Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, April 28, 2019

After a brilliant Easter weekend filled with plenty of sunshine and temperatures reaching 74F/24C, we’ve struggled since Tuesday to hit 60F/15C. The lower temperatures were accompanied by rain and hail but at least that seems to be behind us for the next few days. I hope–more work to do outside, with several shrubs waiting to be planted.

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on April 28th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Charles Cotton, English poet and writer; Karl Kraus, Austrian satirical writer; Franz Arnold, German writer; Bruno Apitz, German writer (Nackt unter Wölfen); Johan Borgen, Norwegian author (Lillelord); Pierre Boileau, French novelist (Vertigo); Sam Merwin, Jr., American mystery fiction writer; Lee Falk, American comic strip writer (The Phantom); Joop Waasdorp, Dutch writer (Naked Life); Robert Anderson, American writer (Tea & Sympathy, I Never Sang for My Father); Alistair MacLean, Scottish novelist (The Guns of Navarone); [Nelle] Harper Lee, American author (To Kill a Mockingbird); Lois Duncan, American young adult novelist (I Know What You Did Last Summer); Iryna Zhylenko, Ukrainian poet (An Evening Party in an Old Winery); Terry Pratchett, English author of fantasy novels (Discworld); Roberto Bolano, Latin American author and poet; Nicky Gumbel, British author and priest; and Ian Rankin, Scottish novelist.

How many did you recognize? There’s two or three who might be familiar, perhaps not by name, but by the title of their work. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

My Work in Progress

Carnage in Singapore is now ready for submission. Just working on the query letter and anticipate forwarding my manuscript next Sunday. Here’s another snippet:

1539534550Harrison stifled a yawn. “Didn’t get much sleep last night. Might be the novel I started about a couple of FBI agents. A cracker couple, both on the job and in their personal lives. Outstanding stuff.”

“After reading report after report all day, I don’t understand how you manage to read at home.”

“Work-life balance.” Harrison took a tentative slurp of his Tetley tea. “It gives me pleasure to read a variety of authors and immerse myself in their imaginary worlds. An excellent stress reliever and helps keep me sane after what we deal with on a regular basis.”

Margaret chuckled before she slipped out the door. She returned moments later with a leather-padded binder labeled, ‘Daily Read Folder.’ “Happy reading.”

Harrison leaned back in his chair, the folder in one hand and his tea in the other. After propping his feet on the corner of the desk, he nudged the binder open with a thumb and began perusing.

He took another sip of his drink and bolted upright. “Damn!” Hot liquid splashed onto his lap, soaking the bottom of his shirt and his trousers. He leapt to his feet, banged the empty cup and saucer onto the tray, and threw the folder to the far side of the desk. “Margaret! I need your help.”

She rushed into the room and spotted Harrison’s dilemma. After grabbing a handful of napkins from the tray holding his saucer and now-empty cup, she tossed several to him and bent down to soak up the runaway tea from the carpet and chair.

“Never mind the spillage—I’ll take care of it. Did you read through the folder?” She glanced at her boss. “The memo from the Indonesians?”

He nodded. “Yes. What did we miss? I better speak with Evelyn right away. Will you take care of the Viper connection? I never get it to work.”

Margaret cocked her head. “Sure thing. It must be bothersome being challenged by technology.”

“You’re not much younger than me.” He laughed. “One of these days, I might surprise you and conquer the blasted thing.”

***

Ollie and Barbara focused their attention on Alf.

He nodded. “Yes. My contact in the FBI finished his examination of the sample I sent him. He confirmed my diagnosis of PETN, but a trace of another chemical showed up.”

“Anything we should worry about?” Barbara doodled on a piece of paper by her side, a stick character with a noose around its head.

“Someone tried to enhance the PETN. My FBI guy identified the material as hydrochloric acid, an ingredient in Triacetone Triperoxide, or TATP, an explosive popping up with terrorist groups in the Middle East. The British ‘shoe bomber’ tried to use TATP as his detonator to take down an American Airlines flight back in 2001, but he didn’t succeed.”

Alf glanced around the room. “This is a serious threat to commercial transportation when it’s added to sheet explosives that can be concealed inside luggage. According to America’s Homeland Security, conventional detection systems have difficulty in identifying the low atomic signatures of this explosive. Perhaps an alert should be issued.”

Evelyn nodded. “I’ll talk to Harrison about the alert. Thanks for the update, Alf. Anything else?”

After Alf shook his head, Evelyn continued. “Noah must still be busy in Singapore. No word from him yet. I’ll ask DG Robertson to contact Sir Alex and arrange for a member of Bedlam Bravo to join us.” She heaved a sigh, expelling her tension.

“Right. Continue with your training. As of now, you’re on thirty-minute recall.” Evelyn gazed at her team. “Check your bags. Full arms. When we deploy, we’ll be the hunters.” Heaven help us all ….

Perhaps more next time.

I’ve continue to edit the original chapters of  A Cartel’s Revenge. Originally, this was to be a stand-alone novel, but now this will be book one of the Bruce and Smith series. So far, I’ve revised chapters 1-6, with thirty-eight new chapter reviews from the two subscription writing sites I use.  Here’s a snippet for you: 1541181671

Three armored vehicles raced through the hacienda’s open gates. Dust billowed in their wake as guard took up defensive positions from the top of the wall to strategic areas of the drivway. Two unarmored SUVs escorted the procession. One took the lead while the other brought up the rear.

Seventy-year-old Jesús Pedro Zapata and his forty-five-year-old son, Oscar, relaxed in the middle vehicle. The Medellin Country Club’s weekly buffet luncheon drew father, son, and Zapata’s daughter, Olivia, along with numerous local dignitaries and powerful landowners. On this rare occasion, she missed the gathering due to a prior commitment in Panama City, where she and their lawyers sought to close a deal for the purchase of a sugar cane plantation.

The convoy slowed. Zapata dropped the inner glass partition to find out why. Ahead, yellow flashing lights and trucks emblazoned with Interconexión Eléctrica S.A. blocked the road. A man waved the convoy onto a side street. Additional trucks blocked the next intersection. Before the vehicles reversed, more trucks cut off their escape.

Zapata screamed, “Get us out of here! Hurry, before it’s too late!”

Perhaps I’ll include a bit more next time.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished reading Cassandra by Blair Howard. This is another excellent read, given to us by a master storyteller. Lt. Kate Gazzara is up to her ears with internal police department issues when she’s instructed to update the assistant police chief on the cases she’s working on, including a twenty-three-year-old murder of a young woman named Cassandra.

I enjoy how Blair blends his larger-than-life characters together with an excellent plot, which keeps readers guessing as to the perpetrator of the crime. This is well-written and moves at a fast pace. Highly recommended for those you enjoy crime stories.

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.

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, April 21, 2019

To those who are celebrating Easter, I hope you have a peaceful and joyous day!

25243-1007The weather’s been great this week, providing plenty of warm weather and sunshine. Perfect time to tackle the backyard, which was left to its own resources by the previous owner. Suffice to say, it became overgrown and well on the way in taking over what was a superb collection of trees, shrubs, and flowers. A bit of hard work (well perhaps a lot) and it’ll be back in shape.

This week I’d like to introduce you to a new author, Jonathan Pongratz. His first publication is a novella called Reaper. Jonathan is a writer of captivating horror, urban fantasy, and  paranormal stories. When he’s not writing, he’s busy being a bookworm, video game junkie, and karaoke vocalist. A former resident of Dallas, he currently resides in Kansas City with his Halloween cat Ajax. By day he works magic in finance, by night he creates dark and mesmerizing worlds

Reaper is the story of a thirteen-year-old boy named Gregory. It’s Halloween night, and if he proves himself a worthy babysitter of his little sister Imogen, he’ll have the allowance he’s always dreamed of.

054But soon he grows aggravated by his bratty little sister when she plays an involuntary game of hide and seek, interfering with his job of passing out candy. His search for his sister leads him to the basement, where strange things start happening. When an otherworldly creature appears and takes his sister away, Gregory’s life is shattered.

Everyone in town blames him for her disappearance, and he scrambles to put together the missing pieces of how this happened to find his sister and get vengeance on the monster that did this. Along the way, Gregory’s terrifying journey teaches him how to be be courageous, brave, and most of all, to fight the powers that be despite the obstacles.

How did you come up with the title for this book?  Well, at first I had something more generic, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted the title to revolve closer to the theme of the book and the evil present. Hence the name Reaper.

What inspired you to write this book? Is it part of a series?  I’ve always been a huge fan of anything horror, thriller, or suspense. I began writing this story after binge watching some scary Halloween movies last September, and it just kind of happened. I had originally planned this novella to be a standalone, but about a week after I finished my final edits, I woke up one morning and the sequel just kind of popped into my head. I’m very excited to say that there will be a sequel to this book and I am hoping to release it sometime this year if possible.

How much of your book is based on your own experience or those of someone you know? Since I typically write horror or urban fantasy, much of what I write is not based on my own experiences (gosh, I hope my life’s not a horror novel!). However, from time to time I do find some of my characters strongly emulating people I know personally. In Reaper, I didn’t notice that one of the supporting characters was very similar to a good friend of mine. It was when I started plotting the sequel that I had to do a double take.

When and why did you begin writing? Honestly, I’ve been writing pretty much my entire life, starting in elementary school. I always had these strange concepts and ideas that came to me quite easily, and I enjoyed writing them. I write mainly because I’ve always felt a drive to do so. Reaper Cover Image

When did you first consider yourself a writer?  I first considered myself a writer when I moved back to my hometown of Kansas City in 2012. I moved to finish my education, and soon after that, I started getting all of these stories and ideas in my head after a few years of not writing. So I started writing them down, and for the first time, I was serious about writing and seeing my ideas through to the very end. I’ve never looked back.

What is the hardest lesson you had to learn as a writer? The hardest lesson for me was the realization that not everyone is going to like your work. Everyone has an opinion, and it can be tough when someone doesn’t understand your concept or writing style. But looking at it from a bird’s eye view, it makes sense. Not everyone likes bigtime authors like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, or Anne Rice. They get bad reviews all the time, so it only makes sense that at some point, everyone will receive a bad review of some sort. I’ve taken a lot of time to build a tough skin over the years, but sometimes you just have to step away and forget the bad reviews you get. It takes time to build a following, but the right peopleare out there. I just focus on the positive and keep writing.

What are some of the challenges you face as a writer?  Oh, that one’s easy. Marketing. I think that most writers don’t really think of this when they decide to become an author. Selling a book is tough outside of your friends and family, and I’m still trying to sift through all the possibilities to be honest. I’m pretty savvy with social media, but don’t consider myself a salesman in any way, shape, or form.

Not including your family, who supported your efforts to become a published author? I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my wonderful Scribophile tribe, as well as my alpha and beta readers. Its great to have a trustworthy group of people that can be bluntly honest, and I can always count on them for an honest opinion. Also, my friends far and wide for encouraging me to keep aiming for the sky over the years. I couldn’t have done any of this without them.

Who was your first publisher and what did you learn from them? Actually, I am my own first publisher. I had originally submitted some of my work to a publisher, but the experience left me feeling disappointed, so I decided to publish my own book. In a way, I wanted to prove to myself that I didn’t need a publisher, that I could do this on my own. There’s definitely a lot more involved with self-publishing than the traditional route, but the experience has been invaluable. It’s not for everyone, but I have learned so much from this journey and am proud of myself for choosing this path.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Write as often as you can. Set up a daily or weekly routine and don’t stray from it. Set attainable goals, and work hard to achieve them. When I first started writing, I was all over the place, but setting a routine helped me not only balance my life, but to achieve something I never thought I would be able to. Writing and finishing a book takes a lot of time and effort, but if you are serious about it and discipline yourself, it will happen. It takes a lot of self-faith and persistence, but you can do it.

Who are your favorite writers?  Oh, that one’s a toughie. My favorites from the past year would have to be Emerald Dodge, M.D. Neu, and Gillian Flynn. Emerald’s superhero novels are action-packed, gritty, and unforgettable. Her complex characters convey what real humanity is all about, superhero or no. M.D. Neu’s science fiction novels have rekindled my love for the sci-fi genre in book form. I love the way he writes, and his worlds are always vivid and interesting. I had to include Gillian Flynn because Sharp Objects, both the tv series and the book, took my breath away. Talk about a page turner!

What are you reading now? Right now, I’m attempting (emphasis on attempting) to finish off my unread bookshelf at home. There are maybe ten books on it, all varying in genre and author. However, every month or so, I order another book. I just can’t help myself! I’m also rereading a series I read when I was in middle school called Animorphs. I got the idea when I saw that people were rereading their favorite childhood novels like Goosebumps. So far it’s been a very nostalgic rollercoaster ride back to the ’90s, and I absolutely love it!

What makes you cry? I’m probably the least-likely person to cry. However, Steel Magnolias gets me (I love Sally Field!) at the funeral scene every time. What are your favorite TV shows and movies?  My tastes in books are directly reflected in my taste for TV shows and movies. I love anything fantasy, sci-fi, and supernatural, but sometimes a good laugh is needed too. Right now, I’d have to say Schitt’s Creek and Black Lightning are my favorite shows.

What kind of music touches your soul? I spent most of my school years in choir all the way through college, so I have a very eclectic and expansive taste in music. Pop, Hip Hop, Alternative, you name it, I probably love it. Though, in relation to writing, I usually listen to ambient music for inspiration. Ambient music gives me a real soundscape to work with while I write, so that’s the genre that I connect with most.

What do you want written on your headstone? Here lies Jonny. He had lots of friends and lots of cats.

Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events, and special offers? Sure! I’m on Facebook and Tumblr for my social media blogs, and I am also on Goodreads as well.

Facebook.com/jonathanpongratz
Jonathanpongratz.tumblr.com
Goodreads.com/jonathanpongratz

Before I close for today, I’d like to include my thoughts regarding Reaper.  While not a genre I normally read, Jonathan’s writing is very smooth and he’s come up with an exciting plot. The characters are well-crafted. Gregory ends up in the middle of a puzzling nightmare. Things only get worse when he uncovers the chilling reason behind the disappearance of not only his sister, but other children–all at Halloween. Who will go missing next time?

This wraps up another week. Next time, I’ll return with more about my own work and another snippet from Carnage in Singapore.  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.

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, April 14, 2019

It’s been sunny the past few days, although still a bit chilly. However, this gave an opportunity to get some weeding done in the back yard, which hadn’t been tackled yet. Things are looking better, but plenty more to do!

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on April 14th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Abraham Elsevier, Dutch book publisher; James Branch Cabell, American novelist and essayist (Restless Heads); Ernst Robert Curtius, German literature historian; Arnold J. Toynbee, English historian (A Study of History); Martin Kessel, German writer; Frank Daniel, Czech-born writer, director and teacher; Bob Grant [Robert St Clair Grant], British actor, comedian and writer (on the Buses); Tom Monteleone, American writer (Dark Star & Illumination); Bruce Sterling, American sci-fi author (Involution Ocean, Schismatrix); Vebjørn Selbekk, Norwegian journalist; and Peter Gibson, American writer.

How many did you recognize? There’s one or two who might be familiar, perhaps not by name, but by the title of their work. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

My Work in Progress

Although I’ve completed four edit passes through the manuscript of my third novel, Carnage in Singapore I did some skimming this week and caught a couple of things I wanted to improve before submission. Here’s another snippet:

Gesang Anwari jumped to his feet. “I disagree! We should remain in a Muslim country and not cower among the infidels.”

“Sit down.” Kali seized Gesang’s arm. “Who are you to disagree? How long since your group last carried out an operation? Years ago.” 1539534550

He lashed out at Kali, striking him in the face. Two men stepped between them before further blows were thrown. They grabbed Gesang and Kali, pushing them back into their chairs.

“Enough!” Abu Zeze slammed a fist on an end table next to him. He stared at the two men. “Save your hatred for the enemy. We are brothers in arms. We do not fight among ourselves like the infidel dogs.”

***

After the others departed, Abu Zeze and Isagani moved to more comfortable chairs. A servant wheeled in a small cart with tea and an assortment of pastries and fruit. He served the two men and departed, closing the inner doors to ensure privacy.

Isagani sipped from his cup and placed it on a table near him. “I must speak my mind. I don’t trust Gesang. I’m not sure what it is about him, but something isn’t right.”

“I agree, my friend. Once efforts are underway, we plan to tip off the Indonesian authorities about Gesang being the mastermind behind the attacks. We’ll ensure he no longer poses a threat.” Even if I must take action myself.

***

In another part of the city, one of the attendees at Abu Zeze’s home dialed a number. He waited for two rings before disconnecting. Moments later, the man’s phone rang.

“You called?”

“Yes. The meeting went as expected. They identified several targets. If they aren’t stopped, the streets will be stained with blood.”

“Protect yourself but keep me informed. We cannot allow them to succeed.”

Perhaps more next week.

I’ve halted work on the next novel in the series, Ultimate Escalation. Originally, I planned for this to be the final in the series. However, upon reflection, I believe there is scope to extend the series. Just have to make a decision on this before continuing.

1541181671In the meantime, I’ve dusted off another WIP, A Cartel’s Revenge. Originally, this was to be a stand-alone novel, but now this will be book one of the Bruce and Smith series. It’s been awhile since I posted the synopsis, so here it is:

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 forms 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?

Books I’m Reading

I’m almost finished with Countenance of War: A Historical Novel of Scotland (The Black Douglas Trilogy Book 2) by J.R. Tomlin, and will post my review shortly. I just finished book one of The Northminster Mysteries by Harriet Smart and will provide my comments as well.

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.

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, April 7, 2019

Since last Sunday, we’ve only had one day with plenty of sunshine and no rain. They say April showers bring May flowers. Hopefully the snow, sleet, and hail hasn’t damaged too many of the flowers that are already blooming. Looks like we’re in for another day of overcast skies and misting rain.

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on April 7th. (compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

William Wordsworth, English poet laureate (The Prelude); Flora Tristan, French writer and social activist; J. P. [Jens Peter] Jacobsen, Danish writer (Niels Lyhne); Gerald Brenan, English writer; Robert Charroux, French writer; Henry Kuttner, American sci-fi author (Dark World, As You Were); Johannes Mario Simmel, Austrian writer; James White, UK, sci-fi author (Star Surgeon, Star Healer); Donald Barthelme, American writer (Snow White, Sadness); Megas, Icelandic singer, songwriter and writer; and Artemis Gounaki, composer, writer and music producer.

How many did you recognize? There’s one or two who might be familiar, perhaps not by name, but by the title of their work. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

My Work in Progress

The initial editing phase on my third novel, Carnage in Singapore is now complete, at least for now. I finished the fourth edit pass this week, with perhaps one more to follow before submitting the manuscript. Here’s another snippet:

“Wait.” She held a hand in the air. “I remember another man. His name was Omar or Umar, something like that. Deep scars covered both sides of his face as if he’d been in a bad accident.”

1539534550Goh turned to Natalee. “What kind of scars? Recent? Old? Deep? Shallow?”

She pursed her lips. “They seemed recent. They were shallow like someone raked their hands along his face.”

“Anything else?” Aiden leaned forward as if his movement would help coax more information from Natalee.

“No, that’s all I remember. Will this help?”

Aiden stood, followed by Goh. “Yes, it will. So would a sketch artist to draw the faces and a hypnotherapist to help you remember your dreams. Too bad we didn’t think of these ideas sooner. We’ll take this new information back to our inspector. I’ll come by in another day or so to check how you’re doing.”

Natalee nodded. “Please catch them, Aiden.”

A grim expression crossed his face. “I will.”

***

Later in the day, a man dialed a long-memorized number. He let the phone ring twice and hung up. Five minutes later he received a call.

“Trouble. The girl is regaining her memory and revealed more information. She identified Musa and gave a description. She mentioned your name and the scars. What should I do?”

A sigh came from the handset. “Keep me apprised of the situation. If she remembers anything more, I don’t have to tell you what must be done.”

Perhaps more next week.

I also continued working on the fourth chapter of my next work-in-progress, Ultimate Escalation. All being well, the chapter will be completed over the following week and posted to the two subscription writing sites I use. So far, there have been forty-one chapter reviews, all assisting me in improving my writing. Here’s the draft synopsis:

Punjabi militants seek to distance themselves from Indian and Pakistani dominance and interference. With the dissolution of British India in 1947, families were ripped apart as the Punjabi region was split between the two countries. Limited attacks within each country caused further persecution and heartache. 1539535798

The militants have no idea how to achieve their desires–until the appearance of Vladimir Aleksandr Nikolai, a disgraced Spetnaz colonel. He offers the militants a means to spark a conflict between the two nuclear powers.

Russian subs sold on the black market and manned by Iranian and Russian sailors will surface off the coasts of the two countries and destroy Karachi and Mumbai. Propaganda machines will levy accusations against each country, leading to escalation of hostilities, pushing the countries to the brink of nuclear war.

The Bedlam organization fields their three teams to counter the violence and seek to restore calm before it’s too late. Will they be successful or will South Asia become a smoking ruin?

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished reading A Kingdom’s Cost: A Historical Novel of Scotland (The Black Douglas Trilogy Book 1) by J.R. Tomlin. This is a fascinating blend of historical facts and riveting fiction making for a fantastic portrayal of events during the time of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. Follow eighteen-year-old James Douglas as he pledges his allegiance to Robert despite his family’s castle having been seized by the English.

With life-like characters and a realistic plot, Tomlin weaves an interesting story of what might have been. Will Robert the Bruce and Douglas survive the war with England or succumb to infighting among the Scots? If you like historical fiction, this one is for you. I’ve already purchased the second story in the trilogy and look forward to more adventures.

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.

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, March 31, 2018

Happy Mother’s Day to those celebrating in the UK. Hope you have a great day!

Congratulations to the Michigan State Spartans for making it into this year’s NCAA Elite 8 and commiserations to the Michigan Wolverines as their campaign came to an end. Go MSU!

Mother Nature has brought a chill back into the area, but at least there’s plenty of sunshine. The grass was trimmed yesterday and the front yard is shaping up. Still plenty of things to do, but it’s on the right road.

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on March 31st. (compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Andrew Marvell, English poet (To His Coy Mistress); Edward FitzGerald, English writer (Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam); Nikolai Gogol [Nikolay], Ukrainian-born Russian novelist, humorist, and dramatist (Dead Souls, The Inspector-General); Leon Dierx, French poet; Andrew Lang, Scottish poet, novelist, literary critic, and anthropologist (Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books); Borisav “Bora” Stanković, Serbian writer; Ion Pillat, Romanian poet/senator (Umbra timpului); Vardis Fisher, American author (Darkness & Deep); Pieter Jongeling, Dutch author (under Piet Prins) and politician; Robert Brasillach, French author; Octavio Paz, Mexican writer/diplomat (Salamandra, Topoemas); Marga [Sara Voeten-] Minco, Dutch writer (Bitter Herb); John Fowles, English novelist (Collector, French Leiutenent’s Woman);  John Jakes, writer (Sir Scoundrel, Great Women Reporters); Nichita Stănescu, Romanian poet; Judith Rossner, American writer (August); and Marge Piercy, author (Small Changes, Gone for Soldiers).

How many did you recognize? There’s one or two who might be familiar, perhaps not by name, but by the title of their work. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

News About My Published Work

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I received the final official notification this morning that The Kurdish Connection and Dangerous Alliance  have progressed from the Slushpile to the Long List onward to the Short List and are now official SEMI-FINALISTs  for the GLOBAL THRILLER Book Awards for Lab Lit, Thriller, & Int’l Suspense Fiction,  a division of the Chanticleer International Book Awards (CIBAs). As I previously mentioned, my novels are two of the thirteen semi-finalists for the awards, which will be announced on April 30th. Stay tuned.

 

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Both novels are available across the Amazon Network, through Barnes&Noble, and other outlets.

My Work in Progress

Editing continues on my third novel, Carnage in Singapore. I’m eighty-two percent through the third edit pass, with perhaps one more to follow before the manuscript is ready for submission. Here’s another snippet:

A gentle breeze through the open windows of the third-floor apartment brought a slight chill, causing Natalee to close the nearest one. Anxious at being alone at the moment, she wished her parents would return soon from their morning stroll through the neighborhood.

1539534550A knock on the door startled her.

She glanced through the peephole. Two uniformed police officers stood in the hallway. Recognizing them, she slid the deadbolt and opened the door.

“Sergeant Ang and Constable Goh. What a surprise! Please, come in.”

Aiden beamed. “How are you today, Miss Natalee?” He held out a handful of flowers. “These are for you.”

“Thank you so much!” She gave Aiden a wide smile as she sniffed the different colored tulips arranged in a slim, clear cut-glass vase. “You don’t have to bring me something every time you visit.” She set the vase on the coffee table.

“The gifts are worth every penny to see your face light up.”

Natalee and Aiden perched on the sofa the cushion groaning from Aiden’s weight. He glanced at Natalee and shrugged.

Both laughed.

Goh, his face wearing its usual frown, rolled his eyes as he sat in a nearby chair.

“Right now we’re on official business.” Aiden patted Natalee’s hand. “Have you remembered anything more about where you were held?”

Goh opened his laptop ready to capture her statement.

She shook her head and pulled her hand from Aiden’s grasp. “Images, but nothing definite. I remember several huts, one larger than the others. Lots of trees, too.” “She pressed her hands against her ears. “I keep hearing the screams of the other prisoners when they were being tortured.” She licked her lips and squirmed.

“Anything about the other captives?”

“Four men and two women—our kidnappers took the women away once.” Tears streamed down Natalee’s face. “When they came back, their faces were covered in cuts and bruises. Fear and panic were etched on their faces and they smelled as if someone had soiled their clothing. They said ….”

More next time.

Due to concentrating on editing, I didn’t have a chance to work on Ultimate Escalation, the next book in the series. Perhaps this week.

Books I’m Reading

This week Conviction (A New World Book 2), the latest gripping story by M.D. Neu, was released. He’s done it again with his latest release. Follow Todd Landon and various members of the Nentraee as they deal constant issues with merging Earth with an alien race. With an engaging plot and realistic characters, this story has something for everyone: love, passion, action, betrayal, just to name a few. Well done!

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 2019 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, March 24, 2019

We’re officially in spring–let’s hope the winter storms stay away!  Locally, our weather’s been decent this week, with plenty of sunshine and little rain. However, the wind is still making things feel cold, but an extra layer of clothing takes care of that.

The flower bed in the front yard is now ready for its influx of new plants. Most of the perennials are already back out with fresh leaves and some even have flowers. It’s all taking the winter bareness away.

It’s also been a good week because the NCAA March Madness is underway. I always look forward to seeing this championship. I record all of the games shown in my area, and so far I’ve watched the First Four and the First Round games. As always, some upsets, but it’s all part of the game. At least my two favorite teams, Michigan and Michigan State, made it into the second round. Will check out Round Two tonight.

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on March 24th. (compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Arai Hakuseki, Japanese writer and politician; Jose F de Isla, [Francisco de Salazar], Spanish Jesuit/writer; Jacob van Lennep, Dutch poet and novelist; Robert Hamerling, Austrian poet ; William Morris, English designer/craftsman/poet/socialist; Honoré Beaugrand, Quebec journalist and newspaper publisher (La Patrie); Silas Hocking, British novelist and preacher; Olive Schreiner, South African writer (Portrait of a South African Woman); Top Naeff, [Anthonetta van Rhijn-N-Naeff], Dutch writer; Gianna Manzini, writer; Malcolm Muggeridge, English writer (Observer of Life); Andre Christiaens, Flemish writer (Unfindable Country); Pura Santillan-Castrence, Filipino writer and diplomat; Janet Harmon Bragg, US pilot/columnist (Chicago Defender); Lydia Korneevna Chukovskaya, writer; Donald Hamilton, Swedish-American novelist; Lawrence Ferlinghetti, American beat poet (Coney Island of the Mind); Sir Wilson Harris, Guyanese author (Palace of the Peacock, Jonestown, The Ghost of Memory); Martin Walser, German writer; and Peter Bichsel, Swiss writer (Gruppe Olten).

How many did you recognize? There’s one or two who might be familiar, perhaps not by name, but by the title of their work. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

My Work in Progress

Editing continues on my third novel, Carnage in Singapore. I’m finished the second pass through the manuscript this week and a third of the way through the next. Here’s another snippet:

Koh glanced at Noah. “Any further questions for the doctor?”

1539534550Noah shook his head, pushing the mask closer to his face.

“Doctor, thank you for your time. We’ll leave now but might need to make another visit.” Koh and Noah both shook hands with the ME and left.

Outside, Noah took several deep breaths. “No matter how often one visits the morgue, it’s always a gruesome sight.”

“I agree. Something I avoid whenever possible.” Koh glanced at Noah. “Ready for lunch?”

A chuckle escaped Noah’s mouth. “Best to skip food for now. What about visiting the English girl?”

They jumped into the BMW and departed with a squeal of the tires. Koh whipped the car to the right and headed along Outram Road.

Noah glanced in the side mirror before turning and looking over his shoulder. “Two black cars pulled away when you made the turn. Think they’re following us?”

Koh checked the rearview mirror. “Let’s find out.” He skidded through a left turn at the next intersection, cutting off a car. The driver shook his fist and blew his horn.

The two cars followed, gaining ground.

Koh rocketed along the narrow street, and whipped the wheel to the right, the vehicle rocketing past two pedestrians attempting to cross the street.

Pop. Pop.

Noah glanced over his shoulder at the sound of glass cracking, a spider-like web formed around the holes. The spent bullets thudded into the back of his seat. “Holy shit!”

“Hang on!” Koh floored the accelerator, shooting past a car and avoiding an oncoming truck.

“Is this car bulletproof?”

Koh shook his head. “Some of ISD’s vehicles are but not this one. But there’s armor in the back of the cushions in case of attacks like this.” He reached under his seat, pulled out a SIG Sauer P226, and handed the pistol to Noah. “I trust you know how to use this. Return fire and see if they back off.”

“Where’d you get this?”

“All ISD vehicles carry spare pistols under the drivers’ seats.”

“Good thing. Couldn’t bring mine on the flight.” Noah took the weapon and leaned out the window, shooting at their attackers. His first shot missed. “Keep the car steady!”

“I’ll try.”

Noah took a deep breath, exhaled, and fired again. The bullet went through their pursuer’s windshield, causing the driver to swerve and crash into a parked truck.

Koh turned into an empty parking lot, spun the wheel and yanked on the hand brake, sliding along the asphalt so the BMW faced the approaching threat. He pulled out another pistol from a shoulder holster.

Bullets flew through the air as both windshields collapsed. Shots echoed off the adjacent buildings as the assailants ramped up their attack.

“I’m hit!”

More next time.  Due to concentrating on editing, I didn’t have a chance to work on the next book in the series. Perhaps this week.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished reading Oath of Office (a Luke Stone Thriller–Book #2) by Jack Miller. The plot is interesting, but Luke’s superhuman-like qualities seem a bit overdone, at least for me. Nevertheless, Luke is able to take on those intent on the overthrow of the American government. The results–you’ll have to get a copy and find out for yourself. Plenty of intrigue throughout and is fast-paced, so it’s worthy of a read.

My Favorite Authors

Next week I’ll reveal another of my favorite authors, adding yet another piece into the mix of my writing style.

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 2019 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, March 17, 2019

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to all the Irish!

Mother Nature had another laugh yesterday, throwing rain, sleet, and snow at us. Eventually, it turned back to rain and the snow disappeared, at least at the lower elevations. This morning, when I went to get the daily paper, snow still graced the higher elevations. 

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on March 17th. (compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Ebenezer Elliott, British Poet. Know as the “Corn Law Rhymer'”; Jean Ingelow, English poet; Oskar Peschel, German journalist/geography (Volkerkunder); Kristian Elster, Norwegian author (Less bror Harris); Urmuz, Romanian writer; Paul Green, American novelist/playwright (In Abraham’s Bosom); Boris N Poveloi, [Kampov], Russian journalist/writer; Siegfried Lenz, German writer (Ein Kriegsende); Nancy Sheehan, writer; James Morrow, American author; William [Ford] Gibson, Canadian sci-fi author (Neuromancer, Count Zero); Rory McGrath, British comedian, television personality, and writer (Who Dares Wins, They Think It’s All Over);

How many did you recognize? There’s definitely one or two who should be familiar, perhaps not by name, but by the title of their work. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

My Work in Progress

Editing continues on my third novel, Carnage in Singapore. I’m almost done with my second pass through the manuscript this week. Here’s another snippet:

“Uncle, this is Noah Appleman from Australia. DG Robertson sent him. Noah, this is my favorite uncle from my mother’s side of the family, Feng Lee.”

“An honor to meet you, sir. DG Robertson sends his regards and hopes we can provide some assistance.” 1539534550

Feng Lee nodded and waved the men to seats. “What do you know of ISD, Mr. Appleman?”

“Please, call me Noah. I admit not much, a bit from the Internet. Whatever you guys do here, you sure know how to keep it under wraps.”

His host nodded. “We are a secretive organization, so we share little information. We address various threats to the security of the Republic of Singapore. Of most importance are domestic terrorism, apprehension of suspected militants, and protection of our national borders. Most of our personnel come from the Singapore National Police.”

“A complex portfolio. How might I assist?”

“Over the past few weeks, nine bodies have washed up on our shores. All appear to be foreigners. The identities of three are known.” Feng Lee crossed his legs and sighed. “What disturbs me is they did not enter Singapore in any legal manner, so where did they come from? I’m receiving pressure from the Prime Minister’s office to resolve this matter as soon as possible.”

“What are their nationalities? Is someone targeting a specific country?” If so, why? Noah pursed his lips. “Are you certain the bodies were washed ashore or did someone put them there to create that impression?”

Feng Lee glanced at Koh and nodded.

“We believe they are from Australia, England or the United States, where most of our Caucasian tourists originate.” Koh lifted a single sheet of paper from the desk. “The first two identified themselves but succumbed to their injuries. The one from England, a woman, is still alive. We’ll meet with her later.”

“Any idea about the cause of death?”

More next time.

I’ve also continued working on the next chapter of Ultimate Escalation. Hopefully, it’ll be finished over the next week.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished reading Aftermath by Blair Howard. The fourteenth book in the Harry Starke series, it’s even more riveting than its predecessors. Blair never ceases to amaze me with his intricate plots and life-like characters.

What’s Harry up to this time? It’s become personal–saving members of his family and protecting those who work for him. There’s even a stunning revelation from Bob, but you’ll have to buy the book to find out more as I don’t like to spoil the fun. I hope Harry continues with more exploits for us to follow. This has been an excellent series!

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 2019 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved