Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, May 26, 2019

This is Memorial Day weekend. While for many it means the unofficial beginning of summer, with vacation homes being aired out, family gatherings, and sporting events, such as the Indy 500, there is another side to the holiday.

Memorial Day is also a day to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. Flags are placed on the graves of those who died in military service. Many communities also hold parades, culminating in ceremonies at designated points in cemeteries and at memorials.

No matter how you spend the weekend, please take a moment to reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day. Enjoy the weekend.

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on May 26th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Edmond de Goncourt, French writer, wrote with his brother Jules de Goncourt; Robert W. Chambers, American artist and fiction writer; John Eigenhuis, Dutch writer (Tough Workers); Jean Schlumberger, French writer (La Mort de Sparte); Moondog, American composer, musician and poet; Phyllis Gotlieb, Canadian author; Hugo Raes, Flemish writer (Horses Jump & Fresh Sea); Piers Gray, critic/writer; Alan Hollinghurst, British novelist; Phil Doyle, Australian writer; and David Reed, British writer and comedian.

Not many today. Was anyone familiar to you? Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

My Work in Progress

1541181671With all of the outdoor activity, I didn’t have much time to sit in front of the computer and write. Chapter eleven of A Cartel’s Revenge is almost finished. So far, the novel has received ninety-eight chapter reviews from the two online subscription writing sites I use. Plenty of good suggestions for improving my writing.

Things are on hold with Carnage in Singapore as I await the results of my submission. In the meantime, here’s another snippet:

When they arrived, Noah paid the driver and entered the hotel. He waited at the counter to collect his key. “Welcome back, Mr. Noah. A man asked for you last night.”

“What did he look like? Did you ask his name?”

“Asian.” The clerk shrugged. “No name but he said he was a friend and wanted to leave a gift in your room. A porter let him in. We suggested he put the package in our safe until you returned, but he was very persuasive.”

Noah’s forehead creased as he frowned. “How long did he remain in my room?” And what was he looking for?

“Ten, perhaps fifteen minutes. The porter remained in the hallway and locked the door when the man left.”

“Do you have security cameras?”

“Not in the rooms, but in the common areas and the elevators.”

“I’m going upstairs. Please bring me the tapes from last night. I’ll review them later with my colleagues from the Internal Security Department.”

The clerk swallowed, a look of panic of his face. “Of course.”

Noah waited for an empty elevator. Taking forever. He spotted a sign for the stairs and rushed up the steps. Out of breath by the time he reached the sixth floor, he paused before heading down the carpeted hallway to room 602.

His room.

The thread he left on the lock lay on the floor. He tried the handle. Locked.

Noah pulled his SIG Sauer from its holster and shoved his key card in the slot. After the light turned green, he pushed the door open.

The mattress hung over the edge of the bed, his single bag dumped in a heap. The drawers from the bedside tables and the chest of drawers sat in a haphazard pile in a corner. Pictures were ripped from the wall and slashed. The glass coffee table top was smashed into tiny pieces, a testament to the fury of whoever did this.

What were they looking for? Nothing here but some clothes. My Bedlam laptop remained with me.

A noise from the bathroom caught his attention.

He turned and caught a shadowy figure emerging from a corner. The assailant screamed and threw a lamp at Noah’s head before he could get an idea of who it was.

Noah crashed to the floor, his gun skittering away.

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

 I recently finished reading The Butchered Man, book one of The Northminster Mysteries by Harriet Smart. Set in Victorian England in the 1840s, a mutilated corpse sets events in motion. With a well-written plot and characters exhibiting traits associated with the time period, it’s easy to become immersed in the combined efforts of Chief Constable Major Vernon and police surgeon Felix Carswell to solve the mystery. Will they find the villain? Grab a copy and find out! I look forward to moving onto the second book of the series.

This brings us to a close for another week. I hope you found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing. If you have any suggestions for a topic you’d like to read about, please let me know. Until the next time, thank you for reading.

© Copyright 2019 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, May 19, 2019

The past week began with great weather and temperatures hovering around 70F/21C. This all changed when Friday evening rolled around, bringing almost constant drizzle or light rain. Of course, things dry out quickly, so the rain gave things a much-needed drink.

The rain also delayed further work in the back yard. We’re painting the fence, re-arranging the flower beds, and removing gravel from areas where the previous owners thought it should be. It might takes all summer and into the fall, but eventually we’ll have our stamp on the area,

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on May 19th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Rahel Varnhagen von Ense-Levin, German literary hostess; Henricus WJM Keuls, Dutch lawyer/poet (Dancing Lamp); Konstatin G Paustovski, Russian author (Povestj Zjizni); Paul Erdman, American economist and author; Ruskin Bond, Indian author; Jane Brody, writer/nutritionist; Nora Ephron, novelist/screenwriter/director (Michael, Heartburn); and James Topping, author of CP/M.

Not many today. Was anyone familiar to you? Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

News About My Published Work

The results of the 2018 Chanticleer International Books Awards (CIBAs) have been announced.  This year, there were fourteen fiction categories and two non-fiction. The Kurdish Connection and Dangerous Alliance participated in the Global Thrillers genre. Both moved from the slush pile, through the long list, the short list, and the semi-finals. The Kurdish Connection finished its run as a semi-finalist, while Dangerous Alliance went a step further and was one of seven 2018 Global Thriller Book Awards for Lab Lit & High Stakes Thriller Novels First in Category Winners.  Needless to say, I’m thrilled!

TKC

DA-3D-cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Work in Progress

1541181671With all of the outdoor activity, I didn’t have much time to sit in front of the computer and write. Chapter ten of A Cartel’s Revenge is almost finished. So far, the novel has received eighty-three chapter reviews from the two online subscription writing sites I use. Plenty of good suggestions for improving my writing.

Things are on hold with Carnage in Singapore as I await the results of my submission. In the meantime, here’s another snippet:

The nurse escorted Noah to Koh’s room. Three men dressed in blue police uniforms with maroon berets tucked in their belts sat on a bench in the hallway, watching the nurse and Noah’s progress. One, who appeared older than the others, stood as they approached.

“Stop.” The man raised a hand. “Please show identification.” 1539534112

The nurse ignored the man and continued toward the door. “This patient will be staying here. He’s a friend of the man inside.”

The man nodded. “Go ahead. In the future, show your picture badge, and we won’t bother you.”

“I’m sure Feng Lee will be pleased with your diligence.” The nurse scanned the man from head to toe. “He will visit later, so remain alert. I’ll provide a list of hospital employees who should be authorized admittance to look after these patients.”

When Noah entered the room, he spotted Koh in the far bed, sound asleep. Rhythmic beeping came from the attached monitor displaying his vital signs.

The nurse turned down the sound on the machine. “The noise will keep you awake. There are hospital gowns in the bathroom. Slip one on and put your clothes in the empty locker.” She pointed to two cabinets, one with an open door. “Afterward, climb into bed. I’ll bring you something to drink in a few minutes.”

Noah did as instructed and replayed each sequence of the attack in his mind. Should have spotted a tail sooner. First sign of action and all training went out the window. He glanced at Koh. We’ll catch them.

Perhaps more next time.

Books I’m Reading

 I recently finished reading A Sea of Fear by Russell Moran. This is book three of the Harry and Meg time travel series and like the first two, it’s another easy read with plenty of action from start to finish.

Harry and Meg are very likeable characters and once again use their combined strengths to deal with a former president trying to undermine the American way of life and take over the White House. I won’t spoil the ending for any readers, but suffice it to say, this is a tough assignment, necessitating some time travel both into the past and the future. If you enjoy plenty of action and a riveting plot, this one’s for you.

This brings us to a close for another week. I hope you found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing. If you have any suggestions for a topic you’d like to read about, please let me know. Until the next time, thank you for reading.

© Copyright 2019 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, May 12, 2019

This week I’d like to introduce you to another author. Barbara Russell is an entomologist and a soil biologist. Or as she would put it, she digs in the dirt looking for bugs. Nature and books have always been her passion. When she was growing up when she read Ivanhoe by Sir W. Scott and fell in love with medieval novels.

Let’s find out some more about Barbara:

BRussellHave you written works in collaboration with other writers, and if so: why did you decide to collaborate and did it affect your sales? I co-wrote The Martian Zombie with H. J. Hewett and it was a lovely experience. Writing becomes a brainstorming of ideas and is incredibly fun. I don’t know about the sales yet, but promoting the book was easier.

How often do you write, and do you have a special time during the day to write? I write as much as I can, whenever I can, wherever I am. Except the bus I read on the bus.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand? Laptop. The Word spelling check is a lifesaver for someone like me who’s dyslexic.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? Plot and outline. I can’t pants. No way. I get frustrated, haha.

What is the hardest thing about writing? Writing is amazing. I love writing. I don’t love promoting, lol

How long on average does it take you to write a book? Three-four weeks so far… if I don’t have re-writing to do.

Do you ever get Writer’s Block, and do you have any tips for getting through it? I think it depends on what you mean with Writer’s Block. If you mean that a writer sits down and can’t write anything, then no. It has never happened to me. Also, I believe that many writers who complain about a writer’s block probably use the wrong writing technique. I’ve seen that usually pantsers tend to fall in the writer’s block trap, but maybe it’s because they aren’t real pantsers. Maybe they need to plot out the book first, and then start writing.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books? Ebooks, always, for ever and ever.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit? Yep, I do that, so I can edit with fresh eyes.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? Absolutely. I, myself, choose the books by the covers (sorry folks, but it’s true.) A good cover is the best promotion.

Would you or do you use a PR agency? If I had the money, yes, why not?

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? I don’t read reviews. Ever. A compliment stays with me a moment. A harsh word stays with me forever. Besides, some one star reviews aren’t reviews or feedback, but just plain insults, and I don’t think any author needs that.

What do you think of “trailers” for books, and do you have a trailer/will you create one for your own work? I love them! I always make them for my books using ‘Director.’ Super easy to use.

What is your favourite motivational phrase?  If everything seems under control, then you just aren’t going fast enough—Mario Andretti, racing driver

What is your favourite movie and why? 300!! Love that film. It’s perfection. There’s everything I love: history, myth, action, and a love story

What advice would you give to your younger self? Don’t eat gherkins. Never. Ever.

What marketing strategies do you find most helpful? Any resources you would recommend to other authors or aspiring authors? I use Silver Dagger book tours for promotion. The owner, Maia, organises a one-month blog tour for the book, and it’s an amazing experience.

Email: russell.barbara.84@gmail.com

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/barbara-russell

Twitter: @brussell84Kiwi

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RussellBarbara84

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07HHJGBBX

Blog: https://barbararussell.blogspot.co.nz

All-author: https://allauthor.com/profile/brussell/

Landing page: https://mailchi.mp/f3c0a9bf3544/barbararussell

51Z7X6CQlAL_002Latest published book:A Damsel in Shiny Armor

Genre: Steampunk/Arthurian fantasy/Romance

Publisher: Champagne Books Group

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2UMotOH

After fighting dragons, wild Vikings, and clockwork monsters, Nathair is facing the biggest challenge of his life: proposing to Bryhannon. Apparently, flowers and a three-month salary worth ring aren’t enough because she doesn’t seem thrilled by the proposal. She has a devastating power to control, Reapers to face, and more importantly she has to find the courage to tell Nathair that she’s a Morrigan.

This wraps up another week. Next time, I’ll return with more about my own work and another snippet from Carnage in Singapore.  If you have any suggestions for a topic you’d like to read about, please let me know. Until the next time, thank you for reading.

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, May 5, 2019

Happy Cinco de Mayo day!  

Things are slowing taking shape in the back yard (garden) after years of neglect before we purchased the property. It’ll probably take all summer to get things to the state we want, but we’ll get there in the end.

KODAK Digital Still CameraMeet Oliver. He’s fifteen and loves to go outdoors. Unfortunately, over the past two weeks he’s been to the vet’s office four times. He’s not well–the vet has narrowed it down to a tumor or feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). We don’t know how much longer he’ll be with us, but he’s getting plenty of treats and affection. Oliver still loves his spot on the front step, moving just inside the vestibule if it becomes too chilly. He’s sleeping just now.

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

Louis Christophe François Hachette, French publisher (Librairie Hachette); Jacob Kats, Flemish writer (Earthly Paradise); Hubert Howe Bancroft, American historian, ethnologist (History of Pacific States); Henryk Sienkiewicz, Polish author (Quo Vadis, Nobel 1905); Max Elskamp, Belgian author and poet (Lesson Joies Blondes, Maya); Nellie Bly [Elizabeth Cochran Seaman], American journalist and writer (Ten Days in a Mad House); Christopher Morley, American author (Kitty Foil); Freeman Gosden, American writer; James Beard, American culinary expert and author (Delights & Prejudices); Miklós Radnóti, Hungarian poet (Clouded Sky); Richard Rovere, American political journalist (Goldwater Caper); Rob Van Gennep, Dutch publisher; and Naomi Klein, Canadian author (This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate);.

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

My Work in Progress

I finished the query letter for Carnage in Singapore, and he manuscript has been submitted. Here’s another snippet:

1539534550Bullets ripped through the air as more sirens joined the growing sound of emergency vehicles. Koh and Noah hunkered down behind the BMW, bullets pinging off metal. Rounds shredded tires and glass fragments from the shattered windows fell on them. Koh and Noah returned fire, ducking as bullets ricocheted off the vehicle. An ear-piercing scream erupted from one of the attackers as projectiles smashed their way through what remained of the black car shielding them.

***

“You okay, Noah?” Koh coughed. “I took—” He yelped and coughed again. “I took a round through my right shoulder. Appears to be through and through. Hurts like anak haram.”

“Not sure what it means, but I agree.”

“It’s bastard in Malay.” Koh cocked his head. “Hear that?”

“I don’t hear anything but the sirens.”

“Exactly. If they were reloading, they should have done it by now.”

Noah nodded. “They’ve stopped shooting. I wonder if the sirens scared them away?”

“They either ran, or we took care of them.”

Noah inched upward to peer over the hood.

Koh yanked him back. “Not yet. We don’t know if they’ve gone. I suggest—“

Both men heard footsteps rushing away from them.

Noah slumped to the ground and leaned against the vehicle. “It might be a good idea to stay put until the police arrive.”

“Okay with me. Put your weapon on the ground near you. If you’re holding it when the police arrive, they’ll shoot first and ask questions later.”

Noah began to laugh and jerked his arm. “Ow! This isn’t a laughing matter.”

Perhaps more next time.

1541181671I’ve also continue to edit the original chapters of A Cartel’s Revenge. Originally, this was to be a stand-alone novel, but now this will be book one of the Bruce and Smith series. So far, I’ve revised the first eight chapters, with fifty-nine new chapter reviews from the two subscription writing sites I use.  I’ll provide a new snippet next week.

This brings us to a close for another week as I need to spend some time with Ollie. I hope you found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing. If you have any suggestions for a topic you’d like to read about, please let me know. Until the next time, thank you for reading.

 

 

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, April 28, 2019

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

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

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

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

My Work in Progress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

Ollie and Barbara focused their attention on Alf.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perhaps more next time.

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

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

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

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

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

Perhaps I’ll include a bit more next time.

Books I’m Reading

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

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

This brings us to a close for another week. I hope you found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing. If you have any suggestions for a topic you’d like to read about, please let me know. Until the next time, thank you for reading.

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, April 21, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This wraps up another week. Next time, I’ll return with more about my own work and another snippet from Carnage in Singapore.  If you have any suggestions for a topic you’d like to read about, please let me know. Until the next time, thank you for reading.

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, April 14, 2019

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

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

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

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

My Work in Progress

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

***

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

“You called?”

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

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

Perhaps more next week.

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

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

A Colombian drug lord watched her profits diminish over the years. Unable to increase market share because of a shrinking consumer base and a new international competitor, she forms an unholy alliance.

Olivia Moreno, head of the Barranquilla Cartel, struck a deal with a regional leader within the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Little did she know but she initiated her own death warrant. FARC had an unknown support group who wanted a foothold in South America – Islamic State.

Forced to flee, Moreno is captured by a small CIA team. Fearing for her life, she spins a tale about using her money and manpower to destroy ISIS. Laws and rules of engagement mean nothing to her, only her life and family matter.

Will team leader AJ Bruce strike a deal to turn the tables on ISIS and stop them from launching a concentrated attack on the United States? Or will they be too late? If successful, will Moreno’s reward be total control of Afghanistan’s poppy fields or will she be doubled-crossed?

Books I’m Reading

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

This brings us to a close for another week. I hope you found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing. If you have any suggestions for a topic you’d like to read about, please let me know. Until the next time, thank you for reading.