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, February 14, 2021

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

It’s been a cold and snowy week. We received about 7-8 inches of the white stuff, and it’s still covering the ground. We also saw our coldest day of the winter thus far, 19F (-7C). Hopefully, that’ll be the end of the worst weather, but only Mother Nature knows!

This week Sylvia and I received our first Covid-19 vaccinations. It was an easy and painless process, with plenty of helpful people ensuring everything went according to plan. From arriving at the vaccination center (a local church) to leaving was less than forty-five minutes, including the fifteen-minute wait after the jabs to make sure we were okay. Not sure when we’ll get the second dose, but letters are supposed to be sent to us.

“Thinking positive thoughts will always empower you. Do it enough & it will change your life.”(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 14th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays)

Christianus Adrichomius, Dutch Catholic priest & writer (Vita Jesu Christi); Hans Christoph Haiden, German composer, organist and poet; Sybilla Schwarz, German baroque poet; Pierre-Claude Nivelle de La Chaussée, French writer (L’École des Mères); Christopher Latham Sholes, American newspaper man, politician and inventor of the typewriter; Edmond François Valentin About, French writer (Le Roi des montagnes); Francois Haverschmidt, Dutch writer (Snikken en grimlachjes); Frank Harris, Irish-American journalist and writer (My Life & Loves); Israel Zangwill, Jewish author (Children of The Ghetto); William John Gruffydd, Welsh poet & scholar; George Jean Nathan, American editor, author and critic (American Mercury); Kostas Varnalis, Greek poet; Nina Hamnett, Welsh artist & writer; John Herman Randall Jr., American philosopher (Western Man); A. Moses Klein, Canadian poet (Hath Not a Jew…); Edmund George Love, American historian & author (A Small Bequest); Ab [Albert] Visser, Dutch poet/writer (Man Without a Head); James Pike, American bishop (Beyond Anxiety); Juan Garcia Hortelano, Spanish author (Tormenta de verano); Alexander Kluge, German author and film director (Yesterday Girl); Israël “Ischa” Meijer, Dutch journalist, critic and author (Een Dik Uur Ischa, Boezemvriend); Carl Bernstein, American investigative reporter who covered Watergate for the Washington Post; and Phillip Hamilton, American author.

Anyone familiar to you? I spotted one: Carl Bernstein. 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). 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 finally finished chapter twenty-two of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. Over the past week, there were another three new reviews, bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 346. 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:

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.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

Over the past couple of weeks I finished The Eye of Shiva (The Project Book 8) by Alex Lukerman. Although this was the first novel I’ve read in the series, it was easy to identity the main characters, Luke and Selena, which were well-crafted and identifiable. This is a fast read, combining plenty of action, intrigue, and some romance as they become embroiled in an international  conspiracy, one with potential deadly consequences for hundreds of thousands of people.

If you enjoy interesting plots, and plenty of action with a few twists thrown in, you’ll find this an excellent page-turner. Although this can be read as a standalone without any negative impact, I’m definitely heading back to the first book in the series!

I also completed Unhinged: A Micro-Read by John Podlaski. What starts out as a simple job at a local drive-in movie facility for two teenagers will haunt them for the rest of their lives. I don’t like to do spoilers, and since this is a novella, it won’t take you long to become immersed in this riveting story.

John shows a brilliant writing style which will appeal to a wide range of tastes. Highly recommended and I look forward to reading more of John’s work!

Finally, I finished reading The Enigma Factor: A Techno Thriller (The Enigma Series Book 1) by Charles V Breakfield and Roxanne E. Burkey. This is a fantastic blend of romance, drama, crypto-capers, crime, and adventure. With a well-designed plot and plenty of action scenes, this will definitely appeal to those who enjoy the genre. Look forward to reading more of Charles and Roxanne’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, February 7, 2021

Today’s a special day in our house–it’s Sylvia’s 70th birthday! Although Covid stopped the planned party and our son’s trip over from Washington, D.C., I’ll try to make her day as memorable as possible.

Mother Nature is always adding to the fun–it’s snowing!  The forecasters say 3-6 inches by Wednesday. Will have to wait and see. In the meantime, the wind is whipping the snow around and it looks fantastic!

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” (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 7th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays)

Sir Thomas More, English statesman, humanist, and author; Thomas Killigrew, English humorist/playwright/leader (King’s Men); Jean-Francois Regnard, French comedy writer (Slave in Algeria); Rhijnvis Feith, Dutch mayor/writer (Zwolle/Thirsa); Frederik Paludan-Muller, Danish Romantic poet (Danserinden); Charles Dickens, English novelist (Oliver Twist, Tale of 2 Cities); Ricardo Palma, Peru, writer/poet (Tradiciones Peruanas); Raf[ael] Verhulst [Koen Ravestein], Flemish writer (Jesus of Nazarus); Laura Ingalls Wilder, American author (Little House on Prairie); Jindrich S Baar, Czech pastor/writer (Jan Cimbura); [Harry] Sinclair Lewis, American writer and social critic (Nobel Prize in Literature 1930); Jacob Paludan, Danish pharmacist/writer (Jorgen Stein); Bob den Doolaard [Cornelis Spoelstra], Dutch writer (Grape Pickers); Paul Nizan, French journalist/writer (L’Humanité, La Conspiration); David Ignatow, American poet (Tread the Dark, Rescue the Dead); Ralph Whitlock, English writer; Gay Talese, author (Honor Thy Father); Brian Morton, Scottish writer; Richard Cook, British jazz writer (The Penguin Guide To Jazz Recordings); Matt Ridley, British science writer; and Emma McLaughlin, American novelist.

Anyone familiar to you? There were three names I know: Sir Thomas More, Charles Dickens, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’d also like to mention my wife, Sylvia. While she’s not published, her poems have sold well at numerous craft events in the U.S. and UK. Watch out–one day she’ll be published! 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

Colombian Betrayal is participating in the 2020 Chanticleer International Book Awards in the global thrillers category.

I found out this week it is now on the short list. Competition will be stiff for making the semi-finals. There are eighteen novels on the list. You can see the list by clicking here.

The semifinalists should be announced over the next month. Fingers crossed that Colombian Betrayal makes it! Once the semifinalists are announced, they’ll compete for the finalist positions. This year, there’ll only by five first place winners and one grand prize winner, which will be announced on April 25th.

My Work in Progress

I didn’t get a change to finish chapter twenty-two of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. However, there three new reviews, bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 343. 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:

“Hello, boys.” AJ tossed her bag on the table. “What’re you two cooking up?” She grabbed a wing from Javier’s plate.

“I’ll let him fill you in. Want a beer?”

AJ nodded. “The usual.”

“Comin’ up.”

She turned to Javier and gestured at his open laptop. “Whatcha workin’ on?”

He filled her in on the news about the property. “So, I’m working on an ad to put in the paper.” He turned his computer around. “What do you think?”

“Let me see.”

Interested in new and exciting job prospects with opportunities to travel and broaden your mind? Look no further—get in on the ground floor of a new business coming to Alexandria—The Brusch Agency. We’re after self-starters who can run with things without needing someone to hold their hand. Positions include:

Receptionist

Logistics expert

Computer whiz

Research analysts (2)

Private investigators or applicable military specialties (6)

Previous experience desired but will provide job-specific training. Excellent pay and benefits.

AJ nodded. “You’re missing someone important.”

“Who?”

“A short-order cook who knows how to make proper coffee.”

Javier chuckled. “The receptionist can keep the coffee coming, and I already spoke with Luke about food—they’ll deliver.”

“Where do I sign up?” AJ reached across the table and took Javier’s hand.

“Job getting to you?”

AJ nodded. “I knew being shoved behind a desk would stress me out, but I never realized how bad it could be. Endless meetings with no objective, stacks of paperwork, and no opportunity to keep my skills sharpened. I dunno how long I’ll keep this up.”

Javier squeezed her hand. “There’s always a spot for you at Brusch Agency.”

“What would my title be?”

“How about chief bottle washer?”

“That’s inspiring.” A hint of a smile creased AJ’s face.

“I’m sure we can come up with a fitting title.” Javier drained the last of his beer and took one of the two remaining wings, pushing the plate toward AJ. “Want anything else?”

AJ snatched the wing and chewed. She shook her head. “You’re cooking tonight, remember? I’m all set for a rib eye steak, baked potato, and salad.”

“Shall we go?”

Both stood. After stopping by the bar to pay their bill, they headed out the door, arm-in-arm.

***

Bennie kept his camera focused on the entrance to the restaurant. Great idea to check with the restaurant and tell them I was looking for Javier because his photos are ready. Hopefully, he’ll show up.

He grinned when his patience was rewarded, and he took a series of snaps. After his targets turned the corner, he picked up his phone and hit the speed dial. “Alberto. I found them!”

More next time.

Last week, I mentioned the opportunity I received to write a feature article about Black Ops in Fiction for the web daily, Mystery and Suspense Magazine. I submitted my article to their editor-in-chief this week and with some revisions (he did them), it’s ready to go. I’ll post the link once the article is live.

Books I’m Reading

I read a couple more books over the past week. However, with my concentration on the article, I didn’t get a chance to prepare my reviews, so they’ll appear next time.

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

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, January 17, 2021

I’ve been hobbled this past week; at least laid up a bit with a swollen left elbow. I don’t recall hitting it on anything, but it’s been very swollen and extremely painful to move. So bad, it even kept me awake at night as every time I rolled onto my left, the pain woke me up.

After a week of pain killers and aspirin (for the swelling), I’m back to a better place. Even the cloth of my shirtsleeve reminds me it’s there, but at least the throbbing had diminished. Since I couldn’t do much, I was able to catch up on some of the college football and basketball games I recorded, so it hasn’t been a total loss.

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

Pedro Calderón de la Barca, Spanish dramatist, poet and writer of the Spanish Golden Age; Gerard van Loon, Dutch historian; Archibald Bower, Scottish historian; Benjamin Franklin, US Founding Father, inventor, ambassador and writer (Poor Richards Almanac); Ellen Wood, English author (East Lynne, Pomeroy Abbey); Anne Brontë, English novelist/poet (Tenant of Wildfell Hall); Antanas Baranauskas, Lithuanian bishop/poet/dialectologist; Tomas Carrasquilla, Colombian author (Frutos de mi Tierra); Olga Fastrová, Czech writer and editor (National Policy); May Gibbs, Australian children’s author; Alfred Radcliffe-Browne, British anthropologist (Andaman Islanders); E Ball-Hennings, writer; Ronald Firbank, British novelist (The Flower Beneath the Foot); Nevil Shute [Norway], novelist (On the Beach, Town Like Alice); Roel [Martinus F] Houwink, Dutch literary (1 Man Without Character); Jyoti Prasad Agarwala, Assamese poet, playwright, filmmaker; Robert Cormier, American author; Richard Michael Hills, comedy script writer; Paul O[sborne] Williams, American sci-fi author (Ends of the Circle); John Bellairs, American sci-fi author (Chessmen of Doom); Javed Akhtar, Indian lyricist, poet and scriptwriter; Luis López Nieves, Latin American writer; Ann Nocenti, American comic book writer; Sebastian Junger, American journalist & author; Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, Dutch writer; and Annemarie Jacir, Palestinian filmmaker and poet.

Anyone familiar to you? I’m sure most people have heard of Ben Franklin and Anne Bronte. 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!

Coming Soon!

Mission: Angola (Xavier Sear Thriller Book 1) will soon be released by Solstice Publishing. It’s currently going through a final edit pass, which should be completed today.

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?

My Work in Progress

The pain in my elbow/arm kept me from working on Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. This past week, there were another nine new reviews, bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 326. Plenty of useful suggestions to improve my writing.

Here’s this week’s snippet:

Javier entered the Virtue Feed & Grain restaurant carrying his laptop and headed to the bar. After ordering a beer and chicken wings, he weaved through the tables to an empty one against the far wall.

Taking a sip of his Three Notch’d Minute Man beer, he booted his computer. After checking his email and finding nothing of interest, he began composing, tapping an index finger against his lips. What do I need? Better cover every contingency.

Javier glanced up as someone approached.

The general manager placed Javier’s wings on the table and sat across from him. “The bartender said you wanted to speak with me?”

Javier nodded. “Yeah. I need a favor, Luke. Things are falling into place to get my investigative agency up and running, but I need a place where I can conduct interviews with potential employees. Would it be possible to reserve a space here to do this? I really don’t have anywhere else to go until the contract on my new property is closed.”

“Sure. The smallest place is the stage area upstairs. It’s bigger than what you need, but it’ll you some privacy. When do you want it for?”

“I’m getting an ad together now. How about next Wednesday and Thursday, say from two to eight p.m.?”

Luke grinned. “Not a problem. Perhaps we’ll pick up some new business from your interviewees.”

“That’ll be one of the tests.” Javier laughed. “Everyone stopping afterward for a drink or food will get bonus points.”

Luke stood. “You’ll be some boss. He—”

“Hello, boys.” AJ tossed her bag on the table. “What’re you two cooking up?” She grabbed a wing from Javier’s plate.

“I’ll let him fill you in. Want a beer?”

AJ nodded. “The usual.”

“Comin’ up.”

She turned to Javier and gestured at his open laptop. “Whatcha workin’ on?”

He filled her in on the news about the property. “So, I’m working on an ad to put in the paper.” He turned his computer around. “What do you think?”

“Let me see.”

Interested in new and exciting job prospects with opportunities to travel and broaden your mind? Look no further—get in on the ground floor of a new business coming to Alexandria—The Brusch Agency. We’re after self-starters who can run with things without needing someone to hold their hand. Positions include:

Receptionist

Logistics expert

Computer whiz

Research analysts (2)

Private investigators or applicable military specialties (6)

Previous experience desired but will provide job-specific training. Excellent pay and benefits.

AJ nodded. “You’re missing someone important.”

“Who?”

“A short-order cook who knows how to make proper coffee.”

Perhaps more next time.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished Whispers of the Past by Owen Clough. Combining historical facts with fiction, Owen has created an excellent plot which will keep you turning the pages. Follow the exploits of Bob, Sam, and Shane as they begin a trek around a New Zealand volcano. Before long, they’re no longer in the present, but find themselves embroiled in the Waikato War of 1863.

The extremely well-developed characters show what they’re made of as they deal with what comes their way. Since I don’t like to give away too much, you’ll need to grab yourself a copy and find out what happens. There’s plenty of action and you find it hard to put this one down. I look forward to reading the next one in the series.

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 10, 2021

It’s been a crazy start to the new year, with plenty of cold weather (at least for here) with enough snow I had to get out of snow shovel for the first time since the 2017-18 winter. While not enough of the white stuff to slow things down, it still made a mess.

Today, we’re back to more seasonal temperatures, with a 2C (about 36F) beginning. Of course, with that, the cloud cover is back–looks like we could end up with some rain later today.  At least the cats are happy as they didn’t seem to like the snow much.

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on January 10th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, German writer & composer; Aubrey de Vere, Irish poet & critic (Victorian Observer); John Dalberg, Baron Acton, English historian (“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”); Peter J. Blok, Dutch historian (History of the Dutch People); Walter Travis, Australian-American golfer, writer, course designer (US Amateur C’ship 1900-01, 03; British Amateur 1904); Enrica Freiin von Handel-Manzetti, Austrian poet & writer (Jesse & Maria); Aleksei Tolstoi, Russian poet/writer (Pjotr Peroyj); Robinson Jeffers, American poet & playwright (Tamar & Other Poems, Medea); Dumas Malone, American historian (Jefferson & His Time); Reginald Denham, English writer & director (Obsession, The Bad Seed); Tjalie Robinson [Jan Boon], Dutch East Indies writer and journalist (Tong Tong); Claude Gallimard, French publisher; Ingeborg Drewitz, German writer & academic; Philip Levine, American poet; Peter Barnes, English writer; Stephen E. Ambrose, American historian (Band of Brothers); ared Carter, American poet; David Horowitz, American author & political commentator; William Levy, American writer; George Alec Effinger, American sci-fi author (Nick of Time); and Antonio Muñoz Molina, Spanish writer (Royal Spanish Academy).

Anyone familiar to you? I’m sure most people have heard of Tolstoi. 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 four of my published novels are participating in a Book Funnel promotion to kick off the new year. It’s called Welcome to 2021 – A New Chapter. Why not click and check out the 124 novels on offer? You might find someone new to read. This promotion ends on January 15, so don’t delay!

My Work in Progress

I’m off to a good start in 2021 with the completion of chapter twenty of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. It’s been posted to the two online subscription writing sites I use, and I’ve picked up a couple of new readers.. There were another twelve new reviews, bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 317. Plenty of useful suggestions to improve my writing.

Here’s this week’s snippet:

Walter pushed a shopping cart through the aisles of the home improvement store. Ticking items off a mental list, he purchased metal pipe and caps, nails, and a stack of plywood sheets and decking boards. He finished with a stop in the tool section, selecting hammers, pliers, a hacksaw, and a saw for cutting the wood.

As he headed toward the check-out area, he stopped at an aisle he hadn’t visited. Better grab some paint and brushes, too. Glad I convinced Alberto to keep the property in Culpepper. Perfect for making my toys.

After securing everything in the windowless, gray van provided by Alberto’s fixer, Walter drove across the street to a competitor’s store. Once again, he filled a shopping cart with his necessities: ball bearings, an electric saw, a grinder, a drill, a pipe threader, four rolls of Duct tape and two twenty-five-pound bags of fertilizer. As with his first stop, he paid for everything with cash.

Back on the highway, he drove within the legal speed limit, arriving at their temporary shelter in an hour. After hauling everything inside, he parked the van in the lean-to garage. Tomorrow, I’ll pick up the fireworks and an additional cell phone.

***

Armed with several cameras and a cooler, Bennie spent the day camped outside the property where Javier lived. He routinely took photos of pedestrians entering the building and vehicles using the underground garage.

Every hour, Bennie switched his location, sometimes using his blue Chevrolet Camaro, and other times on foot, acting like a tourist. No sign of him. Where is he?

Toward the end of the day, he lost his patience and entered the lobby carrying a package. “Excuse me. Do you know where I might find a …” Bennie glanced at the parcel. “Colonel Javier Smith. He needs to sign for this package.”

The security guard chuckled. “You missed him. He left an hour ago. Said he’d be back in a day or two. I can sign for the package and keep it for him if you like.”

Bennie shook his head. “Thanks, but I’ll return in a couple of days. This is a surprise for him, so I want to place it in his hands and get his photo.”

After leaving the building, he returned to his car. Before departing, he placed a call. “Missed him—not sure where he went. A guard said he’d be back in a couple of days.”

Alberto slammed a fist on the table, upsetting his cup of tea. “Find him, Bennie. I don’t care what you must do, but find him!”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

I finished reading another book this week, but didn’t get a chance to gather my thoughts. So, next week, I hope to offer up two reviews.

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 3, 2021

Happy New Year, everyone! Hope 2021 is filled with good health, prosperity, and is a rewarding year for you.

Mother Nature missed the Christmas snow, but it’s certainly been more like a winter scene since. Not a lot of accumulation–just enough to turn everything white.  The days are already getting longer; well, at least the amount of daylight is, and it won’t be long before the dreary days will subside. I hope.

I can’t share any quotes with you today as the site I choose them from seems to be down. We’ll have to wait until next time.

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on January 3rd. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Pietro Metastasio, Italian poet; Charles Palissot de Montenoy, French writer/politician; Douglas William Jerrold, author/playwright/wit (Punch Mag); Henry Handel Richardson [Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson], Australian novelist (Richard Mahoney); John G Fletcher, American poet (Epic of Arkansas); Osip E Mandelstam, Polish/Russian poet/author (Kamenj); J. R. R. Tolkien, British author (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings); Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, French novelist/essayist (Gilles); Roman Brandstaetter, writer; Thomas Stuart Willan, historian; Roger W. Straus, Jr., American publisher; Morten Nielsen, Danish poet/resistance fighter; Marcel Dubé, Quebec playwright; Betty Rollin, actress (Crossing Delancey)/author (Last Wish); Glen Larson, American television producer & writer (Battlestar Galactica, Magnum PI, & Knight Rider); Blanche d’Alpuget, Australian novelist, biographer; Francesca Lia Block, American author; and Alex Wheatle MBE, black British novelist.

Anyone familiar to you? I’m sure most people have heard of J. R. R. Tolkien. 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 four of my published novels are participating in a Book Funnel promotion to kick off the new year. It’s called Welcome to 2021 – A New Chapter. Why not click and check out the 124 novels on offer? You might find someone new to read.

My Work in Progress

The end of 2020 saw the completion of chapter nineteen of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal and posted it to the two online subscription writing sites I use. There were another tweleve new reviews this week, bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 305! Plenty of useful suggestions to improve my writing.

Here’s another snippet:

“In order to carry out Allah’s wishes, we must be prepared to blend into our environment. You were chosen because you survived our last battle. We—I honor you with this opportunity to strike fear among the infidels in their capitol. You must not fail.”

“Abdul—sorry. Alberto, when will we attack?” Gamal laced his fingers together and twiddled his thumbs.

Alberto picked up the first set of papers and slid them toward Gamal. “You will now be called Bennie Johnson. As our photographer, you’ll be responsible for tracking our target and learning everything you can about him.” This man deserves to die for what he did to me. He rubbed the three-inch scar on the left side of his neck. A slow and painful death—just like Michael’s, may Allah bless him.

“Find out what he does, where he goes, and who he meets with. Do the same with the woman who was with him when you took his picture. When I was active with ISIS, I learned preparation is critical to success, so we won’t set a date—yet.”

Bennie ran a hand through his long black hair as he checked each document. “These are perfect. What about a phone and cash?”

“Patience.” Alberto picked up the second set of papers and passed them to a bald man with dark, piercing eyes. “Zafar, you will use the name Justin Thompson. As our weapons expert, you will be responsible for killing should the opportunity present itself. May Allah guide your bullets.”

“Thank you, Alberto.” Justin grinned. “I will not let you down.”

Alberto tilted his head. “I know, which is why I selected you.” He pushed the final set of documents toward a man missing the pinkie and ring fingers on his left hand. “Walter, I’ve saved the best for last. You must prepare explosive devices capable of causing this man great pain before he meets his God.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished reading ARK FOUND: An Omega Files Adventure (Book 2) by Rick Chesler. An intriguing plot, combining fact and fiction into a fast-paced story, taking readers across the world chasing Noah’s Ark. Treasure Hunter Carter Hunt and his sidekick Jayden Takada find themselves in a manned submersible on the way to the resting place of the Titanic in search of a map. Before long, they’re attacked by another group who don’t care for historical works per se, but rather their value.

With realistic characters, Rick has created a story filled with action, adventure, angst, danger, and even some humor. For those who love to be immersed in a fictional world to forget everyday events, this one is for you. I won’t spoil the story for you, but suffice to say I’ll be picking up the next one in the series.

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, December 27, 2020

As we enter the last week of 2020, it’s certainly been a year fraught with ill tidings. Let’s hope 2021 will bring plenty of good news for all!

“The one serious conviction that a man should have is that nothing is to be taken too seriously.”

~ Nicholas Murray Butler (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 December 20th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Johann Arndt, German Lutheran theologian and author of books on devotional Christianity; Mirza Ghalib, Indian poet; Jane Wilde, Irish poet, nationalist and mother of Oscar Wilde; John Roberts, Welsh composer, minister and poet; Henricus Oort, Dutch theologist (Leidse translation); Thea von Harbou, German author and actress (Metropolis); Arch Ward, sportswriter (proposed baseball’s all-star game); Carl Zuckmayer, German/Swiss/US playwright; Louis Bromfield, Mansfield Ohio, writer (Early Autumn, Pulitzer-1926); Sebastian Haffner, German journalist and writer; Louis JHCA de Bourbon, Dutch writer/poet (Black Banners); Charles Olson, American poet; Elizabeth Smart, Canadian author (By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept); Giuseppe Berto, Italian writer (Heaven Sees Red); Onni Palaste, Finnish writer; Wilfrid Sheed, English writer (Boys of Winter, Hack); Steffen Mensching, writer; Gerina Dunwich, American author; Wendy Coakley-Thompson, American writer; and Sarah Vowell, American author and journalist.

Anyone familiar to you? I’m afraid I struck out again. 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

The Kindle versions of three of my novels are currently on sale for .99 cents or the equivalent throughout the month as part of a Christmas Stocking Promotion. If you haven’t picked up a copy, now is the time to do it, as they’ll be returning to their normal prices soon. Better yet, get some for yourself and your friends and family! There are thirty-eight books choose from, so why not drop in?

My Work in Progress

This week I completed chapter eighteen of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal and posted it to the two online subscription writing sites I use. There were another eleven new reviews this week, bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 293!

Here’s another snippet:

After the Snakes departed, Javier ambled to the newspaper rack next to the entrance. He sifted through the national papers until he located the one he wanted: the Alexandria Times.

Back at the table, he thumbed through the pages until he reached the classified ads. He placed a thumb under each ad as he scanned them. So engrossed in his research, Javier didn’t sense anyone approaching as he took a pen from his pocket and circled a promising ad. This one would work.

“Hey, big boy.” AJ handed him a beer and took a seat. “I’ve never known you to be so unaware of your surroundings—anyone could have snuck up on you. Is reading that hard?” She laughed.

Javier sipped his drink. “Sorry. I’ve been busy since I last saw you.” He proceeded to explain about the break-in.

“Perhaps the cops will get lucky, and the fingerprints they found might lead them to someone.”

Javier shrugged. “No matter. I think it’s time to move.” He reached across the table and took AJ’s hand. “Since you live in Old Town and the Virtue is our favorite place, I can’t justify remaining in Arlington.”

“Where would you locate your investigative agency?”

He grabbed the paper, slid it over, and tapped the highlighted ad. “Right here. The building is already zoned for mixed use, so I could live there, too.”

AJ raised her brows. “Have you set up a showing?”

He shook his head. “Not yet. I just found the ad.” Javier pulled his cell phone and placed a call. After completing his conversation, he broke the connection and smiled. “We can see the property in an hour. Enough time for another beer and a quick walk. The property’s only a fifteen-minute walk away.”

***

Ninety minutes later, Javier, AJ, and Lulu returned to the reception area and sat in brown leather chairs arranged in a semi-circle in front of the desk.

Lulu reached into her bag and removed a folder. She handed it to Javier and glanced at the wall clock. “Gosh! I’ve taken a lot of your time. I do hope I didn’t bore you—I just love these historic buildings. The folder contains more information about the property, and my contact details should you have any additional questions or decide to make an offer.”

“We’ll be in touch—there’s lots for us to discuss.” Javier offered his hand. “We have two other properties to look at, but we’ll let you know either way.”

Lulu’s perpetual smile faltered. “Oh. I thought … well, it doesn’t matter what I thought.” The radiance returned. “This is a fabulous buy for the money and won’t be on the market for long. I look forward to hearing from you.”

AJ nodded. “We’ll contact you as soon as possible.”

“Oh, okay. Have a nice day.”

After Lulu left, AJ and Javier strolled arm-in-arm back to the Virtue for dinner. After a greeter escorted them to a table and took their order, Javier leaned back in his chair and grinned.

“What’s the grin for?” AJ raised a brow.

“Just thinking about how fast we’re moving. Did you notice how crestfallen Lulu was when I mentioned we were looking at other properties?”

She chuckled. “Yes, I caught it. She’ll earn a large commission when a sale goes through. I think she assumed you’d jump at the chance. By the way, where are the other properties, and when did we get married?”

Javier shook his head. “Aren’t any. I just didn’t want her to think we were desperate. She made the assumption we were married—didn’t see a reason to correct her. After all, we’ve pretended before.”

“Our fake marriage was work-related. Oh well, no harm done. I think the building is a perfect location with plenty of space to hold the agency.”

“Agreed. We’ll let Lulu simmer overnight. I’ll call her tomorrow and put in an offer, saying we decided to cancel the other showings.”

“Sounds good to me, hubby.”

More next time.

Authors to Check Out

As I mentioned last week, from time to time, I’ll be introducing you to new authors I’ve met. Today, I’ll start the ball rolling with Allan J Lewis.

Allan was born in South Wales UK where he worked as a coal miner; he is married with two children and two grandchildren. Allan didn’t start writing until late in life and now he has five books out, four in the Joe the Magic Man Series, perfect for mystery/thriller aficionados.

Allan is also working on an erotica/romance/adventure story that will be the first in a series called Joe’s Forbidden Dreams. He enjoys the adventure novels of Wilbur Smith and the works of James Patterson and Lee Child.

Get Out of My Dreams is currently free through Amazon or at the following link:

https://storyoriginapp.com/giveaways/dd0abe3c-bf9e-11ea-b96c-7be850ccc4f0

That’s all for this year. 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 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

%d bloggers like this: