. Her novels are classified as romantic action adventures with a sci-fi/ fantasy twist, and mysteries. They’re about life, love, loss, and lunacy. She is a retired teacher. She has worked as a printer, managed a department store office, worked as an insurance agent, and in the hardware and automotive industries. She was a Red Cross volunteer.

Carol loves to travel; her favorite places being Italy, Aruba, and the American Southwest, which tend to show up in her novels.

“I also love to stay home. I get lost in my own little world, where I always have more than a few stories in progress. I grow orchids and African violets, and still like to play in the dirt!”

Suzi Albracht

https://www.amazon.com/Suzi-Albracht/e/B00PB1JNLK/

I am the author of Supernatural Horror Crime Thrillers and Paranormal Romance/Ghost novels. My characters have full, normal lives that get twisted into something horrific or intensely strange. Whether they become a ghost and discover a new, undead world to roam or find themselves in pursuit of a dangerous madman with connections to the dark underworld, I want my readers to feel their pain, their joy, their fear… with every right or wrong turn they take along the way.

While I humbly submit that my main influences are Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and William Faulkner, my style leans closer to that of early Stephen King. My twitter bio describes me to a T – Write, scare myself, turn all the lights on, write some more. Take a break, play pool, kick butt/get butt kicked, go write more horror, double lock door.

You can find my books at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.

Randall Krzak

http://www.randallkrzak.com

A U.S. Army veteran and retired senior civil servant, spending thirty years in Europe, Africa, Central America, and the Middle East. His residency abroad qualifies him to build rich worlds in his action-adventure novels and short stories. Familiar with customs, laws, and social norms, he promotes these to create authentic characters and scenery.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and two master’s from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. Randall and his Scottish wife, Sylvia, currently reside in Dunfermline, Scotland. His hobbies include hiking, reading, candle making, pyrography, and sightseeing.

Why did Randall become a writer? Someone suggested he give it a try, so Randall blames his friend. Randall ventured into fiction writing later in life, with his first novel being released at age 62. In just over three years, he’s published four novels. He enjoys reading and writing global thrillers and has three more underway.

Rebecca Tran

https://rtranbooks.net/

I am a mother, pharmacist and author. I love all things fantasy and sci-fi. Romance is always a welcome bonus. I have two little girls and I love dogs,I have two of those as well, a Boston Terrier and a Pittie mix. So technically some would say I have four kids. I am currently working on my blog as well as my romance and fantasy series. I am the ultimate nerd who can’t choose between Star Wars and Star Trek and thinks that Dr Who would figure out a way to beat all of them. I still read comic books and love watching anime. We can talk for hours if you know who Kirito, Naruto, or Goku are. If you’d like to read my blog or know more about me or my books, please check out my website.

A.L. Butcher

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/

British-born A. L. Butcher is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet, and a dreamer, a lover of science, natural history, history, and monkeys. Her prose has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as ‘evocative’. She writes with a sure and sometimes erotic sensibility of things that might have been, never were, but could be.

Alex is the author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles and the Tales of Erana lyrical fantasy series. She also has several short stories in the fantasy, fantasy romance genres with occasional forays into gothic style horror, including the Legacy of the Mask series. With a background in politics, classical studies, ancient history and myth, her affinities bring an eclectic and unique flavour in her work, mixing reality and dream in alchemical proportions that bring her characters and worlds to life.

L.L. Thomsen

https://llthomsen.com/

Pick up one of L. L. Thomsen’s high fantasy books and you get treated to an explosion of immersive prose, complicated characters, mystery and plots. Her main world, Dallancea, is home to nine realms and a wealth of races – some known, some entirely new. You do not have to be familiar with fantasy to enjoy the books, but those who are will recognise her zest to spin you an epic tale of complexity and to explore her characters to the core.

“I invented my first character when I was around five years old,” L. L. laughs, “they lived in my head and took me on adventures at bedtime after ‘lights out’. These days I allow them onto paper. There’s not enough space in my head anymore.”

L. L. currently lives with her family + two cats and a dog, in the back-of-beyond near the Sherwood Forrest, U.K.

PJ Mann

https://pjmannauthor.com/

My name is Paula and I write novels. I live with my husband and a rabbit. I work as an engineering geologist at a construction firm in Finland, and only in my spare time, I sit down at my desk writing stories. You can consider me a sort of wandering writer, and I try, as much as possible, to be on the move. My stories are strongly influenced by what I experience and see during my travels around the world. I am a multi-genre author, but the red wire of my novels is the suspense/drama.

I love to walk in nature with my camera; photography is another of my passions. I believe it’s very closely connected to writing novels as every image tells a story, for those who stop to listen.

 

R.M. Garino

https://www.rmgarino.com/

How now, folks. I’m R.M. Garino, the author of the Chaos of Souls Series. Ever wish you could bring your D&D characters to life? Well, that’s exactly what we did. Although the overarching story of angels and demons is much older, our two main characters were fleshed out from a D&D game my wife and I played with friends ages ago. They’re introduced, along with their misfit squads, in The Gates of Golorath, and their adventures continue throughout the series. We’ve also released a standalone series, the Chaos of Souls Novellas, which capture separate side stories that enrich the main series. Requiem’s Reach is the first volume, and we continue from there. If you’re looking for a thoughtful, somewhat irreverent fantasy that puts the stories and character first, then come on over and give us a read.

 

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, February 9, 2020

Heavy winds and lashing rain hit us last night. It went on for hours, making it difficult to hear the television with the constant beating on the conservatory roof next to the living room.

While it calm at the moment, the sky is laden with thick, dark clouds. The upcoming projection is for continued rain and gusting wind up 60 MPH throughout the day, with that dreaded white stuff due to hit us between Monday and Wednesday. If the forecast is accurate, we’ll only receive a dusting but the higher elevations could see as much as eight inches!

With trees, bushes, and shrubs beginning to bud, and early flowers starting to pop out, we certainly don’t need any of this. Mother Nature has been kind to us so far this winter, with just a few flurries one evening, but she might have more in store for us yet!

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

Ali Sjir Neva’i [Fani], Turkish poet/author (Mahbub al-kulub); Vasily Zhukovsky, Russian poet; Felix Dahn, German Historian, jurist and poet; Anthony Hope [Hopkins], English novelist; George Ade, American journalist/playwright/humorist (Fables in Slang); Fran Saleški Finžgar, Slovene folk writer (Our Blood, Service Girls); Amy Lowell, American poet and critic (Patterns, Sword Blades & Poppy Seed); Frederik Gerretson, [Geerten Gossaert], Dutch poet/politician); Vital Celen, Flemish writer (Puppy Love); Max Manus, Norwegian resistance fighter and author who specialized in sabotage during World War II; Charles Montgomery Monteith, publisher; Brendan Behan, Irish author and poet (Borstal Boy, The Hostage); J.M. Coetzee, South African novelist; Alice Walker, American novelist (The Color Purple, Meridian); and Janet Issaca Ashford, writer.

Recognize anyone? There was only one notable name for me this week: Alice Walker, whose Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Color Purple, also became a movie. 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

39375-96

Both of these novels will be participating in an Amazon Countdown Special on Valentine’s Day starting at 12:00 a.m. PST. They’ll start $0.99 and gradually increasing in price, returning to normal on February 16th at 11:00 p.m. PST. If you haven’t read them yet, what better time to pick up a copy or gift them to someone you know.

As previously mentioned, Dangerous Alliance was one of seven First in Category winners in the 2018 Chanticleer International Book Awards in the global thrillers category. Meanwhile, Carnage in Singapore is currently a semi-finalist in the 2019 competition, with the final results due in late April. Hope you’ll check them out!

My Work in Progress

Editing continues on Colombian Betrayal (A Bruce and Smith Thriller: Book 1), which was previously called A Cartel’s Revenge in earlier posts. The name change came about after receiving feedback from my team of beta readers.

The fifth edit pass was completed last night–a few word changes and some adjustments to the punctuation. Once the last couple of beta readers provide their comments, I’ll update the manuscript as needed and begin the final edit pass.

I have a bit of a conundrum–what to work on next? Should it be Ultimate Escalation, the next novel after Carnage in Singapore? Or should it be Genesis (tentative title), the sequel to Colombian Betrayal? What about New World Revolution: A New Home or Xavier Sears:  Angola?  Both of these are the first novels in their respective series.

See what I mean? I’ll eventually sort it out, I’m sure.  In the meantime, here’s another snippet from Colombian Betrayal:

At last, the final condemned man was brought to the table to choose his weapons. He fingered the remaining knives and one of the pistols before falling to his knees. “Please. Forgive me. My family—they won’t survive without me.”

Días kicked the man in the side. “Quit sniveling and take your punishment like a man. Grab a weapon and run.”

Dejected, the man stood and walked away, his head hung low.

The last team leader glanced at his men. They each gave a slight nod before they strolled after their target.

With the slow pursuit, the prisoner approached the fence unharmed. He glanced around—no one. He placed a foot on the first plank and began to climb.

Snap!

His head jerked around at the sound of a branch breaking.

Five men stepped from the trees, their weapons by their sides.

The team leader stepped forward and motioned for the man to continue climbing.

“Why would you let me go?” He made the sign of the cross. “Are you Christians?”

“No. However, you were the only prisoner to mention a family. We do this for them, not you.”

* * * *

When the last team returned to the hacienda, Días glared at them. “We heard no shots. Where is the prisoner?”

The team leader shook his head. “He was too fast for us and was over the fence when we arrived.” He shrugged. “You said any prisoner who made it over the barrier was free.”

“I-I ….” Días’ face turned purple with rage. “I wanted them all dead.”

“You should have done your own dirty work.” As one, the team turned and headed to their billeting.

Días slammed a fist on the table. “Michael, Alberto—these are your men. Control them.”

Alberto grinned. “He’s right—you said if anyone made it to the outer boundary, they would live.”

“So, I lied.” Días laughed.

Alberto ignored the comment and gestured at Michael. “We depart tomorrow for Panama to oversee the training there. Is there anything else you’d like to discuss?”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

Not long ago, I finished reading Unchained: A Rex Dalton Thriller by JC Ryan. This is the third novel in the series. Join Rex and his trusty canine friend, Digger, as they flee from Afghanistan and head to India. Before long, they’re embroiled in a new adventure, while Rex tries to uphold the myth he died in an attack in Afghanistan.

With a riveting plot and a bevy of new characters, Rex shows his ‘human’ side regarding the welfare of others when he and Digger try to locate the missing daughter of an Indian couple. The trail eventually leads to Saudi Arabia. What happens there will be up to you to explore, as I don’t like to give away the full story. Suffice to say, you’ll be in for another nail-biting journey, so grab yourself a copy and prepare for late nights as you keep turning the pages!  I can’t wait for the next one in the series!

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

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, February 2, 2020

Here we are, already in February. As dawn breaks earlier and daylight hangs around a bit longer, winter is passing by. Only a few snow flurries thus far–hope I haven’t jinxed things by making a mention of this!

This past week, the writing world lost an icon: Mary Higgins Clark. Every one of her suspense novels (over 50 of them!!) have been best sellers in the U.S. and various European countries. She’ll definitely be missed by her family and fans!

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

Anna Roemers Visscher, Dutch poetess; Hans E Schack, Danish politician/writer (Phantasterne); Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav, Slovak poet; Christian Gauss, educator/writer (Phi Beta Kappa award namesake); James Joyce, Irish novelist and poet (Dubliners, Ulysses, Finnigan’s Wake); James Stephens, Irish poet (Crock of Gold); Aldo Palazzeschi, [Giurlani], Italian writer (I cavalli bianchi); Carroll Righter, American columnist and astrologer to the stars; Ayn Rand [Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum], Russian-American author, screenwriter and philosopher who developed the philosophical system of “Objectivism” (Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead); Bernardas Brazdzionis, Lithuania, poet/editor/critic; Evert Werkman, Dutch journalist (Het Parool); Xuân Diệu, Vietnamese poet; Hella [S Lelyveld-]Haasse, Dutch author (Cider for Poor People); James Dickey, American poet, novelist and lecturer (Deliverance, Buckdancer’s Choice); Liz Smith [Mary Elizabeth], American journalist and gossip columnist known as “The Grand Dame of Dish” (WNBC, NY Daily News); Nydia Ecury, celebrated Afro-Dutch writer, translator and actress (Kantika pa Mama Tera); Judith Viorst, American author; Thomas M[ichael] Disch, American sci-fi author (Genocides, 102 H-Bombs); and Ina Garten, American author and TV cooking show host (Barefoot Contessa, Food Network).

Recognize anyone? Two stood out for me: James Joyce and James Dickey. 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

39375-96

I was mistaken last Sunday when I mentioned the countdown specials for Dangerous Alliance and Carnage in Singapore. These will actually begin on Valentine’s Day at 12:00 a.m. PST beginning at $0.99 and gradually increasing in price, returning to normal on February 16th at 11:00 p.m. PST. I hope you’ll check them out!

Global-Thriller-semiA bit more news about Carnage in Singapore. It is now on the official semi-finalist list for the 2019 Chanticleer International Book Awards, competing in the global thriller category.

This is a super thrill for me as it joins my other novels in being recognized in this prestigious competition. The Kurdish Connection finished its run in 2018 as a semi-finalist, while Dangerous Alliance was selected as one of seven first in category winners. It’s so hard to believe!

I won’t learn until Chanticleer’s annual conference in April whether Carnage in Singapore has moved forward in the competition. Fingers crossed it does!

My Work in Progress

Slide1Editing work continues on A Cartel’s Revenge, although I mentioned last time the title would be adjusted. It’s now called Colombian Betrayal (A Bruce and Smith Thriller: Book 1) which is more fitting for how the story has actually turned out.

I’m midway through by fourth edit pass, having added over 12,000 words to the story. Feedback continues to come in from my beta readers, not just about the manuscript but ideas for the cover. Stayed tuned for more about this.

In the meantime, here’s another snippet:

Días glanced at Ramon. “What is with all of the threats? I feel like I am unwanted in this hacienda.”

Olivia shoved her chair back and stood, eyes burning with hatred. “Get out! Now!”

Alonzo jumped to his feet, pointing the shogun at Días, his finger tightening on the trigger.

Ramon pulled his second pistol from its holster. He motioned Días toward the door.

He grinned and addressed Olivia. “I shall keep Ramon informed of any information that I might come across.” He tipped an imaginary hat. “I bid you a somewhat pleasant day, given the circumstances. You have my deepest condolences during this stressful time.”

Días and Ramon left the room and headed outside. After shaking hands, Días climbed in his vehicle and waved for the driver to depart.

As his car left the compound, a smile caressed Días’ cheeks. Who is behind the kidnapping? An inside job or is someone else making a move on the Moreno cartel? He shook his head. Whoever it is, this is not good for business. I know just the person to speak to.

* * * *

The thick foliage from a copse of rosy trumpet trees hid a brown Jeep Cherokee. Inside, a man focused his binoculars on Días’s vehicle. He watched the car grow smaller as it continued along the driveway from the hacienda toward the distant gate. He chuckled. Perfect!

Watch for another snippet next time.

This brings us to a close for this week. I hope you found something of interest or possibly useful for your own writing. If you have any suggestions for a topic you’d like to read about, please let me know. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be adjust the format of my posts and website. Until the next time, thank you for reading.

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, January 26, 2020

The last couple of days we’ve been busy. On Friday night, we attended a black tie Burns Supper in honor of the Scottish national poet, Robert “Rabbie” Burns, who was born on January 25th, 1759. The event was held on the Royal Yacht Britannia, which is docked in the Leith area of Edinburgh. We couldn’t get tickets for the event on his actual birthday, but this was close enough.

The evening began with being piped onto the ship using the same stairs/gangway the Queen and the Royal Family used. After boarding, we were escorted to the drawing room, where champagne, spiced apple juice, and canapés were served. Those who wanted a mini-tour broke into small groups. We were taken to the officer wardroom and dining room, followed by a visit to the admiral’s quarters. Anyone who needed a champagne refill never had to look far as there were plenty of staff standing by with fresh drinks.

Afterward, we were taken into the Royal Family’s quarters. While we could enter most of the rooms, sections of the walls had been cut away and replaced with glass so we could see inside. We were able to examine the Queen’s bedroom, Prince Philips’, and the honeymoon suite, used by Prince Anne and Captain Mark Phillips, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones, and Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson. We also viewed the areas where the Queen and Prince Phillip spent their working hours aboard the ship. 

After returning to the drawing room, we were entertained by a pianist until we were piped into the State Dining Room. Once seated, we were treated to a six-course meal, including the traditional haggis, neeps, and tatties, after the piping in of the haggis. For those who were not adventurous enough to try the haggis, the following course provided fillet mignon and seasonal vegetables.

Throughout dinner, two musicians provided background music, using a harp and flute. There were also three brief interludes where a guitarist sang some of Rabbie Burns’ poems and music, including “Auld Lang Syne.” After dinner we were further entertained by a captivating rendition of “Tam O’Shanter,” another of the bard’s well-known poems. This was performed in the Scots’ tongue from the time period when it was written.

The evening ended with a whiskey tasting back in the drawing room. We headed home at the point, but had an excellent evening celebrating Rabbie Burns’ birthday.

Yesterday was the monthly ‘makers’ market’ in Kirkcaldy. With an overcast sky threatened to rain on the day and a cold win, there wasn’t a great deal of activity. However, I did sell four of my novels, three to the same individual. He had checked out my work back in November wheb we last attended but didn’t buy any at the time. Today, he decided to get all three of my published novels.

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

Florent Chrestien, French writer; Ugo Foscolo, Italian poet (Ultime lettere di Jacopo Ortis); Ludwig Joachim “Achim” von Arnim, German poet (Des Knaben Wunderhorn); Mary Mapes Dodge, American writer (Hans Brinker & the Silver Skates); Warner Fabian, [Samuel H Adams], American journalist/writer (Average Jones); Ludovicus H [Lode] Baekelmans, Flemish (stage) author (Tille); Ilya G Ehrenburg, writer (Fall of Paris, The Thaw); Menno ter Braak, Dutch writer/essayist (Carnaval of the Citizens); Romney Brent, Mexican-American actor and writer (Dinner at the Ritz); Kaye Webb, English writer/publisher (Puffin Club); Philip José Farmer, American sci-fi novelist (Riverworld); Michael Bentine, English author/comedian (Reluctant Jester); José María Valverde, Spanish philosopher, poet and translator (La espera, Historia de la literatura universal); Farman Fatehpuri [Syed Dildar Ali], Urdu scholar, linguist, critic and author; Ronald Allison, British author/broadcaster; Jonathan Carroll, American author; and Shannon Hale, American author.

Recognize anyone? I admit I’m not familiar with anyone on today’s list. 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

39375-96With Valentine’s Day soon approaching, there will be two specials regarding Dangerous Alliance and Carnage in Singapore coming up over the next week.  The first will be a Kindle countdown for Dangerous Alliance beginning on January 29th. There will also be a Kindle countdown for Carnage in Singapore beginning on February 1st.

Both are scheduled to run across the Amazon network, so don’t miss out, as this might not be offered again! What better time to grab yourself a global thriller novel for that special someone!

My Work in Progress

Slide1Editing work continues on A Cartel’s Revenge. I’m midway through by second edit pass, having added over 7,000 words to the story. Over the past week, copies were sent to my team of ten beta readers. So far, two have already gone through the manuscript and responded with some good points. It’s likely the name may be adjusted before submission, but I’ll have to wait and see what my other beta readers have to say.  Things still appear to be on track for submission in early March or early April.

Here’s another snippet from A Cartel’s Revenge:

“Olivia, someone must want to chase you from the cartel.” Kruz rubbed his chin. “Will you leave?”

“No.” She hesitated before shaking her head. “Never.” She turned to Alonzo. “Get Ramon. We must find out who took my girls and get them back—at all costs.” If they’ve harmed my precious daughters, I’ll kill the bastardos.

* * * *

“Good evening.” A synthesized voice echoed throughout the room. “I believe everyone is present— Señor Kruz, Pedro, Alonzo, and Ramon. Of course, la jefa de la señora is with you, too.”

“Where are my children, you bastardo?” Olivia squeezed her fists into her lap, her face turning red. “How do you know who is here?”

The voice chuckled. “I have my ways, my dear.” The sounds of fingers snapping popped through the speaker. “Almost forgot. There’s someone who wants to speak with you.”

Silence.

“Mamá? Are you there?”

“Silvina! Are you okay? Where’s Maria?”

“Beside me, but she’s too frightened to speak.” Silvina lowered her voice. “The man—he’s the one who came into the—”

The sounds of a struggle came through the speaker.

“Ow! You’re hurting me.”

The synthesized voice returned. “Remember—leave Barranquilla … or your children will die!”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

Between editing, the Burns Supper, and the ‘makers’ market,’ I didn’t have a chance to gather my thoughts and provide another book review this time. Hopefully, I’ll have a couple of them for you next week.

This brings us to a close for this week. I hope you found something of interest or possibly 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 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, January 19, 2020

We’re finally getting some respite from the constant rain and dreary skies. It’s still coming down each day or evening, but the dry, sunny spells are more frequent and lasting longer. This morning, though, we began with a bit of ground frost.

With temperatures getting into the upper 40s F (upper single digits C) and even occasionally hitting the mid 50s F (low double digits C) it won’t be long before outdoor spring cleaning will be upon us. Yesterday, when I was getting our favorite newspaper, there was a customer walking out of the store with a brand new rake!

I also understand my blog has been nominated by D.L. Finn for the Sunshine Blogger Award. I’ll provide my input for this award next week, but many thanks to D.L.!

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

Noel Alexandre, French theologian/historian; Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, French writer (Paul et Virgin); Isaiah Thomas, American printer/editor/publisher/historian; Per Daniel Amadeus Atterbom, Swedish historian/poet (Blommorna); Edgar Allan Poe, American writer, poet and critic (The Pit and the Pendulum) considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre (Murders in the Rue Morgue); Gustav Meyrink, writer; Hans Erich Blaich [Dr. Owlglass], German writer (Simplicissimus); Marie Koenen, author/wife of Felix Rutten (Wassend Cereal); Boris Savinkov, Russian writer; Alexander Woollcott, American critic and short story writer (The Man Who Came to Dinner); Heinrich Schmist-Barrien, German author (Moorkeerl); Phyllis Flowerdew, school Reading text author; Rex Ingamells, Australian poet; Patricia Highsmith, [Plangman], US/Swiss writer (Strangers on a Train); Jean Francois Revel, French journalist/author (Ni Marx ni Jesus); Nina [Mary] Bawden, English author (Afternoon of a Good Woman); Libera Carlier, Flemish author (Action Station Go!); Julian Barnes, England, writer (Before She Met Me); and Edwidge Danticat, Haitian-American author.

Were any names familiar to you? I’m sure most people will have heard of Edgar Allan Poe, even if you haven’t read any of his work. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

My Work in Progress

Slide1Thus far this year, I’m still concentrating on editing A Cartel’s Revenge. My first edit pass should be completed this upcoming week. So far, I’ve added over 5,000 words to the story. I now have nine committed beta readers. They’ll receive a copy by the end of the month, so I can adjust the story based on their feedback. Things appear to be on track for submission in early March, but they could still slip.

Here’s another snippet from A Cartel’s Revenge:

Most of the men fired AK-47s, but the squad leaders used M4 and SA-80 assault rifles stolen from various military base arsenals across Europe. Each man began with a stack of magazines, replacing the empty ones as if their lives depended upon it. Before long, Michael and Alberto’s last shots faded away while the surrounding thirty men finished their practice.

The aroma of breakfast replaced the smell of discharged weapons. Días’ men dragged out metal containers filled with scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, and bacon. The students filed past, filling plates. Most skipped the bacon, but a few glanced around before sneaking a piece or two.

Alberto and Michael joined Días at a folding table while the others found areas to sit on the ground under the trees.

Días shoveled food into his mouth, not bothering to swallow before speaking. “I have an unusual treat for your training.”

“Your facilities are excellent, both for target shooting and the obstacle course.” Michael smiled. “I assume you’ve held sufficient training sessions.”

Días nodded. “Yes, when FARC was busy fighting the government, we had plenty of recruits join us. Most of them learned their skills here.” He pointed to his right. “My present to you.”

A dozen guards led six men toward the table. Their arms were tied in front of them. Heads cast down, they bore numerous cuts and bruises.

He glared at them. “You know the punishment.” Días turned to Michael and Alberto. “Government troops could have raided us at any time. These men betrayed me by sleeping on guard duty. They’ll help your men sharpen their skills.”

Alberto rubbed his chin. “How?”

“Your men will face fierce opposition from the Norte Americanos. Why not train against real targets?”

“What do you propose?” Michael’s eyes gleamed with excitement.

“I suggest you break your men into six groups.” Días gestured to the distant hills. “Each of the prisoners will be given a weapon or two, and a ten-minute head start. If they can reach the perimeter fence, they shall live.” He shrugged. “However, your teams will be free to hunt them down—and kill them.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished reading When Can I stop Running by John Podlaski. Follow the incredible story of two Detroit teenagers as they spend a haunting night in a listening post outside their new firebase. All around them were the enemy and they had no idea if they would make it through the night.

John has created a very realistic plot and characters. I kept turning the pages, wanting to find out if they survived the night. Flashbacks to their earlier lives enhances the realism and makes you feel as if you’re there with them. Only someone who has lived through this type of event can apply the realism needed to convey what the teenagers experienced. This is the first novel of John’s that I’ve read and it won’t be the last!

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

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved