Randall’s Ramblings, November 19, 2023

At last! After six consecutive days of overcast skies and drizzle or rain, Mother Nature has taken pity on us as there’s a glimmer of sunshine to start today, and at least it’s not raining–although it’s in the forecast. It’s been too wet to get outside and clean up the fallen leaves, so hopefully, we’ll get a couple of consecutive dry days so I can do this as it doesn’t take long for the leaves to start rotting.

The Consumer Price Index dropped again last month, now down to 4.7 percent, which is better than the September rate of 6.3 percent. As with the Fed goal to get inflation down to two percent, the Bank of England wants to do the same for the UK.

There was another decrease in gasoline (petrol) prices this week, with a further two pence shaved off the price to £1.47 a liter. However, with the current exchange rate, the equivalent price of a U.S. gallon rose slightly to $6.91, and increase of three cents. Meanwhile, diesel dropped two pence a liter to £1.57, but with the exchange rate, this actually led to an increase of seven cents a gallon to $7.40.


I received good news yesterday. Ultimate Escalation, which is competing for the 2023 Chanticleer International Global Thriller Book Awards, has move from the slush pile to the long list. There’s still a long way to go in the competition, with the short list, the semi-finals, the finals, the announcement of the seven first in category winners, and the genre grand prize winner.  The final results won’t be announced until 20 April 2024 at the annual Chanticleer Authors’ Conference, but I’ll keep posting as Ultimate Escalation moves through the competition.

“I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.” — Edgar Rice Burroughs. Compliments of https://selfpublishing.com/writing-quotes/.

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on November 19th, the third Sunday of the month. (Compliments of https://www.onthisday.com/birthdays/).

Lieuwe van Aitzema, Dutch historian (Matters of State & War); Mikhail Lomonosov, Russian scholar and poet; Wilhelm Dilthey, German philosopher (Das Leben Schleiermans); Karel van den Oever, Flemish author and poet (Geuzenstad); Fernand Crommelynck, Belgian playwright (Le Cocu Magnificent); Allen Tate, American poet (Mr Pope & Other Poems),; Anna Seghers [Netty Reiling], German author (The 7th Cross); Jack Schaefer, American author (Shane); Luc Tourneir [Christian J. H. Engles] Netherland-Curaçaon poet, artist, and doctor; (Emmanuel) “Emil” Braginsky, Soviet Russian screenwriter (The Irony of Fate); Zygmunt Bauman, Polish-born sociologist (Modernity and the Holocaust); Sharon Olds, American poet (“Stag’s Leap” – Pulitzer Prize for Poetry 2013); Peter Aykroyd, Canadian actor, comedian, and writer (SNL, 1980; PSI Factor); Sam Hamm, American screenwriter (Batman); Charlie Kaufman, American screenwriter (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind); Michael Wilbon, American sports analyst (The Washington Post; Ryukishi07 [real name unknown), Japanese mystery writer (When They Cry series); and Barry Jenkins, American director and writer (Medicine for Melancholy, Moonlight).

Any names familiar to you? There weren’t any for me this time. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one!

My Work In Progress

Mission- YemenThis week, I finished chapter twenty of Mission: Yemen, Xavier Sear Thriller Book 2, and posted it to the two online subscription writing sites I use.

Reviewers provided another seventeen critiques this week, bringing the total to 400. As always, they’ve provided plenty of recommendations for me to consider, and I’m always appreciative of the time and effort people put into reviewing my work.

Here’s another snippet. Please keep in mind that since these are first-draft chapters, things will likely be changed once I get to the editing phase. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions to improve the story, please let me know.

Sear pulled through the arch of the Rashid property and parked underneath an awning near an ornate door. The men climbed out of the Noah, pulling out their luggage.

A young man, dressed in a traditional thobe, bowed toward Sear.” Welcome, Sayyid. I am Parvez, the caretaker and sometimes cook. Sayyid Bashari told me to expect your arrival.” Parvez smiled. “Please, follow me.” He led them inside the two-story, whitewashed building with black trim around the windows.

Sear glanced around as they entered. “Parvez, is anyone else living here right now?”

He shook his head. “With the demise of Sayyid Rashid, I am the only one. Why do you ask?”

“Just a feeling I have.” Sear smiled to alleviate any worries Parvez might have. I think he’s lying—my bullshit meter is on overdrive.

Parvez led them along a narrow corridor devoid of furnishings and fixtures into a large, well-lit divan.  Two red and white sofas and four armchairs filled most of the living room, with several round hand-carved tables and two coffee tables arranged around the seating.

Pervez gestured toward the furniture. “If you will be seated, I shall bring you black tea with mint and qahwa, Arabic coffee. I prepared some Yemeni snacks for you after Sayyid Bashari told me you were coming.”

“Just the tea and coffee, for now, Pervez.” Sear patted his stomach. “It’s not that long since Bashari fed us.”

“As you wish. They will be ready when you are hungry.” He turned and left the room.

After Parvez departed, Sear turned to Wasim and Malik. “What do you think?”

Malik rubbed his chin. “I think he is trying to be friendly, but I do not believe he is sincere and cannot be trusted.”

“I agree.” Wasim smiled. “as the RSO used to say, ‘he’s slimy.’”

Sear chuckled. “My thoughts exactly. We’ll need to keep an eye on him.”

“When we meet with Tarik, we should mention Pervez and have Tarik check him out.” Wasim pursed his lips. “We cannot be too careful.”

Sear nodded. “Agreed. I—”

Pervez returned to the divan, pushing a trolley. He set the tea and coffee service on one of the coffee tables, placing a plate of dates next to it. “I know you said you were not hungry, but in the Arab world, we say dates help to rejuvenate the body.” He turned to Sear. “What would you like to drink?”

“Coffee.” Sear studied the young man. “How long have you worked for the Rashid family?”

Pervez twisted his lips into a smile. “They took me in about three years ago. Before that, I lived with some of the homeless in the old part of the city.” He shrugged. “Without their generosity, I would have joined with Allah as so many of the poor have done.”

He served tea to the brothers. “If there is nothing further you require, I shall return to my duties.” He pointed to an old-fashioned bell on the wall, a gold-colored rope attached to it. “The Rashid family found this on one of their excursions. Pull the cord, and I shall hear it.” He turned and departed.

Wasim stood.

“Here are you going?” A look of amusement creased Sear’s face.

“I am going to wander around our new home. Perhaps, I might learn something of interest.”

Malik stood.

“I supposed you’re going to help your brother?” Sear grinned.

“No. I’m going to find a toilet.”

Both men departed, leaving Sear to his thoughts. Plenty of subterfuge going on. I think I can trust Malik and Wasim, but everyone else bears watching. He poured himself some more coffee, now almost cold.

Twenty minutes later, the brothers returned.

Sear glanced at their faces. “Learn anything?”

Wasim shook his head. “Nothing of any use, but I did overhear Pervez talking to someone on the phone. I could not make most of it out, but he did mention you by name.”

“Hmm. Time for me to wander.” Sear left the divan, wandering through the various hallways and rooms of the property. No sign of Pervez. Where did he go?

Sear turned at the sound of a voice, which seemed to come from above. Is he on the roof? If so, why? He walked along the corridor, checking the rooms. All locked. He tried the final door.

It opened to reveal a set of stairs.

Sear pulled out his pistol and climbed the stairs, one at a time, so he didn’t make any noise. When he reached the roof, he eased another door open and stepped out.

Spotting Pervez heading toward him, Sear ducked behind an air conditioning unit. After Pervez passed his hiding place, Sear stepped out behind him. “Who were you talking to?”

Parvez jumped as he shoved the phone into his pocket. “Uh. No one, Sayyid.”

More next time.

I’m also working on a new project as a co-author with Michael Maxwell, the author of over thirty novels. The tentative title is The Great Rebellion – Finn Harding Book One.  It’s a romantic alternate history of the American Civil War. I recently completed a new chapter two and sent it to Michael for approval, which came quickly. Now, I’m busy with a new chapter three.

This brings us to an end for another week. I hope you found something of interest. If you have any suggestions for a topic you’d like to read about, please let me know. Until the next time, thank you for reading and hope you drop in again.

© Copyright 2023 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved


Randall’s Ramblings, November 21, 2021

After a week of mild temperatures and wind, clouds, and rain, with only the occasional glimpse of the sun, we woke up to a bit of frost on the car this morning. Clear skies with a temperature of 40F/4C should make it a pleasant day overall–hope to clear up some of the fallen leaves before we get more rain or worse.

I watched the Michigan State-Ohio State game last night. Both teams had 9-1 records going into the game. What a crushing defeat for Michigan State, 56-7. All I can ask is: how did Ohio State lose a game earlier in the year? Next weekend, it’ll be Michigan vs. Ohio State. I’ll still back Michigan, but who knows what will happen?

Here’s this week’s quote (Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/): “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals.” ~ Henry Ford

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on November 21st, the third Sunday of the month. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

John Bale, English bishop and anti-catholic playwright (Kynge Johan); Charles Scribani, Flemish jesuit and author; Catharina Questiers, Dutch poet (Friend of Abandoned Child); Carlo Innocenzo Fragoni, Italian poet; Voltaire [Francois-Marie Arouet], French writer, philosopher and playwright (Candide); Petrus Augustus de Génestet, Dutch vicar and poet; Arthur Quiller-Couch, Cornish novelist and editor (The Oxford Book Of English Verse 1250–1900); Franz Hessel, German writer; Harold Nicolson, English diplomat and author (Good Behaviour); Jim Bishop, American journalist and author (The Day Lincoln was Shot); Elizabeth George Speare, American author (The Witch of Blackbird Pond); Christopher Tolkien, British author and son of J. R. R. Tolkien; Marilyn French, American author (The Women’s Room); Richard Marcinko, American author; Tina Brown, British journalist (New Yorker, Tattler); and Alec Brownstein, American author, director.

Any names familiar to you? I knew one–Voltaire. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you had a great one!

My Published Work

6 Novels

And, finally, Revenge is participating in a promotion for Mystery & Suspense / Suspense and Romance / Suspense books released in October and November 2021. There are nineteen to choose from. Today is the final day of the promotion, so if you don’t hurry, you’ll miss out.

I found out this week that Mission Angola: Xavier Sear Thriller Book 1 has moved from the slush pile to the long list in the 2021 Chanticleer International Book Awards in the Global Thrillers category. Twenty novels are vying to make the short list. Will keep you posted.

Coming Soon!

ComL-8c(1)No, this isn’t my book. Rather, it’s Sylvia’s debut poetry book. Released under the pen name of Sylvia Grace, Colours of My Life is a collection of Sylvia’s poetry and prose and wraps up with a couple of short stories, including one about Christmas, which is appropriate for a book being released at this time of the year. Encouraged by a myriad of people who purchased her laminated poetry sheets and have asked whether she would put her work in a book, she’s finally taking that step.

Here’s the synopsis:

Colours of My Life is a collection of poetry and prose inspired by my experiences and the world around me—people, animals, nature. Some poems will make you smile, others may touch your emotions and bring tears—embrace them. Gather your inner strength and enjoy the moment. Awaken your feelings and you, too, can rise again.

The paperback cover is now ready. As soon as Sylvia does a couple more content tweaks, Colours of My Life will be available across the Amazon network in Kindle Unlimited, Kindle, and paperback formats.

My Work in Progress

Slide1Work continued this week on Ultimate Escalation, but I’m still not done with the latest chapter as my writing time was devoted to working on Sylvia’s book.  A total of fourteen chapter reviews came in this week, bringing the total to 402. Definitely some great comments to mull over!

Here’s another snippet:

“Good morning!” A heavy-set man dressed in a stained shalwar kameez and black sandals struggled to his feet under the Arabic gum tree and lumbered toward them. “Are you ready for our journey?”

“Umar, this is Vladimir and Mishka.” Ajit motioned toward the Russians. “They will be your passengers. Will you explain how they will be hidden?”

“But of course.” Umar waddled toward the vehicle. “I will drive the truck while you will remain in a space above the cab.” He walked to an area behind the driver’s compartment and reached into a small slot. With a click, a panel opened, revealing a ladder. Grabbing a rung, he turned and grinned. “Follow me to your temporary home.”

One by one, Umar, Vladimir, and Mishka climbed the ladder and squeezed into the dark compartment.

Umar flicked a small switch, bathing the area in a dim glow. There was sufficient height to sit, but they wouldn’t be able to stand. “All the comforts of home—plenty of blankets to cushion you during the trip.” He pointed to four small holes in the ceiling. “Air vents.” He twisted around and gestured to a funnel taped to a hose. “For urination. It will fall onto the road. There are plastic bags in the corner for defecation, but these will have to remain inside with you.”

Ajit stuck his head in the opening. “Here is food and water.” He pushed in two small bags. “When you are ready, we will close the compartment and move Umar’s cargo to keep you hidden.”

“If there is an emergency, how do we escape?” Vladimir rubbed his chin.

“I forgot.” Umar twisted his body again, so he faced the far side of the compartment. “There are four latches. Pull them toward you to unlock them. Use your feet and push—a panel will open so you can get out. Use this only as a last resort. Hidden and scared is much better than revealing yourselves and being killed.”

“How do we communicate with you?” Mishka glanced around. “I see a small speaker, but nothing else.”

Umar nodded. “When you speak in a loud voice, your voice will come through. Do not do this if we are stopped. Others will be able to hear you, too.”

Vladimir nodded. “We are ready to go.”

“Excellent. It will take us about fifteen minutes to move the cargo into position. There will be two planned stops for fuel and pay tolls. Tonight, you will be in Peshawar.”

Vladimir and Mishka placed their pistols and ammunition in handy access positions and used the blankets to create makeshift beds.

“Well, Mishka. Our journey continues.”

“Da. As the American soldiers say in the war movies, ‘Hurry up and wait.’ We might as well get comfortable.”

“Agreed. I just wish we had some vodka, black bread, and dumplings.” Vladimir dug into the food bag Ajit provided. He pulled out a samosa. “Want one?”

Mishka laughed. “Da.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished reading an advanced copy of Hit and Run: Hit and Run – Harry Starke Genesis 7 by Blair Howard. As with all of Blair’s novels, this one will keep you guessing until the final page. It was great to see Harry and Kate head to Florida for this one, even if the case began thirty-five years ago. Will there be anyone left to know what really happened?

There are plenty of suspects to go around, but who really killed three bicyclists and severely injured another one? What was the motive? You’ll have to grab a copy to find out as I don’t like to give plots away. However, this one will have you staying up late and turning the pages to find out if Harry and Kate can solve the mystery. Another superb story from a master storyteller!

This brings us to an end for another week. I hope you found something of interest. If you have any suggestions for a topic you’d like to read about, please let me know. Until the next time, thank you for reading and hope you drop in again.

© Copyright 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved


Randall’s Ramblings, April 18, 2021

We’re finally seeing an end to the morning frosts (I hope) and temperatures are climbing back into normal springtime ranges. There’s been plenty of sunshine each day, and with sunrise and sunset earlier and later, respectively, things are brightening up.

All of the plants and flowers we put in the flowerbeds have survived the frost, although the tips of our existing hydrangeas had some damage. The grass has been treated to its semi-annual weed and feed mixture. Plenty of color to make things more appealing.

Here’s this week’s quote (Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/): “Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you. Not because they are nice, but because you are.”

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

Thomas Middleton, English playwright (A Game at Chess); George Colman the Elder, English dramatist; Pieter ‘t Hoen, Dutch journalist and patriot (Neder-Rhijn); George Henry Lewes, English philosophical writer (Life of Goethe); Henry Clarence Kendall, Australian poet (Bell Birds); Antero Tarquínio de Quental, Portuguese poet (Beatrice); Richard Harding Davis, American journalist and author (Soldiers of Fortune, The King’s Jackal); Oskar Ernst Bernhardt, German author (In the Light of Truth: The Grail Message); Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić, Croatian writer (The Brave Adventures of Lapitch); Vicente Sotto, Filipino politician and author (Sotto Law, Republic Act No. 53); Clara Eggink, Dutch poet (Life with J C Bloem); Stephen Longstreet, American writer (All or Nothing); Joy Davidman, American poet, writer and wife of C. S. Lewis; Cliff Hillegass, American publisher (Cliffsnotes); Leif Panduro, Danish writer (‘k Have varnish on traditions); Raf de Linde [Raphael van Hecke], author (Vaarwel on Gertrude); Samuel P. Huntington, American political scientist (The Clash of Civilizations); Kathy Acker, American experimental novelist (Blood and Guts in High School); and Keith DeCandido, American sci-fi author (Star Trek).

Were any names familiar to you? While Cliff Hillegass’ name wasn’t familiar, I certainly used his Cliffnotes in a variety of classes when I was a student.  Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

My Published Work

I received great news last week. Colombian Betrayal is now a semi-finalist in the 2020 Chanticleer International Book Awards in the Global Thrillers category. Colombian Betrayal will now compete with thirteen other novels for the finalist positions. There’s been a slight change in the progress to the final announcements. The finalists of the sixteen categories will be announced over three days, April 22nd-24th. The Global Thrillers will be announced the evening of April 22nd, so hopefully, I’ll have good news to share next week.

This year, there will be five first place winners and one grand prize winner, which will now be announced on June 5th. Fingers crossed my novel becomes one of the finalists and continues its journey!

My Work in Progress

This week I completed chapters thirty of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. Its now posted on the two online subscription writing sites I use.

Over the past week, there were another twenty-three new chapter reviews, bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 472. Plenty of useful suggestions as always to improve my writing.

Here’s this week’s snippet:

“Many thanks, AJ. Let’s hope they find Heidi soon.” Alive.  “While everyone’s getting settled in, I want to establish some routine. Every Monday and Friday, we’ll meet here for about an hour or so. Monday’s will be to discuss any new business and events from the weekend, while Friday will be used to catch up on what’s happened during the week. Any questions?”

“Yes.” Sam glanced at the others before directing her attention toward Javier. “What if something urgent comes up?”

Javier nodded. “Good point. We can always hold impromptu meetings when they’re needed. As we progress and become a more cohesive team, we can make adjustments.”

He opened the iPad and read for a few moments. “Okay, team. We have our first overseas client, compliments of the DEA.”

“Who gets the assignment?” Wilder “Wild” Harris swiped his hands through his thick, brown hair.

“There’ll be four. The team lead will be one of the Snakes, but I don’t know which one yet—depends on who can break away from their normal duties and use some of their accumulated leave.” Javier gazed at the eager faces. “Sam, Wild, and TJ—you’re up. Cesar, I’ll talk to you later—something separate for you.”

“All right!” Sam and Wild high-fived.

TJ pursed his lips and focused an intense stare on Javier. “So, what’s the job? I assume the mission is drug-related, but where?”

Javier grinned. “Have any of you been to Bermuda? Your contact will be a Doctor Cedric Yates. He’s aware of an American drug smuggler using the island as a transit point to push his produce into Florida and would prefer the U.S. deal with him. Not enough volume to interest DEA since they’re stretched to breaking point, so they contacted us.”

“The team leader will be here tonight.” Javier turned to Sindee. “Set up flights, hotels, and two rentals for three days from now. Plan everything for a ten-day vacation—things will be adjusted based on what the team uncovers.”

Sindee nodded. “What about visas? Can we get them in time?”

Javier shook his head. “I checked last night. Not needed for visits of less than six months.”

“I’ve arranged a specialist training program for you. Not long—two days at the Farm.” AJ glanced at Sam, Wild, and TJ. “You’ll get a day of personal security and a day on the pistol and rifle ranges.” AJ chuckled. “Rest up—you’ll need it as the instructors will try to grind you down.”

“Any questions?” Javier surveyed his team. When no one spoke up, he nodded. “Back to work.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished reading Legend: An Event Group Thriller by David L. Golemon. Imagine searching for a relic surrounded by a legend, only to find out the item is real and protected by a living beast!

David’s story contains vivid descriptions, multiple subplots, and plenty of characters, including the formidable Major Jack Collins and his deputy, Lieutenant Commander Robbie Everett. Will they encounter the beast and rescue a missing archeological team? There’s plenty of action in this one, so get ready for a real page turner!

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

© Copyright 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved