Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, December 9, 2018

A crisp but sunny start to the day. Definitely beats the slightly warmer but rainy weather! Since it’s December, who know what the next week will bring?

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

Peter, Duke of Coimbra and writer (Virtuosa Benfeitoria); John Milton, English poet and puritan (Paradise Lost); Johann Winckelmann, German archaeologist (History of Ancient Art); George Grossmith, British actor, comedian and writer (The Diary of a Nobody, A Society Clown); Joel Chandler Harris, US journalist (created Uncle Remus stories); Maksim Bahdanovič, Belarusian poet; Jean de Brunhoff, French children’s book author (Babar the Elephant); Leonie Fuller Adams, US poetess (Those not elected); Ödön von Horváth, Hungarian-born writer; Dalton Trumbo, American writer/film director (Johnny Got His Gun); Herbert Huncke, writer; Jerome Beatty Jr., American author; Jan Křesadlo, Czech writer; Joe McGinniss, author (Selling of President 1968); Ki Longfellow, American novelist; and Dobroslav Paraga, Croatian politician and editor.

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

News About My Published Work

DA-3D-coverFor those using Kindle, Dangerous Alliance will be available free on December 14th-16th across the Amazon network. Also, Dangerous Alliance made it through the first round of cover voting from allauthor.com. Could certainly use some additional votes but check out the site and vote for the covers you like the most. https://allauthor.com/cover-of-the-month/

My Work in Progress

Much of my writing time over the past week was once again devoted to social media marketing of Dangerous Alliance. However, I did manage to complete another chapter of Carnage in Singapore. The manuscript has now received 504 chapter reviews, all assisting me in improving my writing and tweaking the story.

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

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, November 18, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

 News About My Published Work

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

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

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

 My Work in Progress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Books I’m Reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

Randall's Ramblings

An Interview With Author Michael Kent

This week I’d like to introduce you to Canadian author Michael Kent. He’s a retired international management consultant. Contrary to his technical writing, his fiction always has a tinge of humor and a special twist to the tale. A native of Montreal, he is fully bilingual, normally in the same sentence.

His years as a private pilot, avid reading, and extensive traveling, have built up a storehouse of plots and stories to be shared with the world. Michael is also the regional rep Quebec and Maritimes for Crime Writers of Canada. Let’s learn more about him.

Kent_23juin-201619294What are your ambitions for your writing career? Turn my writing into a serious business.

Which writers inspire you? Mostly mystery writers such as -Robert B. Parker- Robert Crais- Jefferson Parker – even Janet Evanovich with her bigger than life characters.

So, what have you written? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest, professional or hobby.) Many short stories, some that have won prizes or contests. I’m now working on a hard-boiled detective series. Each novel is stand alone, but we progress in the detective’s life, friendships , loves and adventures. (the 5th novel is coming out next month) I’m also planning a more esoteric novel on near death experiences.

 Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? Homicide detective Lieutenant Beaudry is a bit of a rebel and somewhat politically incorrect, but he has by far, the top record for most cases solved. (Mainly because he forgot a few pages from the police procedure manual.)

What are you currently working on and what is it about? Bank Shot is about the murder of an ex-bank robber that had stashed the loot from the gang’s last job. He managed not to get caught and to change his life around, but when his accomplices got out of prison; they catch up with hi.

We also get more insights on the hard-ass Lieutenant Beaudry and the impact the murder of his mother in a botched bank robbery had on his life and character.

bank-pWhat drew you to write in this genre? Years of reading well-written mystery and thriller novels gave me the framework for my own series.

How much research do you do? I used to do a lot of research before starting a new novel, most of which never made it into the story. I now make a rough outline, write the tale and research only where needed to back up the story.

Do you write full-time or part-time? Three years ago when I retired from my business consulting practice I went full time.

How often do you write, and do you have a special time during the day to write? I try and write or edit every day. I’m a morning person and my creativity is best early in the day.

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

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand? Computer. I use a Word template for the size of novel that I publish. I no longer type in a standard manuscript format.

Where do the your ideas come from? An interesting question, for which I unfortunately have no answer. Ideas pop into my head from I don’t know where.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I do a rough outline of the plot with preliminary chapter headings in Excel. I add to the base outline and track pages and the novel’s progress as the story unfolds.

What is the hardest thing about writing? I generally know the beginning and the end of the story before I start writing. The hard spot is the swamp and alligators between them.

How long on average does it take you to write a book? I do a book per year. My target is one complete edited novel every nine months.

Do you ever get Writer’s Block, and do you have any tips for getting through it? Take a break, write something else, read a book, and come back to your story a few days later.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors. I don’t read, I devour books. I’m always discovering new and interesting writers.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books? The feel and smell of old fashioned paper novels cannot be replaced.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? If you are serious about writing you need a professional editor.

new-novelsDo you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit? No, I edit a few prior chapters to get back into the story then go on to write new pages. Except for the first pages, I never start out writing.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? I don’t like to admit it, but yes. This is another area where I may use professional assistance.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do when writing? Never start a novel with a dream sequence, nor introduce names of a bunch of characters without some description of them.

What is your favorite quote? Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about Creating Yourself.

Is being a writer a gift or a curse? Neither, it’s an incurable disease.

What do your fans mean to you? They are my main inspiration to continue writing.

When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go? For a short story develop as I go. For a series I create the character’s basic CV. Likes, dislikes, character traits and idiosyncrasies and add to this as I write.

Where is your favorite place to write? I have a dedicated office where I write. I mostly edit on paper outside of the office, in a restaurant, coffee shop or library.

Check out Michael’s other books on Amazon: Blood Tail, Folded Dreams, Twice Dead, and Tainted Evidence.

Watch for another author interview next time. Until then, hope you have a great week!

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

An Interview With Author Forrest Steele

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

Let’s learn more about him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the easiest thing about writing? Descriptions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

An Interview with Author B. Douglas Slack

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

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

Let’s find out more about his writing journey.

51sZrPn-u0L

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your favorite motivational phrase? Write it down.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

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