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