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Randall Ramblings – 6 Mar 2016

Another week of winter passed us by, another week of creativity! Hopefully we’ve had the last snow of the year. On Tuesday we received about nine inches but with thirty-five mile per hour winds, we ended up with drifts nearly four feet high. Normally it takes about two hours to completely clear our driveway and the apron. This time it was closer to five. Roll on spring!

Why I want to Write–What’s Led Me to This Stage in My Life

When I’m working on outline for one of my stories, initially I don’t worry about reality. A beginning idea is transformed from a basic plot, who and what, without consideration for where and when.  As I write I’ll jot down a number of potential scenarios, some which may be eliminated later while others become the basis for a specific chapter or thread in the story. 

For example, in ‘The Kurdish Connection’, there is an international team and the Kurds. I wanted someone to monitor activities of several team members.  This led to the creation of a government watcher from one agency, a two-person team from another agency (although that isn’t obvious at first), and a second two-person team supporting the Kurds. The two-person teams were initially identified solely by physical characteristics, Thin Man, Fat Man, Beady Eyes, and Spectacle Man, until eventually their names appeared.

As time goes by, internet and book research is added into the outline, leading to where and when. Some ideas are shelved, but not erased, as I never know when I might want to refer back to something. A general premise is created and I’ll begin work on the first chapter. As a plotter, the outline is a useful tool for me, but it’s always subject to change.

My Work in Progress

Since finishing the first draft of ‘The Kurdish Connection’ I’ve been busy reviewing the various critiques I received and adding recommendations into my manuscript for when I commence editing.  As of today, I’ve gone through the prologue and the first seven chapters.  In a couple of weeks or so, the editing phase will begin.

I also completed and posted the second chapter of ‘A Cartel’s Revenge’ to the two subscription writing sites I use. Excellent feedback for improving my writing and keeping the story pointed in the direction I intend to go.

My brain cells were firing away this week at maximum velocity.  I had always planned for ‘The Kurdish Connection’ to be the first in the Bedlam series. I’m not sure if ‘A Cartel’s Revenge’ will be part of a series or not. 

I’ve now added three additional plots to the Bedlam series and given each one a working title: ‘A Malicious Affiliation’, ‘Carnage in Singapore’, and ‘Ultimate Escalation’. The premise for each will be available next Sunday.

Blog Posts I’d Like to Share

Every week I continue to skim through dozens of blogs, sometimes for enjoyment purposes and other times to help stimulate my creativity. Today, I’d like to share the following blogs with you. Both provide inspirational thought through prose and/or poetry. I hope you’ll find something of interest.

Daily Inspiration – this blog blends writing from different authors and poets and is a good place to lose yourself in a world of inspiration.

A Whispered Wind – the writing of Lori Carlson, a mixture of poetry and prose and well worth a read.

Books I’m Reading

This week I’ve been reading ‘DeathByte’, the sequel to ‘Bloodridge‘ a novel by D.S. Kane. I’m not quite finished, so my thoughts will be provided next time.

Writing Resources

This week I’d like to mention an additional writing resource I’ve acquired to help improve my writing and storytelling. I think the titles capture the purpose of the books very well.

The Emotion Thesaurus – A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression.

Show Don’t Tell – The Ultimate Writer’s Guide.

 

This concludes another week’s ramble.  Hope you found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing.  Until the next time, thank you for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Kurdish Connection

The Kurdish Connection

This summer I hope to publish ‘The Kurdish Connection.’

Here’s a brief summary about the story:

Iraqi Kurdish freedom fighters have uncovered a cache of chemical weapons left over from the previous regime. Wanting to see a united Kurdistan nation, they offer these weapons to fellow Kurds in Turkey and Syria.

The newly formed Bedlam team is rushed into service to try to head off further regional turmoil by locating and recovering these weapons. However, can they manage to do this while keeping the operation entirely hidden and without igniting further clashes?

Team leader Craig Cameron heads a small international team into the three countries to try to recover these weapons before they cause irreparable harm and lead to an international crisis.

Stayed tuned for updates through my weekly “Randall’s Ramblings” which comes out every Sunday.

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings – 14 February 2016

First, Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone.

Many thanks to those who’ve been reading along.  Your support is greatly appreciated.

Why I want to Write–What’s Led Me to This Stage in My Life

When I retired five years ago, a long-time friend and colleague suggest I try my hand writing a novel. He’d been a follower of my expository writing and it sounded like a good idea.  So, I began to explores ideas for a story.

I was clueless on how to go about this.  I had remembered reading that if you’re uncertain, write about something you know.  That’s easier said than done when you want to switch from expository to fictional writing.  The first thing I did was to create an outline–why? It was a familiar step for me to take.  I planned where I wanted to start and where I hoped to end.  Now, I knew there was a huge area between to create.

I’ve always been an avid reader of authors such as Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, Dan Brown, Clive Cussler, and many others.  Putting my thinking cap on, I began to visualize some characters, locations, and dialogue.  What did I know about these components of a story? Absolutely nothing.  It showed.  After nearly 200 pages I came to the conclusion it would be better to put it aside for another day. 

That day came in June 2015.  I was searching the Internet but something totally unrelated and stumbled across a couple of writing sites where I could post my work for critique. An excellent idea, and thoroughly worth the effort. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m enjoying the journey.

My Work in Progress

I posted two chapters for ‘The Kurdish Connection’ this week to the subscription writing sites for critique.  Good feedback from various readers.  I’m now approaching the 100K-word mark as I head into the home stretch. 

I also spent time this week revising my outline, making appropriate changes to fine-tune how the story will end.  This method works well for me and I was able to trim another potential chapter while maintaining everything I want to include.  

Blog Posts I’d Like to Share

Each week I continue to skim through dozens of blogs, sometimes for enjoyment purposes only, and other times to help stimulate my creativity. Today, I’d like to share the following blogs with you. I use one to search for stimulating ideas while the other is great for inspirational thought.

Book Junkie Reviews – As the name implies, this blog provides a host of reviews on various books.  For me it’s a one-stop shop, where just reading reviews of other works gives me inspiration.

Double U – a collection of inspirational poems. There’s sure to be one you’ll enjoy.

Books I’m Reading

I finished reading ‘Dead Charming‘ by Ian Jackson. Here are my thoughts:

We begin with ordinary working people trying to better themselves. Along comes a charming man by the name of Joe Reed. But something sinister lurks beneath the surface.  The beginning of the story can be a bit distressing to some but it’s written to give the reader an inkling of Joe’s mindset.  Yes, there is torture, manipulation, and deceit. Throw in a rookie profiler and several police officers and we’re off to the races.  Is Joe as evil as he appears? If so, why? A great mix of good and evil, with twists thrown in to keep everyone off balance.  A very good read.

Writing Resources

This week I’d like to mention two addition books I’ll be using as I edit ‘The Kurdish Connection.’

Elements of Fiction Writing – Conflict and Suspense – Two important elements of any work of fiction.

How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript – the title speaks for itself.

 

That’s all for this week’s edition of Randall’s Ramblings.  I hope you’ve found something of interest and will return again.  If you think a fellow writer might benefit, please pass the word along.  Likewise, if you think of anything to improve my ramblings, please let me know. Thank you for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings – 7 February 2016

I’d like to start out this week’s ramblings wishing my wife, Sylvia, a happy xxth birthday! May you have many more!!   I would also like to thank everyone who has been reading.

Why I want to Write–What’s Led Me to This Stage in My Life

Last week I mentioned some of the college/university courses I had completed and their impact on my writing. As I worked through my studies, successful writing became more crucial. Being able to convey the requisite information in a logical and precise manner was extremely important, especially for timed exams.

After I finished my Associate degree in Business Administration, I moved toward another degree, this time in Business and Management. I was also offered a full-time job based on my military service, and I snapped at the opportunity. Throughout my working career, writing became a vital component, leading to bigger and tougher challenges.  In addition, to expository writing, I was introduced to technical writing.  You could argue that technical writing is a subset of expository, and I would agree with you.  However, it brought along a new set of challenges–learning technical terminology. 

I continued to move up the corporate ladder, so to speak, and increased my formal education with a mid-level leadership program and three graduate degrees.  As time to consider retirement rolled around, a friend and work colleague, whom I have known since 1979, suggested I try my hand at writing a novel.

The results will be explained next time.

My Work in Progress

My brain cells continued to generate thoughts and phrases to help progress ‘The Kurdish Connection’, and I posted chapters 44 and 45 during the past week on the two subscription writing sites I use. The story now stretches about 96K words, with an estimated eight chapters to go for completion of my first draft. Then the ‘fun’ begins–editing, based on the various critiques I’ve received as well as areas I know need to be improved.

I use an outline to keep me on track with where I want the story to go.  Things are shaping up nicely for a final run at the conclusion.  I managed to trim two potential chapters without hurting the story. 

Blog Posts I’d Like to Share

Each week I skim through dozens of blogs, seeking inspiration for my own work.  I find reading other works will stimulate my brain and generate whole passages that I jot down before I forget.  Today, I have two more blogs I’d like to share.  Both use a mixture of photography and prose, looking at everyday things that impact upon us all.

Success Inspirer – inspiration, encourage, and motivation for all. In particular, check out the various tabs: poetry, quotes, inspiration, creative writing, and marriage & family.

The View From My Window -a mixture of stunning photographs and inspirational prose.

Books I’m Reading

Real life events kept me very busy this week so I haven’t been able to read as much for pleasure as normal.  I continued to read ‘Dead Charming’ by Ian Jackson, but I’m not reading to give my impressions just yet.  Hope to have Ian’s book finished shortly.

In the meantime, I’d like to share my thoughts on ‘The DCI Jones Casebook: Ellis Flynn‘ by Kerry Donovan. Another excellent adventure by Kerry. A fantastic read–full of non-stop action from beginning to end. Enjoyed how Flynn and Jenkins kidnap Holly and take her to France. Good detective work led DCI Jones to her potential ‘death bed’ but saves the day, not once, but twice. Good interaction between Jones and the French authorities. What a bunch of losers Jones works for. Great twist having Jenkins follow Holly back to England and set up for her kidnapping from the hospital.

Writing Resources

This week I’d like to mention two books I’ll be using as I edit ‘The Kurdish Connection.’

Dialogue: More Than Just Talk – Learn what dialogue can and should be doing for your book.

Dialogue Tips & Traps: A Guide For Fiction Writers –  Insights, strategies, tricks, and best practices about the writing of dialogue in fiction.

That’s all for this edition of Randall’s Ramblings.  I hope you’ve found something of interest and will return again.  If you think a fellow writer might benefit, please pass the word along.  Likewise, if you think of anything to improve my ramblings, please let me know. Thank you for stopping by!

 

 

 

Blogging 101, Morsels From The Kurdish Connection

Morsels From The Kurdish Connection

Someone on Blogging 101 suggested I add some snippets from my chapters–an excellent idea!  I’ll post things that my reviewers have particularly liked, so it will vary from scenery, character, and perhaps a bit of the dialogue.

What is The Kurdish Connection About?

Iraqi Kurdish freedom fighters have uncovered a cache of chemical weapons left over from the previous regime. Wanting to see a united Kurdistan nation, they offer these weapons to fellow Kurds in Turkey and Syria. The newly formed Bedlam Alpha team is rushed into service to head off further regional turmoil by locating and recovering these weapons. However, can they manage to do this while keeping the operation entirely hidden and without igniting further clashes? Team leader Cameron Craig MacTavish heads a small international team into the three countries to try to recover these weapons before they cause irreparable harm.

Prologue (will eventually be part of Chapter 1)

The softening of Halabja ended.

A cacophony of sound burst over the city—jet engines and a strange whistling sound like metal falling onto the ground. “Gas,” someone shouted. People panicked, trampling one another to find a place to shelter.

The aroma of sweet apples and the pungent odor of rotten eggs spread across the city. Birds began falling from the sky, small animals and later larger ones, sank to the ground. Nothing and no one was spared—humans collapsed, never to move again.

 Chapter 1

Dersim kept a safe distance from the exposed artillery shell he’d found the day before. Once past, he stopped to pull his tattered coat tighter around his slender body.  Although the morning was bright and sunny, the wind brought chilly air and a hint of rain from the nearby mountains.

Dersim and Hawre began loading Dersim’s dilapidated Turkish BMC truck with salvage they’d recovered during the previous three days, mainly metal: lead, steel, iron, and on a rare occasion, copper. The truck sagged on broken springs. Cracks spider-webbed the windshield, and the paintwork was so faded it was difficult to recognize any of the original colors.

“You must swear by Allah never to say a word of what I’m going to tell you. If you promise, come see me. Now. At my house. … Swear by Allah, disaster could occur. This is the most important secret.”

Chapter 2

Easing the vehicle back onto the road, Dersim continued his journey, albeit a bit slower. He ate a couple of green apples as he sang a song made famous by the Kurdish musician, Ali Merdann. Dersim knew most of Merdan’s songs, but Xalan forbade him singing in the house.

“Dersim, I realize you like to sing, and I like music,” Xalan said on several occasions. “But your voice… is not so nice.”

Babir unlocked the front door.  They wove through narrow aisles stuffed with a hodgepodge of bins and barrels containing Iranian pistachios, dried hot peppers, various spices, and dried fruits. The aroma of garlic, saffron, and mint floated through the air.

“We need to help all Kurdish people, not just the ones in Iraq,” Dersim said.

 “Yes,” Babir said. “We all believe that one day there will be a sovereign Kurdistan.  Only one person can make it happen—Abdullah Öcalan.”

“But he’s in a Turkish prison,” Ismet said.

“That’s true,” Babir replied. “However, the Council will guide us. They want him released as well.  There isn’t anyone better suited to unify Kurdistan.  When I return to Zakho, I’ll talk to Mullah Mala. He’ll know what to do. I’ll call you when the meeting is arranged.”

Chapter 3

Dersim carefully drove along one of the cobbled streets into the bazaar. Every driver had to be on alert; children ran everywhere while goats and sheep wandered aimlessly. The bazaar was alive with a cacophony of sound: horns blaring, vendors hawking their wares, and radios playing. Bright-colored canopies created shade for the various stalls, while along the edge of the bazaar, old, wood buildings stood like sentries. Some buildings were newly painted in pastel colors while others were in need of serious repairs.

Mullah Ahmed raised his hands to stop the chatter. He turned to Dersim. “Where is Ismet? I thought he’d be here, too.”

Dersim looked at him with a puzzled expression. I thought you gave instructions for Ismet to go to Syria. Why the question?

As Mullah Ahmed stared at Dersim, he realized the mullah was putting on an act. He was uncertain what the mullah was up to, but decided to go along, for now.

Mufti Tanreveri’s eyes narrowed as he intensely surveyed each man in the room. He proclaimed: “Our first objective remains to free Öcalan.  Under his guidance, we can proceed to our final objective, a united Kurdistan, even if it means war.”

Chapter 4

CC, woke to the William Tell Overture ringing near his ear.  He rolled over and scooped up his smartphone. “Yeah?”

“Confirm full name,” a lifeless voice said.

“Cameron Craig MacTavish.”

“Code phrase.”

“Tatties, neeps, and haggis.”

“Identity confirmed. Proceed immediately to Bedlam.” The line went dead.

CC realized, after a few hours of deliberation, that he missed the excitement and danger of Army life. He had been deployed undercover to Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. His fifteen years of action, training, and more action had left him an adrenaline junkie, hooked as bad as any addict on skid row. No wife, no kids to worry about. He called the general. “If the offer’s still on the table, I’m in.”

Chapter 5

“Unfortunately, we think there are some leaks in the system. Unrelated information that should be kept within the IC is showing up through foreign sources where we wouldn’t expect to see it.  Until I’m convinced this is a coincidence and not coming from a hidden mole, I want to keep your operation to a very strict need-to-know basis.”

“Admiral, what’s in nine days?” Jake asked before anyone else could respond.

“March 16th—Halabja Day, the day all Kurds commemorate Saddam’s bombardment of the city with chemical weapons.”

Complete silence enveloped the room. Even the clock stopped ticking as if it understood the admiral’s announcement.

CC tossed and turned as his mind kept going over the day’s events.  He thought about other missions and the men he had lost. It dawned on him that this deployment was no different, just a smaller team.  Dear God, help me do the right things at the right time to lead this team and keep them from harm. Protect them from the perils we could face and guide us to a successful outcome. Amen.

Chapter 6

The taxi weaved across every lane of traffic and even onto the sidewalk to avoid several sheep. Jake, sitting in front, closed his eyes and prayed the journey would be over soon. A few minutes later, the taxi slid to a stop in front of the hotel.  Wide-eyed passengers bailed out, thankful to be alive. Jake took it in stride, having lived in Baghdad before, but he too was glad when they safely arrived at their destination.

Alpha this is Aussie.

Made it. Shaken and stirred.

Alpha this is Kiwi.

In position—Baggage missing in action. ETA two to three days.

As Ben shut down his computer, a huge explosion shattered windows and rocked the building. The lights dimmed, then glowed so brightly Ben thought they would explode, and then everything went dark.

“What the hell was that?

Chapter Seven

The officer reviewed the document, handed it back to Dersim, and climbed into the truck. Suddenly they heard the squeal of air brakes as a double tractor-trailer careened around the curve, the driver trying to avoid the stopped vehicles and the spilled load. The tractor tipped precariously as it swung outward until the tires gained a purchase on stretch of dry road—the trailers’ weight helping to pull it back down. The behemoth came to rest with its bumper kissing the back of Dersim’s truck.

He slammed on his brakes but hit a patch of fuel and went into a skid.  The police officer, eyes wide, froze in place as the truck headed toward him. Dersim tightened his hold on the steering wheel until his knuckles turned white.  He pumped the brakes and downshifted.  The truck’s tires gripped the asphalt and came to a stop inches from the petrified police officer. 

© Copyright 2016 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved.

Writing Muses

Why Write–Why Not?

Before I retired I churned out thousands of pages of expository writing.  Shortly before retirement, a work colleague and friend (since 1979) suggested I put my writing skills to good use and write a novel.

Since I had worked for the government you could say I was already proficient in writing fiction, but there is such a vast difference between expository writing and creating a plot, scenery, characters, etc.

Dialogue, what’s that? Didn’t have to do that either.  So I’ve completed an online dynamic dialogue course, bought several books related to fiction and dug in.

Since I was already accustomed to creating outlines, putting one together for my first novel came natural.  I had a general idea what I wanted to write about, where the story would take place, and the anticipated outcome.  Sounds simple, right?  My outline is still my bible, keeping me on track, but I do modify it on a regular basis to keep in line with necessary changes.

One thing for certain–this is a journey, one that I’m glad I’ve started.