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 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

 

Blogging 101

Blogging 101 -The End Has Come

We’ve had a great journey over these past three weeks.  Many thanks to the following for great support:

@michelleweber
@chrissiepollock
@chrisrudzki
@susanrnet

There is also someone else who needs to be thanked:  YOU! 

Without your interest in learning and sharing, as well as helping others, a course like this would not be successful.  You have made it a success and I will be checking on your blogs to find out about the latest writings, travels, cooking, make-up (not so much for me, but you might be hearing from my son for an interview for his blog), general musings, and great inspiration.  Thank you!

Now, as I look out to the water, I can hardly see–must be getting some offshoots of the East Coast Storm! 

Time for a coffee–until we meet again.

Blogging 101, Cultural Omnivore

Are You a Fashion Afficionado?

I know a lot of my fellow blogger 101 classmates are very interested in several aspects of the fashion industry. So is my son, Craig, who’s taken his interest to new heights, publishing a blog called The Cultural Omnivore.

Over the past four years, Craig has interviewed 102 individuals associated with the fashion industry, including models (male & female) and those who work behind the scenes.

Learn how careers were established, what made them successful, how they’ve branched into related areas, and more.  Check out The Cultural Omnivore at:

http://theculturalomnivore.wordpress.com