Uncategorized, Writing Announcements

New Release – The Called (Book 2 of The Calling Series)

The world is changing quickly for Chris now that he’s part of the Immortal Community. With the events of his past finally behind him, he’s still having visions and true magic is gradually taking hold in our world. There are new challenges that the Immortals must face, but Chris is still new and has no real standing in the immortal community. Learning that nothing in the Immortal community is what Chris thought and now having to face new threats, how will his new world unfold? Old enemies must work together and longtime friends may not be trustworthy. Who is lurking in the shadows? Why are they here? What does this mean for witches, immortals and humans?

Can Chris’ visions even be trusted given recent events, and how easily his mind is manipulated? With Juliet, Amanda, and Kirtus by his side they have to prevent the immortal and witch community from being exposed. Can they trust the local witches that are there to assist them? Can they trust their fellow Immortals? New friendships are made, and longtime alliances are called into question. How will The Called defeat these latest threats, and what does it mean for our world?

Excerpt (from chapter one):

The question of death returned to me as I reflected on recent events. You die and your body no longer functions. I was wrong. You die and your soul leaves, and what’s left turns to dust. That wasn’t the case.

Everything I thought was no longer my reality.

I sat with a glass of brandy between my hands, focusing on the fire in Juliet’s office. The oranges, reds, and yellows of the flames danced around the logs, releasing a warmth that barely penetrated my worried exterior. The crackling of the fire tickled my ears as the scent of burning pine lingered in and out of my consciousness. A knot tugged the back of my neck. What was this new vision? Worse yet, what did it have to do with me? Not to mention Juliet, Kirtus, Gregor, and the other Immortals.

“Chris.” Juliet’s gentle voice pulled me from my fog of apprehension.

How long had I been like this? A minute? A day? A year? I wasn’t sure. I turned from the fire. Kirtus sat next to me on the sofa, his coat removed, replaced by an air of worry. His red hair, green and gray eyes typically so intoxicating, brought me no joy. Gregor’s tall solid frame blocked one of Juliet’s bookcases, his rugged face a shadow of concern. All of Juliet’s tomes and books, several of them personal journals of her long life, sat there taunting me. Would they be able to unravel this new vision? This new mystery? They were next to no help with the witches, or my father. The monster. I sipped my brandy, hoping it would take the chill from my soul.

I caught Juliet out of the corner of my eye waiting for me to speak. She was patient as always. She sat with her ivory pant-clad leg crossed and a glass of red in her hand, but deep in her stunning eyes there was unease. Despite her apprehension in moments like this, she appeared so young. Nevertheless, behind that façade of youth was the power of an Immortal who had been around for 1650 years. No one should ever underestimate her.

My eyes narrowed on the red, and my stomach flipped, not from hunger or desire but from this new burden I was meant to carry.

“Would you like a glass?” she offered. Her dark blonde hair, normally combed out, was in a ponytail, making her appear all the younger. I caught a whiff of vanilla and roses, her signature scent. I inhaled deeper, hoping it would soothe me.

I shook my head.

“I realize it’s difficult, but please can you tell us the vision again.” Juliet’s voice was a whisper, but the request rang in my head. How many times would I have to retell this story?

I put the half-full brandy glass on the coffee table, recalling the images to me. “I’m standing in some kind of chamber, but it’s not anyplace I’ve been.” I scanned their three faces. “It’s not here.” My heart pounded louder in my chest. I focused on my breathing a bit more before I continued. “In the center, there is what appears to be a formal table of polished stone with nine ornately carved chairs around it. On the wall…” I kept my eyes closed and focused on the wall. “There’s a mural. You’re in it, Juliet; so is Sybil, Garrett, Fernando, Rahim, all the members of the Council of Light.”

“The council chamber in Egypt.” Juliet tapped her finger on the edge of her glass, the noise echoing throughout her office.

The sentence was barely spoken before all the images of my vision flashed back. It was too much, and my eyes flew open. Juliet, Gregor, and Kirtus surveyed me. Considering their strained expressions, they are worried about me. I waved off their unease and shook my head.

“What else?” Gregor’s deep voice cool and calm, but the glance he shared with Juliet betrayed his composure. He didn’t understand what to do with this information any more than I did.

I pulled the vision to my thoughts and continued, “The wall with the mural began to crack and crumble and I smell smoke. The chamber is on fire…” I focused on Juliet. “The stone table crumbles. The chairs burn and everything is in shambles.”

Juliet nodded and sipped her red.

“Something or someone destroyed it, but I didn’t see them.”

“Who could do such a thing?” Kirtus rubbed his hands together. “Only the Council of Light knows the actual location.”

“What else do you see?” Juliet’s peaceful aura melted my worry and fear. After a moment my thoughts cleared. Normally I would be upset at her for using her gift on me, but I needed it. Especially after all that had happened these last few weeks. My mother’s sacrifice to save me and kill my father still haunted me. My father’s death came after we discovered he was in charge of a coven of witches who wanted to destroy the world. It was a battle we had to fight to stop the witches from releasing true magic into our world.

We failed at that. True magic had still seeped into our world before we cut it off.

I had hoped it was all behind us. I wanted things to return to normal, but my gift of being a Seer had other plans. I focused once more on the brandy, wanting a sip but not taking it; my gaze returned to the fire. More of the vision came forward. “As the room fell to ruin and the mural burned, a large carved wooden chair with inlays of gold and decorated with jewels pushed the debris away.” I closed my eyes again. “There was a shadow figure sitting in the chair.”

“Who is it?” Kirtus asked.

“I’m not sure, but I hear his voice.” I pushed my eyes together tighter to help me hear.

“I’ve stayed out of the way of history, but it’s time to return and bring what is right and just back to this world.” I took a breath. “That’s what he said, but I don’t sense malice from him, but I don’t know. Sorrow and pain, maybe. Sacrifice?”

“What does he look like?” Juliet called me to focus.

“He’s tall and he’s wearing some kind of toga with deep crimson and white stripes. I can’t really see anything else.” My eyes fluttered open.

Everyone was silent. The crackle of the fire might as well have been the rumble of a train going through the room. It was unbearable, and I was about to speak.

Kirtus beat me to it. “Why don’t we take a break?”

I shook my head. “It’s fine. After the man vanished, I was standing on a grass-covered pasture. In front of me was a hill with a young girl sitting there laughing and clapping her hands. She had long brown hair and her gaze planted on an oversized full moon. It was impossibly big.” I sighed. “I’m sorry but that’s all.” I slouched deeper in the couch, focusing my own gaze on the ceiling and the rich wood inlays and trim. “I have no idea what any of it means.” The square patterns offered my brain a relaxing, ordered shape.

“That’s okay.” Gregor’s voice was stronger now as if he realized what needed to be done.

Maybe he did. I couldn’t be sure.

“You’ve given us a lot of information to go through. Add that to the reports of magic both Victor and I have seen. There is a lot happening we still have to address,” Gregor continued. “Once we begin to break it down, perhaps more will come to you.”

I faced him. “Maybe. I hope so, because right now, it feels like a whole lot of nothing. Especially when you are already dealing with these other problems.”

“We’re all new to this Seer business.” Kirtus’s hand rested on my leg.

His touch caused a shiver to rush through my body, and right now, all I wanted to do was take him to me, hold him, and get lost in his arms and warm body.

“Plus, it’s not like you haven’t been through a whole lot of hell over the last few weeks.” Kirtus offered me a grin, the single dimple on his left cheek popping out. It melted away more of my worry.

“Is it possible it’s another witch?” Kirtus asked. “Especially if magic is involved.”

He must have already known about the reports of magic being seen both in San Jose and up in San Francisco. Either way he didn’t seem surprised by this news. Or, he could have an amazing poker face.

I turned toward Juliet, who had left the chair she was sitting in and walked over to her office windows to look out. Her ivory pants and jade-green shirt somehow still looked as crisp as the moment she had glided into my bedroom only a few hours ago.

“I doubt it’s a witch, especially given the comment about staying out of histories way and setting things right.” Juliet’s voice was tight. “The clothing Chris describes is a Roman Senator, I think.” She turned to me and the others. “Another Immortal, maybe, one from the fall of Rome.”

“That doesn’t narrow the list down.” Gregor pulled at his goatee. “Especially if we include the Dark.” His frown stretched farther across his face. “Perhaps we need to talk to Victor.”

“I can ask him,” Kirtus offered. “He mentioned he wanted to see me this week.” He tried not to grimace.

Was it about the lieutenant position and the posting as his representative to the Council of Light? What he mentioned to me earlier tonight? Was that what he wanted to speak to him about?

“Thank you.” Gregor offered a slight bow of his head. “Juliet, is there anyone you know who can help with this?” He walked over to the golden cart with the bottles of alcohol and red on it. He poured himself a glass of red. “What about the witches you know here? What about the local coven? You have a good relationship with them. What about the one who charmed this estate?”

Juliet’s lips pulled into a small frown. She crossed over to the cart and poured herself another glass of red.

“I could have gotten you that.” Gregor’s tone was gentle.

She waved him off before she sipped her drink. “He’s a Healer, not a witch, and I’m not sure if he will assist us; we have an unfortunate history.” She held her drink in one hand and pulled a book from the shelf. She turned to her desk and walked to her seat, a quiet, far-off look about her.

I peeked over at Kirtus. “We should go.” I stood and glanced over to Juliet. “You have a lot on your plate with the reports of magic. I’m sorry I’ve added to the burden, but with this new vision I figured you needed to know.”

“Chris, if you see anything else…” She trailed off.

“Of course.”

“Thank you, Chris.” Gregor extended his hand. “This new vision and perhaps the magic we’ve seen may be related.”

“I hope not.” The pull of Kirtus’s body helped me realize he was by my side. “I’ll see if I can track down anyone on my end.” He glanced over to Juliet. “My network isn’t nearly as broad as yours, but you never know.”

“I think we’ll need all the help we can get,” Gregor affirmed.

I spared a worried glance at Juliet. Something was bothering her, and it wasn’t just my vision or the reports of magic. I didn’t recognize what it was, but I understood my creator well enough to leave her be. She would tell me once she had processed her thoughts and all my vision information.

She met my gaze. “Yes, we’ll speak more. Thank you for understanding.”

“Of course.” I took Kirtus’s hand, and we walked out of her office for the second time tonight.

Pick up a copy at the following:

NineStar Press: https://bit.ly/3uNlkeM
Website: https://www.mdneu.com/shop
UBL: https://books2read.com/The-Called 

About The Author:

M.D. Neu is an international award-winning inclusive queer Fiction Writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be. Specifically drawn to Science Fiction and Paranormal television and novels, M.D. Neu was inspired by the great Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alice Walker, Alfred Hitchcock, Harvey Fierstein, Anne Rice, and Kim Stanley Robinson. An odd combination, but one that has influenced his writing.

Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.

When M.D. Neu isn’t writing, he works for a non-profit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric his husband of twenty plus years.

© Copyright 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

Continue reading “New Release – The Called (Book 2 of The Calling Series)”

Uncategorized

Reaper Bookiversary

How do you fight a monster?

Halloween night, 1992. Promised the allowance he’s always dreamed of, Gregory has to babysit his little sister Imogen and hand out candy.

That was before the basement door opened on its own. Before the strange door appeared in the basement. Before Imogen was taken from him by that terrifying monster.

Now, Gregory has to scramble to put the pieces together before it’s too late. Where did the door come from? What was that creature? Can he save his sister, or is she already gone forever?

If you haven’t read Jonathan Pongratz’s work, you’re missing out. Check out Reaper–available across the Amazon network. Jonathan  is a writer and author 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.

 

Randall's Ramblings

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

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, April 11, 2021

Decent spring weather continues to evade us. During the past week, we’ve had a frost each morning, with daytime temperatures struggling to get above 45F/7C. While there’s been plenty of sunshine each day, we’ve also had multiple snow squalls. Fortunately, there hasn’t been any accumulation, but we can see damage to new buds on several shrubs and trees due to the crazy weather.

With the lifting of some Covid restrictions, we had an opportunity to visit a local garden center/nursery and pick up a few hardy perennials which we know from experience can handle the current weather. They’re in the ground and seem to be loving it!

Here’s this week’s quote (Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/): “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on April 11th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays)

Antoine Coypel, French painter and poet; Christopher Smart, English poet & journalist (Ceremony of Carols); Manuel Jose Quintana, Spanish author and poet (El Duque de Viseo); Claude Tillier, French journalist and writer (My Uncle Benjamin); Bernard O’Dowd, Australian poet; Léo-Paul Desrosiers, Quebec novelist (Les Engagés du Grand Portage); Sándor Márai, Hungarian writer (A gyertyák csonkig égnek); Glenway Wescott, American writer (Apartment in Athens); Quentin Reynolds, American newscaster (Its News to Me) and author (FBI); József Attila, Hungarian poet; Leo Rosten, American writer and humourist (Joys of Yiddish); David Westheimer, American novelist (Von Ryan’s Express); Marlen Haushofer, Austrian writer (The Wall); Antoine Blondin, French writer (L’Europe buissonnière); Theodore Isaac Rubin, American psychiatrist and author credited with popularising psychotherapy; Clive Exton, British scriptwriter and playwright; Tony Brown, American journalist (Tony Brown’s Journal); Mark Strand, American poet, editor and translator (Another Republic); Ellen Goodman, American political columnist (Pulitzer 1980); John Milius, American screenwriter (Red Dawn, 1941, Big Wednesday); James Patrick Kelly, American sci-fi author (Think Like a Dinosaur); and Sergei Lukyanenko, Russian sci-fi author (Labyrinth of Reflections).

Were any names familiar to you? I didn’t find any.  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 this 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. This year, there will be five first place winners and one grand prize winner, which will be announced on April 25th. Fingers crossed my novel becomes one of the finalists and continues its journey!

All five of my novels are participating in a month-long Bookfunnel promotion called Chilling Reads  (99 cents or KU), comprising seventy-three action & adventure, mystery & suspense, and sci-fi & fantasy/horror novels. My novels are all available through Kindle Unlimited. This promotion runs through April 15th, so don’t miss out!

My Work in Progress

This week I completed chapters twenty-eight and twenty-nine of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. Both are now posted on the two online subscription writing sites I use.

Over the past week, there were another twenty new chapter reviews, bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 449. Plenty of useful suggestions as always to improve my writing.

Here’s this week’s snippet:

After dusk set, Bennie and Justin headed to the basement. Both wore clown masks. One of them flicked on the dim light, and they thundered down the stairs.

Heidi bolted upright, keeping the chair between her and the two men. “Stay away from me!”

“Relax, princess.” Justin stepped closer, a cloth in his hand. “We’re going to take a little ride.”

Heidi rushed to a corner of the room, pressing her back against the wall. “Don’t come any closer or I’ll—”

“You’ll what?” Bennie pointed at the ceiling. “Sound-suppression tiles. While someone upstairs might hear you, no one outside this building will.” He grinned. “You belong to us.”

Heidi jerked away as Bennie tried to grab her hand. She swung a fist, catching him on the side of his mouth. “Bastard!” She stepped forward, thrusting a knee into his groin.

He collapsed to the floor, hands covering his wounded parts.

Before Heidi realized where the other clown was, Justin grabbed her in a bear hug. He worked the cloth into Heidi’s mouth before pinning her against the wall.

“Help me, Bennie!” Justin grabbed one of Heidi’s hands and wrenched it behind her back. “Quit playing with yourself and help tie her up.”

“But she kneed me. It hurts like hell!”

“Just help me.” Justin grabbed Heidi’s hair and slammed her forehead into the wall.

She dropped to the floor.

***

The rocking of a vehicle brought Heidi out of her stupor. She moaned as she struggled against her bonds, eventually freeing herself from the loosely-tied rope. Where are they taking me? Need to wait for a chance to escape.

The car slowed and turned to the right, continuing along a rut-filled road.

Heidi bounced a few times against the trunk’s roof. “Ow!”

A few minutes later, the vehicle stopped. Two doors slammed.

Footsteps drew near.

Heidi tensed.

The trunk opened. Hands reached inside and yanked her out, spilling her onto the ground.

Both men laughed.

One waved a gun. “Get up, princess. Time to go.”  He gestured toward a copse. “We’re gonna have some fun.”

Heidi pretended to stumble as she followed a narrow path along the edge of a lake. When one of them grabbed her, she lashed out, catching the man in the kneecap.

“Get out of the way, Bennie! She’s gonna escape!”

Heidi ran through the thick trees. “Help! Rape!”

A shot echoed across the water. “Come back, bitch!”

Another shot.

Heidi screamed and lurched forward.

Justin stood over her, the pistol aimed at her head. “You’re mine.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

I’m almost finished with Legends: An Event Group Thriller by David L. Golemon and will offer my review next time. I have several other books lined up to read, so I better start turning the pages!

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

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, April 21, 2021

Spring has officially arrived. We’ve had a great week of weather, with plenty of sunshine and just one short shower. Things are greening up, trying to remove the last vestiges of winter. Most of the dead leaves and branches have been removed, and pruning is well underway.

We even had great luck this week when our local grocery store received an order of garden plants. Nine viola plants (purple and yellow flowers) were successfully planted across the front border of our property. We also purchased eighteen Bellis daisies (pink flowers), and they’ll be planted later today. Eventually, the garden centres/nurseries will open back up, but I imagine they’ll be a madhouse, at least for the first few days. With any luck, we’ll be able to pick up a few more plants.

Keep going. Each step may get harder, but don’t stop. The view at the top is beautiful.” (Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/)

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on March 21st. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays) Jean Paul, German romantic writer (Titan); Geoffrey Dearmer, poet; Phyllis McGinley, American poet (Pulitzer 1961, Love Letters); John Paxton, screenwriter (On The Beach, Kotch, Farewell My Lovely); Peter Bull, British actor and author (The African Queen, Tom Jones, Dr Strangelove); Frank Hardy, Australian author; Peter Hacks, German playwright (Tie Windloch); and Hubert Fichte, German writer.

Not many today. Was anyone familiar to you? 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

Mission: Angola is also participating in a promotion for New Releases – Mystery/Thriller. There are forty-two novels in this promotion, all of which have been released since October 2020. Please stop by–you might meet your next favorite author!

In case you missed it last week, I’m also pleased to announce the release of my first non-fiction feature article, “Black Ops in Fiction.” It’s now live on the web daily, Mystery & Suspense Magazine. Please check it out!

My Work in Progress

With all of the outdoors work this week, I didn’t have time to complete the next chapter of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. Over the past week, there were another nine new chapter reviews,  bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 401. Plenty of useful suggestions to improve my writing. I hope to get back to working on this novel this coming week.

Here’s this week’s snippet:

Javier thundered down the two flights of stairs to the ground floor. The echo of his footsteps marked his passing. Even the plush stair carpeting couldn’t deaden the sound.

When he stepped into the reception area, Elton, Sindee, and Bruno stood in a semi-circle, their mouths open.

“What?” Javier glanced from face to face.

“Sounded like the place was caving in, boss.” A cheeky smile appeared on Bruno’s face. “I didn’t know whether to run or hide.”

Elton and Sindee both nodded, hands in front of their faces, attempting to block their grins.

“You guys should take a look in the mirror.” Javier laughed. “If I didn’t know any better, I would think this a model agency.” He put his hands on his hips. “I mean, check yourselves out.” He pointed at Elton. “What do I see? Someone who’s tall, rake thin with pronounced cheekbones and dark hair scraped back off his porcelain skin.”

“I wanted to become a model, but my mother was against it.” Elton pursed his lips. “She said to find a real job.”

“Well, she might be right. I’m not sure how much male models make, but I heard it was less than women earn.” Javier gestured at Sindee. “A gorgeous blonde, poker-straight hair, doe-eyed and bee-stung lips. Do I detect a hint of Eastern European bone structure?”

“Yes, my grandmother was from Poland.” Sindee flashed a glamourous smile. “I did try modeling, but one photographer was a perv—wanted me to strip and lie on a couch so he could shove his camera between my legs. That was enough for me—I went back to college.”

Javier turned to Bruno. “What about you? I’m sure with your height, deep-set eyes, dark Bedouin curly hair, and a long-distance runner’s physique, modeling would be something you might enjoy.”

Bruno shook his head. “No, thanks!”

Everyone laughed.

“Hello!” AJ strolled into the room. “Javier, I thought you were setting up an investigative agency. She smothered a grin with a hand. “Looks more like a talent agency.”

“How’d you get in? The front door is locked.” Javier turned and glared at his new receptionist.

Elton gulped. “Y-Yes.”

“You forgot you gave me access.” AJ dangled a set of keys.” I parked behind the building and came in through the front door.”

Javier pursed his lips. “Sorry, ET. I should have known better.”

“No worries, boss.”

“So, what brings you here? Shouldn’t you be saving the free world or something?”

AJ laughed. “Since you retired, your brain cells are diminishing. Did you forget you invited me over for a confab? MacKenzie will reach me if something urgent breaks.”

Javier raised shut his eyes as he shook his head. “Sorry, I forgot.” He turned to his employees. “Wrap up what you need to and take the rest of the day off. Be here early tomorrow, and we’ll move things forward.” He offered and arm to AJ. “Shall we head upstairs?”

“As long as you behave yourself. Otherwise, ….”

“Promises, promises.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished reading American Assassin by the late Vince Flynn. For those you have read Vince’s work, you’ll recognize this as another of his great action-packed plots. Follow the creation of Mitch Rapp from university student to trained killer, seeking out American enemies. If you haven’t read this one yet, I suggest you do so–you won’t be disappointed!

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

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, March 14, 2021

Another week has sailed past. Things are shaping up nicely in the flower beds, but just with plants that survived the winter. We haven’t ordered anything for this season as the weather is still too unsettled. A couple of days ago, we had thunder, lightning, and enough hail to cover the ground as if it had snowed.

Today we’re off to a fresh start, with overcast skies and a bitter breeze, making it feel much colder than it really is. Who knows what’s in store for us, but rain is in the forecast.

“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them. (Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/)

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

Théodore de Banville, French writer; Antonio de Castro Alves, Brazilian poet (Espumas Flutuantes); Alexandru Macedonski, Romanian writer; John Lane, British publisher (The Bodley Head); Algernon Blackwood, English novelist (The Willows); Isadore Gilbert Mudge, American librarian and author (Thackeray Dictionary); Carel T Scharten, Dutch poet and writer (Forces of the Future); Sylvia Beach, American publisher and bookseller (Shakespeare and Company); John P Strijbos, Dutch writer (Wandering through South-Africa); Andre Pieyre de Mandiargues, French writer (Margin); Horton Foote, American author, playwright and screenwriter; Macha Louis Rosenthal, critic/poet; Max Shulman, novelist (Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Tender Trap); Colin Fletcher, Welsh author and pioneering backpacker (Walking Through Time); John Barrington Wain, English novelist/poet (Hurry on Down); Bertrand Blier, novelist/director (Going Places); Peter Paul Zahl, writer; Pam Ayres, British poet; Billy Crystal, Long Beach, New York, American actor, writer, producer (Soap, City Slickers); Michael Stedman, British World War I Historian and Author; Andrew Robinson, British author; Tad Williams, American fantasy and science fiction author; and Kevin Williamson, American screenwriter.

Anyone familiar to you? The only one I recognise is Billy Crystal. 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

All five of my novels are participating in a month-long Bookfunnel promotion called Chilling Reads  (99 cents or KU). My novels are all available through Kindle Unlimited. Mission: Angola is also participating in a separate promotion for New Releases – Mystery/Thriller. There are forty-two novels in this promotion, all of which have been released since October 2020. Please stop by–you might meet your next favorite author!

I’m also pleased to announce the release of my first non-fiction feature article, “Black Ops in Fiction.” It’s now live on the web daily, Mystery & Suspense Magazine. Please check it out!

My Work in Progress

This week, I finished chapters twenty-four and twenty-five of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. Both chapters were posted to the two online subscription writing sites I use. Over the past week, there were another twenty new chapter reviews,  bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 392. Plenty of useful suggestions to improve my writing. I hope to get back to working on this novel this coming week.

Here’s this week’s snippet:

Dressed in a blue sport shirt and tan chinos, Javier sat at a corner table, waiting for three new employees. He opened his laptop and grinned as he reread the short email:

Congratulations! The establishment of the Brusch Agency is hereby approved and duly recorded in all relevant databases. Good luck!

Javier sipped on an orange juice, the remains of his breakfast on a nearby plate. After checking for additional emails, he turned his laptop off.

“Good morning, sir!” Elton stood at attention near the table.

“Hey, ET. Stop with the formality. Call me Javier or boss, but stop with the sir. That retired when I did. And don’t call me Mister Smith.” Javier gestured to an empty chair. “Take a seat.”

“Yes, sir—I mean, okay, Javier.” Elton grinned as he sat. “I’m so excited—this is my first real job—with a professional.”

Javier chuckled. “I hope I don’t disappoint you. We both put on our trousers the same way.” He gestured at the menu, still on the table. “Want something to eat while we wait for the others.”

“No, thanks. I had a big bowl of Cornflakes before coming here.”

Of course, you did. I’m surprised it wasn’t Wheaties. “Okay.” He waved to a passing waitress and asked for a coffee.

She glanced at Elton, who nodded.

Javier reached down by a table leg and retrieved his backpack. He pulled out an envelope and pushed it toward Elton. “This contains your keys for our new property, along with the security alarm codes. There are also two copies of your contract. Check it over, and if you’re satisfied, sign and date both of them. You keep one, and I’ll take the other.” Javier yanked two more envelopes from his bag. “These are for Sindee and Bruno. Take care of things for me.”

Elton nodded. “Sure thing, boss.”

Two people followed the waitress, who carried a loaded tray. After she deposited four cups, a pot of coffee, and a plate of donuts on the stable, she departed.

The other two grabbed empty chairs.

“Everyone’s made it.” Javier grinned. “Let’s eat and drink up. It’s about a fifteen-minute walk to the office.”

Conversation at the table trickled to a minimum as everyone became serious about claiming their share of the coffee and pastries.

When Javier noticed everyone was finished, he waved for the bill.

A waiter rushed over, holding a wallet. “Anything else, sir?”

Javier shook his head. “Not today—time for us to head to work.” He peeked inside the folder before pulling out his wallet. Slipping the funds plus including a substantial tip into the folder, he handed it back to the waiter and stood. “See you again—soon.”

Out on the street, Javier pointed and set off on a rapid clip, the others trailing behind.

“Hey, boss.” Elton stopped and sucked in air. “Where’s the fire?”

Javier chuckled. “No fire—just need to work off the calories.”

“Well, can we do it at a slower pace?”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

Late last night (or early thing morning, depending on how you look at things) I finished reading American Assassin by Vince Flynn. I haven’t written my review yet, so I’ll post my comments next time.  What have you been reading? Anything you think I might enjoy?

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

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, February 28, 2021

We’ve made it to the end of another month–hard to believe how fast February has zoomed past.  The weather’s improving a bit, too. Over the past week, there’s been enough sunshine and wind to dry out some of the damp areas so I could finally clean up the remainder of last autumn’s leaves. I even managed to turn over some of the flower beds and snag the weeds I missed before. Why do weeds always grow so well?

There’s still plenty to do outdoor, but I’m not rushing–a couple hours each day is enough. That allows for the sunshine and wind to start drying out everything I’ve dug over or the areas I’ve finally cleared. The hydrangas are already starting to bud and it won’t be long before we begin seeing other signs of springs. Roll on!

“The value of a smile is priceless, yet it is the cheapest, easiest, most rewarding, and most sincere gift to anyone that crosses your path. A smile makes a person’s day, anybody’s day even a stranger’s day. A smile is infectious. Start infecting people with your smile today.”

(Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/)

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

Michel de Montaigne, French philosopher and essayist (Essais); Ernest Renan, French philosopher/historian/scholar of religion; Quincy Adams Gillmore, American civil engineer, author, and Major General (Union Army); Hermann Schell, German theologist/philosopher (Gott und Geist); Arthur Symons, Welsh poet/critic/co-founder (Savoy); Vyacheslav Ivanov, Russian philosopher, playwright and poet; Jose Vasconcelos, politician, essayist, philosopher; Jose Gutierrez Solana, Spanish painter and author (Madrid Escenas); Ben Hecht, American novelist/playwright/screenwriter (Front Page); Laura Z. Hobson, American writer (Gentleman’s Agreement); Rudolf W. Nilsen, Norwegian poet (Hverdagen); Glyn Jones, Welsh, novelist, poet and literary historian; Stephen Spender, English poet and critic (Vienna, Edge of Darkness); Amir Hamzah, Indonesian poet (Njanji Sunji); Bernard Frank, French writer and oriental scholar; John Montague, Irish poet and 1st occupant of the Ireland Chair of Poetry; Bruce Dawe, Australian poet; Jack Thieuloy, French writer; Peter Alliss, English golfer (Ryder Cup 1957 GB winners) and author, course designer and television presenter, commentator (BBC, ESPN, ABC Sports); Alice May Brock, American author; and Tristan Louis, American writer.

Anyone familiar to you? I didn’t see and I new this week. 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

I finished chapter twenty-three of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. Over the past week, there were another nine new chapter reviews,  bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 360. As always, plenty of useful suggestions to improve my writing. I hope to get back to working on this novel this coming week.

Here’s another snippet for you:

Javier disconnected the call after the sixth ring. Where is she? I thought she would sit in on the interviews. Hope everything’s okay. Perhaps work got in the way.

Before he returned to his seat, something blocked the light. Javier glanced over his shoulder.

A giant of a man approached, a hand outstretched. “You must be Javier. I’m TJ Parker.”

Javier’s hand seemed to disappear in the handshake. He looked up into the man’s face. “What are you, seven feet tall?”

An intense stare emanated from TJ’s dark eyes. He spoke in a soft voice. “Not quite. Six foot nine.”

“Take a seat.” Javier gestured toward a chair, and he returned to his. “What was your military occupational specialty?”

“Ninety-seven echo.”

Javier tapped his chin. Fits—his mere presence would intimidate anyone. “Interrogator, right?”

TJ nodded.

“Ever fire a gun at someone?”

TJ tilted his head and focused his gaze on Javier. “A stupid question. If you read my application, you know I served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Self-protection was paramount.”

“Just wanted to hear your response.” Javier grinned. “I’m planning to use two teams of investigators. One will be handling overseas assignments, and it’s possible there might be some shooting.”

“Sounds like where I belong.” TJ grinned. “What’s the pay?”

“There’ll be a one-year probationary period. During that time, you’ll earn seventy-five thousand, plus overtime, expenses, and bonuses.”

“Don’t seem like much.”

Javier gestured at ET.

“The average salary for a private investigator in Alexandria is sixty-two thousand, plus you would be responsible for your own overhead costs.” ET glanced up from the screen. “The agency will provide medical insurance, which will also cover any requirements overseas, Metro or parking reimbursement, and a 401K package.”

TJ flexed his biceps. “What about paying for a gym membership?”

Javier shook his head. “No. But what you want will be located in the basement of our building.”

“Count me in.” TJ half-rose and offered a hand to Javier.

He stuck his hand into the vice and tried not to wince as TJ crushed it. Javier stood. “Welcome aboard. We’ll be in touch in a few days with the contract.”

TJ waved a hand and departed.

As soon as he was gone, Javier flexed the fingers in his hand. “Hope the last guy doesn’t have a grip like his. We better make sure our gym is fully equipped.”

ET nodded and pointed toward the far end of the table. “Your visitor.”

Javier turned and spotted a tall, well-toned woman with blonde hair and blue eyes. “Can I help you?”

The woman stepped forward. “I made an appointment—Samantha Bennett. Call me Sam.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

I’m not quite finished with Act of War (Scot Harvath Book 13)  by Brad Thor, so I’ll post my comments next time.  What have you been reading? Anything you think I might enjoy?

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

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, February 21, 2021

The really cold weather and the snow have disappeared–that’s the good news! While we’re back to milder temperatures, instead of snow we have rain–almost every day. At least there’s been some heavy winds to dry things out when the rain stops.

When there were long enough dry spells, I was finally able to clean up some of the leaves in the back which I didn’t get to because of the prolonged rainy season. It’s starting out overcast but dry, so I might get some more done today!

“While you wake up today someone is breathing their last breath, Thank God for another day, don’t waste it.” (Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/)

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

Justus van Effen, writer/founder (Holland Spectator); Willem van Haren, Frisian nobleman/poet (Human Life); Louis-Pierre Anquetil, French historian; Charles L Fournier, Flemish writer/painter; Karl A Varnhagen von Ense, German officer/author (Die Sterner); John Henry Newman, England, cardinal/author (Dream of Gerontius); Jose Zorrilla y Moral, Vallodolid Spain, poet/dramatist (El rey Loco); [James] Burner Matthews, US playwright/critic (NY Times); Pierre de Bréville, French composer, author and professor (Une histoire du théâtre lyrique en France); Jacob D du Toit [Totius], South African poet/theologist; Waldemar Bonsels, German writer; Clemence Dane, British novelist and playwright; Raymond Queneau [M Presle], French author (Un Enfant a Dit); Anaïs Nin, French writer; Armand Preud’homme, Flemish organist/poet; Wystan Hugh Auden, American poet (Age of Anxiety-Pulitzer 1948); Hans Andreus [Johan W van der Zant], Dutch poet (Animal Language); Herman de Coninck, Flemish writer/poet (Impossible Work); Chuck Palahniuk, American writer; David Foster Wallace, American writer (Infinite Jest, The Broom of the System); and Kumail Nanjiani, Pakistani American comedian, actor and writer (The Big Sick, Silicon Valley).

Anyone familiar to you? All the names were unfamiliar to me this week. 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

Two of my novels, The Kurdish Connection and Dangerous Alliance, are participating in a month-long Bookfunnel promotion called, Alpha Males (Human). There’s still time before the promotion ends on February 28th, so why not drop in and see if there’s anything that sparks your interest? All of the authors will be greatly appreciated!

My Work in Progress

I didn’t quite finish the next chapter of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal as real-life requirements took precedence. Over the past week, there were another five new chapter reviews,  bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 351. Plenty of useful suggestions to improve my writing. I hope to get back to working on this novel this coming week.

Here’s this week’s snippet:

“However, your reputation precedes you. No one doubts you’re both brilliant analysts—your IQ scores are off the charts. However, my friend thinks your over-exuberant personalities won’t work in an environment where you can’t draw attention to yourselves.”

The twins looked at each other, before speaking in unison, “But we can tone things down when needed.”

“Field operatives must become part of their environment and not be noticed. Somehow, I don’t see you fitting into this role.” AJ raised a hand to ward off any further objections. “I’m sure the only time you two are introverted is when you’re asleep.”

Everyone laughed.

“So, what do you suggest?” Her badge identified her as MacKenzie, who often took the lead in speaking when the twins were together. “At first, working for the CIA was a thrill, but too many people are always telling us what to do. We don’t require constant supervision.”

AJ nodded. “I know this, which is why I keep my requests for updates from you to a minimum. However, too many people feel threatened by your brilliance and try to find something wrong with your work.”

Makayla raised a hand. “What do you suggest we do? We’ve been working here since graduating from Princeton when we were seventeen. Yet, you’re the only boss we’ve had who allows us to stretch ourselves and take on more assignments.”

“I understand. Which is why I spoke with Human Resources today.”

“What about?” MacKenzie’s eyes seemed to widen with alarm. “Are we in trouble again? We said we wouldn’t create any more disturbances in the cafeteria.”

“No, you’re not in trouble. I’ve been trying to find a way to tap into your genius without you being stifled by bureaucracy and might have come up with a solution.”

“What?” MacKenzie and Makayla leaned forward.

“Hold on—you may not like it.” AJ glanced from one twin to the other. “As you’re aware, my friend Javier—”

“Yeah, more like a lover than a casual friend, if you ask me.” Makayla struggled to hold her laughter. “Is that how you refer to him?”

“Never mind.” AJ tilted her head. “As I was saying, Javier’s moving forward with his investigative agency. He happened to mention last night he needed at least two experienced research analysts who could work with minimal supervision.”

“But we have jobs.” MacKenzie frowned. “We might be good, but we’re not magicians.”

“Here’s the deal. He’s willing to take you both on a part-time basis. HR informed me it’s possible to keep you working here on a part-time basis. Javier also mentioned you would be required to go through the field training he’ll be setting up.”

‘Woohoo!” The twins performed a celebratory dance while seated, arms above their heads as if they were cheerleaders.

“When do we start?” Makayla rubbed her hands together.

“As soon as Javier has everything up and running.”

“Count me in.” Makayla glanced at MacKenzie.

“Heck, yeah. If Javier hires us, will you be coming along?” MacKenzie raised a brow. “You keep telling us how much you detest being behind that desk. I remember you said there was a job for you, too.”

AJ grinned. “You better get back to work. I want to finish up and head out early for a change.” Need to do some thinking about my future, too.

***

Her day completed, AJ secured her computer, spun the combination lock on her safe, and headed out of her office. Once in her car, she turned on the radio and began humming to a tune.

She pulled into the rush-hour traffic and began the crawl home, her fingers tapping on the wheel to the sound of the music. When she reached her exit, she signaled and shot along the ramp.

The traffic light flicked to yellow.

AJ gunned her engine.

Beeeeep! Beeeeep!

AJ turned toward the thunderous twin blasts of an air horn. Her eyes grew wide as an eighteen-wheeler sped through the intersection toward her.

Baaang!

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

This week I finished reading Blair Howard’s One Dark Night (Harry Starke Genesis Series Book 6), which will be released on February 28th. As with all of Blair’s novels, there’s a riveting plot with plenty of twists and turns so readers won’t be able to figure out who the culprits might be. Along with the stalwart Harry, his team, and Kate Gazarra from the Chattanooga Police Department, we find ourselves embroiled in a fourteen-year-old double murder of a young couple. But who was the villain or villains? Will it be a member of a local wealthy family or someone from a family teetering on the poverty line?

This one will have you turning the pages to find out what happens as Harry and the others do their utmost to solve the riddle, while at the same time, try not to get themselves killed. Once again Blair show why he’s a master at these ‘whodunnit’ stories. Can’t wait for the next one! I received an advanced copy in return for an honest review.

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

 

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, January 31, 2021

Here we are at the end of January–couldn’t have come soon enough! Hopefully, the near-constant fog, rain, sleet, and snow (occasionally brightened up when the sun dared to venture out) will be behind us, although that’s highly unlikely. Still, we’re on the cusp of a new month, and there’s more daylight each day.

“If we can see something Invisible, we can also create something Impossible.” (Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/)

“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” (Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/)

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

Nicolas Saboly, French composer and poet; Jozsef Bajza, Hungarian author/poet/critic; Antony Winkler Prins, Dutch writer (Groiler Encyclopaedia); Emil Strauss, German writer (Naked Man); Zane Grey, American West novelist (Riders of the Purple Sage); Freya Stark, English explorer/ travel writer; Marie Luise Kaschnitz, writer; Gardner Cowles, Iowa, publisher/founder (Look Magazine); Anna Blaman [Johanna P Vrugt], Dutch writer (Wife & Friend); John O’Hara, American novelist (Appointment at Samarra); Miron Grindea, literary editor; Christina Foyle, book seller; Thomas Merton, French-American Catholic writer and Trappist monk (7 Story Mountain); Norman Mailer, American novelist (Naked & the Dead, The Executioner’s Song); Kenzaburo Oe, Japanese novelist (Catch, Personal Matter) who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1994; Steve Karmen, American jingle writer (I Love NY, This Bud’s for You); Ajip Rosidi, Indonesian poet/writer (Madjalah Sunda, Pesta); Anton Korteweg, Dutch poet (For the Good Order); Ken Wilber, American philosopher & writer; and Grant Morrison, British comic book author.

Anyone familiar to you? There were names I know:  Zane Grey and Norman Mailer. 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!

New Release!

Mission: Angola (Xavier Sear Thriller Book 1) has now been released by Solstice Publishing, and is available across the Amazon network in Kindle and paperback versions.

With the release of this novel, came a quite unexpected opportunity. The editor-in-chief of the web daily, Mystery and Suspense Magazine, contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in doing a feature article on Black Ops in Fiction.

I said yes, and my draft is well underway–only about 1,350 words out of the maximum 2,000 I’m allowed. As with all of my work, I posted it on the two online subscription writing sites I use. It’s already received fifteen reviews and it won’t be long before I’ll be ready to send it along. Stay tuned for any new information about this.

My Work in Progress

The pain in my elbow/arm kept me from working too much on Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal, so I was unable to complete chapter twenty-two This past week, there were another seven new reviews, bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 340. Plenty of useful suggestions to improve my writing.

Here’s another snippet:

AJ weaved through heavy traffic on the Capital Beltway. She leaned on the horn and cursed slower motorists.

“Late again. Don’t they know the speed limit is fifty-five, not twenty-five?” She slammed a hand on the steering wheel of her gunmetal gray Honda Pilot.

After blowing her horn at a vehicle weaving in front of her, she spotted her exit and sped along the edge of the freeway and flew down the ramp. She raced through a red light and whipped her vehicle toward the security checkpoint at the CIA facility in Langley, skidding to a halt at the end of a line of cars waiting for access.

“C’mon, c’mon!” When her turn came, she flashed her badge at the sensor and shot past the barricade. Grabbing a pass from the console, she flung the placard on the dash, jumped out of her car, and raced inside.

Once through the turnstile, she rushed to the elevator, the heels of her black leather shoes clicking on the tiled floor. Two minutes later, AJ waltzed into her section at the community coffee pot for a black coffee.

“About time, boss lady.” MacKenzie Campbell twirled the ends of a blonde plait as she leaned against the door to AJ’s office. “I’m sure you said you would be coming in early—much earlier than this.”

“Yeah, well … things happen.” She smiled as she remembered the previous evening with Javier.

“Heello! Earth to AJ.” MacKenzie nudged AJ forward into the office and sat in front of the desk.

AJ sat behind the desk and sipped her coffee. She grimaced at the bitter taste. “Who made the coffee—it’s not too good.”

When MacKenzie laughed, it reached her blue eyes. “The new member of the team. I heard she’s a tea drinker, but wanted to help out.”

“Definitely needs some training.” AJ pushed the mug away. “So, anything new on the alert board for Latin America or projected to be heading our way? I have a meeting with the other heads of the counter-terrorism divisions and will provide them an update.”

“Since you dealt with the drug cartel, FARC, and Islamic State trifecta, things are still quiet in our area of responsibility. Even Mexico is bending to our request for more information, whereas before they were reluctant partners.”

AJ flicked her long, brown hair. “What’s Makayla up to?”

“We might be identical twins, but she works out in the gym more than I do.” MacKenzie laughed. “She’s probably teaching some rookie the latest Krav Maga moves she learned.”

“I pity the poor person. From time to time, I work out with Makayla, and it’s no picnic. She means business throughout every training session.”

“That’s why she’s one of our best, and why I don’t train with her. She always kicks my butt, and I’ve got the bruises to prove it. If only you’d allow us out into the field, we could show what we can do.”

AJ shook her head. “Ain’t gonna happen. I told both of you before your strength is in your search abilities. I don’t think you’re cut out for an overseas assignment—yet. Perhaps, one day.”

MacKenzie rolled her eyes but remained silent.

“When your sister decides to make an entrance, I need to speak with both of you. Something’s come up which might be of interest to you.” AJ glanced at the wall clock. “I better get ready for the meeting.”

MacKenzie stood. “Catch ya later, and I’ll bring my errant sister.”

Perhaps more next time.

Books I’m Reading

I recently read The Innocent by Michael Bronte. This is an excellent novella which is a great way to find out about an author’s writing style. Michael has created a splendid story which will have you flipping the pages.

Find out what happens to Tom Slate and his son when they go to a hockey game. Should be a great day out for father and son, but belong long, things are turned upside down. Since this is a novella, I won’t give anymore away, but suffice it to say you’ll be able to relate the realistic characters and urging them on. I look forward to reading more of Michael’s work!

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

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, January 24, 2021

We’ve started this morning with our coldest temperature of the winter thus far–21.2F (-6C). Definitely a bit of window scraping to do before heading out to get the paper!

I thought my arm was improving as I mentioned last time. It was–until three inches of snow fell Tuesday night. Clearing snow on Wednesday morning didn’t do me any favors, although I did manage to clear an incline which gets slippery so the limited sunshine could do its job. Unfortunately, my arm has been painful ever since.

“Life isn’t meant to be easy. It’s meant to be lived. Sometimes happy, other times rough. But with every up and down you learn lessons that make you strong.” (Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/)

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

Charles Sackville, 6th Earl of Dorset, English poet; William Congreve, English playwright; Frances Brooke English writer; Pierre de Beaumarchais, French polymath and dramatist (The Marriage of Figaro, Barber of Seville); Antony CW Staring, Dutch lawyer/poet (Jaromir); Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann, German writer/judge/composer (Undine); Karl von Holtei, Silesian actor, playwright and author (Die Vagabunden); Edith Wharton [-Jones], Pulitzer prize-winning novelist (Ethan Frome, House of Mirth); Ethel Turner, Australian author; Hedwig “Vicki” Baum, Austrian American author (Men Never Know, Grand Hotel); Albin Zollinger, Swiss poet/author (Der Halbe Mensch); Eugen Roth, German poet; C. L. Moore, American science fiction & fantasy writer (Judgment Night); Nora Beloff, English journalist & author; Stanisław Grochowiak, Polish poet; David Gerrold [Jerrold David Friedman], American science fiction screenwriter (Star Trek) & author (The Martian Child); Benjamin Urrutia, Ecuadorian-born American writer; and Vince Russo, American writer.

Anyone familiar to you? Having grown up with the original Star Trek series, I’m familiar with the stories, but not the screenwriter. 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!

New Release!

Mission: Angola (Xavier Sear Thriller Book 1) has now been released by Solstice Publishing, and is available across the Amazon network in Kindle and paperback versions.

If you’ve missed the synopsis, here it is:

Joao and Catarina Regaleria’s twentieth wedding anniversary celebration was fast approaching when a contact from the past reaches out for his assistance.

Colonel Theodore Mwanga, a former enemy commander during the Angolan war and now an important politician, requests Joao’s help. The colonel’s adult son, Peter, was kidnapped while working as a doctor for the Christian Aid Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Reluctant to get involved, Joao contacts Xavier Sear, a former CIA operative. They became friends when Joao served as a member of the United Nations Peace-Keeping Forces in Angola and Sear was an observer.

After Catarina’s persuasive intervention, Joao and Sear head to the DRC to rescue Peter. Treachery abounds at each step of the way. Will they be successful or will the situation deteriorate even further as various players follow their own agendas?

Here’s a five-star review from one reader:

I enjoyed reading ” Mission: Angola, Xavier Sear Thriller Book 1” by Randall Krzak, and I have read several of his previous books and enjoy his stories and I also follow this exceptional author. In my view, this author is very realistic, highly intelligent, and writes about what he knows and has experienced, and that gives this story as well as his other writings, a highly powerful and enlightening effect.

I also enjoy the suspense, thrills, realism, and this author’s excellent and very professional style of writing. For example, here is a brief excerpt:

“Just before midnight, Buhari returned to the abandoned apartment building in Luanda, where he had met with Nando Okonjo before his trip. Buhari pounded on the door.

A slit opened at eye level. After scrutinizing Buhari’s features, the guard unlocked the door, motioned Buhari inside, and handed him a flashlight. “He is waiting for you.”

Buhari switched the light on and stumbled through the dilapidated building. When he reached their regular meeting room, he noticed a dim glow coming from the open door.

How strange. Okonjo doesn’t like the dark.

Pulling out his pistol, Buhari edged through the doorway.

A candle flickered in the middle of the table. It burned on a square piece of metal, reflecting an eerie radiance throughout the room. Okonjo sat on the far side, holding his head.”

A well-known thriller author once said, “The most satisfying thrillers send people into battle against the forces of evil – otherwise known as greed, ego, rage, fear, and laziness – and bring them out bloodied but whole,” and I felt that this quote on thrillers was somewhat apropos to this story.

In my opinion, this author creates an intricate, well-organized, and very well-described account of the events, courage, disappointments, tragedies, and high emotions all told in a quick-witted and concise manner. I also liked the pace of the story and the way this excellent and gifted writer builds the tension and drama throwing in logical but totally unexpected events. All of this made this story very enjoyable and entertaining.

Although most agree that evil in the world seems to be increasing, after I read this story, I felt I personally reached a different plateau in my thinking about the intrigue and sacrifices very courageous people are making throughout the world today.

I liked the way this highly skillful author tells this thrilling story going from scene to scene making the story fresh and easy to read.

All in all, I felt this is probably one of the best thrillers I’ve read, and I feel this author keeps reaching new levels in thrilling and very entertaining reading. Highly recommended!

It was my pleasure to receive a free copy of this book but that does not in any way affect my opinions in this review of this exceptional book.

My Work in Progress

The pain in my elbow/arm kept me from working too much on Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal, but I did manage to finish chapter twenty-one. This past week, there were another seven new reviews, bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 333. Plenty of useful suggestions to improve my writing.

I’ll bring another snippet next time.

Authors to Check Out

This week, I’d like to introduce you to another author I’ve met: Michael Bronte.  Get a free copy of his novella, The Incident, with no strings attached. Then get an opportunity to download a Kindle copy of The Brothers, just for reading it, also free. Just click this link to get your copy of The Incident: author.to/MichaelBronteBooks.

Next time, I’ll give you my thoughts on The Incident, but I’ll say now I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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